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Third Age - 3018 - Part One
“The wizard has left.”
Denethor’s hairs stood on end. “Did he say aught to any of what he found? Of where he was going?”
“Nay. I thought,” Húrin’s look of puzzlement grew, “that he would fare you well. He did not?”
“Nay.” Denethor sat back in his chair, fingers steepled, brow furrowed. What was the old wizard up to? What had he found? And where had he gotten himself off to? Was he with Faramir at Henneth-Annûn? His brow crinkled. Faramir had spent weeks sequestered with Mithrandir in the vaults of the Great Library. Neither gave hint as to what was looked at. Or what age was looked at for that matter. A chill ran down Denethor’s spine. ‘What secret thing have you discovered, Mithrandir, for you would not leave us so abruptly if you had found naught. What are you hiding from me?’ He stood and walked quickly to his desk. Writing the first missive, he sealed it and then began a second, which took a bit longer than the first, and sealed that one. “Send for Faramir and have this given to him.” He gave Húrin the first of the missives. Húrin nodded. “Send Hirgon. I want to ensure the missive is delivered.”
“It will be done.”
“Send for Boromir also. Have this missive delivered to him.” He gave Húrin the second missive. “I would speak with him. He has been gone too long, though he is much needed upon the borders. The Enemy has decided to give us no rest. Ithilien is Orc-infested and the northern plains are filled with Easterlings. Haradrim run wild and unchecked in the south.” He shook his head in dismay. “Glad am I that the feasting for Mettarë is over and done with.”
“Mithrandir joined in the festivities, Denethor. At that time, did he say he was leaving?”
“He did not. He found something, Húrin. Something of value. I would discover what it is. And I think Faramir will be able to help me.”
Húrin shuddered. Denethor’s tone was formidable.
Mettarë passed as well as Yestarë. Boromir soon despaired of ever meeting with Faramir. Attacks had been so frequent upon all outposts of Gondor that he rode between garrisons until he thought he would fall from his horse. Exhaustion, the like of which he had never known, slammed into his body each evening and he would find himself asleep before he barely had his boots off. Beregond was beginning to show the strain, too. His usually unflappable aide was caught snipping at the cooks!
At last, Boromir knew they must return to the City, if only for a fortnight. His thought was confirmed when an errand-rider brought a missive from Denethor. When Beregond heard the news, the light in his eye was such that his captain had to smile. “Do you have a woman waiting for you that I do not know about?” Boromir teased.
“Only the one who has suffered as my companion and helpmate these last twenty some years. I doubt she will remember who I am; my son will have found another to call ‘father.’”
“I am sorry, Beregond. I had never thought we would be gone this long. I will find another aide, for a time, if you would stay with your family for a while?”
“Nay. I am a soldier and Aerin is a soldier’s wife. There is naught for it. Separations are part of a soldier’s duty. What of your brother? Have you heard aught from him these past months? I have seen no missives.”
“I have not. I receive word from father now and again. His missives have dealt with where the enemy is attacking next and how I best be there before he does!” He chuckled dryly. “I do not know how he knows, but have we not seen evidence of his great foresight? The enemy is always there, a few days after we arrive, and we are thus able to battle them effectively. I wonder if he will tell me the secret some day? As Captain-General,” his tone took on the familiar frustrated quality to it that Beregond had listened to these past four months, “I should at least have a tenth of the knowledge the Steward has.”
“When the time is right, your father will give you all the knowledge you will need. Suffice it to say now that we are sore pressed enough with the little knowledge we have to effectively fight the enemy. Boromir,” he sat on the end of his captain’s cot, “we need more men.”
“That we do, but where we will obtain them, I know not. The coin that the lords pledged has hardly matched our needs. I wonder how the reinforcing of the Rammas goes?”
“And the road from Pelargir. It still needed patching.”
“Yes. That it did.”
“I think…” The cup of tea he held in his hand stayed. Boromir slept. Beregond knelt and pulled the covers over his captain and blew out the lantern.
‘I wonder how Faramir fares?’
Henneth-Annûn was bitterly cold this time of year. Faramir rued the fact that he had not brought the warm winter cloak that his uncle had given him two Mettarë’s ago. Though the clime in Belfalas was warmer than Ithilien’s, the sea-going winds that blew a man about on the forecastle of one of Imrahil’s ships could be as cold as the winds that now rushed through the cave. He pulled a blanket about him, blew on his hands for warmth, and continued writing his latest report.
A gentle cough stayed him. “Damrod! Enter. What news?”
“Another line of Haradric warriors wends northward. There are at least two hundred men.”
“Nay. Archers and lancers, besides their swordsmen. They wear warpaint too. The likes of which I have not seen before.”
“Father’s last missive stated they were coming. And I swore he wrote of a mûmak! How does he know, Damrod? The scouts further south cannot be that expert. He knows the number and their direction and whether they have eaten that day.” He laughed deprecatingly.
“It does seem he knows much. Does he not tell you nor Boromir what his sources are?”
“Nay. At least, he does not tell me. I think… Yes, I think Boromir would tell me if he knew father’s secrets. Of course, that is why they are called secrets as my old nanny used to say.”
“Listöwel, was it not?”
“It was. Did you know her?”
“All knew her husband, Amdir. A good warrior.”
“Father’s trusted friend and advisor.”
“Not oft is one gifted with such a friend.”
“I am, Damrod. And I thank you for that gift.”
Damrod blushed red. “I only obey orders.”
Faramir laughed at that. “No one ordered you to take a knife for me at Dol Amroth.”
“I stepped into it.”
Both men bellowed their laughter. The morning noises in the cavern quieted and then laughter joined theirs. “I believe the men would like to join in our conversation. I have only a few more lines to write, then I can send this to father and be done with another week’s report. Have an errand-rider stand by, Damrod. I would have this out before noontime. After that, we will discuss the upcoming battle. We must stop this latest group from reaching the Black Gate.” Damrod nodded and left him.
A moment later, there was a shout. “An errand-rider from Osgiliath.”
Faramir stepped from behind the curtain that covered his little alcove. He finished putting on his tunic and wrapped his cloak about him. “Bring him here, Mablung.”
“My lord,” the rider saluted and handed Faramir the parchment.
“You are Hirgon?”
“Yes, my Lord Faramir.”
“Then the missive is from the Steward.” He fingered the seal. Nodding his dismissal, he walked back into the alcove.
Hesitantly, as he always did upon receiving a missive from Denethor, he took a deep breath. Someday, he would have to ask his father to put some sign on the front of a missive that carried grave news. A sob escaped him. ‘If aught ever happened to Boromir…’
“Did you speak with Mithrandir before you left for Henneth-Annûn, Faramir?”
It was not the greeting Faramir had expected. Boromir looked at their father in surprise.
“Did you speak with Mithrandir, Faramir? It is a simple enough question.”
“I did. We spent much time in the Great Library whilst I healed. Towards the end, right before I was appointed to Henneth-Annûn, he had found a scroll of unimaginable age. Though kept in one of the sealed pots, it was very dry and fragile. He spent long hours pouring over it.”
“What did it say?”
“It was in ancient Quenya. I could read some of it. Mithrandir thought it was written by Isildur.”
Denethor’s brow rose.
“It seemed not to contain much of import. He told me a little about the Battle of the Dagorlad, about Isildur’s giving the Southern Kingdom to his brother, and about the provisioning of Isildur’s troop for the march North. It was one of the larger scrolls; there were many others in the same jar. When last I saw him, he was still pouring over them. Is aught amiss?”
“He is gone. With nary a word of farewell nor a thank you for the free room and half board.”
“He did not tell me of what he found, Father. Mayhap if I had stayed with him.” His brow furrowed in concentration.
Denethor bowed his own head. “I will accompany you to the Great Library. You will show me the jar and the scrolls.”
“Yes, Father. Now?”
There was no answer; Denethor was already leaving his study. Faramir and Boromir raised joint eyebrows and quickly followed.
“You did not return as quickly as I had thought,” Denethor said as they walked down to the library. “What kept you from obeying my orders?”
“The Haradrim, Father. There were full two hundred men that we needed to stop before I came. You sent the missive with the details. My scouts found them and we attacked. I could not leave that number unassailed. I thought that is what you wished. If I had known you wanted me here immediately, I would have come.”
Denethor’s lips pursed. “The missive stated I wanted you here. Did I need to give you a timeframe? Could not one of your captains have been placed in charge of the battle?”
“If I had known…”
“I am surprised at you, Faramir. And yet, more and more I find you chose your own council over mine.”
Faramir shuddered. Boromir held his tongue.
Faramir led them to the third level of the library. One of the archivists fetched the key and opened the door for them. The stench of dust and long neglect hung in the air. Denethor choked and steadied himself. There was some evidence of recent activity.
“We sat here at this table,” Faramir pointed. “The scrolls Mithrandir was interested in were along this wall. You can see the ones he had opened. Did he find something, Father? He had not yet, not by the time I left for Henneth-Annûn. Was it important?”
Denethor did not speak but summoned the Chief Archivist. Within moments, the man appeared. “My Lord Denethor. I have not seen you here in ages. Is there aught I can do for you?”
“I would have you reopen the scrolls that Mithrandir studied.”
The archivist nodded and began to pull down a jar. Boromir stepped in. “Point them out to us, and Faramir and I will bring them down.”
“I am still hale, despite my years,” the archivist blustered.
“Hale and fit you may be, but when one has willing hands one should use them.”
The old man nodded, accepting each of the five large jars that he pointed out. He broke the thick wax seal that stopped them. “Would you like them brought to the upper study rooms?”
“Nay. Leave us now. When I am finished, you may reseal them.”
The man nodded and left them.
Denethor motioned and Faramir pulled scrolls from the pot that he last saw Mithrandir studying. “Here is one of the scrolls that might be Isildur’s. Do you recognize the writing, Father? Is it truly the old king’s?”
“I have studied only copies of these originals. I am not familiar with Isildur’s hand. The writing is indeed old Quenya. It would take more time than I have today to translate them.” He bent his head over the old parchment. “We will have the archivist put scribes to that task. Bring me that one,” he pointed to the largest jar. When Faramir unrolled the scroll, Denethor leaned over it, running his finger lightly over the lines until, with a gasp, he pointed. “I do not know this tongue.” He shivered as he ran his hand over the lines. “Yet the very sight of it turns my blood cold.” An odd thought crossed his mind. “Can you read them, Faramir?”
“I cannot, Father. I did not see this scroll opened whilst I was here. Obviously, from the markings on the jar, it indeed has been opened recently. It must be Mithrandir’s work.”
Another shiver ran down Denethor’s spine. “I have seen this writing somewhere. I do not now recall where.” His brow furrowed into deep wrinkles. A shudder of great fear ran through him as he realized where he had seen writing like this before. When he had looked into Mordor. “Let us be away from here,” he whispered hoarsely. “Have the archivists bring these to my personal study and set five archivists upon them. I want them translated before Tuilérë.”
The errand-rider stood before him, bloodied. "Húrin. Send for a healer. Come man," Denethor turned to the rider. "Sit here. Drink this." He quickly poured some whiskey. He waited until the man finished the glass, then sat behind his desk.
"I have no written missive, my Lord. I was sent in haste. Osgiliath is under attack. We battled fiercely but the losses are many. The city is held."
"Is there news from Cair Andros?" He turned towards his Warden.
"There is none. Should I send a rider?"
"Nay," he was interrupted by the healer's entry. "Exam this man." The healer nodded and began.
"Húrin. Stay with the rider. I want to send…."
Again, the healer interrupted. "My Lord, he should be in the Houses. The shoulder wound needs stitches."
"Very well. As soon as he is able to return to duty, send word to Captain Hirgon. Soldier," Denethor turned towards the man. "You did well. If I must needs speak with you again; I will send for you."
The soldier saluted and left with the healer.
"I will return, Húrin. I will send for you when I am ready."
"My Lord, we must discuss our defenses."
"I will send for you when I am ready." His voice was hard and cold.
Húrin nodded and left.
Denethor wrapped his cloak about him and headed up the stairs. The room waited. It waited. He unlocked the door, took a deep breath, and went in. The globe answered immediately. He looked eastward. Osgiliath was still burning. The forge! He groaned as he saw the remains. There were bodies still lying about, smithies and workers and such, but the forge itself was totally destroyed. Not one stone, it seemed, stood upon another. He looked towards the bridge. It was filled with dead warriors. He watched as those left alive tended to the wounded. They would need a few more healers; he must remember to send more. He gasped as he watched bodies floating down the Anduin. There were few, too few of the enemy and too many of Gondor's finest. He flinched at the spectacle. 'Dead. So many dead.'
Pulling himself away from the River, he sent his sight further east and saw no activity. His gaze turned northward. There was desolation all around Cair Andros. They had been attacked! A vile curse crossed his lips. Men lay dead everywhere. He scanned quickly for life, but found none. His breath held, he looked across the River towards Ithilien. There were no signs of men nor Orcs. Looking west, he at last spotted a contingent of men heading towards Amon Dîn. He watched in wonder. 'Sending for help?' He moved back towards the island garrison. At last, after making the stone bring the image ever closer, he saw movement. There were men alive, but so few. He shuddered. The moon was high.
Stepping back for a moment, he took two or three deep breaths. Then, he placed his hands back upon the globe. He moved his vision south towards Pelargir. All seemed quiet. Life moved normally, even at this early hour. At some whim, he turned his sight towards the road from Dol Amroth. There was much activity. Companies of Swan Knights marched eastward. He brought his sight further up the road. The moon waned.
A trumpet's blast brought his head up. He left the stone and went to the window. It was the call of the Prince of Dol Amroth; he was here at the Great Gate. Denethor turned back to the stone. It would be at least an hour before Imrahil entered the Hall. He looked back again and swept the southern fiefdoms. Nothing. A moment later, he gasped. Linhir was decimated. They must have come across Lebennin and entered the city at night. He swore prolifically. 'That is why Imrahil is here,' he thought. 'Good man. Comes to warn me.' He covered the stone and left the room, hurrying down the stairs.
He barked to the guard at his chamber’s door, “Have a message sent to the guard at the Great Hall. Tell him to have Prince Imrahil escorted to my private study as soon as he arrives. And have Húrin join us.” The guard nodded and Denethor continued on his way. He reached his own chambers, ran into his dressing room, flung off his cloak, tore off his tunic and shirt, laved his face, and pulled on a new shirt and tunic over his mail. By the time he reached his outer room, the guard was knocking. "Enter."
"Prince Imrahil is here."
"Send him in." He strode towards the bellpull but stopped halfway there. Belegorn had entered.
"I heard the commotion. What would you have of me?"
"Send for food and wine and then send for Captain Hirgon.” He paused as the Swan Prince entered the room. “Imrahil!" he shouted and hugged the man tightly. "You bring grave news."
The Prince's eyebrow lifted. "I do. Linhir was attacked three nights ago. I was on a fishing trip on the Gilrain with my sons when the news came, hence my timely arrival here. The losses were many. There was no warning.”
"I should have known. I am sorry. I would have sent word if I had heard of the enemy's approach."
"I do not fault you, Brother. I came only to warn you and to ask for your help. It has been many long years since that city was attacked. Before my father's time, even. I would have troops follow the culprits, they must be Corsairs, and slaughter them, but I cannot step onto Lebennin's territory without your permission."
"I will not give it." He held up his hand to stay what he knew would be Imrahil's furious rejoinder. "I will send my own troops. They will leave before noon. I will also send riders to Pelargir; the garrison there will send four companies, a battalion, to scour the river area. They will be found and destroyed, I promise you." Denethor walked to his desk and began writing. In a few moments, he had sealed four missives. "You must be weary, Imrahil. I have a meal waiting. Would you break your fast with me? Are your sons with you?"
Imrahil shook his head in frustration. "I will obey your wishes. I will keep my knights in Belfalas." He walked into Denethor's dining chamber and sat heavily upon one of the oaken chairs. "I was foolish to even ask for permission."
As they were near finishing their meal, Húrin entered and Denethor bid him sit.
"Lord Tarcil," the Steward continued, "would not have been pleased to see your troops on his land. And rightly so."
"Nay. You have ridden all night. Your sons are here?" he asked again.
"They are. I sent them to my house on the Sixth Level. They are weary from the ride."
"I would see them, before you leave."
"Of course. Thank you for the meal. I will return at the sixth hour?"
Húrin waited patiently. He knew his Steward would explain what he missed. The coffee was good and hot and strong. He waited.
Denethor sat, after escorting his brother-in-law from the room. "Osgiliath has been attacked." He paused, his brow furrowed. "Cair Andros and Linhir also."
"Is it the beginning? You have always said there would be a final attack, one which we would be sore-pressed to win. Is that time now?"
"I think not. Though there have been heavy casualties and much damage, I believe these were mere sorties to test our strength. I am saddened that the forge has been destroyed. Of all times, this is when it will be needed most. It seems we lost many of the workers too, those experienced in the making of steel and weapons. They are difficult to replace."
"Where do we begin our counter-attack?"
"The Orcs and Corsairs have left the area. I will be surprised if they return."
Hirgon entered. "My Lord. You sent for me?"
"How many errand-riders have we?"
"Only a company, my Lord Steward. The roads are treacherous. We lose a rider a month."
"Húrin. Rouse Boromir and ask him to come here, and take his guard. The man was once an errand-rider. We will need him. Hirgon, I have four missives that I need sent immediately. One to Osgiliath, one to Cair Andros, one to Linhir, and one to Pelargir. There will be more. Have your riders rested and ready. Hopefully, the Enemy has withdrawn for a time."
Hirgon took the missives, saluted and left.
Boromir woke with a start. Hard pounding on his door meant it was not his guard. As he pulled his leggings on, he tripped towards the door.
"My Lord, Boromir," Húrin was panting from running up the stairs as Boromir opened the door. "An attack upon Osgiliath."
Boromir dragged the man into his bedchamber. "Continue," he barked as he fetched a shirt and tunic.
"In the city itself. Many are dead. The forge is destroyed."
"At least two hundred and Captain Oromendil."
"Captain Faramir?" His voice broke as he asked.
"He was on his way to Henneth-Annûn. There has been no report."
Several curses greeted the unwanted news. After a moment of pacing, Boromir bent and pulled on his boots while he tried to quell the fear that rose in his heart and his gut. "Where is my father?"
"He awaits you in his private study. Prince Imrahil is with him. He arrived only an hour ago. There was an attack upon Linhir three days ago."
Boromir grasped his sword and scabbard and his horn, and ran into the hall. "Where is my guard?" he asked, irritated.
"I sent him to your father. Errand-riders are needed; he was one before he was stationed here; we have not enough riders."
"So I lose my personal guard," Boromir said wearily. "The new recruits from Lossarnach have yet to arrive?"
"They have not and there has been no missive."
Nodding, Boromir buckled his scabbard on, sheathed his sword, and flung his horn over his shoulder. He could hear Húrin breathing hard as the Warden tried to keep up, tried to follow him down the stairs, but Boromir's entire being was focused on the why of it, for it was not often the Warden of the Keys was sent to wake him. Something more was about than a simple attack.
“Uncle!” He had to stop himself from running into the Swan Prince who was hurriedly leaving Denethor’s study. “I heard you were here. It is good to see you. Are Elphir, Erchirion and Amrothos with you?”
“They are. Please stop by our home if you have a moment. They would be very sorry to have missed this opportunity to see one of their favorite cousins.”
“How fare you?”
“Well, and so does your aunt. However, Gondor does not; your father will explain. For now, my orders are to get some rest. I hope to leave for Dol Amroth tomorrow morning. Please visit us before then, if you are able?”
“I will give you my whole afternoon, if I am allowed.” He hugged his uncle tightly then turned and entered the room. He found it crowded. Lords of Gondor, along with captains and soldiers, all filled the room with voices raised in fear. "Boromir!" he heard his father's voice above the din. He stepped into the room and waited. All had turned towards him, it seemed, in expectant hope. "My Lord Steward." He strode forward and the shouting quieted.
"Boromir. Gondor has been attacked."
Boromir took his father in his arms. Denethor tensed in surprise. "I would know what you know." His whispered voice was hard. "Where is Faramir?"
Faramir and his Rangers approached the city warily. The smoke could be seen for miles and the stench now filled their nostrils. Sadly, there was only silence, which meant the battle was done and those who had been wounded were probably dead, if their comrades had not picked them up. Buzzards flew high, diving now and again. The Rangers were too far away to see their target, but it was not hard to imagine. Another sign that they were probably too late. He sighed. If only they had seen the smoke earlier, but the attack was done at night, he was sure. 'Is that not the way of the Enemy? Use the fear of darkness to aid them.'
"There, Captain," Damrod pointed. "It is not the eastern city."
Faramir stopped in horror. Long had it been since any had attacked West Osgiliath. It could not have been a full attack but a sortie in the dark. Yet, the smoke was intense. "Send three patrols. Stagger them. Have one come from the east. Too hard is this to believe. That the enemy should be so bold. How did they cross the River?"
"It will be done." Damrod saluted and went to do his captain's bidding.
Mablung stepped up next to him. "If the city is indeed breeched then we are in grave danger. Should the men wait for the patrols to return?"
"Nay. The birds would not be about if the battle was still underway. Let us hurry ourselves."
They approached the eastern city and found it to be deserted. Orcs, though, lay dead hither and thither. 'Must have been wounded in the battle and retreated; only to find their wounds too grievous to continue.' Now and again he heard a scream as a live Orc was found and dispatched. He shuddered. The patrols returned with news that, indeed, East Osgiliath was totally deserted, the bridge was still intact, and West Osgiliath reeled from a night attack of great magnitude.
Faramir drew his captains to him. "I believe the battle for Osgiliath is over, but I want caution, nonetheless. We will cross the bridge in groups. The first group will reconnoiter then give the all-clear signal; then the second group will cross and so on. I want the bridge emptied for at least a quarter hour between groups, unless we are approached by the forces stationed there."
He did not need to tell them to keep silent, nor to watch their backs, nor a thousand things that they had learned over the years. He did, however, tell them: "You are Rangers. The best of Gondor. Our comrades in the city are depending upon us to help them. I know you will not fail them, nor me."
They nodded and left. The men moved forward just as Faramir had instructed them. Damrod returned to Faramir's side whilst Mablung relayed reports between the front companies and Faramir. Within moments, the Steward's youngest learned that East Osgiliath was quiet. He ordered the men across the River as one.
"Captain Faramir!" the heartfelt cry and warm hug of welcome from Captain Isilmo was accepted. "As you can see by the carnage on the bridge, you have come too late. We were attacked in the night by at least two hundred Uruks. They were cunning and quiet. They killed the sentries easily and destroyed the forge. It seems to have been their target. We lost many."
Faramir nodded. "Where is Captain Oromendil?"
“Dead. I am acting captain. I await your orders."
"The defenses. What are they?"
"We have moved all those able to hold a sword to the River. The bridge, as you can see, is now well-guarded."
"Have all been moved to the garrison buildings. It will take many days to remove the dead. They are spread out across the city."
"How many healers have you?"
"Too few for too many wounded."
"Send a rider to the Houses and request at least five more. Then, see to yourself. You look haggard. Get some sleep. My men will spell some of yours. I will make up the rosters."
"I can do that, Captain Faramir," Captain Isilmo protested.
"Get some rest. Five hours. Then meet with me at the mess."
The man saluted and left. Faramir looked about him in dismay.
Boromir felt his father’s tension and would have recoiled if Denethor had not tightened his grip.
“Do not question me.” Denethor’s whisper sounded like thunder in Boromir’s ear.
Denethor took him by the arm and turned him to face the room. “Boromir will report on what he has seen to the north these past months before we discuss the events of the last few days.”
Boromir quelled the anger and fear in his heart and dutifully reported of the Orc and Easterling attacks. He finished thusly, “Never have I seen such fury nor planning. These former enemies have come together as allies and work well together. Too well, for Gondor’s sake.”
“Then that explains the precision of these latest attacks,” Húrin watched the Steward.
“Sit, Boromir.” Denethor motioned and two servants brought forth strong, Haradric coffee, fruits from Lebennin, and cheeses from Lossarnach. He turned towards his lords. “Though the news I have to impart is not conducive to good digestion, I bid you all eat. We will be here for a very long time. We have much to plan.”
While they ate, the Steward told them of the latest attacks. Many had fork halfway to mouth and then sat in stunned silence as the magnitude of the attacks was revealed.
At last, Denethor sat at his desk. “The Enemy has discerned that we are weak indeed. Though Faramir received pledges of more men and coin from you and my other fief lords, yet both are slow in coming. I pulled errand-riders from my own and my son’s guard to use in this crisis.” His voice was low and soft, but all in the room heard the menace. Boromir heard the despair.
“If Gondor falls, the onus will be on each one of you.” The Steward did not need to point; they understood. “I want your promised men here in one week’s time. I want your coin today.” He motioned and his aide stepped to his side. “Belegorn, bring my maps.” He turned to the captains and lords assembled. “Follow me.”
As they entered the dining chamber, the servants were clearing off the table. Belegorn placed one of the maps on the table and unrolled it. The men crowded about. It was a detailed map of Osgiliath, both east and west. They spent the next four hours pouring over many maps, not only of Osgiliath, but of Cair Andros and the area around Linhir.
They finally stopped for nuncheon. Boromir bided his time and Denethor gazed at his son with unfeigned regard and humor. The boy was clearly angry and frustrated. A light tingling sensation told him someone else observed. Turning his head, he tried to find the one who watched him! ‘Imrahil.’
The Prince had just entered, a sad, half-smile on his face. “You did not stop to see the boys. Nor did Boromir.”
Denethor ushered him into his study, motioning to Boromir to join him. He offered brandy, but Imrahil declined. Denethor noted the Prince’s clenched teeth and taut jaw line. “I spent the morning in conference. I had hoped to see you and my nephews,” he emphasized nephews, “but the gravity of the attacks…”
“I understand, but the boys have not seen you for well over a year. I had hoped. And if not you, then Boromir.”
“My love for my cousins is great, Uncle, but my love for Faramir is greater.” He turned towards Denethor, his face livid. “Where is Faramir?”
Imrahil drew in a breath. “He is missing?”
“Nay, nay,” Denethor held up his hands. “He is stationed at Henneth-Annûn. I expect he is still there.” He turned with slight scorn towards Boromir. “I have received no report stating otherwise.”
Boromir took in a long, shuddering breath. “Forgive me, Uncle.” He turned fully towards Denethor. “I know you know beyond the norm. I know you see things, Father. Do you see him?” His voice broke. “Does he yet live?”
“Boromir! If I had report of him, you would know.”
“But you see things!”
“If I could see your brother, I would,” the Steward’s own frustration rang in his voice. “I do not see him, Boromir. I am waiting for his weekly report. I have not yet received it.”
“Then, may I go to Ithilien? To Henneth-Annûn?”
“Boromir, your concern for Faramir outweighs your sense! Osgiliath has been attacked; Cair Andros has been attacked. You think one man can ride in without being discovered?”
“More than one would bring scrutiny. I will be back before the week’s end.”
“I will not send you.”
“You have no need of me here. You are Captain-General, not I.” His anger and frustration finally released.
Imrahil strode towards his nephew. “Boromir, hold your tongue.”
Boromir looked at his uncle and swallowed hard. He bowed to Denethor and then left.
The Steward sat heavily upon his settle; Imrahil joined him. “The boy is correct, Denethor.”
The Lord of the City sighed. “I have not enough men, Imrahil. If I did, the Captain-General would be here in the Citadel as my counselor and my right hand. It is what I wished for Boromir. However, and you know this well, my captains are the first slain in battle. I have had need of him on the northern borders. Though I rue the loss and the added burden to myself, I cannot use him as I will, nor as he would.”
“He grows frustrated. He is your heir.”
“Imrahil,” Denethor’s voice rang sharp. He gentled it. “If my will was my own, he would be in Minas Tirith. The Enemy allows me no such favor.”
Imrahil nodded. “I would speak with him, if you would allow it?”
“Of course. He is needed here, but I think it best if you take him to your sons. Let him have a moment’s peace; remember what we fight for.”
The Prince nodded his head, stood and left. Denethor sat in silence for many moments, then returned to the dining chamber and the clatter of dishes and hearty appetites. He almost retched at the sound of the lords filling their faces whilst he offered his son as sacrifice.
“I have held my tongue since I was ten, since Naneth passed,” Boromir reiterated to his uncle as they walked towards the Sixth Level. “I will hold it no longer. I only hold the title. He keeps information from me; I think he listens to my suggestions, but then he does not act on them; he does not let me command my men. If he did not want nor need a Captain-General, why did he fill the post?"
“Because he respects you, and Gondor must have a Captain-General. However, I believe his insight is greater than yours.”
“I am at my wit's end. I have beseeched before; I have told him I know not what happens in the army I am called Captain-General of. I have fought on the northern borders for over a year now, yet I know nothing of Belfalas, Lebennin, Pelargir. The farmers of the realm know more than the Captain-General of Gondor’s army.”
“Whilst you are on the borders, he cannot send errand-riders to you with reports. You know that, Boromir. What has made you so frustrated? He fully expects to share the last months’ reports with you. He always does.”
Boromir turned towards him. “The war goes ill for Gondor, Uncle. I see it every day. I cannot envisage how we will ever win against the Enemy, not without some great weapon. And there is none to be had.”
“There is, Boromir. There is always hope. You must believe that your father does all in his power to save Gondor… and his sons.”
“Where is Faramir? He says he does not know. And yet, he knows how many hairs are on an Easterling that attacks me. I begin to wonder at his veracity.”
Imrahil stopped and turned Boromir towards him. “The men of Gondor never lie, Boromir. Remember that.”
Boromir embraced his uncle. “You speak the truth, Uncle. I am sore-pressed at the death I see about me. I have lost so many men, I cannot remember the count. I see a new man enter my service and try not to remember his name, knowing full well he will probably be dead on the morrow.”
Imrahil held him tight. “I will ask your father to keep you in Minas Tirith for awhile, Boromir. Spend some time in the Houses, helping the soldiers who recover. You need to see there is hope.”
“Boromir!” the shout of greeting surprised them both. Neither had realized they had reached Imrahil’s house.
“Amrothos!” Boromir looked the young man up and down. “It is good to see you. How you have grown!”
“I am twenty-four and captain of my own ship.”
Boromir shuddered, but hid it, the best he could. “Captain. And what is your ship’s name?”
“Limlug. It is a fair ship. I would love to have you sail with me one day, as you did with Elphir.”
“I do not think I could manage the riggings anymore. I have lost my sea legs.”
Amrothos smiled broadly. “They come back right quickly, especially when a Corsair ship appears on the horizon.”
“Have you seen battle then?” Boromir looked at his young nephew in surprise.
The Swan hung his head. “Not yet. But I imagine any day now.”
“Who trained you?” Boromir asked as they went into Imrahil’s home.
Shouts of joy covered the answer. He turned and looked to Elphir and Erchirion. “Glad am I to see you both. I had thought we would have to wait till the summer festival. How fare you?”
Imrahil watched in joy as his sons and Boromir walked into the atrium. All four were now men, full grown. It was difficult to remember when this had happened. He walked into his own study, sat with his head between his hands, and silently lifted petition for them to the Valar.
The hour before sunset, Boromir and Imrahil left for the Citadel.
They found Denethor alone in his dining chambers, maps strewn all about. “It is good you have returned,” he said without looking up. “I have need of my captains.”
“I have another great need."
“From me?” Boromir asked.
“I require a captain for Osgiliath. Our need has now become desperate. I will take you from the northern borders and place you as captain there. I know you will hold it for me.”
There was nothing Faramir could do in Osgiliath. All that remained was burial for the dead. Every fiber of his being wanted to run back into the high country, the foothills of the Ephel Dúath, and kill anything and everything that walked on two legs. He took a few deep breaths; how could he think such a thing? He was more tired than he thought; more disheartened by the death that he had walked through to get to the garrison’s office. It would take days before all the dead would be buried. He would leave his men here to help.
He would go to Minas Tirith, speak with Boromir if he could, and regroup. He knew riders had already been sent. His shoulders shook in helpless, bitter laughter. Denethor did not need riders! His father knew; his father knew everything! Denethor might want… ‘Might what?’ he thought miserably. The last time he had been home, his father’s tongue had been acid-filled. Denethor was sure that Faramir knew what the wizard had found and was keeping it from him. His heart ached at the thought.
He wondered if the scrolls had given their secrets up. ‘Mayhap, if father has some sign as to what Mithrandir had found, mayhap he would be disinclined to look at me with less anger, more with love.’ He leaned his elbows on the captain’s desk and held his fingers against the inner corners of his eyes to stay the tears that threatened. ‘Morgoth’s breath! I am beyond tired. I know father loves me as I love him. If only there was some way we could go beyond the wizard. If only he would accept me as I am.’
“Damrod,” he swallowed convulsively and controlled himself as he motioned for his aide to enter.
“I have ordered the men to help with burial. Do you have further orders?”
“Nay. I will go to Minas Tirith and meet with the Steward.” He sighed. “I will not ride alone, will I?”
“All right then. Meet me at the gate in two hours’ time. And ask Captain Isilmo to attend me.”
“Your horse will be ready. The captain will be with you in a moment. After he leaves, Faramir,” the soldier’s voice took on a tone of concern, “I would hope you would sleep? You just arrived from Minas Tirith and then had to turn around and ride to Osgiliath’s aid.”
“I will. I can hardly hold my head up. You will do the same, once the orders are given. I do not want you falling off your horse as we travel home.”
“It is not I that usually falls from his horse, if memory serves me.” He ducked as the tankard missed his head by a fraction and left the room, reveling in the laughter that followed him.
Before he took another step, Damrod ran into the garrison’s acting captain and kept the door open for him. He spoke a word to him, then ushered him into the room. “Captain Faramir, Captain Isilmo.” He saluted and left.
“Captain.” Faramir stood. “I am leaving my men with you to help with the burials. Mablung will stand in my stead. If there is anything you need my men to do, they are yours to command.”
“Thank you, Captain. Have you broken your fast?”
Faramir smiled tiredly. “I have not. Have you?”
“Nay. The kitchens are finally up and running. I have asked for food sent here. Enough for the both of us. Would you join me?”
“I would and I thank you.”
“After we are finished, your second suggests I leave you to rest.”
“I think I shall kill my second.”
Isilmo laughed. “He is a good man.”
“Too good for me,” Faramir whispered.
“I think not a man in your father’s service would say or think such a thing, Lord Faramir.”
“Pay no heed to me. I am weary.”
”You have ridden long and hard to Osgiliath’s defense. We are grateful. The men, when your company came across the bridge, cheered. Did you not hear?”
Faramir shook his head. “I did not. I only heard the cries of the dying. Too late we came, I am sorry to say.”
“You came and that is the important thing. The living know of your valor in coming to aid us. I need the men I have left to feel hope, and you, my Lord Faramir, have brought them that hope.”
Faramir shook his head. “They are good men. Make me a list of those who appointed themselves well during the battle. Bring it to me before I leave. When I return, I am sure I will bring commendations from the Steward.”
A knock and their food arrived. Both men ate silently. At last, Isilmo rose. “I will leave you to your rest, Captain” He saluted and left the room. Faramir silently went to the cot, laid himself down, and slept. Once again, as after last year’s battle, Damrod stole into the room, removed his captain’s boots, covered him with a blanket, and stood sentry by the door.
“Make certain the beacons are ready, repair the Rammas Echor, repair and raise the Steward’s banners every morning, create new ones (for Osgiliath too), set the smithies to work day and night preparing new weapons, sharpening old ones, have the trebuchets inspected, set up scheduled practice runs for their crews, go over the evacuation plans for the women and children one more time, make preparations for defense against siege towers, check the water and food supplies, coin, men.” He sat back, looking at the list. Putting two fingers to the furrows between his eyebrows, Denethor rubbed vigorously. The pain did not go away. “I forgot. Show Húrin the tunnels to Mindolluin.”
“My lord, am I interrupting?”
“Come in, Imrahil. I need a respite from these wretched lists.”
“Why cannot Húrin take care of them?”
“He already has much on his plate. I expect him to resign soon,” Denethor smiled. “Nay. He is a good man and puts up with me.”
“Where is Boromir?”
“He is resting. I am sending him to captain Osgiliath. He will leave before cock’s crow in the morning. Once I finish these curséd lists, I must look over some maps and things that he will carry with him.”
“Have you heard aught of Faramir?”
“I have not. If he has seen the smoke from Osgiliath, I would venture to say he is headed that way. He will send a rider, when he has a moment.”
“Why is Boromir so sure Faramir is in danger?”
Denethor stood and walked to the window. The night was almost upon them, but there was a bit of light still about; torches were being lit on the escarpment. “Look!” he pointed and Imrahil joined him. Boromir sat with someone on the battlement.
“Who is he with?”
“Faramir,” Denethor whispered. “He must have just arrived.”
Imrahil looked down and almost choked in grief. Boromir had his arm tightly about his brother. Their heads were bent as if in deep conversation. Once in awhile, Boromir would point towards Osgiliath and Faramir would nod. Imrahil cursed a particularly vile curse and leaned against the sill. “Why is Boromir so sure Faramir is in danger?” he demanded.
“I am not certain.”
“Does Boromir have the Sight?”
Denethor looked at him. “If either of my sons has the Sight, it would be Faramir, but I have not seen it in him. Except for his dreams. I tell you this though, Imrahil, ever since Finduilas died, Boromir has been protective of his brother. I think it has become an obsession with him. He cannot let go.”
“One of them will fall?” Imrahil stifled a sob.
“I fear so.”
“You have the Sight, I think, my brother. Which one?”
Denethor shuddered. “I know not. I have seen both fall. But visions are fickle and not to be trusted.”
Imrahil clenched his teeth, put his hand on his sword. “It is our duty to protect them.”
“There is none left to protect any of us, Imrahil. The Valar have abandoned men. We will fight, even without hope; I will not go gently, nor will my sons.”
“Look,” Imrahil pointed. “Elphir and Erchirion. I am glad to see them.” The sons of Imrahil strode across the parapet and joined Faramir and Boromir. Though they could not hear, they knew there was much laughter and backslapping as the boys greeted each other. Amrothos ran up a moment later and was brought into the circle of love and friendship.
Denethor leaned forward, as if he could gain some measure of comfort from their camaraderie. “I will call them up. I have not spoken to your sons yet. I would hear their laughter.” A note of envy crept into his voice.
“They have looked forward to seeing you again. They do love you, brother.”
“As I love them.”
“I am glad they have each other. It could have been otherwise.” Imrahil’s brow furrowed.
“It would have been, if your father had not finally come to his senses.”
Imrahil smiled and took Denethor’s hand in his own. “He said the same about you.”
Denethor looked at him in amaze. He shivered. “His daughter’s death was a harsh thing. He rued the day she met me.”
“He had some difficulty accepting you, and yet, he grew to love you.”
“Until she died,” Denethor whispered.
The Swan Prince said naught.
“Enough of that. You will leave on the morrow?”
“I will. I must return to Linhir. After that, I will go home and prepare the men I will bring with me to Minas Tirith, when you call.”
“You think I will call this year?”
“If not this year, then certainly next. I can see it in your eyes, Denethor. The end is near.”
Denethor swallowed. “It is.”
The Citadel was quiet, too quiet. Faramir and Boromir, Imrahil and his sons, all had left early this morning. He had not felt such oppressive silence in a very long time. Perhaps it was the night of laughter and sharing just passed with the young ones that gave the silence such terrible weight. He always reveled in the times spent with his own sons, but Imrahil's sons' presence had put both his own sons at ease. Boromir lost the frustration that continued to grow within his heart, and Faramir abandoned, for the nonce, the sorrow of the men lost.
This morning, Boromir once again fairly bristled as he farewell'd Denethor. Until Denethor ordered him to return, once a week, to discuss Gondor's defenses. A smile finally broke and Boromir had hugged him fiercely. Faramir's eyes were again haunted as Denethor embraced him. They had said not a word of the wizard. "There is still hope," Denethor whispered to his youngest. Faramir nodded and mounted. Denethor knew his sons would spend a day together in Osgiliath before Faramir went on to Henneth-Annûn. Probably, Faramir would help Boromir distribute the medals of commendation for those who had proved themselves valiant in the latest battle.
Imrahil and his sons farewell’d the brothers and watched them leave, then the Prince turned towards Denethor. “I would stay for the Council, but the destruction you told me of last night precludes me dawdling here. I am astounded by your own scouts reports. None of mine told of such devastation. Give my regards to the lords and tell them I will see them at Tuilérë, if you will?”
Denethor embraced Imrahil. “Naught matters but that Linhir be rebuilt and refortified. Imrahil, there was the small garrison on one of the islands near the mouth of the Anduin. Have you heard aught of its men?”
“I have not. I sent a scout a fortnight ago, but have not heard back. I hope to have a missive when I return home. I will send a message to you.”
“Please. I have heard naught of that troop and that disturbs me much.”
“If you know naught of our little band there, then there must be something wrong.”
“That is as I fear. Send me a message soon.”
“I will.” Imrahil kissed Denethor’s cheek. “Continue to hope. Belfalas stands behind you.”
Denethor returned the kiss and then embraced his nephews. He watched sadly as the little band rode off, then looked upon the Pelennor and saw, leaving the Great Gate, Boromir and Faramir riding towards Osgiliath.
Another sigh escaped him. In a few moments, he would meet with the Council. He did not look forward to this session. Besides the latest attacks, his list was added to the agenda. The Lords of Gondor would not be happy. Yet again, mayhap the recent attacks would validate his list of Gondor's needs and they would listen more attentively. He grimaced. Lord Hundor would sleep most of the session. Lord Brodda would fidget till Denethor would be tempted to draw his sword and cut off the offending tapping fingers. Lord Avranc's disdain had always irked him. Though the Belfalas lord's breeding was less than most of those who sat at table with him, the fact that he was of the line of Imrazôr and descended from Elves kept his chin tilted so high, he could not see about him. Lord Tarcil was clearly disturbed about something, but would not say what. The only lords who gave him any peace, any respite, any support were Angbor and Forlong. These two stood firm and strong. How he wished his entire Council consisted of men such as these!
Good, doughty men were dying as the Council met and yet Denethor knew the Council members cared more for their own fortunes than for those who defended those very fortunes. 'I will quickly end this meeting and spend time with Húrin. With their approval or no, the list will be attended to.' At least he had coin enough for some of the tasks. The lords had taken his threats to heart and, yester eve, he had received eighty percent of what they had pledged. He would remind them again this morning of the remaining twenty percent and of their promise of men.
A peregrine's screech brought him from his sour thoughts. He looked up towards the bird and spied the Tower window. 'I must also spend some time there,' he thought with some longing. 'Not once yesterday did I look.' From the moment he had seen the attack upon Osgiliath the night before last, his time had been taken in thoughts and actions towards Gondor's defense.
He pulled his shoulders back, adjusted his mail shirt, and walked purposefully into the Great Hall. The Chamberlain rapped his rod against the marble floor and all stood. He made his way to the Chair and sat. The next six hours were grueling. The topic mainly revolved around the Rammas. The southern lords, of course, wanted the wall by the Harlond fortified first, whilst the northern lords wanted the North Gate and the wall by it fortified first. There was none to speak for lowly Ithilien. Faramir was away and the fief lords of that land were weak and helpless. No property to use as leverage.
When they finally broke for a late nuncheon, Denethor felt drained. He made his excuses to the lords, but knew they would not miss him, as long as they were dined and wine flowed freely. His stomach churned. Lately, he had found he could barely contain the bile that rose as the Council fought him. Fought Gondor.
Húrin followed after him. "Lord Denethor. The Council members are concerned. You do not eat with them?"
"I cannot, cousin. My stomach turns at their apathy, their ineptitude, their avarice. I cannot look upon them without wanting to retch."
"What would you have me do?"
"Stay with them. Keep them content, for the nonce. We will meet again in two hours time. Then, I will send them back to their fiefdoms and their comfortable lives, and their disregard for Gondor. You and I, Húrin, we will go over the list this evening and we will decide what is most needed. The pledged coin has almost all been given; the men are due here next week. We will do what we can until Tuilérë, when the Council meets again."
Húrin nodded and left Denethor on the steps to the Tower. Denethor looked upwards and decided he did not have enough time to go to the Tower room. He would spend his time in his own chambers and try to quell the fury that recently engulfed him after every Council meeting.
Once he was in his own chambers, he sat at his desk, fingers steepled, brow furrowed. A heavy sigh escaped him and he smiled. ‘I need something to take my mind off this… loneliness.’ He choked. He had not felt so alone since Finduilas had left him. ‘By the Valar,’ he suddenly sobbed, ‘I am grown weak.’ He pushed himself away from the desk and strode towards the window. Naught he looked upon gave him surcease from the restlessness that assailed him, the loneliness that gripped his heart, the utter despair that washed over him.
He found his pencils in the cupboard and a few pieces of parchment specifically made for drawing. He pulled them out and sat again. His mind was blank, but he moved his hand nonetheless and the pencil drew a blank banner. He smiled. The White Tree flowed freely into the open space in the banner. A few more quick strokes and Boromir’s face shone out at him, superimposed over the Tree. He sighed again, but this time with joy. ‘Well, this will never do. I cannot put Boromir’s face on the Citadel banner.’ He laughed aloud. He drew another banner and then Faramir’s face filled the open spot. His brow crinkled. ‘A good son, but why…? No sense in questioning. He thinks as I would. Why should he not? But what has the wizard found and how does Faramir not know it?’
He relaxed the hand that had clenched and broken the pencil. He pulled another. He drew a few more designs for banners and found his whole body relaxed. ‘I should draw more often…’ A bell rang the hour. ‘Never enough time.’ He straightened the parchments and put the pencils into their box, then left for the Great Hall and the Council.
Húrin met him at the entrance. “They await you. The wine flowed freely. I am not sure how much sense many of them will make. Especially Lord Hundor.”
“The man’s seat is wasted. He slept the morning session away.”
“I noted that. As did others. There is naught that can be done though. He has a fiefdom, little though it is, and he is due a seat.”
“Is his son any better?”
“The son serves at Nardol. I have heard naught either good or bad about him.”
“Let us go in then and get this over with.”
Another two hours of agony followed. At last, Denethor thanked them all. They dispersed slowly.
“We have not discussed the road leading from Pelargir, my Lord Steward,” Lord Tarcil queried. “It is close to Linhir and has need of refurbishment.”
“Linhir is destroyed and will take some time to rebuild. The road from Minas Tirith to Pelargir is in good repair. The road from your city to Pelargir will be discussed once the Enemy ceases his attacks. I cannot spend coin nor release men to work on a road that is not needed at present.”
“I would have the Council discuss it, at least!”
“I have put it on the agenda for Tuilérë’s Council meeting.”
Lord Tarcil replied testily, “It would seem to me that a good road is much needed to help bring supplies and such for the repair of Linhir.”
“I believe Prince Imrahil addresses the problem of repairing Linhir. Mayhap you would like to discuss this with him. He regretted not being able to attend today’s meeting but thought it more important to return to Linhir himself. To ascertain Linhir’s needs. I will not o’erstep his authority. I am surprised that you would bring this to me.”
The lord blushed. “I agree with the Prince, of course. I will speak with him.”
“Good. Then it is settled. I will see you on Tuilérë.”
As he watched the lord bow and leave, he snickered. “Little upstart. I would love to see what Imrahil says to him when he speaks of the road. All, of course, fully governed by his great concern for Linhir. Sot! He cares because Linhir is across the Serni from his own fiefdom and he would love to have the road developed to his city. A great opportunity, he thinks, to steer goods and trade from Linhir.” He turned in disgust and left the Great Hall.
Húrin followed behind. “My Lord Steward, it is possible that Linhir will not be functioning for some time. Mayhap the road could be bettered between Pelargir and Tarcil’s city?”
“Linhir’s merchants will make sure that trade is not disrupted, believe me! I will not let the greed of one of my people harm another’s whose city has been decimated. Linhir suffers already; why should it lose the trade it now enjoys? Nay. I will not refurbish Tarcil’s road.”
“Very well. I have a list of the trebuchets. The crews have been picked. Would you like to go over that listing?”
“Nay. I am tired and have… As a matter of fact, I have some new banners that I would like made and flown.” They walked into his study.
Húrin smiled as he looked at the pile. “Boromir and Faramir. Hmmm. Do you think we should hang one on either side of the Great Hall?”
Denethor laughed aloud. “My hand wandered. But these others. Take these to the banner makers and have them made. I want new ones sent to all the garrisons, the larger ones. I have noticed some of our banners are bedraggled. I want the Enemy to know we care even about such little things. It should send a message.”
Húrin nodded. “I believe it will. What else would you have of me?”
“Naught. Spend some time with your family. I have some things I must attend.”
“Will you join my family for the daymeal?”
“Nay, but thank you. Give my regards to Beldis. Tell her I will sit at her table again soon.”
“Thank you, my Lord. She will be most pleased.”
He watched as Húrin left him, then pulled out his cloak from the cupboard, wrapped it around him, and left for the Tower room.
A/N – various pieces/parts
On the scrolls: 1) 3017 - Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur. ROTK, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age. 2) The Great Library must have been huge and contained over 3000 years’ worth of scrolls and such. Pelargir founded SA 2350; Gondor founded SA 3320. 3) Denethor tells Gandalf, “If indeed you look only... for records of ancient days, and the beginnings of the City, read on!” 4) I’m using these thoughts and quotes as the basis for my belief that Denethor might very well have looked, after Gandalf departed, for the scrolls that held such import for Gandalf. 5) It seems to me that Tolkien believed the scrolls were still readable, even though they were centuries old. I figure they were in SEALED JARS like the Dead Sea scrolls… Resealed after Gandalf was done with them…. but again - it was written in ancient Quenya - so perhaps Faramir could not read it all AND he might not have been able to read THE line about the One Ring because that was written in the Black Speech. Though I personally don’t think Gandalf would have shared the contents of THE scroll with Faramir.
On room and (half) board – I researched this for I did not want to use the phrase if it was too ‘modern.’ However, I found this… “Food served at the table; daily meals provided in a lodging or boarding-house according to stipulation; the supply of daily provisions; entertainment. Often joined with ‘bed’ or ‘lodging’. c1386 CHAUCER . . . Sche wolde suffre him no thing for to pay For bord ne clothing. 1465 MARG. PASTON ‘Lett’. . . . He payth for hys borde wykely . . .” The OED says this sense of “board” developed from the sense of a table used for meals. It doesn't give an example with the exact wording “room and board.” http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/15/messages/521.html http://search.oed.com.
Tuilérë – spring festival – March 23rd.
On the attacks of 3018: Sauron is surprised at the strength of Denethor’s defenses when he attacks the bridge in June, 3019. The little test that Sauron uses against Gondor in these chapters, in my mind’s eye, caused Denethor to refortify many of his outposts, thus explaining why Gondor was strong in June, 3019.
On Boromir as Captain-General: Tolkien states that Denethor was lord of his own actions. He listened to his counselors and such, but then did what he willed anyhow. It has always seemed to me that a man so strong and brilliant would be hard-pressed to let Boromir have total control of the Army of Gondor. To that end, I think Boromir would have been highly frustrated. I could be wrong.
Limlug is Sindarin for Sea-Serpent http://www.uib.no/people/hnohf/vocab.htm#Sindarin.
On watches: It is next to impossible to find information regarding what is termed watches in the military. I finally found this site that has naval watches – so I’m using that, in lieu of losing my mind with further research. Also, Tolkien does mention the use of bells to keep time in the City, and bells are another naval tradition. I really have to giggle over that, for I have made one of Denethor's unfulfilled dreams be of commanding a ship in Gondor's army. It never came to pass... sadly. Maybe if he had had one dream filled, he would have been able to... ah! but that is just conjecture.... http://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/structure/ran_stations.asp
On hope: 1) "What hope have we?" said Faramir. "It is long since we had any hope. The sword of Elendil, if it returns indeed, may rekindle it, but I do not think that it will do more than put off the evil day, unless other help unlooked- for also comes, from elves or men. For the Enemy increases and we decrease. We are a failing people, a springless autumn." (The Window on the West).
Characters besides the usual (so far):
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