This is a very AU story based on the many Robin Hood myths. In this story, there was no Sauron, no Rings and therefore, no Ring Wars. Gondor was still founded after the Fall of Numenior by Elendil. However, the line of Kings of Numenior was never broken.
All the character's histories have been changed andin a few cases somefamily relationships no longer exist.
It has been 50 years since the King went away. Went to fight a war in Dark Harad. None ever dreamed he'd be gone for so long. Nor that the Steward he left to guard his people would inflict such evil upon them…
Denethor was furious. He crumpled the dispatch in his hand and threw it across the room at the man who had brought it to him. "What do you mean the convoy was attacked? I thought you had 20 men assigned to escort the gold from Rohan. How could it possibly have been waylaid?"
The soldier gulped and adjusted his stance nervously. "Well," he stammered, "The convoy was taken as it crossed over the border. The Fox of Ithilien and his men ambushed them. "
Denethor shot up from his seat, his face purple from rage. The Fox of Ithilien. That man has become a thorn in his side. No one knew the Fox's real name nor where he had come from. Only that 7 years ago, accounts had begun to come out of Ithilien about a mysterious stranger dressed in browns and greens who robbed only wealthy travelers and Denethor's sworn servants. Denethor had sent men into the woods to flush him out, only to have them come back tied to their horses with notes saying "Courtesy of the Fox". Time after time, he had tried to catch the illusive outlaw but with no success.
Of course it didn't help that the people of Ithilien loved him. The Fox gave money to the poor people of Ithilien and had been known to intervene when soldiers abused the peasants. Because of this, no reward was enough to convince the people to turn in the outlaw. Over time, men had joined the Fox until now he had a small band of outlaws that enabled him to attack larger convoys. This latest one cost Denethor dearly.
Denethor was enraged and screamed "Send word for my son! Tell him I need him here NOW!" The soldier gulped in terror, nodded his head swiftly and fled the room. He didn't envy Captain Boromir one bit having to deal with his father. He was in a right state and no mistaking it. Still, it was said that the Captain was his Father's pride and joy so maybe he'd have some way to get around the raging Steward.
Boromir was in the barracks of Osgiliath. He had recently returned from an inspection of Northern Gondor and was enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the Common Room. Despite his position, he was much loved by the men and could often be found drinking and carousing with them. Boromir hated the stuffy life of court that awaited him every time he returned to Minas Tirith and so he generally avoided it as much as he could. This was a huge annoyance to his father, who was always telling him that he should pay more attention to the intrigues of court. After all, if the King did not return from the war, he would one day be Steward.
Boromir dreaded the thought that he might become the Ruler of Gondor. He had no interest in politics or power, preferring the straightforward life of a soldier. Still, unless King Aragorn grew tired war, there was no avoiding it and so he enjoyed himself while he could.
He was happily savoring a tankard of ale with the other off-duty soldiers when a messenger came into the Common Room. He made straight for Boromir and knelt before him. "My Lord, I come bearing a message from The Steward of Gondor" He held out the message to Boromir.
Boromir frowned. "Why can't that man ever leave me alone for just one day?" He gestured the man away who hesitated. "What?" snapped Boromir. The messenger fidgeted slightly and said, "My apologies, my Lord, I was told not to leave until I was sure that you would fulfill the request in the message."
Boromir snorted angrily and said, "That figures." He ripped open the message and scanned the contents. His frown only got deeper. "I'm to go to Minas Tirith at once. There is a matter that must be dealt with immediately. " He exchanged looks with his second in command, who shrugged and said "Our Lord Steward commands… we humble soldiers must follow." Boromir growled in response and said "Easy for you to say, Camcir. You aren't the one who has to attend the man."
The messenger still squirmed nervously. "May I tell him that you are on your way, my Lord?" Boromir heaved an angry sigh and said, "Yes, tell my Lord Steward I will be there shortly" The messenger looked greatly relieved and bowing, turned and left. Boromir glared once more at the missive from his father. It would appear his playtime was over…
Ithilien was a place of deep woods and secret places. It was in one of these places that the man known as the Fox of Ithilien had his lair. Currently he was sitting in a large cave surrounded by his men. They were tallyingup the loot from the latest raid and it looked like this one was larger then expected. This put a worried look on the face of the man known as the Fox and did not go unnoticed by Eomer, his second in command.
"Faramir, stop worrying. You are worse then an old granny. We got away clean and this money will see the peasants in warm food for the winter. Now stop fretting and break out the ale. It's time we celebrate our latest victory against Denethor. " This earned the blond a round of cheers from his fellow outlaws and Faramir smiled faintly. He knew that the others were excited about this latest raid but he couldn't help but worry about how Denethor would react to losing such alarge sum of money all at once. Still, there was nothing to be done about it right now and the men did deserve a celebration.
He smiled widely and called out "Pippin, how's dinner coming along?" In response to Faramir's question, a curly brown head popped out from around the corner. Green eyes sparkled with mischief as he said "Well, I wasn't exactly planning for any fancy celebration, so you'll just have to do with the venison stew I prepared. It's hot and it's ready if that will do you?" This brought another cheer from the group and long planks were set up on barrels to create tables and benches were pulled from the walls where they were stored. Everyone helped out equally, Faramir included. He may have been their leader but he lead by example, not by force. It was because of this that his men followed him so loyally. He would never ask them to take any risk that he wouldn't take himself.
The tables being set, Pippin began to ladle out bowls of stew. Baskets of bread, courtesy of the local peasants, were passed around and everyone sat down to have a merry feast. They lived simply here, since caves did not allow for too many amenities but the company could not be faulted. There was much mirth as the dinner was consumed and afterwards all relaxed with a tankard of ale. Faramir looked around the room at the men gathered here. Each one had his reason for being here. Each one had suffered in his own way thanks to Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Perhaps today would come back to haunt him but for now he was glad to have struck one more blow against The Black Crow of Gondor.
Author's Note: This is a slow developing story and the backgrounds and motivations of the characters will not all get revealed at once. I hope you will remain patient and wait for things but if you find yourself truly confused, put that in a review and I'll try to clarify it for you.