*** All quotes that are within single quote marks, '...' , are taken from various chapters of The Return of the King***
We are told by Tolkien that Faramir was not to be told "the full tale of the madness of Denethor" until he was well and
had duties to do. We were never told when or how the tale was finally told; until now.
Truth be Told
The King had called him. His soul had wandered on dark lonely paths removed far from where he had any awareness
of his pain or fever; but the King had called him.
Five days had passed since then. Two since the Captains of the West had gone forth to challenge the Shadow in the East. For some of those days he had slept and regained his strength, but in the end a new pain had come upon him. His father had not been to see him and Faramir's heart was grieved at the thought that the Steward of Gondor still hardened his heart against his youngest, now only, son. He finally had called for the Master Warden of the Healers. The news was worse than his father's hardened heart would have been. The Lord Denethor, his father, was dead. Worse yet, no news would they give Faramir of the manner of the death. No more was he told than this; it was by order of the King and Mithrandir that he was to be told only that the Steward of Gondor was dead and that he, Faramir, now bore that title.
He had plied his attendants no further. Mithrandir he had trusted and loved long and he would abide by his wishes. His love for his king had filled him upon his first awaking, as he had looked into the eyes of the one who had brought him back. The King's orders would be obeyed out of that love and fealty.
News of the battle they had given him. He knew of the terrible siege upon his city, of the destruction of the Lord of
the Nazgul and that by the hands of yet another halfling, Meriadoc son of Saradoc, and the Lady Eowyn of Rohan. He
knew the Halfling and the Lady were, as he himself, in the care of the Healers. He knew of the death of King Theoden and
that the King of Rohan was lying in state in the Citadel. He knew the Captains of the West had ridden forth, going East to
challenge the Dark Lord before the Gates of Mordor. Yet of his own father, he knew naught. Finally released from his
sick room, Faramir had taken himself and his sorrow into the garden of the Houses of Healing.
It could not be said that his burden was lifted that day, but his meeting the White Lady of Rohan was fortuitous. His
heart was touched by her at first meeting and pity for her (was it only pity?) moved his heart from his own sorrows toward
easing hers. He spoke with the Halfling, with Meriadoc, and learned much of her history and her present troubles. As the
days passed much comfort did the Lady and the Lord bring to each other. When that fateful day came, when the very
earth trembled and, though he knew not why, hope and joy returned to Faramir's heart, he kissed her as they stood on the
walls for all to see. The Eagle came and the City of Gondor rejoiced with his news that the victory belonged to the Free
Peoples of Middle-Earth.
And so Faramir began to arrange for the coming of the King, as was his task being, he thought, the last of the Stewards. While going about his duties he passed one day by the door called Fen Hollen. He halted and stared at that dreaded door and thought again of his Father. Forward he went and bade the porter unlock the door. To the Silent Street, Rath Dinen, he came and went a ways along it to where he suddenly fell to his knees and gave forth a great cry of agony. The House of the Stewards lay in charred ruins. Long he knelt there, his grief pouring from him in a great flood till all was spent.
"What became of my father? In what manner did the Lord Denethor find his end?" Faramir asked the Master Warden of the Healers.
"The King and Mithrandir had said you were not to be told until you were healed and had tasks to perform." The Master Warden replied. "Such is now the case, my Lord. I would tell you what you seek if I knew more of it." Loath indeed was he to bring the news to Faramir and preferred that some other be the bearer of the horrible tidings. "I know not the names of any of the servants who were witnesses to the events of the Lord Denethor's death. The only witnesses of whom I am in knowledge, my Lord, are Mithrandir and the two who stood guard at the door of your sick room here in the Houses of Healing." The Master Warden looked down a few moments then again at Faramir. "Mithrandir lives and is due to return with the King. Of the others, my Lord, they both went with the army of the West and no word of them has come to my ears."
"And these two who guarded me were whom, Master Healer?" Faramir quietly asked.
"Beregond and the Ernil i Pheriannath, Peregrin son of Paladin, both formerly of the Guard of the Tower of Gondor, my Lord."
"I see." Faramir said thoughtfully. "And are there none to whom they may have spoken?"
"Nay, my Lord. Beyond these there would be no others."
And so it was that Faramir had to master his grief without his questions answered until the army of the West returned.
Of great comfort to him was the love of the Lady Eowyn who had agreed to wed with him when all was set to rights and
her brother confirmed as King of Rohan.
It came to pass that on the day after the crowning of King Elessar, Faramir, Steward of Gondor, called Beregond to his chambers. He was brought under guard as his case was yet to be judged by the High King Elessar. The Lord Farmir bid the guards wait out side his chamber.
"We have known each other long, Beregond, and I would wish this to come willingly from you. But know this, I will order you to speak if needs be."
"I will speak freely, my Lord , if that is your desire." Beregond replied, bowing to his Lord.
"I do so desire." Responded Faramir and he bade Beregond be seated. "Tell me, for I am told you were a witness, what was the manner of my Father's death?"
Beregond went pale at this request and swallowed hard. He looked upon the Lord Faramir, whom he loved and held in high esteem and in his heart Beregond knew his Lord deserved to know the bitter truth.
"I do not know all from the beginning, my Lord. For that you would need to seek out Peregrin son of Paladin, the Halfling. But I will freely tell you of those things to which I was a witness."
"Wait with your telling." Faramir replied and sent a servant in search of the Halfling.
When Peregrin had arrived and been bidden to sit before his Lord, Faramir spoke.
"I will know of the death of my Father, and why the House of the Stewards in Rath Dinen lies in charred ruins where no other damage of war is seen. I will not begin my time as Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien with these mysteries clouding my heart. Speak to me of what you know."
Peregrin and Beregond looked at each other and then, looking back to the Lord Faramir, Peregrin began the tragic tale.
"The Prince Imrahil bore you from the field of battle and brought you before your Father. He told of your deeds and of your command of your men. But your Father said only that they should make a bed for you there in his chamber in the White Tower and he left."
"He went to the summit of the Tower." Said Beregond. "I among many saw the flickering of light from the high windows."
Faramir nodded his head. "I also have seen that light and wondered what portent it held."
"Its meaning is now known, my Lord." Peregrin gravely responded and hung his head for a moment. Then he looked again into Faramir's eyes. "But that knowledge comes later in the tale."
"When the Lord Denethor returned," continued Peregrin, "he looked more grave than did you, my Lord, and I feared for him as much as for you. The long dark day went on and I stood my post by the door of the chamber while your Father aged before my eyes. He spoke not, nor listened it seemed, and eventually I saw tears upon his once proud and tearless face."
Peregrin drew a deep breath and went on. "Hope I tried to offer. I spoke of Mithrandir and that perhaps you could be made well. It roused my Lord but not to hope. 'Comfort me not with wizards!' he said fiercely, and spoke of the Enemy having found the Ring. Then he decried his parting from you, hating how cold he had been. Naught he saw but despair; the end of his line and that of the Kings of Men. When men sought him, he refused their entreaties and bid them, 'Follow whom you will, even the Grey Fool . . .' When that word came to him, then, only then, did Mithrandir take command of the defending of Minas Tirith."
Faramir listened to these words and grew pale. He started to grip the arms of his chair with shaking hands. Peregrin and Beregond observed their Lord with growing pain in their hearts as they knew more dreadful were the words yet to come. After a few moments Faramir bid Peregrin continue.
"More of the dark day passed and again messengers came seeking the Steward. I allowed them entrance to the chamber as they seemed desperate. They spoke of the burning of the first circle of the City. Not all would follow Mithrandir and they besought the word of their Lord and Steward."
Peregrin grew chilled at the remembrance of that moment and the grim words and actions which followed. He shivered. His eyes met those of Lord Faramir and for a moment Faramir questioned his decision to learn the truth. In the eyes of Peregrin he saw many things; horror, darkness, sadness, pain and a pleading to not have to continue the telling of his tale. Long minutes passed and the knowledge came to Faramir that he could not bear his own cowardice if at this point he turned away the truth. He would face whatever fell things brought such a look to the Halfling's eyes.
"I will command you to continue, if I must." Faramir's voice was quiet and steady, and still he held Peregrin's eyes with his. Gradually the pleading left the Halfling's eyes. He drew a deep, though shaky, breath, and drew himself up straighter in the chair.
"There will be no need, my Lord." Peregrin said and his voice held the calm of one resigned to his task.
"He said, my Lord, . . . your Father said we were all to burn, and so, therefore, would he. 'No tomb for Denethor and Faramir. We will burn like heathen kings . . . The West has failed.' And to those who had come to him for succor and leadership he screamed, 'Go back and burn!'"
Peregrin's voice held firm though his hands trembled and pain still filled his eyes. Paler still grew Faramir and white were the knuckles of his hands as they clenched the arm rests of his chair. Yet they each held their gaze into one another's eyes.
"He bid me farewell and released me from my service. 'Go now, and die in what way seems best to you.' He told me, then bid me send for his servants. But I would not be sent so from his side, nor your's, my Lord. I left only to call the servants. At his bidding they lifted your bed and bore you forth from the chamber and the Tower. Your Father now leaned upon a staff to walk and I, downcast and fearful, came last. The Lord Steward spoke and we paused a moment beside the White Tree, then continued on. Many saw us pass, and all bowed their heads in respect, thinking you were dead."
Faramir slowly nodded his head but spoke not. Peregrin swallowed at the lump in his throat and continued.
"The porter opened Fen Hollen. Slowly we paced to Rath Dinen and thence to the tomb of your kin and we entered the House of the Stewards. Upon a broad table they laid you. Your Father was laid beside you and they covered you both with a covering of golden cloth. Then spoke the Lord Denethor to his servants, 'Bring us wood quick to burn, and lay it all about us, and beneath; and pour oil upon it. And when I bid you thrust in a torch.' "
The Lord Faramir gave a small gasp, his eyes closed and his chin fell to his chest. Beregond and Peregrin hoped that he would hear no more and send them from his presence. But from the grief bowed figure came soft the word, "Continue."
Peregrin and Beregond sought assurance form one another's eyes and then in a quiet voice the Halfling continued. "I had been given my leave before and I now took it. I ran in great fear, terrified at what I knew would happen. I bade a servant at Fen Hollen to bring no fire there no matter any such order from the Lord. I ran for the Citadel gate knowing that Mithrandir would be where the battle was fiercest and that was in the City below. A voice hailed me and I knew it for the voice of my friend, Beregond."
"I had not been on duty at the gate when first they had passed that way." Beregond now took up the tale. "I had heard from him whom I had relieved from that post that they had borne you to the Closed Door; that my Lord Faramir was dead, and my heart was deeply grieved. But Peregrin said this was not the truth and that you yet lived. He spoke of the dangerous turn of my Lord the Steward's mind and bid me choose between my duty and your life, my Lord. 'I think you have a madman to deal with, not a lord.' Peregrin said than ran on to find Mithrandir.' "
Beregond then looked off into the distance, the eye of his mind seeing the deeds of that evil day, his face etched with the pain the memories brought. "I chose to face death as a traitor and abandoned my post without the orders of my Lord the Steward or my Captain. I ran to Fen Hollen and demanded the key. The porter refused and drew his sword to deter me, but a frenzy was upon me and in fear of delay I slew the porter and took from his body the key to that dreadful door. I flew to the Silent Street and to the House of the Stewards and there saw servants passing to and from the House with wood and oil. I placed myself upon the porch and blocked the entrance with my body," Beregond paused and now sought Faramir's eyes which he had sensed were fixed upon him, "and with my sword. For within the House I could see you and the Lord Steward laid upon a table, the wood piled round about the table and all drenched with oil. Then you called out in your fever and I knew you yet lived and I would not see this deed done. I pulled closed the door and held it fast against those who challenged me." Beregond stopped and hung his head. A man with a wife and child was he and his choices that day affected them as well as himself. They could lose husband and father if the King should choose to follow the laws of the land. "Now my life is forfeit three times over." He said quietly, his voice filled with pain. "For leaving my post and for the spilling of the blood of two of my Lord's servants in Hallows, but I knew naught else to do. I would not see you die that way."
Beregond fell silent and a tremor passed through him as he thought of his wife and son. Peregrin reached over and laid
a hand atop Beregond's hand to comfort his comrade. After a few pained moments Peregrin continued the sad recounting.
"I found Mithrandir at the Gate of the City." Peregrin said. "I beseeched his aid and, after giving command of the City to the Prince Imrahil, we rode with all haste. Shadowfax bore us both and we passed into the Citadel. Seeing no guard at the gate I knew Beregond had left his post. We rode to Fen Hollen and found it's porter dead. Mithrandir bade Shadowfax depart and we passed through the Door and into the Hallows, coming at last to the House of the Stewards."
Beregond spoke. "They came upon the Lord Steward's servants with torches and swords faced against me, with the bodies of their fellows dead upon the steps between us. From within came the voice of your Father ordering my death, shouting that he would see it done if they would not. Great strength was in your Father and the door I held closed was wrenched from my grip and thrown open by him. He bore a long sword in his hand."
"Then Mithrandir mounted the stairs." Peregrin was now tense in his posture and his voice. "With a small gesture Mithrandir made the sword leap from the Lord Denethor's hand." The Halfling leaned forward. "Mithrandir tried to reason with your Father, my Lord, but he would pay no heed. Mithrandir pushed past and entered into the House and brought you forth, yet still your Father would hear no words of reason or comfort. The Lord went into the tomb of your fathers and brought forth a globe of crystal, lit as with fire from within and held it up. 'Didst thou think that the eyes of the White Tower were blind?', he challenged Mithrandir."
Peregrin was taut as a bow string, a strange look came over his face. "A palantir, my Lord," the Halfling's voice was a
harsh whisper, "a seeing stone. That was the light flashing in the Tower window. That was how the Enemy entered into
the heart of the realm of Gondor and sought to bring about it's fall." Peregrin's voice could scarcely be heard. "How the
Enemy brought your Father to madness."
The Halfling closed his eyes but otherwise moved not; his voice was still low. "Much your Father then said of what he had seen in the Stone. The things shown to him in order to bring the Lord Steward to despair." A shiver passed through Peregrin from memories that were more than either Beregond or the Lord Faramir knew. "'At the least you shall not rob your son of his choice while his death is still in doubt.' Mithrandir said hoping it might still touch your Father's heart that you yet lived. But the words touched the Lord not and suddenly he drew forth a knife and made move to . . ." For a moment Peregrin could speak no more. His head hung to his chest and his breathing was hard. "Must I continue, Faramir?" He whispered, forgetting, for a moment, proper address.
"I will know the fullness of this, Peregrin." The Lord Faramir murmured. He was greatly shaken and took notice of nothing but the tale being told.
Peregrin nodded his head and drew a deep breath. When he raised his head, there were tears upon his face. "The Lord Denethor made move to stab you. Such was the depth of his madness. But Beregond prevented him, placing himself between your Father and the litter you were laid upon."
Again the Halfling's voice failed him and Beregond again recounted the sad events."With a cry, the Lord said, 'In this at least thou shall not defy my will: to rule my own end.' He grabbed a torch and thrust it amongst the oiled wood, and immediately it leapt into flame. He did jump upon the table where you and he had lain and stooping grasped and then broke upon his knee the rod of the Stewards and then fed the pieces to the flames."
Beregond left the last to Peregrin.
"He lay down in the midst of the flames, my Lord, the palantir clutched to his breast. Mithrander closed the door. A
great cry was heard and all knew that the Lord Denethor, Steward of Gondor, was no more."
He now knew the bitter truth, the tale told in full. The rest of that day the Lord Faramir spent alone. He walked again in the garden of the Houses of Healing and thought much on all he had been told. He owed his life to three. Mithrandir, who had naught to fear from the Lord Denethor. Beregond and Peregrin, who both had everything to fear and everything to loose, even their own lives. Of greatest wonder to him was the Halfling. Mithrandir Faramir had known his whole life. There was a strong bond of love between them. Beregond he had also long known and the bond between a good and caring lord and a soldier who lovingly served him had long been in place. But the Halfling, Peregrin son of Paladin of the far off land of the Shire, why had he risked so much? They had barely met. There had been no time to forge any bond between them. The question haunted him. Why? He observed the four Halflings sitting together in a sunny corner of the garden, their high, light voices carried on a soft breeze and he approached them.
"If I may interrupt?" The Lord Faramir asked of the Halflings.
They all quickly rose and bowed. "Of course, my Lord." Said Peregrin. "How can we be of service?"
"It is I and all of Middle - Earth that should be at the service of the four of you!" The Lord Faramir returned their bows. "But I have a question for the King's Knight, if I may take you from your friends but a few moments."
"Of course my Lord!" said Peregrin and with a nod to his friends he walked away with the Lord.
They had walked but a short way when the Lord Faramir spoke. "I have one last question to ask of you alone, Peregrin son of Paladin, concerning that dark time."
"I know of nothing that was left unsaid, my Lord."
"You spoke not of why you risked so much for my welfare."
The Halfling stopped and stared at the tall man beside him. "I . . . why I . . . because he was going to kill you, my Lord!"
The Lord Faramir dropped to one knee to better address the diminutive Knight of Gondor. "But my Father could have ordered you imprisoned, or worse, killed. Yet you risked this for a man you did not, nay could not, know, for we had barely met. So again I ask, why did you take such a risk?"
"Because, I did know you, my Lord." Responded Peregrin son of Paladin. "When first I saw you I noted how much you looked like Boromir, of whom I had thought highly. Yet more I felt for you; for I sensed the nobility, wisdom and love of your people in you that Beregond had earlier expressed to me. Like unto the High King you are, my Lord, but nearer your people because you are not the King. My heart knew it would follow you, and defend you, my Lord." The Halfling, in the manner of his kind, laid his hand upon his Lord's shoulder and smiled. "I needed no more than my heart's decision."
The Lord Faramir looked in wonder upon the Halfling.
Peregrin withdrew his hand. "Is there anything else you require of me, my Lord Faramir?" He inquired, growing uncomfortable under his Lord's gaze.
The Steward of Gondor, Prince of Ithilien shook his head. And the Ernil i Pheriannath, the Prince of the Halflings, Knight of Gondor and Future Thain of the Shire, bowed and returned to his friends.