A Blade for the Battle: 3. Hope Waning, Lost

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3. Hope Waning, Lost

The peace and quiet of Lothlórien surrounded him, but Boromir felt far from peaceful.  His heart was sore with impatience, and his thoughts were full of doubt and disappointment.  He chafed at delay, urgent to be on the road again, back to Gondor.  He worried about what the others were thinking; what would change now that Mithrandir was gone?  What would Aragorn do?  Would he forsake the people of Gondor and follow another path, leaving Boromir with no more help than he had started with?  Had this entire journey been in vain?

Boromir sought to soothe his discouragement in concentrated care for his gear -- mail, shield and sword -- but it did little to quiet him.  Rather, his feelings of hopelessness grew as he plied whetstone and oil to his blade's edge.

He recalled the hesitant words he had spoken at the Council of Elrond, when suddenly presented with the Heir of Isildur and the sword he carried:

'..we are hard pressed, and the Sword of Elendil would be a help beyond our hope -- if such a thing could indeed return out of the shadows of the past...'

'A new hour comes,' Aragorn had replied.  'Isildur's Bane is found. Battle is at hand. The Sword shall be reforged. I will come to Minas Tirith.'

Boromir sighed at the memory.

'I will come,' he thought.  That is what he said to me.  Even in the midst of my doubt of him, I felt hope rise in my heart at that confident vow!  A returning king and a sword of legend might do much to stir the hearts of those whose hope is waning, whose strength for the long fight is diminished almost beyond recall.  Did not they name him Estel there in Rivendell?  That is a name which means hope -- the kind of hope that is steady, fixed in purpose, and difficult to dissuade or fall into despair.  That is what we need in Gondor, now more than ever.  We have done our best, Harthad, you and I!  But what can one sword do, though its name be Hope?  What can one man do, though he be valiant?  Can one alone kindle hearts that have fallen into despair, if the hand that wields the blade is itself weakened and discouraged?  If Aragorn would come... if we could but draw our swords together in defense of Gondor, I am certain hope would be renewed!

Boromir sighed again, remembering Aragorn's hesitation and doubt when pressed for an answer about what course the Fellowship would take when they once more set out on their journey -- doubt that was a far cry from that confident vow Aragorn had made in Rivendell.

'I do not know, Boromir,' Aragorn had said, shaking his head. 'It is not yet clear to me what we should do.'

Boromir had been unable to hide his disappointment at Aragorn's indecision.  'I understood that you wanted to return with me -- that you wished for the House of Elendil to return to the land of Gondor...'

'I do want to come with you, Boromir,' Aragorn had replied sadly.  'But things are different now, and I cannot say when I may be able to come to Minas Tirith. I must consider the needs of the whole Company now, and the Ringbearer's most of all. I may not be free to go where my heart desires to go.  It may not be wise to go there at this time.'

'Not wise to go there!' Boromir had exclaimed angrily. 'But it is vital! If Gondor falls, the world will fall; you know this to be true!'

Aragorn's answer had been a shake of his head.  'The Quest comes first, and if that road leads away from Minas Tirith, then so be it. But I beg you, do not lose heart, my friend! We will go to Minas Tirith, though we go by the long road.'

Boromir's voice had been steady as he replied, though his heart felt like it had broken.  'If we go by the long road, then we will be too late.  I, at least, must return, and delay no longer. Even my desire to protect the Ringbearer cannot keep me from that duty. I will go on alone if I must.'

Aragorn had sighed heavily -- 'We shall see,' his only reply.

Boromir's hope was waning to the point that it was almost gone.  But duty remained, and that duty was clear; his people relied upon him and he must do what he could to bring them aid. Had not his grandfather laid it on him so many years ago?  The hope of his people lay with him, he could not forsake them.  Aragorn was yet unsure of the road they should take, that much was obvious. But Boromir knew in his heart they must go to Minas Tirith, or all would be lost.

"Harthad!" Boromir said aloud, fingering the now keen edge on the shining blade.  "You have done well, but it is not enough.  The hope you bring is not sufficient to stem the tide of despair.  You cannot do it alone!  If Aragorn does not come, what then can we do?  What other course is there for us?  How are we to hold back the darkness unaided?  I fear I have not the strength to continue alone."

Slowly, carefully, he slide the blade into its scabbard and gripped it tightly, bowing his head over the sword as if in grief.

"I am not strong enough, even with your unbroken strength to support me, Harthad," he said quietly.  "More is needed!  Another weapon, perhaps.  One more powerful than even the Sword That Was Broken, if it is no longer willing to come to our aid.  The Men of Gondor are valiant, and they will never submit; but they may be beaten down. Valor needs first strength, and then a weapon. That is what we need, Harthad -- a weapon of power to supplement our waning strength..."

***

Boromir leaned back against the tree, his strength almost gone.  Lifting a hand, he laid hold of one of the arrows protruding from his side, and plucked it out.  The pain was terrible, but at least it proved he was not yet dead.

Merry... Pippin... Forgive me...

He turned his head, slightly, ever so slightly -- that was all he had strength to do.  The hobbits were struggling in the arms of their captors, beating on them, reaching out for Boromir as they were being taken away. Boromir lifted his head further and leaned towards them, but he could not reach them. He could do nothing but watch them being carried off to captivity and torture. Though his heart willed to watch them until the last possible moment, the effort was too much for him -- his head fell wearily to his chest, and he saw the hobbits no more.

Forgive me...

His sword was still in his hand, but he could not lift it.  He was weaker now than he had been on that day so long ago; that day when he had taken up the sword for the first time and almost dropped it for its heaviness.

'Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Boromir, son of Denethor of Gondor.'

Yes, he thought.  That was my oath, taken that day.  Has it come to this?  Death and the ending of the world?  I have failed then, for my hope is broken.

'...this oath do I hear and acknowledge, Denethor son of Ecthelion, now Lord of Gondor and Steward of the High King; I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valor with honor, oath-breaking with vengeance...'

Oath-breaking, yes...

An Uruk warrior had remained by his side as the hobbits were carried away. He laughed at Boromir, and kicked him, before turning away. The pain of the kick was intense, but Boromir bore it stoically. He felt as if his heart had been turned to stone, and it no longer mattered what they did to him.  Had he not failed in all he had attempted?  He had failed to keep the hope of his people alive, failed to bring help to Gondor, failed even in his attempt to keep the Halflings safe!

Suddenly the Uruk turned back, and pulling free an axe from his belt, he raised it high and brought it down hard on the blade of Boromir's sword, which Boromir still held gripped in his hand. The blade snapped, and the broken shard flew away to be lost in the leaves that covered the forest floor. The Uruk laughed again coarsely, turned on a heel, and was gone.

Boromir stared helplessly at the broken blade in his hand, and he wept.

That was all that was wanting, he thought in despair. There is nothing left now... it is over...

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.

Story Information

Author: Linaewen

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/21/10

Original Post: 01/20/06

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