“Well?” “He is quiet now. I heard something earlier.” “Aye, so did I. He did cry out.” “Perhaps he fell.” “I should think so.” “And now?” “He is perhaps three hundred paces away. Shall we wait for him here or go to meet him?” “Let him come to us.” Second One looked to First One and chuckled. Late afternoon light spilled onto the small clearing. Few trees grew in this part of the wood. Most had fallen, lying on their sides as decaying trunks. The ground was muddy and flat, indicating that at some point, there had been a pool. Lizards burrowed themselves into murky holes. Worms squirmed under the elves’ boots. The elves were all three turned west, waiting for the arrival of the wounded Man. Throughout the day they had heard his muffled cries drifting with the wind. They had heard each fall, each pained moan, each branch being shoved aside. And while First One and Second One had found the entire ordeal highly amusing, Third One had grown increasingly irritated with his friends and worried for Boromir. Now, as the Man dragged himself closer to them, they could hear also the gasping breaths and shuffling boots. Third One kept shifting his weight and looking worriedly at his elf companions, yet the other two seemed unperturbed. They waited for the steps to get closer, for the noise to grow louder. Finally, they saw his form moving among the overgrown path, perhaps a hundred paces off. He moved slowly, visibly drained, and often used the trees as support. Yet when he looked up and saw the elves watching him, he straightened and hid all sign of discomfort. He strode forward, chin jutting out angrily, hand against the hilt of his sword. “Greetings, Boromir of Gondor,” Second One said as Boromir approached. “’Tis a surprise to see you again.” “Did you forget to tell us something?” First One joked. Both First One and Second One barely concealed their mirth, and this seemed to galvanize the Man. He glared. “Elves, I am an honorable Man,” he began, “and I seek you out to deal justice. For you three have heard what was not meant to be heard, and I cannot be sure you are not spies of the Dark One. Therefore, I do challenge all three to a duel.” At this, First One and Second One dissolved into shaking laughter. Third One stepped forward. “Boromir, please,” the elf raised his hands. “We cannot fight you.” “You can and you will,” Boromir dropped his pack and shield on the side of the path. He unsheathed his sword. “Come. Who shall meet my challenge first?” “We are not spies!” Third One exclaimed, desperate. “And yet you travel East in a time of war.” “Where we travel is our business,” First One retorted. “Why would three elves guard their true names, then? You three did tend my wounds enough to learn every secret I carried, only to promptly turn East. And what that I should find you on the very path to Mordor? ‘Tis suspicious, I should think.” “These are our names,” Second One insisted. “As they have been for three thousand years.” “We are not going to Mordor!” Third One said. “This path leads to all eastern places, not just the Dark Land.” “Enough!” Boromir burst. “Fight me now, as honorable elves, else you will force me to commit some hasty act!” Second One and Third One backed away with palms displayed. Boromir seethed, sword shaking in his grip. "Very well, I will humor you,” First One cut in. “Yet, I am no swordsman, Boromir of Gondor.” The elf loosened his pack and dropped it on the ground. Boromir leered. "Then this will be quick." A faint smile creased First One's lips. He unsheathed his sword, a bent elvish blade, and took a defensive position. Both Second One and Third One watched in hesitation, unsure as to whether their leader was serious in fighting the wounded Man. Yet they knew that honor forbade them from intervening, and thus they hovered uncertainly at the sidelines. "It will be a fair fight," First One said. "An elf who is unaccustomed with the blade against a Man who has seen better days." Boromir's anger flared visibly. He began circling First One, keeping his sword at the ready, and revealing no sign of injury. First One held his gaze and also began to size up his opponent. The elves had to admit that the Man was convincing enough; he seemed much healthier than he could possibly be. Strength and nobility resounded from his person. A fierce, animal-like quality flashed in his eyes. The fight began. Boromir was the first to attack, and he lunged at First One in a sudden thrust. First One parried, danced back, raised his sword. The blades clashed, fell back, met again. First One fought quickly, his movements elegant and graceful. Boromir swung wildly, sweat already pouring down his temples. Second One and Third One, as the unlikely spectators, admired the Man’s stamina. For someone so wounded, he was doing quite well. But First One was clearly winning. For he sidestepped blows with ease, while Boromir was wearying fast. The fight would not last very long. The elf began to tease the Man with feigns and near misses. He threw his sword into his other hand, began fighting with his left hand. The Man flushed, snarled angrily, swung the blade again and again. It never touched the elf, and, by now, First One was laughing. Yet in his arrogant mirth, First One had left himself undefended on the right. Boromir found the weakness and he pushed forward with his blade. Although the elf dodged the attack easily, still the sword nicked his shoulder and blood was drawn. Second One and Third One nearly gasped in shock. Boromir stumbled back, smiling, sweating, breathing hard. First One touched his ripped tunic. The wound was not deep, it was barely a scratch. The elf grinned, unfazed. “Well done, Boromir,” he said. “Have we finished?” “You give up so easily?” “Nay, I simply do not want you to injure yourself further. This is quite entertaining, indeed, but if we continue, I shall be forced to fight in earnest. And that will only finish in a death.” “That is what I intended.” First One raised an eyebrow. Boromir smiled. Third One, who stood at the side, could not contain himself any further. “Friends, stop this! I cannot bear it! First One, leave the Man be. He is not serious in his threat. Come, let us end this foolish duel before someone is hurt.” First One sighed theatrically. “Third One, silence your worries, I beg you. I will not injure Boromir any more than he already is.” “Are you sure your friend is not worried for you, proud elf?” Boromir muttered. First One cocked his head. “I highly doubt it.” “Friends, I do not jest,” Third One continued. “Sheathe your swords. Boromir, we did help you on Amon Hen, and you must trust us now. We are not spies. We have no desire to – ” “Come then, elf,” Boromir said to First One, ignoring Third One. “Are you ready?” “Boromir, please,” Second One raised his hand. “This is some folly borne of despair. Do not think that, by attacking us, you recover whatever honor you have left on Amon Hen. We have nothing to do with your personal failings.” Boromir seethed. He turned towards Second One, was about to speak, when First One suddenly acted. The elf brought his sword down, catching the Man off-guard, so that the latter had to raise his sword from the ground swiftly to meet the descending blade. Metal clashed loudly, but all three elves heard also the sound of fine thread ripping, of a wound reopening. Dark spots of blood appeared on Boromir's midsection, and he stumbled back, face pale and sweating, clutching his gut with his free arm. First One lowered his curved blade to allow the Man a moment to regain his composure. Boromir leaned against his sword as if it were a cane and kept his shield arm clasped protectively against his gut. His legs wobbled uncertainly. He grimaced and held his breath, and all three elves watched him - waiting for the logical conclusion of either surrender or loss of consciousness. When Boromir pulled his arm away to check, the garments were soaked in blood. "I underestimated you," he choked. "You are cleverer than you seem.” First One grinned slightly and, feeling that victory was very near, swung his blade around carelessly. "Well, thank you. I am surprised you have lasted this long.” "Oh?" Boromir cocked an eyebrow and, just as First One was twirling the hilt of his sword against his palm, lunged forward with a sudden, desperate energy. The elves were taken aback by the Man's surge of strength, but First One responded with agility and ease. Before Boromir's blade had reached within centimeters of his face, the elf grabbed the hilt of his sword as it spun in the air and, in one swift movement, knocked the Man's sword away, sliced him lightly on the cheek and held the blade against his neck to finish. Second One and Third One could not help but smile at the spectacle: Boromir was still leaning forward as if to strike, though his hands were empty and First One's blade was pushing dangerously hard against his neck. After a few tense moments, Boromir finally asked: "Well?" First One shrugged and dropped his sword. "However much you may desire it, you will not die today. My apologies." Boromir's face flushed. He was about to respond when his arm shot up to his stomach and he doubled over with a cry of pain. The other elves stepped forward to help him, but he drew back. First One stood over him and made no move to help. "Do not fear, Man of Gondor," he said. "The secret of the Ring is safe with us. We too are foes of Mordor, and we desire neither weapons nor power." "Nay," Boromir grunted through clenched teeth, "I cannot let you w – walk free. You – you know too much." "Then walk with us," Second One suggested. "Aye," Third One concurred. "And let us help you." The elf had already retrieved needle and thread from his pack, but Boromir knocked them away with a sharp backhand. "I need no help!" Boromir hissed. The elves gave each other mixed looks, but did not argue as he retrieved his things and slung the shield over his shoulder. After that, without a word, Boromir hobbled away into the woods, his round shield disappearing amongst the bushes. Once he was gone, First One sheathed his sword and retrieved his pack. Third One bent down and picked up the thread and needle which had fallen among the muddy ground. He sighed and wiped them clean. "The Man is bold," Second One mused. "The Man is foolish," First One corrected.
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.