1. A brief doubt
The hard work of carrying their boats and baggage past Sarn Gebir has been a disguised blessing, Boromir thinks as they leave the portage-way and return to the waterside, for it makes him take his mind off their road for a short time. He still feels annoyed that their argument before the rapids had gone against his counsel to turn away from the river and head for Minas Tirith from here; yet he can only accept that the choice would be delayed until they reach Nen Hithoel and the western shore at Amon Hen. He is so weary from the day's work that no stray thoughts trouble his sleep that night. The next day they are on their way as soon as it is light, and the morning passes in sombre silence under a grey and occasionally rainy sky, until the clouds disappear just before they enter the approach to the Argonath.
With the river becoming narrower and swifter, and heeding Aragorn's warning to keep the boats in formation, Boromir needs all of his attention on keeping his boat steady on the water. It is not long before the Pillars of the Kings come into view, and Boromir lowers his glance in awe at the sight. Truly great had been the crafts of Númenor that shaped the rocks into likenesses that yet endure after an Age has passed.
He glances at Aragorn in the boat ahead, but can see only the back of his head. It is clear though from his bearing that, unlike the Halflings who nearly cower at the sight of the statues, the emotion that stirs him is not fear. Boromir can only guess at how much this sight means to the Heir of Elendil.
They will not come out of the long chasm that leads to Nen Hithoel for some time, and the river runs swiftly down its narrow path. Except for sparing a glance at the white-knuckled grip Merry and Pippin maintain on the sides of the boat, Boromir must keep his attention firmly on keeping them on course down the centre of the river, especially when the light suddenly disappears as they round a bend. Just as suddenly, a gap appears and light returns as they leave the channel behind them and come out onto the lake.
Aragorn directs them towards Amon Hen on the western side of the lake. Nen Hithoel is large enough that they do not make landfall until the sun has set and the stars are out. Boromir is asleep as soon as they finish making camp.
The next morning, before they even break their fast, all sit down in a loose circle. Obviously, no one wants to be the first to speak, but finally Pippin breaks the silence and asks, "How far is it to Mordor from here?"
"Less than two hundred miles to the Morannon, as the crow flies," Boromir replies.
"And another eighty to Mount Doom," Aragorn adds.
"And Minas Tirith?" Pippin asks.
"About the same distance." Aragorn is slightly quicker to reply than Boromir. "But it is further to Mount Doom from there."
"The road to Minas Tirith is easier, though," Boromir says.
The debate goes on for a long time, and it is clear that nearly all are in favour of going to Minas Tirith first, though Frodo remains silent, and Aragorn only speaks to answer questions, expressing no preference for either choice.
Boromir's own path is clear – home to Minas Tirith, whether or not anyone else comes with him – but he still hopes that he might persuade the Ringbearer to take the sensible road, and not head blindly into danger without taking further counsel.
Finally, after they eat, Aragorn calls them together. "The day has come at last," he says, "The day of choice which we have long delayed. What shall now become of our Company that has travelled so far in fellowship? Shall we turn west with Boromir and go to the wars of Gondor; or turn east to the Fear and Shadow; or shall we break our fellowship and go this way and that as each may choose? Whatever we do must be done soon. We cannot long halt here. The enemy is on the eastern shore, we know; but I fear that the Orcs may already be on this side of the water."
No one speaks, and finally Aragorn goes on. "Well, Frodo," he says. "I fear that the burden is laid upon you. You are the Bearer appointed by the Council. Your own way you alone can choose. In this matter I cannot advise you. I am not Gandalf, and though I have tried to bear his part, I do not know what design or hope he had for this hour, if indeed he had any. Most likely it seems that if he were here now the choice would still wait on you. Such is your fate."
Frodo does not reply immediately, and when he does, his words are slow, almost reluctant. "I know that haste is needed, yet I cannot choose. The burden is heavy. Give me an hour longer, and I will speak. Let me be alone!"
Aragorn assents to his request. "Very well, Frodo son of Drogo," he says. "You shall have an hour, and you shall be alone. We will stay here for a while. But do not stray far or out of call."
Boromir sinks back into thought himself as Frodo hesitates. He can only hope that the Halfling will see that the wisest course is to go to Minas Tirith. There they can take further counsel, and with recent news of the Enemy's movements the best way into Mordor can be decided on – if indeed that is still agreed to be the wisest course; but they should certainly not blunder straight for the Black Gate, blindly rushing across the Emyn Muil and the Dead Marshes.
Suddenly, he is struck with doubt. Is he wrong to insist on going to Minas Tirith first, and is it best to head straight for Mount Doom? The quicker the Ring is destroyed, the better. I should never have gone on this journey. Faramir should have gone. The dream was his; I only had it once.
Faramir would have known the best road to take from here, Boromir thinks. He would also know how to respond once Aragorn claims the kingship. And that is another thing that bothers him – not that he doubts the right of Aragorn's claim to Gondor's throne; as much as he wants to return home, and as much as he knows Gondor needs him, the thought of the furore if he returns to Minas Tirith in the company of Elendil's Heir is almost enough to make him declare his support for immediately heading into Mordor. But no, that is foolishness. He should think now, not chase after might-have-beens and second thoughts.
Meanwhile, Frodo still has not moved, but he abruptly gets up and walks off. Boromir watches closely as the Ringbearer disappears into the trees. Frodo may have said he wants to be alone to think things over, but if Aragorn is right, and Orcs are indeed already on this side of the river? If they find the Ringbearer?
He forces himself to calm down. Why did I not refuse when Father sent me North in my brother's stead? a small voice whispers still, but he shakes off his doubts. He knows what to do now – and it is even what Faramir would have done. He should go and speak to Frodo alone. Two will be able to find reason where eight cannot. He looks around, sees the attention of the rest of the Fellowship is elsewhere and quietly slips off into the trees.
The part from Aragorn's words [the day has come at last] to [But do not stray far or out of call."] has been borrowed almost word for word from The Fellowship of the Ring, The Breaking of the Fellowship.
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.