Young Boromir

by Varda

Chapter 17: 
Death of a Ranger

Just at that moment a great bank of dark snowclouds, as if in league with Sauron, obscured the clear sky and the sunshine failed. As the light dimmed the orcs regained their strength and courage and their ragged inaccurate fire became deadly. Boromir, still far behind Galán, felt the black darts zip past his heard, and saw several strike the Ranger galloping ahead. Two broke on the horse’s breastplate and one scored the beast’s neck and then finally one hit Galán, piercing his chain mail to bury itself in his chest.

‘No!’ cried Boromir in dismay and urged his horse on.
But he was too far away and helpless to aid Galán. The Ranger fell forward onto the neck of his startled mount and the orcs with a fierce yell of triumph rushed forward, striking at the horse and causing it to rear. Galán was pitched onto the ground and his sword broke under him. He pulled out his dagger and scrambled to the shelter of the trunk of a willow tree and the first orc who attacked him discovered too late that he was as yet only wounded, for he buried the long blade in the creature’s throat. But almost at once the others fell on the Ranger with screams like those of hunting beasts and although Boromir spurred Stormwing desperately on he could not reach Galán in time and saw with horror the Ranger fall under the scimitars and pikes of the orcs…

The wild cries carried through the trees to where their leader stood holding Faramir. Giarsa knew well the sound of orcs at the kill, it was what they were bred for. But he had been bred for another life, and now he recalled it, despite the pain it cost him. He looked down at the long black blade of Mordor in his hand, then into the grey eyes of the prince of Gondor. With a sigh he placed the knife between Faramir’s bonds and pulled sharply. The black cords fell away, and blood from a nick in the boy’s wrist ran onto the dark steel. Faramir stifled a cry and looking up saw Giarsa’s scarred weatherbeaten features twist into a bitter smile.

‘Tell me the truth now, Faramir…’ he said in a voice almost pleasant. ‘…can you swim?’
‘Swim?’ stammered the frightened boy. ‘…why… yes.’
‘Good!’ said Giarsa briskly. ‘then swim……’
And he took hold of Faramir by his collar and belt and strode to the edge of, the cliff. Realising at last what the orc intended to do, Faramir clutched the creature’s armour and began to struggle. Giarsa said to him in a language not of Gondor, more like Elvish;
‘Swim now, Faramir, the one Sauron cannot touch. Swim for your life, and for your people….’

And with his great strength he easily hoisted the lightly built youngster almost to his shoulder and with a great swing he flung him far out, far enough to clear the thickets and slopes, far enough to plunge Faramir into the water of the fast flowing Anduin.
‘Swim for your soul’ said Giarsa to himself, then turned to stride back to the trees where his orcs were engaged in battle…

Orcs fear horses, for they are creatures of the sun, and orcs are children of the night. When the main body of Rangers appeared on the crest of the hill they loosed some stray shots at the horsemen then trusted to their own speed and agility and fled along the thickly wooded slopes towards the river. Boromir, enraged, pursued them but the thickly entwined branches of the willows forced him to stop and he turned and jumped from the saddle and ran to where Galán lay in the snow.

Even with no leechcraft Boromir could see the young Ranger was dying. A black-fletched arrow had pierced his chest above his heart and the links of the chainmail were stained with bright blood. Boromir put his arm under his head and raised him up gently but he could see the boy’s face was grey and he took quick gasping breaths but breathed out only blood. Boromir rolled up a corner of his cloak and pressed it on the wound to stay the bleeding and Galán opened his eyes and looked at Boromir, not seeming to recognise him at first but then he raised a hand and feebly grasped the prince’s tunic. In a voice no more than a whisper he said;
‘I am sorry…’

Galán’s grip loosened and his hand dropped away. Boromir felt a shiver run through the young man’s body, and the choking breaths ceased. The prince took the cold hand in his own then laid Galán down gently on the snow. He kissed the white forehead and bid the young Ranger’s departing spirit a silent farewell. Then he brushed away his tears with his sleeve and murmured.
‘I am sorry too….’

Boromir knelt for a long time beside the dead boy, in his grief forgetting where he was. Then he became aware of a sudden silence, even the galloping hooves of the Rangers’ horses as they pursued the orcs had died away. And in the silence a sound of soft footfalls in trampled snow came to Boromir’s ears and he looked up.

At once he pushed himself away from Galán’s body and scrambled to his feet; an orc was walking towards him steadily through the trees. No ordinary orc, but tall and broad and clad in chain mail that shone with brass gilding and the ancient devices of Gondor. In his armoured fist he carried a broadsword not of orcish but of Numenorean manufacture. But more terrifying even than his size and finely-wrought arms was his face, lit by amber eyes shining with malevolent intelligence.

He advanced upon Boromir who realised that he was alone; by chance or his enemy’s design the Rangers were far beyond his call. The creature read Boromir’s glance and a fierce smile crossed his dark face. In his ancient dialect he said;
‘Do not look for help, son of the Steward. Your Rangers have left you alone… ’
He came to a halt before Boromir who gripped his own sword tightly. The creature nodded with something like resignation and the smile vanished. He said quietly;
‘Prepare to die, Boromir….’