First of all, I want to thank everyone who reviewed my first LOTR story-they all meant a lot! ^^
A/N- Now to this one...this fic can either be set just before the FOTR or in the short time after Frodo left the shire to go to Bree, and before he was stabbed, if that makes sense.
The wind rippled in the cool night air, sending leaves up the legs of the horses as they quietly took their masters down the narrow country lane.
Every now and again faint howling met the men's ears as the strong breeze swung through the branches of the trees, the branches quivering as they moved.
Boromir coughed into the near-silence, the noise making the man nearest to him jump on his horse.
'Did you have to do that?' he asked irritably, whilst rearranging the reins that had sat neatly on his lap.
'What did you want me to do, choke? I had something in my throat!' Boromir muttered back, a smile on his face.
'Well you could have warned me...' the man said, shaking his head before chuckling quietly.
'Well I'll make sure I do next time Faramir, if it causes you that much bother when I cough suddenly and without warning!' he said, grinning, as he passed his younger brother on his horse and gave his back a small thump.
Faramir pretended to abruptly fall onto the front of his horse as if felled by the action, before clipping his brother round the head as he slowed down to wait for him.
'Look, we have to make Minas Tirith by dawn, and at this rate it's going to take us three days to get there!' Faramir pointed out, looking seriously at his brother.
'Well why shouldn't we extend our trip by a few more days? We could do what we used to do-go fishing, hunting, sleeping under the stars...'
'Yes I think father will love that...' Faramir muttered, jerking his horse onwards and further into the path.
'What he doesn't know won't hurt him; we could say we got lost!' Boromir grinned, quirking an eyebrow at his little brother.
Faramir gave him a sideways look before chuckling, shaking his head. 'Maybe another time Brother, but for now we have to make do with these short excursions father keeps sending us on-hey, at least we're spending more time together!' he smiled, before looking forward to the road.
'That is true...I have been spending many a day in the confines of the city-maybe it is time to have a little fun' Boromir sighed.
They ambled on in a contended silence until they came to a clearing. They got off their horses and set them down to graze on the grass that grew on the road, the brother's walking to the top of a bank to see back down into the forest.
'It's so quiet-like something evil lies dormant here' Faramir muttered, a dark tone in his voice.
'Well hello voice of malevolence- could it not simply be that everything in the forest is sleeping? Boromir retorted, holding back a loud laugh for fear of disturbing something for real. He did feel a bit edgy about this place, but he wasn't going to worry his brother with childish fears.
'I'm serious-can't you feel it? Like everything has suddenly gone cold. I don't like this place...we should move on' Faramir replied, before turning and walking back down the hill.
'Faramir...there is nothing of evil intent in this forest, I promise you...' Boromir called after him, affectionately rubbing his brother's shoulder when he got closer.
'Be that as it may-we should be making headway back...' Faramir said quickly, getting ready to mount his horse once more.
Before either of them could move again, they both heard a horse whinnying in the distance. It was a long, drawn out sound, harsh and clear in the darkness and quiet of the midnight forest.
Boromir looked at his brother with raised eyebrows. 'Well, how's that for timing?' he asked.
'How so?' frowned Faramir, stepping back from his horse and looking past his brother into the entrance of the clearing.
'Well, it is most obviously another rider, maybe someone with a message like we had-what a time to be doing that!' Boromir replied, his voice high and false in his effort to conceal is true feelings.
'Are you really that naive?' Faramir asked, before taking a step behind his brother.
'I can't see anything beyond this clearing...'
'Oh please, come Faramir, let's just get on the horses and go if you want'
'No...' Faramir shook his head. 'A horse only makes a sound when it has spotted someone- we have been seen. We must get off the road, into the forest.' He said, walking back to his horse and gently leading it up the hill that they had previously been standing on.
'Oh for pity's sake...' Frowned Boromir, but he too grabbed his horse and led it up the hill as well, the two of them managing to hide behind a large thicket near the hill.
As soon as they where concealed they heard the ominous sounds of horse-hooves walking up the dirt path leading to the clearing.
Faramir quietly moved a large branch obscuring his view as soon as the horse and rider came into clearer view.
The horse was a large stallion, jet black in colour, adorned with black leather straps protecting the tops of its hooves, as well as a large black leather mask covering most of its head.
But it wasn't the horse that was the most alarming.
The rider itself seemed to be a man wreathed in darkness. From under the huge black cloak something full of malice and evilness seemed to seep from it, the foul aura creeping like putrid smoke over the ground, sending all manner of living things scattering.
Faramir held his breath as the rider stopped and swivelled its cloaked head around, as if trying to track something that it couldn't see.
He felt Boromir tense beside him, and felt his own hand curl tighter around the rein of his horse, which was standing silently, its head facing away from the scene.
After a few seconds, which seemed like hours to Faramir, the rider kicked its horse onwards, the steed now slowly making its way back the way it had come, but not before the cloaked being had one last look around the clearing.
As its eyes reached the thicket which concealed the brothers, Boromir felt a cold sensation run the length of his body. He guessed that Faramir had felt the same thing when his brother suddenly tensed up, sucking in breath quietly. He put a hand on the small of his back to steady him, not taking his eyes off the black rider.
Something seemed to satisfy the spectre, for he then kicked his horse more harshly and sent it galloping off down the lane, the thunderous sound of its hooves echoing in the silence.
Faramir let out the air that he had been keeping and shook himself, trying to rid his body and mind of the dark feelings that the rider had brought on.
The world had seemed to get just a little darker when they returned to the middle of the clearing, but Faramir guessed that it was only because the moon had disappeared behind a large cloud.
He looked at his brother, who face, even in the shielded moonlight, was as pale as fresh winter snow.
Boromir cleared his throat and looked back at the entrance to the clearing. He breathed out and sighed at the same time, shrugging.
'What was it?' Faramir asked. His brown eyes bored into his brother's, fully expecting an answer to be given by his big brother, to make him feel if only a little better about it. If he knew what it was, he wouldn't fear it.
But his brother shook his head. 'I have heard tales of these black riders-but for there to be any truth in them...no. I am sure there is an innocent explanation.' Boromir smiled at his brother, before mounting his horse and turning it around to face the way of their home.
Faramir did the same, but frowned at his brother as he did so.
'What tales? I have heard none, I would like to know about them' he said, trotting alongside his brother on the path.
'I will tell you, but only if you promise not to mention any of this to father-he does not need these troubles.' Boromir reasoned, and went on when he got a nod from his brother.
'They say that they where once men, kings of men-they where given the nine rings of power, you have heard this bedtime story...but what many people do not know is that once the rings had corrupted the minds of the men, they fell into darkness. Tortured and soulless, they must now do the bidding of the dark lord Sauron.' Boromir said.
'But Sauron lies weak and dormant- Surely these are just stories made to scare people' Faramir said, forcing a small chuckle from his unwilling lips.
'Well, unless we both just had the same dream...the same nightmare, I would say that these tales are true.' Boromir replied gravely, pulling on the reins to make his horse walk on a sturdier path.
'What do they want?' Faramir asked.
'Who knows brother, who knows...' came his reply, and they continued in silence for many miles, each man either not knowing what to say, or not wanting to say anything. They where each wrapped in their own thoughts, not knowing what to make of any of them.
Dawn. A faint bright light began to spread its way across the wide open planes of Ithilien, producing a dappled light on the faces of the heirs to the steward. Faramir breathed in the morning scent and smiled, feeling refreshed and energized for it.
'Home sweet home' Boromir chuckled as they reached a hill, and they both stopped their horses as Minas Tirith came into view, the huge white tower a captivating view amongst the greenness of summer.
'At last' Agreed Faramir, pulling his reigns and sending his horse walking down the hill.
'Remember, we shall speak no more of the rider in black we saw in the night-it will worry father, and I do not want to bring further trouble to him' Boromir instructed, looking sideways at his brother.
'Shouldn't he be warned?' questioned Faramir.
'No, not yet-we do not yet know what is going on. We would not want to worry him without warrant. Just don't speak of it-agreed?'
'Alright, I agree' accepted Faramir, and he and his brother rode down the hill, the previous night's events now pushed to the backs of their minds.
Faramir would do more research on this 'Black rider' and would find out the truth, but for now he had to make do with the ominous feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach.
A feeling like something had only just begun...
Thank you for reading! ^^
I hope you enjoyed it!