Had I time I would drop from relief. So close! Only Frodo's desperate trust prevented my fall. Alone between the Ringbearer and Saruman's horde, I seek the press of battle to keep his words of Boromir from breaking my heart. But it is not enough.
Only now do I know Boromir truly, at the Council, at Caradhras. In Lorien? How determined he was not to let me see! Where is he now? I dread what I must do if the Ring has him still, but no more than I fear his reckless, despairing pride if it does not.
A second horn call. Still so far! I do not think about what I will find. I dare not. The Uruks have moved off as though summoned, leaving the wood eerily still around my headlong rush. I force vain speculation on their going from my frantic mind and run.
Here another battle began. Foul corpses, sword hewn, and a familiar knife handle lead me on. I track the path of the encounter, searching light and shade, looking for color, red of velvet or blood, movement, the flash of a blade, life. I see none.
No, wait. There. And there. No!
Still battle dazed, I stare at the hideous creature I have slain. How came I here? Where are the others?
Three black arrows crudely fletched rise in my mind. Memory staggers me. I look round wildly and find those arrows killing my comrade beneath a tree.
Another lost! This one lost. The quest is ruined for I am lost.
His eyes burn as I touch his too pale face, but it is not Ring madness. Almost I wish it were.
I master my despair. I will have time, too much, for grief and guilt and doubt, but he has none.
I will not weep, though your reaching hand seems to pierce my chest and wrap round my heart. You need my strength, not tears, to feel my love and touch and trust as I feel yours, to grasp your sword as you die.
What do I need? Only to hold you and sob until we are both welcomed into this earth and thought and grief are forgotten. But it is not my fate to rest here as it is not yours to depart. I am your brother, have been your captain. You name me king and so I will be.
Epilogue - Sunrise, 16th March
Minas Tirith, the White City. City of Kings, of the House of Mardil, faithful stewards. Your city. Until now I looked upon it with old eyes but kept closed my new heart. Dully it shone in the gloom as we won the Pelennor inch by inch. By night I climbed its circling streets, unseen and unseeing, doing a king's work in a kingless city. Now it gleams as pearl in this dawn we spoke of but hardly hoped to see and I remember Lórien. There were my doubts shown unworthy when you, Gondor's truest guardian, despaired and dreamt and smiled.