Lords of Gondor
The beacon hill of Erelas was behind
them when the army of Rohan stopped at midday for a brief rest
and to partake of food for both man and horse. A tent for the
king and his guard was swiftly erected, and the commanders of
each éored now met together as they waited for the coming
of the son of Denethor and his men. Word had spread throughout
the ranks that Boromir of Gondor lived and would join them in
their ride to the stone city. He and his men were few in number,
but great in renown, even among the Rohirrim, and the riders saw
Boromir's arrival as a good omen at a time when fortune seemed
to be turning against them. King Théoden welcomed the men
of Gondor, and anything that cheered the king and encouraged him
was also an encouragement to the riders who followed him
The troops rested and ate where they halted, strung out along
the road and upon the open grassland northward. They remained
alert and poised ready to move on as soon as the signal was
given. Scouts had been sent ahead to keep watch for any enemy
passing along the road and to guide Boromir to the king.
"Can't we get any closer?" Merry complained, straining to see
through the gloom ahead. "I can't really see anything from here,
not even the king's tent. In fact, I can hardly see my hand in
front of my face, it's so dark, even though it's the middle of
the day now and time for nuncheon!"
"I am sorry," replied Dernhelm quietly. "It is not possible to
get any closer at this time. We must remain grouped with our
assigned éored, particularly now while we are stopped and
the darkness hinders our sight. It would be too easy to become
separated in this gloom. The signal to move forward could come
at any time, and we must be ready to set out in an orderly
fashion." He looked at Merry with compassion and laid a
comforting hand on the halfling's shoulder. "I know you are
eager to see your friend once more, but you will have to trust
Elfhelm to get word to him that you are here and that you await
him. He will not fail you! He will surely speak to Boromir, and
the man of Gondor will swiftly seek you out as soon as he knows
you are here."
Merry sighed heavily and looked morosely at the piece of bread
in his hand. "I know. I'm sorry for being so impatient,
Dernhelm. It's just that I wanted to see Boromir come if I
could, and see his meeting with the king. But I guess I can't
have that, so there's no point in wishing otherwise! I'll try to
stay calm and wait quietly, and be ready to ride again when it's
time. Oh, I do hope that the marshal is able to get word to
Boromir soon. I can't wait to see the look on his face when he
sees me up close!"
Even as Boromir dismounted before Théoden's tent, the
king emerged and strode forward to embrace him.
"Well met, Boromir son of Denethor!" Théoden exclaimed,
holding Boromir at arm's length and looking him up and down as
if to reassure himself of Boromir's good health. "We have heard
many a tale of your struggles upon your journey, and had thought
you lost to us forever. I was exceedingly glad to learn that the
news of your loss was in error. To see you alive and standing
before me gives my old heart renewed hope!"
"Would that all such news of death and loss could be overturned
as untrue!" Boromir replied, bowing over the king's hand and
kissing it reverently. "I was greatly saddened to learn of your
own bereavement, my lord. Eadric of the Rohirrim scouts told me
of the slaying of your son Théodred at the Fords of Isen
-- I grieve the loss of one who was my friend and a strong ally
of Gondor and your only heir. I did not doubt Eadric's word of
that loss, but to not see Théodred here at your side as
you ride to war is like hearing the news of his death for the
first time. It is a blow to both our peoples and I mourn with
you, King Théoden."
"I thank you for these words from your heart and for the tears I
see upon your face as you speak them," Théoden answered
with a sad smile. "It is a great loss indeed to Rohan and to my
family. Éomer is my heir now, and he rides with me in the
place of my son. Our grief over Théodred's absence is
keen, but it serves this good purpose -- to sharpen our desire
to see justice done and to avenge our son and brother in
Boromir straightened and his face set resolutely. "May I ride
with you and join in that battle, my lord?"
"You may indeed, my son! You are most welcome, and I shall be
much honored to have the son of Gondor at my side as I ride in
aid to his people!" Théoden made to return to his tent.
"We are just finishing our midday meal, and will ride out soon.
Have you eaten as yet? Will you and your men come and break
bread with me before we ride together?"
"I am honored!" Boromir agreed. "I will gladly share
Théoden's table, and hear what news he has to tell me of
Éomer stepped forward then and greeted Boromir with a
firm embrace and a stout slap on his shoulder.
"It is good to see you again, as well, Éomer!" Boromir
laughed, returning the embrace. "It has been long days and many
miles between us since last we met upon the grassy plains of
"I see you are once more united with the steed who bore you away
upon that long journey and then left you to return to us,"
"Indeed! I am happy to be reunited with Surefoot; he is all you
claimed him to be when you offered him to me -- loyal and
faithful, whose feet always find the path. I am content that he
found his way back to safety, though my road was long and slow
after we parted."
As Boromir gave Surefoot an affectionate pat, he looked about
him as if seeking something or someone. Éomer was quick
"Do you seek the other companions who were with you upon your
journey?" he questioned. "Yes, we know of them, Boromir. My
éored met with Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas upon the plains
as they sought your lost companions, and they joined with us to
fight at Helm's Deep. They were with us until just recently, but
they have gone their way again, each to his own doom or
Boromir's face fell, as he tried unsuccessfully to hide his
disappointment. "What of the halflings?" he asked urgently. "Did
they find them? Were they rescued?"
"They were indeed, though not by your friends," Éomer
replied. "That is a long tale, of which I know but a small part.
But I can tell you what I know while we take food together."
"I will be glad to hear it!" Boromir cried, forgetting his
dismay at not seeing Aragorn. "Where are they now? Did they ride
Boromir was surprised to see Éomer's face darken, and
wondered at the change. But Éomer only shook his head in
"No, they did not take Aragorn's road," he said gravely. "One of
the small ones swore service to my lord the King, and remained
behind in Edoras in the care of my sister, while the other rode
with Gandalf to Mundberg some four days ago."
Boromir gasped and struggled to speak, but he was stunned and
totally at a loss for words. "Gandalf!" he stammered at last.
"Gandalf? But... how is this possible? I saw him fall in
Moria... How can he be alive?"
Éomer laughed and clapped Boromir on the shoulder once
more. "You traveled with a wizard and learned nothing of his
ways or his magic? Yes, he lives and he returns more powerful
than ever before. Gandalf the White they call him now. But there
is much you do not know, I see. Come and eat now, my friend, and
you will hear an amazing tale of lost ones who are found, of
fabled creatures in children's songs walking about on the green
earth, and of the dead who return to life and sway the counsels
of kings. I would hear as well the tale of your own return from
death, for though we first heard from Aragorn that you had
survived your dealings with Saruman's Uruk-hai, news later
received seemed to indicate you were once more lost to us, to
our great woe and detriment."
Boromir heaved a sigh and shook his head in wonderment. "I have
had an adventure or two since then," Boromir affirmed, a smile
growing on his face. "I will tell you the tale, and gladly hear
yours in return! Let me just see our horses cared for and we
will join you and the king directly."
Boromir turned to speak to Grithnir and the others, but came
face to face with the marshal Elfhelm who had been waiting
quietly to speak with him.
"Elfhelm, is it not?" Boromir queried. "I remember you; you have
come to Minas Tirith a number of times in the past on business
"I am pleased you remember not only my face but my name!"
Elfhelm exclaimed. "Yes, I am he, and I am honored to be able to
greet you once again."
Taking Boromir's arm, Elfhelm drew him a short distance away
from the group. "My lord Boromir, if you please, I will see that
your horses are watered and fed for the next leg of the journey.
But first, if I might have a brief private word with you? I bear
a message that I think you will want to hear...."
Horns were blown to signal the end of resting and the Rohirrim
set forth once again upon the road to Minas Tirith. Merry waited
beside Dernhelm's tall horse, wondering where the rider had
gone. Just as he began to worry that he had lost the rider and
would be somehow left behind, Dernhelm appeared out of the gloom
and came forward to where Merry stood.
"Were you afraid I had left you?" Dernhelm asked. "Have no fear,
you shall go with me, to the bitter end if need be. We need
every valiant warrior for this fight, no matter his size."
Lifting him, Dernhelm set the halfling securely upon the horse
and mounted behind him.
"I have just come from Elfhelm," Dernhelm said into Merry's ear.
"I have news for you from him, and a message."
Merry sat up straighter and turned eagerly towards Dernhelm.
"Boromir of Gondor has been told of your presence with us, and
he sends word to you that he will seek you out when we make camp
for the night. Only a few hours more and he will be with you, as
you wished. And he also says this, according to Elfhelm: 'Tell Merry to stay out of trouble
and try not to get lost before our meeting, or I shall be very
unhappy with him!'. It is a strange response from one
who professes to be a close friend, but that is what he said."
"It's not so strange a response," Merry laughed happily. "That's
just the kind of thing Boromir would say, even if we'd been
apart for a year! Pippin and I have caused no end of trouble to
Boromir -- at least, that's what he's always telling us. But
he'd not have it any other way, I bet. Him growling at me about
staying out of trouble is his way of saying he's glad I'm alive
and that he can't wait to see me. I expect I'll get a cuff to
the head into the bargain, as well, but I'll take it! His hand
is gentle to me and his growling has nothing but love in it!"
"I see," said Dernhelm softly. "A true friend, indeed."
"He is that, for sure," Merry answered.
"Tighten your grip now," Dernhelm cautioned as he urged his
horse into a faster pace. "We will be riding hard until evening.
This could be our last night camp before we approach the walls
of Mundberg and see battle before the Great Gate."