Letters from Faramir

Letter Eight

by Alcardilme

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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 called retreat.

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.

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