Chapter 12: Son of the Steward
‘Boromir! Put your brother down!’
Finduilas sighed as Faramir’s delighted shouts drowned out her own
soft voice. Boromir was for a moment a horse of war, bearing his small
brother on his shoulders and charging a great rank of orcs, although to
the everyday world they were just a pile of empty baskets ranged along
‘You’ll fall and hurt him!’ she cried.
Boromir scattered the baskets with the tiny warrior on his back
shouting encouragement, then carefully lowered Faramir to the ground.
He smiled at Finduilas and when he had got his breath back he said;
‘Do not fear, Mother. I won’t fall, and I will never hurt Faramir….’
‘..never hurt Faramir…’
The words came back to Boromir now as he spurred Stormwing on down the
long road across the fields of the Pelennor. Dánacht had to ask
him to check his pace several times as they opened a wide gap between
them and the main body of horsemen. But something sharper than a spur
goaded Boromir on; the trap had been set for him, not Faramir, but it
was his brother who had been caught. Gentle Faramir, his daydreaming
little brother. How could he survive in the wilds? He had to find him;
he had promised his mother Faramir would never be hurt.
‘You’re too strong for him, Boromir.’ The voice of Finduilas scolding him gently came back to him.
. ‘Remember he is just a child….’
It was hard for Boromir, powerful and active even as a boy, to remember
others were weaker. He was generous as well as strong, and suffered
remorse when he hurt someone less forceful than himself. And he knew
Faramir worshipped him. But as they grew older it became clear the
brothers were not alike….
‘Why do you train so hard?’ Faramir asked once when Boromir was cut over the eye by a splintered lance while practising.
‘I will be a leader one day’ said Boromir solemnly. ‘we both will. A leader has to be stronger than those he leads.’
‘But you will lead by right of the House of the Steward, not by force.’ Said Faramir. Boromir only laughed.
‘Go back to your books, Faramir’ he said ‘you know nothing of war….’
‘Look after your brother, Boromir….’ Said Finduilas sadly
‘Look after Faramir…’ Her voice faded into silence. Above a gown of
russet velvet her face was a pale oval framed by dark auburn hair, her
skin white, always white…..
The world was white, blindingly white, with a piercing blue sky above
it. Faramir was jolted awake by a blow on the side of his head from a
clawed fist and clutched desperately at the armour of the orc carrying
‘Put me down..’ he begged, his injured ankle burning and his hands
without feeling in the bitter cold. To his relief, the creature
suddenly flung him to the ground, and he sank into the cold, clean snow
and closed his eyes, wishing he could shut out everything that was
happening to him…..
The orcs had taken him with them on their forced retreat to the river.
At first they tried to make him run, but he was unable to stand on his
injured ankle, so they beat him. Faramir had never been beaten before.
His father Denethor’s disapproval was more feared by the brothers than
any lash, and no-one would dare lay a hand on the sons of the Steward.
But now these loathsome creatures, the enemies of Gondor, with
their hot, stinking breath and fierce yellow eyes hit and clawed and
kicked him until they realised he could not walk, then they simply
picked him up and ran with him, dumping him for another orc to pick up
when they tired, or just dragged him through the snow, never slackening
Faramir wept, more from shame than from his injuries, but after a while
exhausted and numb with cold he drifted off into a daze, and only came
fully awake again when a brilliant winter sun was striking off the
fresh snow into his weary eyes.
It was almost a day since he had taken any food or drink so when the
orc threw him to the ground he raked up handfuls of the crisp snow and
stuffed them into his parched mouth. It tasted of bark and melted
slowly, numbing his face with cold. The orcs were ignoring him for the
moment, so he sat up and looked around.
They had reached a headland thrown out into the Anduin. On two
sides frozen inlets stretched away, high thickets of reeds motionless
in the ice, the distant peaks of the mountains of Gorgoroth clear as a
knife edge in the sparkling light. The snowstorm had gone as quickly as
it had come, leaving a smooth dazzling carpet of white over the forest
floor and the surrounding hills. Faramir looked over at the orcs and
fresh fear clutched his heart; there was a debate of some kind going on
and they were gesturing in his direction. At last an orc stamped over
through the snow to take hold of his arm and drag him in front of
In his long war with the West Sauron had learned to choose his captains
with care. The rank and file orcs hardly mattered, but those who led
them could mean the difference between victory and defeat. So it was
that he maintained the Elves he had defiled, for they never yielded to
weakness or cowardice, and although he was the great Betrayer, they
never betrayed him. For without him where would they go?
Such a one was Giarsa, and now he heard the rising babble of frightened
talk from the base-bred orcs with indifference, while he thought what
he should do next.
Soon the blackcoats would find them; only night and the snowstorm had
held them back. Now there was light and clear tracks through the snow
for them to follow. He, Giarsa, could lead the orcs to safety along the
shallows of the Anduin, screened by the reeds and willows. But he
hesitated….when the little one was brought before him he studied him
closely. This was no shepherd boy or drover; his tunic was of velvet
embroidered with silver thread and he had the fair face and grey eyes
of the high nobility of Gondor. A suspicion formed in Giarsa’s dark
mind and he stepped up to Faramir, held by one of his orcs. The boy,
striving to master his fear, looked up into his dark scarred face and
amber eyes and then the orc said;
‘Who are you?’
Faramir was too surprised to reply. The orc used the Common Tongue, but
an archaic dialect, one only heard now in courtly speech. The boy
Giarsa who asked again, almost patiently;
‘Who are you? Tell me your name..’ Faramir felt the blood slowly drain
out of his face and his heart thump painfully in his chest; the orc
guessed who he was. What a disaster, if he realised he had the son of
the Steward in his possession! The boy clenched his fists and stared
bleakly at Giarsa and did not reply..
The orc stared back, turning various possibilities over in his mind. He
could smell the boy’s fear. Why should he be so afraid of giving up his
name? Giarsa knew, all the world knew, that the Steward of Gondor, the
most powerful man in the West, had two sons. One was almost grown, a
warrior. The other was a boy, of about the same age as this boy…..many
ages spent in Sauron’s underworld had not dulled Giarsa’s perception.
He said in a quiet, almost gentle voice;
‘Are you Faramir?’