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The Burden of Sons  by Linaewen

Boromir has fallen.  He will not return to us, his companions; nor will he return to his people in the City of Stone.  They will watch for him in vain, and his father, who sent him upon this difficult Quest, will be robbed of his son at a time when he is most needed.  Such is the way of things among mortal Men, I fear.  It must be difficult to bear the sadness of such loss.  It is different for the Elves – but we have our own burdens of sadness to bear, and in that we are no different from Men.

Even now Boromir moves away from us, almost out of sight now.  He is laid out in one of the Lady’s Elven boats, surrounded by those tokens that meant much to him in life, and the weapons of his enemies at his feet.  I know little of the customs of Men when it comes to dealing with their dead, but I feel we paid him proper due and honor.  It was the least we could do for such a worthy companion – if only there had been time and means to do more.  May the Valar keep him safe on this final journey, and bring him to the place which has been prepared for him – wherever that might be.  As an Elf, I do not understand the fate of Men, and that makes this loss harder to bear.  But I will bear it, and hope that somehow we might meet again one day, beyond the circles of the world.

When my own time comes, will I go as peacefully, I wonder?  Peace can only attend me if I accomplish what I have set out to do, perhaps…

Boromir was a worthy companion; the empty place in our Fellowship and in our hearts that belongs to him cannot be filled.  No matter his brief failing, no matter his temporary slip into darkness – he has more than made up for it with his life, both in the living of it and in the giving up of it.  His steadfast support of his friends and his strong sense of duty is what will be remembered long after he is gone.

Yes, his people will miss him.  No longer will they look to him for their saving, to lead them to victory and away from fear of slavery to Mordor.  That struggle must continue without him, if that is possible.

Can there be freedom from such fear, the dread of Mordor’s inexorable conquest of the free lands?  If hope of such freedom exists, I would find it for my own people...

There was no running away for Boromir.  He did not hide from his duty; his oaths to his City, his people, his comrades, held him firm.  The burden he carried – to obey his father and to bring what strength he could to his beleaguered people – now falls to Aragorn, who already carries the weight of his own fate.

Aragorn, like Boromir, seeks to honor the wishes of a father – not just one father, but a long line of fathers whose hope never diminished or fell away, no matter what darkness threatened to engulf it.  What must it be like to carry such a weight of responsibility, the desires of generations of displaced Men seeking a return of glory to a fallen House?  A burden to be sure; yet Aragorn does not run away from his responsibility – rather, he runs toward it.  No matter his current doubts, no matter his temporary indecision about which course to take in achieving his goals – he will make a sound choice, that will serve to renew his hope and draw him closer to that end which his fathers long desired.

Have I chosen well, as will Aragorn when the time comes?  Am I ready to give my life to see my father’s fear lessened, as did Boromir?

Gimli, stalwart companion, takes the loss of Boromir hard – and he frets for Aragorn’s troubled heart as he seeks to choose wisely where fate will lead him.  Gimli, too, has the burden of his fathers upon his strong back.  Loyalty to his father brought him to Rivendell; oaths to family led him to accept a place in our Fellowship; loss of his fellow Dwarves at the hand of Sauron’s minions in Moria renewed his determination to fight evil.  No matter his distrust of Elves at first; no matter our once sharp antagonism that blinded us to the virtues of our two nations – once free of doubt, Gimli’s heart sees clearly and he places his loyalty firmly and without second thought.  He will be a good friend to have beside me in the coming days, no matter how dark they become.  Once given, his trust is immovable and that lends him great strength.

Will I be as strong, as I fulfill oaths to father, family, and Fellowship?

I, too, have a burden; few know of it.  I went lightly to the Council, seeking only to bear the message my father gave me, concerning the loss of the creature Gollum whom we were commissioned to guard.  Yet, once I heard of the Ring and what it would surely mean to the world if the Dark Lord gained it once more, I knew what I must do – I had no doubt of where my duty lay.  I would see the Ring destroyed so that those who should be free of despair can live in peace once more.  I will aid any who take such a task upon themselves – or do it myself, if there is no other left to take on the burden.  I fear the One Ring, but I fear even more what Sauron will accomplish wielding the Ring.

My father was there when the Last Alliance met the Dark Lord before the Gates of the Black Land. He stood in the shadow of the walls of Mordor, staring into the very teeth of the Enemy.  He watched his own father die there, cruelly butchered.

My father escaped death, but he did not escape slavery.

Sauron was overthrown, but not my father’s fear – he knew in his heart there would be no lasting peace, that the Enemy would rise again.  He returned to his home, but did not stop looking back, for fear of what might follow.  He spoke of it little after that, but the anguish and the memory of evil remained, casting a shadow over his heart.  He became a slave to fear and despair.
Ever he looks southwards with dismay in his eyes, and though the miles lie long between the Green Wood and the Black Gate, he has no confidence in that distance, no sense of safety.  He is afraid, and it hurts me to see it.

Will the destruction of the Ring bring about the freedom I seek for my father -- the freedom to rest without fear of the darkness that engulfed his heart so long ago?  Might I perhaps strike a blow against the Dark One who has cast this long shadow over my father, and over the fathers and the peoples of those I have come to love as my friends?  I look upon the faces of my companions who remain, and feel certain that this is indeed why I have been brought to this place.

Fear no more, my father.  We will free you, and these other fathers who are afraid, and this world that is threatened by slavery.  We will free you of the darkness that haunts you – no matter what it takes.

This is my duty and my desire – to be steadfast in the face of death, as was Boromir; to be strong in the face of doubt, as is Aragorn; to be stalwart in the face of impossible foes, as is Gimli.  May it be enough to complete the task!

I should very much like to see your face again, Father.  When I do, may it be the face of one who no longer fears, and who feels safe in putting his trust in a future of freedom, not slavery!

Boromir is gone.  Aragorn has made his decision.  Gimli is impatient to be away.  I, too, am ready – ready to take on the burden of a son for the healing of his father.  My father – no, our fathers – wait for us to free them from fear and to bring them a bright new future.

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