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Boromir wonders if this Aragorn, man of the West, knows the tales of ancient Numenor. As a boy, Boromir was never one for lore, yet surely this was one tale never to be forgotten. His father had told it to them, his words echoing off the marble walls of the throne room.
The men of Numenor, seduced by the darkness, had set their ships west and set their hearts in defiance of the Valar. They sailed to a shore no men were meant to reach, and so spelled out doom for themselves and for their city.
“Now tell me, sons, what is the lesson in this tale?”
Boromir was the first to answer his father, for the answer seemed obvious. “To follow the orders of the Valar surely,” he said. “And not to listen to the darkness, for it lies.”
“You think then, son, that this is a tale of disobedience and misplaced trust?”
Boromis had shifted uncomfortably. Always he was the first to answer, and often his answer was found lacking. “Yes, father,” he said finally. “That is how it seems to me.”
Then he glanced to his brother, who had remained sunk in silence. A frown was on his face, his brow twisted in uneasy contemplation.
“And you, Faramir?” Father said.
Faramir started. “I am sorry, my lord, I was thinking.”
“Obviously,” Father said, an irritated edge to his voice. “Will you share your wisdom with us, or shall you leave us bereft?”
Blushing, Faramir hastened to speak. “It is a tale, I think, of overreaching. Truly, Boromir is right that the men of Numenor were wrong to trust in the deceiver and wrong not to trust in the Valar. Yet, under the influence of darkness or not, they should have seen how impossible it would be to ascend to the western lands. The domains of the Valar are not meant for mortal men. Their aspirations were too great . . .”
“So you would call this a tale of pride.”
Faramir's face cleared. “Yes, Father,” he said, clearly relieved to be interrupted. “A tale of pride I would name it, aye.”
Denenthor leaned forward. “Where does ambition fall to pride?” he asked. “Where does a dream become an overreaching? Can you tell me that?”
Faramir's eyes widened. “These are difficult questions, my lord.”
“Boromir?” Denethor's voice was like a whip-crack. “What say you?”
Boromir frowned. He did not love these debates, nor did he wish to speak over his brother's silence. But again, the answer seemed clear. “The ambition of men should be mortal, surely,” he said, and when his father did not speak, he continued, emboldened. “Mastery of arms, of ships, of horses. Victory in battle, in courtship, in war. These ambitions are the ones meant for us.”
“And what of stars, Brother?” Faramir murmured.
“The constellations are a trusty guide to a man alone in the wild,” Boromir replied stoutly.
His father chuckled. “I fear we stray from the point. But the sun is climbing in the sky. It is almost time for lunch.” He silent for a moment, then waved his hand in dismissal. “You may go.”
The brothers left the throne room together at a stately walk, though once out of their father's sight they broke into a run, for the sun was high and the day a fair one.
“Do you really mean all of that?” Faramir said. “About swords? You do not think we should seek anything higher?”
“Swordplay,” Boromir said, “is good enough for me. And a full pint of the city's best brew.”
Faramir rolled his eyes. “I am trying to be serious.”
“You are too serious, brother. It is your only flaw. But see, I will be serious. Why be in love with stars? Why long for lost lights? The sun on my back is good enough for me. Why dream of misty islands and starry vales when our city lies at our feet, the most beautiful on the earth? This is good, Faramir. What higher thing do we need? You said it yourself, the men of Numenor were not content to be the greatest, tallest, most proud of men. Their peril was in their dreams.”
Faramir had never had a chance to reply, for their friends had found them then, and the argument had been lost.
Lothlorien looms before him now, a wood of elven sorcery. He is a man, and such places are not meant for him.
What was the lesson of that tale? Boromir wonders. Father never said which of us was right.
He looks to Aragorn and feels the dread curl in his chest. My answer was that of duty, he thinks, resigned.
Then let duty guide my steps.
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