A story about Boromir and Faramir that could very well be subtitled: “Wherein Our Angsty Sons of Gondor Act Out and Come Smack Dab Up Against Their Devoted Mentor, Damrod.”
Previous parts archived here.
This story belongs to my precious Kat, a birthday present for a dear friend, who also beta’d her own pressie.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended. I don’t own Tolkien’s original characters, however, my OC’s, Gwinthorian, Garrick, Devon and several other Rangers are exclusively my own.
Foster Father of The Heart - part 4
“Eastern quadrant,” Bram said, frowning, Val worrying his bottom lip with his front teeth. “They were seen moving fast toward the far perimeter.”
I nodded grimly.
“Aye,” Calder said, his face somber. “A worker saw them taking torches and heading in the direction of – ” He paused at my forbidding look.
“Why don’t they crawl out and run away?” I whispered.
“And go where?” my brother whispered back.
“Home,” Boromir said, just a touch impatient. “And where is home, little urchin? They’re renegades. Deserters. They’re hunted now, by both good and evil. My guess is they’re afraid to go anywhere, ‘home’ included.”
I scoffed. “Orcs? Afraid?”
“They do display fear. Otherwise they’d never flee the field. There was plenty of fleeing after Pelennor. Pockets of renegades are laying low everywhere.”
“I know, I know. Even, alas, in the sewers of Osgiliath.”
“Even here. Alas indeed.”
“So they’ve been living off the forest, hunting, then bringing their kills in here to consume. And they’ve been dwelling in here since the battle.”
“And would continue to do so, I vow, until forced to do otherwise.”
“Which is why Aragorn was going to send a detachment through, to clean out any such foul creatures.”
“Mmm.” Boromir nodded.
“Well, they didn’t know Aragorn was coming. Were the stupid things planning to spend the rest of their lives here?”
“Are you truly asking me to guess what goes on in their pea-sized brains, little brother? How should I know what the stupid things were planning?”
I hugged my knees to my chest silently for a moment, then muttered, “There’s no need to bark at me, Boromir.”
“I haven’t spoken above a whisper. How can I have barked at you?”
“Well, I can think of no better time to bark, Faramir! No one knows that we’re here, sitting side by side in the dark, trapped in the sewers by several hundred orcs.”
“That’s something of an exaggeration wouldn’t you say?”
“All right. More like fifty or sixty.”
“That’s still only a guess. We didn’t actually see --”
“Nay. We didn’t see them, so we don’t know exactly how many are out there. Ere we could count their exact numbers we were quick enough to hide down this side channel. And thank the Valar we were, little brother, for if we’d seen them, they would have seen us.”
“But perhaps there are only twenty or so.”
He snorted. Softly. “Does it sound like there’s only twenty orcs out there?”
“I’m just saying --”
“I know what you’re saying, and why you’re saying it. But we can make a good guess as to their numbers by what we saw before they came back and by what we can now hear.” He cast me a shrewd narrow-eyed look. “You’re a clever Ithilien Ranger. You can read the sounds of the air. When you’re out in the wild you don’t need to see the enemy to estimate how many are hiding up ahead. So, come, Captain Faramir, use those Dúnedain insights. How many orcs would you say have us trapped back here?”
I hated it when Boromir became condescending. I silently scowled off into the darkness.
He wasn’t going to drop it. I sighed and muttered, “More like fifty or sixty.”
“Indeed. And unless I have no other choice and I’m forced to fight, we stay put and wait. That’s a few too many for me to handle.”
“It’s not too many for both of us to handle.”
“Aye, it is.” He shot me a glare. “And I said no.”
“I am fairly handy in a battle, Boromir!”
“It’s been too long since my sword was stained with orc blood!”
“It’s going to be longer still.”
“I can fight!”
“I know you can, but you’re not going to fight. No, Faramir. I say again, unless there’s no other option, I won’t permit it. No. You’re still too – ”
“Don’t say it! I vow, Boromir, if you tell me one more time how fragile I am I’m going to stand up and charge the lot of them!”
“Shhh! No. You won’t.”
“We’ll see who’s too fragile!”
“Faramir! That’s enough.” He fired me a smoldering frown. “We are not discussing this yet again. We wait. And unless you want to be the next course at that orc banquet out there you will quiet down.”
“But – ”
“I wouldn’t count on them having the courtesy to kill you before they start hacking you up, by the way.”
I fumed. “Why did you tell me to bring my sword if you weren’t going to let me use it?”
“To humor me.”
“I should’ve brought my bow.”
“I wouldn’t have let you use that either.”
I sat quietly steaming for a moment, then snarled, “Do you seriously think they’re all going to fall asleep at the same time? Do you suppose one of them will stand up and announce, ‘Time for a nap, mates! I smell a coupl’a fool men trapped down the side tunnel who’r waiting for the lot of us to conk out so’s they can escape!’”
Boromir slowly turned to me with a long, fierce stare that shook what little composure I had remaining whilst being trapped by fifty or sixty orcs.
Finally he muttered, “There is no need for that kind of cheek, sir.”
I considered asking him what kind of cheek he would prefer, but my brother seemed a mite tense, so all I said was, “Sorry.”
“Damrod doesn’t wash your mouth out often enough.”
“I said sorry.”
He studied me for another long moment, then his expression softened and he said, “Look, we have few options open to us, so to my way of thinking our best plan is to wait until they’ve finished gorging themselves and, I hope, go to sleep so that we can try to steal past them. Or, they might head out again to hunt more. Otherwise . . . .”
“Otherwise we wait until Damrod returns from the wharf, finds us gone, figures out what we’ve done and comes to rescue us.”
Boromir winced. “Aye.”
I rested my head back against the wall. “If it’s all the same to you, big brother, I’d sooner take my chances with the orcs.”
“Fair point, little brother.”
We stared soberly at each other, then burst into snuffling smirks.
“Ahhh, of all the ill luck!” Boromir muttered, rubbing his palm over his eyes. “Aragorn will have my head. And Legolas the rest of me.”
“Nay, Boromir, not at all. Damrod won’t leave them enough of you to bother with.”
A sneering frown, then: “Oh, he positively doesn’t wash your mouth out enough.”
I grinned at him until he grudgingly grinned back, then I nudged him and said, “What happened to ‘Never mind all that,’ and ‘I am the Steward of Gondor?’”
“I suddenly fear Damrod will not be impressed with that argument.”
“And Aragorn and Legolas?”
“Faramir, you are not helping a bad situation.”
“It’s true, though, my brother. You are the Steward of Gondor.” He gave me a press-lipped grimace. “You’re right. Damrod won’t be impressed by that.”
“He’ll have your head.”
“And yours, little brother.”
We both chuckled again, despite our peril and despite how ridiculous we felt and despite the fact that we knew that there wasn’t a chance we were going to escape this without Damrod’s wholehearted comeuppance. Poor Boromir. My poor, poor brother.
“Stop that,” he said. I darted him a glance and found him watching me. “Come now, little urchin. Stop looking so guilty. You didn’t cause this.”
There he went again – picking up some Dúnedain insight. “I did cause it,” I said. “I bullied you into this with my sad looks.”
He chuckled. “I know. You’re a perfect bratling at times. And I am the most beleaguered of big brothers.”
“Yes.” I hugged my legs closer to my chest and lowered my forehead to my knees. “Yes, you are.”
“Faramir.” His turn to nudge. “I wanted to do this. If you recall ‘twas my idea. This blunder is all mine, so don’t try taking the credit for it.”
I shot him a look. “I wasn’t trying to take the cred – ”
“No, you were trying to take the blame, which is worse, for there’s no glory tied to it. I knew what you were doing with your sad looks, and, at the risk of crushing your sense of importance, you overestimate your powers of persuasion, sir.”
I was tempted to take exception to that. Boromir noticed and flashed me a wide grin.
“I assure you, little urchin, I did what I chose to do. I’ll grant you credit for creating a desire in me to do something exciting, but that’s all.”
I gazed at him, forgetting to be vexed, struck by his perceptiveness. My Dúnedain warrior brother. Denethor would’ve been thrilled. Calling attention to his insight would embarrass Boromir, though, so I could think of nothing to say. He looked sheepish nonetheless.
“Faith, little brother! Such a stare! Struck dumb by my insight?”
He chuckled silently. “Impressive, am I not? Comes from living with halflings.”
I grinned, surprised. “Living with halflings makes one insightful?”
“Aye, because, well, as Aragorn once told me, ‘The best way to keep up with a hobbit is to stay ten steps ahead of him and to listen to all that he does not say.’ Makes a body develop some insight.”
I felt a grin of warm admiration spread over my face. He quickly looked away and ran his fingers back through his hair, saying, “Now, were I truly wise I would have taken the time to look through those city plans for a map of the sewers.”
“How could you know the main channel branched off in two directions? I’d never gone all the way through to the forest.” He looked at me. “When I was fifteen a few friends and I explored in here, but we didn’t journey in this far. We became bored and hungry after half an hour and went home.”
“I guess Damrod never found out.”
“I believe I forgot to mention it to him. And you were off on maneuvers.”
Boromir smirked and shook his head at me, then said, “I’m surprised Sam didn’t scold you for not telling them which branch to follow.”
“I wish he had. But Gollum clearly knew how to get out. Whilst crawling all over Middle Earth hunting the Ring I reckon he somehow found this sewer and crept through it into Osgiliath.” Chilling thought. I sighed and thudded my head back against the wall, growling. “Will they never stop eating? Revolting, them devouring those animals raw.”
“At least the animals are dead. Ask Merry and Pippin about the time they were carried away by the orcs. Right after Amon Hen. According to Pippin the hungriest orcs wanted to just hack off their legs and . . . .” He paused to glance at me. “No, I won’t tell that story now.”
“Try not to listen to them eating.”
I lowered my forehead back to my knees. “Oh, thank you again. I hadn’t been listening until you mentioned it.”
“Aye, you were. You said it was revolting.”
“Then settle down, unless you are choosing to join them for second breakfast as a side dish.”
“I’d make more than a side dish, Boromir.”
He snorted another soft laugh. “Not much more. Hush, little urchin. We needs do nothing now save wait patiently.”
I sighed and hushed and patiently tried to wait and not listen.
End part 4
Foster Father of the Heart to be continued