Lords of Gondor
Dûrlin began the new day as he did each and every day; upon
rising, he went to his lord's chambers to see if Boromir had by chance
returned in the night. He sighed, as he sighed every day, when once
again he was met with silence and darkness, and the echo of an empty
He swallowed his disappointment, and continued about his duties for the
day, such as they were. There were still things he could do, duties he
could perform in service to the household, in spite of Boromir being
long away. Faramir had need of him now and again, on those times when
he was in the City, and there were a few small tasks to be done quietly
on behalf of Denethor, though the Steward insisted he needed no
attendant, keeping himself private and looking to his own needs. The
days were long for a personal attendant with few men to serve, but he
filled them as best he could, while he waited for his lord to return.
The darkness of Boromir's chambers as he entered always caused
Dûrlin a moment of doubt and distress, before his natural
optimism reasserted itself. A man of cheerful nature, Dûrlin
tried to remain ever hopeful about the future -- but even he was
beginning to fear the delayed return of Boromir, and what it might
bode. He dared not allow his thoughts to turn too far in that
direction, for he did not wish to think of the loss to Gondor, and to
himself, should he be bereft of the lord he had attended for so many
The room was cold, for no fire had been lit in the grate since Boromir
had departed the previous summer. Skirting the bed that jutted out into
the center of the room, Dûrlin walked to the casement, and
pulling back the heavy curtains that sheltered the window, unlatched
the carved shutter to let in the crisp early morning air. It was easier
to imagine his lord's imminent return when there was light and a fresh
breeze circulating throughout the chamber.
The shutter's hinge gave out a faint grating noise as the shutter swung
open, and he smiled at the sound, remembering the unexpected trouble
the hinge had caused him when it had frozen open one day, until he had
figured out how to repair it. It still made a sound as the hinge
mechanism turned, but it opened smoothly and stayed open without
swinging free. Boromir had claimed to like that sound, saying it
reminded him of the ingenuity of Dûrlin, his man of many talents.
Dûrlin smiled again as his thoughts turned to the memory of that
last day with Boromir -- a memory that came to him every time he heard
the squeak of the opening casement...
"If you would stop hovering over me
while I worked, my lord, I could see what I was about with this broken
buckle. You are standing in my light. My eyes are not as sharp as they
once were, and the light here is poor enough without you blocking it. I
know you are eager to be off on your journey, but your impatience will
not help me work faster."
Boromir laughed and stepped back, but
still watched closely as Dûrlin worked on the buckle of Boromir's
sword belt. The catch had been pushed through to the wrong side so that
it did not latch properly; Dûrlin was attempting to coax the
catch back through the loop of the buckle with a small tool.
"I swear you can repair anything you
put your hand to," commented Boromir with a shake of his head, as the
catch suddenly slipped into place. "Whether it be the broken catch on a
buckle, a rent seam, or the workings of the hinge on the window
shutter, you and your tool can fix the problem in no time! You are
indeed a useful man to have at my side, in spite of your disrespectful
Durlin smiled as he handed Boromir the repaired belt and watched him strap it on.
"If I am so useful to you, then take me with you," he said.
Boromir frowned, suddenly serious.
"No, Dûrlin," he replied
firmly. "I go alone for a reason -- to spare others of the dangers of
the journey. You know that."
"Yes, I know, my lord," responded
Dûrlin with a sigh. "But I do not like the thought of you going
alone. It is not wise, nor is it fitting that the Prince of the City
should travel unattended."
"Do you doubt my ability to take care of myself?" Boromir demanded.
"Of course not! But I doubt your wisdom in going alone."
Boromir laughed and clapped a friendly hand to Dûrlin's shoulder.
"You speak your mind, and I honor you for that. Never hesitate to speak plainly with me, Dûrlin."
"I will not -- though you never listen."
"I listen," replied Boromir with a faint smile. "I listen, and then I go my own way."
Dûrlin turned away with an answering smile, and lifting Boromir's heavy cloak from the bed, held it out to him.
"I have a favor to ask you,
Dûrlin," said Boromir as he took the cloak and arranged it about
his shoulders. "Faramir's man has asked leave to join him in Ithilien
to fight as a Ranger, and leave has been granted. This means that
Faramir shll be without his attendant whenever he is here in the City.
Are you willing to attend him as he has need?"
"Of course," answered Dûrlin with a bow. "It would be a pleasure and an honor."
"Good, very good," nodded Boromir.
"It pleases me to think that he will have a man such as you ready to
serve him at need. Look after him well, and I shall be grateful. My
father, too, if you will. He has spurned the services of a manservant
for some time now, but if there is aught you might do for him..."
"Rest easy, my lord -- it shall be
done." Dûrlin hesitated, then spoke quickly the question that had
been on his mind. "When do you expect to return, my lord?"
"I do not know," replied Boromir with
a shake of his head. "My road is dark before me. But I will come as
soon as I may, for I fear being away too long. War is coming to Gondor,
and I shall be needed here."
Boromir turned to go, then with a
swirl of his cloak, he turned back. Laying a hand on Dûrlin's
arm, he looked earnestly into his face.
"Look after them, Dûrlin,"
Boromir said. "Look after my father and my brother. See to it -- if
there be any way -- try to see that they are not too hard on one
another. I do what I can to bridge the gap between them, but it is
widening -- and with me not here, I cannot say what will happen. My
father will expect much from Faramir, and he will give it willingly --
even if it breaks him. But I do not want it to come to that. You know
much, you see much of what goes on in this household -- do what you can
Dûrlin gripped Boromir's hand and kissed it reverently.
"You have my word, my lord Boromir,"
he said solemnly. "I shall look after them in your stead, until your
safe return. Farewell!"
...With a sigh, and a twinge of regret for his return to the present,
Dûrlin stepped away from the casement and turned to leave. He
paused to straighten and smooth the coverlet on the bed, but nothing
else was out of place; all was ready for Boromir's return, whenever
that might be.
Returning from the butteries with a bowl of dried fruit as an offering
for the Steward, Dûrlin was surprised to see Faramir crossing the
Hall and climbing the stair to the upper levels of the Tower. He had
heard no word of his coming, nor was his return expected. He wondered
if something was amiss; the look on Faramir's face confirmed his fears.
Even in the dimness of the Hall, Dûrlin could see the grim set of
Faramir's chin, and the purposeful stride which bespoke ill tidings...
"Look after them, Dûrlin; look after my father and my brother." The memory of his promise spurred him forward and he followed quickly after Faramir.
He followed at a distance, unable to catch him up, yet unwilling to
call out after him. He did not clearly know why he was so determined to
follow, rather than wait to be sent for -- he only knew he wanted to be
at hand, should he be needed. And ever at the back of his mind was the
thought that Faramir's news might have something to do with Boromir and
the reason for his delayed return.
Dûrlin was surprised to see Faramir turn in at Boromir's door,
and even more surprised, upon approaching, to recognize the deep
murmurring voice of Denethor inside. Setting down the bowl of fruit
upon a table in the hallway, he reached out to the door; then paused,
hesitating, his hand upon the latch. No, it would be better to wait
outside, until he was needed. If the news required privacy, he would
give it, and be patient.
But the door was not tightly latched and it swung open silently under
his hand. Swiftly he stepped in to catch the door and pull it closed
once more -- but not before he had seen Faramir sitting beside his
father upon the bed. They sat with their backs to him, but their bowed
shoulders and drooping heads spoke eloquently of sorrow and a great
burden of grief.
Faramir turned slightly, but only to reach into the pouch at his side.
He removed something which he laid upon the lap of Denethor, where it
was clasped by a tense and shaking hand. Dûrlin's heart seemed to
stop and leap into his throat at the sight, for the object that
Denethor now clutched so tightly was the cloven half of Boromir's horn
-- a sign of ill omen that his worst fears had been realized.
As Dûrlin fled the room and closed the door silently behind him,
the sound of Faramir's sorrow-filled voice followed after him:
"Boromir has fallen, and he will not return..."
Dûrlin leaned his head against the hard wooden frame of the door
to Boromir's chambers, and covered his mouth with his hand so as not to
cry out. He had held out hope for so long, knowing his lord well -- how
he seemed able to cheat fate, and escape death, though he constantly
placed himself in harm's way, with little thought for his own safety.
Indestructible, he had called himself, and it seemed to be true. But no
man was indestructible -- not even Boromir the Bold.
He is dead, thought Dûrlin, as despair swallowed him. What will become of us now?