22. Boromir goes to Lorien
The elves covered the ground swiftly at a loping jog. None spoke; the only sound was the brush of booted feet through the grass, a rustling no louder than a strong wind over the plain. Boromir felt as if he watched himself from a distance; as he looked he could see around him the running elves, but it was as if he followed on the breeze, somewhere above his own shoulder. The man who ran, was him… but not him; he felt the unevenness of the tussocky ground beneath his feet… but they weren't quite his feet, or his breath rasping in the man's throat… And his thoughts… some of those were strange indeed. They whirled like the brightly coloured chips of glass in the kaleidoscope toy he'd had as a child… sometimes forming patterns, sometimes a vivid jumble - but was it his childhood he was remembering? It felt alien… wrong… wrong, not him, no not, not him…
Lord Celeborn seemed to come both beside and into him, his presence a wordless golden comfort… and Boromir felt himself relax as his near panic retreated. His breathing deepened, and his feet stepped swift and lightly on the ground without catching in the tangled grasses. Now he was the observer again, a part not only of the man whose shoulder and chest ached dully, but also, in some small way, of the strong, pale-haired elf who gleamed faintly as he ran on one side of him. But it was the silvery flame of an elf-lord that ran on his other side that drew him – him he knew, and felt, and… and further afield - he was part of the plain, the approaching glorious woodland, the stones, the streams, the earth… He was coming home! His heart lifted in joy, and he felt the ancient trees sing to him in welcome. Behind them was another voice though, the cool, clear tones of a woman's voice that bade welcome and haste in a single thought, that sorrowed to hear of the dead, delighted to hear of their safe return and cautioned that foraging bands of yrch had been seen abroad – but overall, the richly powerful thoughts counselled speed with caution.
Celeborn's eyes silvered over as he far-spoke his wife in answer to her welcome. She questioned in surprise that he bought Boromir not only with him, but within him… The elf-lord pictured briefly the circumstances, and felt the wave of warm compassion roll out to him. As she focussed her power on all the returning elves, they each felt themselves quicken as their spirits lightened a little in response to the Lady of Lorien. It was not far now, the trees ahead of them were clearly in sight even though the light from the east was obscured by murk and darkness into a sombre twilight. They would soon be home.
At one end of the line of advancing elves a cry rang out. Bow strings twanged and a dark shape lurched up from some nearby rocks, before falling sideways. Others fled away, pursued by the sentry elves that flanked the main party until they were called back. The host halted briefly, gathering nearer, facing outwards. The returning elves checked the orc – it was dead, a grey-fletched arrow through its throat.
"They come boldly and close!" Haldir said.
Lord Celeborn nodded, "We return just in time. The power in the East stirs, thinking to take us by surprise."
Lord Celeborn instructed his captains to move the able-bodied warriors ahead and to the flanks while the injured and the healers bunched more closely together for protection behind them. The elves ran on with renewed urgency, the pace putting some strain on the more seriously hurt of the walking wounded. Helped and supported by their comrades, they set their teeth and ran on, although some faces grew white with pain. Boromir's shoulder and chest ached with a dull throb, but it seemed a distant thing as his vision swooped and altered, as if he saw through other eyes at the same time as his own. Haldir now had the arm of an injured elf and urged him on with soft encouragement a few paces from Boromir's side. Celeborn's hand slipped under Boromir's elbow to clasp it lightly, guiding him forward wordlessly, though in his head the man felt rather than heard the warm assurance that they would very shortly reach safety.
Soon, from the tree-line ahead of them, grey clad figures emerged, coming forward to assist them. They replaced the tired stretcher-bearers, and took injured and exhausted elves beneath the shoulders, one each side, helping to guide their now stumbling feet. Once inside the trees, the host came swiftly to the make-shift camp that had been set up in advance knowing they came with injured among them. The exhausted elves slumped gratefully to the ground, and eagerly accepted the hot drinks and food that had been prepared for them. Celeborn and Haldir went immediately to the wind-banner shielded area, where wardens and messengers gathered to give their reports and receive instructions. Maps were already laid out on a camp-table; depositions were discussed and agreed upon while food and drinks were bought to them quietly and without ceremony.
A couple of canvas cots were set up there, should the lords have time for rest. Celeborn guided Boromir to one and signalled he should be served with food. Boromir took the beaker of hot tea and the bowl of stew with polite diffidence, but the elf serving him had to place a spoon in his hand and encourage him to eat as if he were a reluctant child, reminding him to take another mouthful when he paused, eyes focused into the distance. The man mildly did as he was bid with the detached demeanour of one who walks in their sleep, neither fully awake, nor unconscious. The elf at his side took his heavy boots and leathers off and made sure he finished the food; then, at the Marchwarden's instruction, helped Boromir to lie down and draped a light blanket over him. The man's eyes drooped half closed, but even then he did not sleep, for his mind followed maps of a strange country that he knew well. Thoughts came to him unbidden of 'defensive emplacements', 'positioning troops', 'arranging for scouts and look-outs' – these things he could easily comprehend; they rolled through his mind as he lay on the cot… but also stood at the table, his captains clustered around him.
Warm and comfortable now, he felt he half-dozed, but a thought kept coming back to disturb him. He mulled over the strange topography of the map in his mind, half seeing the actual places as trees and rocky outcrops and a long, tumbling silver stream… Then he realised - a look-out on that northern tip would be invisible to the one looking for his signal to the south-west. Time would be wasted, even lives lost - he should be placed higher, a riskier position, but one of more use… Boromir rose from the cot, and glided to the knot of elves clustered around the table.
"There," he said in perfect Sindarin, pointing to the map. "The look-outs need to move higher, or their signal will not be seen… here." His finger ghosted over the parchment and stopped at the extreme western border among the foothills above the confluence of the Nimrodel. The elves were silent; each looking at the other, until at last Haldir spoke.
"He is correct, lord. The ice brought down a large fall of rock with it several winters ago; it has been a nagging thought in my mind that I couldn't at first recall. The many great boulders lie piled high, filling a rock shelf here," he pointed. "For the scouts in the west to see them, the lookout should indeed be higher…"
Lord Celeborn nodded slowly, turning to Haldir with a half-smile and a raised eyebrow.
"It seems our lordling channels both of us!" he said softly, before turning back to his captains. "See it done, tell the scouts to position themselves higher, but send extra warriors with them in case they have to fight their way back to us. But, if the force that comes is too great – make sure they know they must retreat north and cross the mountains to Imladris. They can shelter there and tell Master Elrond of our fate."
One of the wardens bowed his head in acknowledgement and hurried out to give instructions for the altered deployment.
After they were left alone, Lord Celeborn watched Boromir, sitting on the edge of the cot near to where he and Haldir sat shoulder to shoulder.
"And what shall we do with you, little lord?" murmured Celeborn aloud.
For a moment, the flash in his eyes gave notice of the old Boromir's presence.
"You'll let me fight with you!" the man said.
Celeborn and Haldir glanced at each other, and then back at Boromir.
"Mellon, are you able?" Haldir said gently.
"Try me and see!" declared Boromir, standing at once, cocksure, hands to hips and chin high, every inch again the proud son of the Steward of Gondor.
But at once he felt the calming touch of Celeborn's thoughts come to him, even if there was a hidden vein of amusement behind them, and his demeanour relaxed.
"Sit down, Boromir; you will have chance enough to prove yourself, if that is what you wish," he said with an approving smile.
Bormir sat slowly back down on the cot, resting his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands with an audible sigh. There was a silence only broken by the muffled sounds of the tents and accoutrements of the camp being packed away to be moved, and the low, liquid sound of Sindarin as the elves called instructions to one another or the ripple of occasional laughter. Boromir found himself listening without surprise that he understood them, knew what was happening and, if asked, could have explained what was going on out there. When he looked up, Haldir had turned his back towards Celeborn, who was still seated at his side, but the elf-lord now expertly massaged the knots out of the marchwarden's shoulders and neck – Boromir could almost hear the purr of pleasure from the elf, indeed, he almost felt the sensation himself, not so much consciously, but he was aware of touching…
Celeborn looked at Boromir without pausing in his ministrations, "You are returning to us, I think… but do you know who you are?"
Boromir blinked slowly, frowning, before he finally spoke, "I… am a warrior… My father fought, though now he is more concerned with state… My people are warriors… but they do not seem to fight among the trees as we do…" His voice trailed away before he frowned again and asked. "Are these old memories of Eregion, or of tales of Nagothrond, perhaps?
"No," said Celeborn quietly, "Those are not your memories… they are mine…"
Boromir considered this, "But I am a warrior – I know how to wield a sword, string a bow…"
"Indeed," Celeborn interrupted him, "But do you know your name?"
There was a significant pause, during which Lord Celeborn's hands were still upon his marchwarden's shoulders, and both elves watched the man intently.
"I… am… my name is…" His head sank into his hands again. "I am tired."
"Sleep, then. Rest, and do not dwell on these questions."
Boromir lay on his side on the canvas cot. He half watched, half-felt the muscular shoulders under his hands before he leant back and his marchwarden leant back against him, the two sharing the one cot. A voice in his head suggested 'sleep', and he drifted into warm, comfortable unconsciousness, but before he slipped completely away, he mumbled aloud:
"Celebmir… I am Celebmir…"
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.