Eowyn followed the warden into a quiet glade of the houses of healing. A man sat there on a stone bench, not alone, for one of the healer women hovered near by, but with an air of isolation. His face was turned away from Eowyn, toward the sun.
"My lord," said the Warden, "here is the Lady Eowyn of Rohan. She rode with the king and was sorely hurt, and dwells now in my keeping. But she is not content, and she wishes to speak to the Steward of the City."
"Do not misunderstand him, lord," said Eowyn. "It is not lack of care that grieves me. But I cannot lie in sloth, idle, caged. I looked for death in battle. But I…"
It was then Faramir turned and Eowyn's words faltered at the sight of the bandages covering his eyes and the scars that escaped down his left cheek. Faramir smiled grimly and let his head drop a little, guessing at her sudden silence. "You may go, Warden, thank you. I am sure you have other tasks to attend."
"My lord, I did not…I was not told…" Eowyn began, feeling her cheeks heat in shame and feeling like a spoilt child, standing now before this man.
But Faramir only smiled gently at her, for that was left untouched among many changes. He heard much in her voice from what little she had spoken and, being a man whom pity deeply stirred, her grief pierced his heart and he wished her healed. "Come, sit with me and do not trouble yourself. It is not something that I have grown used to either. I do not know what I may do for you; I too am a prisoner here, but if it is in my power I will see what you wish for done."
The grave tenderness in his voice and bearing stirred her heart to sorrow, for she could see, being bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark would outmatch in battle if he was made whole. What loss their was in war and pity to rob such a man as she saw in him of so much.
"I would have you command this Warden, and bid him let me go," she said without coming to sit beside him; but though her words were still proud, her heart faltered, and for the first time she doubted herself. She guessed this tall man, stern, gentle and calm in the face of his own losses, might think her merely wayward, like a child that has not the firmness of mind to go on with a dull task to the end.
"I myself am in the Warden's keeping," answered Faramir with that same, strange sad smile that now bid her feet to move and brought her to his side on the bench. "Nor have I yet taken up my authority in the City and I do not know when I shall. But had I done so, I should still listen to his counsel, and should not cross his will in matters of his craft, no matter how much his counsel grates, unless in some great need."
"But I do not desire healing," she said, wincing slightly before she went on, knowing this man must crave it and yet forging on. "I wish to ride to war like my brother Eomer, or better like Theoden the king, for he died and has both honour and peace."
"It is too late, lady, to follow the Captains, even those healed would not catch them now before the doom of us all is decided," said Faramir and he shook his head once, slowly. "But death in battle may come to us all yet, willing or no. You will be better prepared to face it, should it come to that, if you heed the Healer now, while there is still time. You and I, we must endure with patience the hours of waiting."
There was silence between them, for a time, and Faramir felt in his heart a softening, as though a bitter frost were yielding at the first faint presage of Spring and saw in his mind a women crying in a dark hall beside a dying man but it was gone from his mind before he could capture it, but a glimpse he could not hold on to as all visions that seemed to come to him since his eyes had been rendered useless by flame. The memory of it left and he turned his head to her as she spoke again, more as if speaking to herself than him.
"But the healers would have me lie abed seven days yet," she said. "And my window does not look eastward." Her voice was now that of a maiden young and sad.
Faramir smiled, though his heart was filled with pity, for her and for himself. It quailed a moment but stilled under his mastery as was his way and had been since he could remember. "Your room does not look eastward?" he said. "That can be amended. In this I will command the Warden. If you will stay in this house in our care, lady, and take your rest, then you shall walk in this garden in the sun, as you will, and you shall look east, wither all our hopes have gone. And here I will ask a boon of you, lady, for I am like minded as you, to staying in the Houses, though I know I must yet. The Healers insist I be accompanied when I leave my chambers, for I have not yet grown accustomed to my newfound circumstances, and dislike asking them to nursemaid me when there are others yet more needy than I. It would ease my care if you would walk with me, or speak to me."
Then she raised her head and looked at him, but no answers could be found for his face remained calm and the white bandages hid damaged eyes; and a colour came in her pale face. "How should I ease your care, my lord?" she said. "And I do not desire the speech of living men."
"Would you have my plain answer?" he said.
"Then, Eowyn of Rohan, I say to you that your presences eases the heavy cares of my heart as none still here in Gondor do and speech is what I may have left in the failing of my eyes and I must relay on it. It may be that only a few days are left ere the darkness falls upon our world, and when it comes I hope to face it steadily; but it would comfort my heart, if while I may still feel the Sun shine upon my face, that I could be near you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back."
"Alas, not me, lord!" she said. "Shadow lies on me still. Look not to me for healing; as you are more healed than I ever may be. I am a shieldmaiden and my hand is ungentle. But I thank you for this at least, that I need not keep to my chamber. I will walk abroad by the grace of the Steward of the City and he may join me if he will, for I would not have to lose the touch of the Sun while it yet shines." And she touched his hand in farewell, as he could not see a courtesy, and walked back to the houses.
But Faramir sat for a long while on the bench in the garden, and his head turned in vain to the Houses before bending wearily so that the Sun beat upon the back of his neck. It was there that Merry found him, in the fair evening, and promised the good lady Healer to take care of her lord, and they walked in the gardens together, the hobbit guiding the man's unsure steps as they talked long together and Faramir learned much, more even than Merry put into words; and he thought that he understood now something of the grief and unrest of Eowyn of Rohan.
His heart was moved to pity her, and could be moved to love if he dared think to risk it; perhaps was even though he knew he should not. For what did he now have to offer her? What brave shieldmaiden should wish to take the hand of a blinded soldier who had never wanted to be such, and could not be any longer, who had little to offer except the scars left behind by his father's pyre?
When Eowyn returned to her chamber she called for the Warden and heard all that he could tell of the Steward of Gondor. There was much to tell, for those of the Houses were no different than the others of Gondor and loved their son well. He told her much or Faramir's past and hesitated only when it came to recent events, but spoke those too, preferring his telling to the tales that were whispered of his brother's passing and the old Steward's angry grief, of the defense and retreat from the River, of his father's madness and the pyre where snapping, burning wood had cost him his eyes and scars down his left side that still pained him more than he would show.
And she resolved not to think overmuch of this gentle steady man, of whom many whispered tales were told and told lovingly of him no matter how wretched their nature. But in the morning, as she came from the Houses, she stopped and turned back. She went to his chambers and peeking inside she saw his eyes being rebound though she had not come soon enough to see what remained under the white bandages. She did see the white knuckles of his fists, clenched against the pain, though no sound escaped. And as the healers left she came inside to him and, running her fingers over that taunt skin, felt his hand relax again.
"Shall we walk, my lord, or shall I return for you later?" she asked.
"Let us walk now, in the sunlight," he said and she did not speak of the strain she heard in his voice. "But you shall have to guide me."
She did so, putting his arm through hers and watching his feet for him. And they went and walked in the garden on the grass or sat under a green tree together, speaking often and when Eowyn would hear no more words and they fell to silence she would take his hand in hers and keep it. She could not warm it, in truth his hand did much to warm hers, but he would turn his face to her with a small sad smile that she quickly came to know and understand. And the Warden looking from his window was glad in heart, for he was a healer, and his care was lightened; and certain it was that, heavy as was the dread and foreboding of those days upon the hearts of men, still there two of his charges prospered and grew daily in strength.
And so the fifth day came since the Lady Eowyn went first to Faramir, and so she had come to him every day since, and they stood now together on the walls of the City and Eowyn looked out, Faramir's arms in hers and he quiet beside her. No tidings had yet come, and all hearts were darkened. The weather, too, was bright no longer. It was cold. A wind that had sprung up in the night was blowing keenly from the North, and it was rising; but the lands about looked grey and drear.
They were clad in warm raiment and heavy cloaks, such that Faramir had struggled to settle properly and had required aid in dressing, and over all the Lady Eowyn wore a great blue mantle of the colour of deep summer-night, and it was set with silver stars about hem and throat. Faramir had sent for this robe and had given it to her before they had left his chamber, for it had been his mother's and he remembered the sight of it as he remembered not the sight of his lady mother, who died untimely, nor had ever seen the woman who wore it now.
But Eowyn now shivered beneath the starry mantle, Faramir felt the tremble of her arm against his, and she looked northward, above the grey hither lands, into the eye of the cold wind where far away the sky was hard and clear.
And Faramir spoke softly to her, his face turned to where he remembered the touch of the sun, for he knew her heart, "What do you look for, Eowyn?"
"I look thither to where the Black Gate must lay," said she. "It is seven days since he rode forth."
"Seven days," said Faramir. "But think not ill of me, if I say to you: they have brought me both a joy and a pain that I never thought to know. Joy to know you; but pain, because now the fear and doubt of this evil time are grown dark indeed. Eowyn, I would not have this world end now, or lose so soon what I have found."
"Lose what you have found, lord?" she answered; but her voice was kind, for him, for she knew to gentle her tone to him when she meant it; he would not see it upon her face. "I know not what in these days you have found that you could lose, nor what you would not trade back for what you have lost before. But come, my friend, let us not speak of it! I stand upon some dreadful brink, and it is utterly dark in the abyss before my feet, but whether there is any light behind me I cannot tell. For I cannot turn yet. I wait for some stroke of doom."
"There is light behind, this I know, and perhaps ahead. We all wait for the stroke of doom," said Faramir. His voice was soft when he spoke, before he faded to quiet again and she looked at him and wondered.
"What is it now you see, my lord?" she asked. "What see you now?"
Faramir was very still a moment then said, "I see my brother's face bent close to mine when we were children so clear at times I believe I feel also his touch. I see the spray upon the shore of Dol Amroth outside my uncle's castle and the gulls that ride the air currents there. I see the dew upon the trees of Ithilien made green and hale again. And I see a women riding on a white horse across the plains. She is laughing; she is happy and it warms my heart so. I do not see darkness, Eowyn, not any longer."
And Eowyn knew not what to say so they said no more; and it seemed to them as they stood upon a wall that the wind died, and the light failed, and the Sun was bleared so Faramir could not feel even the trace of its touch, and all sounds in the City of in the lands about were hushed: neither wind, nor voice, nor bird-call, nor rustle of leaf, nor their own breath could be heard; the very beating of their hearts was stilled. Time halted.
And Eowyn moved close to him, though she did not know it, and Faramir could not mark the moment that she did. And still the waited for they knew not what. Then presently it seemed to Eowyn that above the ridges of the distant mountains another vast mountain of darkness rose and about it lightnings flickered; and Faramir's breath caught in his throat as he felt what she saw and a tremor ran through the earth, and they felt the walls of the City quiver. A sound like a sigh went up from all the lands about them; and their hearts beat suddenly again.
"It reminds me of Numenor," said Faramir, in a breath that was barely heard, and wondered to hear himself speak at all.
"Of Numenor?" said Eowyn.
"Yes," said Faramir, "of the land of Westernesse that foundered, and of the great dark wave climbing over the green lands and above the hills, and coming on, darkness unescapable. I often dream of it and the vision of it has crept into my head. It felt like that, a moment, as if all the world held its breath and has now exhaled."
"Then you think that the Darkness is coming?" said Eowyn. "Darkness Unescapable?" And she drew closer to him; this time he felt it.
"No," said Faramir and he exhaled, smiled. "No, it was but a picture in my mind. I do not know what is happening, only…only what it feels. The reason of my waking mind tells me that great evil has befallen and we stand at the end of days. But my heart says nay; and all my limbs are light, and a hope and joy come to me that no reason can deny and I see no darkness, only light. Eowyn, Eowyn, White Lady of Rohan, in this hour I do not believe that any darkness will endure."
And as he stooped to kiss her brow she reached up a hand to touch his cheek, below where the scarring was visible, and looked into his face suffused with quiet joy. And so they stood on the walls of the City of Gondor, and a great wind rose and blew, and their hair, near scarlet and golden, streamed out mindling in the air. And the Shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, the light leaping forth and Faramir turned his face to it before it came, knowing it would. And he saw within his mind the waters of Anduin shining like silver, as they did, and the white city gleaming again, and streamers pouring forth as a grey eyed stranger whom he knew within his soul kneeling and taking up the crown.
And as in all the houses of the City men sang for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what source they could not tell, Faramir laughed gaily and Eowyn learned what it was for him to truly smile and found it sweeter than when a great Eagle came and cried out glad tidings and all the people sang.
When the summons came to join with the Captains Faramir took up the mantle of the Stewardship though he was not yet healed fully. It was only for a little while, he knew, taking two he trusted, an injured soldier who had not ridden and Bergil, to help him where his eyes failed him, and his duty was to prepare for the one who would replace him.
And Faramir, struggling now as he sought to restore the City while his eyes saw not and his scars offered him pain, wondered why Eowyn had not joined Merry traveling to the Captains, though he knew her brother had sent word begging her to go. He saw her seldom though, being busy with many matters and still requiring time for healing himself; and she dwelt still in the Houses of Healing and walked alone in the garden, and her face grew pale again, and it seemed that in all the City she was only sorrowful and ailing so in spirit. And the Warden of the Houses was troubled, and he spoke to Faramir.
Then Faramir came and sought her, and once more they stood on the walls together, his arm tucked into hers; and he said to her: "Eowyn, why do you tarry here, and do not go to the rejoicing in Cormallen beyond Cair Andros, where your brother awaits you?"
And she said, looking to his face and finding it impassive, "Do you not know?"
He turned his face away from her, his head bowed, and he swallowed once before raising it again. "Two reasons there may be, but which is true, I do not know."
And she said: "I do not wish to play at riddles. Speak plainer!"
"Then if you will have it so, lady," he said: "you do not go, because only your brother called for you, and to look on the Lord Aragorn, Elendil's heir, in his triumph would now bring you no joy. Or because I do not go, and you desire still to be near me. And maybe for both these reasons, and you yourself cannot choose between them."
"I wished to be loved by him," she answered. "But I desire no man's pity!"
"That I know," he said. "You desired to have the love of the Lord Aragorn. Because he was high and puissant, and you wished to have renown and glory and to be lifted far above the mean things that crawl on the earth. And as a great captain may to a young soldier he seemed to you admirable. For so he is, a lord among men, the greatest that now is, and I am but a sightless soldier no longer able to ride forth to battle. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brace death in battle. Look at me, Eowyn!"
And Eowyn looked at Faramir long and steadily, and saw his face was no longer impassive but softened with gentleness and now too regret and she wished suddenly to wipe it away. And Faramir said: "Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart, Eowyn! But I do not offer you my pity. For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful in heart, I deem, far beyond what any sight could tell me. Once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor, still I would love you."
He bowed his head again and said: "Eowyn, I love you but there is little now I have to offer you. I hold the City until the King comes to claim it and I know not what use he will have for a Steward blinded by his father's madness, nor if he would want one. But I should wish to serve Gondor, in any way I may, even if it be lowly. There is little I have to offer the sister of a King with such things that you have won yourself."
Then Eowyn understood her heart, blind she had been to it as the man beside her was, and where it had been leading her. And suddenly her winter passed, and the sun shone on her.
"I desire none of those things, only to have you hold my hand as I do yours and for us to guide each other and to love you," she said. "And I should be happy if we lived in a hut outside the city walls so long as you dwelt there with me and perhaps I had a horse to ride out on."
She smiled then, and looked up at the clear sky and out at the city. "I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun, and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in songs of slaying but love all things that grow and are not barren and heal what I may." And again she looked at Faramir. "No longer do I desire to be a queen."
Faramir laughed. "That is well for I am not a king but if the White Lady of Rohan wishes it I will wed her and we shall not live in a hut outside the city walls but perhaps, if she wishes it, then let us cross the River and in happier days let us dwell in fair Ithilien and make a garden there as it once was. All things will grow with joy there, if the White Lady comes."
"And so I shall leave my people," she said. "And would you have your proud folk say of you: 'There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North! Was there no woman of the race of Numenor to choose?'"
"I would," said Faramir, "say there goes a lord who was healed by a shieldmaiden as no other could heal his heart and I would say that there was no other for him to choose, his heart was bound by her in the moment of her first demand of him."
She laughed then, and smiled for herself, "I would be the woman you saw laughing with eyes that see the day no longer."
"Eowyn," he said, smiling gently and taking her hand in his, raising it to kiss gently, "you are that woman, you always were."
And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many. And many indeed saw them and the light that shone about them Eowyn guided him down from the walls and they went hand in hand to the Houses of Healing.
And to the Warden of the Houses Faramir said: "Here is the Lady Eowyn of Rohan, and now she is healed."
And the Warden said: "Then I release her from my charge and bid her farewell, and may she suffer never hurt or sickness again. I commend her to the care of the Steward of the City, and he to her care, until her brother returns."
But Eowyn said: "Yet now that I have leave to depart, I would remain, if only so that the good Steward is not remiss in his visits, and because this House has become to me of all dwellings most blessed."
And as a great concourse of people from all parts of Gondor filled the City and Faramir laboured near beyond his means to see it ready again, Eowyn did not stand idly by. She helped where she might and when it was time for Faramir to return to the Houses each day she would take him by the hand and lead him there, often taking him from his work when he would have forgotten to leave it.
The first day she let him alone when he went to meet with the healer who would attend him and, when he came out whey faced and silent, she had led him to the gardens and had him sit with her there for a time in the quiet, clean glade. The day after she would not leave him, leading him into the chamber herself.
"I wish to see them, your scars," she said, placing a gentle touch to his cheek. "Your eyes."
"It is not proper, lady," said he with discomfort evident in his voice and bearing.
"I have tended to the wounded before, my lord," she said, smiling, "you need not be so modest. If it would sit better with you I will leave when the wounds or your lower body are tended but if naught else let me see what wounds you bear upon your face so I shall know how to aid you when they pain you."
Faramir acquiesced but the tension showed as she stood back, letting the healers do their work, and the bandage around his eyes was unwound. It was not dire, Eowyn thought, watching as the healers did their work to treat the mangled flesh. The left eye was gone entirely, it had been on the left side that Faramir took the worst of his burns, there was scar tissue there, nothing more, extending just up past his eyebrow, down his cheek in a trickle and past his hairline just under the length of the tip of Eowyn's smallest finger; more of his hair had been singed and then cut away, thus far hidden mostly by the bandages.
The right eye had scars about it, crossing lightly over the bridge of Faramir nose and under where his eyebrow had been, for it to was singed away though it would grow back with time; the eye itself showed no damage save for that Faramir could not close the lid fully for the fainter burn scars there and in that it was glassy and unfocussed as if belonging to a sleeping Elf. And Eowyn wondered how he had appeared before, for she had thought him very fair with the bandage and certainly not unhandsome now despite the scarring, and she knew had he been whole it could only have been more so true.
Faramir's face was very pale as they rebound his eyes and Eowyn noted the tiny tremors that took his hands but he made no noise during the treatment but when it was over she saw he had been distracted to the point of forgetting her presence, and touched his hand lightly before the healers continued. "My lord, if you desire it I may leave though I would stay."
Faramir exhaled slowly and his voice, though steady was rough and he said, "No. If you so wish it, you may stay, I am not to be bared indecently."
And so the White Lady stayed as the wounds were unveiled, and his scars barred to her eyes for the first time. Faramir remained silent throughout and Eowyn did not interfere though she studied what the healers did. The scars, she thought, could have been so much worse, judging from what she had heard of the pyre of Denethor. The worst were on his left shoulder and Faramir did have trouble with them, though he tried to ignore it when he was able, there was a smaller trailing of them down his left side, stopping half way. Yes, they could have been much worse, though there was no doubt they had robbed him of much, and she saw he was not ashamed of the marks his father wrought on his body but their cause gave him reason to grieve.
He was pale and silent as the healers helped him to dress again and Eowyn's lips thinned in a frown. His hand felt colder and she led him not back to the study where he worked with little rest now but into the gardens; and he did not object but let the sun warm him for a time and her presence soothed him, before she led him back to his study, staying with him now and reading the reports sent to him out loud, their fingers still entwined.
"Is this not dangerous, my lord?" Eowyn asked, standing amidst the familiar sights and smells of a stable and watching Faramir closely as he stood beside the stall.
"He knows me," said Faramir. "He will not harm me and I shall need to learn to ride again quickly, for I must ride out and meet the king soon, upon his return."
And, indeed, the horse neighed a soft greeting to the former Captain and butted its nose gently against his chest. Faramir smiled softly, fingers brushing the familiar animal who gave a whinny as it sensed there was something wrong. Faramir stood still, murmuring quietly to the animal in Elvish, as the beast reacquainted itself with him and finally bent its head down, snuffing at his pocket until he laughed and withdrew the apple hidden there, allowing the horse to take it from his hand.
"His name is Mir," said Faramir and he was smiling. "He was a gift from my brother as was the name. Boromir thought the names I proposed were too elaborate."
"And what was it you propose?" she asked with laughter in her voice.
Faramir flushed slightly and cleared his throat, brushing his fingers against the horse's mane. "I do not recall, truly, though I was reading of the kings of Numenor at the time so it was, likely, too long a name for a horse!"
He paused, his face gone wistful, and said, "And so my brother dubbed him Mir, jewel, for, he said, it was what we shared in our names and so, perfect."
"You miss him greatly," she said, seeing Faramir's head drop and the horse nudge him, looking for more treats.
"With every I breath take, knowing it is one he does not," he said and paused, fingers against the horse, expression distant. "It is strange to me, that he should die and I should live. He was the stronger of us, I had always known, and to me it seemed that none could rival Gondor's greatest champion, my dear brother. I will always grieve for him and that he should die and I live; that I should be the last bearer of the name Hurin."
She knew not what to say to him and though she too had experienced much grief she knew now that she was not alone as he for she had her brother returning, hale and hearty to her and she thought of her words to him before she rode out and was regretful for them, for they could have so easily been the last she spoke to him, and thankful she was that they would not be. And she came forward slowly to lay a hand upon his arm and looking up at the horse he handled now with ease despite his blindness, riding would tell another tale, said, "For now you are the last but soon you and I shall work to change that."
When Faramir rode forth at the to met the king it was not with ease and there had been talk of walking from the city so as to accommodate him but he would hear not of it, and bid Elfhelm the Marshal to aid him in learning how to ride again in the days before the Captains return. Hurin of the Keys aided him to dismount, being unable yet to do so himself, and behind them came the casket born by four men in high helms and armour of the Citadel, none other followed yet.
Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled, Hurin's hand squeezing his arm to tell him when to kneel, though he should have known it without the touch for he felt when he drew near to his king, and he knelt and said: "The last Steward of Gondor beds leave to surrender his office."
And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn's eyes were sorrowful and kind as he looked upon his young Steward and taking the rod he knelt too, drawing forth his hand and handing it back to him, drawing him to his feet again to stand by his side, saying: "That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs' as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!"
And Faramir hid his surprise well, speaking in a clear voice: "Men of Gondor, hear now the Steward of this Realmn! Behold! one has come to claim the kingship again at least. Here is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Numneor. Shall he be kind and enter into the City and dwell there?"
And all the host and all the people cried yea with one voice. And Hurin guided Faramir to take the crown and at Aragorn's request handed it to the halfling Frodo and was so the king returned to the City and all the people rejoiced. And as King Elessar came forth into the City, amid the music and singing of the people, he took Faramir's arm in his own and guided him to walk at his side through the flower-laden streets, and he came with the king to the Citadel, where he entered in as the banner of the Tree and the Stars unfurled upon the topmost tower, and the reign of King Elessar began.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.