The sky burned, trails of smoke and flame blotting out the stars we had so long hoped were watching over us. The stones of Osgiliath screamed with the voices of the thousands who had long ago deserted her. It was like some twisted celebration, lights marking the victory of the dark.
My eyes filled with the acrid smoke of her burning. Panic rode above all else I felt until I found you, searching for me on the western store. We were overwhelmed with the loss of our entire company, and full of helpless rage that flared, again and again, as we found no other survivors.
By the time we reached a supply cache and tended each other’s wounds, I cared only that we lived, you and I. Together, Boromir, we will find a way to fight this shadow.
Huddled together in the meager comfort of our small fire, exhaustion overcame me with a gift I had not dared to hope for ever again - sleep.
I woke suddenly, knowing only that something was wrong - I missed something, the crackle of a fire, the sound of you breathing -
But you were sitting up a little way away, struggling into your barely dry shirt.
"They say that peaceful sleep is the gift of the just. Even after last night, you slept like the ... like a babe."
"It was far from peaceful," I replied. "And I am not sure it even deserved to be called sleep."
"It cannot be a surprise to you to have dark dreams after what happened."
The easy way you slip inside my skull... "Not if I'd dreamt of the destruction," I answered. "But I dreamt of - I'm not sure what. An answer, maybe." I shook my head to clear it and grimaced as my hair tumbled into my eyes. I stank of smoke and unclean water - it made me anxious inside my skin, as if I would carry that smell forever.
A faint trace of a hopeful smile pulled at the corner of your mouth. "An answer?"
"A poem," I said and I saw the light go out again behind your eyes. You did not need to tell me you would, as you always have, believe in my visions, but I also understood how much I was asking.
"Faramir," you began, guardedly "I will never have your ease with dreams and portents - a poem?"
"A prophecy. A message." I gripped your arm, harder than I meant to, knowing you were sore. "Will it hurt to hear me?"
You sat silent for a moment before giving in. "Only for you. Go on, then, let's hear this message."
"Seek," I began "for the sword that is broken…."
"I can find you any number of those after last night," you sighed. But you listened in the end, though it took me nearly an hour to get through all of it with your questions and doubts. Then I waited while you considered.
"It will do no harm for us to look into the meanings of the words, but I can't see how, even if it were a certain thing, anyone with the authority to undertake such an errand might be spared now. What would you leave undefended for your poem?"
"Nothing," I said quietly. "You're right, it's too long a chance." We both have a talent for quiet acquiescence when there is nothing to be gained with words.
We took each other’s measure, and both knew that this was not over. We would continue to turn it over in our minds, searching for its meaning.
We would speak of this again.
For four days I have watched you, arriving sleepless to sit at table and eat almost nothing. Your appetite has been drained by the thing that possesses your dreams. This foe feeds upon your very being, Faramir, stealing you away by steady advances. If I questioned it, claimed a dream could not become real, you would dismiss my objections, and I will not permit that. But to do battle with the enemy, I must know what manner of enemy I face.
The faint dawn light has not yet found the stones outside my window, yet I wake and wrap myself in a robe before finding my way to your darkened quarters. The room is unlit; knowing every pace of it, I make for the end of your bed. Silently, I slip down and sit upon the blanket, my eyes adjusting to the shadows. And watching you, I see how the dream robs you of hard-earned rest. Disturbed, your hands clutch the blanket in twists, your head thrashes against unseen restraint. No words pass your lips, but no matter. You have told me what the dream says: Imladris, the halfling, the crownless king.
Witnessing your sightless anguish, I now believe, if ever I doubted. The dream is real.
Dawn light filters into your room, a glow that increases as the sun rises higher. Your hands loosen their hold upon the cover, relax a moment and swing upwards, stretching above your head. Then you wake-our eyes meet, and you know, without words. I believe you.
"Another restless night, I see." Your slight nod urges me to speak further. "Brother, this night-sending requires action. Something must be done. How best may we meet the challenge?"
"Yes, 'we'. This challenge is laid to our house, our charge. Father should know."
"He will not believe. My views matter little to him, and my dreams even less so." What you say pains me, but the truth of it is plain. "None will be sent because he will not allow it."
Your gray eyes lock with mine, daring me to disagree. And I cannot. Though we do have other options. "We must find another way."
"If he will not trust your dream, then there must be a way to force his hand. 'Tis a mighty errand. Someone must go."
"Force his hand, Boromir? In what way?"
"He has his weaknesses, his blind places. Let us turn those to our purpose." In your face I see you know already what I would say next. But you require me to say it nonetheless. To take responsibility for what we would do together, to utter one lie to the Steward so that he would see a greater truth.
"Let me claim the dream as well, Faramir. To speak the words you hear each night." Please, brother, let us end this torment you endure.
Your eyes widen at my words, but reason overtakes surprise. Slowly, you nod, the bargain struck between us. I have stolen your inheritance, with your blessing. For we both know he will not balk his favored son; one of us will be sent to seek the broken blade.
And thus we rehearsed. Over and over, until the words were as much part of my memory as yours.
Our plan is sure. At the evening meal, I will mention the dream and you will silence me. Father's trust in me will secure our victory, for he will see truth in me, falsehood in you. All planned, no conspiratorial looks to be exchanged where he may see them. And now, to the test, Faramir.
The platters pass, meat and drink set before we three, and the day's events recounted. Meetings with councilors, a horse trained, recruits supervised, three days of three men retold in little words. Then, the opening.
Father mentions a man seen in the streets, speaking prophecies about a deliverer from the north. "If only he saw true, his words might have meaning." I thrust, the blade of our argument entered without him even seeing it. "As Faramir dreams, when he saw the darkening threat in Umbar. Or the attack on Pelargir. Or his dream of Imladris." You shoot me a foul look, and bid me speak no more a bit too harshly, as if something is hidden.
The look and word to hush me secure his full attention. Success, brother! "Tell me more of this dream, Faramir. It might be important."
You stall, delay another of our ploys, a gambit to bind him to our hidden cause. Prodded, goaded, you repeat the words reluctantly, dismissing them as nonsense when you end. But proud Denethor sees farther, knows better, and will not be dissuaded. "What think you on these words, Boromir?"
And our trap springs shut: "Imladris is a word I heard last night. For once, I dreamed it as well." Repeating the words more steadily, the poem falls from my lips as if known from childhood, so unlike the wavering repetition you gave it, brother. Then more I add: "The sending is true, Father, I sense that."
Your words confirm our triumph. "This is a matter for the council, too important to ignore. We will speak of it tomorrow, when they convene." And you, Faramir, clinched the matter, lowering your head in shame, asking leave from table so that your dream would not be discussed in front of you. Father acquiesces, but not without a caution that you will have to speak the dream for councilors when they come the next day. With a nod, you leave, and I hide my excitement behind talk of new goods at market for the army, saddles from Rohan and strong horses brought from Edoras.
In my room, nearly sleeping, I hear you enter and approach the bed. Firelight allows us both to see, as words pass in whispers. "He will act upon this, mark my words, little brother."
"Yes, but how? Who will he send?"
"Does that matter, so long as one of us makes the journey?"
"This is no trifling thing, Boromir."
"True. But now 'tis our dream, so far as any can tell. He will make the choice. I doubt not he will send you, Faramir. You are our speaker of night thoughts, he knows this."
"If he tries to send you, brother - refuse him. Do not go."
"Do not let Father appoint you. The task is mine. You know this."
"Is it not enough that one of us may go, Faramir? Do not argue this with me where he may hear - we have baited the hook and caught our fish. Do not let him wriggle off the line on this account." I raise a hand, to still your objections. "He will send you, Faramir. Let us debate no further. Peace, brother." I see your reluctance to let go, but you do, for my sake.
One last turn to look at the White City, and the place you watch me from, Faramir. Our home. Then I forge on, riding northwards, towards a place I know not. Imladris. How may one find a destination given only the faintest of clues? Yet ride I must, at Denethor's command, his direction spoken clearly at council and brooking no disagreement. I offered myself for the quest, repeatedly, thinking to play our game once more, to push by indirection such that he would choose you, brother. But for once, Father would not be played false. "A worthy gesture, Boromir. If one must be sent, who else but the Steward's heir should be appointed for such an undertaking?"
The mute horror in your eyes said at once what you could not voice. 'Tis my dream, I should go…. And I make my plea with eyes alone, to you.
You are much wronged in this. Forgive me, Faramir.
My heart fell with every step of the plan, and left me wondering what had been the worst moment - the dream itself, that dinner of deception, watching father smile with pride as he told us you would make the journey, Boromir.
I am not pleased with the thought that I allowed my dream to set all this in motion. Yet clearly, someone must go – and no one is more able than you, more visible a proof of Gondor's glory and faithfulness, her prowess in this fight.
We spent a last afternoon on your preparations, and I shared what meager hints and partial maps I had managed to unearth. Our words addressed the future - what we should gain, what you would bring from the north, when we should see each other again.
I made you recite the poem another dozen times, hoping to hear something in your inflection, something new in each recitation. At last I had to satisfy myself with the knowledge that you knew it as well as I, and I found myself with nothing more to give you.
Only this - that I had begun, in my dreaming, to believe that you were meant to go all along. I was your messenger. I do not rejoice in this, but I must to accept it.
"What does your vision want of me?" you asked, but I could only shake my head.
"That, I do not know. Perhaps - something I am unable to give. Or, that only you, greatheart, can provide."
Did you think I was simply trying to make it easier for you? To show you what you already knew - that I did not hold the fortunes of our plotting against you?
I stood by the wall until even the dust of your riding had settled, and there was nothing left to linger for. I would stand, sword in hand, on the shadowed line while you rode north and pursued my dream.
Forty-five days gone from Minas Tirith, Edoras now a memory, and weeks of riding may stretch before me. My mount still springs lightly each morning, eager for the next bend, the new fields that come to view, but my heart begins to fail. What am I doing here? Our plan now seems a cruel joke, depriving Gondor of a strong sword while I chase the remnants of a dream. Your dream.
As sunlight fades, I make camp near a stream, build the low fire to roast some fish for the evening meal. Conserving supplies, I have eaten from the land when time permitted slight delay, for I have pressed forward all the harder even as my doubts have grown. And with the meal consumed, there is no reason to watch the fire die this evening. A field blanket and rough ground are my bed this night and for all the foreseeable nights to come as I search in vain.
The stars overhead I share with you brother, but not your faith, for mine is wavering. This quest seems futile, a waste. How much longer must I keep to it? I know what you do for me now, Faramir: fight all the harder, act the part of two swords against our enemies while I am absent. But can I do what you would have me do now?
Sleep has come reluctantly with me on this journey, but tonight it claims me, a drugging rest. Eyes shut as my mind fills with thoughts of home, your face, a weary wish to abandon your vision…and a plea I know you would speak were you here: “The dream is true.”
Gray thoughts swim toward me, a mist clouding my vision in the dreaming’s night. Asleep, yet not asleep, I sense something nearing me and strain in reaching for it.
The voice begins, one I have never heard before ringing across my mind, brooking no denial:
“Seek for the sword that is broken….”
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.