They walked north, through the wood that stretched out behind the house as far as they could see. Bright sun shone on trees turned ravishing shades of burgundy and gold by the early October frost. Boromir took deep breaths of clean air as he walked and tried to forget the horror they left behind. None of them said much.
About noon, they stopped for a brief standing meal of bread and cheese. Not long after that, they came to a road cutting its way through the wood.
“Do you think it really is the Great East-West Road, or do you think she was lying about even that?” Morby asked, as they stopped and stood on the road looking around them.
Boromir shrugged off the pack he taken from the storerooms at Tellumorn, now heavy with supplies, and set it by the side of the road. He lifted one hand up to rub a knotted muscle in his neck. “It seems to run east to west, and it looks well-traveled enough. But will it take us to Imladris?” He turned to Quill, standing to his left. “Do any of your tales say that this road will take us there?” <>Quill shrugged. “No, but some of the stories do say that it lies at the source of the Loudwater. We have to go west anyway. Might as well take the road for a bit. Likely it will cross the river at some point.”
Boromir reached down for the pack and settled it on his shoulders once more. “To the elves, then,” he said, hoping that he sounded more optimistic than he felt at the moment. Since their encounter with Nendaeril, the way seemed even more fraught with peril. He thought of the dark horsemen who had so nearly crossed his path at the Greyflood. If they were allied with Sauron, they might now know where he and his companions were and could no doubt have guessed where they were headed.
Morby and Quill, behind him, were quiet. They had probably come to the same conclusion. Boromir hitched his pack into a more comfortable position and started singing, the one about the three sergeants and the one cask of ale.
The hills rose around them as they walked. The road clung to the feet of the hills, winding among woods or, occasionally, through slopes covered with heather. Sometimes they could hear the river, but they did not see it again for days. They made camp well away from the road, with an unspoken understanding that it was best to stay under cover at night.
At the end of the third day on the road, Boromir borrowed Quill’s bow and some of the arrows acquired as spoils from Nendaeril’s house and went hunting. Their supplies of food were getting low again, and the weather was getting colder. They needed meat. He told Quill and Morby to build a fire, then set off into the slanting sunlight of late afternoon to try his luck.
Boromir’s boots crunched through the fallen leaves as he moved away from camp. The feel of a bow in his hand and a quiver of arrows on his back brought back happy memories. He felt the clutch of fear and responsibility on his heart ease a bit. It was a beautiful day. Other autumn days, good days long past, whispered to him. How often had he and Faramir gone hunting in Ithilien, as boys and men?
It was one of their escapes from the vortex of tension that Denethor created around the three of them, especially after their mother died. Made of expectations and demands, of pride and disappointment, something else swirled through it: a darkness that Boromir never fully understood. So they would go hunting, to Faramir’s beloved Ithilien, leaving Denethor and his demands behind them.
Faramir was always the better tracker, even as a child, and better with a bow as soon as he had strength enough to pull one back. Boromir had delighted in Faramir’s ill-concealed pride at being better than his elder brother at something.
Denethor never concealed his disappointment in his younger son, and Boromir could never fathom it. Faramir was more like their father. He had Denethor’s subtle wit and noble bearing. Perhaps the Steward loved his elder son simply because he was the elder, or perhaps because they were unlike. Denethor seemed to revel in Boromir’s strength and bravery, in his easy laughter, in his ability to inspire love in those around him, especially in the hearts of his soldiers.
Something moved in the underbrush. Boromir’s mind left the past, reluctantly. He silently drew an arrow from the quiver and set it to the string. Holding the bow and arrow loosely, he moved forward toward a clearing that he could see just up ahead. Boromir stopped at the edge of the trees and scanned the open space. There, grazing peacefully, was a small group of deer: a buck, a doe and two half-grown fawns. He swiftly brought the bow up and drew back the string. Then he hesitated. That was Faramir’s problem as a hunter. He was a deadly shot with the bow, but he hated to kill. Boromir’s lips tightened, and he hesitated a moment longer, the string tense beside his ear. Then he let fly.
They feasted on venison that night, then cut most of the rest of the meat into portions. Boromir wrapped it in one of the two linen shirts he had taken from Nendaeril’s servants. This was not the use he intended for the shirt, Boromir thought wryly as he rolled the bloody portions into a neat package and tied it with a length of rope. He was concerned about the carcase, since they did not have the tools necessary to bury it. He hauled the carcass well away from the camp, hoping that any predators that might find it would be content with it and not search out their camp.
They banked down the fire, spread out the blankets they had taken from the beds in Morby and Quill’s room at Tellumorn and settled down to sleep. After a time, Boromir heard Morby’s voice. “I wonder what Silla’s doing now.” He sounded subdued.
“I know you miss her, Morby. So do I if it comes to that.”
“Do you think she’s all right, Master Boromir?”
“I am sure she is. Your friends are watching out for her.”
“But what about them riders?”
Quill’s voice came out of the darkness on the other side of the fire. “They’re on our trail, like as not, so Silla’s safe as houses. Besides, she’s more than a match for most things.”
“That’s true,” Morby replied, “Did I tell you about the time the snake got into her pantry? It was in autumn, about this time….”
Somewhere in the middle of the tale, Boromir drifted off to sleep.
He woke, with a start, to the sound of snarling and yelping off in the trees. He sat up, reaching for the sword that lay beside him. The snarling stopped, and for several moments it was very quiet. Some animals fighting over what was left of the deer, probably. Then he heard something moving through the trees towards them. Morby and Quill were still asleep.
He stood up slowly, drawing his sword out of its scabbard as he stood. The fire had died down to a few glowing embers. Then he saw them. In the trees on the other side of the fire, he could make out several large, furry bodies. Their coats were dark. Yellow eyes glinted in the moonlight. The animal standing in the front bared its teeth and snarled as Boromir stood. Wolves.
“Morby, Quill.” He spoke quietly, hoping he could wake them before the wolves attacked. They began to stir.
“Be quiet and move slowly,” Boromir continued, holding very still. The moon was full, but dark clouds were moving across it. He narrowed his eyes, trying to count the dark shapes among the trees. “Get out your weapons. Stand up slowly. Wolves. Six or seven. Make ready.”
Out of the corner of his left eye, he saw Quill begin to stand, his bow held close against his body. The pack leader looked from Boromir to Quill and snarled again. Suddenly it lunged. The others followed, bursting out of the trees.
Boromir yelled, swinging his sword in a mighty arc. The animal flattened itself to the ground, avoiding the blade and snapping at his legs. Dancing gracefully back, he held the wolf at bay with the point of the blade while he looked around him. Morby was brandishing his long knife. Two large, dark bodies circled cautiously around him, looking for an opening.
Quill managed to fit an arrow to his string and loosed it just as one of the wolves ran toward him. It fell with a terrible howl, then lay still. Before he could get another arrow out of his quiver, another dark shape hurtled into him, knocking him to his knees. He was trying to hold the animal off, using the bow as a staff.
Boromir caught a glimpse of a wolf circling behind him. With another shout, he swung his sword around in a circle, this time connecting. The animal yelped and drew back into the trees, wounded but not dead. The pack leader snarled and lunged at Boromir’s left arm. Its teeth connected only with a thick leather gauntlet. Boromir brought his sword around to spit the wolf in its exposed belly. He quickly drew his weapon out and turned to the others.
Morby still seemed unhurt, but now three wolves circled him. He waved his knife bravely, yelling threats and curses, but the circles were becoming smaller and smaller. Quill fell, struggling with his bare hands against the wolf on top of him. Just as Boromir started toward Quill, he saw Morby go down in a heap of snarling fur.
Boromir launched himself onto the writhing mass, slashing with the edge of his blade. He dared not us the point for fear of spitting Morby in the process. One of the animals howled as blood spurted from its back. It twisted around and snapped. Teeth tore into fabric and flesh above Boromir’s left elbow. He turned, dragging the wolf, still clinging to his arm, then gutted it with the point of his sword.
Flinging it aside, he swung back to the two wolves still on top of an ominously still Morby. He killed one before they realized he was behind them. The other turned and lunged upward for his throat. Boromir got an unnerving glimpse of yellow eyes and red-stained teeth, then he feinted to the left. Blocking with his injured arm and shoulder, he deflected the animal’s attack. Before the wolf could recover itself to leap again, Boromir brought his sword down swiftly with his other arm and cut through its spine.
The sweat running in his eyes blinded him for a moment. When he tried to blot it on the tunic that covered his upper arm, he encountered blood and mangled flesh. He impatiently wiped his face with what relatively dry fabric he could find.
When he looked up, he saw Morby, pale and unmoving, on the ground in front of him. Behind him, he heard snarls and cries. Turning, he saw Quill still struggling under the last wolf, greenish blood glistening on his arms. Boromir ran to him, thrust his blade through the black body up to the hilt, and used the sword to lift the wolf off the marshman.
“Quill.” He knelt down beside him.
“I’m all right,” Quill gasped, “just scratches. Morby?” Quill’s voice was weak, but he tried to sit up using one arm. The other seemed useless.
“Lie still,” Boromir said, “I’ll see.”
Rising to his feet, dizzy with adrenaline and the pain in his arm, Boromir hurried back to the other side of their camp where Morby lay.
“No,” he said, dropping to his knees beside the small figure. His eyes were closed. There was blood on his neck, his coat and shirt in shreds. There was blood everywhere. He did not move.
“No,” whispered Boromir again, his hands hovering over the little riverman, not knowing where to touch him. Then he took one of Morby’s small hands in both of his.
So still, too still. More urgently, “Morby.”
An almost imperceptible movement of his eyelids, then his eyes opened. Boromir sat back on his heels, weak with relief.
“Master Boromir. Are you all right? Quill?” Morby’s voice was so weak that Boromir had to bend down again to hear it.
“We’re alive, all of us,” Boromir said. Morby nodded, a small smile on his face. His eyes fluttered closed again, but he was still breathing. Boromir closed his own eyes for a moment, wishing not to see the blood, the wounds, the dead bodies of the wolves. Wishing to be anywhere but here. A soldier, he said to himself. Think of him as a soldier. You’ve tended to wounded soldiers a hundred times.
When he opened his eyes, Quill was standing beside him, blood streaming down both his arms.
“No, he’s alive.”
Boromir stood up, stripping off his leather surcoat. He looked at Quill, who was a sickly yellow-green color. He swayed as he tried to keep upright.
“Quill, lie down.”
“No, Master Boromir. What can I do?”
Boromir looked at his set face for a moment. “Build up the fire and heat some water.”
As Quill went back toward the banked-down fire, Boromir undid his belt, let it fall to the ground, and stripped off his silk tunic. He grasped the neck of the linen shirt he wore underneath with both hands and ripped it apart from neck to hem. It had belonged to one of the Dunlendings, and it was rough, but it was cleaner than his tunic and more absorbent. As the fire flared up again under Quill’s ministrations, Boromir tore the linen into strips.
The worst of Morby’s wounds were two long rips in the abdomen. Boromir didn’t have the means to stitch them closed. He washed them gingerly, bound Morby’s torso as tightly as he could with the strips of cloth, and hoped for the best.
Blood still flowed from numerous bites and gashes on the riverman’s arms. Boromir took Morby’s knife and thrust it in the fire. He would have to cauterize the wounds.
As he lifted the blade from the coals, Boromir saw that the mithril inlays of the Tree of Gondor stood out white-hot against the red of the steel. The thought crossed his mind that Morby would carry the mark of the white tree until the end of his days. Fortunately, the riverman had fainted earlier as Boromir lifted him to bind the bandages around him. He moaned softly when the knife seared his flesh, but was not fully conscious.
The same could not be said for Boromir and Quill, who had to perform the same operation on each other’s wounds. They had nothing left to stop the bleeding otherwise and could not risk infection. They finished off the brandy first.
As Boromir came toward Quill, the hot knife held in a gloved hand, he scooped up his belt from where it lay on the ground and held it out.
“Here, bite down on the leather.”
Quill braced himself against a tree trunk and did as he was told. Boromir had to give him credit. He broke out in a sweat and turned very pale, but his eyes were locked on Boromir’s throughout the process. He didn’t faint.
While he recovered, Boromir went to thrust the blade into the fire for the third time. He had only one long, ragged tear down his upper arm, but it was deep. Soon he would bear the white tree on his flesh as well, as he always bore it in his heart. They would all share the mark of Gondor.
They were a sorry lot, Boromir thought much later as he watched the dawn come. He was propped up, exhausted, against a tree at the edge of the little clearing. He and Quill had tended Morby’s wounds as best they could, but the damage was almost beyond their limited skills to mend.
Now he sat, watching Morby’s face for any sign of change. He was still unconscious, which was perhaps just as well, but his breathing seemed even. Boromir reached over and put a hand on his forehead. The skin felt cold and clammy.
Boromir heaved himself to his feet, went over to his pack, and got out his cloak. He came back and drew it over the still form, letting his hands rest lightly on Morby’s shoulders.
“You will be all right,” he said softly, not knowing whether Morby could hear him or not. “I promised Silla….”
He stopped. He had promised Silla that he would let no harm come to Morby, but he had failed.
“He’s a tough one. He’ll come about.” Boromir looked up to see Quill standing beside him, his face the sickly yellow that seemed to pass for paleness among the marshmen. He still looked unsteady on his long legs.
“Go sit down, Quill. I will call you if he wakes.”
As it turned out, several days passed before Morby was truly awake, days of fever and delirium. More than once, they feared that they would lose him. Boromir rigged a frame to go over the fire and smoked what was left of the venison. He also foraged in the area around their camp, finding some berries and small plants to supplement their monotonous diet. Quill ranged far from the camp in a search for healing herbs. They took turns sitting with Morby, talking to him even when they were not sure that he could hear, building up the fire to keep him warm against the October chill.
Quill and Boromir spent hours talking to each other as well. They had little else to do but watch and wait. By the time Morby regained consciousness, they knew each other as well as brothers. Boromir had told Quill things he had never even shared with Faramir. Boromir found himself profoundly at ease, in spite of everything, when he looked at Quill’s shadowed face by the evening fire and the smoke from his pipe that threaded upward to lose itself in the night air. The receptive but non-committal grunts the marshman made around the pipe stem from time to time were all it took to keep Boromir talking, far into the night.
He thought wryly that they were odd friends and confidantes: the Steward’s son and the marshman. Perhaps it was the very oddness of it that set him free, free from responsibilities that his position had always laid on him, free from the web of obligations and family history that had always hindered him from speaking of so many of his sorrows and his hopes.
Even after Morby regained consciousness, several more days passed before Boromir was convinced that he was out of danger. One day, he returned from hunting with a large buck he managed to bring down with a single arrow. As he let it fall from his tired shoulders to the ground with a satisfying thump, Quill crossed over to the edge of the camp to meet him.
“There’s enough meat there for a goodly while,” Quill observed.
“It should last a week or more; long enough for Morby to be ready to travel again, I hope.”
“I’ve been thinking,” Quill said, looking at the carcass instead of Boromir. “I know how worried you are about your home. I know this journey’s taken far longer than you expected. Maybe you should go on alone. Morby’s out of danger now. You can leave us food for a week or so. Then we’ll head home.”
“By yourselves.” Boromir tried to keep his voice calm.
“We’ll manage. We’ll take our time.”
Boromir hesitated. Truly, the delay tormented him. Almost every night now, he woke sweating and shaken from recurring nightmares. In one, a black hand casually toppled the Tower of Ecthelion like a set of children’s blocks. In another, a figure lay in a pool a blood beneath the withered tree in the courtyard. He could not see the body’s face, but he feared that it was Faramir or his father. Other dreams he could not remember except for snatches of fire and ash and the feeling of despair that hung around them.
The thought of leaving these two to the mercies of the wild with naught but a knife and a bow between them filled him with the same despair. They were his responsibility now as surely as were the people of Gondor. He cared for them just as much.
“I know you mean it for the best, Quill, and I am grateful; but our ways lie together until we come to Rivendell. I may be on a fool’s errand anyway. A week more or less may make little difference. Once we are among the elves, I will find someone to help you home.”
“But what?” Boromir interrupted him. “You were the one who said this country was dangerous, and you were right. What about the wolves? What about trolls and the Valar know what else?”
“Well, the wolves were bad,” Quill admitted. “But we haven’t seen any more, and we haven’t seen any trolls at all.” He sounded faintly disappointed. “We’d probably be fine. You could travel much faster alone.”
“Enough.” Boromir reached out and grabbed Quill’s arm. He turned it over, pushed up the tattered sleeve, and touched one of the scars on the inside of the marshman’s arm. "The White Tree means you are a soldier of Gondor,” he said. “I never leave my soldiers behind. We march together, come what may.”
Boromir let Quill’s arm drop abruptly and turned back to the deer. “Get me some rope so that I can hang the carcass up to skin it. And start some water; we’ll have venison stew tonight.”
“Yes…,” there was a tiny pause before Quill added, “Captain.”
Boromir’s lips twitched, but he kept his face turned away as he busied himself with the deer so that Quill wouldn't see him smile.
They made ready to set out again at dawn on a cold morning that held the threat of rain in its low, slate-grey clouds. It was an unfriendly sky, Boromir thought, as he packed the last of the supplies.
He remembered with longing the bright July sky the day he left Minas Tirith, the pure azure framing the white gleam of the city walls as he turned back for one last look. It must be the middle of the third week in October by now. He jerked the leather straps tight, his mouth just as tight as he tried not to begin the internal litany that tormented him. So many weeks had passed. Too many.
He straightened up and looked at his companions, waiting for him by the side of the road. Morby was pale and thin, but he had insisted he was fit to travel.
“Here,” Boromir swept off his fur-lined cloak and took it over to the little riverman, “You need more than that coat to keep you warm.”
Morby looked up at the man towering over him and smiled. “It’s a fine cloak, but it’d be heavier than any pack. Dragging the tail of it over the ground would make me even slower than I am already. Best wear it yourself.” Boromir gave him another searching look, wondering if it was too soon for him to travel.
“Go along, Master Boromir. Lead the way. I’ll be fine.”
Morby did walk slowly, but gamely, until his strength failed. Then they would rest until he was ready to move on. Boromir and Quill carried all the supplies. They walked, in fits and starts, until dusk. Toward the end of the day, they could hear the river. The sound of the water lifted their spirits and drew them onward. Finally, as they rounded a bend, they could see it down the road, the white of the rapids flickering in the dim light.
Boromir put his pack down on the road and lifted both hands to rub his tired shoulders. Then he pointed over to the right. “We’ll make camp over there in the trees. We can cross the river in the morning.”
Morby sat down in the grass by the side of the road and put his head on his knees. Quill dropped his pack next to Boromir’s and went to kneel beside Morby.
“How do you feel?” he asked.
Morby looked up at him and tried to smile. “Just tired and hungry.” His face had a greyish cast, and his shoulders seemed hunched against a pain he would not voice. Quill caught Boromir’s eye and opened his mouth to say something.
Suddenly Boromir help up his hand, motioning for quiet. He felt something, heard something. A sound? A tremor in the road under his feet? He was not sure.
Then he knew. Hoofbeats behind them on the road. Approaching very fast. He hesitated for one moment, then lunged toward the other two.
“Off the road! Quick! Leave the packs!”
He snatched Morby by the coat as he passed, dragging him into the undergrowth among the trees. Quill plunged in, sprawling beside them.
Seconds later, two horses galloped around the bend in the road, the dull black of their coats clouded by the dust they were pounding up from the road. When Boromir saw what rode them, his heart lurched painfully in his chest and a dark wave passed over his eyes. He had seen something like them before.
Osgiliath. Only a dark shadow against the moon, a dark form on a dark horse. It had filled him with a fear that was almost a sickness, a deep despair that sapped his strength and his hope and left him feeling hollow and unsure of himself. He had never felt fear like that before, not even as a green lieutenant in his first battle. Now it washed over him again. They had come.
The riders must have seen the packs in the road. They pulled up sharply, the horses rearing and dancing. Then they circled back. In a swirl of dusty-black robes and silver mail, the two dismounted. The grey-black of their robes blended into the falling dark, blurring the outlines of their figures. Boromir strained to see, but could not make out their faces.
“It’s them,” Morby hissed.
Boromir put a hand swiftly over Morby’s mouth and held him still against his chest.
One of the riders knelt in the road and began to search the packs, mailed hands ripping the leather apart as if it were the lightest cloth, scattering their supplies across the road in his haste. He gestured to the other, who mounted his horse and disappeared into the wood on the other side of the road. Boromir could hear the movements through the underbrush. He was searching.
After scrabbling through all their belongings, the first rider got back on his horse and guided it into the wood on the side where they were hiding. Horse and rider moved slowly through the trees. Boromir could hear the soft fall of hooves on the leaves and fir-needles that cushioned the forest floor.
The sounds move away from them, then stopped. It was very quiet. Not a single note of birdsong ventured into the still, heavy air. Even the river seemed to have gone silent. Then Boromir heard the brush of branches against something, and the muffled fall of hooves came again. Toward them.
“We must move.” His lips formed the words, barely a thread of sound.
“They don’t like water,” Morby whispered. “If we could get to the river….”
Quill and Boromir looked at each other. Morby could never move fast enough.
“I’ll go first,” Quill said, very low, “Draw them down the road the other way. You….”
“No!” Boromir’s voice was louder than he had intended.
“No,” Boromir strove to keep his voice calm and low. “We go together. I will carry Morby.”
The sounds of movement stopped again. The rider was listening. He had heard them.
With one accord, Boromir and Quill stood up, Boromir lifting Morby as he stood and settling him against his chest and shoulder. He tightened his grip.
They broke out of the trees and headed for the road, running hard. Over the sounds of bushes and brambles tearing at their legs, Boromir heard the thud of hooves and the snap of a branch as the rider pursued them. They made it to the road. Behind them, an unearthly scream quivered in the air. The rider was calling his companion.
Boromir dared not look back. The river was perhaps two hundred yards ahead now. He felt Morby’s arms tighten around his neck when the answering scream came somewhere behind them. He ran as fast as he had ever run in his life. His lungs burned for air. He could not distinguish the pounding of his heart from the pounding of hoofbeats behind him.
He had just reached the edge of the river when Morby, facing behind him, yelled and dug his fingers into Boromir’s shoulders.
“No! Quill! Boromir, stop! Stop!”
Boromir wheeled around and saw, to his horror, that Quill had turned around a little way from the river, right in the path of the riders who were almost upon them. His intent was plain. He was trying to buy time for them.
Hearing Morby’s shouts, Quill turned. He swept an arm toward the river.
“Go on! Get Morby across....”
Then they were upon him. He set himself in their way, lifting his long arms suddenly in front of the horses and feinting forward.
“No!” Morby screamed again. “Boromir, go back!”
Boromir saw the horses rear up in confusion in front of the marshman. He turned grimly away. He had to take the chance Quill had tried to give them to get Morby across before the riders could recover. He struggled as quickly as he could through the swiftly flowing, waist-high water, his boots slipping on rocks beneath the surface. Slowed down by his leathers and mail, a squirming, kicking Morby hindered him even more.
“Put me down! Go back!”
Boromir could not spare breath to argue and would not betray Quill’s courageous act. Sometimes even a captain had to follow orders. He refused to look back and closed his ears to the sounds behind him. Moments later, he lowered an outraged Morby onto the other bank
As Morby scrambled up and tried to draw breath to scream at him, Boromir put his hand quickly on the riverman’s shoulder and grasped it hard.
“No matter what happens, stay here. I beg you.” Boromir’s voice came in gasps. He turned, quickly dropped his sword belt to the ground, and stripped off his leather coat. Drawing the sword from its scabbard, he plunged back into the river.
What he saw on the other side stopped the breath in his throat. One of the riders had dismounted and was standing over Quill, sword in one hand. Quill lay unmoving on the ground, partially obscured by the rider’s cloak. The other rider was still on his horse, circling on the edge of the water, long sword drawn. Waiting.
Boromir ran out of the water with a tight grip on his sword and a grim determination to destroy these destroyers somehow. He swung the sword at the horse’s legs, hoping to frighten it and unseat the heap of dirty rags that sat upon it.
The horse reared back, but the rider stayed on. As the horse came down, so did the sword, keening through the air as it sought Boromir’s throat. He ducked quickly and just as quickly slashed into the swirling robes above him. His blade cut through them, but turned on the mail beneath. Pain snaked up his arm, then a strange numbness.
The dark figure above him raised itself in the saddle and brought the sword down again. Boromir lept to the side. He brought the flat of his sword, near the hilt, up underneath the hilt of the rider’s sword. With a quick lift of the wrist, he sent the sword flying out of his opponent’s mailed fist and onto the ground.
The rider screamed as Boromir lifted his sword again. Kicking his feet from the stirrups, he leaned down. Heavy metal-clad gloves grasped Boromir’s tunic and lifted him off the ground, sweeping his sword arm aside.
Boromir dropped his sword and grasped the rider’s robes with both hand. He kicked back against the horse’s flank, pulling with all his might. They both fell to the ground, Boromir underneath and tangled in the creatures robes. He tried to hold the heavy figure off him, to get some purchase.
A smothering wave of black despair hit him. It radiated from the thing that covered him. An aching cold spread through him and slowed his movements. He struggled to see what the thing was as his hands pushed against it. How could he overcome it if he couldn’t see? Was the darkness in his eyes just the twilight or was it coming from the creature itself? Or was his sight failing?
Through the gloom, Boromir saw the dark hood bend down, inches from his face. Then glimpses of silver, a helmet. Through the slits in the helm he saw the eyes.
He could not get his breath. The eyes were red and glowing like two coals from a dying fire. Or was the fire alive? The flames licked at him as the creature bent closer. He felt its breath on his face. Dank and sour, it smelled of death and defeat.
The flames swam before his eyes, then went dark.
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.