Boromir's Dream

by Varda
I   II

‘I have had a dream, Father…’

Denethor’s thin white hands tightened on the polished black armrests of his high seat in the hall of the Stewards. Through the windows high up in the arched roof the last light of a bright winter afternoon was streaming in molten bars….

‘Why are you here?’ demanded the Steward. His voice was shrill, but not from indignation that Faramir should return to the City unbidden; Denethor was afraid…

Faramir did not flinch at his father’s tone. Instead there was in his face only sorrow, and pain. He walked forward quietly and slowly, holding himself proudly as he always did before his father, even though he was often only called into Denethor’s presence to receive a reprimand. Under their high winged black helmets the Tower Guard glanced at him in apprehension. Rumour had preceded Faramir....

‘I have dreamed about Boromir, Father. I have dreamed of my brother…’

Denethor did not answer. Faramir saw his father struggle to compose himself. At last he said;
‘What was this dream?’
Faramir continued to approach the seat of the Stewards, until he was standing before Denethor. Then he knelt and took one of his father’s hands. Denethor looked at his son in astonishment but did not take his hand away or reproach Faramir. He saw tears in his son’s eyes. His question died on his lips.

‘It was two nights ago, I had a dream…’

Faramir stopped as if the memory alone struck him dumb. But Denethor, remembering suddenly the day word had been brought to him in this very hall that Faramir had been taken by orcs, said in a choked voice;
‘Go on…’

It was that very dream he had the night he had been brought back to Minas Tirith, rescued from captivity with the orcs. In all the years, growing up and training to arms, Faramir had never forgotten it. Nor had he spoken of it. And two nights ago he had had the same dream once again….

It was evening, or even night, but a mist hung on the river that extinguished all brightness, starlight or moonlight, and replaced it with a ghostly glow. It was cold, a bitter frost biting to the bone, but Faramir stood without cloak or hood listening to the river. A keening sound, like the cry of a bird echoed across the calm dark water. And out of the mist a boat came gliding. Faramir gazed at it and it seemed to stay its course and turn towards him. He waded into the river, ignoring the freezing cold, and the boat seemed to answer his approach and edge in his direction. It passed through a stand of reeds, and Faramir saw on its prow elvish runes and knew it was an Elven boat. It slowed and drifted and Faramir peered forward then stepped back with a cry….

In the boat lay his brother, Boromir, dead. On his chest his cold hands were clasped round the hilt of his great sword. In his lap lay his great horn, its inlaid silver chasing gleaming in the cold light. Round his neck was the silver circlet he wore, linked greyhounds still raced round the bright border of his great round shield, laid at his head. His long hair, dewed with river mist, was arrayed on his shoulders. Faramir looked into the face, and it was still and pale, shadowed and unmoving. Not a breath, not a flicker of eye or hand. Faramir, as he had done the first time this dream visited him so many years before, gave a cry of dismay and stepped forward. He plunged downward into icy water, and the boat, like a startled deer, surged away out into the river, where it resumed its slow drift downstream….

‘Enough!’ shouted Denethor, springing to his feet and breaking the spell, making Faramir stumble backwards in shock.
‘No more, unfaithful son!’ the Steward cried, holding out a hand as if to ward off the onslaught of some evil...
‘Father…’ Faramir began in protest, but Denethor, white with rage, kept his hand held out in rejection of his son and shouted;
‘Lies! This is no vision, it is all lies! Out of your own cowardice and envy of your brother you have dreamed this up to shake my resolve to make Gondor strong….’

Denethor descended the three low steps from his Steward’s chair, advancing on Faramir, who retreated before him, as if he would strike him. Instead he wounded him with words….
‘Never have you equalled Boromir in arms, or in mastery of your men. Now when all wonder where he is you invent this evil tale to dishearten me and our people….’
‘No!’ Faramir managed at last to speak. ‘No, Father…’
‘Do not speak!’ screamed Denethor. ‘You have no words that can convince me…’
‘If not words, then…’ said Faramir in tears ‘..will you believe this?’

And Faramir drew from under his cloak an object muffled in black cloth. Denethor was struck silent, staring at it with wild eyes. Faramir fumbled with the silk ribbon that bound the bundle and his trembling fingers lost their grip and down at the feet of the Steward in sight of his guards and his younger son there fell the Horn of Gondor, that Denethor had borne and his ancestors before him, and that his son Boromir had taken with him on leaving Minas Tirith....

Only this was not the horn that Boromir had carried away with him; this was two shards held together by twisted silver chasing, scratched and splintered. The silken cord was torn apart and the smooth surface of the horn, polished as ivory, was scored and chipped.

Without saying anything, Denethor reached out a shaking hand and seized the horn, pulling it from Faramir’s grasp with surprising strength. He gazed into Faramir’s eyes and whispered;
‘Where did you get this?’
‘Some nights ago….’ stammered Faramir. ‘…it was found in the reeds of the southern washes of the river….’

But Denethor had ceased to listen. He sank back in his chair as if his legs could no longer hold him up. He cradled the shards of the horn and stared out into space, looking through and past his younger son. Faramir went to speak but his father said, in tones high and shrill;
‘Leave me!’ the voice startled the guards. Faramir went to approach his father but Denethor raised a thin white hand as if to push him away and said in a breaking voice;

‘Have you not done enough harm? Get out of my sight….’

Faramir stepped back, bending his head so the guards would not see his tears. He turned and hurried out of the hall, almost running the last few yards through the colonnaded hall where the statues of the Kings of Gondor watched with stone faces….

As the moon rose that night and its deathly cold light spilled into the inner quadrangle of the Citadel Denethor walked with head high but eyes unseeing across to the Treasure Tower. If any saw him they themselves could not be seen. For yet another time Denethor put the crystal key in the great iron lock and turned it, and ascended the cracked and chipped stone stairs. He uncovered the orb and sat down heavily to gaze into its depths. Lights sprang up and swirled round. He waited for them to die down, and when they did, dots of red fire appeared and gradually resolved themselves into a shape. A great eye….

‘Tell me, and do not spare me.’ cried Denethor the Steward.
‘ my son Boromir alive or dead?’ There was no reply and Denethor cried in anguish;
‘Tell me, black oracle!’

The eye did not seem to hear and for many heartbeats there was no answer. Then a voice, deep and grating, said with cruel gratification;
‘Denethor, Steward of Gondor, your son Boromir is indeed slain….’
Denethor bowed his head and his shoulders shook. He forced himself to speak.
‘Slain? But…how?’

The lights swirled again in the orb, and the Voice said;
‘You wish to know how Boromir of Gondor met his doom? Attend then, and watch the glass and do not look away. Watch, and attend….’

And looking deep into the orb Denethor saw dimly at first then clearly a forest glade, and winter sunlight falling through the trees. There was a hill, its slopes clothed with beeches, their leaves thick upon the ground. On top of the hill was a structure, a great stone chair protected by winged statues. From this height could be seen all the realm of Rhovanion, and even beyond…Denethor recognised the place, although he had only seen it once before, a long time ago….

‘Amon Hen!’ he gasped.


Amon Hen

‘How long is it since you saw Frodo last, Boromir?’ asked Aragorn.
‘Half an hour, maybe.’ He answered. ‘Or it might be an hour. I have wandered for some time since he vanished…..’

JJR Tolkien; The Fellowship of The Ring

Boromir sat up and brushed the leaves from his cloak. What was he doing here? He got to his feet, wondering at the dizzy, weak feeling that ran through him. Was this some nightmare? But then he remembered, all at once, and groaned. This was no dream; he had attacked Frodo, tried to take the Ring, and had fallen…

All around him bright winter sunshine streamed through the bare branches of the beech trees. It was as warm as spring but Boromir felt cold. In spite of the black cloak he had worn from Minas Tirith and the grey-silver Elven cloak that he had already found was deceptively warm, he felt a chill strike to his heart.

For he had broken his word, and his oath as one of the Fellowship. He had attacked the one he had vowed to protect, Frodo. He was a traitor.

For a moment Boromir bowed his head in the bright glade and despair overcame him. Above all he wondered why he had done it. His mind could not concentrate, but was distracted by the song of birds in the woods below. He listened and found himself heartened by the sound and he suddenly realised that a great weight was gone from his mind; the endless pull and drag of The Ring. It had left him and moved on.

Boromir at once seemed to see everything that had happened to him since he had gone to Rivendell clearly for the first time. He saw, as if in a dream, his outburst at the Council. He wondered how could he have been so foolish? Elrond spoke wisdom, yet he would not listen. And Aragorn; now he saw clearly Aragorn was no rival but his brother. Boromir sighed; had he come to wisdom too late?

Now the Ring meant nothing to him. Such was its sorcery; it fed on his fears, even his love for his city, then when he failed it, the Ring moved on.

But where was he to go now? As if debating with an unseen listener, Boromir raised his hands and shrugged. But then he started off down the hill; it was not in him to despair, nor try to avoid the consequences of what he had done. He had to brace himself to bear the reprimand of Aragorn, and the contempt of the Fellowship. If he could brave death in battle he could brave reproach….

A strange silence had fallen on the woods as he made his way down the hill. He stopped once or twice to listen; where was Frodo? Boromir considered searching for him but realised sadly that the hobbit would only flee if he saw him, and he did not want to cause Frodo any more pain. But these woods lay too close to danger, and Boromir feared that Frodo might fly blindly into some peril…

Suddenly Boromir’s foot struck a stone step. He raised his head and looked up and saw a carved staircase winding up the hillside, its steps covered with moss and vines, cracked and broken. A figure stood at the top, and Boromir started violently, then relaxed as he realised it was just a statue, one of the many stone images of the Kings of Gondor that were scattered about this land.

On impulse Boromir walked up the steps and looked into the face of the statue. Orcs had defiled it long ago, gouging out its eyes and breaking off its hands. It stood gazing sightlessly down towards the Anduin, a sad remnant of the glory of Gondor. A pang of terrible sadness assailed Boromir; he knew now beyond all hope that he would never see the White City again. His father’s pride was his life; how could he return and tell him his eldest son had failed and disgraced himself?

Boromir brushed away a tear and continued up the staircase. That was the great failing of their house, he thought angrily; pride. Perhaps Faramir had been right all along….

Faramir. He would not have done this. Faramir, always thinking and questioning before acting. He would not have tried to take the Ring. Boromir reached the top of the staircase and thought; perhaps….but perhaps he would have.

‘Better I perish than you, little brother….’ Boromir said out loud, and the words were caught by a sudden breeze and carried away across a bright clearing on the top of the hill towards the West and Boromir was suddenly filled with a great love for his brother, and sadness that Faramir would never know…..

A raven sailed overhead and Boromir looked up quickly. Perhaps Faramir would know. The heart had a way of making itself heard.....

Ravens! Birds of wizardry and omens. His gaze dropped down and he realised he was standing in a wide stone circle in the midst of which stood a raised throne carved out of black marble. A flight of broad black steps led up to it and it rested on a dais, the armrests borne by two sphinxes, gazing out over all the land of Rhovanion.

Boromir gasped; only now did he realise that he had ascended Amon Hen, and from this vantage point all Middle Earth seemed to be visible, although his mind told him it was no more than part of a river valley and the foothills of the Mountains of Shadow. No, the world lay below him….

As if impelled by some force beyond him, but not like the Ring, Boromir approached the Seat of Seeing, the ancient place where the Kings of Gondor came to gain foresight and wisdom, and placed his foot on the bottom step.

‘No!’ he said aloud to himself. ‘This place is for the Kings only, none other may look out from Amon Hen…..’

It is for Aragorn only, his heart told him, bitter as it was for him to admit it. For once he had thought the house of Denethor was worthy to be kings...but no longer. Now he saw Aragorn differently. How he wished he could let him know! Suddenly Boromir’s gaze fell on the sunwarmed stone and he saw a footstep, a damp trace on the stair. He quickly bent down; it was a hobbit’s footstep! He looked round wildly. Frodo had been here….

Boromir went to retrace his steps but suddenly halted. It was useless to follow the hobbit. If Frodo saw him coming he would put on the Ring again, to the ruin, perhaps, of them all. He sighed. He must let Frodo go, wherever he would….

He turned back and looked up at the sphinxes. So, he thought; Frodo had gone up to the Seat of Seeing. What had he seen? Curiosity seized Boromir. He felt a strange peace. If he could see what Frodo had seen, he might understand….he straightened up and walking proudly, like the son of the Steward of Gondor, he went up the long flight of steps and sat on the wide stone seat.

At first he saw nothing but the sun on the river and the wide blue sky, with a silver mantle of cloud settled on the peaks of the Mountains of Shadow. The sun was warm, he felt drowsy…..

Now he saw horsemen galloping on a plain; they were not of Gondor, they bore flags with white horses on green silk and a king rode at their head, white-haired but warlike. Boromir’s hands clenched the armrests; beside the king rode Aragorn. All around was a sea of foes and Boromir’s heart grew cold; was this the end of Aragorn?

Then the scene changed; he saw a wide bleak ravine with two weary figures struggling through the ashen landscape. He gave a cry; it was Frodo, not the hale and cheerful hobbit he knew, but a pale haunted wretch, helped along by Sam. Even Sam seemed half dead….Boromir was aghast and leaned forward, striving to see more closely; to see Frodo’s face….

But he could not. What he saw was a great bleak hillside making the tiny figures insignificant, and from the top of the peaks a red glare. Without looking directly at it Boromir knew that was the Eye of Sauron.

All at once Boromir was filled with a dreadful realisation of what Frodo had gone through bearing the Ring. The tiny figure, half spent on a burning landscape, was the final truth. Boromir realised what Frodo had done by taking the Ring, and by resisting him when he tried to snatch it away. Frodo had saved him.

Hardly had he realised it when the scene changed again, and he saw Merry and Pippin. They were running, pursued by something he could not see. Was the Fellowship scattered then, and on account of him? Before Boromir had time to wonder they faded and disappeared, and he saw an orc camp, great orcs larger than any he had seen fighting with the armies of Gondor. And one of these giant orcs rose and went away from the camp fire and picked up what looked like a torn blue jacket. The jacket squirmed and protested, and he saw it was a hobbit, Merry. The orc struck the hobbit, and Boromir saw blood on his face.

He leaped from the Seat with a wild yell of anger, and found himself standing in the sunlight at the foot of the staircase. He could not remember descending the steps. He was shaking, and had drawn his sword. But all around was nothing but the sunwarmed trees and the wide blue sky. The breeze fanned his cheek, and he heard a voice;
'If you would undo the damage you have done, follow them now....'

Not Gandalf! he could not be sure...but the voice was right. The Seat showed only what might occur....the death of Aragorn in battle... the end of Frodo and Sam in Mordor...the slaying of Merry and Pippin by orcs....all this he could prevent. Perhaps. Possessed now not by the Ring but by hope Boromir bounded down the steps from the high hill of Amon Hen, and almost at once heard the sound of a chase through the trees below...