by Agape4Rivendell

Chapter One – Awakening

Boromir lay still, willing his senses to return. He heard sounds, remembered sounds, but his mind felt addled. He could not understand what he was hearing. He sucked in a bit of air through his nose, willing his body to remain still, in case the enemy lurked about. His eyelids, heavy and protesting against his will, lifted. Sky, so blue it hurt, filled him with a giggling sense of joy. He could not remember the last time he felt joy. Tears spilled.

“I see you wake. Glad am I that you return to us. I feared you lost.”

Boromir turned towards the mellifluous voice. “Clearly you are an Elf, for I have only heard such beautiful tones when in the lands of Elves.”

“Are not the ears enough to convince you?”

The Elf that sat next to him smiled and Boromir’s heart lifted further. “Can you tell me where I am?”

“Do you know the name, Edhellond?”

“I do. But it has long been bereft of Elves, though my brother once swore he saw one of your kind here twenty or more years ago.”

“It was I and well I remember Faramir. He is well?”

“I know not.” Boromir felt the tug of despair fight against his new-found joy. “I have not seen him for nigh unto a year.”

“Here. Take a sip of this. Your mind wanders yet.”

“Is that what you call this sense of discomfiture? I call it addled.” He laughed. Surprise filled him. The laughter came from deep within. It felt good. “Cardinals!”

“I do not understand,” the Elf said.

“The sound. I did not recognize it, at first. I hear cardinals.”

“They love this valley. We are beset by them. If you would like…” The Elf stood and reached into his tunic. He pulled out a leaf-wrapped package. Opening it, he crumbled the enclosed biscuit and strew the bits before him.

Within a heartbeat, the glade was filled with the reddest cardinals Boromir had ever seen. They swooped upon the crumbs with alacrity. Boromir’s smile broadened. “Thank you.”

His whispered words were heard and acknowledged with a bare bob of the Elf’s head.

The crumbs, eaten quickly, disappeared. The cardinals flew off, but their singing remained as they perched in the nearby trees.

Boromir leaned back in the cot and sighed. After a moment, his brow furrowed. “Am I dead? I remember arrows and Orcs -- and friends bidding me farewell.”

“You are not dead, though I cannot heal your wounds. My scouts found you at the mouth of the Great River. They brought you here for you were in a boat of Elvish-craft. Only an Elf-friend would be sent on his last journey in such a craft.”

“My last journey. So I am to die, here in Edhellond.”

“I pray not, Boromir. There is some magic here in this valley. Only the Valar know how or why. Those who come here do not die. However,” the Elf paused, “you cannot leave.”

“You would hold me against my will?”

“Nay. You would die if you passed through the mists that lead to the lands of mortal men.”

Boromir closed his eyes, contemplating the Elf’s words. “Can mortal men enter here and leave? If they suffer not from deadly wounds?”

“You think of your brother? Hoping you might see him again?”

“I do. Have you rummaged in my mind?”

The Elf’s delightful laugh filled the glade. “You are transparent when it comes to your thoughts. They spill from your mind and I force myself not to hear.”

Grinning as his face reddened, Boromir tried to sit up. Pain lanced out from his chest. His breath hitched. “Still wounded, though happy. It is a position I have not been in before.”

“The time you saved Faramir from death at the Great River. You felt it then.” The Elf broke off a bit of grass and chewed on it.

“How do you know these things?”

“As I said, your thoughts spill from your mind, though you would stay them.”

“I care not if my love for my brother shines forth. He is dear to me and my heart saddens at the thought of never seeing him again.”

“You will. Mortal men come and go here. It is only because you are mortally wounded that you cannot leave. I cannot send for Faramir at this time, Boromir. The fight for Middle-earth continues though you are no longer a part of it.”

“Aragorn! Merry! Pippin!” Boromir’s breath hitched. “The Ring. Does Frodo yet carry the Ring?”

“He does. I sense he draws near to his destiny.”

“Then I am glad. Frodo yet lives and that is a good thing. I…” Boromir blushed. “I tried to take It from him. I fear I might have killed him to acquire It.”

“Others have done worse.” The Elf placed a hand on Boromir’s arm. “A pawn does not know he is a pawn. You did what Frodo could not do. Decide his path for him.”

“The poor little thing. He was so frightened. I can see his eyes as I attacked.” Boromir shivered. “I cannot soon forget my actions, pawn though I may have been. But pawn to whom – the One we do not name or the Valar?”

“Does it matter? Your part in that story is completed. Rest a little, Boromir, and then join me for supper.”

Boromir could not disobey such a gentle order. His eyes closed of their own volition, but his ears listened to the song of cardinals.