Frodo and Denethor
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
"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
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
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
’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
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