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The Last Word
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Chapter 9

Chapter 9

As he made his way back to his chamber, Faramir allowed himself to acknowledge, for perhaps the first time, that when he had written the journal, Boromir had no inkling of what the future held, or that his days were numbered. He briefly wondered if his brother would have been as forthcoming had he known the fate that awaited him, or if he would he have said nothing of his dreams as he tried to shield Faramir from the pain and grief to come. Definitely the latter, as his beloved protector had always done, Faramir answered his own question without a second thought.

Wrapped in the warmth and love of memories of the many times his brother had risen to his defence, either against the cruelty of the elder boys who scoffed at his love of books over battle, when Denethor’s harsh words made him question his own worth or when he was facing a killing blow from an enemy of Gondor, Faramir slept easier that night. He awoke refreshed and eager for another meeting with Boromir, as he had come to think of his reading time.

...Little brother,

I am rather ashamed to say that it has been several weeks since last I wrote in my journal but aside from my occasional walks in the garden with Arwen, very little of note has happened.

I am relieved to say that the nightmares and dreams ceased the same day I began training with Elrond. My sleep is now untroubled and I have had no need of sleeping potions, also my wrist is back to full strength...

Relief flooded Faramir’s heart as well, for the thought of Boromir spending the last months of his life suffering any physical hurt or deep, mental anguish was even now very distressing.

...So what shall I write about? I know, I will tell you something of Gimli, and how he came to be part of our little training group.

We had spoken briefly at some of the evening meals, but for the most part the Dwarf preferred to take his meals in his chambers. No doubt he feels out of place and alone here amongst the Elves since his father and the other Dwarves left for Erebor almost directly after the council meeting.

During my wanderings I encountered him in the weapons gallery, and we spent several hours studying the intriguing array of elvish weaponry. We share a love of swords, knives, spears and armour and although he would never voice his opinion openly to the Elves, he agreed with me that the craftsmanship was outstanding. We both eyed some of the pieces with envy and he admitted that at one time the Dwarves had been almost as equally skilled in the smith craft, but regretfully were no longer.

Once we realised we had at least one interest in common, we found others, such as our separate battles to keep our homes safe, and, of course, our commitment to the council to be a part of the Nine, a tenuous friendship developed and I even managed to convince him to visit the forge with me when my sword needed sharpening. To say that Gimli was impressed with the work of the Elvish smiths would be an understatement, and sensing a certain kinship with a like minded lover of their craft, the Elves who work there invited him to visit whenever he chose. I am not certain, but I believe he has done so once or twice.

We now take our meals together, and if I am to be honest, my peaceful slumber may be attributed in part to the fact that my evenings have been spent in the Hall of Fire, sharing a few tankards of ale with the Hobbits and Gimli.

“Only a ‘few’ tankards?” I hear you ask as in my mind’s eye I see you smirking and shaking your head in disbelief. Aye, ‘tis true and although I know you and I have shared too many on more than one occasion my little brother, I freely admit that trying to match the thirst of any of my current drinking companions would be pointless and likely render me insensible! I find myself nearly in that state simply from laughing until tears fill my eyes from the amusing way they tell their outrageous tales, and the amount of ale that is required to wet my throat when it becomes dry and hoarse from singing along with their jolly songs.

I suspect the Elves do not fully appreciate the display of rowdy tavern behaviour from people of three such different races, for they never join in the fun despite numerous friendly overtures. Gimli says they refuse because they do not like Dwarves, and I suppose there is some truth in that, but Mithrandir has no such reservations as long as we keep his wine cup filled and allow him to sing with enthusiasm in place of a voice that can barely carry a tune.

Do not scowl at me, Faramir, I am very fond of our wizard friend, and hold him in high regard despite his musical talent...

Faramir could not help but smile sadly as he indeed forced himself to stop scowling, not because of any unintended disrespect towards Mithrandir, but because Boromir knew him too well at times. The closeness that he and his brother shared was easily felt in the references made to intimate details of moments known to no other, moments that would be sorely missed, and it was this loss that caused his heart to ache even more.

...Their apparent disdain with our evening revelry is not all I have learned about these Elves, I can also tell you that many have an insatiable curiosity, especially when something unusual occurs in Rivendell.

Oh and a ‘penchant for gossip’ as Mithrandir was heard to jest by those around us although he was only whispering… (Elves also have excellent hearing!).

‘Not unlike your own’, I was tempted to retort, but held my tongue when he glared at me as if he knew what I was about to say...

Which no doubt he did, if not the actual words, then surely the intent, Faramir thought. He could so easily see the slight curve of the lips and the wicked gleam in Boromir’s eyes that signified gentle teasing was on his mind.

The keen perception or insight or whatever ability it was that allowed the wizard to know the essence of one’s thoughts at times was one of the reasons for Denethor’s distrust. Refusing to allow his grief over his father’s death to overwhelm him and spoil his time with Boromir’s memories, Faramir turned his attention back to the journal.

Perhaps that is why the training grounds have become rather popular of late, at least according to Elrond. To see their lord practicing the sword with a Man must have been a sight not to be missed, although I believe he and Aragorn have done so on occasion. No matter, I care not if there is an audience, for I am more interested in learning the skills and techniques that Elrond had graciously offered to teach me so that I can pass them on to you and our dear Sword Master when I return.

I know you prefer the bow, and I am told that Legolas has no equal in Mirkwood when it comes to archery so perhaps if he decides to travel all the way to Minas Tirith he might be persuaded to show you some new skills as well. I will certainly mention the idea once we have become better acquainted, which will undoubtedly happen during the journey south…

Whilst Elrond and I attract some attention of a morning, ‘tis only after the noon meal that most of the spectators attend the training grounds, for this is the time I devote to teaching Merry and Pippin the sword. They are but novices when it comes to wielding their ancient weapons, but what they lack in experience they certainly make up for with a genuine desire to become, to use Pippin’s words, ‘proper warriors like you, Boromir’.

At first they were rather offended that I asked for wooden practice swords, but soon decided that a bruise or two was far preferable to a cut from a sharp blade. As their confidence grows, I am pleased to say that so does their skill, both with the weapon and with planning their attacks. As old Bilbo pointed out, his eyes crinkled with amusement, those two have quite a knack for extricating themselves from unwelcome situations with as little harm to themselves as possible and the’ strategic’ thinking needed to do this will serve them well. I could not agree more!

For my part, I would not see any of my friends injured or falling in battle and am determined to ensure the Hobbits can defend themselves should the need arise. Sam and Frodo seem less interested but Merry assures me that he and Pippin will not ensure they at least learn the basics, even if they have to stage a mock battle to do so. Their love and desire to protect their kin is heart-warming and one of their greatest strengths, but I certainly would not care to have to defend myself against their combined onslaught!...

The notion of his brother retreating from an attack by anyone, including two fearsome Hobbits was just too ludicrous for Faramir to imagine. He had never seen his brother afraid to face his attackers, no matter the number nor how close death may have been lurking. Boromir would fight to his last breath if needed and he would have been so pleased and proud to know that his lessons had achieved the desired result.

Merry and Pippin had indeed become ‘proper warriors’.

...Anyway, to get to the point, one day I noticed that Gimli was also watching me sparring with Merry and Pippin and I suggested that he join us and add his expertise with the battle axe to the training sessions. He agreed and I commended his decision for being well considered, not only because there is much they can learn from Gimli, but because we need to know we can rely on each other in battle should orcs and such cross our path. There will likely be many dangers lurking in the bushes; we do not need them hidden in our midst as well.

The ominous words made Faramir cringe and a cold shudder almost made him drop the journal. ‘But that was where one of the greatest dangers did lie, my brother, and the one our friends have yet to face and defeat,’ he whispered as his thoughts turned briefly to those marching on the Black Gates.


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