The Steward’s Burden by Zdenka

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Story Notes:

Written for Back to Middle-earth Month 2012; posted for the Silmarillion Writers' Guild Season of Writing Dangerously 2013. Prompt G50: "The Steward and His Sons: The Palantír."

Denethor paced slowly back and forth in his tower. He did not glance aside at the cloth covering the palantír, but he could feel its presence, as if it were an open flame or the bite in the air that heralded winter. Again he considered whether he should tell his elder son of the Seeing-Stone and instruct him in its use. Boromir would not think to question his father’s course; he would see the palantír only as another weapon against the Enemy. And yet--

He never doubted Boromir’s fitness to be his heir, and freely trusted him with Gondor’s armies and treasury. Yet his heart misgave him at the thought of putting the palantír in his son’s hands. Boromir was a warrior, with a noble and open nature, and Denethor loved him for it. He was not suited to this silent battle in the dark.

Faramir, then? Denethor paused at the window to look over the City below. Faramir knew more of the lore of Númenor, but what use would he make of it? Denethor shook his head slowly. I cannot give over this task to another. And if I fail–- He gave a wintry smile. Gondor will fall also.

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