1. In The House Of The Stewards
Beregond was surprised to see Peregrin running towards the gate.
“Whither do you run, Master Peregrin?” he cried. The little hobbit tilted his head up to see him properly.
“To find Mithrandir,” answered Pippin.
“The Lord’s errands are urgent and should not be hindered by me,” Beregond said courteously, hiding his curiosity. “But tell me quickly, if you may: what goes forward? Whither has my Lord gone? I have just come on duty, but I heard that he passed towards the Closed Door, and men were bearing Faramir before him.” Silently he begged it was not true.
“Yes,” said Pippin, “to the Silent Street.”
Sorrow washed over the Guard. It was as he had feared. “They said that he was dying,” sighed Beregond, running a trembling hand through his hair, “and now he is dead.”
“No,” Pippin informed him quickly, “not yet. And even now his death might be prevented, I think. But the Lord of the City, Beregond, has fallen before his city is taken. He is fey and dangerous.” The Guard listened with growing horror as Peregrin quickly told him how strangely Denethor had acted. “I must find Galdalf at once!”
“Then you must go down to the battle,” Beregond informed him regretfully.
“I know. The Lord has given me leave. But, Beregond, if you can, do something to stop a dreadful thing happening.” A frown flickered across his face, for he’d had the same thoughts.
“The Lord does not permit those who wear the black and silver to leave their post for any cause, save at his own command,” he said, troubled.
“Well, you must choose between orders and the life of Faramir,” Pippin said, a bit angrily, impatient to be off. “And as for orders, I think you have a madman to deal with, not a lord. I must run. I will return if I can.”
Even before Pippin disappeared from sight, Beregond was racing towards the Silent Street.
Beregond caught his breath in alarm when he saw the servants, nearly all of them bearing torches. He did not understand their intent, but it was apparent to him that it had to be stopped. Springing forward, moving easily despite the black and silver armor that he wore, Beregond maneuvered his body in front of the door, shoving the porter down.
“The key. Give it to me!” He demanded hurriedly. Turambar gained his feet and stared. Then his gaze hardened, and he slid his sword out of its sheath.
“You are a Guard. Why have you left your post?” he demanded, but panic and haste had made Beregond short. He again asked for the key, taking a short dagger from his side.
“Your Captain’s life is at stake, man. Close this door!” At his words the porter leapt forward, intent on killing the Guard. Beregond, with a low cry of remorse, ducked under the swing and stabbed the dagger into his stomach. The sword clattered to the floor as the porter gasped and fell onto his knees. Ignoring all else, Beregond roughly felt the man’s pockets and pulled out the key.
The servants cried out their outrage as he tucked the key into his pocket. There was no time to lock the door. Taking a defensive stance, Beregond faced them and made it clear they were not getting in.
They tried to shove past him, but Beregond deterred them with his sword, demanding to know their orders and holding shut the door with his left hand. The men cursed him for his trouble. He could not understand why they were so eager to do the bidding of their Lord Denethor. Had the madness that Ernil i Pheriannath spoken of been passed on to the servants? “Wait. Captain Faramir still lives! Denethor has lost his senses; he does not know what he commands you to do.”
Ignoring his words, a boy tried to push past him, using his torch to ward off Beregond. His hands shook with nerves, and it was an easy matter for the Guard to grasp the youth’s wrist and squeeze. The torch fell to the ground, and he threw the boy back down the steps.
“Outlaw!” someone shouted at him venomously. He drew his sword, knowing this would not be easy but unwilling to let his Captain die for such madness.
“You are a traitor!” shouted another, stepping forward. He was tall, with broad shoulders and a scar running down his cheek. More like a solider than a servant. The Guard had spoken with him on more than one occasion. A sword was handed to him by one of his companions. “Step aside, and let us do our duty. Lord Denethor commands it.”
Beregond could feel the sweat running down his back, slowly trickling between his shoulder blades to follow his spine. It made him shiver. “Willem, listen to me. I do not betray Minas Tirith or my Lord-”
The servant leapt forward with his sword already arcing down. Too many years of living by his blade made Beregond react without thinking. Taking a quick step to the left, he let the sword flash harmlessly by, then brought his own weapon down, severing Willem’s spine. He collapsed, dying instantly.
Willem’s blood flooded across the cobbled stones. There was a thick silence as the men started at his body, cut nearly in half by Beregond’s blow. The Guard gagged at the sight of the sticky redness splashed on his boots and darkening his blade.
“You sick, murdering betrayer!” growled a red headed old man; Beregond recognized him as a former solider in his Company.
“Tarcil, listen to me. Would you let your Captain die when there is a chance that he could be saved?” asked Beregond. He did not want to fight this man. He had not wanted to fight at all, but his first loyalty was to Lord Faramir.
“You speak of madness in Lord Denethor, but I say it is you who has taken leave of his senses. Faramir is dead.” Tarcil countered, drawing his broadsword and mounting the few steps to face Beregond. “Now step aside and I will not kill you where you stand.”
“Do not do this,” Beregond said slowly, watching Tarcil approach. “I will not let you pass.”
Without answering, Tarcil feinted toward his opponent. He blocked it easily; he knew that the old man was trying to get his measure. They exchanged a few quick swings, trying to find a weakness. “Do not trouble yourself, Grandfather. Take your friends and leave.”
“Child, we will leave when you let us do as we have been bid.” The man swung low, and Beregond blocked with difficulty. Tarcil had an advantage over him; Beregond could not move away from the doorway, or else they could get through and accomplish what he was trying to prevent.
Knowing his wild card, Tarcil attacked with several rapid strikes, trying to force the younger man out of the way and off the stairs. The Guard blocked him roughly, hardly blinking when the deadly-sharp tip passed inches from his face. Whirling, he turned the move on Tarcil. Several quick, almost fool-hardy strokes made him stumble back. It had been a long while since he’d wielded a blade in combat.
“Fall back, you old fool. I have no wish to kill you,” begged Beregond in a mutter. Tarcil opened his mouth to reply, and at that moment he lashed out with his hand, giving the old man a push. He tumbled down the stairs, and was knocked unconscious when his head cracked against the stone floor.
Then suddenly there came a cry.
“Stay! Stay!” It was Mithrandir. He hurried to the stairs, and the Guard felt his knees weaken with relief. The wizard was here now. “Stay this madness!”
Denethor’s voice came to them. “Haste, haste! Do as I have bidden! Slay me this renegade! Or must I do so myself?” And then the door was wrenched open.
The Lord brandished a sword, and for a terrible moment Beregond feared that he would be slain – did he dare challenge Denethor thus, even to save Faramir? – until Mithrandir was sudden there beside him, and he had to shield his eyes against the brightness radiating from him in anger. Beregond stumbled back, and nearly fell from the stairs. This fight was out of his hands now. Mithrandir would protect his lord. Leaning his back against the wall, he slid down, and buried his head in his arms.
“Beregond, by your sword blood was spilled in the Hallows where that is forbidden. Also you left your post without leave of Lord or of Captain. For these things, of old, death was the penalty. Now therefore I must pronounce your doom.
“All penalty is remitted for your valour in battle, and still more because all that you did was for the love of the Lord Faramir. Nonetheless, you must leave the Guard of the Citadel, and you must go forth from the City of Minas Tirith.”
The words of King Elessar Telcontar struck Beregond as surely as any blow. The blood drained from his face, and he bowed his head. Many times had he prepared himself for worse, but his heart still ached. Then the King spoke again.
“So it must be, for you are appointed to the White Company, the Guard of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien, and you shall be its captain and dwell in Emyn Arnen in honour and peace, and in the service of him for whom you risked all, to save him from death.”
Giddiness blind-sided Beregond. He barely restrained himself from letting out a great bellow of joy. Bountiful indeed was the mercy of the King. The new Captain knelt and kissed the hand of Elessar. With his free hand, Elessar laid a gentle hand upon Beregond’s crown.
He bowed low as he left, feeling as light as air. The heavy weight of sorrow that he had carried for days was finally lifted. The Lord Faramir was alive, and by the grace of the King, he would be able to protect him.
He was nearly toppled when Bergil launched himself at his father, wrapping his arms around him and sniffling into his tunic. “Father, are they going to kill you?”
Smiling gently, the new captain of Ithilien disengaged Bergil and knelt down. “Nay, my son. King Telcontar has proven to be merciful. He has spared my life and made me a captain.”
“A captain!” Bergil gasped. “Not in Minas Tirith, surely?”
“Nay. We shall follow Prince Faramir to Emyn Arnen.” For a moment, Bergil’s face fell and he dreaded the thought of leaving his home. Then he shook his head and reminded himself that his father would live and be happy. He could do no other than rejoice.
Ernil i Pheriannath - Prince of the Halflings
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.