Ch. 69 – Seeking

Seeking – Denethor POV – 1 of 4

In which Denethor seeks for answers to what he has found, and finds more things for which he needs answers.


This is the first of four relatively gentle chapters. Think of it as the calm before the storm.

Mostly, it’s an excuse for me and Mr. Snarly to tromp through history and geography and try to figure out what’s going on in the rest of Middle-earth. Things have been awfully quiet since Captain Skulking Eagle left town.

Brandir comes back to Minas Tirith a little less grieved and Beregar slowly recovers from his own harrowing. Imrahil is becoming a prince of the same caliber as his sister. Halmir continues to be angry with both of his pig-headed kings. And maybe, just perhaps, there is a little thaw going on between the High Warden and the Lord Steward. Maybe.

There’s also a cameo by a character who was in the very first piece of fanfiction I ever wrote, a great, sprawling, crazy, flawed 10th Walker fic that let me figure out how not to write fanfiction. The critics panned it, but it’s still the best one of that benighted sub-genre ever written. Heh.


8 thoughts on “Ch. 69 – Seeking”

  1. Dear Anglachel,
    I was wondering if you could expound a little bit on the effects of the enemy in the East on the citizens of Gondor. While I know that the Morgul mists can and do make people sick, I was wondering whether proximity was enough to affect them in other ways, like long-term exposure to radiation. There are good people in Minas Tirith—I believe Denethor would like to be a good man—but there appears to be a subtle twisting of personalities towards the dark. Denethor in particular behaves very much like someone with clinical depression, if you will forgive the comparison. I was unsure whether this was a physical or a psychological effect of simply knowing that the greatest evil in the world is at your gate.
    Thank you.

  2. Hi Belovdpoet,

    I talk a bit in Chapter 2, Water, about the things Finduilas sees in Minas Tirith and how people behave. They live under a cloud of dread, knowing Sauron is back, and the mental health of the population is strained. There is a theme in JRRT that living next to poisoned lands like Mordor will affect the people and animals there, weakening them, reducing life spans and health, and bringing about despair and nihilistic tendencies. Personalities are definitely twisted towards dark thoughts and deeds.

    Denethor is suffering from something similar to clinical depression. He struggles constantly with overwhelming despair. In his first encounter with the mariner, the mariner alludes to thoughts of suicide that Denethor has had. He fights all the time against the push to give in and give up. The contact with Sauron through the palantír will only make it worse.

    Ecthelion, also, suffers from some kind of depression, which Gandalf tries to help him with. His youthful hedonism can be seen as an exaggerated attempt to drown his depression through partying, whoring, and probably drinking. You can see it as nihilism mixed with hedonism. His willingness to destroy the Anduin bridge is not just his anger at Denethor but also his belief that everything is going to perish so why not just be rid of it now? When the story opens, he has absolutely no hope. He won’t take action because, from his perspective, it is all useless. The only thing that changes his mind is Boromir.

    Maiaberiel has no sense of despair, but is completely nihilistic. If she can’t have what she wants, she will destroy what other people have. Her deepest pleasure is in doing harm to others and making them despair. She knows the end is near and is out to get everything she can before then. Unlike Denethor and Ecthelion, she doesn’t really perceive anything kingly about Thorongil; he’s just another tool for her to use to get what she wants. She believes that the Captain is just another one of her father’s bastards. While I don’t think she is (consciously) an agent of Sauron, she definitely has dealings with them and is used by them. Her hangers-on are the nobles in Gondorian society who have been/are able to be morally and spiritually corrupted, and are comparable to the followers of Castamir.

    So, to answer your question, the corrosive effect of Sauron is both physical and psychological, but mostly psychological.

    Thank you for your interesting questions!


  3. I just love the part about the market, and the Northern relics that Denethor and Golasgil find; it’s the Anglachel version of the glimpses of distant time and space that made Tolkien so inviting to me. This little trickle of North-South trade makes perfect sense. I might have seen a tent like the Dwarves’ at the Pennsic War this summer…

    Poor Beregar!

    Now I am curious about this 10th Walker fic of yours… was Nori the cameo character?

  4. OH and THE BOW. How could I forget that? What a cool detail. This was the style of “steel” bow that Denethor had been researching earlier, yes? (I would guess it’s carbon fiber.)

  5. Hi Wheelrider,

    I’ll be posting another chapter sometime this evening, just to let you know. 🙂

    Isn’t the market fun? I can’t imagine a major civilization in a (relatively) peaceful condition not having a hell of a lot of trade going on. Historical accounts of trade patterns even in the Middle ages and especially during the early Renaissance show that the amount and variety of goods being trucked all over the place is astounding. There may not have been a lot of it and most trade would be local, but Jolly Olde England was getting black pepper and cinnamon from somewhere, not to mention textiles, chemicals, oils, livestock, technology and luxury goods on a regular basis.

    The Dwarves are actually using this trade trip to cover up something else they are doing – trying to retake Khazad-dûm. If the kingdom is recovered, they are going to need people to trade with, after all.

    The character in the 10th walker fic is actually the grave robber peddling the northern stuff. In an odd way, HotK picked up a lot of the themes and philosophical conundrums in that series (The Two Trees), so it became less important to write. It was 15 stories grouped into three sets (Rivendell, Dark Walk and Anduin), and each story had 5 to 7 short chapters. It starts at the Prancing Pony and ends immediately after Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo. It was simultaneously awful and awesome. I had no idea how to write fiction. Not claiming that I know how to write *now*, mind you, but it’s not quite so wince inducing.

    Yeah, the bow. Pretty cool, huh? Yes, I’m imagining it is some kind of carbon fiber composite substance that an elf (*cough* Fëanor *cough*) invented and got picked up by the clever metallurgists of Númenor. In my Denethor Lives! AU (that I will never write, but like to replay in my head), he goes medieval on some winged Nazgûl ass when he comes to his senses again after Faramir’s injury. The best archer in Gondor has a bone to pick with you…

    Yes, poor Beregar. But he gets better.


  6. “he goes medieval on some winged Nazgûl ass” — I am enjoying that imagery!

    Yay for new chapter. 😀

  7. I missed (or forgot) the link between dwarves coming to the fair & the attempt to reclaim Moria, duh! The secret undertaking was large enough it needed a public diversion. When no more dwarves came (or in small numbers), Denethor would only have to look East for (one of) the answers.

    I had missed Miriel was dressed royally, with a stone bound to her brow. Which is why Denethor had her crown made that way, & indeed one more reason why he was pushing Finduilas so to be Queen: When they rescued the fruit that’s how he had seen her. In her prophetic dreams, Finduilas described the weight of a circle crown, not a diadem. I’m less frustrated with him, … but it’s still a sign of him (with everyone else) not wanting to accept she’s going to die young, *sniff^

  8. Hi Julie,

    Merry Christmas!

    All of my various story chronologies reference each other so I have a sense of what’s going on and when, and can then bring in the events of one place into the happenings of another. So, the year Dalin shows up on the doorstep of Bag End is the year that Balin & the colony establish themselves in Moria. Dalin probably went with them as far as the road to the High Pass, then turned and continued west.

    There is a bit of confusion over what Finduilas wears on her head, but it makes sense. The “crown” of Númenor and Arnor is a diadem (fillet) of a diamond on a silver/mithril band/circlet. The Elendilmir ( ) is the example of this. Gondor, however, has an actual crown, which is what Aragorn gets when he claims Gondor – he already has the replacement for the Elendilmir and has been wearing it in battle. So Finduilas, as queen of Gondor, wears the crown/stone helm, but when in the guise of Míriel, she wears white jewel “crown” of Númenor. Denethor knows exactly what he’s doing when he gives her that; he’s calling her the heir of Míriel and the rightful High Queen of the Dunedain.

    It’s also him not wanting to acknowledge the fate that lies before them. He is determined to read the signs in the most hopeful way.


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