They gave me some sort of a burial, so I guess I must have died. I don't remember much of the actual moment of my death, only that I welcomed it as an ending to unending pain and that I was gazing through my tears into the endless sea of Aragorn's eyes while my lungs filled up with blood. My own tears obscuring my last view of him, my own lifeblood drowning me, sweeping me away from him forever.
They cleansed my body, removed the arrows that killed me, put me in an Elven boat with my broadsword and the cloven Horn of Gondor and as many Orc weapons as space would allow, so I think I must have died honorably. I don't remember much of my last fight, apart from the end, when the Halflings were carried off by stinking Orcs, screaming and fighting and kicking, until one of the foul creatures hit them brutally over the head so they hung like dead weights as the creatures of darkness ran past me, their casual carrying of their burden a final insult.
They sang a lament for me, Aragorn, and Legolas, their eyes rimmed red with unshed tears, while Gimli stood by with bowed bead, so my death must have meant something to them, even if my life gave them so much grief. I betrayed them at the end. No, not just at the end, I betrayed them right from the beginning. I never committed myself completely to the Quest. There were too many doubts, too much mistrust, too much pride and arrogance in my heart to ever become a real member of the Fellowship. And all this became my downfall in the end.
Aragorn took the bracers from my arms with more tenderness than I had ever deserved, and he bound them around his own and filled his quill with the arrows that had slain me, while grief and anger raged in his eyes, so maybe, maybe, I meant something special to him after all.
They pushed me away in this little boat of Elvengrey wood, they sent me down the Rauros Falls because it was too dangerous for them to give me a proper burial. I would not endanger them in death as I had done in life by falling prey to the temptation of the Ring. Instead of resting forever under a grassclad burial mound, I sped downward in a roar of water and foam and never-ending noise and spun round in whirlpools and eddies until the Anduin slowed its course and ambled forward towards the sea. The broken remains of my horn were washed away from me, as were the foul Orcs' weapons, which sank to the bottom of the river, the remains of my horn setting off on their own, unknown course.
For days I drifted down the river, settling into the rhythm of gently lapping water, my spirit still hovering close by my dead body for some reason not wanting to take leave of my mortal remains just yet. And then, one night I passed the fields of Ithilien and I saw my beloved brother sitting near the water's edge, studious, pensive, as was always his way when he was not engaged in battle. Faramir, my brother, I loved you so dearly, more than I ever let you know. You were so much better than I was, even if our father did not deem you so. I am glad that it was I who undertook the fateful journey and not you, and that it was I who died failing to fulfill Gondor's promise of aiding the quest to bring the ring to Mordor. Our country would have fared so much worse if it had been otherwise. I see that clearly now. I see my flaws, my mistakes, the chances I missed, the opportunities I failed to see.
This is what grieves me most of all, that in death I see what I could not when I was alive. It is all as clear to me now as the water that surrounds me, shining like the light of the Lady Galadriel as my funeral boat drifts ever further down the river Anduin. The river is widening more and more, the landscape is changing, trees make room for flat, dull plains, until the great river and I finally reach the sea. My mind floats along with my body, out into the bluegrey sea. I do not know for what reason, nor do I know what will happen, but somehow my body is still linked to my soul, a tenuous yet insistent tug pulling at my consciousness, not letting me find peace just yet.
Seagulls accompany my still body, crying forlornly as they hover in the sky. They sing another funeral song for the Steward's son who failed to understand the look in the eyes of his King until it was too late. I was too preoccupied with myself, with Gondor, with his unwanted and unwarranted claims to the throne, claims that were made only in my mind. I drove myself mad with jealousy and wrongful accusations and never stopped to think what I meant to him, or what he meant to me. Or maybe I was just too afraid to admit it.
The Eastwind, the wind that comes from Mordor, but is now seasoned with the sweet smell of Ithilien's flowers, speeds my boat further and further out onto the sea. Further and further away until even the seagulls leave me on this journey that I must make alone. I do not know where it will end, whether I will drift forever on a calm, grey sea, the sun filtering through my closed eyelids, the stars unable to lift the darkness in my eyes. But I am soothed, rocked like a little baby, the way my mother used to rock me when I was a little child and afraid of the dark.
I am not afraid; no, how can I be. I am dead, there is nothing left to be afraid of. If any emotion is still here it is curiosity and maybe sadness that I will not see him again. My brother, my captain, my King even, but never my lover. And through no fault of his, I see that now. The offer was there all along, but I was too proud to see it. Too consumed in my notions of what was right and befitting, although my body betrayed itself over and over again as I would lie awake in a dark forest and stare at his sleeping form over the dying embers of our fire. He would have taken me, showed me what it is to love and be loved, even if he would not have forsaken Arwen, his betrothed. That much was clear to me from his goodbye to her when we left Rivendell. The love they shared would never be broken. And I would not, could not see further than that. I would not understand that there was room for more love in his heart besides the love for his Elven Lady. He would have loved me just as much if I had let him. I would not recognize that he would give me the same promise filled look when we would all sit together at night, tired, sharing a simple meal of bread and meat. I feel sad, realizing all this and I start to wonder how long my journey over this sea will take or where it will end.
But something changes in the gentle, rocking motions of the water, a shortening of the waves that moves my boat in another, more jarring rhythm. And then my little boat is lifted in the sky, while the earth curves away beneath me and I am now drifting in the sky on a straight road through mist and clouds for what seems an eternity. Other, even more magnificent seagulls than the ones from before now sail the skies, flocking together one by one, until there are so many I cannot count them anymore and their lonely cries accompany me yet again on this final journey. And then the boat gently comes to a halt, the merest of shocks indicating that I have reached a place that is more than air and water. There is a freshness, a greenness in the air, like a rain curtain lifting from the air, and even in death I am gladdened.
There are voices around me, speaking in a language that I have heard before, in dreams, in whispers, from Legolas' mouth. Elven voices sussuring like the waves and the wind that carried me here. Elven hands that steady the boat and pull it gently onto the shore. And Elven hands that lift my body out of the boat and carry it away, inland. I can do nothing but follow, my spirit still attached to the broken and marred flesh that was once my body. The Elves bring me to a beautiful yet somber looking hall, its walls and roof wrought with intricate designs, and they carry me inside.
A grave looking woman sits there and they lay my body before her. She leans forward and puts a gentle hand on my forehead and I feel my spirit being drawn again towards my body. I slide inwards, turning and twisting; my body shudders and I gasp and I draw my first painful breath like a newborn baby. I open my eyes and look up into friendly, yet immeasurably sad eyes. There is a benevolence surrounding her that is more than I can bear. And I cry. I ended my life crying and I am starting my life, or whatever this gift that I have been given may be called, by crying again. I cry for everything I have lost, for the things I could have achieved if I had not been so flawed. I cry for I know I am in the Halls of Mandos from where I will board MourniŽ, the ship that will bring me to the unknown place where Men and all other mortals go. I cry for I know I will not see Aragorn again, I cry for my unanswered love. Because I now know that I loved him. I loved him with all my heart, I merely was too blind to see it. Finally my tears dry and the woman starts to speak, her voice soft and gentle.
"Boromir, son of Denethor, welcome to the Halls of Mandos. Nienna I am, the one who gives solace to those waiting in my brother's Halls. As is the right of all mortals you have been given time to think about your past life in Arda before you will board the dark ship MourniŽ to return to Eru Iluvatar, the One. But you came not by the usual road that mortal Men will take to arrive here. Instead you were brought here by Elven wood, clad in Elven cloak and adorned with Elven clasp and therefore you will be given a boon. You need not spend your waiting days in the Dark Halls of Mandos but you will be allowed to review your life wherever you please on this island until you will be summoned again."
I do not know what to say, but I rise and bow my head in thanks. I look up again and see Nienna smiling at me, and the great sorrow that was in my heart is lifted. The Elves, who have kept their distance while I gave voice to my grief, now come over and lead me gently away, into the sunshine.
Countless days pass and I grow stronger again, the arrow wounds in my chest healing completely, leaving no trace or scar. I have spent these days on the western shores of the island from which I have watched the unfurling of the end of the Quest on Arda. I have seen Frodo and Sam travel through the barren lands of Mordor, their bond of love growing stronger and stronger, and I have seen them throw the One Ring in the Crack of Doom. I have seen their rescue and it gladdens me. It fills my heart with joy that these things have come to pass and that in a little, twisted way my death has contributed to this. In hindsight my death probably was necessary to set these events in motion. Had I lived and not succumbed to the temptation of the Ring none of this might have happened. We would have gone on, the eight of us, travelling together into Mordor, and we would all have been captured and died horribly at the hands of Sauron, casting the lands of Middle-Earth forever into misery and doom. My sombre predictions would have come true had I not died the way I did. It hurts, yet it also feels right: I have atoned for my sins and I now am content to sit on the shores of Aman, to look Eastwards and wait. I do not know what I am waiting for, but I will know what it is when it comes. I merely enjoy sitting here, finally at peace with myself and basking in the silveren sunlight.
I feel a light tap on my shoulder and I turn around, looking into the radiant face of one of the Elves that brought me to the Halls of Mandos. She smiles at me, bends over and takes my hand.
"It is time now," she says. "Come, Boromir."
I rise and let myself be led over the island, crossing the Pellinor Mountains until the sun sets and we finally reach the dark Halls again. I look at my companion, questioning, not knowing what is expected of me and she beckons me to go on inside.
I go in, and again I see Nienna, sitting behind a single fire, and to her left a group of people. I stand still, hesitating, not knowing what is expected of me, but she beckons me forward. I cross the hall towards her until I stand before her. I stand before her, my head bowed in deference.
"Be welcome again, Boromir, to the Halls of Mandos from which I sent you away before. Man of Gondor, long have you waited on the shores of the Undying Lands, not knowing your fate, or what awaited you. But your waiting is now over. Long years have passed in the lands of Middle-Earth and everyone you ever knew has died or sailed from the Grey Havens to this island. Frodo Baggins has arrived, and Sam Gamgee, Peregrine Took, Meriadoc Brandibuck and the one you knew as Gandalf. The last ship brought Legolas Greenleaf, and Gimli, son of Gloin: the Elf and his Dwarven friend. But they are not the only ones who have come to Aman, to find their final destiny."
She looks sideways to a little group of Men standing to her left in the gloom, who come forward as she beckons them, and I gasp in surprise as before me stands Aragorn, and he laughs and walks up to me. I fall to my knees, from shock and because it is the proper thing to do: to give honor to my King.
I kneel frozenly, head bowed, cheeks aflame with shame and desire and I do not know how I must respond, for it is not only Aragorn who is here, but Arwen stands beside him. But she smiles at me, takes my hand to pull me up. She whispers to me that she knows, and has always known and that it is all right. Aragorn kisses my brow, kisses the same spot where he gave me his goodbye kiss, the seal of his love for me, and I smile and weep at the same time, noticing that he is still wearing my bracers, the leather now old and worn, the white tree barely visible anymore.
"My Boromir, Arandur mine, we will go our final road together." He kisses me tenderly, lovingly, and I know that everything has come full circle now. This is the reason of my waiting for so long in the Undying Lands. We stand together, his arms around me, holding me as if he has done so all his life. We are silent, words are no longer necessary as everything has already been said.
Nienna speaks again, breaking the silence. "MourniŽ is waiting for you to bring you beyond the boundaries of Arda and it will sail soon. You must go now on your final journey."
The ship, its purple dark sails softly flapping in the wind, lies in the haven on the farthest shore of Aman. Night is falling and the stars are coming out. As the three of us board the ship I look upwards and see a lonely seagull soar darkly against the stars, its shape blotting out their humble light. It cries once, a farewell cry to those who are on the verge of leaving forever. I smile at the sound and I know that all will be well.
The ship draws away from the shore and I see figures standing there. I recognize them, four small persons, standing hand in hand, and an oddly matched couple of Elf and Dwarf standing nearby, their hands lifted in greeting; a tall, stately figure is standing a little further away, gazing benevolently at us. I know we will meet again at the end of times, when this earth has died and from the ashes a new earth will be born, but untill then our parting is forever.
And then we sail under an ever darkening sky, until we reach the walls of the world, rising up so they seem to bend in on themselves. A gate lies before us, its doors dark and unbidding, and anticipation courses through our bodies. This will be the last journey. What lies behind these gates will only be known to us. The dark gate opens and the ship starts to sail through. A gentle light, like sunlight in spring, shines through and we sail into a radiant morning, while the air smells of flowers after a gentle rain; our hearts rejoice as we disembark from the ship and walk into an everlasting spring together.
Story notes: I always wondered when I was reading about Boromir's death and his journey down the Anduin about where he would eventually end up. One day, perusing a Tolkien Lexicon I was struck by a totally off tangent note on the story of King Arthur after the Battle of Camlann in which Arthur is sent off, mortally wounded, in a boat to the Island of Avalon. And then I had my very own answer about what had happened to Boromir after he sped down the Rauros Falls. :-)
I gleaned a lot of information about Middle Earth afterlife from the Silmarillion, the Unfinished Tales, the Tolkien Lexicon and the Encyclopaedia of Arda that can be found at http://www.glyphweb.com/arda. Any mistakes and misinterpretations are entirely mine. Feel free to point out any of them.
The straight road that Boromir's boat is taking is a reference to Aman's separation from the rest of Middle Earth after the Downfall of Numenor at the end of the Second Age. As of that moment one could only reach The Undying Lands through the "Straight Road", the road the Elven ships were only able to take and maybe some lost sailors who ended up there. The Halls of Mandos are the place in Aman where the dead go to consider their life. Nienna, Mandos' sister, spends most of her time there, and all cry to her, for she brings strength to the spirit and turns sorrow into wisdom. The mortals are then sent on the ship of MourniŽ to Eru, the One, outside the walls of Arda, the souls of the Elves are reawakened in a new body and sent back from Arda should they wish so.
Lastly, Arandur is Elvish for Steward.