Author Notes: While I normally follow the book closely, this has a bit of the movie version of the story in it.
Rebecca stopped abruptly. She stood staring down the practice field, “Haldir, what is that?” she whispered, looking up at him in horror.
“That, Lady Rebecca, is your new target,” Haldir’s eyes bored into Rebecca’s as he stood with his arms folded across his chest.
“But, but it’s shaped like…”
“Like an orc… or a man.”
“Do you think you will be shooting at targets when you leave?” Haldir asked with a slight frown.
Rebecca stared blankly at him for a moment before striding past him to the firing line with a clenched jaw. She pulled an arrow from her quiver and with a deep breath, nocked it. Her arm started shaking as she raised the bow to aim it.
A hand reached out and gently, but firmly grasped her wrist and lowered the bow. “Cease, Lady Rebecca,” Haldir said quietly, carefully removing the arrow from the string.
Her eyes flashing with anger, Rebecca looked up at the tall elf. “Why did you do that?” she demanded. “I can do this. I have to, Haldir.” She stared at him with determination in her eyes, though she was still angry and upset.
“Calm yourself,” Haldir said sternly, still holding her wrist. “Take a deep breath and relax.”
Rebecca tried to pull her wrist away, but Haldir just gazed at her with an eyebrow raised questioningly. She ducked her head and took a couple of deep breaths, mumbling to herself about elves and their strength. After several minutes and more deep breaths, she looked up at Haldir with an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, Haldir.”
He nodded in acknowledgement. “Are you ready to listen now?”
“Yes, I am,” she responded quietly, gazing at him steadily.
“You cannot let your fear or anger control you, Lady Rebecca. Your aim will be off, you will waste your arrows, and you will most certainly endanger your companions.”
Rebecca looked at the target uncertainly before gazing back at Haldir. “How is it possible?”
“You focus on the things you can control - your stance, your grip, your draw, your aim, and your release. Everything else you must let go.”
Rebecca bit her lip in concentration, “And then what, Haldir?”
“You kill the enemy,” Haldir stated matter-of-factly. He looked down at Rebecca with an unreadable expression. “That is why you have been learning archery, is it not?”
“Yes,” she answered firmly as she looked back at the target with narrowed eyes. “I’d like to try now.”
He handed her the arrow, stepping back and motioning for her to proceed.
Swiftly nocking the arrow, Rebecca raised the bow to aim it. She paused uncertainly and glanced at Haldir, “The head or the chest?”
“The chest is a better target for you. After you have a few hundred years of experience, you may aim for an eye,” he said dryly.
Rebecca stared at him seeing the slight twitch of his lips and she gave him a half smile before turning back to the target. Blocking everything else out she raised her bow again and quickly released the arrow. It flew straight and true, piercing the ‘orc’ in the middle of the torso.
“Well shot,” Haldir said encouragingly. “However, a little higher and to the left… that is where the heart is located.” Rebecca nodded. “Now go ahead and empty your quiver.”
As she had practiced for weeks, Rebecca rapidly, but carefully, fired each arrow in her quiver. Every arrow landed in the chest area, though many were to the far right side. She let out a deep sigh as she lowered her bow.
“Are you satisfied?”
“No,” Rebecca shook her head vigorously, “too many are off target. I need to practice this a lot… it’s a lot different than shooting at a regular target.”
He nodded approvingly. “It is. And, if you continue to shoot them on that side it will take more than one arrow to kill the enemy. Before you practice however, I have something I want to give you.” He led the way to a small shed near the practice field. Reaching inside he brought out a beautiful bow. It was the same size as the one she was holding, but was obviously new. It was decorated in the same manner as Haldir’s, with the same intricate carvings and designs along the length of it.
“The bow you have been using is a training bow for elflings. I wanted you to have your own bow when you leave.” Haldir bowed slightly as he presented it to her.
Rebecca looked at the bow in awe as she took it from him. “Hannon le,” she whispered. She gently rubbed her hands over the designs and felt the grip. “It fits perfectly!”
“I had it made just for you,” he acknowledged, “so, yes, the grip is tailored for your hand.”
“The design is like yours!” she exclaimed.
“Yes,” he laughed, “it is my favorite.”
Rebecca smiled, “Hannon le, Haldir,” she said again.
“There is also a matching quiver,” he handed it to her. “It holds twenty-five arrows, I think you may need them,” he added soberly.
“I think so, too. Lady Galadriel did not have me learn this just for fun.”
Haldir nodded and took her hand. “Before we continue practicing, I would tell you a few things. As much as you have prepared yourself here, nothing can prepare you for being in a real battle, Lady Rebecca. The sound of orcs, and of dying men and elves, the smell of blood and death, and watching people dying. It is truly a horrible thing.”
Rebecca nodded grimly, “I-I saw it in Moria. I helped Thomas kill an orc. I had its black blood on my hands for hours until I could get them clean.”
Haldir looked at her with surprise on his face. “I did not know you had done that. You have had a small experience with battle, then. Hopefully, that will help you in the days ahead. Remember to focus on the things we have practiced and the things you can control.”
“I’ll try, Haldir. Hopefully, it will be like with my healing training and just take over.”
“Indeed,” Haldir nodded. “Now it is time to try out your new bow.”
Smiling eagerly, Rebecca walked back to the firing line, stringing the bow as she went.
It was fast approaching noon and the Fellowship was getting ready to cross the river. Aragorn felt that few orcs would be around during the brightest part of the day, so they had lingered. Boromir had delayed his own departure as well, choosing to leave when the rest departed.
“Let’s be off,” Aragorn called.
“We have to wait for Frodo,” Pippin responded.
“Where is he?” Aragorn asked sharply.
Pippin looked up with an expression of surprise on his face. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “He wandered off about thirty minutes ago.”
Everyone stared at Pippin and looked in the direction he was pointing, which was up the hill into the woods.
“Where’s Boromir?” Thomas asked with a sinking feeling.
For a moment it was quiet and then all of them seemed to panic. Merry and Pippin tore off into the woods in one direction, Sam in another, while Gimli followed Legolas in a third. None heeded Aragorn’s yells to come back.
“Come on,” Aragorn muttered to Thomas as he tried to read any tracks Frodo might have left. It was impossible and the two of them quickly headed up the hill, scanning for any sign of the hobbit. Aragorn stopped by a fallen log and looked closely at some leaves that Thomas could see had been disturbed recently. “There was a scuffle here,” he said quietly. “Do not move, Thomas.” The Ranger looked the ground over carefully, dismayed at what he read. Boromir had attacked Frodo that much was clear. Did he take the Ring, Aragorn wondered in despair. Wait… Frodo had gotten free somehow. “Come on.” Aragorn sprinted off in the direction the tracks led.
Thomas followed closely, wondering what Aragorn had seen on the ground, frustrated at his inability to read the signs that they were evidently following. But Legolas was a good teacher and he knew that someday he would be able to do so. He turned his attention back to Aragorn who had slowed again to check something before moving on. The trail led further up towards the crest of the hill.
“He is running scared,” Aragorn said grimly, as he paused.
Aragorn nodded and ran on. Entering a small clearing littered with broken statues and ruins of an ancient building, they stopped again.
“Where did he go?” Aragorn asked in frustration, desperately seeking for a sight of the hobbit. Moving slowly toward the ruin, he found more sign of the hobbit. “These tracks lead back down toward the river,” he exclaimed with relief.
A faint sound suddenly reached their ears. “Orcs!” Aragorn exclaimed in horror, glancing at Thomas. “Where is Frodo? Where are the others?” he asked, drawing his sword.
Shaking his head, Thomas drew his sword as well, “I don’t know, Aragorn. Hopefully, they’re safe.” He took a deep, shaky breath, the stench of the orcs now hitting them.
“Stay at my back, Thomas, and remember what you have been taught. You will not let me down.” Aragorn stared intently at Thomas for a moment before turning back to the woods when orcs burst through the bushes.
Charging across the clearing en mass the orcs attacked the pair head on. Clashing steel and the roar of orcs filled the woods. Aragorn and Thomas stood back to back to protect each other as they fought.
Thomas reacted instinctively to defend himself, relying on all he had been taught by Boromir and Aragorn. Soon though, he went on the offensive, probing the orcs for weaknesses… finding many in the mindless creatures that relied on numbers and brute strength. He soon realized there were two different kinds of orcs; most were the small ones he had seen in Moria, but there were a few larger ones that seemed to be in charge. The small orcs were easily killed, but the larger ones were not.
Thomas slashed an orc across the chest, turning and chopping off the hand of an orc coming at him from the side. He turned back to the first orc and cut off his head while the second orc suddenly swiped him across the upper arm with a dagger he hadn’t seen.
“Damn!” he yelled as he pushed his sword through the creature’s heart.
“Are you all right?” Aragorn called.
“Fine,” he said through gritted teeth, continuing to fight while blood flowed freely from the gaping wound.
Aragorn was making short work of the orcs he faced. He had too much experience to be concerned for himself, though he was never careless with any enemy he faced. He was, however, concerned about Thomas, especially now that he was apparently injured. There were so many orcs and Thomas was so inexperienced. But there was nothing he could do about it now, all he could do was keep fighting and hope that Thomas could do the same, he thought grimly.
Aragorn’s sword kept moving, blocking the awkward thrusts of the orcs and then moving decisively in for killing blows. He parried another blow aimed at his head, responding by slashing the orc across its throat. He quickly stabbed one of the large orcs through the heart while dancing out of the way of another sword. And so he fought on.
Ducking under the blade of a large orc, Thomas plunged his sword into the creature’s stomach causing black blood to spurt all over his face, temporarily blinding him. Angrily he wiped it away as he pulled out his sword. He hamstrung the orc creeping up next to Aragorn before stabbing it in the back.
“Thomas, look out!” Aragorn pushed him aside and quickly killed two orcs that had taken advantage of Thomas’s momentary blindness and focus on his other side.
“Thanks,” he grunted as he continued fighting the orcs that surrounded him.
Aragorn glanced around the clearing noticing that the number of orcs had dropped considerably. He could not see behind him, but he guessed there were fewer than ten orcs left. He heard Thomas panting heavily and he could tell he was wounded, but he also knew that Thomas had done very well so far and that if he could just last a little longer, he would be able to help him. Aragorn grimly turned his focus back on killing the remaining orcs. They had to find the others. They had to find Frodo.
“Ah, just who I was looking for.”
Rebecca looked up, startled, at the sound of Gandalf’s voice. “My lord,” she bowed slightly. This was the first time she had seen him since they had met two days ago.
Gandalf’s eyes twinkled for a moment. “You do not have to call me ‘my lord’, Lady Rebecca. Gandalf or even Mithrandir will do just fine.”
Rebecca raised an eyebrow skeptically. “I call Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel ‘my lord’ and ‘my lady’. I think I should give a powerful wizard who comes back from the dead the same respect.”
“There is that,” Gandalf acknowledged with a smile. “However, I would prefer that you not call me ‘my lord’. I know you respect me regardless of what you call me.” His kind, yet piercing blue eyes gazed at Rebecca expectantly.
“All right, you win,” she smiled, “Gandalf it is. I’ve never heard you called Mithrandir before.”
“I am called that in Gondor and by some of the elves.”
“It means… grey something doesn’t it?”
“Grey pilgrim. You have been learning elvish?”
“It’s hard not to! I’ve been here a long time and very few elves speak common. All of the herbs Lord Thalion has been teaching me are in elvish, of course.” She shrugged, “Mostly what I know are greetings, herbs and a few basic phrases. By the way,” she looked Gandalf up and down, “Mithrandir doesn’t fit you anymore,” she pointed out with a smile.
Gandalf shook his head with an amused smile. “Indeed it does not. Where were you going when I interrupted you?”
“I was just heading home.”
“Are you done for the day?”
“No, I have to meet Haldir this afternoon for archery. Why?”
“You need to cancel that. We have something we need to do.”
Rebecca nodded slowly, she knew she needed the practice and she enjoyed the time she spent with Haldir. Yet, she also knew that Gandalf must have something important in mind. “All right, Gandalf,” she furrowed her brow in thought. “I need to put away my stuff,” she lifted the books on herbs she was carrying, “and then figure out how to let Haldir know.”
“I shall accompany you,” Gandalf gestured for her to lead the way.
“What are we going to do?”
“You will see,” he answered mildly.
“Always so mysterious, Gandalf,” Rebecca smiled.
“Patience is a good quality to have, young lady.”
“Yes, yes it is,” she responded quietly with a far away look in her eye. Gandalf placed a gentle hand on her shoulder as they walked the rest of the way to her talan in silence.
Setting her books on the table, Rebecca told Gandalf to make himself comfortable while she went to see if Brethil could take a message to Haldir. Rebecca returned to find him sitting on her couch, smoking his pipe and looking lost in thought. “Brethil’s going to take the message, Gandalf. Now what?”
Gandalf inhaled deeply as he studied her, “Hmmm… I think that you… no,” he shook his head, “now is not the time.”
Rebecca looked at him in confusion, “What?”
“Never mind, young lady. Now, have you ever ridden a horse?”
“No, never,” Rebecca shook her head, staring at him with a hint of fear in her brown eyes.
“I thought not. You are about to learn, come along.”
Gandalf got to his feet, grabbing his staff as he strode out the door.
Rebecca stared after him, the thought of riding a horse filling her with anxiety.
“Hurry, Lady Rebecca, we have a lot to do!” Gandalf called.
Rebecca hurried after him, mumbling under her breath about wizards, horses and Middle-earth in general with its lack of cars which would force her to ride a horse in the first place.
The stables were quite a distance from Caras Galadhon and, in fact, Rebecca had not known it even existed.
“These elves rarely use horses,” Gandalf explained, “as they seldom leave Lothlórien. However, on occasion they need to travel somewhere quickly and these animals are used.”
Rebecca nodded absently as she looked at the horses in the corral, the first horses she had ever seen up close, amazed at how big they were. She turned to Gandalf with a resigned sigh, “All right, tell me what I have to do.” She leaned back against the wooden railings with her arms crossed.
Gandalf’s eyes sparkled with amusement though he did not smile. “Do not be frightened, these are elven-trained horses and will not let you fall.” Rebecca let out a deep sigh of relief. “Also, young lady, when we leave here, you will be riding with me on my horse and neither he nor I will let you fall.”
“Which one is yours?” Rebecca turned to look at the horses.
“He is not here, he comes at my call,” he informed her gravely, “he is a very special horse. I want you to have at least some experience riding before we leave. It will probably be a long trip.” Gandalf called softly to the horses and a bay colored horse with a dark mane and tail trotted to the rail, whickering.
“Hello, friend,” Gandalf greeted the horse, letting it sniff his hand before he rubbed its nose and patted its neck. “Come here, Lady Rebecca,” he said quietly. With a grimace, Rebecca joined him. “Let him smell you,” he directed. She raised her hand hesitantly as she had seen Gandalf do, jumping slightly as the warm breath of the horse touched her skin. She smiled in delight as she stroked it’s nose.
“His nose is so soft,” she murmured.
“Now that you see there is nothing to be afraid of, let’s go for a ride.”
Rebecca stared at him and then the horse with narrowed eyes. “All right, Gandalf. Where’s the saddle?”
“The Galadhrim do not use saddles, nor does my horse. We will ride without one.”
“You’re making this more and more fun all the time,” she said irritably.
Gandalf just smiled and opened the gate. Rebecca followed closely, peering at the horse from a place of safety behind the wizard.
“Does he have a name?” she whispered nervously.
“His name is Beleg,” answered one of the elves working in the stable.
“That’s a nice name.” Beleg and nodded his head as if he agreed.
“No more delaying,” Gandalf looked down at her sternly. He grasped her wrist firmly bringing her hand up to stroke the neck of the horse. “He will not hurt you. You must trust this horse, or any horse you ride. Otherwise they will sense your unease and will be nervous as well,” Gandalf spoke calmly and soothingly as Rebecca continued petting the horse. He released her hand and stepped back, leaving her alone with the animal. She continued to pat the horse and when it did not move she grew bolder, wondering if horses liked to be talked to like dogs. She started to whisper to Beleg and noticed his ears flicking back and forth and his head turning towards her. Rebecca decided that maybe it wouldn’t be too bad; riding horses had always looked fun in movies. She turned and smiled at Gandalf.
“I think you are ready now,” he stated.
Rebecca nodded while still biting her lip nervously.
Gandalf moved past her and gathering a handful of its mane he gracefully mounted Beleg. Rebecca stared at him in astonishment, amazed that someone so old could get on a horse like that and wondering how she was supposed to do it. She looked around for something to stand on.
“Take my hand.”
Looking up, Rebecca found Gandalf had his hand extended down to her. “You’re going to lift me up?” she asked dubiously.
Rebecca shook her head slightly, but held out her hand and found herself hauled up in front of Gandalf with apparent ease. “You’re stronger than you look,” she observed.
Gandalf laughed, “Things are not always what they appear to be. Are you comfortable?”
“Hmmm… I guess so…” she shifted slightly on the horse. “It feels strange though.”
“I am sure it does,” Gandalf said. He put his arm around her waist and clucked to the horse which moved out obediently at a slow walk. Rebecca took a sharp indrawn breath, clutching at Gandalf’s arm. One of the elves opened the gate and they walked along one of the paths leading into the forest. Rebecca soon relaxed, enjoying the ride and she loosened her hold on Gandalf.
“This is better than walking, Gandalf,” she laughed somewhat nervously.
“Yes, indeed. Shall we go a little faster?”
“All-all right,” Rebecca nodded, torn between the fun of the ride and her fear of falling.
Gandalf urged Beleg into a trot and when Rebecca did not tighten her grip, into a canter. She immediately tightened her grip, though a smile spread across her face. She glanced back over her shoulder at him with her eyes shining with glee.
“Faster?” he asked with a smile. She nodded.
Beleg bolted into a gallop and he tore down the path winding through the trees. Rebecca clung to Gandalf, but she also laughed in exhilaration. After a couple of miles, Gandalf spoke to the horse and it slowed gradually, coming to a stop in a small clearing.
“How was that, Lady Rebecca?” he asked seriously, though when Rebecca looked back she could see amusement in his eyes as he studied her.
“It was wonderful! Can I ride my own horse when we leave?” she begged.
Gandalf laughed shortly as he turned the horse around to head back. “You amaze me, young lady. To go from being scared of horses one minute to wanting your own the next!” He shook his head. “However, I am afraid the answer is, no, for none of these fine elven horses would be able to keep up with mine. Also, riding with me one time does not give you the experience you need to ride alone.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” Rebecca said wistfully. “Your horse goes… faster than Beleg?”
“As I said, he is a special horse. One of the Mearas, lord of all horses. Few mortals have ever ridden one, only the kings of Rohan ride them in these days. However, Shadowfax will come at my need.”
“Will he let me ride him?”
“If I ask him.”
They returned Beleg to the corral with kind words of thanks before walking slowly back to Rebecca’s talan.
“Gandalf, when do you think we will be leaving?”
“In a day or so, I believe,” his piercing blue eyes became dark and distant. “Something has happened, though I know not what.”
Rebecca looked at him in growing concern. “What do you mean?”
“That is all I can tell you for I truly do not know anything else. I just sense something is amiss, as does Galadriel.”
Rebecca groaned and buried her head in hands, her heart racing. She looked at him desperately, “Why don’t we leave now? We could…” she stopped and looked away with a sigh. “Never mind… I forgot that you don’t know where they are.”
“No, I do not. My scouts will find them soon.”
“I have sent eagles out to look for them.”
“How come they haven’t found them already?” she asked frowning impatiently. “They are traveling down a river!”
“Young lady, you yourself know how well Aragorn can hide when he wants to,” Gandalf chided her sternly. Rebecca nodded miserably. “Also, they may be traveling at night. The scouts will find them.”
Rebecca looked away to blink back tears that suddenly filled her eyes. Thomas will be fine, they’ll all be fine, she said to herself, and I will not cry. “I’m going home now. I’ll see you later.” She hurried off, leaving Gandalf staring after her, an expression of sorrow on his face.
Aragorn and Thomas were wiping blood off their swords when they heard its call. “The horn of Gondor, Boromir needs help,” Aragorn cried, taking off at a dead run with Thomas right on his heels. However, the young man soon fell behind, the loss of blood from his wound slowing him and making him slightly dizzy. He followed the sound of Aragorn, a short distance ahead of him, and the distant sound of fighting which, to his dismay, soon stopped.
Aragorn closed his eyes in pain. His friend Boromir was sitting against a tree, his body riddled with arrows. The area around him was littered with the bodies of orcs he had slain. He slowly approached, tears filling his eyes. Boromir opened pain-filled eyes, gazing at Aragorn as he dropped to his knees beside him.
“Forgive me, Aragorn. I-I have failed you,” he whispered raggedly.
Aragorn took his hand, “There is nothing to forgive, my brother,” he stated firmly, looking at Boromir with sorrow.
Boromir shook his head slightly, wincing at the pain. “I-I tried to take the Ring.”
“Yes, I know, Boromir,” Aragorn responded quietly, gently wiping the hair out of Boromir’s face. “Yet you fought bravely here.”
Thomas ran up and dropped to his knees on the other side of Boromir, tears streaming down his face. “Boromir,” he choked out with a sob. He wiped tears away with the back of his hand, leaving his face a smeared mess of black orc blood, sweat, and tears.
Boromir slowly lifted a hand and touched Thomas’s cheek. “I fear I will not… keep…” he coughed harshly, gasping for breath, “my… promise to you… to Rebecca. Ask… Faramir to show… my city,” he whispered. Boromir smiled sadly as tears continued to flow unchecked down Thomas’s face.
Boromir’s eyes shifted back to Aragorn. “They-they took… little ones. I-I could not stop…” His eyes glazed over in pain, his breathing labored. “Protect my people…my…land, my King,” he said so softly that Aragorn barely heard it over the sound of Thomas’s weeping.
Boromir took a last shuddering breath and was gone. Aragorn closed his eyes with a grimace and sat back on his heels. “May the Valar guide you on your journey, Boromir son of Denethor.” He glanced up as Gimli and Legolas came running into the clearing, noting without surprise that Legolas’s quiver was empty. Aragorn turned his attention to Thomas who had his head in his hands and was still quietly weeping.
“Thomas,” Aragorn called softly. At first Thomas paid him no heed, but with a long indrawn breath, he looked at Aragorn, then at Legolas and Gimli who had gathered around.
“Thomas, we need to find out where the hobbits are… and then take care of Boromir,” Aragorn said gently. “We need your help.”
Nodding, Thomas slowly got to his feet, wiping away his tears. “I’m sorry, Aragorn. What do you want me to do?” he asked, staring down at Boromir.
“Do not be ashamed of your feelings or your tears, Thomas,” Legolas said quietly.
Meeting Legolas’s eyes briefly, Thomas noticed his were also filled with pain and he nodded shortly before turning back to Aragorn.
“Boromir said they took the little ones, but he did not say which ones,” Aragorn said with frustration. “Thomas and I found tracks that showed Frodo headed back down to the river, but he could have been captured. We must search for sign here before heading back to where I last saw those tracks.”
“We cannot go off and leave Boromir here,” Gimli protested, “not among this filth.”
“We must honor him in some way, mellon nín,” Legolas agreed.
Aragorn glanced at Thomas before nodding, “Yes, of course. I did not mean to suggest we would not take care of him. Still we must hurry and look around here first for any sign of the hobbits.” The four of them spread out, searching the area around Boromir for an trace the hobbits may have left behind.
“Aragorn!” Thomas called, “I think these are Merry and Pippin’s.” Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas came running to find Thomas crouching over two small silver belts and short swords.
“These are the belts Lady Galadriel gave them. The orcs would not take the swords, the blades are ancient and they would feel the power in them,” Aragorn said, picking them up and turning them over in his hands.
“Then Merry and Pippin, at least, are in the hands of the orcs,” Gimli growled.
Aragorn glanced back at Boromir’s body, “Let’s take care of Boromir, then we will find Frodo. Though, my heart is ill at the thought of young Pippin and Merry in the hands of the orcs.”
“We will get them back,” Legolas said fiercely.
Thomas swayed as he got to his feet and Legolas grabbed him to steady him. “Are you injured?” he asked with concern. He looked him over, lightly touching the red blood oozing from his left arm. “Sit, Thomas,” he pushed him gently to the ground. “Aragorn!” he called sharply.
“It’s just a small cut,” he protested weakly.
Aragorn hurried back to Thomas, “I forgot you were wounded, forgive me.”
“We’ve all been busy, Aragorn.”
Aragorn looked at him for a moment and then examined the wound on his arm. “This is no light wound, Thomas!” he exclaimed. “How did you keep fighting? And run this far?” He shook his head slightly as he pulled out his healing supplies.
“It was either keep fighting or die. I chose to keep fighting,” he replied, shrugging and then wincing slightly at the pain that caused his arm.
“We need a fire. Gimli,” Aragorn called to the dwarf who was collecting the weapons of the orcs Boromir had killed. “Would you make a fire?”
Gimli grunted an acknowledgement and threw down the weapons as he made his way towards Aragorn and Thomas. He quickly kindled a small fire while he gave Thomas an appraising look. “You’re filthy, lad,” he said approvingly, “just like a dwarf.”
Thomas nodded, not looking at Gimli, focusing instead on his bloody hands.
Aragorn exchanged a concerned glance with Gimli as he set a pot of water on the fire.
Thomas felt the others’ concern, but he ignored them. Now that he was sitting down for a moment all he could think about was Boromir. Boromir is dead. He’s dead. It wasn’t right that Boromir was dead when he was still sitting here alive. Images of the times they had spent together flashed through his mind. Times they had laughed together. Times Boromir had scolded him. The hours and hours he had spent with Boromir on the practice field. Boromir patiently teaching him to use a sword – angrily reminding him to focus, to keep his guard up, how to attack and how to defend… lessons that had saved his life today. Listening to Boromir tell stories or teasing Rebecca. That thought filled Thomas with despair because he knew how hard Rebecca would take this news. Thomas began to weep again.
“Thomas,” A gentle voice caused him to look up. “I know your grief is deep, but we cannot linger here… we have things we must do.”
“I know, Aragorn,” he whispered brokenly, “and I’m ready to do that. Rebecca… how will we tell Rebecca?”
Aragorn’s eyes closed briefly, “We will do it gently. Yet, we cannot worry about the future. You must focus on the present. I need you, Thomas Morgan.” Aragorn studied him intently and Thomas took a deep shuddering breath. “Do not think I do not grieve for Boromir. I do. But the hobbits are alive and I… we must help them.”
“Merry and Pippin!” Thomas straightened up quickly. “And Frodo and Sam… we have to find them. I’ll be all right.” He wiped away the last of his tears, firmly pushing thoughts of Boromir to the back of his mind to deal with later.
Aragorn nodded approvingly. “I have to stitch your wound. Legolas is collecting his arrows, and Gimli,” he nodded at the dwarf, “is making a stretcher for Boromir.” He handed Thomas a cup of willow bark tea, “Here, drink this for the pain.”
“Great,” Thomas muttered, swallowing the horrible tasting brew in one gulp. He shook his head in disgust. “That hasn’t changed.”
“I need you on your feet and able to move, so it’s not very strong, but it should dull the pain.” Aragorn moved the cloth away from the wound and gently washed it with the warm water. Thomas clenched his teeth against the pain, making an occasional hiss as Aragorn started stitching it closed. “It is very deep and you have lost quite a bit of blood,” he commented as he worked.
“I’m glad it was my left arm.”
“As am I. You did well.”
Thomas gave him a half smile, “Thanks, I had good teachers. Aragorn… those orcs were not all the same as the ones in Moria. Some were much bigger.”
Aragorn glanced up from his stitching, “I know, we will have to look at them before we leave.”
“I think they come from Saruman,” Legolas said as he walked over and crouched down beside them. “I looked at them closely as I was collecting my arrows, they are marked with a white ‘S’. Sauron does not use white.”
Aragorn nodded in agreement, “No, he would not. I am almost finished here, Legolas. If you would help Gimli we can be on our way shortly.” The elf moved off while Aragorn tied off the last stitch. He applied a small amount of athelas to the wound before bandaging it.
Thomas felt lightened in spirit just from breathing in the scent of the herb that had been steeping in the pot of water. “What is that?”
“It is called athelas and it is an old family secret,” he said with a trace of amusement. “Are you injured anywhere else?”
Thomas shook his head, “No, just these little cuts and scrapes everywhere.” He showed Aragorn his hands, which were covered with small nicks and gouges. Aragorn took the remainder of the water and washed Thomas’s hands.
“That should help some. Now, wash your face, you look terrible!” he squeezed Thomas’s shoulder affectionately.
“You don’t look so good yourself,” Thomas retorted as he washed his face, glad to be rid of the sticky orc blood.
“I know,” Aragorn nodded as he packed up his supplies, “now go help the others.”
Thomas carried an armload of the weapons from the orcs Boromir had killed down the hill. He didn’t totally understand the significance, but Gimli said it was to honor his memory and so he knew it must be some warrior tradition. Thomas glanced ahead at the stretcher Aragorn and Legolas were carefully carrying down to the river and wished they had time to bury him.
Reaching the river, they halted in surprise at the edge of the trees. “One of the boats is gone!” Gimli exclaimed.
“Stay here,” Aragorn commanded. He gently set down the stretcher before lightly stepping into the area near the boats. He swiftly scanned the ground, crouching down at times to brush away a stray leaf or stick. Aragorn glanced at the place they had left their packs. He stood with a weary sigh and crossed to where the others were patiently waiting.
“Frodo and Sam have gone, my friends,” Aragorn smiled ruefully. “Their packs are missing, and their footprints lead to the missing boat.”
Legolas stared across the river. “The boat is there,” he whispered, “but I do not see them.”
“Why? Why did they leave?” Gimli growled.
Aragorn shook his head, “Frodo thought it best.” He stared across the river. “Come, we must tend to Boromir.”
Swiftly, yet tenderly they placed Boromir in a boat with his weapons in hand and the weapons of his defeated foes at his feet. As the boat was released into the current, Aragorn and Legolas sang a song of tribute in his honor. Gimli bowed his head in grief, while Thomas stood quietly with his hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. They all watched quietly as the boat passed out of sight over the falls.
Legolas broke the silence. “Aragorn, what is our path now? To follow after Frodo and Sam or to rescue Merry and Pippin?”
Aragorn turned anguished eyes on the elf. “There is no clear choice, Legolas. How can we abandon either?”
Thomas looked at Aragorn uneasily, not used to seeing his hero like this. He flexed his injured arm slightly, wincing at the pain. Legolas gazed at him questioningly, but he shook his head and looked away.
Aragorn finally spoke up firmly, “We must follow the orcs. Frodo has chosen his path and while all of us would have gone with him to the end, perhaps it was meant to be this way.” He looked each of the others in the eye. “However, we shall not leave Merry and Pippin in the hands of those foul beasts. Take only what you can carry and we shall be off.”
They quickly scurried to do his bidding; rearranging packs, taking Lembas, water, and other essential items. Within ten minutes the riverbank was empty.
Reviewers: Many thanks to everyone who is reading this story and especially to those who reviewed, I appreciate the encouragement.
Mellon nin - my friend
Mellon nin - my friend