2. What Has Happened to Rohan?
For two days, Boromir saw neither hide nor hair of Théodred or Háma. However, on the second day since his arrival, a missive was delivered to his room. After he finished reading it, he went into the common room and ordered whisky. Finishing off the drink in one gulp, he then walked back into his room and began to pack. He carried his kit to the front desk and asked for his bill.
The innkeeper looked up in surprise. "You are leaving Edoras? I thought you were to meet with our king?"
"In due time. You must know of the orders just handed me."
The man looked about him in fear. "I know a note was delivered to you this morning from Meduseld. Other than that, I know nothing."
"A company of riders is to be garrisoned here for the next week. I am to give up my room and move to a hostelry near the back gate."
The man blushed. "Sometimes, men are not free to do all as they would." He seemed to wait for Boromir's agreement. Finally, "If you need anything while there, please send a note to me with the inn's stable boy; he can be trusted."
"I will. If you would ask one of your lads to move my horse to 'The Wandering Stranger,' I would be most appreciative." He took a coin from his purse. "Give him this in payment."
The innkeeper nodded. "Perhaps you would like a bite to eat before you leave?" He bent over the desk and whispered, "The food there is not as good as what I serve here. A gift for your inconvenience."
Boromir could not understand the dichotomy in how he was treated. As he sat over hot fried potatoes with sausages, he mused on the unexpected treatment. Here was an innkeeper who did not know his inn was going to be overtaken by soldiers; here was the captain of the king's own guard whispering at his post; here was the Heir of Rohan meeting in a dingy stable; and here was the Heir of the Steward of Gondor, treated as lower than dust one moment, and as a visiting dignitary the next. He downed the last of the mead and stood, nodded his thanks to his host, and left the place.
Wondering where he should go, for he had already vowed he would not stay too long in the pit of dung that he was now consigned to, he found himself meandering through the streets of Edoras. The bizarre attitude of the people as they noted his Gondorian attire and almost ran from him disturbed him even further. 'What has happened to these people? Once I could walk these streets and be hailed and invited in for a drink, a laugh and a song. Now, I am treated as if I had the Fever.'
As if the very thought brought fulfillment, a woman screamed. Boromir watched to see who would rush to help and if he was needed, but to his utter amazement, none moved forward nor even looked up in surprise. He bit his lip. 'So, not only am I to be shied from, they abjure their own people. What has happened to Rohan?'
He made up his mind, and quickly. No matter the diplomatic ramifications, he would leave Edoras today. He had a mission to complete and standing around here was worse than useless; he could not let anything stop him from reaching Imladris. Not even unwritten treaties. Besides that, a fear was growing in his stomach. He felt a threat against him and he knew not from what quarter.
He returned to the inn only to discover his horse had already been moved. He walked as quickly as he could to 'The Wandering Stranger' and into the stable. His horse was nowhere to be found. When he inquired of the stable boy, he found the lad was useless at best, a liar at the worst. 'Nay,' Boromir thought. 'The innkeeper thought the lad trustworthy.' He stood before the boy and asked, "Will you take a missive to Théodred Prince?"
The boy looked at him as if he spoke in Elvish. "Just say yea or nay." The boy slunk back from him, eyes wide in terror. "Never the mind." He stalked from the stable, fuming. 'Well, it was foolish to ask him. He is only a stable boy. I will go to Háma and ask him if he will give a message to Théodred. But first I will return to 'The High House' and see where horse may have been taken.'
He walked back to the hostelry and entered. The innkeeper was nowhere to be seen; the common room was empty. He stepped back outside and made his way to the stable in the rear. Just as he had suspected, his horse was not there; it had already been moved, but where to? Cursing himself roundly for being worse than ten thousand fools, he walked back into the hostelry and began to call out for the innkeeper. Only silence answered him. He went through the back doors and into the kitchen, into the pantry, into the office; no one was there. At last, he walked back towards the rooms to let, opened each door, and discovered the building was deserted. Drawing in a deep breath, he walked back to the common room, stepped behind the serving counter, and poured himself a double whisky. He downed it quietly, then left the inn by the back door.
"Lord Boromir, I presume."
"Lord Gríma, I presume." The heavy-lidded eyes before him smiled.
"You are a wit, I see."
"Nay. Just observant. I dimly recall having met you when I was but a youth. You have not changed."
"If you recall, I desperately tried to save your - what did you call her? Amma - when she was so ill."
Boromir held himself in check. Indis had indeed died in Meduseld. This one before him, to all appearances, tried to heal her. But Gondor's Master Healer and Indis' husband had believed she had been poisoned, and at Gríma's hand. Knowing he was, at present, in the company of such a vile creature, Boromir kept his tongue and gave a perfunctory nod in reply.
"That is neither here nor there. I have come to extend my lord's bounty to you. He has asked that you take nuncheon with him. If you would follow me?"
Meduseld was warm, stifling and loud, as always, and Boromir smiled at the remembrances brought to mind. Théodred King sat at the head of a large table, brought in specifically for the feast. Nonplussed and not expecting a feast, Boromir sat in the indicated seat and accepted the toast the king offered before the meal was served. The food was good, saltier and greasier than the food of Gondor, but still good. Mead flowed freely. He kept his intake to a minimum for he much desired to speak with the king about the dream, and he wanted a clear head, if only to remember any directions to the Elven halls of the North.
At last, the meal was concluded and Théoden moved to his throne, followed by the worm. As the table was cleared and moved from the hall, the king motioned and Boromir moved forward. The worm stood on the king's right; Théodred stood in the shadows off to their left. Boromir's brow furrowed. 'Is that Éowyn next to Théodred?' he wondered. He had not seen the king's sister-daughter in years, yet the look was the same. 'It must be she.' He turned his attention back to the king.
"What brings you to the Mark, Son of Gondor?" Théoden began without preamble.
"I am on a quest for my Steward," Boromir spoke without hesitation to his father's friend. "A dream has disturbed the sleep of Gondor. I am bid to follow it and ascertain its meaning." As he spoke, he looked directly into the king's eye, but flinched when Théoden looked to his right with raised eyebrow to his counselor at the mention of Imladris. A warning of caution ran through Boromir, but he chided himself for the foolishness of it. Was this not Théoden, friend of Denethor, son of Thengel, true friend and former Captain of Gondor? Was this not Gondor's sworn ally? Boromir continued, revealing all. When the telling was complete, Théoden sat back. "I would that I might help you, but I know nothing of this Imladris. Perhaps my counselor has more knowledge, after all, he has close contact with Isengard." The king turned to Grima.
The counselor bowed to his king. "I have no direct knowledge, my lord, but I will investigate further and bring whatever I find to Gondor's Captain-General."
Théoden smiled. "It is settled. Meet with Grima, Boromir, when he calls you. I tire now." He smiled suddenly and the weight that had seemed to weigh upon the king's shoulder lifted for a moment. "Spend what free time you have with Théodred. I am sure he is as glad as I to have Denethor's son in Edoras. Your rooms are to your liking?"
Boromir paused, surprised at the question, then shot a quick look at the worm, and smiled. "As always."
Théoden nodded and dismissed him.
The very next day, Boromir found himself in a small room off the main hall of Meduseld, summoned by Gríma.
The worm waited. "I have found some documents that might interest you. If you will wait a moment, I will bring them. In the meantime, why do you not sit and have a glass of this wine. It is from the king's own cellar."
Boromir's heart thrummed with excitement. If Gríma had found aught to help with his quest, he should be away this day. He found that prospect most welcome.
After Gríma left him, Boromir eyed the glass suspiciously. A servant came in with a carafe and topped it off, then left the carafe. Heaving a sigh and chiding himself for being obtuse, Boromir took the glass and finished if off quickly. It was good wine. He poured himself another glass and sat down. After a half an hour with no sign of the Wormtongue's return, Boromir stood. At least, he tried to stand. He chided himself for not being able to handle a little bit of Rohirric wine. Perhaps it was because he had hardly slept the night before? Nay. He shook his head and decided another glass might help clear it. The glass fell from his hand and broke into a thousand tiny shards. Dumfounded, Boromir looked at the muddle before him. He bent to pick up the stem and fell forward. Cursing soundly, he held onto the chair and pulled himself up. His head reeled.
A soldier entered the room, one not of Rohan for his hair was near black and his face had the same swarthy look of the worm's, Boromir thought. He easily picked the Steward's son up, throwing him over his shoulder. Boromir grunted in surprise and mortification. "I can walk, you know. Is this the courtesy of the Mark? What has happened to the Men of the Mark that I should be treated thusly?" He shook his head again for his voice sounded slurred. He had not drunk enough.... A shiver ran down his spine. "Let me go, man. I can walk myself."
But the soldier did not stop, nor did he put the Son of Gondor down. He walked towards the wall and touched a stone. The wall slid back and Boromir found himself in a dark passageway. He bit his tongue and tried to count the steps taken, so that he could find his way back, once he had escaped from this oaf who carried him. He swore to himself in utter frustration, for his limbs would not obey him. 'I have been drugged,' he thought before consciousness left him.
A/N - MAJOR FLAW discovered after posting this - I was re-reading TTT, the Riders of Rohan, and discovered that Boromir must have told either Théoden or one of the king's advisors of the dream. Éomer speaks extensively of it in the TTT chapter, so I am assuming it was a well-known topic. Therefore, I had to change this chapter extensively - to have Boromir meet with Théoden, with Éowyn listening; I'm assuming she told Éomer of the dream. Needless to say, that means the missive at the end of Chapter Six has also been changed a bit.
1) It wasn't till after Gandalf's visit on September 19th that Théodred and Éomer began to defy Gríma; 2) The word nuncheon is used by Beregond in RotK: Book V; Ch. 1 - Minas Tirith), but the link below shows that the Rohirrim could very well have used the word too - both cultures were ancient; though the Hobbits definitely called the noon meal, lunch (TTT: Book III; Ch. 9 Flotsam and Jetsam) -
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.