“I am not certain why you continue to worry about it, Little Brother,” Boromir said as he slapped his hand against the barkless trunk. “After all, when all is said and done, it is only a tree,” he said firmly.
So saying, he gave Faramir a sardonic grin and walked away, headed for the ramp down to the lower city.
Still speechless, Faramir watched after the Warden of the White Tower and Captain-General of Gondor’s forces, and shook his head. Only a tree? How could anyone consider the White Tree of Gondor nothing better than only a tree?
“It is our life—our promise that we are not only a people!” Faramir said aloud at last. “There are many peoples within Middle Earth. Are we no better than any other? No better than the folk of Khand, or the oathbreakers who were cursed by Isildur for not having honored their vow to fight for him? Does it mean nothing to you, Brother, that we are the last of the Dúnedain in these reaches of the mortal lands?”
He caught a glimpse of a sympathetic nod from one of the four Guardsmen who stood, clad in ancient armor, as Guard of Honor to this, the symbol of their ancient ties to Númenor and the Undying Lands beyond its former guard. “I would see the White Tree blooming anew, here in the Courts of the Kings!” he said defiantly to the Guardsman and his fellows. “I would see our realm renewed, its honor clear for all to discern!”
As he turned to go back to the Citadel, the four he left behind stood straighter, reminded of why they were honored to serve in this capacity, guarding the sanctity of a symbol of what appeared to be fading glory.
Far to the north, a shapely hand used silver thread to embroider another branch for the White Tree, blooming with gemmed flowers, which took shape upon the black banner she wrought even now for the one she loved. And that one wandered through the Dead Marshes, following the trail of one who should prove to hold answers to questions that plagued the Wise—answers that must be found if there was to ever be a chance for a living scion of Nimloth the Fair to bloom once more within Gondor.
Meanwhile, high upon the flanks of Mindolluin, a small sapling lifted its chaplet of silvered leaves beneath the filtered sunlight. Its time was now approaching….