9. Shadow of Death
Shadow of Death("...of the shadow of death...")
Slowly, faintly, Faramir opened his eyes. Above him was Eomer's face, his great golden bushy beard distractingly mussed, his grey eyes full of concern.
"Faramir, you must stay awake! I will get you to the healers at once."
And then, Faramir acknowledged the hot throbbing in his midsection, and the cloud of pain in his aching head that threatened to overwhelm him. Eomer was lifting him, and he could not but cry out, though that hurt even more.
It had been a hunting party, that was all. They were to hunt a Mumakil that had been terrorizing Ithilien, and their party was large and well-equipped. But they had been too loud, alerting the animal to their presence, and Faramir had crept silently ahead to find its location. A rustling in the bushes, and he had drawn his sword, but the Mumakil was cunningly silent as well, and had come quickly upon him. He had run, knowing the futility of facing such a creature on his own, but the last thing he remembered was a misplaced step, and in his haste he had not put his sword in its sheath, and had dropped and fallen upon it. The Mumakil had charged past him as he fell, and a foot had grazed his head, so that darkness fell upon him until Eomer came.
And now he was drifting between consciousness and darkness, pain and dizziness from lack of blood warring for the foremost place in his mind. He knew his chances of survival were quickly lessening, the hit to the head only magnifying the damage of a wide sword wound that had been bleeding freely. Though thought was failing him, in the darkness he began to know that he might die.
He barely registered when Eomer rejoined the group, barely registered the hum of worried voices around him, Aragorn's not least so. Soon hands were examining the wound, and pain shot through him with every touch, threatening to claim him.
Never had pain been so great, never had he felt so near death.
"Stay awake, Faramir!" came Aragorn's voice through the red haze of pain.
No, thought Faramir, let me rest, let me alone.
"Faramir!" A hand was on his shoulder, shaking him a little. His eyes opened a little. "Faramir, I need you to stay with me. Is your sword wound the only one?"
"My...head..." answered Faramir, whispering. He closed his eyes again as his head was examined, wishing this would end, wishing they would leave him in peace. He could not survive this, surely they could see that.
"Faramir!" Aragorn's voice kept calling him back. "Faramir, stay with me!"
"I am...dying...Aragorn," whispered Faramir.
"You are not!" said Aragorn, growling. "Do not dare think so! You must fight now, Faramir, fight for your life!" As Faramir's eyes closed again, Aragorn placed his hands on either side of Faramir's head, seeking for the younger man's mind with his own.
Aragorn, it is not right to refuse death when it comes, said Faramir's fading mind.
Death is not coming for you, Faramir, not yet. You are letting despair take you down, you can survive this if you try.
You hope vainly, Aragorn, and I am fading quickly. I beg you, do not make this more difficult. Faramir felt as if the pain was worsening as Aragorn was dragging his mind towards the surface.
You are a fool, Faramir! I will make this as difficult as possible, because I shall not let you die! Your duty demands that you try harder, Faramir, for your wife and your son! Do not abandon your duty and leave them! This shadow of death comes from the Enemy, and you must overcome it!
With a gasp, Faramir felt Aragorn's will keeping him, though for the moment he wanted only peace.
Fight, Faramir! Your life is not your own, but belongs to your people and your family!
And as he was being held to life by the will of Aragorn alone, there was a brief moment of respite just long enough for guilt to seep in through the pain. No! He could not die. He was still needed, duty called him. He could not despair, could not give in to the enemy that he despised, could not live out eternity with the inevitable weight of guilt on his shoulders. Very well, he thought.
And with his tired will, he put forth every effort, until he could just open his eyes. Aragorn, slumped wearily after his effort at Faramir's side, gave him a wan smile.
"You will live, Faramir," he whispered.
Faramir breathed out as sleep overcame him, but he felt it was the sleep of exhaustion and no longer the shadow of death. With his will he knew it to be true: he would survive.
A/N: Before I have the anti-weak Faramir fans (of whom I am one) upon me in hordes, let me say that I believe Faramir was prone to depression when physically weakened, as shown by his seemingly uncharacteristic ride to doom after being afflicted with the Black Breath.
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.