Chapter 2: Dangerous Games
When Cianda moved the world moved too, shifting and sliding under him, so he
lay perfectly still, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in his head,
concentrating on the painted ceiling, where princes pursued wild boars in
The Ranger cadets slept in dormitories off the great hall, but after his
fight with Boromir they had brought Cianda here to this little triangular
room under the turret stairs where he could heal in peace. It must have been
a squire’s room once, for the bare stone walls had been plastered and bore
crude and colourful frescoes, and a rich but worn hanging stopped the
draught from under a low oak door. Cianda wondered how long he had been
‘You are lucky to be alive!’ scolded the black-robed leech, dumping his
wooden box of surgical instruments on the table and glaring at Cianda down a
long thin nose with a sharp red tip.
‘The blade just missed the artery in your neck…’
‘Just see to him.’ Said Beoga. ‘..and keep it to yourself; this was a fight
with the Steward’s son…’
‘Yes, yes!’ said the leech impatiently. ‘but the whole City knows all about
it already…’ and he turned to Cianda and said; ‘I will have to stitch the
wound. This is going to hurt…..’
It did hurt, but at the second stitch Cianda lost consciousness and after
that he felt no pain. He woke later on, and from the shadows on the floor he
guessed it was nearing evening. He was alone in the room, his head and chest
bandaged, his body stiff and aching. He lay wishing he had something to
drink when he became aware of someone in the room with him.
Forgetting his wound he looked round sharply and saw Boromir standing inside
the door, watching him.
The wrench at his stitches caused red fire to shoot up his neck, and moving
his head made the world lurch and dim. He let out an exclamation of pain and
the young man in the purple tunic and grey cloak fastened with a gold and
garnet brooch, stepped forward anxiously.
‘Are you all right?’ he asked. ‘Will I fetch the leech….’
‘No!’ gasped Cianda. ‘Do not bring that vulture back….’
‘Well, can I do anything?’ asked Boromir and Cianda looked up at him and saw
genuine concern in the grey-green eyes. When he was not tense with anger and
bearing a sword, Boromir was good-looking, in the way of the high castes of
Gondor, fair faces and long tawny hair, tall and well-built but slender.
Like Elves, thought Cianda, although he had never seen an Elf….
‘I could use a drink’ said Cianda. ‘but I can hardly ask the son of the
Steward to fetch me water…’
There was a flash of anger in Boromir’s eyes but then he noticed the glint
of humour in Cianda’s. He smiled stiffly.
‘That tongue of yours will be your undoing, Cianda. I am not too proud to
bring a wounded warrior a drink. Especially one so brave….’
There was an awkward silence. Cianda looked up into the clear grey eyes and
thought he saw kindness. He asked;
‘Why did you come here, Boromir?’
‘To ask you to forgive me.’ The other boy said simply.
‘You already did that, in the practice hall…’
‘My father told me to apologise…’
‘You are here because your father told you to come?’ There was a hint of
contempt in Cianda’s voice.
‘No!’ said Boromir. He turned away and took a deep breath then went on;
‘It is the oldest trick in the book, isn’t it, Cianda? Make your opponent
angry and force him to charge you, then just trip him up. You’ve done very
well, called attention to yourself, got yourself known. All at my expense.
But we are alone here. Why not let the pretense drop?’
Now it was Cianda who looked up with a glint of anger in his eyes.
‘Don’t tell me what to do, Lord Boromir…’ the last words were spoken in mock
respect. Boromir snapped.
‘Don’t call me Lord.’
‘All right, Boromir.’
Gradually Boromir smiled. He said;
‘If fate spares me and I become Steward, you will be the only man in Gondor
who need not address me as lord….’
‘I can’t wait…’ said Cianda shortly. Boromir’s face grew dark. He reached
into his belt and drew out one of the long daggers worn by the warriors of
Gondor, both Tower Guard and Rangers. The hilt was almost the size of a
sword hilt and the blade caught the evening light streaming into the little
room from the West. Cianda tensed. Boromir walked forward and sat carefully
on the side of the bed. He looked down at the knife and said to Cianda;
‘I have slain orcs in battle, and deer and boar in the hunt. But I have
never killed a man. I know that Sauron has in his service many men, and some
day I must slay them. But never yet. I did not know what it was to kill a
man, until today. When I struck you, I thought you were dead. I was sure you
were dead. I knew then what it was to slay a man. That was what you did. Is
that not enough for you?’
There was a long silence. Cianda gazed at the fair-haired young man, his
face pale and earnest. Something gave in his heart, and he lost all taste
for this game. He wanted to end it but he did not know how. Boromir began to
roll up his sleeve. Cianda watched him nervously, unable to move. When he
had bared a long muscular forearm, Boromir laid the sharp blade on the
wrist. It pressed into the skin and he said;
‘I am Boromir, the son of the Steward. Whatever I want, I get. If my father
does not give it to me I take it myself.’
‘I am not a slave!’ hissed Cianda, but Boromir went on as if he had not
‘You are the only man who ever defeated me in combat, and you are only a
boy. I want your friendship, and I won’t leave this room without it..’
‘You can’t buy friendship, Steward’s son!’
Boromir began to draw the knife across his wrist. Cianda looked up aghast at
‘It is not much to ask…’ said Boromir calmly. ‘and it would be so easy to
‘You’re mad!’ cried Cianda, as one bright drop of blood beaded on the
blue-sheened blade of the knife.
‘Whatever you say…’ said Boromir, continuing to slide the dagger across his
skin, deepening the cut. Blood ran down the edge and bright drops appeared
on the white stone flags. Cianda said;
‘Stop!’ Boromir paused, looking quizzically at him.
‘I tried to kill you this morning, yet you don’t want me dead?’
‘No!’ shouted Cianda. Boromir took the blade away from his arm. Blood ran
down his wrist into his palm. Cianda had half sat up, and felt blood seeping
round his wound. He pressed a hand to it.
‘You play a dangerous game, Boromir,,’ he gasped.
‘I play to win…’ said Boromir.
‘You won’t win me…’ snapped Cianda.
‘I don’t want to win you’ answered Boromir quietly. ‘I just want to win your
There was an almost wistful tone in his voice, and Cianda looked up and saw
his eyes were troubled, gazing into his own with something like yearning.
And it occurred then to Cianda how lonely the White Tower might be to one
who had no-one of his own rank to share his thoughts with. Except his
‘You are the only one who can defeat me in combat’ said Boromir drily; ‘you
must be my friend or I am not safe…’
‘You go a long way for friendship’ said Cianda. Boromir smiled.
‘To the ends of the earth, Cianda; to the realms of the Elves, and of the
Dwarves. Even to the depths of the caves and the tops of the mountains.’
Cianda smiled despite himself. Boromir suddenly became serious. He said;
‘I would spend my last drop of blood for friendship. After duty to Gondor,
‘Of course…’ added Cianda. His wound ached, and feeling it he took his hand
away smeared with blood. Boromir raised his own hand and offered it to him.
Cianda took it.
‘For Gondor, then.’ said Cianda
‘For friendship’ said Boromir, and a light came into the grey-green eyes
‘..to the ends of the earth, and beyond……’