Lords of Gondor (Updated July 17, 2022 -- Chapter 59)

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Lords of Gondor (Updated July 17, 2022 -- Chapter 59)

Post by Linaewen » Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:48 pm

Let's get the Red Book going again with the continuing saga of Boromir, as he survives the attack upon Amon Hen and attempts the journey home to Gondor before war with Mordor breaks out.

Previous chapters as posted on this message board are here:

http://lotrfanmb.com/msgbd/viewtopic.ph ... highlight=

I have several more chapters than this to upload, so I'll be adding those in the near future to this thread. There are surprisingly few chapters for how long it's been since I last updated, but that's how life goes sometimes! :oops:

For those who are interested, the full archive of chapters of Lords of Gondor in its most complete form can be found at the following locations:

https://archiveofourown.org/works/20082 ... ers/297547

http://www.storiesofarda.com/chapterlis ... p?SID=6147

Note: Any other links to the story which are mentioned in other threads on this board are no longer valid or are not fully updated.

Thanks for reading! :read:
Last edited by Linaewen on Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Onomir » Mon Jan 07, 2019 7:37 pm

Swoon....THUD
[/img]
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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Tuilelindowen » Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:35 am

I never wrote, but used to read and treasure. I need to do this again.
"...a circlet of golden flowers was in her hair, and in her hand she held a harp, and she sang...." -- Farewell to Lorien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Onomir » Thu Jan 10, 2019 7:58 am

That is the beautiful Fellowship we all enjoy.
Wonderful to be together again 🦋
�Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget."

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Onomir » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:05 am

I have opened Archiveofourown and put all other stories I have been reading on hold. It has been so long since reading LoG that is is new again.
Wonderful to be back with Boromir.
Thank you for sharing the links.
�Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget."

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Linaewen » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:39 am

:grin:

I'll get the missing chapters up here, too, probably this weekend. Working on Chapter 56 now! My NY resolution of writing every day is working out pretty well so far...
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Linaewen » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:40 am

Tuilelindowen wrote:I never wrote, but used to read and treasure. I need to do this again.
Lovely seeing you here again, Tuile! :love:
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Linaewen » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:36 am

Here are the latest chapters, so we're now up to date!

LoG 53 -- All Is Lost

Imrahil sat in Denethor's antechamber with his head in his hands, only looking up when he heard the scrape of footsteps near by -- it was Dûrlin bringing a tray of food and drink. Imrahil smiled in spite of himself.

"I have been told many times by both Boromir and Faramir that your meals work wonders for the weary warrior, and that plying food is your way of influencing the battle."

"I do what I can," replied Dûrlin. "It has been more than a few years since I myself stood on the battlefield, but I remember well the strength that is needed, and what it takes to renew that strength daily in order to be able to face adversity." He lifted a thick piece of bread and spread it with a generous helping of fruit preserves. "You have faced great adversity today, not to mention despair and a bad shock; food will restore you so you can face what comes next. Eat this first, I have found that something sweet is best after such an experience."

Imrahil took the bread, then hesitated. "What of the young Halfling, who now attends Denethor as his Lord? He performs his duty admirably, even now standing at attendance in the inner chamber; yet, he, too, must be full of fear and despair, seeing Faramir so wounded. He does not know Faramir well, but he was close to Boromir, I hear, and that would surely cause him to care for the welfare of Boromir's brother."

"It is so," Dûrlin replied, shaking his head. "He is saddened by Faramir's wounding, and no doubt afraid for Faramir's life -- for not only does he care for him as Boromir's brother, but they have had some converse together, and he esteems him highly in spite of having only recently met him. But fear not! I bade him eat and drink a little, though he was loath to do so against orders. He takes his duties most seriously! I will keep my eye on him, to make certain he remains well and is not too often alone."

"That is well," Imrahil answered, reassured. He motioned Dûrlin to sit beside him."You also have had a shock, I know, and look as if you, too, need restoring. Please join me, you have brought enough food here for the two of us. It will comfort me to have someone with me as I try to make sense of all that has happened today."

"I am honored to serve you in any way I can, Prince Imrahil." Dûrlin sat and reached for bread and preserves. "Speak of what is on your heart if you wish, or remain silent: whichever is most helpful to you in your distress. I am here to listen and support you, and to gain comfort for myself as well."

Imrahil was silent for a time as he ate and drank. Dûrlin watched him with concern, waiting patiently.

"You know much of what has transpired, I am certain," Imrahil said at last. "But perhaps you do not know all that your heart desires to know. Therefore I will speak of this day from the beginning as I saw it unfold so that you are informed of all that has led up to our current sorrow.

"Faramir was sent by the Lord Steward to defend the Rammas and the River passage. He was, as I feared, overmatched, and his retreat became a rout. The field of Pelennor was already overrun by the enemy, and Faramir could not lead his remnant through without battle. Horsemen of the enemy were there, followed by innumerable Orcs and a horde of fierce Southrons. As few as they were, and wounded, they might have held true to their course and made it safely to the gate, but for the Nazgûl. The men could not bear that terror, and their will was broken. Even Faramir could not hold them in place."

"You witnessed this?" Dûrlin asked quietly.

"The lord Denethor had prepared a sortie to bring Faramir's troops safely into the City should the retreat from the Rammas approach the walls; I was there to lead it, hidden in the shadow of the outside Gate, awaiting the signal. Even I felt the fear that blanketed the Pelennor at the arrival of those dreadful creatures! But when the signal came to advance, we threw our fear aside and rode to Faramir's aid. Mithrandir went before us, and that was well, for his power was needed to turn back the Nazgûl and allow the company to find their courage once more. We drove the enemy back long enough for the men to gather once more and make their way to City. But Faramir..."

Imrahil's voice wavered briefly, and he sighed deeply.

"Yes, Faramir... " Dûrlin repeated. "You came too late, then?"

"We were too late to prevent his wounding, but at least we prevented his death at the hands of the Southrons after he had fallen. Yet I fear his wound is deadly! It seems likely to me that it came from a dart of the Nazgûl as it flew overhead. Faramir was holding at bay a mounted Southron so that his men could flee, and he was open to such an attack. I came too late to defend him, I could only bear his wounded body to his father. Alas!"

"Alas!" Dûrlin echoed. "I know the tale from here, all too well. I helped make a bed for Faramir in my lord's chamber, and tended him somewhat, until I was sent from the room and the Steward ascended the Tower. Truly, I fear for him as much as for Faramir; I cannot read his mood at all. Where has he gone, I wonder? What errand does he have that takes him away from his son's side, so sorely wounded?"

"I know not," answered Imrahil heavily. "I, too, sense a strange mood in him. They did not part on good terms, I fear. Perhaps he regrets sending his son away to undertake such a hopeless task -- though regret is not a word I would often associate with my brother, the Steward!"

"No, he is not one to regret his decisions, made with confidence after much thought and the gathering of knowledge. Yet it is possible that even the most decisive of men who commands even his sons without regret will reach that point where he breaks. Boromir has not returned, and he deems him lost forever; now he is about to lose Faramir, as well, perhaps. That is likely how he sees it."

Imrahil gazed at Dûrlin thoughtfully. "I have heard it said that you believe Boromir will yet return, is this so?"

"I do believe that," Dûrlin replied. "I cannot say why I believe it so firmly, but it is true. I have no proof that he lives, but I also have no proof that he is truly dead, and because of that, I refuse to despair. My heart tells me he is not dead, and may return at any moment, and therefore I have hope."

Dûrlin's glance strayed towards the closed door of Denethor's inner chamber where the wounded Faramir lay, and Imrahil followed his gaze.

"I do not know what to think concerning Boromir," Imrahil said, "but if he does return, may it not be to the news that his brother is lost!"

***

Denethor's hands dropped to his lap and he bowed his head in despair until the cold hard surface of the palantír pressed against his forehead. He had come to the Stone once again for guidance, but what it had revealed to him had left him with no hope.

He had searched above all else for Boromir, for any sign that he might yet live, that he might be on his way home -- but he knew in his heart it was hopeless. No matter how he turned the Stone, he could see nothing but the vast might of Mordor gathering against him. Northwards, Orcs and evil Men with axes moved across the plains into Anórien. If they reached the North Gate of the Pelennor and moved onwards towards the Great West Road, the Riders of Rohan would be cut off from the City. If they were even coming! No word had come from the West, and none of his errand riders had returned. For all Denethor knew, Théoden had refused the summons.

Cair Andros had fallen and a multitude marched southward to join the immense army that poured out of Mordor and advanced on Gondor from the East. The palantír showed a limitless stretch of seething black shapes like a dark sea flowing towards Minas Tirith. There was no hope for the City against such a force!

Denethor shuddered. It is obvious the Enemy has obtained the Ring, he thought. Why else would he empty his land and send his forces with such abandon? The whole might of Mordor is being thrown at us, and we cannot stand against it! How? How did he obtain it? I cannot say, but it must be so... there is no other answer... If the Ring is back on the Black Hand, then we are lost. Lost! There is nothing we can do against him that will not result in horrible death... Why did I send Faramir into such a hopeless situation? What is the point of defense if the Ring has been found? All is lost...

Denethor rose slowly, stiffly, and covered the palantír once more with its cloth. Little use the Stone had been to him in the end, when he needed it most. The wisdom and vision he had gained from it in the past which had aided him in determining the course of his City and his people had all been for naught. In the end, he had failed -- failed the free peoples of the West, failed Gondor, failed his people, failed even his own sons. He had sent them to their deaths when there had never been any hope of success against a mighty Enemy.

"I shall go to Faramir and wait with him until the end," Denethor said to the empty room. "At least he will not be alone during his final moments. Perhaps... perhaps we might even leave this world together..."

***

Imrahil had returned to his men, in order to prepare them for the battle that was surely coming. Dûrlin returned to Faramir's side, tending him as best he could. The wound he had received had been cleansed and wrapped, but Faramir was beginning to burn with fever, and Dûrlin was concerned.

"Dûrlin, sir?" Pippin spoke from the doorway where he stood at attention, awaiting Denethor's return. "Faramir doesn't look well, does he? Should we call healers to come? Not that you don't best know how to tend him, I didn't mean that..." He stammered in embarrassment.

"You are right," Dûrlin agreed. "He is not well. I fear he has a fever now. I have some knowledge of healing, of course, and I have seen Faramir through many a fever and illness, but this is beyond me. He should be in the Houses of Healing. But I cannot move him without the consent of his father. Perhaps when he returns, I can convince him to have Faramir moved there."

"Where has the Lord Denethor gone?" Pippin wondered. "He just disappeared without saying a word. Is he all right?"

"I do not know, Pippin," Dûrlin sighed. "I fear he is not all right. What father would be, in such a situation? We must wait for him to return, and then we shall see how he fares, perhaps."

They did not wait long. The door of the chamber opened, and Denethor entered. Dûrlin and Pippin stared at him, aghast at the change they saw. The stern, proud man in command of the City was gone, replaced by a broken, defeated old man. Denethor looked back at them, his gaze unseeing. After a moment, he moved slowly on past to a chair set beside Faramir's bed. He sat down beside him without speaking a word, staring at his son's face with bleak, empty eyes and a face as grey as death.

LoG 54 -- Time Grows Short

As Merry readied himself for the summons to march, he remained on the watch for Boromir. He was not certain Boromir would be able to meet with him again before they departed, but he hoped he would be able to manage it. The Riders of Rohan were preparing to set out in search of the secret road the Wild Men had revealed to Théoden; it seemed it was now the only hope they had of reaching Minas Tirith unhindered by the enemy. They had learned that the main road to the City was taken, and the enemy had cast trenches and stakes across the way to hinder anyone coming from the West. But the hidden road would take them safely past all that; they just had to follow the lead of the Wild Men.

"Are you watching for your friend Boromir?" asked Dernhelm. "I am certain he will do everything within his power to meet with you before we begin our march. It is likely he will ride with the King, so this may be his last opportunity to spend time with you. He knows you wish to keep your presence from becoming known to the King, at least for now, so he will only be able to come if he is unwatched or unaccompanied."

"Yes, I was thinking just that," Merry confirmed. "Boromir will do his best, I'm sure!" Merry shook his head. "I do feel bad about keeping secrets from the King, but I don't want to upset him at this important time. He has so many decisions to make now before that battle, and I don't want to distract him. He'd be unhappy that I disobeyed him! I know he thought he was protecting me by telling me to stay behind, but I just couldn't do it, even if it means disobeying and risking him being very angry with me when he finds out I'm not safe in Edoras!"

"Yes," agreed Dernhelm in a firm voice. "It had to be done. This is not a time for safety, all who are willing to serve are needed. He will need us with him, I deem, before the end."

"I hope so," Merry sighed. "That is what I want most, to be needed and to serve well."

"That is also my wish."

Merry shook his head again, still amazed at what he had heard and witnessed from outside the tent during the council between the headman Ghân-buri-Ghân, and Théoden and his advisors. Ghân-buri-Ghân had known Boromir! He had acknowledged him as a lord of the Stone-city and honored him as a great killer of Orcs. It made sense that they would know of him, as they seemed to be a very observant people, and anyone who was an enemy of Orcs would be someone they would notice and honor. Boromir had been as surprised as the others to hear of the hidden way through the forest, but once he knew of it, he understood immediately how well it would serve their need. Knowing the history of how his own city had been built, he realized the road had been used to transport stone from quarries in the foothills to Minas Tirith. That meant the road would be as direct a route and as level and hard-surfaced as possible -- an excellent path for horsemen wishing to travel swiftly. Once the quarry stones were no longer needed for Minas Tirith, the road had been abandoned, the entrances overgrown and forgotten by all but the Wild Men of the Drúadan Forest.

Merry turned at a sound behind him, in time to see Boromir coming towards him out of the darkness.

"There you are, Boromir!" Merry said happily. "Dernhelm and I were just wondering when you'd be able to come. I'm glad you were able to manage it!"

"I cannot stay long, alas! But I could not go forward without taking proper leave of you, Merry." Boromir turned to Dernhelm. "This is Dernhelm, of whom you have spoken so highly?" He bowed low, hand upon his chest. "My thanks, Dernhelm, for your kindness and care for my friend. Because of your willingness to bear him, we have been able to meet again, where a meeting might not have otherwise been possible. Seeing Merry whole and well-cared for has encouraged me mightily, more than you can know!"

Dernhelm ducked his head and turned away shyly. "Nay, it is both duty and pleasure to serve you and Master Merry," he muttered in a gruff voice.

"Please continue to serve us both by watching over him, to keep him safe from harm -- as far as you are able! I entrust him to your care, Dernhelm."

"I will guard him well, lord. You may rely upon me."

Boromir nodded his thanks, then looked at Dernhelm thoughtfully. "Have we met before, Dernhelm?" he asked suddenly. "You have a familiar air about you..."

"It is possible, lord," Dernhelm replied, stammering slightly. "You have traveled in our lands and to Edoras, you may have seen me there... going about my duties..."

"Indeed, that is a likely possibility," Boromir answered. "Fare well, then, Dernhelm. May we meet again in my City!"

Boromir turned to Merry and kneeling, held out his arms. "Merry, I must go. The King awaits. Take great care of yourself, and do as Dernhelm advises. May the Valar grant us more time together, when we can sit at peace and enjoy one another's company at our leisure!"

"I'll be waiting for that time, Boromir!" Merry's voice was muffled as he buried his face in Boromir's shoulder. "And may Pippin be there, too! And all the others!"

"Indeed," said Boromir softly. "Pippin must be there, as well, and all the others..."

He gently pulled himself away, and with a wave of his hand to Merry, walked away into the darkness.

"Take care of yourself, Boromir!" Merry called after him. "Fare well!"

***

Aragorn stood on the deck of the great ship, looking out across the water where the Anduin met the harbor basin of the port city of Pelargir. Legolas and Gimli were at his side. The River was wide and deep, quiet in the dark hours before dawn. The noise of the harbor below them seemed strangely stilled and distant, and the sound of gulls keening strove with the sound of creaking masts, the thud of ships' keels against the docks, and the shout of men as they readied those ships for sailing. It had been a long day, full of fear and battle, death and victory, vows fulfilled and vows taken. The brief quiet after a night of hard, desperate labor was welcome -- but they could not tarry long. Aragorn would soon give the order to depart, for time was of the essence. Dawn approached and with it, a new day of fear and battle.

Aragorn turned, beckoning to his companions. "Come, it is time. We are needed in Minas Tirith. I fear the City will not stand long on her own, so we must go swiftly to her aid."

"'Tis a pity the Dead cannot help us now, when the real battle is about to begin," Gimli muttered.

"You surprise me, Gimli!" Legolas exclaimed. "Before this, you wanted nothing but to see them gone!"

"Aye, it's true, I wanted nothing to do with them," Gimli confessed. "But I cannot deny the effect they had on the fierce men of Umbar -- terrorized they were, we barely had to lift a finger to fight! The battle here at the docks was over before it started!"

Aragorn smiled. "The Dead did their part and fulfilled their vow. They cannot help us now, nor do they need to. But there are others here who are willing to join us, now that the Dead are gone. And we need them, for the coming battle will not be over so quickly as this one was!"

"What news have you had then of the coming battle?" Legolas inquired.

"Before ever we reached Pelargir, I knew through the palantír that Minas Tirith was assailed," Aragorn replied, "Sauron has thrown open the gates of Mordor and his armies move against the White City. Time grows short. We must reach her on the morrow or all will be lost."

"And Boromir?" Gimli asked, hope in his voice. "Was there aught of Boromir to be seen in the Stone?"

"Alas, no new word of Boromir," Aragorn sighed. "But he lives, and that continues to give me hope until I learn otherwise. I am eager to see him again!"

"Well then, what are we waiting for?" Gimli grumbled. "Give the order so we can be on our way. The sooner we get to Minas Tirith and deal with the Enemy's armies, the sooner we can see Boromir!"

LoG 55 -- 'Do Not Lose Heart'

The healer who had been called from the Houses of Healing confirmed what Dûrlin had suspected, that Faramir was feverish and needed tending by expert healers. But Denethor would not allow Faramir to be moved.

"Do not move him. If you must tend him, then do so, but he must stay here... with me..." No amount of urging from Dûrlin or the healer could make him change his mind; Denethor was determined to stay where he was and his son with him.

With a heavy sigh, the healer did what he could to make Faramir more comfortable, making certain his wound was well-bandaged and clean, with herbs and healing draughts at hand to help with fever and pain. As he left, he gave instructions to Dûrlin.

"I must return to the Houses of Healing, to prepare for the wounded who will soon come, as well as tend those who are already there. You are well-equipped to care for Faramir, but you may call us at need if he takes a turn for the worse or if you feel his needs are beyond your expertise. I fear this fever may worsen, so do your best to keep him cool. I will check on him as I am able, but that may not be possible once the battle begins."

"Thank you for what you have done," Dûrlin reassured him. "I will do everything in my power to tend Faramir well."

"Watch closely and care for the Lord Steward, as well, if he allows it. It is a grave blow to have his son so ill, and I fear he will also fall ill if he does not take care."

"Fear not, I will not let him fall into illness or despair!" Dûrlin vowed. "He and his sons have been my charge for many a year, and I will not fail when the hour seems darkest."

Pippin watched the door close after the healer, then turned to Dûrlin.

"Will Faramir die?" he asked, unable to keep from expressing the fear that was foremost in his mind.

Dûrlin laid a comforting hand on Pippin's shoulder. "Did you hear my vow to the healer just now? I meant every word. Faramir will not die, for we will do everything we can to keep him from death. We will also strive to keep his father from despair; I fear his spirit is broken, but perhaps it can be restored when Faramir recovers and Boromir returns."

Pippin smiled in spite of his worry. "You are always so positive with how you look at things! You speak as if you know Faramir will recover and Boromir return. That encourages me!"

"I feel it is always best to remain hopeful in the face of fear. What is the use in expecting the worst when nothing has yet been confirmed? Many likely consider me a fool that I remain so certain in the face of what seems to be reality, but a positive outlook is a strength against all manner of difficulties. Denethor believes all is lost, that is written clearly on his face -- but we must do what we can to change that for him, and to do that, we must look forward in hope. You have joined me in my belief that Boromir still lives; can you also share my confidence that Faramir will live, as well?"

"Somehow it seems easier to believe in Boromir's return than to believe Faramir will recover, seeing how sick he looks -- but I'll do my best, Dûrlin! Just tell me how I can help."

"I will see to Faramir and his needs. As his page, your duty now is to watch over our lord Denethor and keep him from losing heart. It will not be a simple task, but it is the best way you can serve him now."

"I'll do it, whatever it takes," Pippin vowed.

***

Word spread throughout the City that Faramir was wounded, perhaps nearing death, and the Lord Steward had fallen ill in his despair at the loss of his sons. The thought of their strong and decisive Steward being unable to lead was frightening to the people of Minas Tirith, but before long, the rumor that Denethor had given over leadership for the coming battle to Mithrandir was confirmed, as the wizard strode about the City, giving orders as well as encouragement to those manning the walls. Prince Imrahil accompanied him wherever he went, upholding Mithrandir's leadership.

"Do you think the Rohirrim will come?" Imrahil asked as they walked the walls and made plans for the defense of the City.

"Ingold reports that they cannot come," replied Gandalf, shaking his head. "He led the guard stationed at the North Gate of the Rammas, so he would be in a position to see the strength of the enemy there. He and his men were the last to return within the walls before the siege began; according to him, the road west to Rohan is blocked by the enemy, so Théoden is cut off. He would encounter a fierce battle on the road before he can even get close to the City. It is my belief that the Rohirrim are coming, but whether they will reach the City in time or in numbers sufficient to aid us, I cannot say. Even so, I will not lose hope just yet, for the future is not set and we cannot know what fortune may yet come to us."

"I hear the rumor has already gone forth in the City that Rohan cannot come," Imrahil sighed. "We must keep the fighting men encouraged so that they do not fall into despair at the enormity of the battle before us. Let us hope Théoden finds a way to reach us before it is too late! Whether aid comes or no, we cannot lose heart before the battle has even begun!"

"It is as you say," Gandalf agreed. "There is much we can do to oppose the enemy, while we wait for aid to come, and keeping hope alive is not the least of our weapons of defense!"

***

The Riders of Rohan had broken camp in the early morning darkness, picking their way slowly and carefully over rough ridges and through thick woodland, seeking paths down into the hidden Stonewain Valley. Once they reached the forgotten wain-road, they made steady progress. The road was broken and thick with fallen leaves, but wide enough that the long files of Riders could move forward side by side. All was quiet under the trees, and the air grew steadily dimmer as they slowly drew closer to Minas Tirith. There was no sight or sound of any enemy, and the Wild Men who accompanied them kept watch before and behind to make certain no Orc scout or spy of evil Men might learn of their movement and thwart their progress.

Though they were now nearing the edge of the wood, they made camp in the late afternoon, in order to rest and receive reports from the scouts Éomer had sent to spy out the road ahead. Wild Men also came with reports of a large contingent of the enemy encamped near Amon Din to the northeast, no more than an hour's walk away from where the Riders rested, hidden among the grey trees. However, southwards along the road and straight ahead from their camp, there was no enemy to be found between them and the walls of the Rammas Echor. Ghân-buri-Ghân reported with a strange gurgling laugh that many Orcs were present at the North Gate walls, but they were heedless and not keeping watch, as they busied themselves with breaking down the walls, assuming no enemy could pass to disturb them.

Éomer was delighted with this news. He had feared the out-wall would be held against them, but now their way forward was unimpeded and the enemy was open to attack. They would be able to sweep through, thus reaching the open road and the grassy plain beyond where they would be able to ride more swiftly.

Yet Éomer's scouts also brought news that was not so good: the errand-riders of Gondor had been found dead along with their horses, not far from the edge of the grey wood where the Riders of Rohan were encamped. They had been struck down and their heads hewn off. One of the riders still clasped the Red Arrow that had been sent as the signal to call Rohan to the aid of Gondor. It was evident that the riders had found the enemy already on the out-wall, and had been forced to turn back without reaching the City.

"Alas!" cried Théoden. "Denethor has heard no news of our riding to his aid! He will despair of our coming!"

Boromir buried his face in his hands, mourning the loss of these good men of Gondor who had been unable to bring hopeful news to the City. He groaned at the thought of his father's despair.

"This is unfortunate," Éomer said regretfully. "The need to reach the City swiftly seems ever more urgent now, knowing they have not heard of our coming. Yet it is unwise to move forward without rest to regain our strength. Do not lose heart! We will rest now, but if we move forward tonight, we will reach the fields at first light and ride like the wind to the City. Then, at the sounding of the horns of Rohan, shall the lord Denethor hear of our coming!"

LoG 56 -- Breaking Through Despair

Long hours passed as Pippin waited on the Steward in the dark, unlit room. Denethor sat heedless, stroking Faramir's hand, ignoring all who came and went. From time to time, Dûrlin would pass through to check on his two charges, and to give an encouraging word to Pippin. The hobbit needed that encouragement, for it was a dismal time, waiting to serve a lord who did not need him and who did not even seem to realize he was there. Several times, Pippin opened his mouth to speak words that might bring some hope back to the Steward, but the sight of tears on Denethor's face stopped him. Denethor was no longer the stern, proud lord of the City; his spirit was broken.

Finally, Pippin could bear it no more, he felt he must speak.

"My lord!" he said haltingly. "Please don't weep! Faramir is very ill, but he may still get well. If you would just let the healers care for him..."

"No," Denethor shook his head. "He cannot leave my side. He must stay with me, his father, though I have failed him. He may still speak before the end."

"He may not die, sir! If you don't want him to leave your side, then call for someone to come here to tend him; Dûrlin is doing what he can, but Gandalf maybe could do more. Gandalf might know how to help Faramir in a way the healers don't!"

"Speak not of wizards to me! It is because of his foolish plan that our hope has failed. The Enemy has it and is now strong beyond all imagining. He sends the full might of Mordor against us, and we can do nothing to stop it. We are doomed to defeat! Faramir will die, and my line will be at an end."

The Enemy has it? thought Pippin. What does he mean? Is he talking about the Ring?

Fear gripped Pippin's heart at the thought that Frodo might have failed in his Quest and that the Ring might be back on the hand of Sauron. But how would Denethor know that? And if it were so, wouldn't Gandalf had known, as well? Gandalf still held out hope that Frodo would succeed, so perhaps it wasn't true, no matter what Denethor said. The Steward was obviously grieving and had lost all hope, so maybe he was just assuming the worst...

Pippin's thoughts were interrupted by a messenger coming with the news that the first Circle of the City was burning with fire from the Enemy's siege weapons, and that men were abandoning the walls.

"Why tell me this?" Denethor responded. "Let Mithrandir deal with it, though his hope has failed. It would be better to face the fire and burn sooner rather than later, for we will all burn when the Enemy comes."

Denethor turned away, then turned back to the retreating messenger as if he had come to some sudden decision. "Yes, go now; leave me to my own burning. The Enemy will not touch me nor will my son's body be dishonored. I will protect him from being defiled by the Enemy... we will burn together and thus go to meet Boromir..."

Pippin, horrified at Denethor's words, barely heard the Steward speaking to him, bidding him farewell and thanking him for his service.

"Nay, Lord," he stammered. "I wish to stay with you, to serve and protect you if it comes to that. Besides, there is still hope -- do not speak of burning and death!"

"Nay, the end is near. Go meet it in whatever way suits you. I will do the same, for my life is over. Send for my servants!"

Pippin fled the room.

I do not know what he has in mind but it sounds bad! he thought as he ran. Where is Dûrlin? I must find him, he will know what to do. The lord Denethor said to call his servants, but I'm afraid of what he is planning. Dûrlin is his chief servant, though, and knows him better than anyone; Dûrlin has to have a chance to talk to him before anything else! If anyone can break through the lord Denethor's despair, it's Dûrlin!

***

Sam tried to be quick in his search for Orc gear to disguise himself and Frodo so they could enter Mordor, but it was difficult to find things small enough to fit a hobbit-sized frame.

"I've got to hurry and get back to Mr. Frodo," he muttered to himself. "I don't like leaving him alone in this horrid place. Not just because of the bad time he's been through, what with getting poisoned by that wretched spider and then being captured and tortured, no doubt. He's got the Ring back now, and it's sure a burden for him to carry! I could see it weighing him down straight away after handing it back to him, even though I know he was relieved to have it back. I just wish I could've kept it and carried it for him, to ease his trouble. But I guess it's too late for that now, he can't let no one else take it!"

You could take it anyway, a thought niggled. He'd be lighter for it, once he got used to the idea. It's for his own good to take it from him, it's such a heavy burden...

Sam quashed the thought before it went any further. He knew it was the Ring trying to get at him, and he knew better than to believe its lies. He'd only carried it a short time, but that was long enough to realize what a powerful force it was on the will and the desire, and how it could twist thoughts and perceptions.

"It may be a burden for Mr. Frodo, but it's his burden to carry, and I won't stand in the way of that. I can help him in other ways, and I will, whatever it takes! I ain't gonna listen to those lies, or be tricked into thinking having the Ring myself is going to help anybody. Boromir got tricked like that, and look what came of it! Poor Boromir, I guess I know a bit what it was like now, having that Ring whispering at you all the time! I sure do wish I could tell him so..."

***

Denethor looked up as Dûrlin hurriedly entered the room, followed closely by Pippin.

"Where are my attendants?" he asked with a frown.

"Am I not your attendant, my Lord Denethor?" Dûrlin said gently, stepping forward to stand before the Steward. "I have long served you and your sons, have I not?"

"Yes, yes," Denethor replied impatiently. "Of course you have, and you have served us very well. But you cannot lift Faramir on his bier alone, can you?"

"Why do you speak of his bier, my lord? Faramir yet lives! Where is it you wish to take him? Are you ready to release him to the healers in the Houses of Healing?"

"Nay, not to the healers!" Denethor objected. "What more can they do? It is too late!"

"As long as he has life, it is not too late..."

"Nay!" Denethor interrupted. "What use is living now if it only brings us to death and mutilation at the hands of the Dark Lord's evil creatures? No, we go now to Rath Dínen to meet our fate together and prevent just that. I will not allow my last remaining son to be dishonored in death by the minions of the Enemy. I shall take him where no evil can reach him, and I shall go with him!"

Pippin gasped in fear, as Dûrlin took a long deep breath to steady himself.

"My lord Denethor!" he implored. "I am under oath to Boromir to see to your good health and that of Faramir, also. I am happy to call your other attendants if your desire is to allow Faramir the healing attention he needs -- but I will not allow you to even contemplate a plan such as this, bringing harm to yourself and your own son simply because you have lost hope! How does an act such as that honor anyone?"

"You will not allow it?" Denethor scowled. "I am your lord! You must obey me!"

"You are indeed my lord, but I cannot obey you in this. No lord of Men takes himself out of the battle in such a manner, leaving his people destitute, conceding defeat before the victory or loss is even decided."

"My people..." Denethor's shoulders slumped. "I have already failed my people. All I have done for Gondor has been for naught! What else is left but to concede?"

"You have not failed Gondor," Dûrlin objected. "But you will indeed do so if you go forward with this folly. What will Boromir say when he comes to find you making such decisions that harm yourself and Faramir, leaving Gondor leaderless, open to the whims of the enemy?"

"Boromir!" Denethor sighed heavily. "He is gone and will not return. Why do you speak of him as if he lives and will be affected by what I do?"

"I know he lives and he is coming to us!" Dûrlin declared boldly.

Denethor straightened, looking at Dûrlin as if seeing him clearly for the first time. "How... how can you know this? I have seen nothing... nothing! Have you -- have you seen him? How do you know, in truth?"

"I have not seen him, but I believe it to be true."

"You believe!" Denethor scoffed angrily, looking away in disappointment. "Always you are so certain, even when all others despair. It is impossible!"

"Have I ever been wrong in my strong belief, my lord?"

Denethor hesitated, then shook his head. "No... no, you have not. But it is foolishness! I cannot accept this, it is not enough to sway me. You have no proof. I need proof!"

"Then I will give it to you," Dûrlin said resolutely. "Let me send for Mithrandir. You may doubt his intentions towards you and this City, but you cannot deny that he has power, and sight that allows him to see that which others cannot. Let him look for us to see if Boromir comes."

Denethor frowned. "I, too, have sight, and I have seen nothing -- nothing, though I have searched and searched..."

Dûrlin laid a gentle hand on Denethor's shoulder. "It is true, my lord. You have great insight and see more than any man in Gondor, and it has aided you in your rule of Gondor's people. But no longer; you are not yourself! You are broken and your wisdom is lacking. This is not the time to be making decisions that bring harm to you and your son -- nay, to all of Gondor and the West! Can you tell me truthfully that what you now contemplate is a course the Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, would take -- that Lord Denethor whose goal has always been to do whatever is necessary for Gondor's protection and success and best good, even at great cost?"

Denethor hesitated, then hung his head wearily. He said nothing for long silent moments, gazing at Faramir's pale face. Faramir, in his fever, moaned faintly and shifted slightly on his bed, his hand brushing his father's knee as he sat close beside him. Denethor grasped Faramir's hand firmly, blinking away tears.

"Is that a course the Lord Denethor would take?" he repeated slowly. "No... no, it is not. The welfare of Gondor and her people has always been my charge and my great desire, no matter the cost. Yet that cost has been great! Would that I had considered my own sons as highly as I have my people! Perhaps I would not have come to such grief..."

Denethor stroked Faramir's hand gently, then sighed deeply. "Very well, then. I will wait. Send to Mithrandir. We shall see if his sight is greater than mine. My heart tells me he will see nothing, if he even deigns to look on my behalf, I who have opposed him for so long!"

"You do Mithrandir an injustice if you believe him an enemy, my lord," Dûrlin replied. "He honors you and your sons highly! I have no doubt whatsoever he will look on our behalf, and do so gladly. To see Boromir living and coming to Gondor's aid would encourage him, as well, I deem!"

"Yes, yes!" cried Pippin, who had been breathlessly watching the exchange between Denethor and Dûrlin. "Gandalf has great power and sight, I know he has looked with eyes of power in such a way as this, to see what might be coming. He loves Boromir greatly and honors you, my lord, I heard him say just that! I'm sure he will be happy to help us find Boromir, especially if it will help relieve your despair."

"So Dûrlin has convinced you to hope, as well, has he?" Denethor said, regarding Pippin thoughtfully. He sighed again, but his face seemed less grey and drawn. "Go, then -- I submit to your hope, at least for now! But if it should prove false..."

"I have faith that it will not prove false," Dûrlin responded. He turned to Pippin. "You have heard what has passed between us; my lord Denethor needs something to rekindle his hope. Perhaps Mithrandir can provide that spark, if he is willing. Seek him now swiftly, and put this request before him, if you will. You know him best of all who are here in the city, save Faramir; may he heed you and come to our rescue and encourage our hearts with fresh hope!"

"Of course I will" Pippin agreed. "I'll fetch him now, I'm sure he'll come. We'll be back before you know it!"

*****
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Onomir » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:39 am

Thank You For Posting These Here
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Re: Lords of Gondor

Post by Linaewen » Sat Aug 31, 2019 2:29 pm

Here is the latest chapter, sorry it took so long for me to post a new one!

LoG 57 -- Wind from the Sea

The Black Fleet sailed north at dawn after the defeat of the Corsairs at Pelargir, the black ships now manned by free men of Lebennin and Ethir and led by Aragorn. Putting all their strength and will into wielding the oars, they strove against the current. Aragorn stood like a statue in the prow of the greatest ship, and though he spoke little, all knew he was driven by fear that they had no time to spare if they were to arrive in time to aid Minas Tirith.

"It is forty leagues and two from Pelargir to the landings at the Harlond," Aragorn said. "Yet we must reach the Harlond tomorrow or fail utterly."

All day they strove against the current; night fell and no breath of wind came to aid them. A red glow under the cloud of darkness added to their fear, for all now knew the City was burning.

Gimli and Legolas stood beside Aragorn, watching with him as the dark shores on either side slide slowly past.

"The oarsmen are doing their best, but the going is so slow!" grumbled Gimli. "Can we make it in time?"

"We must," replied Aragorn, eyes on the red glow in the sky.

"Do not lose heart, Gimli!" Legolas urged. "All seems forlorn, but there is yet hope!"

"So you say!" Gimli muttered. "I see little that speaks to hope!"

Yet as midnight came and went, a stirring among the men was heard. Sea-crafty men of Ethir came forward with a report for Aragorn -- a fresh wind from the Sea was blowing in, and it seemed it might not be long before it would be enough to fill the sails. Hardly had they finished speaking when the breeze quickened so that all could feel it. Aragorn gave the command for the sails to be unfurled, and before long their speed grew until the white foam breaking at the prows of the ships flew up into their faces as they strained forward with renewed hope.

"Did I not say to not lose heart, my friend?" Legolas laughed.

"Aye, that you did! Well, then, we might just make it in time after all!" Gimli patted the ax that hung on his belt. "When we do, I'll be ready!"

***

When the host of Rohan at last reached the end of the hidden road, they passed silently out of the wood on to the plain that bordered either side of the main road to Minas Tirith. Boromir recognized the place immediately. Even in the dark, that road was familiar to him -- almost straight south it led, through the North Gate of the Rammas Echor that encircled the Pelennor Fields, and on to the Great Gate. They were close now, so close! How long ago had it been when last he had passed this way, at the beginning of his journey north to find the answer to the riddling dream? Boromir did the calculations in his head; eight months had passed since that day!

Though it was night and the darkness was further deepened by the murk flowing out of Mordor, Boromir lifted his eyes hopefully for a glimpse of the distant City. What he saw filled him with despair -- a red glow lit the southern sky above the City, illuminating the sides of the dark mountain that loomed up behind Minas Tirith.

"The attack has begun,” Grithnir lamented quietly, drawing up his horse beside Boromir. "Do you think the siege fires have reached within the City walls?"

"I cannot tell from here, in this darkness,” Boromir sighed in reply. "Even if they have, the City is well able to deal with the situation, to prevent fire from spreading to the upper levels. My fear is more for the Pelennor; many folk have farmsteads there, with crops and livestock..."

"They will be safe inside the walls, or evacuated further south," Grithnir reassured Boromir. "Remember the beacons? Those living outside the walls will have heeded that warning and are surely in a place of safety by now. They will be as safe as anyone can be in these perilous times."

"Alas!" Boromir groaned. "I knew in my heart we could not reach Minas Tirith before the Enemy struck, yet it fills me with dismay to not be there now, to lead the defense at my father's side!"

"Soon, my Captain! Our chance to strike a blow on behalf of our people comes soon!"

"Indeed!" Boromir drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "You are right to remind me of the hope we have, Grithnir! The battle may have begun without us, but we do not come too late to join it! We will strike from an unexpected direction, and that very well may work to our advantage in the coming battle!"

Boromir fell silent as he cast his eye over his small group of men who rode beside him in the leading company surrounding Théoden and Éomer. Elfhelm’s éored was close behind. Among Elfhelm’s group would be Dernhelm, with whom Merry rode; Boromir sought them out, as much for reassurance as with concern for the small hobbit taking part in the coming battle. He had seen enough of the Halflings’ strength and resourcefulness during his journey with them to know that Merry was as likely as any of them to pass through the fight safely, but he could not help worrying about Merry's welfare. He was surprised to see that Dernhelm had left his place with Elfhelm's group and was now riding to the rear of the King's guard.

Before he could wonder further about Dernhelm's purpose in moving away from his assigned éored, Boromir was hailed quietly by Éomer.

"Come, Boromir," Éomer spoke softly. "The King calls you to come forward to hear the latest news from the scouts."

Out-riders had ventured as far as the Rammas Echor and had much to report.

"We advanced almost to the outer wall, my lord," one stated. "The field beyond is full of foes and there are many fires, set all about the City. There seems to be fire in the lower levels, as well. Few of the enemy remain on the out-wall, however! They seem to have all been drawn away to the main assault, leaving only a few at the wall. As the Wild Men reported, the Orcs there are heedless, concerned only with tearing down the stones and widening the breach."

"So we should be able to pass the out-wall easily, with only a brief fight that may not delay us overmuch," Théoden mused. "This news is good. I feared the wall would impede the horses, but the Orcs have dealt with that hindrance for us!"

Another out-rider broke in. "There is also this, my lord. The wind is turning. You do not feel it yet, but I tell you, it is so! The chief of the Wild Men said the same before he left us; a breath of wind comes from the South, with the tang of the Sea upon it. In more peaceful days, I lived out upon the open Wold, and like the Wild Men, I understand the messages the wind brings. The wind is faint, but it is freshening. The dawn will bring new things!"

"Your words bring me hope, my son," replied Théoden. Turning to the men who were nearby, he raised his voice and spoke clearly so that others could hear him well: "Now is the hour come, Riders of the Mark, sons of Éorl, sons of Gondor! Foes and fire are before you, and your homes far behind. Yet, though you fight upon an alien field, the glory that you reap there shall be your own forever. Oaths you have taken: now fulfil them all, to lord and land and league of friendship!

"Éomer, my son! You lead the first éored; it shall go behind the king’s banner in the centre. Elfhelm, lead your company to the right when we pass the wall. And Grimbold shall lead his towards the left. Let the other companies behind follow these three that lead, as they have chance. Strike wherever the enemy gathers. Other plans we cannot make, for we know not yet how things stand upon the field. Forth now, and fear no darkness!"1

Théoden turned to Boromir.

"Boromir, son of Denethor, friend and brother in our alliance! You must do as you see fit, of course, and go whither your heart leads you once battle is enjoined. Yet it would honor me greatly if you would ride with me and my house as we go into battle. Boromir, will you ride with me?"

"King Théoden, it is you who honor me greatly!" Boromir answered with a bow. "My men and I will ride with you gladly, for as long as we are able! Let us go forth together and push back the darkness that threatens both our peoples!"

"So be it!"

***

Pippin ran through the streets of Minas Tirith, seeking the quickest way down to the lower levels. Gandalf would no doubt be found where the fighting was the thickest. No enemy had yet entered the City, so Pippin assumed he might have to find his way all the way down to first level in order to locate the wizard. He had heard that the first level was burning, and he worried whether he would be able to get through.

I'll just have to find a way, he thought. I must find Gandalf, and if I have to run through the fire to do it, I will!

It was slow going at first, but as he ran, he recalled his journey with Gandalf on Shadowfax only a few days ago, riding upward through the winding streets to reach the Citadel. His memory of the way the streets turned first one direction and then another as they passed through the gates on each level helped give him his bearings, and he was able to move along at a good speed, without too many wrong turns. He just had to make sure not to stumble and fall in his haste, as he passed through the steep tunnels between levels.

As he reached the lower levels, he met men running in the other direction. They shouted to him to turn back, that the first level was burning, but he waved their warnings away and sped onward. Passing through the Second Gate, he was met by a blast of heat from the many great flames that leaped and burned between the walls. Even so, the road ahead seemed passable, and he forced himself to brave the heat and move forward. Yet as he took his first step, he hesitated, realizing suddenly how silent everything was; only the crackling sound of fire filled the air. No shouts of battle or clash of weapons could be heard.

A piercing cry unexpectedly split the air, a cry full of evil intent that reminded him immediately of the Black Rider's call that he and the others had heard in the woods of the Shire. Fear shook him and he fell to his knees in horror. Before he could struggle to his feet again, a great booming noise sounded, shaking the air around him and the earth beneath him, so that he would have fallen if he had not already been down on his knees.

Something awful is happening! Pippin thought. I daren't go on, what if that cry came from a Black Rider? It sure sounded like one. I daren't face one of those! But... but I must, I must! Dûrlin is relying on me, and the Lord Denethor needs Gandalf to come. Gandalf is surely there, in the thick of things, and I have to find him. I must do it! Get up, now -- get up!

He spoke thus to give himself the courage he needed to stand and move forward, but it still took several deep breaths and a huge effort of will before he could make himself rise from his knees to take the first step, then the second, then the third.

Turning a corner, Pippin found himself facing a wide open space behind the City Gate. Gandalf was there, just as he had guessed, but Pippin could not speak or call to him, or even move from the spot where he had stopped, stricken with horror.

Gandalf sat upon Shadowfax in the midst of the ruins of what had once been the Great Gate, facing down the enemy that threatened to enter the City. That enemy loomed like a great black shape against the fires beyond, menacing and evil, a tall horseman cloaked all in black. At the sight of him, Pippin shrank back and hid himself in the shadow of the wall.

It was a Black Rider.

*****

Notes:

1. Théoden's words are quoted from Chapter 5 "Ride of the Rohirrim" in Return of the King.
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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Re: Lords of Gondor (Updated August 31, 2019 -- Chapter 57)

Post by daisy gold » Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:08 am

I have enjoyed reading these chapters, Linaewen. You bring the tales of Boromir and Gondor to life. :-)
Many thanks for the posts.
I am feeling all nostalgic for those past happy days when our boards were full of story, poems and song.
He beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

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Re: Lords of Gondor (Updated February 4, 2020 -- Chapter 58)

Post by Linaewen » Tue Feb 04, 2020 6:22 pm

Chapter 58 -- Horns from the North

The clash with the Orcs at the outwall was fierce but brief; their numbers were few, and as they had not been expecting an attack, they were swiftly dealt with by the leading company of Riders. Boromir had barely even had opportunity to swing his sword to take down the Orc in front of him before the fight was over.

Boromir noticed that Grithnir and his other men had kept as close by his side as they could during the skirmish. He knew they were there to protect him as well as to fight; no doubt they were still somewhat doubtful of his ability to hold his own in a battle with his wounds still healing and his strength not at the full. He had been doubtful himself until the first swing of the sword, and then his arm remembered what to do. Yes, he had felt stiffness, and some pain in his shoulder, but it did not impair him, and the sword that had been Dirhavel's was sufficiently light that it made the work easy enough.

He saw the question forming on Grithnir's lips and cut it off before he could speak. "You wish to know how I am faring after putting my sword arm to the test in an actual battle? Do not fear, Grithnir, I am well, I have come through unscathed! Arthad did masterful work binding my healing wounds prior to the fight so that none of them have reopened. I will admit to some stiffness and pain, but that is to be expected and will have to be borne."

Boromir looked at each one of his men in turn and smiled.

"I thank you for your care for me, I know you were acting as shields to protect me from the main brunt of the attack, small though it was. Your protection spared me from using up too much of my strength on a small battle, so I will better be able to face the larger one to come -- but you cannot protect me forever! I must be able to fight my own battles sooner or later."

"That we know, my lord," Grithnir acknowledged. "Please be assured that we do not intend to prevent you from fighting, that would be a hopeless endeavor! But you are our leader and we are your men, who are sworn to act as a shield to you while we are with you. If we can make your battle a bit lighter by our presence and our effort, it is our duty and our honor!"

Arthad nodded in stern agreement. "I am pleased to hear my bandaging was sufficient to the task, my lord! I trust it will remain so in the coming hours!"

He dug in his tunic and removed a wrapped packet. "My lord Boromir, please take this and eat it now while we have a short time of peace before the next battle. It is the last of the waybread Linhir had in his keeping -- lembas, I believe you called it. Linhir passed it on to me before he died, urging me to save it for you for such a time as this. May it give you the additional strength you need for this next battle!"

Boromir accepted the packet gratefully. "I thought I had finished the lembas long ago! This is a timely gift, which I happily accept, knowing it will strengthen me in my time of need! I eat it in honor of Linhir and Dirhavel, who were taken from us too soon." He ate the wafer of lembas as his men watched and washed it down with a swallow of water from a skin handed to him by Grithnir.

"Now that we have honored one of Linhir's final wishes, let us go forth and avenge his death and that of Dirhavel. His sword which is now mine has tasted Orc blood at last, but it is not enough!"

***

The Riders spread out, making their way through the broken Rammas wall and onto the plain of Gondor. The first éored remained with the King to guard him, though there seemed to be no enemy nearby; Grimbold led his group of riders off to the east through a great gap in the wall, while Éomer and his éored made their way off to the west. They advanced slowly yet surely, unchallenged and unseen in the darkness that lay heavily over the land. Before them stretched the dark fields of the Pelennor, lit only with lines of flame that were trenches of siege fire cutting across the plain. Off in the distance a great burning could be seen; whether it was flames burning in the lower levels or great siege fires before the City Gate, it was impossible to tell at this distance.

Turning east, the Riders advanced still further until they were between the siege fires and the outer fields. There was still no challenge from any enemy, as the fires were unmanned, set there only to impede attack from the direction of the Great Road. They were now near enough to the City to smell the burning, which made the horses restive and uneasy. A heavy feeling of fear seemed to stretch forth from the direction of the City, as if a shadow of death threatened to engulf them. It was a familiar feeling to Boromir; he had sensed such fear when facing the Dark Rider of Mordor at the bridge of Osgiliath. It was after that defense on the bridge against Mordor's attempt to take it that he and Faramir had both dreamed the riddling dream, and he had taken on the quest to seek the Sword that was Broken.

We are too late! Boromir thought, doubt rising in his heart. The Dark Rider is there, I can feel his presence even from afar! The King feels it, as well. Will he turn back? Please, my lord! Do not turn back...

Boromir made to speak to the King, to break the spell that fear had laid on them all, but at that very moment, he sensed a change around him. A movement of air touched his face, movement that became a slight breeze, and then a light, steady wind blowing in their faces. Light glimmered on the horizon and they could see more clearly in the gray light of beginning dawn. A murmur of joy spread through the gathered Riders and the horses stood more at ease, their noses lifted to catch the freshening breeze. Those who had sensed the turning of the wind and predicted a change had been right -- the wind from the Sea had come.

Yet their joy was suddenly interrupted. A flash of bright light rent what was left of the night, sharply illuminating the City and all its towers, and a rolling booming sound came to them over the plain.

As if the lightning flash was a signal to action, Théoden rose up on his horse and called out to the Riders surrounding him:

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!1

Grabbing a horn from his standard bearer he blew a great blast upon it, and all the other horns are loosed in triumphant music, growing in intensity as the sound echoed over the plain. With Théoden King leading the way, and Boromir of Gondor by his side, the Riders of Rohan charged forward to the defense of Minas Tirith, singing as they rode.

***

Pippin watched in terror as the Black Rider moved forward to pass under the great archway of the Gate and enter the City. But Gandalf blocked his way and would not allow him passage.

"You cannot enter here," said Gandalf. "Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!"

The Black Rider flung back his hood, and Pippin gasped in horror. The Rider wore a crown upon his head, yet there was no visible head to be seen; only red fire shone between the crown and his dark mantle.

"Old fool!" the Black Rider sneered. His laughter made Pippin's flesh crawl. "Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!" He lifted his sword high, and flames ran down the blade.2

Gandalf still did not move, nor did he flinch at the sight of the sword. Tension crackled between the two enemies as Pippin cowered in his hiding place, fearful of what would happen. Yet the very next moment, the tension was broken by the shrill sound of a cock crowing in a nearby courtyard, greeting the dawn of a new day. Above the flames and the darkness of Mordor, morning was breaking and the cock welcomed the dawn as he did every day, oblivious to fire and battle.

As if in answer to that sound, there came another from out of the north -- the music of horns blowing, echoing against the walls of Mindolluin. The great horns of the North were blowing! Rohan had come at last!

The Black Rider turned abruptly away and vanished from the Gate. The moment he disappeared, Pippin felt a great weight fall away from him, as if he had been bound by strong chains and was suddenly freed. He could move again, and stand to his feet. Even Gandalf seemed to feel that same release; he still sat straight and tall on the back of Shadowfax in defiance of the enemy beyond the Gate, yet he bowed his head and sighed deeply.

The horns of the coming Riders continued to sound, echoing against the walls of the City, filling Pippin's heart with joy. He felt limp with relief and happiness, but when he heard Gandalf click his tongue to Shadowfax to guide the horse forward out of the Gate and onto the field of battle, he remembered his errand and dashed forward to stop the wizard.

"Gandalf!" he called out urgently. "Gandalf, wait!"

Gandalf turned back, a look of great surprise on his face. "What is this? Why are you here, Peregrin Took? It is not allowed for those who wear the black and silver of the Tower Guard to depart the Citadel without leave of the lord Denethor. What has happened that you have left your post?"

"I have leave, Gandalf!" Pippin gasped, stumbling over his words as he hurried to try to explain the urgency of his errand. "The lord Denethor gave me his leave! He sent me to find you, will you come?"

Gandalf frowned, startled and concerned. "Denethor sent you to find me? That is not something I expected to hear! Tell me quickly, what has happened?"

"He's changed, Gandalf!" Pippin stammered, grasping at the corner of the wizard's robe in his agitation. "When he saw how hurt and ill Faramir was, he went away and when he came back, he was changed. He looked so old and frail all of a sudden, like something had broken inside him. So full of despair, as if he doesn't want to live anymore! He... he spoke of burning, of taking Faramir away and burning with him to protect him from the enemy that is surely coming... that they would burn together and go to meet Boromir..."

"He cannot be considering such a course of action!" Gandalf exclaimed, horrified.

"He is!" Pippin cried. "Or, at least, he was... He has lost all hope, Gandalf. He has given up and I'm afraid of what he might do if we can't stop him or help him!"

"Burning!" Gandalf shook his head sadly. "Denethor's despair is great, indeed, if he has allowed himself to even consider such a thing!" He looked at Pippin sharply. "You said he 'is' considering this, then amended your words to 'was' -- so something has changed his mind? And he has sent for me, you say?"

"Yes! Well... he allowed that we call for you, anyway. Dûrlin spoke sternly to him and got him to listen. I was so afraid, but Dûrlin knew what to say. He wouldn't let the lord Denethor do anything to Faramir unless it was to let him be taken to the Houses of Healing, nothing more. He made Denethor realize he was not thinking right, that he needs to have hope instead of despairing and not fail in his duty to his people. Dûrlin believes he can be made to hope again and he believes Boromir is not lost. Dûrlin believes this so much, he is certain Boromir is coming even now! He convinced me and he may have convinced the lord Denethor... at least a bit, maybe. Dûrlin thought... he says that if you can look with your sight and see Boromir alive, it will sway Denethor and change his mind. Even a little bit of hope could save him, Gandalf! Denethor said he was willing to submit to our hope and let you try it, even though he wasn't sure if you would want to help after he opposed you for so long. But we told him you surely would want to help him, because you honor him and love Boromir..."

Pippin looked up beseechingly. "You can do this, can't you, Gandalf? You can see with a special sight that sees things others can't see, right? Will you look for us to help Denethor have hope again?"

Gandalf was silent for a long moment, as if considering, and then he nodded.

"Yes, Pippin, of course I will do this! I have such power, and I also see that this is the best way I can use it. I had thought my role to play in this battle was to balance the power of the Black Rider, who is the Witch King of old and Lord of the Nazgûl -- perhaps even to destroy him who cannot be harmed by man, according to prophecy. Lives will be lost, no doubt, because he is abroad and I cannot follow him -- yet this task you lay before me is also vital for the winning of a battle! If my power of sight is what is needed to preserve the lord Denethor as a leader and restore his strength by defeating his despair through looking for Boromir, then I will be doing more than just saving a single man or two; I will be taking part in restoring the fortunes of Gondor, which is vital to our victory against Mordor. Of course I will look for you, and for him!"

Gandalf urged Shadowfax forward to stand where the Black Rider had stood moments before, and shading his eyes, he gazed out across the battlefield, northwards and then westward. Long he looked, while Pippin held his breath. Long he looked, while soldiers of Gondor gathered all around them to defend and barricade the ruined Gate. At last Gandalf turned away and Pippin ran forward to meet him. One look at Gandalf's face made Pippin whoop with joy, for he saw the wizard was smiling and his eyes were twinkling with his own suppressed joy.

"Tell me the truth, Pippin!" Gandalf said sternly, yet with a smile on his face. "Did you truly believe I would see Boromir alive when I looked out just now with my sight? Or did you doubt?"

"I did! I really did believe you would, because Dûrlin convinced me he is still alive and coming. Well, maybe I doubted for a minute just then when it took you so long to find him, but... no, no! I believed! You saw him, yes? He is coming?"

Gandalf laughed, and the dim light of dawn seemed to brighten perceptibly. "Yes, I saw him. He rides with King Théoden and Rohan, surrounded by other men of Gondor. He is alive and well, and coming to us. I cannot say how long he will remain well, however, since he is riding into battle with the host of Mordor facing him, and the Black Rider is loose on the field..."

Pippin was undismayed. "I'm not worried! Boromir has cheated death so many times, he'll come out of this battle alive, too, I'm sure of it! Besides, he's fighting a battle defending his own city, and you know that will give him extra courage! It will probably make him invincible or indestructible or something!"

"You speak with much wisdom, Peregrin Took. You know Boromir well! No doubt it will be as you say." Gandalf offered Pippin a hand and pulled him up to sit before him on Shadowfax. "Come, the full tale of what I have seen must be told to the Lord Denethor, and swiftly. There is no time to waste!"


*****

Notes:

1. Théoden's words are quoted from Chapter 5 "Ride of the Rohirrim" in Return of the King.

2. The words of the Black Rider and Gandalf are from Chapter 4 "The Siege of Gondor" in Return of the King.
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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Re: Lords of Gondor (Updated February 4, 2020 -- Chapter 58)

Post by Onomir » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:55 am

I think each time I feel and smell the freshening breeze of the Sea I shall fondly remember Chapter 58 and the adventures in Lords Of Gondor!
Thank You for writing and posting Linaewen ♥️⚔️🧙‍♂️
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Re: Lords of Gondor (Updated February 4, 2020 -- Chapter 58)

Post by Linaewen » Sun Jul 17, 2022 8:00 pm

Chapter 59 -- Hope is a Choice

Imrahil felt a sense of rising panic as he saw the flash of light and heard the crack of the gate succumbing to Mordor's battering ram. He had left his knights in charge of defending the Gate and the outer wall along with the City's garrison and was on the upper levels of the City in order to gather more men to prevent the enemy entering the Gate once it was breached. The defense of the Gate had been stout, but it was not enough; they needed reinforcements without delay.

I must hurry! he thought, even as he gestured to those who had gathered to follow him down to the first level. Mithrandir is there, but can he hold back the horde of Mordor alone, if the Gate is breached and the garrison cannot withstand the onslaught?

They moved as quickly as they could through the winding streets of the city and the tunnels down to the lower levels. At the second level Imrahil met Húrin, the Warden of the Keys, who had also been working at gathering more men to defend the gate.

"It is well that you are here with men at your back!" he called as he closed the gap between himself and Imrahil. "The Gate has fallen and there is no telling who is left to defend the City from being entered by the enemy. Mithrandir is there, I believe, but will he be enough without men behind him to support the defense? I have gathered all those I could find here from the lower levels."

"I have gathered as many from the upper levels as are able to leave their assigned posts," Imrahil answered. "It will have to be enough. Let us go swiftly to support Mithrandir!"

Even as they turned towards the tunnel leading down to the first level and the gate, another sound halted them in their tracks. Horns were sounding in the distance, echoing in the streets and off the mountainous wall above them. The music swelled then ebbed as a slight breeze caught it and carried it away. Swelling again, the horns built to a crescendo then died out to be replaced by the murmur and shouts of hope from the men listening keenly the announcement that help had arrived at last.

"The Rohirrim!" cried Imrahil. "The Rohirrim have arrived!

***

The sound of clattering hooves as Imrahil led his men through the streets echoed in the air, almost drowning out the sound of approaching hoof beats coming towards them. Gandalf on Shadowfax unexpectedly rode up out of the tunnel to the lowest levels, Pippin sitting before him clinging to the white mane. Imrahil reined in his mount and signaled the men behind him to halt, even as Gandalf slowed Shadowfax to a standstill.

"Mithrandir!" he exclaimed, confusion in his voice. "Where are you headed with such haste? The Rohirrim are here, fighting on the fields of Gondor! We must gather all the strength that we can find and go to aid them!"

"Indeed, I have just come from the Gate and the battle is fierce there; you will need every man and more," Gandalf responded. "Make all haste! I will come when I can. But I have an errand to the Lord Denethor that will not wait. Take command in the Lord’s absence!"

Imrahil froze in sudden fear at Gandalf’s words.

“Has something happened to Denethor?” he gasped. “Or Faramir -- is it Faramir?”

“Nay, not as yet,” Gandalf replied, quick to reassure the Prince. “Faramir is still very ill, but he has not succumbed as yet to his injuries. Denethor, on the other hand, has fallen into grave and dangerous despair -- but I bring news that will surely lift him out of it and bring hope as nothing else can!”

“Tell me!” cried Imrahil. “Can it be? Can it possibly news of Boromir?”

“It is indeed news of Boromir. I have seen with my sight that Boromir has come. He rides with King Théoden and even now approaches the City and the battle before the Gate. You go now to lend aid to Théoden King; watch for Boromir and tell him if you can of the situation in the City. Let him know I have taken charge of the situation with his father and Faramir. He need not fear for them.”

“I will tell him!” Imrahil nodded.

“And tell him I am waiting for him!” Pippin cried. “Say Pippin is waiting to see him as soon as he can manage it. Tell him not to worry, that everything will be okay, Gandalf and I have it well in hand!”

Imrahil smiled and saluted the Halfling. “Indeed, I will deliver your message, Knight of Gondor! May your reunion with your friend not be delayed!”

***

Dûrlin watch Denethor carefully as he sat silent, his face set, eyes fixed upon Faramir. Though the look on his face was stern and sad, it seemed softer than before, as if owning his own weakness and despair had made a difference in his outlook. Not a big difference, perhaps, but even a small change in Denethor’s harshness was a vast improvement and opened up the possibility of hope, which for Dûrlin was the key to all things.

After a time, Denethor spoke, without taking his eyes from Faramir’s face.

“Tell me, Dûrlin. Do you truly believe that Mithrandir will see something of Boromir alive, when all I can see points to the certainty of his death?”

“I do,” Dûrlin replied, his voice strong and certain.

“Why do you believe so, with no doubt whatsoever?”

Dûrlin was silent for a long moment, then he spoke slowly, as if measuring his words, or recalling them from the distant past.

“No doubt whatsoever? I confess I have at times doubted, at least early on. It is hard to keep one's spirits up in the face of everyone else's sorrow! But of course, I have known Boromir to cheat death so many times I find it difficult to believe this is not just another of those times! And I am at heart a positive person who struggles to not see even the smallest spark of light in the darkness. That is what makes me such an encourager of those who are downcast, I suppose; I see people sad and discouraged, so I will do all I can to counteract the sadness, and in doing so I am able to see the light in the situation and convince myself to hope.”

Denethor scowled.

“It seems to me your hope is built upon a weak foundation, if it is simply a glimpse of light that no one else can see and the ability to convince yourself that bad things cannot be true!”

“I could say the same to you, my Lord!" Dûrlin countered. “You see through eyes dimmed with despair and miss the light that is there, and thus assume there is none, and look no further, convinced there is no reason to hope. Tell me, you were convinced the Rohirrim would not come, were you not? Not perhaps because the King would not heed your call for aid, but because it seemed impossible for Rohan to break through the enemy lines.”

“Yes, I was convinced it was impossible. All the news I had received from various quarters revealed there was no way through for them, even if they responded to the Red Arrow.”

“And yet, what has happened? You heard the sound of the horns just now as clearly as I did. The Rohirrim have come! Against all odds, they have come! Your interpretation of the news and your evaluation of the situation preventing them from coming turned out to be inaccurate, because they did indeed come, though it was impossible to you. If such an impossible event can occur, then why not a similar miracle with Boromir?”

Denethor looked thoughtful.

“Perhaps,” he responded slowly. “But you have believed in Boromir's coming all along, while everyone else doubted. There was ample evidence of his death, but you did not accept it. Was that because you saw some kind of light of hope that no one else could see, or were you just being stubborn?”

“Perhaps!” Dûrlin laughed quietly. “I have been known to be so stubborn! But I do not believe I am stubborn for no reason. I am not trying to avoid pain or reality by clinging to hope. For me, hope is a choice, and I when I choose to hope, I am able to see that the evidence of Boromir's death is only circumstantial, it is not positive proof.”

“You think the sundered horn that returned in pieces is not proof? What of Faramir's vision of Boromir in battle, wounded with black arrows? Even the Halfling confirmed that vision as true! And he later saw Boromir again in a second vision, as if dead, being mourned by the men Faramir sent to find him in the wilderness. We have spoken of this already, when Mithrandir first came to us with the Halfling.”

“Yes, I remember well. It seems long ago, yet it has only been a matter of days! You said you knew much of visions and that they do not lie. You must also recall my reply: that visions are not the same as seeing an event with the eye. To my mind they cannot tell a whole truth. Visions should not be relied upon as proof of anything.”

Denethor leaned forward, startled and frowning. “You do not believe that visions are true?”

“They can contain truth and therefore are possibly useful as a guide to some extent, but to have full faith in them and base all your decisions upon them is folly!”

“Folly...” Denethor's voice died away and he was silent for a long time. When he spoke again, it was as if he was struggling to understand. “If it is folly to rely upon visions, then is it not also folly to base all decisions on a false sense of hope that things do not mean what they actually mean, as you do? That is not realistic!”

“Perhaps not, but how realistic is it to base all your decisions on a viewpoint colored by despair? I would rather choose hope as the glass I look through, and trust that it is not false.”

“Just now you said my eyes are dimmed with despair and I cannot see light even when it is there. Now you are saying I choose to despair, and therefore all I see points towards death and loss, whether that is actually the case or not.”

“Yes, my Lord. Yes, I am saying just that.”

Denethor did not speak for a time, as Dûrlin watched him with some trepidation. At last, the Steward nodded to Dûrlin, and though he did not smile, his face was not stern.

“I thank you for your honesty, Dûrlin. You have always been faithful to me and my family, ready to speak the truth we needed to hear, yet kindly and with love. I know you are speaking thus now, though it is hard to accept what you say. Even so, not long ago, I acknowledged that I have been on the verge of making decisions that were not for Gondor's best good in my despair, and I submitted myself to your hope. I do not understand it, but I find myself strangely heartened in the face of it. But I have one more question for you, if you will allow it.”

“Of course, my Lord Denethor! You may ask as many questions of me as you wish, I am at your service!”

“You say visions are folly, and yet you are putting your faith in Mithrandir now to see something to confirm your hope. How is this different?”

“You ask a good question!” Dûrlin replied, a thoughtful look on his face. “I am not certain I can tell you how it is different, except that I believe Mithrandir has great power and sees with true sight, more truly than even our eyes can see. That is why I trust him with this matter.”

“No doubt you are right. But if he sees nothing? What then?”

“I do not know!" Dûrlin sighed. “It is hard to think of what I might do if there is nothing to substantiate my hope. I believe strongly in Boromir's survival, not only because I have seen little to prove it is otherwise, but also because there is so much despair around me, I feel I must keep hoping to provide some light in the darkness for everyone. That will be easier if Boromir returns alive, but if Mithrandir cannot confirm that, then I no doubt I will simply go on believing he will still come! If positive proof comes of his death, then I will have to accept it. That will be hard to bear indeed -- but even that will not be enough for me to give up my choice to hope.”

“You are a stronger man than I, Dûrlin!” Denethor exclaimed, smiling sadly. “It takes a special kind of strength to hope as you do!”

"You have that strength, Lord Denethor. You just need to find it again. Let go of the despair, even just a little bit, and that strength will return.”

“I will try, Dûrlin. Perhaps the news Mithrandir brings will help me with that letting go.”

“That is my hope, indeed!”
"Have you ever been called Home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?...One day, our paths will lead us there." -- Boromir, Lord of Gondor

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