Steward and the Queen, The: 6. The Shadow Is Lifted

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6. The Shadow Is Lifted

It was but a little past the first hour when Faramir and Eowyn walked together to the Citadel to stand at the buttress wall and look northward. The grey dawn was made greyer by clouds that hid the sun and the ruin of City and townlands showed bleak in the drear light. There were a few others to share their watch, servants of the Citadel in their black and white liveries, and Queen Undomiel herself, standing in the embrasure at the tip of the buttress, her white gown shining in the pale light, the chill north wind blowing her long black hair.

Beside him Eowyn shivered. Faramir frowned down at her in concern and reached for her hand, it was cold as ice.

“She pulled it free.” I’m all right.”

“You’re cold.” he said in the scolding tone of a parent or nurse, and turned to his manservant. “Argon, go to the Steward’s house and ask the caretaker to open my mother’s wardrobe, in it you’ll find a good warm mantle of starry blue, bring it here.”

The Man quickly returned with a deep blue robe, sewn thick with crystal stars and lined with soft white miniver. Faramir draped it around Eowyn’s shoulders.

She clutched at it gratefully and produced a pale smile. “Thank you, that is better.” Then she looked northward again. “What is happening? How much longer must we wait until we know whether the world if Men is at an end or no?”

“I do not know. “He answered quietly. “But I know I would not have this world end, nor lose so soon what I have found.”

“Lose what you have found, Faramir?” she said primly. “I know not what you could have found to lose.” but there was a glint, almost of coquetry in the sidelong look she gave him and a warmth that said she knew very well what he meant - and was not displeased. Then she looked northward again, into the wind, and her face clouded. “I feel as if I am standing on the dreadful brink of a dark abyss, awaiting some stroke of doom.”

“Yes. We wait for the stroke of doom.” Faramir said.

Neither spoke again for some little time. The sun rose higher, shining pale and joyless through the overcast. A few more folk came to join the watchers at the buttress wall and they could see others on the City walls below them. The noise of hammer and chisel came faintly up to them from the ruined circles but there was no cheer or energy in the sound. The blows came slowly as if the Men labored in great weariness.

Then the cold north wind cut off cleanly, as if by a blade. At that same moment the light failed and the sun was dimmed, and all sound ceased. They could hear neither their own breath nor the beating of their hearts. It was as if all the world was holding its breath - waiting.

Then the darkness over the Mountains of Shadow rose up high, like a great black wave flickering with lightnings, effacing the pale sun and casting its mountainous shadow over all. A tremor ran visibly over the surface of the earth, rushing towards the City, and they felt the stones quiver under their feet. Then a sound like a sigh rose from the land itself and suddenly they could hear their hearts beating again.

Faramir stared up into the darkness hanging over them and heard himself say. “It is like Numenor.”

“What?” Eowyn’s voice, like his own, sounded strangely small.

“The land of Westerness that foundered. Often in dreams have I seen the great dark wave rising over the green land, darkness unescapable.”

“You think the Darkness is coming?” she asked fearfully, “Darkness Unescapable?” and she huddled to his side.

Faramir put an arm around her. “No. No it is only a dream. I don’t know what’s happening.” he looked down into her lovely face, gazing apprehensively yet trustingly up at him. “Reason says evil has won and we stand at the end of days. But my heart says nay. Oh Eowyn, in this hour I don’t believe any darkness will endure!” and he kissed her on the brow.

She put her arms around him and rested her head upon his shoulder. As they stood so entwined a strong, warm wind came from the west and blew the Shadow away, and the grey clouds too. The White City shone radiantly in the light of the unveiled sun and the Anduin sparkled silver.

Faramir found himself laughing with unreasoning joy. Eowyn laughed too, like bubbling music, and stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek.

And standing, shining, at the tip of the buttress, Queen Undomiel raised her arms and sang in a strong voice that folk heard all the way down in the first circle:

“Sing now ye people of the Tower of Anor,
for the realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.

Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch has not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.

Sing all ye people!”

And then she turned and walked past them all, down the length of the buttress to the fountain and the dead Tree. Faramir and Eowyn followed after her, and the serving people followed them. As they watched the Queen laid her hands on the lifeless white trunk and began to sing a new song.

It was in Quenya yet Faramir, learned as he was in the high tongue, couldn’t catch the meaning of the words though he felt their power shivering over his skin and saw them run like a shining sap into the dead Tree. Buds showed pale green on the dry boughs, unfurled into clusters of dark leaves, silvery pale below. The tree stood straighter as life ran strongly through it and lifted its leafy arms to the sun. White buds appeared and blossomed into snowy flowers and their sweet scent filled the court.

The song ended and Undomiel stood back, surveying her handiwork with delight. Faramir stared at the reborn Tree in awe and near disbelief. Finally he was able to tear his eyes away and look down at Eowyn. Tears ran sparkling down her cheeks but her face was alight with joy and wonder.

His own feelings were more complicated. He had welcomed the Return of the King, yes, but in his heart he hadn’t really expected things to change. He’d expected the Gondor of the King to be a continuation of the Gondor he had always known, poor, sad remnant of the glories of the Elder Days that it was. Only now did it come home to him that Elessar was indeed Envinyatar - the Renewer - bringing a new Age and a new world. And though there was joy and anticipation in that knowledge, there was also loss. The Age of the Stewards was ended, the new Gondor would belong to the King. For his father, and perhaps even for Boromir, that would have been a thought to bitter to bear. And even for him, who had never expected nor wished for rule, it had its sadness.

The Queen’s little garden was a riot of flowers; rose, lily, jasmine, snowdrop, and more all blooming gaily regardless of their season. “The song was more powerful than I thought.” Arwen said, surprised

“It must have been powerful indeed to bring life back to Nimloth after so many long years.” Idril agreed, adding wistfully. “I am sorry I missed seeing that.”

“And I am sorry I didn’t prune first.” Arwen said wryly, looking at the tangle of bushes and vines.

Idril laughed, then asked: “If you have such power why did you wait so long to use it, Arwen?”

“I had to wait until the time was right.” the Queen explained. “I could not have done it before Sauron’s fall.”

“Not while the Dark Lord still blighted our land.” Idril’s tone turned brisk: “We had better start work on the King’s Apartments right away. Do you know when he will return?”

Arwen shook her head. “Unfortunately no. The sight does not trouble itself with such things.”

“Just the births and deaths of Kings, rise and fall of kingdoms and other grand designs.” Idril said dryly.

Arwen laughed. “Exactly.” The door to the King’s court opened and her maid came in. “Yes, Andreth?”

“The Lord Hurin asks your Grace to please to come to the Court of the Tree as word has come from the King and his messenger is such as cannot be sent to your Ladyship’s rooms.”

The messenger was a great Eagle. Idril, Andreth and Pharinzil stopped in their tracks at the sight but Arwen ran forward with a glad greeting. “Landroval! But how do you come to be on this side of the mountains and Aragorn’s messenger?”

He made a harsh sound that might have been a kind of chuckle. “They needed somebody to handle those overgrown bats of Sauron’s. Who better than the Eagles? And who better to carry news?”

“None better.” Arwen agreed. “What is your news?”

“Eomer is unharmed, and so is Merry.” Arwen said gently.

Eowyn bowed her head and wept, but quickly stemmed her tears. “I have been so afraid.”

“As have we all.” Arwen assured her. “But now all fear is ended. Our Men will come home to us. All will be well.”

“’You shall see these days renewed.’ my uncle told me.” she said slowly, in wonder. “I should have remembered he had the foresight of the Dunedain from his mother.”

Arwen smiled a little sadly. “It can be hard to trust in Seeings when all around you seems to give them the lie. I know, I have Seen Aragorn playing with our son and yet I too was afraid.”

“I have been afraid all my life,” Eowyn said softly, “though I never realized it till now. What will I do now there is nothing left to fear?”

“Learn to live without it.” Arwen said simply.

“Frodo is alive?” Faramir asked in amazement.

“Barely.” Idril answered. “The Ringbearer and his squire have both taken terrible hurt from their ordeal but Elessar hopes he will be able to heal them.”

“If it is possible he will do it.” said Faramir with firm confidence. “I will hold to that hope. I very much want to see Frodo again.”

“I would like to meet him too.” said his sister. “He must be even more remarkable than our Peregrin or Meriadoc of Rohan.”

“Do all Halflings have such strength, or just these four?” Faramir wondered.

“Now that the lands are united under the King we will have a chance to know the Little Folk and learn the answer.” said Idril.

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.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/14/04

Original Post: 10/08/04

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