Counsel of Lies

Two leaders of men in a time of dark war,
Two men hale, in the winter of their years.
Allied against a foe that far outweighed them,
A King and a Steward faced the Enemy
Of their peoples.

Theoden of Rohan, so long in your darkened hall
You waited by your fire for life to return to you,
But it seemed not to come...
Cunningly blinded to what truly hindered it,
You did not rise and pursue it yourself.
You believed the whispering that it was forever gone,
That your time was past, that your strength had left.
The lies of evil counsel, sweeter than honey,
Deadened your senses, entered your hearing,
Your mind and then your heart.
Theoden by your fire - arise, for your men need you!
Arise again and remember your strength,
Or the darkness will surely overtake you as you dream.

Denethor of Gondor, likewise in your city
You wait by an empty throne for tidings of your sons -
Sending them out, you did not go yourself.
Confident that your pride and strength and force of will
Should be sufficient to any task.
But a discontent eroded you in the corners of your mind;
You needed reassurance, to keep and gain control.
To know more than any other,
This is where you placed your ill-fated desires;
And evil counsel, sweeter than honey, came to you -
You reached for it hungrily,
And feasted your eyes in the darkness.
Long did you dwell on the images of distant places, as
Serpentine, it wound its way into deeper in your thinking -
Secretly you hoarded this power even as it twisted your hope,
Until it broke your mind,
But only after it broke your heart.

Two men of kingly bearing, leaders in time of war:
In sorrow fell the one, his withering hands yet grasping
At the source of all his grief, the false glory of its fire.
To his breast he clutched it still,
Taking his treasure with him, he cradled a snake in death.
Who could truly name his killer?

In triumph fell the other, in battle's honor against the foe,
In a moment of great strength he shone forth,
And was extinguished, yes -
But a greater light shone from his soul at death
Than the brightest pyre of the city above him.
A King and a Steward - both chose their ending
When they embraced or rejected the counsel of lies.

- Primula