Letters from Faramir
I take a moment. I am in the guards'
quarters at the Causeway Forts and have found the captain's writing
table. I do not know if I will ever draw breath again. We are in dire
straights. I must write to rid myself of this sense of doom, to pull my
thoughts together before I rejoin the men.
We are spread thin. We have lost
Osgiliath and have pulled back. The day has been grim and I have seen
too much death. More than half our number were slain before we ever
reached Osgiliath. The wounded are left on the Pelennor in mounds. I
ordered a few of my stoutest to guard them while we tried to reach the
cover of the city – anything to gain time to regroup and protect the
wounded - bring the battle off the field and into the city, give us
some measure of cover.
The outcome was already known to
Father. When we met in Council two days ago, he knew this would happen.
I would have laughed if my horror were not so great. He hinted that
there was no Captain present with the courage to obey him. And Prince
Imrahil there himself! The other Captains urged patience, urged Father
to keep our forces in the White City to guard Minas Tirith. But Father
would not hear it. He sees himself as the Lord of the White Tower
against the Lord of the Black Tower. He sees something I do not and I
fear for him! Impossible, you would say, that Denethor, Steward of
Gondor, would fall, but my heart speaks this. There is something more
here than I am able to discern. Father’s will was to guard the river
and so I took my leave and received no word of encouragement. As
always. Boromir, all Gondor looks to me and I would see it done. But
this path only leads to doom. We are ten times outnumbered.
The Enemy came in even greater force
than I first believed, with Southrons and mûmakil. But most
grievous of all, the Black Captain led them. I know already the touch
of the Black Breath upon me; I know its fear. I have felt my heart turn
to stone and my limbs to lead at the sight of this Shadow. I rallied
the men, those with the strength and courage to stay and fight. A few
ran – I could not condemn them; hardened veterans as they are, nothing
had prepared them for this. We fought in close quarters all day. We
would hold for a moment and our hearts would be lifted, then another
wave of them would crush forward. Boromir, our men fought bravely. If I
had the time, if I had the strength, I would have wept the entire day –
to see one after another of our comrades, our friends, fall. It is
beyond bitter to me. I could give no comfort to them as they fell,
there was no time and the press of the Enemy was great. Arrows were
useless in the decimated city. It was swords, spears, daggers and bare
hands that we relied upon as they pressed closer – hideous visages,
misshapen bodies, evil cries vomiting from their mouths – they kept
pushing against us. Finally, all hope of holding Osgiliath was gone. I
As I looked back over the Anduin, I
remembered how you and I survived our last battle together, how we had
to jump from the bridge, its collapse occurring just as you planned. I
thought I’d lost you at that time: the night was black, the river
freezing. I barely made it to the other side, but you were in your
heavy armor. At last, after what seemed hours, I found you, laughing at
the look on my face. You are impossible. I almost think you remained
hidden to tease me. Almost.
That was your greatest victory,
Boromir. There was nothing that would have taken me from your side that
day. Watching you wield your sword and its sister-dagger; watching the
exultation that pierced the air around you as you fought the battle
gave me chills. My whole life we have been fighting against the powers
of evil, and I would not have it so, but on that day, Boromir, I sensed
to the highest degree the greatness that is in you. Would that you were
at my side now with that grin on your face! Then I would have hope.
We are now waiting, here at Rammas
Echor, like cave trolls during daylight. The Enemy is bridging the
river for their mûmakil, their war machines. We have one last
moment. I fear this is the last letter I will write. There is a sense
of bitter joy in its writing, knowing I will see you again soon, but at
what price, dearest Brother? Gondor will fall and Men – what will
become of Men? I know our people, Boromir; they will hide in the White
Mountains. They will continue to harass the one whose name we do not
speak. And I would be with them if I could, but I fear this is our last
hour, our Rangers and mine. If we are able, we will hold the Causeway
Forts a little longer and give Rohan the chance to come forth, to honor
Eorl’s vow. Therein lies my hope. I will perforce have to call retreat
again and hope that Father has prepared a sortie to help us span the
distance of the Pelennor, but I will not rely upon it.
Gandalf appeared again, a sight that
brought uncalled for joy to my heart as he rode upon that great steed,
straight and tall for all his years. He carried hope and strength with
him and I was refreshed for a moment. I wanted him to remain here, with
me, but I have sent him back to Minas Tirith along with the wains
carrying our wounded. He will make sure they arrive at the White City.
I am grateful for his taking this task upon himself – there is no need
to leave the wounded to die on the field. So few, though, are left to
guard his back.
Ah, Boromir, even at this hour, as
all hope would drain from me, I cannot lose hope. Our men make my heart
swell with pride. No people seem greater to me at this moment than
those assembled here with me. Not even the kings of old. I see the
strain on their faces, the weariness in their limbs, yet I have only to
walk by and their heads raise up and they nod and smile at me and I see
their quality. I can feel their trust, Boromir, and I would not fail
them. You did not tell me of this part of leadership, Brother, the
crushing weight of responsibility, the untoward love for our men and
the knowledge that they go to their deaths at my command. At least they
know that I will join them.
The Enemy has breached the Rammas,
Brother, and I must go. Some devilry is being used against us. I hear
mighty blasts and see huge boulders flying in the air. What the cause
is, I do not know. They are coming.
Boromir, look for me.
He shoved the letter into his tunic, stood, pulled his sword from its
sheath and stepped out onto the battlement.