Disclaimer: I probably wouldn't feel the need to torture Faramir so much if he was my own character.

Chapter 1

The ranger's soft-booted feet propelled him through the dark, rain- soaked woods faster than he could ever remember running. His heart was pounding in his ears, his breath coming in gasps. There was a mob of orcs upon his heels, and their arrows were striking the trees around him as the branches whipped at his face. He was certain that if he was not soon felled by one of the dangerous missiles, he would collapse from exhaustion anyway, for there was no way that he could continue this rapid pace for very much longer. If only he had accepted Anborn's offer to come with him! But, no, then there would be two rangers in mortal danger instead of just himself.

His borrowed mount, a fast courier horse, had shied, and Faramir had blamed the foul weather, lightning striking nearby and thunder rumbling across the landscape. But he soon learned that it was not just that, and though Faramir was a decent rider, the horse had thrown him about the time that the orcish stench had first reached his nostrils. Uninjured, Faramir had crawled into the bushes and remained hidden in the underbrush, stealth being his only hope as his ill-tempered horse bolted away, but then he realized that there were many of the enemy and they were beginning to surround his position as they marched forth. Rather than allowing them to come close enough to slash him immediately to bits when they eventually discovered him, he had silently cursed his faithless mount, and opted to run, hoping against hope that he might escape. But though he had remained nearly silent as he left the road in his attempt to flee before he was detected by the foul creatures, his advantage quickly disappeared when the orcs had managed to catch his scent on the wind. With a roar of excitement, they were after him, and he knew then that there would be little that he could do in the end to avoid his own capture.

With a burst of strength that he did not know he had, the ranger managed to leap across a small stream that flowed through the trees, giving himself a few precious seconds to draw ahead of the beasts, who, in their filth, hated the water. The Man did not allow himself the small luxury of grim amusement as he heard a soft splash and then some guttural cursing coming from behind him. Running on pure adrenalin now, he leapt across another smaller stream and then turned uphill, hoping that when he reached the summit of the rocky ground, he might be able to decide a better course of action.

His mistake cost him dearly, for the peak of the hill was not long after followed by a sharp drop, and Faramir had to quickly decide whether to risk the fall or the mob behind him. He chose the former, trying desperately to slow his muddy descent by scrabbling at rocks and roots as he slid on the seat of his pants toward the bottom of the wooded valley. When he was almost halfway to the bottom, his left boot struck a large rock, sending him reeling out of control the rest of the way down the steep, rocky slope. There was nothing that he could do, it seemed, but fall, and he did, his descent becoming more rapid and out of control, his body slamming again and again against the rocky outcroppings and the trunks of saplings, his whole world reduced to a seemingly endless series of bounces that knocked the air out of his lungs. At last, dazed, battered and bleeding, he landed in a dizzy heap at the bottom and lay there for an unknown length of time just trying to figure out which way was up.

Life was cruel, he knew. But through this cruelty, he had temporarily lost the orcs that had been threatening his life. He lay still, working to catch his breath, while at the same time cataloguing his injuries. His left ankle felt, not surprisingly, quite uncomfortable, and he grimaced as he tried to move the offending joint, finding that was broken. His head swum with pain, and Faramir groaned as he realized that when the orcs finally did manage to pick their way down the slope, he would probably yet be here, unable now even to walk, let alone run. Luckily, all of his other injuries were mostly minor cuts and bruises, but that didn't matter if he had been rendered immobile.

Amazingly his longbow, which was still slung across his back, remained intact, and he took heart when he realized that he could use it as a sort of walking stick until something better could be arranged. As rapidly as his abused body would allow it, he stood, balancing on his right foot, letting the dizziness in his head abate a bit before he carefully shifted his weight to the bow and then took a shaky, hopping step. Though it was somewhat painful and very slow, it would serve.

Shuffling westward toward the River Anduin, he laughed bitterly, thinking how astounding it was that only this morning he had been at Henneth Annûn with his men, relatively safe, in this, the most unsafe of times. He had broken his fast on porridge with honey, looking forward to returning to Minas Tirith, despite the fact that he would have to face his father's wrathful indifference once again as he delivered his report to the steward. But it would be worth it just to see Boromir's face. It had been nearly six months since the brothers had seen each other, and Faramir very much missed Boromir's charismatic presence in his life.

"Are you certain that you do not wish for me to accompany you, Lieutenant?" asked Anborn, Faramir's assistant for these past six months, as Faramir was making final preparations to leave the outpost.

"Quite certain, Anborn. The journey to the White City is an easy one. Instead, you should enjoy your time apart from me, for it shall not oft happen! We are almost now like to an old married couple," he laughed, "so you should enjoy your time alone, for I should not be gone for longer than two weeks or so."

Anborn nodded, smiling. "Aye, dear," he teased, "it shall be good to have a bit of freedom for a change!"

The other men laughed at this good-natured humor, since indeed Anborn and Faramir were never far from each other, and as a joke, they had taken to calling each other by various endearments that would normally be reserved for a sweetheart or wife.

"Indeed, honey," laughed Faramir, before he had mounted and set out upon his journey. But now, as night was falling, he was uncertain of where he was, he was injured, and he had a large band of orcs somewhere behind him, and he was certain that they would find their way down the hill and reach him eventually.

The rain continued throughout the night, and Faramir had paused for nothing as he prayed that the water might have obscured his trail somewhat as he slowly hobbled through the underbrush. He knew, though, that he hadn't made much progress, and at dawn, to his consternation, he could once again hear the orcs approaching his position. Though he had continued his forward movement, in less than an hour he knew that they were almost upon him, and he dropped his now useless bow, since he had lost all of his arrows upon the hill. Drawing his sword, he prayed to the Valar that his death would be swift and painless.

As the orcs crashed through the underbrush on their way toward him, he called out the name of the one person in the world whom he loved above all others before he began slashing and hacking his way through the throng.

"Boromir!" he cried, wanting his brother's name to be the last word upon his lips. But for some reason, the orcs didn't seem to want him dead yet. Though Faramir was killing all that met his blade, the orcs, were uncharacteristically gentle with him. It occurred to him that they seemed only to be trying to wear him down as they battered at him with the flats of their blades. Before he could consider all of the possible outcomes of this treatment, though, one of the filthy monsters succeeded in a direct hit upon his broken ankle, and when the rest of the orcs saw how much pain this brought to the Man, they all followed suit.

Faramir refused to cry out in pain even as he was pulled to the ground, orcs swarming over his protesting body as he realized that there was no hope for him now.