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Chapter Three – At The Mercy of the Mark
Once his head stopped its pain-filled assault, Boromir tried to sit up, but the room spun and his stomach lurched. Hoping to keep what little he had eaten, he lay back down. Cursing himself roundly for a fool, he tried to imagine why or who had done this to him. Would Gríma be foolish enough to drug him? Or was it the healer, that Hathawyn? But Théodred said the healer was in Grima’s employ. He could not fathom one of Theoden’s counselors doing such an absurd thing. At least, it seemed absurd to him. ‘Time to unsnarl this later. It is now time to free myself.’ He chuckled wryly. ‘If I can sit up!’
Gently, he turned to his side. The feeble cot lurched and he held on tightly, his head swimming. He bit his lip and waited a moment. Finally, the room quieted to a dull roar. He swung his legs over the side and dropped them, slowly, to the floor. ‘So far so good,’ he thought, thankfully. Taking a deep breath, he pulled himself up into a sitting position. Immediately, his stomach wrenched and he lost his meal. Holding his head down between his legs, he soon stopped retching; gingerly, he lifted his head. The room did not spin, his stomach did not recoil, his legs seemed to work.
He waited another moment, then stood. ‘Yes!’ he almost shouted aloud in triumph, He took a step and then another. Though his head was merciless in trying to beat him senseless with pain, he managed to walk to the door. Looking through the bars, he saw no one. ‘Good. One good thing in this miserable day.’
‘If I recall,’ he thought grimly, ‘most of these cells have not been used in a very long time. How did Faramir get us out, that time we played hide ‘a seek and got locked in?’ He scratched his forehead as he tried to remember. The clank of a door pulled his thoughts up; someone was coming. He swore to himself. ‘What ill-begotten fate holds me in its sway?’ He ran back to the cot and lay down, throwing his arm over his eyes as if in sleep.
As he had feared, the door to his cell was unlocked and someone stepped inside. “I told you this was no mistake.” It was the healer’s voice! “He has already caused problems. We can’t move until he’s taken care of.”
The voice of the other was deliberately falsified for Boromir to discern who it was. “All know Denethor’s son is here in Edoras. How will you explain his disappearance?” Boromir kept still and waited, hoping they would speak further and he would finally be able to decide what was happening to him and to Rohan.
“All right then. We take him to his old rooms and say he’s been taken ill. We let Théodred see him, along with Háma. I tell you, your Doorward distrusts you. Then, we do what we have to do. What has been done with to all those who would wreck the master’s plans.” Another muffled reply. Then a call from the healer, “Guard. Pick up this fellow and follow me.”
He felt himself lifted and slung over a thick shoulder. He moaned, only half in pretense, then stilled. His head hit the lintel as the soldier passed through the door and Boromir saw stars. “Hurry! We want him to think this a dream or some such. We must get him to his room before he wakes.”
Boromir realized the soldier was rushing up stairs as the rough bumping caused his stomach to roil further. He obviously had not vomited all of the drug that had been given him in the wine. Biting his lip to keep from moaning further, he waited. At last, he heard a door open and found himself flung onto a familiar bed. Oh, if he did not feel so wretched, he would cry out in joy at the feel of the soft down-stuffed quilt, the feathery pillows, the scent of clean soap.
His boots were ripped off his feet; his tunic and other garments were taken from him, and a nightshirt was put over him. He thanked the Valar that his undergarments were left on. He was stuffed under the coverlet and his tormentors left him. The turn of a key at the door told him he was yet a prisoner.
He sighed and snuggled deeper into the bed, exhausted. He had not realized, in the two weeks and some that he had been traveling, how good a bed felt. The bed in the inn, though it was a good inn, scratched, while the beds in Meduseld almost rivaled those of Gondor. But he could not lay here forever; he must be about getting word to Théodred.
He waited a few moments to make sure none guarded the room, then opened his eyes. Surprised to see it was already dark, he managed to fumble his way to where he remembered the commode was. He used the chamber pot, then poured water into the washbowl and laved his face and neck. ‘The comforts of home,’ he thought wryly. ‘How good of them to put me in my old rooms!’ He chuckled, then sobered and sighed.
‘Well, what do I do now? How do I get word to Théodred? Nay, they said they would bring him here and they will. But how will they protect themselves? I will surely tell him I have been absconded, put in the dungeon, and now am locked in this room.’ A chill ran down his spine. ‘Of course. I will be drugged again. I dare not eat or drink anything, though I know not how long I can keep up this charade of being insensible.’ At that moment, he ran for the bed. ‘Footsteps. Two, perhaps three people.’ He pulled the coverlet to his chin and closed his eyes just as the door was unlocked.
A moment passed then he heard a gentle laugh. “You think I am fool enough not to see you’ve used the washbasin? You should have thrown the water out of the window.”
He opened his eyes. “I thought it only polite to keep quiet as you seemed so intent on keeping me quiet. And hidden.”
“Yes. I do so hope you were pleasantly surprised to see me again?
“I think pleasantly is a little far stretched.”
Hathawyn’s face took on a look of pure hatred. “You think you can undo, by your mere presence, all we have planned? You’re as stupid as Théoden - and his cur of a son.”
Boromir flung the covers back in fury and stood. “Speak not of the King of the Mark in such terms!” he bellowed. He was backhanded immediately and fell onto the floor. Cursing himself for not seeing the guard, he pulled himself slowly to his feet. Another blow and he landed back onto the bed.
His head was held in a vice-like grip, his nose was pinched closed, and his mouth was flooded with a foul-tasting drink. He knew he could not prevent the drug from being swallowed, but he would rather die in the fire pits of Mordor than give her the satisfaction of seeing him take it meekly.
Almost immediately, his body began to shake. “Hoy! What have you given me?”
“It’s a bit more than you had the last time. Or would you prefer that I cut you open again and fill the wound with the swill from our pigs?”
How he hated this woman! The door closed and the key turned. Tears filled his eyes at the realization – ‘She is going to kill me this time.’ There was no doubt in his mind. Shivering from the effects of whatever he had swallowed, he pulled himself into a tight ball, trying desperately to combat the fear that filled him.
It only grew as his body shook from a cold such as he had only felt once before, the time she had tried to murder him on their way to Minas Tirith. His heart began to race. ‘They must have given me something very potent to cause such sudden infirmity.’ Fear raced through his belly, ‘but then again,’ he thought belatedly, ‘it could be the draught.’
The room began to spin; he tried to bury his head in the bed cushion, but his head ached fiercely; even the touch of the pillow made it throb. He cried out in anguish, but none heard, he was sure of that. ‘Voices! Someone comes to save me.’ He opened his eyes and looked hopefully towards the door, but no one entered. He heard Gondor’s trumpets in the distance. “Father,” he called out weakly. A bird flew about the ceiling, black and harshly crying. He swallowed hard. ‘Mind wandering already. It is potent. I wonder they give enough time for Théodred to come.’
Oh but he was weary. He closed his eyes and wished it would all go away, that he was in his own bed in Minas Tirith, that he had never had the wretched dream that brought him to this place – this place that had once been as a home to him, but now was to become his doom. ‘Doom,’ he thought groggily, ‘Did not the dream mention doom?’
A/N – 1) In my own perverse thoughts, I have always felt that the family of the Steward of Gondor and the family of the King of the Mark were sociable. That they saw each other from time and time and that the children, perhaps, even spent summers at each others’ homes now and again. After all, Edoras was only a gentle two-week ride from Minas Tirith. 2) coverlet – circa 1250; 3) commode – 1600’s; toilet 1500’s; washbowl – 1500’s…4) lave – 900; wash – 900; 5) insensible – 1300’s; unconscious – 1700’s; senseless – 1500’s; 5) undergarments – 1500’s; underclothes – 1800’s; 6) arsenic (a substance that was readily available to Grima and his cohorts) poisoning - Symptoms of arsenic poisoning begin with headaches, confusion and drowsiness. See this link for other symptoms leading to death and also some ‘home’ remedies. http://www.chelationtherapyonline.com/articles/p110.htm
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