In His Stead
(formerly 'Twisted fate')
"Do you wish then that our places had been exchanged?" What if Faramir had been the son of Denethor to embark on the quest to Imladris? Only time will make known if Faramir's loyalties will keep the Fellowship together or drive them apart.
Before you start: This tale was written over many years, starting when I was quite young. The style and complexity change throughout. If you are interested in the general premise of the story, please persevere or jump through to later chapters. After reading chapter 1, jumping to chapter 15 could be a possibility if you wish to move to a point of more consistent quality. Thank you for your patience, it has been a wonderful experience writing this tale.
Chapter 1 - Imladris
The gentle sunlight faded quickly as Faramir passed through the archway into one of the inner chambers of Rivendell. The room had no window, and he was forced to wait a moment before his eyes adjusted to the dim light.
Three days it had been since he had come to Imladris and finally solved the first of the puzzling words that had come to him months before in a dream. Yet even here the dream haunted him still, and little sleep he had found in the last homely house.
Faramir's step was cautious as he moved into the darkened room, his eyes taking in everything. Dusty bookshelves lined the walls on his left, and hung on the wall to his right was a large, richly coloured painting.
It was a library. Faramir was pleasantly surprised by his discovery. He could have spent days searching the halls and chambers of Rivendell for this very place, and he had found it without even looking.
He looked to the books on his left, unable to suppress his curiosity any longer. There were old volumes of bound leather, and also several more recent publications. He reached up to lift down one of these when a sudden sound from behind stayed his hand.
He reached instinctively for his sword. His hand met nothing but air and he remembered the outlaw of weapons in Imladris. When first he had come there Faramir had been pleased by the law that declared absolute peace, but now he was not so sure.
He turned cautiously, unsure what to expect. At first he could see nothing, the shadows at the end of the hall being too dark. After another moment something shifted in the darkness and the shape of a figure could be seen.
Faramir's breath caught in his throat. Had the figure been watching him the entire time? He could only just see the man's eyes watching him intensely from beneath a dark hood.
"Goodmorrow," Faramir began haltingly, "I did not see you there."
The man said nothing at first. And Faramir almost thought he would not respond. But after a moment the grey eyes met his once more.
"You are a ranger?" The voice was low and was perhaps more refined than Faramir had expected.
"I..." Faramir was startled for a moment until he realised he was still wearing his cloak. It was thinner than most cloaks worn by men of Gondor and it was its green and brown hues were designed to blend into the trees.
He smiled slightly as he studied the man's own clothing in the dim light. "I see I am not the only one who uses the trees as his shield."
The man seemed to smile at the image, and shifted slightly in his chair. "Do you come from Gondor, or Minas Tirith itself?"
Faramir found himself annoyed at the tone of command in the other's voice. What right did a ranger of the North have to question him? He avoided the question easily.
"I see you know something of the lay of the land? Tell me, Ranger, from whence come you?"
The man seemed to shrug slightly, shifting the book he held in his lap. "I am Strider, Ranger of the North. All lands are my home."
Faramir pressed his lips together in a grim smile. He had expected no less of this man. A real name had been too much to hope for.
"I am Faramir, Captain of the Rangers of Ithilien," he said, deciding to speak plainly and lead by example.
The man's stare hardened at the words, and Faramir found himself suddenly uncomfortable under the other's scrutiny.
"And what is Denethor's son doing so far from his city?"
Faramir did not react, though he was surprised the other knew of his lineage. "Have you travelled in the south lands?" he asked, finding himself intrigued by the mysterious stranger's depth of knowledge.
"Many lands have been my home, and I have studied long in Imladris." Then the man smiled as if he knew something Faramir did not. "If you wished to visit the larger library in Rivendell, I would show you."
Faramir smiled slightly despite himself. The man had found out his passion and given him an offer he would not refuse. Now, he realised, he would be in the man's debt. Faramir would think twice before engaging in another battle of wills with this man, Strider. He seemed to casually observe nothing, while in truth he took in each minute detail for future use.
Strider laid the book he had been reading face down on the arm of his chair and Faramir, though he tried, could not make out the title. As they moved together towards the doorway Faramir happened to glance up at the painting to his left. It was a familiar subject to him, as it was to all those who dwelt in the city founded by the sons of Elendil. It was a depiction of the last stand of Isildur against Sauron. Yet he thought that he had never seen in such a light before. In Gondor it was an image of loyalty and courage. Though as he gazed at it in the small dust-filled room he felt a great sadness, and saw more clearly the great weakness men had for greed and corruption.
Strider had followed his gaze, and as Faramir turned back to him he saw that a great shadow had fallen upon his companion, and that his face was drawn and lined.
The night was warm and Faramir lay beneath thin sheets. His window opened above the Bruinen but the upward draft from the river did nothing to cool the chamber. He turned over, the material clinging to his body, and looked outwards where the stars shone above Rivendell. It was long ere sleep came to him, for he did not relish the thought of experiencing the dream that had torn him away from his home. Yet when sleep did come, the dream of the pale light in the west did not. Instead he saw a man with a star on his brow, and a broken sword being forged anew. His sleep-numbed mind told him that if the King of men were to be found anywhere in middle earth, it would be in the house of Elrond.
Faramir woke with a feeling of peace for the first time in many mornings. The sun had already risen high in the sky as he dressed himself hurriedly, remembering that Elrond had called the council for early that very morning.
Elves glanced sternly at him as he hurried along the balconies, glancing every few moments at the position of the sun. He slowed his pace, looking down at his boot that he had carelessly forgotten to lace. He sighed in frustration. It would have to wait. Distracted, he did not see the group of Elves who had moved out onto the path til he had walked into them.
There was a grunt, and Faramir looked up, cringing, to see the Elf he had knocked to the ground. It was unlike him to cause such accidents. Being a Ranger, his skills for moving swifly and silently had always helped him to avoid such incidents when among other men. Yet Elves possessed such heightened skills as to make him feel heavy and ungraceful.
"Forgive me," he said quickly, offering the fallen Elf a hand by which to right himself. But the Elf declined, recovering himself without his aid. He rose to Faramir's height, fixing the Ranger with what seemed to be a scornful gaze. The Elf was unlike those of Elrond's house, as his hair was blond and his cloak pale green. The Elf said something to his companions in Sindarin. Faramir's learning of the language was not sufficient enough to catch the quickly spoken words, but he presumed them to have spoken of himself for the other Elves laughed lightly and flashed him amused glances.
Faramir had not the time to follow up on the insult, for he knew himself to be already late for the council.
He was seated beside a Dwarf. This would not have bothered him were it not for the Elf on his other side. It was ~that~ Elf, the one he had colided with before the council, and it seemed to him that being seated next to the stout bearded creature on his left lowered him even more in the eyes of the tall Elf.
"Gimli, son of Gloin," the Dwarf announced, leaning over and grasping Faramir's hand in a crushing grip.
"Faramir of Gondor," he replied, trying hard not to wince as the Dwarf released his bruised fingers. He could feel the Elf's eyes upon his once more, and clenched his jaw in frustration. What a position to be thrown into! "I am not sure if Elrond invited me to this council only to sit between yourselves and the Elves." he said to Gimli, loud enough for the Elf to overhear.
The Dwarf laughed heartily, "You may be right! Elrond is half an Elf himself, you know? Cunning folk they are. Dangerous. Never trust an Elf." Faramir smiled, he had expected the Dwarf to feel that way.
"But he is also half man," Gimli went on, "so there must be some sense in him."
Faramir smiled at the complement, and was glad that the Dwarf seemed to harbour no such ill feeling towards the race of men as he did to the Elves.
"And here is the great Elf himself!"
Faramir looked up to see Elrond's arrival. The dark-haired Elf seemed showed his age more clearly than when Faramir had first come to Rivendell. For although the skin of Elrond's face was unmarked by his long years his eyes were dark with strain and worry.
"The council will take place now all have come, and you all shall learn the answers to your riddles..."
As mentioned in the introduction, if you would like to read on to a point of more consistent quality, please jump to Chapter 15, where the Fellowship have entered Moria