One Hundred and Ten Days

by Linaewen

Chapter 11

The night was dark and mist was creeping up from the water. The moon shone with a feeble light, and did little to illuminate the river and the bridge. From out of the darkness came the sounds of battle -- the clash of swords, the cry of the dying. Boromir strained to see clearly in the darkness. It was too dark, too foggy, he could see nothing. Where was Faramir? He had lost him...why couldn't he see him?

Suddenly before him, a shape took form, a great black horseman, his dark shadow blocking the moon. Power and fear were in the air. He raised his sword to defend himself, but his arm was too heavy. His sword fell, and he could not find it. Then he was falling, falling into the water....

Boromir awoke with a start, in a cold sweat. A dream! He had been dreaming, nothing more. There was no dark horseman, no black riders come to hunt him down. No enemy threatened him, and his brother was not lost in the darkness. He was not at Osgiliath, fighting for the bridge. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He remembered where he was now, and what had happened. He moved his limbs gingerly, then sat up. Yes, he was stiff and still a bit sore from the battle, but no more than that. He had been extremely fortunate to come out of the encounter at all, let alone uninjured.

He was still amazed at his good fortune. It was hard to understand why the black riders had broken off the attack so quickly. He had been easy prey for them, certainly. They must have had some other errand that was more urgent, more pressing than finishing off a lone warrior who stood in their path. He shivered involuntarily at the thought of the poor unsuspecting wretch with whom those riders must have business. For once he was grateful to be considered of little importance.

He wrapped himself in his cloak again and stretched out on the hard stoney ground. As he lay looking up at the stars, he found himself thinking of the dream that had started him on this quest. He had thought of it often during his journey, but its meaning was still a mystery to him. Though the dream had come but once to him, he still remembered it clearly. He could not forget it; it was etched in his memory.

"Seek for the sword that was broken, in Imladris it dwells." The sword that was broken -- Boromir had thought much on this command, the only phrase in the dream that seemed clear to him. The sword that was broken surely must refer to the sword of Elendil that was broken by the Dark Lord in the great battle, the sword Narsil. Isildur, the King's son, had taken it up in defense of the body of his father and of his own life, and had wounded Sauron himself by slicing off the fingers of his hand. It was said that the Ring of Power had been lost that day and that the Dark Lord had fallen from that loss, disappearing in a burst of flame and wind. What a sword that must have been, so sharp that even a shard of it pierced the black armor of that Mighty One! And Isildur, what a warrior! To dare to lay hands on the Evil One himself in defense of his father! Ah, what could Boromir and Faramir not do for their father, with a warrior like that at their side!

Boromir grimaced at the thought of Faramir, and he felt his loneliness afresh. The pain of losing his maps and the connection with his brother still smarted, but he would have to get over it. The remainder of the journey would require clear thinking, and he could not dwell on what he could not change. He pushed his feelings aside for the moment and returned to his thoughts of the dream.

Imladris...that was the place he was seeking, that translated, might be called Rivendell. The sword dwells there, according to the dream. Was it possible that the sword had been saved? Perhaps it had been reforged. If the elves had it, they might have made it again with such spells and magic as to make it an even more formidable blade. With such an heirloom as that, what could a brave warrior not do for his people? It would serve as a talisman, as a rallying cry, and many would flock to the defense of the White City. Boromir was much loved and revered by his men as a Captain of the troops; how many more men would be willing to serve under him, follow him, if he had such a sword to draw them?

Boromir shook his head at his own fancies and tried to calm himself. There was no point in thinking too far ahead, before he even found the place. It might not even be for him to carry back such an heirloom. Perhaps the sword referred to was not even a real sword, but a person. Dreams were like that, sometimes; one thing said, another thing meant. Even so, a great warrior and his army would be such a help to him in the defense of his City.

"There shall be counsels taken stronger than Morgul-spells." There had been plenty of talk and counsels taken in Minas Tirith as to how best to fight the Dark One. Boromir's father, Denethor, was very wise and very masterful. Long hours he sat with his sons and his counselors as he listened to the debate. He listened, then followed his own mind. He had great knowledge of all that went on in the realm of Gondor, and his advice was good, when he gave it. But often he was silent, especially during the dark times when it was said that he waged war from afar with Sauron himself through thought alone. At those times, Boromir and Faramir were left to themselves to order the war as best they could.

New counsel would be welcome, thought Boromir, though it would be hard to ask for help from outside. Boromir was a proud man, like his father, but he was willing to bend his pride for the good of his City and his people. Counsels stronger than Morgul-spells were needed in this battle; how could mere men, valiant and strong though they be, continue to fight an evil that had endless power and magic to fuel it? Something special was needed to fight this fight, some special magic that could be used against the Dark Lord and his minions.

"There shall be shown a token that doom is near at hand." This line of the dream was very confusing. Did it mean that Sauron's doom was at hand, and that some special weapon was to be revealed to defeat him? Did it mean the doom of men, or the doom of Minas Tirith? Was the doom of his City at hand? Was there nothing more to be done? Boromir struggled against a wave of hopelessness. To have come so far only to learn that there was no hope would be hard, too hard to bear!

"For Isildur's bane shall awaken, and the halfling forth shall stand." This last line of the dream had something to do with the token that would be revealed, that much was clear. Doom was coming because of Isildur's bane. But what was the bane of Isildur? As he and Eomer had discussed (so long ago it seemed now) Isildur had been killed by orc arrows. What was so important about an orc arrow that a dream would call him to come from so far to hold council with elvish lords? Isildur's bane was to "awaken"... orc arrows didn't do that, they were ordinary things, and even strange prophetic words from out of the West could not change that. It must be something else, something magical perhaps.

And the halfling, what of the halfling? Boromir was mystified as to the significance of a halfling. He knew stories of the small people who lived in the north, but he thought of them as just that: stories, and tales for children. If indeed halflings existed, as the dream seemed to indicate, then one of them had some special role to fulfill. It seemed unlikely that a halfling could have anything to do with Isildur, his legendary Sword, the Dark Lord and the doom of Minas Tirith.

So...he was ordered by a voice in a dream to seek a broken sword of legend, that may or may not be found in a place called Imladris. There would be some kind of council held and something would be revealed that would be the cause of doom for someone. And a halfling would appear, and that would be important for some reason.

Boromir sighed. He would not know for certain about any of this until he arrived in Imladris and the council was held. He had no doubt that it would all be made clear eventually. Prophetic dreams were like that; they had a way of coming true. He hoped that it would be to his advantage, that there would be something coming out of this council that would aid his father and his City in her battle against Sauron. Why else would they have been sent the dream? Why else...?

Enough hard thinking and interpreting dreams for one night, Boromir thought, as he rolled over onto his side. He had better get some sleep. He had a long walk ahead of him tomorrow, and for many tomorrows to come. He closed his eyes, and was asleep almost immediately. For what remained of the night he slept, and dreamed no dreams.