Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings, its characters, and lands, are the property of Tolkien Estates and New Line Cinemas. This story was written for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others, not for profit.
WARNINGS: Mention of torture, memories of war. RATED K+.
Chapter Three- Friends in Dark Times
Aragorn lay face down in his cell. His back bled from the places that his skin had been torn, and he was battered and bruised everywhere. He dared not move, nor even open his eyes, for he knew that if his captors knew he was awake, he would be beaten again. And he was quite willing to lie there, for any move he possibly could make would hurt him. His tormentors made sure of that.
But as time wore on, the wounds began to heal, and he could no longer be still. First he moved a little, then more, and realized that he was alone. No one was there to torment him. At this fact, he rejoiced. He managed to pull himself up to his knees, wincing at the pain in his aching muscles.
He had held strong. Sauron had not broken him. His body, yes, but not his spirit. Not yet.
And not ever, he thought, determinedly. Yes, there was nothing to fight for, but something told the Heir of Isildur to keep fighting. He had to, he couldn't give in. In the darkness of his cell, he realized that there was still hope. Somewhere, someone would need strength to bring Sauron down at last. And Aragorn would stay strong for them, whoever they would be.
Time passed and Aragorn remained there, seeing and hearing no one. He did not know how long he was there without food, and only a small puddle in the cell for water, but it seemed to him that an age had passed.
His wounds had healed up as well as they could without tending, but that was not very well. He took to staring at the wall, or counting the cracks in the ceiling.
But he was alert. There was some reason that he had been placed in solitary confinement. Most likely, Sauron was trying to catch him off guard somehow. And so he resolved not to allow that to happen. He slept little, and always with one eye open, though he was barely strong enough to keep it so.
Eventually, though the loneliness of his situation had almost overcome him. He found himself wishing for any living thing even the Dark Lord, to come in. It felt as if he were the only being in the world. As if it were only he that existed, and no others.
He longed for Arwen, and it was only her face in his memory that kept him alive. When he slept, he dreamt of her, and of Rivendell. A pang shot through his heart as he knew that Rivendell would soon be no more.
Then, he thought of Faramir. Aragorn had barely known the younger brother of Boromir. And Faramir had never seen him in his life that he could remember. Yet he had hailed Aragorn as his king upon awakening from his fevered slumber.
I failed you, Faramir, he thought. I am not the King you thought I was. I failed.
"Yes, you did," came a deep, menacing voice from behind him, "You failed everyone."
I am a coward.
The Rohir cursed himself over and over again.
I am a coward. I left him there. I left all of them. For what? My life? The life of my men?
He sat easily in the saddle of his horse, Firefoot, as he and his riders rode south toward Minas Tirith. The one possible safe haven.
I abandoned my sword brother.
He would have slammed a fist down had he been seated at a table, yet he contented himself with simply grimacing beneath his helm.
"Eomer King," a rider spoke beside him, but Eomer barely noticed. The man repeated his name again, more urgently this time, and the Rohir turned to him.
"Yes?" he asked. "What is it?"
"Are you well, my King?" the man asked, now tentative.
Eomer shook his head. "No, Eofal. I am not. I am far from well. When we retreated from the battle, I left behind my sword-brother, Aragorn." He shook his head. "I will never forgive myself for it."
Eofal turned away. "None of us are alright after that battle," he said, "But why did we retreat?"
"I do not know." This was what puzzled Eomer most. It had seemed that the fire had simply left his blood, and the lust for battle with it. And replacing it was a desperate need to get back to Minas Tirith. To his sister.
"My lord," came another Rider's voice, "We near the city."
Eomer looked up to see that they had reached the Pelennor Fields. The plain was yet littered with bodies and the ruins of Mordor's siege machines. That battle had been won. Eomer sighed. If only yesterday's battle could have been the same. But, no. The Enemy had come into his power.
Eomer sighed as he looked out over the field. He could see the bodies of many of the Men of Rohan and Gondor as well as those of the Enemy's servants.
All of this, for nothing.
"My lord!" came a messenger's cry. Faramir stood, turning and opening the door to his study. He had been drawing plans for battle and for defence for days.
"Yes, Bergil?" he asked.
The boy seemed excited, and a bit pleased. "Lord Faramir, the Riders of Rohan approach. With Eomer, King at their head."
Eowyn stood abruptly. "Eomer? Are you sure?" she asked, her eyes widening at the prospect that her brother had returned.
Bergil, who was out of breath, nodded. "Yes, my lady," he gasped, "Eomer, King of Rohan and no other leads the Rohirrim."
Faramir, Eowyn, and Imrahil stood, following the boy out.
"Were there any of Gondor's riders with him?" Faramir asked, "Lord Elessar, or Peregrin? Or Mithrandir?"
"Not that the sentries could see," Bergil replied, "They saw only Rohirrim."
Then they have perished, Faramir thought, sighing. "Nevertheless, Eomer is welcome here. Be sure that the gates are open for him. That is, the few gates that are not broken to pieces."
Bergil nodded, and ran off, to alert the gate guards.
Eowyn and Faramir followed at a slower pace. Eowyn was ecstatic to see her brother safe again, and Faramir needed to know exactly what had happened at the Morannon.
The gate was opened, and the ragged, disheartened band of Rohirrim rode through the gates, several of the horses limping, and their riders wounded and despairing.
Eowyn ran to Eomer, catching him and holding him tightly as he dismounted.
"My brother," she sobbed in relief. "You yet live."
Eomer embraced her. "As do you. I am glad that I can see you again."
When they released each other, Eowyn brought Eomer over to Faramir.
"I do not believe you have met Gondor's new Steward, Lord Faramir?" she asked, giving Faramir a bow.
Faramir shook his head. "I do not recall meeting you, my lord King," he bowed low.
Eomer gripped his shoulder and raised him up. "This is not a time for homage, Steward Faramir," he said.
Faramir nodded. "What tidings bring you of the battle, my lord?" he asked.
Eomer sighed. "We have lost. The Enemy has regained his Ring." He closed his eyes. "Aragorn is lost."
Faramir bowed his head, grimacing. So it was true, what he knew to be so. "It is regrettable," he said, "That this should happen."
Eomer gripped Faramir's shoulder on a sudden impulse.
"Hope still remains. We may yet stand against the Enemy. We may yet win this war. Gondor and Rohan are not defeated yet."
Faramir looked up, determination in his eyes. "No. I would die first than submit to the Enemy."
To Be Continued...
A/N: At last. Another chapter.
Should be getting more soon. I've made a few minor corrections to the previous chapter, thanks to Rashka the Demon for pointing them out.
I can't remember all of the reviews, so I'll do responses later.