Ten Thousand Years will not Suffice

by Agape4Rivendell



Third Age 2943 - Part One

Thengel was going to be wed. He had met the Lady Morwen of Lassarnach during a tour of duty and had fallen deeply in love with her. All Minas Tirith was in an uproar, a very pleasant one after last year’s events. No one, it seemed but Denethor’s father remembered the horror of the last year, yet Denethor knew of it, would not let the memory of Cranthir die, nor the reason why he died. But he was caught up in the planning also. Now that he lived back in his old room in the Steward’s Hall, he could not but be involved. Indis and Morwen were forever running back and forth, clucking and chattering and driving almost everyone round the bend so to speak.

There were so many dignitaries coming for the wedding, first and foremost Fengel, King of the Mark. The Prince of Dol Amroth, Adrahil, was coming also. Denethor was most interested in speaking with him. Though they had met many times, it was when Denethor was a child; he was almost of age now and hoped he could approach the Prince. He so wanted to speak with him about great fleets and battles at sea. Never had he lost his longing to one day be a part of seafaring history. He had had to put that part of his reading aside after his father charged him with learning more about the battles in Ithilien and Northern Gondor, but his heart still lay with the sea. He vowed one day he would make an extended visit to the inlet of Cobas Haven in the Bay of Belfalas and the fair city of Dol Amroth.

Indis gave him a light, playful tap on the back of his head. ‘Focus, would you, Denethor! There are too many details for me to handle alone. I must needs your input on where the three Marshalls of the Riddermark should be seated. This is beyond me. Why would Father put me in charge of the seating? I have never done it before!’ Much as she groused, Denethor could tell she was pleased and proud of these new duties.

But Indis was to be left to her own devices. A messenger came from Ingold requesting Denethor’s presence. He had been at fault for missing the morning’s lessons and was in store for definite punishment. Ah, but he was free and knew that Ingold would be merciful. Not many would dare stand up to Indis this last year. She had become a woman on fire; her whole demeanor had changed. She had finally come of age and had taken her mother’s role, and taken it well.

As punishment, Ingold sent Denethor off to the Great Library. Denethor’s cheeks burned with the fire of enthusiasm. To spend the rest of the morning in the Library – life could be no better. His assignment was the Battle of the Camp. He relished this tale for it told of Eärnil and the way he saved Gondor. Eärnil was also father to Eärnur, the great Captain who brought his fleet north and helped defeat the Witch-King. This was a good assignment and one that would fill his next few days and keep him far from Indis as she prepared for the wedding. As he stepped into the cool darkness of the room, Curunir stepped out of the shadows. A chill ran down Denethor’s back. What was he doing here?

‘Forgive me, Lord Denethor. I see I have startled you. I hope you are well. It is good to see that you have become so adept at your training that you are back living in the Steward’s Hall?’

There was a note of disdain in his voice. Denethor was beginning to see people – to see through their guile. He assumed it was a gift that most had, but, in truth, it was a gift to those of Númenórean blood, and that blood flowed strong and fair through this Son of Gondor.

‘Well met, Lord Curunír. Is there aught I can do for you?’

‘My Lord,’ Curunír shrugged and tried to hide a scowl. ‘I am ever your servant. Is there aught I can do for you? I seem to recall the last time we met here; you were studying the Battle of Dagorlad. Has that assignment been completed?’

‘I am here to study the Battle of the Camp. The books on the Wainriders are stored in this level. There is much that I do not know about this battle, but since I know where the books are stored, I should do fine.’

‘Well, perhaps I should leave you to your own devices. I am looking for uses for some herbs I have just discovered near the Eastfold.’ With that, he brusquely turned his back upon Denethor.

Denethor was glad. He was looking forward to his time in this hallowed place. He fervently hoped that the Wizard would leave, and quickly. It seemed a strange change from his last encounter, but then he was abandoned and alone, now he had his father again. The wizard, however, would not leave. A darkness seemed to fall upon the room and the voice of the Wizard bore itself into his very being. What was Curunír saying? His words were soft and low, too low for Denethor to hear the content, but the timbre shook him to the core. There was a malevolence in the sound. Denethor could feel himself being drawn towards the Wizard and he fought for control of himself. A glint of light shone off a ring on the Wizard’s hand. He stepped closer and their eyes locked.

‘You are a brave lad, Lord Denethor,’ the Wizard droned. Denethor could not pull himself away, nor his eyes from that stare. ‘You have only my deepest respect and admiration. You are most wise; I can see it already in your demeanor. I am looking forward to working with you for the defense of Gondor.’

Denethor found himself breathing hard. The words were soothing, but his whole being flinched at the touch of those words. Yet, he could do naught to fight this strange malaise that was upon him. More was said; he remembered not what in the days that followed. At last, the Wizard gave a sigh and moved away from him. Denethor gasped and ran to the stairs. He told himself he would not look back, but was drawn to look back; it seemed he had no will of his own. The Wizard smiled at him and waved him off, as if dismissing him.

Denethor ran for his life.

As he reached the parapet, Amdir ran into him and they both almost fell to the ground. Amdir laughed uproariously. ‘You must watch where you are running, my friend. You might run right into your sister who has been looking for you these last few hours!’

‘What time is it?’ Denethor asked for the sun was low in the sky and he had gone to the Library in the late morning. He was suddenly frightened and gasped for breath. Where had the time gone? What had happened in the Library? He had not opened a book and yet the day was lost to him.

‘It is near to dinnertime. I came to invite you to our home. Mother has asked if you might join us. I thought you would enjoy being away from your sisters for at least a little time.’

‘I am sorry, Amdir. I must be away. I…I have chores to do.’ He turned to walk away but Amdir put his hand on his shoulder.

‘You are shaking! What has happened?’

‘No. No, nothing has happened. I am a little shaken by our near collision that is all.’

‘Friend,’ Amdir said with pain evident in his voice, ‘you do not trust me?’

Denethor looked into pure eyes, simple eyes and a portion of the chill that was on his body left him. ‘You are right, my friend. I must trust someone. I have just left the Great Library. The Wizard was there.’ He went on to explain what had happened, the time lapse, and his loss of memory of what was said or done during that time. ‘I…I am frightened a little, my friend. I would know what power he has wielded over me and I would find a way to stop it. But I know not how he took me from myself nor how to overcome it.’

‘Did not I tell you, many long ages past, to keep a distance from this Wizard?’

‘Yes, you did. And the last time I saw him, I remembered your words and vowed to stay away from him. But I seem to be thrown at him. Every time I am in the library, he seems to be there.’ He shook his head trying to clear it, to make some sense of what was happening to him.

‘Come. We will eat and then we may speak with my father. Perhaps he…’

‘No! I will speak to no one about this and, as my friend, I require you to do the same. I know not what is happening, but I will determine what is to be done. In the meantime, you must promise to say nothing to anyone about this.’

Amdir, distressed, nodded. ‘I will do as you wish, Denethor. But next time you run into this Wizard, find me, call for me. I will be at your side immediately. This is no foe to take lightly.’

A thought, strange yet haunting came over him. ‘I am no foe, Denethor. I am your friend.’

Third Age - 2943 - Part Two

The previous year, Ingold had been promoted to Captain of the Guard. One of the better things that came from this was the fact that the family moved to the sixth level – not on the north side where the sun shone so warm, but on the south side ever shadowed by Mount Mindolluin. Never mind that, thought Elleth, she was close to her husband and to her son and that thought brought its own sunshine. She smiled and hummed as she went about preparations for the evening’s meal.

As with all of Gondor, she was basking in the excitement of the wedding preparations. Indis had heard, probably from Denethor, that Elleth was gifted in lacework and had commissioned her to create handkerchiefs for the new bride. Elleth was delighted; handkerchiefs bearing the White Tree upon it were what she penciled on paper and showed to Indis. Overwhelmed, Indis hugged her when she saw the pattern. It was just what she had hoped for. The women had spent many days together discussing how many to present to Morwen, if they would be in colors or the purest white, when they might be completed, and how much Elleth would require for compensation. Almost, Elleth had offered them without payment, but then she remembered the sword that Ingold had hoped to order from the smithies for Amdir’s commissioning to ensign, due in two years time. She gratefully accepted the offered coinage and placed it in her special place. The sword was most expensive, but both father and mother would make any sacrifice to protect their son. A sword was not a thing to be bandied about lightly, a toy; it was a weapon used to defend a soldier and to defend Gondor. Only the best would do for that service!

Amdir and Denethor arrived without their customary racket; Elleth looked up in surprise as the boys edged through the door. Amdir gave her a small smile and a hug; yet, Denethor stayed back, not his usual custom. Elleth wondered what trouble the lads had gotten into. After they had washed, they stripped peas with her and scrubbed carrots. Neither boy spoke; a feeling of disquiet assailed her. What could be wrong with the lads in this time of merriment and joy? Just as she was about to speak, Ingold came in with a rush, the scent of the barracks clinging to him – a scent that Elleth had held dear from the moment she had met him. It spoke to her of strength and courage and fidelity. He had been all that to her in these years since first they spoke their promises to each other.

Ingold wrapped his arms about her, kissed her lightly on the brow and proceeded to wash himself in preparation for the evening meal. Amdir, now officially in training and a future soldier of Gondor, smiled politely. Ingold would have none of that. He grabbed his son and hugged him till the breath almost left him. Amdir, as always overwhelmed by the love of his father, shoved his head into his father’s shoulder and sighed. What he would not give to speak to his father of Denethor’s experience with the wizard. His promise to his friend sealed his lips, but could not erase his need for comfort. He was afraid for his friend and did not know how to help him. It would be so very easy to just ask Ingold what to do. Denethor’s eyes caught his and they were filled with warning. Amdir was surprised. Did Denethor know what he was thinking?

‘What fine thing have you learned today, my son?’ Ingold asked.

“Wizards are not to be trusted,’ he blurted out and reddened. He could not look at Denethor; he had not meant to say anything like that! Denethor tensed, resisting a foolish urge to run for the door.

‘Ah, wizards. My son, it is better to stay away from them. A soldier needs no dealings with a wizard. He is here for the wedding, I am sure. Ecthelion usually invites him to these events. Remember, Denethor?’ he turned towards Denethor, ‘He was invited to your Horn Ceremony many years ago.’

‘Yes, I remember the ceremony well, Captain, but I don’t remember about those attending,’ he lied. ‘It was a rather great crowd and I was only seven at the time.’

‘Seven. You have grown and I will not have you call me Captain in my house. I am Ingold, father of your friend, and therefore, friend to you.’

Denethor started in surprise. Tears quickly tried to form; he willed them away. ‘Thank you, my friend,’ he said and bowed stiffly to cover his discomfiture, ‘I will remember that.’

Amdir walked him home after the meal. ‘I am so very sorry, Denethor. Honestly, I would not betray your confidence for all the Mithril in the smithies. Please forgive me.’

‘There is nothing to forgive, friend. I understand your fear. It has clung to me all evening. I cannot shake this feeling of alarm that has settled upon me. I would that I might speak with someone about this, but I am at a loss as to whom.’

‘Your father?’ Amdir asked.

‘Father invites the wizard here! How am I to go to him and say the wizard casts spells that I am sure are not all for Gondor’s good? What proof have I? I went to the library in the morning, Father, and when I left it was late afternoon? Fie on that; there is nothing that can be done. Except – I must protect myself. I will go to the Library tomorrow to look for some spells or enchantments that I might be able to use to defend myself. Would you…’ He felt so very foolish. ‘Would you meet me there tomorrow after the midday meal? I would go alone, but I…’

‘Don’t say another word. You would be foolish NOT to ask me to join you. Perhaps in numbers there will be strength. He would not dare do a thing against you while others are about.’ He laid a hand gently on Denethor’s shoulder and was surprised that he had to reach up to place it there. Denethor had grown; Amdir was almost a full year older and yet, Denethor was already a few inches above him. ‘Never mind that wizard, my friend, I know a trick or two we can use to outsmart him.’

‘Friend you are indeed, Amdir. What Valar do I owe this gift to? I will see you tomorrow then. Walk safely home, my friend, and thank you.’

He turned the corner towards the White Tower and ran directly into someone dressed in a black cloak . He shivered uncontrollably and fear gripped his stomach and his chest.

‘What are you doing out so late, my Lord?’ a familiar and welcome voice questioned him.

‘Thengel! What a delight.’ Denethor breathed deeply in the cool night air and breathed out the horror that had gripped him. ‘What are you doing on this level yourself, this late at night?’ He greeted him with bowed head and hand upon his breast.

‘You have caught me, my Lord,’ smiled Thengel. ‘I was coming from the guest quarters. I had to see Morwen one last time before the stars came out. Time slipped away from us as we watched Eärendil appear,’ Thengel blushed. Why was he telling this child of his private affairs!

Denethor perceived the thought upon Thengel and smiled. ‘I have not been a child since last year’s massacre in Ithilien, my Lord. You should know better than that. The loss of one loved beyond endurance is a loss that causes one to mature quickly.’

Thengel sucked in his breath. ‘My Lord, I apologize. I meant no disrespect.’ Twenty-five years separated these two, yet the blood of Nümenor flowed through Denethor, not Thengel, and this was suddenly very apparent to both this night.

‘None taken, Lord Thengel. But now, did I hear correctly, the gossip in the Tower? Are you to be the new Horse Captain?’

‘Yes, your father has decided I must hone my skills as a horseman. He wants me ready when Fengel passes, for when I must return to Rohan to take up the crown. He wishes it for the good of all Middle Earth, but I would prefer to stay here in Gondor with my love. There is naught as beautiful as Minas Tirith in the morning sun or in the light of the stars of Varda Elentári and I would leave it only if commanded. Yet your father is wise and I must do as he asks.’

‘Wise and perceptive also. He will know you have spent the night under the stars. Perhaps we should discuss the stars another time. We both have duties that must needs be done in the morning. Good night, my Lord’

Thengel laughed. ‘Ever the good of Gondor lies upon your heart, my Lord. You have indeed left the things of a child behind. I have seen this before and now know it for a fact; yet, Gondor would survive if you laughed once in awhile!’

‘Laughter and joy will flood the Great Hall tomorrow in the wake of your wedding, my Lord. Get to your bed, for you have much expected of you in the morrow and later.’

With that, Denethor strode away, a grin upon his face.

Third Age - 2943 - Part Three

The ceremony was held in the Great Hall. Indis was enthralled with the very thought of this match and did her utmost to make the day and everything about it beautiful. Denethor looked in awe at what his eyes beheld as he entered. Garlands of gardenias were everywhere, with bunches of wildflowers lain in the laps of the marble statues lining either side. He laughed. What would Turgon say when he saw the ‘desecration’ to these noble Kings of Gondor? As much as the old Steward loved Indis, this might be beyond his ability to forgive. Yet Denethor knew Indis was only trying to remove the coldness of the Hall with the warmth of Gondor’s rich flora and he applauded her efforts. He was also very grateful that he had not been conscripted to be a part of this. He laughed again, and Amdir, at his side as always, chortled in glee.

Fengel and the other ambassadors were seated in the front. The scowl was so deep on Fengel’s face that Denethor thought it must hurt -- one very sad note on such a beautiful day. Weeks ago, Thengel had come to Denethor in the barracks and asked him to walk with him. They went out into the cool night air and rested their arms on the parapet near the Great Library. Denethor waited patiently. A heavy sigh escaped Thengel’s lips. Still, Denethor waited. Sometimes sharing ill news takes time.

At last Thengel spoke, ‘My Lord, forgive me for pulling you away from the games. Your opinion would be most appreciated. My father is opposing the match between Morwen and me. He has asked me to reconsider. I would do as he asks, but there is love between us. How can I obey my father and preserve my vows to Morwen? True -- these vows have not been made public, but they have been made in my heart and, more importantly, they have been said to Morwen. I never dreamed that father would be in opposition to this match’

Denethor bit his lip. How could he tell Thengel that his father was only concerned with wealth, riches and jewels? How could he tell him of the times he had seen Fengel in the smithies of Gondor fingering the Mithril waiting to be forged? He himself had not believed it when Ecthelion had told him. Ever his father watched and waited to exploit people to strengthen Gondor. It was another link in the chain that Ecthelion was manipulating to snare the Rohirrim’s fidelity. He kept quiet.

‘I cannot leave my love. She has become everything to me. I cannot leave Gondor. It is my home. Fengel will have to accept this. I have no other course to take. I will not leave her!’

With that, Thengel strode away, back towards the barracks. Denethor was grateful that Thengel had not pressed him further. Their friendship was too important to wound with words that would do no good, only harm.

His thoughts were brought back by the noises of the Hall. Chairs had been placed in long rows down the entire length of the hall while drapes of lilies attached with golden thread to the center aisle seats made it necessary for each row to be seated from the left and the right only – not the center. The women in their long gowns had a difficult time reaching open chairs. The noises that had distracted him were the grunts and groans of the men as they tried to move chairs to accommodate the women. Denethor laughed at the sight. Dearest Indis, proud and wonderful, but not very practical in this instance. He fervently hoped she would never know of the difficulty her decorating caused the guests.

‘I must leave you now, my Lord,’ Amdir whispered. ‘My place is with my father and mother. Please meet me afterwards. I have some thoughts on that matter we were discussing last night.’

Denethor gently bowed to him, trying to stifle the shiver that ran through him, forced his attention upon the ceremony before him. He walked towards his sister, Morwen, and found his seat.

Silver trumpets heralded the arrival of the Steward. Slowly Turgon walked forward. Denethor flinched at the look of age upon his face, his body -- stooped and low. Tears ******** his eyes. This dear beloved man was aging before his very eyes, and quickly. Ecthelion appeared next to him and seemed to walk slightly behind Turgon, but as they drew closer, Denethor could see his father was steadying Turgon and helping him to the Steward’s Chair. This was too much for him. He looked away, helpless as his father eased Turgon into the Chair. Change – why did it have to come? Why could not the world stay as it was?

At that very moment, Denethor heard a gasp from the guests. Morwen, fairest daughter of the land of Lossarnach, appeared in the doorway. Slowly she made her way towards the Steward’s Chair. Denethor smiled. She was truly beautiful and so kind; his heart had warmed to her when first Thengel had introduced them. Fengel was wrong in this matter. This woman would make Thengel happy; that made Denethor happy. Indis hid in the recesses beyond the last pillar and watched. He could see tears streaming down her face. She had worked so very hard to make this a glorious day for all of Gondor. The happiness was not the couple’s alone. Denethor felt a lump in his throat as he looked upon his sister. He had discovered that she was the one who had forced Ecthelion to reconsider his banishment of Denethor. It was she who devised the placing of Denethor at the Great Hall when Ecthelion was alone, mourning Cranthir’s loss. It was she who, to this day, would remind the both of them how much Gondor needed them. He shook slightly; this was certainly a day for tears – tears of joy and warmth and gratitude.

Thengel appeared and stood next to the Steward’s Chair, his face alight with joy and wonder. Denethor could see the smiles on those present; the tears also on the faces of several of the women. Many of them would be sad this day to see the fair Thengel wed. Denethor looked towards the Steward’s Chair again. His heart broke as he watched Ecthelion fingering a white gardenia that was part of a garland draped over the back of the chair. His father’s face was white and the muscles in his neck strained. Indis, whose great love for their mother and their mother’s favorite flower, had bedecked the Hall in them, totally unaware of the impact they would have on their father. Ecthelion dragged his eyes away, forced them upon Turgon, but his hand never left the flower.

The parapet in front of the citadel was filled with tables laden with food such as had not been seen in Gondor in a long while. This fete surpassed any in Denethor’s memory. Ecthelion was sparing no expense in securing the allegiance of the son of Fengel. Alliances were made through such events, such ceremonies, and Ecthelion was ever aware of the need for alliances as the dark days neared. He shared these thoughts with Denethor as they walked from the Hall. Denethor’s heart was saddened by these words. Were alliances all that their friends were for? Thengel was one of his dearest friends. They had spent many a night in the barracks talking and laughing about life in Gondor, sharing their dreams. Was he to put aside that friendship now and dwell on Gondor’s need for alliance? In his mind, he knew that was part of all this, but in his heart, he mourned the loss of the purity of their friendship. He would do as Ecthelion bid and further develop the alliance, but his face burned red at the shame of it. There was, however, good news to alleviate some of Denethor’s shame. Ecthelion thought it better for the alliance if Denethor was placed in the company of the Horse Guard, under Thengel. This was Ecthelion’s way of furthering the alliance and binding allegiance from Thengel, but it much delighted Denethor. Try as he may, he could not look upon Thengel as an alliance, but as a friend.

Music. When was the last time he had heard music, he wondered. It was glorious. He could see the musicians off to the north with the sun streaming behind Mount Mindolluin headed towards the west. They were from the school on the second level. A ballad was being sung; he could not hear the words, but a feeling of melancholy struck him. He recognized the song as one of those written to honor his mother. Thengel and Morwen were dancing to it. Neither knew the keen sorrow that this brought to Denethor. He looked around, trying to find Ecthelion -- to judge what the music was doing to him. Indis stepped up and placed her hand in the crook of his arm.

‘Hello, dearest brother,’ she said. ‘I have not heard that song in a long while. I remember Mother was so embarrassed when first it was written. She thought it was too fine a thing for a girl like her. Come, dance with me.’

Denethor leaned against his sister. He now towered above her, but nothing would belie the fact that she was his eldest sister, his rock. ‘I wish I had known her.’ Once again, he remembered his father. ‘Have you seen Father, Indis? I want to keep him away from this.’

‘Dearest brother. Do you not know that he also must grieve, even these long years after. To see that the people have not forgotten her is a good thing. Do not be concerned over this.’

‘But, Indis, Father was holding the gardenia….’ Denethor bit his lip. He had not meant to bring the gardenias to her attention.

‘What’s wrong, Denethor?’

‘Nothing. I just wanted to make sure someone who loved him was standing by him at this moment.’

‘Don’t worry, Denethor. I saw him walking to his study with Prince Adrahil. He will not hear this.’

The dancing had ended and Indis had given him a small curtsy and run off to admonish a young servant who was pouring wine in a wrong container. Denethor pitied the servant. He went to Thengel and asked to dance with Morwen. A lively tune started up and, thoroughly embarrassed, Denethor quickly gave Morwen back to Thengel. The whoop of laughter that emitted from Thengel’s mouth caused Denethor to grow red, but the hug from his friend dispelled any darkness. Off the two of them went, feet flying to the rhythm of the tune. Denethor smiled -- and breathed a sigh of relief.

Amdir came up to him, laughing, and placed his hand on his shoulder. ‘You were definitely saved from some serious embarrassment, my friend. Never try to dance with a woman when you don’t know how!’

‘I was not going to try to dance that dance. I thought they would play another ballad. I can stand there and hold her hand and make her think that this is perhaps the way Gondorian men dance.’

‘Ha, ha, ha,’ laughed Amdir. ‘There is no way she would ever have believed that all Gondorian men dance as you do. This is one area totally lacking in your training. I believe I shall tell Thengel he must add dancing to your schooling!’

‘And I will see to it that stable duty will be your constant duty. Do not mock me, Amdir,’ he said quietly, but the laughter in his eyes negated the sternness of his words.

‘Well, that is not why I came over here anyway, my friend. There is the matter of the Library. Have you forgotten? Now would be the perfect time. Everyone is busy with dancing, eating and frivolity. Many of the others have left. The evening is coming on and travelers will start to depart. I will stand by the door and watch while you go down to find the books you need. Bring them with you; you don’t have to study them there. The warden will not know you have taken them. We can put them in your room and study them at our leisure.’

‘That is a fine plan, Amdir. I will go now. Whistle, like the peregrine, and I will know it is a warning to flee the place.’

He ran towards the Library. The terror of the previous day’s encounter lent speed to his feet. He ran down the stairs, almost slipping in his haste. He knew what level and room the books were in; the room was locked, but he knew where the keys were kept. He rummaged through the desk, found them, and turned to open the door. Curunír was there! In front of him! No, this could not be happening. He almost collapsed from fear. It overwhelmed him.

He held his arm in front of his eyes. What would the wizard do to him now? He must get away. He dropped his arm, prepared to flee. There was no wizard there. What had he seen? Were his eyes deceiving him? No, there was no wizard there. But he had seen him! He knew he had seen him! Shaking, he placed the key in the lock and turned it. He heard the click of the lock and turned the handle. The door would not open. He tried again, his hand now shaking almost uncontrollably. The click of the lock sounded again; he knew he was using the key correctly. The door would not open. A sense of dread filled him. There was a spell on the door -- a locking spell. And he knew who had placed it there. He turned and fled from this once-beloved place. He would not return, he vowed.

Amdir was sickened when he saw Denethor’s face. The look of fear was too much to bear. ‘Denethor, what has happened?’

Denethor took great gulps of the night air. His mind reeled. He could not fathom what had happened to him. He put his head down and pushed his hands into his thighs. Amdir took hold of his arm. Denethor was shaking like a leaf. He walked him towards a bench near the Library, but Denethor froze and would go no further. Amdir turned and led him towards the opposite wall. They sat; rather, Amdir sat and pulled Denethor down next to him. As much as Denethor willed that he was mature, the last two days events had worn him down and he was very close to being a young lad again. Thirteen years was still young, given the terror that he had endured. Amdir went to leave him for a moment; Denethor grabbed his arm, alarm in his eyes.

‘I will be gone for only one moment.’ But Denethor would not loose his grip on Amdir’s tunic. Amdir looked frantically around and saw Indis nearby. He caught her eye and she came quickly over. Denethor averted his eyes. Indis, knowing something was amiss, sat next to him and took his hand. Amdir ran to the tables and brought a goblet of wine. He handed it to Denethor. Denethor’s eyes were unseeing. Amdir forced his hand around the goblet and then brought it to his mouth. Denethor swallowed. Indis looked at Amdir, questions rampant in her eyes. She could feel the trembling in Denethor’s body, but could find no sign of harm. She remained quiet though. Together, they lifted him to his feet and walked him to his room. Amdir undressed him and Indis kissed his forehead. She gestured for Amdir to leave them. She would stay.

The nightmares began that night.