One Hundred and Ten Days

by Linaewen

Chapter 7

The good weather lasted only a few more days, and then the rain began. It started slowly, with overcast skies and intermittent showers, but by the end of another week, the rain was coming down in torrents. There was no getting away from the soaking rain and no getting dry. During the first torrential storms, when visibility was so poor that he couldn't even see his hand before his face because of the downpour, Boromir was forced to take what shelter he could find and wait the storms out. He would have braved a pack of fierce Dunlendings to find shelter in one of their huts, but northern Dunland was uninhabited, and he had to seek shelter under the canopy of trees that grew close enough together to block the wind and some of the rain from overhead. He suffered from the cold dampness that chilled him to the bone, and his sodden cloak did little to warm him. Surefoot stood with him under the trees, patient but forlorn, his head down and shivering. It was a dull, miserable time.

Eventually the downpour abated to a light but steady rainfall. Boromir, weary of crouching in the mud under the dripping trees, set out again. There was no reason not to go on, he could get no wetter than he already was, and at least now he could see where he was going. He was trusting Surefoot to live up to his name in finding a way over the slippery hills. The going was slow, for the grass was treacherously wet and muddy. The mountains to his right were little more than a dark curtain in the rainy gloom, but they served to show him that he was still heading north.

He had been going on for days when he unexpectedly came to a river that cut across his path. Boromir pulled back on the reins and sat staring at the rushing water before him, dismayed. He had no need to look at his maps to know that this river was not on any map that Faramir had given him. He pushed back his dripping hair and gazed intently at the river through the misty rain. His heart sank; this was a major river, by the look of it...fairly wide, and quite deep. He looked upstream; the river came from the mountains and was rushing and churning in its channel, fed by the rains on the heights. Boromir realized that he had been hearing the roaring of the river for some time but had paid little attention to it. The unceasing downpour had dulled his senses so that he had not been able to differentiate the noise of the river from the noise of the wind and rain. There was no sign of a fording place to the right or to the left. Boromir clenched his teeth to keep from cursing out loud. He would not be able to cross this river, it was too dangerous. He would be swept away if he tried it. Boromir was a fearless and daring man, but he was not a fool; he knew he would have to find another way, or turn back.

Turning back was out of the question, so he would have to find another way. The only course left to him was to follow the river westwards in the hopes of finding a crossable ford. He wiped the rain out of his eyes and gazed to the west. He could see little in the grey distance, but the river flowed swift and sure into the west and it would be easy enough to follow. He dared not get out his maps in this wet weather, but he remembered them well enough. Though this river did not show on his map he felt certain that it would eventually flow into the River Greyflood. There was a crossing at the old town of Tharbad; that would have been his way if he had taken the old North-South Road out of the Gap. If necessary he could go as far west as Tharbad and cross there. Boromir grimaced with irritation. All that time wasted! He should have gone that way in the first place! He had trusted too much to the maps his brother had given him.

He stopped that thought before it could develop any further. No, it was no fault of Faramir's that the maps were inaccurate. He had done his best. As always, the thought of Faramir comforted Boromir. He even smiled a little as he remembered the hours Faramir had spent piecing together fragments of old travelogues and drawings of journeys taken, comparing them to the maps he had been able to locate in the libraries. Few had come this way before, and if they had, they had neglected to make note of this very important landmark. With the smile, Boromir's mood lightened. No doubt the elves and other inhabitants of the North knew all about this river and the ford for crossing it, wherever it was! And no doubt there was a map somewhere in the depths of the archives of Minas Tirith, showing this river's name and proper placement, so well hidden that not even Faramir could find it! Well, he would see to it that all men of Gondor would know of this river in the future. As soon as he could he would mark it out on the copy of his map. Though it was a setback and a disappointment, he had no doubt that he and Faramir would laugh about it together someday.

With a sigh, Boromir turned his horse's head to the west and nudged him forward. Best to get on with it. Perhaps this infernal rain would stop soon and he would finally see some drier weather. As if in answer to this hopeful thought, the clouds drew back a bit and a glimmer of pale light shone out for a moment. It was promise enough for Boromir. In spite of the slippery slope, he urged Surefoot to a gallop. "Come, Surefoot!" he called aloud. "Let us ride into the west in search of the sun!"