Burden of Guilt

The Dark Night of the Soul

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema with the exception of Caranthir who appears by kind permission of Evendim. This story was written purely for pleasure and not for profit.

Warning – This chapter contains violence and disturbing material and is maybe one of the darkest in the story. It was not easy to write so please only read if you are not easily disturbed.

"My life will be justly forfeit, if I now choose a course that proves ill for my city." Faramir- The Two Towers

Faramir sat hunched on the hard prison bed, which apart from a bucket for nature's calls and some filthy straw, was all the dungeon contained.

The damp, grime encrusted walls were very different from what the Steward was accustomed to since his elevation to high office, but he was far too anguished to pay much heed to his surroundings.

All he could think of was the memory of Eomer lying dead at the bottom of the steps by his hand followed by Aragorn's stern voice telling the Guards to arrest him.

He could not see the King's face as he gave the order and wondered if he had done if he could have endured seeing the disappointment and anger in his eyes.

The Guards had told the jailor, that the King himself had ordered him brought here for killing the King of Rohan and then brought him unresisting to this cell. One of the Guards, pitying him had then roughly bandaged his wounds before they both left, securing the door behind them.

Faramir buried his face in his hands. He had sometimes feared that the happiness of the last few months could never last and that one day he would wake and find it had melted away like a dream, but this hideous turn of events, he could never have imagined in his worse nightmares.

He could hear his father's voice in his head, mocking him for ever believing he could enjoy the esteem of the King and the People and basking in the warmth of the love that Eowyn and Aragorn showed towards him. It seemed he was doomed to be a failure, Hanna, crazy though she was, was right, it would have been better had he perished with his father as her curse was coming true.

He had lost everything within the space of a few brief moments, when he drawn his sword to defend himself and killed the King of Rohan, Gondor's chief ally, close friend of Aragorn and his own brother in law.

He was bewildered why Eomer was so angry but nothing could extenuate the fact he had killed him, a King and his wife's only brother .He had only meant to deal him a light blow on the arm to force him to drop the heavy sword, hoping he could then use words rather than weapons to settle whatever the dispute might be.

He shuddered to recall the angry soldiers of both sides milling round the courtyard. War would come soon and it would all be his, Faramir's fault. He had committed regicide and treason as well as several other heinous crimes such as causing a war and endangering King and Country.

He accepted he must pay the ultimate price and expected no mercy, nor desired it for all the grief he had brought to his King, his wife and his beloved Gondor.

He could not help though, but fear the punishment that he was certain would await him, the death of a traitor, which involved the pain and humiliation of being dragged through the streets dressed only in his shirt, hung but taken down while still alive. Then stripped naked before being castrated and disembowelled while still breathing before his heart was torn from his body. Even after death, the punishment did not end as his body would be cut into four quarters and displayed throughout the kingdom as a warning to others.

He had seen several such executions during his father's time as Steward and was sickened and haunted by them. He had hoped the people's love for Aragorn would have consigned such grisly spectacles to the past, he had never dreamt that he would die in such a manner, as he was loyal to the King, body and soul.

He only hoped that the Rohirrim had not harmed Aragorn in the initial battle as the King would be needed during the coming war and though he knew he had lost Aragorn's friendship he would always love his King until he drew his last breath.

He wondered how his family would welcome him into the afterlife. He supposed his mother and Boromir would accept him come what may, though it would shame them that the family had produced a traitor. While Denethor would delight in telling him how often he had predicted he was good for nothing. He shuddered at the thought, as he had dared to hope he was finally free of his father's cruel taunts.

He trusted Aragorn would be merciful to Eowyn and not punish her, as the law demanded. She would be needed in Rohan now, as she was their Queen, unless his cousin Lothiriel, Eomer's bride of only a few weeks, was already with child.

He longed to see his beloved Eowyn for one last time, but how could he face her, having killed Eomer, the brother she adored? He knew he would see the King again, presiding over his trial for treason and dreaded the prospect of seeing the contempt he knew would be in his eyes.

He loved the King with a deep and enduring love, far exceeding that which was merely owed to his Liege Lord, for Aragorn had given him his life and health back and with it honours, lands and titles, and above all love, everything that his father had denied him. He would have sooner have died than willingly betray Aragorn, whom he loved so dearly and had become father, brother, mentor, healer and friend to him.

The knowledge that he had let Aragorn down and betrayed all the trust the King had placed in him, hurt him the most deeply, as he had sworn that would never happen. Denethor had always the expected worse of him and he had never lived up to his father's expectations, but with Aragorn it had been so very different as the King demanded so little and given so much in return.

He knew the King to be a merciful man, but how could he show mercy again as he had already pardoned Eowyn for trying to kill him once? It would make him appear weak and seem like a signal that the Steward's family could do whatever they liked. Eowyn's misguided actions of six months ago had been kept secret until now but were bound to be revealed at his trial.

Faramir's musings were interrupted by the sound of footsteps and raucous shouting.

The door was unlocked and the jailor who had admitted him, who Faramir was certain looked familiar, came in with an obviously drunken prisoner, obviously in a foul mood at being separated from whatever it was he was drinking. The Jailor pushed the drunk inside the cell with Faramir.

"Well, I never did if isn't our oh so virtuous Captain or should I say my Lord Steward now, "the Jailor exclaimed, leering at Faramir in a manner which made his blood freeze.

If it were possible to do so, Faramir's spirits sank even lower. He remembered the man now as Mahrod, who had once been in his company of rangers. The memories were not pleasant, as he had ordered him to be flogged and dismissed from the army after he had been caught committing rape. Had it not been wartime, his punishment would have been far harsher, but as the enemy was advancing, Faramir had needed to act quickly to dispense justice.

" I remember the day you had me beaten like yesterday. Not so high and mighty now, are we?" Mahrod jeered, as he spat in Faramir's face.

"You deserved your punishment." Faramir said quietly, wiping his face with his sleeve and thinking how ironic it was that this criminal had survived the war, when so many good men in his company had died. He felt nauseous as he remembered the events of that time, both the crime and having to order the punishment, as it was the first and only time he had ever needed to order the lash to be used.

"As you'll deserve yours! We'll have something special in store for a fine gentleman such as you, your fine airs and graces won't help you here, quite the contrary!" Mahrod retorted, eying Faramir gleefully." I did nothing compared with you, you might well call me a rogue, but I was never a traitor!"

The words stung like a blow and Faramir hung his head.

"I'll be back soon as I have something very special planned for you!" Mahrod laughed unpleasantly as he left the cell, barring the door behind him.

The drunk went straight to the bucket to relieve himself, and then moved towards Faramir.

" Got a drink, 'ave you?" he asked.

"No." replied Faramir, alarmed at the look in the man's eyes." I have nothing."

"But thought 'e said you was the Steward?" the drunk persisted.

Faramir said nothing as he rose uneasily to his feet and backed into a corner.

"You not trying to make fun or me, I 'ope or did I 'ear 'im wrong? Did 'e say you a traitor? I don't 'old with no traitors, a loyal soldier of 'is majesty, that's me!"

Without warning, the drunk punched him in the ribs. Winded and caught off balance, Faramir fell to the ground, twisting his ankle as he fell.

"Get up you!" snarled the drunk.

Hindered by his injured ankle, Faramir was unable to comply. The drunk prodded him with his booted foot and kicked him viciously in the belly.

As he raised his foot to strike again, Faramir tried to grab it but the man was nimbler than he looked. Enraged now, the drunkard kicked Faramir, this time in the ribs, then in the groin and again in the belly.

Again and again the booted foot descended as he vainly tried to curl in a ball to protect himself. He screamed in agony as the boot made contact with his wound and he felt the warm blood trickle down his side .A sickening crack told him his ribs were being broken. Then the cell started to spin and he knew no more.

TBC

The execution method that Faramir dreads is unfortunately no mere figment of my imagination .It was introduced in 1241 and not abolished until 1821. Famous victims were William Wallace and Guy Fawkes. Often members of the nobility were beheaded instead and women were burned at the stake. Such grisly executions attracted vast crowds of spectators! Killing a King was considered the most heinous of crimes

A/N A big thank you for all your greatly appreciated reviews .I am thrilled by your response to this story and as result decided to update as quickly as I could!

Where did I refer to Faramir as "little" as I am well aware he is tall ? Aragorn lived to be 210 according to canon.

Faramir refers to events in Chapters 25 and 38 of "Shadow and Thought"

I am relieved that Chapter 13 did not cause any distress to my bereaved reader.

I am glad that one of my readers mentioned what dangers could await Faramir in prison and come to the same conclusion as I did.

All will be revealed about Arwen eventually, labour with a first child often takes at least a day.

Thank you to readers who pointed out the mistakes in Chapter 14, my fault for amending it online. I have corrected it now.

The soldiers were just doing what they believed Aragorn wanted but hopefully their actions add to the debate about where the Burden of Guilt lies.

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