The Last Debate
They exchanged stories of their various journeys over the past two weeks. Legolas recounted how Aragorn had led the army of the dead to drive back their foes in Pelargir so they could take over the fleet of the Corsairs.
"In that hour," said Legolas, "I looked on Aragorn and though how great and terrible a Lord he might have become, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him."
Meanwhile, Aragorn was taking counsel with Gandalf, Eomer, and Imrahil in his encampment outside the gates of the city. "We have beaten back this assault," said Gandalf, "but this was but the forerunner of Mordor's forces. Prudence would counsel you to strengthen such strong places as you have, and their await the onset."
"Then you would have us retreat to Minas Tirith, or Dol Amroth, or to Dunharrow, and there sit like children on sand-castles when the tide is flowing?" said Imrahil.
"That would be no new counsel," said Gandalf, "for such has been the command of Denethor. But I do not counsel prudence. Victory cannot be achieved by arms, but I still hope for victory."
Gandalf proposed that they set out to assault Mordor, to draw forth Sauron's armies, and his gaze. "Thus we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, frail though it be."
They were silent for a while, until at length Aragorn spoke. "As I have begun, so will I go on. We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall. Let none now reject the counsels of Gandalf.
The others agreed. Over the next two days they prepared an army of seven thousand men to attack Sauron. Imrahil laughed at the irony of assaulting Sauron with such a small force. "Yet there are names among us that are worth more than a thousand knights apiece," said Gandalf.
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