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Son of Gondor

by Lineawen

Chapter 37

Cut and thrust...lunge...parry... It seemed to Boromir that he had been fighting for hours, though he knew in his head it had only been a matter of minutes. The orcs kept coming and he kept beating them back. His sword felt heavy, and his shield even heavier; he was using his shield as a club as often as he was striking with his sword. For Boromir, fighting became as natural as breathing. He no longer even needed to think about it; his arm and his sword knew what to do, as if they had a life of their own. He had a heightened sense of awareness of all that was happening around him, even as he concentrated on the orcs in his corner of the chamber.

Though he could not see everything, he knew that Gandalf fought behind him, whirling this way and that, striking deadly blows with his sword and staff. Aragorn fought beside him for a time, before running up to the upper level to deal with orcs that were jumping down on them from above. Gimli was occupied with the cave troll, but he managed to slay a number of orcs even as he was evading the smashing hammer.

Boromir had lost track of the hobbits, and that worried him. He felt responsible for their safety, and was uncomfortable when they were out of his sight. It had been a near thing with Sam; he was afraid to think of what might still happen if the troll managed to get hold of one of the little ones.

He cast a wary glance to the left in the direction of the cave troll -- just in time to see the huge beast drop its hammer and fall backwards, almost on top of him. Boromir leaped back and flattened himself against the wall, but the troll ignored him; it was intent on Legolas, who was shooting arrows at the troll from the upper tier opposite Boromir's position. Seeing he was distracted, several orcs seized the advantage and tried to pin Boromir down, but with some effort, he was able to beat off their attack. As he fought, he caught a glimpse of Frodo, Merry, and Pippin scrambling to the tier above to get away from the troll and the press of orcs on the main floor. Good, he thought. They are out of it for awhile.

Suddenly, a huge orc leaped in front of Boromir with a menacing growl, its eyes glittering red in its swart, flat face. Distracted by the hobbits, Boromir was caught off guard. With a thrust of its hide shield, the orc turned Boromir's sword and bore him backwards, throwing him to the ground. He was shaken, but managed to deflect the orc's blow with his upraised shield. Rolling to the side, he scrambled to his feet and hewed at the orc with all his might. The orc fell with a cloven head.

Boromir turned in a tight circle, but his corner of the chamber seemed clear for the moment. He heaved a sigh of relief for a chance to catch his breath, but his relief was short-lived. There was a whistling in the air and a flash of something near his face, and he reared back instinctively. It was the cave troll, swinging its chain like a whip in an attempt to strike out at Legolas. Boromir jumped back out of the reach of the chain, and into the arms of two orcs that had been lurking in the shadows of the nearby stairwell. Boromir was surprised, but he reacted quickly, slipping out of their grasp. The affray was sharp and short; one orc was quickly despatched with a thrust of Boromir's sword, while the other was knocked back, its neck broken by a powerful blow from Boromir's shield.

Boromir heard with sudden dread a cry from Pippin and the crash of hammer on masonry; he swung round, to see Merry and Pippin disappearing in a cloud of dust. They had narrowly escaped being smashed by a blow of the troll's hammer that had shattered the floor of the upper tier. Frodo was nowhere to be seen.

The little ones were in danger; they needed him! He dashed across the room, but his way was barred by more orcs. Boromir groaned in frustration, and struck out desperately, but to no avail; he could not free himself from them to go to the aid of the hobbits. Sam was there, too, fighting furiously, trying to free himself from the enemy so he could go in search of Frodo.

Boromir engaged orc after orc, all the while trying to keep the hobbits in sight. He had a good view of the other end of the room, and though it was dark, he could see Frodo there, grappling with the cave troll. He shouted in fear, and he heard over the din of battle his shout echoed by Aragorn; he knew then that Aragorn, too, was struggling to reach Frodo.

Orcs kept coming at him and he had to fight; Boromir could not keep track of what was happening in the opposite corner. As he lay about him with his sword, he caught glimpses now and then of the battle with the cave troll: Frodo struggling to escape the clutching troll, Aragorn attacking with a spear, then Aragorn down. He tried to break free to go to his aid, but he could not manage it. The orcs were not many now, but they were fierce and would not give way. He fought back harder, angry and frustrated that he was pinned down. He saw the troll grasp the spear and pull back his arm to stab at Frodo; his heart stood still as he heard from across the room Frodo's gasp and strangled cry. Too late!

Behind him, Boromir heard Sam cry out as he hurled himself at the orcs who were surrounding him. Boromir's eyes went instinctively to Merry and Pippin, in time to see them leap from the ledge above onto the back of the cave troll and attack it with their swords. Brave, foolish hobbits, doing what they could to help their friend!

He looked for Frodo. Boromir saw him suddenly, as the battle moved out of his line of vision. Frodo was pinned to the wall by the troll's spear; his face was blanched and his mouth worked in his struggle to speak, but all that came forth was a groan of pain. No, Boromir thought, not Frodo! Not the little ones! I must help them! But still he could not reach them; the orcs had him pinned down. He shouted in fury and flung himself at the orcs. Leave me alone, I must go to them! he raged.

There was no getting away from them; as one orc fell, another took its place. Boromir spared a glance when he could for the hobbits. Frodo had fallen forward and lay like a dead thing in the dust on the floor. Merry and Pippin were clinging tightly to the troll's back and hacking at it with their swords. The troll was now trying to reach back to grasp at them, but was being harried mercilessly by Gimli and Gandalf.

He saw Merry being swung around by the feet; the troll had managed to grasp him and pull him off. This was too much for Boromir. With a shout of rage he drove his shield into the face of the orc he was fighting, throwing the orc off balance. He swung mightily and the orc's head rolled to the floor. He turned quickly to meet the rest of the enemy, but there were none; he was free.

He leaped towards the cave troll even as Merry was flung aside; Merry landed hard on his back with a thud and a groan. Quickly slinging his shield over his shoulder, Boromir ran to the fallen hobbit and knelt beside him.

"Merry!" he cried. He felt him carefully all over, then sat back with relief. "Nothing broken! Can you stand?"

"I think so," groaned Merry, sitting up and putting his hand to his head. "Maybe...in a minute..."

"Come," said Boromir gently, putting his hand under the hobbit's elbow. "Come away from here, you are still in harm's way. Come sit by the wall and catch your breath."

Merry stood with Boromir's help, but then pulled away.

"Pippin!" he cried, but Boromir pulled him back.

"You have done your part in this fight, my hobbit," said Boromir. "Let Pippin do his. We will see that he returns to you in one piece."

Boromir patted Merry on the shoulder, then turned back to the battle. It was almost over. Legolas was aiming carefully, waiting for the right moment to loose his arrow. Pippin, clinging desperately to the troll's collar, managed to stab his sword into the back of the troll's neck. The troll threw back his head and roared with pain, and Legolas let fly his arrow into the troll's open mouth. The troll reached feebly for the arrow, but its arm dropped to its side as it began to sway. Boromir held his breath as the troll staggered and stumbled.

"Hang on, Pippin!" he breathed.

The troll fell full length, with a sound like thunder; Pippin flew through the air and landed on his back with a gasp. Boromir hurried over to him, and kneeling, touched him hesitantly, fearfully. Pippin opened his eyes and gave him a weak smile.

"Well!" Pippin croaked. "I showed that fellow a thing or two!"

"That you did, my hobbit!" said Boromir with a smile, as he helped Pippin to his feet. "And it was well done. You and Merry fought bravely and helped defeat a mighty foe. We are in your debt." He laid his hand on Pippin's head, then gave him a little push. "Go now, see to Frodo."

Boromir turned away and bent to pick up the still-burning torch that had been thrown down by Aragorn before the battle began. He was afraid to look; Frodo must be dead, he could not have survived the thrust of that spear. He hung back for a moment as he watched Sam approach the place where Frodo lay. The grief on his face made Boromir look away.

Suddenly, Boromir heard a gasp and a groan.

"He's alive!" cried Sam.