There is this one truth I can tell you about being dead – it is fucking boring!
Forgive me. The use of soldier’s language is not appropriate here, but nonetheless… when one is used to activity, inaction sits heavily.
You may wonder where I am; I too was confused to find myself dead - then not dead, at least, I do not seem dead to me.
I knew it would happen, we all die. As I struggled to give him my oath, I realised it was to come quickly. I knew… I knew, but the inevitable always happens to someone else. When I had seen the Little Ones attacked, I ran to them without thinking; a soldier simply reacts, danger is something put aside in the face of duty. If I could not save Frodo, then I must fulfil my role elsewhere. One should not allow dread of defeat to cloud the mind, though often the inevitable thought strays forward - ‘I am going to die.’ You push it from you – but not to admit you felt it is cowardice indeed.
When the first black arrow struck I was tethered to a pain that dug deep into my body – more than sword-cuts, more than dagger or blade was that wound – because… because in that moment I saw my Mother.
How is that possible you ask?
I am not a philosopher, I cannot tell.
As if in a mirror I saw my mother as she struggled to birth me. She cried piercingly of black wings, black feathers. I felt her anguish twisting in my guts as the barb gouged into my chest. Her pain then was more than mine.
I have been told the story of my birth, privately, by those who looked at me with sympathy in their eyes; sorry for a fate I did not find to be so appalling. They told me I would glitter brightly, but briefly, as the diamonds the sky wept to greet me. Such glory always has a price, and it was one I felt willing to pay, at least I did then. The Enchantress in the Wood, she knew; she read my heart, at least some of it. I would be even more afeared of her if she had seen all – but then, mayhap she did see it, my desire, my deepest wish that I will tell to no one. No matter – that is between her and me - for the moment.
I digress – it’s all this time for thought – the mind wanders… The second arrow claimed my body and hope drifted from me; where could help come from at this time? I had sounded the Horn to no avail. They took the Little Ones; I had failed. That was an added torment worse than the agony in my chest, I had failed them too. I saw my brother before me, my brave Faramir. Always the scholar, he would be able to explain this. He was always at his books; Father never could see that good commanders can learn their craft as well as be born to it. I was ever eager to invoke the storm of war to sweep the foe before me, be they the peevish chaffs of childhood or the armies of the Dark Lord himself. – I must act on my first thought. My brother, that gentle soldier of my soul – he learnt to command by weighing the course of his actions; to demand was foreign to him. We always knew each other’s hearts. As the black barb raked through me, I felt him reach to touch me, soft as a wingprint on the air. We were ever two halves, Mother divided herself between us; I took her fire and he her grace. Poor lady, she gave us all there was, keeping nothing for herself. For some women, sacrifice is all they aspire to. I would not have it so, but I am not their judge.
I do not know if I dreamt my brother or if he dreamt me, but I felt him, his grace. A rush of warmth surged through me and for a moment – I was happy and content. Is that not strange? I felt a strength flow, and such a moment of joy I never thought to gain in this life. Perhaps it was a last glimpse of earthly ecstasy, or was it a sample of happiness to come? Time slows to a crawl when you are dying, yet even that is never slow enough. I looked him in the eye and my brother smiled at me, before he felt my terror. I am sure it was his love that warmed me. But my pain chilled him and the link was broken. That made me angry, sufficient to make my final blows land true. I would I could cleave every bastard orc from helm to crotch!
Again, - your pardon.
The third arrow centred me to agony; there was nothing beyond this twisting pillar of dust and blood that was my body as I sank to the floor. I saw him then; I saw him run at that foul carrion-eater, saw him spring up in battle-lust. My arms were leaden and torture burnt through my guts like dragon-fire. I could do nothing. A part of me kept thinking – ‘breathe, just breathe’, stay for him and he will come. Every gasp blistered my lungs; I could feel myself drowning in blood and bile as I clung to that single thought, ‘stay here, stay here.’
He came to clasp my hand. I felt his warmth against me. I who had always blazed hot was now cold, so cold. He placed my sword in my hand without I asked, he knew me, and I him. I kept my voice; my legs were gone, my body fading, but his face was my anchor until I had named him my Captain – until I named him my King.
I watched them lay me into the elven boat. Is that not another strange thing? I saw them haul my carcase with reverence down to the river. They laid me out for a last journey. My King was near silent; the Elf sang a low song, ancient as the trees and I swear they joined his lament. I know not how, but I heard them. They launched me into the Anduin. The Dwarf shed tears. I had time to marvel at that before the river cast me over the Falls. The roar, the rush, a thunder drum of noise! I was amongst it, in it, on it. Then, I was watching the sky. Day became night and the stars lulled me; not to sleep, I was dead, the dead do not sleep. I found myself annoyed, not only was I dead, but they wanted me to sleep as well! The Sun rose red and I floated on, kissed by the wind, swathed in the water. Day and night danced above me; I soon tired of watching them but I could not turn away, there was naught else to do.
Sometime, after a pale dawn, I felt my brother’s presence. With great effort I struggled to him and kissed him. I do not know if he felt me. I felt his pain when he saw me, and strange to say, I saw me. It was a shock. It is not the sort of mirror you look into in this life. My eyes were closed, the boat was filled with water and light, but I didn’t drown. How could I? I was dead. My brother would have held me, his heart reached for my spirit, but his are not the hands can catch it. Afterwards the Anduin bore me away. Through trees and plains, ever the river widened, until the tang of salt filled the air and the boat rocked. I was reminded of a cradle. A pang of sadness ran through me that I would never see a cradle rock for a son of mine. You have time to think when you are dead. I considered my father, considered myself; what sort of father would I have made? I soon stopped; there can be no point in idle speculation, what’s done is done. I am dead. There will be no children – and yet… and yet I might have wished… no matter.
Let me conclude. Bright Sun and dreaming Ithil chased above me until I lost count. I could not move; I could see naught but sky above me. I was not frightened, or even curious, I simply – was.
When the silver mist gathered about me, I thought, ‘at last it has come, I fade; now what is going to become of me?’ And it seemed that for the first-time I closed my eyes. When I opened them, the boat was still. I sat up; the first movement I had been able to make. I looked around me; I was cast up on a white beach. I breathed the air; it was fresh and so sweet. Then I realised; I had taken a breath without that dreadful agony in my chest. I touched the boat; I touched it! It came to me I should be frightened, but I could not muster fear. Peace – was the best I could do. Do you not realise how long it was since I felt truly at peace?
So here I am. I wait. I chose not to live amongst them, the Elves. I am not entirely at home in their Hall, although there are those who will bid me welcome there. Many have fought in great battles against such odds that I am overwhelmed. Yet they and I can yarn away the time with pleasure in soldier’s tales; how much time ‘tis difficult to say – an hour, a day, a year? It means nothing to them, or to me. They said I might wait and I do; until the time comes for me to journey onwards. They have made me a house by the shore, near where my boat still lies on the beach. I walk the strand and watch for white sails and grey ships, under the endless skies. They come less frequently now; they bring me news, and always the look of shock on their faces amuses me; until that look turns to sorrow, or maybe pity; that’s another reason I do not to stay overlong in the Hall.
I tell time’s passage by the star-candles that marked my birth. I suppose they still ride the night a year apart. Time is different here, beyond fast or slow, simply different. So I wait, I don’t need to hope; I have certainty of what I wait for. But I tell you – it can be f… - it can be very boring when you’re dead.
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.