7. The Web Is Woven
It took less than a month for Ulfast to learn everything he wanted to know about the place and its inhabitants. The servants, and the people in town mostly, were willing to give him – unawares or no – any kind of information he wished. So he found out much about his three subjects of interest, namely Faramir, Éowyn and Beregond. And according to that information, he had planned much too; for he knew that the best of friendships and the greatest of loves could easily crumble once other feelings sunk in as well. The lord of the fortress would easily fall into the trap that Ulfast had in mind for him, the things that he had heard about would make certain of that, before the meddling captain that kept watching him would be able to do anything about it.
On a seemingly quiet Sunday morning, Beregond had just finished inspecting the men, as he did every Sunday; and while he was walking by the arch, he heard a strange noise above him as though something breaking. When he looked up, he saw a large boulder had detached itself from the main wall and was now falling towards him. Before he had time to react and avoid his death, Beregond felt a pair of arms grabbing him and pushing him safely out of harm's way. The captain remained lying for a few moments, trying to comprehend what had just passed, and then he turned to thank the person that saved him. His gratitude, however, changed immediately to dismay and disgust, because the man who had pushed him away turned out to be no other than Ulfast.
"Are you alright?" asked the Black Númenórean in a concerned tone.
"Yes, thank you, you can take your hands off me now," said the captain quickly, hardly hiding his distaste as he shoved Ulfast's gloved hands away.
"I was only trying to help," said the Numenorean in a hurt manner.
"Of course you were!" retorted Beregond, sarcasm in his every word, and added in his mind: Liar!
At that moment, more people gathered round and Bergil rushed to his father's side.
"Are you hurt?" he asked worriedly.
"No, my boy, don't fear," Beregond assured him. He pushed himself to his feet, ignoring with purpose the hand that Ulfast had stretched out for him.
Finally, Lady Éowyn arrived along with Faramir, seeing the commotion in the yard.
"What happened?" asked the prince, his eyes on Beregond.
"A boulder fell. Don't worry, I am all right," he answered.
"Ulfast saved him, my lord!" cried out one of the soldiers, earning a very angry look from his captain. But Faramir, not noticing that, just said his thanks to the Black Númenórean. As for the fair woman, one could discern a look of suspicion in her eyes as she looked at Ulfast. However, she quickly turned to the guard.
"Beregond, you should go clean up. The dirt from the ground is still clinging on you."
The captain checked himself, flushing slightly with embarrassment and disappointment: he had only polished his armour the previous day!
"I fear you are right, milady. I will be upstairs in my quarters if I am needed," he replied with dignity. He was about to walk away when Éowyn stopped him.
"I will come with you," she said, "It is on my way to my own quarters."
Beregond nodded, and then both started walking towards the inner halls. As soon as they were out of anyone's hearing range, the lady leaned toward the man and whispered near his ear.
"What do you think that could mean?"
"I don't know, milady," answered the guard, "but two things are certain: Ulfast's presence nearby could hardly be a coincidence and the fortress has been built by hands too well experienced to start crumbling after five years!"
"Indeed. But how come he saved you? Having you get killed would seem a more logical course to me."
"That is what worries me. It means that he has something else in store for me, a fate apparently worse than death and more pleasing to him."
Lady Éowyn shuddered involuntarily and she grasped the man's arm, making him face her.
"If he tries anything with Faramir, I swear…"
However Beregond shushed her immediately.
"He will not," he assured her, looking straight into her eyes and clasping his hand on her shoulder. "That is why I always watch him, to make sure of that. Unfortunately, the fiend has not done anything wrong yet, so we must wait till he makes a mistake that reveals his true intentions."
"I do not think I can wait for much longer. The sooner he leaves the better."
"I know what you mean, my lady," answered Beregond; and with no other word they walked up the stairs.
"I am glad I was nearby when that boulder fell," said Ulfast to Faramir, who was still standing next to him.
"That makes two of us," he said, relieved that Beregond wasn't hurt.
"I wish the captain was just as glad, though…"
"Do not concern yourself with him. I am certain he was only shaken by what happened," the prince assured the – seemingly – upset Black Númenórean.
"But this has been happening ever since I came here! I try my best and it's still not good enough for him! I have seen the looks he casts at me! To him I am nothing but an enemy!"
Faramir looked at Ulfast in wonder for many moments.
"I am sorry," he finally said. "The captain had promised me that he would not do that, but it seems that I will have to talk to him again."
"Thank you, my lord," replied Ulfast with gratitude, "and I am sorry. I am aware that he is your friend and I hate to put you in this difficult position."
"Still, some things have to be said, even between friends."
"I hope Lady Éowyn will understand that, sire."
"Lady Éowyn? What for?"
"Well, it is obvious that she cares for him as much as you do, my lord. The way she got concerned about the state of captain Beregond's armour, even though it got only dusty, shows just that beyond any doubt. She even volunteered to go with him upstairs, making sure, as it would seem, that he was indeed all right."
Faramir looked at Ulfast greatly puzzled, for indeed, now that Ulfast mentioned it, Éowyn did seem rather too interested in Beregond's welfare. And why did she wish to go with the captain upstairs all of a sudden, when a few minutes before the boulder incident occurred, she was more than willing to accompany him for ride in the nearby woods?
It must have been her motherly side talking already, even before our child is born yet. She certainly treated Beregond like one, he finally convinced himself; and then returned a calm smile to Ulfast.
"She will understand, I am sure of it."
"Then there will be no problem," answered Ulfast, displaying one of his – fake – smiles.
Later at night, Beregond was lying on his bed, thinking about the events of the day, when he heard a knock at the door. Upon opening it, he was surprised to see Faramir.
"Can I talk to you for a moment?" the prince asked politely.
"Of course," replied the captain, beckoning his friend to enter. "What is it?"
"It is about what happened this morning… and Ulfast."
Beregond's eyebrows furrowed ever so slightly at the mention of the name. "What about him?" he asked dryly.
"He did help you out, you know," remarked Faramir.
"I did not ask for his help," was Beregond's sullen answer.
"Exactly, my friend. And yet you treated him unfairly."
"Because of what he is."
"Maybe, but you had promised that you would accept him anyway," said the prince.
"No, Faramir. I said I will watch over him and give him the benefit of the doubt should he prove himself," Beregond reminded him.
"And he saved you."
"That, I am sorry to say, was not good enough."
Faramir regarded Beregond in surprise at such words. Was it really his friend that talked so harshly? It was true that in some things the captain could prove absolute, but Faramir felt that, in this case, it reached to the point of irrationality.
"What would you have him do then?" he asked Beregond at a loss.
Beregond bowed his head, sighing. He didn't have an answer for that very good question.
"I don't know," he answered with resignation. "I simply cannot trust him, Faramir. I am sorry to disappoint you, but this is how I feel. I am not asking you to approve of it, but I hope that at least you will be able to understand."
Faramir lifted his friend's chin gently with his hand. To the captain's surprise, he was smiling slightly.
"You have been a soldier for too many years and you still want to defend yourself against whatever threat you feel is closing in upon you. But I know your heart is in the right place," said the prince kindly. "Nevertheless, can you at least try not to be so blatantly rude to Ulfast next time? Like it or not, he is my responsibility ever since he asked for shelter here and it is my business to see that he feels comfortable here."
Beregond nodded in acknowledgment, for he saw Faramir's point in this whole matter and he didn't want to disobey his wish.
"I will try… for your sake," he said, smiling a bit.
"Thank you," replied the prince; and with that, he turned to the door. Before he walked out however, he faced his friend again.
"By the way, there is something else…"
"Oh?" asked the captain, intrigued.
"What did Éowyn want with you? When you went to clean yourself up, I mean. I know walking up to her room was just a pretext."
Beregond remained silent for a few moments, clearly startled by that kind of question.
"Nothing all that important," he answered in the end. "She was simply worried about what had passed."
"I see," murmured Faramir softly; and, after smiling again, he said his goodnight to Beregond, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
The captain berated himself for what he just did. This was the first time that he had ever avoided opening his heart to Faramir and it pained him to do that. It was true that he didn't really lie to him. But, then again, he didn't actually tell him the truth either.
Fine mess you made out of things, murmured Beregond to himself, I am sure Maldir would like to see you now. If there was anything his late mentor hated, it was lies.
And yet what choice was there? His friend had showed with his words that he had started trusting Ulfast and Beregond didn't want to hurt Faramir's feelings by revealing to him just how much he didn't trust the Numenorean. Now the man only hoped that nothing bad would come out of that action of his.
However, unbeknownst to Beregond, something bad had already started working its way into Faramir's mind. For one thing, when the prince had talked to several guards about the event of the morning, some had told him that they had seen the captain and Lady Éowyn talking in the most nervous of manners. What was it that these two felt they should be talking between themselves and not with him? Could it possibly be something that they didn't trust him to know? And if that was the case, why? What was with them keeping secrets from him? First Éowyn, hiding her pregnancy, and now this! And Beregond, of all people!
Feeling his heart sinking in disappointment, he headed for his own quarters, without noticing that he was being watched out of the dark corners of the corridor. Ulfast had eavesdropped on the conversation that had passed just now between the two friends, and he couldn't be more pleased with himself about what happened. His plan was working very well indeed.
Early at dawn, one of the soldiers rushed to the royal couple's bedchambers and knocked on the door urgently.
"Lord Faramir, you should come at once," he said when Faramir opened the door.
"What happened?" asked the prince puzzled, still half dazed from waking up abruptly.
"There has been an attack in one of the soldiers' quarters."
At these words, Faramir's eyes widened in shock.
"I will join you at once," he said quickly and then hurried to get dressed.
Meanwhile, Beregond was going with Bergil to attend to their own duties, talking without care in the world, when they heard a great commotion of people rushing hither and thither.
"What is going on?" the captain asked a servant who was happening to pass by.
"One of the soldiers was attacked savagely last night – in his own room no less!" answered the servant restlessly.
Without even saying thank you, Beregond dragged Bergil along and they ran to find out which soldier had gotten hurt. As they approached the room, Beregond clearly heard Faramir's voice commanding everyone to go back to their posts. The guard entered – and he was quite surprised to see who the injured man was.
Faramir was standing next to the healer, who was tending a beaten up Ulfast, black and blue bruises marking the Númenórean's face; and Beregond could see some dried blood still clinging to the wounded man's mouth. Before he was able to say anything, however, Faramir had grabbed him and was pushing him aside.
"We need to talk," he said, his eyes flashing with anger. He closed the door violently behind them and pinned Beregond to the wall.
"I thought we had agreed on something," he hissed.
The captain's jaw almost dropped in amazement.
"You think I did this to him?" he exclaimed in disbelief.
"I do not see who else could have done it!"
"Faramir…" said Beregond, trying to calm down his friend, "I never denied the fact that I don't like him, but you of all people should know that I would never attack anybody in such a cowardly way!"
"And yet, there is now a healer taking care of him! How do you explain that?" asked Faramir furiously.
"My lord, if I may?" said a voice, cutting in.
It was Bergil, who had heard the argument and came out of the room also to see what was happening.
"What?" snapped the prince, turning to him.
"My father could not have possibly done what he is accused of, for the very simple reason that he was with me all night: from the time my training had finished till now that we were both going back to our own business," replied the trainee bravely.
Such was Faramir's surprise at this that his grip on Beregond loosened a bit. He never noticed Beregond looking at his son, shocked.
"If that is true, how come I did not see you when I visited your father?" the prince asked Bergil, raising slightly his eyebrow.
"I was sitting in the inner room, my lord. I did not come out, because I wished to give you and my father some privacy."
Faramir remained still, taking in what was said to him and breathing heavily.
"Very well," he said in the end, letting go of the captain. He had started walking away, when Beregond caught up with him.
"Please, wait," he pleaded.
"This conversation is at an end," answered Faramir, still walking and without looking at him.
"Not before I understand something!"
Even though Beregond earned a very angry glare from the prince, he wasn't daunted in the least.
"What were you thinking back there?" he asked in exasperation and confusion.
"Excuse me?" exclaimed Faramir, surprised at such words.
"I think you know what I am talking about: doubting my integrity like that. There was a time not long ago that you wouldn't even consider such a thing!"
"And there was a time not long ago that you would obey your lord's command, not do and say as you please: I said the conversation is at an end, and I expect you to comply!" said Faramir in such a tone that it startled the captain. However, Beregond wasn't planning on letting go of the matter so easily.
"I am still your friend too; and I wish for an explanation."
Faramir actually snorted at such a statement.
"You certainly have some strange way of remembering that when it suits you the best," he noted sarcastically.
"What are you saying?" faltered Beregond, confused.
"Do I really have to remind you of the time that you followed me outside the city in search of an army in time of war, despite the laws? Or when you went with me like an oh-so faithful little puppy around town at night whenever I ventured out in the streets of Minas Tirith, even though my father refused us permission to see each other? Or should I remind you of my father himself?"
Beregond listened to one dreadful word uttered after another, each feeling like a slap in his face, while his mind was racing with numerous thoughts piling one on top of the other. How could Faramir say that? Traitors break rules to gain something for themselves, and Beregond only acted out of friendship and support. And yet, he sadly had to admit to himself that the prince was right. He wished to claim that he had been just as faithful to Lord Denethor as he was to Faramir, but he knew he wasn't. Bending rules was just a handsome way of excusing his lack of loyalty to his friend's father. Feeling himself in a daze after such a realisation, he opened his mouth to speak, trying to… explain? Apologise? Beregond didn't really know. He simply wanted to say anything, so that his friend wasn't angry with him anymore, for this was tearing his whole soul apart.
But Faramir raised his hand and didn't let him talk.
"Dismissed, captain," he said, his words of ice piercing Beregond's heart through; and he left, without looking back to see his friend's hands hiding his sorrow-stricken face.
However Beregond didn't heed the voice, such was his sadness. And so Bergil grasped his father's arm and started leading him back to his room. Only then did the guard turn to look upon his dear son's face.
"You should never have done that," he said in a soft tone, as they still walked. For indeed, Bergil had spent his night in the trainees' dormitories, just like he did every night, and he had only seen his father in the morning in the hallway.
"I could not listen to him accusing you for something I know you did not do," answered Bergil, shaking his head.
"He is still your lord, son. Lying to him…"
"He is not officially my lord, father! I don't owe him any allegiance for I have not sworn the soldier's oath yet. And even if I had, I would doubt any lord that dared to question you in such a way!"
"Don't say that ever again!" exclaimed Beregond, horrified.
"You defend him after what he did?!" said the lad in wonder.
"Of course!" said the man. "Faith and loyalty are the two most important things for a soldier to successfully serve his lord. Always remember, my boy, that the lord has the first and the last word in every matter, and the soldiers must accept it; for if everyone did as he saw fit, then there would be chaos and disorder which would lead a fair city to its ruin much faster than an unfit ruler. Do you understand? I was the one out of line – not him."
"You forgot to say that you are not a mere soldier, but the First Captain and his best friend."
"All the more reason for me to respect his opinion. As a Captain I cannot offer my advice, since we are not in war; and as a friend, I should have accepted his wish to drop the subject."
Bergil still listened in wonder at what his father said.
"And to think Lord Faramir doubted you," he said in the end. "If he only heard you now…"
Beregond smiled and placed his arm over his son's shoulders.
"He knows of these things, Bergil, he just forgot them in his anger. Don't worry, he will remember them soon enough," he said, refraining himself from saying that he was certain Ulfast was to blame for such a thing too. He had figured that the Black Numenorean injured himself to ignite such a fight between him and Faramir.
"I hope you are right," said the lad. And they continued walking the corridor in silence.
Éowyn was sitting in her room, reading a book, when the sound of the door as it opened made her look up. She was horrified to see a very pale Faramir standing by the doorframe.
"What is wrong?" she asked, rushing towards him.
"I had a fight with Beregond," answered the man, shaken. "I-I do not know what came over me. I just… could not…"
The noble woman sighed and made her husband sit down.
"Tell me all about it," she encouraged him; and Faramir told her everything, while she listened carefully. However, her full-of-understanding eyes never betrayed once her thoughts that Ulfast himself had more to answer for than her husband believed.
"You will have to talk to Beregond, you know. You treated him far worse than he ever deserved," she said in the end.
"I know. I will go find him shortly. Meanwhile, I had better go see how Ulfast is faring."
"You would rather see him first than your childhood friend?" asked Éowyn, raising an eyebrow.
"Beregond is not the one beaten up, but Ulfast is. I think I should see our guest first."
"As you wish then…" said the woman with a slight dismay in her voice.
"Do not worry, I will talk to Beregond too," Faramir assured her; and with that, he walked out.
Ulfast, in the meantime, had kept himself busy. Feigning sleep, he waited for the healer to leave his quarters, only to jump out of his bed soon afterwards and rush to his study. He winced a bit at such a violent action, but the discord that his self-inflicted injuries had caused made up for any kind of pain he felt. He grabbed some pieces of parchment and scribbled on one with as much care as his hastiness permitted him. After several failed attempts, he folded the last written paper in two and, making sure no one saw him, or came across him by accident, he slipped stealthily towards Beregond's room and quickly pushed the paper into the room through the slit underneath the door. Before anyone had realised he was gone, Ulfast managed to get back to his own room and lay down to his bed once more. Having understood how Faramir thought, Ulfast knew that he would come visit him again soon. And if Beregond also found the note, then his plan would only be one step away from success. Closing his eyes, he waited, his wicked soul smiling inwardly.
It wasn't long before Faramir showed up. As soon as the door opened, Ulfast opened his eyes, feigning weariness.
"I am glad you have come, my lord," he said in a soft murmur, trying to rise in, what would seem, respect.
"Save your strength," replied Faramir. "Just tell me if you are feeling any better."
"A bit," was Ulfast's weak answer. "The man who attacked certainly had plenty of strength."
"Don't worry about that, my men are looking for the culprit already," Faramir assured him. "By the way, did you get a good look at the person who attacked you?"
"Alas, no," sighed Ulfast. "It was too dark and he surprised me."
"Well, for all that it is worth, it was not Captain Beregond, though you are not in the best of terms."
"I never said it could be him, even though it would not surprise me if it was either," said the Númenórean, his inward smile only growing. "He had an alibi then?"
"Yes, he was with his son all night long. The boy himself told me."
"Ah, the young… always ready to help out. They love their parents so dearly."
The way that Ulfast said this alarmed Faramir greatly.
"Are you suggesting the lad is lying?"
"Could he not?" replied the Numenorean, his poisoning words becoming far bolder. "If he took anything after his father it must be his secret ways."
"What are you saying?" asked the prince, so startled that he didn't stop to wonder how Ulfast's tone of voice changed.
"I have also seen the captain talking with your wife privately, not only the other soldiers" continued the wicked man. "If he is such a good friend of yours, why does he go to her to seek advice and counsel? And if you and your wife have such a loving and trusting relationship, why does she not tell you of her troubles? Surely, as her husband, you have far more rights to know of these than your friend. I would be more careful if I were you, my lord. It is almost certain that if they hide their concerns from you and share it between themselves, they are bound to share other things too…"
Faramir let these words sunk in, and his eyes opened wide in horrifying realisation. No! Ulfast couldn't be possibly implying that Beregond and Éowyn...?
Ulfast however pierced Faramir's mind and cut into his train of thought.
"If you are certain there is nothing for you to worry about, then go talk to your wife and ask for explanations."
Without saying a word, Faramir quickly left the room and then hurried to find Éowyn.
After parting from Bergil, Beregond passed by his room on his way to the barracks, and found the very note that Ulfast had placed there: a note supposedly written by Éowyn's hand, and asking the guard to come into her chambers at once. Not suspecting any foul play, the guard went to meet the fair woman at once. He knocked at the door politely and, as soon as he heard his lady's permission to enter, he walked inside.
"Beregond?" asked the woman in wonder. "What are you doing here?"
"I got your note, milady," said the captain, perplexed at the woman's surprised tone. "You said that you wished to see me in your chambers as soon as possible."
It was when Éowyn's eyes opened wide in confusion that it dawned on him.
"You did not write this?" he asked, showing the note to the fair woman.
"No," she said, handing back the paper to the guard. "That is not even my own handwriting!"
Beregond clenched his hand into a fist, while his eyes flashed with dismay.
"That must be Ulfast's doing then. It seems that the scoundrel takes pleasure in playing games with both of us," he said, disgusted. "I am sorry to disturb you, milady. I shall let you be at once."
He bowed in courtesy, but, before he had walked out, Éowyn stopped him.
"I need to talk to you," she said, her eyes begging him to stay.
"As you wish, milady," answered the captain, nodding his understanding. "I don't think I have to ask what it is you want to talk to me about."
"No," replied Éowyn, shaking her head. "Faramir told me what happened to Ulfast."
"Milady, I had nothing to do with that…" started the man, but the lady didn't let him continue.
"I know you did not. As I know that Ulfast himself is to blame for this."
Beregond would have actually sighed with relief, if another thought weren't troubling him.
"Unfortunately, Faramir doesn't seem to realise that. And I fear our 'guest' may have had something to do with that as well. Each day he obtains more of Faramir's trust…"
"While Faramir's trust in you fades," completed Éowyn. "Did you try to talk to my husband about it? He certainly seemed to regret fighting with you like that."
However Beregond shook his head in resignation.
"He might wish to apologise; but, frankly, I don't think he really wants to listen to what I have to say to him now and actually believe me. There is no proof against Ulfast but our mere speculation. No, milady, the note alone will not help us, because the fiend can easily deny that he ever wrote it. It is my word against his."
"If only there were here a mutual friend, one who could talk to Faramir…"
"Alas, no!" exclaimed Beregond sadly. "The ones Faramir would believe in would be his brother, Mithrandir, Maldir or… the King of Gondor." The mention of that name brought new hope to the captain and grabbed Éowyn's hand in a pleading manner. "Milady, send a letter to Lord Elessar!"
"You mean Aragorn?" asked the woman.
"Yes, him! Please, milady, tell him something is terribly amiss in the realm of Ithilien. If anyone can help us, it is he! Will you send tidings to him?"
"I will," Éowyn assured the guard.
It was in that moment that the door burst open and Faramir walked in.
Never before had Beregond seen his friend in such a state. His angry stare pierced everything that his eyes were laid upon, while his whole form trembled with suppressed rage. The captain arose and tried to talk to him, but Faramir proved faster.
"Neglecting your duties, I see," he growled.
"I was called…" started Beregond apologetically.
"SILENCE!" boomed Faramir's voice through the entire room. "Go to your post at once!"
Beregond didn't attempt to say anything else, but walked out in silence. As for Éowyn, she rose from her chair and stood proudly before her husband, not daunted by her husband's wrath.
"My lord, what is the meaning of this?" she asked, her eyes looking steadfastly at Faramir's.
"I was just about to ask you the same thing," said the man, trying to control himself. "What was he doing here?"
"Beregond was just talking to me," said Éowyn, raising her eyebrow.
"In your room? Why?"
"He was trying to sort out a misunderstanding; and if you are going to ask me next if the misunderstanding has been sorted out, I can save you the trouble and tell you that it has. Although now it seems that I have to deal with another one!" replied the lady proudly. "What have I done to be treated in such a discourteous manner? Or even Beregond?"
"You tell me," said Faramir with edge. "Have you two done anything to be treated like this?"
"My lord, that is something you should be asking yourself."
"When I find my best friend seeing my wife in secret, then I do not have to ask myself anything!"
This time it was Éowyn's turn to grow angry and, seeming taller and mightier in her wrath, she faced Faramir with all the rage of the injustice being done to her.
"I cannot believe I am actually listening to this! Do you even understand what you are saying? You accuse Beregond of betraying your trust when, if he could, he would suffer a thousand deaths and more to protect you from whatever harm! Even I came to realise that, even though I have not known him as long as you claim to do! And, what is worse, you just proved to me how little you trust me, your own wife, despite the fact that I gave up the life I knew so I could be with you for the very simple reason that I love you! Do you consider me such a dishonourable coward that I would forget that kind of sacrifice and the reason that it was done, just so I could be with another man? Do you?!"
Faramir certainly didn't expect that kind of attack, for his own anger had now subsided and he listened with bowed head and a flushed face to Éowyn's outburst. Such was his meekness at this that he didn't even dare speak when his wife asked for an answer.
Éowyn sat heavily on her chair, the burden of her pregnancy causing her more difficulties than she wished for at this moment. Faramir tried to go to her, but she pushed him away.
Faramir looked at her at a loss for a few moments, trying to understand what was she saying to him.
"I said leave me! I do not wish to hear you, I do not want to talk to you; I do not even want to look at you! Get out!" she shouted.
The prince stood still, a new kind of anger burning inside him; until he finally exited, banging the door behind him. Only then did Éowyn indulge herself to weep; and such was her grief that she never wrote the letter to Aragorn. And so no help was ever destined to arrive to Ithilien.
As for Beregond, he had become so frustrated by all this that he had stormed out of the inner halls and had found himself in the yard; but he didn't stop there. Still striding rigidly, he crossed it and finally arrived in the stables where, after closing the stable doors behind him, he screamed at the top of his lungs.
"I DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG!!!"
As every ounce of breath left him at that scream, he dropped on his knees, hot tears spilling down his face, and kept murmuring: "I did not…" And yet nobody was around to hear him, least of all Faramir, something that pained him the more.
He didn't know how long he remained like this before he had finally managed to drown the chocking feeling of being treated unjustly that had settled in his heart. But, unlike most men, Beregond didn't intend to feel despair and remain idle when things seemed the darkest; in such situations, he always obtained a fury-guided energy that made him face his troubles and even overcome them. And in this case, the very depths of his soul and every fibre of his body were stirred with hatred against the man that had caused his friendship with Faramir to crumble: Ulfast.
"He will not succeed," he promised to himself through gritting teeth. "I will make sure that fiend will not defile this fair realm with his presence anymore, even if it is the last thing I do!"
He rose, knowing very well what he should do now. He would search the whole place to find any kind of evidence that proved Ulfast's foul plotting. However, to do that, he needed to circulate around the fortress without having to think of his duties for several days, so he would ask Damrod to relieve him. Moreover, he would have to ask Bergil to keep an eye on Ulfast and report to him about his every movement. And Lady Éowyn's help would be useful in that matter too.
Determined, he went to find Damrod and set his own plan in motion, hoping that he would manage to get one step ahead of the Black Númenórean this time and defeat him in his own game.TBC...
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