Beneath Death's Wings

Faramir ducked low over his horse’s neck as the winged rider dove overhead. He felt the animal tremble and strain; its great heart thudding in time to its hooves. Beside the captain men and beasts faltered as the Nazgul spread fear over the plain. Screams of his men became distant over the ringing in Faramir’s ears. And then the orcs fired their arrows.

Blood. Warmth. The Witch-King turned his head this way and that. He sniffed the currents, smelling fear and blood and loosed bowels. Rivers of excitement overflowed his hollow veins. He stared down at the dark shapes moving on the ground below him. He delighted in the fear and death. Behind his metal helm, his empty eyes narrowed. One rider, ahead of the rest, rallied his men. The winged helm obscured his features, but the Witch-King smelled him--smelled his courage and determination.  In a tiny, forgotten corner of the Witch-King’s soul, a memory of an emotion stirred. Yanking the reins of his beast, the Witch-King dove for a closer look.

Glancing overhead, Faramir saw the Nazgul dive. He ducked and wrenched his mount’s reins. Frantic to obey the command, the horse staggered left, lost its footing and stumbled. Its eyes rolled white with fear as the dark shadow of the winged rider covered the ground. The animal landed heavily on its side, spilling Faramir from the saddle. The armored man rolled in the grass and churned earth. He gasped to recover his stolen breath even as his hand groped for the weapon at his side.

Ten yards away, the awesome beast lighted and folded its leathery wings. The dark rider settled in his saddle and stared long and hard at the defiant man standing shakily on bruised legs. The metal-coated fingers clenched and unclenched on the reins and the winged beast shuffled uncomfortably, uncertain of its master’s intentions. It longed to feed and yet had not received the command to do so. It hissed its frustration as the sword-wielding man backed from its maw.

The stench from the beast nearly knocked Faramir off his feet. As if the stench wasn’t enough, so much evil emanated from the rider that it took all of Faramir’s courage to remain upright. His whole body ached from the fall, but luckily his horse was uninjured enough to bolt for safety.

The Witch-King climbed from his saddle and stood with one hand on his mount. Who was this human, this pathetic mortal, who stood so defiantly before him? Why was it he could hear the thrumming heart and feel something besides hatred? Why did the smell of fear stir echoes of long buried longings? His helmed head swiveled, as if seeking the answers to his internal questions on the hot, steaming air. From the depths of his helm he saw the shining light that was the captain. Moving forward quickly, he snatched the blade end of the sword in his mailed fist and held tightly. “Mortal, do you think to defy me?” His hollow voice echoed and reverberated from the depths of his helmet.

Faramir wrenched so hard at his sword that he nearly dislocated his shoulder. “I will slay you,” he brazened inanely.

The Witch-King tossed back his head and laughed. “No man may kill me, mortal. Not even one such as you,” his voice lowered and became a rough caress that literally washed over Faramir’s skin. He tugged Faramir’s sword away and held it just out of the captain’s reach. “Foolish one. You belong to me, now.”

Instinctively, Faramir leapt back. The way the voice caressed him left him feeling dirty and foul, like a pool muddied by orcs. “I will die first.”

“You will beg for your death long before I release you,” said the Witch-King as he reached down with his free hand and wrapped his fist around Faramir’s throat. “You will plead for release of many kinds ‘ere I am done.”

Spots danced before Faramir’s eyes and his breath remained stuck in his throat as the Witch-King squeezed. His hands pulled desperately at the mailed fist holding him tightly, tearing his nails and bruising his knuckles. The harder he struggled, the tighter the fist around his throat became until Faramir’s face was a dangerous shade of purple and his eyes bulged. Still he did not relent.

“So much pride and courage,” the Witch-King crooned. “So much life. I will enjoy you, I think. Tell me, mortal, what is your name.”

For an answer, Faramir spit. Or tried to, but he could muster little saliva and what did materialize landed no further than the Witch-King’s thumb.

Dragging the helpless man closer, the Witch-King stared intently in to gray-green eyes, boring into a soul so pure that it hurt him to see it. He peeled away the layers of the man’s mind and consciousness, sifted through memories and thoughts and emotions, until he had what he sought at last. “Faramir,” he whispered, rolling the word around on his tongue in an obscene way. “Faramir, son of Denethor. Brother of Boromir. Captain of the Ithilien Rangers. Yes, I know you now, Faramir of Gondor.” His head dipped lower and his cold breath grazed Faramir’s cheek. “You are mine, now, Son of Gondor.”

Faramir’s legs finally gave out beneath him and his body trembled so violently that his teeth literally clacked in his head. He gasped and choked, trying to suck air into his burning lungs. He knew he was dying and he felt despair, not for himself, but for his people. At last consciousness slipped from him.

The Witch-King slung Faramir’s limp form over his saddle horn and mounted behind him. He gave a sharp command to his beast and the thing launched itself into the air, winging beyond Osgiliath.


Only a single candle burned on the opposite side of the room. Faramir blinked and stretched his head to get a better view. His ankles and wrists were bound tightly to the iron posts of the large bed. The room smelled of must and disuse. Cobwebs trailed over the headboard. Dust motes danced in the candle’s shadow. Faramir twisted his limbs and squirmed on the scratchy, dry sheets. He was naked in the bed.

“Hello?” His voice echoed eerily in the chamber and he shivered with a sudden chill. His throat felt scratched and bruised. He could hear nothing in the room and he breathed a little heavier. What was going on? Where was he? “Hello?’

The door to Faramir’s left creaked open and a heavy breeze stole into the room. Faramir stared hard at the door as it slowly opened. His gut knotted and his heart skipped several beats as a dark shadow flowed into the room.

“Good evening, Captain Faramir,” the voice was low, deep, and hollow. And came from every corner of the room. “I hope you are comfortable.”

Faramir’s body tightened as the dark shadow oozed ever closer to him. It had no form or definitive shape. Yet Faramir got the sense that the shadow was male. Dead, but definitely male. He swallowed hard and pushed his growing fear aside. “I’d be more comfortable untied.”

“I am sure you would, Captain,” the shadow gathered around the bed. “I’m afraid, however, that you shall simply have to remain uncomfortable. At least for a little while longer.”

Something stroked the man’s hair and brow and he arched away as far as he bonds would allow. His whole body cringed from the touch and his pores oozed oily sweat. “What are you?”

The shadow settled around Faramir and the room grew darker. “I am the right hand of Sauron.”


“Yes,” the hissing shadow agreed. “The Witch-King some call me. Before long, you will call me master.”

Faramir’s lips writhed against his teeth in a silent snarl. His muscles flexed against their bonds. “You are mistaken, Nazgul, I call no man master.”

“No man?” The hollowness was like a punch to Faramir’s gut. “There is one man you call master, one man whose approval you crave. I know you would die for him, Captain. I know you would kill for him. What else will you do for your father?”

“I honor my father,” he responded with quiet dignity.

“You crave his love and approval, Faramir of Gondor. I see you. I see your soul. I know how much your heart aches.”

Faramir’s head thrashed from side to side in denial. He twisted his wrists, trying to escape. He felt the shadow’s weight pressing down on his chest and something like a foul touch along his loins, up his stomach and over his chest. “No.”

The darkness enveloped Faramir completely, suffocating him, driving coherent thought and reason from his mind. It touched him intimately, slithered over his oily skin, clung to his hair and lashes like spiders’ webs, filled his mouth. Faramir wretched and gagged in the darkness. His body pressed hard against the filthy mattress and he struggled to breath.

The Witch-King breathed in Faramir’s scent; his heat and sweat and masculinity. Hot, salty blood pounded through blue veins beneath pale skin and the Witch-King sniffed as a hound after a hare. He fanned out, pressing against the mortal, reveling in the life flickering beneath the heartbeat. The man’s hot skin melted his frozen flesh. He felt alive, which was a strange sensation to him. It had been many ages since he’d felt anything like this. He was almost giddy with power and lust.

Every breath was like fire scorching Faramir’s lungs. He tasted foulness in the back of his throat and smelled it on his skin. The darkness that was the Witch-King enveloped him. He felt the coldness penetrate him, a shaft of ice reaching deep inside him and he cried out against it. Faramir struggled against the dark invasion, fought to maintain his fragile hold on his mind even as his body was consumed and possessed by the shadows. Beneath him, the ancient bed creaked and groaned its protest. The ropes burned his skin even as the Witch-King seared his soul. And still Faramir clung to that dim light inside himself, sheltered it from the ravages of the inky blackness surrounding him, filling him.

With every breath Faramir exhaled, the Witch-King inhaled. He inhaled the strength and courage and determination. And he breathed it back out again in the form of coldness and foulness. He longed to consume Faramir, break the mortal and reshape him. The more he tried the more he was fought. He exerted his will, forcing his essence into the mortal, pouring himself into the vessel of light. No matter how much of himself he poured in, the light remained pure and bright. The excitement ebbed from him and he gathered his darkness close.

Faramir lay as one dead. His skin was pasty and his breathing shallow. His arms dangled limply in their restraints. The Witch-King stretched out a tentacle of shadow and traced the edges of Faramir’s jaw, followed the line of his pulse over his bruised throat. The pale body was marked with welts, proof of the Witch-King’s passion. The dark lord stared deep into Faramir’s soul, ready to lay final claim to the strong life that had so captured his attention on the battlefield. To his horror, he saw that the light remained. Although dimmed, it burned still. All his might had not extinguished the inner essence that was Faramir.

The Witch-King flung himself from the bed with a howl of rage and despair. How he’d longed to capture that essence for himself; hold it close and nurture his cold, shriveled soul with it. In his rage, he shredded the thin strips of curtain and the bed canopy. Furniture flew about the room, smashing against the walls. The candle on the dresser flickered in the maelstrom, but like Faramir’s soul, it remained lit.

“I will have you,” the Witch-King growled as he gathered over Faramir’s inert form. His foul breath fanned the stubble beard on Faramir’s cheek. Once more he reached inside the mortal, sought to loosen the silver cord that bound man to soul and both to the earth. He would hold that cord for eternity; turn the captain of Gondor into the captain of his heart. He gathered the fine thread in his fingers and tugged. Faramir gasped and cried out and the Witch-King paused.

In confusion, he stared around him. He could hear his master’s call in the background of Faramir’s siren call. He sniffed loudly, drawing Faramir’s scent into his nose and his heart. He stared at the waxy complexion, the bruised body, and looked beyond flesh and bone to the soul beneath. He knew then that he could take the mortal’s life; he could hold that silver cord in his hands. But he would never hold the captain.

Lesser men had died at the Witch-King’s hands. Lesser men had only a taste of his passion and perished for it. Yet the Captain of the Ithilien rangers defied him. The deep shadow coalesced and solidified into a humanoid shape. The mortal had retreated deep inside himself, walking in the land of shadows, between life and death. But Faramir was not yet beyond his reach. At a wave of his hand, the door creaked open once more and his murky bulk glided through it.

“I will have you,” his voice echoed.

~*~ End ~*~

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