His Last Words
February 6th, in the year 3018 of the Third Age
The pale golden sunlight of the late afternoon bathed Boromir’s troubled countenance, smoothing away the new lines, softening the old and painting the shadowed hollows with warm color; yet it does little to lift the darkness from his heart. How he wished Faramir was here, the younger brother whose head may have seemed to be in the clouds but his feet were firmly planted on solid ground. While Boromir was the greater warrior, it was Faramir who could untangle the moral knots of their duty that drove Boromir mad. As the elder, Boromir would inherit the Stewardship and the White Rod but he could not imagine doing it without Faramir at his side as counselor and advisor. Their personal strengths complimented each other and made up for the other’s weakness. There was no man he trusted more.
But Faramir was not here and Boromir was left with the pitifully weak substitute of parchment and ink. Still, if he could manage to put his thoughts down, maybe he could see them with his brother’s eyes and hear his brother’s voice. And by the grace of Eru, maybe he would find some release. Picking up the quill, Boromir dipped it into the small crystal vial and tapped off the excess.
“I write to you my brother from the fabled realm of the Lady of the Golden Woods where we have been allowed to shelter for a short time. I have never know a place such as this. It is a land of life and growing things even in the midst of winter. There is no stain on Lorien and its beauty should be a balm to the heart of all whom cross its borders. Yet its loveliness does little to ease the burdens of my heart.
The newest is one I must share with you though I fear it will cause you great pain. It falls upon me to be the bearer of grievous tidings. We dared the depths of the dwarven tomb that had once been the legendary city of Moria, a foolish decision but one we were forced into. There, on the bridge of Khazad-dum, Gandalf the Grey faced a Balrog. It was a hideous creature, the likes of which I have never seen before. Smoke, flame and shadow, it was all of these things and none of them for how could a creature live yet burn with the very fires of Mount Doom? With his power, the wizard caused the solid stone of the bridge to crumble at the creature’s feet as if it was clay. At the last moment, the beast swung its formless arm and wrapped the end of the fiery whip it held around Gandalf’s ankles. He let go my brother; he acted unselfishly, senselessly, to ensure the balrog’s fall into the abyss, to save the company and the quest.
Ah, I seemed to have started in the center of the tale, let me go back to the beginning. After endless days of searching I found the place of our dream, I found Imladris and Lord Elrond. I have seen the Sword that was Broken and the man who carries it. Dire counsels were taken and indeed, Doom is near though whose Doom I am still unsure.
I have seen the Halfling and his companions; the little people do exist. I . . . I have also seen Isildur’s Bane. It is amazing to me that the power over the fates of so many is held within that small circle, a thing of golden, flawless beauty. I had never imagined that Isildur’s Bane would be so fair and precious.
Yet fair or no, the council has proclaimed its fate, that it is to be unmade in the very place of its creation and that is how I found myself in a fellowship that is comprised of all the free peoples of middle-earth.
Nine of us there were that started out. I, along with Aragorn, Isildur’s heir, represent the race of men. The son of the King of Mirkwood, Legolas, attends for the elves, as does Gimli, son of Gloin, for the dwarves. Gandalf, as a wizard, is or was, a race unto his own. This raises the tale to five and yet I stated that there were nine. Tthe last four are Halflings or Hobbits, as they choose to call themselves and the most unassuming of the four is the crucial member of this company. He is Frodo, son of Drogo, and he is the Ringbearer.
Aye, he is the halfling in the dream as he proved when he stood forth in the council, the Ring in his hand. The freedom of our world rests on the shoulders of one whose curly head does not even reach my chest. A heavy burden for one so small . . . such a burden. I can feel the weight that lies on his heart as surely as if it were laid on my own, a heart already heavy with fear and doubt.
I fear Faramir, I fear that Gondor will fall to Sauron and all will be lost. I fear I will fail, that I will fail our father, our people. Denethor has entrusted me solely with the welfare of our land and our people. If I choose poorly, if I take the wrong path, then the ruin of Gondor will be laid at my feet. There will be no chance for redemption or forgiveness from him or from our people.
This fear intensifies with every step that brings me closer to home and with it, my doubt. A doubt that torments me in the night with its endless questions. Is the destruction of the Ring the wisest course? What would our father want me to do? What would he do in my place? Are we not committing a grievous error by not availing ourselves of its power? Surely this is the driving force behind Sauron’s desperate search to regain the Ring. Does he fear that we will take his precious talisman and use it to cast him down for all eternity? Free our people, all people from his reign of terror and that of his servants. And when that task has been accomplished, use the power of the Ring to restore Gondor to its former prosperity and glory. Nay, to an even greater glory than ever before.
Can you not see it my brother, the joy our people would find in Gondor renewed, Osgiliath rebuilt and Minas Ithil cleansed of the foul taint left by the Witch-king of Angmar. I would cause Barad-dûr to be taken apart stone by putrid stone and each one would be cast deep into the belly of Mount Doom. I would have the dust-choked barrenness of Mordor become a verdant green vale filled with all manner of growing things and the bitter waters would once again flow clean and sweet. I would set free the slaves and give them land to husband. And the peace there would be, my armies would scarcely have to lift a finger to guard the borders of my land. And I . . . I would be a fair and just king, beloved of my people. My people would never again be made to live under the shadow of evil.
Don’t you see, with this kind of power in my hands there is nothing I could not accomplish, no wrong I could not right. Fools! The council’s plan is one of folly and madness! I simply cannot understand . . .”
Boromir’s pen slowed and came to a stop as he stared blankly at the parchment in front of him. The world grew silent around him as all sound of voice, birdsong, even the wind sighing in the trees above him was stilled. The page faded before him and the desktop underneath it. The whole room dimmed and then went dark. He could see nothing, feel nothing but he could hear a faint pulsing sound in the distance, growing louder as it came closer. The sound became a thumping noise that grew and grew until it was booming in his ears, pounding his flesh, forcing his heart to match its rhythm.
“I see it in my waking dreams. I cannot escape the sound of its siren song. It calls to me and beckons with promises of intoxicating victory and glory beyond measure for our people, for us, for me. It shows me my future in which I would be a wise, benevolent ruler and restore Gondor to its proper place in middle-earth. Sickness and pestilence would become sorrows of the past. All the free peoples would come to share in the peace and prosperity that would be Gondor’s until the borders of my land were made to extend from Harad to the Grey Mountains and from Rhun to Forlindon beyond the Blue Mountains.
Yet that was not all, I saw that those who did not wish to submit to my gracious rule were exiled and their families made slaves to the crown. These slaves would assume the menial tasks of the kingdom and free the proper citizens to engage in endeavors worthy of their stature. Ahhh, but the maidens who bore the ill luck of belonging to a heretic family, these maidens would serve the pleasure of the king. I would slake my thirst with them until they were empty and I had had my fill. Such tender, young . . . . .”
The pounding beat cut off abruptly and left Boromir’s ears ringing in the silence that followed. Slowly the false night lifted and the return of the light brought with it the sound of singing. Boromir still sat in his seat, frozen, his hand clenched and the quill broken. Long he stared at the piece of the slim shaft in his hand. Finally, with a deep ragged breath he broke free of the unnatural paralysis that had gripped him.
His hands shook violently as he picked up the parchment. He knew it was the letter he had started writing to Faramir but try as he might, he could not remember finishing or folding it. A cold dread settled into his belly and he could not bring himself to open it to read the words he had written there. He moved his hand to open it and felt his muscles seize and turned rigid, locked into position, unresponsive to his will. All his thought he bent on moving the impotent limb to no avail as sweat began to bead his brow. Boromir closed his eyes and swallowed hard, he forced his mind turn to other things, to the rippling sound of fair elven voices raised in song. A mantle of calm settled about his shoulders and after a moment, he found he could move again. This time he quickly put the letter away in his small pack and as an afterthought, he added the small vial of ink and the nib half of the broken quill. This done, he left the room in search of his companions, of someone, anyone.
February 24th, in the year 3018 of the Third Age
The fellowship had just finished their eight day on their journey south and camped on the west bank of the river Anduin. It had been a difficult day for all as they endured the difficult traversing of the portage-way in the misty half-light that passed dared to pass for day. Bones were weary and spirits were low, in tune with the gloomy twilight that fell. Aragorn had said they would rest here instead of going on into the night as had been his want. After the orc attack at mouth of the rapids of Sarn Gebir it was decided that they would keep watch by twos.
Boromir and Pippin drew the first watch. When the exhausted hobbit’s eyes closed despite his best efforts, Boromir did not wake him. He was grateful for the first watch, sleep had become difficult and could only be found in the early hours of the morning. He felt increasingly restless for no reason that he could give name to. More frightening were the episodes that occurred while on the river. The last thing he would remember was paddling, watching the other boats or the shoreline, and then he would “wake” to find that he had paddled the boat near to Aragorn’s, which also carried Frodo and Sam. He would find his limbs shaking and his clothes soaked with sweat. Merry and Pippin would look at him oddly, furtively, as if they feared his reaction should he catch them.
Boromir shook his head and shoulders, perturbed again just by thinking about it. Not for the first or last time, he wished for Faramir’s presence. After a quick check on all that slept, he brought out a flat packet and sat near the small fire. The inside of his shield was smooth enough to work as a make-shift writing desk. He held the vial up to the low light, there was very little ink but with a little help it would do. One more quick glance around the camp and Boromir bent his head.
“What precious little ink I brought with me I must dilute to make it last. We are camped at the river’s edge and it is my watch. The light, quick breaths of the halflings can only be heard in between the snorting rumblings of the dwarf. If the elf still breathes, which I know he does yet he does so soundlessly. Only the rise of his chest proves that death has not claimed the motionless body. Oddly enough, he sleeps with his eyes open and they glitter. I can see the icy light of the few brave stars reflected there and it mixes with the faint red glow from the remnants of the campfire.
Aragorn will relieve me in a few short hours but rests now, while he can. Aragorn, son of Arathorn, he has proven to be a good man, both brave and wise. He is destined to be king; I believe this in my heart. He is truly Isildur’s heir and the right to rule belongs to him and no other, despite what our father believes. That right is not mine, I . . .
Why shouldn’t it be mine? How many thousands of years must a steward rule with all the power of a king yet not the title? It should be our father’s title. It should be mine. It should not be given to a ragged remnant of a dying line. To this ranger who is so far removed from the original bloodline as to put his claim to question. Aye, he may carry those few precious drops of the blood on Númenor in his veins, but he know naught of Gondor’s needs, Gondor’s dreams, Gon-
Forgive me my dearest brother, you whom I hold closer to my heart than any other, I have failed. I have at last read what I had written earlier and now I must warn you while I am still able. Run Faramir and run quickly should the Ring come within your grasp. Touch it not! Send it and its bearer on their way and then flee as if the very Nine were snapping at your heels. Isildur’s Bane, an ill-omened name for that which speaks in the honeyed voice of deceit and lies. It is altogether evil! Save yourself! Save our people! I fear it is too late for me. Remember me as I was my beloved br. . . .
I MUST HAVE IT!
I WILL HAVE IT!”