Thanks to: Everyone who has read and reviewed previous work.
Very special thanks to: My partner in crime Raksha the Demon. We have co- authored this; in fact I can go as far as to say she wrote all the good bits! So thank you Raks for all the input, I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have!
Disclaimer: None of the characters are ours, well none of the ones you recognise anyway. We may have invented the odd Lord of Gondor and son of the Steward on the way. We are definitely not making anything out of this and we are losing blood, sweat and tears because of it.......fanfiction writing is hell!
Authors' Note: This is the final part of a trilogy started with Come to Harm and continuing in Made to Suffer, so if you haven't read those it might be better if you do so first. They are both available on ff.net. As with the previous two stories it is AU, and blends elements of the movie with elements of the books. If you have read the previous stories, or just don't want to, here is the beginning of the end, but will our beloved Steward triumph? Only one way to find out, read on.........
Faramir, Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien, lay uneasy in his wide bed. The land was at peace; the Steward's apartments in the Citadel of Minas Tirith were quiet under a full moon. His wife curled warmly against him this soft spring night, her stomach burgeoning with precious new life. Their children slept deeply in adjacent rooms. But Faramir's mind wandered in troubled dreams.
He found himself watching a procession that headed slowly and sorrowfully towards Rath Dinen. He moved closer and saw that his father led the crowd of mourners.
"Who has died?" Faramir asked his father.
"My beloved son is dead" Denethor replied, tears pouring down his haggard face. He gestured towards a bier carried by the Guard.
Faramir thought it must be Boromir, since their father was so sorrowful. But instead, he beheld his own body on the bier, lifeless and clad as Captain-General and High Warden of the White Tower, as it might have been on that terrible day of fire and battle eighteen years ago.
Yet as Faramir watched, the scene before him blurred and changed. The grieving father was not Denethor, it was Aragorn! Faramir watched, horrified, as his King and friend stood on a hill beside a fresh burial mound. Aragorn sank to his knees, hiding his face in his hands as his shoulders bent in despair. Arwen was there too, shrouded in veils and clinging to her Lord. They looked unbearably weary.
"My beloved son is dead" Aragorn said, desolation in his eyes. "He never awakened from Saruman's accursed trance, but faded, then died. My daughters are twain, born but minutes apart, their faces identical. I fear that their sons will vie for the crown, and rend the land in Kin-strife like ravening wolves after I am gone."
"How can this be, my King? Eldarion still lives." Faramir asked, but the King looked at him no more.
Then Faramir stood alone, surrounded by smoke and flames, he could not tell in what place. Gandalf appeared, wearing his grey robes; and said to him "You must find the stone that Saruman lost. Though you have reason to fear it, you must undo the evil work in which the stone was used. Go in haste, for very soon the stone shall be taken by less worthy hands."
The flames receded, replaced by darkness. Faramir awoke, trembling, skin heated and heart cold with fear.