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2
The Arrival

An expansion on the drabble "The Arrival" that appears in "'Neath Anor, Ithil, and Gil," and contains and expands upon elements from that drabble.


~~~

The Arrival


As he struggled toward awareness again, the first thing he heard was, “What was the fool doing trying to cross the Greyflood after such a rain?” It was spoken in Westron. Not someone from Rohan, then, he decided.

“My horse?” he managed to ask as he opened his eyes and shook his head to clear it.

“We saw no horse--only you,” a woman leaning over him declared.

A Man leaned over him from the other side. “Why did you try to cross the river after such a storm as we’ve had? It rose alarmingly. You could have died!”

“Who are you?” he asked as he sought to sit up.

The Man and woman, however, had other ideas. “Nay--sir,” the woman said as the two forced him to lie back again. “You suffered a blow to your head by either a passing log or from hitting it against a stone in the river. You had best not move for a time.”

The Man nodded, accepting a blanket brought him by a youth and wrapping it about his sodden form. “I had the time of it pulling you from the river when we saw your body drifting by on the current. Do not undo my good deed by seeking to move before you have sufficiently recovered.” The Man peered at him, examining him closely. “The circle of black at the center is not the same in both your eyes. Best you remain with us some days until you are yourself and healed again.”

“But who are you?” the Gondorian repeated.

“We were citizens of Tharbad. We have returned to what was our home to rebuild it,” the youth answered him.

The Man nodded agreement. “The river rises and enters our homes and we will go elsewhere for a season, but most of us continue to return, for the river and the road and its crossing are in our blood. It is our home, and we would not live elsewhere.”

“Although we have plans this time to build walls to contain the river,” the woman noted. “This is the second time we were sent packing by the river in my time, and my father spoke of three floods in his. But we love this land, and the earth is ever more bountiful after a flood.”

And so it was that Boromir son of Denethor was succored by those who worked to rebuild Tharbad once more.

“Where is it you go?” asked the youth around the evening fire that had been lit in the newly finished town hall.

“I seek the land of Imladris.”

The eight who had gathered to begin the rebuilding looked at one another, shrugging their shoulders. “We have never heard of it,” said one of the Men, a former blacksmith who hoped to rebuild his forge here and resume his craft.

“Are there any folk north of here? Any towns or settlements?” Boromir asked.

“There’s Bree, some weeks north of us by horse. Now and then a trader comes to us from there, as now and then folk out of the hidden settlements of Rhudaur or the villages of Dunland come to trade what they can.”

The one who’d pulled him from the flood added, “Bree’s said to be a sizable place, where the Greenway is crossed by the East-West Road that is said to run from the Sea to the Misty Mountains and over them. There are folk east of the mountains--the Beornings and woodsmen near Mirkwood, the folk of Dale and Esgaroth, and various Dwarves....”

“And Elves,” added the youth. “’Tis said there are Elves both east and west of the mountains. I saw a number of them, once, back when I was a boy. Tall and fair they were, riding horses the likes of which we’d not seen before, even amongst those who’ve come from Rohan. Beautiful folk--either golden like the Sun or dark-haired as night!”

Apparently in reaction to Boromir’s disbelieving expression the smith said, “Elves don’t come this way often and have little to do with us mortals, but they are seen from time to time. There will be word that the wargs are hunting or that more orcs have been seen to our east or within Rhudaur, and soon after there usually will come reports of mounted patrols by Elves and sometimes Men as well, seeking them out. An Elf came once to my forge with a Man as tall and dark as he to have a shoe replaced on the Man’s horse. I kept the token given me--it was the first time one of the Fair Folk deigned to speak with me.”

From inside his clothing he produced a bag, and from it he pulled a twist of soft cloth. He carefully unwrapped the small package, revealing a golden disk. An eight-pointed star shone at the center of the coin between two trees, one carrying disks, the other adorned with crescent moons. On the other side was represented a ship with another star on its swan-headed prow, with a sea bird soaring underneath it and seven stars arched over it.

Boromir turned the coin over once more, weighing it in his hand. “Gold,” he murmured. “And the symbols of the High Elves and Eärendil.” He felt a strange thrill in his abdomen. “Perhaps from Imladris itself?” He looked into the smith’s eyes. “Which gave it to you?”

“The Elf.”

The son of Denethor nodded, returning the coin. After thinking for a moment he asked, “Where do the Elves come from when they are seen? Where do they go afterwards?”

The smith traded glances with the youth before returning his attention to the warrior. “They come from the north, and are always seen last heading back northwards.”

North, eh? That matched with what little his father had been able to say, that Imladris was said to lie far to the north. A sign, perhaps, that this quest for the Sword that was Broken was not in vain.

It was late in the afternoon a few days later that the youth, who’d taken rod and line south along the river to his favorite place for fishing, returned with word that he’d seen signs of the further bank having been disturbed. Boromir and two others accompanied him back to the site in question, where he pointed across the river at a place where the bank was much churned. The level of the river had fallen, and there was a fallen tree lying across that allowed the four of them to come across it safely.

Boromir could easily make out the hoofprints of his horse, and felt a weight of concern lift from him. “Windstar survived the flood!” he said with relief. “He scrambled out of the water here.”

It was the smith who found horsehair caught against the trunk of a tree, and he examined the tracks of the horse with interest. “He was favoring one of his hind legs,” he noted. “It is not enough, I suspect, to stop him moving on his own, but could well have become crippling had you attempted to ride him.”

The youth asked, “Will you follow him and bring him back--remain here until he is healed?”

Boromir thought on that for a time, at last shaking his head. “Nay, I would not do that,” he said. “If his leg was injured it could take weeks to heal ere I could ride him, or perhaps even use him to carry what goods I might have, and my errand will not wait that long. Nay, I will leave him to the good folk of Rohan where he was foaled--he is wise enough to return to his home ranges, and they will care for him as is their wont. I must go on by foot if I am not able to borrow a different horse.”

The other Man present gave a shake of his head. “Where is it you go?”

“To the Elven land of Imladris.”

“And you would walk there? Have you any idea as to how far it is?”

“Nay, I do not, only that it is said to lie far to the north in a hidden vale. Know you of it?”

The Man’s expression had become alarmed. “Deal with Elves? It is said their concerns are not those of the rest of Middle Earth.”

“But the lord of Mordor has been as much their enemy as he has been ours, and I am sent to enquire of them.”

“They are uncanny folk, the Elves. And, no, I have no idea as to where their lands lie. Best to have nothing to do with them!”

“They are responsible enough,” objected the smith. “And I’ll wager they’re the ones who keep the orcs from our doors. ’Tis said they have no love of the orcs, and will slay all they find.”

“Then let each destroy the other, and both keep away from us!” declared the second Man.

Boromir found himself looking from one to the other when a call came from the youth, who’d followed the horse’s tracks back southward. “Here! Come here--a saddle!”

Together they turned toward the voice, coming to the young Man’s side. On the ground along the track the horse had followed southward lay most of Boromir’s tack and his saddlebags, apparently scraped off against a great tree. A swift examination of them showed an animal, perhaps a fox, had gnawed the laces to his saddlebags and taken much of his supplies; and as the Gondorian lifted them, out leapt a rat, obviously frightened as it scurried into the underbrush.

But he was able to retrieve his sword and shield, although his helm appeared lost in the flood; at least his bedroll and most of the extra clothing he’d brought with him remained. The map his brother had copied for him was ruined, however, the ink all run.

“What map was this?” asked the smith as Boromir looked with dismay at what remained.

“It was a copy of a map it is said was wrought by Eärnur, or perhaps for him, showing the lands that lay between the Elven havens and the Misty Mountains. It was a map it is said he used when he went to the aid of the King of Arnor, only the King had been lost in the far northern waters, his ship crushed in the ice. My brother found it for me in the archives--copied it for my use. Not that it will be of any use to me at this point.”

The next day he set off to resume his journey, now afoot. The smith accepted the saddlebags, the best of work done in Dol Amroth, in trade for a more serviceable pack, and the folk who sought to rebuild Tharbad offered him such supplies as they could spare. He was very grateful to them, and left the saddle to the one who’d pulled him from the river. As he went north, the smith chose to accompany him for a time.

“Do you think you will find this Imladris?” the smith asked.

“I certainly intend to,” the warrior replied.

“But you have no idea as to where it might be?”

“None--it is said only that it lies somewhere to the north, apparently not far from the East-West road that leads to the High Pass. I suppose I must go there first.”

“There is a town there, at the crossroads, or so the traders tell us. All speak well of Bree.”

“And is there a castle there?”

The smith scoffed, “And what do we here in the northern wilds need with castles? Have we any great lords with armies of knights riding behind them? No, although I believe there is a wooden wall about the place. You would do well to ask there, I suppose.” They walked together quietly before he continued, “Why do you go there, of all places in Middle Earth?”

“A riddling dream has troubled my people, and it is there that my father believes answers to the riddle might be given.”

“You truly believe the Elves will speak to Men of the wisdom they have amassed over the long ages of Middle Earth?”

“I know not. However, the peril of our day threatens all of us, Men and Elves and whatever other folk might yet linger within the circles of Arda.”

“You might ask among the Dwarves for direction.”

“You have seen such?”

His companion shrugged. “We do not see them often so far south, for it is said their strongholds are far north of the ruins of their ancient kingdom, along the borders of Men’s lands and the wilderness. But twice in my life have they come here. A curious folk, the Dwarves.”

“Are they indeed shorter than Men?”

“Indeed, with thick beards and hair, elaborately braided. Great craftsmen and warriors, they. I have often wished I might have studied under them--then I would be sought after as a true master of my craft!”

“And what of the Men who dwell north of here? Know you aught of them?”

The smith shrugged. “Not much is known of them, save for those of Bree. But those traders from Bree are different from the others--the ones we call Rangers.”

Boromir straightened, his eyes alert at the word. “Rangers?”

“Yea, we have ever known them as that. Some come this way at times, and we see them two or three times a year. They will stay in our inns and spend their coin. They are quiet folk, and their eyes ever are searching for evil, it seems. They are polite enough, but do not tolerate trouble. When any comes from south or east, the Rangers will watch them closely, and do not hesitate to interfere if it appears there might be a quarrel.”

“The Rangers--what do they look like?”

“Tall, spare, much as you are--hair usually dark, eyes mostly grey as winter skies or the river under clouds, often bearded. Clad usually in grey, green, or silver cloaks caught with silver brooches over riding leathers, usually. They carry swords, knives, and often bows as well. Their horses are tall and as lean as their masters, and often will not allow others to touch them. Many fear them, but then many fear the Elves as well, and that I see as foolish.”

After a time the smith asked, “In your own land, there you are one of importance?”

Boromir thought for a moment before answering, “My father is leader for our people.”

“And the horn you bear?”

“An heirloom of our house.”

“And you will be leader after your father?”

“If Mandos does not take me betimes.”

The smith stopped and looked him over closely. “You do not expect to return to the needs of your own people?”

“I intend to return with aid for my land, or I will not return at all.”

“And aid will come with the answer to your riddle?”

“Such is my hope.”

Again the smith searched his face, then reached out to clasp the warrior’s wrist. “Then may it be answered, sir. Go, and may the Powers be with you!” With that he drew back and bowed, then turned back to the site of Tharbad while Boromir son of Denethor, Captain-General of Gondor’s armies, turned northward along the Greenway.

*******


Summer had passed into a fair autumn, and most days were clear, although the nights were increasingly chill. He saw a few homesteads and farms, and on very rare occasions walled villages. One night as he spent the night within the hay storage of one farmstead’s byre, he was awakened by a feeling of cold dread, and sat up, his face suddenly sweating with fear as he heard afar off, drawing apparently off northwards, a familiar chilling cry. Forgotten was the scratchiness of the grass stalks under him or the scent of the two cows and the one swaybacked horse kept to pull the plow. He reached automatically for his sword, even though he knew it was useless against the receding threat.

“Nazgûl! Why do they go through this forsaken land?” he asked himself as he realized he was shaking. “What do they seek?”

He had no answer to give himself, and did not sleep again during the rest of the night, no more, he noted, than did the horse or cows.

*******


It was well after dark, and raining, when he approached the wooden palisade that protected the village of Bree. It was the first large community he had seen since he left Rohan. He prayed he would be able to take a room in an inn here, for it was a foul night and he had not slept fully under cover for days and days. Ah, to think of getting a hot meal hopefully cooked by someone who knew how to actually prepare it! He’d not had more substantial a meal than a duck cooked over a campfire for weeks. He had found an empty farmstead three days since, the walls alone standing yet and those charred by fire, about which he’d found carrots and some other plants whose roots he could harvest that had helped fill his belly.

But, a true meal, a real bed....

There were, he noted, two slots through which the gate warden might look to judge the traveler without the gates. Suspicious brown eyes glared at him through the upper one. “And why must I admit ye?” demanded the voice of the Man, thick with suspicion. “Ye’re not one from these parts, not got up like that, ye a’n’t, and not even one of them Rangers! Nah, we’ve had our fill with strangers wit’ swords, we have! Be off with ye!”

“But I only wished to stay at the inn...” he began, but the slot was rammed closed, and none answered his further bangs upon the gates. Finally he followed the wall around eastward and northward, but found no other entrances, until the wall came to an end on the steep slopes of a large hill at the north side of the village.

He skirted this to the east and followed an established track northeastward, and at last, as the rain finally ended, spotted a farmstead, the borders of which were protected by thick hedges on this side and a rough dry-stone wall on another. At last he found the gate and approached it. A great dog came bounding toward the gate from the direction of the house, pursued by a smaller fellow who yapped a warning as it came. He saw light swell as the house door opened, and a broad-built Man came out carrying a lantern, catching up a hay fork as he came to learn the nature of the disturbance. Boromir stood his ground at the gate, and the smaller dog was soon sniffing through the latticework of the gate and beginning to wriggle with excitement, apparently recognizing him as a potential friend, while the other dog’s stance spoke of wariness but not fear.

Apparently reassured by the dogs’ behavior, the farmer came close to the gate and allowed the light of his lantern to shine out at the traveler. “And who be you?” the farmer asked.

“A traveler from far to the south,” Boromir answered. “I sought a place to stay for the night.”

“Bree’s back thataways,” the Man said with a wave at the track the warrior had followed. “Got a couple inns they do, though I’d recommend the Pony--t’other’s not much, and the company rough.”

“I was refused admittance,” Boromir explained. “The warden at the gate said there’s been too much disturbance as of late.”

The farmer nodded, his attitude more wary as the lantern light winked off the hilt of the stranger’s sword. “Well, must admit as that’s true enough,” he finally agreed. “Was a powerful row there, some nights back. Strange folk’ve been abouts the Breelands, they have, what with Black Riders ’n’ horse thieves from Southern parts. The Prancin’ Pony’s stable was broke into, an’ we found two horses from theres in our south pasture the next day.

“The Black Riders--they came here? Why?” Boromir found himself demanding. “I do not understand why they would come this direction--not at all. There are no armies to the north that we have ever heard of, ready to fall upon their lands!” Again he found himself shivering.

“You know of them?” asked the farmer, suddenly curious and apparently further reassured by the warrior’s behavior.

“I have seen them before, and our folk have ever been warned against them,” he admitted. “They are dark and fell enemies. But why they range so far from their own place I know not. Never have I heard of them ranging north of the Emyn Muil, much less west of the River Anduin.”

“Never heard of them parts,” the farmer returned.

“Nor would I expect you to have done so. They are a good ways from these lands, east of the Mountains of Mist and far to the south.”

“And what’re you doin’ here, then, so far from your home?” demanded the farmer, his suspicions raised yet again.

“I was sent from my father to enquire of the Elves.”

The Man with the lantern straightened at that, his surprise apparently chasing his concerns away. “Elves? You’ve been sent to the Elves? Whatever for?”

He was invited into the Man’s house, where he removed his swordbelt and leaned his weapon against the wall by the door alongside the household’s own cudgels. He was thrilled to be given warm water with which to bathe his face and arms, and a substantial meal was given him, and afterwards he was allowed to sleep in the barn. The farmer proved a young Man, and his wife comely and obviously far gone with their first child. They were thrilled to have company and to hear what of his tale he would share with them, although he wasn’t certain how much of it they believed.

In the morning he was given fresh eggs wrapped in straw and a fair amount of food to fill his now well-worn pack. “Don’t rightly know as how far it is t’ Rivendell, where they could tell you of where this Imladris might be. A’n’t west’ve us--that’s only the Hobbits’ Shire that direction, so must be t’the east. And, after all, that's where most’ve the Elves as is seen hereabouts appear to go when they’re seen at all, although there’s talk of some as lives south ’n’ east of the Shire, too. But those’re the wanderin’ folks, or so ’tis said. No, if’n you’re seekin’ word of this Imladris, I’d say as Rivendell’d be the place to ask.”

“You have been to this Rivendell?” Boromir asked as he helped carry wood to the house door alongside the farmer ere he took his leave.

“Me? Leave the Breelands? Not likely! No, but the Dwarves as come this way’ll speak of it an’ their welcome they’ve knowed there. Used to live in Bree itself, you see, and worked at the Prancin’ Pony, workin’ under my Uncle Jape as is barman for old Butterbur. Year after me ’n’ Linnet married, you understand, her dad died and left us this place. Been here two years, and expectin’ a child in three month’s time, we are. It’s a good farm, and has been right good to us, it has.

“But the folks of Bree itself--they’re right spooked, whatever ’twas as happened when them Hobbits from the Shire was there, some nights back. Went off with that Strider, they did, right off into the wilds. Probably not see them again--he most like took them off into the woods somewheres and killed ’em by now. Prancin’ Pony was broke into, and there was talk of squinty-eyed southerners and Black Riders and spooks of some sort right in the middle of the village, don’t ye know. Won’t speak of it near Linnet, I won’t--don’t want her worryin’ none, what with the babe and all. Heard all ’bout it when I took the horses back, the ones as I found in the field there. Harry Goatleaf as was gate guard for the west gate, ’pears as he let ’em in. Him’s gone now--disappeared off with them strange, squinty-eyes southerners into the wilds. Mayhaps as they’re hidin’ out in the Old Forest or somethin’ now.”

He paused to lay his load of wood on the stack immediately outside the kitchen door, then turned to take that Boromir carried. Having stacked it neatly, he stood and wiped his brow, eyeing the taller Man. “You related to them Rangers, sir?” he asked.

“Not to any who might live in these parts,” Boromir said. “Why?”

The Man shrugged. “You’ve got much of a look of them, is all--tall, strong, dark hair, the eyes, a fine sword--although the swords of the Rangers ’round here’s different from yours. Maybe longer, not so broad. My neighbor there--” he nodded in a northeasterly direction, “--says as him’s seen Rangers an’ Elves talkin’ along the way. Seem to have some kind of understandin’, them does. Don’t know about that, of course. But the Rangers in these parts don’t dress much like you, save for the swordbelts--them’s much the same. None with clothes nowhere’s fine as yours, though.

“Well,” he added, “come in and we’ll see if’n Linnet’s brushed your cloak clean. That’s a right fine cloak, ’tis.”

Linnet had indeed brushed it clean, and had refreshed it over a steaming kettle, even mending tears in the lining. She smiled as she gave him his refilled water bottles, and ducked her head as she added a filled wineskin besides. “For yer journey,” she said, flushing slightly. “Go, and the blessin’s of them as wills fer the good go with ye.”

He was smiling as he resumed his journey under a fairer sky than had been visible the night before.

*******


He saw flashing lights in the sky that night, far to the east, and several days later came to a series of tall hills, the greatest of which was crowned with the remains of an ancient tower, and about which he found foundations of an equally ancient fortress. He was exploring a dell on one side of the tallest hill when he suddenly realized he was under the watchful eye of a group of armed Men, one of whom had an arrow trained at him. “Who are you, stranger?” asked the one who appeared to be leader among them.

“I am from far to the south,” he said, raising his hands to show he meant no harm. “I do not live in these lands.”

“And why do you search here, in this dell?” the Man asked, his expression grim. He and his fellows were all built much like Boromir himself, and all had long swords at their sides, under their dull cloaks, all of which appeared to be grey or green and fair spattered with mud at the hems, and all of which were caught at the shoulder with brooches in the shape of a silver star.

“I was curious--have been looking all about the ruins there,” Boromir answered with a nod to the remains of the tower above them. “This appears to have been of old a great watchtower.”

“Amon Sûl,” the other agreed.

“The hill of the winds?” Boromir asked, straightening. “This was where the----” He stopped, aware of a shared excitement among those opposing him, and wondering at it.

“You know of the Weather Hills?” asked one of the others.

“That it is said that in ancient times Elendil the Tall built a tower there.”

“And that his descendants within Arnor themselves saw to it that it fell to the Witch-king of Angmar?” the leader responded, a level of irony in his tone. He looked more closely at the warrior, and then beckoned the bowman to him, asking a question in a language Boromir did not understand, but that sounded much like the language of Umbar, if differently accented. The answer was equally incomprehensible, but in it he was certain he heard the word Gondor and possibly the name of his father as well.

He decided to answer before the question was put to him. “Yes, I am from Gondor, sent by her Steward himself. Will you aid me or not?”

“What do you seek?”

He afterward could not say why he answered, “The Sword that was Broken--’tis said it dwells in Imladris.”

All five of those in this party took deep breaths together, exchanging glances. The bowman eased his string as he lowered his aim, running experienced eyes over him. The leader asked, “What think you of this one, Hardorn?”

“He has the look of Gondor to him, as I said.”

All returned their attention to Boromir. “And what does Gondor wish with the Sword that was Broken?” the leader asked in a cold voice.

“You know of it?”

“Its tale is told here among us as I must suppose it is told in Minas Tirith.”

Boromir paused. Northern Dúnedain? he wondered. It appeared that perhaps remnants of Elendil’s folk remained in the hidden places of Eriador, then. “Will you aid me in my quest?” he repeated.

“And what would you do with it should you find it?”

“We seek answers to a riddling dream,” he answered. “It was suggested that Elrond, lord of Imladris, could perhaps give us those answers. The dream speaks of the Sword that was Broken and of Isildur’s Bane.”

All opposite them went utterly still. At last the bowman said something in their tongue to the leader, a question of some sort.

“Our chieftain could perhaps tell you more,” the leader said at last. “From the tokens we have found this day he was here in this dell some two days past, and with a small company of others, none of them our people. He was plainly heading eastward, and most likely even now is on his way toward Rivendell. Go there and you will undoubtedly find him, and between him and the master of the Last Homely House I suspect they will answer your questions.”

Boromir examined eyes as grey and discerning as those of his brother. “And how is it I am to find my way?”

After a few moments’ discussion with the bowman the leader gave him detailed instructions, then paused at a question from a younger Man in the party. At last he nodded, then turned once more. “You know of the Nazgûl?” he asked. At Boromir’s shiver, he nodded as if this confirmed what the rest of them supposed. “They appear to have come northward, and we do not know why. Of us all, only Hardorn and our chieftain have encountered their spoor before, and Hardorn says that he is positive they have indeed been here, both above on the heights and here within this dell itself. Beware, Man of Gondor--keep a fire going by you in the night.”

“Gandalf was here, too, several nights before our chieftain and his companions came here,” added the young one, ignoring the warning looks of his companions. “His sign was clearly seen up in the midst of the ruins. They came upon him there, atop the hill. He, too, may be in Rivendell when you come there.”

“And you found nothing else?” Boromir demanded.

“One thing--a black mantle, slashed near the hem. And signs there,” he pointed at a firepit black with ashes, “that the night they camped here they kept a great fire going, perhaps in the attempt to ward off the Nazgûl themselves. They came aware of the dangers.”

The bowman added, “If you desire not to meet them here also this night, you would do best to be far upon your way. Some six hours’ walk east along the Road you will find ruins of a cottage somewhat south of the way. There is a well there that was sweet when we camped there last night. It is possible to have a fire there that won’t be seen by those who pass by.”

“And you?”

“We go to Bree to learn what more can be learned of our chieftain’s last visit there.”

“They would not allow me into the village. There had been trouble there ere I came there.”

There were grim laughs from the five Men. “If Strider was involved, I would say the trouble was grim. But they will not seek to keep us out, not with so many of us.”

A sixth Man joined the others from the south. “He went there, and I found he culled leaves of athelas. Apparently one of those with whom he traveled had been gravely wounded,” he reported, once he felt assured he might speak openly before the stranger.

The leader and bowman nodded. “Good enough. Then we must be away ourselves, and learn what Faradir has found out from his watch about the borders of the Shire. If Iorhael was with him here....”

They fell silent, and all pulled their hoods over their heads, reminding Boromir of his brother’s Rangers masking their faces before preparing for an ambush. In moments the six Men were vanished, and as he returned to the Road Boromir could hear the hooves of horses riding fast westward, seeing them already at a distance. He stood, watching after them, then returned briefly to the dell, finding a cache of wood. Taking a faggot upon his shoulder, he set off eastward, easily finding the ruins of which he’d been advised.

He saw no further sign of other folk as he finished his long journey.

*******


“Daro!” came the command as he approached the ford of which the northern Ranger captain had advised him. Four Elves, each armed with sword, knives, and long bows to rival that his brother wielded, appeared as if by the effects of some spell.

Boromir stopped, uncertain as to what to expect next. He felt as if it were half a year he’d taken on this foolish quest, and now he was being halted in Elvish from proceeding on into the valley he’d so long sought? He’d lost his horse long ago, in the ruins of Tharbad; he was now losing his patience as well.

“Who are you?” he was asked in Sindarin.

“Boromir son of Denethor, Lord Steward of Gondor. I come on behalf of my father and people to seek the advice of Elrond Peredhel, thought the greatest of loremasters.” He knew his answer sounded over-proud, but he was tired and hungry after a long day’s march with little left of the food he’d been given in the Breelands.

The guards considered him for quite some time, and conferred in whispers. Was he to find still another refusal of entrance, he wondered, or still another barrier to his quest?

At last one of those who faced him asked, “How is it you found this place?”

“Men of Eriador--Rangers, I deemed them--told me how to come here. I told them I sought Imladris, and they said I might find direction and perhaps answers from the master of the Last Homely House in Rivendell.”

The Elves shared looks, and at last one spoke to him. “You are not the only one to be newly come here to Imladris, Man of Gondor. It appears that the Powers draw many here to their purposes.” His eyes searched Boromir’s face thoroughly in the light of the stars overhead, then at long last he said, “Enter.” He nodded to one of the others. “Lead him to Lord Elrond.”

Imladris--at last he’d found Imladris! Boromir felt a thrill of relief. It appeared his quest was at last met. Now, what would the answers be to the questions raised by the riddling dream, and would he like those answers? Only time would tell.




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