Burden of Guilt

The Evil that Men Do

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. 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.

The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones;Shakespeare- Julius Ceasar 3.2

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

"On your feet, you lazy scoundrel!"

Faramir blinked as he slowly regained consciousness. For a fleeting moment he thought he was in his bedroom until the fact that his whole body throbbed with pain and the stench assailing his nostrils, all too vividly reminded him that he was in a prison cell.

Panic seized him as he wondered what had happened to him while he was unconscious.

He looked around anxiously for his drunken assailant but there was no sign of him. Instead, Mahrod stood looking down at him, grinning at his obvious discomfort.

He groaned and tried to sit up but the pain in his chest and belly was too great. Even breathing was agony and the sweat poured from his face at the effort of trying to move.

" I told you to get up, you scum!" Mahrod snapped, tipping a bucket of cold and filthy water over the helpless Steward.

Faramir, with a supreme effort of will, managed to drag himself to a sitting position. He tried to stand but his many injuries made it impossible. Coughing and retching as the bile rose in his throat, he collapsed again in agony

"Time you were taught a long overdue lesson, Lord uppity Steward!" Mahrod sneered as he roughly dragged Faramir, out through the door and along a narrow dark corridor until they came to a small windowless room, dimly lit with oil lamps. The room was bare apart the manacles, which hung from the blood spattered walls.

"Strip!" Mahrod ordered, leering at Faramir, "We are going to have some fun together, you and I!"

"No!" Faramir protested in terror, clutching at his clothing with what little strength he had left. It seemed that the unspeakable was about to happen.

When Mahrod began to pull at his clothing, resisting his weak struggles, he lapsed into unconsciousness again.

OOOOOOOOOOOOO

Aragorn strode into the prison, demanded the keys from the startled head jailor and ignoring the man's feeble protests, marched through the corridors, unlocking each cell and glancing inside, hoping he could find Faramir before he was harmed.

His expression became even grimmer as he took in the harsh conditions and wondered however his sensitive and gentle natured Steward was enduring it. He made a mental note to improve prison conditions in future as he had no idea things were so bad.

The head jailer, a short tubby man, finally caught up the King and his Escort, as they peered inside the final cell, which was occupied by a man who screamed that the walls were trying to eat him and had obviously lost his wits.

"Where is the Lord Steward?" Aragorn demanded.

"I don't know, my Liege!" the man stammered. " I wasn't here when he was brought in. He should be in one of the cells, though!"

Aragorn towered over him, his expression grim. "Well he is not. I have looked in them all and I demand to be taken to him, wherever he is!"

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Mahrod stood up from where he had been kneeling beside the Steward when ayounger man entered the room, carrying a cat o' nine tails. Faramir, gradually regaining consciousness, was writhing in agony and moaning softly as he came to his senses.

"A hundred lashes for the traitor, Lamrung!" the older Jailor ordered, looking somewhat furtive. He appeared disappointed that the other had arrived.

Lamrung hesitated." I haven't seen the order sentencing the Lord Steward yet. And the maximum allowed by the law is twenty five as less than forty can kill a man!"

"It will come soon enough. The man is a traitor of the worse kind! He killed the King of Rohan, our chief ally!"

Faramir groaned and stirred and was immediately hauled roughly to his feet.

"Traitors deserve punishment!" Mahrod said, a note of grim relish in his voice, as he secured Faramir's wrists in the manacles, so he was forced to stand with his arms painfully supporting his weight.The pain in his wounded arm was excruciating as it was yanket above his head.

The Steward was unable to prevent himself crying out at this rough treatment metered out to his already severely wounded body. He felt nauseous and giddy with the pain and struggled not to disgrace himself by losing his breakfast or fainting again, as it would appear to the bystanders to be from fear

His heart ached even more as he remembered how Aragorn had promised him he would never feel the lash again, but his own conduct was bad enough to make even one as honourable as the King break his oath.It was he who had betrayed Aragorn.

"I hope this hurts you as much as you deserve!" Mahrod sneered, greatly enjoying the prospect of seeing his former Captain treated far worse than he everwas. It was a perfect chance for revenge, for who would care what happened to a traitor in prison, Steward or not?

"I'm not flogging anyone with an official order." Lamrung protested. "The King is meticulous about proper procedure being observed and the Steward is a good man. In any case, I can see he is wounded and regulations forbid flogging an injured man."

Faramir felt a flash of unexpected joy. Aragorn had not ordered the flogging!

"And who heeds what some bleeding heart behind a desk comes up with? And since when were you a healer?" Mahrod retorted, "If we refused to flog them just because they appeared unwell, no one would get what's coming to them, they'd just keep injuring themselves to avoid punishment! Get on with it, one hundred lashes!"

"I cannot, not without an order." Lamrung said firmly, "And even if there were one, I would not touch a man in his condition. He needs a healer!"

Mahrod grabbed the whip from the other's hand and for a moment looked as if he might strike him. Then he laughed. "It's not every day you get to give your former Captain a taste of his own medicine!" he roared, "Off with you then, I'd rather flog this one myself as I shall enjoy every stroke! Now we can see what he is made of!"

"You will find yourself in trouble, Mahrod!" Lamrung warned, "You cannot get away with this!"

"And what do I care if they do hang me?" Mahrod retorted with a bitter laugh, "My life was ruined by our oh not sonoble Steward! He had me thrown out of the army just for having a bit of fun! Not that anyone understood as my wife left me and my parents disowned me because of it. The only way I could even earn a crust was to work at this place dealing with the scum of Arda! Now be off with you or I might practise on you first!"

Lamrung shuddered as the vengeful gleam in the other's eyes and fled.

Mahrod grabbed Faramir's collar and tried to tear open his tunic and shirt but the material, being of good quality, refused to yield. He took a knife from his belt and advanced upon the Steward.

Faramir felt cold steel against his back as his tunic and shirt were sliced open and roughly ripped apart .A piece of wood was then jammed into his mouth to bite on and stifle his cries. He tried vainly to brace himself as he heard the crack of the whip before it could bite into his flesh.

"One!" Mahrod called, lashing out with the whip.

Faramir would have screamed had the wood in his mouth not prevented it, as the cruel knotted strands came into contact with his bared back

Mahrod raised the whip again and struck Faramir with even greater force, this time drawing blood.

"Two, three, four, five!"

Faramir was now struggling to breathe as he felt as if he were choking. His whole body felt as if it were on fire now. The pain in his lungs was even worse than that in his back and he felt as if his insides would burst This was far worse than any beating Denethor had given him with a riding crop as his father's intent had been chastisement to correct some real or imagined fault, not a desire to cause lasting damage. He could feel death approaching and welcomed it as an end to all the pain.

"Long live the King!" he tried to whisper with what he was certain would be his final conscious breath.

TBC

A/N

A big thank you to everyone who has reviewed, your kind comments are much appreciated.

The healers will briefly appear again later. I'm pleased my readers like Aedred.

I agree that Faramir will find his belief that he has let Aragorn down, the hardest thing to bear.

The cat o' nine tails was used as a method of punishment in the British Navy prior to 1881 and I have used eye witness accounts of its effects.

More about the letter will be explained later.

This is the last (physical ) torture chapter. I disliked writing these two chapters and wished they were not essential to the plot!

Edward I devised hanging, drawing and quartering as a punishment for Welsh and Scottish rebels.

Hanna appears in "Shadow and Thought" and curses Faramir and Aragorn in Chapter 38.If anyone decides to check the story out who has not yet read it, please let me know what you think.

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