Doomed to Live
"I tried to take the Ring from Frodo," Boromir said, desperate to spread the ill news ere pain and loss of blood could stop him. "I am sorry. I have paid." His glance strayed from Aragorn to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. "They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them." He paused and swallowed hard in a futile attempt to fight down another wave of pain that surged through his body.
A shadow fell upon his face. Blinking away clouds of mist that shrouded both his mind and his vision he saw Aragorn hunched over him, felt the other's hand upon his brow. Boromir closed his eyes against another onslaught of dizziness, but felt the hand move along the side of his face, past his jawline, until the fingers came to rest against his throat. Aragorn shifted position, then the hand was removed only to gently push aside layers of clothes and mail to assess the extent of his injuries. He could not suppress a cry as the Ranger's carefully probing fingers touched the long black shaft of the arrow that was lodged deep within his left shoulder. But the sudden flash of pain at least helped to clear his fogged mind, and when he felt Aragorn's grip tighten around the arrow, he gathered his remaining strength to speak again. "Leave it. It is over. I have failed. The world of Men will fall. And all will come to darkness. My city to ruin."
"No," Aragorn replied, "you have fought bravely. Few have gained such a victory." Then he resumed his examination, wincing in sympathy every time Boromir hissed or gasped in pain. At long last, he spoke again, "Your wounds appear severe but not fatal. But the arrows must be removed."
Aragorn sat back on his heels and fixed Boromir with a thoughtful gaze. Before Boromir could determine the reason for that probing regard, Aragorn broke free from his pensive mood with a minute shake of his head and a sigh, and said, "For now, we had better wait for the others, for I need some items from my pack to treat those wounds and I would not leave you alone right now." Again he paused, his brow wrinkled in thought. Whatever Aragorn had been contemplating, he abandoned the idea with another shake of his head and turned to Boromir with a comforting yet strained smile. "You might as well tell me what happened here while we wait. Which way did the Orcs go? And what became of Frodo? Where did he go?"
Boromir closed his eyes against confusion mingled with dizziness as the meaning of Aragorn's words sank in. He had been convinced that his end had come when a blow to his back had finished what an arrow to his shoulder and one to his side had begun: to bring him to his knees with such force that he could muster neither strength nor will to rise again, not even at the sight of Merry and Pippin being carried away by the Uruk-hai or the deadly arrow aimed at his head. The arrow had missed its target, thanks to Aragorn's intervention. The force of the blow and the weapon used to bring him down he had misjudged, though he felt terrible enough to believe his earlier assessment rather than Aragorn's assurance. Determined to find out whether Aragorn was convinced of his own words or had lied to a dying man as a means to offer comfort, Boromir opened his eyes and froze. An Orc loomed behind Aragorn, as if he had appeared out of thin air. Why neither he nor Aragorn had noticed his approach, Boromir could not tell, but the raised scimitar in his hand that was aimed at the Ranger's head left no time to dwell on the matter.
"Behind you!" Boromir yelled with all his remaining strength, but his warning was in vain. Helplessly he watched as Aragorn tried to dodge the descending blade. Though quick enough to evade the first blow, Aragorn stood no chance against the second. Still on his knees, he tried to reach his sword, but ere his hand could close around the hilt, the Orc's blade found its mark.
The flow of time seemed to cease as Boromir was forced to watch the wicked weapon descend once more. He was unable to move, unable to prevent the inevitable. No scream escaped Aragorn's lips, only a muffled grunt as the scimitar hit his shoulder with a bone crushing thud. The sheer force of the blow sent Aragorn sprawling, but he was not yet ready to admit defeat. Grabbing his sword with his left hand, he whirled around with a cry that spoke both of pain and anger, and buried Andúril deep in his opponent's chest. Boromir sighed with relief as the Orc fell dead from the blade ere the Ranger collapsed to the ground.
An eerie silence fell upon the clearing only disturbed by Aragorn's heavy breathing. Boromir stared at the back of the Ranger who still lay where his movement's momentum had carried him, not ten feet away. Boromir winced at the sight. Aragorn's elvish cloak was torn and already stained red with blood that was flowing freely from a gaping wound.
"Aragorn?" Boromir whispered, desperately wishing for the other to speak.
"I am here, Boromir!" came the muted reply, followed by the rustling of dry leaves as Aragorn slowly pushed himself up on his uninjured elbow, then struggled to his knees after a brief rest to fight down the pain and regain his strength. Boromir gazed at Aragorn in shock as the other sat back, his injured arm hugged protectively to his side, strands of sweat-soaked hair clinging to his face. A slight tremor ran through Aragorn's body, whether from pain, shock or the chilly breeze that descended from Emyn Muil and rustled the leaves overhead, Boromir could not tell.
"I am here!" Aragorn murmured once more, his voice rough with pain. He flashed Boromir a strained grin, then gripped his sword and shakily rose to his feet. Boromir eyed his companion's approach warily, unsure whether the other was fit to stand at all.
But Aragorn never reached him. After he had taken but a few steps in Boromir's direction, the sound of heavy feet rushing through the scrub let him freeze in his tracks. His eyes met Boromir's briefly and Boromir found his own fears mirrored in the other's face. Aragorn turned to face about half a dozen Uruk-hai. They were emerging from the surrounding trees, yelling in their foul tongue and quickly closing in on him. Again Boromir was forced to idly watch as Aragorn approached their opponents, straightening his back and raising his sword in a mock salute. Whence he took the strength, Boromir knew not, but he was determined to not let Aragorn fight alone a second time. So he grabbed his sword and tried to sit up but failed miserably. Overwhelmed by a sudden flash of pain in his side, he was forced on his back again. Dizziness clouded his senses and he briefly closed his eyes, waiting for the bout to pass.
The sound of clashing swords renewed his determination and he again struggled to rise. But his body betrayed him. He barely managed to catch a glimpse of Aragorn before the world around him swayed and unconsciousness claimed him at last.
Surrounded by Orcs, Aragorn was hard pressed dodging and one-handedly parrying blows that hailed down on him from every direction. He barely perceived Boromir's struggle, for it was but another blur of movement at the edge of his vision and too far away from the immediate threat to risk a second glance. An Orc fell with a strangled gurgle, his throat laid open by a backhanded slash. Aragorn blocked an uninspired yet forceful blow, but the Orc leaned into his blade with all his strength and they stood locked thus, glaring at each other. Fast waning strength and four Orcs at his back were reason enough for Aragorn to break their lock. So he stepped aside and let the Orc's blade glance off his sword. The sudden loss of resistance caused the Orc to stumble forward, which was all Aragorn needed to end his life with a blow to his back. But he was granted no respite, could hardly catch his breath as the air to his right sang with the approach of another blade.
He barely managed to avoid the blow, if only by diving out of the sword's path. The Uruk-hai's blade met but elven cloth, but he landed hard and his attempt to roll back to his feet was violently stopped by an Orc's iron-shod foot. A vicious kick to which he could offer not much resistance flipped him onto his back. Fierce pain shot through his shoulder as he hit the ground and his vision blurred from exhaustion and pain.
Aragorn tried to raise his sword to ward off the figure that loomed above him, but his move had already been anticipated, and the familiar iron-shod foot pinned his wrist to the ground, forcing his hand to abandon its grip on Andúril's hilt. "Giving up already?" the Orc sneered, shifting his weight to the foot that held the Ranger's wrist. With a snarl Aragorn swung up his legs, catching his captor between them and tried with all his might to topple the other. But the Uruk-hai was too heavy for Aragorn's desperate struggle to succeed. As if he were but tussling with an orcling, the Uruk-hai clamped huge, claw-like hands about Aragorn's ankles and pried his legs apart without effort, grinning in vast amusement all the while.
Under the cheers of his fellows, another Orc took hold of Aragorn's legs only to pin them down with his weight. "Now what will you try next?" the creature leered, revelling in the struggling Ranger's vain attempts to wriggle free from his grasp.
"All right, boys! You've had your fun! Uglúk and his guys will have reached Isengard by the time you've finished playing around!" a voice from the background barked.
Aragorn tensed as the angry snarls subsided, an indication that the Orcs were about to obey. A shadow fell upon him as the leader of the small party approached. Small yellow eyes flashed over him, then the hideous face twisted into a grin, baring yellow teeth. A foot shot forward and Aragorn's world exploded in a white flare of pain that rendered further thought impossible. A strangled cry escaped his lips and his world went dark.
There was pain ... and a hand hovering above his mouth.
"What would an Elf know about a mortal's signs of life!"
A gentle touch to his throat, but the pain remained, became stronger even.
"In contrast to Dwarves, we Elves care about all things living, be they mortal or not! And even the Firstborn have to breathe as Boromir obviously does."
Fabric rustled, someone tugged at his clothing. Clasps were undone and the breeze chilled his bared skin.
"'Tis cruel indeed that creatures who spend most of their time singing to trees or gazing at stars are bothered with such trifles!"
The words that found their way through the blackness surrounding Boromir's mind made no sense at all. But they appeared somewhat familiar; annoyingly familiar.
"Were we not given the gift to breathe, we could never delight in the rich scent of a pine forest in the hot summer sun, or the smell of dew on the first leaves in spring, or ..."
A cool hand was slipped beneath his clothing, probing fingers made their way to the source of his pain.
"I just wish that Elves were never bothered with the burden of voices!"
Boromir desperately longed for the oblivion of unconsciousness, not only to escape the throbbing pain, but to rid himself of that pointless conversation he could no longer ignore. Being denied the peace that unconsciousness offered, the only option that would grant him at least temporary reprieve would be to open his eyes and tell those two ever bickering creatures to shut up!
Having made this resolve he tried to open his eyes, but his lids did not obey. His limbs felt leaden and he could not even gather enough strength to turn his head or lift a hand.
"Look at his eyes! He is awaking!" This was Legolas' voice.
So my actions have at least brought a change of subject! Boromir sighed.
"'Tis but wishful thinking!" came the gruff reply, and Boromir already feared to witness the beginning of another round of futile discussions about the faults and lapses of Elves and Dwarves. But his silent contemplations were violently interrupted by a searing pain as the probing fingers found their goal. Boromir could not stifle a cry, no longer pondering whether he had the strength for this kind of action or not.
"See, he lives! But he will wish he had not woken just yet."
Boromir opened his eyes and found the fair face of Legolas hovering above his head. The Elf removed his long white hand from beneath Boromir's tunic and graced him with a sympathetic smile. "I will have to cut out those arrows," he said and drew a small knife from his belt.
Boromir watched with trepidation as Legolas ran his thumb over the knife's edge to test for sharpness, then cleaned both his hands and the knife with water from Gimli's water-skin. The next minutes Boromir could not quite recall, for the need to remain still and silent took all his strength. Only when he felt a folded piece of cloth being pressed against his side did he open his eyes. He blinked, for the world was slow to come into focus, but gradually the worst of the pain subsided.
"Your wounds are less severe than they appear at first sight," Legolas assured, "but I would advice you against rising too soon."
"Yes, I know. Aragorn already told me that much," Boromir replied somewhat testily, but the memory of Aragorn brought back images of a fight, feelings of pain and helplessness and of guilt and shame. "Aragorn! Where is Aragorn?" he cried.
"I know not," Legolas replied, "we hoped you knew aught of his whereabouts. We heard your horn and tried to come to your aid, but became separated. Gimli and I were engaged in a fight with another pack of Orcs some way back. By the time we arrived, you were the only one we found. But we have not yet searched for any traces of the others ..."
"The Orcs took Merry and Pippin! I could not prevent it, there were too many ..." Boromir briefly closed his eyes to banish the memory of the Hobbits being dragged away by those foul beasts.
"But thanks to you their number is greatly reduced," Gimli replied with a grim smile, his glance straying over the slain bodies that littered the clearing.
"Alas, I did not slay enough!" Boromir sighed, "Aragorn arrived just in time to kill the one that threatened to take my life. I thought this was the last one that had lingered behind. But more of them must have lain in wait. For when Aragorn came over to care for my wounds, we were attacked once more." He stopped and took a deep breath ere he continued, "we were attacked by only one Orc at first. But he caught us unawares. Aragorn killed him swiftly, but not before he had taken serious hurt himself." Boromir paused again as the thought of Aragorn's pain-filled eyes tightened his throat. "He was granted only brief respite ere there came more. I know not their number, but there were too many for Aragorn to cope with. I would have come to his aid, but had not the strength. I failed; ere I could reach him I swooned. The last thing I remember is seeing him fall ..."
Boromir could speak no more. Disgust at his own failings tightened his throat. Not only had he failed Aragorn when the Ranger was in dire need of his aid, but had he not threatened to take the Ring from Frodo and thus delayed the Hobbit's return, they would have never split up at all.
Legolas' whisper interrupted his thoughts, "Aragorn cannot be dead!"
Boromir knew not whether the hushed words were even meant for him to hear or whether they were nothing but the Elf's plea that what they all feared might not have come to pass. For a moment, Legolas did not move, head bowed in grief, oblivious to the questioning looks of Man and Dwarf. Then he gathered his composure, squared his shoulders and raised his head. "If they had killed him, we would have come upon his corpse ..."
"They could have dragged him away in the course of the fight," Boromir said, shoving the nagging feeling of guilt away for a time. He did not like that very thought, but they could ill afford to dwell upon false hope. And pondering on Aragorn's fate brought those torturing feelings all too swiftly back to his mind.
Legolas nodded and, having made up his mind, swiftly rose to his feet, "Take what rest you can, my friend. Gimli and I will search this place. If Aragorn was as seriously hurt as you say, the fight could not have lasted long. And we do not yet know for certain what has befallen the Hobbits."
"Wait! There is more the two of you should know!" The threat of being left alone to this nagging feeling of guilt finally lent Boromir the courage to speak.
Elf and Dwarf turned on the spot.
"I," Boromir returned their puzzled stares, "I tried to take the Ring! 'Twas I who frightened Frodo away, who caused the Fellowship to break!" Boromir felt hot tears of shame and guilt burn in his eyes, but he did not fight them back. It mattered no more, for he had failed; not only Aragorn and Frodo, but Merry, Pippin, the entire Fellowship; even his father who had always held his eldest son in such high esteem.
"You did what?" Boromir was fairly sure that Gimli's incredulous shout could be heard all the way back to Lothlórien. Within the blink of an eye the Dwarf had turned and stomped back to where Boromir lay, his axe tightly gripped with both hands.
Hot rage glittered in the Dwarf's dark eyes, but Boromir watched Gimli's approach with odd detachment. After all he had done, he had forfeited his right to live. He had never truly feared death, at least he had firmly held to that believe in order to calm shaking hands and fluttering nerves at the sight of his foes during his first campaigns. Later, he had grown accustomed to facing his opponents without much thought as to the possible outcome of such encounters. During this day's skirmish, however, when the huge Uruk-hai's first arrow had hit home, he had felt something akin to relief at the prospect of going down fighting, never to face the consequences of succumbing to the Ring's lure. But Aragorn had shattered his hopes. To end his life now at the axe of a furious Dwarf would at least spare him further shame.
Boromir's glance caught Legolas' eyes. They no longer held the warm concern that had offered comfort to a wounded man, but cold wrath unveiled. "I am sorry!" Boromir sighed, "I wish I could undo what harm I have done." After a pause he added, "but I will not beg for life, for I deserve it not ..."
For a few heartbeats, nobody spoke. Gimli and Legolas towered over Boromir who met their killing glares calmly. Legolas stood taut like a bowstring, while Gimli impatiently patted his axe. At length, Legolas spoke, "Does Aragorn know?"
Boromir sighed, "Yes, I told him as much as I could in the short time we had."
"And what did he say?"
"He did not condemn me on the spot, if that is what you want to know," he replied, "but the Orcs attacked too soon."
Legolas relaxed. He placed a slender hand on the Dwarf's shoulder and turned to face Gimli. "Let him be, Gimli. He tried to take the Ring, but he did not take it. And he finally learnt that using the Ring against Sauron is not a path we may tread ... You did, did you not?"
Feeling the scrutinising stare of the Elf come to rest upon him once more, Boromir nodded weakly ere he averted Legolas' gaze. "I did learn! Oh yes I did, indeed! But at what a price!"
Legolas sighed, "What about Frodo, what did you do to him?"
Another pang of guilt rose in the pit of Boromir's stomach as the memories of a frightened Frodo crawling away from his grasp found their way back to his mind. Be Honest! After all you have done, at least be honest! he firmly told himself, then spoke aloud, "I would have hurt him, I fear, but he used the Ring to escape."
Legolas shook his head in disapproval. "What has been done, has been done! We cannot change that now," he said at last; then, turning to Gimli "After all, he was willing to fight to his death to save Merry and Pippin. And the knowledge of his failure makes him suffer enough already."
Patting Gimli's shoulder, Legolas turned to leave, but the Dwarf's growl caused him to pause. "I trust him no more than I would trust an Orc," Gimli hissed, "I still wish my axe to meet his neck."
Legolas sighed once more, "I understand you all too well, friend Gimli, but we should rather fight Sauron's allies than our own. I do not ask to trust him yet, but to stay your axe." Then, turning back to Boromir, he said coolly, "You have yet to regain our trust! But I feel that you will be needed still. By your people at least." And to Gimli he spoke, "Come on, my friend. Let us see if we can find aught of our friends. And you, Boromir, take some rest; if you can."
Boromir nodded wearily, and let his eyes follow the Elf and Dwarf as they began to scan among the corpses that littered the clearing and the surrounding forest for any signs of their missing friends. He did not struggle to stay awake as weariness and exhaustion clouded his mind, and sleep promised a relief from guilt and pain.
To be continued ...
A/N: The dialogue in the first two paragraphs is taken in parts from J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers: The Departure of Boromir, mixed generously with lines from the movie (the original text can be found on page 6 of the Harper Collins Paperback Edition from 1999).
This is my first attempt at writing fan fiction, and English is not my first language, so have mercy and don't feed me to the Balrogs if anything does not seem fit.
This story is an A/U story that sets off at the end of the first movie, though it is based on the books rather than the movie (as long as I can keep them apart in my head). And it is not only inspired by Tolkien's work but also by other A/U stories I read, such as
"Alda mi mornie" by Sternenlicht
"The captain and the king" by plasticChevy
"Lie down in the darkness, rise up from the ash" by Dwimordene
"Veiling of the sun" by Maggie
among others; most of them can be found at http://www.henneth-annun.net.
I intend to write the story parallel to the second and third book, but there will be parts of the books that will fit in my story unchanged, so I will not bother to copy those.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.