10. Imladris: in which Boromir Encounters the Elves
Boromir almost flew down the steps and into the valley, which was filled with the light of a clear dawn. His heart lifted with a hope that he had not felt in many days. Perhaps it was not too late for Quill or for Gondor. All around him the colors woke with the dawn and sang to him: the trees made of purest gold and bronze, the sky a mix of mithril mist and palest blue. He crossed a bridge over the river, its eddies lightened to moving silver by the pale sun that rose above the mountains. A part of him longed to stop and let this beauty enter his heart and heal it of the shadows that lodged there, remnants of the choking darkness that had enveloped him in his battle with the dark rider. But he contented himself with taking deep breaths of the clean air as he ran on, intent on reaching the walls he saw before him. This had to be Rivendell, and he had to find help quickly.
After he crossed the bridge, the bank rose steeply up toward the walls. He slowed as he made his way up the inclined path to an archway in the stonework. Panting, he clung to the rough, grey stones of the opening and looked through it. Before him, he saw a green lawn, then a mass of small trees and lush flowering plants that bordered a stately flagstone porch. Dew glinted on yellow leaves all around the borders of the garden. The heady smell of flowers flowed over him. The sweet calls of birds mingled with the liquid music of the river behind him and far below. He had never seen a place so beautiful. He closed his eyes for a moment, dizzy with a strange mixture of physical exhaustion, joy and shame. He hesitated to enter this enclosure of peace and beauty, painfully aware of his sweat and dirt. More than that, fear and need and shadow would enter with him. He stood at the threshold, reluctant to break the rich quiet that lay over the garden.
Then he heard voices, and two figures came out onto the porch. One musical voice spoke, too low for Boromir to make out the words, then the other voice answered with laughter. Elves. Boromir looked at them in wonder, wishing that Faramir were with him, for all his tales proved true. They were beings of an almost frightening beauty, tall and dark-haired and pale. Their graceful robes of rose and cream seemed to caress their bodies as they walked. Boromir straightened his spine and his will, put thoughts of shame and fear aside, and walked swiftly onto the bright green of the lawn to ask for their aid.
Within moments, Menori and Lenar, as they said they were called, had understood Morby and Quill’s plight. They quickly gathered up two companions, five strong horses, and Boromir, and swept swiftly back down the road that he had so painfully traveled throughout the previous night. Within a little over an hour of hard riding, they crossed the ford and found Morby and Quill on the other side. Quill lay deathly quiet, sunk into coma and barely breathing. Morby was white with exhaustion, his face set and tracked with tears that had long since dried.
Without a word, Boromir lept off his horse, gathered the little riverman up and tossed him in front of the saddle of the muscular, white horse the elves had given him. Remounting, he held Morby back against his chest, one arm draped protectively around him, and looked to see that Lenar had Quill up before him. His eyes met Lenar’s, but Boromir could not find voice for the question that tormented him. Apparently reading his heart, the elf’s lips tightened and sadness washed over his face.
“I do not know,” he said, holding Quill’s still form to him, “but Lord Elrond is a mighty healer. Come, we must go swiftly.” With that, he turned his beautiful horse back onto the road and urged it to a gallop. Boromir felt Morby sigh and lean back more firmly into his chest. Not knowing what to say, Boromir simply put a hand up to his shoulder for a moment, then took the reins in both hands and tried to keep up with Lenar as best he could.
When they re-entered Imladris, Menori went to find Lord Elrond while the others led them to a large, high-ceilinged room. They laid Quill down on a large bed that dominated one side of the room. To Boromir’s immense relief, a tall, graceful figure wearing rich robes and a plain silver circlet on his brow entered the room almost immediately. He went directly to the still form on the bed, felt Quill’s skin and lifted the lids over his eyes, then took off the clumsy bandage that covered the wound in his shoulder. Elrond turned and muttered a few words to Menori in a tongue Boromir had never before heard. Menori left the room and returned with vessels of various sizes and herbs and roots that Boromir did not recognize. The elf handed some of the herbs to Elrond, set the rest on a nearby table, and put water to boil on the small fire in the corner of the room.
Boromir and Morby sat down in two comfortable chairs at the side of the room, talking quietly from time to time, trying not to get in the way or disturb the others with questions as they worked. Boromir learned that Quill had quit screaming shortly after he left and had gone cold and still. Morby did not speak of it, but Boromir could see the toll that the hours alone, trying not to despair, had taken on the little riverman. There were new lines in his face, and his eyes were dull with sorrow and weariness.
Boromir reached out and put a hand on Morby’s knee. “You are exhausted. We have done all we can do. Sleep now. I will watch.”
“No, Master Boromir, you ran all night and into the day. I’ll keep watch. You sleep. Besides, I want to talk to...talk to...to find out....” Even as he said it, his eyes fluttered shut, and he slumped back against the curved back of the chair. Boromir looked around for something to put over Morby’s tattered coat as he slept. He had seen a cabinet on the other side of the room. He found that it contained, among other things, beautifully woven blankets. He selected one of a soft, airy weave and lowered it gently over Morby, by then softly snoring.
The room gradually filled with the pungent smell of herbs as Menori brewed up something. He handed a steaming cup of it to Elrond, who tipped some of it down Quill’s throat. He handed the rest back to Menori, who took a cloth and started bathing Quill’s face with it. Lenar came to stand beside Boromir’s chair and said, quietly, “No one in Middle Earth knows more of herbs and healing than the Lord of Imladris. If aught can heal your friend, he will do it.”
Boromir nodded his thanks, and held out his hand to Lenar, who grasped it reassuringly, then left the room on another errand for Elrond.
After what seemed a long time, the Lord of Imladris turned and come across the room to Boromir. Boromir stood and bowed before him.
“I am Boromir, son of Denethor of Gondor, and I thank you from my heart for your care of my friend. I have sought Imladris for many weeks," he added, "and have much to tell you of Gondor and much to ask. But for now, tell me, will he live?”
Elrond’s eyes were dark and filled with both compassion and reserve. “I can guess the thing that harmed him, and his condition is grave, but there is cause for hope. The marshfolk are a tough and ancient race.” A small smile crossed his thin lips. “Do not despair, for him or for your own people. I have seen for many days your coming and your reasons for it. Let us not speak of it now. Come into the Hall and feast with us and forget your sorrow for a while.”
“I thank you, my Lord,” Boromir replied, “but give me leave to stay with my companions.”
“Very well, son of Denethor,” Elrond said. Then, “You are little like your father,” he added cryptically, his eyes probing Boromir’s. Then he smiled in earnest, “Well come to Imladris, Boromir. All may yet be well.”
After Elrond left, Boromir looked at Morby, wedged in what looked like an awkward position in his chair. He picked him up, took him over to the bed, and tucked him in beside Quill. He then dragged his own chair closer to the bed and sat down to wait.
Now it was deep night. Boromir sat in the airy and gracious room, sipping a goblet of wine and keeping watch over the two still figures who shared the large bed. Both breathed peacefully under fine linen sheets and a coverlet of amazing artistry. Boromir had had ample time to study its artistry, finer than any work he had seen in Gondor, because the two figures had been sleeping for several hours now. The elves had tried to get him to bathe and take some rest, to change his clothing, to join the feast in the Hall. They had offered to keep watch over the sleepers, but Boromir could not bear to leave them. They had understood, of course, brought food and wine for him, a basin of water so that he could wash off the worst of the dirt, and left him to his watch. Menori and Lenar looked into the room every hour or so to ask after his friends and to see if he needed anything.
He could hear, very faintly, music and laughter wafting down the hall. He was suddenly homesick for the laughter and music of his father’s hall as he remembered it long ago. There had been little enough of either for many years, but he remembered it. Sighing, he drained the last of his wine and set the goblet on the floor. He would just close his eyes for a moment or two.
He woke with a stiff neck and a numb arm from where his weight had fallen on it. It was dawn, and Lord Elrond was bending over Quill. Hearing Boromir stir, he turned around.
“It is well,” he said, “He fights the shadows, and the poison is losing its hold on him. He will live.”
Weak with relief, Boromir stood, grasping the back of the chair and gave Elrond his thanks.
“Come,” Elrond said, “both of your companions will sleep through this day. Let me show you the hospitality of my house and find you clothing that befits your rank.”
Boromir looked down at his torn shirt and dirty breeches and blushed. With one last look at the two sleepers, he followed Elrond from the room.
Elrond led him down the hall and opened the door to a large chamber. He motioned Boromir inside and said, “Here are attendants to help you and, I hope, all that you may need. When you are ready, come and join us. Menithil will show you the way.” One of the two attendants smiled and bowed.
Boromir returned his smile, then turned to Elrond. His smile faded. “I thank you, my lord, but there are urgent matters we must discuss. I have been long on the road, and the fear with which I left Gondor has only increased by what I have seen on that road. There are dark things abroad.”
“I know it, and there is more to it than you know. Trust me now, Boromir. I have sent forth messengers. Events are drawing many here, and we will soon take council. Nothing can be done until all those concerned in this great matter have come together here in Imladris. I would not deceive you; great danger lies over all of Middle Earth. Wait but a few days, recover your strength. Trust me in this.”
Boromir looked into the face before him, a face neither old nor young, a face that had seen much. The face was calm, or was it cold? Why should he trust the elves? Their days of alliance with men were long past. He felt the shadow in him rise, clouding his vision. Why should he trust them, indeed? Why did this elf lord put him off, talking of patience when even now the enemy might have overrun the White City. Then, through the dark mist that rose in him, threatening to choke him with fear and with longing for his city, he saw Lord Elrond’s eyes. They were grey as a clear evening, as clear and grey as Faramir’s eyes.
Boromir took a deep breath.“I will wait, my lord.” Elrond smiled and, turning, walked off down the hall. Boromir saw that there was a large bath by a flickering fire, clothes laid out on a bed nearby. Menithil and the other elf move toward him. Boromir took a step back. He had not allowed attendants to help him to his bath since he had turned twelve. He dismissed them with thanks, stripped off his filthy clothing, and sank gratefully into the hot water.
Much later, Boromir, full of food and wine and the wonders of Elrond’s house, stopped at the door to Quill and Morby’s chamber. He stood for a moment with his hand on the door. Were they still sleeping? Should he disturb them? He pushed it open a fraction. With a glad laugh, he opened it wide. Morby sat at a table pulled up to the fire, his cheeks bulging with something from one of the many dishes that rested there. Unable to speak, he waved a mug gladly at Boromir. Sitting up in the wide bed was Quill. He was an interesting shade of yellow, but his eyes were unclouded. He, too, held a mug of something.
Confronted by the blaze of joy on Boromir’s face, he smiled a tiny smile and held up the mug. “Brandy, or what passes for it in this place.” he said. “They wanted me to drink some broth or other, but I said, ‘No, thanking you all the same, but would you happen to have....’” Boromir strode across the room as Quill talked, took the mug from his hand and set it down with a thump on a stand by the bed. Then he sat down on the bed and embraced the astonished marshman, careful to avoid his wounded shoulder.
“I feared never to see you awake again, much less swilling elven brandy,” Boromir said, smiling and drawing back, his hands still grasping the marshman’s arms.
Quill blushed a darker, but still interesting, shade of yellow and ducked his head. “Marshfolk are hard to kill,” he mumbled, “Wouldn’t give those black things the satisfaction.”
“Well said.” Boromir got up and turned to Morby, who was holding his own mug in one hand and holding one out to Boromir in the other. Boromir took the mug, set is down on the table and grasped Morby’s free hand in both of his. His eyes probed Morby’s. “Is it well with you?”
“It is now, Master Boromir. We lived through it, didn’t we? Quill’s on the mend, and look at you. You look, you look....”
“Clean?” Boromir laughed.
“Like a king,” Morby said. Boromir looked down at the black breeches and black velvet tunic, simple but stitched with gold thread.
“I see your experience of kings is sadly lacking,” he replied.
“Like a king,” Morby said firmly. He and Quill lifted their mugs in salute.
Oddly touched, Boromir found himself bereft of words for a moment. Then he took his mug up from the table and said, “Say, rather, that I look like your Captain. I am proud to be so.”
“Our Captain,” Quill and Morby chorused. Then Quill cleared something from his throat and said, “They make a fair brandy, do the elves, but it’s a little on the light side for my taste. I’ll wager they use some outlandish flower or some such instead of mallows. I don’t suppose they’ve been much help, the elves, have they? Strike me as a little impractical, if you take my drift....”
Boromir smiled, the shadow in him retreating to a tiny corner of his heart.
“Won’t I have tales to tell Silla?” Morby said happily.
Three days passed, and Boromir spent most of them in Quill and Morby’s room, watching them heal from the horrors through which they had passed. They resumed their old custom of singing and tale telling. The marshman and the riverman were a bit shy of the elves. Although invited to Elrond’s Hall, they preferred to take their meals with Boromir in their room or in the sunny garden just outside it.
“Oh, I’m sure they’re good folk, but not quite comfortable, if you know what I mean,” Morby said when Boromir first urged them to join the elves for one of their feasts. “A little of them goes a long way,” Quill added.
Morby nodded. “But it’s something to have seen them and this place. The lads will never believe it, back home.”
At the word ‘home,’ Boromir sighed. He knew he needed to arrange for them to be guided back home soon, but in truth he felt homeless here himself. The elves were all that was kind and beautiful. Faramir would have loved this place. Boromir, however, was more at ease with Quill and Morby. How he would miss them.
That evening, Boromir felt more than usually restless. When would this council Elrond had mentioned commence? He had seen an increase in comings and goings the last day or two. Fear grew in him again and the darkness deep in him rose like bile in his throat. Whispers in his mind clouded his joy at Quill and Morby’s recovery, whispers about Gondor, ruin, death. Morby was teaching Quill some song about spring, but Boromir had lost the thread of it. One hand idly rubbed the frayed gold threads on the sleeve of his old tunic. He had resumed his own tunic and leathers and found them comforting. They had appeared on his bed that afternoon, well cleaned and mended. They reminded him of home, and of how far he had come from it. But, still, he was restless.
He realized that the room had gotten very quiet. Quill and Morby were looking at him. He forced a smile and stood up. “Go to bed. It is late. I will see you in the morning.”
He could hear laughter and music from the Great Hall, but he did not feel like company. He wandered in the opposite direction. Surely this enormous house had a library. He would find a book and go sit in the fire by his room and read for a while, until this strange mood passed.
After looking in several doors, he found it. He stepped inside and saw stone shelves of books reaching to the ceiling, tables holding scrolls and musical instruments. Faramir should be here, he thought wistfully. Then he saw him. The room opened onto a terrace, and a man sat there in the shadows, his dark head bent over a book. He looked up, his eyes shining in the dark like stars. For a brief moment, the tendrils of shadow that wound around Boromir’s heart unwound themselves at the sight of those eyes. Do not be fanciful, Boromir admonished himself. This place must be affecting him. Eyes like stars, indeed. He smiled.
“You are no Elf,” he addressed the man, still smiling. Perhaps he was one of those whom Elrond had summoned.
The man closed the book he had been reading and returned Boromir’s smile. “The Men of the South are welcome here.”
Men of the South? Was he including himself? He did not look Gondorrim to Boromir, yet something about the man looked familiar. He clutched at the wisp of memory, but it escaped him. “Who are you?”
The man looked at him steadily, and after a slight hesitation, replied, “I am friend to Gandalf the Grey.”
Boromir felt off-balance, and he narrowed his eyes. Gandalf. It had been many years since he had seen the wizard, so loved by Faramir and so distrusted by Denethor. Why did not the man simply tell him his name? But these were evil times, and trust did not come easily any longer. Still, it was good to see another man after so long a sojourn among strange folk, no matter that some of the strange folk had now become friends.
“Then we are here on a common purpose, friend.” He said it hopefully, a faint smile still on his lips. The other man continued to look at him, but said nothing. Again the thought that he had seen this man before tugged at him. Still the man did not speak. Boromir’s smile faded, and he gave a tiny shrug. To cover his confusion, he turned and looked around the room. There was a statue of a woman, leaning over something on a white cloth. He walked over to it and saw the pieces of a sword. Only about a foot of the blade was attached to the hilt. The rest lay in pieces on the white cloth. Suddenly, he knew what it was.
“The shards of Narsil!” He extended his hand reverently, clasped the hilt and lifted it before him. How often had he and Faramir played the scene as boys. He, of course, was always Isildur, cutting the Ring from the hand of a cringing Sauron-Faramir, lying stunned and defeated.
He lifted his other hand and ran it lightly along the ancient blade. He saw blood on his finger before he felt the cut, so sharp was it still. He stared at the blood welling up on his finger for a moment, and felt the darkness gathering again around his heart. The man still watched him in silence. Whatever connection to this man he had felt threaded somewhere deep in his past was gone. He was a stranger, and an unfriendly one at that.
The broken sword felt suddenly heavy, the shadows gathered more thickly in the room. As Boromir reached to return the hilt to the platform, his hand trembled and the sword clattered to the stone floor. The watcher still said nothing. Boromir hesitated for a moment, then turned and strode from the room, trying to leave the shadows of kings and memories and failures behind him. Yet one shadow, at least, he carried with him.
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.