30. Arrivals from the South
It was late morning when there was a stir among the elves of the wardenship. Haldir had left Boromir with a group of wardens in the store-room at the base of the lodging's dwelling-tree, gathering and fletching arrows and filling quivers. The job was repetitive but the man quite enjoyed the satisfying working rhythm of devoting his attention to cutting feathers and dipping them in warm pitch before applying and binding them securely. His fingers knew the task and it gave him something solid to focus his thoughts on. A spreading ripple of excitement surged through the warden's glade; voices passed the news from one to another… They were back!
Boromir was jolted from his thoughts; he stood and strode out to join the others who milled excitedly around the three newcomers. Travel-stained and dust-blown, they drank thirstily from proffered flasks. Haldir came forward quickly.
"Gwindor! Greetings, Lindir, Lórindol… Where is Gelmir...?"
The sudden broken look on Gwindor's face said it all. Haldir stepped swiftly in front of him and put his arms around the stricken elf. They stood together mutely, unmoving, as the realization circulated among the assembled elves – Gelmir had fallen.
Gwindor's voice was a whisper only Haldir could hear.
"He has gone. I had to give him to the river… but first… I… had to send him to Mandos… I had to kill him." There was a long pause before he finally hissed the words,
Haldir's eyes widened. Gwindor's head sank to rest on the Marchwarden's shoulder. By his look, Lindir and Lórindol knew the question in the Marchwarden's horrified eyes. They simply nodded. Haldir gripped Gwindor tightly, his normally controlled features running the gamut from horror to rage, disgust and back before he composed himself and eased Gwindor from his grip.
"Come. Sit, eat, and give me your report."
Gwindor's head came up again; they met eye to eye and Gwindor nodded – they still had a duty of care to Lorien. He took a deep breath and allowed Haldir to guide him away, the Marchwarden's hand lightly in the small of his back. Haldir turned and beckoned Boromir to follow them. Other elves came forward to relieve Lindir and Lórindol of their packs, to touch their shoulders lightly or embrace them briefly, before they followed Haldir and Gwindor to the Warden's Hall. The work continued, with an added zeal at the news of fresh barbarism.
The word had spread rapidly among the wardens, and the chief among them gathered to hear news of the outer reaches of Lorien that the three had ridden through before reaching the city. Others were aware and hung back, sitting quietly nearby to receive muttered repetitions of what was said among the elves at the long central table.
"The Cherry Garth is destroyed. The groves are hacked and burning, and the dwelling trees at the centre… they must have had trolls with them – have been uprooted, pushed over and flattened. The Plum Garth also; flocks killed, dead in the pastures, though we did not ride near enough to see the dwellings…"
Haldir nodded, "They had all been moved into the forest here, but they could only bring the breeding animals with them."
"We saw smoke rising from the almond groves, and far beyond, we thought that there was some fighting still at the Apple Garth, but the great oaks did not seem to have suffered…"
"They were well-equipped and many refused to leave their home undefended, even though we counselled them that little relief could be offered if things went badly."
Lórindol smiled, "The elves of Apple Garth were ever a stubborn people…" He met Lindir's eye fondly… his partner hailed from there; Lindir's parents and family were mostly of the apple garth.
"We passed when the sun was not long up. Is there more news of them?" asked Lindir.
"We think their attackers have slunk off now the sun is high, even though you'd scarce believe it under this dismal cloud. We have lookouts in the highest trees of the forest and they can see no fighting there. But what about the Walnut Garth – did you see anything?"
Lórindol shook his head, "They were hidden by a fold in the land. We saw only the very tops of the trees in the grove. The smoke there might have drifted from the almonds nearby…"
Haldir chewed his lip in thought. "The Three Trees form their own fortress and they have a ditch surrounding… The walnut trees there are too big to be brought down by hasty blows – so long as they faced not too great a force, nor one that still besieges them, they should be able to defend themselves… but we should still ride out to check…
"Good!" Gwindor thumped the table emphatically. "I would add more notches to my knife!" he snarled.
Haldir looked at him appraisingly.
"I know what you think. But I do not seek my own death – only those I hate more than ever. I will have my revenge!" Gwindor's eyes blazed. Gainsaying him would be a useless task.
"Rest while we gather horses and gear and I seek permission from Lord Celeborn to make the sortie – then you shall join us, if you wish." Haldir replied. He left the table. Gwindor drained his cup and followed him out. Some of the other elves drifted away, while others settled at nearby tables to eat their noonday meal.
Boromir had sat in silence next to Lindir, lost in thought as the elves ate hungrily. Rations had been short on their ride from the south. Lindir pushed a plate of cold meat across to him.
"Do you join us, adan? Lindir spoke in Westron.
"Yes, if they'll let me. I'll ride out with you." Boromir replied in Sindarin.
The two elves glanced at each other.
"Lord Boromir will be welcome to ride with us." Lórindol bowed his head courteously.
Boromir returned the bow with a slight smile "That name still sounds strange to my ear. I have thought of myself as Celebmir… but other thoughts begin to crowd my mind. A city of stone, different armour and helms, and…" his voice trailed away.
"Perhaps a face you now recall?" enquired Lindir quietly.
Boromir looked at his plate.
Lindir shifted a little closer to him on the bench that ran the length of the table. He glanced at Lórindol, who nodded in agreement. He reached for the wine-jug and poured them each a beaker, pushing two across to Lindir, who passed one to Boromir.
"Do you know where we have returned from?" he asked.
Boromir accepted the wine and shook his head.
"We escorted another man south, a Rohir, a beautiful man if even we say so, with broad shoulders, and long tawny hair that falls in ripples around his face when he unplaits it. His eyes - the warm blues of summer skies, but they deepen in his passion, his mouth is generous, his nose - a little crooked, maybe an encounter with a horses' skull when he was young?"
Boromir's focussed attention was solely on the elf."He has a pale scar through his eyebrow here…" Lindir touched Boromir's face. "…and another here." His fingertip grazed beneath the man's jaw. "His shoulder is marked so…" Lindir's finger swirled a pattern across Boromir's shoulder and chest… "…with scars made to show his rank…"
Boromir's hand shook a tiny bit as he replaced the wine beaker on the table without speaking. Lindir continued.
"Across here…" His fingers trailed to Boromir's ribs, "A spear broke three ribs and one shattered bone had to be excised… The wound had fine stitches, a row of tiny ridges pointing down…"
Boromir's eyes glazed as the elf trailed his hand lower until it rested heavily against Boromir's hipbone.
"…and a thumb pushed in the hollow here makes him laugh!"Boromir bolted upright. If the table had not have been so heavy, the force would have pushed it over. Lindir stood with him, speaking Westron now… relentlessly detailing memories of Théodred's naked body.
"He has white scars high up across the heavy muscles of his thigh, an old burn down his calf to his fine ankles… but his beautiful back is smooth and unmarked…"
"Stop it!" shouted Boromir.
"Though just at the left, below the deep dimples at the juncture of his spine and the ripe swelling of his lovely ar…"
Boromir swung a fist at his tormentor. Easily caught and held by Lindir, who pulled Boromir close to avoid a second blow.
"And he sent you this." He kissed the man full on the lips.
After a moment of lingering, Lindir released him and sat down again. Boromir swayed for a brief instant, stunned, and then sank down like a dumped sack. There was silence in the hall, before the remaining elves contained their curiosity and returned to eating. After a long pause, Boromir spoke,
"I remember him."
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.