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
‘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
'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….’