Frodo and Denethor

by Lothithil

Chapter 3: Faramir

Faramir walked through the courtyard toward the gate. Anborn followed but made no attempt to herd him. This man had been his captain and owned Anborn’s loyalty wholly. The Ranger was appalled that Denethor had broken his own son and cast him out.

As they passed the tree, Faramir halted. He reached out a hand to stroke the dry skin of the blanched wood. Beneath the branches he had played as a child, seeking his brother who could hide so skillfully. The tree had always stood here, and he had dreamed that one day he would see it bloom with life. Now he released that hope utterly. Life had left the citadel when his brother had died. Everything had failed that day.

"My lord..." Anborn said, words halting on his tongue.

Faramir turned to him and smiled. "We have been friends, Anborn. Call me Faramir. My rank my father can deny me, but he cannot strip me of my name. I just wanted to say goodbye. We can go now."

"My Lord Faramir," repeated Anborn. "I cannot see how this can have happened. You father is grieved. He will rescind this order, surely."

"It is more likely that this tree will blossom forth with fruit and flower, my friend. Let us go to the gate. I will not ride, but I will need a horse. The lands without will be rough, and I hope to find the security of the Druàdan Forest before the siege begins. Mayhap I can harry the enemy as it plagues the Pelannor. One by one I shall kill them, to prove to my father that I an no traitor."

"That is suicide, my lord!" said Anborn fiercely. "I will accompany you. I am as much a deserter of post and a traitor as you. You will not go forth alone!"

Faramir stopped and grasped his friend’s shoulder. "No, Anborn. If you would do my will without my rank to impress you, then remain here, and see that no harm comes to Frodo Baggins and Samwise. They have no advocate in the City, and I fear for my father’s sanity. They will have more need of protection than I." He clapped Anborn’s shoulder and turned away.

Anborn watched him go, disobeying Denethor’s order to see Faramir out of the City. It may have been the first order he had ever disobeyed, this noble Ranger of Ithilien, and it would not be the last.

~~~~~


Frodo sat on the floor of the room he had been shut inside, his back against stone that was strangely warm. He was inside the tall tower that soared above the city, but he could have been buried in the earth for all he could tell. No windows peeped into his chamber, and the only light given came by a miserly lamp hung well above his reach. There was a cot and a small table in the room, but nothing else. He felt thirsty and hollow, but he wanted nothing more than a glimpse of the sky. He felt as an animal in a cage. He wanted to see Sam. He wondered where Smeagol was.

They had tried to catch him, when he had come to the Forbidden Pool, searching for fish and cursing Frodo for abandoning him. Frodo had been sent to lure him into their hands, feeling quite wretched as he had tried to do so. He had been strangely relieved when Gollum had bolted, shoving him into the pool and scurrying away. The Rangers had had to dive in and rescue Frodo, for he foundered in the slippery rocks and rushing water, and probably would have drowned unaided. Gollum escaped during the excitement.

Frodo leaned his cheek against the warm marble. Did the sun shine through this white stone and touch him? He felt safe and naked at the same time. He knew that Denethor would come for the Ring soon, and he would have only his own small hands to defend himself. The star-glass of Galadriel would not avail him here, unless it could bore holes through stone or strike down stewards. Sting was in the hands of the Rangers, along with all his other belongings. His mithril coat and his clothes were all he had. And the chain around his neck.

As if triggered by the nearness of his thought, the Ring grew heavier against Frodo’s breast. Sometimes in the past, Frodo had heard or thought that he had heard a voice coming from the Ring, as if speaking cajolingly to him, for him to put it on or to bleed away his hope. He tried to shut out that voice when he realized it spoke, but this time it was not calling to him. The Ring was calling to another now and it became very heavy on Frodo, so that he gasped and sank to the floor.

Strength there was in the White City. Hands more suitable to wield great power. It no longer needed Frodo; indeed, it no longer regarded him whatever. It sent out its siren call through the stone walls, extinguishing the fragile light of the lamp above Frodo’s head. Shadows crept over the white stone like soot.

Frodo lay on the floor, as if the Ring had pinned him there like a sword. He could not even reach for the star-glass; he was paralyzed. But through the stone and the whispering in his mind he heard a sound that gave him strength. Sam’s voice came to him, filtered through the heavy stones.

’He must be nearby’, Frodo thought, ’Dear Sam!’ He listened carefully, making out the words of the song that rang from his friend’s lips. Frodo would have answered if he could, but weight of the Ring stole his breath until darkness overcame him at last.

~~~~~


Gandalf heard the call of the Ring from the tower, and it turned his blood to ice. All his effort and will had been focused eastward, trying to catch a hint or clue of Frodo’s passage, and here in the city where he had least expected it, the call echoed. The wizard hastened from his chamber to follow the cry.

Peregrin Took, guard of the Citadel, did not hear that call. He was urged by a different desire. All day long he had watched with Bergil the coming of Men to the City, rows of armoured horses and spears and shields blazing, and he was frightened and uncertain. He longed only for Gandalf’s comforting hand and voice, and a meal away from the nosiy people who stared at him in wonder and doubt.

His heart also ached for Merry, his dear friend from whom he had not been separated all this long adventure until Pippin had foolishly looked into the palantir stone. All these doubts and desires were but an annoyance to cover his deepest pain; he feared for Frodo, gone away into the East with only Sam for company. Was his cousin and his servant still alive? Would he ever hear their voices again, or see their faces in the sun? Pippin tried to hide from these thoughts because they made him want to sit down on the white steps and cry.

Faramir was walking slowly down the winding streets. He had met but the fifth level before he heard the Ring calling, that voice that had spoken before but had not tempted him to take it, only to deliver it and seek approval from his father. Now the call was stronger, and though it touched not his heart this time either, he realized that others might heed it, and he turned to look up at the tall white spike overhead, his heart reaching out to the helpless one he had brought forcefully from doom to captivity.

He espied then a strange sight.

A small person who had descended behind him had turned aside into a building. He caught Faramir’s eye for several reasons. He as clad in the livery of the tower, sable and silver, and he wore a cloak and brooch identical to the ones Frodo and Sam were wearing when they had been taken by his men. He was the height of a lad of eight years, perhaps, a fraction more than the Ringbearer himself. And he had large, unclad hair-covered feet. Faramir turned and stared at him in surprise.

Pippin saw Faramir and his regard unnerved the hobbit. Swiftly he climbed the step to the chamber he shared with Gandalf, to escape this strange man with brilliant eyes who looked so familiar. He reached for the door and was startled when it opened before his hand touched it.

Gandalf had opened the door, and he beheld Pippin’s face in fear and Faramir’s in wonder beyond, and his own heart was on fire... for he suspected a thing that he dared not hope yet. He placed a staying hand on Pippin’s shoulder. "Do not fear, Peregrin Took. Look at his face. Do you not recognize the brother of Boromir?"

Peregrin turned and looked again, and the memory of Boromir’s death caused his tears to flow, compounded by the strange, dangerous grief of Denethor he had witnessed and the hopeful regard of this man who had come up to them, who looked so very much like his noble brother.

"Gandalf! I had word that you were dead! And a halfling in the livery of the tower! It is a time for wonders, it seems."

"Faramir!" Gandalf’s eyes lifted to the tower above their heads. Faramir’s eyes followed, and his hope and joy drained with all colour from his face. "Have you seen Frodo?" Gandalf asked, forsaking subtlety.

"He is in the tower now, Mithrandir. I have brought him here, against his will and my own better judgement. Fa... Denethor has relieved me of duty and banished me from the city. Frodo and Sam are his prisoners." At this confession, Faramir’s own eyes filled with belated tears, for his hurt and the wounds he had inflicted on the innocent. "I have doomed us all."

"Perhaps not yet, Faramir." Gandalf placed his hand on Peregrin’s head. "Here is one halfling you have not yet met. He is Peregrin, son of Paladin, and he serves the Tower as a guard. And he know the passwords of the Citadel."

Peregrin no longer cringed under Faramir’s glance. His ears were enflamed to hear that Frodo and Sam were alive and so near. Faramir’s face was noble as had his brother’s been, and now touched with grief seemed beautiful and fair beyond any countenance of Men that ever he had seen before, save one; Aragorn when he thought about the Evenstar.

Faramir bowed a greeting to Peregrin. "He has sworn fealty to Gondor. We cannot ask him to betray his new pledge, risking his life and honour..."

Peregrin interrupted fiercely, his anger seeming vast for one his size, "Just try and stop me! I will do anything to help Frodo!"

Faramir smiled and bowed again, more deeply.

"Come! There is no time to lose. Faramir, tell me everything that has happened." Gandalf urged them to follow him. Up the back streets they went, Faramir speaking swiftly and softly of his meeting with Frodo and all that had occurred since. By the time they had threaded the sixth gate and were drawing near the seventh, they had all of the tale and paused there to consider their next step.

"I cannot reenter the Citadel. I am supposed to have been escorted out of the city. But my friend Anborn is our confederate, and I believe that Damrod and Mablung would serve us, if they understood the peril we face. If I go hither with you, I shall endanger your success."

"Wait here, Faramir, if you will. We must find some way out of the city for Frodo that will shield him from all eyes."

Faramir caught Gandalf’s sleeve suddenly. "I remember! Just today I recalled playing seek-and-hide with Boromir as a child! Mithrandir, there is a secret passage out of the Citadel! Boromir discovered it, and he shared it with me, so that I could come and go without arousing the ire of our father! Let me take you to it!"

They followed him and he led swiftly to a house that seemed carved from the very mountain behind. No one lived there; it was partly in ruins. Faramir did not hesitate. He walked beneath the sagging stone arches and stepped over the fallen columns. Pippin scrambled over, shaking white dust from his grey cloak. In the depths of shadow within the house, a passage led into the gloom of the mountain. Faramir walked within for a distance, then Pippin heard him fumbling with something.

"A lamp we had left here, but it is dry of oil now. We must feel our way in the darkness, I fear."

"Here," said Gandalf, and he raised his staff and the tip glowed, as it had in Moria. Shedding just enough light to show their path, they followed Gandalf as he walked ahead. The ground began to slope upward, then neatly carved steps appeared. "I knew that there were Dwarves involved in the making of this city," the wizard commented. "Dwarves always build in a back door. Clever folk, they are, as I have always said."