Frodo and Denethor

by Lothithil

Introduction:  Frodo and Sam were captured by the Southern Rangers just before the ambush on the Men of Harad. Gollum has escaped their attempts to capture him. Faramir, captain of Gondor, has decided to take his small prisoners to his father, along with the burden that he knows they bear. Faramir realizes that he himself is not strong enough to wield the Weapon of the Enemy, but he adheres to Denethor's wish to receive this 'mighty gift'. Boromir had set out to claim it, and as it had wandered into his hands seemingly, Faramir chose to believe that Providence had steered it to him, to justify his brother's death and win at last his father's love.

Chapter 1: Prisoner of the Tower of Guard

Frodo walked as if asleep, allowing the hands that held his shoulders to half-guide, half-support him. He was exhausted by this forced march, worn down by days of travelling and despair. The Quest seemed doomed now, indeed. Faramir's men were firm carrying out their captain's orders, but they were not wholly cruel. Frodo and Sam were well fed and given clean water as often as they needed. Also, to the hobbits' relief, they did not carry or drag them, even when they were beyond their strength; that much respect at least the  had for their small captives. It would have been an unendurable humiliation for them, and Faramir seemed to understand that. When Frodo fell and could go no further, the whole company halted and melted into the surrounding trees and grasses, giving the hobbits time to rest and eat a bit of lembas to restore their strength.

Sam was the hardier of the two; but he kept his eyes on his master always and seemed to feel every stubbed toe or scratch that Frodo suffered. He kept as close to Frodo as he could, teaching his guard that if he was allowed to look after his master he would be more cooperative and fight less. With each step he took away from the Black Land his heart grew lighter, though he, too, worried as did Frodo, that the errand they had accepted back in Rivendell would not now be carried out. Minas Tirith was not a place where the Ring or the Bearer would be safe.

Frodo felt easier as they moved away from Mordor, too. The weight of the Ring on its chain round his neck eased, and the air was sweeter and the water cleaner. The very soil seemed healthier, the further they got from the shadow. Sunlight fell on his face unfiltered by smoke or foul fumes. His strength was still fragile, but his mind was clearing, now less occupied with fending off the Eye That Searched.

He did feel the sweep of it still, like a chill down his back, and he would cringe and glance toward the East when this happened. He felt oddly safe in the company of the Rangers, even though he was a prisoner. He knew they would fight to protect him, however useless it proved in the End of Things. Maybe now Sam would be safer, Frodo thought. They might let him go, when they were satisfied that he was innocent of anything but assisting Frodo. He might be allowed to go home. For himself, he harboured no such hope.

Frodo knew that he would not surrender the Ring willingly. He had been unable to cast it away, all those months ago in Bag End when Gandalf told him what the Ring was and who was looking for it. In Rivendell he had set it aside, willing to let it be taken by whomever the council would choose to bear it, but in the end he had reclaimed it. He certainly would not turn it over to strange men, valiant or not. He remembered Boromir's eyes and the strength of his hands. They would have to kill him to take it. Anything else would break his mind.

The White City loomed ahead, though it was still many leagues away. It climbed up the mountain that supported it like a white beard on a noble and stern face. A ridge of stone divided its countanence like a proud nose. Ever since he and Sam had been brought across the Anduin, the shining towers and rising rings had drawn his eyes, when they were not cast down in weariness. It was a beautiful city, and it reminded Frodo of the ancient city of the Elves, Gondolin on Gwarth Amon. Bilbo had read him stories about it as a child, teaching him from books received from Elrond. This was just how he had pictured it, in his mind.

That city of seven circles fell when the Enemy broke its leaguer with dragons and balrogs. Would He bring dragons now, when they besieged Minas Tirith? Would He bring the very balrog that had drawn Gandalf down into darkness and death? When Sauron came to claim his Ring; would this mighty castle stand even as long as Gondolin had... not even a few hours after the iron dragons scaled the glass hill. What would avail the strength of Minas Tirith against such a foe, focusing all his might and malice on the last fortress that resisted him? It could not stand, not while Frodo was kept captive. Not while the Ring endured.

The Rangers must have noted his strength returning, and the look of will and determination in his face. They caught him easily when he tried to escape, binding his hands under Faramir's disappointed eyes. Still, the Man seemed to understand, and treated him as kindly and as gently as was prudent. Under the same circumstances, Faramir would have tried to escape, also. Sam and Frodo were now kept seperate, lest the servant attempt to aid the master to fly.

Sam had watched them tying Frodo, and to his own guard he held out his own hands, wrists together. Whatever fate Frodo suffered, he too, would share. At the captain's nod, Damrod complied, though the knots were loose and could easily have been slipped, if Samwise had chosen to attempt to leave his master.

The city grew before them until their necks ached from staring upward and their eyes were dazzled by the white stone. Weary now to near collapse, Frodo and Sam were staggering, being almost held upright by their guards. There woud be no stopping to rest now, on the open plain of Pelannor. They pushed on, doubling their paces. Somehow, the hobbits managed to stay on their feet.

The huge gates swung open at the very last moment. Sam had been afraid that they would march head-long into the closed iron-bound oak. But guards unseen had heeded their approach and at the final moment the wheels were turned that drew back the mighty bars and the leaves were pulled away to allow the Rangers to file inside without breaking their speed. They closed again behind the last woodsman with a resounding boom that rang in the courtyard and stunned the hobbit's sensitive ears.

They had halted once inside. Frodo sagged to his knees, spent of strength. His hands were tied behind his back, numbed past feeling by the cords. Faramir was appearently satisfied that Frodo would be unable to escape the city, for he came forward himself and cut Frodo's bonds with a small nail-knife. He waited while Frodo rubbed feeling back into his hands, then gave him a flask of water to drink from.

Sam sat nearby, where he could see Frodo, still not allowed close enough to touch or talk to him. He watched like a hawk all the movements of the tall Men around his master. The city was too big and it frightened the little hobbit, but he ignored his fear and looked after Frodo. He mustn't allow the Men to seperate them again. Wherever Frodo when, Sam would go. He had made a promise.

Faramir watched the hobbit while he drank the water he had given him. When he lowered the empty bottle, Faramir said to him, "We go now to an interview with the Steward of Gondor, Frodo Baggins. I know that you must despise me for restraining you. Please believe I do this for the good of my people and all of Middle earth. My father is wise and fair. You will not be harmed. I swear it to you on my life."

Frodo looked up at the tall man; the hobbit's eyes were underscored by dark smudges on his pale skin. He looked exhausted beyond endurance, and yet his eyes were vital and piercing. "'For the good of Middle earth'?" he repeated with a hint of dryness. "There is no good that can be brought about with... it." Frodo would not name the thing, not with so many ears to hear. "You condemn those very peoples you claim to wish to save, by bringing me here. Release me and let me go. There is no other way."

Faramir sighed. "It is too late for that, Master Baggins. Come now. You need walk no further. We must go to the top of the city, but here we can ride through the streets." Faramir bowed slightly to him and then lifted Frodo onto the back of a tall horse, where the hobbit clung desperately to the thick mane. Faramir swung up behind him. He placed an arm around Frodo that was more to steady the hobbit than to keep him from fleeing. They paused until Sam was likewise mounted ahead of Anborn, then they rode swiftly through the city, accompanied by only two other Rangers who ran behind them like hounds. The other Rangers had been absorbed into the city, seeking home and family, should they have remained and not been sent away from the coming threat.

Frodo closed his eyes and clung to Faramir's arm. The ringing of the horses's hooves on the cobbled stones pounded his ears and the wind of their passage drew tears from his eyes. Or maybe he wept with the fear and despair that he could no longer keep away, now helpless and hapless on his way toward captivity and madness. He prayed to Elbereth though no stars were visible in this sunlit city. He whispered Gandalf's name, the noise swallowed by the echoing drum of their assent to the Citadel.