The Spirit of Gondor

 The Spirit of Gondor – A Story for Halloween.

These Characters are the property of the Estate of J. R. R Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story has been written for pleasure and no profit has or will be made from it.

Alas, poor ghost! – Shakespeare Hamlet. Act 1:scene 5

A/N This story was written for Raksha’s birthday . The events take place just over a year after “A Time to Reap.”

With thanks to Deandra

“Please tell me a story, Uncle Faramir,” begged Elbeth. She was sitting comfortably on the floor, stretched out in front of the fire. It was a chilly autumn evening outside, but the Steward’s apartments provided a haven from the elements. No chill winds penetrated the thick stone walls. Faramir sat in his armchair, a book on his lap ignored. He was stretching out his toes towards the fire to warm them, gazing absently into the flames. Éowyn was absent, occupied settling Elestelle to sleep in the nursery.

“What sort of a story would you like?” asked Faramir. A gifted storyteller, he loved to entertain his niece by telling her the lore of their people.

“A ghost story, please,” replied Elbeth.

“Would that not frighten you? It is almost bedtime. I do not want you to have nightmares.”

“I won’t, uncle, I promise! All the maids are telling them, now the Feast of the Dead is approaching. I’ve heard lots about people with no heads who leave bloody footsteps, but the maids aren’t good at telling stories like you are! “

“They work too hard to have time to learn the art of storytelling,” Faramir rebuked gently. “They can do all sorts of things that I am not very good at, like sewing, cleaning and cooking.”

“I know, Uncle Faramir and I am grateful to them for looking after us, but please tell me a scary ghost story!”

“Very well,” Faramir conceded.

Elbeth moved closer to him, so that her dark head rested on his lap.

“Once upon a time,“ Faramir began, “there lived a Steward who fell in love with a beautiful lady from the distant lands in the East.”

“I thought you were telling me a story about ghosts; love stories are boring!” Elbeth interrupted.

“Patience, child!” said Faramir, thinking just how like Boromir she sounded, “Do you want to hear this story or not?”

“Just as long as it doesn’t have any kissing in it,” Elbeth said firmly.

“I promise there will be no kissing,” Faramir smiled. He then continued. ”The Steward became engaged to the lady and brought her to Gondor intending to make her his wife. She arrived at this time of year when the weather was becoming cold. It was so unlike her homeland where the clime was always warm. The poor lady felt cold all the time.”

“What was her name?” asked Elbeth.

“I am not sure, but let us call her ‘Sarah’, which means ‘ Princess’ in the tongues of the East,” said Faramir, knowing if he failed to give the lady a name Elbeth would grant him no peace. ” Poor Sarah always felt cold, even though the Steward gave her a fur cloak and fur mittens to wear and had warm fires lit in her rooms. When winter came, it was just as cold as it was when we were looking after Uncle Aragorn in the cave and it snowed nearly every day!”

“Did Sarah and the Steward play snowballs?” Elbeth asked.

“I think they might have tried, but it was just too cold for her,” Faramir replied. “One day, Sarah caught a chill and became very ill. She grew weaker and weaker. The Steward sent for the best healers in the land but no one could make her better.”

“Strider would have done!” Elbeth interrupted.

“I am certain that he would,” Faramir agreed, “but this happened long before Uncle Aragorn was born.”

“That must have been a long time ago then, Strider is very, very old indeed,” Elbeth said thoughtfully. ”He is even older than you are! “

Faramir laughed and then continued. “Poor Sarah grew so frail that she realised she would not recover,” he said. ”She called the Steward to her bedside and asked that she be embalmed when she died, according to the custom both of her own people and the nobility of Gondor. She wanted to be laid to rest beside her beloved when his time came to leave Arda, since they could not be united now in life. The Steward promised her that her wishes would be fulfilled. ‘I will not let your promise be forgotten,’ Sarah said and breathed her last. The Steward sent for the embalmers and a magnificent tomb was made for her in the Rath Dinen.”

“What a sad story!” Elbeth exclaimed. She looked on the verge of tears.

“It is not over yet,” said Faramir. ”The Steward mourned Sarah for many years. He did not want to marry anyone else, but his people begged him to. After all, he was the Steward and a Steward needs heirs.”

“I’m glad I’m not Steward!” said Elbeth her tears forgotten. “I wouldn’t like to be made to get married!”

“Neither did this Steward,” her uncle replied. “He knew, though, he must do his duty to Gondor. He decided to wed the daughter of one of the Lords on his Council. She was a beautiful lady with long dark hair and a perfect complexion. Her heart, though, was cold and hard. For a little while, she was nice to the Steward and bore him two fine sons and a daughter. However, he could not love her, for his heart remained true to his lost love. His wife was furious, for it seemed he still loved Sarah more than he loved her. She demanded that Sarah be removed from her tomb, where one day the Steward was to have been laid beside her and her body be buried in the earth with the common folk. For a while, the Steward resisted, but his wife complained to her father. He stirred up the other nobles to support his daughter’s demands. There was famine in the land at the time. The people believed that Yavanna was angry and withheld her fruits, because a foreigner who did not honour her was buried in the Rath Dinen. After a few months, the Steward gave way and Sarah’s tomb was demolished and her body buried outside the City.”

“Poor Sarah!” Elbeth exclaimed sadly.

“Soon afterwards, the famine ended and the Steward gave a huge feast to celebrate. All the lords and ladies of Gondor were invited. While they were sitting eating and drinking, an icy breeze blew through the Hall, though the doors were closed and the night was warm.”

Elbeth, now completely engrossed in the story, unconsciously snuggled closer to her uncle.

“A figure in white suddenly appeared amongst the guests,” Faramir continued.” It glided silently towards the Steward. The ladies screamed and fainted. The guards bravely drew their swords and commanded it to stop. When it failed to do so, one drew his sword and attacked the figure, but his blade went straight through it as if he stabbed the thin air. The guard fell in a dead faint. The figure stopped before the Steward. He recognised her as Sarah! She pointed an accusing finger at him and said ‘You broke your sworn vow!’ She then vanished and no trace could be found of her.”

“What did they do?” Elbeth asked. She was trembling slightly.

“The Steward at once gave orders that Sarah’s body was to be re-interred in the Rath Dinen and ordered a splendid new tomb to be built,” Faramir said. “But no one could find her body, as many other people had died and been buried during the famine. Ever since then, her ghost has haunted the Citadel and may be seen on moonlit nights.”

“That is a very scary story!” Elbeth exclaimed. ”I liked it. Is it true? I do hope it is!”

Faramir already doubted the wisdom of having told his impressionable young niece one of the old legends his nurse used to tell him on chilly nights such as this.

“No one knows,” Faramir replied truthfully. “It was all so long ago that no one remembers what really happed. It is said a white lady is seen sometimes, but usually only those who are very drunk tell such tales!”

“Your supper is ready in the nursery, Elbeth, nanny is waiting for you!” Éowyn had entered unnoticed and stood in the doorway. “ Say goodnight to your uncle and I will come and tuck you in later.”

“Goodnight, Uncle Faramir and thank you for the story.” Elbeth kissed Faramir. He affectionately returned the gesture.

“You should not scare the child by putting such nonsense in her head!” Éowyn chided, once the little girl had gone.

“It is just an old tale; my nurse told it to me when I was about her age. It is less gruesome than the gory stories the servants have been telling her,” Faramir replied. “It is after all, our custom at this time of year to tell ghost stories. I think the story of the white lady was invented to cover up the disgrace of one of my ancestors having taken a mistress.”

“I must have a word with the servants.They should be careful what they say to an impressionable child.” said Éowyn. She then sat beside her husband. He drew her close in a loving embrace.


How ill this taper burns! Ha! Who comes here?
I think it is the weakness of mine eyes
That shapes this monstrous apparition.
William Shakespeare Julius Caesar, act 4, sc. 3, l.


“If you just leave your clothes in the bedroom, I will send a maid in a few minutes to take them to be washed at once, ” said the housekeeper. “We have filled the bath for you, my lord, I hope it is to your satisfaction.”

“I am sure it will be, Mistress Elwen, thank you. I am sorry to put you to so much trouble.” Faramir smiled apologetically at the woman. “ I do not know what came over Elestelle to eat half a pot of honey when no one was looking, she is usually so good!”

“It’s no trouble, Lord Faramir,” Elwen replied. ”When my children were little, they were much like Lady Elestelle, unable to resist anything sweet. No one can have eyes in the back of their head! Many a gown I had to wash unexpectedly. My youngest once ate an enormous cake meant for the six of us and then kept us up all night, suffering from a severe bellyache! The sooner you are in that hot bath and your clothes are in the wash the better, my lord!”

She bustled from the room. Faramir smiled ruefully. He had known Elwen since he was a small boy and she had assisted his nanny in the nursery.

The Queen had summoned Éowyn before breakfast, leaving him with his Elestelle. The Steward and his lady always took care that at least one of them should spend time at the beginning and end of the day with their child. Her nanny’s back turned, the toddler had helped herself to the honey. Faramir had been holding his little daughter when she had regurgitated it all over the clothes he wore for council meetings. The Housekeeper said the garments must be washed at once if the fine wool and embroidered velvet were not to be ruined.

Faramir hastened to pull off his tunic and breeches. The Steward found that Elestelle’s breakfast had soaked through to his undergarments, so quickly divested himself of those too. He folded the soiled clothing neatly in the laundry basket for the maid to collect. Wrapping himself in a towel, he padded into the bathing chamber and climbed into the steaming bath.

Faramir sighed contentedly, stretching out his long limbs in the blissfully warm water. After so many years as a Ranger, living in the wilds, he still found a hot bath was an experience to savour.

Reaching for the soap and flannel, he began to bathe himself, thoroughly soaping his body, before washing his abundant dark hair.

He would have lingered longer until the water started to cool, but as Steward of Gondor, he had his duties to attend to. He was due to attend a Council Meeting before preparing for the annual festival to honour the dead. There would be a candlelit procession around the citadel as soon as darkness fell, which would be led by Éowyn and himself.

It was a sombre occasion for Faramir. He had so many to remember; his mother, Boromir and his poor crazed father, as well as the comrades who had fallen in battle as he fought alongside them.

The occasion was also deeply comforting. The candles formed a moving river of light and warmth. Aragorn would read a blessing for the dead and remind the assembled people that more than memories lay beyond the circles of the world.

After singing traditional songs of Gondor, the people would disperse to their homes and eat a meal of celebration with those they loved the most. It was believed that tonight the worlds of the living and the dead were very close and the departed loved ones would be present in spirit. Ghost stories would be told and there would be games for the children.

Faramir and Éowyn were planning to share the meal with the King and Queen and Elbeth; Eldarion and Elestelle being as yet too young to attend.

Reluctantly, Faramir climbed gracefully from the bath and selected a thick towel from the heap that been left there for him. He wound one around his waist. He threw another towel across his shoulders and began to dry himself.Faramir rubbed his hair vigorously, shaking himself like a dog to remove as much excess moisture as possible.

He was just about to go into his dressing room, when he heard voices approaching the bedroom, which he needed to cross to reach it.

Thinking it was the maids belatedly coming to collect his soiled clothes, he waited. The voices came nearer and entered the bedroom. Then he realised the speakers were his wife, Elbeth and Queen Arwen and her ladies! The bathing chamber had only a thin wall adjoining the bedroom. Though he had no wish to eavesdrop, he could clearly hear every word.

Faramir retreated further into the bathing chamber, wrapping the towels more securely around himself. He sincerely hoped that the Queen was only there to brush her hair before the luncheon he knew she was sharing with Éowyn. Then he heard the wardrobe door being thrown open.

“I cannot decide whether I should wear my green gown with the gold embroidery or the blue and silver one,” Éowyn’s familiar tones stated.

“I think the blue one is better suited for the summer,” Arwen’s melodic voice replied. “Why not wear your russet gown tonight?”

“I fear it might clash with the orange you are wearing. I would like Elbeth to wear her orange dress too, if you have no objections?”

“Of course not, it is after all only a private family party. You should wear the russet, it suits your colouring and Faramir likes it. I just like to try to look nice for Estel.”

“You would still look fair if you wore an old sack, with your Elven beauty!” Éowyn exclaimed. “You will always look young and beautiful while I already have a few grey hairs!”

Faramir felt a pang of sorrow that already his beloved wife was worried about aging.

“I don’t want to wear an orange frock!” Elbeth interrupted. ”I like my pink one better!”

“Pink is a summer colour, orange is nice for autumn,” Éowyn explained. “You need to have some more dresses made before next summer, you are growing so fast!”

Although Faramir could not see her expression, he could just imagine the face his niece would be pulling.

“I hate having dresses made!” Elbeth said grumpily, “You have to stand still for so long and have pins stuck in you!”

“I never get pins stuck in me,” said Éowyn. “You won’t keep still, that is why!”

“I must choose my dress for tonight correctly,” Éowyn fretted, “I so want my husband to be proud of me and not regret marrying an uncouth shieldmaiden from the North!”

It took all of Faramir’s self restraint not to rush into the room there and then and tell his wife that he loved her whatever she wore, but it would be unthinkable to appear before the Queen and her ladies wearing only a towel!

“Why not try on both the green and the russet gowns?” Arwen suggested, “ I will tell you then, which I think suits you the best. Then I should like to try on your green and gold gown to see how the colour looks, before asking my seamstress to make me one in those shades.”

Faramir groaned inwardly. The women might be there for hours once they started trying on gowns. He was starting to feel very trapped. For once, he could understand Aragorn’s dislike of small spaces. He was also starting to get very cold and his arms were covered in gooseflesh. His only consolation was that the door was fastened so the Queen could not walk in to see him wearing so little.

“Thank you, dear friend,” Éowyn said gratefully, “You have such good taste and I value your judgement. I fear all eyes will be on me tonight when I lead the procession and I want to look as fair as the ladies of Gondor.”

Again Faramir, the unwilling eavesdropper, wished he could reassure her that he found her fairer by far. He held his breath, hoping that Arwen might take the gown to her own room to try it on. It was another dire breech of propriety for any man other than her husband to be in the next room when the Queen was undressing.

He heard a bell ringing outside and realised to his horror that he would be late for the council meeting if he did not escape soon.

It went quiet in the room and Faramir wondered if they had decided to go into Éowyn’s boudoir rather than remain in the bedroom. The reason her dresses were in the main bedroom was that the gowns for formal occasions needed a huge wardrobe to store them in.

Very cautiously, he opened the door a fraction of an inch and saw that the women were engrossed in looking in the wardrobe. The sparkling embroidery on some of the gowns fascinated even Elbeth.

Faramir had a sudden idea. As a Ranger, he could move swiftly and silently without being heard. Maybe he could slip past the ladies before they started trying on gowns. This was the best chance he would have to slip away unnoticed. He could call out and alert Éowyn to his plight but it would be so very embarrassing and break every rule of Gondorian etiquette by being seen in the vicinity of the Queen almost naked. Even for a man to be seen without a tunic by a high-ranking lady was considered a grave breach of manners and propriety.

Faramir carefully arranged the towels around himself, so that he was swathed in white from head to foot with only his eyes visible. Carefully, he opened the door again a crack. The women were still occupied with the gowns, their faces in the wardrobe.

Swiftly and silently he tiptoed across the room, willing them not to turn around. Once he reached the sanctuary of his dressing room, he closed the door quietly. Unlike the bathing chamber, the walls were far thicker and sturdier making it impossible to hear what was being said outside. It had been built as part of the original building and was designed as a male refuge from nagging wives and fretful children, though Faramir had always been able to hear Elestelle crying. No architect seemed able to insulate a room from the piercing howls of a crying infant.

“Look there’s a ghost! It’s Sarah, the white lady!” exclaimed Elbeth excitedly.

“I didn’t see anything,” Éowyn replied. You just saw this white gown!”

“No, I didn’t!” Elbeth protested, “I saw a ghost!”

“I sensed no unearthly presence, “ Arwen said placidly. “Maybe you have been listening to too many ghost stories?”

“We saw nothing,” said Arwen’s ladies.

“But I did see the white lady, I did!” Elbeth protested indignantly.

“I know what truly ails you, and making up naughty stories is not the way to be excused from duties you dislike,” Éowyn said crossly. ”Come on, young lady, you are returning to your lessons! I thought it would be a treat for you to help us plan what we would wear, but it seems not!!”

“I am telling the truth!” Elbeth protested.

“What about choosing your gown, Éowyn?” Arwen enquired.

“ I have decided to follow your advice and wear the russet one,” Éowyn replied.” I am weary of trying to decide. I want to visit my horses on the sixth level before it gets dark. You are welcome to borrow my dress. Why not see what Aragorn thinks of the colours?”

The women swept from the room.

Once Faramir was dressed, he cautiously opened the door. Somewhat to his surprise, he found the bedroom deserted. He hurried off to his meeting, thankful to have escaped so easily from his embarrassing predicament.



“A cat may look at a king,” said Alice. “I’ve read that in some book, but I don’t remember where.” - Lewis Carroll (1832–1898), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

A few hours later, a still indignant Elbeth, having escaped her nanny, was approaching the King’s study. Her Aunt Éowyn was still refusing to believe that she had seen a ghost. Even worse, she had decreed that Elbeth was to have extra Quenya lessons until she stopped telling lies. While her nanny was fussing over the dress she was to wear later, Elbeth remembered Uncle Legolas telling her a story about how he and Uncle Gimli had followed Strider through a tunnel in a mountain to summon an army of ghosts to fight in the Great War. Uncle Gimli had added that the fearsome spectres were obedient to Strider’s wishes.

As soon as the nanny went into the bathing chamber to prepare Elbeth’s bath, the little girl decided to go and see if Strider could do something to make Aunt Éowyn believe she had seen a ghost.

Surely, as he was the King, he could help her, as Kings could do anything!

The guard at the head of the corridor looked at her doubtfully when she demanded to see the King and hastened after her when she approached Aragorn’s door.

“King Elessar is very busy, Lady Elbeth,” he said. ”He does not have time to grant audiences to little girls.”

The study door opened and Aragorn appeared. “Come in, Elbeth,” he said, smiling at her kindly. “I am never too busy to see my friends.” He shut the door and settled himself on the couch. ”Come and sit beside me and tell me what is wrong. I can see that you have been crying.”

“It is so unfair, Strider!” Elbeth burst out. ”I have seen Sarah, the ghost of the White Lady that Uncle Faramir told me about. Aunt Éowyn won’t believe me and says I am making up stories and have to be punished until I stop telling lies, but I’m telling the truth. I am!”

“What did Sarah look like?” Aragorn asked, thinking that maybe the child had mistaken one of the maids for a ghost while Faramir’s story was still fresh in her mind.

“She was very tall and clad in white all over. She glided across the Aunt Éowyn’s bedchamber and disappeared into Uncle Faramir’s dressing room. Aunt Éowyn and Aunt Arwen were looking at dresses and did not see her.”

“What does Uncle Faramir say?” Aragorn enquired, puzzled by Elbeth’s story. He knew, although she was stubborn and strong willed, she was a very truthful child, much like Faramir in character.

“They won’t let me see him as he is busy getting ready for the procession,” Elbeth explained. “I heard that you know all about ghosts and they do what you say. Please could you order Sarah to appear and show Aunt Éowyn that I’m not making up stories?”

“I fear that it was only the spirits of the oath breakers who betrayed my forefather, Isildur, that I had mastery over,” Aragorn explained.

“But you are King! I thought everyone, including ghosts, had to do what you said?” Elbeth looked crestfallen.

“Even a King has limits to his powers,” Aragorn told her gently. ”However, I will see what I can do.”

“Thank you, Strider, Aunt Éowyn says I have to have extra Quenya lessons for being naughty. I hate Quenya, it is so hard to learn!”

“It is indeed, though I have heard you are becoming quite fluent in it,” Aragorn said solemnly. “I found the verbs almost impossible to master!”

“You had to learn it too?” Elbeth asked surprised.” But you are the King!”

“I was not King then, just an ordinary boy who preferred playing to boring lessons,” Aragorn confided. ”I will tell you one day about my schooldays. Now, I have to prepare for the festival. I expect Aunt Éowyn will be waiting for you to join her for the procession too. I promise I will see what I can do about Sarah.”

Thank you, Strider!” Pausing only to bestow a parting kiss on the man she regarded as another favourite uncle, Elbeth hurried back to her own quarters, bumping into her nanny on the way there and receiving a scolding for wandering off.

Aragorn sat lost in thought for a few moments after Elbeth left him. He was certain that the Citadel was not haunted. For a start, he was sure that Arwen would have sensed it, if it were so, and most likely both Faramir and himself too. Indeed, he had spoken Elvish blessings to banish unquiet spirits in every room here, when he first moved in, lest Denethor’s spirit should linger to disturb the living.

Since Elbeth’s belief in the White Lady seemed to have started with being told a story by Faramir; maybe talking to his Steward would throw some light on the matter? He despatched a servant to find him, telling the man to send Faramir to him.

The Steward appeared just as Aragorn was finishing dressing in his ceremonial garb. The King hated having anyone help him dress and was struggling to lace his ornate tunic.

Faramir looked rather flustered, having spent most of the day trying to catch up, after being delayed so long in his bathing chamber.

“Is something wrong, Aragorn?” Faramir enquired anxiously, not having expected to speak to the King until the ceremony.

“All is well, mellon nîn. It is just that Elbeth came to me with a most curious story.” The tunic fastened, Aragorn took the Star of Elendil from its casket while he started to relate the details of Elbeth’s visit.

“Yes, I did tell her the story, but I never thought she would take it so seriously,” Faramir said. “You need to brush your hair down before putting the jewel on,” he cautioned the King, whose unruly locks were refusing to be tamed.

Obediently, Aragorn took up his hairbrush.

“Let me fasten that,” Faramir offered, seeing that the jewel was hanging at an awkward angle and threatening to obscure his lord’s vision.

“Please do, how I hate the pomp that goes with ceremonial occasions,” Aragorn sighed. “Of course, we should remember the dead and I am honoured to lead the tributes, but why I have to wear all this to do so, I have no idea!”

“The people need jewels to show your greatness. They do not know you as well as I do,” Faramir replied. “They were starved of spectacle for so long, we cannot begrudge it them now.”

“I suppose not,” Aragorn conceded, drawing on his ceremonial cloak before finishing narrating what Elbeth had to say. ”She told me she saw the White Lady of Gondor in your lady’s bedchamber this morning,” he concluded. ”Elbeth insists she did see a ghost and your lady is angry with her for what she perceives as telling lies.”

Faramir, who had been handing Aragorn his gloves, dropped them at this revelation. ”Oh no,” he exclaimed in distress. ”Poor Elbeth! She must have seen me trying to make my way undetected to my dressing room. I did not wish the Queen and her ladies to see me improperly clad. I am so sorry! I will go and tell Éowyn the truth at once and apologise to Elbeth.”

Aragorn placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.”I have a better idea, mellon nîn,” he said.” Listen to what I have to say first."


It is my feeling that Time ripens all things; with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth.- François Rabelais (1494–1553)

A solemn candlelit procession led by Faramir and Éowyn, wound its way through the upper circles of the City. It came to a halt beside the White Tree.

Éowyn glanced directly behind her to see if Elbeth, who was being escorted by young Bergil, was behaving herself. The little girl looked suitably solemn and was holding her candle carefully. Rather to Éowyn’s surprise, Elbeth reached for Bergil’s hand, as if seeking reassurance. The Princess of Ithilien felt a pang of remorse. Maybe the child was missing her mother and grandmother and pretending to see ghosts as a way of comforting herself? She resolved to talk to Faramir later.

The murmur of low voices ceased when Aragorn, resplendent in full regalia, appeared. Beside him, Arwen was a vision of exquisite beauty, wearing a gown of dark orange with a necklace of pearls round her slender throat. A fur-trimmed cloak was thrown around her shoulders to protect her from the chill night air.

“People of Gondor,” Aragorn said in a clear, resonant voice. ”We are gathered here tonight to remember the loved ones who await us beyond the circles of the world. Because of them, their lives, their love and their sacrifices, we are able to be here today and celebrate this great feast of the living and the dead. May we never forget to honour those who went before! May we cherish our loved ones while we dwell here in Arda together! The One gave Men the Gift of passing beyond the bounds of Arda. May we cherish our days, as all the sweeter, given that they are numbered; May we be forever filled with hope and love!”

The crowd remained silent for a moment, taking in his words. They broke into a spontaneous cheer before Aragorn led them in singing traditional songs of remembrance.

“The time of mourning is over, let us now celebrate the joy of living, together with our loved ones!” Aragorn declared once the singing had died away. Taking Arwen’s hand, he let her inside, Faramir, Éowyn and Elbeth followed.

The Royal dining room had been set with places for five. As the adults entered, they placed their candles on the table and spoke the names of those whom they wished to remember; Gilraen and Halbarad, Finduilas, Boromir and Denethor, Théoden and Théodred, Théodwyn and Éomund. The lights symbolized the presence of those whose names they spoke.

“Do you want to remember anyone, Elbeth?” Éowyn asked gently. “Your mother or your grandmother perhaps?”

Elbeth shook her head.

“We give thanks to the One that we are here with our loved ones tonight!” said Aragorn. The friends and spouses warmly embraced one another.

After the standing silence, the servants brought in a hearty meal of hot vegetable soup, a stew of lamb and vegetables and finally, a special pie made from pumpkins and apples, which was only consumed on this feast day.

The mood progressively became more cheerful as the meal progressed, Faramir had written a poem about the eternal nature of love and read it aloud to the delight of the others

” I look into the eyes,

The eyes of those whom I hold most dear.
I see reflected,
Within the windows the soul:
The love we share.
A bond transcending
Boundaries of life and death. “

Once the meal was over and the table cleared, Aragorn told his friends that he wanted to introduce them to a game popular in the North.

While the ladies retired to give their babies a bedtime feed and settle them to sleep, a large bowl of water was brought into the room and placed on the table. Another servant followed with a pile of clean towels.

“What is that for?” asked Elbeth, voicing the curiosity that her uncle felt too. “Why is the bowl full of apples?”

The ladies returned just as Aragorn explained “It is for a game called ‘apple bobbing’ that is popular amongst the Northern Dúnedain,” Aragorn explained, taking off his outer tunic as he spoke. ”The object of the game is to grab an apple with your teeth. Who would like to play?”

“I would,” Elbeth said, jumping up and down with excitement. “It looks like fun!”

Faramir hesitated for a moment before saying he would like to try the game too.

“You had better take off your tunic, then, mellon nîn. You are likely to get wet, “ Aragorn cautioned. “The Queen will not mind.”

“We will watch, “ Arwen smiled, whispering something in Éowyn’s ear, causing her companion to smile.

The King plunged his head into the bowl and soon came up laughing and spluttering somewhat, without having gained an apple.

“Come on, Elbeth!” he enthused, “This is great fun! I cannot wait for Eldarion and Elestelle to be old enough to take part in the game! Try and grab the stalk with your teeth,” he told the little girl when she came to take her turn.

To her surprise and delight, Elbeth captured an apple and was congratulated by the adults.

“Come and dry yourself and sit by the fire to eat it,” Éowyn told her.

The women laughed and cheered when Faramir took his turn and after several attempts captured his prize. Aragorn then tried again and this time was successful.

The King dried himself and donned his tunic again. The group settled round the fire.

“It is your bedtime now, Elbeth,“ Éowyn told her niece.

“Please let her stay for the storytelling to conclude the evening, “ Aragorn said in a tone with an unmistakable hint of command.

Éowyn looked somewhat surprised. It was very rare for Aragorn to exercise his authority over any purely domestic matter. She could only surmise that the King wanted to indulge Elbeth tonight. She raised her eyebrows slightly.” Just for a short time, then,” she conceded.

The lamps were lowered. By the flickering light of a single candle, Aragorn began a chilling tale of his adventures on the Paths of the Dead. They were all so engrossed that they did not see Faramir quietly slip away. “Has anyone else here seen a ghost?” Aragorn asked, once his tale was concluded. He nodded to Arwen almost imperceptibly and looked expectantly at Elbeth.

“ I have, I saw Sarah the White Lady,” Elbeth said excitedly.

“I have told you not to make up such absurd stories, Elbeth,” Éowyn said irately. ”You are making me very angry and I will have to punish you with even more extra lessons!”

Just then a cold draught blew through the room as the door opened. A tall figure, clad all in white, glided across the room.

Éowyn gave a stifled scream while Elbeth cried, “It’s Sarah, she has come back! I told you I was telling the truth!”

Aragorn rose to his feet and said sternly, ”Spectre, I bid you be gone to your rest and trouble us no more!”

The apparition took a step backward, before throwing off the concealing white towels that covered it, to reveal Faramir. He bowed low to the King.

Aragorn laughed and rose to pat Faramir on the back. You played your part well, mellon nîn,” he said. ”I wanted this to be a feast to remember!”

Faramir then turned to Elbeth.” I am sorry if I frightened you earlier,” he said. “It was I whom you saw, not a ghost!”

“Elbeth, I am so sorry!” Éowyn came to kneel beside the little girl and placed her arms around her. ”I had no idea that your uncle was practicing this surprise for tonight. I should not have doubted your word. Tomorrow, I will take you riding and you can miss your Quenya lessons.”

“Thank you, Aunt Éowyn!” Elbeth hugged her aunt back.

Later that night, when they lay beside each other in bed, Faramir told his wife the whole story.

Éowyn burst out laughing and was rendered speechless for several moments. Then she pulled her husband close and kissed him passionately. “You are certainly no ghost but a man of flesh and blood and a hot blooded one at that!” she said when he responded.

Faramir did not reply, preferring to use his lips for something other than words. He returned her kisses with ever growing ardour.

The End


A/N The story Faramir tells Elbeth is based on a local legend I grew up with.

The ceremonies were loosely inspired by the All Souls Service at my local church.

Apple dunking is a traditional British Halloween game.



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