Lords of Gondor
From the window in the high chamber of the Hornburg, the Riders
assembling on the green below looked small and far away, yet Halbarad
could see them as clearly as if he stood in their midst. The time for
departure was nigh, yet Aragorn had not yet stirred or made any move to
descend to join them.
The two had come here alone together some hours ago, for Aragorn had
felt the need to take thought, after receiving messages from Rivendell
concerning what course his road might take. Lord Elrond had sent word
through his own sons, who traveled with the Dúnedain of the
North, and Halbarad himself bore a token and message from the Lady of
Rivendell. The Dúnedain had ridden hard from the North to bring
that word to Aragorn in Rohan; their coming in the dark of night had
brought him great joy, but also trouble of mind. For now he must choose
his road, and haste was upon him; but the choice could not be made in
Halbarad turned from the window, taking breath to speak to Aragorn of
the gathering of men for departure, but at the sight of his kinsman's
drawn and haggard face, he held his tongue. Aragorn's use of the
palantír to confront the Dark Lord himself and wrest control of
the Stone to his own purposes had been a hard, bitter struggle, but
Aragorn had had the mastery. Much he had learned of events in the South
and the East, of peril to Gondor unlooked-for, and the need for haste
to bring aid to Minas Tirith; it was that which now troubled him, in
addition to the weariness which passed only very slowly after his
battle with Sauron.
Let him be alone and quiet a little longer, thought Halbarad. There is yet time enough for that.
After a time, Aragorn stirred and sighed.
"Do the Riders gather, Halbarad?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, but it is early yet," answered Halbarad. "Rest you now a bit
longer, and gather your strength. I deem you saw much in the Stone to
ponder out, before you decide as to our road."
Aragorn nodded, and Halbarad followed his gaze to where the palantír now sat, wrapped in its covering cloth.
"Did you see aught of Boromir in the Stone?" Halbarad asked after a moment.
"No," replied Aragorn softly, his voice full of regret. "I sought him,
I confess, albeit briefly. I dared not take the time to seek him out at
length; there was much else of import to be seen and pondered, after
regaining mastery of the Stone. Yet it would have been a comfort to see
his face once more... yes, even though he be dead. It seems an age
since last we were together."
"For me, even longer!" exclaimed Halbarad. "Nigh on four months it has
been now, since we all traveled together from Rivendell, seeking in the
wilderness confirmation of the destruction of the Nazgûl before
the Ringbearer set out on his Quest."
Halbarad fell silent as he cast back in his memory to the short time he
had spent with the Man of Gondor. Strain and caution there had been
between them at first, but that had passed as they had learned to know
one another better; during that time, Halbarad had come to respect the
proud and valiant Boromir, as he watched friendship blossom between the
man and Aragorn.
"He will be greatly missed by the Dúnedain of both North and
South, if indeed he no longer lives," said Halbarad thoughtfully. "Do
you believe him to be dead, Aragorn?"
Aragorn's face was troubled as he considered the question.
"I know not what to think. Gandalf believes it quite possible that he
has not survived, from what the hobbit's vision in the Stone has
revealed. It may well be so -- and a great loss to us all, as you say!
Yet, now that I have mastered the Stone and seen for myself its use,
and how it reveals the images of events, it may also be that what
Pippin saw could hold several meanings... indeed, Gandalf agreed it
might be so. The Stone reveals that which is true, but how to interpret
it rightly is another matter."
Aragorn sighed heavily, and the sound of the sigh was loud in the utter stillness of the chamber.
"I have little hope," he continued, "that Boromir might still be alive
-- yet even a little hope remaining is enough. He has cheated death
Halbarad nodded. "Then I, too, shall hope that Boromir and I might meet
again one day -- perhaps even in battle, before the gates of his City.
For I deem that is where we go now, by whatever road you decide. Have
you made your choice as yet?"
"Not yet," answered Aragorn. "I would speak first with King
Théoden, before I finally choose. Are you with me, Halbarad,
whatever I decide?"
"Of course! Do you doubt it?"
"Nay," Aragorn smiled, and momentarily the weariness in his face was
banished. "I ask only so that I might hear the certainty of your
response and take comfort in it. Come then, let us go down, ere they
must send for us."
The task of caring for the dead was both sorrowful and satisfying --
sorrowful, because it marked the end of long friendships, of love and
mutual respect; satisfying, because it prolonged the final parting and
gave the living one last opportunity to honor friend and comrade.
"We shall go on foot from here," Boromir had announced, after careful
deliberation over the course of what remained of the night. "The river
passage is still dangerous for some miles yet, and the peril grows
before the greater safety of the isle of Cair Andros can be reached. I
will not risk losing any more of you to arrows out of the darkness! We
will leave the boats behind and proceed on foot southwards until we
meet the Great West Road. As for our fallen comrades --" Boromir sighed
heavily. "We shall lay them to rest here, in fashion befitting heroes
of Gondor fallen far from home. It is a pleasant enough place. It is
hard to leave them behind, but it would serve no good purpose to bear
them with us, for the way is difficult enough on foot, and with me as a
likely burden for you, if my weakness continues."
So two graves had been dug in the soft earth on a rise overlooking the
willow-lined stream which flowed towards the Anduin. The bodies of
Linhir and Dirhavel were moved with great care and tenderness to be
laid in the earth. Once the bodies were in place, the ritual of laying
them out in seemly fashion began in reverent and mournful silence, but
as their limbs were straightened, their hair combed, and their bodies
wrapped neatly in cloaks to cover their wounds, the men found
themselves recalling aloud some special memory they had of a brave deed
done by Dirhavel or a kind word spoken by Linhir. They laughed quietly
over remembered jokes that had been told around the fire, even as they
wept tears of regret that such times would now remain only in memory.
They were not ashamed of their tears or of their own fond smiles, nor
did they hurry their task, for to hurry was to dishonor their friends
who were gone and deny themselves a healing farewell.
When all was done to their satisfaction, Boromir chose a token from
each of the dead as a keepsake of remembrance. Since neither man had
any family remaining to whom such a token might be given, the tokens
would be kept by the one who had been closest to the fallen man in life.
To Henderch, Boromir gave the silver clasp from Dirhavel's cloak, which
was finely wrought with a design resembling a map. Henderch and
Dirhavel had been close friends, traveling many miles together as
scouts for the armies of Gondor. Henderch accepted the clasp gladly,
though not without tears.
Boromir hesitated over what to choose for himself as a remembrance of
his friend and counselor, Linhir, then reached for the packet of
needles that had been the tools of Linhir's craft.
"His knife is exceedingly fine," Boromir explained, "made especially
for him to serve as both tool and weapon; I have always admired it,
even as a lad. But no man should be without his chosen weapon, even in
death. I shall take that which recalls to me most clearly his deeds in
Grithnir stepped forward and, picking up the sword and sheath which lay at Dirhavel's breast, he held it out to Boromir.
"It is true that no man should be without his weapon," he said gravely.
"That holds true for the living, as well. I have vowed to be your sword
and shield until your own broken sword can be repaired, but Dirhavel no
longer has need of this weapon, and he will rest the easier knowing his
lord will bear it in his need."
"Nay, it is his; it should stay with him," objected Boromir firmly.
"He has his bow, lord," countered Henderch. "That was ever his weapon of choice. He will not miss the blade."
"Take the sword, I beg you," urged Grithnir. "I fear you will need it,
ere long. It is only a standard soldier's sword, one-handed and lighter
than your own that is broken -- but that might serve you well, until
your arm regains its full strength."
Boromir hesitated, but only for a moment.
"Very well," Boromir agreed, stretching out his hand for the sword. "No
doubt you are right in this. Perhaps I may even have the strength to
wield it by the time the need is upon me."
Still holding the sword to his breast, Boromir knelt, and with Grithnir
helping to support him, he leaned forward to kiss the brow of each of
the men, first Dirhavel, then Linhir. When he spoke, his voice was
gruff with suppressed emotion.
"Farewell, my brother! Farewell, my father! Rest easy; sleep in peace
until that day when we join you in that place where you have gone.
While we remain here among the living, you shall not be forgotten."
As he rose to his feet, Boromir motioned with his hand to Henderch and
Arthad, who stood ready to lay an upended boat over the top of each
grave, sinking the boats into the soil so that the bodies were sealed
"Farewell," said Boromir once more, before turning and walking slowly
away. His tears fell freely and he made no move to wipe them away. He
glanced back only once, and seeing how peaceful the grey boats appeared
in the soft morning light, he was comforted.