30. An Unexpected Arrival
It was one o'clock in the afternoon. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Rúnyafin was agitated. His job as Head of the Lord Boromir's personal chambers had always been an uneventful, monotonous affair - since his Lordship was usually out in wars or mysterious quests, there was little to do except maintain the chambers in decent condition for when, and if, he returned. There had been occasional mistresses or heated arguments with the Lord Faramir, but the minimal gossip these episodes produced usually fizzled out within a few days. Yet, ever since the Lord Boromir's return to Minas Tirith, his person had developed something of a cult following among the servants, complete with endless gossip, speculation, and fabricated tales. His madness was well documented throughout the Citadel staff, as was his drunkenness. His loss of title, his muttered ramblings, his exclusion from Citadel society; all this had proved a morbid delight among the castle servants and common folk. And what will they think, Rúnyafin thought wryly, when they find I was awoken in the middle of the night and his Lordship, drunken and with broken nose, did stumble back to his chambers supported by a dwarf and the newly-minted Faramir Steward? Rúnyafin snickered, but stopped short. Unless, of course, I did dream that episode. Rúnyafin looked up at the ceiling – at the ornate stone carvings that wormed their way up into each arch - and prayed to the Valar that he had not dreamt it. For it was a piece of gossip too good to let slip. However, now, he was in a hurry. Rúnyafin had been sent by King Elessar himself to wake Lord Boromir and return him to the Great Hall, where a visitor was waiting. In the Hall, Rúnyafin had caught a glimpse of dark hair tied back to reveal a pointed ear. An elf! Thirty-seven years working in the Citadel, surrounded always by the usual drudges and attendants, with only the deterioration of Lord Denethor’s sanity to keep things a bit lively, and now Rúnyafin was practically swimming through a sea of elves and foreigners. The Queen, Lady Arwen, the young Prince Legolas, the famous Lords Elladan and Elrohir. Even dwarves! Halflings! And now here was another exotic specimen. For one brief moment, Rúnyafin felt as a boy again, full of wonder and excitement. He rounded another corner, walking at full speed. A few passing servants cast him questioning glances, and he returned their looks with an exasperated shrug. All knew Rúnyafin was the Head of Lord Boromir's chambers. Rushing through the Citadel corridors at noon was self-explanatory. He found a woman and a boy waiting for him by the entrance of Lord Boromir's quarters. The woman was young, perhaps in her early thirties, while the boy was a gangly thirteen. As Rúnyafin approached, he noted that the boy was wringing his hands nervously and a faint sheen of sweat covered his brow. “Innwen,” Rúnyafin called. “Is this the boy, then?” “Aye, sir,” Innwen bowed her head. “Master Rúnyafin, this is my son, Innrod. Innrod, this is Master Rúnyafin, Head of the Lord Boromir's Chambers.” “First day at work, I imagine?” Rúnyafin asked from the bridge of his nose. The boy nodded fervently, staring at the ground. “Speak, boy, are you dumb?” “N - no, sir,” the boy mumbled. “Very well. I do not know what nonsense your silly mother has told you, but it is my duty to prepare you for service in his Lordship's chambers. It is a great honor to wash his Lordship’s undershirts or clean his stables, remember that. When I die, or - Valar permit - when I am discharged from his services for old age, you will become the next Head of his Chambers. Your duties will be to manage his Lordship’s personal affairs – which means ruling over all the various aides, nursemaids, drudges, pages, squires and attendants in his Lordship's entourage. His shirts must be cleaned, his apartments dusted, his arms polished. His boots must be counted, his cloaks pressed, his papers organized. You must oversee all that is menial and trivial, all that his Lordship cannot be bothered with. Do you understand?” “Aye, sir.” “Learn to be as a shadow. Your presence must be minimally seen, never felt. You must sink into the backgrounds. Never speak unless his Lordship calls upon you. Make no comments, have no opinion. Also, the mark of a respectful servant is to keep his tongue behind his teeth. Now. Today we must needs wake his Lordship, and quickly too, for he has a visitor waiting in the Great Hall. Ready, boy?” Innrod nodded quickly and dragged the back of his sleeve against his brow. Rúnyafin smiled inwardly. How he relished the anxiety of these young upstarts! He decided to make the anticipation somewhat more painful by looking Innrod up and down with a disparaging eye. “Polish your shoes. We always meet his Lordship in excellent dress.” The boy gasped and lunged down to clean his black leather shoes. After rubbing fervently, he sprang up again. Rúnyafin smiled, adjusted the boy's stiff collar, glanced at Innwen over his shoulder, and knocked on the door. There was no response. “My lord?” Rúnyafin called, knocking again. Silence. Rúnyafin emitted a theatrical sigh and pushed open the large doors. The three servants were met with stale, dank air that smelled horribly acidic. Innrod scoffed involuntarily and held his nose. Fierce sunlight poured in from the large windows, the bed was disheveled, and a bowl of cooled water rested on a low table. So it was not a dream, Rúnyafin thought. They found Lord Boromir lying in a crumpled heap under the window. An empty bottle lay strewn against a chair. A wide stain had formed on the cushioned seat where the drink had spilled out. For a moment, Rúnyafin nearly smiled. This was too good to be true. No one would believe this. Yet he maintained his serious expression and stepped forward, Innwen and Innrod trailing at his heels. As they neared his Lordship, Innrod let out a disgusted cry. Vomit soiled the Man's tunic and beard, and a mess of it lay beside him. A black bruise had formed around the broken nose, and dried blood crusted into the beard beneath. Innwen gasped and brought a handkerchief to her face. “Boy, see to the mess,” Rúnyafin ordered. “And you, woman, help me wake him.” Rúnyafin and Innwen stepped forward, careful to avoid the mess, and crouched beside Lord Boromir. Innrod lingered behind, hovering over them uncertainly. With a sharp glare from Rúnyafin, he finally bent down with a handkerchief and attempted to clean. Meanwhile, Rúnyafin knelt on the other side of his Lordship. “Lord Boromir?” he said, placing a wary hand on the Man's shoulder. There was no response. The Man’s head lolled back, limp. “Wake up, my lord,” Innwen tried. “’Tis day. Come now, my lord. You are needed in the Hall. King Elessar beckons.” After much jostling and pulling, Boromir moaned and opened his glazed eyes. Rúnyafin managed to pull him upright, so that his back leaned against the chair leg, but the Man was both heavy and unwieldy. He blinked, leaned against his hand, grumbled something. All the while, Rúnyafin and Innwen cooed childish encouragement. “There you are, my lord. Up and about,” Rúnyafin said. “Well done, sir. Good, good. Try and stand for me, yes?” Boromir staggered slightly as his elbow buckled. Rúnyafin and Innwen moved forward to keep him sitting. Yet he pushed them away, his face paling considerably, and jerked forward to retch. All three servants jumped back, though Rúnyafin caught some of it on his sleeve. When he was done, his Lordship slid back onto his side, intending to lose consciousness again. They tried coaxing him back up, but he simply pushed them away with incoherent murmurs. “Come, my lord, awake,” Innwen said anxiously. “They are waiting for you in the Hall.” Boromir groaned and, with eyes closed, mumbled: “Let them wait...” “Nay, my lord,” Rúnyafin insisted, failing to hide his irritation at having his sleeve vomited upon. “It is past noon, the sun is high.” It was too late, his Lordship had already fallen asleep. His breathing was deep and even, if somewhat hampered by the broken nose. Rúnyafin threw his hands in the air and sat back with a frustrated sigh. Innwen continued to shake Boromir by the shoulder, but to no avail. After a few moments of disgust and despair, Innrod finally stepped forward. He crouched over Boromir and pressed his thumb against the bridge of the sleeping Man's crooked nose. It worked. Boromir jerked back with a hiss, immediately awake. He fumbled to lay a backhand on the quickly receding boy, but, finding it too difficult, sat up instead to nurse his nose. He cupped it with one hand and shielded his eyes from the sun's glare with the other. “By the Valar!” he snarled. “Idiot boy, I’ll have your head for that!” Rúnyafin hastened forward and, together with Innwen and Innrod, they hoisted Boromir onto his feet before he could resist. He stumbled sideways, reeled left and forward. Rúnyafin pulled the Man's arm over his shoulder and led him to sit at the low table. “They are waiting, my lord!” Innwen was saying. “We must make haste!” “F – forgive me, m’lord!” Innrod overlapped. “I did not mean to – ” “There, good, up on your feet,” Rúnyafin said. “Here. We must be quick, my lord. They expect his Lordship immediately.” Boromir slouched onto the couch, leaning his head over the edge. His nose was bleeding afresh, and Rúnyafin caught an ashamed flush from Innrod. Yet his Lordship seemed to have already forgotten the harsh methods used to wake him, and was instead covering his eyes with his hand and concentrating on the nausea. Innwen bent over him with the water and began to dab at his nose. “Rúnyafin, close the curtains ere my head pounds me blind,” Boromir scowled. “Who calls me at this wicked hour?” “King Elessar, sir,” Innrod burst forth, excited. “And they say one of the warrior elves your Lordship encountered during the War.” Boromir struggled to raise his head. He stared with swollen eyes at the boy, who was again blushing furiously. “Boy, are you a lying dullard? Who told you such? All three elves I knew did perish.” Innrod shook his head fervently. “Nay, my lord, ‘tis a warrior elf from the Mirkwood kingdom. I am sure of it!” Boromir’s lips parted slightly in shock while the servant woman cleaned away the mess in his beard. Innrod could not help but smile. Yet his Lordship’s reaction was not necessarily one of joy as it was one of haste. He sat forward, keeping a hand against his stomach and the other against the chair’s armrest. “My doublet. I need to change.” “Yes, my lord,” Rúnyafin hastened away. Innwen laid a wet cloth against Boromir’s nose, and he groaned with relief. Rúnyafin returned with fresh clothes, Innwen set aside the bowl of water, and Innrod took a step back as they helped Boromir remove his soiled surcoat, overshirt and undershirt. Once Boromir’s torso was nude, Innrod nearly gaped at the scars – especially the black mutilation in the stomach – while Innwen and Rúnyafin diplomatically kept their eyes averted. Boromir loosened one of the new shirts and noticed the attention. “An obscene wound, verily?” he smirked. Innrod dropped his gaze. “Nay, my lord. Forgive me, my lord. I did not mean to look.” After the undershirt and overshirt were on, Boromir buttoned his doublet. “There is nothing to forgive,” Boromir said. “You stare. So would these two, but they know enough to hide their half-glances and whispered comments. What is your name?” “Innrod, my lord.” “Innrod, bring me my cloak. Your elders will take care of the chambers.” Innrod beamed. He rushed out of the room, grinning stupidly at Rúnyafin and Innwen. Boromir took the wet cloth from Innwen’s hand and pressed it against his nose again. They watched him, silent. Rúnyafin found it difficult to hide a rather evil glare, though Boromir did not seem to notice or care. The boy returned. He stumbled in with cloak and scabbard. Upon seeing the sword, Rúnyafin flushed, but Boromir simply laughed. “Aye, good thinking, lad,” he said as he took it. “Always armed, always.” Innrod smiled. Boromir fastened his cloak, turned to the other servants. “Have the room cleaned ere I return. I would also request that you speak naught of last night’s adventures, but I know it would be a foolish request.” He turned, walked towards the door. “Come then, Innrod.” With Innrod trailing faithfully at his heels, Boromir strode out of the room, leaving Innwen and Rúnyafin glancing at each other. Outside, Boromir and Innrod walked quickly, zigzagging down the halls while Boromir fumbled with his belt. Innrod watched the Man with an intense mix of curiosity and unease. So this was Boromir the Mad. How his friends would envy him if they knew he was now in the Lordship’s service! Innrod smiled to himself, for all his friends still worked in the kitchens or stables. Ha! “The girl, Innwen, she is your mother?” “Aye, my lord.” “Who is your father?” “I know not, my lord, he was killed during the War, my lord.” Boromir grunted. They turned a corner and began to climb a stone staircase. Innrod watched as Boromir, every so often, paused to grip his stomach and swallow with eyes closed. The various nobles, guards and servants all bowed to his Lordship or muttered respectful salutations. Innrod soaked everything up with awe. He had never been in this part of the Citadel before. They reached the top of the stairs and began a rushed walk down a long, wide hallway. Innrod had to skip forward to keep up with Boromir’s long strides. The Man was still relatively drunk, for he often shouldered passing servants or collided with the wall unexpectedly. “My lord? May I ask a question, sir?” Innrod asked, childish curiosity consuming him. Boromir did not respond, but did not say no. Innrod bounded forward, trying to keep pace and keep his breath steady. “That – my lord, that wound, is it from your battles with Easterling savages?” “Nay. ‘Twas a poisoned Uruk-hai arrow that did it.” “My lord, is it true that the Uruk-hai are twice the size of Men?” “That is an exaggeration.” “Does it hurt still? The wound?” “Mind your place, boy.” “Yes, my lord,” Innrod said, barely audible and blushing. After a few more strides, Boromir cleared his throat. Innrod felt himself being observed. They were walking the last stretch before the Great Hall, and there were no people in this part of the corridor. Innrod noticed how Boromir lowered his voice to a private growl: “Aye, it does hurt, lad.” “Is that why you drink?” Innrod asked, rather stupidly. Boromir laughed strangely. “What do the servants think?” “They think… nay, forgive me, my lord.” “Well?” “They say it is… they say you driven to it from evil memories.” Boromir did not comment. They had arrived at the entrance of the Great Hall. Two guards pulled in their spears to salute. Boromir turned to Innrod. The boy wiped his hands nervously against his breeches. Had he said something wrong? Yet, his Lordship’s expression softened, not quite a smile but close. “Well? Am I presentable?” Boromir asked. Innrod smiled broadly, almost laughed. “His Lordship’s nose is black and he is very pale.” Boromir shrugged, loosened his collar slightly. “Aye, that will do for today. Just so long as I am not sick on the King himself.” Innrod snickered. “Off you go, Innrod. I will call on you if I have need.” Innrod smiled, bowed slightly, and, before he could contain himself, beamed: “Good luck, my lord!” Boromir laughed and nodded, and then he was gone, into the Great Hall. Innrod peeked in, he could see a group of Men and elves – even a dwarf! – waiting for Boromir. Innrod tried to steal a glance at the King, but the guards were eyeing him nastily, and so he hastened away.
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.