1. Ill Wind
Title: Ill Wind
Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this story except my arrangements of words, and Illwind. Tolkien owns the rest. I'm not making any money either. All I'm getting is enjoyment. Don't sue me; I'm a turnip.
Summary: A houseless elf (fea, ghost, whatever you wanna call it), long since fallen to evil and fallen away from it in uselessness follows the fellowship, focusing on Boromir, with whom he feels a strange kinship. Mostly bookverse, maybe a smidge of movieverse.
Characters: Mainly Boromir, fellowship gets a mention, and Illwynd (OC) but don't worry, he's just an observer.
Notes: This story has not yet been beta'd. The two quotes are direct from the books, so obviously I didn't write them. The bit of song at the end is mine, though, and I take all the blame for it. And no I didn't name myself after the OC, I named the OC after me. Meh.
Illwind. A name for quaint sayings, a name that means nothing. It's not my real name. It is simply the last thing I was called, when anyone had a reason to call me.
My name is gone, as is my past. Nothing much remains of me, except my thought. For many years, my thought was dark and awash with bitterness. Now, a mist of merciful forgetfulness has come over me, and I search for something to occupy my time. There is so much time, and all would soon fall to darkness again if I did not seek for a flame to warm myself by. I find him, wandering in the wilderness. He seeks also, propelled by dreams and hope and honor, and I am intrigued. I follow.
I stay with him as he travels, as he finds, and as he sets out to return. The others with him are far less interesting to me. The small short ones are innocent, their minds lingering in warm, sunlit fields. The others are too involved in their quest, their thought is focused only on success, on practicality. The elf with his piercing eyes I avoid, and I hide myself from the gray one. I stay with my warm flame, though he knows it not.
He is beautiful. Enchanting, really, in body and mind and heart. He moves with a lion-like grace, he exudes confidence, his voice is smooth and feels to me tangible like velvet on the skin. His face, its faint lines carved by a lifetime of bright smiles and calm surety, has lapsed into anxious awe and worry as their journey progresses. Sometimes he still smiles, but usually it is a smile-that-is-not-a-smile, just a twist of the mouth stemming from the conflict within. His eyes, grey as the stone of his land, are haunted. He was so different when I first saw him. I could see it even then, through the almost exuberant strength and the overwhelming optimism. He knows pain, he knows struggle against impossible odds, and I relish it.
At night it is easier to see his mind, as he dreams. Many of the dreams are similar; they begin with his White City- even in dreams he thinks of it as his own- in its glory, shining in the sun. Then shadows creep across, and the dream shifts into a mishmash of all the battles he has fought. Always he is strong, wielding his sword with the skill of years, but around him his friends and comrades are falling. They bleed and lie still, yet he fights on, yelling his rage into the din of the battle. In his head he wails in the voice of the boy he once was, overwhelmed by terror and grief and a helplessness that he has always fought to vanquish, a despair that he denies even to himself. As he dreams of this, he stirs and mutters, his hands clench, but soon enough new dreams dash away the memory of battle; he dreams of his brother. He dreams of their younger days together, the happiness of children, and he dreams of the closeness they shared. He holds his brother tightly, calming and comforting the younger boy in a moment of sadness. What had happened? He doesn't remember, it doesn't matter. He holds the younger boy as if his life depends on it, and I see in his dreams his secret. Those moments of comfort that the two brothers have not enjoyed since they both came of age, they were the origin of his great strength. He had been in terrible fear and sorrow when his brother came to him for comfort that first time; he was young also, and the darkness of the world around him was great. As he held Faramir, these feelings slipped away and were replaced by resolve. His brother believed he was strong; he would become so. His brother believed he could banish the evils of the world; he would do so. His brother depended upon him and he would not fail him. This resolve was what had carried him though all those battles. The source of it has disappeared from his conscious mind. He believes he has always been this strong, this sure of himself. In his dreams he knows better. In his dreams, he holds Faramir close again, and his fear and grief wash away, leaving only strength and love.
Recently, though, his dreams have changed. New worries have invaded his mind, apart from the worry he has harbored so long for the fate of his people. As he fights the battles in his dreams, he grows in stature until he casts a shadow across the battlefield, striking fear into his opponents. He hews his enemies as if swatting flies. No more of his comrades fall; they stand behind him and look on in wonder. Never again will his land, his city, or his brother, be in danger. He has made certain of that. He holds something tightly in his hand. He will not look at it, he denies it is there. It is his own strength that has allowed this victory, he feels. He wakes with a start as a circle of gold glints maliciously in his dreams.
He sits in the silent darkness, sweat cooling on his brow as the memory of the dream fades. Now more than ever I am drawn to him. In my mind I smile bitterly and nod. This, now, is something we share, something I can understand. I find myself wishing to console him, to commiserate on his plight. I remember a little bit; things were different for me, but oh so much the same. I imagine telling him about it. Alas, I cannot. This desire to share my forgotten past with him whips up in me, and the fury of my thought rebels. I am unused to this, I am out of the habit of feeling anything but anger, the bitterness of loss, and solitude. I reach with my thought, reach into his mind and wrap myself around his struggle, savoring the intensity and heat of it. I devour his pain as if it were an offering. He is drawn into his pain as I do this, and we both suffer together. In my mind, I smile.
His desperation burns him as the days go by. I stay by him as the group struggles onward. I wait for the nights and the quiet moments when he has time to feel his worries more deeply, and I share in them with him. Before now, all the troubles that have confronted him in life were easily dealt with by his rather straightforward practical tactics. His strength and his skill in strategy, greater than any other in his land for long years, have served him well. It is hard for him to believe that things are so different this time. He begins to doubt the counsel of the wise, and to trust in himself as he has always done.
They come to a land of golden light and of trees that reach to the skies. Here in this place I am almost drawn away from him, so cold it is to me here. The elves, same as they have ever been, cling to memory, to images of the past. I can bear it, though, as the fire in him grows hotter here, and drives away their age-old chill. His doubts and worries are stronger here, but he has finally realized what he should do. He trusts in his own strength, and begins to dream of putting everything right, with a ring of perfect gold in his keeping. I am with him as he dreams. I remember feeling as strong and sure as he does now. I bask in the reflected glow of the flame within him, and I imagine feeling that strong again.
Time passes. I do not leave his side for even a moment. I have realized, as I ought to have long before, that however this ends, I may get my wish. I will someday be able to speak with him, and he will see me, and we will know each other. It is a strangely comforting thought. If his strength carries him through to that place I could not reach, I will be laid bare to him, and he will see my thought as clearly as I have seen his. If he were the Lord, only then would I again be servant. If his strength fails him, I will be nearby to catch him before he leaves these lands. He will stay with me, and I will no longer be alone in my misery. We will dream bitter dreams together, and maybe someday again we will both be caught up in the mists of forgetfulness, just in time to find another bright flame and watch it flicker and die.
A clearing. He is so close to his home that he aches for it, and yet that is not the only ache in him. The fire in him has built into a roaring blaze, and in the withering heat of it I feel almost alive again. I am his shadow as he follows one of the small ones, the one who bears the precious treasure, away from the group. His mind is focused on only one thing. He talks to the little one, and I am drawn in as I listen to that voice, telling me what I knew long ago. He spins a luscious tale of men mustered, armies marching, battles against evil fought and won, of glory, of saving what he loves, and hearing all the voices in the land raised up in celebration at his triumph. Had I a voice, I would be shouting in agreement, cheering him towards this goal. Had I a body, I would be snatching that great, beautiful weapon from the weak hands that hold it now, the hands of this small being who stares at him in mistrust, and then I would give it to him. Even if I wanted to, I cannot control myself as I reach out with my mind, to try to let him hear my silent voice crying 'Yes! It should be yours! Take it and destroy your enemies! Yes! Take it!' I can feel his desire of it, hot and bright as the sun; I feel the same desire. I cannot take it; he must, and I must serve him when he does, so I can be near it once again. This time I will not resent that it is on another's hand, for how could I resent one so fair and bright, one whose warmth has sustained me? It will be enough to see it, to see him, and to be near to this great blaze within him. He shall be the sun to me, even when all else falls to darkness.
"For I am too strong for you, halfling!" He cries finally, leaping at the little being. The fire within him now burns in his eyes, and I dance in those flames! For once glorious moment I danced in the victory that would soon come… until the little cheat disappeared. As he shouted and cursed at the empty air, I howled with him in a rage I knew well. Once again, it was lost to me. Despair.
Suddenly he fell to the ground. What had happened? Even I cannot tell; it happened too quickly. The warmth of that fire in him had been shut off like a lamp, and I felt as if I would be swept from him in a tide. As I looked at him, his tears began to flow, washing away the last embers of the blaze from his eyes.
"What have I done?" He said in a voice I had not before heard from him, the small, simple voice of the boy from his past, from his dreams. The cold of bitter darkness began to creep through my thought, and though I followed him as he wandered back to where the others waited, I was already growing numb again. Still, I had some hope. His fire could not be spent so soon. I would not believe it.
I followed listlessly as he sought the other little ones who had run off wildly after that cheat, the bearer of their precious treasure. I watched as he found them, I saw his relief to find them safe, and then I saw the others approach, the cruel ones, the orcs. I saw his eyes as he spotted them, and drew his sword. I saw his face as they approached, grief and shame banished as his resolve to protect these little ones swept through him. He lifted his horn to his lips and blew a mighty note, then threw himself into the battle. He shielded the little ones with his body, and as he fought with all the strength and skill he possessed, I saw a new light kindled in his eyes, pure and bright. This flame gave none of its warmth to me. His valor and his honor shone bright in this light, a light so bright it stunned my eyes, but I could not look away. This was a light I could not share, a flame that could not warm me, but somewhere, in some forgotten part of my memory, I felt it slice deeply, opening all my wounds and laying me bare. I wanted this light as well. I was grasping for it when he cried out, pierced by one arrow, then another and another and more. I was groping for it as he fell.
I was there beside him as he lay in his final despair. The little ones were taken by the cruel orcs, and his thought was on his city's doom and his own failure. He thought of his brother, whom he could no longer save, and grief consumed him. He had failed his brother. He had failed the little ones. He had failed his people, and most of all he had failed himself. His strength had failed him at last.
The other tall man came as he breathed his final breaths. This other did not matter to me. All that mattered was Boromir's light. Had I tears, I would have wept as the light within him, the hot flame and the pure light, faded from his form. Had I ever possessed such light? I do not think so.
I could not catch him as he departed, and he did not see me, a shadow strewn across his fallen form in despair. I saw his light leave, and now I am alone, and the darkness is enclosing me once more.
His remaining companions did not hear me as my silent voice finished their song, and ever after spoke no more.
'What news from the East, O bitter wind, do you bring to me in the gloom?
Where now is the light of Boromir, can you tell me of his doom?'
'Only one here in the east has ever loved that name
That one now is wandering lost without his noble flame'
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.