Young Boromir

by Varda

Chapter 12: Son of the Steward

‘Boromir! Put your brother down!’

Finduilas sighed as Faramir’s delighted shouts drowned out her own soft voice. Boromir was for a moment a horse of war, bearing his small brother on his shoulders and charging a great rank of orcs, although to the everyday world they were just a pile of empty baskets ranged along the hallway.
‘You’ll fall and hurt him!’ she cried.

Boromir scattered the baskets with the tiny warrior on his back shouting encouragement, then carefully lowered Faramir to the ground. He smiled at Finduilas and when he had got his breath back he said;
‘Do not fear, Mother. I won’t fall, and I will never hurt Faramir….’

‘..never hurt Faramir…’

The words came back to Boromir now as he spurred Stormwing on down the long road across the fields of the Pelennor. Dánacht had to ask him to check his pace several times as they opened a wide gap between them and the main body of horsemen. But something sharper than a spur goaded Boromir on; the trap had been set for him, not Faramir, but it was his brother who had been caught. Gentle Faramir, his daydreaming little brother. How could he survive in the wilds? He had to find him; he had promised his mother Faramir would never be hurt.

‘You’re too strong for him, Boromir.’ The voice of Finduilas scolding him gently came back to him.
. ‘Remember he is just a child….’

It was hard for Boromir, powerful and active even as a boy, to remember others were weaker. He was generous as well as strong, and suffered remorse when he hurt someone less forceful than himself. And he knew Faramir worshipped him. But as they grew older it became clear the brothers were not alike….

 ‘Why do you train so hard?’ Faramir asked once when Boromir was cut over the eye by a splintered lance while practising.
‘I will be a leader one day’ said Boromir solemnly. ‘we both will. A leader has to be stronger than those he leads.’
‘But you will lead by right of the House of the Steward, not by force.’ Said Faramir. Boromir only laughed.
‘Go back to your books, Faramir’ he said ‘you know nothing of war….’

‘Look after your brother, Boromir….’ Said Finduilas sadly
‘Look after Faramir…’ Her voice faded into silence. Above a gown of russet velvet her face was a pale oval framed by dark auburn hair, her skin white, always white…..

The world was white, blindingly white, with a piercing blue sky above it. Faramir was jolted awake by a blow on the side of his head from a clawed fist and clutched desperately at the armour of the orc carrying him.
‘Put me down..’ he begged, his injured ankle burning and his hands without feeling in the bitter cold. To his relief, the creature suddenly flung him to the ground, and he sank into the cold, clean snow and closed his eyes, wishing he could shut out everything that was happening to him…..

The orcs had taken him with them on their forced retreat to the river. At first they tried to make him run, but he was unable to stand on his injured ankle, so they beat him. Faramir had never been beaten before. His father Denethor’s disapproval was more feared by the brothers than any lash, and no-one would dare lay a hand on the sons of the Steward. But now these loathsome creatures, the enemies of Gondor,  with their hot, stinking breath and fierce yellow eyes hit and clawed and kicked him until they realised he could not walk, then they simply picked him up and ran with him, dumping him for another orc to pick up when they tired, or just dragged him through the snow, never slackening their pace.

Faramir wept, more from shame than from his injuries, but after a while exhausted and numb with cold he drifted off into a daze, and only came fully awake again when a brilliant winter sun was striking off the fresh snow into his weary eyes.

It was almost a day since he had taken any food or drink so when the orc threw him to the ground he raked up handfuls of the crisp snow and stuffed them into his parched mouth. It tasted of bark and melted slowly, numbing his face with cold. The orcs were ignoring him for the moment, so he sat up and looked around.

They had reached a headland thrown out into the Anduin. On two sides frozen inlets stretched away, high thickets of reeds motionless in the ice, the distant peaks of the mountains of Gorgoroth clear as a knife edge in the sparkling light. The snowstorm had gone as quickly as it had come, leaving a smooth dazzling carpet of white over the forest floor and the surrounding hills. Faramir looked over at the orcs and fresh fear clutched his heart; there was a debate of some kind going on and they were gesturing in his direction. At last an orc stamped over through the snow to take hold of his arm and drag him in front of Giarsa.

In his long war with the West Sauron had learned to choose his captains with care. The rank and file orcs hardly mattered, but those who led them could mean the difference between victory and defeat. So it was that he maintained the Elves he had defiled, for they never yielded to weakness or cowardice, and although he was the great Betrayer, they never betrayed him. For without him where would they go?

Such a one was Giarsa, and now he heard the rising babble of frightened talk from the base-bred orcs with indifference, while he thought what he should do next.

Soon the blackcoats would find them; only night and the snowstorm had held them back. Now there was light and clear tracks through the snow for them to follow. He, Giarsa, could lead the orcs to safety along the shallows of the Anduin, screened by the reeds and willows. But he hesitated….when the little one was brought before him he studied him closely. This was no shepherd boy or drover; his tunic was of velvet embroidered with silver thread and he had the fair face and grey eyes of the high nobility of Gondor. A suspicion formed in Giarsa’s dark mind and he stepped up to Faramir, held by one of his orcs. The boy, striving to master his fear, looked up into his dark scarred face and amber eyes and then the orc said;
‘Who are you?’

Faramir was too surprised to reply. The orc used the Common Tongue, but an archaic dialect, one only heard now in courtly speech. The boy stared at
Giarsa who asked again, almost patiently;
‘Who are you? Tell me your name..’ Faramir felt the blood slowly drain out of his face and his heart thump painfully in his chest; the orc guessed who he was. What a disaster, if he realised he had the son of the Steward in his possession! The boy clenched his fists and stared bleakly at Giarsa and did not reply..

The orc stared back, turning various possibilities over in his mind. He could smell the boy’s fear. Why should he be so afraid of giving up his name? Giarsa knew, all the world knew, that the Steward of Gondor, the most powerful man in the West, had two sons. One was almost grown, a warrior. The other was a boy, of about the same age as this boy…..many ages spent in Sauron’s underworld had not dulled Giarsa’s perception. He said in a quiet, almost gentle voice;

‘Are you Faramir?’