18. Council of War
The High King promptly called a Council attended by King Gilvagor, Captain Amrod representing King Turamarth, Merry and Pippin for the Shire, Faramir and Boromir, Gimli and Legolas. *1
"The North is moving," he reported, "the Hill Clans are mustering for battle, and there are signs the Orcs of Angmar are doing the same."
"Though they will get little aid from the Hill Trolls now." Captain Amrod put in, smiling grimly.
Merry shared an alarmed look with Pippn before turning to Aragorn. "You sound almost pleased about it."
The King and the other Men looked at him in genuine surprise. "This is what we hoped for, Merry," Boromir explained. "We have forced the Wolf-lord's hand and he must strike before he is ready."
"'Oft the hasty blow goes awry.'" Gilvagor quoted. "And he has lost the element of surprise."
"Indeed." Aragorn agreed. "Though I would not deny there is still danger. We can expect attacks in the south as well, I have sent warnings to Annuminas, Bree, Amon Sul, Cardol and the Shire."
"The Shire!" Merry went white. "You were right, Strider, we should have gone home."
"Nonsense." Pippin said robustly. "What could we do that Sam won't, and probably better?"
"It's all right for you, Thain, you don't have the Old Forest on your doorstep." Merry snapped. "My poor Estella! I've got to get back."
"It's too late for that, Merry." Aragorn said gently. "You cannot reach the Shire in time and would only endanger yourself by trying."
"Help us defend Fornost." said Gilvagor. "We will need every sword."
Merry slumped down in his Mansized chair. "Oh yes, a great help two little Halflings will be!"
"The sword of a Nazgul Bane is not to be despised be he Man or Hobbit." Boromir chided. "Nor was I joking when I called Pippin a fine swordsman."
"Right." the Thain pitched in. "Modesty is all very well, Merry, but we weren't totally useless at Pelannor Field or the Black Gates now were we?"
"A few inches of height are not so great a matter, young Hobbit!" Gimli growled. Merry gave an unwilling laugh. "All right, all right, I surrender. What happens now?"
"Do we remain within the walls, my Lord, or march out to meet them?" Faramir asked.
"That is one of the things we must decide." Aragorn pulled the map spread out on the table closer to him. "How far have you gotten in rebuilding the outer defenses, Gilvagor?" ****
Entering the Great Library of the Tower of Elendil later that night, Faramir was surprised to see a light glimmering in a side chamber and even more astonished, when he looked in, to find his brother intently studying an ancient tome. "Boromir?"
He started guiltily, quickly closing the book and producing a teasing smile. "Faramir, why am I not surprised to see you here?"
"No doubt for the same reason I am astonished to find you with a book in your hands." his brother returned. "What are you reading?" Boromir showed the title, a little reluctantly, and Faramir's amazment increased. "'The Wars of Beleriand'? not exactly light reading, Brother."
"It tells of werewolves." Boromir said a little defensively. "So it would. It was Morgoth who made them. Sauron favored them as servants before he had the Nazgul."
"That is what it says here." Boromir agreed, laying the book down on two others on the table near his chair.
"Research? that is not like you, Boromir." Faramir frowned, faintly suspicious.
"Isn't it?" he looked slightly annoyed. "I had little time to spare for poetry or philosophy but I certainly did not ignore the accounts of our Old Wars, my Brother! Often they held valuable intelligence for me as we were fighting over the same ground and against the same foes."
Faramir stared at his brother, enlightened. Unbelievably it had never occured to him that Boromir's skill in war was something he'd had to study and work at, at the expense of other interests. He, Faramir, had foolishly assumed arms and military strategy came easily and naturally to his brother. He had even been inclined to look down on Boromir a little for focusing on war to the exclusion of all else. How could he have been so blind? He wanted to apologize to his brother for misjudging him all his life, and to weep for the man he had never been allowed to be. But Boromir would not understand, might even be offended. Faramir blinked back the tears and scraped up a smile. "Well, good-night Brother, and don't sit up to late over your books."
Boromir laughed, as intended, for those had frequently been his own words to his younger brother. He returned Faramir's embrace and breathed a sigh of relief when he'd gone.
He had never been any good at hiding things from his too perceptive younger brother, or their father. Of course in the old days there'd been nothing he'd wished to hide from either of them. The Ring had changed that. Giving him not only feelings and temptations that had to be kept from his companions but the art to do so.
Turning abruptly from unwelcome memories Boromir picked up the books from the table and began returning them to their places on the shelves. Had Faramir seen the other titles he might not have been so quick to dismiss his brother's sudden studiousness. In addition to the 'Wars of Beleriand' there was 'Of the Kingdoms of Arnor' and the 'Chronicles of the Dunedain', and The one thing all three books had in common was detailed accounts of battles with werewolves. ****
1* Merry, Pippin and Sam are Councilors of the North Kingdom, representing not just the Shire but all Hobbits living within the Realm. Other Councillors include the Three sub-Kings and the Sheriff of Bree. Faramir, Legolas and Gimli all sit on the Council of Gondor, along with King Eomer, Prince Imrahil and assorted other nobles of the South Kingdom.
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