I know some authors consider Faramir’s dreaming a Dol Amroth trait that came to his through the Elven blood in his mother’s family. Well, I happen to see it differently. As Aragorn was known to have some sort of foresight as well, I do believe that this specific ability came through Elros’ line to several of Isildur’s descendants. Yes, the Steward’s family descended from Isildur as well, but not on a direct line, that is why they could never ascend to kingship.
CHAPTER 08 – DREAMSCAPES
Needless to say that Madenn was most upset with Faramir, and not even the presence of Boromir and her own cousin – to whom she seemed to have a very heartfelt bond – was enough to keep her from giving the youngling a piece of her mind. Faramir endured the tongue-lashing in a properly contrite manner – he had frightened her with his disappearance, after all – and escaped to his guest chamber right after the evening meal.
Not that it would have been such a great hardship; he could barely wait to spread his newly-won fortune all over his very comfortable bed and enjoy his bounty. He spent half the night awake, leafing through his precious books with extreme care, admiring the beautiful pictures and struggling with the ancient Quenya and Adûnaic texts. Compared with those, the Sindarin of the Elven legends was a delight; more so as Sindarin was still widely spoken in Minas Tirith, especially among the old nobility.
When he finally went to bed, the strange rhytmics and rhymes of the Adûnaic poems were still echoing in his mind like far-away horn-calls from a rocky hillside.
In his dream, he saw a green island amidst the Sea, shaped like a star, with a steep mountain rising ups in its middle, stretching towards the stars like a silvery tower. Mighty fleets of magnificent ships, greater and stronger even than those of the Princes of Dol Amroth, left the harbours of the island, heading to the West, and their flags were black and gold. They wore the signs of the King, Ar-Pharazôn the Golden, and were full of warriors, tall and grim, and the hearts of the warriors were dark and full of hatred. And Faramir knew that he was seeing the mighty fleet of Númenórë, shortly before its fall, when the last king of Westernesse had tried to seize the Deathless Lands by sheer force in his madness.
For just as the first ship touched land and the King and his chief warriors set foot upon the land of Aman, sacrilegiously, a great chasm opened in the Sea between Númenórë and the Undying Lands, and the waters of the Sea stumbled into it in cataracts that went up to heaven with a deafening noise and with dark smoke that made the day seem like deep dusk; and the world was shaken. All the proud ships of Westernesse were washed away like fragile nutshells, drawn into the abyss, and they were swallowed up for ever.
But the mighty wave that mounted up above the abyss, green and cold and plumed with foams, did not flatten after this. It rolled away towards the isle of Númenórë, growing still on its way ‘til it seemed like a dark wall that touched the heavens. And suddenly, the holy peak in the middle of the isle burst into fire, and a mighty wind arose, spreading its black smoke over the proud towers and mighty tombs, the merry halls with their painted murals and carved pillars, the gardens with their fragrant trees.
And when the mounting wave reached the land, climbing over the green hills, the wives and the children, the maidens and the elderly and the ladies proud, all who had been left behind the warriors trying to storm the Blessed Land, fled their homes with terrified screams. Yet there was no escape from the destruction. For there was a great tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and even the hills slid; and the entire isle went down into the Sea, buried under the rearing waves(1).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Faramir bolted upright in his bed, trembling in his entire body, covered in cold sweat. Albeit prone to strange dreams all his life, he had never had such a frightening one before. If this was one of the true-dreams his father was said to have sometimes? Nay, it could not be; for it showed the past, not some vague future.
He knew he would not be able to fall asleep again. In truth, he dreaded to be alone. He felt the overwhelming need to flee to his brother’s rooms, but he knew not where Boromir slept in this foreign place; and besides, he was old enough to face his own dreams, was he not?
“There is no need to face the demons of the night alone, little brother,” the deep, gentle voice of Boromir said, and Faramir threw himself into his brother’s strong arms in relief, ashamed about his own terror but glad that their connection of old still worked.
Many a time, when he had been very young, had Boromir come into his room without the need to be called for, as if he had known that Faramir was in need of comfort after a bad dream. Since he could think back, this… this strange bond had been there between them. Boromir had always known when he was upset or frightened or just sad; and he came to his aid whenever he could.
Like at this very moment.
“What is wrong, little brother?” asked Boromir quietly. “Have you been dreaming again?”
Still too shaken to answer, Faramir simply nodded, burying his face in his brother’s shoulder. He did not cry, of course, no matter how badly the dream had frightened him. He was almost an esquire already, and only babes cried when scared.
Or little girls like Morwen.
Not that he had seen Morwen crying in years, unless out of extreme anger, but she was a girl, after all. Which he was not. His father would be very disappointed with him, had he begun to weep on Boromir’s shoulder like… like a girl.
For a while, Boromir said nothing, just rocked him in his arms gently, as if he was a baby indeed, and even though it was a little embarrassing, it felt so good that Faramir could have remained like that all night. No-one could comfort him and make him feel safe like Boromir did. When his brother held him like this, he did not miss his mother so terribly.
“Can you tell me about the dream?” asked Boromir after a while. “’Tis said that dreams are less frightening when we speak about them. Their meaning becomes clear, and they are not so threatening any longer.”
“Have you dreamed, too?” asked back Faramir in surprise.
It happened less frequently that Boromir would have one of the strange dreams that had haunted their House since Mardil Voronwë – he came after the more sombre ways of the people of Lady Olwen – but every time and again, he did dream, too. The main difference was that Faramir usually had visions from the far past, while Boromir dreamed of the future – or what might become a possible future. One could not tell yet if those were true-dreams like the ones of their father or not.
“Nay, I have not dreamed for a long time, and I am grateful for that,” answered Boromir slowly. “Mayhap becoming a soldier has cured me of the dreaming altogether – I cannot tell. But after I have been knighted and officially declared the Heir of stewardship, Father took me with him to the upmost, secret chamber of Ecthelion’s Tower and allowed me to use the Seeing Stone for the first time.”
Faramir, who had studied Gondor’s history with a passion that belied his young age, understood at once what his brother was talking about.
“So, the last of the palantíri has not been lost, after all!” he cried out in awe.
Boromir shook his head and gestured his brother to speak in a lower voice. No-one needed to hear about these things, not even in the house of such a faithful ally as Lord Forlong.
“Nay, he said. “The Stone of Minas Anor has been in the possession of the Stewards, ever since the days of the Kings ended in both kingdoms. “Tis a closely-guarded secret, I am told, accessible only to the Ruling Stewards and their Heirs; and the Stone has not been used by them in all those millennia. For we know not for certain what happened to the Stone of Minas Ithil after it had been sacked and turned evil; but the Stone of Orthanc has remained secure in its unimpregnable tower and has come in the possession of the wizard Curunír – ant thus it is lost for us as well.”
“Yet Father does use the Stone, unlike the Stewards before him, does he not?” asked Faramir a little worriedly.
“He had turned to the Stone as soon as he came to power,” he replied, “but you need not to worry about him. He had long before studied the matters of the palantíri and all the lore regarding them and their use, preserved in the ancient scrolls in the Hidden Archives that only the Stewards are allowed to use.”
“I doubt not Fathers knowledge and wisdom,” said Faramir, still very concerned, “yet it is dangerous to use tools made for people wiser and more powerful than we are. And they put a great strain on those who use them, and lesser Men are not fit to stand that kind of burden.”
“Mayhap,” Boromir allowed. “But the Stones are useful, regardless of the strain they put on those who consult them, and even though their strength comes from a time greater than our own, there still are men strong and confident enough to make good use of their hidden powers.”
“What powers?” asked Faramir. “Father never allowed me to read the old scrolls from the time of Númenórë of old; he always says I am too young to understand them. I only heard of the Stones from my tutor, and I know Father would be very… unsettled, would he know that it happened.”
“First of all, they give the user fair sight, well beyond the boundaries of his own realm,” Boromir explained. “But they can show the far past as well, and glimpses of a probably future. And when two people use two Stones that are in accord with each other, they could talk to each other… or more exchange thoughts over great distances through the Stones.”
“But there are no answering Stones left in the North,” said Faramir. “They were all lost in the shipwreck of Arvedui last-king when the North-kingdom fell. They most likely lie somewhere on the bottom of the Sea, broken and muted.”
“That might be,” answered Boromir, “and you would not wish to seek contact with the other two Stones that might still exist, I deem. But Father judged that the advantages that consulting the Stone in Ecthelion’s Tower could mean outweigh the risks.”
“They may,” murmured Faramir, in a way too low for even his brother to hear, “but what if he is wrong?”
“Besides,” Boromir added, “the Stone is his – and ours – to use by right. Since the days of the Kings have the Stewards been the wardens of the Stone and were appointed to survey it regularly. And after the office became hereditary, we remained the only ones to use it legitimately. When you are old enough, Father will introduce you to the Stone as well I deem.”
“Mayhap he will,” Faramir did have his doubts about that but did not want to discuss them at the moment. He was too curious to learn more about the Stone itself. “What is it like?”
“’Tis a perfect sphere, about a foot in diameter,” answered Boromir thoughtfully, “and it seems to be made of solid glass of crystal, deep black in hue. It was heavy when Father handed it to me, and while it felt cold first, it warmed in my hands quickly. There is a low, round table of black marble in the secret chamber, with a central dent in it; there is where the Stone usually rests, so that if can be revolved by hand.”
“Why should you want to revolve it?” asked Faramir curiously.
“Father says that the faces of the Stone need to be righted; its seeing faces are fixed to certain directions, so that, say, only the fixed eastern face can see towards the East, and the surveyor who wants to look, say, towards Rohan, has to sit on the west side of the Stone. So, if it comes out of alignment for some reason, it needs to be realigned by hand. Father also told me that it would not suffer any damage if by accident unseated and rolled off the table; it is unbreakable.”
“And where do the pictures appear?” Faramir nagged his brother. This was the first time in their lives that Boromir could provide him a bit of heretofore unknown lore. “On the surface or in the heart of the Stone?”
“In its heart,” replied Boromir. “As if you would view them from a great distance. ‘Tis… strange to see things that way.”
“What did you see in the Stone?” asked Faramir eagerly, apparently expecting something exciting or mysterious.
Boromir did not answer at once. The memory of that sight must have been an unpleasant one.
“I saw myself,” he finally said. “I was older than I am now, much older: a man grown and hardened in many battles. I was lying in a boat – a small, grey boat the like of which I have never seen before – and my weapons were laid to my side, broken. I believe I was dead, for the boat was filled with a soft light, unlike anything I have ever seen… and with water. It was floating on the Great River to the South, carrying me towards the Sea.”
“Nay, that cannot be!” Faramir protested in despair. “You cannot leave us, not now, not later! We need you… Gondor needs you! What would become of us all without you?”
Boromir patted his back fondly.
“’Twas a vision, nothing more,” he said. “The sights of the Stone are haphazard, if ungoverned by a directing mind, and this was but my first try to master it. No need to be upset about it. Now, do you think you can go back and sleep or shall I stay with you?”
“Stay,” whispered Faramir, too frightened to let his brother go just now, and Boromir climbed to him to bed as they had done in their early childhood.
For in the end, there was no-one else to stand with them.
(1) Based on the Akallabêth, pp. 334-335.
The lore about the palantíri can be found – more detailed – in the Unfinished Tales.
The lore about the palantíri can be found – more detailed – in the Unfinished Tales.