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Family Games (NC-17) Print

Written by December

19 December 2010 | 65301 words

Chapter 3. Hunters and Prey

Days went slowly by, each intense and packed to the brim with things to attend to and worry about, yet at once exactly akin to the one before it. For the time being Faramir did not mind the repetitiousness though, for it gave him at least an illusion of security and stability to comfort himself on. And so busy his duty kept him that it was not until a few weeks had passed that Faramir, to his great astonishment, realised that aside from constantly feeling miserable and alone, he was actually rather pleased with how everything was going.

For one, no calamity had happened. Quite a few encounters with the enemy had taken place, some hardly worth a mention, others stretching into full-blown skirmishes – and not one of Faramir’s men had been slain or even seriously injured, whereas not one Orc that entered Ithilien had made it to the River. What scathes and cuts the Rangers did receive were light enough to be fixed back at the camp and not once did require the soldier to return to the City.

Admittedly, Faramir was aware the others did not approve of his ‘style’: too cautious, too on-the-safe-side, too wait-and-see, too let’s-think-everything-through, too prudent, too sensible. Captain Boromir, on the other hand, had always been more about let’s-kick-their-arse and tear-their-ugly-heads-off. Fighting for Captain Boromir was not only rewarding – it was fun. Captain Boromir’s hardiment was contagious, it filled the soldiers with the same belief in one’s inborn invincibility that the heir himself apparently entertained. Not to mention Captain Boromir would have managed to get the same work done with half the people in half the time.

Of course no one said as much to Faramir’s face. They did not even say it among themselves when he was out of earshot. They had no need to, for these were things everyone knew without speaking – everyone including Faramir himself. Yet from the very beginning he had resolved to do his job his own way. He would much rather be deemed cowardly and indecisive than get half the company killed in a feat of pointless boldness. Besides, the young man saw no point in trying to imitate his older brother, for he knew he would never come near reaching the sacred ideal, not in the men’s eyes, not in his own.

For goodness’ sake, he would not even be able to grow a proper beard like the rest of them. Much as Faramir’s hair was thick and glossy, the stubble on his cheeks and chin was still far too sparse to deserve anything but the razor – and the razor it got, first thing every morning. Let the men gaze on in wonder: he did what he could to fit in – but he would not stand to have them think he was going out of his way. Better to look like a boy than a boy desperately striving to be taken for a man.

And if anything, Faramir had to give the Rangers some credit for how they were dealing with the bitterness about this inferior replacement. They put up with him, bore their burden with stern dignity.

The men had too much maturity and self-respect to be petty with him or try to make his life unnecessarily difficult. They did not dispute his decisions unless for a very good reason, did not provoke or challenge him in any way, did not make a show of finding his presence unwelcome.

Their hostility was of the chilly, withdrawn kind.

Only one expression of disagreement with Faramir’s being there did they allow themselves, and a well veiled one at that. They did not call him Captain. He was ever ‘my lord’ and ‘your lordship’. Technically, there was nothing wrong with that, for it was one of the ways to address a man of his breeding – yet he knew well enough they did this on purpose, and knew why they did it. Every nobleman bore that title, even those who had never left the safety of the city walls, even those who were only five years old, and by calling Faramir ‘lord’ the soldiers paid respect only to his lineage, not to who he was as a man.

He had thought about this matter, and concluded he was fine with it. After all, the men obeyed his word, however unenthusiastically, they gave their honest opinion when asked for advice, and did not abandon him in the face of danger – and if they found a bit of consolation in reserving their commander’s proper title for their beloved Boromir, Faramir was not going to rob them of it. An open confrontation would be of little use in any case, for even if he got the Rangers to address him according to his rank every single time, his standing with them would hardly improve for it.

Thus days wore on, and springtide came to Ithilien. All living things awoke from their sleep, and the woods filled with birdsong and the sound of leaves whispering in the wind. The Rangers traded the cheerless drab palette of their wintertime gear for a somewhat more up-beat combination of various shades of leafy verdant and warm earthy brown, their cloaks no longer a faded dusty grey, but rather a velvety tobacco-green.

It was then Faramir decided time had come for another change as well.

Two months had passed without a single nocturnal visit to the camp, and not one thing had gone missing, and the young man could not quite make up his mind whether to be relieved or unnerved by this sudden development. Besides, he strongly suspected it was not that sudden at all, for the way it had perfectly coincided with his arrival as the new captain did not, in fact, seem much of a coincidence. And whereas at the beginning he had deemed the bizarre experience that had taken place on his first night with the men to have been naught but a trick of hid over-wrought nerves, now the young warrior was becoming more and more convinced something important had indeed come to pass back then.

In any case, he had come to feel they could once again make use of the original Ithilien base for the troops, the well-hidden cave at Henneth Annûn, instead of staying out in the open at all times. Faramir understood that from the rational point of thinking this was not a sound verdict, for if the unknown beast Boromir had spoken of was indeed a spy of the Unnamed – and what else could it be, really? – it was in all likelihood simply biding its time to trick the Rangers into relaxing and slackening their guard. Yet much as it may have been so, Faramir felt a strange certainty that the creature no longer wished them harm, if ever it had.

Thus on a clear sunny afternoon they moved, so now in the evenings the men returned not to the clearing, but to the water-curtained roughly hewn hall of stone, where they could eat at real tables and sleep in real beds. The configuration of the cave was such that it did not allow for a large fire to be lit, and therefore would have been frosty in winter, yet now that the nights grew ever balmier, the rearrangement brought nothing but comfort.

Apart from that, the days went on as before. The end of Faramir’s term was drawing nearer, and soon he would have to leave his post to return to the City for a couple of days to report to his father and lord. The young captain was beginning to believe that, unless Denethor were to be interested in the detailed description of the Rangers’ every brush with the enemy, he would not have all that much to recount to the Steward.

Then one day that altogether changed.

Soon after the morning meal was finished and the men departed to their appointed posts, Faramir received an urgent report of some highly peculiar happenings taking place in the forest. A large company of Uruks, all armed to their teeth, was charging through the woods, forfeiting all notion of stealth and caution. They shouted, and screamed, and swore, they brandished their blades and shot arrows, they stomped, and thumped, and trampled down every growing thing in their path. Much as this was generally unusual, most unusual of all was that their actions did not seem in any way directed at the Gondorian soldiers.

“Truly, my lord,” Belegorn who had witnessed it was saying to Faramir, the soldier’s face screwed up in puzzlement, “it looks like they are doing this with no purpose at all. Either they’ve stepped on a nest of those savage wasps – but ‘tis a little early in the year for wasps, isn’t it? – or they are playing tag. I’ve been serving around here for the past fifteen years, and I’ve never seen the likes of it… If they are having a bit of a quarrel amongst themselves, which does tend to happen given their foul tempers, then it must be one marvel of a quarrel…”

“Yes,” Faramir nodded thoughtfully, “I can hear it even from here. Well, let us have the men gathered, and we shall see if that quarrel could fit some additional participants.”

And so the young captain and his warriors followed the Orcs discreetly on their wild chase, waiting for the perfect moment to join the party – and also for their foes to tire out a little.

Eventually it became apparent the creatures were playing no game – they were on a hunt. And the object of their pursuit soon came into view. There was not much of it the men could make out, though, only a glimpse of a vague shape flickering through the trees now and again. It did not appear that much different from the Orcs, at least from the distance, except that it moved with lightness and agility none of them could even dream of. It ever outran and stayed well ahead of the crowd following it, and the only reason it could not altogether escape was that it was alone against what the Rangers had counted to be nearly three score, and the Orcs used that advantage well. They had spread in a wide curved line, chivvying their prey from the sides, forcing it to dart left and right, and double on its tracks, securely keeping it on some course they apparently had in mind.

Faramir had come to know the woods well by then, and before long he perceived their plan. And the order was made for the men to get at the ready, for the moment was approaching.

The Uruks drove their game into a large bare clearing that went slightly uphill for a couple hundred yards, then ended in a sheer drop of several dozen feet, thus making up one of the tall eroded banks of a broad albeit shallow creek, water gurgling nonchalantly on its rocky bed.

The Orcs cried in glee, for they knew of the precipice and thus considered their deal closed, since their catch had nowhere to flee else it would haul itself into the brook to its certain death – nowhere, that is, except up the trunk of the tall mighty oak standing in proud solitude sheer steps away from the brink, already sporting a lush merry attire of long wavy-edged leaves, light and soft in colour like the finest jade.

The shouts of triumph abruptly changed to curses and shrieks of rage, for the Orcs realised the error in their judgement too late: theirs was no ordinary prey, and, after ducking from what black-feathered arrows they sent its way, it leapt and easily caught on to the lowest branch of the tree, which was at least ten feet above the ground, and swiftly hauled itself up to disappear amid the bountiful foliage. A mere second later it fired back at its hunters, then again, and both its bolts struck true, this time evoking screams not only of spite but also of fear.

Although technically they had it cornered, the Orcs fell back, for neither one wished to perish getting their enemy down. They showered the tree with arrows, yet their aim was obscured by spite and leaves, which was soon confirmed by another retaliation, once again perfectly precise. Two more Uruks fell with feathered wood sticking out of their eye and throat, and the others scattered around the clearing, well aware what easy targets they made out in the open.

It was then that the Rangers struck. Before the Orcs could realise what was happening, their number was halved. Panic ensued: they had no enemy to assault in return, for all they got was green-fletched death flying forth from the fringe of the woods. A few bet on luck and tried to break forth by charging blindly through the trees, but were felled by the Rangers’ swords within seconds – but most merely stampeded around, some even falling down into the creek, and not one took a stance to shoot back at the unseen attackers.

Before ten minutes had passed, it was over, the wood once more quiet except for the hoarse groans of those Uruks unfortunate to have suffered such wounds that did not bring immediate death. Yet much as the soldiers of Gondor prided themselves on always having the decency to mercifully finish off their defeated opponents, now no one was in a hurry to step out into the clearing and set about the job, for first there was another business to attend to. It was impossible to tell with any degree of certainty what fate had befallen the creature that had recently been orcish prey – and whether it had any arrows left if it was still up in the tree, and still alive.

None of the men had seen it fall or try to make a getaway amid the general commotion, but then again, they were unsure what it looked like. In the few moments it had spent outside cover the Rangers had caught a few glances, yet that was of little help. All that could be told was that it was a being of about the same make as a Man, but it was all dark and strange in colour, either as though it was desperately, hideously dirty, or had a troll-like scaly hide. It seemed to have been wearing some sort of tattered rags, although once again no one was sure. For all they knew, it could now be lying dead among its foes, and the warriors would not even recognise it.

Several men staying on the watch-out for any sudden development, the others gathered to discuss the available courses of action. As various propositions were put forth, Faramir, his green mask lowered to his neck, kept looking over the battlefield in thought, and his eye fell on one of their injured opponents. The Ors was spread before the captain’s eyes some forty yards up the slope, lying in a half-sitting position with a large boulder propping up its back. He had a bolt planted deep into his thigh, and two more in his belly, so close to one another the shafts nearly touched. Yet still death would not take him.

He trembled and kicked convulsively with his hale leg, and squirmed in the gathering pool of his own dark blood. His clawed fingers were wrapped stiff around one of the arrows in his stomach, as he obeyed the overwhelming instinct to try and wrench it out despite the futility of the action and the insufferable pain it caused. Chest rising and falling feverishly, he wheezed and croaked, his already abhorrent features wrought into a mask of horror and anguish.

Faramir’s mouth contorted and the muscles in his jaws flexed, for the sight was verily sickening, both the Uruk himself and his beastly agony. The young captain had never seen such a large aggregation of dead bodies, and the overall view was enough to make a gentler man’s stomach turn, not to mention the smell – and now this one particular image on top of it all roused in him little but an overpowering desire to avert his eyes at once, and never look back.

Then suddenly Faramir wondered whether in that moment the creature envied those around it, already unshackled from their suffering, and whether the thick clingy stench of their – and its own – foul blood penetrated its senses.

And just like that, unobserved to the men around him, something vast and massive shifted and settled in Faramir. What he felt for his defeated opponent was not pity, not sympathy and definitely not regret – it was understanding. Not some intricate philosophical epiphany it was, but much rather the most primitive sort of understanding only possible, one that can be seen in the eyes of one animal watching another animal die, understanding that cannot be hindered even by bone-deep hatred. There was a colossal breath-stopping universality in what the Orc was going through, for all mortal things were destined to meet their end, and the specific manner of his departure made no difference – a wild beast could go this way, a Man could go this way…

And in that moment Faramir knew that for him to spare the Uruk its torment was not a question of decency, or military honour, or simply putting a stop to a repelling spectacle – it was something far deeper, something so crucial to his sense of self that he could not even put a name to it. He met now the force that would ever guide him in all his actions, and it felt natural and fitting to rely upon this guidance.

As the others kept speaking in lowered voices, he stepped aside and, not taking his eyes off the writhing Orc, reached back over his shoulder to pull a long arrow from his quiver.

The Rangers turned around sharply as the air was cut by the loud vibrating sound of the bowstring releasing the bolt. For a second they thought Faramir had spotted the stranger, but then saw the splayed Orc arch rigidly in one last throe and slump back limply.

For a heartbeat all was silent, and then a short forbidding cry pierced the grove, and it came from the old oak.

Faramir, shaking off the sensation of emptiness that followed the shot, raised his brows and commented evenly, “Well, this answers two of our questions: it is certainly alive and still up there.”

“I believe, my lord,” Dearmad said darkly, “that it also answers another question: this thing is in no mood to have any dealings with us. I may not understand its tongue, but that was an advice to keep ourselves out of its business.”

“Aye, so it was,” Faramir agreed with a thoughtful nod to himself, and turned his eyes to the tall ominous tree. He said no more for a while, and the warriors proceeded to debate amongst themselves how the situation could and should be tackled.

The Gondorian longbows could easily cover three hundred yards and more, and the oak where the stranger had taken refuge was little more than half that distance away, so, strictly speaking, it was well within their shooting distance even without them abandoning the protection of the trees. The dense foliage of the mighty tree, however, hid their target so completely no one could tell even as much as which part of the tree it was at. To get a remotely sure aim, they would have to come right up to it, which would give their foe just the perfect opportunity to discharge all the arrows it had, including many an Orcish one that were bound to have stuck amid the branches. Besieging it and waiting for it to pass out in exhaustion and hunger was hardly an option either, since for all they knew it could be one of those unnatural creations of the darkness that could sneak past their guard unseen when nighttime came.

And only Faramir remained standing aside, ever gazing towards the hill in deep thought.

At last the Rangers realised he was not with them, and trailed off to exchange puzzled looks.

“Lord Faramir, what shall your or–?” Dearmad began, approaching the young captain.

“You stay here, I should go talk to it,” Faramir cut him off decisively, and without as much as glancing back at the man already took a step forth.

“My lord, is that prudent?!” Dearmad exclaimed, putting a hand on his captain’s shoulder. “Had it been willing to surrender, it would not’ve gotten itself up in that tree. Anyway, had it deemed those Orcs its only enemy, it would’ve climbed down, seeing as they are all dead now. But no, ‘tis ready to shoot anyone who dares come near – hadn’t you heard its anger? I wouldn’t be much surprised if it proves malicious enough to try and slay at least one of us, even if at the price of its own life.”

Faramir looked at the man keenly. “It climbed up fleeing the Orcs, and I reckon it is staying there just in case. It must be very frightened, and weary, and likely wounded, and if I were in its place, I wouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to get myself down and surrender to a crowd of armed strangers either. It wouldn’t be right to slay it without giving it a chance to explain itself.”

The older warrior curved his brow skeptically. “And may I inquire, does your lordship speak Orcish to hear out its explanation?”

Faramir smiled softly. “I don’t think such knowledge shall be required, Master Dearmad. Nor do I deem our opponent to be a renegade Orc. Now, please keep this safe for me,” and at that he proceeded to unfasten the belt holding his scabbard in place and hand it over to the much bewildered Dearmad together with the blade it bore. The others fell quiet and eyed him apprehensively as Faramir went on to entrust his longbow, his half-full quiver and both his daggers to the grey-haired Ranger, who was by then looking almost pleadingly at the captain. When Faramir went on to put his mask and cloak on top of the pile he was holding, the older man’s restraint gave way.

“My lord, please, if you are slain –”

“If I am slain, you shall take charge until Lord Denethor assigns the company a new captain,” Faramir replied calmly. “I know you have done this before, and I am sure you shall manage. And if indeed it should shoot, and I fall – only if I fall, Dearmad – then you and the men may go ahead and kill it to the best of your ability. But unless I am struck down you are to do nothing, just stand at the ready – no matter what happens – is that understood?”

Dearmad heaved a sigh of great suffering. “Aye, m’lord, what’s there not to understand…?”

Faramir nodded curtly and, pursing his lips, turned away from his men.

Just as he was about to leave the shelter of the grove’s skirt, the young captain caught Eldir murmur with forced cheeriness, “Well, like I always say: madness is a family thing. ‘Twas bound to come out sooner or later, if you just think of the fatuous things Lord Boromir used to do –”

“Oh, would you just shut up and hold this?” Dearmad muttered gruffly. “I need to have my hands free.”

Faramir grinned mirthlessly, and turned his will to focus on the task ahead.

Slowly he entered the clearing, pausing after each small step, his posture straight and undaunted, arms spread to the sides a little to show he carried no weapon.

Before he had covered a dozen yards there was frantic movement up in the higher branches of the oak, the foliage swaying madly, as apparently the hidden warrior changed position preparing to receive the intruder. For some reason it reminded Faramir of the badgered cat he had seen back in childhood, thrashing in senseless fright amid the thorny boughs of a tall acacia as it hissed and sputtered down at a pack of stray dogs barking at it from below – and he felt a sudden pang of pity for the unseen creature. When driven forth by the Uruks, it had leapt through the trees with such effortless ease, barely displacing a leaf as it passed, clearing bushes and little gullies with deer-like jumps – and now it had lost its grace, exhausted and on edge…

Faramir breathed out slowly, telling himself to keep his mind clear. His was a hopeless gamble, and he ought to harden his heart and be prepared to die any moment.

The man took another several steps, careful to avoid the numerous pools and trickles of orcish blood – and all movement stopped. Brittle anticipation filled the air.

Another ten yards or so, and Faramir was well within shooting distance for even a small poorly made bow.

One more deep breath, one more step. He looked intently, but could pick out nothing specific amid the thick leaves.

And then came again that sharp warning cry, urgent and imperative, yet just as unintelligible as before, although it did not sound remotely like any of the crude dialects of the Orcs.

Faramir stopped and raised his hands level with his face, open palms facing forward. Now, he knew, came the time to make his bet.

“I come unarmed,” he called loudly and articulately, “let me approach, and we shall talk.”

Dead silence was his answer, yet he sensed that it was not the silence of animosity, but the silence of great bemusement, and on the inside he smiled to himself even as a bead of sweat made its way down the side of his forehead. He had not used the Common tongue as he addressed his concealed opponent, he had spoken in the language the other Rangers sometimes used to whisper among themselves, thinking he would not understand – the same language that the Dúnedain folk had long ago adopted from the Grey-elves.

The longer the silence stretched, the more convinced Faramir became that he had done right. And at last he judged it was relatively safe to test that assumption and claim yet another foot.

At once another cry sliced the air, far more strained than before, almost desperate. But this time it seemed to the man he had discerned the words, a simple message sent in the same tongue he had used.

Stay back.

“I can do you no harm,” the young man reasoned, his grey eyes searching the impenetrable mass of green. “I only wish to talk. But let me come closer, else I would have to keep on shouting.” This was not the point, of course: if any good were to come out of this venture, Faramir would have to establish a proper contact with who the man was now quite certain to be one of the Elf-kindred, however far-fetched the notion seemed. Standing where he was the captain could hardly achieve anything, given he could not get as much as a glimpse of the other’s shape, even though it was obvious he, on the other hand, was fully exposed.

So Faramir assumed the most reassuring, benevolent expression he only could and moved another pace forward.

The ringing twang of the string, the rustle of the leaves, the shearing swish and the thick thud all came as one – the arrow quivered with the aftershock of impact, planted almost half-way deep into the ground not more than two inches from the toe of Faramir’s boot.

The man’s eyes glazed over as he strained his ear for any alarming sound from behind. Yet Dearmad must have remembered his word, for no reaction to the shot came from the Rangers.

Faramir swallowed and exhaled. Then he smiled, for he saw the fletching on the bolt at his foot was of a deep emerald hue, and knew this to be one of the arrows taken from the Rangers’ camp more than two months ago, and also knew he had been correct in his assumptions.

“You have made your point,” Faramir resumed his monologue, and was surprised to hear his voice sound so even and strong. “Now let me make mine. I have come to offer you a simple choice. You can do away with me now, and then the rest of my men – and I am sure you are well aware just how many there are – shall avenge me. Or you can let me come and speak with you, and perhaps we shall find a way to avoid any more deaths today.”

He waited for several minutes, yet no reply was made. So he did once more what he had already done many times that day. He stepped forth and prepared to meet his end.

Nothing happened. The threat was not carried through, and no arrow pierced his chest.

Enheartened, the young captain went slowly yet steadily on.

And then, as he came into the shade of the oak, Faramir saw him.

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50 Comment(s)

Wow, December, I did hope that my request would go to you, I know you write so well… but I never expected to get an eighteen-chapter story! And how will I find the time to read it all, now?

Well, thank you so much, I’m sure I’ll love it, and I’ll start reading at once; but you might have to wait a bit for a full commentary…

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 13:50    #

Ha! I never expected to write an eighteen-chapter story either, lol. It just happened to me, like writing always does :) I do indeed hope you like it, and I’m so flattered to have you say you wanted it to be me (blush).

December    Sunday 19 December 2010, 13:56    #

Well, first chapter finished. I love the idea of Boromir being insecure and disconcerted for once and seemingly making a fool of himself in front of his younger brother and his father (and his men). I love also how he’s outraged to discover that “his” seat is occupied by a “stranger”. Haha.
In fact, so far you would almost think Faramir is the eldest and favourite child, the one who is sent to right his brother’s mess chuckle. But it is more ambiguous than that. Difficult to make out Denethor’s feelings or intentions. He seems to think that Boromir will manage better than Faramir with the trolls; on the other hand, changing assignments like that just after Boromir comes and says he can’t deal with the situation in Ithilien, really comes across as a disavowal. And then of course there’s the situation Faramir is going to find himself in; to his father he may be just sent to deal with a thief (something less dangerous than trolls), but to the men here’s an upstart coming to replace the captain that they trust and admire, and precisely when the situation is too bad for even said captain to manage it…
Well, there’s too much confusion on my mind, I think I’ll just go on to next chapter…

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 14:22    #

Well, well, well, second chapter finished. I must say, I am very intrigued by this strange beast, and Faramir’s reaction to it; I guess there will be some fun as I keep reading. The circumstances in which Faramir takes command of the Ithilien Rangers are perfect; were I Faramir, I would have been sincere with the men (was funny to read what he wanted to say since it was about exactly what I was thinking), but well, maybe I underestimate the rank gap and what expectations it creates about an officer’s behaviour.
Faramir showing anxiety when arriving at the camp? Come on! He may have been anxious, but really, showing it? This is not the Faramir I know, but well, every story is different and I will wait till the end to judge him :-).
By the way, it seems just so plausible that he would be able to deal with a strange mystery that has his brother bluffed… (and me too, so far, by the way).
Well, I guess I’m more intrigued than before, maybe, so let’s get on with the next chapter…
By the way, I wonder: what are those “reasons of his own” that drew Faramir to shun “the sensual side of life”? His reactions seem quite quick on that side… I hope we learn about that mystery later in the story.

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 15:13    #

Nerey, thanks for such generous comments, I’m so thrilled the story is getting you involved!
As for the way Faramir is, and some of his conduct – I liked it that you asked for him to be young, because at 20 he can’t possibly be as we know him at 37, and it’s interesting to explore how he would behave in this or that situation. And maybe something of what you learn later in the story might explain how he came to be the man we meet in Ithilien in the time of thr War…
Again, thanks for your response!!

December    Sunday 19 December 2010, 15:21    #

Hi again, December!
Now I LOVED this chapter. Sent me shivering. This is the Faramir I dreamt of; calmly stepping forward in the face of death, just because he trusts his own assumptions. I also love his “style” with the Rangers: prudence does pay, doesn’t it? Although Boromir might do the same work in half the time, Boromir does lose many men. And “Nothing particular happened, we’ve been killing orcs slowly and steadily with no losses” does sound better to me than “we fought a grand battle against a force thrice our own and won, though of course we lost half our men in it, couldn’t be avoided”.
I love also how he gets on with the Rangers, that they are too mature to be petty to Faramir, and that he is flexible enough to allow them not to call him “Captain” (I guess also he would prefer to earn the title than just force it out of them). And not trying to imitate Boromir was a wise choice. He is just himself, not what anyone would want him to be. I loved the idea that “he does what he can, but would not have the men thinking that he is going out of his way”.

What else? About chapter 2, Faramir seems to understand more than I do about Denethor’s motives; I hope those are made clear later.

Oh, and the end of the third chapter just shows a master’s hand. To end the chapter at that moment of intolerable suspense… (savour the sensation for a few seconds before going on to next chapter)

You know, this Faramir that steps out in the clearing reminds me of two films I have seen, both with Gregory Peck (one of my favourite actors of all times): Twelve o’clock high and The Big Country. In the first, general Savage takes command of a group of pilot fighters during Second World War, who loved their captain and resent being led by this newcomer. He, like Faramir, also decides that it’s no use to try to “enter a popularity contest” with his predecessor.
In The Big Country, a sailor settles into the West, and everyone expects him to prove his manhood and bravery in various ways, which he refuses to do. However, when two families are ready to fight to death over a girl being held hostage by one of them, he steps forward, unarmed, to rescue her through dialog. And when one of the leaders (obviously eager for battle) points a gun at him and threatens to shoot him down
if he does not stay out of it, he just moves forward, daring the man to shoot and prove that the girl is but an excuse to fight a personal war… So in the end, he shows he’s no coward, he just doesn’t feel the need to prove his worth ceaselessly and to everyone…
That is to say, your Faramir is on a pair with some of the greatest cinema heroes of all times… :-)
And by the way, he also reminds me of another of my heroes (also embodied by Gregory Peck on the screen), Captain Hornblower. He’s a British Navy officer during Napoleon’s wars, and he’s more sharp than most of his colleagues, so he always finds intelligent ways to deal with situations with as little loss of men as possible, though at need he is as resolute and brave as Faramir is… and he shares many other traits with him, not least a fair amount of personal insecurity… to everyone but him absolutely groundless:-)

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 16:39    #

Beautiful chapter as well… seems Faramir finds it easier to be sincere with this elf than with his men.
You transmitted very well the elf’s feelings: strung as Faramir’s men must have been, weary of hiding, ready to fight for his life and even more for his dignity as he puts it. Now I wonder (or not) what he meant by “I did not tread on property that didn’t want to be treaded on”. And another question remains: why did he decide to stop stealing arrows from the Rangers, precisely when Faramir arrived? Again, I do make some assumptions… let’s see if they are correct.
I can see Boromir’s face when he learns that the horrible beast was just a stray elf and that Faramir brought him down from the tree merely by going there and talking to him… and the men, what will they think now? They can no longer say it was a coward’s action, since Faramir did risk his life to reach this agreement… and did so serenely…

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 17:12    #

Chapter 5: haha, I love the idea of the men thinking that Faramir can see further and understand more than they do… which of course is true and, again, reminds me of Hornblower (I love to compare different heroes to one another).
You did a very good job of that misunderstanding, it was great and so credible (poor Orophin, elves are wary indeed, aren’t they?). Still, I love hunting for the small clues you let fall here and there: what was the exact relationship between Orophin and “his lord”?
And now, what will happen with Denethor? What will he do? Though I have a feeling that something might happen to delay them as they travel to the White City…

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 17:52    #

Well, I did not expect that… but it was sweet, Orophin risking his life to save Faramir who was ready to risk his life to save the other two…
Now Denethor seems to have something on his mind, and Faramir is too troubled or weary to notice it… how will everything turn out? And why did Orophin leave Lórien? Unless the Lady was jealous of him having an affair with the Lord, I can’t see… but I have a feeling that that would be to simple an explanation, and that the truth is elsewhere… let’s see if chapter 7 tells us something about it.

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 18:12    #

Hm. This is disquieting. Clearly Denethor is up to something, and intends to use Orophin in some way, and Orophin has been left alone with Denethor for three months… what may have happened in such a length of time? What will Faramir find upon his returning?
This reads like a mystery/suspense novel… I so want to race ahead and have a swift look at the last chapters…

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 18:30    #

Well, well, well… so much is made clear… why Faramir (and not Boromir) was sent away, why the brothers can’t see each other, and (I think) why Orophin is valuable to Denethor. I guess the Lord of the City wants to use the elf in some way to solve this strange situation between the brothers… Now, in which way? He obviously creates a situation where Faramir’s breath should be taken away with the elf’s loveliness (the song episode), but how does that help? It is like witnessing a chess game and trying to understand the opponent’s moves…
Now, Denethor’s feelings are clear. He has similar feelings for his two sons; whether he loves them or not is still to be seen, but he doesn’t despise or dislike Faramir more than he does Boromir. And it seems as though his feelings won’t influence in the least his decisions, anyway. So what really matters to him is that Boromir is the heir and will be favoured for that reason, regardless of his worth and his brother’s. But he does say that Faramir is up to leading the Rangers. Denethor going out of his way to give Faramir a compliment… and I love also the blunt way in which he explains his motives, and his opinion of Faramir’s “foolishness”… On to next chapter! (you’ll have a lot of work reading this, but it’s only fair).

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 19:01    #

Wow, wow, wow! Again, Nerey, thanks for your wonderful comments! I love the serious analysis going here.

About Denethor’s view of his sons. It always seemed to me Denethor was not the ‘unconditional love’ kind of father, and simply ‘loved’ more the son who to him was simpler to predict (aka control), who wasn’t too much of a free thinker, and was less like Denethor himself (because, frankly, I think Denethor has some self-esteem issues, given how he had resented that his own father had once chosen Thorongil over him). It always struck me how in the book he said that he would have rather it were Faramir who died instead of Boromir because Boromir was loyal to Denethor, and not some wizard’s pupil. He didn’t say that he loved Boromir more, if I remember correctly… And apparently he did see Faramir’s merit, for Faramir was after Captain of the Rangers, and their job was the most perilous…

I’m not saying he did not love his boys at all, but I think that love was hidden so deep beneath all his taska and purposes that it did not come out unless something horrible happened.

December    Sunday 19 December 2010, 19:25    #

Mmm… I very much enjoyed the uncomfortable talk between the two brothers. Clearly Faramir has been shaken by what his father has told him, whereas Boromir refused to believe whatever Denethor said… It would be so like Faramir to be caught in a personal dilemma because he’s used to trusting people’s truthfulness and wisdom, so he can’t just wave aside what Denethor says even though it is against what he himself wants to believe of Boromir… yep, always hard to find out that people can voice contradictory ideas and you’ll have to choose between them, however much you want to believe everybody… and it is clear that Boromir is attracted to Faramir, and as for Faramir… I guess he’s attracted to Boromir as well, but he also is to Orophin, so… well, knowing you I suppose a Mir pairing in the end can be reasonably expected… although maybe with Orophin coming in at some point…
By the way, I was surprised that Boromir, rash as he is, could stand this ten-year separation without trying to see Faramir en cachette… now you’ve provided the answer. :-)

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 19:33    #

“Denethor has some self-esteem issues”, I laughed out loud at that. I guess you’re right. I never thought much about him, but your analysis makes sense to me. If I remember right, he never says that he loves Boromir better, but Gandalf says so, and I doubt his bitterness at Boromir’s death could be just due to political reasons; after all, he must have realised that Boromir would be no great ruler (he lacks the subtlety and sharp intelligence of Denethor and Faramir), for all that he was a good warrior.
I have just re-read some parts of the book, and indeed you have a point; there’s nothing in Denethor’s words that cannot be attributed to grief over Boromir’s death and fear about the Ring falling into the Enemy’s hands… nothing except Faramir’s reactions, which seem to indicate that he is used to being despised by his father…

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 19:53    #

You know, I don’t mean to demonise Denethor, or to say he has no heart at all: I do, after all, feel a great sympathy for him. He did have a hard life, and many temptations, and given his proud calculating character, little good could have come out of that.

And I believe he did love his family, to the best of his ability that is. Let’s not forget that he loved Finduilas above all – apparently loved her so well she went into severe depression and died… Naturally it hurt him to lose his sons, like it would any normal man – but still I don’t think he loved the boys as people, on a personal level, but rather for what joy they could bring him, for how they could make him proud. And as for what Gandalf said, I think he meant mostly that Denethor overindulged his eldest in some aspects, letting Boromir grow up believing he was the centre of the universe and had a right to everything… That’s an approach that all too often backfires, and results not so much from love, as from the parent’s egoism and reluctance to see faults in his own offspring. I think a truly loving father would have rather tried to teach Boromir some healthy humbleness…

And, also, I think in Faramir, who had his own heart and mind to guide his decisions, Denethor saw a potential rival, and that is hardly something an authoritative lord like him could take well to, right?

I agree, Faramir is certainly used to being treated with coldness and often scorn, for even though Denethor needed him for practical reasons and acknowledged his worth as captain, still the Steward was obviously never kindly and cuddly with him…

December    Sunday 19 December 2010, 20:45    #

My, what cruel Denethor! And poor Boromir! And Orophin!!! :( :(

It was a wonderful reading, but what cruel and short end! My my…

I liked the way Denethor speaks a lot, still. (Because, truly, he is an interesting character. Even if this cold-hearted man we see here does not go quite in the direction I think him to be… But this worked very well in this story!)

Thanks for the story!

elektra121    Monday 20 December 2010, 15:12    #

elektra, thank you very much for reading and commenting!

Would you care to elaborate on Denethor? What direction do you think to be his? I find it extremely interesting to discuss him.

And, well, he prioritises propriety, and dignity, and honour over the desires of his sons’ hearts – but on the other hand, how many parents in his place would have taken a different position…? Perhaps he even thinks he’s acting in their own best interest…

December    Monday 20 December 2010, 15:24    #

Yes, highly possible he thinks he does.
I’ve always thought him to be as good a father as he can be, given his position and nature – even if most think otherwise. I’m sure he really loves both his sons as his children and the children of his dear wife and as the men they are.
But he knew few ways to let them know when they grew up in a society such as Gondor and him being the ruling steward – and perhaps Denethor himself is a man quite good at reading but not so good at showing feelings.

I imagine him to very strictly devide his life into the “official” and the “private” part – never meant to touch each other; like I’m sure many people in times not so long ago did, as I am told. If he is steward he is steward, there is no possibility to show any personal affection for any human being, be it son or wife or not. A son has no more worth than any other captain – he is a useful pawn, nothing more. A wife is a bearer of sons, nothing more.
In private though, when there is no-one around to see and hear it may be possible to show to a child that it is loved, even if it is in giving only the most expensive and valuable gifts, the finest clothing, the best teachers, the finest food; or in being strict. It may be possible to be a man that loves his family, but only behind closed doors. Perhaps ist may be possible to show to a wife how much you adore and desire and love her, but only in the darkness of night.

And of course, he had a heavy weight upon his shoulders and must have been very lonely. There may have been very little “private” Denethor left in “The return of the King”.

Not so easy to say in English… ;)

elektra121    Monday 20 December 2010, 16:16    #

Hey again, elektra – and thanks for your response! Yeah, for me it too would perhaps be easier to say it all in Russian, but oh well :)

You know, I’ve been thinking on this subject since yesterday… And I guess maybe my definition of love, or at least parental love, is a little too strict, at least when it comes to fathers. I’ve always deemed conditional love to not be really love… But it’s true men are more given to it than women, and more often try to be ‘objective’ towards their children, don’t you think? And with Denethor it’s very clear that his affection is allocated to his children in direct proportion to how each of them makes him proud. Like in the Book it said that he loved Boromir, but Faramir displeased him. You see what I mean? Displeasure is not the opposite of love. Your kid may make you mad like 200 times a day, and do really stupid things, and even things you deem wrong and horrible, but if you love them, it won’t make you love them less…

Of course love is a very complex thing, and not something we always understand even in ourselves, and it’s even harder to speak of someone else. If Denethor himself thought he loved his sons, and that what he did was for their ultimate good, does that qualify? You would think so, but on the other hand, for ex., there are so many men who tell you they love you more than life itself, and would do anything for you, and even believe it themselves – but all their actions speak otherwise. Maybe it is that they love to the best of their ability, and that ability is just not very big… And so for Denethor – I totally agree that he wanted and tried to be a good father. Question is, what was his idea of ‘a good father’, and how much did he succeed in his attempts?

And of course it did not help that, as you say, he was a very ‘official’ man. Like when he said ‘like a good lord, I spend even my own sons in battle,’ it sent chills down my spine – but he thinks it’s only fair, that they indeed should be treated like other captains. Although I have a feeling that if Aragorn were in his place, he would have gone to battle himself. And Theoden too, when his evil enchantment lifted, rode to war himself and didn’t just send Eomer…

And of course what warmth Denethor had towards the boys he did not very expressively show. Like in this story, he never told little Faramir that he was afraid for him, and that it hurt him to send him away, and that he was sorry for punishing him for something the boy had no conscious fault in…

All that said, may I ask how you think Denethor would have acted if put in a situation described in this story?

December    Monday 20 December 2010, 17:33    #

Dear elektra, answering your other message.

1st of all, cosidering your suggestion re writing a 1st time Faramir/Eowyn – that topic shall be explored in the story I’m writing for iris’ challenge – not very explicitly, perhaps, but all the same :) I’m glad you’re interested, all the more stimulus to get me back to work on that tale.

Now, back to Denethor.

I must say I find your view of him very refreshing – especially since, like you yourself say, it rather differs from the popular opinion. Now that you’ve told me a bit about your family, it’s beginning to seem to me that what we focus on in Denethor’s character is somehow connected to our own fathers. Like that lovely example you gave of your father and raspberries – you pick up a similar thing in Denethor, with him letting Faramir eat first and then talk. (For ex, I had never paid much mind to that instance, if anything, it seemed to me Denethor was being ironic when he told his son to go and have a good rest…). It’s obviously much easier for you than for me to allow that Denethor could be loving in a reserved way, under all his status-imposed decorum. I very much do envy you for being able to see so much good in him. My own family experience has led me to be far more skeptical towards the parenting merits of proud, masterful, unsentimental men like Denethor. So I guess with these differences it’s best to acknowledge we won’t be able to fully agree on him, each of us having a different filter to look at him through. I of course very much hope that I’m too hard on him, and he’s nicer than I think.

May I ask, why do you think he’s equally proud of both his sons? In the book I’ve mostly managed to find evidence as to the otherwise: he scorns Faramir for his connection with Gandalf, and for trying to look kind and gracious in the eyes of their people, and for using his own brain to think with. I didn’t really get the impression Denethor viewed him as the man he himself would have wanted to be like, or that as an authoritative lord he approved of Faramir’s propensity to think for himself.

As for what Denethor felt in this story, whether it be when sending Faramir away, or ridiculing Boromir’s feelings for him – we’ll never know, will we? ;-p Sometimes I like to write just from one POV, like in ‘Casualties of War’ – then you can only interpret other characters’ actions through the eyes of the narrating character. We can speculate, though… Personally, I don’t think nothing inside Denethor moved when he sent his 11 y.o. away for nothing, or when he humiliated his older son in the bathroom, naked and wet as poor Boromir was. I don’t think the man was in any way monster enough to get a kick out of being the one to cause his own sons suffering. But he thought it had to be done (like later he thought he had to burn Faramir…), as the smaller of the evils he had to choose between – so he did it.

Once again I’m coming to think what else Denethor could have done. Ignoring the situation or telling Boromir it was wrong – would that have stopped Boromir? I suspect the boy already knew his feelings were not something to be entirely proud of, given he did not act on the reactions of his body while Faramir was still too young to understand anything. But as time went by – what would have happened? And I think Denethor, being much older and far more cynical than Boromir, didn’t believe that all that much time would have to go by – or that a 16 y.o. boy could be a paragon of self-restraint when it comes to sexual urges… From the book I got the impression Denethor was a man who liked to keep everything under control, and would not have allowed such a risky situation to just take its course… Perhaps a gentler man would have first had a quiet earnest talk with his sons – and perhaps not, given what he feared would happen between them was indeed against all the morals of Gondor, and enough to freak out even the kindest father.

Maybe sending Faramir away was indeed partly out of desire to be a good father, aka do what’s best for his children, even when his heart perhaps didn’t want to part with his son. Personally, I think that love can sometimes get quite in the way of being a good parent, like for ex. Denethor spoiling Boromir in the first place with all his fatherly pride. I don’t believe that loving a child always results in being a good parent to them – or that to be a good parent one necessarily has to love the child…

December    Tuesday 21 December 2010, 11:28    #

Hu, quite a lot of questions and things to think of…
And, you may be right with the filter thing – my opinions have ever been very idealistic ones… think only the best of others and only doubt it until there is proof you must be wrong.

The food thing, still, seems to me of highly symbolic character. From what I know of heroic epic writing (which Tolkien was inspired by) gestures are of great importance and sometimes be more of a clue than the words. For example I remember a chapter in an epic that titled “How he did not rise before her/did not greet her”. Nothing more – and everything about the whole situation and both characters (and of course the very gory ending of the story) is said.
Rereading the scene with Faramir, Denethor, Pippin and Gandalf, it definitely has a lot of “show-don’t-tell”: Faramir sitting on a “low chair at his father’s left hand” – it shows F. to be of lower rank and no-one that is authorized to advise his father in any matter (advisors would have sit right-hand). But the possibility remains left is chosen for some other reason: left is where the heart is. It could be saying there is some kind of affection between lord and captain here – if not, they could have sit face-to-face for a report. Faramir gets white bread and wine – which is valuable food and thus shows how this captain is valued. Gandalf sits “removed a little” – this is about Faramir and Denethor, not him. When F. begins to speak of halflings, Gandalf “grips the arms of his chair” and Denethor confirms he has understood what is going on with a silent nod. From then on, F. does NOT look to his father – clearly there is some kind of uneasiness about the matter. (F. knows his decision will not please Denethor.) Gandalf’s hands begin to tremble – that shows to Pippin he really worries. And so on and on.
Denethor speaks about Gandalf having “Faramir’s heart in his keeping” – really: this sounds very much like jealousy on Denethors behalf.
When Faramir takes his leave, he swayes and his father commends on his fast and far ride, “under shadows of evil in the air”. (I believe that to be some kind of praise, small as it is.) Faramir wishes to not ponder that unpleasant incident, and his father grants him the favour and tells him to go and rest. I don’t see irony in that.

About the equality of proudness: you may be right entirely… there is no real proof of my opinion in that matter. May be wishful/idealistic thinking again. But I somehow sense Denethor likes his son to want to follow suit of the kings of old. He is way too much a lover of nobleness and dignity himself to not being proud of that wish.
It always occured to me both could be alike in not so few aspects… and that may be one of the causes they don’t get along all too well – like it is not seldom, if a parent and a child are too much alike…

To question of how Denethor is supposed to react to such threatening situation like in this story… honestly, as I said – I don’t know.

Oh boy sigh – maybe Denethor is a coldhearted bastard with no heart whatsoever and I a romantic fool…

But I like to see him as a sad, embittered man, that still has some of the best in him only he makes some fatal errors.

elektra121    Tuesday 21 December 2010, 18:11    #

Regarding your reply of 12/19 – “It always struck me how in the book he said that he would have rather it were Faramir who died instead of Boromir because Boromir was loyal to Denethor, and not some wizard’s pupil.”

The book does NOT say that. The implication is that it would have been better if Boromir had been in Ithilien instead of Faramir – then the Ring would have been brought to him.

alcardilme    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 2:38    #

Alcardilme, thanks for joining in :)
Aye, ‘tis true, the Book never says so directly – so of course it can be said that it doesn’t say so at all. Personally, though, I always saw that message very clearly between the lines.
Right before that part in the conversation, Denethor says that such gentle choices as Faramir made re the Ring can be punished with death – and Faramir says, so be it. And that gets Denethor flaring, because he thinks they all are going to die because of what Faramir did – so here follows that line about the wizard’s pupil. And then Faramir too loses his cool and reminds Denethor it was Denethor himself who had sent Boromir away (aka to his death – which Denethor picks up in the next line). So the subject of death is there all the time, and Denethor’s words about them being exchanged instantly set Faramir thinking that at the time of their conversation Boromir is dead… So still I personally get the impression that even if this was not what Denethor meant, it was quite certainly what Faramir perceived… After all, it seems to me his later desire to go on a desperate pointless mission just to prove his worth to Denethor would be more grounded by thinking Denethor would have liked him dead instead of Boromir, than merely that Boromir had chanced to be in his place in Ithilien.
But, like I said, that’s not what’s written in the Book explicitly, and the subject is pretty much open to interpretaion.

elektra, hi again!
Well, re ‘idealism’, it seemed to me the book itself quite promotes the idea of thinking the best of people (even when they already show themselves as pretty hopeless). It always impressed me how Gandalf, being so it seems Nienna’s pupil, always wanted to give everyone yet another chance, trusting in their good nature: Gollum, Theoden, Denethor, Saruman – even with Pippin he’s very patient, although Pippin always lands poor Gandalf in a mess :) It does prove however, that only those kind by heart, who were tricked by enchantment or simply have too much curiosity for their own good, make it thorugh – whereas both Denethor and Saruman cosistently push away all the hope he’s offering them. But, he keeps trying, till the very end…
As for whether Denethor is a cold-hearted bastard or a lonely embittered man – well, I would certainly not call him a bastard :) Actually, I think his heart is very hot – he just doesn’t show it in the way Boromir did (we’ve talked of this before :) ). Really, I think he’s lonely and embittered more than anything else – very embittered. And also oppressed by Sauron, aka suspicious, apprehensive and generally worn out. Plus he’s proud, and masterful, and scornful. And again – very lonely. I can’t imagine him having any kind of a relationship after his wife’s death, even some platonic bond with a nice kind lady who would warm his heart a little…
And what you say about him being jealous of Faramir – I very much believe he is indeed. What father wouldn’t be jeallous if his son valued someone else’s opinion higher than his, especially since Denethor had never liked Gandalf in the 1st place? And, to think of it, I believe he may have had quite a bit of jealousy concerning his sons’ love for each other. It says Boromir was much beloved by him, and says there was great love between Boromri and Faramir – I didn’t see anything about Boromir having much love for his father… Boromri wasn’t a particularly sensitive man, so perhaps he wasn’t aware of how tough Denethor’s whole life was, nor thought much of what Denethor felt for him, likely took it for granted.
It indeed seems Denethor would have found much more support and understanding in Faramir had he turned to his younger son – but oh well… This is indeed ironic and very very sad.
Again, thanks for reading and the discussion!

December    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 8:14    #

My, my – poor Denethor! :(
I agree he never would have even thought of any relationship after his wife’s death. I’m pretty much sure he had seen that as betrayal.
I think “lonely”, “worn out”, “embittered” are the best words to describe him.

And yes, I personally too believe Denethor does not have meant he wanted for Faramir to die instead of Boromir. But maybe – it could be what Faramir perceived.

As to Gandalf: wow, amazing how opinions differ! I have NEVER liked Gandalf much – not even in the “Hobbit”. (In my opinion Wormtongue’s “lathspell” is a very to-the-point name… aside from it’s linguistic beauty ;) ) I’ve always thought not so less of Gandal’s dislike for Denethor is caused by the fact that Denethor is one of the very few men that could be equal to him in some parts (strategy, thinking for himself) and thus dangerous or annoying.

Really, interesting men. I remeber very few fanfictions that ponder those facts mentioned above… – sad as it is; but those few that do tends to be very good ones.

elektra121    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 9:36    #

Hi December,

I totally agree with this, must remember to keep it in mind for future stories:
“And what you say about him being jealous of Faramir – I very much believe he is indeed. What father wouldn’t be jeallous if his son valued someone else’s opinion higher than his, especially since Denethor had never liked Gandalf in the 1st place? And, to think of it, I believe he may have had quite a bit of jealousy concerning his sons’ love for each other. It says Boromir was much beloved by him, and says there was great love between Boromri and Faramir – I didn’t see anything about Boromir having much love for his father… Boromri wasn’t a particularly sensitive man, so perhaps he wasn’t aware of how tough Denethor’s whole life was, nor thought much of what Denethor felt for him, likely took it for granted.
It indeed seems Denethor would have found much more support and understanding in Faramir had he turned to his younger son – but oh well… This is indeed ironic and very very sad.”
Apart from this, I’ve been very busy these last few days, but here I am to finish reading the story (though I couldn’t resist to peep at the end the other day) and comment it.
And it’s cool that there’s such a debate about Denethor, because I am meditating a challenge about him!

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 19:27    #

Well, chapter 10. Love the humour between Orophin and Faramir. So many sentences worth being remembered, especially the idea that such a man as Faramir would always have people around ready to risk their lives for him.

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 19:47    #

Oh noes, you’ve peeped at the end! Next time I’m writing something for you, I’ll publish it chapter by chapter ;-p But seriously, that’s how I wrote it: first 9 chapters, then the end, then what’s in between. And you’re reading it just like that :) I wonder, though, how it’s going to go down now that you know the finale…
Yes, Denethor… It’s funny, this was meant to be a story about Faramir and the Rangers (and a ship), but somehow most of the debate is around Denethor… The more I think of it, the more I feel bad for him in this story. Everyone
else’s pain is quite obvious, but he comes across as such a villain, you really have to make an effort to sympathise with him.
And Orophin… Well, he thinks of Faramir better than Faramir thinks of himself…
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the rest of this!

elektra, wow, you’re always bringing new perspective. We’ve already discussed Faramir, Denethor and Gandalf with you, and on all them, it seems to me, you have a rather untypical point of view. (Not to mention the ‘noble stupid Aragorn’ from your other letter :D) So fun talking to you!
It didn’t surprise me much Gandalf wasn’t all uber-friendly with Denethor, given Denethor’s as impolite with him as propriety only allows… And indeed, Denethor has quite a will to match his – that silent battle of stares between them, ooh, sparks fly… Although I was rather under the impression it was not so much Denethor himself Gandald didn’t like, but rather what of Sauron’s influence came through in his conduct. Like I said, it seemed to me Gandalf was an extremely forgiving person…
And I very much like your cues about meal scenes. Indeed, in most traditional cultures taking food is full of symbolism. Like I read that in the early Slavic culture breaking bread with someone was an equivalent of calling them your allies, because you could not assault them without your honour; and a maiden who ate from the same cut of food with a man could not marry him, because they were like siblings after that…

December    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 19:55    #

Chapter 11… Yes, Faramir admiring his naked friend and having Elven sweets made for him and accepting one from Orophin’s hand into his lips, but of course there’s no attraction at all between them… Poor naive Faramir, no wonder he’s spent years avoiding sex, otherwise he wouldn’t be so confident… And clearly if Faramir is not consciously attracted, Orophin’s feelings are another matter…

I only peeped, I promise… so I know the end roughly but not how it comes about. And by the way, I’ve been wanting to ask you about the ship. I meant a boat, did you understand that or did you think I meant a relationSHIP?
Don’t worry about the story being about Denethor, it’s wonderful. And after all, mine ended up being Gríma’s story, much more than Faramir’s.

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 20:05    #

“Do not worry, I can fancy it”, what a beautiful line.
Then Faramir interpreting Orophin’s touch as mere curiosity towards his hair (I mean, honestly!).
Then confidences (aaaah, we know in the end why Orophin stopped stealing arrows), then awkward questions, and then… sure enough, the situation evolves here! What will Faramir’s next reaction be? To attribute the kiss to curiosity as to how men taste?

By the way, I agree with you about Gandalf, I also don’t have the impression that he really dislikes Denethor, just as I don’t really think he dislikes Saruman or Gollum. But I guess he’s annoyed at Denethor’s folly because it means danger, just as he is every time Pippin messes up.

It’s funny I’m reading the story in the same order you wrote it!

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 20:25    #

Ah, but you see, Nerey, the way my imagination works, it’s far easier for me to fit an Elf and a lovesick Boromir into Ithilien than a boat. When it comes to boats, I’m a Hobbit, aka all I know about them is that they swim (wait that’s not right) sail. So yes, since in the writing world the word has multiple meaning, I chose to see it to denote romance… So, no ‘bonus points’ for me, I guess? ;)

December    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 20:27    #

Chapter 13. I love how Faramir quickly goes from “we can’t do this” to “I could return your kisses, but not give you the intimate contact you want” to “I do want to be with you, just don’t rush me” meaning what, meaning “don’t rape me at once and do talk me into it for a few more minutes before we actually set to it like mad”?
I’m sorry, this might sound a bit harsh, but it’s really good-natured. It’s just that Faramir’s reactions are so funny after all his “there’s absolutely nothing going between us” self-talk. And why do I get the feeling that Orophin is a very innocent-looking, diabolically sly person who’s playing drama to persuade Faramir to yield?

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 20:42    #

“all I know about them is that they swim“, LOL. Yeah, you “chose” to see it that way… well, no bonus points then, you nasty shipper.

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 20:45    #

No worries, I’m not offended, lol. It is kind of funny when you think about it, and I’m glad you see it that way too. It’s like ‘let’s be at least a little decent about it, I like to see myself as a good boy’.
Seriosuly, I’ve been there, when you can’t even conceive that the person you’re with could possibly be making a pass at you, and you come up with these idiotic explanations… It seems to stupid when you look back on it afterwards xD
Again, I’m glad you’re enjoying!
And Orophin… Orophin is an Elf. That pretty much says it all, I guess.

December    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 20:48    #

Chapter 14. Oh, this is hilarious! Faramir never heard of a kiss? Faramir thinking it’s “the elven way”? Oh heavens. I love his “well, seeing as I’m already doing what I shouldn’t, let’s do it thoroughly” self-arguments. And the boy is so innocent, yet he had already imagined himself kissing another man… hrrrmmpf.
Faramir’s reactions being due to “Elven magic”, LOL. And he’s sure about it, too (“recognised”)! That one was great, December. Ah my, what next? (I’m commenting even while I read, otherwise I forget things).
Nah, Boromir wouldn’t have kissed him in this way… love for Boromir wouldn’t have been pure… sure we believe you, Faramir (what was that great experience of yours that allows you to speak with such certainty, by the way?).
Proceeding… wiping it with his hair?! Never heard of that anywhere… and I thought it was not easy to shock me!
“Faramir discovered the Elf had lost the lower half of his attire, although the Man could not recall that happening”, laughing again.
And that is such a beautiful moment, Orophin smiling to Faramir “not so much with his lips as with his eyes”. I can picture the Elf here… but “they were doing it for the right reasons”? I’m waiting to see Faramir explain that to Denethor!! Which right reasons? Ah, I think this whole chapter is not so much about Faramir discovering carnal pleasures as about how he incredibly manages to delude himself, even when it seems altogether impossible.

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 21:32    #

Actually, I don’t think Faramir is necessarily wrong in his assumptions; it’s just the fact that he feels so certain about things he wouldn’t have dreamt of five minutes before, and at the same time he’s so inexperienced that you just know he’s going to think differently in another five minutes… but for him it’s The Truth.
Aaaaah… chapter 15. So endearing, Orophin asking Faramir what he’d like to do and Faramir kissing him, like it’s the most exciting thing he can think of… you marvellously managed to make him seem incredibly young… it’s wonderful… and Orophin’s “I see”, as in “I see I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands, else we’ll still be kissing in a year hence”.
Very insightful, I think, to have Faramir in the “penetrating” role, at first at least…
Beautiful image of Orophin riding Faramir in the light of the hearth…
Can’t believe Faramir is still analyzing Orophin’s beauty and the meaning of their lovemaking… doesn’t the man ever stop thinking?
Very powerful, the moment when Faramir witnesses Orophin’s pleasure…
Funny, too, how Faramir’s desire to love a man “equal” to him contrast with his obvious enjoyment (not only sexual but intellectual) of “power” over his lover… while at the same time starting all this out of desire to be nice…

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 22:28    #

Chapter 16… I thought they would switch roles on this one, but no… later maybe? Still a bit unsettled by Faramir’s obvious liking for domination.
Aaaah, confessions… remember I thought that Orophin might have been Celeborn’s lover? Well, now we’ll see if I was mistaken…

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 22:53    #

Chapter 17… such an image of the Lady and the Lord? What happened between them, I wonder?
Anyway, very poignant image of Orophin lying under snow and leaves… of course a human could not do it, but an elf… what a sad picture of his state of mind!

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 23:08    #

Oh, goodness, this chapter was absolutely brilliant, from beginning to end.

Boromir finding out, his pain. “Everything had been said without a word being spoken.”, that sentence is so strong, really… wow.

Then Denethor’s words, how he accuses Boromir of desiring Faramir and he doesn’t deny it; and poor Faramir is finally forced to accept the truth of it.

Then Denethor’s demand for an apology: brilliant! How he makes a fool of Faramir, beats him hands down, proves him wrong in everything and thereby justifies all of his actions of the previous years. It is to Faramir’s credit that he takes the defeat in a mature and dignified way, even the fact that Orophin must leave at once.
Oh, it was such a brilliant story, the end is truly sparkling. And everything fits so well… I wonder, how did you build it? I mean, how did you imagine this story starting from my request?

Anyway, thank you so very much for such a long story, that matches my request perfectly (even though you managed to insert a few more things of your own, which was very funny: I didn’t expect Faramir to have a love story, but it was definitely your right as long as you could fit it into the original plot, which you did). There are so many things: a study of Denethor’s character, a very interesting analysis of Faramir’s character (his goodness and where it can lead him), a wonderful portrait of him as an intelligent young captain and a completely idiotic young adolescent, an interesting portrait of the Lord and Lady of Lórien, as well as of the Ithilien Rangers and a distressed Elf; a very good picture of Boromir, and many, many other things: humor of many sorts, romance, sex, mystery, political games, human contact… Wow. Still, I guess what amazes me most is the fact that you managed to produce such a large quantity of well-written, well-thought text in a few weeks. I am absolutely impressed. Thanks again, so much!

Nerey Camille    Wednesday 22 December 2010, 23:39    #

Great story. I was ‘uncomfortable’ with Denethor – but he was clearly a man of strength and will. He was said to be able to read men’s minds. Boy! Did he know his sons??? Got chills reading this. Very well done.

alcardilme    Saturday 25 December 2010, 3:52    #

Gosh, Alcardilme, if you only knew how uncomfortable I myself was with Denethor. The man’s already been overdemonised plenty, but… well… the circumstances of this story don’t exactly give him much chance to show himself in a good light… Although still, I believe he’s been ‘nicer’ throughout the whole situation than someone else in his place might have been: he’d plotted a lot, yes, but he did not actually force anybody to do anything, did he? And he ‘set up’ Faramir with a rather nice boy too, one who would obviously treat F with patience and mindfulness, not to mention skill… One might say D was unnecessarily cruel with Orophin, but then again – why the heck should he care for Orophin in the first place, let alone after Orophin ‘seduces’ his son? And by the way, he’s been softer on Orophin than the Elf’s own people had been to him for a similar offense, don’t you think…?

Anyway, I appreciate your tolerance towards his depiction in this work – I know this is a sensitive subject for you, and I hope this matter did not taint the rest of the story for you. Writing D is always tricky: he’s a controversial character, and whatever you do, he’ll either seem too soft to some readers or too harsh to others, or both…

Thank you for reading and commenting!

Nerey, my, if I had one, I’d give you a big shiny ‘honoured reader’ badge or something :) Put together, yours is the most detailed, attentive review I’ve ever had on anything I wrote, including academic theses. Many of the things you said made me smile, or think some more on the events in my own work – and I’m very, very happy that you, as the initiator of the story, are happy with the result.

Now I’ll do my best to reply to your points.
First of all, I love your in-depth analysis of Faramir’s personality, reasoning and actions. He’s a very troubled young man here, and in some aspects younger than his age – and it so pleases me how you’ve taken time to point out all the contradictions and discrepancies about his conduct, many of which he is not aware of himself! Yes, I can certainly see how his first intimate experience could make an observer smile or even laugh in places…

I’m also very impressed by your comparison of F to film characters. I’m ashamed to say I’m no big connoisseur of the works you bring up, but I very much like the parallels you describe :)

Mm, why does it unsettle you F’s dominating? Is it that something in the story had initially led you to expect differently from him, or something else…? And to think of it, maybe he would not have been so much so if he didn’t actually suppress it in himself so much… Although, on the other hand – whether he likes to see himself in such terms or not – F’s a young hale male with all that follows…

As for all the things he doesn’t know – never underestimate people’s capability for sexual ignorance, especially when voluntarily self-inflicted! xD After all, he’d kind of lived under a rock in that sense for the previous ten years…

And that Faramir had thought about kissing men – funny enough, perhaps Denethor himself pushed him in that direction. What with all the ‘I just know you would so sleep with your brother’, it’s kind of hard to keep one’s imagination from visualising it just a bit, isn’t it? ;)

Celeborn and Galadriel, now… Ah, I could hazard any number of guesses what happened between the two, from the obvious to the more O_o But Orophin never learns, and so won’t we ;-p In any case, the truth would have hardly comforted him.

Oh, the plot built itself from your request quite on its own; I can elaborate on this if you like… You know, after I finish making a story, I always like to stop and wonder how someone else would have handled this request/challenge… But with me, stories often take their own course, I don’t even get all that much of a say in who does what xD

December    Saturday 25 December 2010, 15:05    #

Hi December!

Thank you for saying this was the lognest review you ever got, I thought it was the least I could do! Faramir dominating unsettles me because I believe him to be the perfect character, and to me that includes the ability to consider his sexual partners as his equals… truly, and not fantasizing about “I’m the master here, yeah”… especially as I have known hale young men who wouldn’t react like that (I hope).
Why yes, in the book it always seemed to me that he treated Éowyn in a most feminist way, praising her courage, underlining the fact that she won renown on her own (as opposed to “by marrying a renowned man” as she seemed to wish) and asking for her permission (instead of her brother’s or his king’s, for that matter) to marry her. That attitude of his is one of the main reasons why I prefer him to Aragorn (need I to state again the King’s views on such matters?) so yes, it unsettles me that he should see penetration as an act of power rather than of love. He doesn’t strike me as the sort of man that likes power (the Ring is proof of that, isn’t it?). But then… maybe at the time he was a bit young and foolish.

Oh please, DO elaborate on how your stories build themselves on their own (and this one in particular). I’d love to know more!
My own stories are more like a game of chess, I mean I tend to choose the path that I instinctively or rationally feel to be the most efficient. And each choice is partially determined by the ones I have already made. There are parts where I just create (mostly when there are not too many things already defined to take into account), but a lot of it is just about testing each path and choosing the one that rings truer or leaves more possibilities open.

Nerey Camille    Monday 27 December 2010, 14:39    #

Hey, Nerey! Thanks for this comment!

Hm, I have a feeling there’s a bit of a misunderstanding here regarding the ‘dominance’ thing. So that I know without ambiguity what we are speaking about, may I please ask, exactly what do you see in this story as showing Faramir as ‘fantasising about being the master’ and as ‘seeing penetration as an act of power rather than love’?

December    Monday 27 December 2010, 16:32    #

Hi December,

I think it is mostly the following extracts (chapter 17) along with the fact that you use words like “defenseless” and “vulnerable” for the lover that is penetrated and “to claim” or “to take” for the act of penetration. To me, that gives the act a symbolic meaning of domination and possession, which Faramir clearly acknowledges and enjoys.
“Once again in Faramir arose the urge to be fully on top, to cover Orophin with his body, to bask in his eager capitulation. And so Faramir began to push harder, and gnawed at the curve of the other’s neck, and ran his palm proprietarily over the Elf’s chest, and belly, and in between his legs. This soon ceased to suffice, and then Faramir turned the unresisting Elf altogether over, and shifted atop him, pinning him down to the bed with his weight and spreading him further open with his legs.

He could not explain why it was so, but the knowledge that Orophin had drunk of him, and had received him between the legs brought Faramir a sense of great fruition and pride.

There are also a couple of moments in chapter 16, when F thinks it would be difficult for him to switch places, like OK, this is love and I trust you, but all the same I wouldn’t want to have done to me what I’m doing to you, wouldn’t want to be the “vulnerable” one. And when he wonders “why it felt so vital to him to penetrate his friend’s body as deep as only he could, while it was obviously for Orophin’s benefit they were doing this”.

It’s as if F, even without any previous experience, instinctively senses that what they are doing has a meaning – namely, that one of the lovers (himself) is symbolically dominating the other (Orophin). That Faramir should adopt such an interpretation of sexual intercourse is what unsettles me.

But then, I have had extensive training on such issues, and therefore my sensitivity and quickness to drawn conclusions are unusually high.

Nerey Camille    Monday 27 December 2010, 21:37    #

Again, thanks for the comment!

Training? My, that sure makes me curious ;)

Ok, so first of all, let me assure you I too would be most disconcerted with a Faramir who fantasises about being somebody’s master – I don’t think it would be in his character. Nor would I like it if for him the sole point of sex was ‘conquering’ someone else.

Anyway, to me all his sentiments you quote above seem evoked more than anything else by the role F was at that time playing in their lovemaking – i.e. it was what he felt at the moment, under the influence of what part he was performing in their arrangement. He fully enjoys it when he’s on top – and he equally enjoys it when later he’s letting Orophin access him from behind and do anything to him. (Yes, in chapter 16 he’s nervous about switching – I’d attribute it to him being very inexperienced and also afraid of his man-liking side: he’d probably had it put into his head that for a man yielding is ‘disgracing’ – not entirely easy to let go of such stereotypes. By the time Orophin starts treating him from behind, F has quite forgotten about those worries…) To me, personally, there is nothing wrong if during the actual act the ‘active’ lover feels a little possessive, like he’s claiming – it’s only natural, the very position puts him in physical control. That he feels this way during sex does not necessarily mean he would like to dominate and posses the other in the non-sexual side of their relationship.

Actually, I myself was quite under the impression that if anything, it was Orophin who was the dominating partner. Yes, he played the ‘recepient’ role in the actual penetration, but apart from that he had totally led Faramir through the whole experience: from the point of initiating it to determining when F should be mild and gentle – and when he should break wild and make Orophin scream. F quite likely would have ‘submitted’ to him when they were in the position convenient for doing so – it was O who had chosen to do otherwise. How would you interpret that? :)

Now, to your question re building the story.

You speak about choosing paths – I don’t know, perhaps I do that also, although then it must be on some deeply subconscious level.
For me, it always seems like there is only one path for the story to take, and I just have to let it grow into it, if you know what I mean, sort of let it come to me. When I write, I never ‘think up’ or ‘create’ – things rather ‘occur’ to me, so to say.
If anything, I only have to know from which directions not to expect the inspiration. For ex, like I told you re the boat – sailing’s not my strong side, so I didn’t even glance in that direction. I also know detailed action scenes, where you describe what sort of strikes the warrior made, and where the enemies came from, etc. – those are not my strength either, so I didn’t ask the Muse to send me one of those either. And I know I need a romantic line for inspiration to come – it’s like a bait for my Muse :) I also know the Muse works super-hard when there’s more than one pairing, therefore giving space for some intrigue and suspense.

So that led me to the place where F had to be ‘cleared’ before his men through something not based on slaying 200 Orcs single-handedly or carrying out some superb strategic move – and also that a lot of love had to be fitted into the tale somehow, or else it just would not work. Perhaps that’s choosing a path, I don’t know – or just being realistic about one’s abilities :)

And from this point, like I said, the thing just grew.
You said no romance between F and his men – so Boromir comes in.
Why would F be appointed Captain when there’s Boromir already there – Denethor’s plotting something + something unusual had to happen.
Why does everyone have such a distorted opinion of Faramir – Faramir was away for a very long time under some strange circumstances.
Why was F away and could this somehow be connected to D replacing Boromir with him – family scandal. (Yay, me was in the mood for scandal this time)
What is the unusual thing that happens in Ithilien that would also give a love line and let Faramir show his worth – why, it’s a stray Elf, agressive but frightened, being chased by a bunch of Orcs.
What’s the Elf doing in Ithilien – he had to leave Lorien.
Why did he have to leave Lorien and what does any of it have to do with Faramir – etc. etc.

None of this I had rationally decided – it just made sense that things should be this way and no other… It’s like, when one block is set down, immediately there is space for another.
The only problem with this approach, it usually yields lengthy results, whether you wanted them or not. But I’m quite icapable of writing my stuff any other way, so that means my stories, for better or worse, turn out the size they turn out :)

December    Monday 27 December 2010, 23:27    #

Hi December!

Thank you so much for your explanations. Yes, I agree that it was really Orophin who was in charge; and I guess Faramir had been taught that to play the recipient role was unmanly and disgracing, but I suppose I expected him to abandon such notions as soon as he was making love… Anyway. I can tell you more about my “training” by mail.

Thank you so much for this voyage into your head, it helps me understand both how you built the story and how you usually work… As you may have found out, my way is not so different; I also have these ideas building themselves one upon another, often at a madly quick rate, and it can yield very lengthy tales too. The main difference, I think (though maybe you do it too, though you don’t mention it here), is that when I have several possible lines I resort to reason and instinct in order to choose the one that will work best. And also that I have a strong liking for new experiences, so I often choose lines that will require me to expand my abilities… for instance, I don’t know much about combat either, but if I thought a fighting scene would work well in a story, I’d do the necessary research to write it, ant take it as a learning, rather than change the whole line… the only problem with this approach is that it can get very tiresome some times… :-)

Nerey Camille    Thursday 30 December 2010, 16:22    #

Yes, do write about that in your next mail! :)

Mm, I guess it might have been interesting to see how Faramir’s understanding of intimacy and his views on ‘roles’ would have evolved given due time. Who knows what he would have come to, had Orophin stayed…? I agree with you, F does show himself from quite polar angles, and this might raise questions. But gah, we’ll never know now :E

Well, re the journey into my head (oh, don’t I love how you put it), that’s just how it works for me concerning this specific format, aka predecided line for the story and time constraints: I just let the sotry write itself and don’t interfere with it, because otherwise it might easily take forever.
But apart from that, I too love new experiences (in fact, I’m currently considering picking myself up and relocating to the opposite end of the earth (again) – but that’s irrelevant to the discussion…), but I consciously choose to forgo embarking on any wholly novel paths when working with strict deadlines. I did do quite a bit of research for this story, actually, and tackled some topics I’d never before set upon: doing Man/Elf, and dealing with a situation where Denethor is actually aware something is going on between his sons, and Faramir not being eager to throw himself at Boromir… But still, I prefer to stick to the generally familiar ground: it’s like when entertaining, it’s safer to cook a dish you’ve made before, you know what I mean? After all, the main point, I think, is to produce a good-quality story in five-weeks’ time – artistic development is a good thing, but I allow only as much of it as won’t interfere with the main goal of the whole exercise. I could have, of course, started writing about ships – and you would not have seen the story till next summer ;-p That’s to say, rest assured that for ‘freer’ projects, such as the one you might be aware of ;) I’m willing to be as adventurous as you like :)

And I very much like how you keep several lines open and consider all of them, it certainly leaves space for many possibilities – and isn’t that fun? :D

December    Friday 31 December 2010, 9:52    #

Ух! Ну вот и я в теме.
Должна признаться тебе, December, что я читала твое произведение три дня, и у меня было очень большое желание комментировать по главам. Однако взглянув на полосу комментариев )))))) (дорогая, да тут, блин, одних комментариев на 18 глав!!!!! Я вознамерилась уж прочитать их, дабы не повторяться, однако вовремя остановилась… Неужели ты думаешь, что у меня хватит терпения прочитать все написанное тебе и все твои ответы? Ну уж нет! И если я кое-где в своем отзыве повторю позицию и вопросы других участников, пожалуйста, не отсылай меня читать комменты и будь терпелива. В конце концов, моего терпения ведь хватило!:))))))))))…. Так о чем это я? Ах да, когда я взглянула на полосу комментариев и увидела, что Nerey Camile итак прокомментировала каждую главу, и наши с ней мнения, кажется, не слишком расходятся, я решила, что права я была, решив прочитать историю полностью и уже потом написать комментарий… Так, это было мое небольшое предисловие :)))

Теперь к твоему произведению… ЭТО БЫЛО СУПЕР!!!!!!! Хотя, впрочем, нет. Супер – слишком сухое слово, чтобы выразить полностью мое восхищение твоей историей. И не столько историей, сколько, скорее всего тобой. Но сначала об истории. Хочу выделить три момента, которые мне безусловно непререкаемо понравились:

1. Денэтор :))))))))))))))) Я помню, когда мы с тобой задевали его в наших обсуждениях, ты не раз повторяла, что для тебя он является одним из самых интересных персонажей. Однако признаюсь, что несмотря на то, что он мне тоже всегда нравился и моя позиция относительно его отношения к сыновьям всегда совпадала с твоей, однако же я никогда не принимала этого героя близко к сердцу. Твоя же история позволила мне увидеть твою позицию как бы изнутри. Увидеть, понять и принять. И, надо сказать, именно из-за того, как ты описала его здесь, Денэтор стал мне не только понятнее, но, как-то, роднее, что ли. Я им просто восхищена. О, не могу тебе описать, как меня всегда завораживала эта способность некоторых людей к острой проницательности, пониманию людских сердец, мотивов их поступков, их внутренних побуждений и конфликтов. И то, что Денэтор обладал этой способностью, причем способностью с такой полнотой понимать своих сыновей, возвысило его в моих глазах стократно. Мне нравится также, как он говорит со своими сыновьями в твоей истории, как он относится к ним, какая мудрость звучит в его словах. Мне нравится то уважение, с которым он относится к Фарамиру, та отеческая насмешка, с которой он разговаривает с Боромиром, и то преклонение, которое оба сына выказывают своему отцу. Ох, много хочется сказать, но меня уже и так понесло… С такими успехами я никогда не дойду до следующих понравившихся мне пунктов. Так что..

2.Отношения Фарамир-Боромир. Ну, для тебя уж точно не секрет, то эта пара для меня единственная и неповторимая, и я готова читать о них абсолютно все. Но что я вдруг вижу у тебя?! Что Боромир, как мы действительно с тобой обсуждали, снова одолеваем внутренними конфликтами и желаниями, связанными с любовными переживаниями, касающимися своего брата, но Фарамир…!!! Что Фарамир? О, читая твою историю, я с ужасом осознавала, что Фарамир боялся, что Боромир мог испытывать к нему подобные чувства. Он напрягся, когда Боромир держал его за руку, почувствовал огромное облегчение, когда Боромир не предпринял никаких шагов сближения с ним, и мысленно умолял его опровергнуть слова отца в последней сцене. December, неужели ты сделала это специально?! Боже, мне напоминает это какую-то историю, которую я читала ранее, где Фарамир безмерно страдал от того, что видел в глазах Боромира чувства к нему, которых там быть не должно было. Неужели ты писала об этом же?! О, как ты могла!!!!! …….Но в любовной главе между эльфом и Фарамиром я вдруг вижу абзац, который ставит меня в полной тупик. Фарамир вдруг думает, что Боромир бы никогда не целовал его с такой нежностью и искусностью, как это делает эльф… Что это? No, he was not seeking Boromir in this kiss, this had nothing to do with his brother – он не искал Боромира в этом поцелуе, но он думал о нем?! Выходит, Боромир занимал немалую часть его мыслей… И у меня вдруг сложилось впечатление, что Фарамир больше отрицал в себе небратские чувства к брату, чем не имел их. Скажи, считаешь ли ты свою историю законченной? Должна признаться, что мне показалось, что конец оказался слишком многообещающим, чтобы закрыть тему на такой ноте. Однако же, пойду дальше…

3.Эльф. И я очень злая и не буду упоминать его имя. Но он мне, честно сказать, понравился. Открою тебе секрет: когда я читала о чем-то, что бродит и ворует стрелы, я думала, что это черные призраки, но все вдруг проявилось в гораздо лучшем свете. Эльф хорош, и история его до боли душераздирающая, но мне он понравился, как нечто, что утерло нос гордому Боромиру. Смешно, но когда я прочитала последнюю сцену ревности, я с удовлетворением подумала, что ты отомстила красавцу сполна… ибо я вдруг совершенно не в тему вспомнила историю Shining one. В общем, сцена с ударом была очень сильной. И, как и часто бывает со мной в таких случаях, мне очень хотелось, чтобы после удара Боромир заключал Фарамира в свои объятия и рассказал ему о своей любви. И Фарамир, конечно, смягчился бы, забыл бы про своего эльфа и отдался своему брату… Эх, пустые фантазии. Но на деле же Боромир, вдруг, оказался неожиданно жесток и сказал вдруг слова, которые я от него ну никак не ожидала. Но что только не скажешь в порыве ревности и боли, не так ли? В общем, потрясающая сцена! Но конец, пойми, сложно назвать концом. История с эльфом осталась незаконченной, история с Боромиром только началась – ведь им еще жить да жить вместе… Вот как это понимать, а?

Это были идеи, мне больше всего понравившиеся. Признаюсь, что чтение на английском существенно снизило мое удовольствие от прочтения твоего рассказа и я в который раз спрашиваю тебя, когда ты начнешь публиковать на русском?! И есть ли этот рассказ на русском вообще? Если есть, то, может быть, ты скинешь мне его на почту? Но если и нет, я все же хочу выделить наиболее удавшиеся моменты, на мой взгляд:

“Yes,” Orophin nodded, putting his cup down. “That word… ‘tis not a good word – ‘invisible’,” he winced as he said it. “It carries a highly negative meaning, perfidious, unwholesome; and we do not use it unless to suggest something of the sort. We say ‘hidden’ and even ‘unseen’, but that is different. A thing can be unseen, and still be – that is how our capes work, they merely cover and blend in, they do not make something disappear. I… I really am not certain how to best explain this: it may seem like a subtle nuance to you, but the difference is tremendous. Invisibility is not natural, Faramir. Some things are not seen by design, and never shall be: like wind, like song; others have a hidden side to them that shows itself to some and does not to others – but things that can alternate in a blink,” raised his hand and clicked his fingers emphatically, “Faramir, it just goes against the order of the world. There are various… planes, levels of existence, and everything under the heavens is allocated its proper place. When an object is made invisible – where do you think it goes?”
Очень красиво описано! Очень вдумчиво. Ты знаешь, я, наверное, никогда не смогла бы вместить столь глубокую мысль в такое короткое предложение. Ты – просто неподражаема!

It filled the listener with pinching longing for the spring that was forever gone, yet at once it shone with the promise of another spring to return in its place, year after year, age after age, eternally. It was at once a lament for the fragile, fleeting grace of all living things – and a hymn to life’s immortal nature, its uninterruptible continuity, its power, glory and resplendence.
Просто слов нет, как красиво ты пишешь! Мне показалось, что я сама услышала эту песню и сердце мое наполнилось ожиданием чего-то прекрасного и нереального.

Denethor folded his arms and looked ahead of himself. “Men, my son, are weak – and foolish,” he said slowly. “And the more foolish they are, the less they realise their weakness. Oh yes, do not look surprised, each of you two is quite a fool, in his own way. Your brother, Faramir, cannot possibly deny himself anything he desires, nor does he think that he ought. And as for you – ah, you have always been prone to these,” Это одна из фраз Денэтора, которой я восхищаюсь несказанно. Дорогая моя, ну откуда в тебе такая мудрость?

Boromir inclined his head, and briefly pressed his nose to the side of Faramir’s neck, taking a deep breath of the younger’s scent. For one delirious sickening moment it seemed to Faramir the older man would proceed to actually kiss his skin, and he shivered – but Boromir drew back and looked at him appraisingly. Ммм, одна из сцен, от которых я не могла оторваться. О Боже, как хотелось мне, чтобы опасения Фарамира были не напрасны!:))))))

This was not a place where one would head in search of joy – this was a place to be alone with one’s sorrow. Просто сильное и красивое место.

Тебе еще не надоел мой комментарий? Еще одно место, которое меня очаровало:
And then, just as he was about to make his presence known, the air moved above the city of Minas Tirith, and wind came. It stirred the leaves and ruffled the grass ever so lightly at first, naught more but a playful loving caress and a gentle sigh – to then abruptly switch to potent passion, which it exerted with overwhelming speed and force, throwing itself at the slender trees and making them strain and groan as it bowed their branches and tousled their foliage.

Дорогая, ты самый непредсказуемый, самый совершенный и потрясающий автор из всех, кого я знала! У тебя словарный запас больше, чем у любого носителя языка, и я не раз заглядывала в словарь, чтобы посмотреть новое слово! Твои идеи просто невероятны! Ты, реально, замечательный автор и верь мне, я не игнорирую тебя и не избегаю. Я хочу и буду и дальше читать то, что ты пишешь, просто в последние недели у меня совсем нет времени. Но посмотри, я прочитала твое произведение и прочитаю все остальное, как только смогу. Разве после всего того, что я здесь увидела, у меня хватит силы воли нt заглянуть сюда вновь и не посмотреть, что написала моя December? :)))))) Спасибо тебе за твой труд!

Кстати, ты получила мое письмо?

— Anastasiya    Monday 10 January 2011, 5:56    #

Настасья, драгоценная, спасибо за такую чудесную рецензию!

3 дня читала? Мм, как приятно))

Повторы меня ничуть не смущают: мне интересно знать мнение каждого конкретного читателя, и то, что кто-то это уже когда-то говорил, вовсе не значит, что мне не захочется ещё раз это услышать)) Но вот только комменты читать опасно – а вдруг на спойлер натолкнёшься? ;) А так, если есть ещё что сказать конкретно по главам – ой, я только за, вперёд! Терпения читать комменты у меня больше, чем чего-либо))))

Дэнетор… Дэнетор, да, получился тут у нас в центре обсуждения, хотя это и не было моей целью) Я рада, что у тебя от него осталось такое впечатление! А то мне уже стало стыдно, каким я его злодейским злодеем тут показала – ан нет, всё зависит от читателя, как интерпретировать образ. А вообще, мне всегда казалось, что в его отношениях с сыновьями главное отнюдь не хлестание по щекам и беспочвенные оскорбления, а именно очень чёткое понимание того, что происходит у них в головах и прочих местах. Да, он, конечно, всё это очень по-своему понимает… Но что тут сделаешь, человек такой, и время такое, да и вообще – вот уж не знаю, что другой отец сделал бы на его месте.

По поводу Фарамир/Боромир. Ох, тяжёлая тема. Меня тянет смотреть на их возможную любовь с разных углов. В некоторых историях всё обоюдно и они ждут не дождутся, когда же можно будет наконец друг на друга прыгнуть – а в некоторых… Мой муз требует разнообразия! Мне очень нравится твой анализ по этой части. Боится – да, это, пожалуй, самое точное определение. А когда человек боится, трудно ведь что-либо сказать с полной уверенностью, да? Я не пыталась тут вывести некое окончательное заключение: хочет он Боромира или нет, любит его небратской любовью или нет, отказал бы ему или нет и т.п. Просто рассказала, как он на всё это смотрел во время развития событий истории. Конечно, это всё очень сложно и противоречиво. Он и так-то не мог понять, что же всё-таки происходит, а тут ещё вся эта история с Орофином, и вмешательство отца… В общем, как тебе нравится, так и понимай :)))))

Считаю ли законченной? Я скажу так: я считаю эту историю рассказанной. Больше мне рассказывать нечего. То есть понятно, что впереди еще 15 лет жизни Боромира, и, как и говорит Дэнетор, много ещё чего может произойти, но… Всё же основные векторы развития событий, я думаю, тут уже заложены, равно как и векторы динамики отношений между братьями. Первый куплет спет, и мелодия уже заложена. Случится ли между ними объяснение и божественный секс – это уж не мне судить, как-никак, это не мной придуманный мир, и за героев я уж точно ничего не решаю. Мне нравится дать некий простор фантазии читателя, чтобы было желание “додумать” возможные варианты их будущего. Если у тебя таковой вариант имеется – можешь рассказать, мне несказанно любопытно))

А эльф. Ну а что про него ещё писать? Эта история про Фарамира, и Орофин из неё вынужден выйти. Что уж там с ним будет потом, на это Фарамир вряд ли может как-то повлиять. А почему, кстати, ты злая относительно него??

На русском нет, этого рассказа нет, и вряд ли будет. Свои вещи мне очень тяжело переводить. Для меня английский, это как ткань в клетку, а русский – цветочный узор. У языка совсем другая пластика, другие законы передачи смысла и чувств… И потом, я к русскому тексту настолько более требовательна, могу сама себя съесть))) Да и переводить сцену секса я тоже не очень-то знаю как. В общем я рада, что ты хочешь читать меня на Великом и Могучем, и для этого я на нём и буду писать, сразу))

Спасибо за разбор по цитатам, очень приятно! С песней рада, что тебя задело) В книге очень много музыки, и мне всегда хотелось сохранить это ощущение, но вот только написать песню на уровне с Толкиеном я не буду даже пытаться, поскольку есть всё-таки вещи заветные) А написать плохенькую песенку – какой в этом смысл? Так что я просто описываю музыку, в силу своих возможностей))

Ещё раз, спасибо тебе наиогромнейшее за отзыв! Чем больше, тем лучше)))

Не, письмо не получала…

December    Thursday 13 January 2011, 16:07    #

Сделала злодеем Денэтора? В смысле, кто-то тебе говорил в комменте, что он получился у тебя злодеем? Да уж, тогда что можно сказать о тех многочисленных историях, которые мы стобой постоянно обсуждаем и где он совсем не такой лояльный:)))). Не, ну правда, какой же он у тебя злодей? Наоборот, он просто душка. Видимо, мнения о злодействе у нас с кем-то очень различаются.

Что бы другой отец сделал бы на его месте? Ну, настоящий злодей, по моему сугубо личному мнению, избил бы своего к великому несчастью родившегося второго сына и отослал бы куда-нибудь подальше из страны:)))) Так что еще раз повторяю: до злодея твоему Денэтору о-очень далеко.

Фарамир-Боромир: только что я написала коммент к твоей русской истории, а теперь, вновь перечитав твою фразу к этой истории: “Я не пыталась тут вывести некое окончательное заключение: хочет он Боромира или нет, любит его небратской любовью или нет, отказал бы ему или нет и т.п.”, улыбаюсь задумчивой улыбкой… Ты написала там: “Пальцы Фарамира у Боромира между ягодиц, губы Боромира у Фарамира по шее. Сдавленный, полупьяный вздох, прижатая к груди ладонь: подожди… Широкая довольная улыбка: ну, пóлно, ты же всегда знал, что так будет.”, и у меня в голове пронеслась явная связь между тем, что могло бы быть в продолжении “Морских узлов” в вообржении Арагорна и тем, что, на мой взгляд, ожидалось бы, в конце концов, здесь:)))) Ты сама дала волю воображению читателя:). Как видишь, мое воображение работает, а главные мысли твоих историй так или иначе объединяют друг друга (или дополняют).

Что касается того, что ты ничего не решаешь за героев и это не тобой придуманный мир:)))), ну полно, дорогая! Ты постоянно мне это повторяешь, и мне постоянно хочется сказать: зачем эта комедия? Да, во мне эти твои слова всегда вызыают улыбку, но мы ведь обе понимаем, что все, что написано автором, не важно, на бумаге ли, на компе ли или просто в воображении, – это все отражение внутреннего мира самого автора. Ты никогда не напишешь то, что не заложено у тебя внутри, ровно как никогда не скажешь даже в порыве гнева того, что не было у тебя в душе. Вот поэтому, я никогда не буду продолжать твою историю – она твоя история. И если ты считаешь, что написать здесь больше нечего, значит все, что будет написано кем-либо в продолжении, уже будет лишь отражением внутреннего мира другого человека, а мне приятней читать мысли самого автора произведения. И я не хочу упоминать здесь Толкиена – фик, все же, существует совершенно отдельно и самостоятельно, и все, что ты написала в Семейный играх – это только твое произведение.

— Anastasiya    Wednesday 19 January 2011, 6:18    #

Настя, спасибо за коммент!

А, моя дорогая, ты считаешь, я кокетничаю? ;) Вовсе нет. Ты ведь сама говоришь: приходит из внутреннего мира. Причём же тут решения? Оно же само приходит. И да, я тебе это много раз повторяю, потому что для меня так оно и есть. Я как бы смотрю в голове кино и с него записываю на бумагу сценарий – я его не выдумываю. Для меня мои истории, знаешь, как такие маленькие белые птички. Я склеиваю их из перышек – и с какого-то момента они начинают жить уже своей жизнью, мне остаётся только доклеить перышки на уже заранее определённое место. А потом они улетают. И если я через несколько месяцев их перечитываю, они уже воспринимаются мной, как и любая другая работа, а не как что-то “моё”, принадлежащее мне. И да, я всё-таки упрямо привязываю свои работы к Толкиену. Да, мне могут 1000 раз сказать, что Толкиен бы нас всех, бесстыжих слэшеров, убил бы кочергой за такое святотатственное обращение с его персонажами. И да, ни в одной из тех его работ, что на сегодняшний день я прочла, не было указаний на однополую любовь – про секс в деталях я уж молчу. И всё же, всё же, в моём личном понимании всё это каким-то образом вписывается в мир Арды. Люди в ней в общем-то такие же, как и в нашей реальности, поэтому мне не кажется преувеличением допустить, что среди прочего там точно так же встречаются мужчины и женщины, которых тянет к представителям своего же пола. Так что для меня описание в фике однополой любви вовсе не ставит этот фик в категорию запредельной фантазии.

И вообще, для меня все фанфики по ВК делятся на 2 группы: которые я воспринимаю как органичную часть мира Толкиена, и именно такие я и люблю читать и хочу писать – и на те, которые нет. Здесь влияют и атмосфера, и поведение и героев, и много ещё что. Бывает ведь, история сама по себе отличная – но всё же это уже что-то совсем другое, отдельно стоящее, и не возникает чувства родства с оригиналом. Да, это, безусловно, ограничивает творческую свободу: но ведь таков формат, мы сами делаем выбор писать в эту вселенную, могли и ориджинал сочинить, где делай что хочешь, никто тебе не указ. И мир этот действительно придуман не нами: мы каждый раз это пишем в дисклеймере, и это ведь не пустые слова.

Говоришь, мои работы перекликаются? Да, это так, я уж и сама об этом думала… Это, пожалуй, неизбежно, ведь пишу я про одних и тех же людей в контексте романтических отношений, и хоть и пейрю их по-разному, всё равно, сделать так, чтобы ни одна из моих историй не была похожа на другую, я не могу.

И ещё, знаешь, я тут обнаружила тенденцию: у меня проблема со счатливыми концами. Меня тянет писать “настоящие” истории, как могло бы быть на самом деле – а глазированный happy end после первой ночи любви мной не воспринимается, как реальность. Ведь даже если наконец-то наши герои переспали и даже признались друг другу в любви – это же вовсе не конец, это только начало. И надо ещё посмотреть, что они через 5 лет друг о друге будут думать. И вулканический секс ещё вовсе не означает, что они уживутся вместе, что в перерывах между постелью им будет интересно друг с другом. Поэтому, наверное, я так и люблю Ф/Б – с ними легче поверить, что они подходят друг к другу, как 2 половинки, потому что у них и так очень близкие отношения, и внутреннее родство и т.п.

Спасибо за добрые слова про Дэнетора! Ох, и противоречивый персонаж)))

December    Wednesday 19 January 2011, 10:38    #

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About the Author


Greetings, fellow fan, and welcome!

What to expect to find here: All the stories are based on Book-verse for looks and personalities, although you will often find the canon bent (hehe) in terms of events. Please prepare for an unhurried, often bitter-sweet read with lots of sexual tension.

A bit about me for those interested: feisty redhead headquartered in New Zealand. Living in a wooden house in the old forest not far from the sea – probably goes some way to explain why I write what I do. Other than reading and writing, my passions are music, visual arts, travel, gardening, dance, horses, acrobatics, medieval martial arts, jewellery making, banter, and above all chocolate.

Was introduced to Tolkien at the tender age of six, was never the same since.

Always keen to collaborate with all ye good folke in the fandom. Feel free to get in touch if you’re looking for a beta reader, too. Please, also, if you’re one of the dudes in the fandom, I would really really appreciate if you could please take a moment to share a bit of your perspective on how authentically my stories portray relationships between men.

Also, if you’re looking to visit New Zealand, happy to offer a bed and breakfast (second breakfast negotiable).