9. The West Slopes of Mindolluin (Boromir, Faramir)
"In the army, arrows stay in the quiver," Boromir instructed from all the superiority of six month's service.
With three extra shafts stuck in the ground at his feet, Faramir nocked an arrow and held it loosely against his bow. Their dogs were ranging through the field, plumed tails barely showing above the grass. Forest ringed the meadow and climbed the slopes around them.
Faramir gnawed his lip and tried not to let his brother's military stance irritate him. "We should not be here."
Boromir turned a raised eyebrow and his winning smile on Faramir. "I'm on leave and it's rather late for you to worry about playing truant. We've been gone since dawn."
Faramir shook his head. "Not that. I don't mind the essays father hands out as punishments. When you said, 'let's hunt', I didn't know you meant here. Even father doesn't hunt here. This is the King's forest."
Boromir gave a hoot of laughter. "No need to be so literal. Father rarely hunts and still half the meat on the Steward's table comes from these lands."
"But it's culled by wardens, not hunted for pleasure."
Boromir shrugged. "There hasn't been a king in a thousand years and the game wardens needn't have all the fun. The House of Húrin has hunted this land often enough. When I am Steward, I'll make you free of it with an official proclamation. Does that satisfy your conscience?"
Harsh squawks interrupted them as a pheasant flapped into the air. Both bows twanged. Boromir's arrow sailed inches over the bird, but Faramir's pierced it. A second bird rose. Faramir plucked another arrow from the ground and his bow sang again to bag the brace, even as Boromir still fumbled in his quiver.
Boromir reached over and ruffled the boy's hair. "Good shooting."
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