Wearied and chilled, as much by my fatherís words as by the horrors that beset us all, I stalked out of his council to the meager comfort of my own chambers. He had just condemned me and much of our remaining soldiery to a death with little purpose other than punishment. Punishment for my having succored and released the Ring-bearer rather than having seized the Ring for Gondor. Punishment for having looked to Mithrandir as well as to him. Punishment for having lived while Boromir had died.
My fists clenched. Death lay ahead; but it would not raven upon me as a wolf seizes a soft lamb. I would meet it, and the Enemyís forces that brought it, not as the lesser son of Denethor, but as the son of six and twenty ruling Stewards of Gondor. I would lead my brave men with pride; and we would keep the wolf from the doors of our City as long as we could, with our spears and bows and swords. And when at last the wolf felled and tore me, let it choke upon my angry heart!
I willed my flesh to harden as the stones of the City and the tall statues of the Kings. I willed my blood to run hot through my cold veins as if afire. I summoned bright raiment and the finest mail to cover it, and ordered the preparation of my best warhorses. I may not been named either Captain-General or High Warden; for those were Boromirís titles. But since I must now ride out in my brotherís stead, I would don attire befitting his heir.
As I awaited the coming of servants and armorers, I swept my eyes across the familiar aspect of my chamber. The drear of the Enemyís darkness cast a sickly pall upon the room. Then I saw my old lute, forlorn in its corner. I found myself picking up the lute and sitting down with the instrument cradled in my arms. My servants had faithfully kept the lute free of dust and I had arranged for the instrument to be regularly tuned in my absence; but it was still mute, begging for my hands to loosen its stilled voice.
I owned other instruments; a flute; a fair harp with which my uncle had gifted me some five years past; but this lute was my favorite. My mother had played it since her girlhood. I can clearly remember her gentle but skilled hands upon the instrument, coaxing out playful, enchanting tunes. It is said that my mother entertained the great Captain Thorongil with this lute, playing for him and my father and grandsire in the gardens. And there were a few golden summer afternoons when my mother guided my own hands on the luteís strings. Sometimes I can almost remember the sound of her voice.
I do remember the last time I played the lute: ĎTwas the night before Boromir left us. I supped with him and Father; and later, we all walked through the gardens. My brother urged me to send for my lute. He wanted a song of errantry; I gave him some verses of the song of Rochon Methestel, Rider of the Last Hope. The song celebrated the deeds of Borondir, who alone of Cirionís six messengers rode through to carry word of Gondorís peril to Eorl, word that resulted in the saving of our realm and our great alliance with the masters of horses.
It was also the last time I saw my father smile.
I ran my hands over the luteís soundboard and bridge. I played the first chords of Borondirís song; bold chords of challenge. Neither he nor Boromir nor Hirgon, who my father had sent to bring aid from the Rohirrim once more, had returned to Minas Tirith.
The morningís third bell rang out clearly, rousing me from thoughts of the past. I set the lute down on my desk. Hastily, for time was running out; I seized a scrap of parchment and a quill, and scribbled instructions that should I fall, the instrument should be sent to Dol Amroth. There, perhaps, what remained of my motherís kin might guard our treasured lute from the Darkness.
Soon, I would soon stand between my kinsman Imrahil and the vanguard of Shadow even as he helped hold the City. I could hear the clanking sounds that heralded the arms and armor I would bear.
The time for songs was over. The time to follow Borondir, Boromir, and Hirgon was nigh. I rose and straightened. My father said that gentleness may be repaid with death. Yet his sonís hands, hands that so gladly bring forth music, are also the hands of a warrior, and will bring death down upon our foes before the final price is paid.
Author's Note: Tolkien mentioned Borondir's deeds and the song they inspired in Unfinished Tales, specifically Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan, note #27.