Comes the moment to decide

I have called you by name: you are mine

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

Do you be afraid, for I have redeemed you.

I have called you by your name: you are mine. – Kevin Mayhew based on Isaiah 43

With grateful thanks to Raksha for all her help.

Faramir had no idea how long he had been in this place. It was so hot. Where did such heat come from? He looked up to a sullen grey sky and saw, to his horror, what appeared to be a black sun that scorched the air and earth, slowly concealing the true light. Anar, what has befallen thee? his heart cried.

He seemed to be in some sort of maze, with walls made of cruel thorns that tore at his flesh whenever he tried to find a way out. Every now and again he would stumble and fall and the light would grow just bright enough for him to see that he had tripped over a corpse, each one recognisable as of one of his men. Accusing eyes stared out of decaying flesh disfigured by hideous wounds. Faramir wanted to weep, but could not; neither could he retch at the hideous stench of decay.

Faramir's legs grew weaker; but he forced himself to remain upright. The prospect of crawling over the dead bodies was too dreadful to consider. A constant throbbing pain in his back and shoulder weakened him even more.

Orcs lunged at him out of the darkness and tore at his flesh and his clothing. Between their curses, the creatures snarled out threats, gleefully describing exactly what they intended to do to him. Faramir managed to stop or kill them with his sword, but his arm lacked the strength to go on much longer.

He was thirsty; so parched that he could hardly swallow. Sometimes he thought he heard water running but could never find any to drink.

Faramir called out to his father, trying to warn him to escape, lest he be captured too. There was no answer, only distant cries and the smell of smoke. The City must be burning, just as his father had foretold.

He thought he heard Mithrandir's voice, but that must have been an illusion. Surely the wizard would not leave him to languish in this place? Or was it a punishment for letting the Ring fall into the Enemy's hands?

He was stumbling now every few moments. Soon his body would fail him and he would fall and be unable to rise again.

Suddenly, Faramir saw a circle of light at what appeared to be the end of a very long tunnel. He could make out the faces of his mother and Boromir standing at its mouth. They smiled at him and beckoned to him to come into the light with them. Then his father joined them and gestured that he should join them.

He knew that death lay before him.He had been told that deceased loved ones came to lead your soul beyond Arda when the hour of death drew nigh. But why was his father amongst them? Had he too perished in the battle? Faramir prepared to embrace his death willingly. What did he have left within the circles of this world? He had led his men into darkness and death. His beloved brother was dead. His father had no love for him. The Enemy was poised on the brink of victory. He knew now what his dreams of a great wave had foretold. Gondor would be destroyed, just as Númenór had been.

He had cherished such hopes and dreams. Dreams that one day his father would look at him with the same delight in his eyes that he reserved only for Boromir then tell him that he loved him and was proud of him. He had dreamed too of a wife to cherish and a large brood of children to dote upon. How he would have liked a home of his own, in the green vales of an unstained Ithilien, its walls lined with books and its halls ringing with music and laughter. What joy it would have been to become a scholar rather than a soldier! His father had been right though; dreams were only for fools. These cruel times had no place for dreams.

He started to make his way along the tunnel. The light grew brighter.

Then he heard it; a far away voice calling to him, as from a distant shore. He tried to ignore it, but the call was insistent. It was a deep voice, resonant with the power of command and the urgency of a friend that repeatedly called Faramir's name.

Faramir turned in the direction of the voice, which seemed to be coming closer. Then a hand reached out to take his own. At first, Faramir thought it was another foul creature and tried to break away, but this hand belonged to a living man. It held him firmly in a strong yet gentle grasp.

"Faramir, come to me!" said the voice.

Faramir could now see its owner, who was faintly illuminated by the glow from a green gem he wore upon his breast. The man was very like his father, and yet not quite. The stranger had grey eyes, which now alighted on Faramir with a warmth and kindliness long absent from Denethor's face. He appeared to bear Númenórean lineage, having the dark hair and carven features of a true son of Westernesse. Faramir noticed that the man's noble features were drawn and weary. For some reason he could name, this saddened him.

"I do not know if I can. I am so weary," said Faramir. He could hear the plaintive calls of his mother and Boromir; and he yearned to lay it all down, the burdens, the pain and sorrow, and follow them.

Suddenly a tall, dark figure, faceless and hooded, appeared and seized Faramir's other arm! Terrible cold coursed from the shadowed one's gauntleted hands as he tried to pull Faramir from the stranger's grasp. It took most of Faramir's strength just to breathe. The only warmth in all the world lay in the hand of the stranger with the green stone. Faramir held on to that hand with all his heart and hope.

"Back, foul fiend of Mordor!" cried the man. "You shall not have him! I have called him by his name and he is mine!"

A deathly scream rent the air; but the foul creature's cold grip relaxed, then released Faramir entirely. The stranger bore him up, supporting him until Faramir could stand unaided. The shadow-fiend had gone!

"Are you one of the Valar?" Faramir enquired of the stranger.

The man threw back his head and laughed, though not unkindly. For an instant his whole face lit up and the sound of his merriment was as sweet music in this grim place.

"I have been called many things in my life but never a Vala before!" he laughed. "No, I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, a Man just as you are. I have come to take you home."

"I do not know the way," said Faramir.

"Hold my hand and I will guide you," said Aragorn. " You only have to follow where I lead."

Faramir felt compelled to follow and tried his best to walk alongside the stranger. The path ,though,became increasingly steep and he struggled to maintain a footing. He glanced at his companion and noted how his features were now grey with fatigue. He looked almost on the verge of collapse. "You must leave me, lord," he said. "Flee from his place and save yourself!"

"I will not let you go," Aragorn replied firmly." Lean on me!" With these words, he placed an arm around Faramir's shoulders, so that he was bearing much of his weight.

"Why do you trouble yourself over me, my lord?" Faramir asked somewhat bewildered. "My father says I am a traitor!"

"And I say that you are not. Too many brave sons of Gondor have perished this day. I will have need of you in my kingdom."

Realisation dawned upon Faramir. "Then you are he of whom I have dreamed!" he exclaimed. "You will renew Gondor and the White Tree will blossom at your coming! You bear the sword of Elendil!"

"Perhaps I dreamed of your coming too," Aragorn replied somewhat enigmatically. "I have indeed come to rekindle hope, though I know not what the future will bring."

"You will set us free," Faramir said with sudden foresight. He felt oddly safe now. If he died this moment, he would die content.

"First I must free you," said the King. "Do not let go."

Despite his words, the King's grip seemed to be growing weaker. Faramir began to fear that maybe they were now both trapped in this dark place. He could have wept from the pain, the heat and the thirst, but had no tears left.

"Once we leave here, it will become easier to bear," the King told him, as if he had read his thoughts. " I know how much your sorrow and your wounds pain you. You are strong enough to endure!"

The path was now so steep they could traverse it only inch by agonizing inch and foul creatures assailed them at every turn. Aragorn drew his sword and slew the vile monsters as they appeared, all the while never relaxing his grip on Faramir's hand.

Just when it seemed they could endure no longer, a wondrous scent wafted though the foul air like the first breath of sping in the dark heart of winter. Faramir's spirits at once lightened. He turned towards his companion and saw that Aragorn was smiling and looked much refreshed.

"We are almost home now," the King said.

The tunnel closed, but before they vanished he could hear their voices ensuring him of their love and telling him it was not yet his time to leave the circles of the world.

Aragorn laid a hand on his brow and sudden strength coursed through Faramir's veins. He was cool now, though still dreadfully thirsty. He breathed deeply of the sweet scent, which had now banished all traces of foulness from the air. It was growing lighter.

Faramir blinked and opened his eyes. He found he was lying on a bed and Aragorn was bending over him, holding a bowl filled with the sweet smelling substance in front of his face.

The King smiled at him, his eyes filled with approval and affection. It was the smile he had always yearned for from his father but never received. A light of love and knowledge was kindled in his eyes. 'My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?' said Faramir.

'Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!' said Aragorn. 'You are weary. Rest a while, and take food, and be ready when I return.'

'I will, lord,' said Faramir. 'For who would lie idle when the king has returned?'

To be concluded

A/N A very grateful thank you to those who took the trouble to read and review.

I feel when I wrote "First Meeting" that I did not to justice to the wonderful scene of Aragorn and Faramir's first encounter.

Some dialogue is taken directly from Tolkien's "The Return of the King".

This story is influenced by Raksha's wonderful "The Falcon and the Star" also on this site, a must read if you have not already done so.

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