Visions of Despair: 1. Sorrow

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1. Sorrow

Disclaimer:The world of Middle-Earth belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. Any direct quotations from The Lord of the Rings are referenced at the bottom of each chapter. No copyright infringement is intended.

Dedication: This fanfic is dedicated to Al's Waiter. Many thanks for the countless hours of laughter you have provided everyone ! :-)

Author's Note: This is my attempt at telling Denethor's story, from the death of his son until his own death. Denethoris a very complex character, and often misunderstood by the masses. My main motivation for writing this story was to portray Denethor as fairly as possible. I realize he's not the most likeable guy in the world, but that doesn't take away from the fact that he's a fascinating man, with many layers and many aspects to explore.

Thanks: Big thanks to Julie and Drew for helping me beta-read most of these chapters - couldn't have done it without you two! :-) Thanks also to Maryn, Winterfox, Mierauch and Starlight for their help with some of the passages in this story. And of course, thanks to the people who have read my story and gave me valuable suggestions!

Chapter One: Sorrow

I slowly trace my fingers over the jagged edges of the broken horn, feeling only a dull emptiness in my heart. Closing my eyes, I clutch the horn tighter. Only now do I realize that all my preparations have been in vain.

I open my eyes again and smile grimly, half-amused at my own foolishness; it all seems so preposterous to me now. How can anyone hope to steel themselves against the anguish that follows the death of a loved one? Alas! Why has this evil fate befallen my most beloved son? Why Boromir?

"How did you come to find this?" I ask, not trusting myself to say anything more.

"It was found on the shore of the River, my lord," responds Faramir.

Carefully, I consider the response and sink back into my thoughts. A faint sound, dimly heard, returns to me, haunting me with its soft echoes. Will that unheeded call for help be the final memory I have of my dearest son? I sigh wearily, the shroud of bleakness once again closing in on me. Boromir, Boromir! How could one so noble and strong fall like this?

A slight movement catches my eye and brings me out of my trance. Looking up, I see Faramir looking at me with an uncertain expression on his face. He is vaguely uncomfortable in my presence and seemingly... expecting something. He draws a deep breath, wanting to speak, but something stops him. The silence hangs heavily in the air, and at last I dismiss him with a casual wave of my hand. He pauses, taken aback by the gesture. Then, almost inaudibly, he sighs.

"Good night, father."

He bows and walks back towards the door. As he turns to close the door behind him, I notice a grief-stricken look in his eyes. He shuts the door abruptly, attempting to hide his emotions from me. For a long time, I sit and listen to the sound of his footsteps disappear down the hall. I stand up and call out tohim, but he does not hear me. Perhaps he has chosen not to hear me. Perhaps I do not want him to hear me. I shake my head sadly, for I can never love him as much as I love Boromir. It is not for my lack of trying, but I cannot overcome the invisible barrier that exists between us. He will never be anything more than a distant shadow to me, and this knowledge pains him greatly. I do not wish to hurt him, yet I cannot find it within me to welcome him into my heart.

As I stand numbly in my place, I hear the steady murmur of the River Anduin rise to a crescendo in my mind, drowning out my thoughts of Faramir. I carefully lift up the broken shards of the horn once again, seeing it as it once was, and watching helplessly as Rauros shatters it into several pieces. A fleeting image of Boromir appears before me, his proud eyes gazing steadily into mine, a slight smile on his face. As the image fades away into the air, my soul cries out in its wretched misery.

My Boromir... My beacon of hope... What shall become of Gondor, if it without its rightful heir? The burden on my shoulders grows ever heavier, and I turn once again to the palantír. I know that I should not attempt to use it tonight, for I am far too grieved and tired. Yet, there are things I must know! Staring at the strange stone, I feel its power drawing me closer. How can I ever sleep in peace, notknowing what has happened to my son? A dark flame burns from within the palantír, its terrible glow tempting me with promises of newknowledge.

I stagger towards the seeing-stone, ignoring the clamors of protest within me. My fingers grip onto the stone and I am drawn deep into its fire. Immediately, the smell of blood and death washes over me. My eyes open and I am greeted by a grotesque creature,snarling and growling. Blood is dripping off its deformed teeth, and its eyes gleam with a dark light. From afar, a voice speaks to me.

"Isildur's Bane..."

Boromir's riddle! I strain to look further. Slowly, a clearing appears before me, surrounded by trees. An arrow hisses by, and I am suddenly aware of the battle raging around me. The shrieks of the orcs fill my ears, and I look around frantically, trying to spot Boromir. Where is he? A shape... I see a shape hunched over at the tree! Boromir?

No! A darkness quickly fills the air and obscures the vision. I grip the stone tighter and order it to show me more. Exhaustion sweeps through me, but I persist. I mustknow! Struggling against the power of the palantír, my mind screams in pain.

Let me see!

I let out a sigh of relief as wavering visions begin to present themselves before me again. An icy chill runs through my bones and I frown. A dark shadow flies over Gondor... yet, I cannotsee it. For the life of me, I cannot see what it is! Rage wells up insideme, threatening to explode. I concentrate my will and anger uponthe stone, demanding its obedience.

Two bright, inquisitive eyes stare out at me. Then, a bright flash of white streaks across my field of view, almost blinding me in its radiance. I shut my eyes tightly against the light until it finally diminishes and the darkness takes over again. But it's too dark now... I shiver slightly in the cold void, and then I gasp. I can see - I see Gondor... in ruins! Masses of orcs are pouring into the streets, now filled with destruction and mayhem. Men... slaughtered in cold blood... butchered.

Dread fills my already-leaden heart. Is there no hope left for Gondor? Looking upon the obliteration of all that I have loved, I collapse onto the ground, and my heart weeps. The red glow of the palantír is the last thing I see as a dreamless sleep overtakes me.

Next Chapter: Suspicion.

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: Aralanthiriel

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/13/02

Original Post: 06/30/02

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