1. The Road Taken
Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.
He pulled his mount to a halt in the shade of an ancient, gnarled holly tree and swung himself stiffly from the saddle. Animal and man both showed the strain of the long journey. They moved as ones who had not eaten or rested since the first light of dawn, who had clambered through the barren hills until their feet ached and their hearts grew heavy. Now, as the sun slipped into the grey shadows of the West, they had reached the end of their strength and of their road for the day.
He allowed himself a moment, as his booted feet struck the iron-hard ground, to pause and feel the aches in his body. A wry, self-mocking smile tilted his lips. He had thought himself ready for this task. He had believed himself hardened beyond the reach of simple weariness. But the very stones of this place seemed to breathe despair and exhaustion. It ate away at his strength and clouded his mind, 'til he longed only to turn his back on this cursed wilderness and return to the fair halls of his home.
Home. As he did every night, he let his thoughts dwell on home while he unsaddled his horse and prepared his camp. It lightened his heart, and it held the night shadows at bay for a brief time. But home was league upon league behind him, and the shadows drew ever nearer. It was into those shadows he was bound, to search until he found the answers he sought, or until he dropped in his tracks - which at the moment seemed by far the more likely of the two.
With the horse tended and his own sparse meal eaten, he wrapped himself in his dusty, black cloak, propped his chin on his bent knees, and sat staring into the banked embers of the fire. His face, beneath the dirt and half-grown beard, was somber. His eyes were distant, looking back at something lost behind him in the night that gave him no comfort. He was thinking of his home again, of his leave-taking and the bitter words that had spurred him from his father's gates.
Anger still burned in his face and soured his throat, when he thought of that day. They had both wounded him, in their different ways. His father - cold and scornful, full of accusations against his pride and selfishness, trying to conceal the fear behind them. His brother - grave and generous in defeat, his forgiveness as cruel as their father's rage. Neither of them understanding why he had defied father, brother and council to take this quest upon himself.
'So be it,' he thought, as he gazed sightlessly into the fire. 'I can bear their contempt awhile. And when I have solved the riddle and returned home, there will be time enough to set things right.'
He devoutly hoped that this was true, even though his secret doubt whispered to him that the riddle had no answer and his steps would never lead him home again. This was why he had insisted on going, to spare the brother he loved from a fruitless search and lonely death. If one of them had to travel that road, he wanted it be himself, who stood the best chance of success. And if one of them had to stay behind to support their father in the coming crisis, he wanted it to be his brother, who deserved a chance to earn that father's love and respect. They could accuse him of ambition and overweening pride, but all he wanted was for his people, his city and his family to endure. For that, he would accept any burden.
That thought did not warm him, when the night wind blew through his cloak and chilled his limbs, but it gave him a measure of peace. He was not a philosophical man, nor a fatalistic one, but he knew better than to curse what he could not mend, and he knew that he had taken this burden on himself. It was entirely his choice - from the cold stones beneath his back as he slept, to the bitterness of his father's farewell - he had set himself on this path. The only choice left him was to follow it to the end.
Pulling his cloak more tightly around him, he lay down with his head on the smooth, slightly warm leather of his saddle. Behind him, the horse chewed thoughtfully on the leaves of the holly tree. In front of him, the fire glowed a dull red, heat crawling over the charred wood like a living thing. Above him, the heavens were lit with a blaze of stars that sang too high and sweet for human ears to hear.
Boromir, son of Denethor, heir to the Stewardship of Gondor and Captain-General of the armies of Minas Tirith, closed his eyes and slept.
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.