Boromir was by no means a man given to unnecessary worrying or to nerves or he would not have kept the post of Captain General of Gondor for long. Though a seasoned soldier and an intelligent general, even he was bound to find himself at his wits’ end when, moments after being unseated off his favourite mount, he was forced to face a seemingly never-ending rush of enemy forces. If he had had the time, Boromir might have mourned the loss of the majestic beast that had dropped to its knees when an arrow struck its neck. As it was, he barely had the time to be thankful that the horse had not suffered at all. He had no time to be thankful that he had not injured himself in sliding off the animal. He managed to retain his balance on the blood-slicked ground with an ease born from long practise and cast a quick look around. The battle was in full spate, loud and chaotic. The sound of weapons ringing against each other vied with the frightened neighs of horses.
His men were as yet scattered for the magnitude of the attack had been a little unexpected. A good commander, he had always been taught, knows when to retreat. Years of leading his men from the front had given him enough belief in his own ability to know he was a good commander. It had not taken him long to sound the retreat and signal his men to regroup at the riverbank and defend the passage that was so integral to the security of Minas Tirith.
They were clearly outnumbered and he had no other option. Relief was at least a day away, whether it came from Minas Tirith or from Ithilien. He had nevertheless sent hurried despatches to both. Faramir, he knew from earlier reports, would be in Minas Tirith right now. He had no doubt his brother would hasten to his aid but the messenger had left barely hours earlier, and it was clear that it would take Faramir nearly a day to arrive. For now, Boromir concentrated on staying on his feet. As a commander, he had a duty towards his men. He needed to lead them out of this and he knew he could ill-afford to spend time worrying. He kept his head, quite literally, as he ducked out of the path of a sword that sliced the air a hair’s breadth away.
Poised on his haunches on the slippery ground, he got rid of his attacker with ruthless efficiency. Rising to his feet, he dealt with another outthrust sword, all the while assessing the situation around him. His men though surprised by the intensity of the attack had responded as best as they could, but it was fast becoming a struggle. Boromir reached for his war-horn. He knew signalling for help would be pointless but the call could help him rally his men closer.
The long high notes of a trumpet rang out from the other side of the river as he freed the horn from his baldric. He sensed the vibration of the thundering hooves before he turned to see a small company of men clatter across the stonework of the ancient bridge to their aid. They pitched into the battle without much ado, and it was not long before the defenders turned attackers, their added strength providing not just the numbers but also encouragement.
The two brothers came across each other as their men began clearing the field. Boromir stared at his brother in confusion.
“I sent a rider to the city mere hours ago! I did not expect you here for at least a day yet.”
The steward’s secretary stopped sorting through a thick sheaf of papers at the sound of his lord’s footfalls. Denethor swept past the study, his brisk, purposeful strides taking him towards the throne room to meet the messenger. The steward had seemed worried earlier; not an unusual occurrence, but the orders he had issued were puzzling. The secretary could not help but notice that his lord was clad in the same clothes he had worn the day before. Denethor had been in the Tower all the while since then but for a brief moment when he had come out to order his younger son and his rangers to their outpost across the river post-haste; an action that seemed a little unreasonable for the men had reached the city but a day prior.
He seemed just as thoughtful now, yet a look of relief underlay his stern features. The secretary shook his head and joined him in the throne room, just as a weary and travel-stained rider strode in, holding despatches in his gloved hands.
“News from Lord Boromir at Osgiliath, my lord,” he said grimly, handing the scroll to the steward, “We are in need of aid.”
“It is taken care of,” Denethor said scanning the missive, before handing it to the secretary. He nodded to dismiss the messenger and left the room. The messenger turned to the secretary, his countenance puzzled yet relieved. The secretary returned an equally perplexed look, and then shrugged. As he entered the study once again, he could hear the measured gait of his lord ascending the steps to the tower.
Thanks to Lindorien, M. Sebasky, and Nol for their machetes.