4. Revenge and Lessons
Days passed and became weeks. The White Wizard could feel his fear dying within him. He gathered up the ashes that sat in a little pile on his table, for that was all that was left of the sheet upon which he had written the dream spells, and took them to the lowest level of his tower, not far from the cold room where the elf spirits dwelt. There was there a well that had no bottom. Into this he cast the ashes, and dusted them from his hands, satisfied that all his machinations would soon bring him the ends he wished.
One day not long after that, as the wizard sat in his high tower, he gazed into his Seeing Stone and saw there a face he had never seen before. It was the face of a young man who seemed proud, and fair… and frightened. The man knew his name, and spoke it as a question. The wizard answered.
"Something has come into my possession, and I have not the wisdom to wield it safely. Your name is known far and wide as that of the holder of such wisdom. Would you come, and guide me in its use?" The man said, then thrust another person into view- a small and terrified hobbit about whose neck was strung a chain, and on the chain there was a ring… the Ring.
"Most definitely, I will assist you," replied the wizard with a smile, already planning in his mind for his moment of triumph.
"But," continued the man, again speaking through the dark sphere, "I fear that even one so great as yourself might be tempted by the thing. I cannot accept your help, if I know that you have such an unassailable stronghold to return to. You must somehow give up all claim and access to your tower."
The wizard was not much worried by this condition- already he had seen forces readying for war upon him. It would be only too convenient to have an excuse to leave before they arrived. "It will be done, as you say… friend?" The wizard waited for the man to speak his own name.
"I fear to tell you my name yet, for I know that you have great power, and with my name could send dark spirits to assail me in sleep and waking, or even to do harm to me and to my people. If you were to give up your staff and all your magic, I would be more comfortable in dealing with you."
Even this, though he would not have imagined it before, did not give the wizard pause. He could afford to do as the man asked, if it would get him close enough to the One Ring that he could take it for his own and complete his task. "I promise you, it will be done."
"One more thing, my friend; I must ask that you rid yourself of all your servants. Come alone, and release them all from your service, anything you must do. I fear that if you arrive with them, you might be emboldened to do some rash thing… but I must be able to trust you if I am to share this secret with you!"
The wizard's servants were of little consequence to him, for once he had the Ring he would have as many as he desired, and he would have all the power he could imagine. He could do this without them. He agreed to this, and then the man told him where and when they were to meet
The wizard paced the room for a few minutes, then stroke purposefully down the long, long flight of stairs to the lowest level of his tower, to the dark room.
He did not ask any of the questions he might usually have asked of his elven spirits. He found that the young man's eyes, trusting but fearful, proud but subtle, stern but uncertain, and deeply grey, lingered in his mind. The man's voice, its waver, its timbre, its softness, resounded in his ears. The man who held the Ring also held an allure all his own.
"Who is he?" The wizard asked the elf spirit as she stood before him, the familiar and terrifying coldness of her skin luminous as a pale column in the darkness.
"He is just a man, and he is all alone in the world." She answered, her smile twisted and gleaming with teeth.
"Good," said the wizard. "Then it will be easy to…" But he was cut off by the sound of laughter shrieked out of the elf spirit, a sound he had never before heard from her. Her laughter seemed to mock him, and she would answer no more of his questions. As he stormed out of the room, he lit a fire that would consume the lower levels of the tower, scorching the stone like an oven, even if it could not burn it. Perhaps it would drive the spirits from Arda, perhaps it would just drive them away from him, but he did not care.
Next he watched as the armies of his enemies advanced on his lands. He sent out all his servants but for one, and ordered them to defend the tower to the very last. They would not survive, and if any did they would certainly not return here or follow him. Finally, he gathered all his scrolls, all his symbols of power, and built a fire at the topmost level of his tower. In the fire he burned all his tools, all his powers except the ones that were innate to him. At the last he broke his own staff, shattering it and casting the pieces into the flames. It perished in a flash of light that could be seen for miles around. Then, leaving his one lieutenant, a scrawny and cowed being who had survived past his usefulness, he abandoned his tower and left his lands, bare minutes before the armies of his enemy arrived.
He flew across the lands toward the place where the man had directed him to. He felt strangely light, as if the burden of his tools, his servants and his tower, had weighed him down all these years. Of course, it might have been different had he not known that he was headed towards the ultimate end to his dreaded fear.
At last he arrived in the arranged meeting-place, a lonely farmhouse in north Ithilien. He was greeted at the door by the same young man he had seen in the dark sphere. The young man smiled at him serenely, and gestured for him to enter.
"Now, my friend, where is this treasure you have found?"
The young man looked at him warmly but intently, his voice was full of strength and determination. "Have you rid yourself of your servants and your magic? Have you abandoned your tower, as I asked? Can I trust you?"
"I have done all of that. Now, would you show me the treasure, so I can guide you in its use? Will you now tell me your name?"
"First, I thought you would like to dine. For certainly you have traveled long to be here, and are hungry and weary." The young man motioned for the wizard to follow him into the next room, where a table was set, with food simple but hearty. The wizard sat with him, willing to postpone satisfaction for only a little while longer… and the company of the young man was not unwelcome.
They ate together of bread and cheese and sliced meats, and the young man filled their glasses with a sweet mead. The wizard knew he had only one weapon of which the young man knew nothing; his voice still had the power to lull, to seduce, to convert uncertainty into absolute faith. He used this weapon in a steady stream of conversation and tales designed to make the young man believe in his wisdom and trust in his friendship, to make the young man rely on him for guidance. He was so intent on his purpose that he didn't notice that though the young man plied him with mead, he drank little of it himself. The wizard felt only the nearness of his goal as he smiled at the young man and wove lies with his words… he did not feel the intoxication that flowed through him, relaxing him and spreading into a sleepy warmth. Even as his whole being thrummed with anticipation, he slipped into a doze.
The young man sat back and gazed happily at the sleeping wizard. He stood and walked with ingrained care and quiet to the far side of the room where a fire burned low in the hearth. The wizard opened his eyes to see the young man approaching him with his hands clasped behind his back. He saw the man's smile and felt sure that the man held in his hands the One Ring, and that he would now gift it to him. The man leaned close, and spoke softly. "Now, my dear wizard, you have abandoned all your magic, and your servants. You have broken your staff and left your tower to be attacked. You have nothing left, you have lost it all. Now, I will tell you my name, and I will give you something for your troubles.
"I am Faramir, brother to Boromir who has fallen."
The wizard felt great pain as the young man, swift as a striking snake, pressed something red-hot against his forehead, and the wizard knew no more.
When he woke, it was in the ruin of an old farmhouse. No sign was left of the meal of the night before, or the rough but comfortable furnishings of the room in which he had spent the evening with the young man. All that was left was a small mirror lying close at hand to where he sat slumped against the wall. The wizard looked into it, and saw on his own forehead the mark that meant Traitor, Betrayer, Murderer.
The next time any saw him, he was quite mad. He had found his last slave, and wandered with him, both appearing as beggars in rags. Wherever they went, though, they found none that would harbor or aid them, for as soon as the wizard cast back his hood, the Mark was visible, an angry red scar, and all would flee them. The wizard's final power, his voice, was now useless, for none would listen long enough to be charmed.
When people spoke of him, some would muse that it was his use of the Seeing Stone that had caused his downfall. Others supposed that it was the loss of his tower, his staff and his servants that drove him mad. The superstitious, though, said that he had been overcome by a power greater than any he had ever possessed, one of which he knew nothing; the love of brothers.
All that is known of his life after this point is that he wandered and was unable to find peace or happiness or rest, except the brief respite of dreams, in all of Arda. What became of him eventually, this tale does not tell.
In the gardens of Lorien, stars shone on the living paintings in Irmo's palace. The raven perched near the Lord of Dreams.
"What was the point of it all?" He asked. "Boromir was to die, and he died. Faramir tried to help him, but could not. The wizard lost everything. What good came of granting Faramir's wish?"
Irmo gazed out at the horizon, and in his eyes like dark mirrors the stars shimmered.
"Lessons were learned, events progressed as they should," replied the Lord of Dreams.
"What lessons were learned? By whom?" the raven asked, cocking its head in disbelief.
"By them all, particularly Boromir."
"But how can that be… he is dead!"
"As are you, Raven. There were also lessons for you, in these events."
"And did you learn a lesson?" asked the raven, who had once been a poet.
The Lord of Dreams did not answer.
* * *
And that is the end of the tale, or nearly so.
As for the younger brother, he did protect his people, and he did indeed live to see peace and happiness spread across the land. His life was a fruitful one, and long, and he kept alive the memory of his brother. At the end of his life, he was taken by nothing worse than weariness, and he passed to the realms beyond in sleep. He smiled the gentle smile of a man who is at last going home after a long journey.
Some have dreamed of the distant lands, of the plains around the gardens of Lorien, where the Baku graze. Some of these who brought back memories of the place to their waking recalled seeing in the distance two figures, clearly Men, so alike that they could be brothers. They say that it must be these same brothers, who had loved each other so deeply, and had once met the Lord of Dreams.
Others say this is not possible, for this was long ago, and they have now, surely, both gone to the place appointed for the spirits of Men by Ilúvatar.
Dreams, however, are strange and mysterious things, and none but the Lord of Dreams can say if they are true, or what they foretell, or indeed of whether they will outlive the dreamer.
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.