cast a bleary-eyed glance around the musty, dimly-lit chamber, his roving
eyes ranging over hundreds of little nooks and crannies in the walls
and on the shelves, all of which were stuffed to bursting with ancient
scrolls. “How many Prophetic Books are there in this
damned archive, anyway?” he asked his brother gloomily.
"Thousands,” replied Faramir, seating himself heavily and
pulling out another straight-backed wooden chair beside him for Boromir,
“but Mithrandir told me that only three of them were genuine.
The others are all fakes.”
Boromir lurched forward, nearly toppling the proffered chair. “You
mean to tell me that we’re looking for three scrolls…
out of all these?!” he cried out incredulously.
“In a manner of speaking,” replied Faramir with a wry smile.
"What about in plain speaking?"
Boromir groaned and rested his head on the table
before knocking his forehead against it a few times for good measure.
“Are you sure it’s worth all this, Faramir?”
Faramir nodded vigorously, former traces of levity forgotten, the once-smiling
mouth set in a firm, hard line of determination. “I need to know,
brother. I need to finally know the Naked Truth.”
Boromir sighed again, deeply. “Well, all right, I’ll help.
If it’s that important to you.”
“It is. See, look, I’ve made it easy for us. Yesterday I
sorted out all the scrolls that looked promising. We’ll start
"What," gulped Boromir, flipping rapidly
through the dusty pile "are 'Balrog Spanking
for Pleasure' and 'Flaming
Hell— a series of no-nonsense tips and tricks to outwit the
most fearsome Balrog armed with nothing more than a whalebone corset
and a collection of rude limericks' doing here?"
"Er, not that pile," said Faramir, blushing furiously, "They're
"Really?" snorted Boromir. "No wonder he spends all his
time closeted in the tower and has developed that nasty skin infection
on his— "
"—Never mind about that," interrupted Faramir, hastily
pushing the High Steward's collection of soft porn into a vacant alcove.
"It's this pile we're interested in."
Boromir eyed the towering mound of documents that
Faramir had indicated and whimpered like a frightened hobbit who has
just been mugged by three enormous trolls armed with copies of Bilbo
Baggins' poetry. “Well, let’s get cracking, then,”
he said reluctantly, and reached forward to pluck the first of the scrolls
from the pile.
A heavy silence descended upon the chamber, broken
only by the rustling of musty parchment and the occasional squeak of
surprise, or it might have been dismay.
"Will you stop doing that!" snapped Faramir.
"That damnable squeaking."
"It's not me," replied Boromir indignantly, "It's the
mice tormenting the cat."
"Shouldn't that be the other way around?"
"They are very large mice. Remember this is Gondor where stewards
are bigger than Kings."
"You've been talking to
father again, haven't you?"
Boromir scowled. "No I haven't."
"Yes you have and he told you you'd never be King so long as that
ragged ranger from the North was left alive!"
Boromir cuffed his brother and moved his chair further away.
was some time before either of them spoke again.
“Ginger,” said Boromir abruptly.
“I beg your pardon?”
“This one says your hair’s ginger.”
“Does it really?” asked Faramir casually.
“Come and see for yourself,” said Boromir, beckoning his
brother. Faramir yawned hugely and theatrically, stretching his stiff
limbs as he did so, and rose languidly from his chair to peer over his
brother’s shoulder at the scroll in question. “See…
hmm, where was it?" said Boromir. "Hmm, they went
for a walk… bards were singeing… et cetera, et cetera…
there! ‘furrowmire run a hadn throw his gignery heir.”
“It says ‘gignery’, not gingery. And my name
is not ‘furrowmire' any more than yours is 'Borrowmore."
"Borrowmore? Where does it say 'Borrowmore?"
"Here," said Faramir, stifling a giggle, "At the bottom
of the next section; 'thn Borrowmore slipped hs foots into a par of
punk, fluffy slippers—"
"I do NOT wear 'punk fluffy slippers!"
"Pink. I think the scribe meant 'pink."
"Whatever. It's not true."
"Exactly," agreed Faramir. "Neither is the remark about
my hair. “And look at the author… ‘leggynfaz4eva’…isn’t
that the scribe that said Ithilien was in Rohan?”
“Oh… yes, you’re right.”
“You need to cross-reference your sources better, Boromir,”
chided Faramir, returning to his chair and helping himself to another
scroll. Boromir scowled. The things he did for his supercilious runt
of a brother…
“Hmmm…” said Faramir presently, his face drawn in
concentration. “According to this one, my hair is ‘reddish-goldish-brownish-blond.’
What the hell kind of a color is ‘reddish-goldish-brownish-blond?”
A few minutes of silence, punctuated only by the
light rustle of pages and the squeaks of the cat which rose briefly
to a piercing falsetto and then subsided into a series of self-pitying
sobs as the mice trussed it up securely behind the wainscoting, were
suddenly broken by a long groan.
“This is getting tiresome… Father has apparently just beaten
you into unconsciousness yet again for asking when the King
will return,” remarked Boromir, scanning another manuscript. “What?
He’s beating me, too? Well, not as hard as he beat you,
naturally, because I distinctly remember that the wench was already
pregnant when I took her behind the stables, but all the same…”
“What did we do?” asked Faramir curiously.
“Hmmm… he claims that we were behaving
like animals in heat...”
“Apparently we were discovered together in a compromising situation
with one—no, three kitchen maids—but you were more interested
in the sheep..."
"SHEEP?!" ejaculated Faramir, craning forward.
"Oh, it's OK, I think the scribe meant 'ship'.
Sheep don't have sails do they?"
"Er...no," gulped Faramir,
"Oh, wait, here it explains… I think I patted you on the
“That’s the word I was looking for,” Faramir
said, absent-mindedly. “Does it say anything about my hair colour?”
“Er… well, it mentions that it’s a bit..er..sticky,
or he might mean the maids...but other than that—”
“—Enough said," broke in Faramir brusquely. "Put
that one away, it clearly belongs in father's disgusting personal archive.
Right… this one says honey-blond… honey-blond and lavender-scented…”
“Lavender-scented? How do you know?”
“Apparently you were sniffing it.”
“The scribe claims that it was a purely fraternal encounter…”
“I have never sniffed your hair in the course of my entire
existence.” said Boromir huskily.
“I never said that you did!”
“Just making sure we’re absolutely clear on that point.”
“We’re clear, we’re clear.”
“Good… awww, another tear-filled exchange…I
appear to be going on a trip of some sort and you’re upset about
it… and now our sister is kissing me passionately… wait
a minute, since when have we had a sister?”
“Since never, that I’m aware of.” said Faramir. "Though..."
"I don't think I should tell you any more."
"I'm beginning to suspect that this entire library consists of
nothing but a catalogue of vice
and debauchery," said Faramir, frowning disapprovingly at his
"That would explain why Mithrandir spends so much time here."
"Can we get back to the hair please?"
"If we must. At all events, this one says ‘reddish-brown’,
too.” He looked up at Faramir with a triumphant smirk. “An
awful lot of them seem to have been convinced you’re a red-head.”
“I don’t want to be a red-head!” cried Faramir
petulantly. “And remember, only three of these scrolls
can be trusted… if we want the Truth, those are the ones we have
“Alright, alright, keep your hair on; we’ll keep looking…”
“Ah, sweet Eru, I’ve died again.
What the hell is up with these scribes?”
“Beats me. Boromir, what’s brothercest?”
Boromir shrugged and blushed deeply. “I’m not sure. Why
do you ask?”
“This scroll says that charges of brothercest were whispered at
court after you were found in my bed at three in the morning without
a stitch of clothing...hang on a minute...it says here that our sister
was in bed with us!"
"What?" gasped Boromir, looking up.
"Our non-existent sister was apparently sucking the poison from
a spider bite you had sustained in Mordor. Whoever heard of spiders
in Mordor? Oh this is preposterous!"
Faramir flung the scroll aside in disgust and picked up another from
the rapidly dwindling pile
Boromir grunted and returned to the scroll he had
just read. He seemed to be dying an awful lot in these so-called ‘Prophetic
Scrolls’, and the scribes all seemed to enjoy going into great
detail about the excruciating mental and physical agony he experienced
whilst he expired. And why did it always seem to involve being shot
full of arrows in defence of two people named Mary and Preppy?
He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, enjoying the relief
of darkness. It felt as if he’d been reading these scrolls for
an eternity, and…
There was a loud, rending crash, and Boromir looked up just in time
to see Faramir go careening out of his chair. “Fara, what in Eru’s
Faramir scrambled backwards on his rump, putting
as much distance as was physically possible between himself and the
scroll he had just been perusing, which now wafted gently to the floor,
buoyed by the draft of air that his precipitate retreat had created.
Faramir stared at it, eyes bulging and his expression near apoplectic
Boromir picked up the document curiously.
read that!” Faramir burst out, scooting forward once more
and attempting to snatch the scroll from his brother’s grasp.
“Why not?” asked Boromir, holding the paper safely out of
reach and scrutinizing it. “It’s just says I’m giving
you a fencing lesson… and…and…”
Boromir’s eyes popped. They didn’t pop nearly as much as
Faramir’s, but they popped a long way nonetheless. After a blinking
a few times to clear his head, he peered down at his brother, who was
still cowering a few feet away. “Faramir, my darling, I love you.”
Faramir’s eyes widened still further, and a strangled noise issued
from his throat.
“…but not in that way,” finished Boromir
Faramir gasped in apparent relief. “Thank the Valar for that.”
He rose to his feet shakily.
Boromir peeked at the parchment once again. “It does, however,
mention that your hair is red.”
“Aiiee! I do not want red hair!”
The younger Húrin looked up.
“I think I’ve found THE Scroll. Or one of them.”
Faramir shot out of his chair in jubilation.
“Really? How can you tell?”
“It has lots of words. Lots. And they’re all spelled correctly.”
“What’s it called?” asked Faramir eagerly, dragging
his chair closer to Boromir’s and sitting down next to him with
his mouth hanging open.
Python: The Lord of the Rings—The Return of the King.”
“Sounds promising. How long is it?”
“Er…” Boromir carefully unrolled the scroll. It unfurled…
and unfurled… and unfurled until a very long, curling parchment
lay all over the table.
“Pretty long, I’d say.”
Faramir blinked and closed his mouth with an audible snap. “Well,
let’s get started, then.”
There were several minutes of silence during which
even the cat made no sound. The minutes lengthened into hours.
“How far have you got?” asked Faramir.
“Shut up!” hissed Boromir, engrossed. Then, “No!
Run, Pippin, you bloody idiot, run!”
“Oh, you’re at that part,” said Faramir, grinning.
“I thought I told you to shut up—Why the hell are you stopping
to talk to Beregond? RUN, YOU FOOL! THERE ARE LIVES AT STAKE HERE!”
Faramir fought back an amused smile and looked back down at the page
he was reading.
And there was the Truth.
“Boromir, you have to read this bit right here.”
“Where?” His brother looked up irritably. “There?
That’s way further along than I am.”
“You can come back to your bit later.”
“Look, Faramir, I’m in suspense here, OK?”
“Boromir,” said Faramir, exasperated. “I live, OK?
Mithrandir rescues me. Relax. Oh, and I get the girl.”
Boromir let out a long, relieved sigh. “Oh, right... WAIT-A-MINUTE!
Girl? what girl?"
“Just read it—here.”
Boromir glanced at the passage. “And
so they stood on the Walls of the City of Gondor, and a great wind rose
and blew, and their hair, raven and golden, streamed out mingling in
the air… What? You interrupted me for that?”
Faramir gritted his teeth. “Read it again.”
Boromir did, annoyed.
And saw the Naked Truth.
“Your hair is raven!”
Faramir pulled a strand out in front of his eyes. “Why, so it
They stared at one another for a moment, as the full gravity of the
situation sunk in.
“You want to keep reading?” asked Faramir presently.
“Sure, why not?” grinned Boromir, "This chick sounds
totally HOT. And for once I get to—"
"—No you don't."
"No, I do. You die—horribly."
on this story? Click the button to have your say