Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
22. Third Age - 3002
I II III
“It was not so
long ago, Théoden King, that we sat together at young
pledge.” Denethor held the flagon of wine between his fingers, tracing
the White Tree on the side of it with his other hand.
Théoden took the weary hand and held it. “He knew the risks. We
do, my friend. You knew his spirit – wild and free, too quick to plunge
“What of your sister?” Denethor remembered the fair and cheerful
daughter of Thengel.
“Théodwyn is not well. Her heart is fragile. I have asked her to
return to the Golden Hall, but she refuses. She insists on staying in
Aldburg. I fear for her. Her eyes, once so proud and bright as Morwen
Steelsheen’s, have faded behind a mask of stone.”
“Will not Morwen go to her?”
“Théodwyn refuses her company, though none can control my
mother. She went unbidden.”
Denethor laughed quietly at the thought of the renowned stubbourness of
the mother of the king of Rohan.
Théoden continued. “Morwen returned but a fortnight ago, went to
her chambers, and wept. I would go myself, bring Théodwyn back
but Morwen said nay. I have an errand rider at the ready, if need
arises. When we are finished here, I will stop at Eorl’s city and visit
“Ever has she been your favorite, Théoden, my friend.”
As smoke from his study’s brazier wafted towards the ceiling,
Denethor remembered that conversation well. Théoden and he had
the Mering Stream to discuss horses and strategies and renew their
friendship. They sat quietly the rest of that evening as tents flapped
in the breeze. The quiet had been appreciated by both lords of
For three years Gondor and Rohan had battled renewed attacks. They had
finally slowed and all thought a time of respite was theirs. Soon
after, grief once again struck. A tear slid down his cheek. It was the
year Éomund had been killed in ambush by Orc coming out of the
Emyn Muil. He had left a young wife and two small children.
Denethor remembered. Éomund well. As an emissary of Ecthelion’s,
Denethor was sent to barter for horses; he had first met the young
Rohir along the Mering Stream. The meeting had turned into one of
revelry, song and laughter between the men of the Mark under
Men of Gondor under Denethor. The memory of it still burned in his
heart. He remembered the lovesick look that overtook Éomund when
spoke of the lovely Théodwyn.
Denethor had received a strong tongue-lashing from his father over the
terms for the horses, but it had been a fair trade and Éomund
him the best the Rohirrim had. After that, they met frequently in Minas
Tirith and along the border. Headstrong he was, but one of the bravest
men Denethor had ever known. It had not surprised him, the way he had
died, but the loss angered and pained all of Gondor and its Steward.
Théoden had been proven wise in his concern for his beloved
Théodwyn had succumbed to grief this past summer. Denethor’s
heavy as he thought of Finduilas. A type of grief had taken her. ‘Nay!’
he thought angrily, ‘‘Twas not so much grief, but fear and a too tender
heart. Faramir takes after her.’ Another tear slid to join its
companion. ‘Faramir! Beloved son! Too quiet, too gentle, too
At last, a smile creased his face. ‘The exact opposite of my Boromir.
Strong, bold, brave, valiant. Quick to wield a sword and shield and
jump into battle. None can best the lad, when he puts his mind to it.
Except for Faramir – too often my eldest lets his brother win their
contests of skill. I must speak to him. He cannot continue this.
Faramir must… ‘
‘Ah, but Faramir wields a bow and arrow like unto the Elves
themselves. That Faramir could be the same as Boromir. Gondor needs
more like Boromir. Already the boy’s sword arm is as strong as mine.
His reflexes are even faster. Soon, I will not be able to best him.’
His heart swelled with pride. A knock interrupted his thoughts.
“My Lord, another missive from Osgiliath.”
He took the note, opened it, and swore. ‘Soon all of Ithilien will be
He sent Boromir, of course. Boromir was always the one he turned to, at
least these past four years. Instead of giving him the captaincy of
Eilenach as he had decided upon the side of Mindolluin, he had kept
Boromir in the City and used him as the point of his arrow.
Boromir was sent from one campaign to the next, always with orders to
obey whomever the captain was at the garrison he was being sent to, but
always with the secret order to watch everything, to weigh heavily all
options, and then, when the time came, to inform the captain that he,
Boromir, was to lead the assault.
If not for Boromir’s skill and shrewdness, the captains of Gondor might
have rebelled. However, they watched his talent with shield and blade
in admiration, listened to his battle wisdom and acquiesced to his
superior aptitude, heard his words of encouragement and gallantry, and
followed him willingly. When once the battle was won, they reveled in
the glory that he gave to them.
He was magnanimous; how could he not be? With his father’s full
support, he wielded the authority given him with grace. His father’s
confidence in him was all he needed. He did not need the adulation of
the masses, but he received it nonetheless. The people grew in their
love for him; Denethor’s love was absolute.
When Boromir’s latest task had been accomplished, he sent an
errand-rider to Minas Tirith with a missive. Denethor smiled as he read
‘I would request your presence, my Lord Steward, at the river
Anduin at the noon hour. I would also request the presence of my
brother, Faramir. There is much I would discuss with you, but away from
the City. I look forward to our meeting, Your son, Boromir.’
“Come, Faramir,” he shouted, looking about wildly for his youngest.
He knew the lad had been here a moment ago, waiting as always to hear
of Boromir’s latest exploits, to listen to the words of greeting that
Boromir never failed to send to his brother.
Faramir ran forward. “I have ordered the horses saddled, my Lord,” he
exclaimed, excitement etched across his face. It had been eight long
months since last he had seen Boromir and the thought of seeing his
brother again filled him with joy. “Cook is making a meal to send with
us as we speak.”
“Boromir will surely have planned a meal for us,” the Steward
laughed. “There is no need for us to carry anything but ourselves and
our weapons. Come, my son, Anor is fast moving across the sky. We will
be late if we do not make haste!”
Faramir smiled and followed his father out of the hall and into the
entranceway. Walking swiftly, he still found it hard to keep up with
his father’s long strides. But try he would, the goal was well worth a
few moments of sharpened breath and tightened calves. They passed
through the tunnel and turned towards the stable. A groom stood in
silence with two horses saddled, one the great black stallion that was
the Steward’s and one the roan that was Faramir’s. They quickly
alighted and road slowly down to the first circle. Faramir beamed and
many waved. Denethor bowed his head graciously at their regard.
Boromir strode forward to meet them. He had ridden out form the
Guard-towers upon the Causeway. Indeed, nuncheon had been set upon a
table and an esquire stood ready to serve.
Denethor met his son and enfolded him in his arms. “You look well,
my son,” he beamed. "Your last exploits are being told in all the
taverns of the City. You had best keep away, ere your head grow too
large for that helmet you wear,” and he cuffed Boromir on the shoulder.
Standing aside, he let Faramir move forward.
Boromir hugged his brother warmly, whispered a greeting in his ear,
then stepped back. “We do not have many hours left before Anor sets,
Father. Please sit and eat.”
Denethor did so along with Faramir and Boromir. Birds sounded close
by, speaking to each other of worms and water and cool air. The day was
idyllic and Denethor wondered why they did not do this more often.
After a last sip of wine, Boromir turned towards Osgiliath and pointed.
“Father, the Causeway needs repair here and here. The guard towers need
to be expanded. If the enemy attacks again, we will be sore pressed to
hold those here at the Rammas. I have men who are skilled and ready to
do the task. I wanted you to see the state of disrepair so that you
would know what I say is true.”
“Boromir!” Denethor said harshly. “I have never accused you of
falsehood. You did not need to bring me here. Your word is gold. I will
order it so.”
“That is not the only reason I have brought you out to the sweet
fields of the Pelennor, Father. Indis ordered me to - for a respite for
you. She said you needed to be away from the City for a time. I cannot
argue with Indis.” He smiled warmly.
“I will be away from the City for quite some time, as will you and
Faramir. Théoden King requests our presence at Théodred’s
coming of age
ceremony. I have responded that we will, indeed, join his family.”
“Do your people…?” His brow furrowed as he tried to put words to his
question, finally giving up and deciding to be blunt.
“When Finduilas passed, even though she died while on the road to
Dol Amroth, certain rumours surfaced.” He blushed and tried to cover
his shame by standing and retrieving the flagon of wine. Théoden
and took the flagon from his hand. “It is my home we are in; let me.”
He poured another cup for his friend, then, Denethor continued, “They
say it was my fault that she is dead.” He turned his face from his
friend. Théoden remained still. “Some say she threw herself from
White Tower. Others…” He took a deep breath to regain some control,
“others even say I murdered her.” He sat back, relieved to have finally
voiced the stories that were whispered, even now, behind his back.
Twirling his glass between his fingers, he whispered, “I did not
kill her, my friend.” Quiet tears fell. “I did everything in my power
to save her.”
Silence filled the chamber. At last he asked the question that he
dreaded. “Are there such rumours about your wife? Your daughter?”
Théoden stood. Denethor had come to Edoras to partake in the
installation of Théodred as Théoden’s heir and to witness
of Éomer and Éowyn as children of Théoden. It was
to be a joyous time,
yet Denethor dwelt in grief.
Walking towards the window, he scrunched his neck, trying to consider
what he could say that would soften the blow of his next words.
Denethor waited. “I have heard no such rumours. It was childbirth that
took my wife – though some could say different, none have. As for
Théodwyn, she died at the garrison. Again, stories could be
told, but I
have heard none. Mayhap Morwen has.”
The look of pain on his friend’s face made Denethor wish he had not
asked, but he knew he had to discover the truth. “If there are no
rumours in Rohan, then either your people have larger hearts and less
suspicion than mine, or my people truly believe I had a hand in
Finduilas’ death.” He leaned forward resting his elbows on his thighs
and covered his face. “I cannot believe they would think that of me.”
When they returned from Edoras, another wave of attacks had
engulfed Osgiliath and even into the Pelennor. Hordes of Easterlings
were seen coming across the Noman-lands. Denethor quickly sent out
company after company till Minas Tirith itself was laid bare. But the
attacks continued. Finally, knowing Belfalas was not under attack, he
ordered the beacon fires of the south lit. Dol Amroth sent knights,
Gondor would prevail. But at what cost! New graves were being dug
hourly by the shores of the Anduin, from Osgiliath all the way north to
the Mouths of the Entwash. Banners, black and leaden, adorned the City.
Grief lay heavy upon her. Denethor sequestered himself in the Tower,
lost in a constant battle with sorrow and exhaustion, as he commanded
the knights of Gondor. Once, it had seemed Boromir had been lost, but
two days later, a missive had come saying he was well and with the men
of Cair Andros. A bitter fight had been had at the island fortress.
They had lost four companies, two hundred and eighty men, in just two
Denethor’s eyes, red-rimmed and swollen from fatigue, looked out upon
the Pelennor. He had to step away from the globe; its power engulfed
him and he was beginning to think that another voice whispered in the
bowels of the thing. He shook his head. ‘I am imagining things,’ he
thought wearily. Pushing his fingers against the sides of his face, he
willed himself awake. ‘I must not rest. My people are dying.’
A light knock on the door brought him fully awake. “Who knocks?” he
“It is I, Adar. Faramir. I have food sent by Indis.”
“Go away. I have no time.”
“Your sister bids me stay until you admit me. You have not eaten in two
He swore loudly. “Leave me alone!”
“Adar. I cannot. Please let me help you.”
Denethor slipped to the floor. He had no longer the strength to stand.
“Enter,” he whispered.
Faramir stepped into the room, noted his
father’s fallen form, and rushed forward. “Adar, let me help you up.”
Denethor waved him off. He put his hand upon the sill of the window and
tried to stand, but, to his chagrin, he could not. He sat back with a
heavy sigh. “Bring the food here. Then you may leave.”
Faramir swallowed. “I cannot leave you, Adar, not in this state.
Let me sit with you awhile.” He stepped forward and placed the tray of
food at his father’s side.
”I do not want you here,” the Steward said gruffly. “Are you so dense?”
Eyes brimming with tears, Faramir stayed stooped, holding a goblet in
his hand. “Drink this, please.”
His voice was uneven and Denethor noted it. Sighing heavily, he
took the cup from Faramir’s hand. “Still you have not trained yourself
to hide your feelings. How will you interrogate prisoners? How will you
stand in front of the council and disagree with them, while making them
think you are only concerned with their welfare? How many times…?” He
picked at the food before him. “Faramir, my son, I cannot stress enough
how important it is to be circumspect. Will you try?”
“I will, Father.”
Denethor’s eyes closed wearily. “They have not rested, have not
even buried their dead, yet I must send them out again,” Denethor
“Boromir!” The grey eyes filled with tears. “I have seen them, you
know. They stream from the east, from north of Dagorlad. They come in
the tens of thousands with their armour glinting in the sun and their
faces filled with hate. He will have to go out and meet them.”
“Who will have to go out, Father?”
“Boromir!” The eyes grew wild. “He will have to go out and meet them
“Nay, Adar,” Faramir’s voice grew soft and gentle. “You have not
seen rightly. Boromir will prevail. Close your eyes for a moment. I
will not leave you.”
Silence filled the tower room. Faramir sat next to the Steward and
waited. His heart was torn. He wanted to take the wrinkled hand into
his own and hold it, but he knew the gesture would no longer be
welcome. They had drifted apart, somewhere in these years since Boromir
had become Captain-General. He had lost his father’s love.
“Ada! Ada! Please wake up. I have
something I want to show you!” Faramir held his hand and stroked it.
Indis ran forward. “Hush, Faramir,” she said gently, “Your Adar needs
“But I want to show him what I drew for him.”
“Not now, garn nîn.”
“May I sit and wait?”
She smiled. He was such a dear. How could she say nay? “Just for a
little bit, but you must promise not to wake him.”
“I promise.” He placed the drawing on the table, then sat on a chair
across from Denethor and folded his hands.
She kissed his forehead, reminded him of his promise, and left them.
After a few moments, he slid off the chair and pulled it next to
Denethor’s. He scrambled up and sat quietly once more.
The garden was still except for the hum of honeybees. The wind was
light and warm. His eyes started to close. His body startled awake. He
looked towards his Adar. Denethor still slept.
He looked with longing at the drawing – his need to show his Adar
fought against his need to obey Indis. He sighed and a small tear ran
down his cheek.
A rough hand wiped it away. He looked up in surprise as his Adar
lifted him from the chair and placed him on the strong lap. He was
being held close and his heart lifted. He was happier than he had ever
‘When had his hands become so wrinkled and mottled with brown stains?’
Faramir wondered. Still his father slept.
“Why the tears, Faramir?”
“I wanted to show you my drawing but you were asleep and Amma said I
could not wake you but I was falling asleep too and I was afraid you
would leave me and I would not be able to show it to you.” He burst
His Adar held him closer. “Have you napped today, Faramir?”
“Not yet.” The boy’s chin quivered.
“I think it is time. Listöwel!” he called out and she immediately
came. “He needs his nap,” he gently chided.
She tried to take the boy from his father’s arms, but Faramir clung
“Not yet, Ada. I have not shown you my drawing!” His voice had risen to
Denethor shook his head. Listöwel apologized profusely for letting
the boy miss his nap.
“A moment, Listöwel,” he said and hugged Faramir back. “Faramir,
let me see your drawing.”
The boy climbed off his Adar’s lap and went to the table. He picked
up the drawing and brought it back and stood proudly as Denethor took
it from him.
“This is very good. It is a picture of your Aunt Indis?”
Faramir stared at him, his eyes wide. “It is Nana, Ada.” His chin
wobbled again and tears spilled. “I wanted to make one of Nana,” the
boy sobbed, inconsolable.
Denethor swept him into his arms. “Have you seen this portrait of your
Naneth?” Denethor asked as he carried him into his private chambers. He
pointed to a large portrait hanging on the wall. She sat in a garden on
the south of the City with the infant Faramir in her arms and a
sleeping Boromir at her feet. Her hand rested gently upon Faramir’s
head. Her eyes looked towards Minas Tirith. *
“Your drawing looks like this one, Faramir. I could not see it well
with the sun shining in my eyes. But now that we are in shadow, I see
what you have done. It is a marvelous drawing, Faramir. I will hang it
here, next to this one. Will you let me have it?”
The boy nodded, his eyes as round as saucers. “She is beautiful, Ada.”
“She is, Faramir, and so are you. You look so much like her.” His
voice caught and he had to stop for a moment. “You are so like her.”
Denethor’s eyes fluttered open.
“Will you come to your chambers and rest for a time?” Faramir asked
He threw the goblet across the floor and this time managed to stand.
“Leave me now!” Denethor bellowed. The boy just did not understand –
there was no time for anything but Gondor. Firmly taking Faramir by the
arm, he led him to the door, opened it and shoved Faramir out. “Do not
come back unless bidden.”
He leaned his head against the door as he heard the muffled sobs on
the other side. ‘He does not understand. I must be about Gondor’s
business even if it means my death.’ Tears were batted irritably away.
He rubbed his hands over his face, pulled back his hair, and walked to
the covered stand.
At long last, the battles had ended that very day. The enemy had
skulked away, but great damage had been done. Not so much to the Rammas
or the Causeway or even the City itself, but damage to Gondor’s people.
The number of dead reached close to a thousand. For all Denethor’s
strategy, the war, for that is what he deemed it, had not gone well.
He shivered as he stood on the escarpment, looking out across the
Pelennor. The peregrine wheeled about the Tower. He looked up. ‘Was it
worth my time using it? Should I have been out upon the Pelennor
myself? Should I have directed the battle from Osgiliath?’ He shook his
head. Nay, the losses would have been worse. He had full view of every
battle, every skirmish. He knew where every company was and exactly the
number of the foe that fought him. What he needed was men. And the
Palantír could not provide them.
Nor could it provide surcease for the pain he had caused Faramir.
He shook his head at the remembrance of that moment. He had actually
accused Faramir of being obtuse. Faramir! Faramir, who kept his head in
his books, understood the history of Gondor and its importance better
than even he did, and supported his father with such grace.
‘I was tired,’ he excused himself. ‘Nay!’ he chided himself. ‘I am
Steward. I have no excuse. Would I have treated another soldier under
me with such contempt? Would I speak to one of my captains with such
He had sent for Faramir two hours before, yet none had been able to
find him. He stood and walked towards the Tree. The gentle drip drop of
the water from the Fountain as it struck the dead stalks that stretched
out from the shriveled trunk reminded him of the tears his son had shed
as he stood on the other side of the door. Swearing softly, he ran
towards the Great Hall.
His eyes lit up. Faramir was moving towards him. He grabbed the lad by
the shoulders and pulled him close. Hugging him tightly, he said, “I am
sorry.” After another moment, he asked him, “Come with me to the seat
by the escarpment? Please.”
Faramir struggled to control himself. Remembering with wretchedness
the words of his father, he nodded, not trusting his own voice. They
walked forward, Denethor held tightly onto Faramir’s arm; the same way,
Faramir remembered, that he had held tightly to it when Denethor had
thrown him out of the Tower room.
At that very moment, the wizard appeared and Denethor felt his
son’s arm tense, saw the smile that broadened his boy’s face, and
wished that that smile had lit Faramir’s face when first he had seen
Denethor just a moment before. He stiffened and let his arm fall.
“Mithrandir,” he said coldly. “Your presence has long been missed. Have
you been bothering my neighbors?”
The wizard smiled and bowed low, his great hat almost touching the
marble floor of the escarpment. Faramir smiled and Denethor noted again
the easy bond that existed between the two.
“I have come to do more studying, with your leave, Lord Denethor.”
“Studying. I wonder. How many days and hours you spend in my library.
‘Twould seem you have read everything of worth.”
“Not yet. You know as well as I that no one could live long enough
to read all the tomes in the Great Library of Minas Tirith. As long as
I have your permission, I will come to read and to study.”
“What exactly do you study, Mithrandir?” he asked coldly. He noted
Faramir’s wince. “Do you study things that pertain to Gondor? Or mayhap
to Rohan?” His eyes lit up. “Perhaps even further – to Westernesse
“All of those areas have my attention. I hope to focus, during this
visit, upon the Battle of Dagorlad.”
”We have just finished such a battle. Not, perhaps as terrible as the
one you research, but one terrible nonetheless to Gondor.”
“I had heard of your struggles.”
“Yet, you did not come?” Denethor’s voice had turned to ice. “You did
not deem Gondor important enough to offer a wizard’s aid?”
“There are other battles in this world that must be attended to,
battles in places with less protection than Gondor has.”
“Go, then, and read your books and stay away from me and mine.”
Denethor's eyes flashed.
Faramir stepped forward. “Father, the wizard has done nothing to garner
Denethor stood still, his mouth set, drawing every once of strength
from his great will to not strike the lad. “Very well, go with him and
be done with me.”
The Steward turned and strode towards the Great Hall.
The wind had finally quieted. The dust from
battle had settled. She sat in the garden with the letter upon her lap.
The sounds of men below burying the dead echoed from Rath Dínen.
garden was too close to that street. She should have gone to Finduilas’
– more secluded, peaceful. A deep sorrow took her. So much death and
destruction. So many people worn to shadows of their former glory. She
did not know what to do.
My beloved sister-friend,
How I wish you had joined your brother on his recent visit to the Mark.
I so wanted to see you. My heart has been in such turmoil these last
two years. To have seen your face, heard your beloved voice, and rested
in your comforting arms would have been such a delight for me. I know
you had your reasons for not coming. Forgive my whining, but…
The loss of Théodwyn… Only thirty-nine. A baby, a child. You
sister, so I know you understand the pain of the loss of my daughter.
Never had I thought to live beyond her years. She was so dear to me,
Indis. A friend as well as daughter. How could I not save her? How
could not my love have been strong enough to heal her? Why would she
leave me? Why would she leave her children? I cannot understand this.
She was a warrior’s woman, Indis. She grew up and lived amongst
warriors. I cannot understand how she could lose her will to live.
I did not suggest it, but Théoden took her children as his own.
has always been such a stalwart man and so strong. I find I value
strength more, now that I have lost my own. He is so dear to me. His
father would be proud. He stands upon the portico of the Golden Hall,
the winds whip through his hair, and his stance is one like unto the
Valar. Denethor values him too, which makes me very happy. Who would
not value such a man! I tell him so, in no uncertain terms, and he
blushes. Blushes, Indis! A man of his years. And is not a mother
allowed to say such things to her son? Am I not allowed to be proud of
what he has become? I am proud, Indis. I see Thengel’s likeness in his
jaw and the way he walks. I wonder if he learned that walk from his
father or if ‘tis natural? Listen to me! You must be sick of my going
on about my son. Shall I talk of my grandchildren!!!
Théodred has been named Third Marshal of the Riddermark. He is a
delight. I so wanted to show him off to you. Your Boromir and Faramir
are certainly sons of Númenor. Wouldn’t our beloved Finduilas be
proud? I love to watch the three of them together; their friendship is
a boon both to Gondor and the Mark. Éowyn and Éomer are
almost the same
age as Faramir and Boromir were when that sweet lady died. Your boys
spent time with my little ones while they were here in Edoras. They sat
with them at the fire and told them stories of their father. Boromir
fought alongside Éomund at one time, did he not? Well, whatever.
have been kind to these two little orphans.
The winters seem colder. Do they to you, dearest Indis? No amount
of furs or blankets seems to alleviate the shivering that comes upon me
these last years. I am only eighty! One would think I was old! Tell me
that you do not have these pains, that you are well and enjoying life?
Please, dearest sister-friend, for I need some relief knowing that at
least one whom I love is not growing old.
Which brings me to the reason for this letter. You laugh, I can see
you, but I do have a reason for writing, other than to complain to you.
Denethor looks haggard and drawn, Indis. I was so surprised when
first I saw him as he passed through the gates into our city. His hands
are wrinkled and spottled with age. His hair has greyed. He does not
look like a man of Númenor; he looks more like a Rohirrim. My
was of Westernesse, Indis. He did not age like Denethor has. When he
laid himself down to join his fathers, his hair was still almost
midnight black and his hands were strong and firm. There were times
when Denethor staggered as he walked through the streets of Edoras. He
excused himself by saying the roads are rough, but he has walked these
roads before and I have never seen him stumble. What is the cause for
My heart fears for him. Though Boromir is of an age to take the
reins of Gondor in his own hands, I would wish for Denethor’s wisdom
and long years of experience. We of the Mark rely upon him, Indis. I
know you do as does Gondor, but Indis, he looks so frail, tired and
old. Has he succumbed to some wasting disease? Is there naught the
healers of Gondor can do for him? Forgive my asking. I know you must
see it too. I will bother you no longer on this. Just know I ask only
because I love him.
On to other things. I fear my sword arm has become quite useless with
the pains of old age upon it. I last rode out on patrol over three
years ago, the same age as you are now, Indis! I am bitterly distraught
over this prison that I now live in. Théoden refuses to even let
ride. Of course, I almost fell off a horse and he happened to be
standing right there as I slid to the side. He did not seem to notice
that I was able to right myself! The cad. What manner of child have I
There are times I wish desperately that we had not had to return to
Edoras. My beloved Thengel lies cold and alone. I am tempted to join
him. Ah! I speak foolishly. You would ride here with speed and slap me
if you could. I rejoice in our friendship.
I find I do not want to stop writing. I do not want this tenuous
tie between us broken. I remember how we three were all wed, all with
hopes and dreams before us, strong men at our side, not to protect us,
but to support us. Those were three doughty men, were they not, my
sweet Indis? I still cannot think of my beloved Thengel without crying.
I know you share my pain. How has it come to this, Indis? Do the Valar
despise us? Will they never again aid the Faithful? Blessed Elbereth,
how has this happened?
Forgive me. I am at a loss today. All my thoughts turn to sadness and
despair. I must play with the little ones; they bring joy to my heart.
They are stronger than I am now, Indis.
Visit me soon, dearest sister-friend. I do not believe I have much
longer to live. Or at least write me. And give Listöwel my love.
Remember me with fondness.
Morwen (once Steelsheen)
‘I should have gone with them! I should have seen her. She needed me
and I stayed here!’ Thoughts of the latest battles fled from her mind
as she read of the melancholy of her friend.
“Faramir! Beloved, what can I do for you?” She paused a moment. “And
why the downcast look? Have you and your father been quarrelling
“Mithrandir is here.”
“Ah. And you have visited with him?
Faramir told her everything, minimizing, as best he could, the scene in
“I must speak with him, Faramir.” She held up her hand to still
him. “Not about you so much, though that is more important, but it
directly relates to the time he spends in the Tower. It is not healthy.
He comes away not quite himself. He takes out his anger, his fear, his
frustration on those who are about him at the time. Will you give him
leeway, Faramir? Can your heart forgive him?” He looked askance and she
continued. “Your words do not tell the whole tale of what happened
between your Adar and you, but I can see hurt, deep hurt, in your
eyes.” Again she stilled him. “Do not speak further. I know you wish to
protect him.” She laughed mirthlessly. “He does not see it, Faramir,
your love and devotion, your obedience, your loyalty. But I do, as does
Boromir. Does that lighten your heart?”
He hugged her tightly. “You have always lightened my heart, Amma.
Boromir thinks well of me?”
She kissed him lightly. “He dotes on you; he adores you; he thinks none
other can best you at anything!”
Faramir smiled, though the recent hurt did not leave his eyes.
“I need to go to Edoras, Faramir. Would you come with me? I believe
your Adar will allow it?”
“Now, Indis? We have not even buried all our dead. I think Father
will need me close. Or do you think,” he swallowed hard, “that he would
prefer me away from him?”
“Oh, Faramir! That is not what I meant at all. I meant that, now
that we have a moment’s respite, he could risk having you gone.”
“I will go with you. It will not be a long stay, will it, Amma? I
think Boromir will be returning soon. I would not want to miss him.”
She smiled. “It will be a very short trip. I am hoping to persuade
Morwen to return to Minas Tirith.”
When they had returned, without Morwen much to Indis’ chagrin,
Faramir found orders awaiting him. He had missed Boromir. His brother
had been in Minas Tirith for a month and then had been sent to the
Falls of Rauros. Denethor wanted the outpost there refortified. Faramir
was to go to Dol Amroth. Boromir had left a letter for him. Denethor
had told him of Faramir's promotion and his posting to Dol Amroth.
Boromir had been proffuse in his praise and congratulations. He
exhorted Faramir to remember the great honour that their father
bestowed upon him - his own Captaincy and the garrison in Belfalas.
Faramir went, but his heart was heavy. Imrahil was delighted to see him
and welcomed him warmly. Faramir’s orders were to take the leadership
of the garrison there; authority for the garrison had been given,
during the last days of Ecthelion’s Stewardship, to the Prince of
Belfalas. Denethor now took that authority back. He wanted the knights
of Gondor to answer to the Steward alone and not to Dol Amroth.
Adrahil was furious when first he heard the news, but when he
understood that Faramir was to be captain of the garrison, he relented.
He ordered a state dinner to be held and invited Faramir and the other
officers of the garrison.
Faramir was seated next to his Adadhron. Imrahil, home for a time from
sea duty, sat on Adrahil’s right. Every now and again during dinner,
Adrahil would touch Faramir’s hand and smile. As they stood to retire
for the night, his uncle stepped towards him.
“Prince Adrahil wishes to see you in his study.”
Faramir nodded. “If I may return to my room? I have something for him.”
Imrahil smiled, hugged him and said, “Of course. But I must say, I am
so happy to see you again. I love your father dearly; it is an honour
to have his son in our home.”
Faramir returned the hug, then walked away, the smile on his face
quickly turning into a frown. ‘I wonder how happy you would be to see
me if you knew Father had sent me here as an exile?’
He laughed bitterly. ‘Boromir would have my head if he heard me
speak that thought aloud!’ Did not Boromir remind him that he had been
promoted to Captain and sent, as such, to Gondor’s garrison on the
outskirts of Dol Amroth?
Faramir retrieved the package, fully intending to return to his
Adadhron, but Elphir stood before him.
“I waited for you to at least say hello,” the young Prince said.
“Do you know how long I have waited for your return? You promised too
long ago, that you would come every summer! I waited.”
Startled, Faramir stood still. “I am not my own master, Elphir. You
know that you must obey your father; that you cannot do things as you
would wish. I returned home and obeyed my father. After our last visit,
I became an esquire of Gondor. Now, I am Captain of the Dol Amroth
garrison. The Steward dictates my comings and goings. I wanted to be
here, to visit with you and spend time in the caves along the shore,
but that was not to be. You were only three. I should have known you
wouldn’t understand. I was only seven; even I did not understand. If I
promised you, I was foolish. I am sorry.”
The boy rushed to him and hugged him tightly. “Then now we will go
to the caves and we will explore them to our hearts content; then we
will go to Edhellond and look upon the ruins of the Elves. I know you
were there; Adar tells me tales of you seeing an Elf, a really alive
Elf, Faramir. I want to see one too. Mightn’t we go, please!”
Faramir laughed. “If it is within my power to take you to
Edhellond, then I will do it. I would like to see an Elf again. You
have grown so.” He took the boy by the shoulders and held him back.
“You are old!”
“You are older still, Faramir and I love you still. Mightn’t we go
to the kitchens and get some sweets and talk about where our adventures
will lead us? I have missed you so very much.”
“I will meet you as soon as I am able. Stay in your room. I must
meet with Adadhron. Then, I will come and get you and we will sneak
into the kitchens. Hopefully, there is some of that wondrous pie left
over from dinner.”
Elphir hugged him tightly. “Go then and be quick about it.
Remember, Adadhron likes to talk and talk. If you do not find an excuse
to get away, I will be asleep before you come. Though, I promise, I
will try to stay awake!”
Faramir hugged him, turned and ran down the corridor. As he neared
his Adadhron’s chambers, he slowed to a more stately, Captain-ish walk.
He knocked and entered. Imrahil sat by the fireplace; Adrahil stood at
the window looking out at the breakers as they crashed against the
“You wanted to see me, Prince Adrahil?”
“I wanted to see my grandson!” Adrahil stepped away from the window and
strode eagerly forward. “Your father does me a great honour by sending
you to me,” he enthused. “It has been much too long since either you or
Boromir visited your old Adadhron!”
Faramir laughed. “You are not old, dearest Adadhron. You are
timeless as the sea.” Faramir returned the hug, feeling as he did when
a child. His Adadhron’s unreserved love brought quick tears to his
eyes. He could not remember receiving so many hugs in such a short
He sat, upon invitation, and told of Adrahil’s cousin, Morwen, of
Boromir and Denethor. He told of the battles Gondor had fought recently
and of the great triumphs that Boromir could claim. He spoke quietly of
the loss of life. Though he had tried to keep his sharing light, the
times he told of were grim. At last he sat in silence, holding a glass
of wine in his hands. He smiled. This was the first time his Adadhron
had offered him wine. The glass was exquisite with the swan of Dol
Amroth etched in its side. Faramir held it to the fire and watched the
colours dance across it.
“And what of you, Faramir?” Adrahil’s tone was gentle and kind.
“You have told me nothing of yourself? Are you well; are you happy?”
Startled, Faramir looked up. “I am well,” he said shortly, then
realized his tone was bitter.
“I make no excuses for your father, Faramir. I have dealt with him
for many years. He is a hard man. Yet, and I say this grudgingly, he is
wise and fair. However, his sense of duty, of purpose, never wavers.
And therein lies his weakness. He sees too much. He knows too much. It
puts a bitter, hard edge to him. Do not become like him, Faramir. He
can see inside a man, find his weakness, and use it to control him.
Always for the good of Gondor.
“I have long since forgiven him for your mother’s death. I have
come to see that it was a blow as bitter to him as it was to me. But I
am now further concerned. Your words belie your appearance. You are not
well and I can sense that your mind is in turmoil and your heart is
“Did you come to Dol Amroth willingly?”
Faramir took a deep breath, berating himself for being so
transparent to his Adadhron. Did not his father just recently chide him
for not being able to hide his feelings? Would he ever learn? “I will
speak no ill against anyone. I have made some mistakes in judgment, as
“I hear differently,” Adrahil interrupted. “It is your father who has
made mistakes, especially with you!”
“Please, Adadhron. Let us discuss this no further. Father is under
great duress. His mind is constantly battling Mordor and those on the
Council who oppose him. I have not supported him as well as he would
wish. Because of that, we clash now and again. He still loves me, this
I know, and I love him. Do not press me further, please, Adadhron.”
"If it is your wish not to discuss these things," Adrahil said, "Then
we will not. Now, tell me of your plans for the garrison."
They rode through the villages that led
Edhellond. Imrahil had asked to join them; both Faramir and Elphir were
delighted to have his company.
As they crossed the bridge into the forsaken city, Faramir shuddered in
anticipation. It had been many years since he had seen his Elf. ‘He is
mine,’ Faramir told himself. ‘He came to me. How I hope he is still
here, that I might thank him for his care. For watching over Boromir
and me all these long years.’
He heard the gentle laughter of Erchirion, sitting before his
father on his great stead, and vaguely remembered a time being in that
same position, with Imrahil’s arms around him. ‘Ah!’ he thought, ‘when
Boromir and I came here, I rode with Uncle.’ His eyes suddenly filled
with tears at the remembrance of Imrahil’s kindness.
Dark was almost upon them when they reached the outskirts of the
deserted city. “‘Twould be best to camp here for the night,” Imrahil
said, “else we fall into some abandoned, ill-marked well.”
Faramir nodded. “Elphir and I will collect wood. There is a small
hill yonder that I would take him to. We can see the whole expanse of
the city from that vantage point. It will keep us both sated until
morning.” Erchirion begged to be included. Faramir nodded, though
Elphir was disappointed. He wanted to spend time alone with Faramir.
“As the youngest, Elphir, I would oft drive my brother mad asking to
accompany him everywhere. I understand Erchirion’s need to be with you.
Will you not let him come?”
Elphir’s eyes widened, then he nodded and turned, heading for the hill.
Imrahil laughed and waved them away. Both the man and the two
youths scampered quickly up the hill. When they reached the top, they
were out of breath. Lying down upon the ground, they rested for a
moment, then, Erchirion jumped up.
“Where is it?” he asked excitedly.
“There!” Faramir pointed and the setting sun caught the top of one of
the derelict domes and sent beams flying. They gasped in delight.
“I do not see any Elves,” Elphir said dejectedly.
Faramir smiled. “They do like to come out in the evening, according
to all the old tales. Mayhap though, we have frightened them.”
“Men cannot frighten Elves!” Elphir’s derision was plain.
“I was incorrect in my choice of words. Mayhap they do not wish to be
seen by men.”
“But we are not men, Faramir, we are descendants of these Elves.”
Faramir had to smile. “We are indeed, Elphir. Let us be patient.
Tomorrow, we will go into the city itself and look about. It was in the
very heart of the city that I saw my Elf. Right now, it is going to be
too dark for us to find our way back if we tarry any further. Come!”
They made their way down the hill with an armload of firewood and
dropped it near a soldier who was putting the stones in a circle,
preparing for the making of the fire. When they were done, they found
Imrahil and helped with the preparations for the night.
“Will you tell us a tale of Elves, Adar?” Elphir asked once they had
“I would tell you a tale of Elf friends, Elphir. They became known
as the Faithful, but in the beginning, they were known as the Edain.
One of the most faithful was named Elros, the first High King of
Faramir sat back. A tale of the men of Gondor. ‘Good choice,’ he
The tale lasted for some time, Elphir and Erchirion fell asleep
before it was complete, but Imrahil, noting that Faramir listened
intently, continued till the death of the king.
“It is a sad tale - to me,” Faramir said quietly when his uncle ceased
“That brother should lose brother.” He shivered. “I do not quite
understand how Elros could leave his brother, take mortality to
himself, and know that he left his brother alone. Nor how Elrond could
take immortality, knowing he would never see his brother again. I find
it a hard tale to hear.” He lay on his blanket, turning his back to his
After a few moments, Imrahil heard quiet sobbing.
In the morning, Elphir was first up, before the sun even lifted itself
above the mountains. He rushed to Faramir’s bed and shook him. “It is
time. Let us go up the hill again. Mayhap we will see some Elves from
there and then go into the city and meet them!”
Faramir laughed. “We will go when it is light enough, cousin. Your
father will not let us go this early. Come, let us stir the fire and
make some coffee. It is good to be helpful. All soldiers must learn
this. You are going to be an esquire next year?”
Elphir’s chest bulged out in pride. “I will. I will be in my Adadhron’s
old company. It is a high honour.”
“Indeed it is. I was esquire in my father’s company. Though
sometimes I was held to account more closely because of it, I learned
“I will too, Faramir,” Elphir said vehemently. “I promise.”
“The coffee smells good,” Imrahil approached and laid his hand on
Elphir’s shoulder. “As soon as we break our fast, we will ride through
the city. Go and wake your brother.”
Soon they were on their way. A small contingent of men stayed at
the campsite while the rest accompanied their prince into the city. It
was heartrending to see the desolation, ‘But no more heartrending,’
thought Faramir, ‘than when riding through Osgiliath.’ And he suddenly
wondered where Boromir was and how he was faring and the thought of
Elros lingered darkly in his heart.
They spent the day combing through the ruins. Every now and again,
Erchirion would yell that he had seen an Elf. By the end of the day,
Elphir had had enough. “Stop it!” he shouted after the last instance.
“There are no Elves here!”
Faramir saw the tears in Erchirion’s eyes and walked over to him. “Do
not be discouraged,” he said, putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder.
“You are very young and will have many opportunities to see Elves. I
know you will see one someday,” he promised.
“Oh, Faramir. I do so want to see one. Do you really think I will?
“I am sure of it, Erchirion.”
They camped for the night in the same spot. Imrahil accompanied his
nephew and his sons to the top of the hill and sat with them on the
grass as they watched the sun set. Imrahil told the tale of Nimrodel
and Amroth. No one spoke when he had finished. The next morning they
would leave this place.
Indis could not forget the pain in her friend’s face. Morwen had grown
as old as Denethor looked. She understood Morwen’s fear for Denethor;
she knew Denethor was Gondor’s strength, and therefore, Rohan’s
strength. Somehow, she must pull him away from the Palantír, but
Perhaps if peace was forthcoming, at least for a time, Gondor could
pull her forces together; the army might be reinforced, and their
losses could be recouped. Then, she would work to help Denethor improve
his ring of spies and scouts. They should be able to apprise him of
what was happening in Gondor, almost as quickly as that globe!
When she mentioned it to him, however, he turned upon her. “I know
what I am doing!” he said forcibly. “I will, however, consider your
suggestion.” He smiled at her. “I am really turning into a scoundrel,
am I not?”
“It is nothing to be proud of. You are driving your sons from you!”
“I… Faramir is only half mine. The wizard has his other half. What will
happen further along is not known.”
“It is known if you continue to drive him towards Mithrandir. He
loves you, Denethor. Cannot you see that? Do not you remember the
little boy that used to sit upon your lap? I have always admired your
wisdom, but when it comes to the wizard, you make me wonder. I know, I
remember your meetings with Curunír. They were hideous and he
frightened the wits out of you. But you have learned how to use your
mind, Denethor, more than any man I have ever known. Use it now to be
strong for your son. Do not push him into the wizard’s outstretched
“He is in Dol Amroth. With his beloved Adadhron. He will recover. When
he returns, I promise, I will mend the hurt done.”
“When he returns may not be the question, Denethor. It could be ‘if’ he
The anguish on his brother’s face tore his heart out as Faramir
stood before him in his study. Boromir himself had only just returned
to Minas Tirith a fortnight ago from an inspection of the northern
beacon-hills. The younger son of Denethor had arrived only a short time
ago from Dol Amroth. He tried to report to his Captain-General, but the
grief, the horror was too much to tell in words and his face contorted,
betraying the despair that ran through his heart. Boromir quickly
stood, rounded the desk and hugged him close.
Faramir pushed him away. “We have caused this!” he practically
screamed. “We have known of these raiding parties and have done
nothing. Always, it seems, we do nothing.” He shook his head, trying to
understand, trying to fathom what recourse they had. He knew there was
none. How did his father bear this trial? How had he survived all these
years knowing that every step Gondor took forward was followed by two
steps backwards? That nothing that the Stewards could do would reverse
the damage done in the past age. There were not enough men. Not enough
resources to win this battle. Faramir shivered. How had Denethor not
gone mad all these years? Sending his people to certain death at every
battle, seeing Gondor raked by foe after foe.
Boromir was at a loss. Never had he seen his brother this anguished.
“Please, tell me what you have seen.”
Faramir took a ragged breath. “Father recalled me from Dol Amroth. He
wanted certain reports and quickly. I brought a company with me over
the waters of the Bay of Belfalas, through the Ethir Anduin and up the
River. Just a short distance north of where the River Poros intersects
with the Anduin we discovered one of the Corsair ships, deserted; we
boarded it. It had obviously run aground, a gaping hole stretched
across one of its sides. We were still cautious.
“I sent soldiers down the hold while the rest of us searched the
captain’s quarters, the galleys. Suddenly, I heard retching. I ran to
the deck and discovered some of my men leaning over the railings. One
of them pointed to the stairs leading to the hold. I went down slowly,
cautiously. It was dark and it took a moment for my eyes to accustom
“I saw men, nay, rather boys, sitting at their stations, oars still in
their hands. Their feet were chained and their hands. I walked to one
slumped over his oar. My feet stuck to the deck as I moved. I was
standing in blood, puddles of it. Their throats… Boromir! These were
our people, Boromir! Lads from the villages of Gondor. Sons of our
women. Boromir! Boromir!”
The tears started afresh and this time, Faramir let Boromir hold him.
“They had been whipped and beaten before they were killed, their backs
were raw! Probably their strokes were too short or too shallow. They
were deemed unfit to save when the crew abandoned the ship. By the
Valar, Boromir, how could men do this? I… I … I do not understand Orc
doing these things, but they are not human; they are creatures, ill
made. But these, these Corsairs, they are men, Boromir.” His breath
came in gasps.
Boromir led him to the settle. He poured wine and passed the goblet to
his brother. He remembered the first time he had come across the
wickedness of men. It was hard to fathom such actions. Even more
fearful was the tortured remains of those victims of Orc. Faramir had
not yet been introduced to that horror; Boromir had no hope that
Faramir would be spared the sight of a man Orc-tortured.
Faramir looked up into his eyes and Boromir saw the betrayal that
he felt. Faramir’s eyes said his father had failed him and so had his
brother. They had betrayed Gondor and its people. All that in one look.
Boromir sat next to him. “Faramir.” He stopped as shivers ran down his
arms. What could he say that would make this all right? “Faramir. It is
just you and I and Father. There is no one else who seems to understand
this. The council, the captains – none seem to see it as we do. I do
not know why this is so, but it is. I believe things have been like
this for a very long time. I believe father has fought it for as long
as he has lived.
“We see… by some precognition or wizardry or what, I do not know. But
we see and it tears us apart. And slowly, bits of us are torn away. For
others, it is not the same. I believe they think that everything will
work to the good.
“Perhaps because father is such a strong leader. Perhaps because he
is wise. Perhaps because he does not show the fear and horror that I
know dwell in his mind and in his heart. Ever has he been chained
himself by circumstances. Indis once told me of their sister and how
she had died at the hands of the Haradrim. Denethor had wanted to
launch an army and attack Harad. Yet, Ecthelion was aided by Mithrandir
who counseled restraint, along with a captain of his named Thorongil.
And so his father did not attack. Indis said that it had ever weighed
heavy upon his heart.
“We fail Gondor daily, Faramir. We are at a loss. There is nothing we
can do but try to stem the tide of destruction. We cannot prevent it
any longer. We have our finger stuck in the dike, trying to hold back
the sea, but the sea sneaks in from other ways and pounds the land and
destroys it. We stand in the gap only, Faramir. And yet the gap widens
and we are only three. Do you see why we must stay together, Faramir,
back every decision of father’s? There is no recourse for us. Gondor
will fall. It may not be in our lifetime, but it will fall.”
Denethor turned away, unseen, and walked towards the Tower. His own
sons thought him a failure.