Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
I II III IV V
Third Age - 2978
Indis had waited for him at the Great Gate. Always patient, he
thought with a smile. He quickly dismounted and strode towards her.
“Denethor!” she ran to him and relished the feel of his arms as he
picked her up and swung her about. “Too long have you been gone.
Finduilas has been beside herself. I have tried my best to assuage her
fears for you. I have told her you are rock-hard and unable to fall to
any enemy or fell beast. But she would not listen. And she told me her
His face beamed and burnt at the same time. “I wanted to tell you
myself, big sister,” he placed her back upon the ground, looking down
at her. “Though I am most happy that she confides in you, that you have
become friends. It is true. Arciryas said he might even come by
“He! And how do you know it is a he? It could be a she. She carries her high. That is the usual sign for a girl baby.”
He grinned. “Nay, ‘tis indeed a boy.”
She looked up at him impertinently. “You have some knowledge that I do not?”
“I had a dream, a premonition. I do not know what it was, but I do know
she carries a boy. And that he will be a leader of men. And strong,
steadfast and… and valiant. He will need to be all those things.” A
shadow crossed his face. “I sometimes wonder if it is ill-advised to
bring another child into this world.” His voice trailed off and he
looked behind him towards the Ephel Dúath.
“Little brother! Come; let us not sully this day with thoughts of
darkness. There is only light that comes from Mindolluin. The white of
the great marble walls that our forefathers carved shines forth for all
to see. And your little one will shine like a great jewel.”
Her carefree laughter dispelled the darkness that had tried to settle
upon him. When he had heard the news from Arciryas’ messenger, he had
immediately returned to the City. Away for only a fortnight, his heart
ached as if he had been gone for a year. In that time, he had been
visited twice by unwanted thoughts and feelings, dark thoughts of a
time of greater peril still for Gondor. And for his family. Once he had
heard the news, he quickly finished his task and returned to the City.
They walked quickly up the streets towards the Citadel, her arm cradled
in his. Long had it been since they had had such a moment together. She
drank in the joy of it. Being a generous creature, she had never
begrudged Denethor time with others. Though her heart sometimes ached
with the loneliness she felt, she rejoiced in her brother’s joy.
Arciryas, now Master Healer, was too often in the Houses; too much
blood and pain and sorrow lay upon him. It seemed the darkness of the
one they do not name crept further and further into the very depths of
Gondor. Besides being Healer, he insisted on trying to find new
remedies to help heal the men. He laboured in the Houses sometimes for
days and nights at end, wrenching bits of sleep on a little cot in his
office, until she would fear for his health and compel him to come to
their chambers for a good meal and an extended rest. But never enough.
“The enemy seems to be redoubling his efforts. Ithilien turns darker
and darker each day,” he whispered to her. “We need more men. I do not
know where we can find them, but we need more men.”
“Then Ecthelion was right in bringing in outsiders to the ranks of the army?”
“I cannot say. It seems not to have made a difference.” He rubbed his
forehead to try to release the tension constricting it. “We must exhort
the other lords to give up their sons, their servants to fight for
Gondor. We will not be able to survive. Gondor will fall.”
She drew her breath in sharply. Accustomed as she was to his nay
saying, she was unprepared for the depth of it this day of all days.
Such good news should have rivaled all other news. Yet, he seemed not
to be able to shake the desolation she heard in his voice. Her own brow
knitted. The enemy truly had launched stronger, albeit furtive assaults
on Gondor. The lists of dead increased daily – lists showing the
destruction from the numerous sorties of the enemy who reamed Ithilien
and the southern reaches of Gondor. The need for Arciryas in the Houses
on such a steady basis told the tale in more gruesome fashion than
“I cannot greet her like this,” he sighed. “Is it my imagination…?” He
didn’t want to give words to his fears, yet Indis had spent much time
with Finduilas – she would know the answer. “Does she grow sad? Does
she laugh less? Does she sigh more and louder? I have noted a change in
her, do you?”
“Nae! It is as you say. But now, her heart is lightened. We must kindle
the fire of joy that is now permeating her. We must keep all ill news
from her. I amar prestar aen. If she is to survive, she must not see
what is happening. We must keep her eyes fixed on the babe.”
“And after that? What then, my dear sister?”
Indis laughed. “After that, my dear brother, she will be so busy
running after the little one that she will have no time for any
He held her in his arms, cradling her gently. His breath stirred the hairs on her forehead.
“That tickles,” she giggled.
“Absenen,” he sighed and continued breathing gently.
She turned her face towards his and ran her fingers lightly over his
forehead, trying to ease the creases that furrowed it. “Le melon,” she
“Nay, ‘tis I who loveth thee.” He took her hand from his forehead and
kissed it lightly. He must banish the dark thoughts. Too well she knew
him. She would know. “My mind is elsewhere. Names.” He smiled as he
looked into her great grey eyes. “Hast thou thought of a name for him?”
“Him. Thou continuest to say, ‘him.’ Art thou so certain, melethril nîn?”
“Aye. ‘Tis true. Trust me.”
She sighed. “An heir for Gondor. It is thy wish, is it not?”
“My wish is for health for thee and for our babe. It matters not if it
be boy or girl, though I am certain ‘he’ is a boy.” He tickled her
gently and she laughed.
Another sigh. “My arms ache to hold him.” She smiled. “’Tis a long time before that will happen.”
“’Tis only Tuilérë. Six months more must we wait. But there is much to do. Among which is picking his name.”
“Thou art relentless, hervenn nîn!”
“What think thou of Boromir?” He had remembered how Indis had said his
son would shine like a great jewel. Indis had no more far-sightedness
than a scullery maid, but her words had lodged in his heart. A great
jewel. A faithful jewel. His son must be faithful to Gondor, to his
duty, and to his people. It would be easy to convince Finduilas to name
him thus – a jewel of great price. But for him? He smiled, remembering
the first Boromir, the great Dorthonion leader, and also Boromir, son
of Denethor I. How fitting to continue the tradition of a Boromir
following a Denethor! And that Boromir was also a powerful warrior. His
hopes started to climb. Perhaps his son would lead Gondor to victory,
would become king… His heart stopped for a moment. ‘Ten thousand years’
– the words screamed at him.
“Boromir,” she rolled the name over her tongue, her lips moving silently as she contemplated it. “Dost it mean faithful jewel?”
“Yes, melethril nîn. Does that not seem perfect?”
“Boromir. The name pleasures my lips.” She said it again and he swiftly moved forward and kissed them.
“Daro han!” she said as she leaned closer to him. “Daro han,” she
whispered as he drew her even closer, but he would not stop. “Boromir
it will be,” she sighed.
He reported early the next morning to Ecthelion. His mission had been
simple. Reassure the Captains stationed at Cair Andros and
Henneth-Annûn of the Steward’s support, examine the garrisons’
strengths, and observe their needs. Then report back. It seemed a waste
of time. Daily, errand-riders brought reports back far more detailed
than the ones Ecthelion had asked for. He did not understand the need
for this mission. He could not, however, question his orders. So he had
gone and returned in a timelier manner than Ecthelion had anticipated.
As Denethor entered the Great Hall, he was surprised to see Thorongil
attending the Steward. He stopped for only a moment, brow furrowed;
then continued forward.
“Denethor!” Thorongil welcomed him warmly. Ecthelion did not raise his eyes. He studied a map laid open before him.
“My Lord Steward,” Denethor greeted his father. Ecthelion kept his eyes on the map.
“I see we need to shore up our defenses here and here,” he pointed to
the map. “The men I sent you should be sufficient. I also want more
ships built. How fared you with Adrahil? Is he ready to give us what we
need?” He looked up finally, but not at Denethor, at Thorongil.
Denethor made not a sound. So this is why he was sent on that worthless
mission. Ecthelion had not wanted him to be here whilst Thorongil was
here. And from the sound of it, Thorongil had been very busy indeed,
meeting with Adrahil, receiving fresh troops, shoring up defenses. His
face started to burn as he tried to will himself to remain calm.
“My Captain has returned with good news, Denethor,” Ecthelion finally
acknowledged his presence. “He is working wonders in the south.
Pelargir will ultimately be the garrison Gondor needs, not the sleepy
seaport it had been under Amdir. You can take a lesson from his deeds.
He has kept the costs low too. The price for new ships is well within
reason, not overstated, as some would negotiate. Perhaps I should place
you under his command. You would learn much.” Ecthelion turned towards
Thorongil. “You met also with Mithrandir? I would hear of your
discourse with the wizard.” He paused for a moment, turning towards
Denethor. “You do not need to hear of these things, Denethor. Go back
to your troops and wait for my summons.” He turned back to Thorongil.
Denethor, smiting from the veiled reprimand and the dismissal, saluted
“My Captain! He called him my Captain. And this is not the first time
he has done so,” Denethor growled as he walked into the sunlight. The
sight of the White Tree burnt his eyes. “Does he hold me responsible
for that, too?” he wondered bitterly. He walked to the parapet and sat
on the wall overlooking the Pelennor. His love for Gondor caught in his
throat as he looked out at the fields and orchards before him. Still a
beautiful sight, even knowing what evil lay beyond the River. “My
Captain,” he said again and tears stung his eyes. As the noon bells
rang, he left his reverie and turned towards his quarters in the White
Tower. Head lowered, he almost walked into a man. He looked up quickly,
an apology on his lips that died as soon as he noted it was Thorongil.
“My Lord,” the Captain said gently. “You did not see me? I called your
name a moment ago, as soon as I saw you sitting on the parapet.”
Denethor smiled, hiding his anger. “Nay, I did not hear you,” his eyebrow lifting as he spoke.
“What have I done, my Lord?” Thorongil asked in dismay.
“What say you?” Denethor queried. “There is naught wrong.” He tried to walk past the man.
Thorongil put out an arm and immediately took it back, recoiling at
Denethor’s glare. “Did you not know that I was recalled for this
meeting? I was summoned a fortnight ago.”
‘Summoned at the same moment I was ordered to leave Minas Tirith,’
Denethor thought sardonically. ‘He must fear me if he waits till I am
gone before he brings my usurper into our City.’ The term startled him.
‘I must think. I must discover what causes Ecthelion to approve of this
man over me.’ “Forgive me, Captain Thorongil, I have duties I must be
about. Perhaps we may meet later.”
Thorongil trounced on the invitation. “Aye. Let us meet at ‘The Three
Fishermen.’ Is Amdir in the City? Perhaps he will join us?”
“Nay, he is not good enough to Captain a garrison here in the City. He
is at Amon Hen, watching over the sheep,” Denethor sneered dryly.
Thorongil’s brow creased. “My Lord. I had naught to do with your father’s assessment of Amdir’s accomplishments at Pelargir.”
Denethor strode past him, unwilling to speak further. Thorongil stood silent.
Nae - alas
I amar prestar aen - the world is changed
As Denethor approached the Library, Arciryas
met him. Denethor smiled, strode quickly towards the Healer and hugged
him tightly. “Thank you for sending the messenger. I would not leave
her alone now for all the mithril in Númenor.”
“She is strong, Denethor, though her mood had troubled me for a
time. Yet, the babe within her seems to have strengthened her. I deem
all will be well. You have naught to worry about.”
Denethor gave a short, derisive laugh. “My own mother died having
me. And you tell me I have naught to worry about! ‘Tis all I have done
since your message arrived.”
“Again I say, you have naught to worry about. Her body is sturdy.
The blood of Númenor flows strongly through you both. The babe will be
“And we have the best healer at our disposal,” Denethor laughed fully. “You must continue to remind me of this, my friend.”
“And… she has Indis as her constant companion. One could not ask for better.”
“Aye. Forgive me; I must away now. Please, come to dinner tonight.
We will celebrate. I wish Amdir was with us. ‘Twould be great fun to
have us together again. I miss Thengel.”
“Thorongil’s company would be pleasant also?”
Denethor took a deep breath. His cheeks flushed and Arciryas noted.
“Thorongil has been with my father these last days. I do not think he
has time to spend on frivolity.”
He quickly turned towards the Great Library, as the healer watched
him go. Taking the steps two at a time, he descended into the bowels of
that vast storehouse, holding a torch high. A slight shiver assailed
him, but he steeled himself to try the locked compartment. To his
surprise, it was not locked. The wizard’s locking spell had been
lifted; but when? Lighting a candle, he sat at the scribes’ table,
pouring over book upon book. Now and again, an archivist would ask if
he needed help, but he waved each one off. The pile on the table grew
and the candle that he had lit, had burnt to a nub. The suddenness of
darkness surprised him. The candle had spent itself. He groped in the
table’s drawers, found another and lit it. He was very close. He sensed
it. He could not leave yet. Secrets would be his soon. A sudden tug at
his heart caused him to stop. She was waiting for him. He could feel
her in his bones. Clutching two large tomes in his arms, he grabbed the
now extinguished torch, lit it from the candle, and ran up the stairs,
two at a time.
He sat at his desk, fingering the base of the goblet, watching
Finduilas knitting in front of the fire. He had asked her to go to
their chambers, upon his return from the Library. He was spending too
much time, these last few months, in the Library, but a fixation for
knowledge was upon him. He did not know how to quell it. Something
about Thorongil gnawed at him ever since he had returned from his
sortie to Cair Andros. He had discovered, upon questioning the
servants, that Thorongil came to the City at least seven or eight times
a year, summoned by Ecthelion. Denethor had not once been asked to join
them in whatever discussions they had. The wizard, Mithrandir, had also
been guest to the Steward. Thorongil never once sought him out whilst
he was in Minas Tirith. This, more than anything, rankled him.
At first he had not been able to find her. Their chambers were
empty, but he had gone to his own study, and there she was, waiting
patiently for him. His breath caught at the presence of her love; it
filled his heart, his very being. Nothing could describe this feeling
of completeness, of pure peace and joy. He put the goblet down and
walked towards her. She smiled up at him and he dropped to his knees in
front of her, tentatively touching her stomach.
She placed her hand over his. “He sleeps, my Lord.”
He raised his head, kissed her gently, and sat back on his heels. Then, he laid his head upon her lap.
She stopped her knitting, put the needles aside, and placed her hand
upon his head. “Thou wert deep in thought, my Lord. Wouldst thou share
Denethor sighed. “Thengel seemed so old, the last time I saw him.
At our oath-taking. And Théoden is a man, already Second Marshall of
the Riddermark. I used to bounce him on my knee!” He remembered
Thengel’s pride in his son and a warm glow spread over him. He would
soon feel that self-same pride for his own son, of that he was sure.
“And now, he too is destined to have a child. Elfhild is due even
before you. It seems strange to think of my old friend and Captain as
being a grandfather.” The face of Cranthir slipped before him, hardly
age’d. The blood of Númenor made such a difference. It almost hurt.
Thengel was seventy-three. It seemed impossible, that at seventy-three
a man would look so old, yet Thengel had. Whereas his own father, at
ninety-two, was still hale and hearty with many years left to him. He
creased his brow and she tried to sooth the wrinkles from it. “Even
Théoden seemed old, somehow, though he be just thirty years. The legacy
of men is a hard thing. I wondered, in my youth, as to why so many of
the lords of Gondor sought for potions and talismans to keep them
young. I think I understand now. To see a loved one grow old before my
very eyes… ‘tis a hard thing,” he repeated. He stood, then sat next to
her, holding her close. “Death is a gift, I am told. I do not think I
like such a gift.”
She leaned into him. “Hervenn nîn,
thou art my love, my own. Turn thy thoughts from these dark paths. Let
me see the light of Anor in thine eyes. Turn thy mind to thoughts of
our son. The gift of Eru is far from us this day. Thou art to be a
father. Joy should be thy feast.”
“Yeah, verily, melethril nîn.
It is. And thou art the reason for the feast.” He laid his head against
the back of the settle, hiding his face so she would not see the tears
of joy in his eyes. He pulled her closer to him. She snuggled close,
and soon, he heard the breath of sleep sound. His thoughts had flown
from Thengel and Cranthir to his mother. He was desperately afraid. He
could not lose her.
Adanedhel, even though retired, came to assist. He would not leave the
room. Ecthelion himself paced outside their chambers and did not sleep.
Haunted looks covered both men’s faces. They frightened Finduilas and
unsettled Denethor. Finally, Arciryas had to speak to them. Pulling
Adanedhel physically from the room and forcing the two men into an
antechamber, he spoke. “My lords, if anything untoward happens, I will
call you both. Please, you are frightening the Lady. You must stay
Adanedhel interrupted him, a ghost-like smile on his face. “She was
fine,” he muttered, “just fine. All had gone well. She was just a
little tired; something to be expected. I left the room. I… I left the
room and was called back. She was dead.” His voice had dropped to a
whisper. “She was fine. She was fine.”
Arciryas stopped. Cold shivers ran down his arms. “Tell me what happened. I must know if I am to save her.”
“The babe had become trapped in the passage. I used my hands, as is
customary, to turn him. Then everything progressed as it should. He was
born shortly thereafter. I made sure he was healthy, then turned to
her. Her breath was short, but only from exertion. I read the signs.
All was well.” The Healer closed his eyes. “She was fine. I… I know not
what happened. Perhaps some malady was upon her before labour started.
I know not. She was fine.” His voice had risen in pitch, turning
Arciryas put his hand on the old man’s shoulder. “I see. That is good
to know. I will now attend her. I will look for other signs, to make
sure there is no malady upon Finduilas. And you, my Lord Ecthelion,
please do not let her see you. Either of you. She must be at peace, as
much as is possible at this time. You bring anxiety with you. You must
not, I will not allow either of you in the chambers until it is over.
You may stay here, if you wish, but you will not be allowed back in
that room. I do not want you speaking with Denethor either. Old wounds
are coming to the surface and I cannot let that happen. They will
transfer to my patient. I will have one of my assistants bring news
every few moments. That is all I can do.”
Adanedhel made as if to speak, but Arciryas held his hand up. “Nay. I will brook no discussion on this.”
He turned towards the Steward, but no words were needed. The man
looked miserable and cowed. Adanedhel put his hands on his Lord’s
shoulders and looked him in the eye. “I have learnt much these past
years; I will not let her die. I promise.” He squeezed the man’s
shoulder, turned and left the room.
As soon as he reached the door to Denethor’s chambers, he motioned
for a guard to attend him. “Go to the Houses and tell my assistant,
Firieth, to bring the notes of the Lady Rían’s care. She knows where
they are.” The guard bowed and left. Arciryas entered the outer
chambers. Denethor stood in the doorway to the balcony, his whole body
crunched over. Arciryas stepped towards him, and Denethor, hearing the
soft step, turned. His face mirrored the disquiet that had filled the
“Is aught amiss?” he whispered.
“Nay, my Lord. All is well. Finduilas must be supported at this time.
She notes your concern. It causes her concern. May I ask what is the
reason for your unease?”
“I have just had word. Théoden’s own Elfhild has passed away.
During childbirth!” The horror on Denethor’s face alarmed Arciryas. The
news devastated him further. “We have spoken of this before,” Denethor
almost hissed. “You know the history of my family. You know what
happened to my mother. How else should I be? Is Finduilas fate to be
the same as my mother’s, as Elfhild’s? Childbirth is not such an easy
thing as you would have me believe!”
“You, my Lord,” Arciryas voice was firm, “Do you have any knowledge
as to the number of births I have attended? Do you not remember
Morwen’s many trials? Did not she survive, and the babes all born
healthy? I will tell you now, as your Master Healer, but most
importantly, as your friend, that I will not let her die, nor the babe.
I will not leave her for a moment. Even after the birth, I will attend
her until I am sure she has recovered fully. This is my oath to you, my
friend. I will not let her die.”
Denethor grasped Arciryas arms, so tight the healer flinched. “I
will not let her die either. I will not leave her side, no matter that
you order me away. I will not leave her alone.” His voice broke.
“I will not ask you to leave her. Come, let us to her chambers. She
has need of you. But you must be strong. You must not show any terror.”
He gently took Denethor’s arm and led him through the doors. Indis
smiled as they walked in and Denethor’s heart eased.
Immediately after, Firieth entered the room, carrying a thin
folder, which she gave to Arciryas. He sat in a chair by the window and
carefully read it. Denethor sat on the bed, holding Finduilas hand. She
smiled at him; then closed her eyes. This was lasting much longer than
she had expected. Denethor murmured words of love to her.
Arciryas sighed. He motioned for Denethor to join him and walked
towards the bedchamber's terrace. As they stepped through the opening,
Arciryas placed his hand upon Denethor’s shoulder. “I know now what
caused your mother’s death.”
Denethor’s heart stopped.
hervenn nîn – husband mine
melethril nîn – my love
“When the babe turned, a tear must have opened
in her womb,” Arciryas stated. “The notes of those who cleansed her for
burial witness to a great loss of blood. Adanedhel did not mention it.
I believe, since she passed while he was away from her, he did not
further investigate. Terror and pain was upon the whole of Gondor. Rían
was much loved. And your father took it hard. It is not surprising to
me that nothing further was done.”
As the healer spoke, the warning call of a trumpet sounded.
Denethor looked up in alarm. She grasped his arm; he could not leave
her. Others would have to answer the call. He had vowed to stay with
her; he would not break that vow.
As the day progressed and little advancement was made, Finduilas slept
more and more between the spasms of birthing. The pangs lasted overly
long, and wore her out, yet seemed to produce little change. Arciryas
could not tell when the babe would come, and he was beginning to be
concerned. Firieth had brought medicaments to help ease her Lady’s
growing fear. When she was awake, her eyes mirrored the fright in her
heart. Arciryas wished her mother were here, though Indis did
everything in her power to help her sister-friend.
Listöwel suddenly appeared at the door, and joy lit Finduilas face.
Denethor started in surprise as he saw her. ‘What was she doing in
Minas Tirith? She was supposed to be with the garrison at Amon Dín?’ If
she were here, would Amdir be also? Where was his friend? She gave him
a long look, and turned her attention to Finduilas. “My sweet little
cousin,” she cried fondly, “you look a mess. Here, let me fix your
hair. Indis, plump her pillow. Does no one note that our little one
needs some reassurance! ‘Tis time to draw back the curtains; let a
little light in. And some air; the place smells like the Houses of
Healing, herbs and medicaments enough to smother one. This is a good
thing that is happening here! How very sad you all appear. And none of
us with any experience in birthing a babe! Oh! Forgive me, Arciryas,”
she giggled and the room smiled, “You have spent much time doing these
things. I meant Indis, Denethor and I. None of us has done such a great
deed as our sweet one does now!” She leaned over and kissed Finduilas
on the forehead, willing herself to smile and throw cheer about the
room. The gloom that she had experienced when she entered had all but
made her recoil. Coming from the blackness and despair that she had
just witnessed… ‘Nay, I will think not on that. I must dispel this
darkness and help my dear one smile.’
Arciryas could have hugged their friend. She brought fresh hope to the
room. ‘Just what the healer would order,’ he thought. As he kissed
Listöwel on the forehead in greeting, Finduilas groaned. Arciryas,
quickly examining her, smiled. “’Tis almost time,” he sighed gently.
“The pains are stronger; he is coming soon.” All flew into action,
Denethor being pushed roughly to the side. Water, bandages and
medicaments all were arranged and Arciryas stood next to the birthing
bed, waiting for the babe to appear. Denethor held his breath.
As Finduilas lay in sleep, the child bundled in her arms with Indis
sitting next to her on the bed, Listöwel went to Denethor’s side. “My
Lord,” she said quietly. “Amdir must needs speak with you. He awaits
outside with your father. A terrible thing has happened. I would not
speak of it before, knowing your place was with Finduilas. But she
rests now, and it is urgent!”
He remembered the alarm horns. His face whitened and he left the
room. Amdir sat in a chair in the antechamber, his face and hands
covered in blood. Denethor’s cry of “Amdir” made him stir. He tried to
stand, but could not, weariness overtaking him. “Amdir, my friend. What
has happened? Why are you returned from Amon Dín?” Ecthelion and
Adanedhel were nowhere to be seen and Denethor wondered, but concern
for his friend kept him at his side.
Amdir took a moment to catch his breath. He had been on the edge of
sleep, so weary was he, and dreams of death and destruction had
assailed him. “Orcs, Denethor. Too many. Took the garrison by surprise
three nights ago. A great number of them swept down. They were silent,
as is not their want. They had o’ercome the guards before any knew of
their presence. They were large, Denethor, larger than any I have ever
seen and cruel. They came over the plains of Rohan, from the northwest.
We had no chance to fight back, hardly any at all. I sent errand-riders
out, but none got through. Ecthelion said they had no word of the
massacre. And that is what it was, Denethor,” Amdir’s eyes filled with
tears. “Only twenty-three men left. Twenty-three out of five hundred. I
did not run, Denethor!” Amdir cried, his voice breaking as it rose. “I
did not. I was knocked unconscious. The Orcs left at daybreak. My men,
those who survived, found me and brought me back here. We could not
stay. They torched the buildings. Once she realized she could fight no
longer, Listöwel hid herself and the other women in an underground
storeroom, apart from the buildings. The Orcs did not found it. The
beacon has been destroyed.”
Denethor knelt at his friend’s side. “You are not hurt yourself?”
“Nay, just a head wound, but not serious. Adanedhel tried to care for
me, but your father drew him away, calling for the guards. I know not
where they went.”
Denethor could not believe Ecthelion had left Amdir in this state.
He gently helped him up and brought him to the bedchamber’s door.
Opening it gently, he quietly called Arciryas to his side.
When Arciryas saw the state Amdir was in, he made as if to leave the
room, then thought better of it. “She sleeps,” Arciryas stated, “Yet, I
will not leave her. Bring him in here, Denethor. I will minister to him
by the terrace. She will know nothing of it.”
Denethor helped Amdir to a chair in the corner. He glanced towards
the bed, noted Indis and Listöwel seated by Finduilas’ side, and knew
he had a moment to speak with Listöwel. As Arciryas tended Amdir,
Denethor drew her from her seat upon the bed. “Though art and have
always been most brave, dearest Listöwel. But that was folly to stay
and fight. Didst thou not know the toll thy loss would have taken upon
Amdir? Didst thou not know the toll thy loss would have taken on thy
friends?” In his concern, he had lapsed into Sindarin.
“My Lord, I could not leave him,” she said simply. And tears started to
fall. “I could not leave him,” she whispered. He held her tight,
knowing the horror that lay upon her. ‘Twas difficult enough for a man,
a soldier, to see the sights that she must have seen before she
retreated. It grieved him to see her pain. He had no words of comfort.
The only comfort he had were his arms. Holding her closer, he whispered
her name, stroking her hair all the while.
Indis moved close. “My brave, sweet Listöwel. You have proved yourself
a warrior, dearest sister-friend, many times over. I am so proud of
you. Eledhwen would be so proud of you. We must write to Morwen, tell
her of your deeds. She will be sore-pressed to rival them!” Indis had
not known the extent of Gondor’s loss.
Listöwel turned towards her. “Only a handful left, Indis. Only a
handful left.” She bit her lip to keep from screaming her horror.
Indis blanched. “How many, Denethor?”
“Nigh unto five hundred. The stronghold burnt to the ground. The beacon destroyed.”
Tears welled in Indis’ eyes. “So many?”
“Aye. But look, Arciryas is finished with Amdir. Listöwel, take him
to his father’s quarters. Ingold will help him, and Elleth will help
you. Go, now. We will speak of this on the morrow.”
As Listöwel and Firieth led Amdir away, Denethor’s thoughts grew dark. “Ai!”
he cried aloud, grief for the lost men and for Gondor overwhelming him.
“I swear by the Horn of Gondor, Boromir will not endure what I have had
to endure these last forty-eight years. I will free Gondor from this
Enemy, so that my son may live in peace! I swear by all the Valar!”
He was shaking as he finished his vow. Finduilas had been awakened by
his cry, and, frightened at the violence of his manner, quickly pressed
the babe closer to her breast. What had started as a day of celebration
at the birth of their son had been turned into a day of darkness and
pain. Again! Nothing remained beautiful here in Gondor. It wasn't
Denethor’s fault. She knew how dearly he loved her. ‘But,’ she thought,
‘there must be a curse upon this land.’ Her thoughts, as always, took
her back to Belfalas and her home in Dol Amroth by the sea.
Indis hovered over her as she saw the sadness grow in Finduilas’ eyes.
She came to them from Belfalas, sparkling and alive, one of the fairest
flowers of the line of Númenor. Yet, now, just two years after arriving
in Minas Tirith, sadness showed at the corners of her mouth and
lingered in her eyes. Indis looked at Denethor in dismay. Perhaps
flowers from her garden would ease her pain. She ran to pick some,
suggesting that they open the terrace doors for air; Finduilas
declined. Today of all days, she could not bear the view. She shuddered
as she thought of Mt. Orodruin glaring at her, mocking her happiness.
She saw in her mind's eye the redness of its fires scorching the blue
sky; the black smoke rising upwards, creeping closer and closer to
Minas Tirith. She could not abide that sight with her son in her arms!
She swore she could feel the tremors of its hateful spewing rock her
bed. She drew in her breath. She could not continue this way. Instead,
she willed herself to see the sea from her window in the castle in Dol
Amroth, on a clear, bright day. She could feel the sea air on her face,
feel it gently blowing the strands of her hair across it. Ever, when
this mood of gloom fell upon her, she would retreat in her mind to dear
Belfalas and her home.
Suddenly, she shook herself. This was her home now. Lovingly, she
opened her eyes and stared down at the precious bundle in her arms. She
must put that other life behind her. The Valar had sent her a son,
beautiful and strong - he held her finger tightly in his little hand -
and she knew she must be strong for him. She echoed her husband's vow
in her own heart. Somehow, she would fight with Denethor to bring peace
to this land, and somehow she would wage her own war against this
curse. This child of theirs would not grow up with war and death and
evil. ‘Somehow,’ she thought, ‘a weapon must be found to help Gondor,
to release Gondor from this evil. To release my family from this evil.’
They had been fighting for so long, her husband, his father, and his
father's fathers. Could a weapon be found that would destroy evil
forever? Did such a weapon exist? She sighed. Perhaps the King would
Denethor went again to Finduilas' side. He knelt by her bed,
apologizing profusely as he gently stroked her hair, and for the
thousandth time he rejoiced at the fate that had brought her to his
side. His anger was spent. He could not remain angry in her presence.
He had to learn to curb it when he was with her. She must not lose the
joy that wrapped itself around his heart when she was near. Tears
filled his eyes as she moved the wrappings from around Boromir's face.
Ah, could any man be more blessed than he! His son was beautiful. He
saw the face of Eärnur in him, and hoped that his son would be as brave
as the King who defeated the Witch King of Angmar. Yet, as soon as that
thought, that vision of the face on the statue of Eärnur in the Great
Hall, assailed his mind, he remembered the ending of that King. Or the
supposed ending of Eärnur, for never did he return from the Black Gate.
‘It was that King’s leaving his throne that has forced the Stewards to
rule Gondor until the return of the King… or until the Steward’s line
itself runs out,’ he thought bitterly. Almost a thousand years had
passed and yet, as Echthelion had told him long ago, and as he knew he
would tell Boromir sometime in the future, 'Few years, maybe, in other
places of less royalty... In Gondor, ten thousand years would not
suffice for a Steward to become King.' His duty was to his King,
whether present or no. And he would teach that duty to his son. The
rightful King would return.
Dark were his thoughts this day; he could not help the shudder that
swept his body as he thought of Eärnur not returning... Some foreboding
about his son? And then, perversely, he thought of Finduilas' namesake
being killed by Orcs. Why was he being tormented on this day of great
joy? What other dark feelings would attack him?
He looked again at his son and his wife and willed the thoughts to
be gone. He willed peace to settle upon his countenance. He would not
succumb to these dark thoughts. He would not succumb to despair - now
that he had everything he had ever hoped for...
Finduilas held out her arms and took her friend
into them. Whispering Indis’ name over and over, she stroked her
friend’s hair. “My dearest sister-friend, forgive me. I had forgotten
thy own barren womb.” Her tears mingled with Indis’. “I am foolish and
very selfish. Thee and thy friends opened thy hearts to me when first I
entered Minas Tirith, and all I have been is a burden. My thoughts ever
fly to my needs, forgetting those whom I love. Please, forgive me.”
“Nay,” Indis exclaimed. “’Tis not true! Wert thou not ready, just
now, to have me leave thee and care for Denethor? Thy heart is good and
pure, Finduilas. I speak not of my pain for I have Arciryas and that is
wonderful and good. I am most fortunate. I think not often of our lack,
for a moment here and there, but our bounty is beyond understanding.
Think no further on this, my sweet Lady. Think only of returning
quickly to thy duties. ‘Twill be such fun to join thy family in these
years to come, to rejoice at the growth of thy child, to see the love
between man and woman develop into an even deeper bond.” Indis quick
smile heartened Finduilas. “I love thee, dearest sister-friend. Thou
fillest a deep void in me. Left by my sweet sister’s absence. To have
been given another sister, ‘tis a gift from the Valar. Your love is
gift to me. I thank thee.” She gave Finduilas a quick hug and pulled
away. “Now, please rest. I will seek out Listöwel, tell her of thy
concern, and return within the hour.”
Denethor had bidden Arciryas stay with Finduilas, once she had
fallen asleep, and quickly left the room. Ecthelion had left Amdir
wounded and alone in the hall and he would discover why. For what
purpose had he left so quickly and ungraciously? As he turned the
corner heading to the Great Hall, he heard loud shouts coming from his
father’s study. He quickly walked into the room. His face fell as he
saw Amdir, standing before the great oak desk, bidden to attention and
reporting to Ecthelion.
“Father!” The word had come out louder than he had meant. “Father,”
this time softer. “Amdir has been wounded.” The evidence was still
clear. Adanedhel, who stood in a corner of the room, had done nothing
to clean the wound. Listöwel was nowhere to be seen. “Do you not see
that, father?” he asked gently.
“Of course I see it,” his father replied crisply, scowling as he leaned
forward to speak to Denethor. “I only ask as to the state of the
garrison. I will let him be ministered to once I am done with him.” He
turned to face Amdir again. “Now, again. Tell me where the patrols
were? How many had you sent out? What time…”
“My Lord Steward.” Denethor interrupted. “Perhaps ‘twould be better to have Captain Amdir,”
and he stressed the word ‘Captain’ loudly, “sit? Adanedhel can tend his
wounds while you question him.” A servant stood by the door and
Denethor motioned for him to come forward. “Bring a cup of mead for
Captain Amdir. And a decanter of wine for Lord Ecthelion.” As the
servant left, Denethor strode forward, moved a chair behind Amdir and
gently helped him sit. Ecthelion’s face was blazing, but Denethor did
not care. Adanedhel hobbled forward. It hurt to see the man so old and
weak. He remembered how once, a long time ago, Adanedhel had spoken
forcefully to the Steward for Gondor’s weal.
Ecthelion sat back in his chair. His face still shone scarlet, but Denethor could see the Steward had pulled in his temper. “Captain Amdir,” he sneered. “Are you comfortable now?”
Amdir did nothing, but Denethor had to clench his hands to keep his
fury in check. ‘Never would Ecthelion speak thus to Thorongil,’ he
thought bitterly. He kept his mouth shut. Amdir was, at least, finally
being cared for.
“My Lord Steward,” Amdir said calmly, and Denethor wondered that his
friend had such control. “We sent out ten patrols every four hours, as
is our wont. Darkness had come, the fires were lit, and all was quiet.
It was almost time for the replacing of the patrols, when a sudden
quiet filled the air. I had come out of my office to oversee the
changing of the guard. I felt something was wrong, but could not
discern what. Everything seemed as it should be. I doubled the guards
on the wall. The patrols were overdue, but not by but a few moments. A
patrol finally was sighted, the gates were opened, and the Orcs
attacked. They had lain hidden against the walls. They had left one
patrol untouched, and, unbeknownst to that patrol, used them to gain
entrance to the fortress. All the other patrols had been o’ercome and
destroyed before the Orcs e’er entered the area. There were more than a
thousand attackers. They came in waves. Our archers did their best. We
used boiling oil to repulse the ones still on the outside, but they
continued to come. Our Knights fought as best they could, but the
quarters were cramped with the number of the enemy. It was hard to even
wield a sword and pikes were nigh unto useless. Sometime, after the mid
of the night, I was wounded and lay as if dead. I know not how the
other men escaped. The women, after Listöwel saw they could not defend
themselves any longer, hid in an underground storeroom. They were not,
mercifully, discovered. I awoke to a cold cloth on my head, wielded by
my aide, Damrod. It was well into the morning by this time. We quickly
searched the grounds for survivors, removed the dead bodies that barred
the entrance to the place where the women hid, and quickly freed them.
All the horses were gone. We walked to the North Gate. I left my men
there and rode here as quickly as I could. There has been no sign of
the Orc army since that night.” Amdir sat still, not moving a muscle.
Denethor had walked to the nearby window and listened quietly, proud of his friend’s courage.
Ecthelion sat for a moment. “So, you have lost your entire battalion?”
“Almost, my Lord. We lost well over four hundred and seventy.”
“Men Gondor desperately needs?” The question was not supposed to be
answered. “Well,” Ecthelion said as he stood up and walked around the
desk. “Are you well enough to return to your command?”
Denethor made as if to interrupt and Ecthelion raised his hand and shot him a look of pure rage.
“Aye, my Lord.” Amdir said quietly.
“And where do you suppose you will get the men to replace those you
have allowed to be slaughtered?” He paused for a moment, brooking no
reply. “Or do you expect me to find you men to fill your garrison?”
Denethor blanched at the cruelty of the questions. Ecthelion had had
men under him. He knew what it was to lose men. How could he
interrogate Amdir in this manner knowing the depth of sorrow that
encompassed the Captain?
“I am relieving you of the command of Amon Dín. You will go to the
Houses to have your wounds attended to. I have need of my healer at the
moment. Then, you will wait upon my pleasure for your next assignment.”
He turned his back, strode towards his desk and sat shuffling papers,
his entire body saying they were dismissed.
Denethor strode towards Amdir, making sure Ecthelion heard the
anger in his stride, helped his friend to his feet, and left the room.
Neither man spoke a word until they felt the cool air greet them as
they reached the entrance to the Citadel.
Denethor did not know where to start. So many apologies to be made to his friend. But Amdir spoke first.
“I will be fine. The wound is not deep. I would prefer to go to my
own home on the sixth level? Please, Denethor. I have not the will to
see another at the moment. I know Listöwel waits there for me. She will
care for me.”
“Tell me this, friend?” Denethor asked. “I cannot see Listöwel
letting the Steward take you away from her without words being said.”
Amdir laughed, then groaned as his head split in pain. “He called a
guard as we left your quarters. The guard took her by the arm before I
even knew it. I could hear her curses… aye, my friend, curses that I
did not know a woman would know… as she was escorted out of the
Citadel. I could do nothing. Unfortunately, I hardly had the strength
to take care of myself.” Amdir laughed again. “You should have heard
the words she said. Oh!” He bent over in pain and Denethor swept him
into his arms and carried him towards the gate. “Please put me down,
Denethor. I can walk.”
“I do not think so, friend. I do not think so. And I am not taking
you to your home. I am sorry. I am taking you to the Houses. Father may
be wrong about many things, but of this he speaks well. You need time
with the healers. I will bring Listöwel as soon as I am assured you
will stay in the bed they assign you.”
“Avo doltho mhorn, melethril nîn,”
Finduilas spoke soothingly. “Light lives now in thy son - a bright
shining star for Gondor. Thou wilt raise him to be all that Gondor
needs. Through him, peace will come. Thou, with him at thy side, wilt
defeat our enemies. Avo 'osto!
I am with thee. Never wilt I leave thee.” As she caressed his check,
she spoke again, “Knowest not that thy father is beset by many burdens?
Little does he know that he has only to look to thee to find strength,
and courage, and wisdom. I see it in thee, hervenn nîn. I would that he would see it; the cares of Gondor blind his eyes. Do not hold this against him, melethril nîn. Wait, thy time will come. His eyes will open and he will do what is right and good for Gondor.”
He hugged her tightly, holding his breath as he listened to her
precious voice tell him tales his heart would not let him hear. He
wanted desperately to believe her, to know that he did have the
strength to save Gondor, but he could not see it. If Ecthelion’s eyes
were blinded, so were his. ‘How will I fight this? How can I be what
Gondor needs? How can my father ever believe that I can help save
Gondor when even I do not believe it?’
She sensed the anguish in his tightened shoulders, heard the
in-drawn breath, and wondered if ever she would be able to do as Indis
had said she could - give him the strength he needed. She spoke gently.
doest thou not believe me? Doest thou think I am only a woman with a
woman’s foolish thoughts? Doest thou think I married thee for thy looks
only?” A gentle laugh. She continued, “I knowest thee to have wisdom.
Might I not have wisdom also? Thy son has much thy look, fair and good.
He wilt have much need of thee, garn nîn.”
He looked down upon the babe laying between them. A small fist, shoved
into the little one’s mouth, kept his son’s attention. He shivered as
the babe held his finger tightly. Tears glistened in his eyes. “Le melon,” he whispered to her and then, bending his head to kiss the little one, whispered it again to his son, his Boromir.
Morwen had come. Unbidden, she had come. Indis had hugged her so
tightly, she thought she would lose all breath. Then, she had her hands
grasped and found herself being swung around and around, joyful
laughter pealing through the air. Morwen, in mock embarrassment, tried
to disengage herself from her friend, but no amount of struggling would
tear her from Indis’ loving hold.
“Morwen, my dearest sister-friend. You could not have come at a better
time!” Indis said as she collapsed on the fountain’s encompassing wall.
She pulled Morwen down with her, both women catching their breath.
After a moment, Indis pulled her towards her and again gave her such a
warm hug that Morwen sobbed with joy. To be back in Minas Tirith again,
to sit next to her dearest friend, to laugh and cry together, no words
were sufficient to tell of her joy. “Nae,
I have been remiss in not coming sooner. How is Finduilas? How is the
babe? Denethor, does he father the child well?” Her words tumbled from
her and she giggled deliriously. She hugged herself as she looked about
the square. Naught had changed here in Isildur’s Square. The merchants
still had their stalls lining the street, the shops still had crowds
coming into and going from them, and the Knights of Gondor still strode
through the streets as if they owned them. She breathed a heavy sigh
and leaned upon Indis’ shoulder. “’Tis so very good to be home.” Tears
glistened in her eyes. “Home, Indis. Aye, it always will be home, at
least in my heart.”
Indis had given her friend a moment to settle herself before she
answered her questions. “Finduilas does well. Your birth pangs were
much worse than hers, but she seems not to have the endurance that you
have. And the babe, Boromir,” she said the name lovingly, “he is
everything you would expect from Denethor. Handsome, strong, blackest
hair and lovely grey eyes. To look upon him is to love him!”
Morwen laughed. “So this Boromir has already stolen your heart?”
“Aye,” Indis laughed. “Stolen it and locked away the key. My heart is no longer my own.”
“Denethor is beset by many things. How fare’s Rohan, Morwen? Are there
more attacks this year? Does it seem to you as if… I do not know how to
ask. Evil… but I will not speak of these things now. I will only
rejoice in your presence. And for Thengel to bring you; that is such a
good thing for Denethor. Thengel’s presence and wisdom can only help
“You speak of harsh things, Indis. Tell me truly. Was Listöwel really in a battle again?”
“Aye! And without us! Can you even imagine such a thing? I was
sore-pressed to not be angry with her, having all that fun without me!
And…” Indis paused with a frown marking her face, “I understand you
have been named ‘Morwen Steelsheen’ for the ardor of your sword arm! Is
that true? You were always so good with your sword.”
“’Tis true. My Lord's people shame me by calling it out as I ride
through the streets of Edoras.” Her face reddened even as she recounted
it. “I am no true Shieldmaiden. There are many others who are so much
better than I, yet the people honour me.”
Indis smiled. Her friend’s genuine humility touched her. She had
missed this woman, missed her sorely. “Come, my dearest friend. I will
take you to your quarters in the Citadel. After you refresh yourself, I
will take you to Finduilas. You will meet our Boromir. Then, you will
see he is the fairest babe in all the land.” Her smile split her face.
“After that, we three…” A sudden cloud passed over her face. Her
sister’s face swam before her eyes. It used to be 'we four.' She drew
in a breath, let the pain go, and smiled again. “We three, Listöwel,
you and I, will then find some hidden place and squeal and laugh over
all the adventures we have had since last we were together!”
hervenn nîn – husband mine
melethril nîn – my love
garn nîn – my own
nae - alas
Thengel sat quietly, waiting for Denethor to
explain himself. He was dreadfully tired. The journey had seemed so
much longer than ever it had before. Morwen took it in stride, but he
was ready for sleep. He could not rest yet. Denethor had come to him
late in the evening, troubled. His pronouncement of Ecthelion’s latest
movements forced Thengel to question the Steward’s good sense. He
trusted Thorongil implicitly, all the while understanding Denethor’s
unease. He knew very little of Ecthelion; the Steward did not readily
welcome familiarity with his Captains. What could have possessed
Ecthelion to send Denethor off like that? He should welcome his son to
the proceedings. To all counsels. Thengel leaned his head back against
the couch. The thought of his own son, of Théoden, Second Marshall of
the Mark, caused his lips to curl in a smile. He heard Denethor’s cough
and pulled himself back into the moment. Denethor was obviously waiting
“I do not understand Lord Ecthelion, Denethor. You know I do not.
You should have been made Captain-General already. Your postings, these
last years, have not been ones that would help you to familiarize
yourself with your future duties. Your father, you say, has been
devious. I see where you would surmise that.” He shook his head. What
could he say? “I will tell you this, and I have told you this before,
Thorongil is an honorable man. He seems to be a pawn in your father’s
hands, much as you have been. Do you not see that?”
“I see only that my father leans towards naming Thorongil
Captain-General.” At the look of shock in Thengel’s eyes, Denethor
continued, earnestly. “He calls him ‘my Captain,’ takes him into his
confidences, invites him to meetings that I am barred from
participating in, and mocks my men and me. He has made him a Captain.
Never has someone not of Númenor been made a Captain in the army of
Gondor. What difference from a Captain to Captain-General? What else am
I to infer?” He stopped for a moment, poured some more wine for his
friend and continued, “My heart is heavily burdened with this
estrangement from Thorongil. I remember our friendship. Fate has set
our own, my friend, in stone, yet it had been the same for Thorongil, I
had thought. Now, my heart cries out in anger and despair. I cannot
abide the sight of the man.”
“You should have seen Thengel’s face the first time I put on my
sword in front of him as he sat on his throne. He had thought it was
but a passing fancy.” Morwen laughed for the hundredth time. “Orcs had
attacked very near to the foothills of the White Mountains while the
King’s eored had been sent on some task. Did he think I would not go
out and help defend our people when we were so short of men? Eledhwen
joined me and he knew he did not have a hope to combat our resolve. The
band that had attacked the village was small. Walda’s son, Eofor, had
command of our half-eored. Hild… Oh, I forgot to tell you that Hild had
started training with Eledhwen when we moved to Edoras. She is very
good too. I remember hearing Denethor, when she was but a youngster,
call her a ‘terror.’ Well, that day the Orcs knew what terror was. She
wielded her sword and screamed invectives against them as she hewed
them down.” Morwen laughed again. “’Tis a delight to surprise our men,
is it not?” The smile covered her face.
Indis howled. “You are a delight, dearest sister-friend. It is good
to hear of your tales. I did not know you had time, what with the
children you have been begetting, to even lift a sword!”
Morwen rolled her eyes. “In truth, it seems as if children flow
from my womb as waters from the mountains. Do you suppose Finduilas
will have more? I never thought I would, after I lost my first.”
“That was a hard time for us all.” Indis shivered. “Too many of our
women have suffered so. It seems the strength of Númenor has left the
women of Gondor for other places.”
Listöwel sighed. “It seems the birthing of children has left the women of Gondor.”
Indis strode towards her friend and hugged her tightly. “Aye, you speak the truth, my little sister.”
“’Tis the wizard, some in the City say,” Listöwel clung to Indis,
all thoughts of merriment banished by the pain of their empty wombs.
“Do not help spread those rumours, Listöwel. Mithrandir is wise and
seems to have Gondor’s weal at heart. The advice he gives to father is
shrewd. Denethor oft bewails the lack of men. If Mithrandir did not
counsel the Steward to open our armies to men of other countries, we
would be sore-pressed to defend Gondor.”
“Even now, more men are needed,” Morwen stated sadly. “But you,
little sister,” she said as she looked lovingly at Listöwel, “you
yourself have been through a deadly battle just recently?”
Listöwel looked up. “At Amon Dín. You know the horror, mixed with
exhilaration, that o’ercomes one in battle. Would that you both were at
my side. So many men killed. I am still in shock that the women were
“Because of you,” Indis said quietly.
Listöwel blushed. “Ever have you both been my shining lights, my
guides on how to live. You give me hope. During the battle, I thought
of you, imagined you on either side of me, and that gave me the courage
to continue. Seeing Amdir lying as if dead would have totally undone
me, though. I am glad I did not see that!”
Morwen shook her head quickly. “We did nothing but love you,
dearest sister-friend. Now, we must send these morbid thoughts from us.
My heart has been eased by the joy of our reunion. Let us now to
Finduilas. I am sure she is ready for the company of women. Denethor
still scowls too much, even when he holds the babe!”
The others quickly moved through the door, but Morwen pulled Indis
aside. “I do not remember the floor shaking so, nor the stench filling
the air as it does today? What has occurred?”
“’Tis Mount Orodruin. I have become accustomed to it, I suppose. It
has increased over the years. I had forgotten, nor noticed with
everything else that has happened. When the east wind blows, it is
almost impossible to take a breath. Denethor has had fans made that are
secured to the ceiling in their bedchambers. A servant is always
working the mechanism while Finduilas is abed these days. She notes it
and compares the air to that of Dol Amroth. I feel for her.”
Thengel closed his eyes. Gondor was being torn in two. By what
forces? The wizard? “How often has Mithrandir been here in Minas
“He practically dwells in our library. He searches for something. I
know not what. I myself have met him on many occasions, pouring over
old tomes, accounts of battles, and other dust-covered scripts from
“And what have you been looking for, my friend?” Thengel asked gently.
Denethor’s face reddened. “I have Gondor’s weal as my uppermost
concern. My father speaks of the return of the King. I have been
studying volume upon volume of the earlier writings of my kin. I am
missing something, but I will find it. The key to this mystery.” He
twirled the goblet in his fingers, face distorted in a frown.
Thengel knew he could do nothing to dissuade Denethor from searching
for lost history, but it seemed useless to him. Better to prepare his
own son to write a new history for Gondor.
“Boromir reminds me of you, Denethor.” He smiled at the memory. “I was
but twenty-five at the time. I would hold you, now and again, in my
arms. He has your look,” he said warmly.
Denethor’s smile lit the room. “Thank you.” A companionable silence
filled his study. "Never had I thought such a moment would come. Oft
did I wish I could find someone like your Morwen, or Amdir’s Listöwel,
or even my dearest sister, Indis! And now I have Finduilas, Jewel of
Dol Amroth and I am happy.” He gave a short laugh. “With all father’s
talk of the King’s return, I thought there would be no need for an Heir
to the Steward. Heir or no, nothing is better than having a son.”
“The King will always have need of a Steward, Denethor, especially one of your quality.”
“And I will always have need of such a friend as you,” Denethor spoke quietly, emotion cracking his voice.