I didn’t know when I was to be sent away, but I’d always expected it. When I was two, my brothers, all three of them, were sent away to be pages. That is my first memory. We rode down to the river together as a family, and waved goodbye to a ship that bore my brothers away. I can clearly recall the sound of seagulls and the smell of fish and tar, the sound of wood creaking and water splashing against the hull of the ship. I can see my three brothers, lined up on the deck, wind in their hair, waving. We waved back. My mother cried. She was a warrior princess, but she’d tied her heart to her sons.
My father held me on his lap and said, “you’ll have to help your mother now.” Those are the first words I can remember him saying to me.
I was two, and my brothers were eight, nine and nine. Boromir, the youngest, was going to Rohan, to be a page for my uncle. Frodo and Sam, the twins, were going to a city in the far north, near the sea, to be pages for a mighty king. Boromir was named after my father’s brother, a great warrior. Frodo and Sam had been named for two Hobbit heroes who had won the war, carrying a magic ring to the dead lands of Mordor. The dead lands were still dead, but they were no longer wicked. There were no more wizards, no more goblins or trolls, and no more necromancer kings. The volcano in the middle of Mordor had ceased to smoke and belch fire and lava, and there were signs of life. Small bushes, tough grass, fern and vine had started to cover the sharp, volcanic rock. In a hundred years, there would be a forest there. The ents watched over the land, and our people guarded its border.
When I was old enough to ride, I’d accompany my father on his trips to the gates of Mordor. Behind them, we could see bare cliffs, the dust devils whirling along their tops.
My father said, “It used to be a different land. Mostly scrub, unfit for farming but good for raising sheep and goats. The farmers left when the wizard built his tower, and things went from bad to worse. We, in the city, saw what was happening, and we did nothing. We believed it was none of our business.” My father stopped, and we let our horses graze on a patch of grass. After a while, he said, “and on the other side of Mordor are the great Southern Plains.”
He looked at me sadly as he said this, but I didn’t realize that he was trying to tell me something.
To be continued….(Chapters posted every 2 days or so)