The Price of Sacrifice|
I don’t own these Characters. I borrowed them from Tolkien and I make no money
from writing this.
Every year as the anniversary
approached Beregond’s thoughts would return to that fateful March
day that had changed his destiny forever.
His life as a member of the
Tower Guard had been a good one and he had worked long and hard to obtain
the coveted position. He had a fine house in the third circle where
he lived happily with his wife and children. At that time, Bergil his
eldest, had cherished hopes of following in his father’s footsteps
and becoming a Tower Guard. The boy loved to run errands for his father’s
comrades, and when the Dark Lord’s forces had threatened Minas Tirith,
he had begged to remain behind with his father rather than accompany
his mother and sister to the safety of their grandsire’s in Lossarnach.
Beregond had approved; if the
boy were to be a good soldier and have any chance of joining the prestigious
guards it would be good for him to gain what experience he could in
relative safety. In any case, Beregond had thought, if the Dark Lord’s
forces triumphed, Lossarnach would be no safer than Minas Tirith. He
had been certain, though, that Sauron would not prevail, not while a
single stout-hearted guard remained standing and the Steward and his
brave sons were in charge.
The first great blow had been
the death of Lord Boromir. It had seemed impossible that such a great
warrior, the survivor of so many seemingly hopeless battles, should
have been slain.
But Lord Faramir still lived
and fought for them, and led his men to victory. Truth to tell, Beregond
had always admired Lord Boromir, but he loved Lord Faramir. There was
just something about him that inspired hope in his men. He was known
too, for his kindness and compassion, and could tame both man and beast,
not by force, but by love.
Then the blows began to fall
thick and fast. When Mithrandir had arrived in Minas Tirith together
with a friendly young Halfling, it seemed to Beregond to be a good sign.
But despite the Wizard, Osgiliath fell and Lord Faramir was wounded
trying to retake it while the enemy had reached the very gates of Minas
Tirith. Prince Imrahil had rescued his nephew from the battlefield,
though, and brought him back to the City. Beregond was certain that
he would recover, for Minas Tirith’s healers were surely the finest
to be had anywhere, and Faramir was a healthy young man.
Beregond had begun to get worried
when Lord Denethor was nowhere to be seen though he should have been
directing the battle. Rumours started to fly that the healers had been
sent away and that Lord Denethor had shut himself in his room with his
wounded son. Beregond didn’t know what to make of it all. Lord Denethor
was a hard man, respected rather than loved, but surely only a mad man
or a coward would lock themselves away when the enemy was besieging
the City. Why even young Bergil was doing his bit! Their Lord was no
coward. Maybe the Lord Denethor had indeed lost his wits?
Beregond had thought no more
of it and concentrated on his duty. He had just taken up his post when
the young Halfling had approached him in a state of great agitation.
At first he thought that Captain
Faramir was dead. For the first time he despaired and he had wept. What
hope did they have without Faramir? In a way, Pippin’s tidings were
even worse for it seemed that the Lord Denethor had lost his wits and
planned to immolate himself and his still- living son. Pippin begged
him to do what he could to save Faramir, before hastening off to find
Beregond had hesitated at first.
It was unthinkable for a guard to abandon his post. To do so meant dismissal
from the guards and most likely a flogging. But he could not leave Faramir
to die. Not the brave Captain! He recalled how Faramir would greet even
the lowliest soldier with a smile and always had a kind word for the
children. He was certain that, had their positions been reversed,
Captain Faramir would endeavour to save any of his men.
Beregond had hastened to the
Silent Street only to find his way barred by the porter, who refused
to give him the keys to admit him to the House of Stewards. The foolish
man kept repeating that he could not disobey Lord Denethor’s orders
and drew his sword to bar the guard’s way. Did he neither know nor
care that the lord planned to burn his son alive? Beregond tried
to tell him, but he refused to listen. Fearful that he would arrive
too late Beregond’s patience had snapped. He had drawn his own sword
and cut the man down.
When he reached the steps,
he had seen Lord Denethor’s servants approaching with torches and
oil. They were no more willing to listen to reason and berated him soundly
for his treason to their Lord. Beregond had been determined not to let
them pass and slew two of them. All that mattered to him was that Faramir
should not be burned alive. Their blood ran scarlet down the steps of
the Hallows. He never forgot the sight.
Mithrandir had arrived, just
as Beregond had been pushed aside by Lord Denethor, who was determined
that none should thwart his purpose. By the sheer power of Mithrandir’s
will, the Lord’s sword had flown out of his hand. Beregond had quailed
before the might of the wizard. He half expected that he would be flung
to the bottom of the steps simply by a wave of his hand.
Mithrandir had snatched Faramir
away, but Lord Denethor fulfilled his deadly purpose. Beregond had expected
to be thrown into the dungeons for his actions, but Mithrandir, more
in sorrow than in anger, had told him to report what had happened to
his captain and then go with Lord Faramir to the Houses of Healing.
It was only when Beregond sat
down outside Lord Faramir’s room that the full horror of his actions
had struck him. He found he was shaking. What had he done? He had killed
three good men of Gondor and in a hallowed place to boot. He fully expected
death as punishment for his actions. What would become of his family?
They would share his disgrace and be forced to rely on the charity of
their kinsfolk. He had asked a healer how Faramir was and the man told
him there was little hope of his recovery. It seemed Beregond had killed
his fellows and destroyed his own life for nothing, unless it was to
grant Faramir a more peaceful death.
As the day wore on, tidings
came from the battlefield that reinforcements had come, and by sunset
the battle was over and Gondor was saved; at least for now.
Beregond was relieved to find
that at least Bergil was safe and running errands for the healers. The
boy was puzzled by his father’s presence at the Houses. Beregond simply
said that he was there to guard Lord Faramir.
There was little rejoicing
over the victory in the Houses of Healing, simply a weary sense of relief.
Beregond was told Faramir’s death was expected at any time. He had
been about to ask if he might see him when Mithrandir returned, accompanied
by Faramir’s Uncle, Prince Imrahil and two strangers, a fair- haired
man and a very tall dark- haired one, who oddly enough had reminded
him somewhat of Lord Faramir.
It seemed that the dark haired
stranger had some healing knowledge, and Mithrandir had brought him
to see if he could aid Faramir. Quite a crowd had gathered and Beregond
followed them to Faramir’s room. He stood at the back of the group.
The sight of the Captain shocked him. Faramir was deathly pale and hardly
seemed to be breathing. Beregond felt like weeping anew for such a noble
life drawing to its end so soon.
The stranger declared that
he needed athelas. Beregond turned to Bergil, who was beside him and
told him to run to his aunt and uncle’s house. His sister- in- law
was prone to suffering from headaches and claimed athelas eased them.
She always kept some in the house. She had left together with the other
women, but he knew she had been out gathering athelas leaves two weeks
ago and kept them in the kitchen wrapped in a cloth.
Bergil sped away and he was
left wondering at the stranger who had knelt beside Lord Faramir and
grown as pale as he! He looked more of a soldier than a healer and what
he was doing made no sense at all!
Then Bergil returned with some
athelas. He looked crestfallen that Lord Faramir appeared no better.
When he gave the leaves to the man he was rewarded by a most lovely
smile, which made Beregond warm to the stranger. He had such warm eyes,
filled with compassion and wisdom.
Then a miracle happened. Lord
Faramir opened his eyes and gazed at his healer as if he recognised
him. There was such love in that gaze; it was how a son looks at his
father when he returns home after a long absence. He then hailed the
stranger as his King!
Beregond looked on amazed.
What manner of man was this stranger who could cure Faramir when the
best healers in Gondor had been helpless against his malady? He knew
then that Lord Faramir would recover and that whatever the consequences
of his actions, they would not have been for nothing,
When Beregond had heard that
Mithrandir and the Captains of Gondor planned to lead a force into Mordor,
he swiftly volunteered to go. It seemed a crazy fool’s errand, but
that way he would die an honourable death upon the battlefield rather
than be executed as a felon. His wife and children would be able to
hold their heads up in public. War widows received a small allowance
from the Steward, which would help them survive.
He would never forget the look
in Bergil’s eyes, though, when they marched away. He loved his boy,
yet to leave him was Bergil’s only chance to grow up without being
taunted as the son of a murderer. There was no other choice. Maybe if
Faramir were to be his judge, he would have been merciful, but it seemed
that if by some marvel any of them survived the war, that the mysterious
healer, a captain from Arnor, would be king and rule Gondor. Beregond
was uncertain what to make of that apart from his own plight. The Stewards
had ruled well enough for generations, so why should some unknown northerner
take over, great healer though he might be!
As the days passed, though,
he realised that the Lord Aragorn was a great leader in the same mould
as Lord Faramir, who knew how to inspire his men and could see into
their hearts. His compassion towards those men who were too fearful
to go forward amazed Beregond, who imagined that was just the sort of
thing Lord Faramir would have wished to do.
The men had not understood
exactly what was happening, but it turned out that the march into Mordor
was but a ploy to distract the Dark Lord while two Halflings crept into
his land to destroy a magic ring, which held his power. Against all
the odds they succeeded, and Beregond did not die in battle after all,
but came home to his wife. His captain told him that he was to await
the judgement of the new king once he was crowned.
Beregond’s wife had been
extremely unhappy about the situation. She asked repeatedly why he had
thrown away his prospects and those of his family. When he explained
he had acted for the love of the Lord Faramir, she asked why had he
not loved his family more than the Captain, or if he had to defy Lord
Denethor, could he not have wounded his servants rather than killed
them? Beregond had asked himself that question many times. It seemed
that some madness had come over him. How could a woman understand the
love a soldier has for a great Captain who cares for and inspires his
He had told her that the King
appeared to be a compassionate man. Maybe he would punish him by exile
rather than death? The law allowed that mercy. The King of Rohan seemed
a decent man; maybe he could dwell in his lands?
His wife had retorted that
it was far from likely as Beregond, though he loved horses, was not
a skilled rider; and who would want to live in a place where it was
rumoured the stables were better than the houses and no one could read
or write? Then she had wept bitterly. He had tried vainly to comfort
her, but could think of no words to ease her pain.
On the day he was to be judged,
he had bid her and his children farewell, resigned to his fate, little
thinking that he would see them again. He would die consoled by the
knowledge that Lord Faramir was alive and had found happiness with a
lady from Rohan he had met in the Houses of Healing. He had tried not
to show his fear when his captain brought him before the King
Beregond had been amazed when
the King had not only spared his life, but made him a Captain and sent
him to dwell with Lord Faramir in his new home in Ithilien and take
charge of his personal guard, the White Company. The King had made Lord
Faramir a prince, too, and Beregond had thoroughly approved.
Beregond’s lady had been
delighted that she was now the wife of a captain, but less than happy
at the prospect of moving to Ithilien, though she was cheered when told
she could have a fine house and servants. She had decided to take a
recently widowed neighbour as housekeeper, who was also a good friend.
All that had happened 10 years
ago now. Beregond and his wife had prospered in their new home and been
blessed with three more children, but still he felt haunted at times
by what he had done. There were nights when he dreamed of the porter’s
death cry and of the steps of the Hallows stained with blood. He would
awake shaking and covered in cold sweat. Then there were other dreams,
even darker when he saw Lord Faramir burning on a pyre, crying in agony
and looking at Beregond reproachfully through a wall of flame.
That year he felt the familiar
sense of heaviness when the fifteenth day of March approached. He knew
he was not the only one who recalled the day with an odd mixture of
joy and sorrow. So many had lost their lives that day, but it was also
the day that marked the turning of the tide. Lord Faramir’s life had
been saved and the King had come.
For a while, Beregond had held
mixed emotions on that count. King Elessar was a great man, but he had
still felt that Lord Faramir was the rightful ruler of Gondor. He had
mentioned those feelings to Faramir one day who had gently chided him
saying, “I was never born to rule, nor would I wish to. The King is
the greatest man who now lives, and is as far above me as an eagle soars
above a sparrow.”
With that, Beregond had to
be content. It was enough for him that Faramir ruled Ithilien;
moreover, he and his lady thrived there, happily sharing their lives
with the children born to them.
Beregond knew that the fifteenth
day of March was also a difficult day for Lord Faramir and his lady.
His father had tried to burn him that day, while Lady Éowyn’s much-loved
uncle had fallen in battle and she had been wounded. He knew the Steward
and his lady always marked the date. This year King Elessar happened
to be visiting them. No doubt he had memories of his own. Beregond had
heard that a beloved kinsman of the King’s had also perished in the
Beregond had tried to avoid
Faramir on the anniversary of his father’s death, knowing that it
held painful memories. He usually contrived to be away with his men
on some mission or other.
This year, though, was different.
He was about to set off with a patrol when Bergil, now grown into a
fine young man and trusted member of the White Company, brought a message
that the King required his attendance.
Feeling a little apprehensive
Beregond complied. A servant told him that the King was with the Prince
and Princess of Ithilien in their private chambers and that Beregond
was to join them there.
He bowed low to the King and
then glanced around the room. A table was decorated with spring flowers
and amidst them stood candles in tall holders.
“Faramir thought you should
join us here today as we honour the dead,” said the King.
Beregond felt most uncomfortable.
“Pardon me, sire,” he said, “ but I did not lose loved ones upon
this day, unlike Lord Faramir and his lady.”
“I know you mourn your deeds,
Beregond,” said Faramir gently. “That can be every bit as hard as
mourning a person. It grieves my heart that you suffer on account of
“I am glad that I helped
to save you, my lord,” said Beregond. Years of feelings he had tried
to suppress came rising to the surface. How could he repent of his actions
while being glad of their results? He did not want to think about it.
He wished he could flee. He swallowed hard and the colour drained from
“Beregond!” The King’s
tone was kind yet forceful. “You are an honourable man, though you
spilled innocent blood. Yet, you acted out of love and without your
actions I would not have my Steward and dear friend here today. Gondor
would be bereft of his wisdom and Ithilien of her Prince.”
Beregond sank to his knees
and bowed his head, hoping that none would see the tears in his eyes.
The King placed both hands
upon his head and said softly, “Today, remember, and then be free
of guilt!” He then gripped both of Beregond’s hands and raised him
to his feet.
Beregond felt the man’s power
surge through him. He felt pain like one feels when a wound is cleansed
and then a strange sense that he too was being purified.
The King lit a candle. “For
Halbarad and all who died upon the field,” Elessar said.
Lord Faramir then lit a second
candle and said, “For my poor father, destroyed by the Dark Lord,
and for my brother lost in fighting against the darkness.”
Then Lady Éowyn lit a third
and said, “I honour and remember my Uncle, who cast off the shadow
to die a great hero.”
Faramir then handed a lighted
taper to Beregond.
Beregond took a deep breath
before using it to light the final candle on the table. “May those
I slew find peace,” he said.
“And you too, my friend,”
“The past cannot be undone,
but we are granted hope for the future,” said the King. “We who
live remember those who died, friend and foe. May the dead and the living
Beregond felt suddenly as if
a weight were lifted from his shoulders after long years of bearing
it. He would ever regret his deeds, but never the results. All that
mattered was that Lord Faramir lived and thrived, as did Gondor under
her most worthy King.