Herenyar felt the pull of the Anduin at his feet as they put out from shore. But for the wetness seeping in at the seams of his boots, and the sounds the river made, there was little to differnciate from the relative certainty of the western bank, and the unknown dangers of the south flowing Anduin. As the craft took to the deeper and swifter part of the river, Herenyar withdrew the leg he had used to propel from the shore. Trying not to disturb the boat overmuch, he settled next to Denegal at the stern, and shot a remark at the young man.
“You see now, all your distress was for naught.” Catching the hint of a joke at such a strange time, Denegal blinked at him in the darkness, with a look that smacked of disbelief. He shook his dark head and stared ahead.
“Ah, I see now that I sould have forseen such luck. More the fool I.” He fixed his keen pitch-dark eyes at a point down stream and let them rest there now, silent. The curent had grown recalcitrent and stubborn as the river cut a narrower path. The boatmen, though, had been vigilent since the previous incident, and there was, for the most part, an easy time of it.
Herenyar sought with his gaze a figure huddled in the craft behind them. Th lad had taken a fall into the treacherous river, and looked the worse for it, his hair in thick wet ropes, and his skin had seemed paler than was fitting. Who could gauge, though, in this poor light, what the youth’s actual condition was? Herenyar sighed, and turned his attention to the looming trees on either bank. Each seemed a mirror to the other, but a deep sense of foreboding gripped him as he surveyed the eastern shore.
It was from the west, however, that he heard the sounds of a snare snap, a few muffled words, and then a cloak of silence. At this sudden noise, there was an allover hush from the company, and more than one of the younger men crouched in fear. Denegal, though, sat straighter and loosened his blade with a quiet movement of his hand.
“They have not crossed, Herneyar?” He shook his head unsurely, but knew that if Mordor’s muscle had indeed breached the river, that there was, for certain, a very great problem. He flicked his hand upward, which caught the attention of the alert men. All who had bows made them ready and knocked arrows to them, and the boatmen and damp young ranger put there hands on any ready weapon. For a few moments they listened, but only silence greated their ears.
The newly come ranger of the dunedain, who had called himself Thorgrond, whispered across the three feet which seperated them in the dark. “It might proove a wise thing to send a man or two to survey the shore.”
Herenyar shook his head, however, and sighed. “I don’t think we have much luck left to count on, this night. I can’t ask my men to do something I would not.”
“I can do it easily enough.” Before the more leary of the two could protest, Thorgrond had slid from the craft with a confidence that made Herenyar burn with embarassment at his own cowardice.
They had been travelling in an eddy, which had pulled them close enough to the bank so that the Anduin came only to the knee. Thorgrond, to the wonderment of the rangers, waded ashore, while Herenyar berated himself, and felt sure that his men scoffed at his judgement. A silent quarter of an hour passed, most of which the men spent sitting in their shored boats.
Finally, Thorgrond broke out of the line of willow bows flanking the narrow beach. There was a clam look on his face, which all found reassuring.
“I make no sense of it. I can only tell that there have been no orcs or foul creatures in these parts, and that, at least is good news.”
Herenyar sighed and nodded, and gave the order to set forth. The had spent, perhaps, an hour on the river, when Denegal spoke from behind and gestured forward. “There is a great shape before us. The city, I think.” Though it was slightly hidden, Herenyar smiled to himself at the pride of the statement. Indeed, the gray mass of Osgiliath had begun to apperate in the smog, and the sounds and smells of battle began to permeate the air.
Fires, too, burned in the eastern side of the city, and ate at the dark mass of the sky.
“Indeed, you have brought us here. Well done.”
“Oh, no flattery just yet. There is an even greater task before us now, and thus I am still unproven.” Just as the shouts of the western sentries sounded from the cities, Herenyar mused that such a philosophy was fitting for them all.