A Simple Sword

by MerryK

Boromir looked down at the bow in his hands, twisting it to and fro, holding it gingerly as if it might burn him.

“Na, na, Master Boromir,” said Ingem, the arms master. “There is no need to twist your face as if you were eating spinach; it is only a longbow.”

“I find it distasteful,” said Boromir flatly. “I do not wish to train with it.”

“Distasteful, lad? Are ye out of your mind?”

As much as he disliked being called lad at a perfectly full grown age of fourteen, Boromir did not respond to that. “It is not the sort of weapon that I would use,” he said.

“But why, Master Boromir, unless this be another of your strange whims?”

“I do not have whims,” scoffed Boromir. “I see it as dishonorable to stand at a safe distance and pick off your opponents like flies. Give me but a sword in my hand, and I will show the enemy that I can defeat them with no more tricks to me than a newborn babe. Face to face. Man to man. Simple. Fair.”

Ingem sighed, and put a hand on the young man’s shoulders. “Ai, Master Boromir, but you are full of ideals, as was your father before you when he was in my care. But there is a difference between using every advantage and showing dishonor. The enemy uses bows, and he expects that we shall use them. Would you not also see it as folly to stand back and let men be slaughtered from a distance when the odds could be evened at least.”

Boromir shook his head. “I do not deny that they are useful things, these longbows. But I am no clever man, no scholar; I do not fight with detailed strategies. Let others train with these weapons, but I wish only for a simple sword in my right hand, and enemies of Gondor that I may defeat. I wish for nothing more.”

“Na, but you are strange, Master Boromir,” said Ingem, with an illusive smile. “I would say that you would die with that simple sword in your hand, for lack of understanding how all parts of an army work together, even if you do not choose to use them—but, I cannot keep from saying that you are the greatest swordsman who has trained beneath me. Perhaps, for you, a sword will be enough.”

“Well, I will not train with a bow, in any case,” responded Boromir lightly but firmly. “And if I die in the service of Gondor because I do not understand warfare, let it be so.”

“You would train with a bow if I demanded it of you,” said Ingem huffily. “I am your teacher, and though you be Steward’s son, you will do what I say.”

There was a pause, as Boromir met the gaze of the arms master with equal amounts of determination and wheedling in his glance.

Ingem sighed. “But, you need not train with a bow. Put on your armor! I may not have you shoot today until your arm detaches from your body, but a sword will do as well as a bow in that matter.”

And with a grin, Boromir ran eagerly and in a manner not quite as grown-up as he would have wished to find his favorite weapon.