Clouds scudded across the sky and leaves unseasonably fell. Cold permeated everything about him, but it was not cold of winter that he shuddered from, it was only July. It was grief deep in his heart. Long had he been Steward of Gondor, long had he fought to preserve her whole and intact, long had he watched, nay, ordered men to battle, long had he watched them die.
He could not now remember a time when he did not have to write a letter to a parent, a wife, a son or daughter conveying his sorrow and grief, commiserating with them at their loss in the only way he knew how. Their sacrifice was so great. Once again, he knew that anything he did for his people was worth the price. He knew they were the breath of Gondor.
Today, he would send his first-born, his heir, to a far distant land, known only in faerie stories and old tomes, long gathering dust in the bowels of Gondor’s Great Library. Once his son, his Boromir, took his leave, Denethor would sit at his great oaken desk, gifted to him by Thengel King in happier days, and write the missives to his people. Too many letters would be couriered out. He had lost so many at the Anduin, as the bridge between the two halves of the once-great capital of Gondor had finally been sundered. His heart ached for his land and his people.
Folly some would call it, to risk all for a piece of land, this small piece of glorious land. Where the sun shone bright and rivers ran deep and strong. Where trees in mighty Lebennin still provided black wood for walking sticks that helped a man climb the heights of Mindolluin and beyond, and whose five rivers sang as strongly as her clear-voiced people. Where the sea in humble Anfalas brought treasures of fish and her coastland fed Gondor’s sheep. Where fair Anórien gave up her slabs of purest marble to build the cities of Minas Ithil and Minas Anor, whose hills carried beacons awaiting Gondor’s call for defense, and whose people protected deserted borders. Where the land of bright Belfalas became home to Elves and dark-haired faithful of Westernesse. Where lone Lamedon’s hills flowed from the great White Mountains, whose people were stalwart and ever faithful. Where sweet-smelling Lossarnach grew roses, herbs and orchards to lend beauty to its land. Where fragrant Ithilien, land of fountains, garden of Gondor, became the beloved land of her Steward. South Gondor and her other, separated lands, harbors of ship-kings and treachery.
Where freedom was hallowed. Where each man, woman, and child was gift. Gift to be offered on the altar of war. As a young lieutenant, he vowed he would do anything to save the sons of Gondor from the slaughter that the generation before him had endured. He failed in that promise. What promise was left? To hold Gondor until Boromir brought hope home. He would do that.