Footsteps

By Evendim

This is a not for profit work of fan fiction based upon the works of J.R.R. Tolkien

Chapter Eleven

The Breaking of the Fellowship

ooOoo

Boromir finished writing in his daybook, his last action every night before either taking the Watch or falling asleep. The atmosphere around the Gondorian and Aragorn was fairly toxic after they had shared a frank exchange regarding the option to make way to Minas Tirith. Aragorn's statement that he would not take the ring within reach of Boromir's city had burned Boromir beyond endurance. Not 'our' city, oh no, Boromir's city! This was the future, then. Here was a man who would be their king; but who refused to even own the city within which he would rule his kingdom. Boromir was in a dark place as he laid down to rest. He had gotten in a few well directed strikes of his own, but he was weary of this on-off friendship with the Ranger from the North. For a time they had come to be entirely civil with one another, even sharing a few memories along the way, the tension between the two had lessened considerably after Gandalf had fallen in Moria, although there had been a brief skirmish as Boromir demanded the hobbits be given a moment to grieve for the Wizard, but the General had been forced to concede that round, and press on towards Lothlórien.

All seemed hopeless, Boromir was losing sight of what it was he had set out to achieve. Counsel from a wise Elf Lord had somehow become a gruelling trek that almost half of the company bordered upon being incapable of completing. Now, tonight, he was losing hope. What was the point of his continuing with this folly? He could depart the company and make his own way to Minas Tirith. One man could conceal himself better than this rag-tag-and-bobtail travelling circus, with the dwarf's clanking armour, and Sam's pots and pans. He could find some outlying settlement, and borrow a mount. Once in the city he could ride out with his cavalry troop and…and be humiliated publicly, when the future King of the West declined his support. Yes, good one, Boromir.

"Can ye not sleep, big man?" Pippin asked softly from his bedroll close by.

"So it appears, little Shire-ling," Boromir forced a smile, but he could not fool Pippin. Not after so many hours spent in one another's company.

"You should not let him hurt you," said Pippin, "you made a good suggestion, and why will he not go to Minas Tirith when he will be king there at the end of this war?"

"That question would be best directed to Aragorn himself, I do not speak for him, apparently, though I was destined to be his Steward," Boromir said through a smile that would not reach his eyes, and likely there was no room there, for tears were forming where his false smile could not.

"Was…? You would not take this 'White Rod' thingy, then?" Pippin asked in shock. From all he had learned about Lord Denethor, the Stewardship was more than just a job, it was…everything! Boromir was going to give up…well…everything, because the future king would not go to the city of Minas Tirith? "I am confused, big man!"

"I told him in Rivendell that Gondor has no king; that Gondor needs no king. But with the White Crown upon his brow, he shall declare Gondor needs no Steward. His right, his decision, I care not. I could not serve him honourably after the way he dismissed my city, my people, he is not worth one more Hurin tear, far less my father's sanity, or my brother's life!" Boromir turned his head into his folded cloak, and Pippin understood the man did not wish him to view his tears.

"You have done nothing wrong, only worked hard to keep this company together. If he will not see, you cannot make him!" Pippin said gently, then he ran his hand over the blond mane of hair spread upon the make-shift pillow, and turned over in his bedroll, if only to block the cold, for there was no way he could sleep while Boromir was so distressed.

ooOoo

The canoe ran aground and Boromir hesitated, shrugged his shoulders, as though someone had stepped upon his grave, and for some odd reason Theodred of Rohan came to mind. The commotion around him soon dispelled the random notion, and he jumped out and dragged the canoe up onto the shingle. The company began to ferry their goods further up the shore, and Boromir set aside his shield and went to fetch firewood. Pippin sensed him leaving, had sensed his immense hurt the entire journey down river. Glancing at Aragorn, the hobbit saw the ranger noting Boromir's departure, and then Aragorn sensed he was under scrutiny and his head swivelled, and he and Pippin locked eyes. Pippin himself was hurting, for he knew that the General's honour would not permit him to leave the fellowship, even although he believed he ought to, in order to fetch assistance from the city. He was honouring his oath to protect Frodo, even although Master Baggins seemed not to approve of him.

"Pip…?" Merry had sensed there was something wrong, for Pippin was closed off to even him today.

"Its not right, its not fair, he should be happy to be home again, for the Argonath are set at the borders of Gondor, but he isn't, he hurts, here!" and Pippin slapped his own heart to demonstrate where Boromir's ache was seated.

"I don't see what we can do, Pippin," said Merry. "It's not our business, not Hobbit business." Merry felt he needed to clarify what he meant, for Pippin was growing increasingly vocal over certain topics; Boromir of Gondor, for to name but one.

"What is Hobbit business? Why are we even here? We are of no actual use, and we delay the others. I wish I never had come!" Pippin said and began to trek up the beach carrying his pack.

Not so very far away Boromir was feeling much the same thing. Kneeling upon the ground he was weeping, and confused. Frodo had misconstrued his intention to borrow the ring; had put the token on, and, once invisible, had knocked Boromir down, and presumably ran into hiding. Boromir, with the influence of the ring removed from his presence, took a moment to gather his thoughts, and weep over his failure. It seemed to him that all was lost, that his father and his brother would be swept away on a tide of evil. His city would be brought to ruin, for who would stand before the gates and save her? Lost, bereft of honour, without hope, Boromir wished he could die where he knelt, sooner here than anywhere offering a view of Minas Tirith. This at least was Gondor, if he died here he would die fighting for the land he loved and had faithfully served since birth. This overpowering sense of loss, and defeat, wore at Boromir's soul. He had suffered a nightmare about Theodred; his Shield Brother had been alone, bloodied, hopelessly trying to make a stand, and the same shudder Boromir had experienced as he left the canoe was once more assailing him. Like some harbinger of doom. The sound of clashing steel, and shouts, and even the piping voice of a hobbit carried towards him. Instantly he shook off his own despair and a lifetime's training kicked in as he stood, collected his balance and took off at a run towards the sound of Pippin's cries for help.

Orcs, far too many for a random attack, they had been tracked, then. The Elf's ignored warning had proven to be correct. The warriors within the fellowship were scattered, Boromir stood his ground alone, with the two hobbits, Pippin and Merry, watching on, trying their best to assist him; even throwing rocks at the orcs in a vain attempt to ward them off. Gimli must be with the Elf. Where was Frodo? Wherever he was, likely Sam would be there also! Aragorn was nowhere to be seen, but it did not once occur to Boromir that the man was not caught up in the fight. Aragorn would fight to the death, of this Boromir was certain. They had paid the price of their fractured alliance. Together, as in Moria, the warriors had stood a slim chance of success. Here, divided, singled out, they were fighting little more than a last stand.

"So be it," Boromir whispered aloud, "For Gondor!"

"Big man…! Boromir…!" Pippin's clear voice carried above the noise and the confusion as Boromir fought like a man possessed.

"It is over," Boromir whispered, death had come in the form of a great Uruk. The brute carried a bow and many arrows, crow-black fledged, and he was growling directly at Boromir. "Father, Faramir, remember me!"

The first arrow hit with such force it toppled Boromir upon the turf. Still he fought his way back, all too aware the hobbits, his little ones, were watching on helplessly. The orc nearest to Boromir paid with his life. It was a pointless strike, it made no difference whether the creature lived or died. The second strike felled Boromir once again, and now he knew his death was no longer in the balance. It was a certainty. Again he fought to his knees, and he took out a pawn of the White Hand. Merry and Pippin were weeping, and fighting against captivity, but both were now being borne away from the battle. It was over, he was over, there was nothing to be done now save make a good death. The third arrow pierced him, and he knew it was over. The Uruk was drawn off into battle by Aragorn, but it no longer mattered, Boromir felt for the hilt of his sword, and he heard the demented screams of Pippin as his eyes lost their focus. He had been born to die; it had ever been his destiny. At least he was going to die on home soil.

At the very last he saw the man who would be king stoop over him, felt him place a kiss upon his brow, and murmur words of blessing and peace. It was too late to reconcile, he was already losing consciousness, and his fading moments upon Arda were as a mist forming behind his eyes, and then the pain left him, and he let go of his fear, and his loss, and his…duty.

And from that moment,

I dreamed I could fly,

And from that mountain I reached for the sky;

Through tears and good times, I found my way;

Those years are calling me again;

Then I hear footsteps echoing along the winding road,

I can hear voices singing all the songs I have known,

And I see faces,

All the ones I've loved along the way,

People and places,

They're here again, they're here again…

ooOoo

Footsteps performed by Chris De Burgh

The end