1. The Tower At Dol Amroth
Boromir had been gone for over a month now. Uncle Imrahil and Faramir's brother had gone to Linhir to pick up his father and to bring him to Dol Amroth. After the Steward's visit with Faramir's grandfather was concluded, Denethor would take his sons home with him, for it was the end of their summer's stay.
Faramir pulled his toe through the sand and watched the Sea, hoping at last to get a glimpse of their ship. He was now a full seven years old and really thought he should have been allowed to sail on his uncle's great sloop. He swung the piece of driftwood, held tight in his hand, pretending he was a pirate on his own ship. But it was no fun being a pirate without a crew.
He scanned the horizon one more time. His grandfather kept promising him his father and Boromir would be back any day. But any day came and went and there was still no sign of Uncle Imrahil's boat and its precious cargo. Dropping his stick, the boy picked up a shell and flung it into the black, uncaring Sea, then turned and ran up towards the castle.
As he entered the hall, he ducked behind a pillar. His tutor was there, speaking with his grandfather, making wide motions with his arms. He's telling Grandfather that I am willful and disobedient. Well, he supposed he was willful. He did not want to spend another afternoon learning mathematics. And, he must be disobedient, for was it not his father's command that he spend every afternoon, while they visited his grandfather, at his studies? He knew he would be quizzed once they returned to Minas Tirith, but at the moment he did not care. He wanted to be with Boromir on the ship.
Denethor's youngest ran from pillar to pillar, hiding, until he escaped from the hall and into the kitchens. He looked about him in surprise and then smiled; cookies were sitting on a counter, cooling. He hoped to ask permission to take one, but no one was about. Well, they were for his afternoon snack, were they not? So he supposed he could take one or two. They burned his hands as he picked them up. He blew on them, the cookies, while trying to find an exit that did not lead into the hall.
After a bit of twisting and turning and ending up in a butler's pantry, he discovered a door. Opening it gingerly, prepared to close it if someone was on the other side, he discovered the door led to a stairway. He looked behind him, but still no one had entered the kitchen area. He stepped into the stairwell and closed the door. Sitting on the bottom stair, he finished his first cookie. If only Boromir were here, we could go up these stairs and see where they lead. But Boromir still had not returned. Well, why should I wait? I am old enough; I suppose I can go up and find out myself.
He downed the last cookie and stood, reached for the balustrade, and walked slowly up the stairs. They became steeper and narrower the further up he went. Once every dozen or so steps, a window opened in the outer wall. He would stop and look out, delighted that he could see the Sea from here. He vowed he would return here every day and watch for Boromir's ship; the view was much better than from the shore.
Cold. He shivered and wished he had his cloak. However, the view was becoming better and better so he continued on. Another shiver swept over him as he finally reached the top of the stairs. This window faced the Sea and was so high he could imagine eagles flying nearby. He had never been this high in all his life.
He stilled, sure he had heard a small sound, like unto a moan, coming from the topmost door. He smiled to himself, thinking of the times Boromir had tried to scare him with tales of walking dead. I will not be afraid, not this time. Though he told himself quite forcefully that there was nothing there and nothing to fear, pinpricks ran up and down his arms. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as another moan sounded through the heavy oaken door.
Timidly, he knocked. He could hardly hear the sound himself, so lightly had he touched the door. But he really, really did not want an answer after all. Another moan greeted his knock. He stepped back, fear gnawing at his belly. After a few moments, he chided himself. It is probably only an old gull or something that has gotten itself trapped in the tower room. He decided he would let it free; he could not endure seeing something trapped.
The door seemed odd. Besides a latch, there was an iron, sliding bolt that held it closed. He pushed and the bolt moved. Pushing down on the latch, almost hoping it would not unlatch, the door swung silently open. He peered into the darkness and held his breath. Nothing seemed to stir; there was one window, but it was barred. He shrugged and began to close the door.
A low moan sounded across the room. Faramir almost choked on the fear that rose from his gut. He staggered backwards as every haunted tale he had ever heard ran through his mind. His knees gave way and he sank to the floor, crying out as he did so. His hands spanked the floor hard and they stung. The pain surprised him and took some of the fear from him. He tried to stand without hurting himself and called out, "Is anyone here?" His voice trembled.
Another moan just touched his ears; this time it was so much quieter, almost as if the moaner was growing weak. Faramir stood at that thought and walked forward, squinting into the darkness. He moved towards the window and unlatched the shutter. Another sound and as he turned, he steeled himself, telling himself all the while that it was a gull. It was a gull.
He stopped; his mind reeled. He fell forward in a faint.
When he woke, he looked about, wondering what had happened. He saw he was still in the tower room and remembered. Fear found him again ran up his spine. He looked about, biting his lip and keeping as still as he could. On the floor, huddled into a corner, was the saddest sight the little boy had ever seen. A fair lady lay before him with her hands and feet shackled to the wall. She tried to cover her face with her hands as the light from the window seemed to blind her. Faramir quickly ran and closed the shutter halfway. Tears ran down his face as he looked in bewilderment at the suffering before him. "May I help you?" he whispered.
She lifted her hands, silently begging to be released. He shook his head. "I am sorry. I cannot take them off. They are made of iron." Shaken to the core, he looked about him. "Is there a key?"
"Can you tell me where it is?"
She nodded towards the window. On the sill, a set of keys lay covered in dust.
Faramir ran and brought it back. As he touched her hands, she flinched. "I am sorry," he breathed out quickly. "I did not mean to hurt you."
She shook her head.
He put the keys into the lock, one by one, until one finally opened it. The chains fell from her. "Stay still for a few moments and gently move your hands and your legs, or else you will fall and hurt yourself. Sometimes the legs get stuck."
She nodded and did as he suggested.
When at last she seemed able to stand, he offered his arm. She took it and smiled, shook her hair back and it was then that Faramir saw her ears. He gasped. She was an Elf!
She smiled at him, gently caressed his face, and said, "You are a very brave warrior. What is your name?"
"Fa – Faramir," he stuttered.
"Faramir. You are of Elvish descent?"
"I think so. They say we are. Well, they say my mother's people are. At least, some say that." He rambled, but was too surprised, and yes, frightened, to stop the flow of words.
"Then you are one of my own, one descended from me," she whispered, a slight smile showing upon the beautiful face. She kissed him tenderly upon his brow.
"Who are you?" he sighed softly.
"Mithrellas," she whispered and was gone.
Faramir ran from the room, fell down quite a few of the steps, and finally ended up in the kitchens. One of the servers screamed as he pushed open the door. The butler hushed her, walked over to Faramir, and picked the lad up by the scruff of the neck. "You do not belong here, Master Faramir. Come with me. I believe your grandfather is looking for you." Brushing off Faramir's clothing, the man led him into the hall and straight to Adrahil's chair. He bowed and left.
"Grandfather!" Faramir cried aloud and flung himself into his grandfather's arms. "I was so frightened."
"Why, dearest boy? What have you been up to?"
"I found a stairway and sat to eat my cookies and then decided it would be an adventure to climb them and see what was at the top." The boy hiccupped.
"And what did you find?"
Faramir felt Adrahil shiver. "Yes. I have heard tales that she stays up there now and again. I think you best leave her be."
"What hap – happened to her? She was chained."
"Come to my rooms and we will talk." Adrahil clapped and a servant stepped forward. "Have tea brought to my study."
They walked slowly to Adrahil's chambers. Faramir's grandfather sat on the great stuffed chair in the corner by the fireplace and motioned for Faramir to sit upon his lap. Tea was poured and cookies were served. After Faramir was sated and less frightened, he turned to his grandfather, "What happened to her? Why was she chained?"
His grandfather stared into the fire for quite some time. Faramir was used to grownups taking their time before answering, so he didn't fidget too much, but sat silent and waited. At last, his grandfather spoke.
"Many believe she was a servant of Nimrodel. It is said she followed Nimrodel from Lothlórien and they became separated; she was found by our ancestor, Imrazôr. He wedded her and thus began our line. However, some say that is not the true story; some say she was not wedded, but imprisoned by the Númenórean as a hostage so that he might receive tribute or some such from the Elves of Lothlórien. I do not believe that is true." The Prince stopped for a moment as he looked long and hard at his grandson.
"You say she was in chains?"
Faramir gulped and nodded.
"That is not good."
"What does it mean? Why is it not good?"
Adrahil blushed. No need telling the lad he might be of a line of bastards. "Because it is not nice to chain someone up nor to hold them captive."
Faramir's eyes grew wide. "She was sad and hurting."
Adrahil's shiver almost shook Faramir from his lap. "Grandfather, she was very happy when I released her from the chains. Was she a… ghost?"
"I suppose so. I was told she had sailed West once her children were grown. Though I have always heard the tales of an Elf imprisoned in the tower, I gave it no credence. Did she say anything?"
"She said I was one of her own, and she smiled at me."
"Well, then all is well, little one. Now, it is close to your bedtime and I would not want your father to hear I kept you up late." The Prince walked Faramir to his rooms.
"I hope Mithrellas is all right."
"I am sure she is, Faramir. Now, go to bed, lad." Faramir felt his kiss in the same spot the Elf had kissed him. He put his hand to his forehead and smiled. "Good night, Grandfather." Adrahil left him. After laving his face and hands, Faramir jumped into his bed.
The curtains moved at his windows and he pulled the covers over his head in fright.
"Be not afraid, my son," he heard Mithrellas' gentle voice. "I am afraid your Grandfather is unhappy. I have a message for him, if you will give it to him on the morrow?"
"Yes," the boy nodded, eyes wide.
"Tell him, when my Imrazôr laid down to sleep, and then my son Galador after him, a bad man took me and chained me in the tower. You have set me free."
Faramir smiled. She leaned over and kissed his forehead, tucked him under his covers, and sang to him until he slept.
In the morning, he remembered and ran to his grandfather's chambers. "I saw her again!"
Adrahil stood and motioned for his servants to leave him. He picked Faramir up and held him close. "She did not hurt you?"
"Oh no! She had a message for you. She said you were unhappy, but I do not know why and she did not say."
"What was her message?"
When Faramir had repeated the message, Adrahil sighed and hugged the boy close to him.
"Are you happy now, Grandfather?"
"Yes. Very happy for our house is still honorable."
Faramir giggled. "Of course it is honorable. Ada says we are the honorablest men in all of Middle-earth." He laughed as Adrahil hugged him tighter, then his brow furrowed. "Who was the bad man, Grandfather?"
Adrahil's embrace tightened. "I do not know," he whispered. "I do not know." His shivering sent a like shiver down Faramir. "I am sorry, Faramir. I do not know. Unless she comes to you again, I doubt if we will ever know."
Faramir stirred the fire; his men sat in uncomfortable silence as he finished the tale.
"Did she ever come back to you?" Mablung asked.
"Nay. Never. I finally understood, when I was older, why Adrahil was so upset. It would not have been good if our line started in such an ignoble fashion. I still remember her, to this day, and the sorrow and suffering on her face."
"You are sure she was not a ghost?"
"I am not sure of anything that happened that day." Faramir smiled.
"Why did it take so long for her to be found?"
"That I cannot say. Though the tower room was off the kitchens. What scullery maid would dare to wander up those stairs? I suppose, after a time, the place was thought to be haunted." He smiled. "You know how only little boys seem to find haunted places exciting."
"Did you tell Boromir?" Damrod asked.
"Nay. I did not. I hardly remembered it in the joy of his return and after that, we left Dol Amroth."
"Who could have done such a thing? Left someone shackled for hundreds of years?" Mablung asked in horror.
"I know not. I do not believe it was her children or her grandchildren; I think she would have said if such was the case. However, there are others who hate the Elves."
"Could it have been... the One we do not name?" Damrod asked at that.
"Perhaps. As Adrahil said, we may never know." He shivered in spite of the fire.
Mablung put on another log; most of the Rangers of Henneth-Annûn prepared for bed as Faramir sat, silent.
Damrod leaned over. "Is there some reason for tonight's tale, my Captain?"
"Nay. It is that time of year; the time for darkened skies and darkened tales. Somehow," Faramir lowered his voice, "I expect us to encounter such malevolence ourselves. We must be prepared. Mithrellas did not give up; she waited all those long years for someone to rescue her. I think we should look to her for hope. What say you to that, Damrod, my friend?"
"I think I look to you for hope, my Captain. I need look no further." Faramir's aide smiled, saluted and went to his bedroll.
Faramir's heart glowed as warm as the flame of the fire.