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Import Duty  by DADGAD

'... is called a Million'

The only person unaffected by the moment of light relief was Angren. ‘I don’t understand, what are you smiling about? What do the documents matter, when the import duty is worth more than the whole of Gondor, or so you say? I don’t know’ The brief mood was broken. Thenweg went back to his customary demeanour, and Aragorn grimaced. ‘He’s right, Faramir, look at the numbers, they’re just impossible, we just don’t have that much money in all our land’.

Faramir seemed strangely undismayed as he peered closely over Thenweg’s shoulder. ‘Hmm, All the money in Gondor? Is that the calculation? 15 million castars? And a duty of one and a half million? Oh, I see you’ve using the Mardil codicil. Master Thenweg, my congratulations on your combined abilities in Quenya and mathematics!’ 

This was too much for Angren. ‘My Lord Steward, what are these millions you are talking about? All I see is a page of numbers with lots of noughts behind them. And I don’t know how His Grace knows this exactly, but if that’s truly in castars, that’s an inconceivable amount of money!’

Faramir focused on the bewildered Guild Head. ‘Ah, my pardon Master Angren, in my enthusiasm I’d forgotten that not everyone is familiar with this terminology. A million is the term invented as a short way of saying ‘a thousand thousands’. Using our standard Numenorian number system, that’s 1 followed by six noughts. As far as we know, it was first used by the Scholar Planudes of Umbar, who lived and worked during the reign of Minalcar. Planudes was studying the history of the Great Armament of Numenor, that deposed and captured Sauron at the end of the Second Age. Some writers claim that King Ar-Pharazon had a thousand ships with a thousand men in each ship – so that would be a thousand thousand soldiers. And these soldiers would need a thousand thousand helmets and a thousand thousand swords and would eat a thousand thousand loaves of bread a day. Planudes soon became tired of writing ‘a thousand thousand’ and invented the word ‘million’ as a shorthand. These days we don’t see numbers that size very often, and certainly not in the treasury accounts. When I want to understand how big a million is, I first think of a tiny baby field mouse, the size of my finger nail. And then I think of the enormous mumakil that the Haradrim rode into the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. It would take about a million mice to equal the weight of one of those mumaks.’ 

‘Prince Faramir, you have missed your vocation, perhaps you should have been a school teacher’ Angren was shaking his head, trying to cope with flood of new information just imparted. Faramir beamed, delighted with the chance to increase the arithmetical understanding of a new audience. 

Aragorn quickly interrupted before Faramir could deliver further facets of wisdom. ‘The point does remain, that if our calculations are correct, and you seem to agree with them, there is no way we can pay the import duty on such a valuable item as Anduril. We barely have thousands in the Treasury at the moment, let alone millions. I have very little personal wealth of any kind. What can we possibly do?’

Faramir looked undismayed. ‘Let me ask three questions:

‘Firstly, who does Anduril belong to – you personally or to the Kingdom of Arnor or Gondor?’

Secondly, if it is purely the personal property of the current King, to do with as they please, is that a good idea? Or as you have already discussed, should there be a code that specifies exactly which persons and under which conditions, can and cannot make use of Anduril? 

Finally, do you agree that what you have told me is that the only thing valuable enough to pay the import duty on Anduril is the sword itself?’

‘Ah’ Aragorn slowly understood Faramir’s reasoning. ‘Anduril should be the property of the Crown of the Reunited Kingdom, not the personal property of the King himself’ 

‘Yes, which was the original situation of Narsil when Elendil returned from Numenor. The sons of Elrond have passed on to me a copy of a document from the Library of Rivendell which dates from the Founding of the Kingdom of Arnor in the year 3320 of the Second Age. It establishes the ownership of Narsil, as being an Heirloom of the Crown, and also codifies the situations and circumstances of the use of the sword by the King and others he may designate. Apparently, Master Elrond found the document shortly before he departed West, and asked his sons to send it to you – ‘Estel may find this useful’.’

‘So,’ mused Aragorn ‘we need to produce a document of grant transferring Anduril from my personal possession to the Crown of the Reunited Kingdom of Arnor and Gondor, alongside all the other documentation and certificates of value and quality that are needed to comply with the import regulations of 2960 – is that correct? How long will that take, Faramir – can we have that done in the next month or so?’

At this point, the look of satisfaction that Aragorn had noticed earlier reappeared fleetingly on Faramir’s face. ‘Well, I do happen to have a draft of such a document with me today, and if Your Grace would care to read it now, it could be signed forthwith… by yourself in the presence of two witnesses’ he finished, glancing at Angren and Thenweg. 

With a sigh of relief, Aragorn signed Faramir’s document, duly witnessed by Angren and Thenweg, who then departed, each reflecting on the ups and downs of their ‘interesting’ morning and afternoon with the King.

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