Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
I II III IV
23. Third Age - 3010
Indis walked through the dressing room and discovered Finduilas' brush
and comb still upon the table. Her decanters of perfumed water lined
the table. Next to it, framed pictures that Boromir and Faramir had
drawn lay in peace. Why had Denethor left these things here? She dared
not remove anything; she knew not why he had left the room undisturbed.
Drawing in a sharp breath, she walked quickly to the little chair
in the corner. It lay there, sad and alone. She held the cloak before
her. She remembered it too well and Finduilas’ joy at the gift from
Denethor. Sadness engulfed her. She did not remember Finduilas even
living long enough to wear the beautiful garment. She fingered the
stars lining the hem and tears fell.
One of her dearest friends succumbed to grief and fear, and now it
seemed, Morwen walked the same path. Somehow, she must convince her to
move back to Minas Tirith, to the home that she loved so passionately.
It was still empty. Indis had contracted gardeners to keep the garden
tended and its fountain clean. It would take no time at all to air out
the house and clean the rooms. Excitement filled her.
'Nay,' she stopped herself. 'It is not the house that she misses, nor
Minas Tirith; it is Thengel. I cannot bring him back. What can I do for
her? How can I help her?' Head bowed in defeat, she turned to leave the
room; the cloak, forlornly draped over the dressing chair, mocked her.
Denethor stood before her. "What are you doing here?" he asked, his
voice holding a tone more of puzzlement than anger.
She stepped back. She did not remember why she had come into the
dressing room. She had been in Finduilas' garden, weeding, and went to
lave her hands and face in the bowl. That was it! There were no towels.
"I was looking for towels. My hands were soiled from weeding. Whoever
last cleaned the bed chambers neglected to replace the dirty towels."
He took her arm and gently led her out of the room. Closing the door,
he locked it.
"Would you want me to clean the room, Denethor? Some of the items could
benefit the poor?"
He shuddered visibly. "I will have no one enter that room. Not even
you." He turned and walked away from her.
'I do not know what to do,' she thought miserably. 'How can I help
those I love when they refuse my help?'
He would visit Adrahil. It had been too long since he had seen the
Prince. He could see Faramir, too, if the lad was not too busy. 'Not
too transparent,' he thought wryly and laughed. 'I need to see him.' A
sudden dread had filled him, a fortnight ago, and he waited for a
missive from Dol Amroth. But none had come. Still, his heart misgave
him. Try as he might, the Palantír would not show him his sons.
mind is surely too uneasy when I look for them. I must somehow find a
way to compose myself before I touch it.' But he knew it was useless.
When he had the globe in his hands searching for Boromir or Faramir,
his heart beat wildly and his palms sweat. It was useless. Not since
the attack of the mûmak had he been able to see his sons.
Turning from the Tower, he walked to the Great Hall. There was no
guard at the Great Door, nor a chamberlain at the entrance to the Hall.
Anger flared, but he stilled his heart and walked to the Chair. Pulling
his cloak about him, he sat, plans for his trip filling his mind, his
Boromir was off in Cair Andros. He expected him to return shortly.
Should he ask him to accompany him? 'Aye! I will make it a state visit
of sort.' His attention was drawn to a noise from the hall to his left,
the one that led to the Tower and meeting rooms. 'Finally, a
chamberlain deigns to attend me!'
Battle instinct saved him, but not the Chair. He deftly ducked and the
axe bit into the marble arm, sparks flying everywhere. He found himself
upon the floor, rolling as far from his assailant as possible. He swore
briefly, wishing he had his sword with him instead of this decorative
piece of… With no more time to think as his attacker raised the axe
over his head, he kicked with his feet and the thug fell, cracking his
head on the floor. Denethor jumped up, but not quickly enough. The
assassin was up before he could pull the useless sword. Wordlessly, he
stepped to the side, swung around and pulled the sword from its
scabbard. Inching slowly backwards, towards the door, he held the sword
before him, glaring at his opponent.
The face was covered in a black rag, the head also. ‘Haradrim?’ he
wondered for a moment. Then, the thug was rushing towards him, axe high
in the air, screaming invectives in Haradric. Denethor knew a few of
the words, would have laughed at the inanity of the curses if he was
not fighting for his life. He held his sword in front of him, waiting
for the death lunge. The man fell forward, an arrow piercing his
throat. Denethor collapsed backwards, carried by the weight of his
enemy as he fell.
Hands quickly pulled the dead man off their Steward. Denethor waited
for a moment, trying to catch his breath. But he could not seem to. His
chest hurt mightily. He could not breathe. He looked up into Berelach’s
face, clutched his aide’s hand, and felt no more.
"He gives up everything, Faramir, and for what! To sit at the base
of a useless throne!" He stood by his father’s bed, watching as
Denethor struggled to breath. The smell of herbs hung rank and heavy in
He had not changed upon arrival into Minas Tirith; he had done naught
but ride directly from Cair Andros, as soon as the message was
received, and found his way to his father’s chambers. His anger was
palpable. Seeing him lie there, the stalwart and indomitable Steward,
as if dead, overwhelmed all sane thought.
"Boromir. The point is moot. Father has told you - we wait for the
return of the King."
"What King?" Boromir spat. "There is none and there likely will be
none. How long must we wait? How long have we waited? Is all the blood
of the House of Húrin to be spent in vain?”
Faramir smiled. Boromir thought not of the throne, Faramir knew,
but his fear for his father took him places he should not go. "Come
with me to the kitchens. Arciryas will send for us if we are needed."
They walked slowly down the steps and into the large, warm kitchen.
Fresh bread for the morning sat, rising. The smell of yeast was heavy
in the air. Faramir sneezed. He poured tea from an always-full kettle.
Passing a cup to Boromir, he said, "Father has been wounded before,
Boromir. He will recover. Not many have the strength nor the steel will
that he has."
"How did this happen? Was he in the practice yard?"
Faramir gulped and almost choked on the tea. "What were you told?"
Boromir stood, sensing that what he was about to hear was not good.
"I received a missive stating that Father had been hurt and that I was
needed. What else is there?"
"Standing will not help. Sit, please. I do not even know how to tell
Boromir sat, steeling himself for he knew not what, every fibre of his
body held at attention.
"An assassin from Harad slipped into the Great Hall and attacked.
Father would be dead now, if not for the shooting skill of Berelach. As
it was, when the assassin fell forward, his axe glanced off him. One of
the spikes on the axe head went into Father's chest. The wound was
"Where were the guards?" Boromir asked incredulously. "The
chamberlains?" His voice was tight.
"We do not yet know. Húrin is questioning them."
Boromir stood and strode purposefully towards the door.
Faramir quickly stood in front of him. "There is nothing you can
do, Boromir. Let those in command finish the process. They know full
well to report to you. All know you have come home."
Boromir stood, feeling stricken and helpless. Faramir's look told
him he understood. "I must go to him. I did not know." He fought back
the tears. "You may stay here if you like, but I must."
Faramir smiled. "Of course. And I must go with you."
Indis sat quietly, watching as Boromir and Faramir entered their
father's bedchamber. She stifled a sob as the tall, strong eldest fell
to his knees at Denethor's bedside. "Ada," she heard him call and saw
the shoulders shake. "Ada," he whispered again, but his voice broke and
the sound echoed through the room. Faramir stood behind him, his hand
on his brother's shoulder.
When their was no response, Boromir stood. As he turned to face
Faramir, she was noticed. He strode quickly to her side, then knelt in
front of her, taking her cold hands in his strong ones. Her heart
soared to have them by her side once again. Too long had both boys been
gone. Faramir knelt next to his brother.
"Amma," Boromir said, then buried his face in her lap. Uncontrolled
sobs shook him. She put her hand lovingly on his head. Desperately she
wanted to tell him all would be well. She could not. She knew Faramir
understood her silence, for he too began to sob quietly.
After a moment, Boromir spoke. "Have we lost him, Amma?"
"It was very close. Arciryas has done all in his power to save him, but
now it is up to Denethor. He has been stronger this past year." She had
never told them of their father's use of the Palantír. She had
grateful that Denethor had let it lie these last few months. It sapped
"Faramir, would you make us some tea?" She felt the anguish of the
youngest, held back by the steel will that was so like his father's. He
nodded, stood and walked to the fire.
She lifted Boromir's chin. “Your little brother suffers, too."
His grief-stricken eyes opened wide. "Of course."
Squeezing her hand gently, he stood and walked to the fire. Taking
the kettle from Faramir's hand, he put it back on the hook. Faramir
looked at him, perplexed; Boromir took him in his arms.
"Do you remember one time, little brother, when I held you like this
and told you then that you were my hope?"
Faramir nodded, tears spilling down his cheeks.
"I would be your hope this day. We will stay by father's side, you
and I, and our strength will give him the strength he needs. We will
not lose him, Faramir."
Indis sighed and sat back in her chair, satisfied that the family stood
The errand-rider came from Belfalas in the night. The Swan Banner
flew as the horse galloped at a break-neck pace towards the Great Gate.
The silver trumpets of Minas Tirith sang out, heralding the princely
messenger. Boromir was first to enter the Great Hall; Faramir ran up
"The messenger has not arrived yet. Did we send a rider to Dol Amroth
with news of father's state?"
Faramir waved to the chamberlain who stepped forward and bowed. "Was an
errand-rider sent to Dol Amroth?"
"Nay, my Lord, not that I know of. Only two were sent - one to you in
Linhir and one to Cair Andros to Captain Boromir."
"Then the news must indeed be grave." He sat in his father's chair, arm
resting easily on the marble surface. Faramir stood, waiting, behind
Faramir could hardly contain himself. He had grown closer than ever
to the people of Belfalas since being stationed there these past six
years. What event had caused a rider to be sent from Prince Adrahil to
arrive in the middle of the night?
His chest hurt and he moved, trying to
whatever pressed down upon him, constricted his breathing, and caused
him such pain. He felt her soft hand slide down from his ear to his
chin and moaned.
“Finduilas,” he whispered, “I have missed you.’ She hummed the little
love song that was theirs. He wanted to open his eyes and watch her
smile, but they felt so heavy. Her finger ran down his neck and he felt
her hand rest on his chest. Sharp pain! She moved again and he was able
to breath once more. She kissed his ear and he smiled as tears rolled
down his cheeks, joy suffocating him once again. When he came to, she
was still with him.
“Do you remember our betrothal day? We said the vows in front of
Father and you laughed. You were never more beautiful, Finduilas, ‘cept
when you birthed our sons. They are so beautiful. Boromir more like a
warrior of old and Faramir like unto one of the Valar themselves.”
Struggling with some tendril of memory, he tried again to open his
eyes. They were so heavy. “I held you so close. I was afraid I had lost
you. But you fought, Finduilas, you fought to stay with me.”
His brow furrowed. “Finduilas,” he called. “Finduilas!” But he had
lost the scent of her perfume; her body warmth had left him. He tried
to raise his hands to cup her face in them and kiss her sweet lips, but
she had moved away from him. “Finduilas!” he called again and she
touched his chest.
Fire and pain such as he had never felt before enveloped him. He could
“Fear not, Lord Denethor, the worst is over. Rest gently now. Your
family is with you.”
‘But no! She is gone!’ Great tears fell and stole his breath and
“You must go, Faramir. You have been stationed there these past six
years. Her people know you. There is none who will represent Gondor
“Amma should go!”
“Nay! She cannot. I would. I really would take your place for I
know your heart will be here at father’s bedside, but I cannot. I must
stay as heir and you must go.”
“I will not,” Faramir said stubbournly. “I he wakes and finds me gone…
or if he – he…”
“He will understand – and approve! He knows duty, Faramir.” A smile
unbidden split his face. “Of all of us, he knows duty. Please, Faramir,
we have no time for this. Imrahil and the southern fiefdoms need you at
the burial. And think of young Elphir. He worships you. He will need
you by his side, with Adadhron gone. Do you not realize that the
country is in deep mourning? And they do not even know of Father’s
injury. How will it seem to the lords of Belfalas, Anfalas and
Lossarnach, Lamedon and Lebennin if none from the Steward’s family
attend the burial? You must see that fear and despair will fill our
land with both leaders…” Boromir’s brow raised in consternation. He put
his hands to his face, rubbing his forehead with force. “You must see
that you must go.”
Faramir knew every word that Boromir spoke was truth, but still he
could not bring himself to leave. “Boromir. Did you not see Father the
last time we were with him? He was in such turmoil. I could not bear it
if he… I could not bear it, Boromir.”
“I promise, Faramir, I promise to hold him until you return. He
will not leave us.” And Faramir believed him because he must and
Boromir wondered, if their father died, would Faramir ever believe his
beloved brother again?
Imrahil had asked Faramir to guide him, when Elphir’s time as
esquire was complete. Faramir had been delighted. He had taken the
young man under his wing. He smiled at the appropriateness of the
phrase. The young Swan of Dol Amroth had become his responsibility.
They had spent the last three years together, in mischief, joy, sorrow,
and battles beyond telling.
Though the Orc spilled not from the White Mountains, Corsair pirates
made it a practice to harry the coastline. And Elphir and Faramir
became their scourge. He had quickly learned the ways of the waters of
the Bay of Belfalas. Elphir could climb the rigging faster and easier
than could his cousin, but Faramir still gave him a run for the money.
After six month’s time, he was as fleet-footed and nimble as the young
Prince. They had their own boat and a few others under them and they
ran the seas searching and destroying all who would even consider
His thoughts scattered as he entered the great hall of the palace
of Dol Amroth just as the ceremony was about to begin. Elphir ran from
his place next to his father and embraced his cousin. “I thought you
might not come,” he whispered in his ear. “I could not endure this
Faramir’s eyes moistened as he accepted the hug, realizing Boromir had
been right after all. He was the one who must be here in Dol Amroth to
bury their Adadhron. And to praise his uncle as he was lifted up as the
Twenty-second Prince of Dol Amroth. He bowed low and allowed Elphir to
lead him to his place.
Boromir walked the parapet. It had been nigh unto a half-month
since Denethor had been wounded and still he slept fitfully; he had yet
to regain consciousness. Arciryas thought the axe’s spike might have
been dipped in poison. It was customary for Southrons to use such
barbaric ways. Denethor’s body would have to endure the poison till it
dissipated. He was strong, the healer kept assuring Boromir; he would
survive. It would take time.
‘I do not have time,’ Boromir thought furiously. ‘The needs of
Gondor weigh heavy upon me and I would serve her, but I do not know
how. I need a sword in my hand and my shield and horn!’
He had sat in many council meetings, but never took part, always
watching in amaze as his father wielded the members like chess pieces.
He remembered congratulating his father after one such ‘match’ between
Denethor and Lord Amandil. Though the lord was of an illustrious
family, he was no equal to Denethor. The man had wanted the lords of
Minas Tirith who were of pure Númenórean descent to be
taxed at a
lesser rate than the other lords of Gondor. Denethor had bowed low to
the old man and begun to tell all of the lordliness of Amandil’s family
– distant descendants of Elendil himself. Then he went on to tell of
the devotion of Elendil to the Valar and to those who were unjustly
persecuted for their faithfulness. How Amandil’s namesake had given his
own life to try to save his people. He finished the discourse by saying
he was incredibly sorry for having misunderstood Amandil. That he
realized, as he was telling the tale of his ancestors, that Amandil
must have asked that those of pure blood be taxed at a greater ratio
than those not.
Amandil, so taken aback by the words of praise, could only sputter and
say that Denethor had indeed misunderstood him; that Amandil had asked
for greater taxes. The man had left the hall muttering under his
breath. He had rarely spoken at council meetings after that.
When Boromir had met Denethor after the council had adjourned, his
father gently rebuked him for being happy that Amandil had been ‘put in
his place,’ Boromir’s very words. “These men are our allies, Boromir.
Gondor relies upon them to bring just causes to her attention. As
Steward, we must remember that, give them the respect that is due them,
but never let them diminish Gondor. Therefore, you will never rejoice
in winning such a battle, Boromir. They are not our enemy, like the Orc
you fight; they are our people.”
‘But they are so needy, Father,’ Boromir thought disconsolately. He
had spent every day for the last fortnight in the Great Hall, listening
to the troubles of the people of Gondor, hoping that he was offering
the correct solution to their complaints, the needed services to them.
He shook his head and walked to the very end of the escarpment and
looked out upon the fields before him. The stars shone brightly in the
sky. He looked for Eärendil the Mariner and found him, low in the
southern sky. He heard her before he saw her. Turning, he smiled.
“You are weary. I see it in your eyes. And your shoulders are bent over
as if a great weight is upon them.” She touched his cheek and held it.
The warmth of her touch lifted him, gave him strength. “I am tired. I
wish you would sit in father’s Chair. I do not belong there. I have not
the training nor the insight. Faramir should be there! Yet I am the one
who sent him away.”
“Faramir should not be there. You are the heir. It is your duty. I
have watched you.” She smiled as he looked at her in amaze. “Aye. I
have watched you from the shadows and you have shown yourself well.
Your father will be proud, once he recovers.”
“How could he be proud? Did you not hear what I did today? Gave away
farmlands that had been in one’s family for ages.”
“You did not know all the facts when you passed the decision. Once
you were informed, you brought the wrong doer back and gave the lands
to the rightful owners. If you had let the error lie, in pride or
foolishness, then, your father would not be proud. As it is, he will be
very proud indeed.”
He smiled. “I should have waited for more information.”
“I should have been Queen Berúthiel,” she laughed.
He hugged her tightly. “You would have been a perfect queen for Gondor,
Amma. You have always been my queen.”
“I suppose you will return to Gondor soon?” Imrahil asked quietly.
Faramir continued walking along his mother’s garden. He stopped by
a small shrub of athelas. Picking a handful of the fragrant leaves, he
inhaled them deeply. A sense of calm o’ercame him, the first he had
felt since leaving Dol Amroth more than a month ago upon summons from
“You will be missed. Not only by Elphir and Erchirion, but by me and
“I know. But there has been no word. Father should have recovered by
now. Boromir promised he would send word.”
“A missive takes a very long time to reach our part of Middle-earth,
“I know that.” He dropped the sprig of leaves and covered his face.
Deep sobs shook him. “I cannot lose him, Uncle. We fight, we do not
understand each other, but I love him. And I will…” He stopped and sat
on one of his mother’s favorite stoops overlooking the Bay. Darkness
had descended but the moon shone on the whitecaps hitting the outer
wall of the harbour below. He laid his head heavily on the stone
parapet surrounding the garden.
“Adrahil was a hard man, in his own way, yet I loved him deeply. I
miss him terribly. I am too young,” he laughed, “to carry the weight of
Belfalas on my shoulders, but I must. Know that you are as important to
me, Faramir, as are my sons. If you ever need anything, call me. Else I
will be hurt beyond measure.”
Faramir stood and embraced his uncle. Memories flooded his mind of
all the kindnesses that this man had done for him. “How honoured I am
to be your nephew.”
Another breath. All he needed was to
another breath, but fire filled his being when he did and the moan was
torn from his lips. Out of the corner of his eye he saw that Boromir
stood by his bedside. He had vowed he would keep silent as the healer
poked and prodded him, for Boromir’s sake. But the pain was beyond
endurance. He shivered uncontrollably and closed his eyes. He sensed
Boromir kneeling next to him, then he felt the strong hands that he
knew were his son's holding him still. He bowed his head and tears
fell, unbidden. Boromir gently wiped them away. “My son,” he whispered.
He shook again as the healer touched the wound, a scream forcing its
way from his very being. More years than he could remember had it been
since he had last lost control of himself. In the fires of Emyn Arnen.
Yes, that had been the last time. His teeth began to chatter; Boromir
held him tighter. The healer poured a hideous smelling mixture down his
throat. He choked. “You are trying to murder me!” he gasped. He heard
the healer’s chuckle. The pain lifted, gradually, and he was able to
open his eyes. Boromir’s beautiful grey eyes, pain and sorrow-filled,
looked down upon him. He raised his hand slightly and Boromir noted and
quickly took it in his own. “I am sorry.”
“What have you to be sorry for, Father? Pain is friend to a warrior,
lets him know he will live. The wound is grievous. Your cries help you
endure as your body heals. I am no longer a child, Father; I know pain
and its uses. Scream if you must. I will hold you.”
Tears fell harder. “Where… where is Faramir? I would have him by my
Boromir bowed his head. “There is news from Dol Amroth, Father.
Adadhron is dead.”
“A fortnight ago. Faramir has gone in your stead to present Gondor’s
Silence filled the bedchamber. At last, Denethor took a shallow
breath. “I would that I could have gone. Your mother loved her father
very much. I would show all of Belfalas the depth of that love. But
Faramir will have to do.” His voice gradually weakened. The healer
stepped forward again and poured a little more of the medicament down
Denethor’s throat. “I am sure…” but Denethor had not the breath to
reprimand his sister’s husband.
Arciryas knelt. “It is good to see you angry again. I could not bear
the loss of that fierce temper of yours.” The man smiled warmly. “You
will be your old hideous self in less than another fortnight. Now, I
bid you rest. Boromir,” he motioned for the heir to follow him, but
Denethor put out a hand and stopped him.
“Please, let my son stay a little longer.” His voice rasped and caught.
Boromir was instantly at his side again.
“Very well. But I want no talking. Every breath you take strives to
undue the stitches in your chest. Talking only worsens it. Do not talk,
do you understand?”
Denethor nodded his head, as did Boromir. The healer smiled and
walked towards Indis’ chair. “I will hold you responsible.” She smiled
at him; he kissed her cheek and left the room.
“Is Gondor well?”
“Did not your Master Healer order you not to talk?” Indis said as she
stood and walked to his bedside. “You are too often stubborn, my
brother. And I am now responsible for your well-being.”
“You have always been responsible,” Denethor whispered and tears fell
again. “Beloved sister.”
She found herself weeping and, in consternation, started fluffing
his pillow and pulling on the bedcovers. “Enough of this foolishness.
You are healing rapidly and will resume court soon. Boromir has done
well.” Her eyebrow arched. “You would be most proud of him.”
Denethor smiled and squeezed Boromir’s hand a little tighter. “The-“
“Sh! Did not I tell you to remain silent.” She smiled. “Never am I
allowed to speak for so long a period. It is a heady feeling.”
Boromir snorted in amusement.
“There have been many cases that have come before him, that have
needed a wise hand and good counsel to prevail. Boromir has risen to
the task, brother. He has learned much, sitting at your side. I think
it now time that Faramir return from duty abroad and sit at your side,
to learn as Boromir has done. Boromir is Captain-General. For the time
being, his place is in the field with Gondor’s warriors.”
“I miss him,” he whispered. He fell into sleep.
“Adadhron. I am ready to play Kings and Stewards. Where are you?” He
thrashed about the bed.
“Father! She is dead.” Tears flowed. “Her head… Oh, Father. Morwen is
“Listen, listen! The muffled drumbeat of the cortege on its way to the
“Amdir!” he cried urgently. “Where are you? The flames… have you
found the child? The roof – it falls – Amdir! Run!” He started to
choke; the smoke filled his lungs. Moments of silence.
He coughed desperately. “I do not understand. The fire has been many
long years ago, yet my chest still burns.”
“It is cold here, Finduilas. I am grateful you are in Dol Amroth. You
do not belong here.” Mumblings.
“Orc! Only three Amdir. We will prevail.” Silence, his head lolled from
side to side. “Amdir!” The scream shook the room. The body convulsed in
agony as sobs tore through it.
“Faramir, go to your room now. I will be… I will be along
presently.” The tears flowed harder and sobs shook him. “Death, all is
Boromir bowed his head in grief. He was glad Faramir was away for this.
Arciryas told him the medicaments for pain caused these hideous dreams,
but he found it unbearable to listen. How unbearable for his father to
relive them. He prayed to the Valar that Denethor would not remember
them once he woke.
He would not think upon his mother. But he could not keep her out
of his mind. The room his father had made – the Ocean Room she had
called it. So many months they had spent there. From the moment the sun
came out till the moment it set, she had brought them to that room and
they had played in the sand as she sit on the lounge, watching them and
sleeping and sleeping. He shivered. Putting his hands over his face, he
let his grief flow. None would see him. Denethor was off in some
hideous world and Indis had gone to bring him nuncheon. After some
moments, his shoulders stopped shaking. He wiped his hands over his
face, removing the trace of tears. He put his hand on his father’s
brow. Still warm but not as warm as it had been last night. Arciryas
had said that he would heal; he would recover. If the fever was leaving
him, then, mayhap, the healer was correct. Slowly, Denethor was
He remembered his Uncle Amdir. The man knew how to laugh. And he could
tell the best stories. And his mother could bake the best bread. They
would ride, the three of them, Uncle Amdir, Father and Boromir, over
the Pelennor, letting the horses have their way and laughing in
delight. He never knew exactly what had happened for he died at the
same time as his mother had, and that time was still a blur to Boromir.
He sighed. ‘All is death.’ It had touched him too. Too many times death
had touched them all. Would it never… He laughed to himself. ‘Only if
we are Elves will we ever be free of it, of death.’
‘But Uncle Amdir is free now, as is mother. Both Adadhrons.’ He wished
that he could have gone to Dol Amroth with Faramir. He loved Adrahil.
He smiled remembering the warmth of his Adadhron’s hand upon his head
when he would speak. Always approving. The man never said a word of
reprimand. Always kindness. He had been afraid of his other Adadhron.
There was a hard glint in Ecthelion’s eyes and Boromir, even now,
shivered as he thought of him. He remembered when Ecthelion lay on his
deathbed and held his arm tightly, frightening him, and telling him not
to obey his father, his own father. He had stood still and listened and
then Denethor had saved him, pulled him away from that tight grip and
took him to his mother.
They had been spared death this one time. Perhaps it was content with
Adrahil. Perhaps this time, only one needed to be sacrificed, for the
Valar to show them mercy. He stood, stretched, and walked to the
window. A smile lit his face. The horn, the signal sounded; Faramir was
come home. He ran towards the door, ready to call the guard to stay
with Denethor until he returned. But Indis was there, and he had to
quickly grab the tray she held in order not to let it topple.
“Forgive me,” he cried, but she laughed.
“I heard it too, Faramir’s horn. Go to him. I will stay with your
He kissed her and ran.
Long days passed and Denethor regained his strength. The poison that
covered the axe’s barbed tip was known to the Master Healer. It had
taken long to counter its affects, but Denethor was strong and the
healer would not be beaten.
After another week, he let Denethor sit by the window overlooking
Finduilas’ garden. Boromir sat next to him; Faramir sat on the floor at
“There were lords from all the fiefdoms, Father,” Faramir continued
in his retelling of the funeral for Adrahil. “Uncle Imrahil held
himself well. He is gracious and kind. My heart sorrowed for his sons,
for they were closer to Adadhron than Boromir and I. To have lived in
the same house, to have seen him every day, to have felt his hugs…”
Faramir bit his lip. “Mithrandir sends his greetings, Father,” Faramir
said innocently enough.
Boromir swore under his breath. ‘Will the lad never learn!’ He
watched his father’s eyebrow rise. He quickly spoke, to take the sting
from Faramir’s remark. “The men of Gondor have always farewell’d a
warrior with grace. I remember…” He drew in a sharp breath and, under
his breath, cursed himself.
Denethor started. “You remember?”
“Forgive me, Father. I misspoke.”
He smiled gently. “I want to know, Boromir. What do you remember?”
“I remember Uncle Amdir’s burial. The soldiers all crowded round him
and fought as to who would carry his bier.”
Denethor’s eyes widened and he tried to stand. Faramir held his arm.
“Father! Do not tax yourself.”
Denethor sat back in his chair. His face had gone white and he
appeared to struggle to breathe. Faramir ran to get the medicament that
steeped on the table, waiting for Denethor’s need. He returned and held
the cup before his father. Denethor looked at him, his eyes
Boromir stood and took the cup. “Here, Father, just a little sip of
this, please.” He pressed the cup to Denethor’s lips. His father looked
up at him. “Please, Father.” He tilted the cup and some of the warm
liquid went into Denethor’s mouth, but most slid out the sides and down
Faramir ran to the bellpull to call for help.
“Amdir’s funeral?” Denethor croaked.
“You remember Amdir’s funeral?”
“Aye, Father. I went with them, bearing his body to Rath Dínen.”
"He is buried here? Here in Minas Tirith?”
“By your order, Father.” Boromir looked at him, puzzled. “Is that not
what you wished?”
“I looked for him. Every time I road out onto the Pelennor, I looked
for his grave. I rode to his mother’s farm. But he was not there. I
even rode to Emyn Arnen – thinking that perhaps he was buried there.
And all along, he was one level from me.” He started to stand. “I must
go to him.”
Boromir held him close. “Father, you cannot leave this room.
Please, tell me how Uncle Amdir died. I do not remember anyone telling
us. Is it too hard for you to tell?”
Denethor shuddered, closed his eyes for a moment, then bowed his head.
“I am too tired. Help me to my bed.”
Faramir ran back to them and took the Steward’s left side, while
Boromir held him on the right. Slowly they walked to the bed. Indis ran
into the room; she had been told of the alarm, and stopped. Boromir
shook his head, smiling. She understood and sat in her chair. His sons
lowered him to his bed, helped take off the robe, and covered him, once
he lay down.
“I do not remember much of that year. Your mother’s… Gondor
struggled with her grief. I could not stay in the City afterwards. I
left you with Indis and rode out to Osgiliath. I had hoped it would
bring healing, being away from the City. After a time, I sat on the
banks of the Anduin. Your uncle found me there. He helped me, as he had
always done. We talked. Then, Orc attacked. Only three. I was sure we
would prevail. The first was easily slain. The second had a crossbow,
cocked, ready to fire, but I slit his throat. As he fell, the arrow
loosed.” He sat still for many long moments.
“I remember naught after that. Small little pieces of memory come into
my mind, then float away, and I wonder if they are real or not.”
“I remember they brought him back to the City,” Boromir spoke low.
“Faramir did not understand and tried to comfort you. You turned him
away. I stayed by Uncle Amdir’s cart. I wanted to hear him tell me
another story, but Baranor said he had gone away. They took him, that
very day, to Rath Dínen. You did not come with us. I can show
he lies, Father, when you are better.”
“You do not remember him, do you Faramir?”
“Nay, Father, I do not.”
“You do not remember your mother?” he whispered.
“Nay, Father, I do not,” Faramir’s choked response cut him deeply.
“I will tell you about her. She was the most beautiful woman in all
of Gondor, nay, in all of Middle-earth. And the kindest woman. She
loved you and Boromir very much. She would hold you in her arms and
coo. Cooing is a woman’s way of talking to a babe. I could not do that.
To make silly noises… it embarrassed me. But she would sit for hours,
with Boromir at her feet, and coo to you. I would sit in the study off
your nursery and listen to her. Sometimes, she would sing,” Denethor’s
voice broke and tears fell. “I am tired,” he said and turned his face
“If you do not sit still, I cannot ascertain the healing of your
wound,” Arciryas hissed in dismay. “You want to return to your duties;
you will not until I have finished my examination.”
Denethor sighed heavily. “Then do what you must!”
Boromir laughed and Denethor scowled. “It is time you were away
again; your idle time here in Minas Tirith has ended. I have heard what
you do in your spare time. When you should be in the practice court,
you are in the inns that line the Fourth Circle. I believe I will send
you to your uncle.”
“With Faramir?” Boromir asked eagerly.
“Nay. Faramir is to stay in Minas Tirith. It is time he learned
some of the ways of the Council. Too long has he been away.” He scowled
again, his brow furrowed deeply. “I was not too sick to miss what he
said about Mithrandir. Obviously, their paths have crossed a number of
times. I want him here, by my side, to protect him from the Wizard.”
He raised a hand. “Do not speak, Boromir. I am not a dotard. I know
he values the Wizard. I have said it before and I will say it again, I
fear for him. The Wizard speaks of things that are not for Gondor’s
good. What are we here for,” he stopped and quickly hissed. “You have
the hands of a Warg!” he shouted at Arciryas. “Are you trying to kill
The healer snorted. “If I had wanted to kill you, I would have done it
a long time ago. But your sister would be put out.”
Denethor laughed. “We must not ‘put out’ Indis, must we? How you
have ever stood being married to her for this long, I cannot fathom!”
“And what about me cannot you fathom?” She had entered the room,
then moved towards the chair where Denethor sat and kissed him lightly
on the brow. Alarmed, she turned towards Arciryas. “He fells fevered?”
”Nay! It is his temper. He has been ranting and raving for the last
She smiled and kissed Denethor again. “Then, brother, stop your
ranting and raving. Your court is in session and the people wait for
you. They would greet you in joy. Long have they waited for this day.
All of Gondor is glad for your recovery.”
“I will not say further. But come. Arciryas, is he ready?”
“Aye.” He helped him pull the tunic over his shirt. “You are ready,
my Lord, but let me remind you that you must take your time. Spend only
one hour in court, then return to your room. Else, I will send Indis
Denethor smiled and let Boromir help him stand. “I am ready.”
They walked slowly down the steps from the Steward’s chambers to
the door that lead to the Great Hall on their right and the door that
opened onto the Courtyard that stood in front of them. Boromir steered
him towards the Courtyard door and Denethor frowned.
“Court is in the Great Hall, my son.”
“We have something to show you.” Faramir had quietly joined them. He
walked on Denethor’s left. Indis and Arciryas followed behind.
A guard opened the door and Denethor, at first blinded by the light
of midday, stepped onto the Courtyard. A great cheer met him. He
blinked his eyes a number of times. It seemed as if all of Gondor stood
before him. The Steward’s banners were clutched in the people’s hands
and they waved them as they shouted. “Long live, Denethor, Steward of
He almost tripped; wet covered his eyes. His grip on Boromir’s hand
tightened. “You knew of this?” he hissed.
“They would not be swayed, Father. They were afraid. They love you.”
Faramir stepped closer. “They love you, Adar.”
“So there was more than one who took part in the attempt on my life?”
“Aye, my Lord,” Húrin said quietly. “We have found three others,
two from Minas Tirith itself. They are men your father had hired years
ago from Harad. They have never shown themselves to be traitors.”
“And they have been hung?”
Húrin started. “Not yet, my Lord. We awaited your decision.”
“Hang them. Today.”
Faramir stepped forward. “Father. Take a moment, please.”
Denethor’s breath caught. “Because I allow you to partake of the
Council’s meetings, you deem yourself ready to give me council?”
Faramir stood before the Chair and bowed. “Father, I only ask that
you take a moment. Let not your anger, your fury, cloud your judgment.”
Denethor’s brow arched. “There is but one judgment for treason.
That is hanging. I want it done today.” He turned to Húrin.
The old soldier bowed. “Aye, my Lord. It will be done.”
As he left the Great Hall, Faramir tried one more time. “You could
banish them to Harad, Father.”
“Banish them to their home?” he asked in scorn. “What kind of
punishment is that?”
“They would go in disgrace, Father. Their comrades in your service
would hold them in contempt. They would listen to the taunts of those
they hold dear. It would be an acceptable punishment.”
“It would not! You would be kind in the face of treason. Kindness
of that sort would cause the fall of Gondor. I have seen this in you
before, Faramir, this need to appease our enemies. It does not fit
“Nay, Father. It is not to appease our enemies. But it is to show
our people that their Steward is wise and does not let anger nor
bitterness sway his decisions.”
“So now you say that I am a fool?”
Faramir shook his head, tears filling his eyes. He knelt before the
Chair. “Father, you are the wisest man I know.”
“But not as wise as the Wizard? I see it in your eyes. He counsels
restraint. Even when…” He took in a deep breath. “Do not listen to the
Wizard, my son. He will lead you astray. He says he has only Gondor’s
weal in his heart, but that is a lie. I know it. He thinks beyond
Gondor. He would sacrifice Gondor for other lands.” By this time,
Denethor stood. He stepped closer to his son and helped him stand. “Do
not listen to him.” His eyes widened. “I am too late. I have lost you.”
“Nay, Father!” Faramir shouted. “I am not lost. I am yours.” He
pulled Denethor close and hugged him tightly. Then stepped back in
alarm. “You wear mail?”
“I can trust no one, Faramir. I also wear my sword, here at my side. I
will take off neither ever again.”
The campfires were lit and some of the men were settling down.
Boromir had camped north of Pelargir. Faramir had joined him this
night; they had planned this meeting. Boromir’s ship had sailed into
Pelargir two nights before. A song was started, low and sad at one end
of the camp, and at the other end a few men made a makeshift dance
line, laughing as they tried to master the new steps being done in the
Boromir laughed. “Come, little brother. Let us show these poor excuses
for dancers how this is supposed to be done!” With that he grabbed
Faramir's forearm and hauled him to his feet. Faramir grinned. Both men
unbuckled their scabbards, drew their swords, throwing the scabbards to
their esquires, then placed their swords on the ground.
Suddenly, stillness filled the night air. The stars themselves
seemed to pause in their flight. The tension was palpable. All left
what they had been about and formed a circle around the two men.
Everyone knew this was a contest, for, though great was the love
brother for brother, great also was the love of competition. The men
started a slow steady clapping as they sang the familiar battle song;
they knew they were in for a treat.
The brothers smiled and started circling their swords and each other.
Slowly, they moved to the dance. The men’s clapping grew faster, the
singing louder. The brothers’ feet flew, hands held high in the air one
moment, then reaching for their swords in the next. The clapping
spurred both brothers’ feet into faster movement. Laughter was warm
upon Faramir’s face, but Boromir’s, though a smile covered it, showed
deep concentration. Faramir danced with grace Boromir knew, but at
speed, none could match him.
As the clapping became faster and stronger, shouts roared from men
caught up in the excitement that was before them. Suddenly, Faramir
stumbled and fell backwards. Hoots of laughter went up from the men,
but a look of consternation covered Boromir’s face. He growled at the
men who immediately ceased their taunting. Faramir started to get up,
but Boromir was quickly at his side with his arm outstretched.
“Forgive me, brother. I should have stopped moments ago.”
Faramir smiled and clapped Boromir on the shoulder as he was pulled
upright. “That was fun. You always did best me when the dance raised
its speed, though perhaps…”
“None dance as gracefully as you, little brother,” Boromir interrupted.
“Any great brute can move his feet quickly. It takes skill to move them
well. I am sorry!” He hugged him fiercely and with great pride. The men
strode forward and pounded them both on their backs congratulating
Silence shattered the moment. The men quickly parted and Denethor stood
before them. An embarrassed smile spread across Boromir’s face as he
moved forward to greet his father. Denethor sidestepped Boromir and
advanced upon Faramir. Faramir kept his head high, but did not look at
his father, keeping his eyes focused straight before him. Denethor
stopped a few steps short and faced Faramir.
“So, I send you to Pelargir to consult with your brother and what do I
find?” Scorn dripped off his words.
Boromir took him by the arm, a broad smile on his face, and guided
him to the perimeter of the camp. The men quickly made way for them and
moved out of hearing.
“Father, I would that you remember who I am; your heir and future
Steward of Gondor. I will not have you reprimand me or Faramir in front
of my men.”
Denethor stood to his full height. “And I would remind you who I
am. Do not begin to think that I am incapable of reprimanding you
whenever and wherever I think it necessary.”
Boromir’s cheeks flushed red. “Aye, my Lord,” he stated flatly. “I
will remember. Please, come to my tent. I have maps that I would like
to discuss with you, and some wine. Faramir,” he called out, but
Denethor’s hand on his arm stopped him.
“Do not call your brother. We have no need of him.”
“Father!” Boromir’s face reflected the hurt in his heart. “What has he
done, Father, to cause this anger? What has he done?”
“It is not your affair. Right now we have strategy to discuss. I want
to promote some of your men. Send them to other garrisons. We have lost
two captains just this past month. They must be replaced and quickly. I
would ask your advice.”
Boromir led him to his tent.
“I need a Captain to hold the garrison in Pelargir. I also need one
for Cair Andros. Who would you suggest?” Denethor asked as he took a
sip of the wine Boromir had offered.
“I very much think Baranos is ready for the garrison of Cair Andros.
Long has he been with us, Father. He has served under you for more
years than I can remember and yet, he has never been raised beyond
“Aye. He has been my right hand, but now I need more than a right
hand. I can do without him at my side. I will station him at Cair
Andros as you suggest. If I have need of him, it would take him but a
short time to return to Minas Tirith. Aye, I will make him Captain. And
Pelargir – what think you of that?”
“It is very close to danger, Father, yet, Faramir would do well there.”
“Faramir!” Denethor almost choked.
“Father. You have asked me for my opinion and I give it. Faramir is
most capable. He has been Captain at Dol Amroth for the past six years.
He is a statesman and a warrior. Prince Adrahil thinks only the best of
him. We need a statesman in Pelargir. Too many of our allies are close
to that garrison. Strength is needed there, also. And Faramir is
strong, Father, truly he is, and a good statesman besides. With the
time he has spent in Minas Tirith at Council meetings, he will do well
there, though he will be sorely missed in Belfalas.”
Denethor looked at him quizzically. “Aye, I believe you are right.
I will send him to Pelargir. He will still be far removed from the
Wizard’s presence and that will be good.”
“Father,” Denethor asked, “why do you fear his relationship with
Mithrandir? They are only friends.”
“Friends!” Denethor laughed harshly. “Faramir dotes on him. Every
word the Wizard utters seems as gold to him.” Denethor stopped. He
shook his head. “I sound like I am ranting. Like an old fool. I do not
trust wizards, my son. You know that. I thought Faramir had the sense
not to also, but in that, I see I have been wrong.” He gave a dry
laugh. “What do you think of wizards, Boromir?”
“I have had no dealings with wizards, Father. I have too much to be
concerned with. Mithrandir keeps to the library. You know I do not
frequent those rooms.”
“It is nothing to be proud of, Boromir. Books hold so much wisdom.
Would that you had spent more time with them.”
“So, my Father, you are saying that I am a dolt?” Boromir laughed
gently. “Faramir spends enough time with books for the both of us. I…”
“I hone other skills, Father, skills that Gondor needs now. Faramir
thinks I am wrong. That I should seek the wisdom of books, much as you
have said this night. But there is not enough time in the day. Battle
skills are what Gondor needs. The sword, the dirk, the spear… these are
my books, Father. I turn to you and to Faramir for my wisdom. And you
have not failed me.”
Denethor’s eyes shone. “My son. You do me proud. Forgive my ranting
about Faramir. He spends his time wisely. I do not like the Wizard,” he
said, his voice rising at the word. He shuddered slightly. “I have had
dealings with wizards before and I fear I do not trust him. Did I ever
tell you about one named Curunír? Of course I have. He was long
your time, though he lives still in Isengard. I cannot even tell you
what he did to me, or why I fear him, but I do. That sense of ill has
transferred to Faramir’s Wizard. I am afraid for my son, Boromir.
Afraid that the Wizard plants lies in his mind, twists his words and
his loyalties to him and not to Gondor. I can only hope that I am
wrong. Do you see it, Boromir, in his bearing? Disloyalty to me?”
“Father!” Boromir almost shouted. “Faramir is only loyal to Gondor. And
to you! You have nothing to fear.”
“Then I will send him to Pelargir.” He paused as Boromir whooped.
“But – I will not send him as Captain of the garrison. I will send
Boromir stood stock-still. “Elphir? He is a Captain of Belfalas. He
has a garrison that he commands near Dol Amroth itself. He will not
Denethor’s visage steeled visibly. “He will come. His first duty is
to Gondor. If I tell him he is to captain Pelargir, he will captain
Boromir shuddered slightly. “His father will be most displeased,” he
“I know.” He rubbed his chin. “I will send a missive to Imrahil
first, asking for Elphir’s services.” He laughed mirthlessly. “I can be
most stubborn, can I not? It is their duty, both of theirs, to obey the
Steward of Gondor. Until the king comes.” Now his voice held the
slightest trace of irony. “Do not look at me like that, Boromir. Have
you still not learned the way of a statesman? Your face betrays you.
You must learn to conceal your feelings.”
“My men still obey me,” the man that once was his little boy said
“Of course they do. And to the death.” He paused and closed his
eyes. “Faramir – Faramir is the one who has finally learned to mask his
“Father!” Boromir cried, but Denethor stopped him.
“It is a good trait to learn. I am not deprecating him. As for
Imrahil, I will write of the situation and he will understand as one
father to another.”
“Father!” Boromir cried again. “You cannot do this. You cannot
embarrass Faramir in this manner. You cannot tell Uncle Imrahil that
Faramir is not ready to captain an entire garrison! He has already
proved himself time and again. And to have Elphir captain over him,
that is ludicrous. Faramir was Elphir’s teacher.”
“He has been under Imrahil’s tutelage in Belfalas. This is just a
continuation.” He stopped at the scorn on Boromir’s face. “You do not
approve?” He continued on when Boromir said naught. “Nevertheless, I
will have Elphir ride to Pelargir. I will ask Imrahil to let him stay
for six months to help Faramir acclimatize as commander of a full
garrison, have Elphir report on the state of the garrison, then I will
have Faramir take the Captaincy. Will that suffice?”
“And what will you write to Uncle Imrahil?”
Denethor sighed. “I do not have to answer to you, Boromir.”
The lad stood taller. “You do not, my Steward.”
Heaving another sigh, Denethor said, “I will stroke him with words
of praise for his son and say I need someone with a discerning eye to
look over the garrison and to help my son prepare for his Captaincy. I
will say nothing disparaging about Faramir. Is there anything else you
request?” he asked, the question voiced with some sarcasm.
“First, may I have a few weeks at home with him? I miss him, Father.”
“Aye, I miss him too. But we will keep the Wizard out of Minas Tirith
while Faramir is on leave.”
Boromir laughed. “Then, sleep my father. My tent is yours. I will bunk
He ran as fast as he could towards the fire. “Faramir,” he shouted.
“Faramir, I am going on leave for a few weeks. I am coming home!” He
hugged him earnestly and with great glee.
“Come, I have much to tell you,” Boromir said and Faramir's tent flap
closed upon them.
He stood before the tomb. The torchbearer stood next to him. “Leave it
in the holder.” The man did as he was bid, then bowed and left.
Denethor walked slowly to the marble bier. It had a likeness of Amdir
chiseled in finest black marble on its top. He touched the face, ran
his fingers down the shoulder, then stopped with his hand where Amdir’s
heart should be.
He knelt, deepest sorrow overtaking him. “I asked you not to leave me,”
he whispered. “So long ago in the Houses of Healing. After the fire. Do
you remember it, Amdir? I sat at your bedside and wept and begged you
to stay with me. I told you that you were greater than me… that I
needed you beside me. Your goodness and your wisdom.
“Always it comes back to wisdom,” he sobbed. “I know strategy; I
know troop deployment; I know how to bend a man’s will to mine. But
true wisdom, Amdir. You were supposed to be the one I leaned upon for
wisdom. And what have you done? You have left me.
“You left me with a son who will not listen and with a Wizard who
steals his heart. I would ask you about Faramir. How I should treat
him? He is so like me. So very like me when I was a youth. Too soft.
Too much the scholar. There is no time for him to become strong like I
am. I do not know how to speak with him. Boromir does his duty. He
listens to me and obeys, without question.
“But Faramir – he questions everything I ask of him. I did not have the
strength nor the courage to question Ecthelion outright. But in my
heart, I questioned him. A thousand times. And the few times I found
the courage to say what I thought was right, he treated me as I treat
Faramir. Nay! Worse. For how many times was I sent away to learn
obedience, to learn fealty, to learn to bite my tongue and keep my own
thoughts to myself…
“I only had you, Amdir. You listened,” he smiled, “and I listened
to you. You are sorely missed, my friend. If, by fate’s chance you have
the ear of a Vala, ask for mercy for me, for Gondor, and for Faramir. I
fear I have lost them all.”
He pulled himself upright, straightened his cloak, and walked from the
shadows of Rath Dínen.