1. ...To the Edge of Night
Home is behind, the world's ahead,
And there are many paths to tread…
Through shadow, to the edge of night…
He could not eat. It would choke him. They bade him quench his parched throat with spring-water, in a goblet much too grand for the likes of him, he thought. He longed for tankards of ale, for bread and cheese and the simple pleasures of sunlit meadows and winter hearths. The mail shirt drew down his shoulders. The stone floor chilled his bare feet, but never so much as the icy glare his new liege-lord gave his son, chilled his blood. As commanded, his song echoed sweetly through the hall, a dark lullaby for those who would soon sleep forever.
The Halfling could barely speak, overawed by his new position no doubt. I sent for water before he sang. A pleasant melancholic tune while I ate, calming to the spirit -which was sorely needed. Osgiliath must hold! The end is inevitable, I can but delay it. Faramir will be of little enough use. It should be Boromir – he would never have failed me. He would die, rather than return to me defeated. But he did die. Betrayed. Faramir must suffice. Death waits for all; yet in this game, to hold, the pawn must be sacrificed when the knight is taken.
The Steward is Gondor, as Gondor is the Steward. Harsh decisions must be made, without compromise. We have heard Mithrandir's rumours of a King returned, but where is he, pray? Lord Denethor is correct – Osgilliath is our last bastion against the Darkness; sacrifices must be made - it must hold, even if only a little longer And I must likewise steel my heart; my son rides with the Captain – as does the fate of us all. This Halfling has a pleasant voice, be that it trembles a little. I am sorry his new uniform will not remain untarnished by battle.
My father's grief makes him turn inward; now only the Steward remains. I… must be the Captain and obey. In fealty, my duty and love for Gondor carries me onwards. If with the blades of our bodies we can defend the White City, then let it be so. My men are valiant; we shall launch this last charge to hold Sauron at bay. Forlorn Hope they call it – a supposed vanguard, but there are none now to follow. Soon my Brother, soon we will meet. I pray I do you justice…. Oh Father… what have you done to us?
My Lord's voice was raised so all heard him ask for a captain, none would gainsay him. Lord Boromir was the only one dared bait the badger, no one else. Yet Captain Faramir was stoic before his father's wrath while others trembled like wind-tossed aspens. But, I am ashamed. To hear a father consign his son to oblivion – I never thought 'twould come to this. The Captain walked away, stiff-backed but leaden of step. I looked on his face in passing and my heart bled. I heard the sweet voice of the Halfling echo through the hall. And I wept.
The order came for horses to be saddled and I knew there was little likelihood of return. I saw one of the lads put on a second-best blanket. I cuffed him round the ears, this was the Flower of Gondor, would you have them ride to their last battle with anything but the best? He sniffed miserably, guilty, contrite; I hadn't the heart to send him away. "Will they not return, Master?" I shook my head. The look on his face stays with me still. "What? None of them?" "It is not called Forlorn Hope for nothing," I replied gently.
My Lord ordered vine-fruits and squab; he's very fond of love-apples, though there's some calls them poisonous. The Halfling, he loves mushrooms - was parched; my Lord graciously bade water be fetched. I returned as Captain Faramir attended; as I passed the trays through the Court was silent. Expectation chilled them cold as Dead-men's Fingers. Afterwards, Captain Faramir walked by with such a heavy tread – and the pain on his face – so pale, so pale. Then they told me. I ran for the herb-garden to pluck boughs of rue and rosemary, flinging them to the cobbles, along with my tears.
…Until the stars are all alight.
Mist and shadow,
Cloud and shade
All shall fade,
All shall – fade…
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.