The Price of Duty|
Faramir is once again plagued by a disturbing dream. Can he find the peace he so desperately needs.
"Faramir! No, you will
not take my son from me! Faramir!" Wizened hands reached towards
him even as hot orange flames overcame his father's face. "My son!"
Denethor's cry ended in a tortured sound.
The heat seared his face as he instinctively recoiled from the fire.
Faramir's eyes flew open, straining to pierce the darkness of the third
watch. He sat up trying to catch his breath as his heart continued to
pound. His nightshirt clung to the sweat on the back of his neck. The
newest Steward of Gondor slowly slid out from under the bedcovers, thankful
that on this night, his intended was in Rohan. He wrapped a robe around
himself and padded barefoot out onto the balcony over looking Emyn Arnen.
The late night breeze was cool on his sweat-beaded forehead. Across
the valley, Ithil sank slowly, its full face silver against the darkness
of the night. Faramir trembled slightly as he recalled the vividness
of his dream. He still wondered at times if the images were actual memories
stored in his unconsciousness or if he was simply reacting to the story
he had been told shortly before he had taken up his authority in the
white city. His eyes closed as he brought to mind the events surrounding
his learning of the truth of his father's death.
I must know. How did my father die?" Faramir's grey eyes showed
both the depths of his pain and the intensity of his desire. "I
walk amongst gardens that should bring me peace but my soul cannot find
rest. The healers avoid my presence and refuse to look me in the eye.
When I ask of my father, they suddenly find other matters to occupy
them." He paused to take a deep, shuddering breath. "I do
not know if the pictures that haunt my dreams are real or just horrid
The wizard sighed softly.
"What do you see Faramir?"
"I don't actually see
anything. It is more of a sense that everything around me is aflame.
I feel the heat searing my face and I cannot escape it. I hear my father
calling my name yet I can neither see nor touch him. The flames grow
more intense and Father calls my name once more before everything goes
black and I awaken in here in my bed." The young man's words were
soft and hesitant. His eyes were bright with unshed tears and his hands
shook as he gripped the sheets, obviously fighting for control.
Gandalf sighed again, knowing
that he could no longer hide the truth. "When your father learned
of your injuries, he finally lost his wits. He sat by your bedside until
at last, convinced that you were beyond hope, he ordered you carried
to the Silent Street. He intended to burn both himself and you on a
funeral pyre. Pippen, Beregond and I were able to save you, but Denethor
succumbed to his madness and died by his own hand in the fire of his
making." He gripped his friend's shoulder in support as the wounded
man began to weep.
Faramir felt fresh tears sliding
unhindered down his face as his thoughts returned to the present. In
the few months since the coronation, his dream had plagued his sleep
no less than five times. Something though was different in this waking.
He felt a strong pull towards the Morgul Vale; a pull that he could
neither explain nor ignore. He turned his gaze toward the silhouette
of Minas Tirith, wondering not for the first time if Aragorn was a man
in whom he could confide.
Early morning's light found
him saddling his horse, the captain of his guard at his side. Beregond
glanced over at his friend, noting both the weariness of his shoulders
and the dark circles under his eyes. "What troubles you, milord?"
His voice was gentle and quiet in the stillness of the stable. "I
know that this trip was not intended until later in the week."
Faramir shook his head. "I
do not wish to burden you with knowledge that I myself do not understand."
Beregond straightened up from
where he was checking his mount's girth strap. "Faramir, you are
my prince and yet you are more than that. You are my friend. Please
know that I would gladly help you carry this burden. You are not walking
through this life alone." He placed a gentle hand on the prince's
arm. "Share your concerns with me." The muscles under his
touch trembled as Faramir fought to maintain his control. He raised
tortured grey eyes to meet the concerned ones of the White Guard Captain.
"I cannot explain, my
friend. I simply ask you to trust me." He whispered hoarsely, his
voice thick with emotion.
"I trust you with my life,
my prince." Beregond said firmly as he mounted his horse. "Now
let us make haste to Minas Tirith."
Aragorn was relaxing in his
study, enjoying a few moments of much needed privacy, when a soft knock
intruded on his thoughts. "Enter." He called as he looked
up from his book. A look of surprise crossed his lean face as his steward
hesitantly stepped across the threshold.
"May I speak with you
milord?" Faramir murmured softly, his eyes lowered in deference
to his lord.
"Certainly, Prince Faramir."
The king matched the younger man's formal tone. "Please have a
seat." He gestured to a nearby chair. "Would you care for
a draught of wine or some refreshment?"
"Just some wine."
Faramir accepted the goblet handed him, still not meeting the king's
"Now, what brings you
to the city early? I wasn't expecting you until two or three days hence."
Aragorn sat on the edge of the couch, elbows on his knees, his gaze
focused on the younger man before him.
Faramir turned the goblet in
shaking hands. His breath quickened and his heart pounded as he contemplated
how to speak to the king. The room painfully reminded him of another
time when he had brought his dream before his father. He forced himself
to take a deep calming breath, focusing instead on the fact that this
man had never treated him with anything less than respect. "I have
been having disturbing dreams of late." He spoke with more confidence
than he felt. "I see my father burning before my eyes. He calls
my name but I cannot see him." He felt the grief welling up in
his breast and he clenched his jaw to maintain a grip on his emotions.
Suddenly, there was a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up into
the concerned eyes of his lord. There was encouragement and pity in
Aragorn's face. Faramir swallowed hard before continuing on in a hushed
voice. "This time when I awoke, I felt a dire need to ride to the
Morgul Vale. I do not know what draws me there nor do I know what awaits
me. The last time that I felt this strongly was when my brother and
I had dreamed of Imladris."
"How long has this dream
plagued you?" Aragorn asked, his left hand remaining on his steward's
shoulder as his right drew a chair closer so that he could sit down.
"Five times since your
coronation, milord but it did not start until after I began to restore
Emyn Arnen. It is as though my ancestral home has had some adverse affect
on me." He couldn't look away from the king's face. "I'm not
sure whether this is a vision of sorts or if I am somehow reliving my
Aragorn felt his heart would
break from the despair and pain that colored the younger man's voice.
"Faramir." He spoke without using the formal titles of state
hoping to show the other man that he desired to help. "Your brother
oft spoke of your abilities. He held you in the highest regard. If you
are sensing something this strongly then I do not believe that it should
be ignored. This vision is calling you for a purpose and we must discover
what that is." He leaned back in his chair and looked intently
at his steward. "I wonder if you have a sensitivity that could
be used to bend a palantir to your will."
Faramir blinked. "But
the seeing stones are what enslaved my father and led to him losing
his wits. How can I use such a thing?" He protested quietly then
frowned. "Why do you draw that particular conclusion from my dream?"
"Because what you are
describing is the image that is initially shown in the stone that your
father had in his possession at his death. If it is calling to you,
then you might be able to use it."
"Use it to what end, milord?"
The younger man's brow furrowed in confusion.
Aragorn steepled his fingers
as he regarded his steward. "I have heard rumors from some of the
Southrons that one of the seeing stones may have been lost along the
edges of the Morgul Vale. Now you come before me speaking of a dream
that leads you to the very place those men have mentioned."
Understanding dawned on Faramir's face. "You think that I can use
the one my father had to find the missing one."
"I believe that it might
be possible, yes. Even if we don't use the missing one for any purpose,
I do not relish the idea of it falling into enemy hands." He leaned
forward again. "Of course if you are not comfortable with the idea,
I would never force you to look into the stone."
"I need some time to think
on this milord." Faramir said softly. He felt shamed that he did
not share the king's confidence and refused to meet the other's eyes.
He raised his head. "Pardon?"
The king's lips quirked into
a warm smile. "Call me Aragorn. In this room, we are not steward
and king. We are simply two friends."
The simple statement both stunned
and warmed Faramir's heart. "You wish me to be your friend?"
Aragorn laughed surprising
him with its rich sound. "Of course, why would I not?"
"I am the son of the man
who would rather take his own life than surrender his office."
The steward answered simply. "I would not blame you if you were
to distance yourself from me."
"Faramir, that was your
father's choice not yours. I would never blame you for his actions any
more than you would blame me for the actions of my forefathers."
Faramir pronounced the name with great care. It sounded strange on his
"You're welcome, mellon."
Aragorn replied. "Now, I have business to attend to and you look
like you could use some rest before the evening meal. You shall dine
with Arwen and me tonight."
"Until tonight milord."
Faramir bowed as he left the study. He moved stiffly as he wandered
down the corridor to the chambers that had belonged to him before his
return to Emyn Arnen. He closed the door behind him as he allowed himself
to relax in the familiar surroundings. He was far wearier than he wanted
to admit. Sinking down onto the edge of his bed, he removed his boots
before falling back across the mattress. His eyes closed and he sank
"Faramir! No, you will
not take my son from me! Faramir!" The flames rose around his father's
hands, obscuring his face. He could feel
the heat of the fire as it burned his clothing and singed his hair.
The inferno rose higher and he spun in circle looking for a pathway
to safety. He felt himself being pulled
deeper into the blaze. He choked on
the smoke and fell to his knees, his vision going black.
"Faramir! Faramir, wake
up." The command was firm as was the grip on his shoulder. Someone
was shaking him, rousing him from the depths of his dream. "Faramir."
The voice repeated.
Faramir's eyes snapped open
as he involuntarily jerked back from the touch. The light blanket that
he had pulled over himself was wrapped tightly about his body and his
chest was heaving as if he had been fighting. Sweat drenched his shirt
and soaked his hair. Aragorn was leaning over him, a look of concern
in his grey eyes. The scent of athelas filled the room. His throat was
parched and painful as if he had been shouting. He tried to sit up but
a wave of weakness washed over him and he fell back against the pillows.
"Here, drink this."
The king handed him a mug of tea that smelled faintly of oranges and
lemongrass. "It will make you feel better."
Faramir took the mug, mildly
embarrassed to see his hand was shaking so much that Aragorn had to
steady him. "Thank you." He whispered hoarsely.
The man before him sighed in
obvious relief. "I wasn't sure I could get you out of that dream.
You wouldn't respond until I used the athelas."
"I couldn't escape this
time. The flames were all around me and there was no way to safety.
Father was calling me. I couldn't find him. I couldn't save him. I couldn't….
I couldn't…. I…" His words trailed off as the lump in his throat
suddenly grew. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut trying to hold back
the tears that sprang behind his lids. A part of him wondered belatedly
how he must look to his liege yet before the thought was even finished
he realized that he was being held in a comforting hug. All coherent
thought fled as his grief overwhelmed him and he wept, finally allowing
his heart to begin to heal.
Aragorn simply held him, letting
him release his pain. As the wrenching sobs began to abate, the king
rose and dampened a cloth in the water pitcher before handing it to
the younger man. Faramir took it and wiped his face, a soft chuckle
sounding from him.
"What is it?"
"Boromir used to do the
same thing. He was always making me wash my face or change my shirt
when we were growing up."
Aragorn laughed as well. "Yes,
I know the feeling. My brothers did the same." He paused then sobered.
"Your dream was worse this time." It was a statement, not
"Aye. I couldn't wake
up. I felt like I was burning." Faramir shuddered at the memory.
"I am sorry for losing control."
"Do not apologize. You
simply needed a release. I would never begrudge another for that."
Aragorn sat on the edge of the bed, facing his steward. The fatigue
and weariness etched into his face reminded the king of a former time
and place when he had encouraged another to take some rest.
hesitant tones jolted him from his musing and he blinked to bring his
thoughts back to the present.
“Forgive me mellon. My thoughts
wandered away. What were you saying?” Aragorn refocused on the young
man before him.
“I do not believe that I
am strong enough to look into the palantir. What if my mind is twisted
as my father’s was?”
Aragorn regarded the other
for a moment, weighing his words. “First, there is no evil inherent
in the stone itself. Now that Sauron has been destroyed the influence
that drew in your father no longer exists. Second, I believe that your
will is stronger than you give yourself credit for. By all rights, you
should have died from the black breath during the war. Instead you persevered
and you lived. Third, I have had much time to learn about you. Your
uncle speaks very highly of you and your abilities, just as Boromir
did. Your gifts of judgment and foresight are much stronger than those
of your father. The stone will hold no sway over you. However, as I
said earlier, I will not force you to look into the stone and whatever
decision you make I will support you in it.”
“You would not condemn me
as weak for not looking in it?” Faramir asked as one eyebrow lifted
“Certainly not.” Aragorn
replied firmly. "I am not like your father. I will never treat
you in the manner he did and I will not condemn you for making a decision
that you feel is best."
Faramir trembled as the truth
of the king's words struck him. "Thank you Aragorn." He murmured
his words nearly inaudible. Suddenly he felt completely drained and
the need for sleep swept over him. Despite his best efforts, his eyes
slid shut as Aragorn gently laid the blanket over him and departed from
Sometime later, he awoke feeling
greatly refreshed. He sat up and stretched, noting that someone had
brought his saddlebags into the room while he slept. "I must
have been more tired than I thought." He muttered to himself.
He pulled out a clean silver blue tunic and black breeches before ducking
into the bathing chamber to prepare for the dinner with the king and
The next morning, Faramir rose
early. He dressed and walked upon the wall of the city, lost in his
thoughts. Aragorn watched him from the window of his room. He smiled
as Arwen's arms encircled his waist.
"Do you think he will
change his mind?" she murmured softly in her musical voice.
"I don't know. He has
been weighed down by great fear and many cares for a long time. I do
not blame him for being frightened by the very thing that destroyed
his father." He turned to face his wife. "However, a couple
of his friends from the rangers are coming in today and they may be
able to sway his decision."
"Who is it?"
"Damrod and Anborn. I
hope Faramir will confide in them and that the two of them will give
him good counsel. Damrod indicated that they along with two others have
been close friends since childhood."
"If they are as close
as you believe, then it will do Faramir's heart good to speak with them."
Arwen observed with a quick kiss to her husband's cheek.
The royal couple's prediction
came true just a few hours later. Faramir had sought solitude at the
top of the white tower when he was accosted by his friends.
"Don't you know it's hazardous
to one's health to attempt to sneak up on a ranger?" the prince
asked as Damrod silently appeared behind him.
"Whoever said I was trying
to sneak?" The ranger replied cheekily, a broad grin spread across
his tanned features. "I knew you would sense me behind you, so
what's the point in saying anything."
Anborn chuckled at the amiable
swat Faramir gave his best friend. He sank down next to the other two
men, noting the weariness written on his captain's face. "What's
troubling you, Miri?" He kept his tone light and gentle.
Faramir's shoulders slumped
forward. His face fell and his gaze dropped to his hands. He closed
his eyes briefly before looking over at the other ranger. "I haven't
been sleeping well. I've been dreaming of my father's death."
"You what?" Damrod
gasped. "I thought you were unconscious when Lord Denethor passed.
How can you then be dreaming of it?"
Faramir sighed. "King
Elessar believes that somehow one of the missing seeing stones is calling
to me. The images that I'm seeing in my dreams are the same that the
"What does the king want
you to do?" Anborn asked softly.
The steward pressed his lips
together and took a deep breath before answering. "He wants me
to look into the stone my father used. I don't know if I’m strong
enough to do it." He stopped at the shocked look on his friends'
"Miri, what are you talking
about? You're one of the strongest men I know." Damrod protested.
"Even the king said you have a staunch will."
"But I am also my father's
son; and I am as sensitive as he was, if not more so. What if my mind
becomes enslaved as his did?"
Anborn placed his hand on his
friend's shoulder. "Faramir." His voice was soft yet firm
capturing the other's attention, for the ranger was one of the few who
still called him by his childhood nickname. "Faramir, you can do
this thing. When you were so ill at the end of the war, many despaired
of your healing. Yet here you are, healed, strong, and alive. You were
spared for a reason. Perhaps this is it."
Faramir looked at him with
eyes that remained shadowed by doubt. "I wish I shared your assurance,
Anborn's only answer was a
quick squeeze of his shoulder before he rose and disappeared down the
That evening, Faramir knocked
hesitantly on the door leading to Aragorn’s study. He took a deep
breath to steady himself as the king’s voice bade him enter. “Might
I have a word with you milord?” He stopped, a faint blush coloring
his cheeks as the king raised an eyebrow at the formality of his speech.
“Certainly Prince Faramir.”
Aragorn replied in kind. He directed his steward to a chair then waited
for the younger man to speak. The silence reigned for several minutes
broken only by the crackling of the fire in the hearth laid to ward
off the evening’s chill. Finally Faramir spoke.
“I do not know the strength
that lies within my heart. I do not know if I am capable of bending
the stone to my will or if I can received the knowledge that you seek.
However, if you believe me able, I will attempt to look into the palantir.”
He paused, catching his lower lip between his teeth. “Though, I fear
I shall need your guidance, milord.” His voice was almost childlike,
longing and quiet.
Aragorn smiled gently. "Of
course, mellon nin. I will be at your side the entire time. When do
you want to attempt this?"
The tiniest of smiles quirked
at the corner of Faramir's mouth. "Now, before I lose my resolve,
The king smiled too. "Very
well." He rose offering his hand to his steward before a teasing
glint came into his grey eyes. "On one condition, stop calling
me milord. It's Aragorn."
Faramir blushed again. "I
cannot call my liege by his given name." He murmured, staring at
"Can you call a friend
by his given name?" Aragorn countered. He knelt in front of the
younger man, gently raising his chin, forcing their gaze to meet.
Faramir stared at him for a
moment, a flicker of fear in his orbs. Finally he blinked and took a
deep breath. "Aye, that I can do."
"Then come, let us face
this destiny together." The king led the way to a smaller room,
just off the study. He lit the candles with a spill from the fireplace.
Both palantirs lay side by side on a small table, both covered by a
simple white cloth. "The one on the right is the one your father
possessed." He pulled the cloth away revealing the black stone.
Faramir paused, feeling the
first fluttering of fear in his stomach. His breathing quickened and
his palms became sweaty. He closed his eyes to steady himself as he
felt Aragorn grip his shoulder in support. Taking a deep breath, he
raised his head. "Show me what to do."
"Place your hands on either
side of the stone and look into its center. The rest should happen on
The steward gently took the
stone in his hands. It was strangely warm as if it were somehow alive.
Its smooth hard surface reflected the light of the candles around them.
He bowed his head staring at the middle of the stone. Suddenly it flared
to life and he made a strangled sound as flames appeared. Buzzing sounded
in his ears and a great weight pressed upon his head. A choked sob escaped
his lips as he beheld the wizened hands from his dream. Aragorn spoke
from behind him, his voice distance and muffled.
"Bend it to your will.
Tell it to show you what lies along the Morgul Vale."
Faramir struggled to comply,
his body trembling from the effort. Suddenly everything around him disappeared
and he seemed to be standing upon a hill overlooking the vale. He moved
forward on instinct, his feet following an unseen path. His course wound
down a steep hill, each step bringing him closer to now silent and empty
city of Minas Morgul. He shuddered slightly, chilled by the echoes of
evil that still prevailed. He cast a cautious gaze about his surroundings,
searching for the thing that drew him so forcefully. A sudden glimmer
caught his eye as he turned his head. There, half buried under dirt
and loose shale was a sphere, dark as midnight. Its center swirled with
flashes of orange and red. Faramir knelt, reaching his hand out toward
the stone. As his fingertips brushed against it, sharp pain abruptly
exploded behind his eyes. He tried to pull back from the palatir, but
it seemed to be attached to his hand. Agony raced through him as he
felt himself falling. Something hard impacted with the back of his head
and his vision went black.
There was a cool hand on his brow and freshness to the air. He groaned
as he tried to open his eyes. His head was throbbing and waves of nausea
washed over him. "Go easy mellon nin."
Faramir stuttered over the words. He couldn't focus on the face above
"Somehow a surge of power
from the palantir threw you backwards and into the doorframe. You've
been unconscious for several minutes.” Aragorn’s voice was gentle.
His visage swam as Faramir concentrated on keeping his stomach in place.
It would never do for him to be sick in front of the king. Unfortunately
his body didn’t seem to agree as something sour surged in the back
of his throat. He gagged, pressing a closed fist against his lips. Aragorn,
recognizing the distinctive jerk of his steward’s shoulders, quickly
grabbed a nearby container. Dumping the numerous odds and ends out of
it, he held it under the younger man’s mouth just as Faramir lost
the battle with his stomach. The king pressed his hand against the other’s
neck, focusing all of his energy into a soothing touch that Lord Elrond
had taught him many years before. Finally the retching slowed and color
crept back into Faramir’s ashen cheeks. He opened his mouth to apologize
but Aragorn cut him off. “There is nothing to apologize for, mellon
nin. I was a healer long before I was a king.”
Faramir nodded, feeling too
dizzy and sick to respond any differently. He closed his eyes trying
to will the room to stop spinning. He never noticed Aragorn’s departure
nor did he react when the king returned with Damrod in tow.
The morning sun had climbed
high in the sky by the time Faramir opened his eyes the next day. He
glanced around the chamber in confusion until he realized he was in
his own bed. He frowned trying to recall how he had gotten there. His
head still carried a dull ache.
“Damrod helped me get you
into bed after you collapsed last night.” Aragorn's voice spoke softly
from the corner as the king moved into the Steward's line of sight.
"How do you feel?"
"As though I had been
run over by a company of orcs." Faramir groaned as he struggled
to push himself upright. Aragorn threw an arm behind his back to support
him. "Forgive me milord."
"Forgive you for what?"
Confusion ruled the king's tone.
"I failed you. I was unable
to control the palantir and so I did not find the missing stone."
The steward stared down at his hands, distress evident in his posture.
"My only accomplishment was to force you to use your healing skills
on me again." His voice was barely above a whisper.
"Faramir, you did not
fail me. You faced your fear and you attempted that which you did not
believe you could do. I could not ask for anything more."
“And if the stone were to
fall into enemy hands? What then? Evil could gain a foothold in Minas
Tirith because of my failure! Perhaps this shows that I am not fit to
be your steward.”
“Enough, Faramir!” Aragorn
spoke sharply, using the abrasive tone to jar the steward from his self-loathing.
The prince looked up at him in surprise and he softened his words. “I
appointed you steward because I judged that you will carry out the office
most faithfully. I do not expect you to be perfect or to never make
a mistake. As for the stone, we shall deal with that situation when
it arises. Do not berate yourself for matters beyond your control.”
He regarded the younger man with intensity in his grey eyes.
Faramir shuddered under the
look. For a moment, the king reminded him of his father and the disapproval
that had shadowed their relationship. He dropped his eyes, ashamed of
what the king must see in them.
Aragorn tilted his head abruptly
realizing what was going through the other’s mind. “Faramir, I know
how hard this must be for you, having never lived up to your father’s
expectations. However, I promise you that I will always treat you with
the respect you deserve.”
Faramir felt a sudden rush
of tears fill his eyes and he quickly tried to blink them away. “Thank
“You’re welcome mellon
Late that night, in the depths
of the third watch, Faramir slipped silently down the corridor towards
the king’s study. He felt strangely compelled to look into the stone
once more. He knocked quietly on the door to the study then when only
silence answered, pushed the door open. He crossed to the storage room
and quickly stole inside. He took a deep breath, focusing all his will
on the stone before him. “You will not control me.” He muttered
fiercely. He placed his palms on either side of the stone, feeling it
once again flare to life. Drawing on the same strength that had sustained
him during the war, he forced the image of the flames to disappear.
He felt himself once again transported to hill above the Mogul Vale.
He retraced his steps until he located the palantir still covered in
dirt and rocks. He knelt, staring at the orb. It was still flashing
with orange and red light, just as it had been before. He closed his
eyes focusing his entire being on the task before him. Taking a deep
breath, he reached out and grasped the stone with both hands. Once again,
pain seared through him burning his hands and exploding behind his eyes.
He gritted his teeth and bowed his head trying to force back the agony
that threatened to overwhelm him. Slowly he felt the hold of the stone
lessening and a wave of weakness took its place. With a gasp, he was
suddenly aware of being back in the store room, his entire body shaking
from the effort to stay on his feet. This time however he was filled
with the knowledge he had so desperately sought. His last conscious
thought was of the location of the lost seeing stone.
Aragorn's eyes flew open in
the darkness. He sat up wondering what had awakened him. At his side,
Arwen slumbered peacefully. The room was silent, yet a feeling of dread
consumed him. He shrugged into a simple linen shirt and breeches before
slipping out of the bedchamber. As he continued down the hall, he suddenly
noticed the study door was slightly ajar. "I thought I left
it closed." He thought to himself before a sudden realization
gripped him. "Valar, let Faramir be unharmed." The king whispered
the prayer on the run as he barged through the opening. Further in,
he could just make out the motionless form of his steward lying on the
floor. He dropped to his knees, placing his ear over the man's mouth,
hoping to hear a whisper of breath. Fear gave way to relief as gentle
air brushed his cheek. He felt for the heartbeat in the wrist and frowned
slightly at the speed he noted.
soft lilt broke into his musing. "What's wrong?"
"It's Faramir. He looked
into the palantir again and has collapsed."
"Why on Arda would he
look into it without you at his side?" The queen knelt beside her
husband, taking the steward's hand in her own. "He's cold."
"I know. I need to get
him to his chambers to examine him before his condition worsens."
"I hear footsteps in the
hall. I'll see if it is some to help us carry him."
"Fetch a blanket too,
Arwen nodded as she hurried
from the room. She returned in short order with two young men who were
on their way to relieve the watchmen. They swiftly helped their king
bear the sick man to his chamber. Aragorn grew increasingly concerned
as Faramir seemed not to respond to anything around him. He remained
sitting beside his friend's bedside until the early hours of the morning.
He jumped as Beregond slipped inside the room, just as dawn began to
streak the sky.
"How is he?" The
captain of the White Guard asked softly.
"I don't know. He seems
to be in a natural sleep but he hasn't moved and his heartbeat is still
faster than it should be." Aragorn answered in the same tone.
"He's exhausted. He's
not had a good night's sleep in the last couple of months. I know he's
been dreaming of his father and perhaps of his brother. Mir doesn't
know that I've heard him shouting."
"Have you spoken with
"He won't talk to me."
Beregond dropped into a chair next to the king. "Faramir has always
kept things close. Lord Denethor berated him enough that the only person
he really talked to was his brother. When Boromir left for Rivendell,
that confidence was gone. Even his commanders in the rangers didn't
always know what he was thinking." He shot a sideways look to his
liege. "He knows he can trust you in his heart, but after so many
years of his father's disapproval, it is difficult for him open up and
share his feelings."
"I can certainly understand.
Boromir often spoke of his younger brother. There was great love between
"Yes there was. If not
for his brother, I do not think Faramir would have returned to Minas
Tirith as often as he did. He was happier in Ithilien than anywhere
else on Arda."
He was interrupted by a sudden
whimper from the form on the bed.
Faramir began tossing back and forth. His dark hair flipped over his
face and stuck in the sweat forming on his brow.
Aragorn leapt to his feet,
attempting to calm the steward. "Faramir, wake up." His voice
was low and compelling. "Faramir, my friend, come back to us."
He placed a gentle hand on the prince's brow and one on his shoulder.
Beregond came to his other side and took Faramir's hand in his. He didn't
speak but his dark eyes were focused on his friend's face. With a gasp,
Faramir's eyes flew open and he struggled to sit up against the king's
restraining hands. "I have….find….it. Know where…..is."
His voice was strangled. "King….depend….on me."
"Faramir, be at peace.
I can wait until you rest." The quiet words seemed to capture the
sick man's attention.
focused bleary eyes on the king. "Forgive….me. I had….to try
"There is nothing to forgive,
mellon nin. You said you know where it is. Are you speaking of the stone?"
Faramir nodded, sending a wave
of pain through his head. "It's buried....along the…..the north….ern
edge of the Morgul….Vale. It's under a…..mound of dirt and loose
rock." He closed his eyes against the agony pounding through his
brain. "I can…show…..on a map."
"Show me after you rest."
The healer in Aragorn noted the pain etched on the younger man's face.
"Stay with him for a moment, Beregond."
Aragorn hurried to his own
chambers, quickly retrieving his healer's bag. Fetching some hot water
from the kitchen, he brewed together a mixture of healing herbs and
just a hint of a sleeping draught. Finally he sweetened the entire mixture
with a touch of honey and returned to the steward's bedside. "Drink."
He ordered firmly, holding the mug to Faramir's lips. "It won't
taste good but it will make you feel better."
Faramir made a face at the
bitter taste but obediently drained the cup. Aragorn and Beregond helped
to reposition him against the pillows before covering him warmly. His
eyes were almost closed before they finished and the guard captain sketched
"Did you drug him?"
He asked with a barely concealed grin.
"Yes. I don't want him
getting up until he has truly rested and I don't need his sense of duty
interfering with his healing."
Beregond chuckled outright.
"Both brothers Hurin carried that trait. One practically had to
sit on them to make them stay down long enough to heal properly."
He followed the king out into the hall, leaving the steward to his slumber.
"How long will he sleep?"
"If he is as weary as
you say, he will probably sleep through the night." Aragorn replied.
"Now, I have an errand for you. Find Damrod and Anborn. They came
in with a patrol yesterday and I have a mission for them."
Beregond bowed. "As you
command milord. Where shall I bring them?”
“To my study. This is a matter
of utmost secrecy and you will not repeat anything which you have heard
your prince and I discuss.”
Beregond bowed a second time.
“Yes my liege.”
The king returned to his chambers
and splashed cool water over his face. He swiftly exchanged his shirt
for a clean one and added a tunic as well.
“Is Faramir any better?”
Arwen murmured sleepily from the bed.
“He woke briefly and I put
him back to sleep. He’s too proud to admit it but he’s most weary
and probably has a splitting headache as well. I know I had one the
night I wrestled with the palantir that Sauraman had.” He crossed
the room to sit on the edge of the bed, idly playing his wife’s hair.
She shifted so she could look up at him.
“Was he successful in his
Aragorn nodded. “I believe
he was. I’ve sent for Anborn and Damrod since they know that country
better than I. If they are willing, I shall send them to retrieve the
“Isn’t that dangerous for
only two men?”
"They are Ithilien rangers,
beloved. They do not fear danger and would probably be offended if I
suggested that they required assistance." A teasing glint sparkled
in Aragorn's eyes.
"And you know this because it is exactly what you would do."
Arwen answered with a smirk of her own. Her husband answered her with
a quick kiss before departing the bedchamber.
Morning sunlight streamed into
the bedchamber sending its warmth across Faramir's face. He slowly woke,
stretching as he did so. For the first time in several months, he felt
refreshed. Suddenly he bolted upright as he recalled the event of the
"You look to be greatly
improved." Beregond's voice came from the corner. He rose from
his seat to sit on the edge of the bed.
"I feel better. How long
did I sleep?"
"Just over a full day.
The king slipped a sleeping draught in with the herbs he gave you."
The captain explained.
"But the palantir?"
"Do not worry. Damrod
and Anborn left yesterday morning. They will find the stone and bring
"But they don't know where
it is. I never showed Lord Aragorn where I saw it." Faramir protested.
"Perhaps not, but when
he described to them what you saw, they both seemed to know exactly
where to go." Beregond shrugged. "They seemed quite sure."
"They're rangers. I trained
them to be sure." The steward ran a hand through his raven locks.
"I just wish I could have gone with them."
His friend laughed out loud.
"Damrod said you would feel this way. Don't worry. They will be
back by the first of the next week."
Four days later, the two rangers
returned bearing the spoils of their search. Damrod presented the king
with a familiar cloth wrapped orb.
"It was precisely where
Miri said it would be."
"Thank you Damrod."
Aragorn answered gravely. He took the sphere with gentle hands turning
it over cautiously. He considered the stone for several long moments
before handing it to Faramir. "Duty has its price as well as its
own reward. Guard it well, mellon nin. Guard it well."