Boromir stood on a high terrace overlooking the river of Rivendell. The sound of the water rushing over many falls was loud, but not unpleasant. At times, a note in the water's music would remind him of the sound of the wind whistling around the high stone tower of Ecthelion in his city of Minas Tirith, and he was comforted amidst the strangeness of Elrond's valley.
He had taken a light meal alone, not wishing to join the crowd at Elrond's table; he had been alone for so long that he needed more time to feel settled here. Boromir felt restless and had no desire to sleep. He left his room and wandered through Rivendell to get his bearings. To know a place was to be confident in a place, and he would need all his confidence tomorrow at the council, when he presented before all his dream and his quest.
As he walked, Boromir recalled his meeting with Elrond upon his arrival, only a few hours ago. To his surprise, Gandalf had been there, too; he had greeted Boromir as he would an old friend. Boromir, strangely enough, had been pleased to see Gandalf; he had never before been one to pay attention to wizards and their doings. He did not know Gandalf well, but he had conversed with him on occasion, during his visits to Minas Tirith. His brother knew him better and thought very highly of him. Boromir had to admit that it was good to see a familiar face amidst all this strangeness.
Elrond had welcomed him; both he and Gandalf had listened gravely to his news of Gondor and to the words of his prophetic dream. Boromir was gratified to see that they took it all very seriously, but was disappointed that no answers were immediately forthcoming. Elrond said only that matters were now coming to a head, and that there would be a council called for the next day; he would be asked to present his story there so that all in attendance could ponder the meaning of the dream.
Ever since speaking with them, Boromir could think of nothing but the riddle in his dream.
"Seek for the sword that was broken; in Imladris it dwells. There shall be counsels taken, stronger than Morgul spells."
The first part was coming true. He did not yet know what it meant, but it was coming true. He was here, in Imladris, in Rivendell; there was to be a council, at which all would be made clear...at least Elrond had suggested as much. It seemed there were other messengers who had arrived in recent days; Elves, Dwarves, and Men from lands far away. He wondered briefly if the lost travelers sought by Erestor had arrived safely. He would be interested to hear what these others had to say, and how the situation in their lands would affect the safety of his City.
The sword...why would he be asked to seek a broken sword? He had asked this same question over and over again throughout his journey to Rivendell. He had long ago decided that the "sword that was broken" might refer to Narsil, the sword of Elendil that was broken by the Dark Lord in the great battle. Elendil had been slain, but his son Isildur had wielded the broken blade against Sauron. So sharp the sword had been that it had cut the Ring of Power from Sauron's hand. The Ring had been lost in the downfall of the Dark Lord, but perhaps the sword had been saved. Even if the sword was only symbolic of something else, it still might be some kind of weapon, a powerful weapon that could be used in defense of Minas Tirith.
He walked along a passageway that was open to the night and to the moonlight. It led to a large balcony, at the back of which wide stairs led up onto another level. Boromir, glancing in, caught sight of a mural at the back; it seemed to be a battle scene. He went up for a closer look. It was a painting of a man lying on the ground, propped up on one elbow, defiantly holding up a bright sword. The sword was broken, but a light shone from it. A dark figure loomed threateningly over the prone man, preparing to strike.
Boromir almost laughed aloud. The very thing he had been remembering! This was a painting of Isildur at the battle of the Last Alliance, defending the body of his father from the evil Sauron. Boromir looked closer; the sword in Isildur's hand fascinated him. What a battle that must have been! he thought wistfully. If only I had such a weapon! How men would flock to the defense of Minas Tirith if Elendil's sword was at their head!
He smiled at his fancy, and turned away. His eye fell on a figure holding out what looked like a shield, covered with blue cloth. He realized it was a statue; the stone figure was gazing sadly down upon a sword that lay upon the shield. From where he was standing, Boromir could just see the hilt above the lip of the shield's stone edge.
A sword! His pulse quickened. Could it be? Is it here? Have they reforged it then?
He advanced slowly, almost reverently, and stepped up onto the pedestal beside the stone figure. The sword lay like a trophy on the cloth, the hilt and part of the blade still intact, but the rest of it in shards. The shards were laid out carefully, each piece separate from the other. They were all there, salvaged from the battlefield.
Boromir, amazed that the sword was even here, reached out and picked up the broken hilt. He held it up with both hands to admire it.
"The shards of Narsil!" he exclaimed aloud, his voice filled with wonder. "The blade that cut the Ring from Sauron's hand!"
He ran his finger up the blade to test it. The edge was keen; so keen that it sliced his finger, and blood welled up and stained his hand.
"Still sharp!" he cried in amazement.
The pain in his finger, though slight, was enough to bring him back to reality. As he stared down at the broken shards of the now darkened sword, his heart sank. Where before he had felt admiration, he now knew only dismay. Narsil was broken, and its light extinguished. It had not been forged anew. A legendary sword, to be sure, but it was useless; its magic was marred. It was a just a broken sword, enshrined and now only a memory. What a waste!
A small sound behind him made him turn his head slightly. He saw that he was not alone; a lean, dark man was watching him from a corner alcove. He must have been there all along; he had an open book in his hand, from which he had been reading. The man did not speak, and there was nothing in his face to indicate what he was thinking. Boromir felt uncomfortable, as if he had been caught in some trespass or wrongdoing. Perhaps he does not like me touching the sword, he thought. Well then, I leave it for him! It is of no use to me!
Sudden, sharp disappointment pierced his heart. He set the sword back on its shelf.
"It is no more than a broken heirloom," he said bitterly, turning away. As he stepped down from the pedestal, the broken blade fell to the floor with a clatter. Boromir, hesitating, looked back at the legendary blade, but his heart was heavy with disappointment, and he felt he could not be bothered to go back to set it up in its place. Let the man in the corner deal with it, if he wishes!
Boromir turned, and walked quickly away. Had he looked back, he might have seen the stranger stand and walk over to the shrine, carefully and reverently setting the dropped haft back in its proper place amongst the broken shards. He set his hand to his breast and bowed his head slightly. A strange look was on his face, one that would certainly have set Boromir to wondering.