A/N: And I had this on my hard-drive and lost it, and only just now found it again.  D'oh!  As usual, none of it belongs to me, please don't sue.

His father gave the outward impression of utter calm as Elphir made his report.  Only to those who knew him well would the signs be apparent – this was merely the calm before the storm.  Denethor's temper was the worst of his traits, and upon occasion the most prominent of them.

Boromir could read him better than anyone, and he saw both anger and fear in his father's eyes when he heard of the fate of Faramir.  Elphir droned on, obviously trying to space out the worst of the news as best he could.  "Enough!  Son of Imrahil, do you have nothing but bad news for me?"  It was Elphir to whom the question was addressed, but Boromir answered Denethor anyway.

"He is alive, father.  I know it."

The King's expression softened a little.  "I trust your judgement, Boromir, but I do not trust the enemy."  He frowned.  "If only the Osgiliath-stone was still intact, we might be able to find him.  The Anor-stone focuses too much upon its Northern kin, and I have no interest in the doings and comings and goings of Aragorn and his hangers-on."  He grimaced.  "That upstart Northerner sent a message through the Palantir today – another of his messengers is coming here, although why he could not tell me what he wanted over the stone, I have no idea."

"We do yet have one advantage I have not mentioned." Elphir said softly.  "We did not leave that battlefield entirely empty handed."


"We managed to capture a prisoner – one of their Marshalls.  He's not much of a talker, but I do not think that matters.  He may be enough to ransom Faramir from the Rohirrim."

Denethor considered this, smiling.  "And what is the name of this Marshall of Rohan?"

"We don't-" Elphir started, but was interrupted by Erchirion, who had snuck it, as was his wont, without fanfare or introduction.

"His name is Elfhelm."  There was a pleased smile on his usually expressionless face; Boromir tried not to let his distaste show – there were spots of blood on Erchirion's tunic, not many, but enough for him to guess how his cousin had come by his information.  "Elfhelm of the East-mark."


"We will reconvene in Rhuduar – closer for you, and more neutral, I think, than Fornost." Aragorn said, walking with Halbarad down to the stables.  "Alagos left to visit the Rohirrim this morning; I hope that he finds Faramir in as good a condition as you left him."

"I think he will."  Halbarad frowned, thinking of his visit to the Rohirrim camp again.  "They are not fools – or at least not most of them – and they need him for this plan of theirs."  He grimaced.  "The problem will be convincing Denethor of that."

"He will expect your arrival, at least – I spoke to him via the Stones, but thought it best that the exact nature of the message remained obscure, at least for the moment."  Aragorn paused, looking thoughtful.  "He seemed distracted – I suspect he already knows that his son is missing, possibly that he has been captured.  There has been plenty of time for word to have gotten back from the battlefield."

"Ai, and I trust Denethor about as far as I can throw him – but that does not mean that I will not help him get his son back."  Grinning, Halbarad added, "Although I do not think he will like the terms."

"Just come back to Rhuduar in one piece.  Your mother will kill me if I lose you."

"You make it sound like misplacing a tunic…" Halbarad retorted, but he quickly sobered.  "I suppose I should go then."

"Go, go.  Valar watch over you, for Eru knows you'll need it."  Not exactly the standard send-off, but Halbarad rode away with a smile on his face, praying that the weather stayed clear.  The last thing he needed was a storm between him and Minas Tirith.

A/N: Erchirion is not evil, promise. He's just… very protective of his cousins.