Faramir agrees and has the man brought into his chambers

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Chapter 4: Stranger Still[edit]

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He looked up and met Mablung's eyes, "I do not think he will harm me. Bring him."

Mablung said, "But Captain..."

"If he does, you can kill him."

"Very well." Mablung pulled the stranger up and shoved him forward, deeper into the caves.

There had been silence in the curtained-off area of the cave which served as his chambers for rather longer than Faramir was comfortable with. "You wished to speak to me," he said. "Indeed, you went to some trouble to find me, and yet you say nothing. Who is this 'friend' you speak of but do not name?" Nor was he happy at the man's continued stare.

"The friend...is I."

"I do not know you." Despite the dreams, he was sure they had never met before. "And your message?"

"You are relieved of command here."

Faramir stepped back and almost fell over the bedroll that lay on the floor of the cave. "What? By whose order?"

"You see now why I did not wish to speak first in front of your men."

"Because you are addled. My father posted me here," that it appeared to be in an attempt to get him killed was a point Faramir kept to himself, "and only he can remove me."

"I know. If you will permit me," the man reached into his jerkin. Faramir stiffened in case he was reaching for a hidden weapon, but he produced a paper such as his father used to convey orders.

Faramir took it, and broke the seal. Two items were rolled up together clearly by someone in a hurry, and were rather crushed from being carried.

Faramir, he read. You are relieved of command of the men of Ithilien and will accompany this man. You will obey him as you would me. His name is Thorongil. Do not return to Gondor until he permits it. It was signed merely 'Denethor'. The handwriting was definitely his father's, and the tone was if anything friendlier than was usual. The second paper appointed Anborn leader of the men of Ithilien.

Faramir considered for a moment, and then looked up, "What is your name?"

"I am known in Gondor as Thorongil. Though I have other names."

"I can imagine," said Faramir. The man's appearance was unkempt, which did not inspire immediate confidence. He thought further, "I recall tales of a warrior and leader of men called Thorongil told to me by the soldiers who served my grandfather. Would he be your father, perhaps? And why would my father ask me to go with you when by all accounts, including his own, he detested Thorongil?"

Thorongil smiled, and Faramir wondered if he were being laughed at, but all he said was, "That is a discussion we can have as we travel."

"Your men were sorry to lose you," said Thorongil. It was summer in Ithilien, the sun was high and the ground hot as they walked, but he did not appear to be bothered by it.

"Yes," said Faramir. "I had commanded them for some time." They walked in silence for a couple of miles, then Faramir asked, "Where are we going?"

Thorongil considered, as if deciding whether to tell him and then said, "Lórien. At least at first."

Faramir stopped, shocked. "Laurelindórenan? Men who go there do not return."

"I have," Thorongil stopped also, and turned to face him. "I have been to Lórien, several times, and I have returned."

"But are you a man?"

Thorongil laughed, "Of course. What do you imagine I am?"

Most of Faramir's answers to that were insulting, so he kept them firmly behind his teeth. "Why are we going there?"

"To protect you." Thorongil paused and added, rather dryly, "Though that was not the reason I gave to your father."

"You lied to my father?" Faramir tried to keep the surprise out of his voice. It was notoriously difficult to lie to Denethor, not that he had ever particularly tried: lies were beneath the son of the Steward.

"I did not. There is more than one way of telling the truth and usually more than one truth to tell."

"So what did you tell him?"

"I told him I had come to claim you, as was foretold. He believes I am taking you to live in the north."

Faramir stopped again. "Claim me? What you say makes no sense. I am not a maiden awaiting her betrothed, nor yet a package left for collection."

Thorongil looked amused again, "Are you not?"

"Maidens and packages do not command soldiers."

The grin widened, and Faramir was suddenly reminded of one of his dreams, one which had left him even more than breathless and sweaty than was usual. He felt his face heat, and hoped that his companion would not notice it.

Towards evening, they rested and drank from their water bottles leaning against a ruined wall on the west side of the river somewhat to the north of Cair Andros. "You mentioned a prophesy," said Faramir.

"Did I?" Thorngil looked wary.

"Yes. You said it had been foretold that you would claim me. What did you mean?"

What happens next?[edit]


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