Chapter 8: Philosophy
The night passed fitfully for the former watcher. Dreams threaded through with snippets of the mirror visions kept his mind awake long after his body had collapsed in exhaustion. He saw fragments of his old life, shattered and broken, and he almost despaired of seeing it whole again. But throughout, there was a faint new feeling of peace, belonging, and he locked the desperation away. Even his dream self knew his world had begun anew.
The dawn arrived in crisp, scented beauty. Unfamiliar birdsongs trilled out amongst the branches, warm and welcoming. Everyone awoke at their own pace, and by the time that Wesley rolled over and staggered to his feet, only Gimli and Merry remained asleep.
Stretching mightily, he looked around for his elven shadow, spotting Haldir lounging in the shade of a mighty tree. With a resigned sigh, he set out from the leafy green room to find a bite to eat. Haldir not so gently herded him to a flet laid out with fruits and breads to munch upon, as well as a drink that reminded him strongly of coffee.
Feeling much more alive after a bath, a night of unpanicked sleep, and a nice breakfast, Wesley wandered off to find his traveling companions. While Haldir didn’t have anything to offer in conversation, he did direct Wesley to a small glen when it appeared he’d gotten lost wandering around the massive tree trunks. In the golden light, several of his companions were fletching arrows and sharpening swords and knives. It was a busy group, but Boromir stood to greet the newcomer.
“Good morn, Master Wesley.”
Wesley nodded in response and turned to survey the wood at large. Beyond the glen he could see the glittering of water, and made a mental note to investigate it later. Pippin’s bright hello snapped his attention back, and he smiled faintly.
“You never did answer my question last night, the one about elves.” Pippin sat on a low bench, fiddling with some leather lacing. Wes and Boromir joined him.
After a moment of thought, Wes responded, “Elves are… interesting. So much beauty here, the grace and serenity is, how do you say, amazing? But…” He shook his head, unsure of continuing.
Boromir creaked as he leaned forward, gesturing, and Wes noticed that he hadn’t been given elven clothes to wear, though they did look cleaner. “How do you mean?”
Blue eyes distant, Wes continued softly, “There is such sadness here. Can you not feel it? Even the songs… I do not know the word…”
“Lament?” Pippin supplied, and Wes nodded.
“Yes, they sang laments to Gandalf, I suppose, but there is something else in them. Are elves immortal here?”
Boromir nodded, eyes intent. “Elves were the first peoples here, and they would be the last. But some leave to go to the far shores, abandoning these lands.”
“But they do not die of old age?”
“No.” The man of Gondor looked across the clearing at a very industrious Legolas, the prince of Mirkwood. “No, they do not die of old age. Legolas’ father has been king over his realm for many years and likely for many years to come. Aragorn would know more, but Galadriel is one of the oldest, and some would say wisest.”
Pippin interjected, “And some would say witch.”
Passing by after his own breakfast, Gimli grumbled. Annoyed, though not at the former watcher, Gimli brushed off the good-natured tease. The dwarf had been slow to warm to the stranger in their midst, but Wes was convinced he held less hostility towards him recently. It was almost amusing how battle brought people closer.
Or drove them further apart. In their war against everything that went bump in the night, hadn’t Angel Investigations fallen apart more than once? First came Angel’s descent into darkness then all too soon after, his own failure. Wes wondered if it were even possible to maintain a peaceful relationship with those who slaughtered others day after day. With those grim thoughts in mind, he refocused on his companions.
“In my world, there are those who live as immortals, some are of men, most are not. Death among men is a natural progression, but those who live forever have no such ending. What would be the end of forever?” he mused.
Pippin blinked, elbowing a slightly distracted Boromir. “Did I mean to ask about death? I thought I asked about elves?”
Brought back to the conversation at hand, Boromir chuckled to himself softly, “Heh, Pippin. Seems he’s a thinker too.”
Wes smiled slightly, before continuing. “I am new to this land, and perhaps I am wrong. I do not know. I feel a great sadness here, under the beauty. Perhaps in time…”
That certainly got the attention of his companions. Boromir’s eyebrows shot up.
“In time? You will remain?”
Squinting in the soft light, Pippin tugged at Wes’ sleeve. “You’re not wearing your old clothes anymore. What did you do while you were gone last night?”
With a glance over his shoulder at the stoic Haldir, not quite lounging out of view, he mused, “I saw a lady about a life.”
Now everyone looked confused. Pippin gamely waved his fist. “What kind of an answer was that?”
“A cryptic one.” Boromir surveyed the stranger with a critical eye. Not only were Wes’ clothes different, but his entire demeanor had changed. “What did the lady tell you?”
With a small, resigned sigh, Wes continued, “The Lady Galadriel has a mirror, a reflecting water, that shows the watcher… many things. I saw my home; I believe that I shall not return. And if I am not to return, then what is to become of me?” He couldn’t help but echo the sentiments he’d expressed only a short time ago. Between depressing thoughts of mortality, conflict and sadness, he’d almost forgotten his own new plight.
“Well, this certainly adds a new dimension to your arrival. We lose one member of our merry band, only to pick up another. Are you to join us?” Boromir wasn’t overtly critical, but Wes could well see his mistrust of the situation.
“I do not know. There are many things to consider, and I do not even know where you are going.” Out of the corner of his eye, Wesley saw Boromir dart a glance towards Frodo’s hunched form. The young hobbit was stuffing something in his pack and arguing with Sam, though with little rancor. There was an intensity in Boromir’s gaze that made Wes uncomfortable, an unreasonable passion, and his curiosity about these travelers and their mission skyrocketed.
Unfortunately, his comment also caused the rest of his companions to exchange furtive looks, and Pippin grumbled out, “We’d tell you—“
“But you cannot. I understand.” And he did. Wes went back to watching the lights through the leaves dance on the tree trunks. It was soothing, and like the others, he was soon lost in his own thoughts. He caught a flicker of light from the body of water again and stood.
Pippin chirped something and darted off to scold Frodo about tying too much to his pack. Boromir followed Frodo with his eyes, his whole body leaning tensely forward. Seeing the tense concentration vibrating through Boromir’s sturdy frame recalled several other times in the past few days that Wes had seen the man watching Frodo. It was nothing overt, nothing directly predatory, but there was something so painfully desperate in that gaze, in that too familiar a stance that Wesley’s heart ached horribly. Memories of happier times with his LA family only months ago crowded his thoughts and he took a deep breath.
Coming to a decision, for good or for ill, Wes lightly tapped the man’s arm. “Will you walk with me? I have something I wish to discuss with you.”
Surprised, but willing, Boromir followed the thin man as he wound his way down to the river bank. It was wide and smooth, flowing swiftly, and Wesley picked his way very carefully along the shore. Eventually he reached a mossy bank and paused, fingering the soft, leafy greenery.
“Boromir, I know we are not friends. But as someone who fought by your side, I would entreat you to listen to me.”
Eyebrows quirked in question, the man of Gondor gestured for Wesley to continue.
“I see you watch the hobbit, Frodo.” Boromir jerked back, eyes narrowed. Wes held his hands palms up in peace. “I mean no harm. I do not even know why it is you follow him with such intensity. But do know this: I have seen that same look before. Whatever it is you plan to do to save your world, it will not have a good conclusion.”
“Are you a soothsayer now too?”
Wes winced at the derision in Boromir’s tone, but he could see the comment shocked the other man deeply. Shaking his head slightly, he plucked a heart-shaped leaf off of a nearby bush and threw it in the water. “No. I have seen that look before in my own mirror, not too long ago, right before I received this.” He pulled down the collar of the elven tunic, revealing the deep scar on his neck.
Slightly embarrassed, Boromir threw his own stick in the water, watching as it was swept away in seconds. “We thought it best not to inquire, but how did that happen?”
“There was a prophecy that the father would kill the son. To protect the infant, I stole him away. Unfortunately, I put my trust in the wrong people who ultimately cut my … how do you say? Neck? The infant was stolen from me in turn and taken to a hellish world to suffer for years.”
Wes spoke softly. Reliving that night caused his throat to close up convulsively and he had to fight to keep his breathing regular. Boromir had stopped snapping the small bits of bark in the palm of his hand and listened with rapt attention.
“It turned out the prophecy was false and I caused great suffering to Connor, the child, and his family. I thought I knew what had to be done, that I was the only one to save the world from a possible end. If I had only talked to others, I might have known what would happen. Instead … I nearly died and did lose my friends.”
Wes turned back to watch Boromir carefully. “I do not know what it is you fight for, nor is it my responsibility. But know this: your burden is easier if it is shared. Whatever it is you are planning to do, think very carefully. You burn with a passion that is borne of desperation. Trust those around you, for they do not wish you ill.”
Hands clenched stiffly at his side, Boromir whispered, “But how do I not try? Salvation could be within my grasp if they would only … No.” He looked up, eyes bright. “My world is falling apart and all I wish is to do the best by it, but they think they know better.”
“Perhaps they do.” Wes sighed, crouching to trail his fingers in the water. “It is hard to see everything. If these people you spoke of are wise, then talk with them, and listen to what they have to say. I do not want for you, any of you, to suffer the same fate as I.”
He smiled a bit wryly and accepted Boromir’s outstretched hand to stand again. “Celeborn says you are fighting a good fight. It is those fights that you must trust those around you more than ever.” He laid his hand on Boromir’s shoulder gently before walking back up the rough trail to the clearing.
To Be Continued...