19. The Companions Take Council
The Hobbits took refuge from the confusion in a corner of the Citadel gardens but Merry continued to fret volubly over the danger to the Shire until Pippin finally lost patience.
"Oh give it a rest, Merry!" He exploded. "I'm worried too, but agonizing over what might or might not be happening back home isn't going to do anybody any good. And you seem to be forgetting why we didn't want to go back in the first place!"
Merry looked at his cousin in astonishment then comprehension. "Boromir."
"Exactly." Pippin said grimly. "He's not going to let himself be left behind this time - in fact I don't think Strider even means to try."
Merry thought about that. "We'll have keep an eye on him."
"A very close eye." Pippin agreed. "And the more of them the better."
They looked at each other, and went to find their companions.
Faramir, Legolas and Gimli were sitting on a bench under a wide spreading nessamelda tree. Man and Elf looking unhappy and the Dwarf mutinous.
"What's wrong?" Pippin asked.
"Now Faramir's saying Boromir may be right!" Gimli snorted.
What? appalled the Hobbits looked at the Steward.
"He may be here not so much to kill Draugoth as to save King Elessar's life." Faramir explained.
"He said something like that to us too." Merry admitted. "Of course we don't want Strider to die -"
"Why does either of them have to die!" Pippin demanded. "Who says Boromir must face this werewolf alone? It took both Eowyn and Merry to kill the Chief Nazgul."
"It was Eowyn who did the actual killing." Merry said.
"But it was you who gave her the opening she needed." said Faramir.
"My point is, if Boromir has a little help maybe he won't have to die." Pippin broke in impatiently.
"That is true." Faramir said slowly.
"Aragorn's life must be preserved." Legolas agreed. "But I do not see why it must be at the cost of Boromir's."
"It's settled then." Gimli said firmly. "We stay close and lend a hand when needed." ***
Boromir stood at the gatehouse parapet watching officers of the City Guard Companies in their black, white, yellow, red or grey liveries and Rangers in rusty green and brown moving purposefully between Tower, barracks and storehouses across the great forecourt. But they were all Rangers at the core, however they were dressed, honed and hardened by over a thousand years of desperate, hidden warfare. A truly formidable people. He was proud to claim them as kin.
"Uncle?" It was Arandil.
Boromir felt a definite shock at being so addressed. Don't be ridiculous, he admonished himself, what else should the boy call him? Still it was strange to suddenly have a nearly grown nephew who looked so much like him. Though Boromir found it hard to believe he had ever been so young, certainly he'd never been so innocent and carefree.
His nephew didn't look carefree now. Boromir had seen many nervous recruits and recognized the signs, his heart went out to the boy. He began talking easily and professionally, as to a fellow soldier.
"Aragorn tells me we will be taking most of the City Guard, some fifteen hundred Men, and perhaps twice that number of knights and men-at-arms."
"I heard the Hill Army numbers some ten or twelve thousand." Arandil said gloomily.
"Better odds than I'm accustomed to." Boromir answered lightly. Which was certainly true, two or three to one would scarcely have worried him in the old days.
His nephew gave him a look he recognized, having seen it more than once on Faramir's face, 'be serious' it said.
"You are right of course, it would be better to match their numbers," he conceeded, "but Aragorn tells me that is impossible. The time is too short for levies from the West or the South to reach us and the provinces near at hand have their own troubles to deal with."
"Turambar *1 is already fighting an Orc army, they say."
"I know, but Aragorn is not much concerned. Orcs, I understand, have now neither the numbers nor the puissance they had in Sauron's time. Our fellow Men make the more fearsome foe."
"And they will be two or three times our numbers." Arandil reminded him.
"We too are Men, and more than a little fearsome in our own right." Boromir's sudden grin had a feral edge. "I would not care to face an army of Rangers, especially one led by Aragorn son of Arathorn, Isildur's Heir!" ***
*1 The Dunedain of Gondor refer to members of the Royal House by their Quenya names according to the custom of Anarion's Line, while the Dunedain of the North use their Sindarin names. Thus the High King is 'Aragorn' in the North and 'Elessar' in the South; Gilvagor is known as Prince Elemmacar in Gondor and Turamarth as Turambar.
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