Milestones: 4. Middlegame

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4. Middlegame

Minas Tirith, 3005 TA

"Faramir. Thank you for waiting." Denethor sat, and gestured his still-cloaked son into the chair opposite his own. A fire had already been lit, and Denethor suspected Faramir would appreciate the warmth after a long, cold ride to the City. It was just as well Faramir had arrived, for there were things Denethor wished to discuss with him.

"I trust you have supped already?"

"No, my lord. I wished to see you first. I bring dispatches from Osgiliath." Denethor reached out, and took the leather-bound sheaf of papers that Faramir proffered.  "And also a letter from Lord Dervorin," Faramir continued, pulling a sealed envelope out of the inside of his cloak.

Dervorin was the new lord of the Ringló Vale. He was also a kinsman of Denethor's, and frequently imposed on this kinship to extract favors from the Steward. I see this letter is no exception.

"Dervorin asks for a small portion of the City's tax revenues, to help repair the roads in Ethring." Denethor spoke matter-of-factly, neither conveying approval nor disdain.

"The roads are poor, my lord," Faramir responded, his lips quirking in a half-smile, barely suppressing his amusement.

Denethor raised an eyebrow at Faramir, glad that the papers hid his own obvious amusement at Dervorin's letter. "And?"

"I have word that Ethring frequently trades metals with Lossarnach, in exchange for laborers for farms in the Ringló." 

"I see. So Dervorin has both men and trade goods enough to rebuild his roads?"

Faramir shrugged noncommittally. "Perhaps."

Well done, Faramir. "And what news from Osgiliath?"

"There is not much to tell, beyond what is in the messages, my lord. Things in the Vale are quiet now, but the captain thinks the creatures may march, if the weather turns colder at year end."

"And what does Boromir think?"

Faramir sighed. "I do not know, my lord. He was away on patrol when I arrived at the garrison, and I did not see him."

"I'm sorry you missed him, then. He was here just a few days ago." Denethor paused, not sure how to continue. "He spoke of...well, we discussed your future, Faramir."

Faramir was clearly surprised, but recovered quickly, slipping on his usual mask of polite indifference. "Oh? Well, my lord, I'm glad you have seen fit to include me in such a discussion then."

Denethor ignored the barely concealed rebuke in Faramir's words and pressed on. "You know that you are to be assigned to the garrison at Pelargir, but Boromir tells me you do not wish to be a soldier."

Faramir smiled. "I think you should not believe everything Boromir tells you."

Denethor did not answer, purposely ignoring Faramir's attempt at jest, and instead fixing the younger man with a stare that demanded a serious response.

Faramir shifted in his seat, not entirely easy with himself. "I did not tell Boromir I do not wish to be a soldier. I did not use those words."

"Your exact words are of no consequence, Faramir. I wish only to know the import of what you said to your brother."

"I told him only what I know to be true...that some men are made for war, where others are not."

"You do not wish to serve Gondor?" Denethor was shocked, for he had never had cause to question Faramir's loyalty ever before.

"No, Father! You mistake my intent. I only wished Boromir to know that wielding a sword is not the only way a man may serve his land."

Denethor sighed, not sure how to make Faramir understand. He rose, and walked to the window. Night had fallen, and the City seemed pale and ghostly in the faint moonlight. Across the Pelennor, a few lights could be seen, distant farms, a few tiny villages. Men of Gondor, all of them. Do they not serve? Do they not fight?

"Come here, Faramir." Denethor beckoned his son to the window. "Look outside. Tell me what you see." 

Faramir joined Denethor at the window, leaning out of it a little. "I can see the City. And Osgiliath."

"And to the East?"

Faramir did not answer, and Denethor did not expect an answer.

"We battle a pitiless foe, Faramir. Relentless evil that shadows us and draws us into Darkness. How can you serve Gondor, if you will not help thwart the Enemy?"

Denethor walked away from the window and back to his chair, but Faramir did not join him, still looking out the window. "I wish for a time when no man is sent into battle unwilling, but we do not live in such a time. I cannot spare my sons even as I ask other men to sacrifice theirs."

Denethor was about to continue, but Faramir interrupted him. "I see all of Gondor. What it was, what it can be again." Faramir's voice was soft, but confident and determined. He turned to face Denethor, his expression fierce. "There is naught I would not do to see Gondor saved. You know that. You need never doubt it again."

I never doubted it, but you needed a reminder, Faramir. "Very well, Faramir. I am pleased that we have an understanding." Denethor stood, allowing Faramir to excuse himself. "I will see you on the morrow."

"Goodnight, my lord." Faramir rose and made his way to the doorway that led upstairs to his own quarters, but then turned abruptly to face Denethor once more.

"Father? You once said that if I needed something, I should ask you."

"Yes. What of it?"

"I have a boon to ask, then." Faramir paused, as if for effect. "Let me choose my own billet. As you allowed Boromir to do."

"You do not wish to go to Pelargir? Why not? You have learned Haradic, it would be the best..."

"I want to be in Ithilien."

"Ithilien? You wish to be a Ranger? Why?"

Faramir shrugged. "It suits. And more, I think it proper that someone of our house should serve in Ithilien."

"I shall think on it, Faramir, though I think it unwise to send you to Ithilien. Good night."

Faramir bowed quickly and left the room, leaving Denethor to his thoughts. He had expected Faramir to choose Pelargir because Boromir had chosen it as his first billet. Failing that, Denethor had thought to place him at Osgiliath, where Boromir could keep an eye on him, and where he would be close enough to return to the City, if Denethor needed him. But Ithilien? That Denethor had not expected.

No. He simply cannot go to Ithilien. It is too close to...but Faramir is a grown man, and I must respect at least some of his wishes. If he is in Ithilien, I cannot always count on him to help me with council meetings. But Faramir is right, someone from our family ought to serve in Ithilien, for we are of that land. Then again,  the Rangers are a funny lot. They might not like having the son of the Steward in their midst. But Faramir is a good archer, and he is patient, and...

Denethor's thoughts chased themselves endlessly, and he spent the better part of the night trying to come to a decision. By the time morning broke, he was tired and irritated. Enough! If Faramir wishes to be in Ithilien, so be it. He will learn soon enough that being a Ranger is no easy task!

He grabbed a sheet of paper from his desk, and penned a curt note to his son.

Faramir,
I am told that new recruits for Osgiliath and Cair Andros depart in two days time. You will ride out to Ithilien with them, and present yourself to Captain Minardil of the Rangers.

He did not bother to sign the note, instead sealing it and ringing for his man, who appeared almost instantaneously at the door. "Beleg, please take this message to Faramir, and let him know that I am too occupied with other tasks to meet him over the next few days."

When Beleg left with the note, Denethor began to slowly regret the tone of his message to Faramir. He had been too harsh, had turned Faramir's sincere request into an onerous command. He was sending his son into the field without so much as an embrace.

This is not right. I will not do to my son as my father did to me. There must be a better way.

He cast about for ways to soften his words for Faramir, and then remembered something...an old memory. Yes, that might work.

Several hours later, he handed Beleg a package and another note to deliver to his son. Faramir will understand.

****

It was a cold and wet night in Ithilien, when a young soldier came to rest under a tree. He was new to the Rangers, but he had learned quickly that much of ranging was waiting, and that suited him just fine. He pulled the hood of his cloak over his head, as rain fell from the leaves of the tree and puddled in his quiver. The water ran into the intricate leaves and flowers carved into the young Ranger's longbow, finally pooling in the patterns etched at the end of the bow; a simple star, the crest of his house, and underneath it, neatly inscribed long ago, the name of the bow's first owner: Denethor, son of Ecthelion.


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: roh_wyn

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/18/06

Original Post: 04/25/06

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