The Son of Gondor

by Linaewen

Epilogue "Farewell"
Faramir sat upon the bank of the River, and sighed as he gazed out into the mist that drifted across the surface of the River Anduin. The stillness of the night was broken only by the lap of the water at his feet, and by the sad rustle of the reeds all around him.

His heart was heavy with foreboding. It had been now three days since he had heard the Horn of Gondor blowing on the edge of hearing; three days since he had heard the desperate call of his brother in need somewhere on the northern borders of his land. There had been no word of Boromir since he had left, so many months ago; nothing, until the sounding of the Horn.

Their father had sought for news of his eldest son by all the means at his disposal, but no word came to them. Both he and Faramir had heard the Horn's call, and now Denethor waited in the Tower Hall in Minas Tirith, in fear and desperate hope, waiting for Boromir to return to him. Faramir waited here, watching, guarding the shore near Osgiliath, and wishing he could be off northwards instead, searching for his brother.

Faramir stirred and shifted his position. He was weary, but it was fatigue borne of despair, rather than lack of sleep. If only Boromir would return, safe, and whole! If only there were something he could do to bring him back to where he was so sorely needed...

There was movement in the mist. Faramir stiffened, listening, but no sound reached his ears. There was only the silence of the River in the night. He drew his bow closer and fingered the bowstring. Reaching back, he pulled an arrow from the quiver slung over his shoulder, and put it to the string. Still nothing. He stood slowly, and stepped forward cautiously, looking out through the reeds into the grey swirling mist that hovered over the dark waters.

Out of the mist floated a boat of strange design. It was unlike any boat he had ever seen before, with a high prow of grey wood that seemed to glimmer in the darkness. Softly, silently, the boat came towards him, and a light seemed to shine from it, pale but startling in the darkness. Faramir stepped out into the water for a closer look; he felt strangely drawn to the small vessel, but he did not take his hand from the bowstring.

As he stepped forward and waded out into the stream, the boat turned towards him, and slowed as it passed. Drawing near, he saw that in the boat a dead warrior lay, as if asleep. A low moan escaped him as he recognized the face of his brother. Boromir's sword lay broken on his lap, and he was wounded with many wounds. His shield was at his head, weapons of the enemy were at his feet, and a soft cloak cushioned him as he lay peaceful and serene; about his waist, a linked belt of golden leaves glinted.

"Boromir!" cried Faramir in a voice filled with anguish. "What has happened to you? Why do you return to me thus? Where is your Horn?"

Boromir slept on, and gave no answer.

Faramir's throat closed with grief and unshed tears; then he cried out, as the boat turned on the current and pulled away from the shore.

"No!" he wept. "Do not leave me, Boromir! Please! Do not leave me!"

The boat seemed to hesitate for a moment, as it bobbed and tossed on the waves; a breeze came up, rattling the reeds and stirring Boromir's hair. The echo of a memory whispered, and Faramir heard Boromir's voice in his ear.

Farewell, my brother... until we meet again...

Faramir bowed his head, and the boat turned again; he made no attempt to stay its course. The boat cradling Boromir passed into the grey mist, and continued its journey down the River to the Sea.

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Aragorn sat at the edge of the River, and sighed as he gazed out over the wide water of the Anduin at Pelargir. It had been a long day, full of fear and battle, death and victory; the night had been one of hard labor, preparing the ships they had taken for the final effort to reach Minas Tirith before she fell. Aragorn was ready: the greatest ship awaited him; but still he tarried. Something held him here, by the shore; something drew him to sit beside the water, and wait.

He gazed upstream, and thought of Minas Tirith. He could not help but remember Boromir, whose only thought had ever been for that fair City and her people. Aragorn heaved a deep sigh. He missed Boromir. Their time together had been short, but the man had made his mark on Aragorn's heart, and now a part of him felt empty and hollow when he thought of his friend.

He cast his mind back to the day of Boromir's death. He and Gimli had made a rough bier with their cloaks upon a frame of branches, while Legolas searched the area for the shards of Boromir's sword and his missing shield, as well as for trophies of his final battle to send with him on his journey.

They carried him to the shore, and laid him in one of the Elven boats, with his head cushioned by his cloak. They combed his hair and arranged his clothing neatly. Aragorn had discovered the golden belt of Lorien clasped about his waist, hidden under his tunic. He carefully unfastened it, and refastened it over his leather belt, so that it flashed and glinted in the afternoon sun. Across his lap, they had laid his cloven horn, and the hilt and shards of his sword; at his head, they set his shield, and at his feet, the swords and helms of his enemies. Then, drawing him out into the water, they cast loose the funeral boat so that the River would take him over the Falls.

"They will look for him from the White Tower, but he will not return from mountain or from sea," Aragorn had said. Then they had sung a lament for Boromir, and turned away. Boromir had taken his road, and they had chosen their own.

Aragorn sighed again at the memory. He had made his choice, and it had taken him on many a strange road since that sad day. He knew he should make haste now, to be on his way, but still he waited.

Dawn was approaching -- or such dawn as there could be in the midst of the oppressive darkness that continued to flow from Mordor. The mist on the River began to pull back in wisps and tendrils, and the sea birds could be seen, dipping and wheeling over the wide waters.

Aragorn noticed something approaching on the water. It was a boat, but not one of the craft they had freed from control of the enemy. This was a small grey boat with a high prow; with a leap of his heart, Aragorn recognized it.

He cried out and waded into the water, even as the boat drew near and stayed its course. Boromir lay within the boat, restful, peaceful; Aragorn gazed upon his quiet face with wonder. He reached out a hand, then drew it back quickly.

"Boromir!" he sighed longingly. "You have tarried on your way to the Sea, have you not? Have you been saying a slow farewell to the lands you loved? The white walls of Minas Tirith? Perhaps even to kin you may have met upon the way? Were you waiting for me to come, so that we, too, could say our last farewells?"

Aragorn smiled fondly, even as a tear rolled down his cheek.

"I am glad you have met me in time, my brother," he said softly. "Be at peace; I go now to fulfill my vow to you. The White City will not fall, nor our people fail."

Boromir seemed to smile, though perhaps it was only a trick of the light upon his face, coming from the pale light that seemed to shine from the boat. The Elven boat seemed to hesitate for a moment, as it bobbed and tossed on the waves; a breeze came up, and stirred Boromir's hair. Aragorn lifted his head as he felt the breeze on his face.

"It is time for me to go, my friend, if I am to take advantage of even the lightest breeze for my sails."

Aragorn bowed his head and pressed his fingers to his brow, then kissed them and held out his hand towards the figure in the boat.

"Farewell, my brother. May you find the Mouths of Anduin safely, and the beaches of Belfalas, where even the sea birds will lament your passing. The Great Sea under the night stars awaits you, and my destiny awaits me. But I promise you this, Boromir; we will meet again, someday, upon another shore..."

The boat floated on, and was caught by the current. Aragorn watched as it sped away, watched until it was just a dark spot on the water in the distance, watched until the boat disappeared into the mist that still hid the River downstream. Then he sighed.

"Go in peace, Son of Gondor," Aragorn said solemnly, as he turned away. "We shall not forget you.'

Finis