"Whence came dreams?" Faramir said softly, just as speaking to himself.

Gandalf paused his smoking. "From the Valar. Did you not know that?"

It was a peaceful day in Gondor, few days after the coronation of King Elessar. Faramir and Gandalf were sitting in the library of Minas Tirith. Faramir disapproved of smoking in a chamber full of flammable scrolls and books. But Gandalf won the argument by stating that as Elrond let him smoke to his heart content in the library of Imladris, Faramir would do well not to be more particular than him.

"The lore tells about the Lord of Lórien, of course," rejoined Faramir. "But do not our thoughts and experiences affect our dreams?"

"Surely. But of what dream are you talking about?"

"I saw the battle in my dream, Mithrandir."

"I guessed so. Unlike the others suffered under Black Breath, you were burnt with fever. I guessed then that you were not simply in a deep sleep. What did you see?"

"I saw the outer walls enclosed by unnumbered foes. Our guards deserted their posts. Heads ... branded with the Eye ..." Faramir stopped. He still cringed at the memory of those desecrated heads.

"Did you see me or Imrahil as we rallied the guards?"

"No, I did not. But for Pippin and Beregond telling me, I would still wonder where you were on that dreadful night."

"What else did you see?" Now Gandalf sounded concerned.

"I saw the Great Gate broken. I saw it very clearly, as if I was standing close to it."

"But you did not see the coming of the riders of Rohan nor heard their horn."

"No, I did not."

"It was not a dream," Gandalf said firmly, "at least not the true dream sent by the Valar. You saw only the worst part of the battle, and anything that might give you hope you did not see. That is why I said it was not a dream. You simply saw what the Black Captain and Sauron saw, being under the Black Breath. The power to conjure up dreams, to make you see things that are not, was not given to Morgoth, let alone his lieutenant."

Gandalf spoke again, now with concern, "Did you see ... the fire?"

Faramir nodded. "The House of the Stewards burnt."

Gandalf looked crestfallen. "Would that you had not had to endure that sight, Faramir."

Faramir said nothing but his eyes shown his gratitude for Gandalf's concern.

"I only saw the House from outside."

Gandalf looked a little relieved. "Lord Irmo is merciful," he muttered.

"But you just said that the visions were not from him," said Faramir.

"But that is not to say that he cannot intervene on what you see and what you see not. I think that after the Black Captain fell, Sauron's grip on your thoughts weakened, and only then you began to dream. Do I guess correctly that you met Aragorn in your dream?"

"I did not know that he was Aragorn mentioned by Frodo. I only knew that he must be one of the kings of Gondor. I even thought he might be Elendil the Tall. After so many things I saw, I would not have been so surprised had it been really him."

Gandalf smiled. "Always a lover of old tales, are you not, Faramir?"

"My love of tales was encouraged by a certain wizard."

They both laughed.

Presently Faramir spoke again, "Before I met the King, I saw the White Tower in ruin. That was not the work of Sauron, as the Tower still stands today and you said he could not conjure up things unreal. What was that, then? Surely not a foresight?"

For once Gandalf did not answer readily. He made few puffs of smoke rings before he answered, "Perhaps it was something that would happen. But do not worry overmuch! That you saw it in your dream does not mean that it will happen in your time. And what handiwork of men will not finally come to ruin?"

"Then Gondor too will one day come to ruin?"

"Yes, for all in Arda Marred will one day come to an end. But is that a reason to be sorrowful? You are a master of lore. Surely you know what Men do when their city comes to ruin?"

Faramir looked at Gandalf. Finally he smiled slightly. "Unlike the Elves, Men would simply build another one."

Gandalf's eyes twinkled as he made another set of smoke rings.