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The Last Word
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Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Several days passed before Faramir found the courage to continue his reading. It seemed that hearing of his brother’s gradual submission to the will of the ring from the others who had seen it was far less painful than actually than sharing the doubts and fears expressed in his brother’s own words. Boromir’s need to speak of the disturbing dreams nonetheless called to Faramir’s heart and even though the path ahead might be hard to bear, he knew he would have taken Boromir’s hand and led him through the darkness had he been there, and he could do no less now. Love and concern for his brother won the inner battle and, putting his apprehension aside, Faramir turned to the next page.

...Are you still reading this, Faramir? Of course you are, although I would not blame you if you chose to ignore the dark and frightening soul your brother has been the last few days. Rest assured I am no longer possessed by dread or despair, for I feel as if I have had a great weight lifted from my mind. I will try to ease the fear I know I have put in your heart as well, for you have to remain strong for Gondor in my stead and I would never forgive myself if your concern for me overwhelms you.

Faramir, I think that perhaps it was merely boredom and guilt at my absence from Minas Tirith that was the cause of the trouble. I suddenly realised that I had allowed myself to be lulled into inactivity by this peaceful place. Perhaps it was guilt that I had failed to maintain my battle readiness that had been the cause of my unrest. I am a soldier and find it unsettling to have no foes to face, for that is what I am accustomed to. How can I defend Gondor if I have not taken up my sword, even if only in mock battle, for weeks on end?...

Boromir’s frustration was something Faramir could well understand, and he had learned long ago what an ill tempered creature his elder brother could become when injury prevented him from leading his army, or even leaving his bed for a few days. Add to this the guilt Boromir was feeling, and Faramir decided it was little wonder that his brother was susceptible to dark dreams. He also knew there was more to it, but Boromir obviously did not, and he was content to ignore the whole truth in the face of his brother’s improved mood.

...As I write this I realise I have been remiss in the true intent you had for this journal and so I will try to describe to you the beauty of Rivendell.

As richly decorated, finely crafted and as full of grandeur as every part of the buildings are, so are the grounds and the surrounding woods equally so. In some ways I am reminded of your forests in Ithilien, and marvel that the Elves who live here may in fact be descendents of the very ones whose spirits you claim whisper to the trees on warm summer nights. Even your waterfall at Henneth Annun is more elvish than not. Laugh at my whimsy if you wish, but let me explain why I say this.

It has become my habit to join the ever cheerful Merry and Pippin, and somewhat less so Frodo and Sam, for the morning meal, or ‘first breakfast’ as my Hobbit friends name it, after which we move outside for a quiet smoke of our pipes (we do not do so indoors because the Elves have mad it plain they are not partial to pipeweed, nor the smoke). So it was somewhat f a surprise that Arwen came to speak with us, but then I suppose perhaps it should not have been so, for if she and Aragorn are lovers, no doubt she is well used to him indulging in the same habit. He likes his pipe too, so I discovered.

As it happened, she had come to inform Frodo and the others that dear old Bilbo was feeling unwell today and with an exchange of looks, that spoke of concern and much affection for the their elder they decided to spend the day keeping him company. I am of two minds as to whether this would have been beneficial for the old Hobbit, for even I find Merry’s and Pippin’s company, draining at times, but there is no better medicine than having one’s family and loved ones nearby when you are ill.

I know I appreciate your company at such times, even if I am a grumpy patient as I know you are thinking, little brother!

Finding myself suddenly bereft of company, I was delighted when Arwen invited me to take a walk with her. Never one to refuse a pretty lady, as you well know, naturally I accepted and found myself being led to a small clearing atop a rise that allowed an unspoiled view of several of the waterfalls that are a feature of this valley.

The waterfalls here are nothing like those at Rauros, they much narrower and rather than thundering and roaring into the river below, they fall almost gently and with an elegance and the soft susurrant sounds of whispered sighs. They remind me of the Elves who live here, with their almost a delicate beauty that hides a hidden strength, for the waters have the power to wear away the rocks below. So too does the waterfall that keeps you and your rangers safe. Arwen thought it was a lovely description and agreed it sounded as if the Falls at Henneth Annun were also elvish

By the same token, those of Rauros were not unlike Men, she decided. Like Men, they are strong, enduring, possessing a rugged beauty and an untamed and sometimes wild spirit. No doubt she was thinking of Aragorn in particular, but I agreed that there was much truth in her words.

See, Faramir, I can be poetic when I choose!

As we sat and watched the cascading water, swapping tales of our childhood and our brothers, and one or two of a young Aragorn, I found myself able to speak more freely with her than I would have expected, and was soon telling her of my troubled dreams. Arwen suggested it might be wise to seek Elrond’s counsel, in fact, she insisted, and took me directly to his study immediately on our return.

If this lady is to one day be our Queen, then we will be truly blessed, Faramir, for she is as wise and compassionate and almost as beautiful as our mother.

At first I was reluctant to tell Elrond of the darkness troubling my sleep, and he must have sensed this for he asked no questions but set about examining my wrist instead. The sprain has healed and the bruising almost gone, but he suggested that I needed to exercise it, to regain my full strength. Imagine my utter astonishment when he told me that sword practice would be best.

“Nothing too strenuous, mind you, for the muscle must be strengthened gradually.”

I could not hide my look of disbelief when Elrond went on to explain that whilst Lord Glorfindel was away, he was in need of a sparring partner and would I like to meet him on the training grounds each morning to fulfil that role.

“I will ensure that you do not throw caution to the wind and injure yourself again,” he teased and I wondered how he had come to know me so well in such a short time.

I could barely voice a reply at being granted such an honour, for that is indeed what it is to me. Even if he is only acting in his role as Healer, sparring in place of the legendary Lord Glorfindel is a thought I never dared entertain, although, as you most likely recall, I often wished it could be so when, as boys, Mithrandir told us tales of the battles of long ago...

Coincidence, or was it destiny, was a strange thing indeed, Faramir mused, smiling as he did indeed recall their childish games of make believe. Sometimes he pretend to be a wood elf, having imaginary conversations with the trees, learning to climb with stealth of movement and practicing with a toy bow while his brother was far more interested in duelling with wooden swords and spears and imagining himself fighting evil creatures to save his city.

...Once we were on the training grounds I also realised how much I needed the discipline and challenge of a sparring match, and just how weak my sword arm had become. I quickly became well aware that I was no match for Elrond, nor had I expected to be, but I fought to try and best him until exhaustion overtook me nonetheless.

It was an exhilarating experience Faramir, which made me feel far more alive than I have done since I battled the orcs with Aragorn. I can already feel the strength returning to my wrist and due to Elrond’s skill as both a healer and a swordsman, I have suffered no pain.

In my excitement, I completely forgot that I was going to mention my dreams, but somehow he was already aware of them for he asked me how well I was sleeping. I told him all that I have already told you and he listened in silence, his eyes looking into my very inner self, but he made no comment or judgment about whatever he found there when I had finished speaking. Instead he seemed relieved when I told him that I would not allow the voice of doubt to sway me from the path I had agreed to follow.

“You are an honourable Man, son of the Steward, and I know you mean well, but darkness that not even the power of the Elves can control lurks everywhere. Be ever on your guard,” he warned me as he handed me a bottle containing a potion that would allow me to sleep dreamlessly...

Faramir considered it unlikely in the extreme that his brother would resort to taking a sleeping potion, but he was relieved beyond measure that Boromir was back to his usual self, at least for now. There was no denying he did not remain so, but his brother was currently winning his battle with the unseen enemy and his suffering had eased.

It was a small comfort, but at least for tonight Faramir knew that his own sleep would also be untroubled. Careful to mark his place, he closed the journal, snuffed the candles out and turned to leave but not before wishing his brother a good night.

“Sleep well, Boromir, wherever you are,” he whispered, kissing his own fingers then tracing them lightly over the unused pillow.


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