Frodo and Denethor
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
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
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
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.