Lords of Gondor
Pippin's thoughts were in a whirl. He felt dazed, wonderstruck, and
could not decide whether to shout with joyous laughter or weep with
quiet relief -- or do both at once.
Gandalf had returned! In true Gandalf fashion, he had swept in and
turned Pippin's world upside down -- there had been no explanation of
where he had been, or how he had survived the fall into darkness in
Moria, but it did not matter. He was in the world again, and Pippin had
seen him, and heard him say "tom-fool of a Took" in a voice that was
stern and yet merry -- and Pippin was content. Somehow, he felt safer
knowing Gandalf was once more out and about, keeping folk from despair.
And, oh! Boromir! Boromir was alive! It hardly seemed possible he had
survived that fearful wounding at the hands of Saruman's Uruk-hai. Yet
Treebeard had told them it was so, and he had received word of the news
from Gandalf himself, when he had come to arrange for Huorns to help in
the battle that was then raging southwards.
Boromir alive! Sudden tears sprang to Pippin's eyes at the thought of
his friend safe and recovering from his wounds. He could scarcely
comprehend it, and wondered still if it might all be a dream. Would he
at any moment wake up to find himself once more bereft and
guilt-ridden, facing a world where Boromir was dead after all? No
Boromir, with his kind, noble smile and firm, friendly hand upon the
shoulder? No Boromir with his confident laugh and strong, reassuring
presence? And would Pippin open his eyes to discover that Gandalf was
gone and despair had returned?
Looking all about him at the dismal reality of Isengard, Pippin felt
the broken masonry under his feet, smelled the acrid stench of burnt
wood and stone, and heard the lap of the flood waters against tumbled
rock -- and he knew he was awake, and not dreaming.
The gloom around him could not dampen his joy. It was no dream! Gandalf
had truly returned, alive, from wherever he had been -- and Boromir had
been drawn back from the brink of death, and was healing from his
wounds. Why, even now he might be on his way back to his home in
Gondor, where -- surely, when these battles were won -- Pippin would
see him again one day. The thought of that reunion filled him with
Glancing up, Pippin saw the same dazed expression of wonder upon
Merry's face, and he grinned. Merry shook his head and grinned back at
"Can you believe the news?" Merry cried. "I can't! And yet it's true! Gandalf back, and Boromir, too!"
With a whoop, Merry tossed the pouch he was holding high into the air, and caught it again deftly with one hand.
"Come on, Pip!" he said happily."We've got work to do if we're going to
have things ready for when the Lord of the Fields of Rohan comes, as
Treebeard calls him. Strider will be there, too, no doubt, and the
others! Now that we've gathered the "Man-food" for feeding everyone,
let's get ourselves off to the gate, to watch for their coming."
"You be careful with that pipe-weed, now, Merry," laughed Pippin.
"Remember, I'm the one who found it, hidden there in that store-room,
and I won't take kindly to you tossing it in the water or down a crack
in the stone, simply because you're happy about Boromir being alive
after all, and old Gandalf coming back! Gandalf, I'll wager, will be
glad to have some of that weed when he's got time to sit and have a
smoke. Boromir never did take to it, as I recall. He called it a
'strange' habit, which he had no taste for developing. Can you imagine
"We'll save him some of this Longbottom leaf and get him to try it,"
replied Merry confidently. "We'll win him over yet, you'll see."
"I wonder if Boromir's any closer to reaching his home yet?" mused
Pippin wistfully, following Merry across the broken stones towards the
main gate of Isengard. "I hope he'll be safe! Will it be dangerous for
him, do you think, being wounded and all?"
"I don't know,"answered Merry seriously. "I suppose there might be some
dangers ahead for him, even in his own country. But he ought to be safe
enough, with his men there to guard him. I can't see as how Boromir
would worry about danger, anyway, even when he's wounded! Remember how
he used to tell us he was indestructible? I know it was a kind of a
joke to him, but I believe it!"
"I hope he truly is indestructible," exclaimed Pippin. "I can't wait to see him again, with my own eyes!"
Gazing out over the reed-choked waters of the Anduin, Boromir recalled
the words of Celeborn the Elven lord, spoken on the occasion of the
Company's departure from the Golden Wood:
"...the River casts its arms about the steep shores of the Tindrock,
and falls then with a great noise and smoke over the cataracts of
Rauros down into the Nindalf, the Wetwang as it is called in your
tongue. That is a wide region of sluggish fen where the stream becomes
tortuous and much divided. There the Entwash flows in by many mouths
from the Forest of Fangorn in the west..."
It was indeed difficult to navigate this part of the River, where the
great Anduin met the Mouths of Entwash and became a many-channeled
watercourse meandering its way through islands of long grass and sedge.
The fen was vast, spreading for many miles inland on both sides of the
River, and visibility was poor, as mist hugged the water and clung to
the tall grasses, waving and tossing in the breeze. Where the ground
was firm enough to support their roots, a few solitary trees grew, but
they were few and far between in this land of reed, rush, sedge and
The men steered the boats carefully through the marshy maze, avoiding
entanglement in the trailing grass and long roots, and keeping a sharp
eye out for changes in the treacherous current. In some places it was
swift and sudden, in spite of the narrowness of the stream, while at
other times, the main channel was as smooth as a pond, and the boats
were only carried forward by hard paddling. It was many miles yet
before the Anduin would widen and break free of the fen to become a
swift flowing river once more.
Yet in spite of the difficulty, they went swiftly enough, for they had
received good counsel on the dangers of the River from Halmir, and both
Henderch and Dirhavel were as skilled in finding a way forward on the
waters as they were at scouting a path upon land.
Dirhavel sat well forward in the first boat, watching for changes in
the current and obstructions in the water with one eye, and keeping the
other trained on the east bank, on the lookout for any hidden enemy.
Arthad sat behind, bow in hand, an arrow ready on the string. Grithnir
needed both hands for managing his oar, but his sword was drawn and
laid at his side, ready for use at sudden need.
Henderch was first in Boromir's boat, following behind the others with
two boat-lengths between them to avoid a collision, should the other
boat run into any difficulty. He, too, watched the eastern shore with a
keen and wary eye. Linhir sat behind Boromir and plied his oar; he had
no weapon other than his knife to hand, but it would be enough if there
was a battle at close quarters. He left the watching of the east bank
to the others, and concentrated on reading Boromir's pain from the set
of his shoulders or the bowing of his head. When he seemed to be too
weary and pained to sit comfortably, Linhir would call a halt, and they
would rest for several hours in safety on the western shore, until
Boromir once more felt ready to continue the journey.
Boromir begrudged the halts, but he knew they were necessary; he needed
the rest and the respite from sitting upright. He strove hard to keep
from feeling disgruntled and useless as he sat in the boat between
Henderch and Linhir; in his weakened state, he could not help with the
paddling of the boat, and he had no weapon with which to protect the
small company, should they come under attack. His sword was broken, and
even if he had borne a bow and a quiver of arrows, his shoulder wound
was not yet sufficiently healed to allow him to draw a bowstring. He
had only the stout staff given to him by Linhir, laid across his knees;
it would have to serve, if the need arose.
The second day of their journey on the River was passing in much the
same manner as the first -- long hours spent picking their way through
watery channels, walled in by tall rushes and rattling reeds. The air
was filled with the song of small birds, the creak of insects, the sigh
of wind in the grass and the faint murmur of water where the hidden
current sought the quickest way through the marsh. Boromir sat more
upright in his boat, then tried to relax and garner his strength,
though his senses sung to him keenly that danger lay hidden somewhere
among the tall rushes. He willed himself to sit still and watch the
shore slip by on either side, hopeful that they might pass the fens of
the Wetwang without mishap.
He shifted his position with care, wincing as he felt the stitches in
his shoulder pull slightly. The wound there had healed sufficiently
that it could be closed with a stitch or two, Aragorn's patch replaced
with a simple bandage. Boromir was pleased at this visible sign of
progress in his healing, but the new stitches were a nuisance.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and heard Linhir's voice in his ear.
"Are you in pain, Boromir?" Linhir asked softly. "It has been long since our last rest. Another would not be amiss."
Boromir squinted up at the westering sun, hazy and dim as it shone through the mists upon the River.
"Nay," he replied. "It is not so bad; I can go on a bit longer.
Besides, there is no solid place for stopping here. If I must rest, at
least I might choose a dry spot to do it in!"
Evening was deepening as Gandalf led the way out of the valley of
Isengard towards the place where King Théoden and his companions
would camp for the night. Pippin sat behind Aragorn on his horse and
wished heartily that he were in Merry's place, riding with Gandalf. He
desperately wanted another glimpse of that glass ball which had been
thrown from the tower, the ball he had saved from being lost in a deep
pool of water. So heavy, it had been, and so mysterious... Pippin
thought he had seen something moving within its depths, in the brief
moment when he had held it in his hands. He wanted another look, if he
could get it. Even if he could have just asked Gandalf about it, that
would have been something! But it was unlikely he would have answered
anyway; it was obviously a secret thing, which the Wizard wanted to
"Here! I'll take that, my lad!" was all he had said -- curtly, too,
without even a thank you! "I did not ask you to handle it!" But he had
had to, to save it from the water...
Pippin stirred restlessly.
I deserve another look, he thought fiercely. Even if only for a
moment... I want to see if there really was something there, inside...
Aragorn turned as he felt Pippin's restlessness.
"Only a bit longer, my friend," he said with a gentle smile. "Then we
will be stopping for the night and a bit of a rest. I expect you are
weary after your long and exciting day."
"Yes," replied Pippin, after a moment's hesitation. "I am tired. I
shall be glad to lie down, I suppose. It has been an exciting day,
hasn't it? I hope I can sleep!"
He cast another glance ahead at Merry's back, sitting behind Gandalf on the back of the tall white horse.
Perhaps when we stop for the night, Pippin thought. Perhaps there will be an opportunity then...
It was just turning to dusk, as the sun disappeared and the rising moon
was briefly obscured behind a bank of clouds, when Boromir at last gave
way to his weariness and called a halt for the night. As they turned
their boats out of the main channel of the stream towards the western
shore, a flock of resting birds flew up out of the grass behind them,
calling out in alarm.
Dirhavel shouted a warning, but it was too late -- his shout was
quickly answered by the sound of many twanging bowstrings and the
coarse, gutteral cries of Orcs. A rain of black arrows fell amongst the
boats, some splashing into the water beside them, others finding their
Boromir gave an inarticulate cry as he was struck from behind by a heavy blow.
He fell forward into darkness.