1. Dark Vale
Faramir was blind.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it was just so dark that he could not see. He tried to lift his hands to see if they were visible, but his arms ached as he did so, and they felt heavy, as if they were weighted. He tried to walk, but that, too, was a trial; his legs felt as if they were nailed down. With much effort, he managed to lift one leg, but cried out at the pain.
He sank to the ground, if it was the ground; he did not know. He could see nothing, hear nothing but the sound of his own strained gasps for breath. The air was chill and heavy, cold and damp, and he shivered. Slowly, painfully, he drew his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them, shaking with the cold and the pain that tore through him each time he tried to move.
Let go, said a voice inside his head. Let go, and it will all be over. The voice was neither man nor woman, and carried no emotion, not malice, not sympathy. It carried nothing but...compulsion. The voice made him want to accede to its wishes.
He lifted his head and looked around -- all remained black and chill. Where was he? What had happened to him? Was he dead?
No, but you suffer because you cling to life, said the voice. But you need not linger here any longer, enduring such pain. Just let go, Faramir. You have done your part. Rest now. See your mother again. Your brother.
The feeling of compulsion increased, and tears filled his eyes. His mother? Boromir? He would see them again, if he did as the voice asked?
You will, Faramir. You will see them, be with them always. You will never be alone again. I promise.
Boromir...how he wished to see Boromir, to laugh with him again. How he wished they could have time to spend together as they had when they were young, hunting, riding, creating mischief for their teachers, telling each other stories on dark nights.
Just let go.
He should do as the voice asked. There was nothing keeping him tied to the world anymore; those he had loved most were gone. It would be so easy, were it not for the lingering sense of duty to his people, to just let go...
"Faramir, lasto beth nîn."
He blinked in surprise and glanced around once again, but all was still dark. Yet he had heard a voice, a real voice, calling his name, beseeching him to listen. He tried to speak, to call out, but words would not form in his throat.
"Lasto beth nîn, Faramir. Hear my voice." It was a man's voice, gentle yet commanding at the same time. "Tolo dan nan galad."
Ignore him, Faramir. He wants to keep you here, away from those you love. Pay him no mind. Just let go. You want to see them again, don't you?
He did, he did want to see his mother and Boromir again, so very much. But he had a duty to his city, to his people, and the voice calling his name was a reminder of that.
"Tolo dan nan galad, Faramir. Come back to the light. Lasto beth nîn. Hear my voice."
"I hear," he whispered. "But it is so very dark."
"Banish it, Faramir! Command the darkness away!"
I am not the darkness, said the voice in his head. He is. He would have you suffer, alone, while I can give you peace.
He knew the words were a lie.
I would not lie to you, Faramir. He lies.
"Faramir! Banish the darkness! I call you back to the light," the man said.
Give in, said the voice. You know you want to let go.
Perhaps that I want it so much is all the proof I need that you lie, and he speaks the truth, he thought.
Why would you listen to him? He calls you back only for more suffering.
My people call me back. Gondor calls me back.
He gave the voice no further chance for argument, for seduction. "Be gone!" he croaked out, his voice barely more than a strangled whisper. "Leave me!"
"Good, Faramir!" the man said. "Again!"
He took a deep breath, struggling to find strength to lend to his choked words. "Be gone, darkness!" he cried. "Leave me be!"
The air swirled, the chill seeping into his bones, surrounding him, and then he blinked as the black shifted to a gray mist. As the air began to still, he saw was a man standing before him, about ten feet away. The man looked like one of the kings of old, tall, with an imposing manner, and gray eyes. As the air shimmered around him, Faramir thought he saw a winged crown on the man's head, but then it disappeared as the mist began to clear, becoming a dim gray light.
"Elendil," he whispered, unaware of the name on his lips until he heard himself speak.
The man shook his head somberly. "Indeed, I am not. I am called Aragorn, and I have come to bring you back," he said.
Aragorn...the name sounded familiar. "Where am I?" he asked. It was still difficult to speak, and he was tired, so very tired...
"You are in a cruel trap devised by the Enemy," Aragorn said. "I can help you, but you must stay with me, and not slip away now."
He forced himself to meet Aragorn's eyes. "What must I do?" He shivered, feeling the chill of the air deep within his bones. The darkness had not been banished, only driven back, and he still felt its presence.
"You must come to me, Faramir, and take my hand. I can go no further."
He nodded, and tried to stand, but faltered. He looked at his arms and legs, and saw no injury, yet something was sending waves of pain through his body whenever he tried to move.
Aragorn watched him, his own face pained. "I am sorry, I know it hurts," he said. "But there is no other way. Once you reach me, the pain will ease, I promise."
He tried again, resisting the urge to scream as his legs took his weight. Something was crushing his chest, too, and as he took a shaking step, he felt as if he had stepped into a fire. He cried out and sank to his knees.
"Be gone, demon!" Aragorn cried out. "You have no dominion over this man. In the name of Eärendil, of Lúthien, of Elendil, you shall not pain him further! Be gone!"
The mist swirled again, and the cold wind compounded his misery as Faramir gritted his teeth, commanding his legs to ignore the pain and obey his will. Finally standing, he dared another step. He was close, so close. Aragorn reached out a hand to him. He lifted his own hand, reaching out, gasping as pain shot through his arm.
"You will defeat this, Faramir." Aragorn's voice was quiet yet firm, full of belief in him, willing him to go on. He drew in as much breath as he could before taking another step, feeling this time as though he had been stabbed in the chest.
He could not bear this much longer. Ignoring the pain, he lurched forward, grabbing Aragorn's outstretched hand with both of his. Aragorn closed his other hand around Faramir's, and as he cried out in pain, he felt both of them falling, falling...
...until they landed on a soft bed of grass and leaves.
The pain was gone.
He looked up, and saw the sky with the sun shining through the canopy of a beautiful forest. The leaves tumbled through the warm, fresh air, and he smelled the blossoms of spring.
Aragorn knelt beside him, gently pressing the back of his hand to Faramir's forehead.
"Where...where is this place?" Faramir whispered.
"I do not know," Aragorn admitted. "Somewhere you might have a moment to recover, I think, so you need not awake in such pain."
He tried to rise, but Aragorn gently pressed a hand against his chest. "Stay. Just breathe, and rest," he said. "Your courage humbles me, for few could have braved what you did."
He shook his head. "Not courage. My duty...my people...they called me back."
Aragorn only smiled as their eyes met. "You have courage you do not even begin to comprehend, my friend." He took Faramir's hand. "Close your eyes now, Faramir." Faramir did so, and he felt Aragorn's lips press gently against his forehead as the air swirled and changed once again...
"Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. 'My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?'" -- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Chapter 8, "The Houses of Healing"
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.