One Hundred and Ten Days

by Linaewen

Chapter 4

Boromir groaned and rolled onto his side. Sleep would not come. He had been tossing and turning all night, but he could not rest. What was wrong with him? Why did he feel so disturbed? He thought back over the day. Why, only a few hours ago he had ridden confidently through the gates of Edoras on his way to the next stge of his journey, and now he was fretting in his bed like a child afraid of a nightmare! He must have been more troubled than he originally thought by the old king and his illness. It was hard to put the fear out of his mind that had stabbed him so suddenly and mercilessly: fear for his father, fear for his City, fear for the allies of Gondor. But not fear for himself, at least, nor fear of the journey. He took comfort in that, and pushed the other fears away.

The king had listened respectfully enough to his news of Gondor and of the skirmishes on the borders and at Osgiliath. He was mystified by the dream and could offer no insight into its meaning. He had actually turned to his worm of a counselor and suggested he might be able to interpret it! That fine fellow had certainly been paying close enough attention to every word said, no doubt about that! He had drunk in every word, as if he were memorizing it. He had nothing to offer but a few excuses clad in ingratiating and flowery language.

Boromir gritted his teeth. Worm! A good name for him. He didn't even know the man and here he was thinking up names for him! But really...that man gave him the shivers. He was a good reader of men and their quality, and he sensed that this fellow was not trustworthy. He now regretted that he had been so forthright in his report to Theoden. Still, what could Grima do with the information, except to brag of his inside knowledge before other men and thus increase his own perceived importance? Boromir suspected that the king' s illness and his total reliance on the pale Grima was a bone of contention among many at Meduseld, but Theoden's subjects were too loyal to their king to speak out against him, no matter how much they disliked his chosen advisor and the way he ordered them about. Eomer refused to speak of it, but Boromir could see the evidence before his eyes, and he had no doubt he was interpreting it accurately.

Boromir sighed heavily and gave up the struggle. He might as well get up, there would be no sleep tonight. A poor way to begin a journey into the unknown, but there it was. A long look at his maps might take his mind off others' troubles. He had a decision to make about the road he would follow and now was as good a time as any to make it.

He wrapped himself in his cloak and lit several candles. Spreading his maps out on the table by the bed, he reviewed in his mind what he had learned from some of the more well-traveled men of Rohan. It was not very encouraging. After much discussion and reminiscing, the consensus among them was that yes, there was an ancient road that took you north, but it was now so decayed and overgrown that it had disappeared entirely, and was really no road at all. There were few landmarks to guide a traveler in the lonely wasteland, and fewer people. The men waxed eloquent in telling of ancient floods and disease that had decimated the population of those lands.

Boromir did not fear such a trek in the pathless wilderness, but he was beginning to feel a sense of urgency about the quest, that he should seek the shortest route possible north to regions where he might find the dwelling place of Elrond. The first part of the journey would be simple - follow the road to the Fords of Isen and across, through the Gap of Rohan by the skirts of the White Mountains and then...north.

Boromir paced the room, thinking, then returned to the maps on the table. Should he try to find what was left of the old road? It showed on his map, leading in a northwesterly direction. The town of Tharbad was marked as a place to ford the Gwathlo River. Yet would it not be better to try a more direct route? Imladris was said to be a northern dale, which implied a valley in some northern mountain range. It would be simple enough to follow the line of the Misty Mountains northward through Dunland and Eregion, called Hollin one of the maps Faramir had prepared. He might find more populated areas there where he could ask after Elrond and Imladris. His map showed no major obstacles or rivers to cross as far north as the River Loudwater. And the mountains on his right would serve as a guide to keep him heading in the right direction.

He tapped the map with his forefinger, then straightened. His decision was made; straight north after the Gap, along the western edge of the Misty Mountains. The way would be rough and pathless, but he was confident that the most direct route would prove to be the shortest.

He folded the maps with care and replaced them in their oiled pouch. Blowing out the candles he lay down again. Having made his decision and put away his fear, he was able to relax. A few hours of sleep before dawn would be sufficient to prepare him for his journey.

As he closed his eyes to rest, he smiled with a sudden thought. "Faramir, my brother," he said aloud into the darkness, "I trust your maps are accurate!"