Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
I II III IV V VI
16. Third Age - 2983
“Must thee tell him these stories? He is only four years old!”
“He is my only son, Finduilas, and he must know our history.” Denethor
spoke without reproach, with a firmness touched by warmth. “I have
waited longer than was my wont in deference to thee, dear heart. He is
going to be five soon,” he offered in apology. His thoughts flew back
to the time he was five. Bittersweet thoughts, tinged with regret. ‘I
wonder if I will e’er be able to look back at my childhood without
bitterness and longing for better.’
“Ah, but he will not be thy only child, garn nîn,” she
interrupted his thoughts as she lightly stroked her stomach.
Denethor gently removed his left arm from around Boromir’s shoulders,
quickly stood up, and hastened to Finduilas’ side. “What art thou
saying?” he asked, bending down to her. He knew well what she meant,
what the small gesture meant, but it seemed too much to hope for. It
had been over four years now and, though his love for her grew deeper
each day, his hope for another child had slowly faded.
“Thou knowest of what I speak, my Lord. By this time next year, another
child will giggle as it bounces on thy knees.”
Once again, his love had surprised him. He had to turn his face away
from her to hide the tears that sprang into his eyes. He grinned with
astonishment as he saw the two great sand cranes striding in the stream
before him. As soon as he saw them, they started majestically away, but
the sight had brought further hope, for the great cranes were
harbingers of good news. Now he was glad he had decided earlier this
morning to bring his family to the southern edge of Minas Tirith for a
picnic. The southern ramparts blocked the view of Mordor, so that all
Finduilas could see were the White Mountains to her right and the
plains stretched in front of her. He was sorry now that he had started
to tell Boromir of Melendil. It had been a peaceful, beautiful
afternoon, and though he knew in his heart that his son must learn all
he could impart as quickly as possible, he vowed not to teach him ever
again in her presence.
As soon as they returned to their rooms, he would summon the Master
Healer and have Arciryas assess her to make sure all was well. A
messenger would have to be sent to notify Prince Adrahil at Dol Amroth.
His heart ached for a moment as he thought of Morwen. How he wished she
were here to share his joy. She had never seen Boromir; she had been
long dead, and now he would be stopped from sharing his second child
“What art thou thinking, my Beloved?” Finduilas asked. “Hast thou
already assigned him duties, sent him commanding great battles before
thou even knowest if thou art to have another son?” She laughed lightly
as she spoke.
Denethor shook his head, took her hand in his and quietly shared his
sense of loss. She placed her hands on either side of his face and
pulled him gently towards her own. She kissed him lovingly and sighed.
“Another of the many reasons I love thee.” Tears formed in her eyes.
“How I wish I had known thy sister, melethril nîn, for
from her has come a great man. Would that I could have learnt from her
how to raise our children.” Denethor put his hands on either side of
her face and returned her kiss. “Thou needest no lessons, melethril
Boromir will be great among our people because of thee. Neither of my
sisters could do better.” She shrank into his arms and rejoiced at the
warmth of his body next to hers.
Boromir had tired of watching them; nothing they said interested him.
He was oblivious to the fact that another child was joining their
family. He just knew that his parents were no longer paying attention
to him. A small white heron had appeared on the ridge on the further
side of the stream and his little legs quickly took him towards it. The
long neck bobbed back and forth as it foraged for food, and therefore,
it didn’t notice Boromir’s coming. But the small splash of water as
Boromir entered the stream caused it to raise its head and look towards
him. Boromir saw he had startled the bird and quickened his pace for a
closer look when, suddenly his foot slipped on the moss-covered rocks
at the bottom of the stream. He scrambled to regain his balance but
The silence in the air, the warmth of the sun on her face and the
strength of Denethor’s arms holding her lulled her into a light sleep.
But Denethor’s shout of “Boromir!” quickly roused her. He jumped to his
feet, looking frantically about, and she was standing almost as quickly
next to him. She cried Boromir’s name too as her heart dropped. There
was nowhere to go. Where was he?
They ran to the brook, hand held tightly in hand, and looked with
horror at the little body laying face up in the shallow stream. Water
ran gently over the open eyes of their son, but no movement came from
him. His little mouth was slightly open. Finduilas collapsed sobbing at
the top of the ridge as Denethor ran down the slope and scooped his son
from the water. He laid the body next to Finduilas and gently pushed on
the little stomach, trying to push out whatever water might be in the
lungs. Finduilas took Boromir’s tiny hand in hers and repeated his name
over and over. Finally, the eyes blinked and Boromir started to cough,
water gushing from his mouth. Denethor sobbed and hugged him to his
great chest. Boromir tried to squirm away; he didn’t know why his
parents were crying, but he joined his tears with theirs.
His father picked him up and carried him back to their picnic area.
Boromir’s head was hurting and he was thirsty. He put his hand to the
back of his head and it came away bloodied. Finduilas gave a tiny
shriek when she saw it. Denethor quickly whipped the blanket from their
now spoilt picnic; cups and plates, fruits and cheeses flying in the
movement, and wrapped his son in it. Quickly he helped Finduilas to her
feet and they both ran towards the Great Gate. Even though in his
father’s strong arms, Boromir felt every jolt and every step. His head
was hurting even more now and the tears were for the pain more than
from the fear that had gripped him before. Denethor cursed himself for
not bringing a horse – the gate was far north of them. It would take
forever to reach it and then up the six levels to the Houses of
Healing; time they did not have.
Berelach appeared in the distance, riding one horse and leading another
behind. Gratitude filled Denethor’s heart at the faithfulness of his
aide. He knew he must have been watching them, ever vigilant from the
ramparts, seen what had happened, and reacted with his soldier’s
instincts. He quickly dismounted, took the child from Denethor’s hands
and, once Denethor was seated, handed the child back to him, turned the
horse and slapped it on its flank. “I’ll bring my Lady. Go! Now!”
Denethor gave the horse its head and galloped away with no backwards
look, his thoughts solely focused on the Great Gate and getting as much
speed as possible from the horse.
Horns blew wildly as he entered the gates: horns of alarm. The horse’s
hooves quickly ate the distance and they were in front of the Houses of
Healing before he knew it. A servant girl was at the door and took the
child from his arms as he dismounted. The last he saw of her were her
heels as she raced down the corridor. Boromir had ceased crying as they
rode the horse through the streets of Minas Tirith, but being held by
this stranger now terrified him and he let out a wail. Denethor caught
up with them, took the child in his arms, and immediately Boromir
ceased his crying.
Denethor kissed his cheek over and over as he ran, saying the boy’s
name tenderly and telling him all was well. The familiar smell of his
father calmed him and the tear-laden kisses made him sad. He touched
Denethor’s face with his pudgy little hand and said, “Do not cry, Ada.
I am all right. Really I am.”
The servant girl led him to a room with a small bed in it and Denethor
sat down – hard. The healer was next to him in an instance. Denethor
pulled the boy’s head towards his chest so Arciryas could look at the
wound. The blood flow had stopped. The girl brought bandages and hot
water. Arciryas tried to have Denethor lay the child on the bed, but a
cave troll would not have been able to separate these two. Arciryas
gave up and gently washed the wound. He was grateful to see that the
cut was not too deep, just ragged. The swelling was on the outside of
his scalp, which was always a good sign. If no swelling were apparent,
that would mean the swelling was inside the skull. That would have been
very dangerous. He wrapped clean bandages around the wound and then
around the child’s head, tucking the ends in the front.
“Ioreth will care for him now. He will need some rest.”
Denethor looked at his friend in surprise. “Ioreth?”
“Firieth’s daughter. The girl who took Boromir from your arms when
first you arrived. Surely you knew she had a daughter? Have you not met
Denethor had not even noted her presence, but now, shamefacedly, he
thanked her. She curtsied and began to speak, but Arciryas interrupted
“You should find his mother,” said Arciryas, hoping to still the young
girl before she got started. She had the most annoying habit of
At that moment, Finduilas appeared at the door of the little room and,
at the sight of her, Boromir started crying once again. Finduilas sat
at the edge of the bed as Denethor passed their son to her. Boromir
clung with both arms wrapped tightly around her throat. The crying had
stopped as soon as he was in her arms. He hiccupped and laughed. Her
eyes widened. She looked at Denethor who smiled. The hiccups continued
and the three of them laughed together, relief washing over them.
Indis' delight brightened the room. She clasped Finduilas to her, tears
filling her eyes. "We have so needed another pair of little feet in the
halls of Minas Tirith. Firieth will be so happy. Since her own Ioreth
left to work in the Houses, she has been lonely."
"Methinks Boromir is handful enough!" Finduilas laughed.
"Aye, that he is, but a most delightful handful. Have you sent word to
your father? Does your brother know? Oh dear!" she blushed, "now I am
starting to sound like Ioreth, never stopping for even a breath!"
"Your questions are welcome and necessary. I had not even thought of
Imrahil. A missive was sent home to mother and father as soon as I told
Denethor. But my dearest Imrahil. He will be furious!" She laughed at
the thought of her younger brother. It had been a joy having him here
with her these past years, always a reminder of the love that flowed
from Belfalas. She had only gratitude in her heart for Denethor. He had
welcomed Imrahil with open arms and the two seemed to get along quite
well. The difference in age was like unto Thengel and Denethor, so her
husband had befriended the young Swan. She could see the friendship was
genuine and it did her heart good. Her one fear, when she had learned
of her father's request, was that the enmity between the two families
would spread to her brother. But it had not. Imrahil thought highly of
Denethor, thought him a fine leader, and looked to him for wisdom.
“If you do not mind, I will send for him now. I cannot let him hear
this from others. He is such a comfort to me.”
“I understand. I will tell the guard. You sit and rest. Arciryas has
told me you are fit. There should be no problem with this child.”
“Aye. After having one child, my fears have lessened. I acted like a
foolish child with Boromir.” She blushed at the remembrance.
“Nay, you did not. You acted like any first time mother. I was most
proud of you and how you fought those fears.”
Finduilas hugged Indis. “I had much help from a certain man’s sister.”
Indis blushed. “Also, Listöwel and Firieth. They helped some.”
Imrahil had sat in silence for a long moment. Finduilas wondered.
Turning towards her, he hugged her fiercely. “I love you, dearest
sister. I am so happy for you.” He paused and she sensed his hesitation.
“What disturbs you, Imrahil?”
“Denethor must be about the business of Gondor. You have kept him close
to the City because of your needs. Will this not make it even more
difficult for him to leave you when duty calls?”
She sat still, stunned by the question. Her heart knew what he was
saying, but truth did not alleviate the pain she felt. Was her brother
trying to make her feel guilty? How would she answer him?
“I do not keep him in the City. His father has need of him.”
“Gondor has need of their Captain. He is the greatest swordsman I have
ever seen. He should be fighting the enemy, Finduilas. I want to serve
under him in the field. I learn only diplomacy here. I have learnt that
in Dol Amroth. I do not say this only for myself. Do you not see how
you hold him back? Do you have such little faith in him that he will
not return? I will protect him with my life. Will you not let him serve
Gondor in the way he should?” He looked at her stricken face and
blanched. “I am sorry. I have no right to speak thusly. What occurs
between a man and his wife is none of my business.” He tried to hug
her, but she pushed him away.
“I think it is time you leave.”
“What! You wish me to leave Minas Tirith?”
“Nay. Just leave me. Now. I am sorry. I cannot think. Please, Imrahil,
He bowed to her and left the room.
She collapsed on the couch in tears.
It had been a long labour. Denethor had paced for hours it seemed and
still there was no news. What could be wrong? Why did not Indis come
out and tell him what was happening? Finduilas had seemed so tired
these past few months, more so than when she carried Boromir. The babe
was here too soon; it was not yet time and yet labour had started and
Arciryas’ medicaments could not stop it.
Boromir had run to Denethor earlier in the day crying that he wanted to
see his naneth. Denethor wanted to see her too. Arciryas was concerned
and suggested it would be better if Denethor waited outside their
chambers. So, Denethor obeyed. He lifted Boromir in his arms and walked
him back to the seventh level, to the White Tree. He knew immediately
that was a mistake. The tree was dead and a shiver ran down his spine.
He did not, would not, let this be a sign of warning. He quickly walked
away from there and into the Great Hall. The statues of the Kings of
old always gave him a sense of security. One day, the King would return
and all would be right in the world. Evil would be overcome and the
burden of the Stewardship would be lightened for his father. He felt a
longing for the return of the King. He recited each name to Boromir,
holding him close to each statue and making Boromir repeat the name as
they moved towards the throne. Finally, exhausted in mind and body, he
sat at the foot of the Steward’s chair. Arciryas found him there,
laying with Boromir sound asleep across his chest. The healer smiled.
“Denethor,” he called, gently shaking his friend’s shoulder.
Denethor was instantly awake. “What? Is she well?” he blurted out as
soon as he saw it was Arciryas waking him.
“She is well and you have another son. Almost full size even though the
length of her carrying was shortened. He is doing well. His mother
suckles him as we speak. Would you like to see him?”
“Finduilas first. She is well?” he asked again in concern. At the nod
from Arciryas, Denethor passed the sleeping Boromir over and ran out
the Hall. He took the steps two at a time, having to stop twice to
catch his breathe. He slowed as he entered their chambers, smiled, took
in a breath or two and walked through to their bedchamber. She looked
beautiful. His heart hurt to see her, so much in love was he. She
smiled back at him.
“Hervenn nîn, thy son is beautiful. Wouldst thou look upon
He took two steps towards the bed and stopped. Indis smiled at him as
Firieth prepared a tea in the corner. He could smell its sharp odor and
smiled at the thought of valerian tea. ‘Too oft used,’ he thought,
though he was grateful to know Finduilas was being so well cared for.
He walked slowly towards the bed, fearful of waking the little one. He
bent over her and kissed her forehead, then sat gently down next to
her. She lifted the covering and he looked at Faramir. They had decided
the name a short time ago. Sindarin for sufficient jewel, they felt it
encompassed their joy at the fulfillment of their family. He was to be
their last; Arciryas had made it clear, Finduilas could not carry again.
“His looks are more thine own than Boromir’s,” Finduilas smiled.
He cupped her chin in his hand. “Thou, my own jewel, hast given me two
wondrous jewels. No man could be happier.” He kissed her again.
“Wilt thou hold him?”
He took the bundle in his arms. The child’s eyes opened and Denethor
gasped to see the depth of the great grey eyes that looked back at him.
Truly, the child bore his visage. He kissed the little one gently on
his forehead, touched the cheeks, and laughed as Faramir started trying
to suckle his finger. “He is hungry,” he laughed and gave him back to
As she took him in her arms and prepared to feed him, Indis came
forward. “He is darling, is he not, brother?”
“Aye. He takes my breath away.”
Finduilas called his name quietly. “Denethor, I would see Boromir.
Wouldst thou bring him hither, please?”
“Of course, garn nîn, I will return shortly.” He kissed
her again and left the room.
As he ran down the stairs, he started to hum the tune that Damrod had
sung many years ago. The song of Gondor. It suited him, reminded him of
Finduilas and the treasure she was. “Ah,” he sang aloud:
Gondor sits, mirrored moonbeams
Light her walls in Elvish dreams
All is well; Eärendil shines
'Pon my City, beloved, mine.
Stirring the fire furiously, he let all his
anger flow into the poker. Never would he understand his father. Never.
When he had told him the name they had finally chosen, Ecthelion had
grunted. “Faramir, what kind of name is that? Do you not remember what
trouble the first Faramir caused? He disobeyed Gondor’s rules; he went
to battle in disguise, and was killed, along with his father and the
heir. Disobedient brat! I am not surprised. ‘Twould have been a more
appropriate name for my own son.”
Denethor had clenched his teeth to keep from speaking words that
would have been useless anyhow. He reined in his anger. He should have
told him at a Council meeting, where he would have had to check his
tongue. Nay, cowardice. He had not expected Ecthelion to react in such
a fashion. Perhaps Ecthelion had expected them to name the boy after
him? Nay, he would not… But a possibility, nonetheless. He would make
certain that Finduilas did not hear of this. He had forgotten the first
Faramir. He had been fond of the name when first she had mentioned it
to him. He preferred to think upon the meaning, not its ancestry. He
cursed quietly. Let his father think what he would, there was nothing
Denethor could do to change his mind. He had tried for too many years,
with only failure as the outcome.
Startled by the calling of his name, he turned around. She stood before
him, beautiful as always. “My Lord, thou art poking the fire as if it
were thine enemy.” She upbraided him gently. “Is thy anger against
something I might help thee with?”
He gave a short laugh. “Nay, melethril
‘tis nothing. A problem with the Treasury that father asks me to solve.
I must work with Lord Amandil and thou knowest how much I relish that
task.” He lied smoothly. “Come, sit by me. Art thou well? Thy eyes look
“I am tired. Faramir nurses more oft than Boromir did. Perhaps it
is because he was born early. I do not know. He does not seem to do
well with Firieth either. He only wants me near. But he is so sweet, I
cannot deny him.” She paused for a moment. “It has been two days now, garn nîn. Thou hast not asked
to see Boromir in all that time. He misses thee terribly, asks for thee
“And I have truly missed him, but father has called two Council
meetings a day, as thou well knowest. He hast assigned me the task of
negotiating a new treaty with the Corsairs. Though they have been
beaten, they still cause problems. They do not abide by the terms won
by Thorongil. I am concerned, though the Council is not. Fools!” He
stood up and paced about the room. “These lords do not seem to see the
seriousness of the Corsair threat. Nor does my father,” he said, brow
furrowed. “It is as if Thorongil could do no wrong. Though that is not
the issue. He did well. In fact, he won a stunning victory, but that
does not mean we can sit back and rest on his accomplishment. I am sure
he did not mean for us to disassemble the fleet. Nor send the sailors
off to different garrisons with no hope of serving together again. He
did have, I must admit, a cohesive group of men under him. They worked
well together. If we had kept the lot, put Amdir as their Captain, I
would not worry so much. But – Ecthelion did not do any of this.”
He walked back towards her. “Another thing that disturbs me. I have
seen naught of the wizard since Thorongil deserted Gondor. I wonder
what that means. I have never trusted wizards, yet it is best to keep
an enemy close to hand. That way, he can be watched.”
She pulled him down. “Hush. Speak not of enemies, speak of thy
sons, or thy love for me,” she giggled. “I would think that I have lost
my allure by the way thee speaks.”
He pulled her close, stroking her hair and then, finally, kissing her.
She blew out the candle on the table beside them.
In the morning when she awoke, she saw he stood by the door to
their garden, shoulders slumped. She hurt to see him thus. Had Imrahil
been right? Oh, she could not think of that possibility. Yet his fuming
over Lord Amandil and the Treasury nudged at her heart. There had been
a nervous energy flowing through him last night. He had spoken of
Thorongil with respect, and that was most unlike him. She understood
the Corsair threat. Had not the ships of Belfalas oft been attacked by
those horrid men! She knew her father would agree with him. She
remembered their last meeting, of how her father had pleaded with
Denethor to return the sailors to Pelargir.
He had even dismissed the thought of Boromir. She knew it was not that
he did not love their son, but the demands of Ecthelion… ‘Ooh,
sometimes I just want to…’ She reined in those thoughts. Ecthelion had
been kind to her these past years. He doted on Boromir. Gave him a pony
last spring. But he also gave him his first sword and urged Denethor to
begin his training. And Denethor had agreed! “Ooh!” She jumped from the
bed, stamping her foot in fury. He heard her and turned.
“Tolo sí, hiril nîn.”
He said as she walked quickly to him, melting into his arms.
“Le melon!” was all she
could say. Tears sprang to her eyes as she realized her brother had
indeed spoken the truth. Denethor needed to be out and about. No
sitting in a dark treasury, cataloguing jewels, gold and silver for the
Steward’s Heir. She blushed in shame. ‘I am so weak, so silly. How do I
not learn from Indis and Listöwel? I have heard them speak, when
knew not that I listened, of their battles, their sword work, their
deeds of valour. Yet, I sit in shadows and fear everything. I will not
continue this. Indis will help me. I know she will. She will help me
become strong. Perhaps, I could learn to fight too. Yes, I could do
that, I’m sure.’
He looked at her, quizzically. “What art thou thinking? Thy brow is
all furrowed. Art thou not well?” He held her arms a little too
tightly, anxious at her expression. “Is ought wrong?”
“Nay, melethril nîn.
is well. Please, sit here. I would speak with thee.” She pulled him to
the outer chamber and sat on the couch. “Please?” she motioned with her
“Thou hast not broken the fast yet and the floor is cold. The fire has
not been stoked. Please, garn
nîn, come back to bed.”
She laughed. “Aye, I wilt come to thy bed if thou comest with me?”
His smile tilted slightly sideways. “Of course,” he said as he walked
her back to their bed. Pulling the cord for the servant, he lifted her
off her feet and set her down gently. Within a moment, his manservant
entered. “Bring us breakfast and start the bathwater.”
The man bowed and left. Denethor joined her. As he started to kiss her,
she laid her hand over his mouth. “Melethril
nîn, I am serious. I must speak with thee.”
He sat back and looked at her. “If thou must, I will listen.”
“My father wilst be most disturbed when Imrahil returns to Dol Amroth.”
Denethor started in surprise. “What…”
“Wouldst thou interrupt me at my every word! Lasto beth nîn. My
brother has been stationed in the City since he arrived. He has done
naught but listen to Council meetings and lords airing their
disagreements. He could have stayed in Dol Amroth and done the same. I
believe father meant for thee to teach him of strategies and tactics
and such. Dost thou not think that is what father had planned for him?”
Denethor stared in astonishment.
“Truly, Denethor,” she chided him. “Art thou not listening?”
“Of course I am. I… I am just… surprised. Of course thou art right. As
always. I have been remiss in his training.”
“Where wilt thou take him?”
“I will send him to Osgiliath under Amdir. He will learn much.
Amdir is a fine warrior. I trust him with my life. I trust him with
“Thou art not listening to me, hervenn
nîn. Didst not I ask where wilt ‘thou’ take him?”
This time his mouth dropped open. He raised his hands to speak, but
no words would come. He touched her forehead and she giggled.
“I have not a fever. Nor art my brains addled. My brother is thy
responsibility. Thou cannot send him out by himself, no matter the
trust thou hast in others. When wilst thou go?”
He shook his head. “I will speak with father. In a fortnight, we
will ride to Osgiliath. And how long am I to stay there?” he inquired
She stared at him. “How am I to know such things? Thou art his teacher.
Thou must decide. But first, please, garn
nîn, spend some time with Boromir. He misses thee
“Perhaps ‘tis time thou shouldst see thy brother? He misses thee
Boromir had indeed missed his father. Though only two days had gone
by, he had become accustomed to an early morning visit, nuncheon and
after dinner play. Two whole days had seemed like an age. When Denethor
entered the nursery, he had screamed shrilly, “Ada, Ada,” and ran to
Denethor, demanding with every fibre in his little body that he be
picked up. Denethor hugged him tight and walked to the garden door.
“Hush, little one. Thou wilt wake thy brother. Then Firieth wilt be
cross with us and we will be banned from sweets for the rest of the
day. Thou wouldst not want that, wouldst thou?”
“Nay, Ada. What kind of sweets?”
“I do not know what the cook has planned for the day. Shall we go to
the buttery? I, in truth, am famished.”
The boy squealed in delight as Denethor put him up on his
shoulders. Ducking out of the room and from the disapproving looks of
Firieth, the two went down the stairs.
“Ada, will I be a good soldier someday?” the lad called down.
“Of course, Boromir. The very, very best in all the land.”
“I have not practiced with my sword for a whole month.”
“Nay, thou practiced just three days ago.”
“Really? Seems so much longer, Ada.”
“Why art thou concerned?”
“Adadhron says I do not
Denethor bit his lip. “When did Adadhron
say this to thee?”
“Yesterday, I think. I tried to go to see thee. Firieth become very
cross when she found me. I almost made it to the Great Hall, but she
stopped me and I was very angry. I wanted to find thee, Ada!”
“Oh, and Adadhron came out of the White Tower as we were going back
in. I was happy to see him. And he hugged me, Ada, real tight. And then
he put me down and asked me why I wasn’t practicing? He said I must
practice, Ada. He said I would not be a good soldier if I did not
practice. I want to be a good soldier, Ada.” Denethor felt Boromir’s
hand under his chin. “Ada. Art thou listening?”
Denethor gently removed Boromir from his shoulders and sat on the
stair, sitting Boromir on his lap. “Boromir, a soldier does not only
use his sword. He uses his mind too. When thou art with Nana and I, we
help thee use thy mind. And that is important too. These past days,
thou hast been part of a great thing. The birth of thy brother. It is
important to see how new life comes into being. And so, at times such
as these, a soldier puts aside one part of his training for another.
That is being a good soldier. And thou wilt always be a good soldier, ion-nîn.”
Tolo sí – come here
Hiril nîn- my lady
Le melon – I love you
Lasto beth nîn – listen to my words
Hervenn nîn – my husband
Ion-nîn – my son
Adadhron – grandfather (paternal)
He had no opportunity to meet privately with
his father, before the next Council meeting. He would have to wait a
little longer before he proposed a short trip. He would emphasize short
for, whether or no she had bid him leave, he knew Finduilas was not
strong enough, yet, to be left alone. And his heart did not want to be
gone o’er long from her side. So, entering the Council chambers, he put
his needs aside and sat. There was Lord Amandil, sitting next to
Ecthelion. Denethor wondered what hold this lord might have upon his
father. He did not seem to possess any great wisdom, nor wit, to sit at
his father’s right hand. Only wealth. ‘Hmmm,’ Denethor thought, ‘seems
‘tis a waste to put wealth before wisdom. But who am I? My father must
have his reasons.’ Ecthelion stood and the assembly quieted.
“Three long years have passed since my first choice for Gondor’s
Captain-General was thought of. The position has lain open too long. I
have decided. Denethor.” He beckoned and Denethor, striving to keep a
closed face, stood and walked towards his father’s chair. He saluted
and waited, never sure of what his father would do next.
“I bid thee kneel.”
Denethor did as he was told.
“Give me your sword and swear to me now!"
Denethor placed the sword on Ecthelion’s lap and took the hilt in his
hand. The long remembered, long cherished oath flowed from his lips,
though his hands trembled on the sword.
"Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor.” He was grateful his
voice sounded strong, echoing through the chamber, “and to the Lord and
Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be,
to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or
dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death
take me, or the world end. So say I, Denethor, son of Ecthelion, of the
Line of Húrin, Steward to the King."
“And this do I hear, Ecthelion son of Turgon, Lord of Gondor,
Steward of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward
that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honour,
oath-breaking with vengeance."
Then Denethor received back his sword, put it in its sheath and started
to walk back to his seat.
“Stop.” Ecthelion said quietly. He turned towards Lord Amandil,
whispered to him, and watched as the man left his chair. “Come,
Captain-General Denethor, and sit at my right hand.”
Denethor near staggered in amaze, but continued to hold his face
firm and still. He walked to the proffered seat and sat. The nobles
nodded in approval. Then his father continued with the meeting. It was
over and done with quickly and the nobles started leaving the chambers.
‘A short Council meeting,’ Denethor thought. He stood to leave.
“Wait for me,” his father requested as he turned and bid each
member farewell. Denethor sat, still stunned by his father's actions.
“You might wonder what my reasons are for this suddenness of your
appointment.” Ecthelion smiled and walked away from his chair. The
smile chilled Denethor’s heart. “Since you had caused me to lose my
first choice, I was at a loss as to what to do. You know Thorongil was
my first choice? He would still be my first choice if he were here. But
I live and die for Gondor, as it would behoove you to set your mind to
do. And Gondor must have a Captain-General. Since it seems the line is
now continued, thanks to Finduilas, you are the next logical choice. I
say logical, for it is not in my heart to give this to you. I expected
only the best to sit at my right hand. It is not to be.” He turned with
fury on Denethor. “I expect total obedience from you from now on. Do
you hear me?” His shout lifted the hair on Denethor’s neck. “I will not
continence any type of disobedience whatsoever. Else you will find
yourself in the lower recesses of this Tower, chained to a wall, bereft
of everything you hold dear. Do you understand me?” His voice had
dropped to a whisper as he hissed these last words.
Once free of the Council chambers, he ran to their rooms. She was
asleep. He cursed quietly and walked into the outer chamber. Despair
flooded his heart and he dropped to his knees in front of the fire. His
eyes lifted to the bright light and warmth that flowed from it. ‘Ah, to
be an ember burning brightly, no thought nor care, nor worry. ‘Twould
be a peaceful end,’ he thought. He felt the hand on his shoulder and
She gave a small moan and gathered him into her arms. “Melethril nîn,” she repeated
over and over again as his tears wet her garment. “Le melon, le melon, hervenn nîn.”
She stroked his hair lightly and continued to whisper. “Avo 'osto. Gerich veleth nîn.”
Slowly, his sobs slowed. He lifted his face to hers and she smiled; the
madness had left his eyes. “Denethor?” She wanted to know what
happened, but was afraid to ask, afraid it would bring that cold, wild
fire back into those beloved grey eyes.
He gasped and pulled her tightly to him. “Finduilas. Thou art all I
need, all I want. I must remember that. Thou art my life and my love.
Thou art the morning and the evening. Thou art Anor and Ithil. Light
and dark. I cannot live without thee.”
“Ye shall not, garn nîn.
I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
“Hold me,” he whispered. “Father has made me Captain-General.” He spoke
the great news quietly.
She did not understand; he should be happy, rejoicing. She waited.
After a few moments he spoke again, still whispering. “I have waited
for this for so long, Finduilas. I had hoped for this for so long. Yet
bitter is this time.” He held her away, his eyes darting about and fear
filled her again. “He thinks me worthless. He thinks I will fail him;
that Gondor will fall because of me. Does he know something? Something
he has not told me. Has he seen something?” His voice rose in pitch.
Quickly, she pulled him close, whispering his name. “He knows naught.
He is a stupid and foolish old man. He would tear thee down.”
He looked at her wildly. “Does he wish me to fail? Is that it,
Finduilas? Will it serve him if I fail? What am I to do?”
“Thou art to hold thy head high. He knows naught,” she repeated.
“Since Thorongil left, he is bereft of guidance. His mind falters. He
knows not what he says. Thou wilt serve Gondor well, melethril nîn. Thou art wise
and kind and fair. Thou art the best of Númenor. Do not forget
that, hervenn nîn. Thou
hast the blood of Númenor flowing through thee. Thou canst not
She sat, holding him. Finally, night fell and he slept. She had heard
Firieth come in twice and quickly leave. She thanked the Valar for the
woman’s discretion. Once again, she heard the door open and she called
“My Lady,” Firieth answered quietly, walking towards the fire. Her eyes
grew in alarm, but she kept her mouth still.
“All is well, Firieth, but my Lord needs his rest. Please, ask his
manservant to come in and help him to bed.”
“Aye, my Lady.” And the woman quickly left the room.
Denethor stirred and Finduilas stroked his hair, whispered his name,
They rode out with the wind in their hair and the sun on their
faces and Denethor exalted in the joy of it all. His heart beat wildly
in his chest; he had forgotten the thrill of mounting a new expedition.
Imrahil looked over at his Captain-General and smiled. He too felt the
excitement coursing in waves off of Denethor. The men behind him had
started a song in time to the clinking of their horses’ livery.
‘Finduilas had been right,’ Denethor thought. He needed to be out of
the City, much as he loved it. He listened to the song and felt the
hope in his men’s hearts and he smiled. “Ah, today life is good, little
brother,” he said to Imrahil. The Prince smiled back at him. “So, I am
finally a part of this family? It has taken some time, my Captain.”
“Nay, no time at all in the grand scheme of things. Life is short,
‘tis true, even for those of Westernesse, but it is full of joy too. I
must remember that more often.” He smiled again and Imrahil, proud to
sit horse next to him, smiled back.
The young man had long waited to do battle under Denethor’s command. He
had oft heard tales of the logic of the man during combat. Imrahil did
not doubt for an instant that they would engage the enemy. Orc activity
had increased ten fold in the last few years. The Corsairs’ defeat
seemed to fuel the anger of the Unnamed One and Orc spilled as water
from the lush forests and mountains of Ithilien.
Amdir rode out to greet them. He jumped off his horse as he came near
to the company’s line and Denethor jumped off his horse at the same
moment. The two men strode towards each other and hugged fiercely. They
pulled away; then continued to pound each other’s shoulders, laughing
and speaking at a furious rate.
“Captain-General!” Amdir bellowed out the title. “My Lord, my
Captain-General, welcome to the garrison of Osgiliath. Your men wait
for you.” He whispered in Denethor’s ear. “All Gondor has waited for
this moment, my friend. Too long coming, but well worth the wait. Now,
I have hope in my heart.” He squeezed Denethor’s arm and turned him
towards the garrison’s gate. The battalion stood at ready, white
banners flew from the ramparts, musicians played, and the men threw
their hats into the air crying, “Denethor! Denethor! Denethor!” The
troops that had accompanied him from the White City joined their voices
with the battalion’s. Denethor stood, shivering from the unexpected
show of loyalty and love. ‘If only Finduilas were here,’ he thought,
‘this would be perfect.’
“Show me the map and where the last
patrol was slaughtered.”
Amdir put the map on the table, opening it wide; he used report books
to hold it open. “Here, Denethor,” he pointed. “A little south of
Henneth-Annûn and west of the Mountains of Shadow.”
“Henneth-Annûn was not found?”
“Nay. The Rangers are still there under Captain Dúinhir.”
“He has not returned to Blackroot Vale? I thought he had married and
left Gondor’s service?”
“He had hoped to leave this year, but your father asked him to stay for
“I would think his father would greatly desire his return. He is
getting old and Dúinhir will soon inherit the fiefdom. I am
he has not had heirs yet.”
“You are correct. He married last spring, but she is waiting for him in
the Vale. She is not yet with child.”
“Hmm, we must think of a replacement for him then. I want someone
strong at Henneth-Annûn. It is pivotal to our defense; it always
been, always will be.”
“Have the scouts returned yet.”
“Nay, I expect them before night falls.”
“When they return, bring them directly to me. Let them not rest. I
must know the whereabouts of the Orc band. I want to take Imrahil on a
little hunting expedition.” He smiled.
“Denethor?” Amdir paused for a moment. “Why are you here?”
“My own Finduilas threw me out of the City. Said I was becoming gruff
and quarrelsome.” He laughed. “Nay. I have been charged with young
Imrahil’s training. Since the defeat of Umbar, there are no enemies
near Belfalas, at present, to learn warfare from. Prince Adrahil asked
me to bring him to Minas Tirith and teach him.” He pulled on his chin.
“Though I believe he sent him to watch over Finduilas. And not without
reason. Life in Minas Tirith has been hard for her. I know not what to
do to make it easier. She longs for the sea and her people. Yes, her
people. She does not consider us as hers. It has been seven years,
Amdir, since she came to live in the White City. I was sure she would
love it as I do.” He shook his head. “I must think of other ways to
make her happy. Truly was I surprised when she suggested I leave Minas
Tirith for a time. What do you think it means?”
“It means you have become gruff and quarrelsome,” Amdir laughed.
Denethor laughed loudly. It felt so good to be back with Amdir, to be
back in the fray. “If I may have my old quarters back?”
“So very sorry, my Lord. As Captain-General, you are billeted in
the best room in the city. It even has running water!” Amdir showed him
to the door. “Will you break fast with me on the morrow?”
“Of course, if the scouts have not returned by then. If they have,
I want the Captains brought together as soon as possible. We must plan
our little sortie. Now, to bed with you, too. It is has been a long day
for us both.”
The scouts returned long before morning came. Denethor was roused as
soon as they had returned. The Captains all gathered in the dining
hall, excitement in the air. The patrol had found the band of Orc,
close unto five hundred of them, marching on the east side of Emyn
Arnen close to the Harad Road. The Orcs were on the move, going
northwards towards the Morgulduin. The noise created by this news was
close to deafening.
Denethor raised his hand. Quiet settled quickly. He could feel his face
prickle with excitement. This is what he had been born for. “My
Captains. We will only sting a small part of the enemy’s forces, but we
shall sting him nonetheless. We will break the battalion into three
segments. Amdir will command the northern forces, Imrahil will command
the southern forces, and I will command the frontal attack. I will show
each where you will wait for my signal. First, we will create a
diversion. We will send a small patrol directly towards the enemy. I
will lead this patrol. We will position ourselves as close to the Orc
band as possible, our scent will draw them to us, and we will then turn
and run. This should cause the Orcs to disobey their own captains and
follow our group. As soon as we reach the frontal group, I will give
the signal. Then, we will attack. All three companies must attack at
once. It will be a slaughter, if, and only if we are disciplined. No
one must fire before the signal, no matter the reason. No one must
leave their position until the signal. Even with our great number, if
we do not work as one, we will fail. The Orc have no fear of us, their
strength is greater than ours, and they do not care if they die or not.
Do you understand? Can you convey this message to the troops under you?
Else we will fail, I assure you.”
The Captains voices rose in agreement. Denethor was pleased. After
ordering the men to take a quick meal, he turned towards Amdir. “Your
scowl is deep enough to fall into,” he laughed. Amdir just stood
staring at him. “I will be quiet and listen to what you have to say,
since I will have no rest if I do not.”
“How can you put Imrahil in charge of one of our divisions? He is
but a young man, not skilled at all in war, yet you put him in
“Sit.” He ordered some coffee brought to their table. “Imrahil has
been in charge of many of his fathers companies, he has worked closely
with me the few times I was stationed at the garrison of Dol Amroth,
and he is clever and quick. Also,” he held up a hand to stop Amdir’s
interruption, “I put him in charge of the southern flank. The Orc are
moving from the south. If he obeys me, and his men obey him, he should
be fairly safe. The Orc will first notice your group, after the signal
to attack. Then they will notice mine. We should be well into the fray
before they notice the southern division. Does that satisfy you?”
“Aye. One more thing. Why are you commanding the diversion and the
western division? If something goes amiss, if you are injured or worse,
there will be no one to signal, no one to lead the western group. I
think you must put someone else in charge of the patrol.”
Denethor’s face burned. Amdir was correct as usual. He put his hand
on Amdir’s shoulder. “Thank you. As always, you see things I have
neglected or forgotten, or wish not to see,” he said with a smile. “I
wanted to lead the diversion; I admit it, and I must not. I need to be
with the division. It is, however, a very dangerous assignment. We will
need someone who can think quickly. Do you have a suggestion?”
“Baranor!” Amdir spoke without hesitation.
“My old aide? The future Lord of Lossarnach?”
“Aye. He has been stationed here under me for three years. He is
astute and quick witted. If ought goes wrong, he will be able to react
quickly and save his men.”
“Send him to me.”
Baranor strode forward, black hair and dark face smiling at
Denethor. “My Lord,” he said, the grin widening. “I am most grateful to
see you again. The last time we met was by the Drúadan Forest,
“Of course, that was a difficult time. You were most helpful to Amdir,
if I remember correctly. In fact, every time we have met or perchance
been brought together, it has been at a time of crisis. And you have
always shone forth as a stalwart and brave warrior. I have a request. I
could make it an order, but I will not. We need a diversion, as you
heard. I thought to lead the patrol myself, but Amdir, as you well
know, has better judgment than I do, at times.” Denethor smiled.
”If I may stop you, my Lord. I would like to volunteer for this, if it
“Thank you, Baranor. It does. You will have to leave within the hour.
The Orc will set up camp before daylight. This must be done before they
camp. I want them spread out, away from their captains, and as helpless
as we can make them.”
“Captain-General,” Baranor smiled as he honoured Denethor with the
title. “I have one request.”
“I would pick the men to accompany me on this patrol?”
“Aye. Go, and may the Valar be with you. Leave in one hour’s time.
The rest of the battalion will be right behind you. Do you have a copy
of the map?”
“Aye, my Lord. We know where to set the trap. I will look forward to
hearing your signal.” His grin covered his face.
“We will be there for you, Baranor. I promise.”
Baranor saluted and left. Amdir walked over. “So, he has volunteered?”
“Aye. I have a sense about this mission. I hope I am wrong. Even
though we are well prepared, I am concerned.” He turned to Amdir. “Send
out five more patrols. We will leave within the hour, but I want to
make sure there are no surprises for us.”
“Will he return? Will he return safely?” she begged Indis.
The older woman held Finduilas in her arms. “Of course, he is with
Amdir. They will be fine and Imrahil will learn what he needs to learn.
You were most brave, sending him out like that.”
Finduilas sighed. “Most brave when he held me in his arms, but as
soon as those arms let me go, my fears took hold. How can I fight these
fears, Indis? How have you fought your fears all these long years?”
“With the help of those I love. And you will do the same. You must
not think you can fight alone. Denethor will tell you; no man can fight
alone. It is in the strength of his fellow warriors that victory is
“You will help me then?”
“Listöwel and I will help you. If Elleth were better, she would
also help. The poor thing. My heart goes out to her. In fact, I think
it best I see her today. Would you come with me?”
“Of course. Mayhap our visit would help to cheer her.”
They had found Listöwel in the buttery, planning the month’s
and dragged her, willingly, along with them. As they sat with Elleth in
her kitchen, Indis remembered other times spent here. The making of
their wedding gowns, the nights worrying about Amdir and Denethor and
if they would recover from their burns, the tea sessions that lasted
long into the night as they contemplated how they were going to tell
their men of their sword fighting lessons, the preparing of herbs for
Finduilas as she carried her babes – so many moments spent together in
joy and hope and fear. For a moment, her heart ached. ‘Wen was dead and
buried, Morwen was in Edoras, widowed too young, Finduilas was
heartsick, and Elleth’s health was failing. She looked at her friend.
So many years now, they had known each other, laughed and cried and
loved through trials and tribulations. Her heart ached for Elleth.
Arciryas’ medicaments did naught to relieve her friend’s pain. Yet,
Elleth, as always, smiled and served them and enjoyed their company.
‘What a dear sister-friend. What can I do to help her? What can I do to
“What grave matters clouds your eyes so?” Elleth laughed. “If it is my
sweet rolls, then I am most saddened.”
Indis laughed. “Your sweet rolls are still delicious. You have not
lost the knack of those, my dearest. However, a long time ago, we spoke
of breaking into Ingold’s wine. I don’t think we ever did, did we?”
Finduilas looked shocked. “Wine? This early in the afternoon?”
“Sounds very good to me,” Elleth agreed. “Though at the moment, I
think I should not. My balance is not as good as it used to be. ‘Twould
not look good for me to fall on my face this early in the day.”
Indis howled. “You are right. I can just hear the ladies of Gondor
speaking about us!”
“So how shall we help our Finduilas, Elleth?” Listöwel asked.
“Mayhap a sword in her hand?”
“Nay, I… I cannot take a sword. I must confess, I hate war, I hate
fighting, I hate violence. It tears my heart apart.” Finduilas bowed
her head. “I am a failure as wife to the Steward, am I not?”
“Nay. There are other ways to support Denethor. And to keep our
fears at bay. First, we must vow to help each other, here and now and
for always. Then, we must keep our hopes high. If we look to the
future, to the children, to Boromir and Faramir, and know that all that
we do is for them. If we keep our hands busy, whether with our weapons,
or with our needlework, or with soothing fevered brows. That’s it!”
Indis jumped up. “We should volunteer in the Houses. Arciryas is always
complaining about the help, about how women are needed for keeping the
woundeds’ spirits lifted. We could do that once a week or so. We can
give hope and receive hope from our warriors. What think you of that?”
“‘Tis a fine idea,” Elleth said. “Even I can work one day a week.
If Arciryas does not mind not having a set schedule, for I may only
work when the body is able.”
“Arciryas will be most grateful for whatever time we give!” Indis
“What do you think, Finduilas?” The three women turned towards her.
Listöwel put her hand on Finduilas’ shoulder. “You seem reluctant?
Is there ought wrong?”
“I am weak and useless,” Finduilas started to cry. “I am afraid to
see sickness and wounds and death. I do not think I could do this.”
Indis walked over and took Finduilas’ tear-streaked face into her
hands. “Thou art not weak, nor useless, nor foolish, dearest sister.”
She had slipped into the Sindarin in her grave concern. “Thou art but a
fair flower that has been transplanted, whose roots have not yet taken
hold. Thou wert sheltered by thy father. Little steps will help thee.
As will thy friends.” She knelt before her. “Perhaps you can sit in the
garden and read to those who are close to recovery, who are far from
illness and death. You will find strength in giving, but it will be in
a safe place, away from those things that disturb you now. Who knows,
mayhap after a short time doing that, you will be ready to come into
the Houses and help in other ways. If not, that would be sufficient, I
Finduilas’ eyes shone. “I could do that. I know I could do that. I
love to read. And in the garden, I could feel the fresh air and smell
the scent of the flowers and not dwell on illness and… and other
things.” She smiled.
“Then it is settled,” Indis jumped up and smiled. “I will tell
Arciryas that we will all come tomorrow morning, and he can show us
where we can help most. And dearest Elleth, if you are unable tomorrow,
then next week perhaps.”
She hugged each one in turn and laughed. “Now, ‘tis time for tea!”
Shouts echoed off the banked eastern
the road as dust rose. Denethor could see the patrol coming their way,
horses at full sprint, running from the Orc band. He ordered the signal
and then the charge. With shouts and banners flying, his division
o’ertook the patrol and continued towards the enemy. Baranor waved to
him as the sortie turned and joined his men. They continued onward and
soon found themselves in the midst of battle. As Denethor had thought,
the Orc first looked towards Amdir’s division, so that they were caught
unawares when Denethor’s joined the fray. Already swords were heavily
laden with the black blood of Orc.
He looked to the right and saw that Imrahil’s band would converge in a
few moments, helping to further confound the enemy. It would be a rout.
He drew his sword as the first of the beasts came towards him, lunged
and drew the blade across unprotected flesh. The Orc fell, but another
replaced it and fury filled its face. It ducked as Denethor lunged,
then jumped and grabbed his arm. Denethor kicked it in the face, and
the beast fell back, but not before it too was mortally wounded. His
men slashed and hacked at the band with a fury inflamed by the audacity
of the enemy. Even in the face of the large number that attacked them,
as Denethor had thought, the Orc band gave no indication they were the
least fearful. Another and another came, but they were slowly being
beaten back. Denethor had ordered that none be left alive and the
battalion was doing its best to see it done.
A brief respite came and Denethor wiped blood off his sword in
anticipation of further attack; then wiped blood off his face and sword
arm. As he looked up, he saw Amdir, still battling in a pocket of men
who seemed surrounded by Orc. Denethor spurred his horse forward and
hacked his way through the wall of bodies. He reached Amdir’s side just
as an Orc prepared to swing at his friend. The Orc soon lay dead on the
ground. Amdir smiled; then screamed in fury as another attacked him.
The brief respite was over; Denethor was full in the battle again. For
well into the morning, the battle raged. Men and Orc lay dead on the
road and the nearby forest floor. As the sun rose, the Orc faces fell.
The sun became Denethor’s friend as the Orc tried to escape it and the
Knights of Gondor. But these men would not let them escape. No matter
the cost. They would kill every last one of them, every one that would
dare to trod the roads of Gondor.
“Long they dwelt in their first home by the water under stars, and they
walked the Earth in wonder; and they began to make speech and to give
names to all things that they perceived.” Finduilas read on and the
soldier sat, spellbound. “Themselves they named the Quendi, signifying
those that speak with voices; for as yet they had met no other living
things that spoke or sang.” She stopped. “Do you want me to continue?
You look tired.”
“Yes, please,” Hirgon begged. “I had known nothing of Elves before. Is
it true, what you read?”
“My father says it is. I found this book in the Great Library. It
is one of my favorites. It tells all about the Elves and how they were
found. There are parts that are sad, but the beauty of the Elves
o’ershadows everything, in my mind’s eye. I am glad you like this book.
But you do look very tired. I think you should return to your bed. I
will come back next week, I promise.”
“Will you walk with me to my room?”
Finduilas took a deep breath. “I will walk with you to the door,
then the doorwarden will take you inside. I will see you next week, I
As they approached the door, Indis stepped outside. She smiled at
the soldier and moved aside. The doorwarden met them and helped the man
“How did it go, Finduilas? Was it very difficult?”
“Nay,” Finduilas gave a small smile. “He asked me to take him to his
room, but I could not.”
“Better for you to know your limits than to be so uncomfortable that
you are unable to return. I am most proud of you. And Denethor will be
too. But come, I am finished for the day and would visit Elleth. She
was not able to come. Her bones creak louder than the willows at the
creek, she says.”
“I am tired myself. If you don’t mind, I would like to go home and
rest. I have not seen the children since morning and I miss them too.”
“That is a very good reason to go home!” Indis laughed. She hugged
Finduilas, waved farewell, and walked towards the Great Hall.
Finduilas turned towards the Citadel, but a loud crash drew her
attention back to the Sixth Gate. An errand- rider had jumped from his
horse, o’erturned a flower urn in his haste, and was rushing towards
her. She put up her hands in alarm, but he ran past her and into the
Hall. She hurried after him, fear closing her throat. The man strode to
the Steward’s Chair and halted. She could not go forward. Ecthelion
would be most upset if she dared to enter the Hall without his
permission, but she needed to hear what was being said. Slowly, she
skirted behind the statues lining the Hall until she stood almost
parallel to the Chair. She still could not hear. But the look on
Ecthelion’s face was grim. She crept back towards the entrance. She
would stop the soldier as soon as he passed through the door. Perhaps,
as Denethor’s own, he would answer her questions. She stood waiting,
impatiently tapping her toe as her heart beat faster and faster.
The soldier stood and spoke for such a long time that Finduilas thought
she would scream. At last, Ecthelion dismissed him and he turned. She
stepped outside into the sunlight and waited. The soldier started when
she called to him, but came over, bowed and asked what she needed.
“Is all well with the garrison at Osgiliath?” She would not mince
words; she needed to know immediately.
“Mayhap you would ask the Steward, my Lady. I have no authority to give
out information. I am sure Ecthelion will speak with you, if you ask.”
“Nay, I need to know now. There is something wrong, isn’t there?”
Her voice rose and the soldier looked about him in concern.
“Please, my Lady, sit here and I will go and ask Ecthelion if I might
speak with you.”
“Nay, stop now.” She almost screamed and willed herself to a measure of
calm. “Please, I must know.”
“My Lady, my orders were to report to the Steward. I cannot divulge
anything without his consent. You would ask me to disobey my Lord and
that I cannot do.”
Finduilas broke into tears. “Something has happened to Denethor! I know
it. Please tell me, please!”
The man sat on one of the benches outside the door and gently
pulled Finduilas down next to him. “My Lady. You are asking me to
commit treason. For disobeying my liege lord is treason. Punishable by
death. Please, my Lady, do not ask this of me.”
Indis came hurrying out from the foyer. “Finduilas! What has happened?”
“I know not, but this man will not tell me. Make him tell me, Indis,
make him tell me.”
Turning towards the errand-rider, Indis asked, “Have you made your
report to the Steward?”
“Aye, my Lady.”
“Then I will go speak with him. Stay here with the Lady Finduilas
until I return. You have no orders that you need to obey at the
“Nay, Lady Indis. I will stay here.”
“Thank you.” She hushed Finduilas, turned and ran up the stairs and
into the Hall.
“Father,” she bowed as she stood before him. “An errand-rider has come
from Osgiliath. Is there ought wrong?”
Ecthelion looked perplexed. He was to meet with his Council and had
just been about to leave the Hall. “Why do you ask?”
“Finduilas spotted the man and is concerned.”
“You mean she is growing hysterical. I have seen this before. Is there
naught you can do about it? I do not like these fits of hers.
Unnerving. Mayhap she should return to Dol Amroth. The nurse can take
care of my grandsons. It would be best for all if she left.”
Indis stepped back, horror written on her face. “Father! You could not
“I could and I will if she cannot compose herself. The entire
Citadel is up in arms every time some small thing happens to disturb
her. ‘Twould be better for the whole City if she left.”
Drawing in a deep breath, Indis stood tall and straight. “She is
the mother of the heir. She is needed here. For the sake of Gondor, she
must stay. I bid you reconsider, Father.”
“Indis,” her father took hold of her arms. “You have always been
most sensible. Do you not see the chaos that forms around her? Do you
not think it would be better for her to leave? Yet, I see you do not,”
he said with a sigh. “Well, I will bow to your wisdom in this. I tell
you, I like the woman, but I am deeply concerned about her fits. I
place her in your care.”
“Thank you, Father. And now, about the missive from the errand-rider?”
“Ah. A band of Orc were spotted and Denethor has decided to attack.
It is a little thing, something he has been trained for. I expect
another missive ere the end of day. Come back at the sixth bell, and I
will tell you more.” He waved her off and walked towards the Council
Indis quickly walked outside, thanked the soldier and waved him
away. She sat next to Finduilas. “All is well, for the moment. There is
an attack planned by Denethor. We will know later today how successful
it was. Finduilas,” Indis took her in her arms, “This is why Denethor
went. This is why you allowed him to leave Minas Tirith, and this is
why you are trying to learn courage. You must trust that he knows what
he is about. He is a great warrior. He has many battle skills. And
Amdir is with him. Try to put aside your fears and trust him.”
“When I saw the rider, and the haste at which he ran to give his
report… my heart stopped. Forgive me. You are right.” She took a huge,
shuddering breath. “I will go to my chamber and rest. I cannot see the
children now. I am too distraught. They would notice. Poor little
lambs. I dare not put my fear on them. But, I thought you were going to
“I was. I was on the balcony with her when I saw the rider come in.
I left her as soon as I was able. And just in time, I think.”
“Aye. ‘Twas just in time. I was going to make a fool of myself.”
“Ah, sweet sister. You will learn in time. Do not be harsh with
yourself. May I walk you to your rooms? Mayhap we can share a cup of
“Oh, Indis. I would most like that,” she sighed. “Thank you!”
Soon, Denethor had to search for a beast to kill. Their numbers
were greatly reduced and the battle won. As Denethor sat back in his
saddle, he searched the remaining men for a glimpse of Imrahil. The lad
was still fighting a small group of Orc, though others had joined his
division to help. Denethor rode towards the pocket of combat, sword
still drawn. As he approached, an Orc swung at Imrahil. Denethor knew
it was a killing strike and he quickly maneuvered his horse between the
beast and the man. The blade struck Denethor’s back, fire igniting
every part of it. He fell to the ground, but Imrahil had dispatched the
Orc and was kneeling next to him. “My Lord Denethor,” the lad cried
out, but Denethor was past hearing.
When he came to, he found himself in his
room in Osgiliath. Siriondil was leaning over him, forcing tea down his
throat. Denethor started coughing violently, and the healer pulled
“You must drink this, my Lord.”
He drew in a ragged breath. “Where is Imrahil?”
“He is well. He has not been harmed. I am re-bandaging your wound and
then we will move you to Minas Tirith. You need to be in the Houses.”
“Nay,” he whispered, for the breath seemed to leave him, “Bring Amdir
“My Lord Denethor, you must stay still. Amdir will accompany us to the
“Now! I must see Amdir now.” The coughing started again; Siriondil
helped him sit up. Pain coursed through his entire body, and he
stiffened and gasped. Siriondil held him close. “Hold on to me, my
Lord. It will pass. The tea will take affect soon. Hold on just a
His head swam. “Amdir,” he choked out the name. He fought to stay
Knowing Denethor’s stubbornness, Siriondil shouted orders to a
guard stationed nearby and the man ran out of the room. Within moments,
Amdir was at his side.
“Denethor. You must not speak. You must stay still and let
Siriondil care for you. It won’t be long. We have a cart ready to take
“Listen to me, Amdir. You must not take me to the City.”
Amdir looked stunned. “Denethor…”
Trying to grasp his arm, Denethor grimaced in pain. Tears filled his
eyes. His breath came in short gasps as throbbing filled him. “Promise
“Aye. You will not be moved. I promise.”
Denethor gave in to the pain and lost consciousness.
Siriondil turned to his Captain. “He must not stay here. The wound is
deep and will easily become infected.”
“He will not be moved. Prepare a note for Arciryas as to the
supplies you will need and a description of Denethor’s wound. I will
send an errand-rider immediately. If he does not want to go home, he
has his reasons. He is not a raw recruit, Siriondil. He knows the
extent of his injury. There must a reason strong enough to cause this
decision. We will obey him, do you understand?”
Siriondil took in a breath himself. “Aye, Captain. I will do what I
can. Arciryas should be here by morning. I will try to keep him alive
“You will keep him alive.” And Amdir left the room.
A moment later, the errand-rider stood in front of the healer.
Quickly, Siriondil wrote, folded the missive and handed it to him.
“Ride fast. Our Captain-General’s life depends upon your speed. Stop
for nothing. Speak to no one. Take this to the Master Healer, to
Arciryas, and no one else. Now, go!”
Amdir walked back into the room. The rider saluted, Amdir gave him
another note, whispered orders to him, and the man ran. Moving quickly
towards the bed, Amdir knelt down taking Denethor’s hand into his own.
“Hold on, Denethor, my friend, hold on.”
Imrahil looked in. “Captain, may I come in?”
Amdir looked up. “Not yet. I need Baranor.”
“Aye, Captain. I will find him and send him in.”
“Ada, nana? When wilt Ada return?”
“Soon, my love, my own. Very soon. Hast thou eaten all thy carrots?
Thou needest carrots to see. Bunnies see very well. And dost thou know
Boromir’s eyes opened wide. “No, Nana, I do not know why.”
“It is because they eat carrots. Thou wants to see well, dost thou
not, Boromir. So that thou canst stand at the top of the cliff near Dol
Amroth and see the whales?”
“Oh, Nana, that would be wonderful!” the boy breathed a sigh of joy
and ate all his carrots. How often his naneth had told him tales of the
whales that swam in the sea. He wanted to see them with all his heart.
“When will we go to the sea, Nana, when?”
She sighed. “Soon, my love. Soon. Thy father promised me we would
go in the Spring. Uncle Imrahil will come with us too. We shall run on
the beach and feed the seagulls and watch the waves crash.” A tear slid
down her cheek. She wiped it away, but the lad was quick and saw.
“Nana. May we go now? Ask Ada. He will take us now.”
She hugged him to her. “Soon. We will go soon.” She took in a deep
breath. “It is time for thy nap. Woudst thou like a story?”
He clapped his hands and giggled, and the laughter was infectious. “Ah,
Boromir. You are my light.”
“Faramir too, Nana. Do not forget Faramir.”
She hugged him even tighter. “I wilt not forget Faramir. He will come
with us too. Is that agreeable to thee?”
“Oh, yes, Nana. Faramir must come. Though I think he will probably
cry. It is a long way to the sea. He will want to eat.” Boromir clicked
his tongue. “All he does is eat.” He suddenly looked up at her. “When
will he be able to play with me, Nana?”
She laughed again. “Oh, soon, Boromir, soon.”
“But Nana. Everything is soon and soon never comes!”
Picking him up, she kissed him over and over again, on his eyes,
his nose, his ears, his chin. The child laughed in joy and Finduilas
joined him. Reaching the rocker, she sat and hugged him tight. “What
tale wouldst thou want to hear?”
“The big dog, Nana; the one who talks. Tell me that one, please.”
She settled in the rocker and started the tale of Huan. “He was a
hound, Boromir, the biggest that ever lived…”
The sixth bell had not finished ringing when Indis entered the
Great Hall. Ecthelion sat in his Chair. An errand-rider was just
leaving. He bowed to her as they passed each other. She stood still,
waiting for her father to bid her come forward.
“Indis. You are a timely little thing, are you not! Come to me. I
have received word of Denethor. He has been injured. It is not serious,
I imagine; else they would have brought him to the Houses. Mayhap you
would want to journey to Osgiliath yourself, to see him. I believe
Arciryas is going in the morning. You could accompany him.”
“Thank you, Father. I will do that.” She kissed him lightly on the
cheek and he blushed. “Thank you!” She turned and forced herself to
walk towards the door. As soon as she was outside, she ran to the Sixth
Level and into the Houses. Arciryas was not in his office. She walked
the halls, hoping she would see him. She turned a corner and almost ran
into him. He spilled what he was carrying and she laughed. “Let me help
you.” The look in his eyes stopped her. “What is it, Arciryas? What has
happened? Denethor! Finduilas was not mistaken. What has happened to
“He has been injured. He does not want to return here, but
Siriondil says the injury is serious. I am going to him now. I believe
he did not want Finduilas to know.”
“I am coming with you.” She turned on her heels and ran out the door,
his voice followed her, calling her name.
She had gone first to Finduilas. She hated lying. What could she
say? “Father has bid me visit the farms on the Pelennor. There has been
some dissension about the harvest and he wants me to act as peacemaker.
I will only be gone a short time. Would you please remember to visit
Hirgon in the morning? He will not expect you until next week, but
Arciryas has told me he needs his mind taken from thoughts of his last
battle. Would you do that for him?”
Finduilas mouth dropped open. “Well, of course, if you think I can
help. But Finduilas, how come this sudden order?”
“Finduilas. You know I must obey father. As I said, there was some
altercation and a member of the Steward’s family must go to iron out
the difficulty. He would send Denethor, but he is on patrol. I will
return,” she said quickly, noting the concern in her friend’s eyes. “I
“I will miss you. Is there aught I can do to help?”
“Nay, I must pack tonight so that I will be ready in the morning. I
will leave at first light.” She hugged Finduilas, threw a kiss to
Boromir and ran out of the room. As soon as she was packed, she ran to
the Houses. Arciryas was waiting for her. Two horses were saddled. “I
have left a message that I am tending Lord Forlong in Lossarnach. It is
a day’s ride away and will cover my absence. That should dissuade
Finduilas from trying to discover where I am. Have you told her
something that will keep her from fretting?”
“Aye, and I hated doing it.”
“It is necessary.” He helped her mount and then turned to his own
horse. Pulling himself up, he smiled at her. “Denethor is strong. He
will not succumb. Now, let us hurry,” and the tone of his voice belied
the words of comfort said.
Siriondil had done everything in his power to keep Denethor alive.
Arciryas, bending over his friend, congratulated the healer on his
excellent stitches, his assessment of the wound, and his quick
thinking. Siriondil smiled at the praise. However, he was more grateful
that the Master Healer had arrived when he did. Fever and infection had
been his main fear, but Arciryas knew how to prevent those things even
better than he did. He stood back, took a deep breath and walked away.
He had others he must tend to.
Denethor’s back healed quickly. Though the wound was deep and long,
the medicaments and attention of the Master Healer of Gondor prevailed.
Indis had returned to the City after a fortnight. Within a month, he
was up and about, able to at least hold his sword, though it would be
at least another two months before he would be able to wield it with
any strength. The men, especially Amdir, who had sat by his bedside for
the first week, hailed the Master Healer one night in the main dining
hall. Ale was set for all. Songs and laughter filled the room. No Orc
had been spotted since the battle, and the garrison stood in peace, for
the moment. Tomorrow, Denethor would return to Minas Tirith; tonight
the men would bid him farewell with a soldier’s night of feasting. Long
into the night the festivities continued, but Denethor left early,
still plagued by fatigue. Amdir followed him to his room.
“I would have you come with me, Amdir, back to Minas Tirith. Too long
have you been gone from Listöwel’s side. I will ask father, upon
return, to station you in the City.”
“I will come back to Minas Tirith, Denethor, but only for a short
visit. What we do here is most important and I have grown to love this
forsaken piece of land. I ask your generosity in letting me stay here.”
“Friend I call you and have much need for you at home. Yet I cannot
put my own needs over those of Gondor. You speak rightly, as you always
have. Come with me tomorrow. Stay in the City for a few months, and
then return. I will leave Baranor here. He will lead the men while you
“Then I will come with you.” He smiled broadly. “It has been almost
six months since last I saw my bride. ‘Twill be good to hold her
“It is settled, then. We leave on the morrow. Finish your revelry with
your men and leave me to my bed.” He clenched Amdir’s arm tightly. “And
thank you, my friend.”
He lay on their bed, a light sheet covering him, waiting for her to
join him. He could walk, and sit, and breathe without a twinge, yet the
scar was deep and not yet completely healed. He would keep his back
As she lay down next to him, he held her close, keeping her arms at
her side. The night passed and he fell into a deep sleep. She woke
before morning, turned towards him and ran her hands lovingly down his
arms. She kissed his shoulder; then slipped her arms about his waist.
He did not stir. Affectionately, she stroked his back, then stiffened
in alarm. Slowly, she moved her hand again and found the wound she knew
she had just felt. He had been injured! She pulled her hands back and
moved off the bed. Walking to the other side, she pulled down the
sheet, and looked in horror at the long, deep red welt that went from
his lower left shoulder to his right waist. The wound was still ugly,
stitch marks quite visible, and it wept slightly. She put her hand over
her mouth and fled the room.
He woke sometime later and felt for her. The bed was cold. He sat up
and looked around. She was not in their bedchamber. He stood, put his
robe on, and walked into the outer chamber. She sat cold and stiff by
the garden doors. He walked to her and took her in his arms; she pulled
“Melethril nîn! What
ails thee? Why dost thou withdraw from me?”
“You lied to me. Everyone lied to me,” she spat out the words,
anger o’ertaking her. “When did it happen? When were you going to tell
me?” She looked at him in revulsion. “You were not going to tell me,
were you? You were going to treat me as a fool, hide things that should
be known between husband and wife! How could you?”
“Lasto beth nîn, tolo sí,”
he tried to assuage her anger, tried to touch her, but she moved away.
“Speak not to me in terms of love. I will not hear the Sindarin
again from your lips for you have turned it into a language of deceit.”
“U-chenion. I tried to protect
thee.” He had understood at last. “The wound hast healed. I am well. Goheno nín. I thought only
“I am leaving here. I am taking the children and returning to my
“Man pennich? Thou wouldst
leave me for this?”
“Daro han!” she yelled,
forgetting herself. “I will not stay here to be lied to, to be
“Mar bedithach?” He resigned
himself to her decision.
“On the morrow. I cannot stay here another day.”
He turned and left her. Putting her hands to her face, she bent
over and wept. He heard her sobs. Running back into the room, he knelt
at her feet and cried, “Hiril
nîn, garn nîn, absenen.
I cannot live without thee. ‘Twas wrong of me to deceive thee, but fear
took my heart, fear that thou wouldst fall into despair. Canst thou not
understand my fears?”
She looked at him in astonishment. “Thou canst not fear. Thou art
Denethor, Captain-General of Gondor, Knight of the Tower of Guard. How
canst thou fear?”
“I am a man, Finduilas. I am only a man who lovest thee
passionately. And would die if thou shouldst leave me. Doest thou think
I cannot be afraid? I am afraid always, that thou, fairest flower of
Belfalas, Princess of Dol Amroth, will grow to hate me and leave me. I
couldst not bear that.”
She knelt beside him. “I couldst not bear it either. Im naer.” She kissed him.
“U-moe edaved. I should
have trusted thee. I should have told thee immediately. I will ne’er
keep secrets from thee again. I promise.” Taking her into his arms,
they knelt together. The wind stirred and he rose. Taking her hand and
helping her up, they walked into the garden. Winter would soon be here
and the flowers would fall. They walked to the great pool and sat
beside each other. He held her close; she felt the scar under his robe
and she wept. The mountain rumbled, but she did not notice.
Melethril nîn – my love
Lasto beth nîn – listen to my words
Tolo sí – come here
U-chenion-I do not understand
Goheno nín – forgive me
Man pennich- what did you say?
Daro han – stop this
Mar bedithach-when will you leave?
Hiril nîn- my lady
Garn nîn – my own
Absenen - forgive me
Im naer –I am sorry
U-moe edaved – it is not necessary to forgive