15. Presence of Enemies
Presence of My Enemies("...in the presence of my enemies...")
With a gasp, Faramir withdrew his sword from the last Southron, looking everywhere but at the carnage his blade had caused. Hearing a sound behind him, he turned to see Asedaur attempting to get past him to the gate. With swift movements, he drew his bow from where it hung at his back, and stepped to block the entrance.
"Not taking prisoners now?" asked Asedaur mockingly, with a flash of teeth. "You are capable of learning, then, you men of Gondor."
"The verdict was passed upon you," said Faramir as he looked down the grey shaft. "You shall not be let to escape again."
"True," said the Lord of Harad, fear absent from his face. "But can you follow through? Can you do what you plan, knowing in your heart that this death will haunt your dreams? I know you are no cold-blooded warrior."
"Better my dreams than those of my children when you ravage Gondor," said Faramir in a half-whisper.
"Noble words," said Asedaur, nodding. He spread wide his arms and stepped forward. "Then do it!" he hissed.
Faramir's hand was steady on the bowstring, but he did not loose. He knew he should not have looked, but his gaze met Asedaur's, as he looked vainly for something that might ease his decision. But all he found was confusion. This man had not the look of evil, his eyes brown and not evilly lit, his face fair if exotic. He looked an innocent man—and yet Faramir shuddered at what he had done in such a fair form. This was not how it was supposed to be; evil was supposed to look as unnatural as it felt, so that men could not hesitate in ridding the world of it. It was not supposed to be present in one who should have been good.
"We have vanquished the Orcs, only so that we face the evil in ourselves, in men," whispered Faramir. "What has happened to the black and the white?"
But as a mocking grin marked Asedaur's face, Faramir spoke more firmly. "And yet, I cannot let you live to cause the deaths of others."
Steadily, he let his finger loose the string. The arrow flew on its deadly mission, straight and true, and Asedaur fell forward, his eyes swiftly unseeing. He lay still, his life flowing forth to soak into the turf. A choking sensation gripped Faramir's throat, and he knew that though he had killed this man to protect innocent children, yet once this man had been an innocent child himself. What imperfect world did he live in where children of men grew to do the foul work of Orcs?
Faramir fell to his knees in the bloody dust and wept for fallen Arda.
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