Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
18. Third Age - 2988
An illness had swept through the Houses. The source was unknown; a cure
was unknown. More and more of those already deathly ill fell to its
unchecked rampage. Arciryas worked night and day, not with healing, but
with herbs and incantations, pouring over ancient books trying to find
anything that even remotely displayed the same symptoms; but to no
avail. He would have to evacuate the Houses. The malady could not be
stopped. Yet, as suddenly as it had started, as suddenly as the filth
of it sped through the halls of healing, it ceased. No new patients
were touched by it for over a week. Those in the last throws of its
hold lingered. Some lived. Some did not.
Ioreth was one of the last to be infected by it, but her youth seemed
to lessen its hold on her. Firieth had come to the Houses to care for
her daughter, and had succumbed herself. One of the last to die, she
clung to life for hours. Finduilas screamed to be allowed to care for
her, but Denethor could not, would not let her near. Indis went
instead, much to Denethor’s horror. He had tried to save his wife, why
would his sister tempt fate? At last, Firieth surrendered. Ioreth held
her in her arms, her lips silenced. Indis sat by her side.
Finduilas was nigh unto inconsolable. Firieth had come to her the day
she had arrived in Minas Tirith, welcoming her with a lavender nosegay
and a warm smile. They had become friends almost immediately, even
before Arciryas had asked Firieth to become Finduilas’ handmaiden.
Denethor remembered Firieth’s discomfiture at such a request. She had
spoken of her humble lineage, saying she was not worthy. Then, when
Boromir was born, the bond between the women firmed, solidified into
deep friendship. ‘Ah,’ Denethor remembered, ‘they called each other
She would not let him hold her. She stayed in her bed, pulling her arms
around her, moaning quietly. He had called for Arciryas who brought
teas and unguents and potions to help her sleep. After a time, it
seemed she improved. Indis was able to convince her to walk in the
gardens. Denethor sent for his sister.
“Indis,” Denethor sat opposite her on the settle, twirling the
flagon in his left hand. She smiled. He always did that when he had
something unpleasant to ask. She loved him dearly, but he would have to
speak; she did not know what he wanted.
He heaved a sigh. “I know Arciryas loves working in the Houses.”
Indis started. She had not expected this to be about her husband.
“I also know he loves to study the old books and formulas and such to find new cures for what ails the men of Gondor.”
She waited, not knowing what to say.
“Finduilas is… not well. No matter what I do for her, she fades.
Father’s death has been hard for it has changed my life completely. I
cannot spend the time I used to with her nor with the children.
Sometimes, I work from dawn to dawn. There is nothing else I can do.
You know full well that the defenses of Gondor must be reinforced. I
have met with the Council every day, trying to convey to them the
desperate needs of our land before the needs of their own fiefdoms, but
it is trying work. Besides the meetings, I spend much time reading
father’s logs, trying to find what was done and what has not been done.
On top of that, troop movements... I do not know why I am saying all
this. You know, better than anyone else in all of Gondor, what the
duties of the Steward entail.” He paused and took a long swallow, put
down the flagon, and turned to her, brow furrowed. “She also has not
fully recovered from the loss of Firieth. I cannot be with Finduilas as
I would wish, nor as she would wish. I hope to ask Arciryas to become
my family’s personal healer. Do you think he would agree?”
Indis sat back. “Aye, he will, if you command it. But I do not know if he will be happy with the decision.”
“I know. He is most valued as Master Healer. I do not want to do
this, but I see no other way. I cannot send her to Dol Amroth. I could
not live with her gone. Yet, she needs constant care, more than I can
give. I have given much thought to this. I have tried to discover
another solution, some way to help her live here in ease and
“I know you have, dearest brother. I too, have tried to help her.”
“Aye. Her reading to the soldiers has been told to me. Their
gratitude is profound. But she does not seem to think it worthwhile, or
helpful. She has not been back to the Houses since Firieth’s death. Nor
do I want her there, at least for a time.”
“What did she do in Dol Amroth, Denethor?”
He laughed ruefully. “I do not know. She is not a child. I do not
know. All I know, Indis, is that I love her and I must do everything I
can for her, short of shirking my duty to Gondor.”
She put her hand on his knee. “There may come a time, Denethor, when you will have to chose between Gondor and Finduilas.”
He shuddered. “I hope not, Indis. I hope not.”
He knew she was suffering. It had now been almost a year since
Firieth passed. Was it Boromir and Faramir? Him? Did they require too
much care? It seemed a deep melancholy lay over her. She sounded well
when he asked after her, but the Elvish sparkle, the one that had
caught his heart when first he saw her in Dol Amroth – that sparkle had
left her eyes. She walked as an old woman, barely picking up her feet,
where once she had run gaily, lighter than the wind. Her skin was
sallow, dry, and hung off her body like lifeless bark on the river
birch. Her hands, the precious hands that soothed his brow – so
kissable and dainty – could hardly pick themselves up from her lap.
Dead members hung from them, pretending they were fingers. He shuddered
violently as he watched her from the window overlooking her private
garden. She had not seen, or, having seen, had not the energy to greet
him. Tears fell in heavy torrents from his eyes. Arciryas stood beside
“What ails her?” he had asked his healer, overwhelmed with the change that had come upon her this last year.
“I do not know, Denethor. There seems to be no malady of body to
explain her state. I have tested her, using every tool at my disposal,
but I have learned naught from them.”
“Is she dying?”
“I cannot say,” the healer stared, helplessly.
Denethor turned to him, shoulders sagging in defeat. “I cannot lose her,” he whispered.
Arciryas took his friend into his arms and held him. “We will not lose her. Mayhap, if she went to the sea for a time…”
“She is too ill! What if something were to happen on the road? I cannot lose her.”
“Denethor. You would do anything to save her, would you not?”
“You know I would. How can you even ask?”
“Then you must consider this. I believe she longs for the sea and
all it stands for. She hates the mountain. Do you not see her, even
now, staring at it? She must have peace around her. And the only place
in all of Gondor where she will find peace is Dol Amroth.”
“I know,” Denethor choked on the words. “I will send her away with the children. Listöwel will accompany her.”
“Aye, but as you said, she is too weak, at the moment, to travel.
If you but tell her the news, that will surely lighten her mood. She
will have something to look forward to.”
He straightened himself. “I know you speak wisely, my friend.
Always, you have counseled me well. How long before she is well enough
“It is hard to say. When the times comes, I will tell you.”
‘The sea,’ Denethor thought, walking along the escarpment after
Arciryas had left him. ‘She needs the sea.’ Suddenly, his eyes lit up
and he ran to the Great Hall.
He carried her down the hall from their chambers, kissing her brow
and chattering about Faramir and Boromir and what they had been doing
this morning - their lessons and such. His heart broke as he noted how
she tried to listen, but fatigue overwhelmed her and he saw the dull
glaze of her eyes. He quietly set her on her feet at a closed doorway.
“My love, thy needs are mine. I have created a place for thee. I would
that I could give thee all that thou needs, but please, accept this as
a token of my love for thee.”
With that, he opened the door and she gasped and would have fallen
had he not been behind her and quickly held her close to him. He picked
her up again, walked into the room, and closed the door behind them.
Gently, he placed her upon the lounge chair. He sat next to her,
letting her drink in his creation, and then, with the softest pride, he
began pointing out the features of the room.
“The sky. I hope ‘tis the right shade? See – it fills the entire
ceiling. And dost thou see the clouds and the little gulls, painted
there and there? The plants along the walls, are they not like the
plants that grow in the rocks at Dol Amroth? And here and here,” he
pointed again, “Dost thou see the creatures, crabs and starfish? And in
the little pool painted over there - there are the seahorses thou
lovest so. Look over here, my love. See the waves crashing against the
rocks; over there is the shore, which leadeth into the room. The sand
on the floor was brought from our little beach in Belfalas. Thou must
remember it, my love?” He could not read her face, so he continued,
desperately pointing out more and more. “There are the chairs and table
where we used to sit and drink honeyed wine.” He started to sob. He had
commissioned the finest artists in the land to create the room, to make
it look exactly like the seascape looking out her window at the palace
of Dol Amroth; yet, she gave no reaction. He left his chair and knelt
in the sand at her feet, laying his head upon her lap. “Melethril nîn?”
She was silent. He could speak no longer. He had poured out all his
love upon this room, hoping it would fill her and bring her back to
him, from whatever place she had gone to.
His body trembled when he felt her hand touch his head, slip through his hair, and gently caress his cheek.
“Thou didst all this for me?” Her voice, unused these last months, cracked as she questioned him.
“Tancavë, melethril nîn,
solely for thee. We may sit here,” hope flared in his heart and the
words stumbled over each other, “and listen to the water and drink
“The water?” she asked.
“Tancavë, melethril nîn, lasto.”
She could hear it, water gently falling over rocks, and she turned
and saw that a small waterfall played its music almost directly behind
her. She sighed. “It is most lovely.” Then she closed her eyes and
He knelt back upon his heels and watched her. Her sleep was deep.
Long had it been since she had slept so deeply. He covered her with a
shawl and then sat again in the chair next to hers. Soon, his head fell
“She has been there for hours. The boys are with her. I believe
your ploy has worked, Denethor. She walked without help this morning. I
cannot believe the change in her!”
Denethor’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears. “Aye, it was worth
every coin and every hour of work. Speak truly, Arciryas. She does seem
to be getting better?”
“Aye, Denethor. I am most pleased by her progress.”
“If thou leavest me and returneth to Dol Amroth,” he choked on the words, “thou wilt not return.”
The mountain had spent the entire month foaming and spewing noxious
fumes into the air, shaking the halls of Minas Tirith. She had cowered
more and more. Not even her hideaway helped keep the fear from her. At
last, he knew he must send her away.
“What art thou saying, my love? Thou art my life, my very breath. To thee I wilt ever return,” she promised.
He took her in his arms and held her very close. The thinness of
her body once again startled him. He had to be so very gentle. Almost -
he was afraid she would break in his arms. When had he first noticed
this thinness? He felt her lean against his embrace, the warmth of her
body next to his, the bones of her shoulders jutting out into the palms
of his hands. Hope seemed to flee from him, but he dragged it back and
clung to it. He turned his face away from hers, as the tears, unbidden,
fell. He moved his arm so his tunic would catch the tears and she would
not feel them. She could not see him weep. She could not know the
despair that flitted at the corners of his mind as he held her. She
must think him strong, think that she could rely upon him in all
things, that he would survive while she was gone, think that he would
be able to care for their sons. Faster the tears came at the thought of
his dependence upon her. How as he to bear this time apart? And yet,
Arciryas thought the sea air would revive her, would help her to heal.
Arciryas had always been right before. The forced separation must be
the cure for her malaise. It must be!
She gave a small groan and he realized his vehemence of thought had transferred to his arms. “Melethril nîn, absenen,” he cried.
“Nay, ‘tis I who should be forgiven. To be forced to leave thee. My
heart should be stronger. My will falters. Thou deservest more,
“Shush,” he said as he put two fingers to her lips. “Say nothing
foul about my love, my own. Thou art the fairest, strongest, bravest
woman in all of Gondor.”
She smiled up at him and saw the tracks of his tears. “Melethril nîn!”' she cried.
“Shush,” he bid her again. “Think only of thy return to me. Thou knowest I wilt be here waiting.”
He kissed her gently and then carried her to the carriage. The
children were waiting beside it, their nanny crying. He wanted to flail
her. How dare she cry openly in front of the children?
Listöwel came forward and touched his arm. “We will return shortly, my
Lord. I will do everything in my power to make her well again and to
bring her home soon.”
He kissed her on the forehead and spoke words of praise and strength to his old friend's wife.
“I am deeply grateful that you are accompanying her. I would be hard-pressed to let her go with anyone else.”
Listöwel opened the carriage door and he gently placed his love
inside. He lifted their eldest to the seat next to her. The lad's eyes
were large and tear-filled, but the tears did not fall.
“Thou must care for thy Ada, Boromir. He wilt need thy strength until I return. Wilt thou do this for me?”
“Of course, Naneth.” Tears threatened the little face, but blinking stopped them.
“And thy brother? Wilt thou comfort him in the night, wilt thou not fight with him, and wilt thou love him until I return?”
“Oh Nana!” This time the tears fell and Boromir batted them away with
his sleeve. “Thou knowest I wilt love him as thou dost. I wilt never
leave him, not let him cry out in the night, nor suffer any harm to
come to him, whilst thou art away.” His chin shook and she took it
gently in her hands and kissed his sweet lips.
“Thou art a true son of Gondor, my Boromir. I knowest that thou whilst keep thy word. Knowest thou that I love thee.”
He took the child from her, stood him on the ground, and passed their
youngest to her. She could not lift him to her lap, and so he picked
him up and placed him there.
She held him close to her chest, rocking him ever so gently, and
then kissed his forehead, his cheeks, his lips. “Thou art my sweet and
precious son, Faramir. Obey thy Ada, love thy brother, and wait for me.
I love thee.”
The child clung to her and wept bitterly. His little heart knew not
what was wrong, only that somehow his whole world was being torn apart.
Then he felt his father's hands pulling him away and he howled in
surprise and pain, “Nana!”
She turned her face away and the mountain looked back at her. She shivered.
He stepped quietly into the carriage, took her tiny hands into his
large warrior ones, covered them with kisses, then kissed her forehead,
her eyes, her ears, her nose, her cheeks, her chin, her neck, and
finally, with tender passion, her lips.
“Heal quickly, my love. I wilt wait for thee.”
And then he left her side, stepped down from the carriage and
helped Listöwel into it. With a signal to the driver, the carriage
started to move away. Faramir tried to run after it, but he picked him
up and showed him how to wave farewell. Boromir stood close, his hand
clutching his father's tunic. Listöwel's heart broke as she saw the
little trio standing in the Court of the Fountain with the dead White
Tree behind them.
The errand rider arrived before the sun set. He had heard the
hooves on the marble of the courtyard and his heart turned cold. He sat
on the Steward's Chair, his hands clutching the black marble. His mind
screamed, ‘No! This cannot be. It is news of someone else. It is not of
her. It cannot be of her.’
Baranor stood behind him, tears streaming down his face.
“My Lord,” the errand rider said, “we have lost the Lady Finduilas.”
The Steward did not blink an eye; he stared forward and the rider,
thinking he had perhaps not heard, repeated the message. “My Lord, we
have lost the Lady Finduilas.”
Baranor motioned him to silence. An hour passed. The three men had not moved.
He sighed. “Where is she now?”
The errand rider jumped at the suddenness of the question, the
breaking of the silence. “The company has turned round and should be
here by morning.” Silence.
Then he motioned for the rider to leave. “Baranor?”
“Do not bring her here. She does not belong here. She belongs by
the sea. Send a rider to the Company and tell them to turn around and
go to Dol Amroth. Have another rider prepared. I will give him a
missive to take to Imrahil.”
Baranor turned and walked out as Denethor stood and turned towards his study.
He sat at the desk, Thengel’s oaken desk, and pulled out parchment
and pen. The sun was lowering in the sky before he began to write.
'To my Friend and erstwhile Brother,
She is gone, taken from us, the fairest flower of all of
Middle-earth, indeed of even Westernesse itself. I would tell you all
that is in my heart, but you, dearest Brother to my Beloved, know it
all, for oft have we spoken of the quality of that fair Lady.
I try to think, but find my mind is empty. There is nothing left. Her
departure has swept every vestige of sanity or thought from it. It
aches with the violence of her life's removal. My heart has been
stabbed as if by a Morgul-knife. The pain is beyond words or thought or
comprehension. I can hardly swallow for the constriction that unshed
tears have forced upon my throat. I can say these things to you and no
other, for I know as you read this, that you are now my brother in
I will survive this, for my mind, what little is left of it, tells me I
must go on, for our sons, for Gondor, but I tell you, my heart recoils
at the thought of living without her sweet presence... The days stretch
before me and I quake at the thought of the loneliness that lies there,
the desolation of the time to come.
My lips tingle with the remembrance of our last kiss, gentle lips
pressed to mine, and I would shut my eyes, and put out everything but
that remembrance. Imrahil! May the Valar be with me. I cannot do this
He lay his pen down and leaned back, resting in the great oak chair
that Thengel had helped him build. Dead these past eight years, but not
forgotten. Another face drifted before him. Amdir, his friend, his
right hand, his brother-in-arms. He must call Amdir home from
Osgiliath. Tears finally stung his eyes. He did not sob nor shake; they
just fell in torrents unbidden, uncontrolled, unhealing... Never had he
felt such tears. They reminded him of the falls of Henneth Annûn,
flowing constantly, great torrents of water, eating away at the cliff.
He could feel the tears now eating away at his face, carving great
gullies where they ran. In the back of his mind, he wondered, 'Where do
all these tears come from? Is my body being squeezed like the sea
sponges? Will I look like one after, if there is an after, the tears
have stopped? Shriveled up and full of holes and hard to the touch? How
will I hold my sons if I am hard and shriveled and scratchy?’ At the
thought of his sons, the tears, impossible to think it, fell even
Baranor stepped into the room. “My Lord,” he said gently. “The errand rider is ready.”
“Give me another moment,” he said.
He wrote again:
'I cannot come to you, to Belfalas,
to Dol Amroth. I cannot. I would have you bury her in the Houses of her
Fathers in the Númenórean way. Princess of Dol Amroth, as she deserves
- not Steward's wife. No, she was much more than a Steward's wife,
though she deigned to be that for a time.
I know not when I will come. Give Listöwel my leave to stay in
Belfalas for a time, if that is her wish. If she deigns to stay, please
give her all my love and tell her I will never forget her or her
kindness to her Princess. Tell her I will station Amdir at the garrison
of Dol Amroth.
I bid you farewell for now. With my deepest sympathy to you and your family, I remain
Ithilien – always it had been a place of sunshine, sweet smells and
refuge. It had also been a place of pain and death. However, he needed
to be alone; he could not bear to stay within the confines of Minas
Tirith. He left the City in the care of the Council and left with
As he started to mount, he heard the childish voice calling, “Ada!” It
was Boromir – how had he escaped the nanny? When he returned, he would
get rid of that woman. Twice in the past twenty-four hours she had
failed him. He took the child in his arms. “I must leave thee for a
time, my son, but I promise thee, I wilt return.”
Boromir placed his chubby hands upon his father's cheeks. “May I not come with thee, Ada? I am almost of age.”
Denethor lifted his eyes away from the boy's intent gaze. If it had
been Faramir, the child would have known immediately that something was
wrong, like to himself be that boy. Boromir only wanted to be with his
father and away on some adventure. How… When was he to tell them? He
bit his lip. He would not let the boy see him cry. “I have important
duties to perform. You cannot come with me. I will return shortly,” he
apologized. The word ‘duty’ silenced Boromir, as Denethor knew it
would. The child understood duty – not like Faramir. ‘Ah, but Faramir
is so much younger,’ he thought. 'He will learn in time.' He put
Boromir down, ruffled his hair as he always did, mounted and waved as
he turned the horse into the tunnel by the Sixth Gate.
He had ridden hard across the Pelennor, hoping the speed, the wind in
his face, would flush all thought from his mind. The wind only slid the
tears faster across his face, turning his hair sodden. They would not
stop, these tears. He did not even need to be thinking of her. All
these tears needed was a moment – a time when he was thinking of
nothing, and they would fall in torrents. Large tears. He had not known
there were different sized tears, as there were raindrops. It made
sense. He thought them all the same, but since yesterday, when the sky
had fallen and the rain had entered his mind, he knew sizes. He
disliked these great drops. He preferred his childhood tears – small,
quickly fallen and then stopped as quickly as they started. But these –
these were quick to fall and would not stop. ‘No sobs either,’ he
thought. He was surprised by that. They would fall and, not till they
were almost spent, did the sobs come. But the sobs were so great they
racked his entire body, and he had to hold on tightly with his thighs
to his mount else he fall.
This ride was useless. He only hoped when he reached the garrison at
Osgiliath he would find some distraction. She only came here once – he
never allowed it again. Soldiers hailed him as he rode through the
ruins. He could smell the morning fires. The men would soon be breaking
their fast. He would not stop here though. This was not his
destination. Emyn Arnen. His ancestral home – the burial place for
Cranthir and Morwen. He started to cross the bridge when he heard his
name called. All these distractions – were they not what he wanted? But
he had discovered, as soon as he passed the Rammas Echor, that
distraction did nothing to ease the pain in his chest, the burning in
his eyes. Single-minded he was today. He had no wish to converse with
“My Lord,” the voice called out and Denethor recognized Ciramir's voice.
“I am in a hurry. What is it you need?” he snapped. A hand on his horse held him up.
“My Lord, is it true?” Ciramir saw the look in his Steward's eyes and
stopped. “My Lord, I am so sorry. She… Where are you off to my Lord?”
“Just a short ride to Emyn Arnen. I will be back before night fall.”
“My Lord, you know the law. The Steward must not be about without
an escort. Who is stationed at the Great Gate that let you leave with
only one attendant?”
Denethor wanted to scream. Long years at the command of Ecthelion,
however, had taught him control. “I do not wish, nor will I
countenance, an escort further than I have. Leave me be,” he almost
“Aye, my Lord,” Ciramir said, “but wait just a moment, please.” He did
not wait for a reply, but ran off. In the space of Denethor's fuming,
he was back, mounted on a horse with a small sack, his bow and quiver,
and a sword hitched to the side of his horse.
“What are you doing?” Denethor cried.
“I am going to Ithilien myself. Mayhap you would like to accompany me?”
Tears were in his eyes. “Amdir has taken a patrol out. I would meet
Denethor sat back in his saddle, not having realized he had been
standing in his stirrups. As much as he wanted to, he could not order
the man back. “Ride behind me, if you must,” he growled, hit the reins
to his horse's neck and plunged over the bridge, followed quickly by
The landscape started to change as the forest of Emyn Arnen came
into view. They rode into the middle of it and then past to the land of
the line of Húrin, and up to the tombs. Baranor and Ciramir stopped
their horses a little way back, dismounted and walked to a clearing far
enough from the tombs to give privacy, but near enough to guard their
Captain-General. Denethor rode to Cranthir's tomb, dismounted and sat
heavily on the stone. Next to Cranthir's was Morwen's. The whole area
was in disarray. 'Who had been commissioned to care for these,' he
wondered and again wished their remains had been placed in the
He returned to Osgiliath the next morning and, as the sun finally fell
in the West, walked to the River, then headed north. He could not be
among his men. Their looks of concern and pity drove him mad. The
waters of the Anduin were cool and pleasant. They washed tears away
with ease. But they did nothing to ease the heart. He had yet to return
to Minas Tirith. It had been two days. He had bedded in the garrison,
using Amdir’s rooms. He could not go back to the City, to their room…
he could not. He ducked his head into the water again. When he came up,
a hand was on his shoulder.
“Your children wait for you,” a voice said quietly, with no hint of condemnation.
Denethor turned. His breath caught and he stood still. The tears had
not stopped. He tried mightily, but to no avail. “I cannot…” ‘What!
What can I not do?’ he thought. “I can do nothing. I cannot even
breathe. I cannot even think. I cannot go on…” He realized he had been
screaming the words, his thoughts betraying him aloud.
Amdir moved closer and took his friend, his Captain-General, in his
arms. “I am so very sorry, Denethor. I would that I had been there and
not on patrol. What can I do? What can I say? I am so sorry.” He buried
his head in Denethor’s shoulder, his own grief spilling out in hot
Both men sank to the damp bank of the river, the river that brought
life, peace, joy, death; all things unto itself. Clinging to each
other, they wept.
Baranor watched from a discreet distance, as he had watched his Steward
try to assuage his grief in the rushing waters of the river. A sound to
the north took his eyes from the scene. He screamed, “Orc!” and pulled
his sword. Denethor ran to retrieve his own as Amdir rushed towards
‘There are only three,’ Denethor thought ruefully, wishing there were
more; battle always cleared his head. He dove for his own sword. Amdir
killed the first, but an Orc had run past Baranor and was rushing him,
its weapon aimed at Denethor’s head. Vaguely he wondered why the Orc
did not shoot. Mayhap, he smiled wickedly, it did not know how to fire
the weapon. He quickly ducked and slid in the mud of the riverbank. The
Orc slipped and fell also, but never lost hold on the crossbow in its
hands. The Orc lay on its back. Denethor jumped up, straddled it, his
dirk pressed into the creatures throat. At that moment, the arrow
released and shot out. Amdir stopped it with his chest. His eyes opened
wide, a grunt escaped his lips, and he fell to his knees.
“Amdir!” the moaned name dragged out for an age, the only sound
that Denethor’s grief-torn ears could hear. He sliced the creature’s
throat and in the same motion caught Amdir as he fell forward. Cradling
him in his arms, he looked in horror at the wound, gushing blood as it
was onto Amdir’s tunic and Denethor’s hand. He looked from the wound to
his friend’s face. The eyes were already glazed, blood spewed from his
lips, and breath rasped from a mortally wounded lung. “Amdir!” he
sobbed, but life had departed. Denethor fell forward, clutching as much
of his friend’s body as he could and bringing it as close to his own as
possible. He knelt, keening softly, his whole body trying to be one
with Amdir’s, trying to give some of his own life to his friend. But no
transfer of spirit could be realized. He pushed back the black hair
that had fallen over Amdir’s face and kissed the white forehead.
Baranor reached them after he had killed the remaining Orc, despair
filling his heart and his mind. ‘No,’ he wanted to scream. ‘No more! No
more!’ He stood guarding his friend. Yet, the failure he felt assailed
his whole being. ‘What good have I been? What guard have I been for
him?’ Sobs tore through him and tears fell. “Amdir,” he quietly sobbed,
“Amdir, my friend.”
At last Denethor let go Amdir’s body. He stood up, his face livid
with rage. “Kill the guards who let them through,” he screamed and when
Baranor did nothing, confusion rampant on his face, he grabbed him by
his mailed sleeve and brought his face nose to nose with Baranor’s.
“Kill them, I said! Do you not understand me?” he continued to shriek.
“Or you will be next! Do as I command.”
Baranor knelt before him in the mud. “My Lord. That will not bring Amdir back.”
Denethor struck him full in the face, the force of his anger and the
motion of the strike sending both men into the mud. He tried to pick
himself up, Baranor reaching a hand to help, but as their legs
straightened, they both slipped and fell again. Denethor’s screams tore
the air. “No!” he wailed. “I cannot… I cannot!” He crumpled into the
mud, held his head in his hands, and sobbed. Every fibre of his body
grieved. “I cannot…” he whispered. “I cannot…” Baranor held him close,
sobbing as they knelt on the muddy bank.
Ciramir ran from the high grass along the river’s edge where he had
watched the ambush in horror and shock. “Oh no,” he gasped, thinking
all three were dead. “No, this cannot be.” He ran towards the bodies
and stopped. He recoiled from the grief he saw in Denethor’s eyes.
‘Alive, aye, but mayhap t’ would be better if he were dead,’ the harsh
thought flitted through his mind. He realized that it was Amdir who lay
dead. The blood on Denethor’s body was that of his friend. “My
Steward,” he said quietly, reaching out to help him to his feet. But
Denethor’s body was heavy as if in death, and he could not raise him.
Soldiers from the garrison at Osgiliath had heard the commotion and had
come running. He motioned for two of them to come forward. They put
arms under each of their Steward’s and lifted him to his feet. Ciramir
helped Baranor stand. Another two soldiers went to Amdir’s body, gently
lifting it up and carrying it towards the barracks. They walked in
silence, broken every now and again by a sob from one or another of the
men. ‘Fate is beyond cruel,’ Ciramir thought. ‘To lose Finduilas and
Amdir in the space of days…’ He shook his head.
He woke to screams and flailed his arms, trying to defend himself;
from what, he did not know. The screams had turned to moans and he
realized the voice he heard was his own. A torrent of tears fell and he
found himself overcome with grief. Sobs racked his body. Why was he
sobbing like some grief-stricken child? He kept his eyes tight shut. He
had no idea where he was; he did not want to know. He wanted to solve
this mystery, to find why grief assailed him so. ‘My mind must be
playing tricks on me. Surely I am home in my own chambers, safe and
secure.’ He slowly forced his eyes open. He was in Osgiliath, in the
infirmary. He recognized it immediately. Thorongil was at his side. No,
it could not be Thorongil. He had betrayed him many years ago. Amdir!
It was Amdir; he knew it. It must be. He tried to choke out the name,
but no word would come.
“My Lord,” Baranor leaned over as he saw the eyes open. He brushed back
the black hair that had fallen into his friend’s eyes during his
Denethor looked wildly about the room, eyes straining from side to
side. “Where has Amdir gone? He was right here beside me. Amdir!” he
screamed, “Amdir!” Baranor knelt, trying to hold him down. The healer
had come into the room and knelt on the other side of Denethor’s cot,
“My Lord,” Baranor said over and over, hoping with every fibre in
his body that his Lord would finally be comforted by the sound.
“Amdir!” he screamed the name over and over until finally, he fell
back, taking in huge ragged breaths. The tears continued to fall and he
knew Amdir was dead. His face fell. “Amdir,” he whispered once more,
“my friend.” Sobs began to shake his body. The healer attempted to pour
a liquid past his lips, but he spat it back into the man’s face.
He tried to sink deeper and deeper into the cot, trying to lose
himself as if in a tomb. Baranor ordered the healer away. When Denethor
heard the man’s retreating footsteps, he opened his eyes. He stared
into Baranor’s face. ‘Oh! Such pain,’ Baranor cringed.
Denethor took his arm and clenched it tightly. He took three deep
breaths. “If Amdir is dead,” he sobbed, his voice breaking, “then she
is dead? It was not a dream?”
Baranor sucked in his breath and sobbed aloud. He put his hand on Denethor’s and held it tight.
“No!” the piercing wail split the night air. “Oh no, no, please
no…” He kept murmuring again and again until his body, overcome by
exhaustion, took him into sleep.
Baranor bowed his head, the sobs continuing into the night. The garrison lay still, shock and horror filling every heart.
Ciramir finally came into the room. Helping Baranor into the cot
next to his Captain’s, he pulled his boots off and covered him. “Sleep
now. I will stand watch.”
His eyes were swollen and they burned when he tried to open them.
His mouth was parched; he tasted blood as he ran his tongue over
cracked lips. His tongue felt swollen, too. His throat ached as if he
had screamed for a thousand years. But nothing felt like his chest. The
pain was still there, like a knife embedded to the hilt; so great he
could hardly breathe. He turned his head sideways and saw Ciramir
sitting on a chair next to his cot. His feet were up and the man was
deeply asleep. So too was Baranor, he saw when he looked further left,
asleep in the cot next to him.
‘I should feel happy to have such friends by my side,’ he thought
lugubriously. “I do not want friends,” he mumbled. “Never again do I
want friends.” His throat started to constrict, but he willed it not
to. “I will have no friends.” His eyes felt hard. He took a deep,
ragged breath, swung his legs off the cot, and stood up. He put on his
boots, picked up his sword, along with the Horn of Gondor, and quietly
walked out of the room. Guards saluted him and quickly moved out of his
way as he crossed the courtyard to the stables. Picking up his saddle
and blanket, he put them on his horse and pulled himself up. Turning
west, he headed towards the City, not noticing that the sun, just
coming over the mountains, blazed like a spike of pearl on the White
Boromir had been fidgeting all morning. The tutor finally gave up
and sent him out to play. He ran to Faramir’s room, caught his hand in
a grip that made the little boy cry out, startled, and said, “Ada may
be coming home ere long, Faramir. Please, wilt thou come with me to the
point? We may see him coming.” Faramir, who had been miserable these
past three days since both mother and father had left them, clapped his
hands in joy. If Boromir was going to the point, he would not be left
behind. He quickly pulled on a woolen tunic and ran to catch up with
Boromir who was already out the door and bounding down the stairs. The
two boys ran past the White Tree and out onto the parapet. At last they
reached the point. Boromir laughed. “I beat thee again, Faramir. Thou
must learn to run faster,” and he hugged his little brother in the joy
of the day, in the hope of his father’s home coming.
As the sun rose higher and higher, Boromir’s enthusiasm started to
wane. He pulled finger tops from his pocket and gave one to Faramir,
then started to twirl his own, counting how long he could keep it
At last, Faramir started to cry. “I am thirsty, Boromir, when mayest we leave here?”
Boromir’s face fell; he bit his lip in the same way his father did. “I
have promised Naneth that I would care for thee. We will go to the
kitchen for a snack.” His face brightened again. “We may return here
once thou art refreshed!”
Faramir stuck his hand in Boromir’s as they walked away. Neither noticed the dust on the road from Osgiliath.
The sun shone brightly. The wind blew gently. His horse rode silently
towards the Rammas Echor. Turning his stead to the left, he passed
through the guarded gate and rode south. His mind was numb. He must
find Listöwel. It became a rune that ran through his mind, the only
thing that he heard or felt. He must find Listöwel. She would know what
to do. She would… ‘Nay,’ he thought. ‘I must find Indis.’ His brow
furrowed, his mind trying to clutch at some anchor that he could hold
onto in the midst of the pain. He pulled up and looked about him.
‘Where am I?’ he wondered. ‘How did I come to be here?’ He dropped the
reins and clutched his hair, pulling it back. ‘I am going mad,’ he
thought. He shuddered and jumped off his horse. Kneeling on the ground,
he bent over, holding his stomach and retched. Finally, the sickness
passed. He sat back on his heels and looked up. The sun caught the
Citadel, shining on the White Tower. Sobbing, he held out his hands,
trying to touch her, his City. Then clouds sped over the sun, and the
sight was gone. He lowered his head again, sobs tearing from his
throat. At last, he fell over, exhausted. Sleep came.
His soldiers found him that way. Lifting him gently onto his saddle,
Ciramir joined him on the horse, and the Knights moved towards Minas
Tirith. He did not wake. The trumpet, as the group approached the City,
sounded and Denethor stirred. Ciramir hushed him, hoping that his
Steward would not awake till they had reached the Houses. But the long
sleep had revived him. He pulled up with a start.
“My Lord,” Ciramir said, “please stay still, else we will both end up on the road.”
“What has happened?” Denethor asked, blinking in the sunlight.
“We found you on the Pelennor, my Lord. You had succumbed to your
grief. We could not leave you there. I deemed it proper to bring you
home. Indis will be waiting for you. She has been distraught since you
‘Indis!’ He remembered; he had wanted to see Indis. “Aye,” he said with fervor, “I must see Indis. You will take me to her?”
“Aye, my Lord. As quickly as your mount is able.”
“He would make better time if he only carried one,” Denethor said pragmatically.
Ciramir was relieved to hear the tone of voice. “I will dismount,
my Lord.” He wanted to ask if Denethor would be all right, but he dared
Denethor clicked after Ciramir alighted and his horse went forward.
By the time he reached the Citadel, his head was hurting. A soldier
took his mount when he reached the Sixth Gate. Ciramir had taken
another horse and had followed Denethor to the Citadel. He quickly
dismounted and followed behind his Steward.
Indis ran from the White Tower. “Denethor,” she whispered as she held
him tightly. “I have been near to distraction waiting upon you. Please,
come to your chambers. I will have a bath drawn and send your servants
He sat down heavily upon the steps. She looked about wildly and
fixed her eyes upon Ciramir. He put his finger to his lips and looked
sadly at Denethor.
“Amdir is dead, Indis.” Denethor whispered forlornly.
She would have fallen down next to him, eyes wide in horror, if Ciramir had not caught her.
“What say you, my brother?” Tears glistened in her eyes.
Ciramir sat down beside them. “It is true, my Lady. Orc attacked at
the riverbank. Amdir was mortally wounded. A company is bringing his
body back, e’en as we speak.”
Denethor looked up at that. “Are they now?” he said hopefully.
“Thank you, Ciramir. Loyal and trustworthy have you always been. I
thought you would have gone with Thengel, when he was called back to
Rohan to become King. I am grateful you did not.”
Ciramir sighed at the sound of Denethor’s voice. Hoarse still, but strong and sound. He was relieved to hear it.
Arms flung themselves around Denethor’s throat and he jumped in
surprise. “Ada! Ada!” the little voice cried. “How happy I am to see
thee. I thought thou wouldst not return. Boromir and I waited and
waited and waited…” Squealing again, the arms tightened. Denethor sat
in silence. He did not know what to say.
Indis grabbed the little one away and walked him towards the door.
“Faramir. Ada is tired from his ride. He will come to you after you
have your nap. Now go to your chambers and wait for me. I will tuck you
“But Ada… I want to see Ada,” the little one wailed. His nanny had
come to the foot of the stairs and waited for Indis to give him to her.
They walked up the stairs, the child’s wails echoing off the walls.
She came back and helped Denethor to his feet. “You will find the
words, Denethor. Go to your chambers now and refresh yourself. I will
send up food. Then, I will make arrangements for Amdir’s body.”
“It must be embalmed, Indis. Please, see to that. And reserve a
place for him… I would have him in the Steward’s House, but that is not
possible. Find a house nearby and have a place prepared for him.” He
turned and slowly walked up the Tower’s stairs.
Boromir could not understand why their father would not see them.
Faramir had come running into his chambers announcing that father was
home and would not play with him. ‘Something has happened,’ the lad
thought. ‘I must know what it is. I will find Indis; she will tell me.’
He hugged Faramir and took him to the nursery. “Faramir is hungry. It
is past nuncheon. See that he is fed,” he told the nanny. He heard
Faramir crying in the background, but he could not wait. Some sense
told him that he could not bring Faramir with him.
Once outside, he made his way to the Great Hall. If anyone were
about, they would be there. But the Hall was empty. His father must be
in his own chambers. Where should he look next? He could go to Indis’
chambers, but he did not think she would be there. Perhaps she would be
with his father. He started to walk back to the Citadel when he noticed
activity by the Sixth Gate. Soldiers milled around. As he walked up,
they immediately stopped talking. No one hailed him, and he began to be
frightened. No small thing had occurred if the men were so quiet. He
smiled anyhow and asked for Indis. One of the men pointed through the
Gate and said she was in the Houses. Boromir thanked him and walked
down the path. Silence lay at his back. The hairs on the back of his
neck started to stand up. ‘What has happened?’ his little mind asked.
The doorwarden stopped him. “You are too young to enter the Houses without an adult, my Lord Boromir. You know that.”
“I must see my aunt, the Lady Indis. Would you please tell her I am out here waiting?”
“I will. Sit on the bench and I will bring her if I can.” He turned and went into the building.
Boromir sat, his legs still too short to touch the ground, so he swung
them back and forth, clutching and unclutching his little horn as his
father did with his sword.
Indis came and sat next to him. She remained silent so he said
nothing. After what seemed an age to him, he started to fidget. She
turned towards him, picked him up, and placed him upon her lap. Now he
was really frightened. He had not sat on anyone’s lap since he was
seven. He started to cry.
“Oh,” Indis cried, “I am so sorry. Your father has told you the news,”
she assumed from his tears. “Your mother was a great lady, dearest
Boromir, and I loved her as much as you did. We will all miss her
greatly.” Indis tears joined with Boromir, who sat, stricken.
What was his aunt saying? Why would Indis miss his mother? He sat bolt
upright, taking her hands from around his waist. “What are you saying?
What has happened to my mother? She will not return? Why? Why?” His
voice rose. He tried to jump out of her lap, but she realized her
mistake and held him close.
“Oh dearest Boromir. I am so sorry. I thought you cried because your
father had told you. Oh, Boromir, Boromir.” She could not speak but the
child was furious.
“What has happened to my mother?” he screamed. “What has not my father told me? Tell me!” he screamed even louder, “Tell me!”
“Thy mother is dead, Boromir. She was most ill. Thou knewest that. She
died on the way to Dol Amroth. She wilt be buried in the tombs of her
The lad sat in silence, his mouth moving, but no words came forth.
The tears had stopped. His mind could not fathom what she was telling
him. “My mother is not dead,” he said quietly. “Father sent her to the
sea to heal her. She will return soon. She promised,” he said
pragmatically. “Nana always keeps her promises.”
“She would if she could, Boromir, but she cannot keep this one. The
sickness o’ertook her and she will not return. I am so sorry, little
Boromir looked down at his hands. “I do not believe you. I will ask my father.”
“Aye,” Indis sighed. “We will both go to your father.” She placed
him on the walk, took his hand, and started towards the gate.
Denethor sat at his desk, fingering the leaves etched into it,
remembering Thengel. He had returned from Edoras for a visit; it was
the year that Finduilas had come to Minas Tirith for the state party.
They had sat in this very study, and Thengel had laughed at Denethor’s
“You cannot use that desk as Steward’s Heir. Let us go to the Drúadan
Forest. We will harvest a great oak and make you a desk and chair
befitting a Steward. What say you?”
And so they had gone, found a tree that Thengel thought worthy and
brought it back to Minas Tirith with them. For weeks they laboured on
them. It was an excuse for Thengel to stay a little longer in the City
he loved. Morwen, too, had been happy for the extension of their visit.
It gave her the opportunity to rekindle the friendship of the four
sisters. It had been a glorious time. The desk and chair were more
magnificent than he had thought possible. At last, the time to part
came. It seemed harder than ever to say farewell to his friend. But
Thengel was gone now.
He heard a commotion at the door. Sighing he stood and walked forward. He did not want to be disturbed.
“Ada!” he heard the young voice scream. Fearful as to what might have
happened to occasion such a scream, he reached the door and flung it
open. In front of him stood Boromir and Indis. Indis had tears
streaming down her face, but Boromir’s was red with fury. “Ada!”
Boromir screamed again. “Indis has lied to me. Tell her she is wrong.
Tell her, Ada!” Denethor had bent down and Boromir beat his chest with
his little hands. Denethor took them into his own, held them tight, and
looked into Boromir’s eyes.
Indis eyes beseeched him for forgiveness. Denethor immediately knew
what had happened. ‘By all the stars, I had not wanted this moment to
come so soon,’ he thought. He knelt in front of his son. “Boromir.
Indis has never lied to you. Apologize to her.”
“Nay!” Indis cried. “Do not make him, Denethor!”
Boromir’s eyes widened. “She tells the truth, Ada?”
“Aye, my son. She tells the truth. Thy mother is dead. She has
joined thy Adadhron. She wilt not return.” He held his tears at bay.
“We must be strong, now, Boromir, strong for Gondor. Our duty bids us
to set aside mourning. Wilt thou be strong, my son? Wilt thou help me
Boromir’s tears fell. Struggling, he said, “Ada. I want to be
strong.” Sobs racked his little body. “I will be strong. I promise, but
not now, Ada, please not now.” He wrapped his arms around his father’s
throat and clung to him.
Denethor sat on the cold marble floor, holding tight to the lad. “All right, Boromir. We will wait a bit before we are strong.”
Melethril nîn – my love
Tancavë – yes
Lasto – listen
Absenen – forgive me
Adadhron – grandfather (paternal)
AUTHOR’S NOTES: From a deep-seated belief that I am unable to change or
help a person who has chosen to die. I can do everything in my power to
try to help them, from prayer to forcing them to seek counsel, to
personally attacking them, to whining, to tears, to separation, to
loving them. I can do everything – but they must chose to live. Someone
near and dear to me chose not to live. I have lived through the
description of the tears and the odd questions that surface in the
midst of despair and heartache and death.
I ran from writing this part of 2988 because of this. But standing upon
the rocks of New Zealand, with my dear friends Indis and Elentari above
a seashore that could have been Dol Amroth, Denethor cried out to me –
write of her death, tell of my sorrow, speak my pain. And so, after
three days of tears in the midst of the beauty of that island, I wrote
of Finduilas death. May Eru be praised that I was able to write it.
Amdir’s death just happened. One morning, I woke up and knew he had to
die. Sometimes, I hate my muse.
The 'Dol Amroth' room that Boromir created is based upon a room in
a mansion that I was blessed to visit this summer. I knew it was
Finduilas' room as soon as I saw it.
NOTES: My apologies for the language used… see Tolkien’s notes below…
regarding the familiar form I use for Denethor, Finduilas and their
children…. Forgive me if I am wrong, but it brings warmth to my heart
to hear them speak thus.
Appendix F - I The languages and Peoples of the Third Age
So that at the time of the War of the Ring the Elven-tongue was
known to only a small part of the peoples of Gondor, and spoken daily
by fewer. These dwelt mostly in Minas Tirith and the townlands
adjacent, and in the land of the tributary princes of Dol Amroth.
(The Rohirrim) They still spoke their ancestral tongue …. But the
lords of that people used the Common Speech freely, and spoke it nobly
after the manner of their allies in Gondor; for in Gondor whence it
came the Westron kept still a more gracious and antique style.
The Westron tongue made in the pronouns of the second person (and
often also in those of the third) a distinction, independent of number,
between 'familiar' and 'deferential' forms…. This was one of the things
referred to when people of Gondor spoke of the strangeness of
Hobbit-speech. Peregrin Took, for instance, in his first few days in
Minas Tirith used the familiar forms to people of all ranks, including
the Lord Denethor himself. This may have amused the aged Steward, but
it must have astonished his servants. No doubt this free use of the
familiar forms helped to spread the popular rumour that Peregrin was a
person of very high rank in his own country.