9. The Assassin
"Captain!" Thorongil roared, knocking the bottle from the table so it smashed against the stone wall. "Come with me!" Fallon had the sense to get up and follow without question, hearing the uncontrolled rage in Thorongil's voice. The commander silently led him back to the mansion to his own rooms, striding past Quillion who was nodding in the hallway on his stool. He slammed the double doors and turned on him in fury.
"You deserted your post! We are not yet certain the town is secured and I return to find you gone and discover you drinking in a tavern! You fought selflessly at my side, sober in the face of sure death during the battle, and when victory is ours, you flee to a tavern to crawl back into a bottle. Have you forgotten yourself, Fallon?"
"My brother has not forgotten me!" he growled. He pulled a packet and a document from his jacket and handed both to Thorongil, and then reeled to a chair and sat without permission. The sheet was heavy vellum, marked with the official seal of the Steward. It was a writ for Fallon's arrest if he should enter Minas Tirith. In Denethor's neat hand across the page was added, 'The guards at the gates have a copy of this, brother mine. I trust I will not see your face in the White City again.' The packet contained his letters to Finduilas, tied up in cord.
Fallon ran his fingers through his hair. "There is nothing left for me; it is as though I am already dead. I tried to die in battle." Thorongil rounded on him, still angry.
"Do you really desire death or just pity? Because if you desert your assigned post, if you disobey one of my orders again, I will kill you myself." Fallon looked shrewdly at him.
"If only I could hold you to that. Look, Thorongil, we have been over this. Denethor's writ was simply a reminder. I cannot go back to Minas Tirith; I have been banished. I have lived a victory-drunk fantasy for the last few days. Now it is ended. I have no family; my father is nearly gone. Do I wait here in Pelargir or, Valar forbid, Dol Amroth, for the arrival of my brother's executioner? I could have died in battle, a hero of the White City but you prevented that."
"I saved my friend." Thorongil's demeanor softened. "Go to Rivendell. Await me there. I will follow soon. Lord Elrond will provide you sanctuary."
Fallon was silent for a long time. "Nothing is left for me. What I love is here: the city, my lady, my life. None of it is mine any longer. I am outcast --no longer a son of Gondor." Fallon at that moment made his decision and looked Thorongil in the eye. "I am bound for Mordor." The commander felt a chill run through his heart. He knew this was not a ploy.
"Mordor…" he whispered. "Why Mordor?"
Fallon pulled a folded parchment from his pocket and smoothing it, handed it to Thorongil. "I once told you I would sell my sword to anyone to provide for Finduilas. In doing research for our last venture, I happened upon several nefarious individuals. They in essence work for the minions of Mordor. The Dark Lord looks for recruits. He promises fame and fortune and a place for the homeless." His eager tone met stony silence from his commander. "If my brother chooses to call me traitor, then traitor I'll be." Thorongil maintained his silence and it began to anger Fallon. "You who are loved; you don't understand what it is like to be unwanted and unnamed!"
Thorongil sighed tiredly. "It would do no good for me to say I understand very well; that as a boy I too thought myself bastard-born and an embarrassment. But, Ecthelion loves you---"
"Ecthelion felt guilt at my birth. Then he became an old man with an ambitious, jealous son. I will go to Mordor. As a captain in Sauron's army, I will take the White City and take Finduilas as mine."
"You are mad! You would turn against all you hold dear, to murder your own friends and comrades?" Fallon sat silently, refusing to look up at his commander. "I am your friend, Fallon. I can not let you go."
"You do not pick your friends very well. You can not stop me unless you kill me and to do that, you must follow me to Mordor." With a last nod of farewell, Fallon strode from the room
Aragorn sat for a moment, thinking on his threat. Fallon was currently half-drunk and unable to be reasoned with. In the light of day, he would be saner. But he would have to be with him in daylight to convince him that his path was wrong. With resignation, he pulled off his commander's jacket and began a bundle. Into the pockets, he slipped the star of eagles brooch, he pulled the ring of Barahir from his finger. With a sigh, he added his pipe and pouch of tobacco. He rolled and bound the bundle with the red sash he had worn as part of his disguise. He slid the Evenstar over his head. Holding it by its chain, he looked at the bright loveliness a moment. His talisman: the thing that shielded him in battle, his link to Arwen, but he would not take such a thing of purity into the Black Land. He laid it next to his jacket.
Then he sat down to write. The letter was to Finduilas. He asked her to not think badly of Fallon no matter what she might hear and begged her pardon for any thing he was about to do. "I will remember the times we shared when all three of us were friends," he ended.
A gasp caused him to look up from the parchment. Melonsir, the grizzled soldier who had testified against Fallon, was standing in the doorway. He held Quillion, his strong fingers twined in his hair, lifted nearly off the floor, his head pulled back and his throat exposed. A dagger was pressed to it; a thin line of blood already trickled down the boy's pale neck.
"Let him go," Thorongil said quietly. He glanced to where Agawaen Nor lay across the bed; his cloak nearly covering the sword, his right hand sliding behind his back in the same motion. Melonsir followed Thorongil's eyes to the bed and shook his head.
"No, my lord. He'll be dead before the blade is freed from the scabbard."
"Let the boy go. Your argument, whatever it may be, is with me."
"That won't be happening, my lord. Your squire is part of my compensation, though my master himself didn't think of that. I'm here for Fallon and then you. After, it will be my pleasure to toy with the boy until I tire, then sell him south into slavery or kill him at my leisure." In his mind, Thorongil pictured Fallon, taken unawares by this man, already lying just outside in the hallway, choking his life away on his own blood.
"Shut your eyes, Quillion." Thorongil's words were an order.
"Such concern for your catamite is touching." The man grinned evilly. "Don't want the little rat to see me cut his throat?"
"No, I don't want him to jump and cause me to miss." In a blur, the wickedly sharp blade of Thorongil's dagger pinned the assassin's right hand to the wall, the blade he had held at Quillion's throat clattering to the floor. The boy still stood, eyes closed, Melonsir's blood spurting in his hair. Thorongil pulled his squire away and shoved him through the doorway, slamming shut the door behind him. Melsonsir used his left hand to pry the knife out of the wall, freeing his arm. He aimed the dagger at Thorongil's heart, but it glanced off the gleaming Elvish sword that had somehow already found its way into the commander's hand.
The soldier drew his own sword, gripping it in his left hand, his ruined right hanging limply, trailing blood, and the two circled. The commander's eyes were death and he leaped in, slashing the soldier. Blood ran from the man's left arm, dripping from his fingers. The soldier had no skill as a swordsman but fought desperately, knowing he must win or die. Soon, Melonsir had four freely bleeding wounds and the room was splattered with blood. He raised his sword to parry a blow and saw the flash as the second of the pair of Elvish daggers left Thorongil's hand. The blade drove into his shoulder up to the hilt. The commander charged, shoving him back against the wall, those merciless grey eyes inches away. His hand gripped the dagger's hilt.
"Now you'll feel some of the pain you wished to cause the boy. Be warned: I won't end your life too soon. You will give me answers before you die. Who sent you? Denethor alone?" Thorongil demanded. Melonsir laughed then screamed as Thorongil twisted the knife embedded in his shoulder.
"I am his assassin," he gasped. "I am to make sure Fallon and you are dead. "Bring back that star pin he wears as proof,' he said… the ring…the ring his brother wears. I am to return it also." Melonsir seemed to fade. His head drooped. "It was…was…" Thorongil leaned closer to hear the words and with a burst of strength, the man pushed him back. Thorongil's sword went up to defend against the assassin's blade but met the man's throat instead, slicing open the veins on his neck. Blood sprayed the wall. Melonsir tried to cover the pulsing wound with both hands. He spun in his panic and ran toward the door. He died before he reached it, dropping to his knees, and to the floor.
Silence filled the space, broken only by Thorongil's rapid breathing. The room looked like a massacre had happened in it. Thorongil heard steps coming down the hall. "Quillion, don't come in here!" he shouted. Then to his relief, he heard Fallon demanding what went on. The door slammed open and his second loomed in the doorway, sword drawn.
"By the White City, what…?" He looked around in disbelief. The blood spray in the room awed even a jaded campaigner like Fallon. Ashen faced, he asked: "Are you alright?"
"I am fine; he's not." Thorongil nodded to the body.
"This all came from one man? I would have guessed a dozen at least." Fallon helped wrap the body in the carpet where it lay. Taking the legs, he helped hoist it through the double doors to the bushes outside. Thorongil tersely told the story. "Assassin? From the corsairs?" Fallon responded, amazed.
"Nay, from your brother." Thorongil watched Fallon's eyes grow hard.
"He tries to kill you after Umbar? The man has no honor." Fallon soundly cursed his sibling and paused. "This is why I must leave. There is no safety, no haven from Denethor's reach!" Fallon wiped his hands on his pants and held out his hand to Thorongil. "Goodbye, my lord. I have endangered you enough. Proud I have been to serve you and Gondor."
"Fallon, why did you come back?" Thorongil gripped his hand and would not release it. The man smiled ruefully.
"I was swayed by your words. I thought perhaps that we might one last time try to reason with my brother. I thought perhaps to salvage my honor and go to Rivendell. I see now that was a fool's thought." The commander released him and he turned again to leave and hesitated. "Thorongil, when the High King finally comes, I hope he's half the man you are, my friend." Fallon stepped through the window and out into the night.
Thorongil went back to his letter to Finduilas, hoping she would not recognize the reddish spots that soiled it. He sealed it, realized he had no time for a letter to Gandalf, and bundled it all together for Quillion.
Thorongil changed clothes quickly, pulling on a white shirt and long leather vest. He wiped both daggers clean, slid one in his boot top, and the other in the scabbard on his waist. He picked up Agawaen Nor, his cloak, and the Evenstar.
"Quillion!" The boy sat on his stool outside the door sobbing softly. Thorongil knelt before him. He touched the boy's cheek and turned his head to look at the dagger scratch. It had already stopped bleeding but his hand, soiled from the fight, left a blood smear on the boy's cheek. "Listen carefully, soldier. Take this bundle to Mithrandir. Do you hear me? Get Dagor! He is already saddled and standing outside. Ride to Minas Tirith. Let no one stop you! My father's sword is buckled to his saddle. Use it if you must. If I don't return, he and it are yours."
"Nay, my lord!" the boy looked at him beseechingly with tear-filled eyes. "Please…"
"Tonight, Quillion. Immediately. Return to Minas Tirith. Go to Mithrandir---only to him. He will keep you safe. Tell him—tell him I said this is perhaps part of my destiny too."
"But, my lord, shouldn't you need me with you?"
"No, I shall meet you there if possible. If not, tell the Lady Arwen I love her." Aragorn slipped the Evenstar pendant over the boy's head and tucked it inside his jacket. "It will keep you safe." Aragorn laid his hand on the boy's shoulder. "You're a brave lad, Quillion, and you have been a fine squire."
"Don't go there---to that place!" The boy threw his arms tightly around the commander's neck. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean those words. I-I love you. I wish you were my father." The boy's feelings spilled out like the tears staining his cheeks.
"I know---I see what's in your heart. Go now, lad. I must leave. Go to Mithrandir only and let none other see or stop you." The boy caught up the bundle and staggered down the hall toward the stables. Thorongil watched him until he went out the end door, whispered a prayer for the boy's safety, and dropped out the window, less than fifteen minutes after Fallon. In a last act of friendship, Fallon had dragged the body to the river. He followed the trail to the waterfront, paying the same boatman who had ferried his captain across the Anduin and into the Black Land.
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.