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Messages: 23. Dreams
Seek for the sword that was broken
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsel taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.
Boromir opened his eyes to the light of morning. He was out of breath, and cold sweat dampened his brow. His whole body was shaking with exhaustion. He could still hear the growing thunder and a remote voice crying, speaking words he understood but that did not make any sense. Even though his eyes were open and directed at the roof of his small tent, he could still see the dark eastern sky. His head hurt, and he raised his hands to rub his temples. His elbow connected with something solid but soft beneath his blanket.
“Ow!” his blanket complained, and the sleep-tousled head of his brother appeared in his field of vision. “An elbow in the back, now that’s the way to be awoken,” Faramir complained mildly with the hint of a smile on his lips, that disappeared as soon as he got a look at his brother’s face. Faramir sat up in the narrow cot and put a heavy hand on Boromir’s shoulder. “You look as if you saw Numenor rise from the waves.”
“`Twas not that vision of yours, but you are not so far off the mark. I dreamt a strange dream this night,” Boromir said slowly and continued rubbing his temples.
Faramir relaxed and gave his brother’s shoulder a squeeze. “A strange dream,” he repeated. “I am quite familiar with that particular problem, and I can assure you, brother, strange dreams tend to be unpleasant and disturbing, but they seldom kill.”
“I am not used to them. I have never dreamt like that before.” Boromir groaned and lowered his hands.
Faramir rolled out of the cot and stretched his long limbs. “Do not let yourself be troubled by dreams after a long and heavy battle,” he said. “I did have a strange dream last time I slept, before the battle, and I dreamt it again this night, but this is not the time to analyze dreams, even though mine was unsettling and troubling as well. The men need us, and as soon as you are able, we are expected in the city to make our report to the Lord Steward.”
“I know what is expected of us,” Boromir grumbled and shrugged off the blanket. His injured knee protested at the abrupt movement, and he bit his lip in sudden pain. “Speaking of what is expected of us: When did you start sleeping in my bed again? If I remember correctly, you stopped doing that when you turned ten.”
“War creates the unlikeliest of allies and even stranger bedfellows,” Faramir answered lightly, running both of his hands through his unruly hair.
Boromir shook his head. “If only we had had the unlikeliest of allies fighting beside us last night…,” he murmured. He pulled on his heavy boots with a grunt of pain, then looked around the small tent for his sword he had put out of his reach for caution’s sake; he tended to reach for a weapon when awoken in the middle of the night, and that might be dangerous when his brother shared his cot. The words of his dream came back to him, having lost nothing of their urgency, and he whispered under his breath: “Seek for the sword that was broken…”
Faramir abruptly raised his head, his grey eyes dark and narrow. “What?”
“’Tis nothing,” Boromir murmured and scratched his neck. “The words and images of my dream are still occupying my thoughts, that’s all.”
Faramir sat down on the edge of the cot, his eyes never leaving Boromir’s face. “Tell me about it.”
Boromir bent down to retrieve his sword, testing the weight of the faithful steel in his hands for a long moment. “You just told me this is not the time to analyze strange dreams. It is not like you to change your mind so quickly,” he teased. “Are you sure you did not bump your head last night?”
“Tell me!” Faramir insisted. “What did you see? What did you hear?”
The urgency in his brother’s voice made Boromir turn around, and one look at his brother’s face made him swallow the teasing remark that had wanted to escape his lips. He let the sword drop to his feet and sat down next to Faramir on the edge of the cot. He knew the younger man well, and he had never seen him more serious than at this moment. Faramir’s eyes were black, almost like when he was having a vivid waking dream, and his hands were clenched into fists, his knuckles white from the force of the empty grip.
“It was a strange dream,” Boromir began. “I thought the eastern sky grew dark and there was a growing thunder, but in the west a pale light lingered, and out of it I heard a voice, remote but clear, crying: Seek for the sword that was broken…”
“In Imladris it dwells,” Faramir continued for him.
“There shall be counsel taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.”
“There shall be shown a token
That doom is near at hand,” they went on together.
“For Isildur’s bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.”
“How…?” Boromir started to ask, and Faramir silenced him with a wave of his hand.
“I dreamt the same.”
Findar, the Ranger who accompanied Anakil and Lieutenant Mablung to Henneth Annûn, had just taken over the task of carrying Anakil when he could not force his eyes to stay open any longer, and he fell asleep in the tall Ranger’s arms.
“We can find a way!”
It was Irion’s voice, and somewhere in the back of his mind Anakil knew that Irion was dead, that it was just a dream; but it felt good to hear his fallen comrade for what might be the last time.
“The bear’s cubs want to enter the dragon’s lair?”
The Poet. Wherever he was, Anakil hoped that the old messenger had found a way to safety. He needed to see him again, to learn his real name and win a bottle of brandy for his brothers. And there was still so much he did not know about the power of words.
“We do not have time for discussions.”
Anakil recognized Captain Faramir, not because he knew his voice very well, but because he remembered the moment the Captain had spoken those words, in the courtyard of the Great Hall of Osgiliath, a place that did not exist any more.
In his dream he looked around, and he saw them, all of those that had gathered there to listen to Anborn’s desperate plan, all of those that had followed Captain Faramir in his courageous attempt to destroy the bridge, and of course the two messengers, and the two boys. He was a little startled to see himself standing there, as if in his dream he had turned into a ghost floating a few feet above the ground, looking down at the scene as a silent observer. He tried to reach out and touch Beldil, to tell him to abandon the bridge and get to the safety of the western shore while there was still time, but he could not reach him, could not get his attention. He tried to shout at Irion not to turn his back on the enemy, but the tall boy did not hear him.
“Getting into trouble again, Anakil?”
Beldil. There were just the four of them now, the Captain and the men had disappeared. Those few moments in the yard had been the last time the four of them had been together alive. Soon the first of them would die.
“I am sorry, Irion!” Anakil whispered. “I am so sorry. There was nothing I could do. I did not know!” He could feel tears on his face, and suddenly a strong hand wiped them away.
“Don’t be ashamed of your tears, Troublemaker,” he heard Mablung’s voice close to his ear. “Be happy that you are still young and innocent enough to shed tears in grief as well as in joy. Never let the horrors of life take that away from you.” Anakil felt the rough hand on his cheeks and forehead once more. “Go back to sleep. You are still burning up.”
He tried to respond, but his throat was dry, and no word would leave his lips. His nose was running, so he just sniffled and buried his face in Findar’s cloak for warmth and comfort.
“Were we ever this young?” he heard Mablung’s question.
“I remember it vaguely. Must have been a very long time ago!” Findar answered.
Perhaps the two Rangers talked more, but Anakil did not hear them as his mind fled into a dreamless sleep.
It was dark when he opened his eyes again. His mouth was dry, and he shivered slightly with cold. He turned his head, and in the pale light of the moon and a few stars he could see that he lay on a bed of fallen leaves, covered with a Ranger’s cloak. Findar was sleeping next to him, curled up in his own cloak, his bow close to his sleeping form. The murmur of flowing water reached his ear; they must have made camp close to a small river.
A few feet away a dark human shadow leaned against a tree, cloakless; Anakil knew it had to be Mablung on watch. “Aren’t you cold?” the boy whispered. His dry lips hurt with every word.
The shadow of Mablung’s head moved in the darkness. “I am warmer than you would be without the cloak, Troublemaker. Go back to sleep.”
“I don’t want to.” Anakil did not know where this thought came from, but it was the truth. He did not want to go back to sleep. It was a childish thing to say, but he did not care.
“Go back to sleep,” Mablung repeated. “Try to regain some strength. I will wake Findar in about an hour. We cannot risk lingering here much longer, we have to keep moving. Only two of us are able to fight, and we do not know whether the Orcs and Southrons have already established patrols in this part of the forest. We need to reach Henneth Annûn before first light.”
“I can walk now,” Anakil said.
Mablung chuckled softly. “The last time I looked, your feet were bloody and infected. Go back to sleep.”
“I don’t want to!”
“Listen to me, Troublemaker.” It was not an order. Mablung was considerate enough not to order the feverish boy around. “You survived a battle, you escaped from the enemy’s camp, and you reached us to warn us of the changed situation in Eastern Osgiliath. You have done enough, Anakil son of Anabar of the Anduin. Your duty is done, and done well. Let us do our duty now. Sleep.”
Even in his feverish state Anakil could understand those simple words. “Yes, Lieutenant.” He sighed.
Mablung ran his hand over his face. Anakil could see the faint gleam of grey eyes in the darkness. “You are a lucky little bastard.”
“You told me that before, Lieutenant. In Eastern Osgiliath.”
“Then it must be true. Now shut up.”
“Yes, Lieutenant.” Anakil closed his eyes and tried to think of Eastern Osgiliath as it had been just a few days before: His home in the army, the home of soldiers, boys, messengers, healers and horses, a place of hard work, but also a place he had considered safe. He hated this war that had destroyed it - just like that. His feverish mind could not find a reason for the destruction of lives, dreams and homes, and he was sure than even in a completely right state of mind, he still would not be able to come up with a plausible explanation for the events of the last 36 hours.
Findar’s large hand on his shoulder shook the boy awake. His eyes opened, and the hand moved from his shoulder to his mouth to prevent any sound he might be about to make. “Be quiet!” the Ranger hissed. “Don’t move until we are back!” Anakil nodded, and the hand disappeared from his face. He heard the rustle of leaves to his right. He was alone.
He was too confused to be afraid. The forest was silent. No wind moved the fallen leaves around him, he could just hear the soothing murmur of the small river in the distance. The moon hid behind a patch of clouds, and the few stars were not bright enough to bring light between the dark trees. He could hear his own breathing and the regular beating of his heart. Slowly he turned his head, but all he could see was darkness.
Then he heard it. There was movement in the underbrush. Something, someone, was walking through the forest in the darkness, and he was coming closer. Anakil sniffed the air, afraid that he might detect the foul smell of Orcs, but there was no wind to bring such a smell to his nose, and his nose was a little plugged up anyway. He hoped that Mablung and Findar were able to track and kill whoever was sneaking up on them in the darkness.
The sound was coming closer and growing louder, as if whoever was moving did not care to silence his steps. The boy was fully awake now, and fear started to fill his heart. He did not want to die, but neither was he afraid of death. He was afraid of dying alone. He had seen many deaths last night, terrible deaths, but at least those men had died together with their comrades, protecting their homes and their families.
The underbrush a few feet away from him moved slightly, and suddenly Mablung’s voice called from just behind him: “Don’t move. Identify yourself!”
Anakil winced, startled. He had not heard the Ranger positioning himself directly behind him.
He heard the quiet hiss of an arrow coming from somewhere to his right, disappearing into the moving underbrush, but there was no cry of pain and surprise, so Findar must have missed.
The underbrush continued moving. They heard a quiet snort. It was not a human sound, and Anakil had never heard an Orc snort like that. It sounded more like a frightened horse.
“Hold your fire!” he heard came Mablung’s command close to his ear. “Cover me!”
The Ranger Lieutenant stepped out of the underbrush next to the boy and moved silently into the direction the snort had come from. Anakil could not see him, but he was sure Findar followed his Lieutenant’s every move with a readied bow.
There was another snort from the underbrush, then a short neigh, and Anakil’s heart stopped beating for a moment. He knew that sound, had spent so much time with this particular animal that he was completely sure of himself. He put two fingers into his mouth and uttered a low whistle.
Mablung turned around, startled by the unexpected noise, his nocked arrow pointed at Anakil’s heart. Before the Lieutenant could utter a word, a large, dark shadow appeared from the underbrush, and, happily snorting, made its way to the boy on the ground.
“Hold your fire – please!” Anakil whispered, suddenly afraid that one of the Rangers might shoot at his biggest, ugliest and oldest friend. Then the horse reached the boy and nuzzled his hair, still snorting happily. The boy lifted a trembling hand and stroked the long, disheveled mane. “Glaurung, you are nothing but big trouble, you know, old boy!?”
From the corner of his eye, Anakil saw Mablung slowly lowering his bow. Findar appeared to his right, his bow still ready in his hands. “A horse!” the Ranger whispered, disbelief in his voice. „Of all things that dwell in this forest, it has to be a horse.”
The Captain General stumbled over the form of address.
My Lord Steward… that did not sound right, not for a letter that would contain personal information as well.
My Lord Steward and beloved Father… that did not sound right either, not for a letter that would contain a detailed report of battle.
Dear Father… too short, too desperate, too much like a son who wanted his father to know that he was well. It did not sound like the way a soldier should begin a letter to his Lord and beloved father.
Boromir scratched at his itchy beard and resisted the urge to chew on the end of his quill. He was in plain view of the men of Osgiliath, Ithilien and those that had come from the White City to reinforce the decimated company, and they wanted to see their Captain confident, not chewing his quill in his search for the right words. They did not know that commanding a garrison or company consisted of more paperwork in a mere week than most of them would ever see in their entire life.
The Captain General and the Captain of the Ithilien Rangers sat across from each other at a small table, a vial of ink and a stack of parchment placed between them. It had been Faramir’s idea to place the writing table in front of Boromir’s tent, to show the men their Captains were working hard even when they were not moving about the garrison.
Boromir had walked among his men all morning, restoring order and distributing the reinforcements that slowly arrived from the White City. It tore at his heart to see the wagons and carts arrive from the White City, loaded with able bodied men of the City Guard, healers and much needed supplies. In the morning, Boromir had feared that the Lord Steward himself would arrive with the reinforcements, to inspect the remainder of his largest and strongest company, but he had not come, and even though the man Boromir would be happy to great his father, the Captain General was glad that the Steward had decided to remain in a place of relative safety.
The enemy, thankfully, had stayed on the eastern shore of the Anduin, strangely content with holding the eastern part of Osgiliath and the greatest part of the riverbank. The horror that had preceded their main host had passed to the west and had not returned, and the great army did not seem willing to follow it after the fall of the bridge. The guards at the river, mostly young men from the city with good and rested eyes, had reported that the enemy had not even begun to cut trees or build rafts for an attempt to cross the river. Boromir did not understand this idleness in his opponents, but he did not have the time to try to come up with a logical explanation.
The wagons that arrived from the city did not leave empty, but carried those wounded most likely to survive the trip to the houses of healing in the city, and there were so many of those that the carts had not yet started to bring home the dead. Few dead bodies had been recovered, most fallen had stayed behind on the eastern shore or had found their resting place on the bottom of the Anduin. Boromir had already instructed the few surviving cooks and the kitchen aides that had arrived from the city with the supplies to use only water from far upstream, to avoid sickness from the rotting bodies.
Communication was difficult throughout Western Osgiliath, for few horses had reached the western shore alive, and even fewer errand runners and messengers had survived to convey orders and messages. The oldest and most experienced men acted as leaders, for few officers left of Osgiliath remained, and even though Boromir’s list of recommendations for the empty commissions had left for the White City with the first available messenger, the Steward’s approval or rejection had not returned yet.
After establishing order in the shaken garrison and organizing a ring of guards and warriors in case the enemy made a sudden move, the Captain General could feel the pain in his knee even while sitting down. The healers would be cross that he had overtaxed himself, walking without the help of a stick most of the time, but he was confident that he could deal with an anxious or even infuriated healer.
Faramir’s quill scratched quietly on pieces of parchment, stopping only to be dipped into the vial of ink between them, and for a moment Boromir envied his brother’s ease with words and emotions. Faramir was most probably writing to the families of his fallen men, and he never even stopped to think about how to write those letters, while Boromir struggled with how to address their own father.
“Do you intend to inform father about our dream?” Faramir asked.
Boromir did not ask how his brother knew that the blank piece of parchment in front of him was destined to become a letter to their father. Somehow Faramir always knew. “I did not intend to bother him with this trivial matter just now,” he answered; although somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that this dream would prove to be far from trivial. There were so many riddles in the words he had heard, and if Faramir had heard them as well and could not understand their significance, only their father, more learned than anyone else in Gondor, could perhaps solve them. “Let us first come to terms with reality…” he waved his hand to indicate the busy garrison “…before we occupy our minds with riddles and dreams.”
Faramir stopped writing and raised his head. “Don’t you think it is worth mentioning when the two of us dream the same riddle in the same night? Maybe father will have an explanation where we fail to see a meaning.”
“Maybe he will,” Boromir answered. “But if so, he can enlighten us when the three of us talk face to face, over a good meal and an even better glass of wine.” He smiled while he said those words. It had been years since the Steward and his sons had sat down together to eat and talk in peace. Most of the time the two sons of the Steward had not been in the White City at the same time, and on the few occasions Faramir had been there, Steward and Ranger Captain had fought their personal war.
Faramir returned the smile, but his grey eyes were clouded. “That would be pleasant indeed.” Then the small smile vanished. “But you and I do not believe it will happen after…” he mimicked his brother’s gesture, indicating the whole garrison with a wave of his hand, “… after this.”
Anakil hugged the thick neck of the working horse with desperate arms, hiding his face in the long mane. The horse nuzzled his back, careful not to move the boy too much with his superior strength, for the animal seemed to sense that his young master was injured.
Mablung and Findar stepped closer, their bows lowered but their senses still alert. “I know this ugly beast,” Mablung said.
Anakil pulled away from the animal at those words, but he could not think of a way to defend his large friend. Glaurung was indeed an ugly beast.
“This is the horse you took to Ithilien on your first … adventure,... Troublemaker. It seems he and you developed the habit of turning up together in the most unexpected places.”
A small smile began on Anakil’s face, then he remembered when and how he had parted company with the horse, and his eyes searched the underbrush for movement immediately. “Poet?” he asked, raising his voice.
“Be quiet!” Findar admonished him. “We do not want to draw too much attention to ourselves.”
“But he has to be here somewhere,” Anakil explained. “The Poet. They left Eastern Osgiliath together. He must have left the riverbank for more cover in the woods. If this old boy made it so far, then the Poet must have made it, too. He is a messenger and a warrior as well; I saw him fight on the bridge, before I saw him fall. He wouldn’t fall into the hands of stinking Orcs.” Anakil realized he was not making much sense and stopped.
At Mablung’s nod, Findar disappeared into the underbrush, while the Ranger Lieutenant knelt down next to the boy. “Anakil. I know this old messenger everyone calls the Poet. From your words I guess he was in Eastern Osgiliath with you, and he left the enemy’s camp at the same time, riding this horse.“
Anakil nodded silently.
“The Poet is an experienced man. He would never have left either the clear path of the riverbank or his horse. I am sorry, Anakil, but I do not think Findar will find a trace of him in the woods around here. We are far away from the river.”
“… somehow found you,” Mablung interrupted. “And since we do not know if he unwittingly brought our presence here to the enemy’s attention, we have to leave immediately.”
Anakil did not want to accept the possibility that something had happened to the Poet. The old messenger was learned in the use of both the sword and words, no Southron and no Orc was clever or strong enough to best him. He had led them safely out of the enemy’s camp, and with Glaurung at his side, Anakil had been sure that nothing could possibly happen to him. But Glaurung was here now, alone. He had to stifle a sob. So many men had died in last night’s battle, and still the battle went on killing, long after it was over.
Mablung’s strong arms lifted the boy onto the horse’s broad back. Anakil’s bandaged feet throbbed with the movement, and there was cold sweat on his brow. He was thankful for the horse’s warmth between his legs and Mablung’s cloak over his shoulders.
“Hold on!” Mablung said. “We have to move fast now!”
Anakil nodded and rubbed at the shining path silent tears had cleansed on his dirty cheeks. “He was my…“ He stopped to search for the right word. The Poet had never had to search for the right word. He had respected the Poet; the old messenger had been his mentor, his guide in a suddenly confusing war. “He was my friend,” he finally said. “Even though I never learned his real name.”
“Things happen,” Mablung said gravely. “Now hold on and be quiet!”
The Ranger Lieutenant took the horse’s mane and led it into the underbrush. The horse shook his head, fighting against the stranger’s hand, but a slap and a word from the boy on his back made him obey. Findar joined them quietly a few minutes later, and the two Rangers, the boy and the horse hurried on their way to Henneth Annûn.
An Ithilien Ranger took some of the letters Faramir had written and mounted an old, bare backed horse. The animal looked too old to be on active duty, his eyes were dull, and patches of his mane were missing, but the Ranger Captain knew there were no better horses available. “Leave your mount on this side of the river, take the ferry and be careful. We do not know if Henneth Annûn is still safe. Do not use our usual paths.”
The Ranger nodded. “Yes, Captain. I will bring news of Mablung and Damrod soon.” He put the sealed messages for Cair Andros and Henneth Annûn into the pocket of his bloodstained cloak and nodded a salute at both Captains present. “Captain Boromir. Captain.” Then he cantered off, stirring the dust on the roads between Western Osgiliath’s ruins.
Faramir put his quill aside and shook his tired hand. “I am done for today,” he declared.
Boromir rubbed his hand over his eyes. “I am far from finished, but I could do with a break, a good meal and some wine.” He rose to his feet and flexed his stiff shoulders. His injured knee protested sharply. He ignored the pain, but when he took his first step away from the table, the knee supported him no longer, and his leg gave out from under him.
Faramir saw his brother sway and fight for balance and with two quick steps he had passed the table between them and caught the heavier man securely around the waist. “Boromir?” he asked, concerned.
Boromir took a deep breath and briefly closed his eyes before he was able to answer. “It’s only the bad knee,” he said. “Don’t worry; it will be over in a moment.”
“It won’t be,” Faramir stated. “Not if you continue working as you did today.”
“But…,” Boromir started to argue.
“Enough!” Faramir said, and he himself was surprised at the sharpness in his voice. He shook his head at some men who had moved to help them, and the men stayed away. The Ranger Captain could deal with his stubborn brother alone. “You have done enough today, now you are going to rest.” Boromir wanted to protest, but he did not intend to start a fight with his brother in plain view of the garrison and therefore did not struggle as Faramir pulled one of his arms over his shoulder. “Lean on me!” the younger man ordered, and Boromir did as he was asked. Faramir’s arm around his waist guided the limping Captain General into his tent.
Faramir lowered his brother carefully onto his cot and gently but firmly made him lie down. His voice softened considerably as he said. “Lie still for a moment. I will go get a healer.”
Boromir popped himself on his elbows and shot an angry look at his brother, annoyed that he had to argue not only with an anxious healer about his injury, but with his brother as well. “Faramir, you do not have to coddle me. I refrained from arguing in front of the whole garrison for both our sakes, but now you will listen to me for a moment, and listen carefully. I…”
“Save your breath!” Faramir interrupted, his voice even sharper than before.
Living in the household of Denethor of Gondor had taught Faramir to be an expert at hiding his emotions. But once in a while, in the company of people he completely trusted, he allowed his temper to surface. Boromir had learnt to respect and sometimes dread his brother’s short and perfectly timed outbursts, but he knew that most of the time, when directed at him, they were well deserved.
“Boromir of Gondor, if there is one fault to be found in your character, it is your pride! You want to be the savior of Gondor, you want to personally slay every single foe, but I am sorry to tell you that you are only a man. You cannot save everyone, and you are not invulnerable. You are wounded, in body and in soul, and you need your rest.
“Boromir, son of Denethor, were you one of my men, I would call you a fool and leave you be. But you are not a simple soldier, you are the heir to the stewardship, and therefore your life does not belong only to you, it belongs to Gondor. Gondor will survive an evening without you, even a week or two, but it will be hard for all of us to be without our Captain General forever if you do – not – start – taking – care – of – your – health!” People had told Faramir that when he was angry, he had his father’s sharp tongue and hard eyes, and Faramir knew that they were right, that sometimes he was more like their father than he cared to admit. “You nearly collapsed out there, Boromir! You are injured, and there is no shame in resting to cure a wound. I know your wound does not bleed, but nevertheless it is a wound and needs time to heal. So do me the one small favor and stay in bed for the rest of the day!”
“No, Boromir, this time I won’t give in.” Faramir pushed his brother’s shoulders down onto the mattress none too gently. “Rest! Listen to the healer’s advice. That’s all I ask of you!” He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and rubbed a hand over his face. “I am angered by defeat, confused by strange dreams and restless in moments of idleness as well, brother,” he said, and the anger was gone from his voice. “But in those rare moments of idleness I remember a small number.” He held up four fingers. “ Four. Only four of us returned from the bridge. Four out of over five hundred. Gondor came so close to losing you that night, Boromir.” He bent down and pressed a kiss to Boromir’s forehead. “I came so close to losing you, brother.” Suddenly the young Ranger Captain looked exhausted and terribly old. “I won’t lose you to your own stubbornness. Please rest while I get a healer!” He straightened and left the tent.
Boromir sighed, moved by his brother’s heartfelt plea, and he stayed on the cot, motionless, until his brother returned, because in this moment of idleness he realized that, as usual, his brother was right.
He dreamt of the big house made of stone and wood near Cair Andros on the western shores of Anduin. He knew it was a simple place, but it was a good home for a family.
He dreamt of his father, a good farmer and horse breeder, and a good soldier until he lost one arm to the enemy.
He dreamt of their horses, good and loyal workers. The foals played on a meadow between the house and the river, and it was summer, time to break the three year old to the saddle. He missed the feel of warmth and soft hide between his legs, the confused neighs when he mounted an animal for the first time, the satisfaction when the young horse finally obeyed the command of his rider. He missed the hard work, the good meals and the happy laughter. He could not remember when he had last laughed out loud, and his memory had always been good.
He dreamt of his twin brothers and three sisters; soldiers, mothers and young women.
He dreamt of his mother, and for a moment he felt safe.
“Home!” he whispered, but even in his dream he knew that home was far away, out of his reach.
“Wake up, troublemaker!” Mablung’s voice roused him from his light slumber. “It’s time to part with this ugly friend of yours for now.”
Anakil opened his eyes and looked around. They were near Henneth Annûn, and the color of the sky indicated that it was shortly before first light. They had stopped at a small clearing framed by large, rough rocks. Two hooded Rangers had joined them, and Anakil was sure there were more hidden in the shadows around them. He remembered this place; Glaurung had been tethered here during their first visit to Ithilien.
One of the Rangers knotted a rope around the horse’s strong neck and fastened it securely between two rocks. “Stay and be good,” Anakil ordered hoarsely. The horse whickered in response. Mablung raised his arms, and Anakil did not protest but let the Lieutenant lift him from the horse’s back. Mablung cradled the thin boy to his chest as he would carry a small child, and slowly he made his way to the tunnel leading down to the cave that served as Captain Faramir’s headquarters in Ithilien.
When they entered the dark, slippery tunnel, Anakil allowed himself a relieved sigh. The longest night in his life was finally over, and he was still alive. He had survived his first battle during this terrible war. His feet hurt. His back was wet with cold sweat, and he knew he would never have made it here alone. “Thank you, Mablung!” he whispered.
Mablung just grunted, and Anakil got the impression that the Ranger did not know how to reply to the heartfelt thanks of a young men.
“Mablung,” he continued, just to break the uncomfortable silence. “What would you do if you could just go home? I mean, if the war was over and we had won. If we did not need so many soldiers any more. What would you do?”
It was too dark to see the Lieutenant’s face, but Anakil could feel him cock his head to one side in thought. “I would like to see the sea,” he finally answered. “The beach…the wind on my face…”
Then he was silent.
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