"I do not deserve such kind welcome.” Boromir flung back the tattered cloak then jumped down from the parapet with a solid thud. “I return after betraying the trust of those I had vowed to protect.”
Eldahil tried not to stare at the gaping rents in his cousin’s armor and clothing. The river Anduin had washed away the blood, but the broken ends of several arrows still jutted from his breast. Whatever Boromir had done amiss, Eldahil deemed he had the paid the price in full. “Come what may, you are still my kinsman and friend. And who can say how I would have fared had our places been exchanged.” Save that far fewer orcs would have been slain during that quest, Eldahil told himself. Fighting back his revulsion, he clasped the dead Man’s hands in his own. Though cold, the flesh seemed solid enough, and to his great relief, it did not dissolve into stinking, black corruption as in the old tales of the walking dead.
With a sad smile, Boromir told him, “I am grateful for your devotion, though I deem it badly misplaced.”
At the ghost’s command, the two sentries rose to their feet. “Many have mourned your death, lord,” Mardil said, his voice still choked from weeping.
“The grief of honest soldiers is ill spent on such a traitor,” Boromir replied, yet his face was somewhat less downcast. “But now I must needs take counsel with Faramir and my lord father. The City is in great peril.” Wincing as if with sudden pain, he put a hand to his brow and leaned heavily against the parapet. “But, no, my father is gone. Even in my dark sleep, I knew of his passing to the Halls of Judgment. Unless I am deceived by some lingering madness, for truly I know not what to believe nor even what I am.” He glanced around the ramparts with a look of desperate confusion.
“It grieves me to say that you heard the truth. Your lord father died during the siege on the City, and Faramir now sits in the Steward’s chair.” Eldahil threw a warning look at the two sentries and silently willed them to hold their peace. He deemed that the less said about the manner of Lord Denethor’s death, the better. “Kinsman, you look somewhat--“ Eldahil paused to search for the proper word since the dead could hardly be described as looking ill or faint. “You look somewhat unsteady. Come sit by the fire and rest.” He put an arm around the dead Man’s back, taking care to avoid the broken arrow shafts. Eldahil shuddered from both horror and the cold as river water soaked through his tunic and his dead cousin’s hair dripped on his shoulder.
His head bowed silently, Boromir allowed himself to be led to a seat. With trembling hands, Eradan offered a cup of steaming tea which the ghost accepted with an absent-minded nod of thanks. “Alas for my father,” he murmured. “At least he died defending his people. Yet he never rejoiced in the victory after laboring all his days against the Nameless One.” He stared for a moment at the tea; after taking a slow and wary sip, he swiftly drained the cup and held it out for more.
“Then you know of the fall of Mordor?” Eldahil asked in surprise, and then he wondered why he should be in the least astonished by anything Boromir said. He was talking with a Man who had several arrows buried in his heart.
Rubbing a hand across his brow, Boromir stared into the sputtering flames. “Felt rather than heard. I sensed the change in the fortunes of the world. The darkness around me seemed less heavy, and as if through a curtain of flowing water, I could see the stars again. Yet aside from my father’s death and the lifting of the shadow, I had no awareness of the living world.” He paused and looked up from the fire, his grey eyes troubled. “Not until a vision disturbed my sleep, a foreboding of evil for Minas Tirith.”
Edahil could feel the hair on his neck standing on end, and beside him, the two sentries stared wide-eyed at the ghost.
Rising to his feet, Boromir looked at each Man in turn, his eyes gleaming strangely in the firelight. “A dream lured me away on that fatal journey to Imladris, and now a dream has called me back to walk among living Men. Is Faramir in the City? I must speak with him at once to warn him of this danger.”
“Yes, he is in the City, though I doubt that his guards will let you get very close.” At Boromir’s aggrieved look, Eldahil added, “Aside from your truly alarming appearance, they will think you a madman or worse if you claim to be the late lord Captain-General. And since that emissary from Harad arrived, the City garrison has been wary of any strangers.”
Glancing down at his ruined armor and garments, Boromir seemed to notice them for the first time. He gingerly touched the broken shaft of an arrow. “Indeed, there may be some truth in what you say, my cousin. But a message will not serve. Why would my brother believe it? He would deem it simply a cruel deceit or, even as you say, the ravings of a madman.”
“My lord, why can you not simply appear before your lord brother?” Mardil asked. “Just as you came here.”
The ghost shook his head. “I fear it is not so simple. I have no memory of that journey and know not whether I travelled here by chance or by some unknown design.”
“Wait,” Eldahil said as he suddenly realized exactly what they should do. “I have a plan.”