Young Boromir

by Varda

Chapter 10: The Fox Hunt

Only an hour before Boromir had walked through the city with Faramir at his
side, the winter sun bright on the crowded streets. Now he flew down those
same streets with panic in his heart, Faramir’s absence an ache in his side.
Behind him the Captain of the Rangers kept pace easily with his long
strides. People scrambled to give them ground, whispering darkly to each
other, for word had already gone round the town that Faramir was missing…

The day was declining to afternoon and the sun was covered by great
grey-yellow clouds blown on a keening North wind and promising snow. Dánacht
looked up with a frown as they finally reached the stables and ran to claim
their horses..…

The cobbled yard was full of armed men and saddled warhorses. The animals
took the scent of alarm from the men and fought the grooms and there was
shouting and confusion. Boromir waded through the throng straight to where a
groom held his second horse, Sionta, ready. Brought from the South where the
 Haradrim bred tough grey horses that could run like the wind, Stormwing was
not as strongly built as Tréan but faster and more agile, and capable of
running all day and night.

Most of the Rangers were out of the city, fighting in Ithilien or beyond
Cair Andros but all those for whom horses could be found had joined the
search party. As Boromir went to mount Sionta he glanced round at the men
and saw two Ranger cadets among the warriors. At once some misgiving struck
him and he paused, his foot in the stirrup. He gave his reins back to an
attendant and went to Dánacht and asked in a low voice; ‘Captain, why are
those cadets among the searchers?’
Dánacht looked round and replied;
‘They asked to be among the search party, and we need warriors who can ride
and handle arms. They are young but proven in battle….’

Boromir did not reply and Dánacht moved away to give orders to depart from
the city. Despite his anxiety for his brother Boromir felt some
half-recognised doubt worrying at his mind. He turned away towards his horse
then it came back to him with sudden clarity; they were Cianda’s friends,
they had stood by during the fight when he had nearly killed the cadet….

Boromir strode over to Gallán and Siamsa and took hold of the tall cadet’s
arm with such force that he spun him round. In a low voice he said;
‘What are you doing here?’
Gallán looked coolly at him and answered;
‘Helping to find your brother, Lord’ the last word held a hint of contempt.
But Boromir was in no mood to be taunted. He pushed the taller boy back
roughly against the stone wall of the stable. The other Rangers were too
busy with preparations to notice, but Boromir held the collar of Gallán’s
tunic tightly, twisting it until it began to choke him. He tried to push
Boromir away but he was too strong for him, and his face was white with
fury.
‘Tell me why you are here, and don’t lie! It is not for Faramir’s sake, is
it?’

‘This is all our fault’ said Siamsa behind him. Boromir released Gallán and
turned to face him. The strange green eyes were fixed on Boromir, watching
his reaction.
‘We spooked the horse, we put thorns under the saddle.’ Boromir took a step
towards him with murder in his face but Siamsa drew a dagger and placed the
tip against Boromir’s chest. He could feel the sharp point through the mail.
He stood still and Siamsa went on;
‘We meant no harm to your brother, he is beloved by all of us. It was you,
Boromir, we sought to hurt. To avenge the harm you did to Cianda…’ Boromir
drew short angry breaths, waiting. Siamsa lowered the dagger and went on;
‘We want to make some amends, to help find Faramir, if he is still alive.
When we come back, if we come back, you can settle your score with us in
whatever way you choose. You can have your father punish or banish us. But
first…’ and he sheathed the dagger and held out his hands palm upward in a
conciliatory gesture;
‘..let us find Faramir’

Boromir looked from one to the other, struggling to master his fury. The
tall dark Ranger watched him without speaking and they both looked ashamed.
Boromir found it suddenly hard to breathe as he realised that he could do
nothing here without further harming Faramir’s chances of survival. At last,
as the first scouts spurred out through the gate and a single snowflake
wafted down into the yard, Boromir said to the cadets in a low hoarse voice.
‘Very well, I will do nothing now…before anything let us find Faramir…’

But to himself Boromir silently vowed; ‘..and when we get back to Minas
Tirith I will slay you both…’

With nightfall the orcs felt renewed strength and bounded forward along the
wooded braes by the river seeking to escape from the guarded land around the
Pelennor. They had wrought all the havoc they could and now sought to
retreat the way they had come, along the waterside, their tracks hidden in
the marshy land and shallow pools. They were orcs of Mordor, bearing the Red
Eye tattooed upon their foreheads and inlaid on their round black hide
bucklers. Oblivious of the biting cold they scoured the forest as they ran,
their flat snouts raised to catch the scent of any unwary traveller astray
in their path. And so it was their leader, Giarsa, named the Wall on account
of his broad shoulders and massive arms, detected on the still air the smell
of Faramir’s blood and his fear.

Grunting to the others, Giarsa set off at a swift run, pausing often to look
about the darkening forest. The blackcoats, as the orcs called the Rangers
with their dark grey-green cloaks, were cunning and used many strategems to
trap orcs in these woods. Giarsa carried a sword, not an orc scimitar. He
had taken it as a trophy from a slain warrior of Gondor and now bore it in
mockery of the nobility of the city he waged war to destroy. He inclined his
head; there it was again, faint on the still frozen air, but definitely the
scent of man…he raised his hand to his troop and they moved forward through
the trees, creeping along at first then gaining speed then sweeping through
the leaves like some dark pack of fell hounds. And as they poured down a
leafy slope, their night vision picked out Faramir leaning against the tree
and with a wild yell they leaped the rocks and fallen tree trunks to seize
and kill him.

The first orc in the pack received a bang on the snout from the root Faramir
was holding but the next gripped him by the throat and another swung his
scimitar to cut off his head. But just then Faramir’s wounded leg gave way
and he slid down the tree into a heap at the base. The sword whistled over
his head and dug into the bark and at that moment Giarsa coming up behind
got a clear look at the young warrior. He was astonished to see what he knew
at once from Faramir’s clothing was one of the well-born of Gondor, perhaps
a prince…he barked at the others.
‘Back, back! Don’t kill him….’

Lying on the leaf-covered ground, his heart pounding and every moment
expecting the cold edge of the orc’s sword to be drawn across his throat,
Faramir could only look up into the fierce yellow eyes and wish himself far
away, back in the safety of Minas Tirith. But Giarsa put his iron shod foot
on the boy’s chest to press him against the ground and proceeded to examine
him closely, sniffing as he went, his hot foul breath almost choking
Faramir. At first Giarsa feared a trap, but then he remembered that the
Blackcoats never baited their traps with their own young…this one must have
got lost somehow, perhaps out hunting….

Giarsa frowned; if he killed the little one here the blackcoats would find
the body and pursue them for revenge. Far better to take him with them to
prevent the blackcoats shooting at them with arrows. When they reached the
river they could kill him and make their escape….