As Truly As The Arrow Flies

There were three parts to his dream, though they did not always come together.

There were stars burning, burning and falling, lighting up a place that seemed to be deep inside his heart, a burst of brilliance, heat and light, until he rose like a phoenix trailing the scent of cinnamon and gold.

There was a wave that moved more against the sky than the sea, reaching for the stars, reaching to quench the lights that lay scattered like campfires dotting the plain after battle. It was a living wall of tears; salt and water mingled in an onward rush – to lift him or engulf him, he had yet to find out for certain.

And there was the dome of the heavens; blue, dark blue with a border of stories that spun in an ever changing tale around the hub that was himself; standing, reaching for lights that twinkled above him, up the darkening dome of the sky, up to the black of the night outside the skylights, dark and light and diamonds scattered across the glass, and the raindrop tears that glistened after the wave had passed.

When he was young, the dreams would sometimes frighten him, and he would wake, heart pounding in his small chest, wanting to cry out for comfort, but how could you tell anyone you woke afraid of the wind or the wave or the stars?

And over the years he had learned to wake calm, and close his eyes and recreate the dream, slowly learning its secret places, slowly learning to read its heart.

He had almost lost the stars in the dark, but since he woke he had never been without them, knowing at last that there was a north star with him - that the burning was the fire of his passion for life, that the wave was meant to lift him to the stars, and that the dome had been built to protect him while he grew into his own heart.

Tonight the dream had come again, and left him sitting wakeful on the wall in the starlight, like an elf, seeing in the patterns of the stars a pattern forming on the surface of his life. Tonight the pattern had a deep voice, and deep, deep eyes, now green, now grey that had taught him as a child to love the sea, and a sense of honor that could not have come from anyplace but love.

He startled almost imperceptibly at the touch on his shoulder, and looked up to greet his lieutenant as the watch changed. “Did you dream about the stars, Captain?” the soft voice asked. “No,” he answered, smiling, “about my Grandfather.”


The clouds scudded across the pale, just washed sky like a hand learning to use a pen – bold one moment, secure with a letter it knew well; and then a little hesitant over a new shape it was only practicing. There was the brackish smell of seaweed tossed up by the uncertain weather, and he heaved the big book he was carrying onto a bench inside the courtyard and clambered up to peer down at the place where the great river Anduin emptied into the sea, the exact place where the sun was sinking into the choppy water.

Everything was grey – the twilight sea, the dimming sky, the air becoming visible around him as its own grey nature was revealed, his own eyes slowly becoming a match for his entire world. He stood watching the lights in the harbour come slowly to life, each one a star lit with a gift from a hearth or torch, each mirroring a spark growing slowly to life in the gently darkening sky above him. He stood until a star moved gently toward him out of the gloom, swaying in his grandsire’s hand. He hopped down and ran to carry the lantern to the wall, setting it carefully above the spot where the big book had been placed.

“Were you waiting for me?” the deep voice asked. His laughter bubbled to the surface.

“Yes, you know I was!” the child exclaimed.

“Not tired of our lessons yet?”

Tired! How could he tire of learning the stories of the sky; how could he tire of looking up and seeing the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit; how could he tire of the surety of his grandsire promising he would be there? How?
“No,” he grinned, “not yet. I still have so much to learn!”

They settled on the bench together, one on each side of the great book, and poured over the possible lessons in the spill of glow from the lamp until the sky was dark enough to read. Then Adrahil tapped a page knowingly and smiled, and they shuttered the lantern and closed the book, moving it aside so the child could sit next to his grandsire and lean back against his strong thigh as they looked up in wonder at the glitter of another world.
“I know you can find the Swordsman by yourself now – but did you know he has a brother? Would you like to see Gondor’s other defender?”

The little head was shaking, no; and then nodding, yes…

“The swordsman is easy for most people to see – both his stars, and his warrior way – for the swordsman fights proudly in the open. But over here, in the shadow of the trees, his brother waits in cover, watching everything. That is the way of the world, Faramir – some dangers are seen, and some unseen… and some weapons as well, but they must still be used with honor if a man wishes to remain a man. Tthe Archer is not just a fighter – sometimes he is a soldier, sometimes he is a father, defending his family and sometimes he is a hunter, hoping to bring home meat. In all he does, he has come to depend on his honor, his skill and his bow.”

“Do you see the bright star, just there?” Adrahil held the boys hand, finger extended so that he sighted down the length of it.

“I do, sir! It is like a bright blue eye!”

“Very good! That is the eye of the archer.” He moved the child’s hand slightly to the east. “And here – look for a bright place again.” He waited until the little one’s excited “Yes!” let him know it had been found.

“Now, look at how you are sighting down your arm to focus on the stars, and imagine him doing the same… imagine your arm is your arrow, and sight down your arm again… watch now….”

He noted with amusement that the child was not only peering along his arm, he had unconsciously drawn the other hand back, fingers curved in excitement as though he were bending the great bow. “Look for the bow, Faramir… see the curve, now, bending up and down from the point of the arrow… just here…” he moved the pointing finger east again, “and then, just here…”

“Oh! Grandfather! Here he comes, out of the dark!”

Adrahil could not help but smile at the way the young one spoke. He remembered himself as a boy, asking his own father if the dragon could stay in the sky all year if it wound its tail tightly around the high tower of Dol Amroth’s palace.

The little one had continued on in an excited way, pointing to various stars that were making pictures for him. His grandfather’s reverie lifted in time to hear him say “… and Boromir and I will be the brothers who fight for Gondor, won’t we? But we will both have swords, and we will both have bows, and…”

A cold chill touched the old man’s heart as he listened to the martial dreams of the boy. “..and you will both have honor, I hope!” And then, a little softer, remembering his own childhood games and carved soldiers and wooden horses, “And honors! Honors aplenty, I expect, in time.”

The little one smiled in the dark, not really expecting a grown-up to take his games seriously. His grandsire was more willing to listen than most of the adults he knew, and he pressed on, taking full advantage of being heard.
“Of course, we will fight with honor, sir! But boldly! And our swords will shine in the sun… and our arrows will be swifter than the wind…” He stopped swooping his arm about in the dark and sat up and looked into Adrahil’s eyes, a little puzzled by the expression he saw there. “We will be soldiers of Gondor… will you be proud of us, Grandfather?”

The prince of Dol Amroth thought his heart had stopped beating, but he smiled at the grey eyed child, and brushed the raven hair back from his brow. Very seriously, he answered, “I will be proud of you both, Faramir. I am proud of you now.”

The smile on the child’s face finally reached his eyes, and Adrahil found himself the target of Faramir-as-an-arrow as the little body launched itself into his arms and hugged him.

“But, Faramir,” he said softly into the dark, “I hope you will always remember that the sword and the bow are tools men use. They can use them wisely, or they can use them ill.”

He stroked the dark hair, and Faramir settled next to him again, looking up into the well-loved face. “The sword and the arrow can be beautiful if the man who wields them understands what he fights for. Never use such tools thoughtlessly, for someone always pays a price. Let the beauty of your weapons come from the strength of the heart that wields them.” He looked into the shining young eyes that were fastened on his with such attention, and sighed. “Do you understand, Faramir?”

The little one nodded, and settled back into his newly accustomed place, cuddled at his grandsire’s side. “I will, grandfather,” he heard the soft voice answer.


Notes: This was written as part of the Stargazers series with the HA Writers Group, where Faramir is learning the constellations. My story is a little different in form, but matches in spirit. It is also meant as a birthday gift to Starlight, who can resist neither Faramir nor the stars, and who encourages me to play in the Anduin and the Electronic Anduin…

My husband Jim assembled this picture to help me visualize the constellation while I was writing. It uses an overlap of Sagittarius and Scorpio in the starfield.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.
May 2003    
henneth annun
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