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13
Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Two pairs of sorrowful eyes set in two very different yet equally sombre faces greeted Faramir when he joined Éowyn and Merry for the evening meal that night. Their subdued manner reminded him that he was not the only one suffering sorrow and grief and he also knew that he had been remiss in not delivering the brief greetings that both Éomer and Pippin had added to Imrahil’s message as soon as he read them earlier that day. Shaking his head as he silently berated himself, for his feeling of guilt for neglecting them both only added to the dark emotions that were roiling around his heart.

Éowyn’s face lit with a radiant smile that shone as if the sun had come out from behind the clouds when Faramir handed her the parchment so that she could read the words written in Éomer’s own hand. His lovely lady already mourned the loss of her dear uncle and cousin and feared she had also seen her beloved brother for the last time. A feeling that Faramir understood far too well and one he would not even wish upon his enemies, so difficult and painful was it to bear.

Merry’s pride in the courage and loyalty Pippin displayed as he rode willingly to join in the assault on Mordor in the name of the Shire did not hide his concern for the younger Hobbit’s well being. Pippin reported that he was well but Merry’s smile faded quickly when there was no news of Frodo and Sam who were surely facing even greater hardship and danger. Faramir sensed his friend’s fears and, knowing how he had craved news of Boromir in those long days before he heard of his death, he offered to retell Merry of his recent encounter with Frodo and Sam in Ithilien.

Not one to remain morose for too long, especially when it became apparent he had an audience appreciative of his witty manner of story telling, Merry then entertained his friends with tales of life in the Shire. Faramir had not laughed so heartily for such a long time that he found his sides aching and his mood much lighter by the end of the evening. After escorting Éowyn to her chamber and stealing a sweet kiss from her lips, he felt reluctant to seek the darkness he knew awaited in Boromir’s journal.

Aragorn and his army had surely reached the Black Gate by now and Faramir tried to convince himself that it was the possible outcomes of the battle that played on his mind, not the anguish he would suffer as he further witnessed his brother’s decline. Or so he had tried to fool himself into believing, he realised after he spent several restless hours seeking the sleep that eluded him.

Thinking that a cup of herbal tea would help him sleep, he had begun making his way to the kitchens, distracted by memories of the many times he and Boromir had done likewise, in need not of a sleeping potion but the particular mix of dried leaves that prevented an evening’s overindulgence at the taverns from turning into a pounding headache the next day. He would gladly forgo that treatment and bear the discomfort of a night in the tavern if only Boromir was at his side once more.

Is this a taste of how it felt to be an unknowing slave to the ring, he wondered, a cold shiver running down his spine when he found his feet had lead him to not to the kitchen but the door to Boromir’s chamber.

...Faramir,

My little brother, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find more than a few minutes to do anything other than fall into an exhausted sleep as we make haste south.

We have all just weathered, or to be truthful, been defeated by, an attempt to cross the cold hearted and treacherous Caradhras. After ploughing our way through deep snow, a blinding and ferocious snowstorm and a far too convenient rock slide, it seems as if the very mountain was attacking us or as if someone wished to hinder our progress and perhaps force us to take a less safe route.

Gimli firmly believes it was the mountain that, having no love for Elf or Dwarf, refused to allow either safe passage and I think Legolas was of the same mind. Aragorn and I are more inclined to agree with Mithrandir when he named Saruman as the cause. He is after all a powerful wizard, one who can no doubt summon the elements to his aid if he so chooses. Sauron certainly has that power, as those of us living close to his borders have come to learn over the years.

I have to admit that everyone’s spirits are somewhat dejected at the unexpected difficulties that are arising, everyone that is, except for Legolas who remains cheerful and carefree as he dances across the snow like a leaf being carried on gentle breeze. It is amazing to witness a tread so light that leaves no footprint in the soft powder, and also slightly irritating to those of us who had to use our brute strength to plough a path through the icy depths. I admit we are all envious of his ease of movement, but we were glad to share in his merriment when the impudent Elf dared to tease Mithrandir!

Lighter moments such as those are rare and it saddens me to see that Merry and Pippin are far less than their normally exuberant selves…

...Another short note, Faramir…

…we were attacked by wolves last night, and thanks to the skill of sword, bow and axe, as well as a little magic from Mithrandir’s staff, we all survived the ordeal. Considering we have never fought together, I would say we made a formidable little army. I only hope our combined strength is not put to the test too often!

As we rested in our latest campsite, there was much discussion and dissension when Mithrandir suggested we travel beneath the mountain, by way of Moria, instead. Aragorn in particular did not want to enter there, yet the decision has been made. Certainly this path will keep us safe from the enemy’s spies and possibly further attacks but now that we are discovered, surely it would be best to head directly to the safety of Minas Tirith. The others do not agree, and I am becoming increasingly convinced that I am alone in my beliefs. I have also noted a few concerned glances trained on me at times, but I have as much right to speak my mind as any other on this quest, and will continue to do so.

From our conversations when I am on watch, and in my dreams I see visions of your struggle to hold Osgiliath. We are both experienced soldiers, wise enough to realise that our city on the river will eventually be overrun for the enemy army outnumbers ours greatly. When that happens, we will need another defence for I do not wish to see either Minas Tirith, or any more of our soldiers, fall.

Rest assured that I will heed your advice and try not to let the others dissuade me from following my brother’s sage counsel...

Faramir scowled angrily at the last passage and then hissed the words of one of the vilest curses he had learned from the guards, directing his wrath at the maker of the ring. He was sickened by the thought that the dark influence was hiding behind his voice, using and demeaning Boromir’s love for his younger brother as a means to achieve its goal. If, as it appeared, Boromir believed Faramir was speaking to him, he would listen and Faramir wondered what other ‘advice’ he had supposedly been offering his brother.

...My dear brother,

We have settled for the night in a dark, musty chamber in the bowels of the mountain, and although the light is very poor, and my hands are shaking with cold, I will attempt to write a few words.

Today I witnessed a very rare occurrence, and one I would never have thought possible had I not seen it for myself. As we stood outside the doors to Moria, for a time Mithrandir could not recall the word that would open them! My dear friend Merry was the one who provided him with the clue that brought the answer to light. Any thoughts of not entering the darkness were quickly dispelled when we were attacked by the hideous creature that dwells in the waters in front of the door, for we had nowhere else to run.

Aragorn was right to try and convince Mithrandir not to enter Moria, it is a place of darkness and death. Dwarrowdelf is no longer the great city of the Dwarves, but their tomb just as I picture Minas Tirith will be ours should the Dark Lord defeat us. Gimli mourns the loss of his kin and his people and I grieve with him.

The sooner we leave this desolate place, the better we will all like it.

Ah, there is no point in continuing this, for I can not even read my own writing now…

…was the final sentence Faramir managed to make out of the words that were written in an almost childish scrawl.

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