Now, I see that these feelings have not been unfounded. What a terrible sight it is that greeted me today! How could it have been that now my youngest has fallen to the darkness as well?
'If I should return, think better of me!'*
I look over at Faramir as his final words echo through my mind. If you should return, indeed! But tell me, Faramir, what manner of return is this?
'I have fought well, father. My heart has never strayed. Do you see, now?'
I smile grimly as I imagine Faramir's response. Alas, my son, for though I see now, it is too late!
'Your son has returned, lord, after great deeds.'*
This time, it is Imrahil's voice that sounds in my mind. Faramir would have been pleased to hear such words from a man he admires thus. Faramir, can you hear us? Why do you not speak?
"I'm proud of you, my son," I whisper, taking his hand in mine, watching sadly as he lies motionless on the bed. "Can you hear me?"
I shake him lightly, but to no avail. Sighing sadly, I draw him closer into my arms. Faramir? Will you not speak to your father once more ere the end? I touch his face, feeling his skin burning, as though a fire rages within him. What must he think of me now?
'On one occasion at least your counsel prevailed...'*
Aye, and now it has prevailed again to send my remaining son to his doom! Oh, Faramir, what ill fate is this that would take you away from me? Is it not enough that my wife left me all too soon, her gentle spirit fleeing from the horror of Mordor? Now, ere both my sons can live their lives to the fullest, the darkness closes in and bears them away as well! Such hasty departures that should never have been!
Holding Faramir's hand tightly, I shake my head. Forgive me, son, for what I have done. I failed your mother when she was ill, unable to give her comfort and refuge from the darkness; and I failed your brother when I let him set off on that foolish errand. Yet, dearest Faramir, it is your forgiveness that I most desperately seek now, for it is you who I have let down far too often. There is naught I can do to atone for my actions, but please know that you are my son, and I love you.
I close my eyes tightly, letting the darkened room fade away from my view. For a moment, I let the world slip away as well. I can see Finduilas again, smiling radiantly as she hands a small infant into my arms. Next to me, Boromir is jumping up and down in excitement, reaching out with his small hands, anxious to hold his little brother as well.
"Not now, Boromir," I say, smiling at his antics.
"Faramir!" Boromir tugs at my sleeves insistently, pointing to his brother with a slight pout on his face. Chuckling lightly, I kneel down and let Boromir have a better look at Faramir. A wide smile spreads across his face and he tickles his brother playfully.
"Faramir," he repeats, gazing at the infant with awe.
"Yes, you now have a brother and a companion, Boromir." Cradling young Faramir gently in my arms, I look up at both Finduilas and Boromir, and we share a heartfelt smile.
Too quickly, however, that fleeting moment of happiness disappears, and I am thrust back into the bleak present. Faramir's body is limp in my arms, and his breathing is becoming more laboured. Alas for Faramir, that his end should come so soon! And what of Gondor now? Our forces are depleted, and the Rohirrim are nowhere in sight. What to do? The darkness will not wait. What to do? The darkness advances.
'You know what you must do,' a small voice whispers.
"Must I?" I answer aloud, though I know that no reply would be given. "I grow so weary."
Only silence greets me, and after a few moments, I reluctantly lay Faramir back on the bed and stand up. There will be no time to grieve. Indeed, there is never time to grieve. Leaving the chamber behind, I make my way up the winding stairs. My footsteps echo loudly around me, each sound filling my heart with dread.
Finally, I reach the small chamber at the summit, and my eyes fall immediately upon the Palant í r. As if in response to my gaze, it starts to glow softly, enticing me to come closer.
"But I am so weary," I repeat, even as my hands reach out to touch the glowing stone. It lights up brilliantly at my touch, and the world around me is no more. This time, I do not strain against its will, and stand passively as it fills my mind with visions. Blood. Decaying flesh. Death. Rooted in my place, I stare helplessly at the sights before me.
Barely can I recognize the once-great city of Osgiliath, which is now defiled by the vile creatures of the dark. Orcs run rampantly through the city's ruins, snarling with pleasure at the destruction and havoc. Dead bodies are lying about everywhere; there will be no proper burial for these soldiers, no escape from the darkness. For even as their bodies rot, the orcs feast on them, their blood-covered snouts greedily rending and tearing the flesh away from arms, legs, and torsos. My stomach turns in revulsion as I notice two orcs sharing a chosen morsel, snapping at each other as they fight for their food. Such abominations of nature! Is this the fate of all those who fall in these dark times?
Suddenly, the scene changes and I am plunged into the dark. Slowly adjusting to my surroundings, I look around cautiously. What is this place? It has never been shown to me before. A slight movement to my left startles me, and I turn to see what has caused the commotion. Orcs again. My blood boils at the sight of them, and I clench my fists in anger. One of them turns around, its hideous eyes flashing, and holds up something in his hands.
Straining my eyes to see better, I frown as I get a better look at the item in the orc's hands. It looks to be an elven cloak, yet what could such an item be doing in the hands of an orc?
Abruptly, I am wrenched again from the scene ere the answers to my question could be gleaned. I am now in a place with more light, and I can see rushing water. The Anduin! Vaguely, I see a dim shape off in the distance, gradually growing larger as it approaches. I lean forward, trying to discern what it is. Ships! They are ships! It is a fleet of ships, looming large in the horizons, their black sails billowing in some unnatural wind. Ever closer they come, deadly in their silence. My eyes widen in surprise. The fleets of Umbar! They have come for Gondor! What fell stroke of fortune it this that befalls us? How many are there? How strong are their forces? These are ill tidings indeed! I struggle to force the stone into revealing more information, but it does not heed my commands.
Why can I not control this any longer?
The cloak... the cloak that was shown to me... it was far too small to have been made for a man or even an elf. My heart sinks as the realization dawns upon me. This is the same cloak that Peregrin wore when he first arrived at Minas Tirith! The halfling Frodo must have been captured!
So great was my shock and dismay that I stumble backwards, pulling my hands back from the Palant í r . The chamber snaps back into view, and I breathe in deeply, my heart pounding rapidly. The Palant í r still glows brightly, taunting me with Gondor's imminent defeat. Turning away, I stagger back towards the door, and climb down the stairs.
I can no longer use the Stone. The halfling has been captured, and the Dark Lord has regained control over the Ring. He now controls all, and the fleets of Umbar will bring us our dooms.
Returning to the chamber where Faramir lay, I sigh softly and sit down next to him. Why must he be taken away from me as well? Am I to be deprived of any comfort or love, even in my final days? How I weary of this world and its sorrows... Bowing my head in anguish, I silently lament the fall of Gondor.
It is over. The Dark Lord has won.
Next Chapter - Inferno
* JRR Tolkien, "The Siege of Gondor", Return of the King.
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.