Thy father's son
* * *
Boromir woke up in the morning with thumping in his head.
He winced as he opened his eyes into the darkened room. He was sure it must have been already morning, but everything seemed greyish. He stood up heavily hoping, the headache would diminish. Much to his dislike, it aggravated. He looked out of his small window to the Eastern gate. Life in the underneath streets was already bubbling, but in more subtle way than usually.
The skies were of frightening dark. Grey heavy clouds were covering everything what could only remind that behind them could be hidden the life-giving sun. Boromir cursed.
He hoped it would start to rain soon so the pressure he felt in his ears would disappear. It did not look very promising though. Wild wind was tying its invisible knots around the Tower of Ecthelion, which seemed to shine in the darkness more than usually.
The trees in the Gardens of Healing in the Sixth ring were whispering agitated.
Boromir turned back to his greyish room and carefully chose some warm clothes.
He emerged his room out and went straight to Faramir's chamber to check on his younger brother. Even though it was more quiet part of the House, the halls seemed almost too quiet. He did not meet anyone on his way.
He entered Faramir's chamber and noted it was even darker than his. Somewhere over the Pelennor fields rumbled a thunder.
He looked at Faramir. Unlike yesterday, his face had much better colour now: flushed, nearly angry red at cheeks. Too red, too warm. Boromir touched younger brother's brow with palm. Faramir moaned. Very hot. Mithrandir entered the room.
"He is running a fever," stated Boromir a little in vain. Mithrandir held some herbs in the hands and many white sheets.
"Yes. I know. I had informed your father. He is at the council now."
Boromir grimaced. At the council? He was not expecting compassion, was he?
Mithrandir did not seem to be surprised either, "Come help me with your brother," he handed him the sheets and pointed to the basin standing in the corner of the room, "make them wet."
"What do you want to do?"
"We have to lower the fever before he gets cramps."
Boromir obediently jumped to the basin and started to damp the sheets. When he was finished, he turned back to Mithrandir.
The wizard touched with the corner of a damp sheet lying boy's flushed cheek. Faramir opened confused eyes glazing with fever. Boromir stepped to him, "Faramir, I will help you to sit now."
He supported brother's back. He felt the heath radiating from his body. Boromir did not remember brother ever being so sick.
Mithrandir removing Faramir's top, spoke to the boy soothingly, but clearly,
"Faramir, listen to me now. You have high fever we have to lower it down. It would be very....uncomfortable, but do not fight us. It is for your good."
After a moment for comprehension, Faramir slowly nodded slightly.
The wizard spread one of the sheets and started to wrap it around Faramir.
"We have to be careful otherwise he could get a shock."
When the cold wet sheet touched the hot dry skin, Faramir flinched and tried to push Boromir's steadying hands away, but was too weak. After a short while of struggling, weakened, he leaned against Boromir's shoulder, moaning nearly in pain against the treatment.
Boromir wrapped his arms around his brother. As the wetness seeped through his clothes, he pointed out, "The sheets are not even that cold. And though it causes him so much discomfort."
The wizard replied sternly while changing the sheet for new one, "The main point is, it will help."
After several more changes Faramir stopped to protest and only occasionally stirred, or moaned. Mithrandir looked at him with experienced eyes, "I think it is enough. The fever sank."
Boromir unwrapped the sheet and dried Faramir. He noted that brother's breathing was deeper now.
"How is it that he is so sick?"
Mithrandir undid the wet bandage around Faramir's right arm, "It is not from the wound. That looks good. It could be from the blood loss. The body was weakened by it, the hot weather and tiring tournament added to all. It was not able to defend against a treacherous sickness."
Boromir nodded, "So we will not be healing his wound, but curing his body."
"Yes. And it would be of great help to know what we are fighting."
Although Boromir was used to speak and handle with politicians, Mithrandir's speaking in riddles was slowly awaking his temper, "What exactly do you have in mind?"
"We have to find out who was with Faramir in the last days and is sick as well."
Boromir silenced for a moment, making in his mind a list of places and people his brother was visiting.
Then he answered at length, "Minas Tirith is a big city, but Faramir moves only in a small circle of people."
Mithrandir nodded, though reading between lines the strange story of Faramir's life. Boromir continued.
"There is no one sick here in the Citadel. I would have known about it. And there are only a few places and even less people Faramir visits outside."
Mithrandir stole a short moment to probe sleeping Faramir's brow again, "We should handle quick. We have cooled him only moments ago, but I have a feeling the temperature is rising again."
Boromir's heart wrenched, "Then we should start in the sixth ring where Kiriel lives."
They emerged from the room quietly. "Shall I not call anyone to look after Faramir?"
"No, that is not necessary. He should be sleeping for the time we are gone. "
Boromir eyed the door of brother's chamber sceptically, "I am not so sure about that."
Then he looked at a small boy coming their way. He grabbed the boy by the small arm. Little lad shrieked silently. Boromir put a large hand on the boy's hair.
"Small friend, do me a favour. Guard this door until we return. Let no one in, or out. We shall be back soon."
Surprised tad recovered his senses and bowed to Boromir dutifully, "Yes master Boromir. As you command. I shall let no one in or out until you return."
Boromir ruffled silky hair, then motioned Mithrandir to follow.
* * *
Along the way in the large streets of the Citadel Boromir spoke to the wizard, "I hope Kiriel would be at home.... he is free in thinking and living."
"Too free for the Steward's liking, aren't I right?"
Boromir frowned. "Aye. That is right."
"What do you think about their friendship?"
"I cannot be jealous of my brother's friends, yet I do not like to see them together."
"So you share your father's view?"
Boromir looked at Mithrandir frowning at the mischievous implication and answered harshly, "No. I have a mind of my own. The fact that father rules our city does not mean he rules our minds as well."
For a while they walked in silence. Dark clouds seemed to hover heavily above the city, just to stretch out a finger and poke into them to release a blissful pour of rain.
* * *
They reached the citadel - gate quite fast and easily.
Boromir winked to the guard, "Beregond, you look well..." and although he was not in mood for joking at all, he could not remit himself a small teasing so he playfully added, "for someone of your age."
Beregond frowned menacingly, but gestured for the gate to be opened.
He grabbed the passing Boromir by elbow, leaned closer and whispered,
"I heard lord Faramir is unwell. How is he?"
Boromir shivered, a little surprised. They chose to keep silent about Faramir's sickness, so how could have Beregond found out?
He whispered back soft voice, "Hard to say. The future will tell."
Beregond let go off the arm and nodded. His face betrayed no emotions,"Wherever you go, return fast. There is going to be a big storm soon. I feel it."
"In your old bones?" Despite their grave moods, Beregond smiled.
The stone streets of the Sixth ring were narrower than in the Citadel, making just enough space for people and carriages. They seemed to be connected in an impenetrable net, but Boromir moved quickly and certainly.
"We had had forbidden to leave the Citadel without the guards, when we were small, me and Faramir. We always ran away from them, hid here and played till the dinner. The possibilities to hide here are infinite. This ring has not changed much since then."
After a few moments of walking in the twisted streets they stopped before a smaller stone house.
The cold wind howled in the streets and ruffled wildly their long hair.
Boromir bounced at the door and entered followed by Mithrandir. The small room swallowed them easily. By a large wooden table under a dusty window sat a thin woman. In the lines of her, not so young face was engraved torment. She wiped her eyes with a wet handkerchief pushing her long disshelved, silvery hair from her face. She looked up to them with red, swollen eyes. She jumped to feet to Boromir. In her choking voice was desperation mingled with a hint of a new hope,
"Lord Boromir, help! Kiriel is sick. He burns in fever and will not stop, nothing helps. Help me, sir!"
She pointed to the far corner of the room lit by a few candles. There on a bed laid a slim boy tangled in the sheets of a bed. His angry - red, dry cheeks were indicating on still rising fever. Mithrandir looked closer.
It was a young lad of Faramir's age. He was not so unsimilar to him, but the lacked the strange air that surrounded the steward's son.
Mithrandir shook slightly his grey head, "What else ails your son except the fever?"
Battered mother looked to Boromir. "Do not be afraid. He is a friend. If he cannot help, no one will. "
After this small reassuring she came closer to the bed and stroke the cheek of her burning son lovingly.
"At first it was only temperature falling and then rising again. That was three days ago, yesterday, he started to have fits of cough. He coughs so hard until he gets nearly blue. Then he calms. But each fit leaves later."
Boromir looked at Mithrandir, whose face grew even more serious.
"Is there a hope for Kiriel? Will my son get better?"
"I am afraid we came too late. There is no hope for Kiriel, I fear."
Boromir lowered his eyes, so he could not see the sheer terror of a mother, whose child is dying. But the expected outburst of tears did not come. She turned to him and took him firmly by hand,
"I sensed this, but I hoped. Please, lord Boromir. I know that our Steward, Lord Denethor disapproves, but please let your brother, Lord Faramir come here and say goodbye."
Boromir flinched. He looked away and took some time to compose to a respectful answer,
"He will not come. My brother is gravely sick. Since today morning, he lies in fever."
*And maybe awaits him a long dying, like Kiriel.*
* * *
When they emerged from the small house, Boromir asked anxiously, "Is Faramir going to die?"
Mithrandir smoothed his grey beard thoughtfully, "No, if we handle fast. This sickness is rather rare, but not incurable. The first sign of it is the fever. It lowers for a while, then rises again. Each time a little more up. That is dangerous, but not that bad. The second stage are the wracking coughs. When a person reached the second stage, there is no hope anymore. Sooner or later, one dies, suffocates."
Boromir looked down.
A heavy drop fell on the stone street and created a dark spot, followed by many others. He looked up. A lightning illuminated the top of the Tower of Ecthelion. He gestured for Mithrandir to follow; they passed Beregond at Citadel gate and quickly hurried into the peace and safety of the House.
Heavy rain was almost deafening, preventing any conversation, so they ran in silence.
Finally they reached the House. Its silence was after the roaring of raging storm stunning. They were dripping wet, leaving a small trail of water on the floor as they moved. Boromir ran up the stairs to Faramir's chamber.
He nearly ran into the small boy, who stood on guard. "Has anything happened?"
"No sir, no one came and no one left."
With a wave of the hand Boromir dismissed the boy and entered the room. After him went in the wizard.
Boromir looked around the room wildly. The white covers of Faramir's bed were tangled on the floor. The door to a narrow balcony was opened wide and the floor around it was wet from rain. Boromir ran to the balcony and looked out. He almost could not see through the grey heavy rain his brother standing there.
Faramir was shivering on the whole body and crying. Wild wind was shaking his lithe, weakened body dangerously close to the railing . Boromir jumped out and embraced him.
Faramir pushed him away, leaned over the railing and screamed into the city opening underneath him in breaking, hoarse voice, "Kiriel!"
Boromir drew swaying Faramir closer. Through the wet clothes he felt the heath coming from brother's body. Faramir was running fever again. Boromir pulled him back into the chamber.
Mithrandir closed the balcony. In the sudden silence was Faramir's breaking feverish voice strangely strong,
" Kiriel gwanale...Boromir lav nin wanya......lav nin wanya!"
Boromir pulled his agitated brother into an embrace and looked at Mithrandir, asking with his eyes for help.
"It is in elvish. It means Kiriel is dying, allow me to go..."
Boromir hugged his crying brother and stroked his damp hair, "Poor Faramir. Hush...hush."
He looked over brother's shoulder at the wizard, who pointed at dry clothes he had prepared on the bed. Then Mithrandir left the chamber.
Boromir seated Faramir on the bed and started to undress brother's damp clothes. As much as he tried to offer some soothing words, Faramir was deaf to them.
Boromir was relieved when Mithrandir returned with a cup of steaming tea. He gave it to Faramir, who drank obediently. After a few moments the disturbed boy quieted, lied down and fell asleep.
Mithrandir explained, "It would lower the temperature and force him to rest a little. It will help to defeat the sickness, if given often enough."
They sat in silence for a few moments, each brooding over different things. Suddenly Mithrandir looked on Faramir curiously, "How could he know that Kiriel is dying? Someone must have told him."
Boromir shrugged with shoulders, tired, "No, no one was here. He probably had one of his dreams again."
Mithrandir straightened in his chair, new life sprang to his bright eyes, "He has had prophetic dreams?"
The wizard turned to Faramir again and muttered, "Unexpected, but not impossible."
* * *
It was short before the dinner when Boromir walked to father's office. Denethor had been the whole day on a sitting with the council, which ended only a short while ago.
Boromir was surprised to find the door to father's working room opened up a little. Soft glow of fire poured out of the chamber together with two voices he recognised immediately. Boromir crept closer to the door to look in. Mithrandir was sitting opposite to Denethor speaking.
"...I have been thinking that it could be good if I took Faramir to the Elves. They could take care of his injury and the illness."
Stewards lips pressed into a thin line and Boromir knew that the storm was close. Yet father's voice remained cold and even,
"It is nothing what could not be taken care of here in Minas Tirith."
A shadow floated over the wizard's face as he folded his long arms together, "I wanted to take him to the Elves so he can learn from them."
Denethor's fair face paled and started to shine with inner flame of pure rage, "So he becomes like you? He is son of Gondor! My son! And he will stay here!"
Boromir flinched when Mithrandir spoke up again, his voice mocking.
*Although Mithrandir's courage is admirable, it holds not sign of wisdom.*
"Son of Gondor? Your son? Which father would not have noticed his son is sick and injured!"
Denethor's voice shivered in madness, "How dare you! You come to my house. Try to take the love of my sons and now you want to take son of Gondor away so he can be like you!"
Into Mithrandir's voice returned old discretion, but Boromir recognised the words were falling on deaf eras.
"Faramir could be the new-made knot binding together the broken line of the Elves and Men."
Boromir turned away from the door and leaned against a cold pillar behind him. He could not understand the agitated voices pouring out of the room anymore, but he did not need to to know the result. He thought sorrowfully.
*Faramir should go to Elves? Away from Minas Tirith? Nay, that will not happen. You are son of your father, son of Gondor, Faramir. Denethor will not allow it. Your name is a golden chain binding you here. Nay brother mine, you are too much thy father's son.*~ F I N ~