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The Last Word
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Chapter 4


Faramir awoke to find the chamber bathed in the soft glow of moonlight and through the open balcony doors he could see stars still glittering brightly in the night sky. His ranger instincts told him it was probably almost midnight and so he had only slept for a few hours, yet he felt fully refreshed. He had not intended to spend the night in Boromir’s chamber but he was reluctant to leave until his curiosity was satisfied as to how Boromir and Aragorn were faring. To that end, he left the far too comfortable bed and once again settled himself in the armchair by the window, ready to continue his reading.

...Although I said I would be gone a short while, ten days have passed since I last wrote to you, my dear Faramir, and I will explain why in a moment, but first I am sure you are anxious to learn what I think of our uncrowned king. Aye, I now believe he is who he claims to be.

There was ample time for Aragorn and I to become better acquainted as we rode to the meting place. Our journey was untroubled, for no orcs or other dark creatures are to be found within the borders of Rivendell, or so Aragorn proudly claims. He says Elrond’s power and that of the many ancient Elves who live here keeps them at bay, as do the might of Lord Glorfindel’s sword and the vigilance of the warriors under his command. I Undoubtedly this has been true, but we both know that the Nazgûl are still seeking the ring, and they know where the Hobbits are taking refuge so we are both kept a watchful eye on the road as we rode.

At first we spoke little, commenting only on the coolness of the day, how winter was fast approaching, my impressions of Rivendell and meeting people of other races for the first time. We both asked simple questions requiring simple answers, yet allowing us to develop a rapport and to learn a little about each other as ordinary people before we delved into the complexities of our roles in life.

When talk turned to battle and the darkness that hovers over Middle-earth, we soon learned that we share a similar sense of duty, of anger at the needless destruction and the devastated lives left in the wake of attack. We detest the forces of evil and the one who is their master and freely admit to be willing give our very lives for those we love dearly as well as those who look to us for protection from the darkness.

I swear to you, brother, when I mentioned that I would regret the day one as lovely as Arwen was forced to face the consequences of war, Aragorn actually blushed and smiled a lover’s smile at the mention of her name. It seems our king is in love and I could not resist the chance for a subtle bit of teasing. I told him that I rather fancied her myself and he simply glared at me and told me her heart belonged to another.

“A Man who would be King, perhaps?” I asked him with a friendly slap on the shoulder. He simply looked at my hand a moment and then shrugged.

“Aye, so I am told,” he said and then we both started laughing at our adolescent-like silliness.

By the time we stopped to allow the horses to rest and to take some refreshment ourselves, we were still joking and laughing merrily over tales we each had to tell of youthful misadventures.

It was not until we sat in silence in the shade of the trees, enjoying our pipes for a while after our meal that my thoughts turned to the more serious questions that were still bothering me, the ones I told you of earlier.

Feeling as if I was being watched, I looked up to find worldly wise, and strangely ageless grey eyes studying me, then holding my gaze for a few moments, as if searching for a hint of trust or friendship or perhaps something else… something he wanted to know of which I am not certain.

I suffered his scrutiny unflinchingly and allowed him to see that I had nothing to hide, including my misgivings, and he nodded as if he had found his answers, then smiled encouragingly and bid me ask whatever I needed to know.

So I did.

It was almost twilight before he finished speaking of the history of the Kings of Men, and the rise of Sauron as he took back the rings he had made and sought relentlessly for the ruling ring. He spoke of the revenge sought on the heirs of Isildur, as well as the Elves with who Sauron had been at war for many millennia. He told of the decline of the kingdom in the north after the loss of their last King at Minas Morgul and how his son had taken the role of Chieftain of the Dúnedain, secreting his sons safely out of harm’s way in Rivendell until they were called upon to inherit the title.

When I pointed out that harbouring the sons of Isildur’s heir was likely to place Rivendell in Sauron’s eye, Aragorn agreed but rendered me speechless when he explained that no matter what folly or weakness they displayed, the descendants of the first King of Númenor, his brother Elros, would always be welcome in the house of Elrond.

I told him I believed that protecting one’s kin, no matter how distantly related, nor the risk, was a motivation I could understand and respect, and I would afford Master Elrond the honour of giving him mine. Aragorn was delighted to hear this, for it is plain to see that he truly loves the Peredhel as a son loves his father.

I have much more to tell you, little brother, but must take a rest. Writing is causing my injured wrist to ache… as you can no doubt tell from the scrawl on this page…

Faramir knew much of the history of Men, for the books in the library were filled with tales of the lives and deeds of kings of old, but he had never made the connection between the first King of Men and Master Elrond. It was fascinating information, and raised many questions in Faramir’s mind, most of which he would have to rely on Mithrandir to answer, if the wizard was so inclined.

As he ran his fingers over Boromir’s usually flawless handwriting he agreed the letters were starting to look more like something a young child might write, and he felt a pang of guilt that his brother was even attempting to do so if he was injured. How and where did it happen, he wondered, and how serious was it? Knowing that Boromir’s explanation would be sure to follow, Faramir turned his thoughts back to Aragorn.

Unlike Boromir, he had never doubted that Aragorn was indeed who he claimed to be. Faramir had felt it in the healing hands that eased his body’s pain and heard the truth in the soothing voice that had brought him back from death. He had awoken from the darkness, looked straight into his king’s eyes that were anxiously watching him and declared his fealty.

That it had taken more time to convince Boromir came as no surprise. His brother was one who held stubbornly to his beliefs or opinions, as the many arguments he had had with both Denethor and Faramir over the years proved. However, he also had a quick and clear thinking mind so that when faced with undeniable truth, he would smile at the folly of his own misguided notions and accept defeat in a manner far more gracious than one who did not know him well might expect.

...Ah, Faramir I am back at my desk and ready to seek your sympathy for your poor wounded brother. Master Elrond rubbed a soothing salve into my wrist and gave me a small cup of miruvor. Some kind of elvish magic potion is how I would describe it for I had barely taken a decent mouthful when my aches and pains subsided. I wonder if Aragorn knows how to brew it? Our uncrowned king is not only a ranger, heir to the throne but also a skilled healer as he certainly proved the day after we arrived at the encampment.

It was well after dark before the last of the captains arrived, and we spent a merry evening around the campfire, singing drinking songs whilst pretending that our water was wine and feeling grateful that there were no ladies present to hear the bawdy stories that were told. All too soon it was time to seek our bedrolls and rest, but the peace did not last long for a scout from one of the Rivendell patrols arrived, breathless and with several scratches marring his perfect skin.

I did not understand a word he said, since he was speaking in Elvish, Sindarin to be exact, Aragorn told me when I enquired later. At the moment he was clearly in no mood for idle chatter and I certainly understood the fire of anger in his eyes when he explained that orcs had dared to try and breach the outer defences of Rivendell. The experienced patrol leader who had discovered their trail realised there were far too many for a small group of Elves to handle, no matter their stealth of movement and their skills with weapons, so knowing where the rangers were meeting, he wisely sent for help.

We travelled all night and most of the next day, finally meeting up with the Elves as the first stars appeared in the night sky. We moved stealthily to the overhang from where we could keep a watch on the orcs in the gully below.

Even when Man and Elf joined forces for this battle, I feared our numbers were too small to achieve victory, but then I had never seen Elves fight. It is a fearsome sight, their eyes glittered dangerously as blades flashed, arrows hit their mark and the screams of the dying orcs echoed into the night. Finally not one remained alive and the fighting ceased.

It was a fierce and bloody battle, my brother, and over much faster than I thought possible. All the orcs were dead but no Elves were lost, although there were a few with nasty cuts that needed stitching. Without any discussion, Aragorn assumed the role of healer.

Any way, I digress. It was during this short but violent battle that I was injured. Aragorn was being attacked by three at once, and in my haste to go to his aid, I tripped over one of the fallen orcs, and fell heavily on my right arm. I sprained my wrist but continued fighting, using my sword in my left hand instead. Not nearly as effective as my usual grip, but I managed to send several orcs to their doom...

Poor brave Boromir, Faramir thought with a smirk that signalled amusement more than sympathy, all though he felt both. He could just imagine how hard his brother would have been trying to impress the others with his skill as a swordfighter, only to have it all be for naught, at least in Boromir’s eyes, when he fell and injured his wrist and his pride.

...After we returned to our encampment, Aragorn thanked his men with a firm yet almost affectionate grip on every shoulder, offering each praise for his skill with the sword or bow, whichever was the weapon of choice. He reaffirmed that he would be proud to fight and die alongside any one of us and specifically thanked me for saving his life, which I suppose I did, although I acted mostly on instinct. “Tis what happens in the heat of battle… action taken with no thought of neither personal danger nor reward.

We journeyed slowly back to the campsite to give our injured time to heal and I took the chance to observe this more ‘gentle’ side of the Man. As I watched him over the next few days, I was struck by not only his affection and respect for his Men, and theirs for him as well. There is a certain reserved yet regal air that surrounds him, and I sometimes sense almost a reluctance to take the crown even though the Dúnedain are already his loyal subjects. He knows this, and admitted that sometimes the expectations that are placed upon him due to his heritage and his as yet unfulfilled destiny serve only to turn him from the path he knows he must take.

How terribly difficult it must be to have such a huge responsibility as he does looming over his head. Added to that is the fact that should he die without leaving an heir, the line of Kings will be truly broken.

I can not imagine how hard it would be to live with the knowledge that I was the last of my House. Can you, Faramir?...

There was so much meaning in those few words, and the sorrow and grief of his losses stabbed deep into Faramir’s heart, the intense pain shocking him into immobility. He let the book slip slowly from his hands, the dull thud of heavy leather hitting the hard tiles the only other sound in the chamber aside from the heartbreaking sobs of the sole heir of the house of Denethor.


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