26. Boromir Breaks Away
It wasn't easy, Boromir knew all the tricks, but Arandil had been trained by Woodland Elves though his skill had never been put to such a grave test before. he lost the trail twice, once in a dense copse of stunted trees and underbrush and again when his uncle's tracks disappeared into a small, winding stream. But each time he managed to pick up the trail after some casting about, and even to gain a little ground on his quarry.
Nightfall brought further problems. As visibility faded Arandil tried to decide whether to continue on the line he was following now, and risk missing a sudden change of direction by his uncle, or to stop and camp and fall still farther behind.
A rustling sound broke into his meditations, he looked around nervously hand on sword hilt. Suddenly a stunted figure broke from the cover of a ring of boulders and scrub crowning a little hill the fading light glinting off extended steel talons.
Arandil drew just in time, blocked a vicious upward slash by those claws and swept off their owner's head. But the creature was not alone, others of the same kind poured down the hill. Arandil set his back to a convenient standing stone and braced himself to meet the onslaught.
As the things, whatever they were, swarmed towards him chittering a cry of "Gondor!" shattered the dusk and a Man tall figure wielding a glittering sword sprang down among them. It took a second or two for Arandil to recover himself sufficiently to join in the fight. The creatures stood their ground for a few moments then fled in dismay back to their refuge.
Arandil stared at his rescuer. It was his uncle of course, calmly cleaning his sword with a handful of grass before returning it to its scabbard. He returned the look, eyebrows rising in surprise. "Arandil? I am impressed. Who taught you to track?"
"Legolas." his nephew managed, shuddered. "What were those things?"
"I have no idea." Boromir took him by the arm. "Let's not wait until they regain their nerve, shall we?" and led him briskly away from the creatures' hillock.
"Legolas is a good teacher." he continued. "I thought I had an unusually persistant and skilled Ranger on my trail, perhaps even Aragorn himself."
It was high praise and Arandil felt himself glow with the warmth of it, But: "I don't understand," he blurted, "you're going the wrong way!"
His uncle gave him a sidelong look. "Am I?"
"Yes! If the Wolf-lord was not with the Hill Army he must still be at his stronghold in the North." looked at the older Man uncertainly. "Musn't he?"
There was a brief silence as Boromir continued to stride swiftly westward, then he answered quietly. "Overthrowing the North Kingdom was never Draugoth's aim, Arandil. This attack on Fornost, the Orcs in Rhudaur and whatever risings may be happening in the south are all diversions meant to absorb Aragorn's attention while the Wolf-lord goes after his true goal, The Shire."
"The Shire!" The boy echoed stunned. "But..but *why*? Halflings for all their courage pose no great threat to him or anybody."
"Revenge." Boromir answered grimly. "The werewolves were ever Sauron's favored and most loyal servants. And it was Hobbits who brought the Dark Lord down. Not our people or the Elves or the Dwarves. And one of the two who destroyed the Ring and Sauron's power still lives in the Shire."
"Sam." Arandil breathed.
His uncle nodded. "I have seen the wolf wraiths of Draugoth running through the Old Forest on the borders of the Shire. I only hope I can get there in time." looked at the boy with a glint of amusement. "We I should say. You must come with me, nephew. I will not risk interference now. Not with the Little One's lives at stake."
"But it will take days to reach the Shire on foot." Arandil objected. "Surely we are already to late."
"We should reach the North Road by dawn, and the first of the post houses for the King's Messengers." Boromir smiled sidelong at his nephew. "I was seen travelling northward in Aragorn's company, I doubt I'll have much trouble persuading the keepers of the post stables to let us use the King's horse."
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.