35. Chapter Thirty-Five
Boromir leaned his head against the cold stone of the window. The moon cleared a bank of clouds and shone down upon the land. He could just make out Rammas Echor, the great wall that surrounded Minas Tirith and the Fields of the Pelennor. So many times he had thought to never see his home again. The day he had been wounded on Amon Hen had been one of those days.
Boromir closed his eyes and rubbed absently at his shoulder.
They camped that night on the grass of Parth Galen; Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas leaving before dusk to go after Merry and Pippin. Boromir was exhausted and fell asleep, dinner the furthest thing from his mind. The wounds pained him and made him sick to his stomach. He doubted whether he could have kept food down even if he had been hungry.
"He is gravely injured," Odell said to Booth, noting the wounds Boromir had sustained. "He will not make it very far if he has to walk. There are three boats here. We should take them down the stair."
"The boats will not hold many of our numbers, not with his injuries. He will need to lie down as much as possible," Booth answered.
"We will send the others back north, all but Tore, Hakon, Olaf and Vena."
"You want to keep Vena with us?"
"She is a skilled healer and her mother sent her to us. She is to stay."
The next morning, Odell, Booth and the rest of their party carried not only him, but the three elven boats down the North Stair. It had taken all day to move the supplies for the remaining men and the boats, so they camped at the foot of the falls.
On the second night he met Vena. She was tall for a woman, and had he been able to stand, he was sure she would be only a head shorter than he. She had startling blue-grey eyes and hair the color of sun ripened wheat. She was thin and had a warrior's build. He had seen her sparing with Tore, a young strapping lad of about eighteen, with dark shaggy hair and green eyes. She moved with the ease of a seasoned warrior.
She brought him his dinner after they had camped for the night, having traveled down the North Stairs and stopped where the first inflow of the Entwash met the Anduin. He was near exhausted, but the smell of the rabbit stew made his mouth water. He accepted the bowl of steaming stew with a weak smile.
"I am Vena. How are you feeling?" she asked, sitting beside him.
"Weak as a newborn babe," he replied.
"The trip down river surely didn't help. We are at the beginning of the Delta of Entwash, are we not?"
"We are. The River Ondolo has large tributaries running into it. It tends to overflow in the spring. We have a hundred miles to cover just to get out of the marshes. From there it's another hundred and sixty miles to Cair Andros. Osgiliath is forty five miles further south. Once we reach Osgiliath, Minas Tirith is about fifteen miles by horseback."
"Ah, but Boromir, we are not stopping at Osgiliath. Harlond is much closer to Minas Tirith. You can't ride fifteen miles on horseback. Three is a much better bargain."
"Vena, we won't be in Osgiliath for at least a week. I think I will heal enough to sit a horse," Boromir said, taking a bite of the stew.
"Odell will not face the wrath of your friends if you do not make it to Minas Tirith in one piece. He will take his time. I don't expect to reach your home for at least two, maybe three weeks from now."
Boromir looked at her in surprise. "Three weeks?"
"He plans on traveling from dawn to dusk only. He does not want to tire you. We will camp before it gets dark every day. You will be able to rest, recover and eat a good meal," she said, noticing that he had finished his stew while they talked.
"Well, I will definitely be able to ride by then."
"Here, I'll take that," she said, taking the bowl. "Now, let's take a look at those wounds. You had a rough ride today and there seems to be some seepage."
Boromir sat patiently, as best he could at any rate, since he was not a patient man, while she unwrapped the three wounds. They had not been changed since Aragorn had dressed them and there was considerable seepage and the material stuck to the wounds.
"I will go get some warm water and some athelas, along with some clean bandages. I don't want to pain you any more than necessary and the bandages are stuck to the wounds."
Boromir watched as she walked away, knowing that he could have withstood her pulling the cloth from his wounds. He had, after all, withstood worse on the battle field and at the hands of less skilled healers than Aragorn. Still, he thought, why should he, if he didn't have to? Vena's hands were sure and capable.
"Okay…here we go. Let's get these bandages soaked off so I can see what we have under here," Vena said softly, easing the warm water over the fabric until it was pliable. She gently pulled the soiled bandage back, trying to keep her face as devoid of emotion as possible. The wounds were worse than she had imagined.
"They look awful, don't they?"
Vena looked him in the eye and grimaced. "They are worse than I expected, but not the worst I have ever seen."
Boromir flinched as she pulled the last of the dressing away from the shoulder wound. Even using the water to loosen the bandages, they still pulled the stitches.
"I'm sorry, Boromir. It's off…"
"So…how am I doing? Will I live?" Boromir asked, jokingly.
"Whoever dressed these wounds was highly skilled. The wounds to your chest and side look like they are well on their way to mending even after so short a time. It's the shoulder I am worried about. I am going to have to open it up and drain it. This will hurt."
Boromir nodded, knowing that the chest injury and the gash along his side would take Vena little time to wash, re-dress and wrap with clean bandages. He had a bit of a reprieve before Vena tackled the shoulder.
She worked quickly and silently, her hands steady, her skill closely matching Aragorn's. Within twenty minutes, she had both injuries cleaned, a poultice applied to ward off infection and clean cloth covering the wounds, a strip of material wrapped around his ribs and chest.
"I wish I didn't have to do this to you…" she said, grimacing as she retrieved her knife. She had placed it in the boiling water to disinfect it and knew that not only was he going to be in pain from her cutting the stitches, but also because the steel blade was nearly red hot.
"Just do it, Vena. Quickly, if you can."
Vena nodded, pressing the blade to the cat-gut stitches, ripping through them easily with a flick of her wrist. She saw the beads of sweat appear on Boromir's forehead and reached for the cloth she had in the warm water. She cleaned the wound, the athelas steeped water rinsing away the pus that had collected in the gaping hole that was his shoulder.
Biting her lip, she quickly stitched the jagged edges of skin together, added the last of the poultice and a clean wad of cloth before wrapping his shoulder tightly. She glanced up at Boromir to find his face ashen, yet looking a little green around the edges.
"I will get you something for the pain, Boromir…"
"No…just have Booth help me into the brush."
Booth and Olaf appeared and hauled Boromir to his feet. They helped him to the edge of the woods where Boromir promptly lost his dinner. Between Olaf and Booth they got Boromir resettled and resting on his bedroll. Vena hovered in the background, anxious for Boromir. She knew that he was in pain, yet he was stubborn enough not to admit it. She could help with that, whether he wanted her to or not.
She made the medicine and a cup of hot tea, mixing the two to hide the taste of the herbs that would help with the pain and help Boromir sleep. Quietly, she returned to his side and handed the cup to him.
"I don't think I can keep it down," he grumbled, trying to hand the cup back to her.
"Trust me…" she said, pushing the cup back toward him. "Drink."
Boromir tipped the cup and grimaced at the taste. Even masked by the tea, he could taste the medicine Aragorn had given him on the first day after he had removed the arrows. Nothing could mask the taste, in his opinion. Draining all of the tea, he handed the empty cup back to Vena.
"Sit and talk with me, Vena. I know that vile drink you gave me will put me out soon."
"You can thank your friend for that 'vile' medicine. It was in the pack he gave Booth. Speaking of your friends…can you tell me what happened on that hillside? How were you so gravely injured?"
Boromir's eyes filled with unshed tears as he remembered his treachery and failure at Amon Hen. His hand trailed to his left shoulder, the pain he felt there nothing compared to the pain in his heart.
"I am ashamed of my actions. I should have died on Amon Hen. The enemy's arrows had found a treacherous home."
"I can't believe that you could have done anything to deserve the injuries you sustained. I know the company you were with when we came upon you did not seem to think so."
"They see the best in a man, where there is none. I failed them and yet, they have forgiven me, where I cannot forget, let alone forgive. All I see is a man that failed in his task and let his companions down."
"The arrows, you got them because of that?"
"I was trying to protect two of the Hobbits that traveled with us. I failed in that as well. They were taken by the Uruk-hai and here I am safe while they are in mortal danger."
"The Hobbits, they were taken after you took the arrows, weren't they?"
Boromir looked at her, his heart heavy. "Yes, I was on my knees, arrows sticking out of me like my mother's pin cushion. I can see them, horror etched on their faces as the Uruk-hai carried them away."
"You are too hard on yourself."
"Vena…your name means 'elf-friend', doesn't it?"
"It does," she answered, noticing that Boromir was fighting to stay awake. "I should allow you to get some rest."
"Don't leave…just talk to me."
"About what?" she asked.
Vena smiled and talked to him in hushed tones for about twenty minutes before he fell asleep.
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.