Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
I II III IV
15. Third Age - 2980
‘Is Ecthelion going to make Thorongil Captain-General, or
even worse, Heir to the Steward?’ He paced the parapet, his hand
clenching and unclenching his sword’s pommel. ‘’Tis a nightmare; one I
thought never to have. The wizard has wormed his way into Ecthelion’s
heart and with him he has brought the enemy. For that is what Thorongil
is, the enemy. I am certain of it. Or perhaps more certain of another
thing.’ He shivered, but it was not from the cold. ‘Is he the usurper
in more ways than one, a deeper, more sinister way? Not from the line
of Anárion, of that I am certain. But of another line, long ago
destroyed. The line of Isildur?’ His lip curled in scorn. ‘If it is as
I suppose, my fathers’ fathers denied that line and I, if I am allowed,
will deny that line again!’
He strode towards the Great Hall, alight with torches. The sight of it
sickened him. The torches, the celebrations were all for Thorongil, for
his victory this day at Umbar. He had learned too late, always too
late, that Thorongil had persuaded the Steward to allow him to lead an
attack against the Corsairs. Denethor knew, from the sources he counted
as allies, that the men of Umbar were building up their fleet to defeat
Gondor, but he had hoped, nay, had even asked his father to allow him
to lead an attack. ‘But when the time came,’ he thought bitterly,
‘beloved Thorongil was sent.’ He stood for a moment before the stairs,
holding his hand to his head, and let the harsh tears fall. He turned
away and strode into an alley. Leaning his head against the Tower’s
walls, he wept. ‘Father will take my title from me. He will give it to
Thorongil and I will be… I will be what?’ he sobbed. ‘All these years I
have put Gondor before everything, and now he rewards me in this
fashion. I will leave Gondor. I will go to Thengel in Rohan. Or perhaps
to Dol Amroth. What? I will go in ignominy? With my tale between my
legs? Dishonored? Is that what I have spent my life for?’ The sobs
slowed; deep breaths were taken. He walked towards the King’s House,
deep in thought. ‘Have I truly spent my life preparing to throw it
away? All those years of banishment, hoping for reprieve. And when
reprieve came, little did it matter. Thus it is with my life. Aye. This
is what I have spent my life preparing for. If this be for the good of
Gondor, then so be it. Has not that been what I have been taught? All
for Gondor? I will swallow my pride. If father appoints him Heir, then
I will bow to this man from the north. Ever has the line of
Húrin been Stewards, but no more.’ He stopped for a moment; his
head hurt from the strain of his thoughts. ‘Steward,’ he laughed and it
hurt his throat. ‘Nay, he will not be content with being Steward. He
will be King.’ The enormity of it struck him. ‘If he be King, will I
remain Steward? Will I want to be Steward to him?’ He started to pace
the little alleyway. ‘I will continue the line. I will be this man’s
Steward.’ He choked on the thought. ‘It will serve no purpose one way
or the other. Unless the man be a worker of magic, Gondor will fall,
whether I be Steward or he be King, Gondor will fall.’ He strode back
to his quarters; he did not have the stomach to face Ecthelion.
Indis searched the Hall for him. ‘Where can he be?’ she asked herself.
‘He promised he would come.’ She knew his heart, knew that he would be
sorely hurt by the betrayal of Ecthelion. She had heard Denethor ask
for command of the fleet, and heard the scorn in Ecthelion’s voice as
he denied him. Their father had not told him of his plans for Umbar,
for the attack, for Thorongil. She had known. What good would it have
done to tell Denethor? Listöwel and Amdir stepped towards her.
“Have you seen him?” she asked. “I have looked everywhere.”
“Nay,” Amdir shook his head. “I too have been to his quarters, his study. He is nowhere to be found.”
“Finduilas is here, but I will not upset her by asking his whereabouts.
She looks happy.” Indis frowned. “She thinks the victory will make a
difference. And perhaps it will, for the present, but it is not enough.
Thorongil has not defeated the One we do not name.”
Amdir held Indis’ arm. “It will help. It will stop one part of the vice
that the enemy had planned for Gondor. It will be long before another
fleet can be assembled. Thorongil sank every one of their ships. The
enemy ran in terror. I wish that I had been there.” He stopped for a
moment. “Denethor, I know, wishes he had been there too. That is the
crux of the matter. Too long has he dreamed of sailing the ships of
Gondor under his command. Indis,” he turned to face her fully. “You
remember the tales of Mardil’s Captain, Vëantur? He even told me
of that man’s voyages. Ecthelion could find no better way to crush his
son than this!”
“I am just glad that Thorongil himself is not here. I understand he is
finishing up his reports and then will return to Minas Tirith in the
next day or two.” Indis spoke quietly.
“Mayhap he wants to give the people time to reach the City so they can
welcome him properly.” Listöwel put her hand over her mouth. “I am
so sorry. I should not have said such a thing. But their shouts for
Thorongil wound me deeply. I can hardly imagine how Denethor feels.”
Amdir pulled her to him. “Your loyalty to Denethor is not to be
apologized for. Yet, Thorongil has been friend to all of us here.”
“A friend does not betray a friend,” Indis said quietly. “Who is the betrayer? Is it Thorongil or Ecthelion?”
“What father puts another man over his own son?” Listöwel whispered.
He finally had to attend the festivities. His father had sent his
Knights to him, ordering him to the Hall. He sent them back with word
that he would follow shortly. Laving himself in cold water helped the
swelling of his face, but not the gash in his heart. ‘So long ago, in
Rohan, I learned to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. I must do
even better. Tonight he will see nothing on my face. No emotion, no
thought. I wonder if the wizard will be there, gloating on his triumph?
That should not concern me. The wizard now has all he has ever wanted,
my place in Gondor is no longer my own. How often I had thought such
would be the case. Even as a youngster, never feeling that I measured
up to father’s expectations. It is the perfect ending.’
He found her as soon as he entered the Hall. Standing with
Listöwel, ever-faithful Listöwel. He remembered how she had
fought to be stationed at Cair Andros with Amdir, but the garrison had
become too dangerous for the women of Gondor to stay there. She spent
more and more of her time in the practice yards, her sword slashing at
any that would dare challenge her. The swordmaster had told Denethor
that she was better than most of the young ensigns. He wished he had
her strength, her will to fight. It seemed to desert him now. He saw
Ecthelion sitting in the Steward’s Chair, kissed Finduilas, and moved
forward. “My Lord,” he said and saluted. “You requested my presence?”
“I should not have had to.” His father’s anger was palpable. “You shame
me by not being present. You shame the line of Húrin by not
being present. What am I to tell those around me? My son sulks in a
corner somewhere? You have never learned to obey me fully. You never
will. I have turned my thoughts to another, one who obeys my every
order. Obeys my thoughts before they are spoken. I will place you under
him, for a time, so that you may learn obedience. Your banishments have
never taught it to you, though I sorely hoped they would. When
Thorongil returns, I will establish him here, in Minas Tirith. You will
be his aide. Do you have anything to say?”
Denethor was caught unawares. He had not thought his father would
require any response to the charges leveled against him, to the actions
threatened. Never had he expected to be made Thorongil’s aide! He
blinked once, then said, “Whatever is your will, I obey, my Steward. I
will await his command. Thank you for seeing me tonight. If I may have
your leave, Finduilas is not well. I would take her to our quarters.”
“So, you use your wife as your excuse! Still a coward at heart.”
‘Is he baiting me,’ Denethor wondered. ‘He will not succeed.’
“If that is your thought, then I am sorry. But I must take her home
now. If you wish, I will return, once I have seen her safely to our
“Nay! I wish to see you no more this night. Go!”
“I do not understand it,” Denethor grumbled to her as they reached
their chambers. “How often had I asked father to be stationed at
Pelargir? How often had I asked for a ship? I had trained and trained
for such an occasion as this, and he sent him instead. And now
Thorongil has the victory. He has killed the Captain of the Haven. The
Corsairs flee in terror. And all Minas Tirith, nay, all Gondor shouts
the name of Thorongil. I expect banners to be made and hung by morning!
Now he will place me under him as an aide! An aide!” Fury stung his
words. He could feel the anger sliding down his arms. Finduilas touched
that arm and the shock caused him to flinch. He saw the pain in her
eyes. “My love.” He took her in his arms. “Forgivest thou me? My anger
causes my whole body to seethe. I did not flinch from thee. I flinched
from me. Thou art the only thing in this whole world that has not
harmed me, nor forsaken me, nor caused me pain. Only happiness have I
received from thee. And only pain hast thou received from me.”
“Nay, ‘tis not so, le melon. Thou hast always treated me tenderly. Fear not of my thoughts of thee. They are only good.”
“Good and pure and lovely. As thou art. Nothing have I ever done to
deserve such a love as thou art to me. There is nothing that can come
between us. By the Valar, I swear I love thee more than life itself,
more than the line of my forefathers.”
“And knowest though that I love thee in full measure, my Denethor. How I love that name. How it feels upon my tongue, my lips.”
He pulled her to him, kissing those sweet lips, momentarily forgetting
his anger, frustration and pain. Always, when he brought his concerns
to her, she turned them into joy. Why did he not confide in her more
often, he wondered. Yet there were dark secrets that would terrify her
if he shared them. He trembled slightly at the thought of her fair mind
and heart confronted by the evil that continued to spread nearer and
nearer to Minas Tirith, the evil that would one-day claim his land.
She felt the shiver and held him tighter, wondering what she could do
to help allay this anger. If only he could have been stationed at
Pelargir. If only he could have commanded the fleet. Her heart jumped
at the thought of the nearness of the sea to Pelargir. She could have
been happy there. She tried not to shake her head. She should be happy
here. What was wrong with her? Her love doted upon her, their friends
were many, her husband’s father treated her well – what more did she
need? And yet, always, there was that sight before her – from the
moment she woke till the moment she placed her head upon her pillow at
night - that horrible sight, belching and rumbling and sometimes waking
her in the middle of the night. There was evil there; she knew it. She
trembled and he held her.
Thorongil kicked the stone in front of him and Berelach looked
questioningly towards him. ‘If I stay,’ he thought, ‘I will continue to
damage Denethor’s place in Gondor. Ecthelion is foolish when it comes
to his son. I know not why. Denethor tries, does everything he can to
obey him, and yet he turns to me for council. I will never earn
Denethor’s trust at this rate. And trust me he must, for he will be my
Steward if things come to pass as Elrond sees them.’ He sighed. ‘My
heart is happy here. I love his son. I love him. And Finduilas and
Indis could not be more courteous nor attentive. If I leave now, if I
do not return to Minas Tirith, perhaps Ecthelion will turn to Denethor
and use him. This parting would be most painful though. I love Minas
Tirith. I love her people. Would I be abandoning them? Nay, it is more
important that I not abandon Denethor. The longer I stay in Gondor, the
deeper grows Ecthelion’s attachment to me, and the deeper grows the
rift between Denethor and myself. I cannot let this continue. How will
I tell them? Nay, there is nothing to say. I will leave a note and go.
Just say that other duties call me. Bitter is this time!’ He kicked
another stone. ‘This is not what I planned.’ He turned towards his aide.
“I will not be returning with you to Minas Tirith. I am writing a
missive and will give it to you. In fact, I will give you two. One I
wish you to take to the Steward and one to the Steward’s son. Do you
“Of course, my Lord.”
He sat on the gunwale of the boat and wrote quickly.
My Lord Steward.
Forgive the abruptness of my actions. Some concerns have arisen that
must be dealt with. I must be off. I will not return to Gondor.
Your servant, Thorongil
This was hideous – what else could he say? He quickly signed and sealed
it, wrote Ecthelion’s name on the front and gave it to Berelach.
My Lord Denethor,
He sat back, chewed on the stylus as if it were his pipe and tried
mightily to think of something to say to mend the hurts his presence
I have written to the Steward and informed him that I must leave
Gondor. I have said I will not return, but I hope to, one day in the
distant future. At that time, I sincerely hope that we may start our
friendship anew, devoid of all that encumbers our amity now. Ever have
I meant to befriend you. To your mind, mayhap this has not seemed so. I
will endeavor to do all I can, when and if I return, to be forthright
and loyal to you and the throne of Gondor.
He scratched that part out. If he mentioned the throne… Denethor
already looked askance at him. If he put in something about the throne,
it would make him question. He looked at the missive again, crumpled
it, stood up and threw it into the fire.
My Lord Denethor,
He began again.
I have written to the Steward and informed him that I must leave
Gondor. I have told him I will not return, but I hope to, one day in
the distant future. At that time, I sincerely hope that we may start
our friendship anew, devoid of all that encumbers our amity now. Ever
have I meant to befriend you. To your mind, mayhap this has not seemed
He tried this part again.
I will endeavor to do all I can, when and if I return, to support you as Steward of Gondor.
I leave with you the dirk of your kin. I had meant to return it to you
upon your taking the Steward’s Chair, but that is not to be; I will not
be here for that happy occasion.
‘Ah, that should help. How do I sign it? Your friend, the usurper, the
traitor.’ His brow creased. He had done nothing wrong, nothing to harm
Denethor and yet he felt responsible for the rift between Ecthelion and
his son. I will just sign it Thorongil and leave it at that, he thought.
He finished the missive, asking Denethor to bid Finduilas and Indis
farewell, signed and sealed it, wrote Denethor’s name on the front and
gave it to Berelach.
“There, it is done. Take these immediately to Ecthelion and Denethor. Please, make sure you give it personally to each.”
“Yes, my Lord.” Berelach said, then looked on in astonishment as
Thorongil, after wrapping his belongings in his blanket and slinging
them over the back of his horse, mounted, saluted him, and rode off
“Well…” was all he could say. Then he mounted his own horse and rode towards Minas Tirith.
The missive burnt his hand and his heart. Long past, his heart
had turned against the writer. The eyes reading it could only see
danger lurking. “So, he intends to return. For what purpose, I wonder.”
And then, a sudden longing for friendship long lost assailed him.
“Friend I had called him. Nay, closer to brother.” Bitter tears burnt
his eyes. “My heart recalls his kindnesses, his loyalty, his openness.
Always, he shared all with me. Gave me no cause for regret, nor anger,
nor jealousy.” The tears fell in earnest. “I would go back to those
times. I would take him in my arms and hug him and thank him for
everything he had ever done for me, from the moment of healing in the
Drúadan Forest, to the negotiations for thy hand, to his
friendship. And yet – I cannot forgive him for this… this estrangement
from my father.”
A soft voice beside him shushed him. “It seems to me, my Lord, that thy
father bears the brunt of guilt here. ‘Twas not Thorongil’s intent
neither to deceive thee nor to tear thee away from thy father’s esteem.
Thou knowest this.”
“I know not what to think. Clandestine meetings, gifts given, the
people exhorted to cheering his name in the courtyards. What am I to
think? That Thorongil was unaware of the repercussions, the destruction
that these things brought about. I am the Heir, not he. My mind tells
me he and the wizard engineered these things. Swayed my father’s heart
towards him, and away from me. Yet my own heart would deny such
accusations.” He pulled her towards him. “I will speak with Ecthelion,
in couch’d terms and try to discover where the treason lies. Aye,” he
said as she pulled away from him at the word, “‘Tis treason to plot to
overthrow the rightful Heir. Is that not what he did?” His anger
simmered again. “He and that wizard.” He spat the word. “Wizards speak
in riddles, tell half-truths, and endeavor to take control of peoples’
minds. Hideous creatures. Long bereft of honour.” He was droning the
phrases, alarming her. “Wizards are not to be trusted. They lie. They
steal information. They trick leaders into unwise decisions.”
“Denethor!” she cried, “You are frightening me.”
He drew a breath in sharply. Somehow, he had been back in the deep
archives of the Great Library, listening to a feared voice. He shook
his head to clear it. ‘I have endeavored to keep my mind my own. I will
not go back to being the pawn of another wizard,’ he thought. ‘I will
He hugged her quickly to assuage her fears and left her. Striding
towards the Great Hall, he toyed with the words he would use to
question Ecthelion. How was he to couch his words so that his father
would not realize where his questioning was leading? He was, however,
unprepared for the onslaught of his father’s rage.
“You!” his father screamed as he entered the Hall. “What did you do to
make Thorongil leave me? What did you say to him that made him abandon
Gondor? With him at my side, there was a possibility that we would win,
that Gondor would not fall. But you,” he snarled out the word, “you
have destroyed all hope with your petty jealousy. Did you not know that
my Captain would flee from your accursed finger pointing?” He slumped
back in his Chair. “I… I cannot do this alone,” he whispered. “Finally,
Gondor had an ally of stature!”
“Father!” Denethor tried not to shout. “I said nothing to Thorongil.
Nothing. Always have I obeyed your will, though you would see it
otherwise. Do not blame me for Thorongil’s change of mind. Never had he
made oath to Gondor, nor pled fealty to you; never had he promised to
remain here. His loyalty was a delusion. Always, he looked only to
himself, to his own ends. Now those ends have sent him in a different
direction and we must stand without him. Know that I valued his
quality. Know that I esteemed his leadership. Know you not that his
heart was not beholding to Gondor. I appreciate your need of his
skills, but father, others have skills too, skills that perhaps you
have not seen.” He did not want to beg, but suddenly his entire being
longed mightily for his father’s approval. “Would you not teach me?
Would you not use me to help Gondor?” He knelt before the Steward, his
heart beating wildly. Perhaps there was the slightest likelihood that
Ecthelion would value him. He knew Thorongil was loyal to Gondor, knew
it in his heart, and he found it repulsive to use that ploy to sway
Ecthelion, but he must use something to further his own cause, and
Thorongil had, indeed, abandoned Gondor.
His father stood up. “Leave me now,” he said wearily. “We will talk in
the morning.” He turned as if to leave, then turned back. “Come to the
Council meeting tomorrow.” Then he turned again and left.
Denethor almost leapt for joy. He had not been admitted to a Council
meeting in over five years; summoned once in a great while to give
report, but not attend! He could not believe his ears. He ran towards
his quarters, ready to envelop his love and rejoice with her in the
implied meaning of the invitation.
However, the Council meeting did not go as he had hoped, but it was a
beginning. He was not introduced, and that disappointed him, yet the
members of the Council knew him well. Why should his father introduce
him? He sat halfway down the table from the Steward. The place of honor
was given to Lord Amandil. Ecthelion did, however, notify the Council
of Thorongil’s decision. There were great sighs and harsh comments
towards any who would have had any part in that decision. Denethor knew
their thoughts accused him. He tried to keep his head up.
Many decisions were made that day that alarmed him. The forces at
Pelargir would be cut in half, now that the threat from Umbar was
presumed abolished forever, thanks to Thorongil (he cringed). The
Gondorian ships used in battle were left to sit at the docks. Funds
were not allocated to repair them. Their crews were sent to the
garrison at Dol Amroth. Denethor questioned many of the decisions, but
in his own heart he deemed it was not yet his time to partake of the
discussions. Ciramir was sent to Pelargir and Amdir was stationed in
Osgiliath. Listöwel would be sorely hurt by this decision. No
woman was allowed to accompany her husband to the garrison at
Osgiliath. Concern for Amdir’s safety battled with pride for his
friend. Osgiliath was deemed a very good assignment. There was no
mention of an assignment for him. He kept his mouth closed. He was,
however, placed as a member of the funding committee, to learn, as
Ecthelion told him bluntly, how to effectively negotiate, use the
treasury monies, and contribute to the well being of Gondor. Denethor
wanted to gag.
Once the Council was adjourned, Ecthelion called him forth. “I would
have you spend the next months in the Great Treasury. I want the items
there catalogued. It is a worthwhile assignment, and one that will
teach you many things. It will also help you in your role with the
“Aye, my Steward. I will begin this afternoon. If I may have your leave?”
The Great Treasury. He had run back to their chambers and hugged her
tightly. All the excitement at his inclusion in the Council was
mitigated by the task laid before him. “I am to be a clerk,” he stated
sourly. A bitter laugh escaped his lips. She ran her hand through his
hair. “First I was to be an aide and now I am to be a clerk. So this is
what I have trained for all my life.” He stared at her for a moment.
“Forgivest thou me?” he said, looking into her bright grey eyes.
“Always, my heart turns to the unpleasant aspects of my life, and away
from the gifts I have. Away from thee. I am a fool; nay, more than a
fool, I am an idiot. No other, looking at one such as thee, holding a
Vala in their arms, and hearing the sweet cooing of their son, would
spend one moment on such thoughts. ‘Tis folly. And I am sore pressed to
make excuse for it. Yet, I would beg thy forgiveness. Thou knowest me
too well. Thou knewest me before our oath taking. Art thou surprised?”
She laughed, holding him closer to her. “Nay, thou art the most
precious gift the Valar could give. Almost as precious as thy son.
Come, thee must see what he hast done this day.” And she led him into
As soon as Boromir saw him, he lifted his arms and cooed. “Ada, Ada, Ada,” he sang over and over.
Denethor’s face blushed at the joy he felt looking upon the little one.
“My darling Boromir,” he cried and lifted him from the cradle, swinging
him around and rejoicing at the gentle laughter emitting from his son.
“Thy naneth tells me thou hast been up to some sort of devilry?” He
laughed as Boromir looked at him questioningly. “What great feat hast
thou done this day, my son?”
Boromir looked shyly at his ada. “Down, Ada,” he said simply.
Denethor smiled and placed him on the floor. The little one moved quickly to his cradle and climbed right into it.
Denethor gasped. “How didst he learn to do this? Who taught him?” he asked Finduilas in astonishment.
Boromir and Finduilas giggled. “Want sleep. Cradle feels so good, Ada.” He yawned.
Denethor walked back to the bed, pulled the coverlet over him, and
kissed him on the forehead. “Sleep now, my sweet Boromir. Ada is so
proud of you. And Ada loves you very much.” He turned to hide the tears
in his eyes, walked towards Finduilas, and buried his head in her
shoulder. They walked slowly from the room.
“It… is…. not…. possible. He cannot be dead. He was here, with us, just
two years ago. Dead. It cannot be. Too young to be dead.” He had slid
back into his chair, hands hiding his face. “How?”
“He was not of Númenor, le melon. He just died. It happens.” She
had not wanted to sound unfeeling, but she knew the frailty of men who
were not of Westernesse blood.
He pulled her to him, down onto his lap, and held her tight. “He was
more brother than friend, Finduilas. I cannot abide the thought that he
is gone. I had wished to fish with him one more time. I sent a missive
to him, after Thorongil deserted us, asking for his advice. But he did
not reply. I was hurt, at the time. I thought, what with his love of
Thorongil, that he would not listen to me. That he thought I was being
foolish. He must have been ill then. I should have known better. I knew
him well, Finduilas. How could I have thought he would abandon me?”
Tears formed in his eyes. “When?”
“Not five days past. An errand-rider was dispatched as soon as… There
was no warning, Denethor. He had been ill for only a short time. He
died in his sleep. Morwen was at his side. Théoden had returned
from the Fords of Isen a fortnight before. Will you go to Edoras?”
“Of course. I must. And Amdir will go too. We must send a rider
immediately to fetch him. Recall him from Osgiliath. Indis… Arciryas
too. He would not want to be left behind. Oh, Finduilas. Does Indis
“Nay, melethril nîn. I thought you would want to tell her.”
“Aye. Call the guard in. I will meet her in our chambers.”
Indis had insisted that Listöwel be allowed to accompany them. “We
three, Denethor, are bound as sisters. You cannot separate us. She must
attend,” Indis had stated. And so it was that the entire company of
friends, less Elleth who had taken ill, arrived at the gates of Edoras.
Dust and heat assailed them as they passed through. Banners hung silent
in the dark. It had taken them longer than usual to reach the Rohirric
city. Though rivers were only tiny trickles or dried up beds, they were
not the stumbling block that caused the trip to be long and arduous. He
rued the fact that Indis and Listöwel accompanied them. They did
not show it, but he knew the two-week journey had taken its toll on
them all. It had been a dangerous journey. Orc bands had attacked at
night four times during their long sojourn. Gratefully, he acknowledged
that they had lost none of their company; he smiled, though, as he
thought of the battle readiness of the women! They would not be put
off, nor circled in protection, but had fought hard and long, as the
men guarding them. It irked him to think Orc would have the temerity to
attack a full Gondorian battalion. Gondor must be deemed weak indeed to
be held in such disdain.
Morwen had begun the song of mourning…. "Bealocwealm hafað… They
laid him in a mound prepared for him, the mounds on the left being part
of the second line of the Kings of Rohan. Little white flowers have
already sprouted from its base.” As Morwen held Denethor’s arm tightly,
she recounted the ceremony. “The day was beautiful. White clouds
spotted the sky; the mountain snows mirrored their whiteness and the
river Snowbourn glimmered in the hot sun. All was white and blue and
gold. The roof of the Golden Hall hurt the eye, such was the brightness
of the sun that day. How I wish you had been here. I should have sent
for you earlier. I could see he was failing, but I would not accept it.
Nor did I expect it to happen so quickly.” She leaned against him,
clinging to his arm. “He bade you farewell, Denethor. He awoke in the
middle of the night, clutching his chest, bending near over with pain.
It subsided for a moment. His eyes, misted with tears from the pain,
suddenly cleared. He looked at me and smiled, gave me his love. We lay
together for another few moments, he recounted his love and pride for
Théoden, his wish that he could have accomplished more, his
thoughts of friends near and dear to him. You, my dearest, Denethor,
were part of those such named. Another few moments and Théoden
and the healers were at his side. But he was gone by that time.”
“He was a brave warrior, Morwen. Songs and tales will be told of him
until the end of time. I learned so much from him. A truer friend I
have not had. Gondor has indeed lost one of her sons. Ecthelion would
have had me use him for Gondor’s end: I know he knew that, but I would
not sully our friendship with that crassness. I had only the deepest
respect for him. Though his years were many more than mine, he held me
in esteem. I considered him our finest Captain. Will you come back to
Gondor with us, Morwen? You are sorely missed. Your old quarters would
She looked at him in surprise. “Nay, Denethor, though I would wish it
mightily, for I miss my sisters terribly. Théoden and
Théodred have need of me. The little one needs a mother, and I
am that for him, and always will be. But I thank you for the kindness.
He loved you very much.”
“And I him.”
Laughter swept down the hallway and into the main hall. Théoden,
Amdir, and Denethor looked up in surprise. “‘Tis the sisters,” Denethor
said in mock anger. “They cannot stop that cackling whenever they meet.
‘Tis a disgrace!” The smile belied his words.
Théoden laughed. “Have they always been like this?”
“Aye. They drove your father mad with it. Some nights, ‘twas hard to
sleep. I think he relished being sent to a far away outpost now and
again. I know I did.”
All three men laughed heartily. Denethor clapped Theoden on the back.
“My lad,” his tone grew serious. “Know that I will be here for you. In
whatever your want. Need I say that the promise of Cirion, Steward of
Gondor, will hold as long as Ecthelion is Steward, and then after, when
I am Steward. We will not forsake the men of the Mark. The boundaries
will not change, nor your sovereignty. I swear it.”
Théoden hugged Denethor. “Father spoke truly of you. He told me
that, if ever I was in need, I was to call upon Gondor. That Gondor
would answer. Know you also, Denethor, that Rohan will answer any call
of Gondor’s. We know the oath of loyalty taken by Eorl on the
Halifirien, the oath of perpetual loyalty to Gondor. Know that I will
keep that oath, Denethor, as long as I have breath!”
“I find it strange, my friend, that we should be swearing oaths that
were created by our ancestors so long ago. But the friendship between
Gondor and Rohan has been strong, and always will be.” He paused for a
moment. “Did you know that Cirion’s father was named Boromir? I find it
strange that I sit here with you as father of Boromir. I think it bodes
well for our people. Do you not agree?”
Laughter again erupted from down the corridor and Denethor and
Théoden joined it. Amdir shrugged. “‘Twill be hard for them to
be parted again.”
“I tell you there was smoke coming from his nose!”
“Nay, ‘tis not true,” Indis cried.
“‘Twas,” insisted Morwen. “I saw it myself. The wizard had drawn on
that pipe he uses and smoke came from his nose! After that,” she paused
for emphasis, “he blew out a round ring from his mouth that drifted to
the ceiling of the Golden Hall. Then it stayed there, till evening
Indis laughed loudly. “I have heard tales of Mithrandir’s love of the
stuff he calls pipeweed. I remember, one time in Minas Tirith, he had
some children of the Tower Guard running over the foothills of
Mindolluin harvesting bunches of sweet galenas. He brought it to the
laundry and spread it on the drying tables. After a week, he went back
to retrieve it. He was furious; the laundress had thrown it away. They
bellowed back and forth at each other until I was called to settle the
The others laughed with her. “Great was the courage of that laundress,
I must say,” said Listöwel. “I would not cross the wizard myself.
Dark are the memories of wizards for Denethor, that much I can say!”
“Aye,” Indis frowned. “He truly distrusts them. All wizards. Yet, I
myself, find Mithrandir to be pleasant company. He regales me with many
tales of Elves, and great forests, strange creatures – the very type of
tale that Denethor loves. But Denethor will not allow himself to be
anywhere near when the wizard visits Gondor.”
“‘Tis a shame,” Listöwel echoed her friend.
“What is the real shame is that you will be leaving me soon.
Théoden said that Denethor plans on leaving the day after
tomorrow. I will rue that day, my sisters. Blessed has your company
been to me. You have eased my heart. I know Théoden has been
lifted by Denethor’s presence. Would that we could stay together
always. Do you remember, Indis, when I was with child and had the
vision of Thengel, helpless? Do you remember how you said that, as long
as our men were together, they would be all right?” Tears started to
fall from her eyes. “‘Twas an omen of this day. We should never have
left Gondor. I know Thengel would be alive today, with Denethor and
Amdir at his side. I know it.”
Indis leaned in and held her sister-friend. “Nay, my sister, you know
that the life of an Eorlingas is short. His time had come. Your curse
is that of one of Númenor. You chose one of lesser blood. You
knew your life would last longer than his. But be heartened, for
Théoden’s blood flows with yours and he will live longer because
of it. That, my sweet sister, is very good.”
“Aye,” Morwen sighed. “‘Twill flow through the line of Thengel forever. That does hearten me, my sweet Indis. Thank you.”
Darkness enveloped her and she hid under her cloak, willing it to be
gone. But her heart had been o’ertaken by it; she was helpless in its
power. Such terror had never assailed her as this did. She felt it,
physically, and burrowed deeper into the cloak: the cloak he had given
her on their wedding day. Darkest blue with mithril stars scattered
about. The cloth was so thick she could not see through it. And this
was a blessing. The mountain belched and stormed at her, shaking the
very foundations of Minas Tirith, causing her to grasp the cloak in
panic. Three times the room had shaken so badly she was afraid she
would be thrown from the bed. She clung to the great oaken headboard as
her tears fell. ‘How could he leave me alone like this? Does he not
know I will go mad with this terror? Is there no one who can help me? I
am so alone. I am so alone.’ The tears fell faster as she cowered
further and further into the precious mantle that covered her. Another
tremor hit the room and she screamed into the night, “Where is he? Why
did he leave me? Why did they all leave me?” But there was no answer.
Even the mountain had quieted. The silence almost hurt it was so deep.
“Silence before the storm? Is that what this is?” she wondered aloud.
But after a few moments, she realized the mountain had stilled. She
held her breath for another moment, then slowly moved the cloak back
just a bit. The fire still burned brightly in its place, the candles
still flickered, but now gently, and she could hear the soft sound of
wind blowing outside her windows. Another deep breath and she sat up.
Her fingers hurt from holding so tightly to the headboard. She flexed
them, then sat up, moved off the bed and walked to the terrace opening.
‘Why am I doing this? I do not want to see it.’ But some compulsion,
some fixation made her look. The sky in the east was lit up as if by
the sunrise, but it was no sunrise; it was the flames of that horrid
mountain reaching towards the firmament itself. She pulled the cloak
tighter about her. The stars were the same as those back home in Dol
Amroth. Yet, not the same, for these were being o’ercome, supplanted by
the fire and smoke that spewed out of that horrid cavernous peak. She
closed her eyes. Such sadness, such gloom, such despondency beset her
that the tears, which had stopped when the shaking had stopped, poured
forth again in such torrents it frightened her. ‘By the Valar, I will
die here in loneliness and grief.’ “Denethor,” she screamed wildly.
“Denethor, save me.”
The guard flung open the chamber doors, sword unsheathed, searching for
the cause of his Lady’s distress. Stepping a few paces into the room,
he called her name. When his call went unanswered, he strode quickly to
the bedchamber’s doors, knocked, then opened them. She lay by the great
terrace doors overlooking the Courtyard of the White Tree. Rushing
towards her, he sheathed his sword, took her in his arms, and gently
called her. She did not respond, but her chambermaid ran in at the same
“My Lady,” the wretched girl screamed.
The guard shouted for her to be still; then motioned for her to come to him. She wept openly as she tiptoed across the room.
“The Lady Finduilas is ill. Go to the Houses immediately and bring back
the Master Healer. Go, now!” he shouted as she looked at him in
confusion. With a start, she ran from the room.
Denethor’s groomsman had entered the room behind the chambermaid and
quickly run to the guard’s side. Kneeling, he put his hand on her
forehead, touched her cheeks, and finally felt her neck. “Quickly,” he
whispered. “Place her upon her bed. I believe she has only fainted.”
The guard sighed a great sigh of relief, picked her up and placed her
under the covers. The groomsman removed the cloak and pulled the covers
up around her neck. “I will stay with her. Please inspect the rooms.
Make sure there is no sign of an intruder, nothing that might have
caused this distress.”
The guard obeyed. After a few moments, he came back. “There is no one
here. Nor any sign that an intruder had entered these rooms.”
“Aye. It is as I thought. I believe she has never felt the quaking of
the earth before. Though not as hard as when the mountain first
awakened, the shocks were strong. She fainted in fright, I think. Go,
back to your post. I will stay with her. When the healer comes, send
A few moments later, a man stood in front of the guard. “The Master
Healer has gone with Denethor to Rohan. My name is Siriondil and I
would look to the Lady Finduilas,”
He had held Morwen in his arms, comforting her as best he could. He
knew there were no words to assuage her grief. Yet, he was grateful to
be with her, to at last hold her and tell her of all that Thengel had
meant to him, to Gondor and to the Rohirrim. He knew he did not want to
leave her here. And yet, he must. His friend’s son needed her. She had
such wisdom and strength. He thought, with awe, of the women in his
life. Morwen Steelsheen. Aptly she was named. He saw it in the steel of
her eyes as she bid them farewell. Indis was weeping openly as was
Listöwel, but each waved, smiling through the tears. The entourage
went through the gates, down into the valley and towards the road that
led home. As much as he wanted to stay, to spend more time with
Théoden, he knew he must leave. His heart had been filled with
pain these last days. He needed to be with Finduilas and Boromir. He
had been gone too long. He had never meant to stay for Théoden’s
coronation, but the man had begged him, and so he stayed. It had
recalled to him Thengel’s ceremony. Bittersweet these days seemed to
be. To raise a cup of cheer to the new King delighted him, for
Théoden had become quite a man, so like unto Thengel, but still,
he wanted to still see Thengel seated on the throne. How hard for
Morwen to sit next to her son and not her King. ‘Ah,’ he thought, ‘but
Théoden is now King. I can only wish the best for him. The days
are growing darker. I have warned him about the wizard at Isengard. I
hope he takes my advice to heart. Would that my ancestor had never
given the keys of Orthanc to a wizard!’ He shook his head. ‘‘Tis
fruitless to follow that line of thought. The damage has been done; the
wizard resides in the tower. And I must leave it in the hands of a
child.’ He had to laugh. Theoden was no longer a child, but his fondest
memories of the man were in Minas Tirith, bouncing him on his knee. How
he wished they had more time together. ‘Ah, someday I will take him
fishing with me. Thengel told me he excels in the sport. Then again,
perhaps I will not. I really do not want to have another abject lesson
in humiliation. I have never been able to fish well. I know not why.’
His smile filled his face.
Indis drew alongside him. “What brings the smile to your face, my brother?”
“I was thinking of Thengel and how much he loved to fish. I imagine he
has drawn forth all the fish in the Snowbourn and left none for his
“I too miss Thengel. It is a very hard thing to lose a man such as he was. Besides being a friend, Gondor needed his strength.”
“Indeed, sister, you speak well. I cannot forget the pride Thengel had
in Théoden. I think Rohan will remain loyal to Gondor, will do
her best to keep the evil forces at bay, and will guard our shared
border well. We discussed horses, and he has promised another herd to
be sent to Gondor within the month. We have needed new mounts
desperately.” He shook his head slowly. “We lose as many mounts as men
in this age. Too many, dear sister. Too many.”
She placed her hand on his. “When you are Steward, my Lord, you will
exhort men to join Gondor’s armies. They love you, the men who serve
under you, and that love will be known to all. You will have no
difficulty encouraging the other lords of Gondor to send men to swell
the ranks. You are eloquent and wise. They will see the wisdom in your
words and they will respond in like. I have no doubt. Ecthelion has
been ruled by frustration and enmity towards Turgon and the legacy he
left him. If you leave aside these things, you will be strong and
Gondor will survive.”
“I know not how Gondor will survive, Indis. We have not enough men and
the lords of the surrounding lands do not send us recruits. It is as
you say; I must persuade them to act and now. Else Gondor will surely
fall. I thank you for your confidence in me, dearest sister. It is most
needed. If Father would only…’ he stopped in confusion. Better to leave
those thoughts somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind. They only
caused pain. “We have been missed, Indis, of that I am sure. If only
there were some way to fly over these mountains into Finduilas’ arms,
‘twould make me most happy.”
Siriondil had paced the room for nigh unto a fortnight. She still
languished. All the medicaments he used did nothing for her. She had
not even wanted to see her son. The healer was most concerned. ‘Perhaps
it is fever. No,’ he wished it were. He could deal with fever, knew how
to fight it, but this was different. It assailed her mind. Would that
Denethor would hurry home. Ecthelion had not thought it necessary to
send an errand-rider to the party; he thought they would return within
the month. Denethor had now been gone almost two months. She was awake
and aware, most of the time, yet her speech slurred at times, and her
eyes would cloud over. He shivered. ‘I must do something.’ He jumped at
the sound of running feet. He stood away from the bed and turned
towards the doors. Denethor pushed them open and ran into the room. His
face was terrible to behold. The healer quickly moved out of his way.
Denethor had knelt by her side, taking her hand into his. Arciryas
joined him. Siriondil left the bedchamber and waited in the outer rooms.
“Finduilas?” he whispered. Her eyes were closed, her face grey, her
hair lay wet about her face, drenched in sweat. “Finduilas,” he moaned.
“Lasto beth nin, cuiva!” She did not stir. “Garn nîn, absenen.
Too long have I been gone. Absenen, melethril nîn, absenen!” He
turned towards Arciryas. “What ails her? Why will she not wake?”
“My Lord,” Siriondil stepped through the doors. “I gave her a draught
to help her sleep. The last time she awoke, she was delirious.
Screaming about death and fell beasts and I know not what else. Afraid
she would hurt herself, I gave her a potion.”
Arciryas stepped to the man and walked him back out the door. They
spoke for some moments; then Arciryas came back and stood by Denethor.
“The potion is weak. She should wake soon. Please, Denethor, take a
quick bath, make yourself presentable, so that when she wakes she will
not be affrighted by your appearance or your demeanor. She needs you
Denethor quickly kissed her forehead and moved to the antechamber. His
groomsman was issuing orders for a bath to be drawn. Denethor pulled
Arciryas close to him. “What ails her?”
“Siriondil tells me there was a time of great activity from the
mountain while we were away. Three or four tremors hit the tower. She
was alone, frightened, and fell prey to a ‘madness’ – it will pass,
Denethor. Once she is in your arms, it will pass. She is weak, however,
and I think it best you do not leave her for long periods. Either you
or Indis or Listöwel must be with her for now. She should not be
Arciryas gave him a hug, surprising Denethor. “Brother, her love for
you is deep. Let that thought comfort you while she heals. I will stay
by her side until you are ready.”
Indis ran into the room while Denethor was still in his bath. He looked
up surprised and she blushed. “Forgive me, brother. I heard the news of
Finduilas’ illness. Is it serious?”
Arciryas had stepped through the door as soon as he heard Indis’ voice.
“She will be well, my love,” he said. “You will have to help her regain
her strength and her will to live. I am told she refused to see
Boromir. He must be brought to her. The child has such life and joy
within him, he can only help to raise her spirits. But not for a day or
two. I cannot believe they kept him away, even if she had requested the
separation. A mother needs her son, as does the son need his mother.”
He wanted to throttle the nursemaid and her chambermaid. How could they
leave her alone during the tremors? It was becoming commonplace to have
the tower shake; though, from Siriondil’s description, it had been a
fairly violent event this time. Still, had the maid hidden under her
own bed? He would ask Indis to find another to take care of Finduilas,
someone stronger. ‘Ah, he thought suddenly, ‘Firieth. She will be
perfect. Strong and no nonsense. Finduilas will not be able to order
Denethor had finished dressing and joined his sister and her husband.
“I will go to her now. You both should go to your own quarters. I will
see you in the morning, both of you. Arciryas, at that time, I would
like a full report from your healer.”
“Yes, my Lord,” Arciryas said, and, taking Indis arm, left the room.
Denethor walked to their bedchamber, closed the doors behind him, and
lay next to the Swan princess. Tears slowly welled up in his eyes; he
let them fall. At last, he fell into sleep.
Awakened by a fist hitting him in the cheek, he sat up. She was still
asleep, but her arms flailed about. He tried to grab them and suffered
another hit to his shoulder. Gently, he whispered her name. Arms kept
flailing and a moan escaped her lips. “Save me,” she whimpered. His
heart broke. “Oh sweet Finduilas. I am here. Thou art safe. Cuiva.
Losto, sedho, hodo.” But nothing seemed to calm her. As he readied to
call the guard, her eyes flew open. “Finduilas!” he sobbed. “Melethril
nîn, it is I, thy husband.” She looked uncomprehendingly at him,
then her breath hitched and she flung her arms about his neck.
“Denethor!” she screamed. “Denethor, save me!” Her eyes were wide and
her breath came in ragged gasps. “Finduilas,” he whispered, trying to
soothe her. “Finduilas, thou art safe. I am here at thy side and I will
not leave thee.” She clung even harder and he had to struggle for air,
but he would not let her go. “Finduilas. There is naught to fear. I am
here. Thou art in thine own bed. Guards stand at the door. Thou art
safe, garn nîn. Thou art safe.”
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. The guard cautiously opened it. “My Lord, is there aught wrong? I heard screams.”
“Aye. Thank you for entering. Go to my sister’s chambers and bring Arciryas here.”
The guard left and Denethor once more turned his full attention to
Finduilas. She had calmed to the point that her arms were no longer
flailing about wildly, but her eyes still rolled in her head, and drool
covered her lips. He was very frightened. She should not look this way.
It reminded him of a horse, mortally wounded in battle, not knowing
that it was going to die, and pleading for surcease from the fear and
the pain. “By all the Valar, she cannot die,” he whispered. “She
cannot.” He tried to still the fear in himself, lest she feel it and
her own fear rise further. Whispering her name over and over, stroking
her hair, he waited for Arciryas.
When the healer entered the room, he strode immediately to the bed.
Indis was directly behind him. After a few moments, he sighed.
“Finduilas,” he called gently.
She did not react; only continued to keep her arms about Denethor’s
neck in a stranglehold. Denethor did not attempt to free himself. He
continued his litany of gentle, loving words.
“Finduilas,” Arciryas called again, and this time, she looked at him.
He placed his hand under her chin and smiled. “Dearest sister, Indis
has come to visit you. Will you speak with her?”
Indis stepped into Finduilas’ line of sight. She blinked two or three
times and then started to cry, quietly at first, and then more
frantically. Indis knelt and took her hand and held it tight. “It is
all right, Finduilas. We are all here now. All here for you. All will
Finduilas sighed and the tears slowed. Firieth had arrived by now and
shoved a cup of tea into Arciryas’ hands. He recognized the smell of
the valerian root. She was smart, this one. She would watch over
Denethor also recognized it. The odor brought back memories of the
horror of the fire at Emyn Arnen and Amdir’s near-fatal injuries. Too
many bad memories. But he knew the tea would help her. He almost
laughed as she pushed it away. He had oft done the same thing, but he
took the cup from Arciryas and held it to her lips, gently speaking her
name. She looked up at him, and the pain in her eyes had lessened. He
smiled and she drank. Soon she was asleep. Denethor sat back with a
sigh as Indis took the cup and gave it to Firieth. Indis and Arciryas
sat down on the bed. Firieth moved to the doorway and sat in a chair
nearby. All three sighed with relief at the same moment. “I fear it
will be a long night,” Denethor whispered.
“Aye, but she is much better than any time previous to this, according
to Siriondil. That heartens me,” Arciryas whispered back. “If you don’t
mind, I will stay here with you. I am sure she has turned for the
better, but I would be amiss if I left now.” He turned towards Indis.
“You may go back to our room if you wish.”
“I cannot leave her,” she smiled sadly. “My heart breaks for her. Such
a little thing. Like a tiny bird, pushed from the nest too early. We
should not all have left her. Our thoughts were for Morwen, though, and
who could have envisioned such a quake at this time. It is almost as if
the mountain itself knew she was here alone.” She shivered.
“Do not give the mountain power over you, sister. It cannot do such a
thing. It is only moving because of its nature. Not for evil purposes.”
But in the depths of his heart, Denethor wondered.
Lasto beth nîn - listen to my words
Cuiva! – wake up!
Garn nîn – my own
Absenen – forgive me
Melethril nîn – my love
Losto, sedho, hodo – sleep, be still, lie still
And so he found himself once again in the guest chambers at Dol Amroth.
The sea sparkled in the sunlight, reflected light shining into the room
and lightening every corner. He shuddered briefly. It was in this very
room that he had seen his first Elf. He had come to court Princess
Finduilas, so very long ago, and yet… What? Was it only eight years
ago? It felt so much longer than that. They had been wed now these past
four years, happily wed until this month. When he had returned from
Edoras, the guard at the Great Gate had greeted him with the news that
the Lady Finduilas had been taken seriously ill. He had commandeered a
fresh stead from the Rangers’ stables and ridden as fast as the horse
could struggle up the interminably long streets to the sixth gate and
the entrance to the Citadel. When he opened their chamber doors, his
heart stopped. She lay on their bed, face as white as the sands of
Belfalas, hair drenched in sweat. He did not even see Siriondil; he
knelt at her side, taking her cold hand into his. He remembered calling
her name over and over. She lay as if dead. ‘Death!’ his mind screamed.
‘I cannot abide it!’ He had poured every ounce of his being into his
voice, into calling her back from wherever she had wandered off to.
That was all the remembrance he had. The memories of that horrid,
fearful night of vigil would come back to him, eventually. Now, his
mind pushed them away.
‘Not tonight. Tonight we will sit on the terrace and watch the sun set
over the bay and listen to the sound of the waves, and she will be well
again,’ he hoped with all his might. He heard the rustle of her skirts
and turned from the beauty of the Bay to the beauty of Finduilas. Pale
green dress sculpted her body. ‘Too thin,’ his mind screamed, but he
pushed that thought away, too. Pearls about her neck, a welcome home
present from her sister Ivríniel, accented the pallor still left over
from her illness. The gauntness of her face half hid beneath her black
hair, that hair which had once been so shiny, soft and beautiful. It
looked thin, dull, and flat. He fought back the shudders that engulfed
him. She would not see his anguish. He smiled and walked to meet her,
forcing his thoughts towards the healing she would receive here in her
home, and far away from the terror-filled sights that assailed her.
“Garn nîn! Thou lookest
most lovely.” Her eyes were sunken and terror again filled him. “Art
thou warm enough?” he continued, steeling himself to uphold her, to
give her comfort and hope. “I thought we might take our lunch here, on
the veranda instead of going to thy father’s dining hall. I would keep
thee to myself, melethril nîn. Then, we could watch the sun set over the bay, after you have rested. Would thee not like that?”
She leaned her head against his shoulder. “Holdest thou me.”
How could he hold her without breaking her? She seemed so fragile, like
the whitest snowflake. Here for only a moment, then melted away. ‘By
all the stars of Varda, I must not think like this. I must be strong. I
must be… happy.’ He took her gently into his arms, cradling her head in
his large, battle-weary hands. ‘A new battle I fight,’ he thought. ‘The
battle to save my beloved.’
Kissing her hair while whispering tender words, he built his own
courage and strength from the love that o’erwhelmed him in that moment.
‘She is worth fighting for,’ he thought furiously. ‘I will fight till
my last breath to keep her alive and well and happy. But how?’
Adrahil had gasped when first he saw her; then, quickly he put on a
smile as he pulled her into his arms. “My beloved daughter. How happy I
am that you have returned to your home.” He smiled an apology to
Denethor, but it was not needed. Denethor knew she must feel safe if
she were to heal, and here, in her childhood home, safety dwelt. “And
Lord Denethor. It gives me much pleasure to greet you again. I hope
your stay will be long?” he hinted.
“We hope not to o’erstep your generosity, Prince Adrahil, but we also hope to stay for quite some time.”
“Your chambers have been prepared. I have placed you at the front of
the palace, o’erlooking the Bay. It is a spectacular view, and one of
my dear Finduilas’ favorites. What think you of that, my darling
daughter?” the Prince said as he turned towards her once more. “Does it
please you to be in the ‘Elven Wing?’”
A smile, weak, but a smile nonetheless, graced her face. “Father,
You know how much I love that part of the palace. Thank you!”
Denethor saw the look of weariness that passed over her and took her
hand, gently pulling her away from Adrahil. “My Lord,” he said quietly.
“We look forward to spending time with you, but at the moment; our
journey was long, may we be excused? I would rest for a time, and I
believe your daughter is also ready for a rest.”
“Of course.” Adrahil’s voice boomed out, “Ivríniel, come, take your
sister and Lord Denethor to their chambers.” He turned towards
Denethor. “Perhaps, after you have rested, you will join me for
“We will see,” Denethor stated simply. “I am grateful that your
kind invitation included my sister and her husband.” Indis bowed and
Arciryas smiled. Denethor led Finduilas away.
Adrahil called after him. “They have chambers set aside on the
south side of the palace. My son, Imrahil, will show them the way,” but
he realized Denethor’s focus was on Finduilas.
It had been many days before they joined the family for anything.
The journey had been too long, Denethor feared, for Finduilas lay abed
for almost a fortnight, unable to rise by herself. Arciryas tended her.
Each morning, Denethor would carry her to a chair on the veranda and
sit and urge her to eat. Arciryas would come twice a day, bringing
medicaments and tales of the splendor of the palace and of Dol Amroth
itself. He had never been to Belfalas before, and the wonder of the
place astounded him. Indis would join them every day for lunch. Her
light-hearted laughter echoed through the room. She would bring fresh
flowers and regale Finduilas with her findings. She delighted in the
variety. She and Finduilas started to plan for a new garden area in the
courtyard off of their chambers in Minas Tirith. At last, she was
speaking of Minas Tirith again. She strengthened in those days and
hope, however fragile, kindled in Denethor’s heart.
She was sleeping now and he had walked out onto the veranda, his
attention caught by the sound of a crane calling. His thoughts turned
to Boromir. How the little one loved the great cranes that walked the
little streams outside Minas Tirith. He missed the lad mightily.
Listöwel would be taking good care of him, but, nonetheless, he wanted
to hold him in his arms and bounce him on his knee. He would be changed
when they came back. Babes grow quickly when they are little. Every
day, when he would go to the boy’s nursery, he would note that he had
grown a little taller, his face had lengthened a little, and his hair
had darkened a little more. What would he look like when they returned?
He stifled the groan, looking quickly towards the bed, but she did not
stir. As much as he loved to hold her in his arms, those arms longed to
hold his son. ‘My son,’ he thought. ‘Never had I thought to have a son,
and such a one as he. Brave and fearless already.’ He remembered how
the lad had climbed into his crib all by himself. Not afraid in the
least over the height that he had to negotiate to complete the task.
‘And quick of wit,’ he smiled. ‘Knows my footfall from any other. Yells
my name before I even open the door. I love him so very much. Is it
possible to love a child so completely?’ He walked towards the wall.
‘He would love this place. The gulls, the beaches, the water. Oh, how
the child loves the water.’ They were hard-pressed to keep him from
splashing through every puddle in Gondor, every stream on the Pelennor.
Another smile lit his face. ‘Never clean. Always into some mischief to
tear at his garments and besmirch his face.’ He chuckled. And then grew
solemn. ‘Was I such an abysmal child that my father should hasten to
separate us at every opportunity? Nay, ‘twas the absence of my mother
that caused our estrangement. It must have been very difficult for
him.’ Finduilas’ illness had opened his eyes to the grief his father
must have felt when his mother passed away. He heard her stirring and
strode quickly back into the room. She smiled as he flung himself upon
“Thou art mussing the covers, my Lord,” she teased. “What wilt my father think?”
He threw his head back and laughed. “Dost thou thinkest that I care
what thy father thinks when thou art at my side.” He quickly took her
into his arms, where she settled with a sigh.
She had gone to bed early. Indis had walked with her. Adrahil had
asked Denethor to stay, after supper, to speak of Gondor’s weal. It was
now three months since they had arrived in Dol Amroth and Finduilas was
well recovered. Denethor had planned to leave in the morning. After the
women left, Arciryas, Denethor, and Adrahil sat in front of the great
stone fireplace in the Prince’s study.
“I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your kindness to Finduilas,”
Denethor began. “I had no other recourse but to bring her here. You see
I was right in that decision. She needed to see the sea again, feel the
salt air on her face, and look upon beloved faces again. I will not let
so much time pass before bringing her back to Dol Amroth, if that is
agreeable to you.”
“Of course it is,” the Prince said dryly. “I could not refuse my
daughter anything. Did I not give her hand to you when she asked it of
Denethor smiled. The animosity between the two families had lessened over time, but a touch of it still lingered.
“I have a favor to ask of you, Denethor.” Adrahil spoke firmly.
“Anything, if it is within my power.”
“It is. I would have Imrahil return with you to Minas Tirith. He is
an asset to me. Well, you have a son. You know he is more than that.
But I would have him experience more of the world than what we have to
offer here in Belfalas. He will be Prince. Heir to my throne. Besides
that, it would do Finduilas well to have family at her side.”
Denethor bristled, but kept his face from any sign of discomfiture.
‘He would send his son to watch over his daughter. Obviously, he has
not faith that I can take care of her. Yet, in truth, I have not done
well. He must think I abandoned her when I went to Edoras without her,
though I thought it wise not to burden her with that tedious trip. It
was a mistake, not taking her. But who could have foreseen such a
thing.’ He held his breath for a moment. When it came to Finduilas, he
had no foresight. He had not thought, nor recognized that fact before.
Adrahil was speaking and Denethor had missed some of what he had said. “…if you wouldn’t mind?”
“Forgive my, my Lord. I did not hear the first part of your question.”
“There is not enough room in the barracks for the sailors that
Ecthelion sent from the Pelargir. Would you speak with your father? Ask
him to station them at other posts? There must be three thousand, at
“More than that, I think, yet, did not Dol Amroth need everyone of
them during the battle against Umbar? Would you have had less under
Thorongil? Methinks Dol Amroth would have fallen had not Thorongil
attacked. Is there no gratitude for the sacrifice made by Gondor?”
Adrahil paused for a moment, colour rising in his face. “All of
Belfalas rejoiced at the defeat of the Corsairs.” He stood for a
moment, trying to restrain the anger he felt. He had forgotten that
Denethor’s tongue could be wicked. “I only ask for the comfort of your
people. They are cramped.”
“You cannot find them larger quarters?”
Again, Adrahil flinched. “If that is what Gondor needs, then
Belfalas will provide. Yet, I do not see the need for such a great
contingent of men to be stationed here. With the threat of Umbar gone,
there presence would serve Gondor better nearer the eastern borders, do
you not think?”
“I will take Imrahil back with me. He will be commissioned as a
Captain, for I have seen his skill in leading men. I will take your
request to my father. But,” and he paused for effect, “but Belfalas
must send more men to Minas Tirith. There is no excuse, now, to keep
your men here. Would you not agree?”
“I will speak with my councilors.”
“That is not enough,” Denethor said quietly.
‘How does my daughter love this man?’ the Prince wondered, struggling again to keep control of his own tongue.
Denethor could see the struggle on the man’s face and relented. He
knew what it was to control oneself in front of an unyielding,
“Belfalas is next to my heart in my love because of your daughter.
Gondor is, of course, first. I will remember that, when I go to my
father regarding the number of men required. We will not leave Dol
Amroth unguarded.” He stood and walked to where Adrahil stood. “My
father,” he began tentatively and in Sindarin. Adrahil looked up in
surprise. “Thy daughter is most dear to me. Think not that I will let
aught happen to Dol Amroth for her sake, if not for Gondor’s. Trust me
in this. I will not fail you, nor your people. If Gondor falls, and
thou knowest this, then Belfalas will be o’errun by the refugees of
those battles. And then, eventually, Dol Amroth herself will fall. Thou
knowest this, father. The Unnamed One will prevail if all of Gondor
does not unite. Will you send men to Minas Tirith, to train in her
armies, to defend her, and Belfalas?”
Adrahil put his hand on Denethor’s shoulder. “The Swans have always been faithful to Gondor. We will not betray that faith.”
Garn nîn – my own
Melethril nîn – my love