This not for profit work of fiction is intended to (hopefully) entertain and improve my writing skills. I make no money and get only the reviews I both fear and crave.

In the Shadow of His Blade


Pipkin Sweetgrass

When the sun beat down upon Rath Dínen from the apex of her daily trek, they looked like any ordinary plant that could be found growing there. But as the day grew older and the sun began to hide her face like a shy girl behind the cool stone of the monument, the ordinary plant took on qualities not so ordinary.

Bergil was an old man now, but he could remember the day clearly, as though it had been but last week that the crowd stood round for the dedication. Sitting now with his great-grandson upon a bench in the sun, Bergil rested. So tired! 'Oh, but the march of days goes on for us all,' he thought, 'and on it goes, carrying us all into our waning years, and we go but one day at a time. Let me waste no day henceforth, until my time to pass on comes.'

"As he would have done," Bergil sighed with a near-imperceptible smile.

"As who would have done?" asked the boy.

Bergil's brows rose in surprise. He had not realized he had spoken aloud. He laughed aloud at himself. "Forgive me, Artamir, if your Grandsire's mind slips away to past times. I'm old, and I tend to woolgather. Him," Bergil gestured towards the monument. "Him whose likeness you see there. A firebrand in his day, he was."

"You knew him?" The boy gave his grandsire a long, thoughtful look.

"Aye; I did. I knew him. My father served his brother." Bergil said with a fond smile.

"Who was he?" asked the boy, his eyes now alight with curiosity.

"His name was Boromir." answered Bergil. A ragged edge of sadness around Bergil's eyes was now married to the fond smile. This piqued Aramir's curiosity yet more.

"Why does he have a monument, sir?" Artamir said, cocking his head like a curious little bird.

"He was a great man, a good leader. He was a Captain-General. His father was Denethor, the last Steward to rule in the king's stead. He would have been the next Steward, had the king not returned - if evil times and evil deeds had not taken him." Bergil tousled the boy's dark hair. "He was a dutiful son."

Artamir's small face grew serious as he considered his next question. "What made him a dutiful son, sir?" The boy's face was earnest. It was an expression that looked somewhat out of place on his young face, especially in these days of peace here in Gondor. "He made his father proud?"

"Aye, he did, but that is not what I meant."

Artamir watched his grandsire expectantly, waiting for an answer, but his great grandfather was lost in thought, or rather in memory.

The city had been all a-buzz for weeks. The six remaining members of the Fellowship were to attend this prestigious occasion and dignitaries from fiefdoms and kingdoms near and far were to attend. Artisans had been working on the monument for well over a year now. Their work was closely guarded. The King wanted no one to see the monument until he had given it his approval, and even after he had given it, he had ordered the monument to be kept covered until the day came to unveil and dedicate it.

In the year 1430, Shire Reckoning, in the tenth year of the Fourth Age by the reckoning of Gondor, the six remaining members of the Nine Walkers were summoned to attend the unveiling of a monument to their fallen member. The chambers reserved for visiting dignitaries were plentiful, but were now filled, every one. The chambers reserved for the hobbits were all together, with Pippin's chamber next to Prince Faramir's. Having settled his belongings in the chamber, Pippin decided he wished to see his old friend, so he stepped out into the hall and tapped on Faramir's chamber door. The sound echoed down the long stone halls, and the door had opened to reveal Gondor's smallest Knight to those inside. Faramir called to Eowyn, and the couple knelt. Then, taking Pippin's hand, they greeted him warmly. From within, familiar voices could be heard, one above all: that of Merry laughing loudly.

Pippin bowed and kissed Eowyn's slim hand. Not satisfied, Eowyn gathered the hobbit in a gentle embrace and kissed his cheek, laughing with delight at seeing once again the halfling known as Peregrin Took. On her husband's hand was a small burn scar, an eternal and silent testimony to Pippin's devotion to duty. Always and forever Pippin would be of the Shire, yet he was also a son of Gondor, and a dutiful son he was. She placed her hands on his shoulders and gave him an affectionate squeeze.

Faramir followed suit. Then, standing each on either side of the Halfling, they led him to the sitting room where Merry, Eomer and his Queen, a princess of Dol Amroth, sat chatting. Nearby were Gimli, Legolas and Sam. They were all a-merrying, rejoicing in each other's company. Soon the King and Arwen joined them. As he sat, King Elessar seemed to transform before them as he stretched out his long legs: King no more for a while, he was once again good old Strider. It was good to see the weight of the crown lifted a while from his brow. The evening passed gently as stories were swapped of everyone's goings-on. A great deal of catching-up was being done. Their lives apart from the Fellowship were progressing. Candles were lit and wine was poured. It was only then that Pippin noticed there was one empty chair. In the seat of the chair was a small bouquet of flowers. Pippin recognized them at once as being Evermind, called by Men Simbelmynë in Rohan. These were the small white anemone-like flowers known to grow on the graves of Men.

Pippin knew it could not have been a coincidence, and on the tail of that thought, he swallowed hard. The chair must be meant for their absent comrade. He rose and placed a hand on the back of the chair, as if in doing so somehow Boromir would know wherever he was that he was missed. Faramir saw Pippin clench shut his eyes for a moment. He reached out and gave Pippin's shoulder a squeeze. Pippin opened his eyes and looked at Faramir, and was comforted. The fact that Faramir was alive was a great comfort to Pippin; that the loss of Boromir was not for nothing. Faramir lived yet, because Pippin had lived. And Pippin was sure the orcs that had captured Merry and himself had thought these two Hobbits were the Ring-bearers, because Boromir had fought so fiercely to defend them. In the small and savage minds of the orcs, Boromir would not have given his life for any other Hobbits but those that bore 'the secret elvish weapon'.

Hobbit and Man looked at each other warmly, and Pippin's smile returned. He gave a small nod of silent thanks to his friend. It was plain that Faramir, too, missed Boromir especially just now. Pippin hoped that the presence of so many gathered in Boromir's honor would be a comfort to Faramir, but he was unable to read Faramir so easily as he had been able to read Boromir.

Later Pippin lay in bed, wide-awake, his memories making him too restless to sleep right away. In his mind, over and over the sight of Boromir falling to his knees, his chest filled with arrows, played in Pippin's head. Caught in the circular memories, Pippin tossed and turned. He watched the moon creep across the night sky for some time.

An errant breeze blew through the window and the curtain billowed like a full sail. When it settled once more Pippin's heart leapt to his throat. Boromir was standing there by the window in the starlight, robed in white with a circlet of purest silver set with a white stone on his brow.

Pippin sat up in his bed, thinking as he did so that he must be dreaming. Boromir stepped closer. A smile was on his face, and his entire figure seemed to glow with a clear light. The touch of the hand that reached out to him wasn't cold, but warm, light and tingly, and the shining face smiled gently.

"Well met, and good evening to you, Master Peregrin." Boromir's voice sounded as though it came from a great distance… yet also seemed to be heard only in Pippin's heart at the same time.

"Good evening? Good evening! You come back from the dead, and that's all you have to say?"

Boromir laughed, and the sound seemed to echo inside Pippin. The feeling tickled something inside of him, as if Boromir's fanciful mood itself was inside the Hobbit's heart, and Pippin felt Boromir's joy more than he saw it on the familiar face. The feeling made Pippin laugh.

"Only a Halfling would greet someone like me in such a manner!" Boromir smiled.

"Someone like you? Whatever do you mean?" Pippin asked, impertinent as ever.

"Someone who has… who has passed on." Boromir's face sobered.

"Boromir… did it – did it hurt much? Too pass on, I mean?"

"Yes, it was quite painful. But do not fret, it was only the fleshly part that hurt, only the part of me that was the vessel of my spirit. The rest of me, I found, was much… deeper, and more important. The pain was… how should I say this? It was a kind of payment for any misdeeds. You know of what I speak."

"Aye, I do. But you have paid, as you said." The Hobbit paused, his face momentarily troubled. "What is it like? To be dead, I mean…"

Boromir laughed again. "I did not come back, Pippin, to answer a thousand questions!" He shook his head in amusement. The laughter Pippin once more felt in his heart swept any troubling thoughts away. What was left seemed to be a sense of balance. Life balanced against death, joy against sorrow, good against evil. He seemed to feel the center of all things, and the center held, a perfect balance beyond the comprehension of any earth-bound soul. There were no words that could describe it to one still of the flesh. This was a lesson that could be taught only from that unseen realm which lies beyond death. Pippin gasped. Was this, then, why Boromir was here? Pippin wondered if perhaps he was learning one final lesson from his old friend.

"What did you come back for? To tell me this?" Pippin asked. His brow knitted, and Boromir rested a hand on his cheek.

"Yes." Came the answer, "You see, Pippin, all things serve Him who made all of creation. I had to break the Fellowship, and because I had to, I was given the chance to balance this deed with one far better. The call of the Ring was my weakness, and so it was also my choice to balance my weakness with strength. In a way my death was a gift. I could enter that far place unashamed, knowing I had served my purpose in blood. Is that not the greatest of duties, to serve all things? And Pippin, I should also say this; one of the reasons that I was tempted was because I did good. It is the fondest wish of evil to corrupt first that which is good before it is destroyed. That is why the Palantir tempted you. The same reason, because you did good. That is why Frodo was tempted in the end, because he did good. Evil cannot abide good any more than good can abide evil. The scale is balanced. The center holds.

"But enough of this! You have worried yourself too long over it and now you can put those worries to rest. Let them sleep; they no longer matter. All is as it should have been, even when it is not as we would have it be." Then Boromir smiled once more. "But I also came back because you remember me! You remember me with love. It is a very powerful thing, my son. Love is the greatest of all magic!" Again Pippin felt Boromir's joy in his heart. "It is good to be remembered with love, my friend. One is never truly dead if one is remembered, you know."

"I shall take your word on it, Boromir. At least until another ghost tells me differently."

Once again Boromir laughed. "You could always bring a smile to my face, Pippin!" said the voice in Pippin's heart.

"Boromir… why?" Pippin asked.

Boromir seemed to know what Pippin meant without asking. The Hobbit wanted to know Boromir's most immediate reasons he had fought and not simply let the orcs take Merry and himself. He wanted to know the reason Boromir had chosen battle while still among the living. After all, Boromir had wanted nothing so much as he had wanted to go home to defend his people. So why did he fight for two little Hobbits when he could as easily – and much less painfully, have chosen another way?

There was quite a long pause before Boromir answered. "I fought so hard for the two of you because you had become like sons to me, Pippin. And as such, I must be a dutiful father to my sons. I think that in my heart I knew you would be my only children. You, Merry and Faramir - you three were the children of my heart, the only children I was ever meant to have. I could have had no better. There again is the wisdom of Him who made us. He gave me the best of sons. I could not have asked for more, and He would not have given me less."

"If that's true, then it follows that you must have been the best of fathers. You taught us so much, Boromir. You were teaching us to be good sons." It was not a question.

"Yes, Pippin. It was the last lesson in life that I could teach you. Do not ask if I regret it! There is no regret where I now dwell. Only peaceful repose, and joy upon being remembered, and the Blessing of going back to Him who made us all. He is as real as you are, my son."

"What did He say to you, Boromir, when you went back to Him?"

Boromir smiled gently once more. "He said I was a good son, Pippin. Knowing that has been one of many rewards. There are other rewards. One of them is you, Peregrin Took. You live, and shall live a good many more years. That, too, is one of my rewards."

"And have I been a good and dutiful son?" Pippin asked, looking up at Boromir earnestly.

Boromir only nodded, and Pippin felt his approval deep in his Hobbit's heart.

"If it had been my will, I would have taught you so much more, child of my heart. I am sorry you were only able to learn from me in the shadow of my blade."

"It is true, Boromir, that in the shadow of your blade I was usually afraid, because you did not draw your blade idly. But you should know, too, that I also never felt safer than I felt in the shadow of your blade, because I knew you wouldn't let us be hurt. We trusted you to keep us safe, Boromir, because we could! Like a father you were to us, and like a father you kept us safe, protected us, even at the cost of your life."

Boromir shook his head, dismissive. "No more than any good father would do, child of my heart. I would do it again a thousand times, as any good father would do." Once more Boromir rested his hand against Pippin's cheek. "But I must go now, Pippin. Thank you for keeping me in your heart."

Boromir turned away, and Pippin cried out, "Wait!"

The ghostly being paused, then turned. The circlet of silver and the white stone caught the starlight, making Boromir seem fairer even than he had been in life. His white robes rustled softly and he returned to Pippin's side. The Hobbit could smell the sweet smell of some familiar flower mingled with sandalwood and clean, clear air. "What would you ask of me, child of my heart?"

"Am I dreaming?" Pippin asked.

"Yes." He answered. He leaned over, and placed a kiss on Pippin's brow. "Take comfort, now. It is a dream, and yet not, for it is only in dreams that these things may take place."

"Will I see you again?"

There was a long, meaningful pause. "Sooner or later, in this life or the next." He patted Pippin's shoulder. "Now, don't take on, I really must go."

Boromir turned to take his place by the window once more. "Oh, and before I go," he said with a smile, "You can rest assured that Frodo has found much comfort and healing. So no more worries about him, hmm?"

"No more worries, though I do still miss him. Goodbye, Boromir!" Pippin shut his eyes tightly, trying to squeeze back his tears. "I – I will remember you!" Pippin opened his eyes.

The sun shone brightly through the window. Pippin sighed sadly. It had been a dream after all, just as Boromir had said. He rose, washed his face, combed his hair and dressed himself. As he stepped out of his chamber door he called to a page to bring him breakfast in Merry's chamber. The dream had left Pippin feeling glum, and he hoped Merry would cheer him up. But as they sat and waited on a breakfast of the little white cakes Boromir and Faramir had loved so much as children, Pippin noticed Merry seemed to have awakened in an odd mood as well. The page had sent a maid in with their breakfast, and as they sat in silence eating, Pippin noticed Merry kept looking toward the window, which was hung with curtains like the one in his own chamber. A sudden suspicion dawned on Pippin.

"Merry, last night, did you – did you dream?" asked Pippin.

Merry looked sharply at Pippin. "Yes – I did. Did you?" Merry replied with a shape glance.

"I, well… Merry, I saw him. I spoke with him, Merry, in a dream. He said…"

"Child of my heart." Merry finished.

"Oh, Merry!" gasped Pippin. "Then he was really here! I really did see him!"

"I believe so, Pippin. I do believe so. Did he say you were ?"

"A dutiful son, Merry."

"A good and dutiful son."

"Should we speak to Faramir about this?" Pippin said, leaning forward to study Merry's face.

"I don't know, Pippin. I don't know."

But later, when they saw Faramir, they knew. They knew because Faramir was behaving strangely, his mood very like their own when they had wakened. The pair of Hobbits spoke to Faramir then, telling them of the visions they had, and they found that Boromir had said the same things to all three, as if he had somehow been visiting with the three of them at once, having the same conversation. They sat in silence, not knowing what more to say and wanting to say so much more. There was much to consider, and they all seemed to want to keep their thoughts to themselves for a while.

When the afternoon sun was shining down on Rath Dínen, the six remaining members of the Fellowship stood at the base of a draped monument with the King and Queen. About them stood dignitaries and royalty, noblemen and statesmen, and many, many soldiers whom had known Boromir well.

As Aragorn rose from his seat at the base of the monument, the crowd fell silent. He stepped forward, his face sober.

"Today we remember a fallen comrade, a brother in arms, and the man who might have been my Steward. There are many words I could use to describe Boromir. Boromir the Brave, Boromir the Fair, a good man, a friend and companion, a doughty soldier, great in battle and accomplished in deed so well as to be remembered for an age, or longer. All of these he would have found agreeable."

The crowd laughed, knowing the King spoke the truth. Boromir had always known he was the best Man in Gondor, though he never boasted of it.

"Only let me first speak of his name. The world bor means 'endure' and boron means 'steadfast, trusty man, faithful vassal.' The word mir means 'jewel, precious thing, treasure.' Boromir was all of those things and more. But though I could speak well of him, I would rather his brother speak not of Boromir, but for Boromir. Come, my friend!" The King gestured for Faramir to stand beside him.

Faramir stood and looked out at the crowd that had gathered round, eyes riveted on him. "King Elessar has bid me speak for Boromir. Yet what he would have to say about this, we can never truly know. Of his praises he would be agreeable, as the King has said. Perhaps he might speak of strength and weakness." Here Faramir paused and looked meaningfully at Merry and Pippin, then continued. "But I am bid to speak not of him, but for him; if I could say one thing for Boromir, it would be that he was truly a Son of Gondor, a good and dutiful son. Once, I asked him what I should learn to be a good Man. He said to me, 'Duty, brother. Learn to do your duty. Duty is the most splendid word in our tongue. If a Man has done his duty, he has done everything that he could do, and he should never strive to do less.' From a Man not known to take to great studies, those were some of the wisest words I have ever heard, and they have served me well. If he could speak today, if he could say, 'fathers of Gondor, teach your sons!' –those are the words he would say to you. 'Duty; teach your sons duty.'

He did all he could do, and he never strove to do less. If I could give you words to remember him by, it would be 'duty' and 'honor', for these he valued above all else.

He gave his life out of a sense of duty. He could do no less. He could not have done more. But I would have speech from one or two who were there, at the time of his passing, to tell you more. Sir Meriadoc, Sir Peregrin, will you speak?"

The two Hobbits rose to speak, now. Merry looked out at the crowd, holding his head high and proud in his uniform of Rohan. "Boromir was our teacher as well as our friend. If not for the skills he gave us, we might have died in battle. You know well how great his skills were, and these he gave us, taking great time and effort to teach us these skills on a long and perilous journey, when he could have been resting.

But Boromir, as you know, was not given much to idling when he had a duty to perform, and he felt he had a duty to us. He fulfilled his every duty to us, even unto…" Merry paused and cast his eyes down for a moment, then once more he raised his head. "Even unto his very death. Is there a greater love, that one should lay his life down for a friend? Is there a nobler deed or a greater duty than this? Is there a greater honor to receive than the life of a friend? My heart tells me there is not. It is our honor that he died for us. He could not give more than he did. And so we honor his memory this day. Yet I tell you we not only honor him here today, we also return the love he gave." Merry seemed unable to go on. He gestured to Pippin.

As Pippin stood forth in the uniform of a Guard of the Citadel, the crowd murmured, then hushed. This was their beloved Ernil i Pheriannath. He stood before them, shoulders squared, green eyes a-glitter. He rested his hand on the hilts of his sword, looked down as though to gather his thoughts, then looked once more outward, this time looking at what remained of the Fellowship first. Only then did he face the crowd. In his mind he heard again the words Boromir had spoken in his heart, and he knew exactly what to say.

"As a father he was to me and my kinsman. What can dutiful sons say of such a father? He was the best of soldiers, and being good as a soldier made him good as a father as well. When we began our journey, I knew little, being young and untutored even in defending myself. I was struck immediately with Boromir, for his kindly and lordly manner. I like to think I have learned to be kindly and lordly as he, but I do not know if ever I shall be able to become such as he.

But I can live my life, as he would have had me live it, and that is the greatest honor I can give him, to wish to be like him. I hope that someday I shall have a son to whom I can be such a father as he would have been, and if ever I do, I shall raise my son to be as Boromir would have had me be. I shall name him Faramir, to honor the brother Boromir loved so dearly, and because if he had a son of his own, I believe he would have done the same. I shall tell my son Faramir Took of Boromir's every deed, his every kindness to me and my kin, and - and I shall teach him to be a dutiful son… a good and dutiful son.

If I teach him all these things, then Boromir will never be truly dead, as long as me and mine remember him. It is my fondest wish that we all here should do the same. Let us keep him in our hearts, and teach our children of him and his deeds. As long as there is duty to be done and honor to keep, Boromir's spirit will never truly be gone, for more eternal than any monument of stone is the need for duty and honor.

He is passed away, but never truly gone. He is still here, here in every kindness; in every duty and in every honor we do for others. That he shed his blood for my kin and me I can do no less than to keep his memory alive and in my keeping. More precious than any amount of gold are the gifts he gave us.

But among all these gifts, I count this greatest: chiefly that that I live. I am alive. I might have been struck down had he not taught us the soldier's ways. I live; he lives not, so I shall live for him.

But I am more than alive. If one is alive, then one is simply alive. He taught me to be alive with life, with love, with duty and with honor. I shall do my best to be as he was. Of what remains in Middle Earth of my brothers in the Fellowship, I shall care for and honor and love and stand by all my days, as he would have done. As he did. And I shall do these things because I wish to be his good and dutiful son.

In the shadow of his blade, I learned what I needed to know to live through a battle, but also in the shadow of his blade, I learned simply to live, as a good Man ought to. I am no Man; I am only a simple Hobbit who learned in the shadow of his blade. I stand in that shadow even now, and shall stand in it all the days left to me. I shall stand in the shadow of his blade with pride in him, with love for him, with honor for him, and I shall fulfill my duties to him as the child of his heart, as he would have had me do. But most of all, I shall stand in the shadow of his blade with life and with love. For I am a dutiful son. And there is no greater deed I can do for him than this: to stand in the shadow of his blade.

Yet I would do more than that. We have spoken today of his deeds as a soldier. On occasions such as this one when we remember our fallen soldiers, we commonly speak of duty and honor. But he was more than a soldier to me. He was a Man, with qualities much like any. We all make mistakes. We take one path when we should have taken another. And in this I speak from experience!"

The crowd laughed at the self-effacing humor. Pippin waited for them to grow quiet again before he spoke. "As I said, he was my teacher, but he taught me more than how to fight and what the obligations of a soldier are. He taught me that all things are balanced, that if I make a mistake, I can do something good to balance the scale, even if it means sacrificing myself. He taught me that all things serve our Maker in the end. And he taught me that of all our duties, our greatest duty is to serve good all we can all the days of our lives. And if I should ever be required to sacrifice myself for a greater good, I shall not be afraid, for the rewards of such a deed are many.

Prince Faramir was asked to speak for Boromir instead of Boromir. I would now add to what he said with a few words of my own. If he were here today, he would say a few things that may surprise some of you. He would say, 'forget not your greatest duty, that you should love one another.'

We remember him today for his sacrifices as a soldier. I speak to you now of his sacrifices as a father. There are many honorable things to fight for in this world, but there are none greater than the cause of love. I tell you this as he would, if he were here today. Yes, he died for honor and duty… but more than this he died for love. He would tell you it is love that is the salvation of all, in this world or the next. It is my privilege as a dutiful son to deliver this message to you for him. For duty wisely done is just another word for love."

Pippin fell silent. The crowd stood, heads bowed, the words of the Ernil i Pheriannath in their hearts, etched there for as long as they lived. The King nodded to his servants to remove the veil from the statue. It fell away to reveal in purest white stone the perfect likeness of Boromir, his horn in one hand, his sword in the other, raised in eternal vigilance to stand forever facing west. At either side stood statues of two Hobbits, blades drawn, forever to stand by his side.

The shadow of the blade fell across Pippin's face as he bowed his head. As he did, Pippin saw that all about the bases of the statues were small white flowers.

"Simbelmynë!" they heard Eomer say. "Only, look at it!"

The king bent and plucked one of the flowers. Yes, it was Simbelmynë, called Evermind in the common tongue, but these were different. On each petal were three tiny dots, red as blood, one larger than the other two. "From whence did these flowers come?" asked the King.

"I know not, my Lord, they were not there when we re-draped the monument last night," answered a servant.

Once more the King bent and examined the little plants. These had not simply been placed there; they were well rooted in the soil. "I have never seen any like these in all my travels," he said. "They are indeed a kind of Evermind. But these which I have never seen before this day, I shall give their own name, and I shall call them in elvish Utinu-Akh. In the common tongue, Dutiful Son."

Bergil lifted the little white flower with the three blood-red dots on each petal to his nose and inhaled the sweet scent. He was brought out of his memories by the voice of his great-grandson.

"Grandsire, who are the two little little ones that stand at his side?" asked Artamir, "Are those his children?"

"In a manner of speaking, I suppose you could say so, but no; really, those the two Halflings, Sir Meriadoc the Magnificent and the Ernil i Pheriannath, the Prince of the Halflings, Sir Peregrin Took. He was my friend, once upon a time. But that is another tale!" Bergil answered. A gentle sparkle lit his dim old eyes as they misted up with tears. "To answer your question, in a manner of speaking, yes; they were his children. They were the children of Boromir's heart, I'm told. The only sons he had."

"The little flowers, what did you call them? Dutiful Sons?"

"Yes, that is their name in the common tongue. But here in Gondor we call them by yet another name. We call them Boromir's Gift."

"I have never seen them anywhere else but here. Where do they come from?"

"Oh, only here, my boy. They say there is a small patch of them at Parth Galen as well, but nowhere else. They bloom on Parth Galen but once a year, it is said, for only one day, on the anniversary of Boromir's death... here they bloom year round, but the blooms only open when his shadow is on them."

"I'm hungry, Grandsire, may we go to the creamery and the bakery? Are you hungry?" Artamir asked, taking the flower back and sniffing it.

"Yes, I suppose I could use a bite and a sup."

"May I take the flower to mother?"

"Yes, my boy, do. She would be very proud of you for bringing her one."

"Will she think I am a dutiful son?" Artamir grinned at his own jest.

"Oh, I hope so, Artamir, I do hope so. Duty, Artamir, is a splendid word. If you have done your duty, you can do no more. One should never strive to do less."

"Then I shall strive to do my duty always."

"Yes, my dear boy, you should do so." Bergil smiled. His heart was filled with pride for this young one. "Always strive to be a dutiful son, and you shall be well loved, even beyond all your days. Duty wisely done is just another word for love, you know."

Bergil and Artamir left Rath Dínen and walked slowly back up the streets of Gondor to visit the creamery and the bakery. The sun slowly dipped lower and lower, leaving no one on Rath Dínen but one monument of pure white stone. The statue of Boromir, his fair face forever to the west caste his shadow on the statues of the children of his heart. The statues of Merry and Pippin stood in the cool shadow of his blade, small white flowers with three blood-red dots on each petal as if in an embrace.

This story is dedicated to our fallen heroes, those who have done all they could do. They could not do more.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." – John, 15:13


Much thanks to my husband, Beornomir, without whose help I couldn't have done this. As his father and stepfather served in the military he has a great understanding of dedications to the memorials of our fallen soldiers. In case anyone is wondering why certain words and phrases are much repeated, I did this so it would sound like a speech, not an actual story or plain dialogue. I couldn't have written a speech comparable to those we hear today without hearing those speeches standing at his side.

Thanks go first and foremost to all of our own dutiful sons and daughters who continue to remain dutiful sons and daughters.

Also, much thanks to Pearl Took. Thank you, Pearl, for spotting some awful errors!

Let me also thank my dear Teriadoc. Thank you, my dear, dutiful sister!
Your Beta-read was perfection!

To any and all who now serve our countries, and to their loved ones, I give you my thanks and undying gratitude.

Let me say, on closing, the inspiration for this story came to me after my husband, a Viet Nam veteran, and I attended a previewing of a documentary called In the Shadow of the Blade. This documentary is soon to be released for purchase. If you or someone you know is a veteran of Viet Nam, I recommend this documentary highly.

To the veterans of Viet Nam, let me give them a much belated and very needed welcome home.

The URL to the website of In the Shadow of the Blade is http:www.intheshadowoftheblade