Led on by flighted dreams, wing-tipped up up up
Count the scars, lacing around the paunch
An orc-arrow here, here, and here
Sleeping and waking, one day,
“A dream, brother? A dream!”
It is easy to discount.
“Never trust in dreams, little brother.”
The first night, he finds an inn. The accent is thick here – already Rohirric lilting. Strange to decipher in his weariness. Yet he manages to explain, eat, seek information, pay. Upstairs, the mattress creaks as he lowers himself onto it. And as he sinks down, his heart begins to thump madly, thumping, thumping, thumping… Telling him this is madness, and this is a fool’s errand, and if only Faramir had not invested so much significance in a nonsensical dream, he would not be here in his stead. Humoring a younger brother’s fancy. This is time wasted. His heart thumps louder, for he can see the precious time falling away, and he imagines Osgiliath conquered, and Ithilien in flames, and orcs widespread, and he wonders if he told the young lieutenant of the southern flank’s vulnerability…
Eventually, he falls asleep.
Lost and found
Seeking amidst the trampled and overgrown
Heavy silence in the air
The horse snorts, clops a foot down,
And he laughs,
“Aye, ‘twas my thought exactly!
Why, these elves,
They hide themselves amidst the trees!
And how may a Man find them?”
The thirty-first night, he sleeps in the rain. A flat stone by some fallen boulders, a makeshift shelter. But not enough shelter, no, not enough. He unrolls the slopping blanket, pulls it over himself in a futile effort to block out this torrential storm. Still in his chain mail, for he is too weary to remove it, burrowing down into the hard earth. The ribs still trouble him from the light bruising, not three days ago, when the horse slipped and threw him. He lies on his side, the good side, feeling his breathing shallow, constricted. Rain, rain, rain thundering down, muffling his thoughts, drenching the blanket and bedroll and pack and everything. Softening the earth to mud.
Tonight he does not think of Osgiliath or Minas Tirith or battle-strategy or his brother or this fool’s errand. He thinks only of how the mud is soaking through his bedroll, and the chain mail is digging into his wet garments, stifling, clinching, and how his ribs ache, and how this is uncharted territory and he should have reached Tharbad by now…
Grey skies, grey water, grey horse
Rain, rain, still raining,
It has been raining for a week
The horse slips, snorts, clops
Moss-covered stones and water up to the thighs
He leads on, tugs, urges,
“Come now, come on,
Not halfway through yet,
And water sloshing over bridge-remains,
Deeper, deeper, deeper,
Water up to his chest now,
Chain mail dragging,
Momentary panic – Osgiliath reminders Osgiliath drowning brother two others and bridges collapsing orc arrows drowning drowning drowning and and and…
Fear in its purest form,
Others, there are others, riding forth,
One, two, three, four
Five, six, seven, eight…
The seventy-eighth night he is jolted awake by something. A high-pitched shriek. A high-pitched wail. Cold sweat. Shivering in the dark. But no, the Nine have passed, the Nine have passed, gone, gone, gone… No reason to fear. No fear. The epithet still stands – he is still the Bold, the Tall, the Brave. Nine will not weaken such a Man. But nonetheless, he burrows himself deeper into the blanket, nearly pulling it over his head in a childish form of protection. And he forces a laugh, forced humor, something to clear his mind, banish the fear. Laughing away the chill, it is a short laugh. For he has lost count of his days of travel, and he is now entirely lost in strange lands, and he has not spoken with another being since the Greyflood – and even then it was only his horse – and he is already imagining a pitiful death in the wild…
He falls asleep with the blanket pulled over his head.
Alone in the wild
Singing lewd soldier’s songs
Or nonsensical, rambling songs
Loud, loud, bellowed songs
Something to maintain sanity
In endless, lonely despair.
No one can hear, so he sings loud, off-key…
“There once was a Man from Bel-falas,
Short, fat and named Ma-ras
He once had a horse,
Named Pretty, of course,
How does it go?
Something about lying with a horse.
He laughs at the image.
The ninety-fifth night he is convinced he will die. Half in delirium, half out. Chills and burning and wounds alight, like fire and darkness and… He knows enough to sense he is in fever. And he cannot sleep, cannot stand, cannot walk anymore, for his boots have dug into his ankles, no matter how much he oils the leather, and his feet are swollen, and his fresh wounds burn. Ever since the fall, the wolves, the Nine, he has weakened. And so he tosses, he turns, he shudders and clenches his teeth and feels the sweat dampening the bedroll. The foul sweat of a fever. The rotten smell of a sick, wounded Man. The fire in his shoulder, in his leg, in his hip.
And part of him laughs at the idea of dying so anonymously and ignobly. His Osgiliath officers always joked that he had a morbid sense of humor. But now his laugh is hysterical and fast and desperately echoing.
Burning low, simmering, boiling,
Back on your feet, Boromir, not long now!
On the hundred-and-ninth night, his head still feels somewhat blurred. Still recovering from the fever, still recovering from the wounds, still recovering. He lays himself down against the soft grass, stretching out with a groan. Arms crossed, staring up at the stars. Bright. They are bright tonight. An odd sort of peace. Calm. Insects chirping. Owls hooting. Wind. He listens to the wind rustling the leaves in the trees. A cool, night wind. And and and…
He stills his breathing, stills his heart. He listens. And there it is: the unmistakable night-music, as if the stars themselves sing. And the moon glowing, and the leaves rustling, and the absolute peace and beauty and and and his heart nearly bursts.
He has arrived.
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.