Denethor orders a public flogging in front of all of Boromir’s men
Chapter 10: Fear Knows no Bounds
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Denethor wrapped his fingers around his son’s arm and yanked him outside the tent. Stunned soldiers stared at him in bewilderment. It had been no secret what had happened inside the tent. The accusations, insulting words and worst the degrading punishment had destroyed any hopes of continuing the celebration.
Every soldier within hearing distance carried waves of guilt and remorse for what was happening to the young captain but none could do anything without provoking the Steward’s wrath.
“Guards,” the steward shouted to his personal entourage dragging his son with him. Five men stepped forward, each bowing their heads in reverence. “Dig a hole and stake a pole.” The guards again bowed and went to do their lord’s bidding. Denethor turned his attention to the men doing their best to avoid him. “I know not what matter has befallen my heir but punishment befitting a thief will be administered immediately.”
Faramir was shoved to the ground and when his painful backside hit the hard grassy surface he hitched in a gasp of air stifling a painful whimper. His father stared down at him waiting for some reaction but Faramir refused to display any emotion to Denethor’s hostile treatment. The young man feared if he did, it would further anger the steward if that were possible.
He could withstand Denethor’s wrath, learning early in life how to sidestep his father’s dangerous moods whenever events caused the steward distress. He could as a soldier of Gondor, bare the public flogging and handle it without emotion, but it was Boromir’s actions today that had scarred him more than any whip could possible accomplish.
Feelings of betrayal and humiliation by his beloved brother’s hand had left him confused and emotionally drained. Never had Boromir lifted a hand against him in such an embarrassing matter and worse, Tirion had witnessed his disgrace delighting in the act with such depravity that it startled him.
Tirion. The man had strangely disappeared during Denethor’s arrival. No doubt the snake must have crawled back into his tent after being rejected.
Denethor’s eyes bore down on him and Faramir felt a cold shiver go down his spine. Apparently his father believed he hadn’t shown enough remorse. Faramir kept his head bowed. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Valar themselves, had proclaimed his innocence, Denethor would deny the dispute.
“The horn of Gondor has been defamed, tainted. Stolen by one least worthy.” Denethor’s voice cried in outrage across the camp. “Who here has the courage to name conspirators?”
Denethor waited, taking his time to give each man a scrutinizing glare. “Have not any the courage to speak?”
The soldiers glanced at one another, but silence remained.
Furious Denethor turned his anger back on his son. “Alas now the treachery is complete. You turned your brother’s men against him while he is unable to witness your crimes. How many conspirators are in league with you?”
“There are no conspirators,” Faramir said dryly. Rarely did he contradict his father in public. He slowly got to his feet glancing at the soldiers assembled nearby. He felt their fears, self-loathing and worse pity. With newfound determination he stared unflinching at Denethor. “I acted alone.”
Muttering amongst the crowd erupted into loud protests at Faramir’s confession.
“Let us through,” a husky voice demanded with urgency. Movement behind the crowd grew louder and soldiers separated allowing someone to emerge. Tension was raised a notch when Mablung appeared. Never had anyone disobeyed a direct order from the steward. The large ranger glanced briefly at his captain who made a desperate attempt to stay the ranger lieutenant. However, Mablung approached the steward, unweaving in his mission, going to one knee in reverence. “Lord Denethor. I…”
“You risk execution lieutenant,” Denethor cautioned, snarling down at the man. How dare the man defy him! Was there no end to Faramir’s treachery? “Speak not for the guilty least you become one yourself.”
Although the soldiers admired the man’s bravery each held their breath as Mablung continued undaunted by Denethor’s warning. “Captain Faramir played no part in the horn’s…”
“Long have I known the captain’s worth. Fool that I am. I saw not what his influence had done to weaken my heir’s standing.”
“Lord Denethor,” another soldier stepped forward standing beside the still bowed Mablung. “I beg you…”
“Enough. I will hear no more lies and disloyalty.” The steward narrowed his eyes daring anyone to challenge his authority.
Silence descended on the crowd like a death sentence.
Satisfied he once again had control, Denethor lowered his hand to the large ranger, determined to test Mablung’s loyalty. “Tell me Lieutenant. Where lies your loyalty? To your Lord and Gondor or, “ he nodded in Faramir’s direction, “this one?”
Mablung returned to his feet glanced briefly at Faramir and without hesitation stated loudly. “Whatever Captain Faramir’s fate. I too shall share.”
“So be it,” the steward declared tight lipped. One of his personal guards called his name, interrupting Denethor’s decree. The steward waited, watching with curious eyes as the guards returned. His anger intensified when he realized they had failed in their duty.
“My Lord, no pole is to be found. We…”
“No excuses. You have until sunset to find something suitable.” The steward seethed, frustrated with the endless failures and turmoil the day had brought. Why none understood but him, he did not know but as steward of Gondor he would maintain order, no matter the cost. “A serious crime has been committed. Justice will prevail.”
“Lord Denethor.” Tirion returned bowing. “I offer my tent. Use it as you may.”
“Alas, one amongst you remembers his Lord’s needs.” Denethor snapped his fingers, getting his guards’ attention. He pointed to his son. “Drag the thief to Lieutenant Tirion’s tent. There the captain will remain until he faces the flogger. Disturb not the general’s sleep. Lord Boromir has had a trying experience.”
Faramir bit his tongue to keep from laughing out loud. If he weren’t so tired he would have done so. Here he was about to be flogged and his father’s only concern was disturbing his drunken brother’s sleep. Could things get worse?
“Lord Denethor, before you administer justice. Grant your honorable servant an audience in private. You need know the truth.” Tirion gave Faramir a significant smirk before dropping to one knee. “Many things Captain Faramir neglected to reveal. Information my Lord, you need to hear.”
Faramir sighed. Things just got worse.
“Rise.” The steward lowered his hand allowing Tirion to stand. Trust Boromir’s wise decision in choosing Tirion as his lieutenant. “Would your tent be precise?”
“I would be honored, my Lord.” Tirion glanced briefly at Faramir enjoying the young man’s obvious discomfort. “Would my Lord grant me a word with Captain Faramir?”
“You waste your time with that one,” Denethor scrawled but waved his hand with reluctance as he made his way to the tent. “Very well. Two minutes.”
“As so you command, my Lord.” Tirion ignored Mablung as if the giant ranger were not standing next to Faramir. He reached out and began toying with a strand of Faramir’s hair. “You foolish naïve little whelp. By alienating Lord Denethor you destined yourself to my bed. Rest assured I shall use your body at my discretion with or without your cooperation.”
Faramir defiantly narrowed his eyes, masking his emotions. He refused to acknowledge Tirion’s offensive remark. When Tirion realized his words weren’t having the desired effect, he lost interest in the conversation and walked away.
Faramir felt his legs give way and would have collapsed had not Mablung wrapped his arms around his shoulders. He stepped out of Mablung’s warm embrace feeling his face flush with the welcome but too public attention. “Thanks, my friend. I value your concern.”
Mablung moved to intercept Tirion but Faramir grabbed his arm. “Father’s mood is dangerous. I beg you not confront him on my behalf. Had Tirion not been Boromir’s lieutenant he would not have the steward’s ear.”
“Stay away from that one, Faramir.” The older ranger warned, watching Tirion enter the tent with Denethor. “The way he looks at you. I like it not.”
The tension gone with Denethor’s disappearance soldiers broke rank and swarmed the young captain begging him to escape while there was time. One led a horse; another carried food, while others offered undocumented escape routes.
“I cannot. I swore an oath to Gondor and the Lord of the city.” Faramir thanked the soldiers for their loyalty. Dishearten, the soldiers disburse and Faramir heard whispers, questioning Denethor’s sanity. Others offered words of encouragement before they returned to their duties.
“Lord Boromir must be made aware of this injustice,” a soldier whispered, disappearing into the anxious crowd before Faramir had a chance to recognize the man and order him to halt. The last thing he wanted was to see his brother.
Moments later Denethor exited the tent a look of devastation on his face. Without word or care the steward moved swiftly to his son. Faramir swallowed the lump in his throat preparing himself for his father’s decision. Mablung’s strong arm wrapped around his shoulders in an open display of support and devotion.
“Peace Lieutenant. However tedious your loyalty, nevertheless it remains honorable. Return to Ithilien with the assurance your captain will soon follow.” Denethor took his son’s hands into his and slowly dropped to his knees. “Forgive your old father, my son. I have greatly wronged you. If not for Tirion I would have committed an unforgivable act.”
Faramir stood stunned. Rarely had Denethor apologized so publicly and never had the steward directed such emotion towards him. Unable to comprehend the sudden turn of events, Faramir waited until Denethor returned to his feet. “My Lord, I am yours to command,” he said watching his father carefully. He feared the answer to his next question. “What would you have me do?”
What had transpired between Denethor and Tirion? He glanced over his father’s shoulder and saw the lieutenant starting back at him. In Tirion’s hands rested the horn of Gondor.
“Tirion has the horn?” Faramir asked, wanting to understand Tirion’s intentions. His eyes followed the lieutenant as Tirion walked to Boromir’s tent and disappeared inside. Anger swelled inside him, livid Tirion had manipulated his father and brother. “Father, Tirion knows not…”
“Ever so gracious, little one. How I regret my anger. Tirion confessed. You need not protect him now. I know the truth. Boromir charged Tirion with the safekeeping of the horn. He returns the horn to your brother as we speak.”
Faramir gasped, “Father no. Tirion….”
“Faramir enough. Protect him no more. Must you disgrace your lord further? I accept fault and the disservice I committed against you. Grant your father a chance to apologize. Grant me what I denied you.”
“I hold no ill towards you, Father. But Tirion…”
“Tirion begs forgiveness. A chance to make penance for the error between us.”
Faramir shut his eyes unaware he had shuddered until he felt a strong arm encircling his waist.
“You are exhausted,” his father said leading him towards Tirion’s tent. Faramir protested, trying to convince his father he was alert but Denethor mistook his protest as a refusal to admit fatigue. “Tirion offered his tent and cot. You will use them.”
“Father, I wish to return to Henneth Annun.”
“In the morn, you may return when you are refreshed.” Denethor uncharacteristically began undressing his son, pulling at the clothes until Faramir surrendered to his father’s ministrations and allowed the older man to guide him to the cot.
Against the comfort of the cot, Faramir tried to keep his eyes open. He felt a mug brush up against his lips and a sweet liquid was gently forced into his mouth. He shook his head in defiance but Denethor held his head and continued to force the drink down his throat.
“It will induce sleep, my son,” the steward admitted, returning the mug to the small table next to the cot after it had been emptied. Faramir tried in vain to fight off the effects of the drink but whatever the drink contained, the ingredients were too powerful. His last conscious thought was hearing father’s words. “Lieutenant Tirion created the drink, child. It was his wish to bring you a peaceful sleep.”
Tirion entered the tent glancing down at the steward’s son sleeping in his cot. He needed the steward back in Minas Tirith to claim the young man without further hindrance. He used a remorseful tone to accomplish that goal. “Due to my error Captain Faramir forced himself into total exhaustion. The drink will return his health within twelve hours.”
“Twelve hours? The general and his men leave…”
“Permit me to remain with the captain my Lord. It would be my penance to him.”
Denethor studied his son’s face, sighed deeply and relented. “With your life you protect him until the Ithilien rangers release you from your duty.” The steward left the tent leaving Tirion alone with the object of his desire.
Darkness descended upon the camp. Denethor took his leave regretting Faramir’s fatigue kept him asleep during the final hours of the steward’s visit. With no choice, Denethor returned to Minas Tirith declaring he had neglected his duties long enough.
If Denethor regretted his actions towards his youngest, it was nothing compared to Boromir’s guilt. Having no memory of the spanking, Boromir relied on Tirion’s version, who recited the incident in stunning detail, leaving Gondor’s general grief-stricken.
With careful persuasion, Tirion convinced the general that Faramir held no resentment towards his older brother and had in jest made several jokes about the incident. It took Tirion several hours to convince Boromir his brother would be safe in his care and the general should return to Osgiliath before the garrison worried about their missing general. It wasn’t until Tirion swore to accompany Faramir to Osgiliath did Boromir relent.
Tirion remained inside the tent, preparing five mugs of the drugged drink. First he fed Faramir another dose, determined to keep the young man sedated for what he had planned. After the mug was drained, Tirion returned Faramir to the cot and carried the four remaining mugs to the guards stationed with him.
“Drink up, men,” he shouted as the four men raised the mugs to their lips. Tirion returned to the tent, waited fifteen minutes and then prepared for his journey. He tossed the sheet from Faramir’s body and admired the young man’s nude body while he stuffed a few items of clothing into a cloth sack.
Faramir remained unconscious, unaware Tirion had wrapped him in a black cloak and carried him out of the tent and placed him across a horse. He never noticed the four guards on the ground, their mugs apprehended to prevent Tirion’s treachery being discovered when the guards regained consciousness.
The newly promoted ranger captain would never remember Tirion mounting the same horse and lifting the unconscious form into the lieutenant’s waiting arms as the horse began it destination towards Ithilien.
Tirion would keep his promise to Boromir but first he wanted a certain ranger to discover Faramir in a compromising position. Tirion laughed into the darkness. Never had he enjoyed following Denethor’s orders so faithfully.
Tirion slipped his hand inside the open cloak, caressing and squeezing the naked flesh he explored. He dropped the reigns allowing the horse to drink from the river while he pulled Faramir against his chest. The lieutenant crushed his lips against the non-responsive ones, moaning hungrily while he forced his tongue into the warm mouth.
He worked his hand down jerking the cloak open to uncover the nude body as he continued the feast on the young man’s mouth. A twig snapped behind him. Tirion’s head jerked up searching for the unseen animal.
Another snap and Tirion dismounted the horse, slapping the animal’s rear while he half dragged and half carried Faramir into the darken woods. He never had a chance to raise his sword as orcs swarmed his position ready to kill the two men.
“Wait,” Tirion pleaded, prepared to offer the vile creatures anything of value. He pulled out a small coin bag and tossed it to the orcs. “More. Plenty if you permit my escape.”
“We have no need of shiny circles.” A large orc snarled with evil laughter. “We prefer to use your bones to forge new weapons.”
“Move maggots,” the largest of the group shouted, shoving orcs out of his way. Easily mistaken for an uruk-hai the creature crept closer, leering down at the two captives with such desire Tirion wished he had been the one to drink the herbal mixture. If the leer didn’t frighten Tirion, the orc’s next words did. “Long has it been since we satisfied our…..needs.”
Tirion understood all too well the implications of ‘needs’. He would die a thousand deaths than remain alive to have his body denigrated for the orcs’ depravity pleasures. On the other hand, Tirion wasn’t above self-preservation.
He stripped off the cloak displaying Faramir’s nude body to the sexually charged creatures. “I offer you this one. Untouched, undefiled, and untouched by men.” The leader reached to accept the young man, intending it to be the first amongst his many sexual encounters with the young human this night but the air change around him.
Evil beyond evil was near. Very near.
Tirion watched the orcs retreat a few steps but his breath caught in his throat, cutting off his air supply as the new comer approached. He didn’t have time to scream before the one thing in Gondor many feared took Faramir in its arms.
“I accept your offer, human.”
What happens next?
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