19. Truth in Redemption
There were shadows everywhere, all around, but he would never again sink into them. He would never again know their sick ambitions, their cold caresses, and their silent violence. He would never again be slave to their malevolence. He had found his light, and his valor would keep him tightly bound to his new purpose. He would not falter.
These thoughts enveloped Boromir. They pounded upon his mind as his running feet did the forest floor. He knew them to be perhaps presumptuous, but he could not easily dissuade himself from sinking into their nobility and hope. In truth he found himself beginning to question. Though he had felt adamant in his quest, he wondered how he might actually fare once faced with the inevitable confrontation. It seemed so uncertain, and his mind was caught in an intense turmoil. No matter how much he sought to ignore it, his fear prodded constantly at his resolution. He did not know if he had the strength to do what was needed of him. He did not know if he could again best the demons within.
Nightfall had come quite heavily, and the forests of Minas Morgul seemed to grow blacker the closer he grew to Cirith Ungol. His feet followed a path east, chasing the stars as they peeked through the dense canopy of dark, leafless limbs. Though the road binding together Minas Tirith and Cirith Ungol was long eroded by times and abuse, he knew the way clearly enough. As the son of the Steward of Gondor, guarding the West against the spreading evil of Minas Morgul was a responsibility that often had brought him to these woods. Many a previous patrol had led his company through this maze, scouting for signs of rising monster or threat. The malevolence of Mordor had indeed poisoned the land, leaving it sick and dying. Boromir wondered how much more these old, great trees might have to suffer before they were again free to flourish.
He ran steadily. If his body was tired, he did not feel it. Driving him now was something greater than guilt or shame. No longer was he fueled by his need for acceptance. This had not disappeared but diminished to mere trifle concern. Legolas had, intentionally or not, given him a new purpose, and he was both grateful and alarmed by its appearance. He had bound himself to it without second thought. He did not know whether it would deliver him redemption. As he ran, though, he found it strange that he did not particularly care. Finding peace again was a selfish dream that he could not afford to possess. It could not be his priority. He began to realize that it truly made little difference if again Aragorn trusted him, or if once more he could wrestle with Merry and Pippin or enjoy a quiet, grateful glance with Frodo. If Legolas ever forgave him. These things were of course important, but they were shadowed by a larger truth. They meant little if he could never grant himself absolution. A pardon would not come easy if indeed it was coming at all, and he did not know if striving for such a thing would even grant him the strength he needed to succeed. It was better to hope for a simple victory, not for his own sake but for the sake of Sam and Frodo. For Legolas. For his kingdom. Facing Saruman meant unleashing a part himself that was huddled protectively under the allure of the Ring, a piece of his soul that was ill with greed and lust. Standing against the fiend he once was would be a daunting task, for now he was beginning to understand that that demon was not of the Rings making. The desire to have power, even if it would have been used for good, had lived inside him before the Ring had touched his finger. The evil trinket had merely been the means to express that greed, and it had twisted him from man to monster, as it had so many in the past. A dangerous trap indeed! He knew that confronting Saruman would again breathe to life his smothered desires. Worry over it now chilled his heart and pained his mind. Still, this he intended to do. He could not hope for redemption when so much more was at stake than a simple peace of mind.
Even now he felt it. Though Boromir guarded himself with guilt and valor against the Rings song, it still found its way into his heart, luring his spirit constantly into shadow, pushing at his consciousness with unrelenting hunger. It still enticed him, lurking under his thoughts, undermining his best intentions. Boromir doubted he would ever be rid of its lulling song, and it drained him in times of silence to keep its dominating whisper at bay. It was his curse. He knew that even if he should now stop Saruman, if he should somehow manage to steal this palantir of which Legolas had spoke, the Ring would not abandon him. As though fate sought to punish him for his ambition, the call had been imprinted upon him, staining his being as much as his crimes did his name. He was tarnished, tainted by the shadow. Again Legolas words plagued him, enticing further guilt and sorrow. "I would have you follow your heart. It holds the greatest sway over your mind. Be it evil, you will do evil, and I cannot change that. It is the same for us all. You cannot absolve yourself. The weight of what we are and what we have done is to each of us our own curse." They compounded his skepticism, for he knew how true they were. He knew not the substance of his own heart. He thought perhaps once he had, before the Ring had ever come to his knowledge. Before he had been pure and noble, doing what he thought right for his people and never anything less. For his father he had been a strong son, taking upon him tasks the ailing steward could not himself handle. For his brother he had been a confident friend, a leader through dark times and frightening places. For his kingdom, he had once thought himself to be its hope. The Ring had taken away every shred of his dignity, butchering his pride and labeling him friend to the shadow and traitor to the light. He idly wondered how he could still lust for it.
Still, no matter how he turned and twisted his fears and worries, he could make no comfort come from them. Legolas was right, even though fever and despair had broken his mind into delirium. Boromir would do what he would when the moment came, who he was and what he had done driving him down one final road. Even though this brought the man great uncertainty and anxiousness, there was yet some reassurance. With Legolas he could not fully agree. Only he could absolve himself. Only he could make right what he had wronged. The mistakes he had made, the sickness of the Ring that he had inflicted upon himself, was indeed his own burden, his own curse. As it was his in making, it would be his in destroying. He knew not the mettle of his spirit nor the bend of his will, but his heart would not easily again succumb to the shadow. He allowed himself to have this hope. Perhaps the thought was naïve or foolish, but it was all he had left: this one wish to change the course of the future and the steady pounding of his running feet.
Ahead came a soft clamor, and Boromir slowed. He swallowed his pounding heart and tried to hold his racing breath as he listened. The night was quiet, but though the silence felt heavy, it could not cover the sound of feet upon the forest floor and the clank of armor. Not far walked quite a few beings, though the shadows frustratingly hid their location from his scanning glance. Boromir narrowed his eyes dangerously. His hand immediately strayed to the hilt of his sword.
"That is an ill move, my friend."
Boromirs heart nearly stopped in fright. The voice! He ripped around and gaped.
Indeed behind him stood his brother. For his own part, Faramir stared at him. As the moment dragged onward, the threatening gaze weakened in obvious amazement and disbelief, and the hand, which had clenched about the pommel of his weapon, relaxed. "Boromir " he whispered weakly. To Fararmirs rear stood a small company of soldiers, who in incredulity were lowering bows and blades. Even in the poor light, Boromir knew them to be men of Gondor, the proud crest blazoned upon their chest plates. But he could afford them little attention, for the expression on his siblings face most disturbed him. The elation and relief, which had weakened his heart and brought tears to his eyes, quickly faded.
Boromir stepped forward, his arms held open, his face broken in confusion. Faramir continued to regard him with wide, horrified eyes. His brother had always had a pale countenance, but it seemed all the color had completely drained from his skin, leaving him quite ashen. He had always thought Faramir had inherited their mothers peaceful features, for his face was kind and gentle with eyes that were slow to ignite in anger and a lax jaw that rarely tightened lined in a light, brown beard. They stood at equal height, divided by a fateful task, reunited perhaps by happenstance. "What ails you, brother?" Boromir asked quietly, too unnerved to remain silent any longer. How he longed to rush forward and envelope Faramir in a hearty hug! Yet his uneasiness kept his heart and body still. "You are pale as though you have seen a ghost!"
Faramirs ashen lips barely moved. "I may have," he gasped, shaking his head, "for it was said that you were slain!"
Shock coursed through Boromir, planting his feet firmly into the ground. He felt confusion muddle his already torn and rattled mind. "Slain?" he repeated incredulously. His eyes glazed in distant thought. Questions he could not answer plowed over him, nagging at his concentration. One slipped from numbed lips. "Who spoke such?"
"I know not," answered Faramir softly, stepping closer to his brother. Boromir focused upon him, watching with stunned eyes as Faramir tentatively reached forward. The silence lingered as the two stood, each numb with relief and confusion. Finally Faramir grasped Boromirs hand, and his face broke its tense expression. "Ai, you are no figment! I thought mayhap my eyes were playing a foul trick as penance for exhaustion, but they do not! Boromir!" With that, Faramir wrapped his arms around him.
Boromir gasped and his trepidation melted. Without reservation he returned the warm embrace, feeling tears burn his eyes. His heart swelled with love and relief. Never had he thought to meet his brother here! Such a joyous and surprising gift! He squeezed Faramir tightly, and in doing such, many wonderful memories of childhood and home slipped through his dazed head. "I have missed you," he whispered softly into the others shoulder.
Faramir pulled away with a gasp. A smile lit his face, a sloppy grin that reminded him of so many jokes and laughs shared in the past. "And I you, my dear brother! Tell me, where have you gone? What have you done? We received but a message that you have left with group in Rivendell, a Fellowship, I believe they called it. Naught else we heard! You must speak of it all!"
Boromir winced. His heart clenched painfully, turning his relief murky with grimy guilt. It seemed so wrong for Faramir to blindly accept him. He knew the other could not have been aware of his descent into evil at the hands of the Ring. Still, anything he wished to say of the Fellowship seemed tainted by his crimes. He yearned not to lie anymore, especially to his beloved brother. "The quest did not go well," he admitted after an endless moment of silence. "We met great peril."
Faramirs face then became somber. "Then it is true," he whispered despondently.
A frantic pain sliced through Boromirs remorseful, awkward haze. "Of what do you speak?" he asked quickly, watching his brother with imploring eyes.
Faramir seemed a bit hesitant, as though what he had to reveal was dark and distressing. His anxiety served to only further unnerve Boromir. "It is rumored that a great, foul evil glowers in the east. A black heat billows from Mount Doom, and the dark forces are rising." Boromir blanched. Worry and fear suddenly turned his senses dizzy and his stomach queasy. "From Rohan came a rider. I never had the chance to meet him, but Father took his warning to heart. This man spoke of the threat from Mordor. There seems to be a new alliance between the Deceiver and the Firstborn."
For a moment, Boromir could not understand what he had been told. His mind reeled in utter stupefaction, spinning in a desperate attempt to make sense of the words. "Betrayal by the Elves?" he said softly. The words felt bitter and rotten coming from his lips.
"That is what he said. Yet more did he tell of a battle at Isengard where man turned on man." Faramirs eyes clouded in sadness and perplexity. "He spoke of your death, at the hands of the heir of Isildur."
Boromir snapped from his musings. His eyes glinted hardly as he looked to his brother sternly. "That is a lie!" he snapped coldly. He could not describe the ache inside him inflicted by the statement. It was as though the accusation were directed at him and not Aragorn. It throbbed with a pain he did not often feel. It was more than shame, more than anger. It was the blood of a friendship torn. He felt it cover his hands, thick and hot, and he knew it would be hard to ever cleanse himself of it.
He realized Faramir was staring at him, a question poised on his lips and alarm in his eyes. "And Father believed this informer?"
"Not wholly," Faramir explained. "It was not something he could simply brush aside, though. I know little of what happened, for Father sent me here to judge to state of Mordor shortly after he received the warning. I do know that he intended to arrest the heir of Isildur upon his arrival in Gondor." Boromir blanched. He felt as though he had been struck in the stomach. "Certainly by now he has been jailed. I do not know whether or not Father ordered him executed."
"Surely not!" Boromir gasped. His voice was little more than an astonished, terrified whisper.
Faramir shook his head. "I do not know. Do not fault him, brother! A great mourning went over the White City. We were all torn with grief!" A long, empty moment passed, sadistically dragging out the painful discovery. Boromir felt numb, lost in despair. Once he might have been able to brush aside such news. Once his spite and anger towards Aragorn had shielded him. He was no longer so blind or so hateful.
Faramir smiled again, though this time the gesture seemed weaker and a bit uncertain. He clasped Boromir on the shoulder firmly. "But all is well now, for you are safe. Father will be overjoyed to see you return to Minas Tirith!"
Boromir shook his head vehemently. "Nay, Faramir, naught is well. I cannot return with you."
A gasp went through the other men. Faramirs eyes clouded in worry and confusion. "Why ever not? I am certain that when we arrive this matter can be fixed. The heir of Isildur will surely be released if there is indeed no crime of his fault!"
"I cannot!" Boromir gasped. The haze of fear and despair began to fade, and his objective again emerged. His gripped his brothers shoulders strongly, gazing directly into the others bewildered eyes, ans spoke quickly. "You must ride home to Father, Faramir! You must tell him that Aragorn is not to blame for what has happened! I am!"
The others face cracked in hurt and frustration. "You are? I do not understand!"
"There is no time to explain," Boromir answered, feeling panic begin to coil in his stomach. His guilt and shame reached a peak inside him, pushing him forward in his words. He wanted nothing less than to appear weak before his brother, than to smear his pride and dignity before the one who did not yet know the truth, than to himself condemn what he had done. But he had no other choice. His heart bled and ached, but he could not allow his dislike of Aragorn to any longer jeopardize everything he held dear! "You must do this. Father must step down and allow Aragorn to lead Gondor!"
Now anger flashed in Faramirs gaze. His eyes burned in aggravated confusion. "Are you daft, brother? Father abdicate the throne?! You talk of madness!"
"It is no madness!" Boromir shouted, feeling his own patience dwindle. It gnawed at him inside to argue with his sibling, but time and fate had left him no other option. "Aragorn, son of Arathorn, heir of Elendil and Isildur, must now lead us! I know it seems queer and crazy, but you need to see the truth! The Elves are no threat to us! If we break ties with them now, all will come to ruin!"
"You must see, Boromir, the danger in trusting blindly! If we turn our backs, the witch of Lórien will call to her vile powers with which we cannot contend! The Elves of the Golden Wood will attack us. With Mordor to the east and Lórien to the west, we will be crushed!" Faramir lowered his voice, but his eyes were alive with concern and anger. "There are reports of an army of woodland Elves marching south. What business have they amongst us?"
Boromir closed his eyes. So much pressed upon him, and he was growing weary from its endless bombardment. "I cannot say, but I do know that they mean us no harm. In the Fellowship was an Elf of great heart and strength. He was representative of his kind. The sacrifice he made to Middle Earth is immeasurable! There is little sense in deceit following forfeit!" Faramir opened his mouth to object, but Boromir released a slow breath and gripped his brother harder. "Please, Faramir, I do not say these things lightly. If this is a madness that drives me, it is one of my own making. There is little time, and should we stand divided when the dark forces attack, we will stand no chance. I ask you as your commander, your brother, and your friend to do me this favor. Return home on swift feet and bade Father to release Aragorn! I fear he alone can protect the kingdom of men now!"
Quiet. It was filled with nothing but harsh breathing. Faramir still did not seem overly convinced by Boromirs argument, his face broken in hesitation. Clearly he was torn. It was to be expected, for his brother had requested of him to rush home only to tell their father, whose family had for many years ruled Minas Tirith, that he must now relinquish the throne. Boromir could not fault him for his indecision; this was no simple task! "If you will not trust Aragorn, then trust me. I have never before led you astray."
These final words ended the conflict. Faramir released a slow breath and nodded gravely. "I have never doubted you, brother. I will not now, no matter how much of this disaster you claim is of your creation. I will do as you say," he declared quietly, his voice reluctant but otherwise agreeing.
Boromir thought he might collapse from relief. Tiredly he closed his eyes. It had taken a great deal of his will to finally admit that perhaps Aragorn could succeed where he had failed. "Thank you, my dear brother."
"Father will not be pleased."
Boromir sighed and looked to Faramir once more. He sadly answered, "I know. Tell him that I apologize, as well. I have done him a great disservice. I pray he may never come to know of it." The pain was becoming great, and he looked away to hide the tears building in his eyes. It was but a small price to pay for the greater good of all. "Now, go! Please let nothing stop you!"
Faramir lingered a moment, as if caught in a strange moment of understanding. They locked eyes once more, sharing a look of unspoken grief and unaccepted parting. It was a chance meeting, perhaps, but fate had clashed, and a moment of healing passed. Apology was offered and received. It held an unwanted finality.
Then Faramir grinned weakly, as though uncomfortable in the sorrowful silence and ignorant of the greater war raging behind the clarity of his brothers eyes. "Until we meet again, Boromir!" he declared.
Boromir jabbed his teeth into his lower lip to prevent its quivering. He nodded, having no voice to reply and not trusting his words to hide his despair. Faramir shared with him one last proud, affectionate glance. Apparently not even the worst admittance of guilt could tarnish his brothers opinion of him!
Then Faramir turned to his men. He barked an order, and they disappeared into the shadows of the woods.
Boromir watched them depart, and then stared blankly into the shadows. His brothers laugh, those innocent, loving eyes, clung to his heart, and he simply felt for a while. The rush of memories was as painful as it was beautiful. He cherished them as they passed through his pained mind once more. As quick as the burst came, it was gone, and he could imagine Faramirs face no longer. A cold tear escaped his eye and trickled down his face.
The shadows became too strong, and he looked away. Then again he ran. Deep inside he knew nothing would stop Faramir in the task he had laid upon him, and that brought Boromir relief. If Aragorn was freed, perhaps they yet had a chance. He let his mind abandon thoughts of Gondor. He had done what he had wanted; he had given Aragorn the chance to protect his people. It was no longer his concern.
He had passed his first trial.
Cirith Ungol was a horrible place. It was a great black tower flanked by forbidding mountains that stabbed into the sky. Once it had been magnificent, strong and impermeable to weather, time, and evil. Forever guarding the dangers of Mordor, it had stood at the gate to the dark lands, the diligent soldier that never ended its watch. When Sauron had claimed it for his own, its beautiful white stone had turned foul and dark, its majesty twisted into an instrument of wickedness. Now it was a dreary landmark, rising to the stars like a knife seeking to stab the peaceful sky simply because of its beauty. The cold aura of evil radiated from it like heat from a fire.
Boromir steeled himself. He gritted his teeth and tensed his body. He could not deny his fear. This was a stronghold of Sauron, a place where few dared to tread. It invoked dread in many, for it was terribly close to Gondor. As a precaution, his father often sent out scouting parties into Minas Morgul to gauge the situation of the area and the mood of the woods. Very rarely did they travel so deeply into the forest. Here the trees were dead, twisted and bent beyond recognition. They seemed an army of lost spirits that had valiantly died and locked limbs together to form a blockade, warding away innocents from this nest of evil. Boromir imagined that the souls of men lost resided in these old soldiers, still protective even in death. The blood of Gondor was not easy to defeat.
He walked now, having lost both the strength and the courage to run. All around him the land seemed to leer, reaching out with wisps of the fog of early dawn to seductively caress him and pull him into their vile embrace. As though he were little more than a matter of prey inadvertently wandering into the lair of the predator, they pushed him along gently, coaxing him forward to what could inevitably be his doom. Boromir narrowed his eyes and concentrated on what he must do. He would not allow the dreary woods to defeat him so early.
His mind raced, though his face was impassive and his steps were steady. He knew little of Cirith Ungol. It was a winding tower, constructed to be strong against invasion. He doubted that had changed over time. His limited knowledge of the place would do him little good, and he knew more than simple Orcs guarded its entrances and vulnerabilities. He would stand no chance in attacking it. Ignorance would become blindness, and he could not juggle both the unfamiliar surroundings and besting whatever demons lie in wait. Assault was simply not an option.
He swallowed his panic as he approached the black gates. What then could he do? He ran over the problem again and again, desperately seeking some sort of solution. When nothing came to him, he began to grow fearful. He could not just simply march into Cirith Ungol, stare Saruman in the eye, and demand the wizard turn over the palantir! Such foolery! He must have some sort of plan! As he thought, though, the strangest idea came to him. It seemed so utterly outrageous that at first he simply dismissed it. When the moment wore on and he tried to conjure up some other means of success, it continued to return to him, poking at his conscious until again he had to consider it.
No. I cannot. I will not! It was too difficult to simply cast the notion aside, even though he hated it and its implications. He shook inside in fear and uncertainty as he pondered it. He would obviously never be able to either slip inconspicuously into Cirith Ungol or defeat its innumerable guards. Perhaps the best course of action would be to indeed simply walk inside. He could again make an alliance with the dark forces. However, it would be just a façade, a rouse to permit his entrance. Would Saruman be fooled by this? He did not know. The Istar was frighteningly cunning and wise; Boromir doubted he could long deceive him, if he might at all. The idea began to take greater shape. Simple lies would not be enough to create the illusion of evil; Saruman and the Eye would undoubtedly see through to his heart. He would have to again succumb to the Ring.
His mind became numb and he stopped. The implications were dreadful, and he despised the idea more with each passing moment. If he again let himself go in the fire of the lusty song, he might not again be able to tear away. The desire coiled in his heart in anticipation, eating at his resolve, and he wondered if there might not be some other way. He knew that releasing himself to his desire could inevitably lead to his downfall. He never again wanted to be slave to the shadow, to be locked in that cage of his own making and watch as his body did wrong and evil. But the more he thought on the matter, the more clearly did this undeniable truth appear. This was his only choice. He would have to again don desire for the Ring and guise himself in corruption. When the moment came, he would somehow pull himself away. Again he would become a traitor. This time it was Saruman he would betray.
Boromir tried not to think more of it. Many questions and concerns were left that he could not answer, and he was terrified. He walked again, wavering somewhat, but quickly regaining his strength. In his heart he found his anger and focused upon it. Saruman had done much to destroy Middle Earth. Many had died at Helms Deep. Many more were likely to perish in the coming battles. The fallen Istar had twisted light into shade and beauty into sickness. He had poisoned Isengard. He was making possible the tracking of Sam. He had beaten Legolas, tortured him, and rendered him into something less than what he had been. The wizard must pay! Upon these vengeful thoughts he concentrated, and the rage gave him strength. In its fire the worries and fears melted. He would stop Saruman.
The rage became hate. The hate grew to lust. Lust for power. Greed for the Ring. The song rose inside him, gleefully seeking to dominate once more his mind, and he did not fight. Closing his eyes, he let his body fall freely into the flames. In memory he felt the Ring in his hand, saw its sleek beauty glinting in the sunlight, its raw power lulling his eyes and teasing his heart with a lovers caress. He knew again the satisfaction of Frodos defeat and Legolas fear. The vile hatred of Aragorn, the wretched bide for control, took his heart. Into the cage he thrust his shaking conscience. This was his curse, and he would use it.
Darkly he stalked on a beaten path to the tower. There were eyes all around, suspiciously watching his every move, but he brushed them aside. They were of little concern. Every muscle in his body was tense with longing and anger. At the massive, dark doors that blocked the entrance stood two Nazgûl, sheathed in shadow. Their swords were drawn, glimmering in the weak light of the rising, gray sun, and these were stabbed into the barren ground. Claws rested upon the hilts, nonchalantly declaring to any that sought to pass that death would came rapidly and painlessly should deception be seen.
He did not falter, fearlessly marching by them. They made no move, stiff as statues, allowing his entrance. Foolish demons.
The place smelled foul, of rotting flesh and dank mildew. Boromir narrowed his eyes. Before him was a great hall. Once perhaps it might have been festooned with great tapestries depicting the glory of Gondor. Now it was littered with dust, cobwebs, and the remains of long dead soldiers. The morning light barely crept inside, the beams that did penetrate illuminating only floating dust and barely strong enough to pierce the shadows on opposite walls. Doors marked the hall on both the left and right, stretching perhaps twenty feet before they disappeared. At its end was a massive, winding staircase.
There was a grunt and the sound of dragging feet. From the shadows emerged a small, bent creature of slimy flesh and beady eyes. The Orc offered a weak and slightly apprehensive grin. The sight was hideous. "Lord Saruman will be most happy at your return," it declared in a raspy, nasal tone.
Boromir was slightly surprised that the Orc remembered him, but let nothing pierce his angry visage. "Indeed. Take me to him."
The Orc nodded before shuffling ahead quickly. Boromir followed it as it ascended the winding staircase. Torches were periodically hung on the stone walls, casting orange light over their path of weathered steps. Every so often they passed a narrow window and Boromir glanced outside. As they rose, the lands of Mordor became visible, gray and rocky in the dawn. So very distant was the red heat of Mount Doom scorching the eastern sky. He wondered where the Ring might be. Somewhere in those black lands Sam carried it, seeking to destroy its simple glory and end the mans dreams. He hated that Hobbit then and wished him peril. The Ring should have come to him!
It took a great deal of his untainted will to keep his mind directed upon his goal here. The Rings press upon him was growing stronger with each step, and he wanted nothing more than to flee this silly quest and charge into Mordor himself. Perhaps he might find Sam and acquire the Ring again. The dream was utterly delicious. Yet his nagging duty kept him bound to this matter in Cirith Ungol. Boromir remembered Sarumans seething words so many days past when he had fled Isengard. The wizard now deserved retribution.
Finally they reached the pinnacle. The Orc skittered up the last stairs, leading him to an open, circular area. Here four pillars upheld the dark ceiling high above their heads, the blackness hiding its features. Between the corners was nothing but open air, the perfect vantage. It overlooked Mordor to the east and Minas Tirith to the west.
Gray light spilled into the room. Seated at its center at the head of a long table was Saruman. The white wizards eyes were closed in meditation, his hands resting idly on the oak. Spread across the table were parchments and papers. "My Lord," said the Orc, "he has come."
"So I see," responded Saruman. Then it became silent. Boromir stood stiffly, regarding the wizard with a burning glare. "You are late in rejoining us, son of Denethor. I assume your search for your lost nobility yielded nothing."
Boromir narrowed his gaze and clenched his fists. "They rejected me," he answered coolly. He was surprised at the truth in both the statement and the spite he found lacing the tone.
"And now you look to the shadow, seeking acceptance and comfort here?" Saruman chuckled quietly, his deep voice rumbling powerfully. "Men are such fickle creatures!"
The insult irked him, but he did not allow his rage to overcome him. "I have come, my Lord, to offer my aid and nothing else," he stated simply. The furious desire for the Ring tainted his words and gave him strength.
Saruman stood slowly. The white of his robes made him glow in the waning shadows. "Is that so?" he asked, a doubting note upon his words. His voice dripped with sarcasm and reproach. "And how would you propose to help me?"
"I can offer you the allegiance of Gondor when the time comes."
Saruman laughed. The depthless, piercing eyes grew hard. "You offer me nothing, son of Denethor. I have already secured said loyalty," he announced smugly.
Boromir never wavered in his glare. His eyes bored into Sarumans. "Presumptuous," declared he, with a tone of equal arrogance and strength. "I know little of wizards, but it is said that you are both the wisest and the most potent. I find it laughable that you would make such a foolish assumption! Perhaps you have grown lazy as your plans have borne you victory?"
"Silence!" Saruman shouted. Unspeakable power crackled along his taut form. His eyes were burning in threat. They stared at each other for a long moment, each powerful and intimidating. That which bound them was the same sick obsession. The lust for the Ring gave them both their strength. Finally Saruman turned away, his body once again calm. "I will hear you out, son of Denethor. Know that I have already sent a spy to Minas Tirith. He has guised himself as an innocent informer from Rohan, bearing words of warning to both stop Isildurs wretched heir from taking the throne and to turn Gondor against the Elves. The Last Alliance will surely falter."
Boromir now understood much of what his brother had told him. The lies about his murder, the distrust of the Elves Saruman had planted the seeds of dissent in his fathers court. Yet of this revelation he spoke not. "Your spy will fail, Saruman. My father does not trust easily."
Saruman watched him keenly a moment. Boromir stood erect, letting no emotion save anger and lust come to his eyes. Then the wizard sighed, almost tiredly, and sank back into his chair. He seemed weary and ancient. It was a strange thing to see, this most powerful of the Istari appearing as worn, frustrated, and exhausted as any mortal. "I fear you may be right. Wormtongue has proven himself a greater burden than aid. He is too driven by his own greed. Only recently have I received note from him that he intends to drive to Lórien and take for himself the ring Nenya." Boromirs brow furrowed in confusion. "Such sudden gall for one so cowardly! Though I would much revel in the destruction of the wretched Golden Wood, now is simply not the time. There are greater concerns. Should man betray Elf, Lórien would inevitably fall." Saruman gave a whimsical, crooked grin. "Greed breeds little patience."
Confused, Boromir regarded the wizard in annoyance. Still, this matter was of little concern. "Even you know his actions to be inadequate," he surmised quietly.
Sarumans dark gaze focused upon him. Though the glare was venomous, Boromir refused to falter beneath its assault. "If he has shirked his greater responsibilities, he will in the end meet his punishment." The wizard gently tapped the arms of his great chair with his long nails. The clicking noise was most loud and infuriating in the silence. "You have made your point, son of Denethor. Tell me what you might do to remedy the issue."
Gleeful euphoria passed over the man at his won opportunity, but his face remained taut and impassive. "I will ride to Minas Tirith and succeed where your spy did not. I have long held my fathers absolute trust on matters of state. He will listen to me."
"And if he does not?"
A small smile crept to Boromirs pale face. "Then I will kill him." Sarumans eyes seemed doubtful. The lies flowed too easily from the mans lips. "My father has too long ruled Gondor with a hesitant hand. He is weak and lacks ambition. The kingdom has wasted under his indecision! I can better bring men to glory!" An insane giggle filled the air. "I would rise to power. I will crush the Elves. This I will do for you!"
Saruman appraised him with distrustful eyes. "I doubt your words," he simply declared.
The pain welled up inside him. Inside the cage his heart screamed and bellowed. These murderous words! Ai, how they hurt him! More excruciating still was the joy he felt inside him at their utterance. The greed, the mad lust for power, wielded his body again through the call of the Ring. The crying of his heart became shrill. Do not falter! Do not fail! "You are a fool. It is the leadership of Gondor that has driven me in all I have done. Why now would I abandon it? Why would I betray my friends and my pride only to now relinquish this dream? My father means little to me; he disgraces the blood of Ecthelion!"
Boromir lingered in the moment, waiting for Sarumans decision, struggling to simply breathe. Would the wizard now see through his illusion? Would the Rings guise prove too easily discarded? Perhaps the desire had indeed been weakened by the valor of his heart! He prayed the evil within him was still strong enough to protect him.
Finally Saruman nodded. Tensing his knees was all Boromir could do to remain on his feet. He swallowed his relieved sigh. "I assume you do not do this without regard to reward. What would you ask of me?"
This was his chance. He must be careful in his words! "Little beyond a chance to reclaim what I have lost. You must have means to track the Ring. I have heard of a seeing stone, a palantir."
"You wish to find the Ring yourself," Saruman declared evenly. He raised an eyebrow. "You would have me give you the palantir."
Boromir nodded firmly, never lowering his gaze. "I do not ask to deceive you. Surely you see the logic in my request! I know the Hobbit that carries the Ring. For weeks I traveled with him, studying his moves and his thoughts. I am a valuable asset to your search."
The tapping continued. "And what would you do with the Ring?"
A slow smile twisted Boromirs face. "I do not deny that my heart greatly yearns for it. Yet, I will present to you a covenant of sorts. Allow me to find the Ring and in return I will assure your victory."
"It does not belong to you, son of Denethor."
Boromir stiffened. His anger forced the words from his mouth. "No more than it belongs to you." The wizard glared at him icily, but he charged on. The words resounded in his head. His own hateful demands. It could have been mine! It should be mine! "You cannot lie to me, Saruman! The same lust is in my blood! The same desire steals my sleep and riddles my heart with longing! You will take the Ring when you find it!"
Saruman rose from his chair. His small, aged figure was tight with menace. Anger like lightning flashed through his eyes. "You would dare question my loyalty to Sauron?" he hissed dangerously.
"Loyalty?" laughed Boromir. "There are no allies in greed."
There was silence for a moment. Then Sarumans rage seemed to abate. The wizards mottled, pale face grew lax, and he sank back into his chair. "Strange indeed," he mused, staring at Boromir as though the man were a spectacle of interest. "The Elf said the very same."
Boromirs heart stopped. His blood turned to ice water. He could not breathe. Had he gone too far? He hurt inside, his caged spirit throbbing. Did the evil ever see the truth in their wicked ways? He could say nothing, not knowing what might erase the damning words. Saruman seemed amused at his silence. The clacking of his nails resumed. "I will grant your request, Boromir. Take thepalantir. Try to find the Ring."
He could scarce believe what he had heard. Still, he let none of his relief and joy touch his face. The wizard reached into his white robes. From their flowing folds he produced a small globe. It rested in his palm, glowing innocently. Within it swirled the deepest purples and blues. The motion of the colors seemed powerful and lulling. Boromir stared at it in awe and longing. This small, pretty trinket could show him the Ring? It seemed so insignificant!
"I expect your allegiance when the time comes," declared Saruman as he offered the palantir to Boromir. The man accepted it slowly, numb with excitement and rapture. It felt cool in his hands. Its promise seemed incredible, rushing through his body and leaving him breathless and tingling. "Go now."
The world crashed down on Boromir. The controlling will of the Ring snapped, and his heart screamed. Run! Waste no time! He bowed briefly and stiffly. His fear and shock was enough to keep the smile from his face. He turned then and walked away, neither man nor monster trusting itself enough to keep hidden its agenda. He stepped past the Orc, cradling the palantir against his chest. Quickly he descended the steps. His feet pounded against the stairs. His heart was racing. The silence was thick and smothering. His rushed breath was so very loud.
He flew down the tower. Inside the great hall he thundered, resisting the urge to sprint away with his hands clenched tightly about his prize. There were the opened doors. He stepped past them. The gray light had grown brighter, the shadows shrinking away from the sun. The Nazgûl remained motionless as he walked by. Pebbles crunched under his boots as he traversed the path. His senses were alive in tense nervousness. His heart boomed painfully in his chest. At any moment he expected an attack. When none came, he felt a strange smile come to his face. Surely it could not be this easy!
Nothing stopped him. He walked speedily in a numb daze, confused by the simplicity of what had just happened and overwhelmed by his success. Only when he again was deep in the forests did he let out an amazed laugh.
The trees seemed lighter now. The dull morning brought to them a bit of color. The forest was still and apprehensive, though. No peace came to it with the dawn. The air seemed tense and cold, stealing away absolution and hope. Boromir walked steadily, grasping the palantir tightly. His eyes he directed ahead. The path through the maze of angry trees was marked with haze and mist, and he worried he might now lose himself. His mind was in a different place. His heart felt trapped. The globe pressed to his palm taunted sweetly, and the song of the Ring sung a harmony to its call. Oh, how he wanted to look down upon it! It could show him the Ring. It could bring him power and privilege. He could again satiate his hunger! And why should I not? Why should I deny myself this? It is mine, after all! It belongs to me!
His thoughts terrified him. His spirit was beating against the cage, hollering a denial, a plea to again disengage himself from the lust that he had embraced to do what was needed of him. Horror drove his heart into a slamming fury and his feet into a panicked run. The call grew ever stronger, ever louder, deafening him. Consuming him. This was his curse truly! To come so far only to now fall!
It would not release him.
He ran and ran, pushing his body beyond all of its limits, but he could not elude the shadow. It chased him relentlessly, pursuing him with fervor borne his renewed embrace of the Ring. It sought to devour him, to capture him again in its suffocating embrace. The cage door had not swung open. He fought against it, against this driving greed and sweet allure, but he could not win. He could not escape!
Boromir released a choked sob and sank to his knees. The world was spinning. He squeezed his eyes shut against the pain and nausea. In his mind the Ring screamed and shouted, driving away his own control, crushing his sanity in its feral teeth. The palantir fell from his shaking fingers when he pressed his hands over his ears, as if that simple action could somehow erase the chilling song within him. He could not fight this! He did not have the strength! The want was simply too strong. Would his own weakness again be his downfall?
There would be no rest until he looked. There would never be serenity until he fulfilled this desire. What harm could come of it? It made little difference! For weeks he had grappled with the weight of his crimes, of the Rings demands. For an eternity, it seemed, he had fought to maintain the façade of nobility. Who would know of this moment of defeat? Who would it hurt?
What sick reasoning! Yet he had not the will to deny. He had no strength to fight himself. This final submission would be the most damning.
Trembling hands cupped the palantir. His eyes came open with a gasp and quickly they looked, peering into the mesh of deep hues intently. The madness drove him; his spirit shriveled. He had failed.
For a moment there was nothing but an eerie silence punctuated by his own gasping. Then there came a vision, splitting the wall of midnight within the smooth globe, and he watched. It was a sight of fire, of rage, of death. He winced as the heat scorched his face. The Eye glared at him with such intensity that he cried out. The great lidless watcher peered into his soul, prodding about the limp and decimated spirit in search of the truth. Then came a flash of searing warmth and blinding light, and the palantir showed him what he sought.
At first he could make little sense of it. It was a pile of rocks, a collection of debris upon the gray grounds of Mordor. There was shrieking in the distance. Minas Morgul was silent, and Boromir realized the shrill screams came from within the globe. Shivers ran down his back. Nazgûl. He peered closer. Something was beneath the wreckage. He saw a bit of green cloth, a spot of skin. A glint of gold. With a horrific slap, the realization struck him. Sam And clenched in the small, injured Hobbits hand was the Ring.
Boromir shrieked. The Ring grabbed his attention eagerly and would not release it. There was blood on the limp fingers. He wanted to glance elsewhere, to perhaps see if Sam was alive, but the greedy Ring dominated his own will, and his treacherous eyes had not the strength to look away. Was this the plight he had caused? Oh, but for all the want of his heart did he wish this not to be so! Finally he had found his precious trinket. The price for it was great indeed!
For the first time he regretted ever holding the Ring.
Tears rolled down his face unbidden. There was a laughing, a hurtful chuckle of sadistic hilarity. This is what you have caused. This is what you have done for the sake of your own greed! Is this what you wanted? How very many lives you have destroyed! So many left to pillage! This is what loving the Ring is! Look, now! Look and see the monster you have become!
Boromir closed his eyes. The Ring sang to him like never before. Where once the melody was enticing, it was now a vicious jab, a sneering gloat. This was not who he was! Ah, but it is! You have dreamed of power, of the glory of Gondor restored. Everything that has happened stemmed from that dream. You were not meant to rule! You were not meant to live now! You were not meant to bear the One!
"I will destroy you," hissed the man, gritting his teeth. His entire being shook in terror.
The laughter came again. Above the sick chanting of the dark Ring, it reverberated through his skull. It sounded sickly like Saruman. Would you, now? Would you renounce this dream? In doing so, you would renounce your existence!
He took a deep breath against the bile in his throat. "It is an existence not meant to be."
Fool! I see into your heart. You sought to trick, but the Eye knows all. You will again embrace the shadow! You will again be one with the dark forces! Your love of yourself will never allow you to change! You need this stone to find the Ring. You must find the Ring! You are a slave to its power!
The rage exploded within him. He moved without thinking. The blade of Gondor came free from its sheath as he scrambled to his feet. With a howl of defiance, he slammed the sword down. The flat edge smashed against the palantir. The innocent globe shattered with a bang under the force, spraying shards of glass in an explosion.
A long time passed before Boromir again could feel or think. Breathing was a strenuous activity, and he struggled to simply draw in air. He gazed blankly on the mess of broken glass upon the forest floor. Was it real? Had he truly done it?
His racing heart slowed and his exhausted body dropped to the ground. Feeling slowly came to him. The blade in his clenched hand. The cold ground beneath him. The chilly air around him. The light of the sun. He sat, his eyes burning with tears, his breathing charging the air. There was nothing but the simple mess of glass. He had cut the ties. He had defeated the demon within. He wept in joy. In his mind there was naught but silence. He was free!
Boromir could scarcely believe it. His heart pumped now in overwhelming elation, and he sobbed with near violent intensity. The palantir had offered him the means to find the Ring, and he had destroyed it. He had overcome! Victory at last! He gasped through his tears, feeling as though he might just simply collapse into worn dreams. Triumph seemed too unreal, too amazing.
He lay there for a long time, simply breathing. It was all he could do. His wearied and abused mind wandered like a caged bird finally released, and he thought of many things. Of Gondor he dreamed, standing tall and proud against the onslaught of shadow. He remembered words shared with Faramir, recalled the painful finality of their parting. He had survived what he had intended to do. Perhaps he might again meet his brother. He thought of his wise father leading the world of men to victory. Aragorn. Gimli. Merry and Pippin. Were they safe? He prayed they had strength left to fight. Sam and Frodo. Tears came to his eyes, but the shame now was not pounding his soul. He could accept it. Freedom had afforded him that ability. He could not change the past, but he had made better the future. Legolas. Legolas.
He sat up quickly. Terror rushed back
into his dazed mind, snapping worry and concern back into place. Panic jolted him, and he
jumped to his feet. He had left Legolas sick and alone in this dangerous place. He had
promised to return. He snatched up his sword and slid it back into his sheath. His boots
thundered on the ground, over the mess of glass, grinding the shards to dust. Without
another thought, he ran.
It was not long past noon the following day when Boromir returned to the place he had left his ailing comrade. A maelstrom of fervent emotions had jumbled his mind, and he had begun to wonder, as the hours wore painfully on, if he had perhaps lost his way. To his rushed, panicked eyes, the trees looked entirely too familiar, and his road was uncertain. It took all his will to regain command over his fright and worry and concentrate on finding the correct direction. As the day had worn, the gray clouds had slipped to the east on a gentle gale, clearing a path for the warm light of the sun. The rays eased his battered body and chased away his trepidation. They gave him hope. It had been so long since the day had been bright! With all his attention directed on his memory, he retraced his steps and found the meager camp.
He stood on its edge. A twig snapped beneath his feet, and those at the site looked up. Boromirs surprise abated quickly, turning from alarm to relief and then finally to joy. He met Aratadarions gaze firmly.
Aratadarion watched him blankly as he slowly approached. The Elf seemed equally stunned by his appearance. Deep brown eyes penetrated him, analyzing him somewhat suspiciously. He said nothing as the prince regarded him. Then the tension eased, as though Aratadarion was satisfied that he posed no threat. Boromir tentatively stepped closer.
At Aratadarions side rested Legolas. In the sunlight, the horror of what had been done to the archer was starkly clear. His face was flushed, sweaty with a breaking fever. Dirt and grime covered him like a second skin. The mess of his chest made Boromir grimace, for the welts, bruises, and lacerations looked painful and inflamed. Legolas hair was dirty and tangled, falling before his eyes loosely. Still, he was somehow improved. The blue eyes that met his were alert, if not a bit hesitant.
For a long time no one spoke. The moment seemed unnatural, as though a strange scene of dream or illusion. Boromir watched silently as Aratadarion wrapped a bandage about his younger brothers wounded ribs. Legolas sat cross-legged, his face impassive, his eyes locked upon Boromirs face. He appeared wistful and afraid, uncertain of what to do and say. Boromir watched him with a concerned gaze. The warrior was suddenly infinitely glad for the harsh words he had spoken to the twins of Thranduil before leaving their company. They had obviously been enough to chastise them into motion, and their finding of Legolas had undoubtedly saved their brothers life. The lucidity of Legolas was remarkable, considering how wrought he had been with disease and delirium.
Finally Boromir forced himself to speak, since it was clear neither of Thranduils sons would purge the emptiness. "Where is Astaldogald?" he asked softly, standing in front of Legolas.
Aratadarion looked to his brother as if for reassurance or permission to speak. Legolas lowered his eyes, flexing repeatedly and nervously the fingers of his left hand. "He has gone to scout a path to the Anduin," Aratadarion finally answered. The meek words were laced with something Boromir could not quite place. There was pain and anger in the voice of the sort the man had never before heard. Though the matter befuddled him, he chose not to think on it or speak of it further.
He looked to Legolas. The other winced as Aratadarion tied tightly the bandage. Boromir struggled with what to say. His heart was yearning for Legolas forgiveness in a way he had never previously wanted something. It was as though this was the final part of his quest, the last trial to face, before he might find redemption. The silence became unbearable. "I have done what you asked of me," he declared softly. This he offered.
Legolas looked up. In the depths of his eyes was rage and agony. Yet beneath this lurked something that gave Boromir hope. Legolas gaze held an unspoken wish to again have faith. "Where is it?" he questioned coolly.
Boromir felt his resolve waver, but he could not fail. He had come this far on the chance Legolas had given him. He would not now give up! "I destroyed it," he admitted quietly. The gaze turned to a questioning glare, and Boromir knew he had to better explain himself. "I could not bear to carry it. The attraction was too strong, and I did not know whether I could control myself."
The admission hung in the moment. Legolas seemed to neither accept nor reject it. He lowered his gaze tiredly, as though hiding tears from Boromir, and the man ached inside. "I stopped Saruman," he declared, looking down upon Legolas. "And I stopped myself."
Again Legolas looked up. The rage and agony had melted, washed away by the glimmer of hopeful tears. Boromir felt his own eyes moisten. He crouched before the other, his body yearning for a sign of acceptance. "I am so sorry, Legolas." He grasped the shoulder of the other, squeezing it through the material of the cloak Legolas wore. "I am so sorry. I know that I was wrong. I followed my heart as you told me, and I know now that I was wrong!"
Legolas looked down and closed his eyes. Boromir squinted through the tears. Neither spoke, and Aratadarion simply watched. When the silence became too powerful, Boromir sighed softly. He dropped his imploring gaze and his arm in dejection. Even if Legolas would not forgive him, there was still more he might do. Saruman had revealed much to him. Though Faramir rode to Minas Tirith to prevent the evil plots of the wizards spy, it was his responsibility to protect Aragorn and his father. It was his duty to protect his king.
"We must travel to Minas Tirith," declared Boromir. He looked to Aratadarion and met the Elfs inquisitive and troubled gaze. "There is dissension in my fathers house. Saruman sent forth an agent to cause danger and discord. Aragorn has been jailed." At that Legolas looked up. The blue eyes burned in worry now, and his bruised face was tight in apprehension. Boromir felt bleak and horrible in delivering such wretched news, but there was urgency he could not deny. "There is more yet that threatens. This spy has attempted to convince my father that Elf will turn upon man in the final moments. He is destroying what remains of the Last Alliance!"
"No," whispered Legolas, ashen and angered. "Aragorn will not allow that!"
Boromir shook his head. "I fear my father might be inclined to believe this informer for purely selfish reasons. That is why Aragorn has been imprisoned." The man felt anger and hurt pound in his blood. A lie about his own death would not be the cause for their defeat! "We must reach Minas Tirith quickly. There is little time!"
Aratadarion seemed doubtful. "The distance is great and we are low on supplies. It will be a difficult journey," he declared softly, glancing between the man and his sibling for a decision. "Astaldogald will not agree."
Boromir shook his head, once again faulting Aratadarion for his meekness and his twin for his oppressive prejudice. "It matters not. A legion from Mirkwood has marched south. If he will not help men, surely he will work to protect his own!"
Legolas and Aratadarion shared a moment of silent communication. It was unusual to Boromir. Aratadarion regarded his young brother with such grief and sadness that it nearly tore at the mans resolve. Finally the older Elf nodded. "Yes," he said softly. He met Boromirs gaze strongly, and the son of Denethor was surprised by the tenacity in the princes gaze. "Yes. This we must do." He looked to Legolas and rose gracefully to a crouch. "Can you stand, little one?"
Legolas jaw tightened. In his eyes was something else now. The grief and horror remained, but perhaps this new purpose had brought him a bit of hope. At least Boromir hoped it might provide him with something to distract him from what he had endured. Aratadarion offered his brother his hand. Slowly Legolas reached from beneath the cloak and grasped it.
It was a painful thing to watch. Boromir grimaced as Legolas tried to pull himself to his feet. He shook and grunted with the effort, his eyes narrowed with hurt and frustration. When it became too trying, the man stepped forward and grabbed Legolas other arm tenderly. Legolas stared at him in confusion and fear a moment, as if deciding whether or not it was safe to accept this aid. Boromirs heart pounded, praying again that his hurt comrade might have faith in him enough to allow him to help. The moment passed, and Legolas gripped his arm in return. Together, Boromir and Aratadarion succeeded in pulling him to his feet.
Silence. Boromir could not contain his happiness and relief, and he offered Legolas an affectionate smile. For his own part Legolas hesitated, but Boromir did not rush him. Trust was not a thing easily won, and Legolas would be long in healing. Still, this now could be a beginning. That was enough to placate Boromirs wants. It was sufficient to give him hope to yet again regain a lost friendship.
Suddenly there came a rustle behind him, and the air turned sour.
There was a furious howl, one that rang through the tenuous moment of peace, destroying it with the horror of impending violence. Boromir saw Legolas eyes widen in terror. But he could not turn around fast enough to prevent what he somehow knew was coming.
It was a strange thing, really, to feel the sword slid through his chest. Intense pain burned his back, stealing his breath and his strength. The cold metal was a foreign thing inside him, slicing flesh from flesh and bone from bone, bringing horrible agony to everything it touched. The pain was slow to recede, and the moment dragged on torturously forever. He gaped, wishing to breathe, but for some reason he could not. More unusual was the apathy claiming him. He stared endlessly into Legolas large, horrified eyes, the expression on the others face one of absolute shock and dismay. It seemed almost silly to see Legolas so locked in fright, and he might have laughed if only for the sad realization that he had been stabbed.
The sword yanked out. He would have screamed had he the breath. There was warm blood running down his skin, gushing from inside him, dripping to the ground. Legolas had never blinked. So strange! The world grew hazy, and he could not stand any longer. The pain faded and blackness pressed upon him. Shadows of a different kind had captured him now. He tried to think, to speak, to breathe, but he was sinking down deeper into a sad, dark acceptance.
His knees buckled, and he limply fell forward into the arms of the one he had once betrayed.
Awkward arms grasped him. He grinned weakly. Legolas smelled like the woods, like a cool breeze, warm like the sun. He thought he should feel anger and rage, at least terror. All that remained was a sorrowful regret. The battle was ending. His trial was over.
Now maybe there would be peace.
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.