11. Roads and Partings: in which Boromir Begins Another Journey
He took one of the tall-backed chairs in the circle. There, almost opposite him, he saw the wizard Gandalf. Beside him sat what seemed at first to be a child. A slight person with dark, wavy hair. Boromir blinked when he saw the gracefully curving ears, the bare feet with their curly hair. The face was not that of a child. It was pale, a face that knew suffering. This must be the halfling that he had heard the dream-voice speak of, so many months ago. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Elrond enter the circle, followed by the man he had seen last night in the library. Both sat down. Elrond gathered the circle with a glance, then began to speak.
Elrond spoke of the threat of Mordor, the need for unity against that threat. Then he looked at the halfling. “Frodo,” he said, “bring forth the Ring.”
The small figure hesitated, then walked to the middle of the circle where a stone table stood. He put his hand on the table for a moment, then stepped back. There, shining on the surface of grey stone, was a ring. A small thing it was, but Boromir felt as though he had been struck by lightning. Time seemed to slow. He knew it at once for what it was. Isildur’s Bane. A wild joy rose in him as he beheld Gondor’s deliverance, only a few steps away. He rose from his seat and moved toward it.
Hearing murmurings rise around him, time resumed its normal flow. He knew he must explain to them, make them understand. “I did not come to the House of Elrond to beg any boon for Gondor, though we are hard-pressed,” he explained to them, his new-found hope ringing in his voice. “I came seeking advice and the meaning of a dream. But here lies a boon, indeed, for all of us.” Boromir tore his eyes from the Ring and looked around the circle. “It is a gift to the foes of Mordor. We will use this ring to defeat the Enemy!”
Instead of the assent he expected, he saw dark looks and heard whispers of doubt flow around the circle. Were they mad? A weapon that could unmake the Dark Lord’s power lay before them, and they doubted? Were they afraid to use it, or did they not realize the danger in which they all stood?
“My Father, the Steward of Gondor, has long kept the forces of Mordor at bay,” Boromir said, impatience showing in his voice. “The blood of our people has been spilled, is being spilled as you sit here, to keep your lands safe.” The murmurings had ceased and all eyes were fixed on him. They could not deny that Gondor had served as a bulwark against the darkness from the East for generations. If Gondor fell, all Middle Earth would soon follow. He knew now why he had come here. His own destiny, and Gondor’s salvation, lay shining before him.
“Give Gondor the weapon of the Enemy,” he said, full of confidence for the first time in many months. “Let us use it against him!” He took another step toward the Ring. Then a voice, almost strident in its urgency, stopped him.
“You cannot wield it! None of us can.” Before Boromir could answer the voice, or even turn to see from whence it came, he heard another sound. A low voice, almost a whisper, seemed to come from the center of the circle. Boromir could not make out the words, but it called to something in him. Then the first voice, still insistent, overrode it.
“Sauron made the ring. It answers to him alone. It can have no other master.”
Boromir turned. It was the man he had seen in the library the previous night. Who was he, and what was he doing here?
“Who are you, and what do you know of the Ring of Isildur?” Boromir asked, failing to keep an echo of Denethor’s hauteur out of his voice.
Someone stood up from the other side of the circle and walked toward Boromir. It was an elf, his face grim and his eyes blazing. “He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. He knows many things, and he is heir to the throne of Gondor.”
Boromir looked back at the man’s thin face, marked with lines and care, and at his simple tunic. “Isildur’s heir?” he asked, disbelief dripping from each syllable. If this man was heir to the throne of Gondor, why had he not come to her aid? Why had not Denethor spoken of him?
“Gondor has no king,” he said, looking straight into the eyes that last night had seemed to him like stars. Now they were simply grey and guarded. “Gondor needs no king,” he continued, shifting his eyes away from that steady gaze, “but she does need help against her enemies before they overwhelm her and all of your lands as well.”
The wizard Gandalf then stood. “Aragorn is right. We cannot use it.”
Boromir shook his head and sat down, gathering his thoughts. He must persuade them, or all would be lost. Around him the argument flowed. Elrond talked of destroying the ring, of taking it to Mordor. Madness. Madness to destroy the only hope they had, Boromir thought. He tried to explain to them what they would face: the fire and ash and horror that lay to the East. They ignored his words. Threaded through the voices raised in heated debate, he heard another voice. As the argument swirled around him, he looked to the Ring. It whispered to him. All would be well if he could but convince them.
Boromir shook his head again, trying to clear it of the voice. Elrond had great age and wisdom, as did Gandalf. Faramir loved and trusted the wizard. Perhaps they were right. The darkness lodged deep within his mind whispered to him, told him that if he let them destroy this ring he would seal the doom of Gondor. Fear rose like bile in his throat. He closed his eyes, tried to quiet the conflicting voices, tried to discern where truth and honor lay. Then he heart another voice. Soft and hesitant, still it seemed to cut through the clamor within him and around him.
“I will take it.”
Boromir opened his eyes to see the halfling standing quietly in the midst of the circle. Other voices died away. “I will take the ring to Mordor,” he said, his face pale and unsmiling, “though I do not know the way.”
This, Boromir thought, was folly indeed. Yet there was Aragorn, kneeling in front of the slight figure, pledging his support. Others followed. Boromir looked at the slight figure in astonishment. How could this halfling and a few companions accomplish what he knew ten thousand men could not? They would surely die in the attempt. The hopes of Gondor would die with them.
Then he thought of Quill and Morby, still alive against all odds. He thought of their unexpected courage and of their strength. He might not have come to Rivendell, but for them. Yet if this mad enterprise failed, they and all else he loved would be swept away on a tide of darkness. He could not bear the thought of it. How could the Council lay such a burden on such small shoulders? Then, as he looked at the halfling, so obviously afraid yet as obviously determined, his heart spoke to him clearly.
He stepped forward toward the group gathered around the small figure and said, quietly, “You carry the fate of us all, little one. If this is the will of the Council, Gondor will see it done.” He would join them and add his strength, and whatever skill he had, to theirs. The decision was made. He still heard the whisperings of the Ring, but he refused to look toward it. The fate of Gondor was bound up with its fate. He must walk this path as best he could and hope it was the right one.
“So you’re sure this is the right thing, Master Boromir?” Morby’s voice was uncertain. They sat that night in the dark garden outside Morby and Quill’s room, looking at the stars. Boromir was wrapped in his fur cloak against the night chill. The other two were, incongruously enough, wrapped in finely-woven elven blankets and puffing away on their pipes.
“No, Morby, I am not sure of anything anymore,” Boromir replied, “I know that Gondor cannot stand for long against the forces of Mordor. There is no strength of arms to be found here, or perhaps in all Middle Earth, to come to her aid in time. I am a just a soldier, after all. Where arms cannot succeed, I must trust those wiser than I. They say that the ring holds the key to Sauron’s strength and must be destroyed to end his power.” His voice sounded uncertain even to his own ears.
Silence fell over the garden. Boromir sighed and looked up, looking through the swirling patterns of the pipe smoke that mingled with the high, pure patterns of the stars. There was the Archer and there the Ship, always Faramir’s favorite. He thought of home, of the stars that he and his brother had often gazed upon for hours, standing on Ecthelion’s tower. Would he ever stand there again?
“Well,” Quill’s voice broke the silence. “We’re going with you. We might be of some use, after all....”
Boromir felt tears prick at his eyes. “No, Quill, you and Morby are going home.”
“But, Master Boromir,” Morby said, “we’re fit now. We’re ready to go. We might be able to help. I don’t like the thought of your going to this Mordor all alone.”
“I won’t be alone, Morby. Lord Elrond has chosen nine to make the journey.”
“But you don’t know them,” said Quill. “Elves and dwarves and all sorts of strange folk....”
Boromir was careful not to smile, thinking of the two sitting on either side of him. They had seemed strange to him once. “I would be glad of your company, I cannot deny it. But to speak truly, I would not let you go even if Elrond allowed it. It will be a darker road than any we have traveled yet....”
“We know it,” Quill interrupted him, “and we’re not afraid. Well, that is, we are afraid, but we want to come with you.”
Boromir shook his head. “Not this time, Quill. You and Morby have played your parts bravely, but you cannot come with me further. What would Silla say if I got Morby killed after all? I almost managed it as it was.”
“Silla would understand,” Morby said firmly. “This is about greater things than my life or Quill’s.”
“Well do I know it, but this is not your journey. It will ease my heart to know that you are out of harm’s way, at least for a time. And if we fail, you will be needed at home.” He could see from their crestfallen looks that they understood that, this time, his will was fixed.
Morby sighed, then reached under his blanket and pulled out the dagger Boromir had given him. “If I can’t be of use to you, at least this might.”
Boromir could see the faint outlines of the tree of Gondor by the light of the stars. He reached out with both hands and folded them around Morby’s hand, dagger and all. “No, it is yours. Besides, you and Silla are going to look at it and remember me, is it not so?”
Morby looked down and nodded, but refused to speak. Boromir pressed his hand one more, then stood up. “Come, we leave in the morning. Let us say our farewells now. Do not come to see me off. I would rather remember you here, wrapped in blankets and smoking.” He tried to smile, but did not manage it.
They were, of course, there to see him off in the morning as well. He was able to smile then, especially since the sight of the little riverman and the tall, spindly marshman waving to him from amidst the long line of preternaturally beautiful elves made his heart lift. With one last look at them, he turned and followed his new companions on the road to Mordor.
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.