Young Boromir

by Varda

Chapter 15: The Lord of Lies

When he at last heard the voice of Sauron, it was not at all what Denethor had expected. It was low and unhurried and slightly musical, like the music of a strange and barbaric country, beguiling at first but then menacing. It was dark and silken and lulled the exhausted Steward with a promise of rest. But Denethor had a will to match even that of Sauron and shook himself free from its spell and forced his mind to obey him…

‘Why have you not sought my aid before, Denethor the Wise?’ the Voice was saying. The sound seemed to blot out the dim little room at the top of the Treasure Tower and the dark snow-covered city beyond. Denethor gazed at an orb of fire, gaining in brightness and size until it filled all his sight…

‘Do not try to ensnare me with your voice, Sauron’ said Denethor more loudly than he had intended to.
‘Although I am not a King I am of the line of the Kings of Gondor. I have the power to resist you…’

There was a flicker in the glow emanating from the orb and the sound of a catch in the voice. Irritation, or some greater wrath…

‘I do not seek to ensnare you or to do you any wrong…’ the Voice was raised slightly, full of mild hurt.
‘I am the one who is wronged here, Denethor, not you. For you have sought me out, disturbing my long-sought peace…..’
Sauron paused, allowing the words to sink in. Denethor waited too. Then Sauron asked;
‘But will you not tell me why you have come, at last, to my presence….?’
‘Tell me where my sons are!’ burst out Denethor suddenly, and the flickering globe exploded into red fire and blazed. Sauron replied in a shout that Denethor thought would be heard in the farthest reaches of the city
‘How dare you question me! I answer to no-one….’

Denethor was silent, watching the fire swirling in the orb. Then the Voice resumed, quiet again, almost wheedling…
‘But I see a father’s concern has made you desperate. Of course I will aid you, my Lord Steward. And you will aid me….’
‘How?’ asked Denethor suspiciously.
‘Do not fear,’ said the Voice, so low now as to be almost inaudible, a lover’s whisper. ‘Nothing you cannot afford….just knowledge. To see what you see….’

Denethor was gripped with horror. What he had done suddenly appalled him. For now he knew, too late, that the Palantír conferred upon Sauron the power to see all that he, Denethor, could see. All the secret plans of Gondor, all her defences, her passwords, her trails of war, her commanders and their strategies. The very fabric of the city, its maze of streets, wide squares and lofty towers, all were now laid bare to The Eye. Desperately Denethor strove to rise to his feet. He stretched out his hand for the black gravecloth to cover this abomination and shut it out of his sight.

But his hand would not obey him. He fell back, as if paralysed. And he could not tear his gaze from the stone. The voice sounded, once again soft and gentle, almost a voice in Denethor’s own mind;
‘Do not be afraid, My lord Steward. I will save your sons…’
‘You do not have the power…’ gasped Denethor. ‘you don’t even know where they are…’
‘But I do, my lord’ said Sauron and a smile could be heard in the voice.
‘Your youngest, Faramir, is soon to be slaughtered and he has drawn his brother Boromir to death with him….’

‘Liar!’ shouted Denethor. ‘You are lying! You are the lord of all lies….’

Then the Steward could say no more, his voice stifled with grief. The orb flared then subsided to a dull red glow and the Voice spoke, different now, deep and commanding.
‘If you will not believe my words, see for yourself!’

And the fires in the orb died down to blackness. Denethor stared as if hypnotised at the dark surface, and at last saw, deep in the stone, the moon on snow and dark trees. Clouds obscured the scene then parted and Denethor saw his son, Faramir, bound and held by orcs. On the moonlit snow he saw blood. His son’s blood. He gave a groan of dismay. The Voice spoke, no longer commanding and stern, but kind and compassionate, a comforting friend.
‘I share your grief, Denethor. But you know that the Palantír always shows the truth. Do you still doubt me?’
Denethor shook his head but could not speak. Sauron went on;
‘You have another son, Boromir, who is brave but reckless. He will allow his great love for his brother to carry him into the same peril’ Denethor remained with head bowed. Sauron’s voice fell to a bare murmur.
‘It is yet not too late. I may yet save one of your sons at least. Allow me to help you and your family….’
Denethor raised his head and cried;
‘But what must I do in return for such help?’

There was no reply for some time. The snowy scene had faded from the orb and it grew dark. The fires died. Eventually the Voice spoke, soft and quiet.
‘Nothing, my lord Steward. Just to have speech again with me, when the time is right….’

Giarsa had seen Faramir securely bound and had set a guard on the boy when he was suddenly called back by the yells of his orcs. In a few strides he reached the front of the trees and looked across the snowy headland and frowned; a lone horseman in the black garb of a Ranger was galloping headlong towards their position. Giarsa thought quickly; was it some kind of trap? The men of Gondor were brave not foolhardy but honour meant life to them, and most likely some affair of honour had driven this warrior to throw away his life on their spears...suddenly Giarsa tensed; the first rider was little more than a boy although armed as a Ranger. But behind him, gaining quickly, galloped another horseman, also a Ranger. Giarsa had the long sight of the Elves and saw at once the same long tawny hair, pale skin and fair features as Faramir.

It was his brother, the Steward’s eldest son, Boromir…

Giarsa ordered his orcs to shoot Galán, but he took up his own bow and himself stepped forward to take aim at Boromir. Just as he did so a sudden clamour of birds distracted him. He looked up and saw a clutch of ravens, great black-winged feeders on carrion, wheeling just above their heads. Orcs are creatures of the night and were already weakened and cowed by the bright sunshine. Now, terrified by the birds they darted back into the trees, ducking and putting their arms over their heads to ward off the long talons and sharp grey beaks. Giarsa did not cower or take refuge, but gazed steadily up at the birds circling above him. For ravens were the messengers of the Dark Lord, whom he was bound to obey.

What commands did they bring from Sauron…?