Faramir’s eyes widened in astonishment when he saw the picture that Boromir had drawn on the next page. A nightmarish creature towered over the courageous wizard who stood before it with his staff held high. He did not need to read the words written below it to know that it was a Balrog that Mithrandir faced, for Pippin had described the evil one in much detail when he told Faramir of their friend’s fall into darkness. Even so, the creature of fire and flame looked far more fearsome and dangerous than Faramir had imagined. Happily Mithrandir had later been returned to them but the thought that Boromir had gone to his grave with an added burden of sorrow saddened his brother.
Do you remember the tales we heard of the dangers that lurked in the Golden Wood, of how any who entered the Witch Queen’s domain were never heard from again? Well, let us hope this is not true for tonight we rest beneath the mellryn of Lothlorien as guests of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel, (who incidentally are Arwen’s grandparents).
This is a truly beautiful place and as soon as we entered the borders, I felt as if a shadow had lifted from my heart, and for all the rumours of lurking danger that I see now are false, I know that here I am safe. The only evil to be found in these woods is that which we bring ourselves, so I am told, and I find it none too difficult to believe.
I assure you that the Lady is no witch, but Aragorn says that she can see deep into the hearts of us all when she looks into our eyes. I do not doubt it is so, for her scrutiny made me feel decidedly uncomfortable, as it did to the others, but none will say why. I think it was some kind of test, but to what purpose I have no idea...
Perhaps to see whether the ring was influencing any of you, making any of you a danger to the others or the quest, or the Elves themselves, Faramir answered astutely. Had he been thinking clearly, he knew Boromir would have understood this and he guessed that his brother’s discomfort stemmed from his hidden guilt at the less than honourable thoughts that, with the benefit of hindsight, Faramir knew had already taken hold in Boromir’s mind.
Anger welled in his heart as he wondered again why those who suspected Boromir’s susceptibility to the power of the ring had refrained from speaking of it with him. Had they done so, perhaps his death could have been avoided.
Of course, these strangers were not the only ones who were to blame, Faramir thought angrily as he put the journal aside. Closing his eyes he allowed the memory of the heat of the searing flames of his father’s self made pyre wash over him, fuelling the fire of his rage and frustration that was now directed at Denethor for causing the injuries that prevented him from at least riding to Mordor and attempting to avenge his brother.
Outwardly destructive displays of temper were not in Faramir’s nature, but knuckles that were white with the force of his grip on the balcony wall, and the gritting of his teeth as he looked helplessly to the east were sign enough of the depth of his anguish for those who knew him well. Alone and lonely, no one saw the silent tears fall.
After some time, Faramir collected his thoughts, sighed heavily and returned to his reading, allowing himself to feel a trace of relief and gladness that at least Boromir’s handwriting was back to normal. At the moment, thanks no doubt to the protection offered by the power of the Elves, the influence of the ring appeared to have diminished and he seemed more like the brother Faramir loved so well.
...As I sit beneath the mellryn of Lothlorien and listen to the melancholy lament for Mithrandir being sung ever so sweetly by the Elves, I at last have the time to tell you of the grievous news that might not reach Minas Tirith before I arrive.
In times of war it is not uncommon to lose a friend, a brother, a father to battle, and both you and I, little brother, have many a time been the bearers of sad tidings to the families of our fallen. We have lost friends, ‘tis true, but I suppose we have never really considered losing each other, or one as close to our hearts as the old wizard has become, to death. I know this will come as shock and cause you much sorrow to hear that Mithrandir is no more...
It would have been sad news had Faramir heard about it when it happened, but until Pippin told him the tale of the miraculous, and typically mysterious, reappearance of Gandalf the White, he had known nothing of what had transpired in Moria. The wizard certainly looked well when he rode into Minas Tirith.
“…we have never really considered losing each other…” Indeed they had not, Faramir nodded in silent agreement, his heart bleeding from the as yet unhealed wound of Boromir’s death. He stared at the few words that cut so close to the truth and made his loss even more painful to bear. Certainly a naive viewpoint in light of the strife they faced each day, but his mind had refused to believe anything else. He knew neither of their bodies was immune to death by the cold steel of a blade or piercing arrows, but somehow he had thought of Boromir as invincible, that he would always be at his side. Until the day Denethor held the cleaved Horn of Gondor in his hands.
...Misfortune has continued to plague this journey, the latest instance occurring when Pippin inadvertently alerted the thousands of orcs and the Balrog to our presence and brought the foul creatures forth from the depths of the mountain. We all fought bravely and well, but were forced to retreat. When the creature of darkness appeared, Aragorn and I stayed behind until the others had fled to safety, but our swords were of no use and Mithrandir ordered us to leave. It was not until he had defeated the Balrog that he was caught unawares by the fiery whip and dragged to his doom. He fell in a courageous battle with a foe born of ancient times, one more hideous than I have words to describe, or the skill to capture in a drawing.
As I replay the battle in my mind, I can not help but think of how similar this battle was to the one told of Glorfindel. He too was distracting the creature to allow those in his charge to escape and it was brave of the Elf lord to face the danger without the might of a wizard’s staff to add to his defence.
Can you imagine how great a foe an army of such fearsome and powerful elvish warriors would be? Yet even they could not defeat Sauron and his minions, so what hope do Men have? Unaided we would simply be marching into Mordor to our death. More than ever I am convinced of the folly of destroying the one weapon that is strong enough to ensure our victory...
Ah, Boromir, ever the soldier, Faramir thought with an affectionate smile that warred with the frown of concern that the ring was still making its presence felt.
...I have yet to convince the others of this, but I think the task will be even more difficult than ever for there is much uncertainty about the path we should follow. Aragorn has become our new leader, but even he has doubts as to what Mithrandir’s plans were and is now considering travelling to Mordor with Frodo rather than to Minas Tirith.
We had words, and I reminded him that should Men fail and Minas Tirith fall, he would have no kingdom to rule.
“Aye and I would lose more than that,” he replied sadly. I told him such a statement did not speak well of his commitment to his people and when I pressed him for an explanation I learned that Elrond would only give him Arwen’s hand were he to succeed.
“Arwen’s heart clearly belongs to you, Aragorn and I think that regardless of her father’s wishes or the outcome of the battle ahead, she will find a way to be with you.” I told him with certainty, she is a very determined lady!
Certainly this is an added motivation, but unfair, and makes the Elves seem manipulative in my opinion, so I informed him, adding that perhaps he should choose his words a little more carefully, it would not sit well with my father to hear our king values his love over his realm. I also reminded Aragorn that it was the dream you and I shared, Faramir, that he saw as the signal it was time for him to reclaim the throne and regardless of his doubts and fears, (for he is but a man), he is our king and as such it is my duty to offer support, advice and loyalty. Nonetheless, it is also my duty to return to our city, and I told him so.
For the first time in many days I saw a genuine smile on his care worn face and a light in his eye as he accepted my words of encouragement and understanding with a clasp of his hand on my shoulder. Aside from the roles we were born to, we have become friends...
So, Faramir mused, Aragorn’s personal battle was not only with his fear of being lured by the ring, of being tempted as Isildur was, but also with acceding to the demands of his lady’s father. If Faramir’s feelings for Éowyn were anything to judge by, then this inner war was already won, for he knew he would do whatever was needed to win his lady’s hand. Besides, a royal wedding would be an added joy to the return of the king, and two even more so, should Éomer give the Steward his blessing.
Noting that there were only a few pages of writing left, Faramir decided that tomorrow was soon enough to return to reading of Boromir’s final anguish,. It would likely be both torture and a relief to do so but was also something he did not think he could bear at the moment.
Tonight he would retire with the romantic thoughts of Éowyn that were filling his mind and that would hopefully turn into even more pleasant dreams.