Boromir's Ride

by Onóno Laivindur

II   III 

Chapter One: "To Isen"

"Thank you I shall! Farewell! Till our next meeting then, Farewell!" Boromir bowed in the saddle as he spoke.
"Click, Click, c'mon Gwynn let's make haste!" Boromir said riding away, waving his free hand to Eowyn, Eomer, Theodred, Hama and the crowd that had gathered to see this prince of Gondor.
"The Rohirrim are a gracious people and the lady Eowyn is beyond fair to be sure." He thought to himself. "If I ride unhindered I should reach Imladris in two months, following the mountains feet west to the Gap of Rohan, over the Isen River to the Old North-South Road, northwest up to the ruins of Tharbad and then follow the Loudwater Road northeast."
"I hope Theodred was right and the way is clear of Orcs, at least during the daylight." He said to Gwynn, his chestnut mare.
"What a beautiful land this is, I should come back here with Faramir, he would love to run the horses over these lands," He laughs aloud. "He would surely out race me again, no one rides as well as my brother." and he turned in the saddle to wave back again, finding only Eowyn watching and waving as he made his way to the foot of Edoras. Gwynn stopped and whinnied, reared up as if to answer the calls of the other horses that watched, wanting to follow, to run free.
Turning to the northwest Boromir leaned forward in the saddle urging Gwynn to a quicker gate. “Lets go girl we have thirty miles ahead of us this day and keep your eyes and ears open too, we don't need any guests along the way.”
“The summer grasses are full of life Gwynn, look at the Grouse Hens and look a cock Pheasant, oh that we had time to hunt and perhaps little brother was right and I should have brought Beleg the Falcon at least he could serve me quick to gather these fowl for supper. I pray father is kinder to Faramir now that I am out of court. He is too short of temper with him and too long in zealous expectation.”
“The morning sun truly shines warm and strong today and by mid-day I shall rue these leathers, if not for the chance meeting of orc I would ride unincumbered and soak the sun up as the Haradrim do. I shall loose the mail and jerkin in an hour as I walk and rest Gwynn. The birds have aplenty here, I don't think I have ever seen so many crickets and hoppers...what’s that!” Gwynn startled, pulled up short and stopped.
“Whoa Gwynn, easy girl, it is only a snake nothing more, for a battle horse you are skittish my dear, please be careful I wouldn't want to fall off and break my neck out here, father would never forgive me.”
Three hours pass and nothing more interesting than two small foxes and a badger mark the passing of two friends in the wild, riding and walking together amidst the golden grass of the Rohan Plain, old forested hills, to the southwest, covered in Oaks and Myrtles and higher up the greens of the Firs and Pines, where they end marked the snow line of winter.
The pale blue sky at the horizon deepened into azure as Boromir looked up watching the moon race the sun across the sky. He lay resting by a small stream tinkling it's way down from the wood, wandering, searching for some greater water to make it's end. Throwing a twig into the brook he wonders if it shall meet the Deeping-Stream and the Isen before he and Gwynn would.
Feeling his bare back to the grass he knew the journey ahead would not always be as warm and peaceful and let himself dream of quiet days without war and strife in these lands. He then rolled and pushed himself up, stretched and walked slowly to gather Gwynn, pulling on his blouse he whistled thrice and she jerked up her head, leaving the green grass by the stream and met him with a wet nose across his cheek.
Placing the bit back in place and cinching up the saddle Boromir spoke softly to his friend and once all was in place, didn't even mount, but walked on awhile singing to her the songs of victories past, women he had loved, and one song he made up for his mother. He had missed her since she died when he was eight years old, but still could hear her voice and smell the scent of her hair as he sat upon her lap.
“Mother, you had me, but I never had you...
I needed you, but you had to leave me..
Oh I have to tell you, that I love you still..
Mother I have to tell you, that I love you still...
Mother I loved you, and you loved me...
Fari and me, Fari and me, it always shall be...
We always shall be....
We always shall be...”
Taking up the reins in his left hand and placing his foot in the stirrup, he mounted quickly and spurred Gwynn to a gallop, racing against his memories, his fears, and pain.
The late afternoon sun warmed his face as he later walked Gwynn to rest her. “Sorry girl I shall not again put you to the spur, lest not of my accord.” The soft brown chestnut mare nudged him with her shoulder and turned to snuff at him. He laughed and found again the joy of being on the road with his best horse.
The sun as it hurried west sent shafts of light torn by the mountain tops over their heads and the high wisps of cloud started to blush into the hues that only nature know the names of.
Turning away from the wood line to the safety of the open field Boromir and Gwynn found a small outcrop of rock a little higher than the plain and set camp. "Sorry Gwynn but these hobble ropes you are going to have to get use to, I can't afford you running off at night or worse." Looking back from where they had come Boromir studied the landscape for the return home journey, remembering every terrain feature in case he had to find his way back even at night.
The eastern sky was darkening and thunderheads were forming. "See Gwynn, aren't you glad we made good time today and won't get wet tonight?" The horse pulled and tested the ropes tied above her fetlocks, she was not hearing him, but knew things were different tonight, she could sense his uneasiness and wondered why out here alone there might be danger.
"We can have a small fire tonight Gwynn" He said as he rolled out his bedroll nearby and opened the sack given to him by Eowyn. "Look what we have here, Salted meat, I hope its not horse." He said jokingly to Gwynn. "Ah, and black bread and a flask of oil. That should fill the void I feel tonight. "As Boromir drew his eating blade and prepared the meat and sliced the bread a faint noise came from the wood, feet crushing sticks, and then quiet, then the whispers. "Gwynn, we're not alone." He hushed, Boromir covered her nose with his hand and gently but firmly let her know to kneel. They both listened and waited.



Chapter 2: “The Druedain”

Only their breathing could be heard as Boromir comforted his mare Gwynn. They watched and waited to catch a glimpse of whom or what was making way from the wood line to the open Plain. Twilight had given in to the dark but the canopy of stars gave enough light to see ones way. Boromir watched Gwynn's ears and eyes to see if she could search the shadows better than he could, then they both saw them. Ten maybe twelve dark figures, moving quickly, but with stealth. These were no orcs, clumsy and bold, these were the Pukel-men, The Druedain. Boromir had heard tales of such forest folk and once his grandfather had captured two, squat and muscular men with halted speech and dressed only in skins. They inhabited the woods of Ered Nimrais that stretched from Gondor to the Gap of Rohan and beyond.
The party moved closer, it was good fortune the moon was down and he had not yet struck his iron and flint to kindle a flame or these men would see him alone and perhaps try and kill him and take Gwynn.
"What are my choices here" Boromir weighed whither to cut Gwynns hobbles and ride to safety or confront the band head on should they draw closer. A few more minutes and they would find him and Gwynn either by sight or smell. "If they turn aside now we shall have no quarrel this night, if they continue I must act"
As luck would have it the band headed straight for them.
Boromirs gift from his father hung yet on the saddle. "That would definitly put a scare into these hill people." He slowly reached over the saddle and brought up to his lips the Horn of Gondor. "Now for it men!" He yelled at the top of his lungs and gave three long blasts from the horn. He cut Gwynns hobbles and reached for the blankets and food as Gwynn stood up letting out her battle cry. Boromir swung up into the saddle to break away and run out of bow range. Looking for a moment to the band of hill folk to judge the direction of his escape he pulled back on the reins and stopped. The Pukel-men were already to the wood-line and by the sound of it not stopping till dawn.
"Well girl thanks for the help, It is you and I need some rest now, shhhh, there, there calm down" Boromir patted and stroked her neck and kept telling her and himself they were safe. "It will be a cold camp tonight after all and an early start"
Retying her hobbles and trying to find the bread that got dropped Boromir felt ease return to him and the soreness of the saddle. He wanted to sleep and thought of what tales the hill men would tell, when they returned home, of the narrow escape from the hunters.
They once covered the Plain and in ancient times even, the western lands of Bree but had been driven into the wooded refuge in years past by the peoples from the east and north over 2000 years ago. These were a hearty folk that could live from what the land gave them and they preferred solitude and small bands instead of the agrarian life of his people. No one he knew could speak their language but it is said they could speak his. Some of the villagers complained that goats and sheep would turn up missing and strange tracks would be found leading away into the hills. Everyone knew they were there but no one ventured into those hills alone.
It was said they took small children too and would raise them and make them thralls but after rescue parties were sent to seek them out and avenge the people only the dead hill people were left and no children were ever found.
Boromir was always of a mind to make a truce with these folks and offer them the Plains of Belfalas to settle in, but his father, Denethor was of a different mind.
The Dunlendings were ever hunted and carelessly considered by both the Rohirrim and the Gondorians, they were thought of as primitives, dangerous, and not deserving of better status than animals. His thoughts wandered thus and he marveled at the bow of stars across the sky. He tucked an edge of the blanket between his knees and rolled over. He held his sword and rested his head on his shield.
Gwynn was watching him as he awoke, patiently waiting.
"Good morning girl, let me make ready and we shall go" Laying aside his sword he found the bread and had three bites and a pull from the salt pork as he tied up his bedroll and checked the cinch strap of the saddle.
"I know you don’t think it's right having that on your back all night but I was taking no chances and no I won't carry it for you." Gwynn tried to step on his foot as he set his knee in her belly to make tight the strap. Boromir laughed as she pushed back knocking him off balance and onto his back "I promise we shall rest at midday and I will brush you too." He said, as he brushed himself off and rechecked the straps and harness.
With his shield and saddlebags secured he mounted and rode over to where the Pukel-men had stopped that night. They had dropped two bows and a quiver full of black- feathered arrows and a sack. "Well now lets see what we have here." He said, as he dismounted.
"Roots, no wait, small wild red potatoes and wild white carrots if I am not mistaken." Twisting the sack and placing it into his bag he smiled. "I wonder where they were off to last night? Perhaps covering this ground in daylight is too risky for the likes of them, what with the Rohirrim patrolling their boarders as they do. I don’t blame them for being watchful and perhaps I could thank them someday for the stew for dinner."The quiver he tied to saddle bags as well and studied the workmanship of the shaft and flights. The points were stone, black and shiny like glass. He cut his figure testing the edge. "Yes quite sharp and effective on game but not much use against shield and breastplate." He thought as he licked the blood from his finger. "Ahhh! Poison!" He spat out upon the ground and threw the shaft from him. He ****** and spat out the venom repeatedly until he was sure the wound was clean and bathed it in the oil given him by Eowyn, wrapping it against any infection. "I must be more careful," He thought. He untied the quiver and left it where he had found it and placed a knife and scabbard for the owner to find on his return. " Payment for my supper my friend" he said, and held up an open hand in peace toward the forest.
Mounting again Boromir turned west and rode at a distance from the wood line keeping an eye as they went for scouts and smelling the morning breeze that came from the south. The scent of the forest was like a spice. The air was dry but not long had blown in from the sea, over the mountains, and it still carried the scent of the ocean.
They rode on through the morning as the sun warmed the field. The golden grass of summer was like a sea and as the day wore on the crickets moved like a wake before the prow of a ship in front of them. Gwynn caught sight of a hawk soaring above the hills and Boromir thought he could something in its claws. The bird trailed in low above a broken trunk and landed. Boromir spoke softly to the mare. "Milady, it is time for us also to break this fast and have something for midday meal. Would some oats and grain suit you?" Ahead some hundred paces was a stream. He could not yet see it but the green path it nurtured gave away its wayward ramble midst the short brown grass of summer.
A short walk into the woods to check for any inhabitants made the rest easier in the shade of the old Oaks.
He made fast a rope around Gwynn's neck and removed the bit and placed the feedbag over her ears. Tying the rope to a limb fall he knew she would be satisfied for a while and removed the saddle and his kit and settled up against the tree to rest his eyes.
He could hear the breeze play among the leaves and Gwynn crushing and chewing. The stream off to right was small and ran slow. He washed out his mouth and spit then drank deep and poured some oil on the black bread and savored it. Cutting some meat into strips he took his time to eat and rest. He remembered the carrots and took one down to the water, washed it and ate it. " Sweet with a nice after taste" he thought and looked forward to cooking a small stew that night.
Taking out from his bags a brush he walked over to his horse and worked her coat from neck to tail and pulled out the burrs from her tail and fetlocks. He lifted each hoof to inspect her for stones or cuts as was pleased that she bore no marks or bruises.
Removing her feedbag her let her walk and drink her fill. He checked all his bags and gear, re-packing what had worked loose and readied to go.
"Come here girl," he said to her without even looking where she was, and she nuzzled him from behind on his head and nipped at his back. "You knew what I wanted to do before I even called you." He stood and wrapped his arms around her neck and held her for a moment. "You are the best horse in all of Gondor and Rohan and I shall ever be at your service Milady." The mare turned and snuffed at him as if to agree, she had carried him through war and hunt and never miss stepped or fought his command. They were one, horse and rider.
It seemed about two hours to him when they came upon a farm. There was a house, a storage shed and an animal barn with corral and a root cellar dug into the earth.
Boromir knew they would not trust strangers this far away from Edoras and so stopped some fifty yards away and let them study him and make the first move.
A few minutes passed and a woman came out from the house with a broom in her hands.
"Who are you and what is your business here?" She shouted in a high but pleasant voice.
"I am a traveler from Gondor and bear paper from the King of Rohan permitting me free passage across these lands!" He called back as pleasant as he could. "May I come forward? I bear no ill will and would water my horse!" Again he tried to sound calm and peaceful. "You may come!" She said, and added "But only to the barn!" He dismounted and bowed as he replied. "You are kind and I shall only water my horse and then be on my way!" He hoped that it would be otherwise and could rest there for the night but did not ask.
He walked up to the barn as instructed and was met by three dogs who seemed weary of this stranger on their land, and started to tell him so, but were silenced with a short whistle from within the barn. A tall man stepped out of the shadows. He was a head taller than Boromir and had large dirty hands, which held a four- prong pitchfork and a hammer.
"Good-day friend" offered Boromir.
"It will be when your gone" short and curt was the reply.
" I shall make haste then" Boromir held his tongue and his temper.
"Where are you from? I have never seen such garments before." The man seemed to let down his guard a bit.
Boromir had this chance to explain himself and perhaps win lodging for the night. "I am Boromir son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor and I am long afield and would seek rest for the night. I am on an errand for my father and making my way to the Gap of Rohan."
He did not want to tell more than need be but thought is prudent too give some detail as to his mission and account for his coming into this land.
"You say you have letters from the King vouching for your passage, may I see them?"
The man spoke with confidence and as one having authority. Before Boromir could answer he added. "Do they bear King Theoden's seal and signet?"
Boromir studied the man's face and eyes looking for fear or earnest and then replied, "The letters bear both and were given me by his counsel. I will show them to you."
The man stepped forward unexpectedly, dropped his hammer and extended his hand. "You need not produce them young prince I trust your word. In these days we must be certain with whom we speak and share table." Boromir clasped his hand and felt the strength in it. "Come leave your horse here in the corral and come inside, my wife will also want to welcome you. My name is Toralt son of Uralt who served The King and his father before him until he was ambushed by a band of wild-men near Tharbad past these boarders. I and my wife have lived here for three years this fall and have lived in peace for the most part, save for the occasional skirmish with orc."
Boromir interrupted him; "You speak like a warrior sir, were you in the service of the King also?"
"I served the King but when his favor turned to Isengard and his heart was corrupted I decided to leave and live out my life in freedom and not under the sway of the Wizard, paying his duty. He rules these lands with fear and sword and the King will see it not."
They reached the house and Toralt removed his barn boots and opened the door for Boromir. "Please, honor our house. What we have is yours."
Boromir knew then that this man was noble and at one time must have commanded men in battle. "Thank you" said Boromir and started to remove his boots in kind. "Nay Sir, you need not, please come in."
The room was large and served as living, dining, and kitchen area. He saw a hall to his right that led to other rooms and beyond the kitchen a large pantry and covered porch. In the back were chickens and geese wandering. In a corner the dogs were lying next to what must be their master's chair. It did not fit the rustic nature of this place and must have been brought from Edoras. Above the fireplace were two large battle-axes and a shield emblazoned with the white horse of Rohan. The walls held many trophies from hunting and one thing Boromir didn't like to see. Toralt saw him looking and offered. "That my friend is a goblin scimitar." The one that carried that did not go down without a fight and gave me this. "He lifted the leggings of his left leg and there was a scar the length of it. "I almost lost that leg but my wife mended it and it is good as new. Ah here she is now. My dear, welcome Boromir son of Denethor, from Gondor. Boromir this is the lady Thieli late of the court of Edoras."
She came from behind them, from the back room where she had changed clothes and tied back her hair. Boromir bowed low before her and was struck at her beauty. Her hair was black as a raven and her eyes were blue. Her lips were as cherries and she was almost as tall as he was. "Welcome to our home Sir, please sit and I shall bring you some bread and ale. You must be weary" She motioned for him to sit at the table but Toralt took his arm and bade him sit in his chair. "Do me this honor and sit here and tell me more of your journey and news from Edoras and Gondor." Boromir complied and sat as Toralt pulled up a chair across from him to listen. Thieli went straight to the cupboard and produced two large steins which she filled from a small keg in the corner of the kitchen and made short work of a loaf of bread and diced some cheese and three apples from under a cloth. She picked up both steins with one hand and two plates with the other and served Boromir his portions and then her husband. Before either man could thank her she said, "I will see to your horse Sir, feed her and make her a stall for the night and I will show you to your quarters as soon as I return with your things. "Thank you but" he was stopped by Toralt, "Never you mind Sir, she is a Sheildmaiden of Rohan and can ride as well as she cooks. That’s her way of welcoming you to our home. Now, what news from the east?"

III.

Chapter Three: "Dreams"

Boromir took a long drink of the ale and a few bites of the apples and cheese.
Toralt sat back in his chair, “Forgive me Boromir, you must be thirsty from the days ride. Please eat and drink and then we can talk.” He also drank and ate and waited for his guest to relax.
“I would like to thank you for your kindness to a stranger sir and for your wife’s care for my horse. She is special to me.” Boromir swallowed and drank again.
“And She is special to me.” Toralt smiled at his play and said, “Without her I would have died many times. I am sure your mare has proved herself in battle, no?”
“Surely, a hundred fold.” Boromir said, finishing his meal and washing down the last bite with another long draught.
Toralt ate while Boromir continued, “I left Minas Tirith on July fourth with four escorts and pack mules we set out for Edoras as the first leg of my journey. We had finished a war for Osgiliath only a week earlier and had to be on our guard for renegade orcs that were about. My escort left me and returned home at the boarders of Rohan. Thankfully we had no encounters and the road was pleasant and restful. When I saw your war trophy there upon the wall it reminded me of my many friends and comrades at arms that fell under such weapons of the enemy.”
Toralt raised his stein, “To the fallen, may they ever rise up in our hearts!” “To the fallen, may they sit with our fathers and await us.” Answered Boromir and saw the look in Toralts eyes, “Your father must have been a brave man” He added. “I was almost set upon by wild-men last night only twenty miles or so from here, but surprised them and set them running for fear of their lives as they must have thought I was not alone.”
Toralt raised his stein again and quietly said, “To Fathers.”
Boromir hesitated and then drank, staring into the brew and thinking of his father for a moment. “Yes, Toralt. Our fathers, may they ever live in our hearts.”
“Here let me fill your stein, talking is dry work” Toralt leaned forward taking the stein from Boromir and went to the keg. “Tell me more of the White City, I have never been there but hear it is beautiful a city as was built by men.”
Boromir leaned back in his chair and found himself talking for a long while about his beloved Minas Tirith as Toralt sat there listening and nodding his head like a small child hearing wonderful tales of lore.
A heavy knock came at the door, startling both men.
“Toralt!” called Thieli, “If you have time?” She said impatiently.
“Coming!” answered Toralt, knocking over his chair as he stood and backed up to get the door. Opening the door and standing aside, Thieli walked in.
Boromir righted the chair and looking up his gaze was fixed. Never had Boromir seen such a sight. She had his saddlebags in her left arm, his shield hung on her back and his sword in her right hand. Her stature and beauty must surpass even that of the Elves. He thought she looked like a queen ready for battle.
Thieli walked past her husband as he tried to help and laid down the bags on the hall bench. She turned to swing the shield off her shoulder and caught it with her hand, setting it lightly against the wall. Turning back to her husband she smiled wide and softly said, “This, my lord, you must see” She tossed the sword up in the air catching the sheath midway and offered the pommel to her husband. Toralt looked at Boromir with a question on his face. Boromir was smiling and nodded his approval.
“Perfectly balanced and honed to a fine edge.” Thieli said, with the tone of a weapons master in her voice. Toralt drew the blade from its sheath, admiring the workmanship.
“Forgive me Sir but I couldn’t but help to admire your sword.” She added, as Toralt held the blade aloft. “Your horse is a fine breed and I checked her hoofs for stones and brushed her. She will rest easy tonight and I hope you will be comfortable in our sons room.”
“This is a fine blade indeed, was it made in Minas Tirith?” asked Toralt, placing it back into its sheath.
Boromir answered, “Lady Thieli I would be honored to accept a bed for the night and yes sir it was forged in my city and a gift to me on my twentieth birthday from my father. Both have served me well for many years.”
“Let me show you to your room and please make yourself comfortable and I shall prepare supper.” She said, leaning the sword next to his shield and lifting up the bags. “This way sir.” She took a candle from its place by the door and led the way.
Boromir handed his stein to Toralt and obediently followed her down the hall to the second door and entered the dim room. Knowing the room she crossed it and set down the bags next to the bed on a chair. She paused by the chest that lay next to a table, for a moment only but noticeable to Boromir, then she lit two candles there on the table and he saw a small tapestry on the back wall of a young man whom he guessed must be her son.
“Is that your son?” he said quietly.
“Why yes, I made that a year ago before he left us to ride with the Kings men. He rides with the Kings son, Theodred, and serves as one of his chosen men, a great honor for our house and his father, but we have heard little from him since, and fear for his safety now that the orcs are rising and becoming ever the more bold.”
“Would he be wearing the same cloth as your husband for his tunic?” Boromir asked.
“I would hope so, I sent him with six such shirts when he…you have seen him?” She cried aloud. “You have seen him? My son, my Tori!” She grasped his arms and searched his eyes.
“Yes I believe I did. Tall as his father and has your black hair?” questioned Boromir.
“Forgive me kind sir, I forget myself, but a mothers love is..” He stopped her, “He is well and stands out among the guard. When most of the Rohirrim are light of hair or red your son stands apart and is favored by his liege. You should be proud of such a son.” Boromir allowed her embrace and then she left the room hurriedly with her hand to her mouth, crying.
“I forbade him to go but he has her resolved and stubbornness.” Toralt explained as he entered the room. “She comes here every day to clean and makes ready should he return to us.” I pray Sir don’t speak of this again, it is an open wound.”
“Forgive me, I shall not speak of him again.” Boromir said in a low voice.
“Come let us walk a while and enjoy the sunset this day. Not often do we have the time.” Toralt suggested.
Boromir and Toralt silently walked out of the house as Theili busied herself with supper and setting table for the three of them. “Not long now!” She called to them “As you wish.” They both answered back and looked at each other and laughed as they strode across the yard not caring where they were going, just walking together as friends do.
They sat on the fence railing watching the sun spend its last light and the hues of amber and orange trailed their master. The insects took to the air and the night birds called. Barn Swallows flashed by dancing as they curled and turned to find an evening meal. An Owl sat atop the barn turning it’s gaze earthward searching for any movement. Toralt broke the silence, “I fear we may not long live out here in peace and must return to Edoras or move from these boarders, perhaps up the Greenway and start afresh. There is a war coming, I can sense it.”
“Long have we of Gondor held the enemy at bay from entering these lands and I think you are right. The evils that gather in Mordor are ever growing and one day they shall unleash upon us all. I go on an errand for my father to better our chances and prepare for such a day. One day soon Rohan, Gondor and all free people must unite and face this threat, or fall.” Boromir spoke uneasily and quietly.
“The strong ever prevail” mused Toralt.
“It is natures way and so it must be ours now too. To supper.” Toralt said as he jumped off the rail and started towards the house.
“May I say good night to Gwynn first?” asked Boromir.
“Gwynn? Oh yes, of course your horse, please and I shall go and see if Thieli needs help.” Toralt knew better than to get in her kitchen while she worked but was being polite. “Come in when you are ready my friend.” He said, turning back to the house.
Boromir entered the barn and it was black as night. Stepping in he let his eyes adjust to the light and found that after a moment he could make his way. He found Gwynn, or perhaps she saw him first. She snuffed and called to him.
“There you are girl. How do you like sleeping indoors tonight?” She pushed against the netting of the stall door to greet him and they he rubbed her cheeks and nose letting her nibble his fingers. “You get some rest and I will see you in the morning.” He kissed her forehead and rubbed her again, then turned to go.
As Boromir reached the porch the door opened. “Table is ready please come and sit.” Thieli was waiting for him there and as he entered she hurried to the hearth and filled a kettle and brought it to the table. Toralt held a chair open for him at the head of the table and as he sat Theili filled his bowl with a stew of meat, vegetables and dumplings. She did like wise for Toralt and herself and returned the kettle to the fire and joined them.
“Please have some bread and butter.” She said as she passed him a basket and uncovered the still hot bread. “If you come back this way in the fall we shall have mushrooms fresh from the forest.” She added.
Toralt poured the ale all round and passed the ears of sweet corn and the baked potatoes down to him. "Boromir, please continue and tell more news and what you have seen and heard in the Riddermark."
As they ate he told them of the latest war with the Mordor orcs and the men from the eastern lands. He told them of his hopes for peace and his growing fear that one day Gondor would suffer heavy losses should the evil ones mass an army and lay siege to his city. They had been holding off the enemy for so long now but the army had suffered large losses of horse and men. He had hoped for sometime to rebuild and fortify the cities of the Plain but that would take long years and much toil and skill. Boromir related to them his travel westward from Minas Tirith and the reason for his journey to gain council and wisdom from Elrond of Rivendell but he did not divulge his true purpose to seek out the Ring of Power if it existed at all. He had his doubts but remembered his dream. The dream he shared with Faramir his brother. He carried on and told them of Edoras and whom he had met and the concerns of Theodred and Eomer concerning the boldness of the orcs and the unwillingness of the King to wage war upon them as in the old days. They thought his councilor to be in league with the white wizard Saruman and held their peace in his presence. "They had warned me to be careful near the Gap of Rohan and travel only from day break to sunset and then to be on guard and watchful. Do these tidings trouble you?"
“No, we have long know this and fear the same but remain watchful now day and night and our dogs help keep strangers away. I don’t think orcs like dogs and the dogs can smell them from afar off and so give us warning.” Said Thieli.
“I take one with me when I go into the wood or travel and the brothers there, the black ones, they guard the house always and follow Theili when she works in the fields or enters the forest.” Toralt said, and finished his meal and poured out another round of ale.
“With the dogs and my bow I feel safe where ever I go. A stranger or enemy would not come close to me save with approval. I have a long reach.” She smiled and winked at Boromir and he smiled and nodded.
“No doubt, no doubt at all. I am sure you are skilled in the use of arms Milady and would hold your own in a fight. Rohan will need all its warriors one day should the enemy gather strength and test us.” Boromir looked at Toralt and added, “You sir are a fortunate man.”
“Thank you.” They both said, and laughed.
Theili stood and gathered the bowls and plates and returned to the table with three bowls of strawberries and cream. “The fruit and cream are fresh today, enjoy!” She said and sat down.
They finished and Toralt offered Boromir a pipe but he kindly declined and politely asked to be excused and if he could wash and retire.
“Of course sir, allow me to heat some water” she said and left out the back door soon to return with a bucket full and poured it out into a black kettle by the fender and hung it near the fire. “Give it a moment and I will bring it to your room.” Theili added and busied herself with the plates and putting away the leftovers for morning.
“Alright lads out you go” Toralt opened the door for the dogs and they slowly obeyed.
“I bid you a goodnight then Boromir and am thankful your journey brought you to our door.” He said.
“Tis I sir that am thankful and am in your debt. I thank both of you for your kindness and will take my rest now and I would make an early start on the morrow.” Boromir bowed to them both.
“We are up before the sun and will wake you.” She offered.
“That would be perfect, thank you again” Boromir bowed again to Thieli and went to his room gathering his sword and shield along the way.
He had just set them down and was removing his boots when she knocked.
“Please come in.” He said
“Here you are sir” She said and placed a bowl and a pitcher and two towels on the table.
“ Is there any thing else you require?” She asked.
“ You are more than kind Thieli, thank you, that is all I require, you have welcomed me to be sure.” He looked up to her and smiled.
“Sleep well” she said and turned to go. “Did he look happy?” She said from the door.
“Very much so, he is a good son, you should be proud.” He said earnestly.
She hesitated as if to speak and then left, closing the door quietly behind her.
Sleep came quickly to him that night and a bed was a welcome change to hard ground.
His dreams were uneasy and with a sense of worry. He troubled over having to leave Gwynn behind and didn’t know why, he saw mountains and snow, he saw dark stairs and felt a fear in his heart that he could not account for. He felt his mother was near and then heard the voice return to him saying;
“Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.”
He heard his mother whisper as if in his ear; ”My Son, along this way our paths shall meet.” Then he awoke, a sweat running along his brow. The room was dark and he could hear voices from another room. They called to him and then came a knock at the door.
“Good morning Boromir. Are you awake?” It was Toralt.
“Yes! I will but a moment!” He tried to hide the tremble of his voice. “I will be right out”
“ Take your time. Breakfast will be soon and your horse has hers already. My wife saw to that.” Toralt said and walked back to the main room.
“I wish I could stay here and forget the world and its troubles” He said aloud and went to the basin to wash his face.