3. Arrows and Knives
With quiet authority, Aragorn gave swift orders for what was needed.
"Gimli - a fire. Heat your knife. Legolas, I must stay - will you look for the herbs?"
The elf nodded and strode off, vanishing into the surrounding woods noiselessly, while the dwarf gathered scattered twigs for kindling. All the while Théodred held Boromir, supporting him as he shuddered to gain each breath. The battle-rush had begun to leave the Gondorian and pain was beginning to take hold. Boromir did his best to contain his groans as Aragorn took hold of his shoulder, but breaking the feathered shafts away made him scream. With Théodred's help, the two men lifted Boromir to ease him out of his leathers and expose his back for Aragorn to cut his tunic free from the wounds. The Horn of Gondor had taken a blow in the battle and split in two as they moved him; Theodred set it to one side. Boromir panted, gasped and swore liberally as they peeled away the blood-sodden cloth. Blood oozed darkly around the bases of the shortened shafts piercing his shoulder and chest; his clammy skin was pale where it wasn't flushed livid purple with rising bruises and streaks of vivid crimson.
Legolas returned, appearing from between the trees as silently as he had left, hands filled with bunches of greenery – athelas.
"Gimli? Is the fire ready?" Aragorn tried to keep the anxiety from his voice.
"Aye …a moment more for the blade to heat."
Boromir's eyes rolled; he knew what they must do, and was afraid, even though he struggled to conceal his apprehension. Aragorn gripped his arm comfortingly.
"I know", was all he said.
Théodred, who had bitten his lip and remained nearly silent through their struggle to rid Boromir of his clothes while causing him the least distress possible, now spoke briefly, a tension that was near to challenge all too evident in his voice.
"Are you sure?"
Aragorn nodded. Boromir groped for Théodred's hand again.
"Let him – it must be done."
Aragorn composed himself as he mentally gauged the wounds, forcing himself to become detached from the thoughts of the agony he was about to inflict. He exhaled slowly, then took a breath.
"Lift him up. Hold him fast," he ordered.
Théodred obeyed after a moment's hesitation, knowing this was vital; they must free the deeply embedded barb from Boromir's shoulder. Between them they tried to lift Boromir. He struggled to help himself, but cried out as his torn muscles protested. Théodred put an arm beneath his, lifting him, holding his trembling body steady.
"Gently," he soothed, running a hand over Boromir's uninjured arm and back as he might a struggling colt.
"Hold him fast," muttered Aragorn, before putting a scant handful of leaves in his mouth and chewing them fiercely; he crouched in front of the two men. Boromir's arm was over Théodred's shoulder, his head hanging low. Legolas was behind them; he took Boromir's other arm and shoulder in a firm grip. Aragorn glanced at each of them; they both nodded almost imperceptibly. Boromir's head jerked up, staring fiercely into Aragon's eyes.
"Do it!" he hissed through clenched teeth. "Now!"
Aragorn grasped the first shortened arrow-shaft and pushed hard. Boromir screamed. Legolas' previously concealed blade flashed in his hand as he swiftly sliced open the bulging skin on Boromir's back to ease the arrow's passage. The man slumped against Théodred, deadweight now that he was mercifully unconscious. Aragorn spat the green wad into his hand and hastily applied it to the bleeding wound on the Boromir's back, which Legolas staunched with a wad of torn shirt.
"Gimli!" shouted Aragorn.
The dwarf sprang across with a small knife, its blade gleaming red from the flame. He placed the handle carefully in Aragorn's outstretched palm.
"Quickly! While he knows nothing!" urged Théodred.
The Rohir let Boromir's heavy body fall back into Legolas' arms, as they lowered him onto the bloody surcoat laid on the ground between them. Aragorn swiftly made two cuts either side of the second, more deeply embedded, arrow, lengthening the tear in the skin to pull the barb free. The stench of scorched flesh caught in their noses; Théodred fought down the urge to heave. Boromir stirred, but did not waken. Aragorn eased the knife into his flesh alongside the arrow. Frowning with concentration, his lips tightly compressed, he felt the arrow-head move slightly. Gritting his teeth, he plunged the knife in deeper, twisted it, levering it to pull the cruel barb free. It came out with a gush of fresh blood. Legolas had more cloth in his hands, instantly holding it against the wound to stem the flow. Aragorn grabbed more athelas, crushing the leaves above the bloody gash so the juice dripped over it.
"Here now!" Gimli offered a curved needle already threaded, "Quickly, close it before he wakes again!"
Aragorn's hand shook as he pierced the torn skin with the needle. Legolas pressed him to one side,
"Let me," he said with quiet authority that brooked no argument.
The elf's fingers were nimble as he deftly secured the open wound with neat stitches. Aragorn found himself shaking beyond his ability to control; he jerked himself erect and stumbled over to where a nearby meagre spring flowed down towards the lake. He knelt among the rocks and plunged his hands under the rippling surface, keeping them there until the chill water no longer ran red with Boromir's blood; then he splashed his face quickly, urgently seeking to regain his self-control. Moments later he returned to the others, as Legolas cut the thread free, his bloody needlework completed. Boromir did not stir; it was Théodred who rocked almost imperceptibly, the Gondorian heavy in his arms.
Gimli broke the silence, "And what are we to do next, then? Do we follow the Ringbearer?"
There followed a moment of silence as they each contemplated their dilemma. Aragorn spoke first.
"No. Frodo has chosen his path. Now… we must make our plans anew."
"What of Merry and Pippin?" asked Legolas.
"My thoughts exactly," Gimli nodded.
"We must go to their aid… but…" Aragorn looked down at Boromir, Théodred kneeling at his side, "we still have others to think of," he said, almost to himself.
Legolas wiped his blade clean and watched the ranger struggle to make up his mind. Aragorn was evidently torn as to the right course, but the elf refrained from offering advice. It was a few moments before Aragorn spoke hesitantly.
"We should help the little ones…"
Gimli nodded agreement, "Aye lad, that's the best course left to us. I would not see them in torment while we could yet help them."
Legolas watched them, "And Boromir?" he said quietly.
"I can look after Boromir."
The elf turned at Théodred's assertion, frowning slightly, "I do not doubt your good intentions, but…"
"We can not just leave them here!" interrupted Aragorn.
"My Riders will come for us; I sent runes home, carved into the saddle, telling where an éorling travels horseless - they will find us."
"If orcs don't find you first!" said Gimli gruffly. "The Elf and I will go after Merry and Pippin – you two should stay and aid Boromir."
Théodred shook his head, "Three will be barely enough for that, two only are bound to fail. Leave us; I will take him safely to Meduseld."
"And what, do I have no say in this?" Boromir's voice was weak and slurred. He struggled to sit up. Théodred and Aragorn both bent to help him.
"You must all go. You must save them… where I could not…" Boromir's voice trailed away.
Aragorn slid an arm under him; touching Théodred's arm sliding beneath Boromir's other side. The Rohir looked into Aragorn's eyes and read pain and indecision, swiftly hidden by steely resolve.
"We must all go together," the ranger announced.
Boromir shook his head, "I will slow you. Leave me… The Riders will find me… I can seek a high place to watch for them…"
"And who will watch you, lad?" asked Gimli. "No, let us all go together then, but we best make it as soon as we can."
Boromir nodded, "Give me but a moment… I will be ready… Help me to my feet."
They assisted him, although he swayed and had to grit his teeth to prevent himself crying out. As quickly as they could, they helped Boromir down the path to the lake side. Théodred ran to reclaim his discarded pack in the wooded slope above them and followed them down. At the remains of their camp, Legolas and Gimli set about discarding all but the essentials. Legolas pushed a spare shirt of his towards Aragorn's pack, their eyes met and the ranger smiled grimly in thanks. The man's wounds would need more bandages yet, that was obvious to them both. Aragorn shouldered Boromir's shield, and turned to watch the injured man who leant, his back against a tree, visibly attempting to gather his strength. They nodded to each other, but Aragorn could see how white the man's face was. A long, hard run would be the death of him as surely as the arrows might have been. Théodred strode forward and picked up Boromir's pack, pushing the cloven horn awkwardly into the top. Boromir shook his head as he watched him, then took a few steps toward the steep slopes of tangled woodland leading to the plains above.
"I may have need of an arm to lean on," he said without looking at any of them in particular as he walked away from the lake; holding himself stiffly upright by will-power alone.
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.