The moon sat high within the deep sapphire shroud of the night sky. Beneath its numinous light, the Tower of Ecthelion seemed to glow with a pure radiance of its own. The city of Minas Tirith was peaceful and still; save the quiet pacing of the guards upon the walls. Within the upper level, by the wall that bordered the private garden of the royal family, a single figure stood observing the Pelennor Fields, stretching into the distance beneath a star-filled sky. The grey eyes that observed the tranquil scene were ancient and unfathomable, though set in a face still fair despite its solemn expression. Such deep grief dwelt within his soul that it seemed to steal the very light of the stars from his eyes.
So stood Elrond, son of Elwing and Eärendil, viewing the field where victory had but recently been won, with a heaviness of heart that he would always bear. For his daughter had forsaken the gift of her kin and embraced mortality, from which there could be no escape. She had made her decision, and through her uniting with Elessar that day, had been lost to her people forever; and all for the sake of a Man, a child of that inconstant and fickle race that could not check its own decline.
Finding no solace within the serenity before him, Elrond left the garden and walked
to a point upon the wall from which a large perspective of the surrounding landscape could be seen. In the city below most of the dwellings stood in darkness, although a few isolated dots of light revealed some were yet awake.
The sound of steps drew him from his reverie, and he turned to perceive the figure of a warrior approaching. Elrond was able to discern the confident stride of a soldier, but also noticed a tension to the shoulders that surprised the elven-lord.
As the man drew nearer, Elrond recognised the Steward of Gondor and the only remaining son of the late Denethor. The warrior approached him and bowed respectfully, though with a little uncertainty and hesitation.
“My Lord Elrond,” he began, as the elven-lord returned his greeting with an inclination of the head. “I thought myself alone this evening. I was told by the duty captain that none but the sentries walked the walls.”
“I expect that the majority of the population are exhausted from the strenuous festivities of the day. I understand that there was much dancing and merriment after the wedding,” Elrond replied. “Men are renowned for the rowdiness of their celebration … although, I must admit that, at times, a change of scene can be somewhat of a relief from the monotony of every-day life. I find the ways of men confusing at times in comparison to that of my kin, but I have found this variation surprisingly enjoyable.”
Faramir nodded and turned his gaze to the extraordinary view; a quick glance at the Steward revealed to Elrond the awe that dwelt upon his features as he spoke.
“It is a simply magnificent night, and this fair land does full justice to it,” Faramir commented.
“But do you not grow tired of having seen the same sight since childhood? Men are prone to growing restless within the tedium of an unchanging scene.”
“Nay, my lord, I find that it grows daily dearer to me with each passage of time spent away, and on a night such as this…there is nothing I know of to compare.”
Suppressing a sigh that threatened to escape his lips, Elrond stared upon the dark plain, lost within memory. In his mind’s eye, he saw the gardens of Rivendell bathed in starlight, heard the falling of the Bruinen over the rock, and the felt caress of the wind upon his face. For a moment, he pictured an elven-woman by his side, regarding him with clear blue eyes, lovelier than any he had ever espied. But he banished this image before he had time to dwell upon it.
“Do you find it a comfort to think that one day soon you shall be able to remain here with a loyal woman forever by your side?”
Faramir smiled and continued to survey the scene with a countenance of contentment.
“I do, my lord, I cannot think of a future that I would rather possess.”
“Despite the diminished influence of your position?”
To the elven-lord’s surprise, the young captain glanced down in what could only be described as embarrassment.
“I confess, it was never a title to which I aspired; I never felt envy toward my brother for his promised legacy.”
“You have not wished for power as so many of your kin have done?”
“So many, my lord? I am aware that my Father was somewhat covetous over the authority surrounding the role of Steward, but I do not believe that my brother ever sought power. He simply accepted it, and in preference sought the loyalty of his men and honour within the field of battle. He took after our Father in his love of warfare and the recognition earned therein, but what drove him most was the ambition to increase his prowess in the arts of war. I have heard rumours concerning his death, and though they grieve me, I can assure you that if he did succumb to the temptation of the Ring, it was not in accordance with his real character. My brother was brave and noble, his courage was great in comparison to mine; I have long known that our father loved him more than I, it was clear in his eyes every time that Boromir bested me in the practice yard. But I was content, I knew that I was not my brother, and I long ago accepted that I would always be second to him …”
“The love between you was very great,” Elrond stated. He had seen the pain that had crossed the man’s features at the recollection of his brother’s death, and the favouritism of his father.
“Our fellowship was great, in many ways. I can recollect several times when he aided me in times of foolishness … Boromir had a strength and certainty of who he was that I lacked within myself. Our relationship was close and we looked upon each other as comrades. I understood him, and he me. I had never found an equal to him … until Eowyn. She possesses that same unwavering assurance; I saw that its potential dwelt within her, even in her most vulnerable hour.”
“When did you first come to love the White Lady?”
“When I first beheld her, I knew that I had never perceived a woman of greater beauty or was likely to in the remainder of my life. But I saw the barrier that she had erected, the hardness and stubbornness. At first, I admired her courage and obvious strength; but I also pitied her, for she hoped for that which could never come to pass, and that obstacle stopped her from seeing the possibility of life beyond battle and the glory that arises there from. After having spent some time in her company, I could not help but accept that the depth of my feeling surpassed that of mere admiration or pity, and I found that I had come to love her deeply.”
“And yet you loved her still, despite the uncertainty of her ever returning your love?”
“I did, my lord, for I found that I could not help but love her, she so much resembled that brother who I had lost, and seemed to fill the gap that had appeared with his death. Her companionship was very like his had been, and of the sort I had never experienced before with a woman. I know that I would have still loved her, had she never accepted me. I have found companionship and fulfilment with her that I would never have felt possible. I remember the moment when she accepted my proposal and confessed her own love. I have never felt a joy like it, or am like to again, other than upon the day when we are forever united.”
Heedless for a moment of the spectacular view before him, Lord Elrond of Rivendell, Master of Imladris and all the wisdom gathered therein, for the first time in uncounted centuries considered and examined his judgment of the race of Men, and there beheld the bias and pride of long years.
He finally turned to the man, who stood regarding him with mild curiosity and replied with a grave solemnity.
“Against all probability, you were willing to support a hope that seemed impossible, and you remained steadfast in your love, against all opposition.”
“I did, my lord.”
“So have I been blind and prejudiced within my thinking. I thank you, Lord Faramir, for the insight your words have given to me. I wish you much joy within your future marriage and hope that Eru may bless you and your wife. May you have a long and prosperous life.”
Bowing with a newfound respect, Elrond turned and left the Captain, still pondering the implications of the Steward’s words.
He had been too fixed in his ways to consider what good yet remained within the race of Men. To be sure, they had dwindled since the downfall of Arthedain to the Witch-king and the disappearance of the last Númenorean kingdom, but his disdain had been unjust. There was still here much of worth, and though it rent his heart, he began to comprehend his daughter’s choice. Faramir’s words had recalled to him the depth of his own love for Celebrian, and the loss of wholeness and fulfilment he had carried since her departure to the West. Though he would be reunited with her ere long, the agony that now lingered within his heart at the loss of his daughter would never truly abate, and yet, at last, he thought he understood. He could no longer blame her, and a kind of certainty and acceptance came to his features as he paused before entering the citadel.
As the figure passed into the home of the King, he was regarded by the silent figure of a warrior. Sighing gently, Faramir turned and leant upon the parapet, observing the ethereal beauty of the stars as they cast their soft light upon his city, all at peace and still.