Faramir awoke with a start, shivering with cold as a chill wind carrying the scent of rain found its way through the open balcony doors. The weight of the air was oppressive , almost suffocating, filling him with sense of dread that made his skin tingle and his heart race with fear as memories of another such day crossed his mind. ‘Was this the prelude to an attack? Was Sauron taking advantage of a city now depleted of all but a handful of its soldiers?’ Faramir wondered as he wrapped a warm robe about his tense body and moved onto the balcony to peer out into the dull greyness of the morning. To the east the sky was coloured as always by the eerie, red glow of the fires of Mount Doom and overhead hung the heavy, black clouds of a threatening storm.
Faramir dressed quickly and hurried to the top of the White Tower but saw no sign of an invading army gathering on the fields outside the city wall. Nonetheless, he ensured his captains were on their guard against a possible threat because even after he had received the reports from the scouts that confirmed all was well, his feeling of unease remained.
Thinking that perhaps that his reluctance to experience the anguish the last few unread pages of Boromir’s journal would cause was the real source of his disquiet, Faramir knew there was only one way to find out. After lighting a several extra candles to counter the darkness of the day that filled Boromir’s chamber, Faramir settled himself comfortably on the bed and turned to the final pages.
I think it only fair to warn our dear Uncle that the next time he invites us to Dol Amroth to participate in the rowing races he should place his wagers on me, so experienced an oarsman am I becoming! Following Lord Celeborn’s advice we have taken to the Anduin in elvish boats that, although crafted as finely as any work of art, are extremely light and easy to manage. Legolas claims they are also unsinkable, but I find that somewhat difficult to believe, although I know the Elf does not tell lies.
Nay, Faramir, I do not intend to find out for myself, if I can help it. I am certain Merry and Pippin would not appreciate an unexpected swim. The waters are freezing!...
An unwilling snicker escaped Faramir’s lips and not for the first time he marvelled at how easily his brother seemed to gauge his reactions even when they were so far apart.
...Travelling by river is easier on the body and rowing is certainly good exercise for my sword arm, yet I can not help but feel we are far too exposed to enemies that may be hidden amongst the trees that line the shores. The same eerie silence that we emcountered after leaving Rivendell follows us again, and as before, we journey under cover of night, but we all still feel on edge.
I sense that all is not well within the fellowship. There are hints of and mistrust and suspicion in the darting glances I see passing between Frodo and Sam when they look at me, although I know not why. Perhaps the burden of the ring is becoming too great for the Hobbit to bear and more than once it has occurred to me that I should offer to carry it for him for a time, but he guards it so jealously that I have not yet done so. There is a sense that we are experiencing the calm before the storm and the further we travel south the more the tension between us grows.
…We continue south, our way still unhindered, and are now but a day away from Parth Galen and even though Aragorn remains unsure as to the path to be taken, he knows that a decision must be made by the time we reach the fork in the road of our journey.
For my part, I have already made my choice, my city calls to me and I will head west as I always intended...
Faramir noted with alarm that the entries now appeared to be only brief snippets, and he sensed they matched his brother’s increasingly disjointed thoughts as he slipped further into the murky depths of the ring’s influence.
It amazed him that Boromir had continued with the journal at all, but perhaps allowing this semblance of normality provided some sort of sadistic amusement for the evil that possessed the ring. Whatever the reason, and no matter how painful every word was to read, Faramir knew he was grateful to be able to be there for Boromir, even if only in spirit.
…Faramir, my sleep was once again being disturbed by the nightmare showing the death and desolation that can only be prevented by wielding the ring. This time the fear and pain vanishes when, with you at my side, I raise it the glittering ring high, urging our army onwards to scatter our enemies like leaves in the wind. It is a glorious battle and an even more glorious victory and we return together in triumph to the city. Father greets us both warmly with the love and pride that you, in particular deserve little brother, and he rightly showers you with the accolades you have been far too long denied.
…I must have called out something in my sleep for I awoke to find Aragorn looking at me with concern in his eyes, his hand resting on my shoulder in a gesture of comfort. He surmised the nightmare was related to Minas Tirith, and offered to listen if I needed to talk about what was on my mind, but I made no reply. Part of me knows he only means to help, but action rather than talk is what is needed. He does not agree there is a need to claim the ring and so I follow your advice and tell him I can not recall any vivid details...
“My advice?” Faramir groaned, placing his hand over his heart as a stab of pain gripped him from inside. Boromir was still clearly under the spell of the ring, and its influence was becoming stronger. Even his handwriting was changing, Faramir noticed as he turned the page and saw Boromir’s letters were written in a harsher and jagged style than his usual artistically flowing manner.
…We would not want him to try and dissuade us from the path we must take, would we, little brother? He does not realise it yet, but he is not like Isildur. He does not crave power, or the throne, and he will not take the ring, even to use it to save our people and our city.
It is the only way to defeat the Dark Lord so I will do what must be done.
Frodo and will not agree to accompany me to Minas Tirith, nor will he hand me the ring, but neither will he possess the strength to resist me when I am forced to take it.
I will not allow it to be destroyed/
The ring is MINE!...
There was nothing left of his brother in the words, or the cold, threatening steel in the voice with which Faramir imagined Boromir would be speaking.
“Oh Boromir, are you so lost to me that you do not know I also would have nothing to do with that evil thing? Have you forgotten that you are a man of honour?” Faramir asked in desperation, as if his futile plea could reach across time and distance.
The sound of Faramir’s anguished screams of denial echoed throughout the empty chamber, drowning out the rolls of thunder as he flung the journal aside and pounded his fists angrily into the bed, sobbing uncontrollably as he whispered Boromir’s name over and over again. Finally, blinded by his tears, and feeling his heart beating so wildly that he thought it would burst, he staggered out onto the balcony, seeking fresh air to clear the foul taste of bile that had risen in his throat.
After a few deep, calming breaths, rational thought slowly returned and Faramir remembered that despite Boromir’s fall, his brother had overcome the hold the ring had on him. He had regained his honour in the end, paying for his fall with his life and Faramir knew that for his prideful Boromir, that price would have been the only acceptable outcome.
Even though he knew it would be a long time before his grief finally faded to a dull ache, a sense of peace descended around Faramir’s heart. Feeling as if a great burden had been lifted, he realised that he air was no longer oppressive; in fact it was crisp and clean and tasted of rain. The storm had raged and passed so quickly that it had been unnoticed by the grieving son of Gondor. As he looked to the east, Faramir’s eyes smiled when he saw the first bright fingers of sunlight parting the clouds over Mordor.