Young Boromir

by Varda

Chapter 18: 
The Green Fire

A pulse of fear began to beat somewhere deep in Boromir but he pushed it down; he could not let his heart rule his head this time, it would cost him his life. But all his training in war told him he could not win this contest; he saw the orc was not only half a head taller than he but broad and powerful, and agile as a cat despite his size. But worse, his yellow eyes gleamed with cunning, and Boromir could see the creature measure him up and note how young and slender he was under his chain mail shirt…

Giarsa did not charge on Boromir yet. His disobedience to Sauron was taking its toll; he felt his strength begin to wane, as if he was losing blood from some mortal wound. The power Sauron had given him in return for doing the Dark Lord’s will was flowing out of him as he bent his mind to defeat Sauron’s plans.

And Sauron did not want Boromir harmed.

‘Kill him quickly, while you still can….’ Giarsa said to himself and in a sudden movement he raised his great sword and leaped forward and brought the weapon down on Boromir.

The young prince brought his own blade up to meet the orc’s but the clash of steel knocked him to the snow and numbed his arm. He scrambled away quickly, giving his adversary no time to hew him as he lay but Giarsa was on him like a tiger on a hind and rained blows on his guard before Boromir could get to his feet.

Sparks sprang from the clash of blades and were doused hissing in the snow. The day was growing dark, and Boromir thought a gleam of green fire playedm on the ancient blade of the orc. He shook his head to clear his sight but still the glow remained. A fear seized Boromir and he was unwilling to allow his sword to touch the accursed blade of Mordor, but he was forced to parry and strike, as the creature drove him back and down with mighty sweeps of his sword.

Giarsa too saw the light, as he struggled to maintain the ferocity of his attack. It was a long time since he had seen that fire, the fire of an Elven blade wielded honourably. Long dead feelings assailed him and he felt a strange elation. But weakness was also growing upon him; the sword felt heavy in his grasp and each stroke cost more to deliver. Sweat stung his eyes and his vision became blurred. He cursed Sauron; the Great Betrayer was proof against all betrayal….only Giarsa’s sword retained its power, for it was his blade since before Sauron had corrupted him from what he had been….

Just then the ghost sword caught Boromir’s fine Numenorean steel at an angle and shattered it. The broken shards flew away into the snow, one striking Boromir a a glancing blow on his cheekbone. He felt warm blood trickle down his face and realised that he was now unarmed. Desperately he snatched his long dagger from his belt, but his heart quailed for he knew this blade was no match for the sword of Mordor. There was a mighty draught of wind and the orcish broadsword, gleaming ever more brightly in the twilight, scythed the air just in front of his face. He tried to step backwards and his foot caught a willow root hidden in the snow and he fell, thumping down on his back. The dagger shot out of his hand and he was defenceless before his enemy….

As the orc sprang towards him and he struggled to rise Boromir’s mind, cold and clear as ice, counted his last seconds. He thought of Galán and how cold the dead boy had felt when he kissed him farewell, and thought that he too would soon be as still and cold. He thought of his father Denethor in his high Steward’s seat waiting for news of his sons and he steeled himself to die bravely and not disgrace him. But then he thought of Faramir and his resolve gave way; for he had not saved his beloved brother, and that hurt more than any enemy blade. Unbidden, tears sprang into his eyes….
But the enemy blade did not fall on him. The icy cold of the snow seeped through the chain mail to his very bones and he looked up in a daze at the orc. The creature had stopped with its sword raised; the flames were licking along the edge now, playing across the mailed fist of the orc. And then, standing over Boromir, the creature spoke again, this time in some kind of Elvish which the boy could not understand.
‘Is mise fealltóir inniubh. Tusa amárach…’ and he lowered his sword.

Boromir scrambled to his feet, astonished by his reprieve. The orc stood swaying, as if suddenly sick. But his eyes blazed as keenly as ever. He looked at Boromir and said;
‘Why are you weeping, prince of Gondor?’

Boromir dashed the tears from his eyes in humiliation and anger. The orc poised the his green-glinting sword before the boy’s face and said;
‘It is not from fear; you fear no man, Boromir, nor anything that is not a man. Why are you weeping?’

‘I weep for my brother, Faramir, whom you slew, carrion!’ he shouted.
The orc moved the point of the blade to his throat; Boromir stayed still as a rock, but his heart was pounding.
‘Then weep no more; your brother is not slain.’ said Giarsa and lowered the sword.

Boromir stared at him in astonishment. He thought the orc was torturing him before killing him, as they were accustomed to do. But looking closer he saw that the creature was shaking violently, and his grip on the green sword was feeble. The amber eyes were hooded and suddenly the creature staggered back with one hand on his breast, as if clutched by a great pain. The sword at last slid out of his grasp and he went down on one knee, one hand on the snow to keep himself from falling…

‘How quickly Sauron takes away what he has given!’ thought Giarsa to himself.
‘Now I have not the strength to thwart his designs…’
He looked at Boromir and thought
’…but now I see him I am glad I cannot do it. He is one of the fair and noble race of Numenoreans and there is too much blood of theirs on my head as it is. Let fate deal with Boromir, not me…’

Giarsa no longer had even the strength to stand. His sight was failing but he saw Boromir suddenly dart forward and pick up his discarded dagger, and advance upon him.
‘No!’ he cried at the boy with what strength was left to him. ‘Use this….’

And Giarsa fumbled in the snow and held out to Boromir his own blade, Creabhar, the Gadfly, an Elven blade long borne in disgrace in the cause of Mordor. Now that disgrace would be washed away. Hastily, as if afraid the orc would change his mind, Boromir snatched the weapon from its outstretched hand, almost expecting the handle to be red hot. But it was cool and well-balanced. The orc smiled a terrible smile.

‘Kill me.’ He said to Boromir. ‘Set me free….’

And Boromir, shaken by the creature’s words and by the look of strange resignation in its eyes, took hold of the sword with both hands and swinging it in a great arc he smote Giarsa’s head from his shoulders. And the blood that stained the snow was not black but red….

Boromir stood for a moment rooted to the ground. Where was the fierce joy of victory? He felt only horror, and sadness. Words came back to him;
'You don't become strong by killing...'

Who had said that? Was it Faramir? Boromir looked down and the green fire was playing over his hand as he grasped the sword hilt, making it like the hand of a dead man. He turned and ran towards the river and when he stood on the headland from which Giarsa had thrown Faramir he reached back and flung the orc’s sword, still glowing green, as far as he could into the Anduin…

‘Boromir! Boromir!’ the cries of the Rangers came to his ears through the gathering darkness.

‘We’ve found Faramir! Your brother is safe….’