A Great Evil Unmade

by Linaewen

This is a story I have written for a challenge over at the Henneth Annun Story Archive, called X Takes the Ring, the challenge being to write a tale where anyone other than Frodo ends up with the Ring. The date for the closing of the challenge was today, appropriately -- as the day when the Ring was destroyed. I'm sure those who know me can guess who X is in my story; but perhaps you can't guess how he came to have the Ring! Read on and see what you think.

A Great Evil Unmade

Into the fires of Orodruin
The One must be cast.
This the price that must be paid.
Only thus its power will be undone,
Only thus a great evil unmade.
There is no other choice,
There is no other way.
One of you must take it,
One of you must pay.

– "The Destruction of the Ring" by Howard Shore, Philippa Boyens

Boromir gazed upwards at the dark tumbled heights of the mountain before him. More climbing to be done -- of course! he sighed. How could it be otherwise?

Glancing down, he grimaced ruefully at his torn and bloodied hands. How he wished he still had his leather gloves for protection against the sharp stones -- but they were gone now, shredded upon the rocks of the high pass he had been forced to scale to reach his destination.

It had been less of a viable pass than he had remembered from his youth, when he had explored the mountains bordering his homeland with an eye to hidden entrances and secret forays. He had made special note of that particular spot for future need, for it had seemed relatively remote and thus possibly less guarded, yet still scalable for a man strong and determined.

It had indeed been scalable -- but only just! He had been strong enough, in spite of his great weariness; and when his strength began to fail, he had still been determined enough. Was not his purpose of the highest and most urgent? But at the last, even determination had not been sufficient to keep him from faltering, and only sheer desperation and utter fear at the thought of failure had lent his fingers strength to keep on clinging, and his feet the will to keep on seeking a foothold, and his arms the power to keep pulling him forward and upwards, up and over.

His strength had returned somewhat since then, and the closer he came to seeing his task completed, the more his determination was renewed. Yet how was he to manage that climb again, when the time came to escape back the way he had come? He knew he would not have the strength for it again so soon. Perhaps it did not matter, when all was said and done; likely there would be no returning once it was over, either by that path or by any other! If that was the case, then so be it. That was part of the price, and he was willing to pay it.

But not until he had finished what had been laid upon him, and done the deed he had set out to do!

Boromir looked back towards the nameless pass which he had conquered with such difficulty, but smoke and cloud and murky fumes closed the land about him into shadow and there was nothing to be seen in any direction.

And that is a good thing, he thought wearily. For if there is nothing to be seen, there is also no one there to see me, and I shall remain hidden awhile longer. How I have gotten this far without being waylaid or discovered and taken, I cannot think! But I shall not question it. I shall take what chance or fortune offers and press on while I have the strength and opportunity.

Looking up at the black mass of slag and stone that faced him, Boromir sighed once more, and shrugged away his dismay and weariness. There was nothing for it; he had to go on, torn hands or no. He was so close to the end of the journey now, and another mountain to climb would not keep him from his goal.

No, not even this one, the mount that had overshadowed his life and the lives of so many for hundreds of years -- Orodruin, the Fiery Mountain; Amon Amarth, the Mount of Doom.


Before attempting his ascent, Boromir took his rest under the lee of a pile of jagged boulders, where he was well hidden from sight. He knew he would need to garner as much strength as was left to him, and as much courage as he could muster to face the ever-increasing pressure to turn back, to give up, to not finish -- to take the easy way out. He no longer had the desire to listen to that whispering, and he laughed at the persuasive arguments that filled his mind and beat upon his heart; but there was no denying he was weary of it, and he knew it tired him even more than wielding his sword for hours in the heat of battle. Even so, he knew what the result would be if he turned aside, if he listened and obeyed, gave in. He would not go there, and that was all there was to it.

Not this time would he yield; no, not ever again!

Touching his hand to his breast, Boromir could almost feel the heat of the Ring upon its chain through his layers of clothing -- mail and tunic, surcoat and Elven cloak. The Thing seemed to throb with power and persuasion. It was draining and burdensome, but he did not fear it, nor did he fear his strength to resist Its temptation. His only fear now was that of discovery, and of failing to finish his task.

It was the height of irony that he should be the one here in this place, carrying the burden of the ages to the place where it would be unmade -- of all people, the one who had once succumbed most easily to the lure of the Ring. Boromir still cringed at the memory of his weakness and inability to withstand the golden Thing, and the knowledge that he had sought to harm the one whom he had vowed to protect, in order to obtain It. Yet his succumbing had also been the key to gaining the strength he now had to abjure It, for his fall had brought about the searing of his desire and the death of his ambition to be victorious for his people at all costs. Since the moment he realized what he had almost done to Frodo and how that desire had been accomplished in him, he had known that price to be far too high, and his loathing of the Ring knew no bounds. Even his fear that the Dark Lord might regain It were the Ring to be taken to Mordor could no longer dissuade him from his determination to see it destroyed.

He himself had never intended to come to Mordor -- at least, not without an army of Gondor at his back! Rather, his had been a quest to seek answers to a riddle, to present the need of his people to the wise ones in Rivendell, to return home to Gondor with help for that need to strengthen the fight against the Shadow and perhaps even to win it. After joining the Company of the Ring, his quest had become one of protection -- guarding the safety of the Ringbearer for a time, until they parted ways -- and even more, to guard the safety of the Ring itself. For a time, his determination to keep the Ring out of the hands of the Nameless One had set him against even the good purposes of the Company itself, and had blinded him to the realization that he was laying himself open to claiming the Ring rather than keeping It safe.

But none of that mattered any longer; all purposes and plans had been changed forever that day upon Amon Hen. For that was the day when the Company had been broken, and the Ringbearer wounded, to the point that he could not continue his Quest.


Hardly had Boromir found Frodo in the woods and sought his forgiveness for his betrayal; hardly had they rejoined the others to plan their next move, when the Uruk-hai of Saruman had come upon them suddenly, and all was thrown into confusion. There had been fierce battle amidst the trees and valiant stands upon the shore, but in the end, the warriors among the Company had been unable to prevent the taking of the hobbits. Sam, Merry and Pippin had been made captive, and Frodo, severely wounded by sword and arrow, was left for dead. The others of the Company had miraculously escaped with only a few cuts and scrapes.

If it had not been for Aragorn's skill as a healer, Frodo would have been lost to them; even so, it was obvious to all that his wounds were terrible, and he could not continue his journey to Mordor. It might be weeks before he would be strong enough to stand, let alone walk. The Quest was in ruins, and they were all at a loss as to what was to be done. Frodo had to be taken to a place of safety for further healing -- Lothlórien was the closest and by far the least dangerous road for a wounded Halfling to travel. But he could not go alone; one of their number would have to travel with him, for he could not even stand without aid. The captive hobbits also must be rescued; there was no question of leaving them to suffer at the hands of the Orcs one moment more than was necessary. They must be pursued and rescued without delay. Those who did not go with Frodo would be charged with that quest.

But the Ring? What of the Ring? Who would take It, now that Frodo could not longer go forward? That was the question they had been unable to answer, and the decision they could not make, though urgency burned in their hearts.

Frodo, however, still had his wits about him in spite of his wounding, and he knew clearly what had to be done. What use was the Company to the Ringbearer if one among them did not step forward to claim the errand when he himself could go forward no longer? There was no other choice, no other way -- one of them must take the Ring in his stead.

No one had stepped forward, for they all feared what might happen to Frodo if the Ring, so long in his possession, was taken from him, and they each knew how dangerous a task it would be to bear the Ring and resist Its evil. Boromir more than any of them but for Frodo knew just how hard was that task! He had hung back, silent and reluctant, ashamed to say anything that might even remotely suggest he was willing to take the Thing he had once coveted, and now heartily wished had never been brought into existence.

But Frodo had made the decision for them, and had pressed the Ring upon him, He would brook no other response than Boromir's agreement.

Take It! he had pleaded. You understand It now, even as I do; you know the touch of evil and what it can make you do, before you can stop yourself. The Ring's lies are laid bare to you, and you want It no more. I can see that clearly in your eyes and I can read it in your heart as if it were written with words. Therein lies your safety and your strength; now that you are warned, you will be on your guard. I trust you with this, Boromir -- please! Take the Ring while I still have the strength to let it go! Take it to Mordor and cast it into the fire and free us all from this burden!

In the end, Boromir had been persuaded, and he had taken upon himself the burden of the Quest -- not because he felt any desire for the Ring, any strength or confidence in himself to see it done, but simply because Frodo had begged him, and trusted him to do it. He made his vow before them all, to see the task through, to bring the Ring to the Cracks of Doom and to cast It in to be unmade. That vow would bind him, until the task was completed or death took him.


The Mountain of Fire rumbled and shook, disturbing his thoughts and bringing him back to the present. He was alone on the slopes of Mount Doom, and his task was not yet done. As yet, the Dark Lord seemed to have no idea what danger he was in, for he had sent no one against Boromir to wrest the Ring from him; nor was the plain of Gorgoroth and the path to the Mountain even guarded. Perhaps he thought he was safe here in his own land; if so, then let him not learn otherwise! If all went well, the Nameless One would know nothing until the moment of his destruction and Boromir could not help but grin at the thought that destruction would come at his hand. All his life he had vowed to make the Dark One pay for the hurt he had done to Gondor and her people; now was his chance to fulfill that other vow, made so long ago, when he was no more than a boy.

But standing here in the heart of Mordor grinning at Barad-dûr would not fulfill any oaths; it was more likely to get him killed! Time it was to be moving, then, climbing the mountain. It would be good to have it over and done, his vows fulfilled, the evil unmade, the price paid in full, whatever that price might be.

He did not expect the Ring would go quietly. It was likely there would be unimaginable chaos and upheaval when the Ring went into the fire -- in which case, Boromir would indeed pay for his foolish rejection of the power that had been offered him. Yet gladly would he pay that price, if it meant an end to such evil that could turn and twist good people into hateful villains. He did not fear death, if it came as a result of success -- indeed, he would laugh as he welcomed it, if it came to that.

Still, he did not plan on dying just yet. Not just yet!

"Come, my beauty," he said aloud, patting the Ring where it lay concealed under his tunic. "Beautiful you are indeed, but I want none of it, golden and shining as you are. I have a vow to fulfill, and you keep me from it with your tempting. I grow weary of your whispering and your cajoling. I would be done with it and with you! Let us go now to the Cracks of Doom, that place you know so well, that place where you were born. There we shall see who is the stronger. Once you almost mastered me, and still you believe you have wiles that can woo me -- but you are mistaken! It is you and your Lord who will pay the price in the end, I think.

Come. Let us be done with it. My people, my friends are waiting..."