Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice
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Parts 1 - 10
25. Third Age - 3017
“Thorongil!” he hissed. ‘It
cannot be.’ He
brought his face closer to the shimmering globe. ‘In the Dead Marshes.
What is he doing there? I have not seen him before. Where has he been?
Ah! He is searching, searching for something.’ Moving his gaze
northward, Denethor saw nothing. He brought the vision back to
Thorongil and then searched westward, eastward, and finally looked to
the south. ‘Nothing!’ He should have been surprised to have even found
the man in the midst of the smoke and flames. Yet, there he was. He
heaved a sigh. ‘It is getting late; Boromir is due home soon. I cannot
stay here, but I cannot leave until I discover what he is doing!’
He stepped back for a moment. It was easier and easier to control
the thing. Long hours had he spent since… Prickles ran through his mind
as he contemplated the bits and pieces of evidence against Grima…
Arciryas, almost beaten down when seeing his beloved Indis dead, had
intimated that other than flux caused her death. He spent the year
listening to all who would tell him what had happened, studying various
poisons, and trying to discover why she had succumbed when Rohan’s
leeches were well-versed in the care of those stricken by this disease.
Then, late last year, Denethor’s Master Healer and friend had died, the
grief and guilt too much for him.
Denethor had bent his will towards Rohan, towards that slimy creature,
towards even Isengard. He still had no answers; but Théoden was
failing, and quickly. Did Grima have the temerity to poison his own
king? He had seen Théoden send Théodred off to the west
and Éomer off
to the east, leaving him quite alone with… Wormtongue? Is that what
Faramir had said his name was? Suitable. He scowled. ‘Did you murder my
sister, you snake?’ His lips curled in anger and frustration. He put
his hands to his face and tried to rub away the sight of the tower of
Orthanc, his people’s tower, now held by the wizard.
But, no. There were more important things to focus on for the moment.
Thorongil! And Boromir? Nay! Boromir was indeed returning from a patrol
of the Cormallen. And Thorongil was only miles from him in the Dead
Marshes. Denethor’s brow furrowed. Had they met? Was there a rendezvous
planned? Could he not trust… ‘Nay! I will not think that.’ He grit his
teeth and once again held the Palantír. “Boromir is true to me
Gondor. It is a lie.’ But his hands shook as he watched his foe walking
slowly across the marshes.
Finally, the man bedded down for the night. Denethor breathed a
sigh of relief. Whatever it was the man looked for, it had yet to be
found. Denethor pulled away from the globe and walked slowly down the
steps. Boromir met him on the landing before Denethor’s own chambers.
He wondered if his own face shown with delight, as Boromir’s now did.
Striding forward, he grasped his eldest in a fierce embrace, shame for
his earlier thoughts lending strength to the hug. Boromir returned it.
“I was concerned that you had left the City,” Boromir said, brow
furrowed. “None seemed to know of your whereabouts.”
“If I had left,” Denethor smiled, “all would know. It has been
quite some time…” His own brow furrowed. He would like to go to the
Anduin, but the memory was too painful. To Belfalas, but that way led
to more painful memories. To Rohan - no longer welcome. He had nowhere
to go. He shook his head, smiled at Boromir and said, “You must be
hungry. Go. Wash yourself and return to my chambers. I will have supper
“Faramir, Father? Is he in the City?”
“He is not. He is still in Pelargir. I would speak with you concerning
him. But, go now. It will wait.”
“He is well?”
Denethor smiled indulgently at the concern in Boromir’s voice. “He is
Boromir hugged his father once again and left. Denethor entered his
chambers, nodding to the guard who opened the door for him. He pulled
the rope and, moments later, his manservant appeared. “Help me out of
this.” The coat and tunic were easily removed; at last, the heavy mail
was lifted over his head. Denethor stretched.
“Boromir will be joining me shortly. I imagine him famished. Please
have some food and wine brought up. Then return.” He strode towards his
bedchamber as the man turned and left.
Denethor went to the washbasin, took off his undergarments, and
sponged himself down. Drying himself off with a heavy towel, he walked
towards his bed, grateful to see clean clothes laid out. Dressing
quickly, he moved into his study. He pulled a map from the wall behind
him and spread it on his desk. There! There were the Dead Marshes. He
chided himself for looking, but he had to. There also was the
Cormallen. Not many leagues apart. His brow furrowed. Just then, the
servant entered the room, carrying the mail with him.
“I…” he stopped.
Denethor looked up. “What is it?”
“Nothing, my Lord.”
A slight smile lifted the corners of Denethor’s mouth. “You wish I
would not wear it? Does it disturb you?”
“Aye and nay,’ the man said shortly. “A rest from it may do your body
good. You appear over tired this evening.”
“My body is fine as it is. Besides protection, it keeps me strong. I am
stronger than I was seven years ago, when first I started wearing it
“But now you wear it at night, my Lord. Surely you would sleep
better were you not to wear it in bed.” He helped slide it over
Long ago, when Denethor would put it on, a feeling of exhilaration
would fill him. Now, he only felt the weight of it, crushing against
the bones in his shoulders, preventing him from taking the long strides
he once loved, preventing deep breaths, and keeping him from sound
sleep in the night. But it was worth it, all worth it, for did not he
need to protect himself, to strengthen himself against Gondor’s
“You speak out of turn. Is the food ready?”
“It is, my Lord. I set it up in the parlour.”
“Thank you. You may go now. I will not need you further.”
The man stared at him for a moment, as if he would speak again, sighed
gently, bowed and left.
“Father?” He heard the call just as the man left. “Where are you?”
Boromir strode into the study and Denethor’s heart leapt. “My son!” he
cried, “It is so good to have you home again.”
Boromir’s glance told Denethor that his son was surprised by the
warmth of the greeting, but his heart had been heavy since leaving the
Tower and now it was lightened. “Come. Let us eat. Then we will talk. I
Fingering the goblet after they had supped, Denethor looked up and
found Boromir staring at him. He smiled. “You know me too well, my son.
If I had left the goblet sitting in peace in my hand, you would not now
be concerned.” He sat forward, all pretense of serenity gone from his
face. “I had hoped to bring this up when peace had settled upon our
land. But things grow worse instead of better. As your reports aptly
describe.” He stood and Boromir sat straighter.
“I was late in marrying myself,” he began and stopped as Boromir
stood. “Nay, my son. Sit and give me the grace of your attention.” He
strode towards the fire, the goblet still in his hand. He looked at it
as if at a strange devise. His face saddened. “Théoden King
that Éowyn might hold your interest. But that was many years
turned back towards Boromir. “I have seen the king of the Mark
stumble.” He walked back towards the settle and stood before his
eldest. “When the king comes. You know that saying well, my son. If
there were a king, if he came, you could marry at will. For the blood
of the Steward need not be as pure as the blood of the king.” He sat
and put his hand on Boromir’s shoulder. “You have read the accounts of
the Kin-strife and understand what caused it. You know the devastation,
for every time you are sent to Osgiliath you walk in the blood of your
forefathers. Until the king comes, you cannot marry other than pure
Númenórean. Is your heart set upon Éowyn, my son?”
His smile faltered.
Boromir lowered his eyes. “Éowyn was a child when last I saw
Father. She holds no sway over me or my heart,” and Boromir paused for
a long time. “I would wed, if that is your will. However, I do not
think this is the right time. As you have said, the enemy has grown
strong and our battles are many.” He smiled. “There is hardly time to
Denethor leaned back against the settle and closed his eyes. “I
cannot have another child. First, because of the honour I hold for your
mother, but secondly, my body is growing old, even by the standards of
Westernesse, and I am too tired to even attempt such a thing. You are
the heir. If… if fate would have it so, and you passed without a son…
There is always Faramir, I suppose.”
Boromir gave a short laugh. “You speak of him as if he is a last
choice, Father. Someone you have to ‘settle’ for. His blood is purer
than mine.” He held up a hand to stop his father’s rebuttal. “You know
it, Father. You can see it in his eyes; his mind is sharper than mine,
on a par with yours.” Boromir shrugged. “I am the warrior, Father. Your
bloodline should be continued through Faramir.”
“I will not have that. Oh, I would have Faramir wed and with
children. No man should be without children. But you are the heir. Is
there any other who has caught your eye?”
“I cannot sway you, can I, Father? Well, if that is as you wish,
there are none. I bow to your will, find her and I will wed her. The
acceptable time is one year prior to commitment. I will wed next
summer, if that is what you wish.”
Denethor raised his glass. Boromir responded. “To my son’s child,”
Denethor said quietly. Neither spoke after that. A few moments later,
Boromir, stood, kissed Denethor on the brow and walked out of the room.
He had meant to speak with Boromir about so many things that night.
But the subject they did discuss weighed heavy upon both men and
Denethor thought it prudent to wait a day or two before discussing his
The Council meetings were becoming more bitter, the discussions more
heated. The lords of Gondor no longer wanted the blood of their sons
spilled upon the land, and Denethor could not blame them. Though this
was nothing new, the vehemence with which the lords spoke against
conscription had increased. Denethor sat silent and listened.
Boromir, being home on leave, was left by his father to defend Gondor’s
cause within the chambers. Denethor watched with pride as Boromir’s
passion pushed him from his chair to place Gondor’s case before the
lords of the Council. He walked avidly back and forth, gesturing
occasionally, his voice strong and firm. Many a lord felt Boromir’s
keen love for Gondor, remembered that love from their youth – for were
not all the lords former warriors of Gondor – and once again rallied to
the cause. Men were pledged for the spring offense and funds were
pledged for repairs to the southern roads. The road to Pelargir
especially had become a gaping hole from the winter storms; the sea’s
salts dumped upon them had eaten away what little covering they had.
Denethor watched. To see the light that Boromir kindled in these men’s
eyes sent his spirits rising.
At last, on the third day since Denethor had first espied Thorongil
upon the marshes, he found him again. His brow furrowed in confusion.
It looked as though Thorongil had acquired some animal as a traveling
companion. A short, gangly creature walked behind the man. Try as he
might, Denethor could not make out what kind of creature it was. And
why did it walk behind the man? It seemed there was a rope or some such
tied around the animal’s neck and Thorongil held the other end.
Swearing softly, Denethor let go of the globe and rubbed his hands over
his eyes. Looking once again, he realized Thorongil was nearing the
Emyn Muil. He stepped away from the Palantír. Boromir was
Thorongil would be many days in the hills; he would not lose him.
His heart grew heavy. What next he had to discuss with Boromir was
grave – Faramir. His eldest would be angered at Denethor’s next plan of
action, but it must be done. A sob stole from his throat, but he
quickly stifled it and grit his teeth and walked down the Tower’s
steps. He had only a little more to give to Gondor – but he would give
Boromir walked slowly up the long
towards Denethor’s private quarters. He had been summoned to dinner,
but not in the family’s dining hall. His brow furrowed as he looked,
once again, at the missive. The tone was stilted, formal, and boded ill
for Faramir, in Boromir’s mind. His father had hinted at some dire
pronouncement for Faramir, the last time Boromir had met with him, but
what it could be, Boromir had not a clue.
Reports from Pelargir confirmed that the garrison was well-run and that
the city thrived. So Father’s call could not be about the garrison, or
could it? Had others reported problems? ‘Nay!’ he thought emphatically,
‘As Captain-General, I would have received copies of such reports.’ He
paused his upward movement. ‘Unless Father has someone watching
Faramir, someone who only reports to him? Something I would not be
surprised about. But that would hurt. Not because of Faramir, but
because it would mean Father did not trust me. Nay! That is not
possible.’ He started forward again; he did not want to irk his father
by being late.
He stopped for another moment at one of the stairwell’s windows, and
looked, unseeing, at the landscape before him. Blinking a few times, he
opened himself to the scene before him - the shoulder of Mindolluin.
Tears filled his eyes; many the times, he and Faramir had climbed up
this very side of the mountain, laughing in the joy of being together
and away from the confines of duty.
‘Their love has changed,’ he thought miserably. ‘Nay. Not so much their
love, but their trust. Faramir has proved himself a dolt too many times
when it comes to his mouth. He is ever the diplomat in the Council
chambers, but when he is with Father, it seems he loses all caution.’
He smiled. ‘He does lose all caution; he knows Father will listen to
his words. But as soon as he brings up anything to do with Mithrandir,
Father bristles. I do not understand why Faramir does not take my
warning words to heart on this one issue.
‘I miss him. He has been gone too long from the City. And when he
is gone, I cannot protect him.’ He sat heavily on a cold marble step.
‘I cannot protect him anyhow. I cannot even protect my own men.’ He
swore quietly, then pounded his fist against the stairwell’s wall. Even
with his eyes open, he could see his dead men lying about him.
They had been traveling through the Nindalf, close to the bottom of the
Rauras Falls, when Orcs had struck. He had lost sixty-seven men.
Sixty-seven strong doughty men of Gondor. He checked himself.
Sixty-three, in truth, for they did not find the bodies of the other
four until a fortnight after the battle. He had turned his three
companies towards home, camping near the borders of North Ithilien.
There, hanging from trees, were the bodies of his missing men. They had
been not been eaten, a surprise, but had been gutted and hung. The
carrion crows had ravaged their remains. When they cut them down,
Boromir and his healer inspected them. Their tongues had been cut out,
their finger and toenails pulled out, their… He shook his head, not
wishing to think further.
Denethor was well aware of the barbarism of their foes, Boromir
knew, had seen it too many times imaginable. Denethor knew of the
exquisite tortures that Orcs, when not eating their captives, visited
upon them. How many times their father had warned Boromir and Faramir
not to be caught alive. No matter what happened, to cut their own
wrists before allowing themselves to be captured.
Boromir had given the same instructions to all his men. Not for
Gondor’s weal – the men did not know enough of Gondor’s secrets to be
of any use and the enemy knew that. But for their own sakes. Orcs held
no mercy for their foe, had no compunction to let a captive free.
Captivity was for torture, mocking, and entertainment for the Orcs. And
eventually death - mindless, hopeless, long-suffering, pain-filled
death. For Orcs did not kill their captives easily. They would cut out
a tongue and wait a few days. Break their arms and legs another day.
Then pull the nails from… Then more days and more torture.
Even after all these years, Boromir was still not able to see the
evidence of such torture without retching. They had quickly buried his
men and turned south. As they rode, Boromir again demanded death from
his men, demanded that they remember what they had just seen, and
remember to take their own lives if it appeared they would be captured.
He had had to go to each one of his men’s homes, those he had lost, and
speak with their wives, their children, their mothers and fathers. How
many years had his father done the same duty? How had he not succumbed
to grief and bitterness? And Boromir had lied. ‘Your son was killed in
battle. Your husband fought well and died well.’ Boromir screamed aloud
in helpless frustration and pain, and the sound echoed through the
Denethor stepped out of his room and looked down upon his son.
“Come, Boromir,” he said gently. He turned back into his room so as to
give Boromir time to wipe the tears from his eyes.
When Boromir finally entered the room, his father offered him a
goblet. “Some of the finest from Lebennin,” he said, turned and walked
to the fireplace. “Sit, please,” he said without turning.
He waited for a quarter of an hour. The bells sounded. He turned. “The
battle was hard?”
“It was no more nor less than others,” Boromir stated firmly.
“But something about it has harmed you,” Denethor was matter-of-fact.
“Aye! Four men captured, four men tortured, four men hanged.”
Boromir sat for another moment, then stood and walked to his father’s
side. Placing his hand upon Denethor’s shoulder, he gently turned him
to face him. “How many hundreds, Father, have you seen?”
Denethor’s smile was bitter. “I lost count after your mother passed.”
His eyes were far from Minas Tirith.
“And you still stand firm?”
“How can I not? Who will take care of Gondor?” Denethor motioned
towards the settle and they sat. “I do not believe your grandfather
suffered such things during his time. Oh yes, there was death and
battle. My uncle was a great warrior, killed before his time. He and
all his men were killed in battle. I remember his funeral well.
“I do not think there was as much, or as many killed during Ecthelion’s
time. And I do not recall such tortures as now are visited upon our
men. Your great-grandfather, Turgon, was the lucky one. Fate, or
whatever it is that punishes us, was kind to him. There was peace, for
a time, upon our land.
“But come, my son. I have not seen your face so cheerless. The battle
was many days past. What brings it to your mind now?”
“Ah.” Denethor took a long deep breath. “Faramir indeed.”
They sat again. At last, a knock on the door roused them. “Come,”
“My Lord,” his manservant asked, “dinner is getting cold. I will send
“I am sorry. I forgot it was ready.” He turned towards his son.
“Boromir, forgive me. You must be hungry and I have forgotten.”
“I am not hungry, Father. I would discuss what was hinted at in
your invitation. I cannot eat until we have finished that, if that
meets your approval?”
“Aye.” He turned towards the servant. “Bring food in an hour and tell
the kitchen I am most sorry for the waste.”
The man bowed, turned and left. They heard the clinking of dishes
in the outer chamber. Denethor smiled, for he knew the noises were made
loud to remind Denethor of his servant’s long-suffering. He began to
chortle and Boromir joined him. After a moment, they quieted.
“Faramir has excelled at Pelargir. The garrison is better than even
when I was there. The reports I receive swell with praise for him. The
city is more prosperous than ever and there have been no attacks
against it or the surrounding countryside. I am most proud of him,
Boromir. I have sent a missive to him, carried by Captain Angbor
recalling him. Angbor is from Lamedon and will be grateful to be
stationed nearer to home. He only has another two years in service to
Gondor’s army. This will suffice.”
“Why do you recall Faramir, then, if he captains Pelargir well?”
“I… I have need of him closer to home.”
“Osgiliath!” Boromir almost spat the name.
“Aye, Boromir. Osgiliath.”
“I know what you would say, Boromir, and it pains my heart to do
this. However, his own renown has earned him this. I could not keep it
from him, if I wanted to.”
“Earned?” Boromir cried. “Condemned, rather. Do not do this,
Father. Please.” Boromir knelt at Denethor’s feet and took his hands
into his own. “It is a death sentence. The captains of Osgiliath die
within the year of their stationing there. Please, Father,” he begged
“Not every one dies, Boromir. You exaggerate.” He stood and lifted his
eldest to his feet. “Do not speak this way.”
“How else am I to speak when my heart twists within me, when my gut
retches at the very thought?”
“Listen to me, Boromir. I will not send him to Osgiliath garrisoned
the way it is now. I plan to expand the stronghold. Return it to a full
battalion’s strength. And I will forbid him to lead any patrols or
sorties. His captains will do that. He will be… administrator of the
garrison. I need him
there; I need his wisdom and his knowledge of battle,” Denethor
emphasized the word need with his teeth clenched. “If we lose Osgiliath
wholly, we lose Gondor.”
Boromir sat still. “He will not stay administrator,” he said
quietly. “You know him, Father. Even if you order it so, he will find
some excuse to venture forth. And then he will be killed. Are we so
strapped that we must e’en sacrifice my brother?”
Denethor stood and walked towards the fire. Leaning against the
mantle, he sighed. Tears filled his eyes. “E’en my son, Boromir. E’en
both my sons.”
“I would gladly die for Gondor, Father. You know that well. But
“Would he have it any other way, Boromir? Would he allow you to be
sacrificed and not him?”
“Will you station me with him?”
Denethor’s face quirked into a mirthless smile. “I cannot. You are
Boromir stood and walked to the door. “If you do not mind, Father. I
will leave you now. I have much to think about.”
Denethor turned in surprise. “I have not dismissed you.”
“I will say things I do not think you want to hear, if I stay, Father.”
Denethor noted Boromir’s jaw was tight and that his hand clutched
at the pommel of his sword. “I have said the same things to myself,
Boromir. Do you not know that? Do you think I receive pleasure in
sending him there? Please,” he motioned to the settle. “Please sit.”
Boromir took his hand from the door and straightened his shoulders.
He walked to the sideboard and poured himself more wine, then he stood
next to his father. “I do not question you, Father.” He smiled sadly.
“Not as Faramir questions you. However, I do not agree. I am selfish, I
know. Is it right that you send another man there to die instead of my
brother? That Faramir and I receive assignments that are not as
dangerous as others receive?” He again turned Denethor to face him. “We
are sent to dangerous
assignments. We are sent
to die. As are all the warriors of Gondor. But Osgiliath, Father,
Osgiliath is ever in the enemy’s mind. If you send him there, you will
condemn him to death. The One we do not name will know he is there. He
dogs our every step. Will he not be tempted beyond endurance once he
knows that Faramir is there? Will he not send army after army against
the fallen city in order to capture Faramir? I cannot let that happen.”
Boromir’s hands tightened painfully around Denethor’s shoulders. “I
cannot let him die. Send me instead, Father.”
“I cannot. We need more men, Boromir. And you are adept in
persuading our fief lords to send them. You must be about that work. I
will do everything I can to protect Faramir. I know of what you speak
regarding the enemy. He will not prevail. And I will send my most
experienced captains with him.”
The manservant stepped into the room and announced the meal was ready.
“Come, let us eat.” He took Boromir’s hand and led him into the outer
A table had been set, Boromir had not noted when first he had entered.
“When will Faramir arrive, Father?”
“Probably tomorrow or the next day.”
“So this decision has been made since before I returned?”
“Because the latest captain of Osgiliath is dead?”
Denethor blushed, but said nothing.
Boromir stabbed at his food, his anger simmering. At last he
sighed. “I cannot agree, Father, but I cannot gainsay you. I will
support you, but let Faramir stay in the City for a few weeks at least.
We have time for that, do we not?”
Denethor heard the longing in his son’s voice. “Of course we do.
And there are preparations that you can help Faramir with. Preparations
that will shore up Osgiliath’s defenses. We will meet once a day to
discuss our objective. I say ‘our,’ Boromir, for I know what your
objective is.” He smiled warmly. “With the sons of Gondor busily
preparing, the enemy will be thwarted. Trust me, Boromir. I will not,
willingly, send either of my sons to their deaths. How could you even
think this of me?”
Faramir returned from Pelargir the very next day and the Hall rang out
with the joyful shouts of brother greeting brother. Denethor watched
them and a smile played upon his lips. Only, when his sons were with
him, did he smile.
Faramir turned from Boromir's arms and stepped forward. "Forgive me,
Father, but the great brute would not let me pass him without his
strangling me." Faramir's laughter rang out and warmed the columns
lining the hall. He stepped before the Chair, bowed low, then saluted
the Steward. "The Captain of Pelargir wishes to report to his Steward."
Denethor accepted the salute with a nod of his head. "I will listen to
your report when the full Council convenes two days from now. Come with
me to my chambers. I have nuncheon ordered." He led the way from the
Chair towards the back of the Hall and then up the stairs to his
private quarters. When they entered the room, he gestured to them to
sit and went to the fireplace, poured the wine, and returned. After
giving each a goblet, he sat in a chair opposite the settle. "Your
brother has missed you."
Faramir's eyes grew warm with tears. "I have missed him too, Father."
He struggled not to say more, for, of late, the Steward preferred to be
more formal in his dealings with his son. "I hope the reports you have
received from Pelargir have been satisfactory?"
Denethor's eyes pierced his. "I see you are ever aware of my plots,
Faramir." He waited a moment. "Aye, I have had you watched." Another
Faramir did not stir nor flinch, but Boromir squirmed in his seat as if
he were once again a child. "I think I hate the both of you!" he
Denethor raised an eyebrow; Faramir flinched.
"We have no one left. It is only we three. And yet the two of you speak
as if stranger's. I will put up with this behavior no longer. Kiss and
make up, if you must, but do something to make me believe I have a
father and a brother!"
Denethor began to laugh. "It is better that Faramir attends the Council
meetings, Boromir. Your eloquence and fervor always win over those who
would oppose us, but you cannot keep a civil tongue. Nor know your
place." His laughter stopped. "Faramir is mine to deal with. He knows I
love him. I do what I must for Gondor."
"You do not have someone watching over me, do you?" Boromir asked
"Of course not. First, they would not be able to find you. No matter
where I send you, I suddenly receive a missive from another part of
Gondor saying you have strayed from your course. Secondly, I know
"What, Father?" Faramir asked quietly.
"I know he can take care of himself, not be swayed by others, obeys
me." Denethor's lips had pursed.
"I can take care of myself, Father."
Denethor stared long and hard at his youngest. "Perhaps."
"You and Boromir have taught me everything I know, Father. Do you not
know that, when I make a decision, I weigh your counsel, even if I
cannot ask it. I know you, Father. I know you well. I believe I know
what you would do in most of the situations I must deal with. Yet, you
do not trust me?"
"You listen to the wizard. I know he was in Pelargir only a month ago.
I received no report of his visit."
"He did not come on state business, Father. He came as friend. We sat
and talked about music."
Denethor made no sound, but his eyes flamed. Boromir put his hand on
Faramir's arm. "Music? What sort of music, Faramir?"
"The kind Elves make. He taught me a few of their songs as we watched
the stars. He said Elvish music must be sung under the stars. It was a
pleasant evening. But only one, Father. I swear, we spoke of naught
else." He watched Denethor closely then shivered. "You look at me as if
I were one of the lords on your Council."
"You are a Lord of Gondor. I am disappointed. I would say that I have
not made my wishes clear, but I have, countless times. I do not trust
wizards, Faramir. I especially do not trust this one, though I have had
few dealings with him."
"If you spent some time with him, Father. He thinks you are a great and
wise man. He has told me numerous times."
Boromir bit his lip, swearing to himself. 'I cannot believe you,
Faramir. You dig the knife in deeper every time you open your mouth.'
He stood up. "Father, let us invite the wizard here. You say you do not
know him; you need to spend time with him. He is alleged to be mighty.
He could become Gondor's friend. And, barring that, if he be Gondor's
enemy - one should keep one's enemies close, should one not?"
"He is not an enemy!" Faramir stood also. "He is a friend who speaks
highly of the Steward of Gondor."
Denethor motioned for both men to sit. "Faramir. You will contact
Mithrandir and ask him to attend us."
"I... I am not sure when he might be available, Father. He is headed
towards Mirkwood. To the realm of Thranduil."
"Ah!" Denethor took a deep breath. "To the Elves."
"Nuncheon is ready, my Lord."
Denethor looked up. The door to his study was open and the servant
waited. He stood; his sons followed him.
"So," Denethor began after they had eaten. "You are going to take the
captaincy of Osgiliath."
Faramir beamed. "Thank you, Father. I am looking forward to it."
Denethor's eyes grew thoughtful. "As a child, I was oft there. Well,"
he paused and his brow furrowed. "For a few short years, I was allowed
to visit my uncle. We would play..." He looked up. They watched him
quietly, expectantly. "I have not told you, but I loved 'Kings and
Stewards.' Your great-uncle, Húrin, taught me. We would play all
day. The game took many months to finish as I only was allowed one day
in Osgiliath. Training and other duties were deemed more important by
my father. I loved Osgiliath, though one of my greatest shames came
from a visit there." A smile crossed his face and was gone as quickly
as it formed.
"You will love Osgiliath, Faramir. You can smell the forests and fields
of Ithilien from there. The spices are incredible. There was such game
- rabbit, pheasant, duck, partridge, qual, deer, turkey... Though, of
course, the number of wild has diminished as of late. Boromir has been
going over the city's plans, devising better uses of the men and
weapons. You will spend the next few weeks with him, if that is
amenable to you," and the Steward smiled, "I will be giving you a full
battallion. In your grandfather's day, the garrison was always
full-stocked. It will be again."
He looked down at his hands. "Your sword and bow are needed in
Osgiliath, Faramir. But more importantly, your battle knowledge. I have
been pleasantly surprised at your grasp of the needs of Pelargir. I
expect the same for Osgiliath."
Faramir nodded, but remained silent; the unexpected compliment caused a
"When I was stationed there, we devised a... Well, that will not be
feasible now. East Osgiliath must remain in our hands. Though I will
not station any men there. But it must be watched closely, Faramir. If
the enemy gets a foothold there, it will be easy enough to spill into
West Osgiliath. Once they are over the river, and Osgiliath is the only
feasible place to cross south of Cair Andros, they will be free to run
rampant over the Pelennor. I cannot impress strongly enough our need."
"I understand, Father. We will hold Osgiliath. All of Osgiliath. Give
Boromir and me time to formulate a plan, then we will bring it before
"Good. That is all I can ask." Denethor took a deep breath. "The
Council will meet in two days. Your Pelargir report will be given then.
We will not speak of Osgiliath at that time. I want everything in place
before I bring this to the Council. Now, be off with the both of you.
Spend some time together on Mindolluin, but," and he looked warningly
at Faramir, "I do not want any more falls. Climb with leisure." He
smiled and rose.
Boromir hugged Denethor, then the Steward turned to Faramir. "Welcome
back, my son,” and hugged him warmly.
"What have you got there?"
Boromir asked as they approached the guard of Rath Dínen .
"Flowers." Faramir's sad smile surprised his brother.
"Oh!" Boromir stopped. "Are there enough for me?"
Faramir chuckled. "Of course. She will know you meant to bring some. It
was thoughtless of me to not tell you that I planned stopping at her
bier on the way."
"My thoughts were on other things, but that does not excuse me."
"I know. You are not happy with my captaincy."
"That is not true, Faramir. I am happy for you."
"Then what is it?"
The guard saluted, opened the door for them as they acknowledged his
greeting, and let them pass into the Hallows.
"You are all I have, Faramir.” Boromir’s voice dropped to a whisper in
deference to the inhabitants of the place. “All I have of mother, of
Amma... I rely upon you for so many things, things you do not even know
Faramir looked at him questioningly and so Boromir continued. "Father
would have me perform feats of wizardry and save all of Gondor... Nay!
All of Middle-earth. And I would do it, Faramir. But I cannot. But I
would save you!"
"Boromir," Faramir looked kindly at his brother. "You do not have to
save me. As I told Father, and you both refuse to acknowledge it, I can
take care of myself. I am not being cocky, as the look upon your face
would say, and I do know that the forces that assail us are greater
than you and I, but I know when to duck," he smiled. "You taught me
that. And I will duck when need arises. I cannot hide away in
Osgiliath, Boromir, though that is what you would wish me to do. I must
lead my men in the way I deem fit. But I promise you, big brother," the
smile lit his face, "That I will be careful, for myself and for my
"I wish there were some other way, Faramir." He stopped before the tomb
that held Indis, daughter of Ecthelion, and put his hand on the cold
marble. "I wish so many things. One of which is that she was still with
us." He bit his lip. "I still cannot believe she is gone. Did you know
she was the first to teach me to hold a sword? Do not tell Father."
Faramir's eyebrow lifted and he smiled. "The same here."
"Father had promised and promised and still I did not have one. So,
she took me to the armoury, found an old beaten down little thing, and
we went to the dungeons." He smiled broadly. "She learned her own
swordcraft in the dungeons with Listöwel and Morwen Steelsheen.
talked the whole time, which was unusual for her. But I think the
memories flowed through the room and tugged at her heart. I wish she
"You see, Boromir," Faramir said as he laid the bouquet upon the crypt,
"She would have tried to save us too, but she could not even save
Boromir brushed away the tears. "Nay! And Father could not even save
her, with all his knowledge and wisdom."
They stood for more than a few moments, listening to the quiet,
remembering their beloved aunt, rejoicing in the moments spent
together. At last, Boromir turned. "Let us be away from here, Faramir.
My heart will grow weary if we stay. And we have so little time."
They turned, gave the tomb one last pat, and walked towards the back of
The guard saluted and unlocked the further door for them. "You know the
signal for this week?"
Boromir nodded and walked through the door onto the vast mountain.
He was surprised, extremely surprised, but incredibly happy. He saw
them, saw them in the Palantír as they climbed Mindolluin. Now,
last, his heart could be at peace; he could watch over them. He began
to pull away, look towards the north, towards where he had last spotted
Thorongil, but ever he came back to the sight of his sons enjoying each
They had lain down on the grass… ‘Grass? It is early spring; the
mountain should be covered in snow.’ His brow furrowed as he wondered
what wizardry this was. Another moment and he saw Faramir crashing down
slowly and inexorably towards the sharp pikes laid out from the bottom
of where the mountain and the city walls conjoined.
“Ah,” he cried as horror and finally understanding enveloped him. ‘This
is the past. This is the day Faramir almost killed himself – how many
years ago? And yet, this thing shows me the past!’ He could not take
his eyes from the sight, watching Faramir fall closer and closer to the
pikes. He shuddered. Knowing that Boromir saved him did nothing to
ameliorate the fear that wrenched at his gut. At last, the last
possible moment it seemed to Denethor, Boromir reached out and grabbed
his brother’s hand. Breath drawn raggedly through clenched teeth,
Denethor blinked hard. Neither son had told him that death had been so
He let go the globe and walked to the tower’s window. Staring
unseeingly towards the Pelennor, he sobbed. “I cannot lose another. I
will go mad.” The words echoed through the chamber and soft laughter
filled the room. Denethor looked up in surprise. Prickling skin told
him he had not imagined it. He quickly stepped into the outside
corridor. No one was there. He moved back into the room. It was a small
apartment with no doors but one, no windows but one, and no closets nor
furniture to hide in. The only thing in the room was the obelisk upon
which sat the swirling stone.
He shook his head. He was not touching the stone and yet it
swirled; a faint glow flowed from it. He stepped closer, cautiously. No
further sound came. He touched it again. The stone was showing the
mountains of the Ephel Dúath. His gaze was drawn further east,
Mount Orodruin. Its mouth spurt smoke, flame and ash. His brow
furrowed; he was not controlling the orb; it was controlling him! He
tried to pull back and found he could not. Now, it directed his sight
south of the mountain towards Barad-dúr! He stilled his breath
clenched his teeth. Pulling his hands slowly back towards his body, he
felt the globe stick to his fingers, but he was not of the line of
Mardil Voronwë for naught. He fought it and was finally free.
step backward, he laughed. “You will not ensnare me. I know you.”
He took the globe in his hands again and forced his mind to quiet. A
sudden hope had filled him. If he could see Boromir and Faramir in the
past, what could prevent him from seeing her! A shudder ran through
him. The globe responded to his thoughts and, in a moment, he was in
Dol Amroth. She stood before him, the wind whipping the hair around her
as she stood on her balcony. He swore he could smell the sea breeze and
hear her laughter. Choking back tears, he followed her every move. She
was young, perhaps twenty-three. None were about her, but she had a
letter clenched in her hand and her face was bright with joy. He
recognized it. One he had sent; a small locket had fallen from it. She
bent to retrieve it, then cried out in joy as she opened it. He had
placed a small portrait of himself in it. He blushed now at his
temerity in offering such a thing.
He fell in love with her again. Her smile, her raven hair, her slim
waist, her delicate skin. He cried as his fingers clutched the globe,
trying to reach out and touch her. But she could not be held, nor
spoken to, nor kissed. Sobs wracked his body as he watched her grow,
exchange vows with him, birth Boromir and then Faramir.
Her illness came upon her; he noted now how slowly and how inexorably
it had attacked her. He saw the mountain’s hold upon her; the fear it
engendered in her. How could he have been so blind? How could he not
have whisked her from Minas Tirith? He could have made Dol Amroth the
capital of Gondor and moved his little family; any price would have
been worth her life.
To touch her one more time. His heart ached. He watched her, on the
road to Belfalas, watched the cart slow and then stop. Watched
step from the cart and speak with the guard. Watched the guard blanch,
then sob. Watched him get back on his horse and turn towards Minas
Tirith. Watched as the carriage turned back.
He pulled away; he could look no longer.
“If we can, I would like to visit Uncle Imrahil.”
“Faramir! We have only a month together. It would take almost that to
get there and back again.”
“But we would have the ride together and could also visit.”
Boromir shook his head. He too loved his uncle, but there were so many
things to prepare, not only for Faramir’s posting, but for Boromir’s
next trip. “I wish we could, little brother, but it is folly.”
“It is not.” Faramir was vehement, then changed his mind. “I suppose it
is. Do not you miss mother’s people?”
“Mother’s people are here, Faramir,” he gently chided.
“Of course, but she grew up there, Boromir. The people of Dol Amroth
live differently than we do. I feel free when I am there. And it has
been so long!”
Boromir smiled. “I feel free there as well, Faramir. But I feel
disloyal to Gondor when I am there. We are so beset, Faramir. Forgive
me for being dour, but it is true. I travel the countryside and see the
needs of our people, the needs of our land, and any time taken away
from them seems to be an indulgence. I cannot leave now. Mayhap, when
summer comes, we can visit then. You will have been settled in
Osgiliath and I can make that my southern sweep. Will that suffice,
What could Faramir say or do, it was Boromir asking. He smiled. “Of
course. Now, we best return. We are very late.” Their shadows indeed
indicated that it was well past the evening mealtime. They hurried.
They had missed supper and knew their father would be put out.
Faramir knew he would be more than put out, yet Boromir guffawed when
he shared that sentiment. The chamberlain at the Great Hall said he had
not seen Lord Denethor all afternoon. The boys went to his private
quarters. The guard there said that Lord Denethor had left shortly
after they did and had not returned. Boromir’s brow furrowed and
Faramir bit his lower lip. They walked to the first floor of the Tower;
the guard there stated that he had not seen the Steward at all this
day. Tension began to build as brother looked at brother in dismay.
“Where can he be?” Boromir asked gruffly.
“Perhaps at the stables? Or in the buttery? The Council meets
tomorrow. Perhaps he has gone to Merethrond to discuss dinner
“Where is his aide?”
They walked slowly down the corridor into the Great Hall. The
chamberlain hurried forward. “Does anyone know of Lord Denethor’s
whereabouts?” the man asked “I have some important missives for him. We
still have not gone over plans for tomorrow’s Council.” The man looked
very flustered and both boys were not surprised. Usually, the day
before a Council meeting, Denethor was furiously scripting the agenda,
ordering underlings about, and generally causing an uproar.
“We will find him. Give the missives to me. I will take them to the
Steward’s private study. He will read them tonight, I am sure.” Boromir
took the papers and strode from the room. Faramir followed.
“I cannot understand this and I am beginning to be concerned.
Mayhap Father left a missive on his desk.” He took the stairs two at a
time, closely followed by Faramir. The guard saluted them and let them
in. Boromir walked quickly into Denethor’s study. Searching furiously
through the neat stacks, he found nothing that helped him in finding
the Steward. He swore quietly and sat in the leather chair. Drumming
his fingers upon the table, he looked about, helplessly. “I am
concerned, little brother. I have not seen his aide, there is no
message here, nor with any who should know his whereabouts, and there
is no sign of him anywhere. I dread calling out the guard, but I am
afraid we should. After the attack just a few short years ago, I would
deem this grave indeed.”
“As do I.” Faramir rubbed his face. A look of hope filled him.
“Since the aide is not at his post, nor with his company, let us find
his home and see if he is there.”
“A good idea. But we will send a guard. In case Father returns. It
would not do to have him embarrassed by us running through the streets
of Minas Tirith shouting his name out like a lost child.”
Faramir smiled. “Nay. Embarrassing, indeed.”
But there was no thought of embarrassment when the guard returned
with Denethor’s aide. “He sent me away. Said he had things that he
needed to do. He did not tell me where he was going.” The man’s face
bespoke fear and confusion.
Boromir’s face was livid. “How could you leave him alone when just
seven years ago we almost lost him to an assassin!”
Denethor looked up in surprise. Sunshine
slowly down the opposite wall. He grimaced in pain as he tried to
stand. Never before had he felt the pains from his old wounds. He
lifted his tunic; there was no blood, yet the wound felt as though he
had just been cut. ‘Cair Andros – that is where I received this one,’
he thought, ‘many long years ago.’ He rubbed his hand across his
forehead for a moment. ‘What is happening to me?’ Leaning his head
against the wall, he took a few deep breaths, steeled himself and
finally stood. The pain lessened. He covered the Palantír and
Faramir stood with the guard. “Father?”
“Step inside.” Denethor and Faramir entered the front room, then
Denethor led his son into his study. “What do you need?” he asked
“We were concerned. The chamberlain said you had not met last night to
go over tomorrow’s Council arrangements.”
“Tomorrow,” he sighed.
“Might I pour you some wine, Father?”
Denethor looked up in confusion. “Your nana loved you very much.”
Faramir had to grasp the carafe with both hands, else it would have
fallen. He said nothing, but swallowed furiously. Turning to his
father, he offered the goblet. He sat then, hoping Denethor would do
the same. “Boromir is searching for you. May I tell the guard to send
Denethor looked at him quizzically. “Why is Boromir looking for me?”
“You missed your meeting with the chamberlain, you did not sleep in
your bed, no one has seen you since yesterday morning, and we were
supposed to sup together last night. You did not meet us.”
Denethor’s eyes flashed brilliant and cold for a moment; Faramir found
“Send for him and for food. I have not yet broken my fast.”
“May I join you?” he asked when he returned.
Denethor nodded, then held out the goblet. “Another.”
Faramir kept all his senses in check, nodded, stood and filled the
goblet. He decided to sway Denethor’s mind from thoughts of Finduilas.
“Father, I will leave for Osgiliath in a fortnight. The maps I have
been given are out of date. I know you made maps some time ago. May I
see yours? May I have them copied so I may take them with me?”
“You look like her.”
The hairs on the back of Faramir’s neck stood straight up. He did
not understand what his father spoke of this day. He stood abruptly and
walked to the windows; his mind awhirl. ‘What has happened to him? Why
does he speak of mother and then of other things of no consequence? He
appears older and sadder. His eyes seem wild.’ He drew a breath and
“My maps are in those tubes by that bookshelf.” Denethor pointed.
Faramir swallowed again. He walked to the bookcase and pulled the
leather tubes out. There were at least fourteen. He laid them on
Denethor’s desk. His father still sat on the settle, fingering his
“Father,” Faramir sat next to him. “Have you had ill news?”
Raising his eyes, he took Faramir’s face into his hands. He ran his
finger under Faramir’s chin. Tears ran down his face.
Faramir stayed as still as granite.
Denethor started. “Boromir!”
“Might I join you? I have not yet broken my fast and your meal
seems to have arrived with me.” Boromir shot a look of confusion
towards Faramir, but his brother just shrugged.
Denethor’s face brightened. He shook, as if to rid himself of
something, then stood and hugged Boromir. “It has been sometime since
last we broke our fast together.” He smiled, grabbed both boys by the
arm, and marched them into the outer room where their meal waited.
“What was that about, Faramir?” Boromir sat in Faramir’s chair by the
“What?” Faramir offered his brother a goblet of wine.
“Father! When I walked into the room. He was… and he was…”
“I do not know. He was strange the whole time I was there alone with
him. Once you entered, he seemed to come to his senses.”
“Did he say where he had been?”
“Nay.” Faramir bit his lip. “I do not understand him some days.”
Boromir smiled. “Neither do I. At least he promised he was going to bed
once we left.”
“He did. Boromir? He has changed. I have been gone only a short time,
and I find him very changed.”
“As do I. His shoulders slump a bit. Never had I thought to see him
slump. And his hair is grayer, much grayer than last I remember.”
Faramir sighed. “Is there naught we can do for him?”
Boromir stood and walked to Faramir’s desk where his brother was
sitting rummaging through papers. “Obey him. Trust him. Give him our
Faramir looked up in consternation. “I will not sever my relations with
Mithrandir. Father misunderstands.”
“Nevertheless, if it was me, I would sever the friendship.”
Dismay filled Faramir’s face. “You would. But I deem it foolish,
Boromir. Mithrandir is wise and sees beyond Gondor’s needs. We cannot
live just for Gondor, Boromir.”
Boromir’s eyes grew cold as steel and his hands clenched at his
sides. Faramir stood and walked around the desk, taking Boromir’s arms
in his hands and holding him close. “Do not be angry with me, Boromir.
If Gondor falls, the world as we know it will fall, but if other lands
fall, Boromir, how do we accept that?”
Boromir pulled himself away. “We do not accept it. We fight for
Gondor. And when we fight for Gondor, other lands will be saved. Do not
you see that?” The anger in Boromir’s face drained. “Faramir. It is by
our blood that the lands around us are saved. Do not look to other
lands now. The need is too great to look elsewhere. Keep your focus on
Gondor, Faramir, else it fall and all we do be in vain.”
“Look.” He pulled out the maps Faramir was looking at. “Look at
this. This is Gondor. This is Rohan and Belfalas and even the northern
lands of legend. WE stand
between them and Mordor. WE are
the Citadel that protects them. WE are the blood-givers, the oath
takers, the protectors of these other lands. If WE fail, Faramir, all is lost.
Concentrate on Gondor and its needs.”
Faramir looked down upon the maps. “Are we alone in this?”
Boromir looked at him in confusion. “Who else comes to our aid? Have
you seen an army that I have not, coming to help us? Have you seen
warriors spilling through the Great Gate in support of Gondor? Have you
seen any but our father striving to prepare Gondor for the battle
ahead? No wonder he wanders. He is alone. And sometimes, he thinks his
sons consider him less.” Boromir whispered the last words. “Are you
prepared, little brother, to cause the fall of our father? The fall of
the Steward of Gondor? Do you see a king coming to save us? Mayhap I
have missed him in my travels.” Boromir realized his words were bitter,
but he felt a knife through him as if Faramir had put it there.
“Bitter are your words, Boromir. Mithrandir says-“
“Hang Mithrandir!” Boromir shouted. “What does a wizard know that
father does not?” He bowed his head, put his hands to his face and
began to weep.
“Boromir!” Instantly, Faramir was at his side. “What ails thee?” He slipped into
his mother’s tongue, unaware.
Boromir looked up in surprise. “I am tired. I am weary of worry. I
would ride through the Pelennor and not consider the needs for
fortification. I would walk the embrasure and not contemplate the need
for further arms for the trebuchets. I would sit on the heights of
Mindolluin and hope that my brother would not fall off.” He smiled at
the last. “Forgive me. I speak out of hand. I know you understand. I… I
trust you, Faramir. If you deem your alliance with the wizard of
import, then I will respect that. I do not think father ever will. I
hope, nay, I pray to the Valar that that friendship does not sever you
“As do I, Boromir. I do everything in my power to show him my respect,
my love and my allegiance. Someday, I hope he will understand that.”
“Come, let us look at these maps and try to decide where you should
place your men.”
Boromir stood at the end of the Hall watching his father as he sat
on the Steward’s Chair. Many milled about him, lords of Gondor, traders
from other lands, even an Easterling or two, all looking for the
Steward of Gondor to help them, to give them what they needed. ‘Hanged
be what Gondor needs,’ Boromir thought bitterly. Since his disagreement
with Faramir, he had walked the halls contemplating his own vision of
Gondor. It was not the same as Faramir’s, he now realized that. Faramir
loved Gondor, of that Boromir was sure, but his focus was too broad,
too overall for these times. Gondor and Minas Tirith were where their
focus must now lie. He felt more than saw Faramir come up behind him.
His brother laid a hand on his shoulder and Boromir turned, trying to
shake the anger from him.
“You are still upset with me?”
Boromir’s eyes filled with tears. “Look at him.” He pointed to
their father. “He sits on a plain chair at the bottom of the steps. He
has no crown. He has no throne. He has no scepter. Our mother,” at this
Boromir choked. “Our mother had not even a chair to sit beside him. He
is bereft of any comfort.” He shook and knew that Faramir felt it.
“Even a man of lesser birth, lesser nobility is called king.
Théoden. Even his spouse had a chair at his side, held the title
queen.” Again, Boromir choked. “His sons are called princes. How much
must a man give before he is deemed worthy enough to be called king?”
Boromir’s chin trembled.
“Is that what you want, Boromir? To be called a prince?”
His brother whirled on him, batting the hand from his shoulder. “Do
not speak to me of what I want!” he hissed. “I want my father king. I
care not what happens to me. Nor to you.” He stopped as he saw the pain
flit across his brother’s face. Grabbing him in a fierce hug, he cried,
“It is not true. I care what happens to you. You are graced enough to
be called prince, though I am not.”
“Stop it!” Faramir shouted and people turned to look at the sons of
Denethor. Faramir pulled him away from the door and through into one of
the inner chambers that lined the entrance hall. “I will not hear you
speak such words as those again. You should listen more to our father.
You are the one who is worthy here. You are the heir. You are held in
“I am not blind, Faramir. I see you as you are, not as others see
you. Nay. Father sees you too. Though you turn towards music and art
and scholarly reading, I know you. I know your quick wit and your
wisdom. It surpasses mine in a thousand ways. I do not deprecate
myself, little brother,” and at this, he smiled, “but I know where my
worth lies. You, when I am Steward, will be my advisor. I will make
another Captain-general, for I would be lost without your counsel.”
Faramir smiled. “So you will be around long enough to become Steward?”
“You will not be rid of me easily, little brother. And remember
that – you are the little brother. And when I ask your opinion, I
expect you to give it civilly and with respect.” He punched Faramir in
the stomach, not enough to hurt, but to take away his breath for a
Faramir grappled him to the ground. They tussled for many moments.
At last, Faramir cried, “I yield!” and Boromir let him go. “I will
remember to respect you, Prince Boromir!”
Boromir growled and lunged again, knocking Faramir, who had just
regained his feet, to the floor again. A gentle cough stopped his
pummeling of his brother’s arm. He looked up. “What?”
Húrin, Warden of the Keys, smiled. “Your father calls for you
Faramir cried, holding his hand out to their long-time friend, “Help
me, Húrin. I am besieged.”
Húrin only shook his head and left them.
“When did he become father’s errand-boy?” Boromir asked in surprise.
“If he heard you call him that, dear brother, you would be on guard
duty for the rest of your life, Captain-general or no!”
Boromir stood and offered a hand up.
Faramir grabbed it and pulled Boromir down. The eldest was quickly
turned over and his head pushed into the carpet. “Yield?” Faramir asked
with a snicker.
“I would not yield to you if you were the last man in Gondor, nay,
in all Middle-earth!” and with that, he deftly maneuvered Faramir onto
his back. Faramir’s eyes widened. Cursing loudly he yielded. “Your
strength always surprises me. Do you lift kine in your spare time?”
Boromir laughed and helped his brother up. “Kine, dragons and
mûmakil, little brother, so do not think that you will ever
They left the room laughing and entered the hall, arm around one
another’s shoulder as they walked forward.
Boromir and Faramir sauntered forward,
arms still wrapped around each others' shoulders; Denethor had to call
up every ounce of control, else all would see his joy in these two.
Thus would end the career of the Terror of the Tower. Mirth bubbled
through him at the thought. He must send these two off again; they were
Boromir flourished a bow; Faramir saluted. “You require our presence?”
Boromir asked for them both.
“Tomorrow,” Denethor said with as straight a face as he could muster,
“is the Council meeting. Have you discussed your plans for Faramir’s
next assignment? I have placed it on the agenda.”
“We have, Father. We still have some maps to go over, but we planned on
doing that this evening. Would you care to join us?”
Denethor’s half-smile left him. “I needs must meet with the
chamberlain. For some reason, preparations are not yet finalized for
the meeting, nor for the activities, nor for the…”
“Why cannot I take care of that, Father?” Faramir interrupted.
Denethor looked at him in surprise.
“Have I not attended a number of these meetings? I know what is needed.
So do your people, Father. All in the kitchen are well aware of your
wants, as are the chambermaids, the horsemen, the entertainers – all
have been well trained by you.. Might I please do this for Gondor?”
Denethor’s eyebrow shot up. “For Gondor?”
Boromir stifled a groan. Faramir never flinched. “For Gondor, Father.”
He leaned back in the Steward’s Chair with his hand upon the arm. The
other held the Rod. Denethor gave a quick look to Boromir, who smiled.
“Very well. I will meet with the chamberlain regarding the seating
“Father, I beg your pardon, but the chamberlain knows the seating
arrangements by heart. Let him do it.”
Again, Denethor raised an eyebrow. “What would you have me do, Lord
“Meet with Boromir and me regarding the maps,” Faramir said quietly. “I
have great need of your wisdom in this matter. Boromir does not know
the region as you do. If anyone were to be missing from this meeting
tonight, better it would be Boromir.”
At that, his brother leaned forward. “Little brother,” Boromir
whispered loudly, “I deem your insolence…”
“I do not deem it insolence, Lord Boromir.” Denethor stood and the Hall
“You will both meet with me for the daymeal. We will discuss that – and
other matters. Be prepared.” He waved them away. The noise in the Hall
immediately picked up. Lords strode forward to place their names on the
lists of those who needed to speak with the Steward. Others resumed
their little enclaves and spoke of matters urgent to them. Denethor did
not notice; he watched as his sons departed the Hall, smiling inwardly
as Boromir was obviously giving Faramir a tongue-lashing.
Once his sons had left the Hall, Denethor stood. The chamberlain rapped
his staff upon the cold marble floor and all stopped their talk. "I
will see you on the morrow," Denethor quietly spoke to his attendant.
"Faramir will be your contact regarding the Council meeting. I will not
be available for the rest of the afternoon. If you have need, turn to
Boromir. Have the daymeal served in my quarters at the proper time. And
make it substantial. I will not be eating nuncheon. Send for Boromir
and Faramir once the meal has arrived." He turned quickly, before those
in the Hall had time to bow, and left through the back passage. He
walked to the tower stairs and climbed. Soon, he reached the room,
unlocked the door, and strode purposefully in. 'This must be done. I
must, for Faramir's sake, risk the eastern view.'
He pulled the cloth off the Palantír and took it forcefully in
After sometime, his brow creased, sweat beaded upon his forehead, but
he held it firmly. The globe shimmered brightly, the brightest ever
that Denethor had seen, but he did not let it daunt him. The ruins of
Osgiliath came into view. A storm had just blown through and the
streets were covered in puddles, glistening in the cold early spring
sun. Dust lay dark and spattered in hallways and ruined buildings,
covered from the storm's whims. He noted that men were slowly coming
out from their shelters and his brow furrowed in anger. How dare they
hide from a storm? How dare they leave their posts? He hissed and his
arms shook with the anger that filled him.
Taking a deep breath, knowing that he must be in total control before
he moved any further eastward, he closed his eyes. He heard a sound and
it startled him. A whisper and his eyes flew open. ‘These are silent
stones; I should hear naught.’ His skin prickled. ‘The Enemy!’ He
refused the bait, refused to look further than was his wont.
Slowly, he looked towards the bridge over the Anduin. All was quiet;
further along, the Morgul-road was empty. He turned his attention to
Emyn Arnen; swooping down closer and closer, he saw nothing. Then he
turned to South Itihilien and followed the Harad Road to the Crossings
of Poros. The garrison there was busy, but only with the normal
day-to-day activities of an outpost. He followed the Anduin north
again, went past the Harlond and Osgiliath and ended at Cair Andros.
Patrols were returning to the garrison there. Denethor knew that it was
now close to sun set.
He turned his attention to the secret garrison of Henneth Annûn.
was no activity and Denethor wondered. He kept his eyes upon the area.
At last, he was rewarded. A small patrol, about six men it looked like,
was making its way north to the hidden cave. Their hands were full. A
replenishment patrol, Denethor realized. That gave his heart some ease.
As he paused to wonder if he should continue, a small movement to the
north caught his eye. Easterlings! At least a company of them and
headed towards the patrol. He shouted, then cursed at the futility of
it. What good was this stone if he could do naught but watch? And watch
he did; the patrol was decimated within moments. The Easterlings took
the provisions and turned north. Denethor looked at the twisted bodies
that lay upon the pristine grass of the fields of Ithilien and wept. He
would send out a rider, but it would take a full day before the
garrison at Henneth Annûn would be warned. By that time, they
know their patrol was late. He rubbed his thumb over the vision of one
of the bodies. 'Just a boy,' he thought, tears blinding him. ‘Mayhap
sixteen at best.’ He forced himself to follow the retreating band. They
did not pause, hurrying away from the kill; they had a permanent camp
set up in the Wetwang! He would send a rider immediately; since they
had not left the area, Henneth Annûn must be warned. He pulled
away, covered the globe, and ran down the stairs after locking the door
A knight turned to him as he left the Tower. "Send an errand-rider to
me, in my study, immediately. One who is familiar with North Ithilien.”
The man bowed and ran off. Denethor walked towards his study, but was
stopped by his chamberlain. The worried furrow of the man's brow
brought Denethor up short. "What is the problem?"
"Faramir has the Lord of Lossarnach seated next to the Lord of
Lebennin. They have been disputing their border. I think it best if
they are separated, but he insists."
"If Faramir says to seat them next to each other, then do so," he said
and the cold tone in his voice sent the man scurrying away. Denethor
cursed loudly. A knight nearby stepped towards him in alarm, but
Denethor waived him away.
He walked to his study and was relieved to find food laid out. He took
a cold piece of meat and wrapped it in cheese and ate it, standing. His
aide waited as Denethor quaffed some wine, then sat heavily at his
desk. "Send for my sons." The aide saluted and left. After only a
moment, the errand-rider entered. Denethor had written a missive. He
folded it, sealed it, and gave it to the man. “To Henneth Annûn
the very wolves of Morgoth were after you!” The man saluted and left.
His aide stepped forward upon Denethor’s motion. “Prepare a company for
travel to Cair Andros
Denethor sat in stony silence, berating himself for not having
looked further yesterday. He would have noted the band coming from the
north. Mayhaps, there would have been time to warn the patrol. But,
nay, he was looking to the south, to her. He shook his head angrily.
"Well, Ecthelion, I have failed again, have I not?"
"You have never failed me, Father," Boromir said gently as he strode
into the room. "Nor have you failed Faramir."
Denethor watched as Faramir, following behind, nodded his agreement.
"What is the problem?"
"A large band of Easterlings have set up what looks to be a
permanent camp at the Wetwang. They have massacred one of the patrols
out of Henneth Annûn. We must send help."
"Of course, Father. And I will lead them."
“I heard not the call of an errand-rider arriving, Father. Who sent the
message?” Faramir questioned.
Denethor stared at Faramir, then nodded to Boromir. "You must leave
now. I will not send men from here. They and their mounts will be too
worn and tired to be effective. Take a company with you, I have already
ordered the muster, and go to Amon Dín. Take men from there;
on to Cair Andros and take men from their also. Do not leave these
garrisons unmanned though."
"One concern, Father, with Osgiliath?"
"We will speak for but a moment, then you must be off. Faramir, how are
you planning to shore up the Rammas?”
“I intend to build an additional half a fathom on top. Just by the
gate itself, Father,” he quickly added as he saw the look of surprise
on Denethor’s face. “On either side.”
“How far would this raised portion reach?”
“Eight furlongs. On either side.”
Denethor sputtered; his wine spilled down his tunic. His aide
immediately ran forward and wiped the offending liquid off his
“I think that might be excessive,” Denethor managed to say once he was
cleaned. “Mayhap a half furlong on each side?”
“I told you a furlong was too much to ask for,” Boromir grinned.
“Father. There are really only three places that are open for attack.
Forannest, the Causeway Forts, and the Harlond. The Rammas is not high
“So you would build it higher all along its length?”
“Do you know how long it took to build what we have?”
“I know, Father, but we must. CairAndros will not hold, nor will
Pelargir, if there is a concerted attack. The enemy will breach the
Rammas at its weakest spots and those are its weakest spots.”
“Where do I find the funds to accomplish this? Along with manning our
army, feeding our people, and sending ships to Valinor?”
Boromir snorted. “Really. The two of you. It is a good plan, Father. If
we start slowly, with the part that stretches from the Causeway Forts,
then turn to Forannest, then to Harland, it should take close to five
years. But every foot brings us more protection. I think Faramir is
right. We should begin it immediately. I will endeavor to raise the
funds. You have asked me to travel to the fiefdoms to request more men;
I will add funds to that request. As soon as I return from Ithilien, it
will be done.”
Denethor sat back in his chair. He sipped his wine and watched,
appreciatively, as his sons waited for his answer. “If we had a wizard
we could trust…”
“Father!” Faramir cried. “That is uncalled for.”
Denethor smiled. “It was. You still have not found your wizard, have
“He is not my wizard, Father,” Faramir sighed. “I have sent a few
errand-riders in different directions looking for him. I expect them
back before I leave for Osgiliath.”
“You hope they return before you leave.”
“Why, truly, Father, do you want Mithrandir here?”
“Is it not what we discussed? It is time I spoke with him at length.
Never, during your grandsire’s reign, did I speak personally with him.
I believe now is the time.”
“Then I will send more riders.”
“Aye. Now, let us look towards Osgiliath itself.” Denethor stood and
left the study. His boys followed him as he made his way to his
personal quarters. Once there, he passed by the food waiting for them,
walked to his desk, and spread the maps before them. “There are too
many places where the enemy can land on the river’s western banks. I
think we should fill those dock areas with the stone from the ruins.
The bridge is ever a source of concern, but it must remain open, until
the last possible moment. Patrols should continue into Ithilien. Do you
not agree, Boromir?”
“I have spent little time in Ithilien, Father. You know it better than
“Faramir. Ithilien’s landscape is varied. Your patrols must consist of
men who are wise in each of its terrain. Find those who have patrolled
on grasslands and send them south. Find those who have patrolled in
forests and send them to the Emyn Arnen. Then for the mountains…”
“A good plan, Father.” Boromir pointed to the map. “And here, where the
Rangers are stationed at Henneth Annûn, more men should be sent
I have only visited it a few times; it is due for repairs, too, and
should be enlarged. The attack that has occurred shows that we must
better protect it.”
"Father, Faramir. I would continue this discussion with you, but I
leave within the hour." He stopped his forward stride to the door. "I
am sorry, Faramir. I will not be able to finish our plans for
Osgiliath. Will you..." He turned to Denethor. "Will Faramir be gone
when I return?"
"Then I bid thee farewell now, titta
Denethor's eyes widened at the use of Quenya, but said nothing.
'How long,' he wondered, 'have my sons spoken to each other this way?'
"I wilt expect thee to visit my
humble garrison from time to time, hánonya."
Denethor gasped at the phrases.
His sons hugged, then Boromir walked to Denethor and pulled his
father up out of his chair, and hugged him fiercely. "I will return in
victory." He smiled. "And then I will take the daymeal that you are now
denying me!" He turned and walked with a flourish out of the room.
Denethor sat back down, his mouth agape. "When did you...?"
Titta hánonya: My little
Hánonya: My brother
“Father,” Faramir said gently. “We learnt it at our mother’s
“I know that, but had I not… You are fluent in it.”
Faramir smiled. “That is a high compliment from you. We have been told
you are the best in the land with reading the old tomes.” Faramir bit
his lip in thought. “Mayhap, when life becomes more pleasant, we might
read a few of the ancient books together?”
Denethor looked long and hard at his youngest. “There will be no
pleasant times for us, my son.”
Faramir shivered. “With Boromir as Captain-general and you as
Steward, Father, there will come a time. Have hope. He will not desert
you. Nor will I.”
“The Rammas,” Denethor changed the subject abruptly. “We will begin
the fortifications immediately. I believe the Causeway Forts should be
the first, as you suggested. We have funds enough to begin there. I
will call the engineers to me tomorrow, after the Council meeting and
set it in motion. I wanted to send a regiment to Osgiliath, but this
changes things. I will send a battalion. The engineers will have a
division for their work. The Causeway Forts must be completed quickly.
I deem it wise to send out at least ten squads everyday in patrol of
the areas we discussed. Do not send simple patrols, Faramir. The danger
now is too great. I have… Half companies would be best.”
“Aye, Father. It will be done.”
They heard the horn and Denethor blanched. “He is away,” he
whispered. He pulled himself together. “Let us eat and then drink to
The next day’s Council meeting erupted into a melee of angry hands
waving and angrier voices raised against the Steward.
“We give all we can.”
“We are not endless coffers.”
“How can you ask more?”
“We will not send more of our sons.”
“We have needs to meet, also.”
Faramir sat back against the onslaught that assailed his father.
His brow furrowed in pain. He remembered Boromir’s words. ‘If father
were king, they would not dare to raise their hands nor their voices,’
he thought miserably. But his father sat there as stone and listened.
Finally, nuncheon was announced. All stood as Denethor rose and led
them to Merethond. The repast was substantial and hearty, but not
overly extravagant. Faramir, knowing that his father desperately needed
to raise funds, planned a meal accordingly, for he knew that if the
food was royally laid out, the lords would groan louder than they
already had. After this morning’s session, he felt vindicated.
His father nodded in approval as they approached the table. Red cheese
and white breads lay with sloes and other fruits on plain silver trays.
After these were cleared away, smoked salmon from Mithlond and dill
tartlets were served. Creamed soups followed. The main course of lamb,
from near Dol Amroth, and spinach pie lay on a bed of oranges.
Appropriate wines were served for each course. Dessert consisted of
berry tarts smothered with sweet cream. Coffee and teas were served
along with the sweets.
Faramir sighed as the faces of the lords’ furrowed brows straightened
and smiles appeared. They sat back in their chairs with their cups held
in their hands and talked lightly of new lambs and green fields.
Denethor stood. “There is comfort here in this room. I would, with your
permission, continue our meeting whilst we finish our meal instead of
returning to the Council chambers.” The nods he received affirmed his
decision. He sat and spoke quietly. “The bounty we have before us is
great, due to the efforts of all our people. However, I see days ahead
of us that will challenge even Gondor’s bounty.” He paused as he noted
the furrowed brows returning. Faramir motioned for the lords’ goblets
to be filled with plum wine and Rammas Pinto port. Quickly, the
servants moved about, filled the goblets, lit the candles and stoked
the fire at both ends of the hall. The lords knew of their Steward’s
fabled foresight and some shivered.
“We are strong and ready. However, when war is upon us, we must still
meet the needs of our people. Food must be stored in preparation. If
Minas Tirith is besieged, the mountain will give us water, but we must
stockpile supplies. Never has Minas Tirith been breached. It will not
be.” His voice rang out and he quickly lowered it again. “I propose
building larger bins for storage of grains here in the City. I propose
expansion of our defenses. The trebuchets must be tripled and
projectiles stored near them. We only have one experienced operator. We
must train at least two dozen men in how to use them. I would like to
create a regiment for manning these towers.”
“I have seen raw recruits misfire and destroy one in a moment’s
time by having the load land on the instrument itself.” Húrin
“Others have fired backwards instead of forwards. And the
counter-weight has killed more men than I care to remember.”
“If we put them on wheels, that should help stabilize them and prevent
tipping,” Faramir offered.
“A good thought,” Húrin smiled approvingly. “I believe the range
would be further with such a mechanism.”
The enthusiasm of Faramir and Húrin diverted minds from thinking
these were needed. Denethor pulled them back to Gondor’s needs. “We
have the Rammas to consider also. Faramir has an idea to put before
you.” He nodded and Faramir, startled, stood.
“There are three weak spots in the Rammas. I propose we raise the
“The Rammas took years to build and many men.”
“Too much expense for such little return.”
“The Rammas only protects Minas Tirith.”
Denethor stood and all quieted. Some rustled in their seats and
Denethor stared at them. After only a moment, the room was totally
still. “I will endure your interrupting me,” he said quietly. “But I
will not allow your interrupting my son.”
He sat and motioned to Faramir, who stood, visibly shaken, and
began to speak again. When he had finished, he sat down. The lords
“I do not have to lecture you,” Denethor began, “as to what will happen
if Minas Tirith falls. You sit in your castles and halls and beg our
protection, yet, when the time comes to ask for assistance, you crawl
back into those same castles and halls and hide. I will not allow it.”
There was no change in his voice, nor a raised eyebrow, naught to belie
the calm in his demeanor, but these lords knew their Steward, knew that
the voice contained a menace that none wanted to face. “You will each
be visited by Boromir in the coming months. You will voice your
concerns to him; he will negotiate a fair share of the burden of the
refortifications and also conscript a portion of men. These men will be
over and above your usual duty to Gondor.
“If Minas Tirith falls…” A hush fell over the hall as even goblets
were placed back upon the table and all leaned forward in astonishment.
“Húrin will be in charge of the evacuation of the women and
the old and infirm. You will begin to make the necessary arrangements
to house our people. Again, the storage of food and water for such a
contingency is critical. I will not have my people starving in some
gutter in your lands. I will exact such retribution, even if I be dead,
if I find you have neglected this duty.” He chided himself for having
leaned forward in his own chair as he spoke; he unobtrusively sat back.
“The menace I alluded to earlier, my friends, is not my imagination.
You need only look across the Pelennor and see the mountain burning.
Reports have come to me, as I said at this morning’s meeting, of
increased activity. Boromir himself would have joined us today, but for
the fact that he rode out late last night to engage our enemy in the
north. The Pelargir reports tell of massive shipbuilding by our
southern kin. They build not to fish, my lords; they build to attack.
You may deem it wise to keep your men close to you, and mayhap that day
will come, but it is not now. Therefore, go back to your homes and
peruse your resources. When Boromir arrives, he will expect to go over
your books and determine your portion. We will not meet again until
He stood and they all scrambled to stand. Saluting them, he turned and
left the hall. Faramir followed.
“They will be talking about this day for many days to come,”
Denethor laughed quietly. He sat in front of the fire, holding a goblet
of wine in his hand and fingering the stitching of the leather on his
settle. “You did well in there. It is best not to shout when they
interrupt as they did.”
“I did nothing, Father. If not for you, they would have trampled me.”
“Do you not think I know that, Faramir? They only care about their
own lands, their own wealth. Sometimes, I think they do not even care
about their own people. But they will care.”
He took a sip and motioned for Faramir to sit next to him. “We will
discuss Osgiliath on the morrow at the ninth hour. Bring the maps here
to my study. Do you want to be present when I meet with Húrin to
over the evacuation plans?” He continued when Faramir nodded. “The
thought makes my skin crawl, Faramir. I can no longer believe that this
is not a possibility. I must have more information.” He yawned. “Go now
for I am weary.”
”Father. Will you rest yourself this night?”
Denethor smiled tiredly. “I am waiting for news of Boromir.”
“Then I would wait with you?”
“Nay. If I hear anything, I will send a messenger to you.” He
smiled as he saw Faramir’s look of chagrin. “There is no need for the
both of us to stay awake, Faramir. Go back to your study, analyze your
maps and your options, and then get some rest. Boromir is still
traveling.” He put his hand on Faramir’s shoulder. “When the wizard
arrives, send news to me.”
Faramir smiled himself, stood and kissed Denethor on the brow, and
said, “You will know long before I, when the wizard arrives, Father. I
think you feel things in the air. How you know so much, I cannot
fathom, but I am grateful. Good night.”
He watched as Faramir left, then laid his head back and sighed
bitterly. ‘They are as vultures, waiting for me to fail. I have the
enemy before me and my lords behind me.’ He gave a short laugh.
‘Enemies too are they for they care not if Gondor falls, if only they
can be safe.’ He put the goblet down and rubbed his face with his
hands. After a moment, he stood and walked out of the room and up the
steps to the topmost space. It waited for him. A sudden lassitude
overwhelmed him. He leaned against the wall. ‘Mayhap, I can take a
moment with her?’ He shook his head. ‘I must look northward.’
Boromir was nowhere to be found, as Denethor expected when he took
the Palantír in his hands. He had long since given up trying to
his sons. The globe would not allow it. But he saw the garrison half
empty at Amon Dîn and realized Boromir must have taken the men
now headed eastward. As he looked at Cair Andros, he noted the garrison
lay in sleep. Boromir had not arrived yet. The watches were set, even
though another storm seemed to be bearing down upon the island
fortress. ‘Is it the enemy who creates these storms?’ he wondered.
He looked towards the Easterlings encampment and breathed a sigh of
relief. They were sprawled out and bedded down for the night. His
vision took him southward towards Henneth Annûn. There was marked
activity there. The cave opening crawled with men. He wondered why his
errand-rider had not returned. ‘I must make inquiries,’ he thought
wryly. Clouds covered North Ithilien and he had to concentrate more
fully before he noted that the men were laughing and dancing around a
fire a little distance from the entrance. ‘What folly is this? Have
they gone mad?’ He drew in a sharp breath. ‘The messenger did not
arrive!’ He began to shake as fatigue overcame him. The moon shone
bright on this side of the Anduin and he realized he had stayed longer
than he planned. He put the globe back on its pedestal and covered it.
Running down the stairs, he motioned to the guard standing on the next
level. “Send an errand-rider to my private study and ask Faramir to
join me there.” The guard nodded and left him and Denethor continued
down to his chambers.
Notes - Lamb recipe from the New
Zealand Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau. I couldn’t resist!!!!
- as for winter lambs, I got the information from here – they would
have been born in December and ready for the table by February if I
Boromir and company rode hard and long
night. None wore their armour, just hauberks of mail. Speed was of the
utmost import, if his father was correct, which there could be no doubt
in Boromir's mind. The stop at Amon Dîn had lasted only four
though the ride in the dark from the Great Gate had taken almost six
hours. They left just as pre-dawn touched the sky. He was assured that
three companies would ride out and meet him in Cair Andros. There was
no time to wait for them. The warriors would travel slower than his own
band; he must reach Cair Andros before the day ended.
Traveling towards the Anduin, Boromir plotted and prepared for battle,
as did the men about him. By early afternoon, Boromir sat in Captain
Hador’s quarters, a cold mug of ale in his hand and his feet propped
against the cabin's center pole. The brazier burned bright. In the
warmth and peace of the moment, Boromir closed his eyes, spent the next
hour contemplating his choices and going over the plans he had already
made. Already he had had to change them and the thought of it made him
growl. His aide, Derufin of Blackroot Vale, stood quietly by, knowing
it was best not to disturb him.
‘Six companies, a little more than four hundred men, against at least
five hundred.’ He sighed in dismay. When he had arrived in Cair Andros,
he discovered Captain Hador had sent three full companies to the west
side of the Emyn Muil in search of a reported band of Orcs. Boromir
would only be able to take two companies from the island fortress, else
he leave it without defense.
'Well,' he thought grimly, 'I have had worse odds.' But he hated
fighting Easterlings. Their armour was nigh on impenetrable and not
many of the soldiers he would command had experience with this kind of
fighting. He had planned on attacking at dawn on the morrow. By that
time the heavily-armoured troops from Amon Dîn would have
'That,' he thought gratefully, 'will give me time for a quick training
session this afternoon.' His aide, at Boromir's request, went in search
of the captain of Cair Andros and, within moments, returned with him.
"Do you have any of the Easterlings’ armour here? Any captured?"
"We do, my Lord Boromir."
"Bring it to me."
The captain left. Derufin stepped forward. "My Lord? You have not yet
"That is why I have you," Boromir smiled wearily. "Bring it and break
your fast with me."
The man turned and left. Within moments, Captain Hador returned with
four men carrying various pieces of the Wild Men’s armour. Boromir
shook his head in dismay. “Is this all you have?”
“It is, Captain. We do not usually bother, but some were taken as
weregild for friends and families.”
“I understand,” Boromir said wearily. “It will have to serve. Have the
men assemble at six bells. Fully armoured, Captain.”
“Aye, sir.” The men saluted and left.
Boromir listened as the brazier crackled. ‘Will Faramir take them?’ he
wondered, Faramir never far from his thoughts.
Faramir heard the racket before the door even opened. His father
appeared, faintly wild-eyed, and Faramir jumped from the table, running
quickly to his side. “Boromir?”
Denethor shook his head. “He should arrive in Cair Andros soon. It
is Henneth-Annûn. They have not received my missive. You,” he
Faramir’s shoulder tightly, “You must go. You cannot hope to reach them
in time, but at least you will be able to kill their murderers. Fly to
Osgiliath, take a regiment with you, and destroy them.” His breath
hitched. “I should have sent a regiment instead of a rider.”
Faramir walked him to the settle opposite his desk and reached for the
carafe of wine.
“Nay,” Denethor stated flatly. “There is no time, Faramir. Believe
me. They will be attacked ere morning comes and they are none the wiser
“Father. One moment please. They have scouts; they will not be
caught unawares. Besides that, Boromir will have launched an attack
against their camp well before I even reach the fortress.”
“They are sending…” He stopped. ‘What did I see? Rather, when did I
see? Is it tonight? Or was the attack yesterday’s?’ He rubbed his eyes
wearily. ‘The stone is trying to take me, trying to confuse me, make me
see things and understand them not. I must clear my head.’
Faramir sat opposite him, waiting. At last, as Denethor rubbed his
eyes, Faramir spoke. “Father. You said our patrol was attacked and then
the Easterlings left the area. You said they have pitched camp. Are you
sure of your information? Mayhap the report you received of a new
attack was from yesterday?”
“It must be. I will question the report further, Faramir. But
still, go to Henneth-Annûn tonight. Take a regiment with you. If
garrison is safe, then turn northward and help Boromir.”
“I will, Father. Take some rest. It has been a trying few days. As
soon as I reach Osgiliath, I will have the signal master light the fire
noting my arrival. I will not be able to leave for Henneth- Annûn
morning. It will take that long to muster the regiment, but we will
ride fast and hard and make Henneth-Annûn by mid-morning at the
When do you think Boromir will attack the Easterlings?”
“It is as you said, he will attack on the morrow, at first light. Would
that I was with him.”
“As do I, Father. I take my leave with your permission?”
“Go. Spare not your steed. Take only a small guard with you. When
you reach Osgiliath, muster the regiment and fly as fast as the eagles
to Henneth-Annûn. They know not what danger is on their
“Aye, Father.” Faramir stood uncertainly. “If the wizard should come…”
Denethor looked in amaze at his son. “I will deal with the wizard,
Faramir. Your concern is Henneth-Annûn, is it not?”
Faramir’s cheeks blazed. “I know my duty, Father.”
“Then do it.”
His son saluted, picked up his travel bag, and left. Denethor stood
as if to follow, then checked himself, and sat once again upon the
settle. He looked about Faramir’s study. There were maps still spread
upon the desk, a plate of half-finished venison, and a glass of wine.
The walls were covered in the tapestries that his mother was so fond
of. Bright, colorful ones from Dol Amroth. A crumhorn sat in a chair by
the fireplace. Denethor stood and walked towards the fire. He had not
noticed before, but, and the sight of it took his breath away, her harp
stood next to the chair. His own cheeks blazed. He had not even noticed
when it had left her rooms. He ran his finger lightly over the strings.
It was tuned. Faramir must have cared for it. He ran from the room.
As Faramir left the Tower, two men stepped up and saluted him. Looking
up in surprise, he moved back.
“There is naught to fear, my Lord,” the taller of the men said in
Sindarin. “The Captain-general asked us to meet with you.”
“Aye, sir. We are to accompany you wherever you go.”
Faramir smiled and blushed slightly. ‘So, dear brother, you guard
me even when you are not by my side.’ He saluted them back. “May I know
“I am Damrod and this is Mablung. We are Rangers of
on leave for the past month. We were to return in another fortnight,
but the Captain-general issued new orders. I served under the
Captain-general in Osgiliath many years ago and know the old city
“Then I will gladly accept your service, Damrod. And yours too,
Mablung. We leave tonight for Osgiliath. Have you supped yet?”
“We have not, my Lord.”
“Enough of the titles. I am Faramir.”
“Aye, my Lord.” The Ranger did not cringe.
“If you insist on a title, then at least use Captain.”
“Aye, Captain.” The Ranger’s grin split his face.
Faramir smiled broadly in return. “Then we must to the buttery and then
to the stables. We travel light, my friends.”
“We will have our kit sent on the supply wagons.”
“Good. Then let us go.”
He stopped as his name was called out. Denethor was walking swiftly
towards him. “Go without me. I will meet you in the buttery of the
Third Company. Know you where it is?”
“We do, my… We do, Captain.” They saluted and left him.
He strode back towards Denethor, his face contorted in grief at
their parting. Denethor stopped and waited. Faramir approached him,
slowing his steps the last few paces.
Denethor took a long, deep breath. “I seem to be the fool these last
days. More so than even my Council.” He blushed faintly but Faramir saw
it and wondered. “You have trained well, Faramir. I know that Boromir
is concerned with your appointment as Captain of Osgiliath, but I have
every faith in you. Know you that, before you leave here.”
“Thank you, Father.” Faramir stood still, his mind furiously trying to
discern Denethor’s meaning.
“I saw your mother’s harp in your room.” He took Faramir’s arm and
walked him towards the parapet. “Do you play it?”
Again, concern washed over Faramir. Was his father going back into
the confusion of last evening? “I do, Father, when I am home.”
“You do not take it with you on assignments?”
“Nay, Father. It is a fragile instrument. I would not see it damaged in
“Of course.” They had reached the end of the parapet, the finger
pointing towards the black mountains to the east. Denethor looked
forward and frowned. “I… all reports regarding you have been stellar,
you know. I am pleased. And proud. You do not bear yourself as does
Boromir, but you have strength in you, my son. Remember that when you
captain Osgiliath. Let none look down at you. Remember you are a son of
“Nay, Father. I will remember I am your son.”
Well before dawn, they set out. Six companies marching on foot with
only their captains horsed. Boromir led them and the men walked proud
and defiant. ‘How dare Easterlings cross our border and make camp on
the land of Gondor?’ Boromir had rallied them, held them in his sway,
and used his words to enflame their hearts. They followed him without
question though they knew they would be close to the gates of
Barad-dûr. Their lips were tightened and their hands clung
their spears, but they walked with purpose and fervor. Four hours
later, as the sun rose, it shone upon their pikes, their armour, and
their helmets. Boromir stopped; the company halted. A whispered word
followed to Derufin who rode back to Captain Hador. The captain spoke
to his captains and the men received their orders. After a short time,
the sun no longer gave them away. Helmets, spikes, spears, and armour,
dulled by layers of mud, no longer carried his light. Boromir moved
It was almost the third hour; the scouts had returned. Derufin set
up a table and laid a map upon it. The captains crowded round. Boromir
strode through them and looked. His eyebrow raised. “We are close.
Closer than I had hoped. The Easterlings are busy with their own
affairs. They do not appear to be planning any sorties today. We cannot
hope to surprise them. The open land between them and us will not hide
us. With stealth, we will move as close as is possible. But then, we
must strike hard and fast. The pace has not been difficult this
morning; our men should still be rested. Go amongst them now and remind
them of what they learned during drill yesterday. How to fight and to
kill our enemy. Let them break their fast now, but quickly, then we
begin the final march.” He waved them off.
Derufin offered a stool and Boromir gratefully accepted it along
with a flagon of warm ale. As he sat, he stared at the map. A plate of
cheeses and breads appeared before him. “Thank you, Derufin. Will you
ride next to me in the battle?”
“If it is your will, my Captain, I will gladly serve wherever you
Boromir smiled warmly. “Father oft told me of how important his
aides were to him, how he learned to trust them, how they oft
sacrificed themselves for him. I know you would do the same, but,
Derufin, your father will have much need of you shortly. You will
return to him after this campaign. Do you understand?”
“I do. But I disagree.”
His Captain-general looked up at him, surprised. “You disagree.”
“I do, Captain. You will be sent to many lands after this, if I
remember your musings the other night. I would go with you. When your
duty leads you to my homeland, then I will join my father; then I will
Boromir laughed. “Very well, Derufin. It makes me glad to hear
that. Now, enough of this. Let us be away. We have much fighting to do
and I grow restless.”
“You sword hand itches?” Derufin laughed at the old joke.
“It does! And your’s better, too!”
The company formed and marched forward. Some began to sing a battle
song and Boromir joined them. No need for quiet for at least another
hour. It felt good to sing again while marching to battle.
As they rode towards Osgiliath, Faramir
constantly rehashed statements that his father had made these past
days, all the while shaking his head in wonder. Every day, Denethor had
been gone from them for at least half the day, and Faramir wondered who
or what had kept him so busy. He had asked Denethor’s aide, before he
left, where his father spent his time, but the aide said each day he
was dismissed for a time. He had no idea where Denethor was during
those hours. He had been told to leave him, and leave him he did.
Faramir had been deeply disturbed. His father’s aide seemed to have no
loyalty for him, no concern, no… ‘I will speak with Boromir about this
when we return. There must be someone we can replace that man with. I
do not like him, nor do I trust him.’
“The password, Captain? Do you have it?” Damrod asked. “We are
coming to the Causeway Forts; the sentries will want the password.”
They pulled their horses up as they came to the guardhouse. Two
uniformed men strode forward, shields raised, swords pulled and at the
ready. One recognized Faramir. “My Lord Faramir. You have returned from
“I have and you were to be assigned as Guard of the Citadel. What keeps
“My brother’s son is stationed here. I asked for this posting.”
“Beregond, Boromir spoke highly of you and requested you be stationed
in Minas Tirith. Does he know you are here instead?”
“Aye, Captain. He was… not happy with my decision, but he understood
family concerns and allowed it.”
“Of course he did. When I return, I will see if we can station you
both in the City, though it will be a blow to me not to have you at my
“You are to captain Osgiliath?”
“I am. But first, I have an errand for the Steward and must be on my
way. The password is ‘trebuchet’ – let me pass.”
Beregond saluted and let the company pass. At a trot, Faramir led
them to the garrison of Osgiliath. After once again giving the sentries
the password, they rode into camp. Those men awake shouted welcome as
they recognized the Steward’s youngest. The acting commander of the
garrison, Gelmir, quickly pulling his clothing about him as he wiped
sleep from his eyes, greeted him warmly and helped him dismount. Then
he gave him a long hug. “We have been sore-pressed, Captain Faramir.
Notice of your orders was received this morning. I have your quarters
prepared and ready. Reports and maps are waiting upon your desk.”
“Hold a moment!” Faramir laughed, hand held to stop the torrent of
words from his new aide. “It is good to see you again. How many years…?
Never mind. I am glad to have you with me.” Then his brow creased and
he spoke quietly. “My orders have been changed as of this night. I need
at least two companies for a foray into Ithilien… Nay! Three companies,
on horse. We must travel quickly. I will leave you here to guard the
stronghold. We leave in two hours.”
Gelmir smiled. “Of course, my Lord. The men will be mounted and ready.
I might offer a thought?”
“Of course,” Faramir stopped and looked at him.
“The terrain is treacherous in Ithilien. Orcs will still be about.
I would suggest you wait until at least an hour before sun’s rise.”
“Our errand is grievous.”
“I understand, Captain, but if you fall and break a leg or are carried
off by Orcs, your mission will be unfulfilled.”
Faramir smiled. “I agree. Muster the men, fed and ready to ride, at the
“How long will the campaign last? Provisions must be made.”
“At least a week. I would have the men pack lightly though. Haste
is vital. Provide them with enough to last four days; we will live off
the land after that.” Faramir looked around hesitatingly. “Where are my
Gelmir motioned. Once he saw Faramir to his quarters, he left him
to begin preparations for the movement of his troops. A small smile
filled his face. He had heard good reports of the Steward’s youngest's
stint in Pelargir and felt confident in his ability to man the garrison
well. ‘It is about time,’ he thought wryly.
Night had closed upon them well before Faramir had even left Minas
Tirith. It was well past midnight when he had arrived at the garrison
of Osgiliath. Damrod followed him into his quarters. Mablung stood
outside as guard. Faramir smiled. He now felt he had two nursemaids
about him. ‘Well, nothing can be done about that. Gelmir will think I
don’t trust him, but if this is Boromir’s wish, then I will not gainsay
him.’ Turning to Damrod, he offered a chair.
“I believe it would be best, Captain, if you rested. Time is over for
talking. We can plan as we ride in the morning.”
“And what will you be doing?”
“Guarding your back.”
“You… you plan on staying here in my room?” Faramir asked
“I only follow orders. Until the Captain-general tells me I can let you
out of my sight, then I remain at your side.”
Faramir’s anger rose. “I will not have you standing about whilst I
“I will not be standing about, Captain. I will be sitting here, with a
poker to keep the fire going, it is still chilly, and with my sword at
the ready. You can either accept my presence and sleep, or not. It is
Faramir muttered under his breath, quickly undressed, and fell into
his bed. He would give Boromir such a talking to when next they met.
Dust rose from the north and Boromir stood in his saddle, covered his
brow with his hand, and squinted against the sun. It was almost noon
and they were, at the most, an hour from the Enemy’s camp.
“Scouts,” Derufin said softly.
Boromir raised his hand and the company halted. Captains Hador and
Guilin from Amon Din joined him. The scouts’ breakneck pace told
Boromir their foe was on the march. As they approached, they saluted
and cried, “Captain Boromir!” He nodded and they brought their horses
next to his. “Your news?”
“The enemy is only a league away, Captain. They should be upon us
within the hour.”
“And the number?”
“At least five hundred. They have covered wains also. We could not
see if they were loaded, but they rode heavy and slow behind the
“Then we will assume there are men hidden in them,” Boromir said
quietly. “Pull to the supply wagon and refresh yourselves; then, join
me here.” He turned to his captains. “We turn north. Have the men
remove the mud from their shields, spears and such and clean them well.
Then, assemble them in three lines with the archers in front. They will
stand one-quarter yard from each other. The second and third lines will
stand one-quarter yard behind the line in front. The archers will loose
their arrows upon my command. Three times they will do this and then
they will step back behind the infantry. Upon my command, Captains.”
“Have the men wait for my signal before charging. Go now and may the
Valar be with us.”
The invocation sounded false. He wondered if the Valar even knew
children of Ilúvatar still lived in this forsaken land. He shook
head. ‘I sound like my father.’ The captains had turned and Boromir
heard his orders echo down the line. At last, the men were ready. The
lines formed as Boromir had instructed and the men faced north towards
their Enemy. The scouts returned to Boromir’s side. He sent them off
again, one to the east and one to the west of the Enemy’s position.
Boromir placed his hand on the hilt of his sword and looked down
the line approvingly. Then, he nodded his head and the three columns
moved forward. Derufin rode to Boromir’s left. Hador and Guilin rode
Soon, great clouds of dust could be seen. Boromir smiled and
fingered the hilt of his sword. The skin on his forearms prickled. His
mouth grew dry. ‘Any moment now,’ his heart thumped, ‘any moment now.’
There! There! They were only a hundred yards in front of them; the
great dust cloud had hidden them. Time for his archers. He raised his
arm and grinned as he saw them, his archers, raise their bows and nock
their arrows. He waited another moment. Then he dropped his arm and the
arrows flew straight and true. He had held his breath, not in
anticipation of failure, but it always amazed and exhilarated him to
see the spectacle of arrows in flight. He was such a poor archer that
he had given any serious training up long ago. Faramir would have
enjoyed this. He missed him. Dearly. Twice more he raised and lowered
his arm and twice more his archers loosed their arrows. Dead
Easterlings fell in quick succession. Boromir motioned and the archers
stepped behind the third line of warriors.
The lines moved forward; the men heartened by the kill of so many by
the archers. Boromir knew a quick kill was needed to sustain the hearts
of his men as they marched against a greater number than their own. He
saw it in their eyes; hope kindled. The Enemy was only twenty yards
away by now. Boromir unsheathed his sword, raised it high, and shouted
the command, “Forward, men of Gondor!” and urged his horse onward.
Denethor watched and waited. ‘Nothing.’ He swore quietly. ‘Nothing from
this Valar-forsaken stone!’ He closed his eyes and tried to calm
himself. It was near noon; he was beyond tired. He had not left the
Tower room since Faramir left for Osgiliath; he had not eaten since
then either. ‘Boromir’s attack should be over by now,’ he thought
worriedly. ‘And Faramir? Where is Faramir?’ He should have reached
Henneth-Annûn himself by now. He opened his eyes again and took
deep breaths. ‘If I cannot see my sons, then I will look towards the
Emyn Muil. I should see the Wild Men in their retreat.’ But there was
no retreat and Denethor’s heart stopped. ‘Did I see wrongly? Were there
more of the foe than you showed me?’ he asked angrily. The stone still
showed an open, empty plain.
He let go the globe and walked to the north-facing window. ‘To have
Elven sight now,’ he thought disconsolately. He swallowed hard and
stared, cursing his eyes for not revealing what he urgently needed to
see, cursing the Palantír for its refusal to allow him the one
so desperately craved, the sight of his sons! Leaning against the sill,
he looked towards Henneth-Annûn, but there was no movement that
could see. He laughed sadly. ‘Not even an Elf could see that far.’
He walked back to the Palantír and fiercely grabbed it, holding
tightly, his frustration, fear and exhaustion coalescing into deep
anger. He wanted to scream at it, to throw it against the wall, but he
shuddered and did the only thing that he could do – look into it. He
forced his eyes to the east, to Barad-dûr. Perhaps there would be
sign of his Enemy’s plans. Arms shook, as his eyes grew wide. ‘So, you
have found me,’ he cringed. ‘Finally, we see each other, eye-to-eye.’ A
part of him wanted to snigger at the absurdity of it, but he was, in
actuality, looking at an eye, disembodied, fiery, and yet as cold as
the coldest heights of Mindolluin. He gasped and held the stone
tighter, fighting the sense of being dragged into the very depths of
the globe, into the very depths of that eye.
It wanted his name! He laughed outright. “You know me,” he murmured
aloud. “You know me well and have fought me since I was a child. Do you
think that I will now succumb? Think again, Abhorred One.” The eye
faded. Denethor blinked, twice, and sobbed, then let the stone go. “I
have won,” he whispered aloud. “I have beaten him. He knows he cannot
subdue me to his will.” He shivered and shook for many moments. At
last, he left the Tower and walked slowly down the stairs. ‘It cannot
be that uncomplicated.’
Author's Notes – I know that 40 to 50
yards is probably the normal
range of an accurate shot, but tests have shown that archers can hit as
far away as 290+ yards and the world record is 1,000+ yards. So
Boromir’s archers could, IMHO, easily hit to kill at this distance.
Abhorred One is, in actuality, the
Quenya translation of Sauron.
Up before dawn, Faramir walked quietly
stables. The stable hand awakened at the first sound of booted feet on
the straw-strewn floor.
“Has a horse been picked for me?”
“It has, Captain Faramir.” The man led Faramir towards a stall at the
end of the stable.
“I need one with endurance and speed.”
“Both of which this one has,” he spoke quietly as he lovingly rubbed
the horse’s nose and ran his hand down the long, sleek neck.
“What is its name?”
Faramir looked at the horse in surprise. “You have a great name to live
up to, Steelsheen.”
The horse nickered and took the piece of raw sugar that Faramir held
“Saddle him, then bring him to the courtyard. I leave within the hour.”
“Aye, Captain,” he said to Faramir’s back. “Not unlike his brother in
patience, is he little one?”
The horse neighed.
Damrod disengaged himself from the shadows and smiled at the groomsman.
“We ride to battle.”
“Ah! Forgive my sarcasm.”
“He is like his brother, and not.” Damrod quickly slipped into the
shadows again and followed Faramir.
After a few moments, he felt an arm about his own, holding them down,
and a dirk at his throat. He remained still.
“I did not ask you to follow me.”
“Your brother commanded me to follow you.”
“I will not endure this!”
“Then slit my throat now and be done with me.”
“Your loyalty to my brother is that strong?”
“As it is to you, Captain.”
Faramir shivered and Damrod felt it.
“Then we must make some other arrangements. I will not have you
dying unnecessarily following my brother’s commands.” He lowered the
dirk and released the man.
“Until I am told otherwise, I am to be your shadow. I cannot disobey.”
“Of course you cannot. But I can.”
“So you will attempt again to slip away from me?”
“I did not attempt to slip away. You slept; I had needs.”
“My need is for food if we are to continue this conversation any
Faramir laughed. “Then food it is. I will slip into the buttery and you
may do whatever you want.”
“I will slip behind you, Captain, and fill your plate.”
Faramir howled. “Come then, my shadow, and let us eat.”
They strode quickly forward. “You plan on making Henneth-Annûn by
“I do. We must. Already the garrison may be o’er run. Father’s
missive told of a great body of men approaching and that was last
evening. We cannot delay further.”
“The men are being roused as we speak, Captain. They will be ready
before sun’s rise.”
“I would that you would ride at my side.”
Damrod smiled. “Thank you, Captain.”
As soon as they were finished breaking the fast, Faramir had them
mount. They crossed the bridge; after five hours and seven leagues, and
under a storm-ridden sky, they turned onto the Harad Road. They rode
long and hard northward. ‘A band this large has naught to fear,’
Faramir hoped. It was dangerous, true, but the quickest way to
Henneth-Annûn. With a regiment behind him, they would be safe,
chafed at the slowness of their journey. If he had taken his men along
the Anduin, though a shorter distance, it would have taken at least
another six or seven hours. Or if he had disobeyed his father and taken
a smaller company, they could make better time. ‘No thought of that!’
He shook his head at the image of his father’s face when he returned
and told him that he had taken a company or two instead. His whole
being, though, wanted to be headed further north, to the Wetwang, but
he had his orders.
Less than an hour before the sun, if they could have seen it, reached
its peak, they were attacked. Orcs spilled from the Ephel Dúath
the alarm could be given. Faramir drew his sword and screamed for his
men to unsheath theirs. It was done before the words left his mouth. He
felt, more than saw, Damrod at his back. Slashing furiously as they
came forward, he wheeled his horse around to face the enemy. Damrod’s
sword sang, as did his men’s. ‘There must be over a thousand. And in
full daylight! How can this be?’
Screams filled the air; steel upon iron clanged, while the soft
sound of sword slashing leather cut through the air. He looked about
him, exhaustion near, and whitened. His men were falling and quickly.
He called for a retreat, back towards the Crossings, and knew they were
lost. The men pulled their mounts around and headed south, slashing as
they went as Orcs scrambled to pull them off their horses.
When he looked back, he saw his men behind him, hacking with their own
swords, trying to keep ahorse. More and more fell, but the Orcs could
not keep up with the pace Faramir set. ‘We might yet live.’ Just then,
a fire lit his shoulder blade, then another. He fell forward onto
Steelsheen’s neck and held on. His sword had fallen from his hand. He
heard Damrod’s cry and tried to signal that he was still alive, but the
movement cost him and he fell of the horse. Silence and darkness
As the battle raged around him, Boromir grit his teeth and walked
further into it. He had lost his horse after the first encounter.
Easterlings were everywhere; to his left, his right, before him, some
even behind him. He gave it no thought. He knew what needed to be done
and he did it. His sword never stopped, never paused. His great arms
swung it from left to right and back again. He reveled in the feel as
it connected, knowing he was decimating the enemy, knowing his men, as
well trained as he was, were doing the same.
Suddenly, a blow caught him from behind and he flew forward, losing the
grip on his sword. Unperturbed, for it was only a flesh wound he hoped,
he lay still. The Easterling moved in for the kill and Boromir thrust
his dirk deep into the man’s left underarm. The black eyes looked back
at him in confusion and then the body crushed him. He grunted and
pulled the dirk out, pushed the body off him, wiped the dirk clean, and
put it back in its sheath. Within a moment, he found his sword and once
again attacked any and all who entered within the circle of its great
Not three hours later, the battle was won. What was left of the
Easterling army was retreating hastily across the Wetwang and towards
the Noman-lands. He called for his men to stop. He would let none enter
that land without scouts going first. Who knew what lay hidden in those
Derufin, Hador and Guilin approached. He smiled to see them and raised
his hand in greeting. It was covered with blood, he noted. Best get
someone to tend it before he bled to death. ‘What kind of a victory is
that,’ he pondered, ‘to win the battle and lose one’s life? Nay. ‘Tis
not possible. For did we not follow Denethor’s plan?’ He did not feel
weak-kneed nor dizzy so he knew the wound was but a token of harm.
Derufin, however, noted it too and ran to his Captain’s side. “Call the
healer!” he cried.
“Nay! There are others more badly injured than I, Derufin. It is but a
flesh wound. Help me bandage it, then we will see to our men.”
Quickly, Derufin lifted the heavy armour off him, then the tunic
and the hauberk. Last to go was his linen under shirt. The wound was
not deep, as Boromir had thought, and was easily cleaned. “It does not
“I thought not. Thank you, Derufin. Now, help me get this back on so I
may hear the reports of my captains.”
Derufin did as he was asked, then showed Boromir a tent, already
quickly set up, for him to meet with his captains. Boromir, once
inside, gratefully accepted the goblet of wine and drank it swiftly.
Then he sat in the proffered chair. “I need my maps about me.”
“A moment, Captain. I will retrieve them.” Derufin walked out of the
tent as Hador and Guilin entered.
“How did we fare?”
“Well, considering the inexperience of our men,” Captain Hador
replied. “I had not thought they would do so well against this enemy.”
“They listened well during our training session, else most would
now lie dead upon the field,” Boromir said. “The wounded, are they
“They are, sir. The healers have commissioned those unharmed to
help bring their supplies forward. The field hospice is running
“Good.” Boromir paused for a moment. “I lost my horse.”
“It is safe, Captain. We found it near the edge of battle. A small cut
in its flank, but otherwise, unharmed.”
“Are we going to pursue them, Captain?” Guilin asked.
“We are not. There were not many left standing. They are no longer
a threat. I would have them return to their land with tales of the
fierceness of the men of Gondor. That should hold back another attack,
at least for a time.”
“Here, Captain.” Derufin entered the tent. “Here are your maps.”
“Look,” Boromir said to his captains and pointed at North Ithilien.
“We will turn south. It is close to twenty-three leagues from here to
Henneth-Annûn. We will sweep North Ithilien for enemy patrols; we
not know if others are still about, did not return to their camp. When
we reach Henneth-Annûn, we will rest a few days, then you,
Hador may return to Cair Andros, and you, Captain Guilin, may return to
Amon Din. We leave in the morning. Tell the men to rest well and the
cooks to prepare food for tomorrow’s march. We should reach the hidden
garrison in three days time, barring trouble.”
“The injured, Captain?” Derufin asked.
“You, my good right hand, will stay back with two companies and
escort them back to Cair Andros. Once they are settled, take those
needing the Houses back to Minas Tirith.”
“I would prefer to march with you,” the man from Morthond spoke
“Nay, go back and take your well needed rest. I will return within
a fortnight. We will then begin planning for Denethor’s next mission.”
His aide stifled his concern, Boromir noted, and he smiled. “Captains,
will you join me for dinner in an hour’s time?”
Guilin and Hador nodded, knowing their Captain-general was dismissing
them. They saluted and left. Derufin followed behind them.
”Stop, Derufin. I would speak with you.”
He stood stiff and tall and Boromir smiled. “You need not be so formal.
Sit on my cot and listen to me.”
Derufin did as he was bid, but his back was still straight and rigid.
Boromir sighed. “I know you wish to continue with me. I assure you,
I will be safe. I need someone who will listen to the wounded and the
healers. Not many of my captains know to take the time to listen. You
will. Do you understand my need?”
“I do, Captain. Forgive my annoyance. It is an honour to serve
under you. I learn much. Very much,” the man’s voice dropped. “My
father expects me to lead our people when he is gone. I would learn all
I can before that time.”
“Your father is still young, Derufin. You have many years with him.
I would have you go with Faramir, if truth be told, for his need of
archers is greater than my need of a traveling companion. But it is
time you returned to your homeland. I am happy with your performance of
your duties. When I need you to lead our men, you do well. I have been
able to trust you utterly. I now trust you to take care of my wounded
and return to Minas Tirith, prepare for our travels, and wait for me.”
Derufin stood and saluted. “I will, my Lord. You leave at first light?”
“When you return from dinner, your bed will be made, your armour
polished, and your sword sharpened. I go now to the hospice to tell the
healers your command.”
“Thank you, Derufin.”
After his aide left him, Boromir lay on his cot, cradling his head
in his left arm, while his right covered his eyes. A sigh escaped him.
‘That I was with Faramir now at Osgiliath, with the campfires lit, and
the men singing and dancing.’