The Valley of Shadow

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

The darkness presses round me, hot and heavy. I can hardly breathe in this oppressive blackness. Even the very sun herself has turned from gold to black.

I stumble along blindly, tripping over the corpses of my men, thorns tear my flesh, but I cannot cry out. Valar! This place is terrible! Thirst sears my throat. I must drink soon or I will die, but there is no water in this desolate place.

I sink to my knees exhausted. I can go no further. I see a glimmer of light ahead as if at the end of a long tunnel and hear voices calling. Voices I had not expected to ever hear again. Boromir bids me come to him together with a woman's sweet voice. It is my mother!

If this be death, I welcome it, light and love beckon me to escape from this dark place.

Suddenly a hand reaches out and clasps mine. At first I recoil in fear, thinking it some dark creature of the enemy. The hand feels warm, though, a calloused hand like that of a seasoned warrior, yet gentle too.

"Faramir, come with me! I will take you home." The voice suits the hand's owner, firm, yet full of compassion.

"I do not know the way, lord. I am so weary!" Boromir's voice is growing fainter and the light in the tunnel seems to be fading. "My brother is calling to me, "I tell the stranger. "I must go to him!"

The hand pulls me to my feet.

"Come, I know the way, I will carry you if I must! It is not your time yet to leave the circles of the world."

"What is left for me here?" I ask bitterly. "The enemy is at our very gates, my brother is slain together with many of my brave men and my father's heart is hardened against me."

"A great deal, Faramir. Gondor has great need of you. Mithrandir tells me you are wise and should I triumph, I will have need for the council of wise men. There is always hope."

Still I hesitate. The darkness seems to cling to me as if a thing alive. A menacing creature looms out of the blackness and seizes me.

"Away, Fell servant of Sauron!" cries the stranger. "You shall not have this brave Captain, I claim him as my own! Come, Faramir, I am taking you home!"

The warmth in his voice gives me new strength. I want to follow this man with the healing hands, and the voice of a kindly father.

I turn to look at the man. Is he one of the Valar, Mandos perhaps? He smiles at me, seeming to read my thoughts. A green jewel gleams on his breast and a keen light glows in his eyes. I recognize him from my dreams. He is the heir of Elendil, the lost king of our people." I know you, lord," I say.

"Then come!"

The darkness grows stronger and I think I hear mocking laughter. Still gripping my hand, the stranger half drags, half carries me along with him. I try with all the strength that remains in me to follow him. I can see though, that he grows weary in the constant struggle against the darkness

Suddenly a wondrous fragrance fills the air. The darkness dissipates like storm clouds blown away on a spring breeze. I feel as if I am falling, but the stranger holds me tightly.

I open my eyes and find I am lying on a bed.

I open my eyes and see the stranger bending over me. "My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?" I say softly.

'Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!' says the King his eyes smiling.

A/N This is a longer version of a story written for the prompt "Hands" in the AA Group.

I could not let today pass without marking yet again Aragorn and Faramir's first meeting, though I fear this not very original. There are also some new drabbles on my LJ concerning this favourite scene of mine.

This story is linked to "First Meeting" and "Comes the Moment to Decide"

I have not forgotten by other stories, but have become engrossed in drabble challenge which lasts until the end of the month.