Faramir slowly picked his way through the rubble, his head bowed. Although weeks had passed, an acrid smell still lingered in what remained of the House of Stewards.
As he neared his destination, his steps grew even slower. Others had offered to carry out this task for him, but this was meant for him alone. Only a Ruling Steward or the Rightful King was meant to touch an object of such power. In a few days, the King would come and Faramir intended to hand over what was now rightfully his. Faramir hoped only he would have the strength to carry it out. His still healing wounds throbbed painfully.
He had been insensible when his father brought him here to burn him - and yet sometimes he felt as if he remembered brief flashes of what had happened that day. Or maybe it was simply his imagination trying to comprehend the horror of how Denethor had died? He repressed a shudder.
The Steward knew that what remained of his father had been decently interred, so he would not have to face that gruesome sight. The stone table was still here though, where Faramir had been laid to burn. He was certain what he was seeking was here too. He doubted any mortal fire could consume it.
Faramir found the object in a corner, covered in dust and ash. Cursing himself inwardly for not bring a sack, he scooped it up in his cloak and carried it to his rooms.
His mission accomplished, Faramir sank on to a chair. He took deep breaths to steady himself. He could hardly give the palantír to the King, as it was, filthy and covered in ash. Cautiously, he unwrapped his cloak from around the Seeing Stone. He called for a servant to bring a cloth and cleaning materials.
“Does aught ail you, my lord?” enquired the girl, seeing his pale face. ”Can I help you?”
“I am well, thank you. You may go now.”
How Faramir wished he could entrust this task to another! He could not take the risk though of letting any unwary soul touch the stone that had destroyed his father. Sauron was no more, but it was still a powerful object. Taking up the cloth, he started to clean away the dust and grime. The palantír seemed undamaged by the fire. When Faramir began to polish it, it tingled and seemed to come aliveat his touch. He tried to avert his eyes from the Stone, but they were drawn there as if by some unseen force. Then he saw the hands; withered and contorted with agony. His father’s hands! Faramir shook with emotion.
When the Steward regained his composure, he was seized by nausea. Somehow, he managed to wrap the palantír in a several layers of cloth and stow it carefully away.
“I have brought you this, my lord. It is yours by right.” Faramir placed the shrouded object on the King’s desk and bowed low.
Aragorn studied his Steward anxiously. The man looked pale as a ghost and very fragile. The King hoped fervently that Faramir would be strong enough for the high office with which he had entrusted him. ”Are you well?” he enquired. ”Is there anything I might do to aid you?”
“I am well, sire; thank you. The performance of my duties is aid enough. Here is the Anor-stone that my longfathers have held for you; I have found and cleaned it. If I might be excused?”
Aragorn nodded. “Remember, you may come to me at any time,” he said as Faramir departed.
The King unwrapped the bundle and picked up the palantír. Almost at once he saw the withered hands and dropped the object back on the desk, shuddering in revulsion. Faramir, the son of the owner of those hands, had retrieved it from the Rath Dinen where the young man had nearly met his death, and brought it here to him! Faramir possessed strength far greater than Aragorn could ever have imagined. This younger son of Denethor’s was proving an extraordinary man. Together he hoped they could renew the greatness and glory of Gondor.
A/N. Written for the AA Group Prompt, “Strong.”