Faramir woke to a darkened chamber. He lay quiet for many moments, listening to the peregrine in their evening calls. He kept his eye closed and relished the palpable peace that the sound embodied. He strained further to hear what else might be about this evening, all the while wondering when his father would come and what strain lay between Denethor and Boromir. Though he attempted these past few weeks to make one or the other tell him, he still knew naught of their estrangement. 'So very odd,' Faramir thought, for his father doted on Boromir.
His ears pricked up as a new sound entered the room from the open window. 'Ah, a defiant mule.' He smiled at the urging of the mule's owner to make it move. As the voice rose in fury and pitch, Faramir felt sorry for the poor beast. 'Must be someone who has brought supplies to the Houses and now wishes to return home in time for the daymeal. Should use a piece of sugar. That always works.'
Faramir's smile turned to a frown at the sound of the lashing of a whip. His skin crawled and sweat broke out upon his face. His eye rolled back into his head as terror took him.
"Please," he cried out, "Please stop."
"Why should I? Your back is lovely, but the strokes upon it make it lovelier. The contrast of pure white and blood red is most becoming. I should probably find a mirror and let you see what my handiwork has wrought."
Faramir writhed as another score of strokes hit his back. "I cannot bear it," he gasped.
"But that is why I do it. To see how much a man can bear. I have forgotten o'er the years. It has been sometime since I have had such a young prisoner to test these things on. This is only the beginning. Do you think you will be able to withstand all I have planned for you? I truly hope you will."
Sobbing as the burn of the last strokes continued, Faramir cried out in agony. "Why are you doing this?"
"I have told you. I need to find out certain things. Most of the prisoners I have had, of late, have been old and succumb before I even reach my first goal. You will do fine for me. I can feel strength in you, besides the strength of your body. Here, this is the last one."
Another pain-searing strike and Faramir fell forward, the chains having been loosed as the whip struck. The beast, for Faramir refused to give it a name, came forward and touched the skin on Faramir's back, peeling off a piece here and there.
"Almost flayed, but not quite. I could do that, you know, but you would die within days and I have so many wondrous things planned for you."
"Why?" Faramir could not help asking again, though his mouth was dry and his voice barely rose above a croak. Shivers ran up Faramir's back at the inhuman sound that responded. It could not be a laugh, nothing could laugh like that.
"Did not your Steward teach his soldiers about me? Did he not tell you to cut your own throats before ever you were brought before me? I know he did. You should have listened. Now, you will understand."
Four Orcs picked Faramir up and placed him on a table near an ornate bed, face up. As his tortured back touched it, Faramir screamed. Wrenching from side to side, trying to move off his back, he watched in horror as the Orcs tied his wrists and ankles to the sides. He lay stretched out and immobile. Sudden sobs engulfed him.
"Now. I have created a new little device that needs testing."
Faramir shuddered at the voice.
"It is based upon a stone made by an ally of my master's. Well, he was not truly an ally, but he caused great havoc in the West and that served my master's purposes. Have you heard of the Palantír, soldier? It is a Seeing Stone. Well, much to my master's delight, I have created a small one. Very small. Just the size," the creature chortled, "of an eye. Not a large eye, but a man's eye. I need to test it, before I take it to him. So, prepare yourself. Mayhap they will write songs of you, if it indeed performs as I hope."
The Orcs stepped forward and held Faramir's arms. The creature moved in front of him, holding an iron pincers. The opened jaws of the tool moved towards Faramir's face. One of the Orcs took his head in its hands and held it tight. Faramir screamed as sickening realization dawned.
"Hold him," Denethor commanded, "before he hurts himself. Faramir," he cried aloud for the tenth time, "Faramir. You are safe. You are safe."
The boy thrashed from side to side, his arms flailing as the House's assistants tried to restrict his movements. Inhuman strength seemed to flow through Faramir and they could not hold him down. He flung madly one last time and ended up on the floor.
"Get Boromir now!" The Steward screamed.
Siriondil knelt next to the still flailing boy and blew powder towards his face. After a heartbeat's time, Faramir's thrashing lessened. The assistants picked him up and placed him back on the bed. Siriondil bent over him and listened for his breath. Finally, he hung his head in sorrow.
"Will he be all right? What caused this?"
"Were you in the room when it began?" Siriondil asked his Steward.
"I was not. I was late. When I opened the door, he was already screaming."
"Did he speak? Did he say anything?"
"He was..." Denethor slid into the chair next to the bed and held his head in his hands. "He was begging for something to stop."
The room grew silent. Siriondil motioned for the assistants to leave. They took the linen from the floor, wiped up the spilled water, and picked up the broken crockery. Bowing to the Steward, they left.
"He must have remembered something of his tortures. He was screaming when you came in? Was he alone?"
"It was dark, only light from the window shone in. He was lying on the bed, not moving, just screaming. I touched him and it was as if I struck him. He threw his arms up and tried to rake my face with his nails. I stepped back, but he continued to scream."
"When was he begging?"
"Before I touched him."
"Ah," Siriondil ran a hand through his hair. "When you touched him, he must have thought it was whoever did this to him. He reacted in fear. He did not know it was you."
"Of course he did not. Do you think I am a fool? He would never attack me. I tried to calm him, but he would not. I am glad Ioreth was nearby and could call you."
"Yes. She finished reading to him. She reported that he slept. Peacefully. Yet, something woke him. We will not know until he is able to remember without fear."
The Master Healer looked at the Steward. "He was able to reach you," he said quietly.
"Your face is scratched. Let me attend you."
Denethor looked up in surprise as a sudden burning sensation filled his face. "I did not feel anything. I was trying to help him."
"Some of them are deep. He must have been very afraid."
"He was terrified," Denethor whispered. "Terrified."
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.