A Short AU Challenge

Choices

1. Choices

   
   
   

What is to be done?

My men and I have met some strange folk this day, here in the woods of Ithilien – unexpected travelers upon a secret errand. Out of Imladris they come, and they leave me with a difficult decision to make. I am commanded by my father to slay all whom I find wandering in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor. Yet where these strange folk are concerned, I hesitate. Am I to slay two such little ones, who seem so harmless – so courteous? Even so, it is the law, and my father's command, as well as my duty to my people to keep our lands safe...

Courteous they are, indeed, though they refuse to speak of their errand. Mablung and Damrod confirm their courtesy, at least, for they had long speech with the strangers while the battle with the Southrons raged. They spoke well, but evasively.  It would seem these two small ones know something!  Something that touches me closely, I deem...

I have a choice before me, now: I can slay them according to the law, or I can set aside my father's command and let them pass, these two travelers – three, if one takes into account that strange skulking creature they claim is their guide.

Travelers from the North, they claim to be... spies, perhaps? It seems quite unlikely – not these two! And yet, it is a curious thing.  They will not state their business. Do they serve the Dark Tower, or the White? Their answer is that they serve neither – but that will not do! Not in these doubtful days.  I must know more about their errand, so that I might choose best what is to be done…

They spoke of him whom I sorely miss: my brother! They have seen him, been with him and befriended him! They know of the dream we shared, and of his quest...

Alas, my brother! If only...

No, now is not the time for regrets; rather, it is a time for decision! A difficult decision, to be sure! What must I do with these travelers, who are now my guests for a time? My father will be displeased if I disobey his command...

This Halfling, now – the one called Frodo.  He does not deny that he is the one named in the dream. It was at his coming that Isildur's Bane should awaken. Yet he refuses to speak of it; refuses to discuss what it might mean for Gondor, for my brother... for me. What concerns my brother concerns me, yet this small one keeps these matters hidden from me! He says his errand is such that he cannot reveal it – and assures me my brother knows full well what that errand is, and supports him in it. But he reveals nothing of Isildur's Bane or what it might be.

I must know this, if I am to decide...

He says he must keep it hidden, because it does not belong to him; rather, it belongs to the leader of their company, this Aragorn. He claims this man to be the heir of Elendil and Isildur, and that is why this thing – whatever it is – belongs to him, by right.

The heir of Isildur, alive! I can scarcely believe it!

A surprise – nay! A shock it was to hear that this Aragorn is not only heir to the empty throne, but that he carries the Sword of Elendil as well! "Great tidings!" said my men. "The sword of Elendil comes to Minas Tirith!" Great tidings, indeed!

Or is it? He has not come, not yet – and as I told this Halfling, such a claim would have to be proved. And it must be proved! It is something to know that my brother is satisfied with this claim, according to Frodo; but it is my father's support this Aragorn must win – and mine.

Yet I cannot deny that this news has moved me...

I do not know what to think! A King returning, with a sword out of legend? The Sword of Elendil would indeed be a help beyond hope in our great need – if such a thing could in truth return out of the shadows of the past.  And yet...

It would change everything!

What will my father say to this news, I wonder? And what does it mean for me, if it is true?

It could change everything!

I do not know what to think…

I cannot choose, not yet.  I must know more! If the dream speaks truly, then Doom is near at hand with the revealing of Isildur's Bane. What is this thing that carries our doom with it? More than a simple Orc-arrow, surely! Isildur was a mighty warrior, who fought the Dark Lord face to face, and brought about his downfall. Could it be some sort of heirloom of power and peril, which Isildur used against the Dark One, only to himself feel its bite in the end? A mighty weapon of some kind, perhaps, that could give advantage in battle, if properly used?

Now that would be news indeed to bring to my father! A chance encounter in the forest – then suddenly, in our hands, the weapon we need to defeat the Enemy and save our people!

But what would a Halfling be doing with such a weapon?

I do not understand this! Why can I not decide what to do?  I who am usually so resolute, and bold to act? Why this indecision? Doom is at hand; does it follow in the footsteps of this small one? If danger may come to my City because of what this Halfling carries, then should I not now slay him, and prevent this evil? Or should I take him before my father, ere he be allowed to continue on his way?

I cannot allow them to continue their journey, not if there is a chance of danger to Gondor – that much I know, at least. At all costs, my people and my City must be protected; that is why such a command has been given. Yet I can no more slay these two, than I could slay a child who had wandered onto the battlefield!

But... they know something...

I must know what it is!

Alas for my brother! How I miss him! If only he were here, instead of me – he might know better what to do. But he is not here, and the choice is mine.

Alas that Faramir went on that errand! I should have been chosen, as the elder son and the heir of my father. I put myself forward, and should have been given the errand, but Father refused me in the end.

"Your place is with your people, Boromir," Father had said, despite my arguments. "You are the heir and the Captain-General; I need you here, in Gondor. I cannot allow you to be wasted on a journey that may lead nowhere. You cannot leave your people. Your brother will go... it is his errand, his dream."

And so Faramir left me, and went away, and I have not seen him since...

And now I receive word of him, at last! He found his answers – but I am left with more questions.  How can I choose? He is satisfied with the claim of this King out of the wild... but I know him not! What need has Gondor of a King now, who knows nothing of our need, of our long struggle? Where has he been all this time, while we fought, and bled, and died?

And yet…

Faramir is wise, and a reader of men. His support of this supposed King and the errand of this small one should not be lightly set aside, not if Faramir believes in them...

Such a choice before me!

It comes back to this, then: what is to be done with these two Halflings, who have an errand they hide from me? An errand involving a mighty weapon that could mean the Doom of Minas Tirith…

Or perhaps… a weapon that could mean her saving? Could such a weapon be used against Sauron, I wonder? Why do they not speak plainly? Do they fear me? There is no need to fear me – I am a true man!

Ah, Faramir, my brother! Would it all be different if you were here in my place, and I there, in yours? What would you do now, if you were here in Ithilien? How would you decide concerning these two small ones? I wonder...

You would choose mercy, I think, for you are always loath to kill unnecessarily; a fine quality in a man, but hard to sustain in these dark days. Would you set aside the law, and allow them to continue their journey?

I wish I knew more of their errand!  If I were there where you are, would I support this errand, as they claim you do? Would I set aside the need of our people in favor of this mysterious quest? Will what this little one carries help us here in Gondor, or will it be our doom?

I fear I cannot allow this. I must choose for Gondor, for the White City; mercy is not an option if my people are in danger. The Halfling must tell me of his errand!  He must speak of Isildur's Bane. When I know more of what this thing is that he carries, then I will decide.

Then I shall make my choice...


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.

   
   
   

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Linaewen

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 05/17/10

Original Post: 03/17/05

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