walk across a darkling plain that is lit only by distant fires. The
heat of the rocky surface stabs through the thick soles of my boots.
When I stumble, I must stand up quickly, or my hands blister as I
stop my fall on the rocks. The flames at least advance slowly, and
give the only light to be found in this place. When I turn to see
the fires, perhaps half a league off, they fill my heart with great
I rubbed my tired eyes, Gandalf entered the tent. He too must have
seen hardship of late. His fair white robes were tattered at the edges,
and dulled by the residue of smoke. His face was shadowed, and his
staff was gone, yet his eyes brightened when he saw me."
my examination, Denethors son lay still and silent. It seemed
to take all his strength to breathe; and his breathing was very faint
indeed. The Black Shadow usually chilled its victims. The fevers
presence could signify that he was fighting the blights advance.
But he was failing fast, and I could not yet tell why."
looked out, and saw, far below me, the man I had come to find. Faramir
of Gondor moved slowly through the terrible valley, flanked by strange,
half-visible creatures out of nightmare. They would surge from the
flames and the smoke, stabbing and clawing at the man."
stared at what appeared to be his father. The figure shambled forward
with a beseeching hand outstretched and implored: "Help
will take me to the fire if you do not come down to help me. Help
me now, my dearest son!"
cannot be" Faramir said softly. He stared intently at the phantom.
"No. My father would never plead for aid. My father would never
squared his shoulders, turned from the shadowed, flame-haunted plain
before us, and began to slowly climb towards me. It was not far, merely
some thirty feet, and though the rocky slope was steep, it was filled
with crannies and shelves for footholds. But for a wearied and wounded
man, the ascent was a torment. Faramir faltered more than once. Each
time he stopped, he pushed on, forcing his injured left arm to balance
his other limbs. I could hear, over Faramirs labored breathing,
his utterance of some words, or a verse, over and over again."
leaned against me with a long sigh, as if relinquishing a burden he
could no longer bear. I was glad to give him some badly needed respite.
Then the Elessar stone hummed with some strange power. A sudden Light
burst forth around me, shining so brightly that I felt like Earendil
himself, bearing the Silmaril through the heavens. Its source seemed
to be my own heart! The light pulsed outward through the stone with
each heartbeat, glowing over Faramirs hands."
lord, you called me. I come," Faramir said quietly. He looked
upon me with love, as if he had known me all of his life. "What
does the king command?"
the Valar, he had called me king! And suddenly, my doubts, my anxiety
about the next battle with Mordors forces, melted away before
the fierce hope and devotion I saw in my Stewards eyes. Though
I would make no formal claim until Sauron fell, I knew I was king
now, King of Gondor. Faramirs King. For he was the first to
hail me as lord of the realm his sires had ruled."