One Hundred and Ten Days

by Linaewen

Chapter 8

Within a matter of days the weather improved. Autumn was approaching, but the air was still warm and the sun was hot on Boromir's face as he rode west. He continued to search along the riverbank as he rode, but there was no place to cross. The river he was following flowed swift and straight until he passed out of the foothills of the Misty Mountains and into the lowlands of northern Dunland. The river at that point dropped over a series of falls and lost itself quickly in a marshy land of reeds and willows.

As he skirted the edge of the fen, he could see on his right the now many-channeled river meandering its way through the long grass and sedges. The sound of birds and insects filled the air and swans could be seen at times out in the middle of the waterway. Boromir halted under a low-hanging willow tree and dismounted. Here the watercourse cut through the reeds and came close to a grassy bank that went down to the water's edge. This would be a pleasant place to camp for awhile. He needed a rest and time to check his map and ponder his route. He realized he would have to go around this marsh, which would make his journey that much longer. He was running short of food, and this would be a good place to replenish his supplies, though it would take time. He would have to catch his own food and prepare it himself.

Though he was a capable hunter, he had no bow or quiver, and hunting down waterfowl with a sword did not seem like a good use of his time or energy. He would have to set a snare or two with the strong twine he had brought in his pack. He also had line and hooks, so fishing could be managed. Here was all he would need: a wide expanse of water teeming with birds and fish, wild rice and other edible grasses, mud for making a makeshift oven for smoking the meat, and willow trees for the wood. His flint and tinder were stored well down in his pack and were still dry in spite of the drenching he had been subjected to earlier in his travels. There was plenty of grass on the bank and at the water's edge for Surefoot to eat, and the willows would give good shelter at night.

He unsaddled Surefoot and tethered him where he would have shelter, grass and access to water. Then he set about getting organized for the task ahead.

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Boromir sat on the edge of the bank, willow-pole in hand, fishing. It was good to relax for a bit, he had been working hard the last few days. He had obtained drinkable water by digging a hole near the water's edge and collecting the water that seeped through the mud into the hole. He had gathered wild rice and other ripe grasses. He had managed to snare a number of small waterfowl that he had dressed and was now smoking in the oven he had made from mud and reeds. He had a small pile of fish at his side, some of which he would prepare for smoking; the others would serve for his meals while he waited out the smoking process.

He was thankful for the survival training he had received in his younger days from the men in the Tower Guard who had been assigned to him and Faramir as teachers. It was certainly proving useful on this journey! Boromir had been eager to learn everything he could that would fit him to be a good soldier and a good leader. Faramir, five years the younger, was eager to do everything his older brother did. He had been as avid a pupil as Boromir, in spite of the belief held by some that he was less capable because he preferred reading and study to fighting. Whenever they could get leave from their father, they had practiced their training together in the forests of Ithilien. That had been a good time, before the shadow of Mordor had lengthened to darken their land and their father's days.

Boromir sighed. He was still troubled by a vague sense of worry about his father, and about the course of the war. He trusted Faramir to lead in his absence, but it was a heavy duty for one man to bear, and he knew his father would drive Faramir hard. Denethor was one of those who doubted Faramir's ability. Boromir could not understand it; he loved his brother and knew him to be eminently capable. He had ever been ready to defend his brother against any who thought him weak and had tried to include him in the shared glory of leading the men of Minas Tirith, but Denethor still seemed to love Faramir the less.

His thoughts were interrupted by a tug on the line. Another fish had taken the bait...that would be enough for now. He rose, and gathering the fish he had caught, moved downwind from his camp. As he gutted and boned the fish, he mentally reviewed the next part of his journey. Though his maps did not show the river he had been following, they did show a marshy area near the confluence of the Rivers Hoarwell and Greyflood east of Tharbad. That must be where he was now. If he circled the fens south and west he would eventually come upon the ruins of the old road that would bring him to the fords at Tharbad. He would be able to cross there and then head northeast, back towards the mountains. He knew little about that crossing place, but he hoped that it would not be too difficult. He was eager now to get on with the journey. The sooner he found this Elrond in his home of Imladris and got his advice about the dream, the sooner he could get back to his father, to his brother, and to his City.