A Great Evil Unmade
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
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
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
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..."