Real Estate

Eric Wang has written a very astute article over at his blog. I recommend you read it and think it over before continuing. Welcome back! I hope you enjoy my (stream of consciousness) response.

Hot Properties in Pelennor Fields

“It’s so good of you to welcome me into your home. And may I say what a fine home it is? You must be a man of taste and fine judgment when it comes to houses.” “Borodin sent you, you said?” “That’s right! Good old Borodin. I was telling him about an investment opportunity, you see. Do you know what he told me?” “He was interested?” “Interested! I’ve never seen a man part with his money faster, outside of a goblin ambush.”

“What are you selling?” “Property! Real estate. There’s no better investment than land. And I am offering choice parcels. In Pelennor fields, over by Minas Tirith. Do you know it?” “My brother lives in Minas Tirith.” “Wonderful! What’s better than living near family?” “He told me everyone has been moving into the city. The Steward has been repairing the walls outside the fields, but orcs still get through.”

“Nothing but rumors! Listen, the real danger is in the city, if you ask me.” “What do you mean?” “Think about it! When the orcs sneak in, and the alarm is raised, don’t you want to be the first one out? If you live in the city you’ll be trapped!” “My brother lives on the second level and is moving to the third level soon. It’s pretty obvious that the more walls between you and the outside, the safer you are. Do you think I’m an idiot?”

“You should give me your brother’s address. I’m honestly getting concerned for him. These are dangerous times, and to be straight with you he doesn’t know which end is up.” “Let me guess, he should be buying your properties in the fields instead?” “You’re a smart guy, you get it! The orcs are only the first danger. The real danger is moral, you might even say spiritual.”

“I have to say you’re the oddest salesman I’ve ever met. What’s wrong with living inside the city?” “I simply feel your brother is not taking the defense of Minas Tirith seriously. If the city falls, then all the property is worthless, right?” “I suppose.” “Then isn’t it in his best interest, one might even say his duty as well, to make sure that doesn’t happen?”

“He’s in the volunteer guard, if that’s what you’re driving at.” “Guarding the second level! What good will he do there?” “We need defense in depth to keep out Sauron. That’s why the rangers guard Osgiliath, right?” “Please! Once the orcs are through the Great Gate, it will all be over. Think about it! If the Dark Lord can break down the strongest, most defended structure in the city, how could anything weaker hold him back?” “The assault will weaken him.” “How? Will he run out of orcs? Will he get tired, take a little rest so Gondor can rebuild?”

“Are you saying Gondor should put everyone on the lower walls?” “That would be a start! But it’s hardly fair to all the townspeople who live outside.” “You can’t protect everyone.” “Isn’t that immoral? Are their lives any less valuable than your brother’s?” “Are you crazy? Should we level the walls then, invite the orcs in?” “Close! The only way to protect Gondor is to annex it to Mordor.”

“Very funny. Can you elaborate?” “With pleasure! The problem, as I see it, is that Gondor is trying to keep the orcs outside the walls, and Sauron is trying to get them inside the walls. Now if the walls surrounded BOTH Gondor and Mordor, then there would be no more troubles!” “Being slaves to Sauron isn’t troublesome?” “Look, I’m just answering the moral question. You may not like my answer, but you can hardly argue with my premises.”

“Do you live in Pelennor fields?” “Really? Would I be selling something I wasn’t willing to buy?” “Are you in the guard?” “Every Friday, section 17 on the east wall.” “Why not be up there every day? What are you even doing selling houses?”

The salesman took a deep breath: “I have to confess, I am moved by a deeper purpose. You see, I’ve been commissioned by the Steward to recruit new defenders for the walls. If I merely serve, I’m only one man, but I could recruit hundreds!” “Does every recruit get a house?” “They need something to defend. The Steward is realistic. He knows men won’t serve out of idealism alone. The Record of Heroes does help of course.”

“The what?” “The Record of Heroes? Every man who kills an orc on the battlements, or obviously assists in a kill, has his name written in stone, on the cliffs beside the tombs. You’re no one in Minas Tirith if you’re not in the Record of Heroes!” “My brother never mentioned it.” “Well he hardly would. Tell me, what do you think of the offer now? A nice bit of land and immortal glory!”

“I prefer the quiet life.” “That’s what I thought. A total loser.” “Not everything important is written down.” “What could be more important than defending against Sauron? If he wins, it’s all over!” “And defending against Sauron means getting on that list you mentioned?” “There is another list, for people who are wounded by orcs, or worse. Not everyone is a good fighter, but everyone can man the walls.”

“Who will be left in the city, with everyone on the walls?” “If the walls fall, there is no city. Don’t you get it?” “Whatever happened to Mordor annexing Gondor? Was that a joke?” “No, the important thing is peace. Ending the senseless violence between human and orc. There’s two ways to do it. One, surrender. Now I’m not saying it’s a good option, but it is an option. The second way is to build defenses so strong, so well manned, that Sauron will understand that conquest is impossible.”

“Then all your brave recruits can leave the walls, get back to their lives?” “Well, that would be ideal but obviously if they leave the walls, Sauron will be back. You know how relentless he is!” “Has the Steward ever tried cutting some kind of deal with Sauron?” “Sauron will never be happy with anything less than total control, in other words, surrender.”

“Here’s my suggestion for the Steward then: knock down the walls.” “Which walls?” “The outermost walls.” “That would be suicide.” “Would it? The inner walls will hold.” “One of those inner walls will be the new outer wall. What exactly does your suggestion accomplish?” “It’s not about inside and outside. Every wall can be breached, and every breach can be fortified. Where, though, does the pressure fall? When it becomes too much, fall back. When it lightens, push ahead. The living city, the city in motion, that’s what you should be defending.” “Will it hold though?” “That I guarantee.”

Written on March 28, 2020