By Carolyn Golledge
"They have a cave troll," Boromir reported, calm and certain.
He had battled the things often enough, but usually with soldiers about him, or, if there had been civilians, they had been Men and Women, not Hobbits the size of children. The ancient wood door shattered at the first impact of the troll's fist. Goblins poured in, a dam burst of teeth and yellow eyes and flashing blades. Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli took them on, hewing them down as fast as they charged forward.
"Stay back!" Boromir shouted as Merry and Pippin appeared in his line of sight, their swords at the ready. Their training had only begun, they couldn't...
"Sam!" Frodo yelled.
Hacking down two more Goblins, Boromir spared a glance behind, saw Sam, fry pan in hand belting a Goblin over the head. A fry pan!
"I'm getting' the hang o' this!" Sam said, breathless.
Thundering steps, a massive shadow, the troll, towering over the Hobbit. White-faced, Sam froze, staring up at the thing in terror. A lift of one giant foot, and...
A chop with a sword, no matter how well aimed, at best would serve only to bring the thing's entire body down atop the Hobbit. The troll snarled and turned its head as another of Legolas' arrows hit home, chains swinging from its wrists.
Boromir grabbed them and quickly looped the heavy metal links about his lightly armored forearm. He heaved, but it wasn't enough. Then, Aragorn was there, adding his weight, grabbing at the chain. Together, they heaved with all they had. Distracted, the troll turned to look at them and Sam scurried clear. The troll turned to attack, its arm lifting, the arm to which the chains were -
Lifted from his feet, Boromir was flung hard backward, a whoosh of air about him. A slamming impact on stone. Agonizing pain erupting in his back and chest, all the breath gone from him. Blackness. Somehow, he clung to consciousness, aware that to pass out now was to die. He shook his head, sending sweat and bloodied spit flying, caught a blurred vision of a Goblin charging at him, blade raised. Boromir could not move, his right hand flexing on empty air. Where was his sword, damn it! A familiar thunking sound, Aragorn's knife embedded in the Goblin's head, it grunted and fell.
Aragorn's blue eyes, bright against the shadows, met Boromir's blurred gaze with silent question. How bad...? Can you fight?
Boromir nodded thanks, and answered with action, finding his fallen sword with a groping hand. The Ranger had surely saved his life.
Relief took the dark edge from Aragorn's harried expression, and he nodded swift acceptance then returned to the frenzied battle. So many enemy! Boromir shoved down hard with his free hand to push himself up. Pain, sudden, overwhelming, swamped him, mixing bile and blood in his mouth. He spat, saw scarlet droplets splatter the flagstones, hoped he had simply bitten his tongue, pushed the truth away.
First rolling to all fours, he managed to stagger back to his feet. Two Goblins came at him and instinct took over, compelling his arm to lift and strike again and again, forbid the pain entry to his mind. He side-stepped, clumsy. If Faramir were here he would laugh to see the awkwardness, the wounding rather than killing strikes. Laughed, or wept. Another enemy, another. The cave troll, thankfully, was otherwise occupied, Boromir catching a fleeting impression of Legolas firing arrow after arrow into the thing. It was intent on reaching who? Frodo!
Boromir could not help, could barely stand, barely keep himself alive. He lunged forward, impaled a Goblin on his blade and its falling weight clawed through him, jarring him badly enough that the pain would not be denied. Something gave way deep inside him with a tearing, flooding warmth. The metallic tang of blood filled his mouth, choking him and he bent forward and vomited it up, almost bought down by the agony of the muscle spasm in his gut. But he could breathe again, a little, and took down an unwary enemy who came too close, thinking him finished. His trembling legs held, and he moved forward, trying to get between the wall of enemy and the Hobbits at the rear of the cavernous room. His impossibly heavy right arm thrust and hacked, felling or driving the Goblins from him, their yellow eyes wide with fear.
He vomited more blood, shook his head, desperately trying to see. He heard Sam scream, "No!"
Boromir turned clumsily toward the sound, stumbled, squinted down at the object that had tripped him. His dazed mind tried to make sense of it, and it took a moment to recognize it was his shield. He'd dropped it to grab the chain. He stabbed another enemy, and already stooped over, bent further to pick it up. It was like trying to lift the stone floor, utterly immovable. It weighed more than it could have, surely. No, it hadn't changed, he was weak, failing. He tugged at it again, and the effort dragged him to his knees with a jolt that forced a strangled cry of pain from him. Emboldened, a Goblin came at him and he drew his dirk, threw, and bought it down. More Goblins. He staggered up, his vision going red black a moment then steadying into hazy focus.
Suddenly, the cave troll fell, thudded into the stone floor with a shuddering impact that very nearly took Boromir's feet from under him once more. He blinked sweat from his eyes and peered at it, saw with immense relief that it was dead, arrows jutting everywhere from its head. Now there were only the remnants of frightened Goblins to clean up. He tried to lift his sword and join Gimli who was having at them with a will, avenging his dead cousin.
Something was wrong, ruptured deep inside him, giving way further as the tried again, futilely to wield his sword. He stood there, swallowing blood faster than he could spit it out and weaving like a drunk. He became aware that there was silence but for his friends' ragged, panting breaths and their boots and bare feet shifting the crumbled rock of the rubble-strewn floor.
"Frodo!" Merry and Pippin echoed Sam's cry and a moment later, Aragorn too, gasped the name.
Boromir found it an immense effort just to turn his head to see where they were looking.
No, oh no.
Frodo lay lifeless, sprawled amid the stone pillars, Sam weeping as he went to him, Aragorn crawling toward them, surely badly hurt himself. Boromir desperately wanted to go to them, to help, but found he needed all his meager strength merely to remain upright. Gandalf moved into his line of sight, his shrewd eyes piercing beneath the bushy eyebrows. His attention riveted on Frodo, Boromir was surprised when the old Wizard took time out to give Boromir a startled and worried regard before turning back again to the Ringbearer.
"Frodo!" Sam's cry was a sob of utter despair as he went to his knees and clutched at Frodo's shoulders, cradling him.
Aragorn shoved something big and heavy from atop Frodo, and it rolled down onto the floor with a dull metallic clang. Boromir was aware distantly that his reactions were too slow, his thinking muddled. His gaze settled on the rolling object and his brain struggled to identify it. A pike, a massive pike, big enough to be a troll's weapon. That had felled Frodo? There was no hope, then, that Frodo was only wounded, knocked senseless.
The hard floor slammed into Boromir's knees and he blinked at it, for a moment having the strange sensation that it had come up and hit him, rather than him falling down.
"Frodo!" Aragorn gasped, trying to check the Hobbit for signs of life.
If Aragorn had crawled to him, Boromir could do the same. His chest and stomach hurt badly, but he dragged himself closer. He had to shake his head to clear his vision, then saw Aragorn's battle-gory hands pull open Frodo's coat and shirt. Squinting dizzily, Boromir expected to see a gaping, ragged wound. Instead, he saw a flash of silver.
Graying out, Boromir thought he heard Gandalf say something about 'surprises.' All he knew for certain was that there was a collective reaction of relief and joy, and Frodo was sitting up again and talking. The rubble strewn floor suddenly loomed larger in Boromir's sight and he realized he had fallen to his full length, his head only inches off the floor.
Pippin's voice. Alarmed.
A moment of blackness.
"Boromir? Steady, steady!"
Aragorn, trying to ease him over onto his back. He struggled to sit up. It hurt to breathe and he knew from experience that being upright helped a little. Aragorn seemed to understand that, helping him up, and someone braced him from behind, supporting him. Legolas….
"No... time!" Boromir managed to gasp out.
His vision settled enough to deliver a glare to Aragorn and Gandalf who were bent over him. They needed to keep Frodo and the other Hobbits alive, not fuss over him. They had not won the battle, just a skirmish against the forerunners. There would be more Goblins and Trolls, hundreds of them….
"Can you carry him?" Aragorn asked Legolas, ignoring Boromir's protest.
"I can," the Elf replied. "But…."
Boromir felt the movement as Legolas indicated he would then be unable to use the lethal archery skill that had saved them from the Troll.
"No!" Boromir was pleased when his word came out loud and clear and very angry. He even managed to shove Aragorn's hands away from an attempt to check him for what was obviously crushed ribs, torn lungs, and ruptured spleen.
"He is right," Gandalf said sadly, thankfully over-riding whatever Aragorn had started to say.
Boromir found a moment to be warmed by the great depth of grief in the old Wizard's words. Boromir allowed himself to sag forward, ready to accept the oncoming rush of darkness, of probable death. There was no fear or sorrow, just overwhelming frustration. He had not expected to be taken out of the Quest so soon…. They had so much more to do, so much further to go, needed every –
"Stand back, keep clear of him!" Gandalf urged sternly over Gimli's warning of, "Hurry!"
The enemy would not leave much more time for them to escape this death trap. Boromir was glad of the Wizard and Dwarf's wisdom. They were keeping the Hobbits back, forcing them onward.
"You can save him?" Merry asked, his voice choked with tears.
A heavy sigh brushed Boromir's sweaty hair, and gnarled but warm and gentle hands suddenly clasped his head.
"Save, no," Gandalf admitted sadly. "Not here. But, I can give strength sufficient to keep him on his feet. Aragorn, Elrond taught you how to-?"
"Form a Healer's Link, slow the bleeding, yes!" Aragorn replied, the eagerness and renewed hope in his voice as moving as had been Gandalf's grief.
"Leave it!" Boromir tried to snarl, but it came out a faint whisper.
"Do you want to see your city again?" Gimli barked so fiercely that it brought Boromir to fuller consciousness. "Be still now, Laddie. Let them help."
Boromir no longer had the strength to argue. It was pointless. He hoped it – whatever it was, exactly – would take no more than a moment, then the fools could return to matters of duty.
"Please?" Pippin begged, and that hit far harder.
An image of the small boy Faramir came to him, asking the same one word question. Please? Gandalf, admittedly allowed in far too late, had been as helpless to save Finduilas as now he was to save Boromir. Faramir... It hurt to think of him alone, Denethor was no father to him. Garad would be there, though, and Ciran and Damrod, he remembered with relief.
"Let us in, Boromir," Gandalf said quietly. "This won't work otherwise."
'Let us in!' Boromir thought hazily. What did that mean?
"Stop guarding your mind," Aragorn explained. "Relax. Let us help. Relax."
Unable to resist a tone Boromir had heard Aragorn use to urge an exhausted and frozen Bill up the mountain, Boromir obeyed.
Warmth. Peace unlike any he had known. Aragorn standing beside him, arrayed in stars, Gandalf ablaze in radiant white. Strength began returning to Boromir's limbs.
A loud gasp, as of someone taking a first breath after near drowning. Himself, breathing again. It brought pain, terrible pain, clawing at him, but not so badly that he couldn't get any air at all.
Well done! Aragorn said with evident relief, but speaking to Gandalf or to him Boromir was not sure. The words echoed, as if coming from inside his head rather than heard externally. That sensation dizzied him further as he was carefully hauled back to his feet.
He blinked sweat from his eyes and saw Legolas propping him on one side, Aragorn the other. Perforce, each had taken an arm about their shoulders, though they must know it hurt his crushed chest to be so strung up.
"I can manage," he said, pleased his words were no longer garbled by so much blood. "You need to – "
"You might need this, Lad," Gimli said and gave a loud sniff. Had he been weeping? Boromir felt the Dwarf slide his sword back into its scabbard. That's right, he'd dropped it when he passed out... His shield would have to be abandoned.
"I'll carry this for you a ways," Gimli continued, and Boromir realized the Dwarf had slung the massive shield over his back, bigger than he himself. Boromir was glad even though he knew it would hinder the Dwarf in a fight. The shield carried a potent link to all those Boromir loved.
Merry collected the still burning torch fallen during the battle and held it high to light their way. Had Gandalf's efforts at Healing left him unable to produce that remarkable guiding light from his staff?
"I can walk," Boromir repeated in the hoarse whisper that had become his voice.
They ignored him, moving as quickly as possible, all but carrying him out and away from Balin's Tomb, through the shattered doors, onward into a vast hall full of towering pillars.
"The Gap of Rohan! We must take the West Road!" Boromir called.
"The Gap of Rohan takes us too close to Isengard!" Aragorn refused.
Aragorn's refusal to heed Boromir's advice nagged, keeping time with every laboring step, all the sharper for the weight of the mortally wounded Gondorian he and Legolas carried between them. Astonishingly, Boromir was still conscious and made feeble attempts to get his feet under himself, each ending with a strangled gasp of agony. Less blood spilled over his parted lips now, but the Healer's Link would hold only another few minutes. Neither he nor Gandalf could afford to continue to feed it, needing all their remaining strength for the battle.
It came sooner than he had expected, much sooner than he had hoped. A familiar dreadful scuttling, rattling like dry leaves over stone. Aragorn had heard it before. Goblins, thousands of them, closing from every direction, even coming down from the high vaulted beams of stone spanning the hall.
Boromir was not the only one as good as dead.
There was no hope they could fight so many, even had none of their group been wounded. Aragorn and Legolas backed toward the wall, carrying Boromir as best they could into a totally inadequate protective circle. As gently as possible, they sat him down, the wall supporting him when his legs would not hold him. Boromir cast a despairing look at Aragorn as he realized he hadn't the strength to draw his sword. Aragorn drew it for him, putting it into his hand.
Gimli, who had somehow lugged the heavy round shield this far, stood it against Boromir's left side. Merry and Pippin guarded his flanks, blades at the ready as he had taught them. Sam moved to stand guard protectively close to Frodo. All four Hobbits were ready to fight.
"Can you drive them off?" Aragorn asked Gandalf, remembering well the fireworks the Wizard could produce. Even had the Healing drained him, he might managed that much. The light would blind the creatures at least, and perhaps something more lethal could –
Suddenly, squealing in terror, their enemy was retreating, scurrying away even faster than they had come. In moments, it was as if there had never been a single Goblin present. The Hobbits exhaled in relief and lowered their swords. Not so the seasoned warriors of their group. Whatever had terrified thousands of Goblins into fleeing from fresh meat would present the Fellowship with a still greater challenge.
A thundering, booming roar came from behind them and red light drowned the fitful dark of their single flickering torch.
Turning toward the sound, Aragorn saw light like a great fire, casting red gold shadows high on the walls of a corridor behind them. Whatever approached, it was huge, and burning.
"What is it?" Merry asked.
"A demon of the Elder Days. A Balrog," Gandalf answered bleakly, sounding more defeated than Aragorn had ever heard him.
Aragorn shivered. Gandalf had seen his death at the hands of a Balrog….
"Your weapons will not avail you!" The Wizard snarled in abrupt warning. "Run!"
A Balrog! Aragorn had heard the rumors of the ancient evil uncovered by the Dwarves as they had dug ever deeper into Moria's depths. Trading glances with Legolas, the two moved to lift Boromir urgently, but carefully, back to his feet. The other Man shook his head, trying feebly to push them away. He spat a gout of red-black blood and a steady thin stream of it followed, unstoppable.
Gandalf was unable to maintain his Healing Link, all his energies needed to confront the Balrog. But that confrontation would not be here.
"Run!" Gandalf repeated, and followed his own advice, leading the way.
Reclaiming Boromir's sword and seeing it safely back in its scabbard, Aragorn kept hold as best he could to Boromir's spirit as well as to the arm he hauled back up tight over his shoulders. He continued to feed what little Light he could to the other Man, but knew Boromir was dying. Short of great magic, there was no hope of repairing so massive an internal injury. Aragorn knew Boromir wanted them to leave him, but he could not, even for the sake of a marginally greater chance of the Quest of the Ring surviving.
Glancing back, Aragorn saw the walking mountain of molten rock and flame, lumbering down upon them. One booming step after another shuddered through the stone flagstones beneath Aragorn's running feet. The gathering heat was incredible, ominous in what had moments before been chill surrounds.
"Hurry!" Gimli urged, herding the panting Hobbits and helping Sam steady Frodo just ahead of Aragorn.
Gandalf waved them to him urgently, and Aragorn saw with relief that he had found the Bridge of Khazadum. If they could only make it safely across and leave Gandalf's magic to destroy it behind them... Then, maybe there might yet be hope for Boromir, hope for them all….
When Boromir could speak at all over the choking blood that stained his bearded chin, he snarled at Aragorn to leave him. And, again, he was right.
Heat seared the air, burning Aragorn's mouth and lungs as he strained for breath, to manage one more step beneath the big Gondorian's weight. The Balrog was much closer. Its next jolting step tore Boromir from his grasp as Aragorn too, stumbled and almost fell. The sudden, unbalancing weight of both Men even caused Legolas to trip a little, too. But, steadying themselves, they straightened once more and staggering onward, reached the climb out onto the stone bridge. Courageously, Boromir tried to help them, tried to walk, hauling himself up as Aragorn fought to maintain a grip on the Man's leather encased forearm.
The White Tree of Gondor, etched so painstakingly there by some unknown artisan of Minas Tirith, glowed in the red light as if aflame. Glowed accusingly at her King, who refused to return home, refused to try to save her, fearing the weakness of his blood, while Boromir, her protector, her Champion, like her, stood bleeding to death, fighting to the last. A living, dying proof of the strength, and honor, of Men.
Legolas did not sweat, but Aragorn's hands were slipping inside his leather gloves. The Elf flicked him an unnecessarily warning glance. If they could not move faster, the Balrog would be on them in moments. Legolas looked up and back at the quiver and bow slung over his other shoulder.
Shockingly, Aragorn suddenly felt something like hysterical laughter twitching at his lips... Arrows? Against a foe older than the very mountain that surrounded them and welded by a magic long gone from Arda's molten heart?
Despairing, Legolas read Aragorn's blunt but truthful assessment. The Elf's grieving regard returned to the blood-splattered, white-faced Boromir. The Gondorian strained and fought, winning a victory with every breath. Aragorn was guiltily glad he could not hear that dreadful agonized battle over the Balrog's thunderous, roaring presence.
Ahead, having reached the middle of the bridge, Gandalf suddenly stopped and turned to look back at them. His expression alarmingly calm, his bearded face bathed in a wash of red, he lifted his head to regard the towering Balrog. Frodo, stumbling to a halt amid the cluster of his small friends, said something to the Wizard. Gandalf smiled and shook his head. Then, he glared impatiently toward the group who had paused, wondering. Sam, Pippin, and Merry huddled with Gimli who tried unsuccessfully to urge them on. It was plain the Balrog was winning this race.
"Aragorn!" Gandalf barked loud enough that he could be plainly heard over the terrible roar of the Balrog's furnace of a mouth. "Lead them on!"
Death had stepped onto the stage.
Aragorn's heart begged him to shout defiance, begged him to tell Gandalf he could not die, begged him to allow them all to stand and fight together. They had done it so many times before on their Quest, survived the mountain, survived the wolves who came in the night of their exhaustion, survived the troll, the Goblins...
Death leered at him, willingly, hungrily, happy to devour more victims.
Aragorn nodded and in a few stumbling strides, doing his best not to jolt Boromir about, he caught up to the group.
"Oh, no," Merry said softly, looking up at Boromir. Pippin gave a strangled sob of utter despair.
"Och, Laddie..." Gimli exhaled grimly.
Boromir's red tunic was as crimson with blood where it showed above his leather surcote, his bearded chin drenched in heavy dark red. His eyes were glazed, unfocused, he was literally out on his feet, but unwilling to quit the fight.
Tears stung Aragorn's eyes. He would lose the Wizard who had been as a father to him, and the too-young Man who had so recently become like a brother.
Gandalf met Aragorn's gaze and smiled, gently, saying farewell.
"Leave him with me," he said. "I will keep him safe."
"Leave him – !" Merry demanded. "But – "
"Just until you can get the others across," Gandalf added for the Hobbit's sake.
He reached to take Boromir and Aragorn instinctively resisted, drawing a low groan as the wounded Man was pulled between them.
Boromir's knees gave way and he crumpled, assisting Gandalf's efforts to remove him from Aragorn's care at last. Gandalf took hold of the Gondorian's upper arm with his free hand and settled Boromir's back against his knees. Only then did Aragorn realize the Wizard no longer held his sword at the ready. It was to be a battle of magic, then. But of course it would be, no sword could avail against so mighty a foe, not even Glamdring.
Gandalf did not meet Aragorn's gaze again, his attention locked on the rapidly approaching Balrog. The depths of the Wizard's eyes reflected ugly fire and were filled with equally fierce challenge. He would hold the bridge – alone but for a dying Boromir. If he succeeded...
But Aragorn knew as well as Gandalf why the Wizard so uncharacteristically feared this place. Death was icy all about them, despite the towering heat roaring closer, closer...
"Legolas!" Gandalf snapped. "Get them out of here! Go!"
Aragorn felt the Elf brush lightly against him and leap forward to help Gimli shepherd the Hobbits, who with stoic obstinacy, seemed set to refuse escape and stay to guard their friends. Grim and silent, Gimli placed Boromir's shield carefully on the ground close by the Man, as one would array a fallen Warrior for memorial.
Only then did Aragorn realize he still had a hand clasping Boromir's other arm, was bent forward over him. The Healer's Link between them was still so strong, he could almost read the other Man's mind. Then, with surprising force, Boromir's elbow slammed into Aragorn's knee. That effort took the last of Boromir's breath. Aragorn heard the Gondorian's curse through their Link rather than with his ears.
Spitting as much blood as the one word "Go!" Boromir managed to lift his head and jerk it behind him to add emphasis.
The Balrog closed another mighty, burning step and the rocky ground heaved so violently that it brought an already off balance Aragorn to his knees. Which left his eyes and mind, despairing and desperate, locked with Boromir's.
Images came to him, images that tormented Boromir. A younger Man, a Ranger of Gondor, with the same russet brown hair, the same stubborn jaw, but blue eyes, not green. Faramir. The White city, its magnificent walls in ruins, its towers toppling, its homes and streets aflame, its people's bodies littering the streets. Gondorian soldiers, at the last gate, the Seventh level, fighting desperately only to be torn apart by cave trolls or taken by Nazgl...
'The world of Men will fall….' Aragorn heard Boromir's thought, 'And all will come to darkness. And my city to ruin!'
Boromir's fingers closed in a surprisingly powerful vice about Aragorn's wrist, his intent green eyes begging, pleading, commanding, needing help, from ... his King?
Tear's blurred Aragorn's sight as he nodded sharp acceptance, all the weight of doubt falling away from him as dead leaves fall at last from a tree preparing to renew itself.
This was right, this was what he had been born for. The sure knowledge flooded through him, carrying with it the essence of the Link that lent him Boromir's confident leadership. And approval.
"My King!" Boromir gasped aloud, and Aragorn knew they were the last words he would say in this life.
Boromir smiled and released his hold, his eyes closing with exhaustion as he sagged down to the ground, leaving Gandalf free to fight, to defend the bridge.
"I will come back for you," Aragorn promised, hoping it would be true.
He spared one last glance for Gandalf who was turned away, toward the Balrog. Then, he ran, leaping around the two, to rejoin the remaining Fellowship, where Legolas and Gimli were busy defending against the Goblins awaiting any that might escape the Balrog.
Frodo, his blue eyes huge and bright with tears in his white face, stood frozen, deaf to all pleas to run, transfixed by the sight as his dear friend turned to confront death. Merry, Pippin, Sam, fell prey to the same emotion as they too, realized what Gandalf was about to do.
"No…." Legolas' whisper of loss was swallowed up in the roar and stamp of monstrous feet and a giant mouth bellowing liquid fire.
"You shall not pass!"
Gandalf's command rang as pure and clear as the white light that sprang to his aid, bursting upward as he brought his staff down hard. It impacted with the rock as if to cleave all Arda in two. Rock that had stood Age beyond Age shattered as if made glass, obeying a countering righteous wrath even more ancient. A blinding halo of purest white erased sight of Wizard and Man, engulfing the red-black fury of the Balrog and sending it toppling into the abyss.
The light winked out, and Aragorn, his face tight with a grin of victory, could see them plainly again. Unbelievably, Boromir had propped himself up and drawn his dirk, the weight of his sword far beyond him. He guarded as Gandalf watched, craning forward to be sure of their enemy's demise.
"They did it!" Merry and Pippin cried.
Aragorn hurriedly snatched at them, holding them as they set to run back out onto the dangerously unsteady, hanging span of broken bridge.
"Legolas and I will go – " he began, the words cut short by the look of horrified shock on their faces.
Pivoting, he caught sight of Gandalf, bent to aid Boromir. Unseen, a fiery whip coiled upward from the abyss and wrapped about the Wizard's leg. Gandalf fell, snatching at the edge of the bridge and hanging there above an endless fall only by his slipping fingertips.
Aragorn took a step to go back, but was blocked as Frodo moved around, ready to get there first. Aragorn gathered him up, and held him fast despite his struggles.
Gandalf's eyes shone wide not with fear, but anger, impatience.
"Fly! You fools!" he snapped in the silence.
Then, with a strength he could not possess, Boromir locked one hand tight about the Wizard's wrist.
"No," Gandalf said quiet and stern, as if to a child.
"Yes," Boromir coughed and tried to pull him up.
Aragorn had felt the defiant word through the Link, rather than heard it. If he could just feed the other Man more strength until...
Holding Frodo hard to him, Aragorn concentrated. Focusing all his Healer's energies on the still present Link, he Sent all the Life Light he could spare directly to Boromir, doubling, trebling, quadrupling, the power of their Bond. Boromir shuddered as the energy entered him, but it was too little too late. He was spent, had no hope of lifting Gandalf, but he would not let go.
Without a sound, together, Boromir and Gandalf fell, disappeared, swallowed up by Balrog and chasm as if they had never been.
Death sang, reeking satisfaction.
A/N … this is chapter one…. Don't worry, Boromir will be back in this story! …. Carolyn