Frodo and Denethor
Chapter 5: Redemption
They waited for a short time while Gandalf examined Denethor, still
grouping and muttering on the floor. His eyes were white as milk, as if
he had been blinded. Frodo was pleased to put him to his back. When
Gandalf rejoined them they hurried away through the dark tunnel.
Frodo stumbled after a few paces so Gandalf lifted him in his arms, to
spare his legs, and took the opportunity to whisper in his ear all that
had happened since the Ring sounded its seductive call.
Faramir had shown the secret door and passageway, long forgotten by the
Stewards of the city. Boromir the clever and inquisitive child had
discovered it and shared the knowing of it only with his beloved
brother, a child's generosity to the one who garnered the lesser
portion of their father's love and attention.
Gandalf and Faramir had taken the time, precious as it was, to arrange
an escape. The hosts of Mordor were slowly gathering on the banks of
the river. The bridges were unavailable to them, but there was another
way back to the woods of Ithilien, possibly.
Beneath the mountain of Mindolluin and the plains of Pelennor ran a
network of disused tunnels. The dwarves had employed them in the
building of the foundations of Minas Arnor, the Tower of the Sun as it
had once been called. Many of those tunnels were now flooded or
collapsed, the weight of years shifting to undo even the skill of the
dwarves. But once there had been a passage still open, that Faramir and
his Rangers used in dire need to reach the city of Osgiliath unseen.
They used such passages to cross the river, for they connected with the
drainage ways beneath that city, running under Anduin in dank and muddy
corridors. The tunnel had collapsed at the nearer end to Minas Tirith
some years ago, rendering it useless to the Rangers. But Faramir hoped
that the small opening would admit Frodo and Sam, whose size might
allow them to wriggle through the fallen rocks.
Peregrin had enlisted the aid of friends he had made in the City, whom
he knew to be loyal to Faramir by love. Beregond and his son Bergil
waited at the secret passage's exit on the sixth level. They had
assembled supplies for the rescued hobbits and Anborn had brought their
captured gear. Frodo gratefully accepted Sting back from the tall
ranger, who knelt and offered it to him as if to a king. Sam was
reunited with his cooking pots, happily fussing until he was assured
that they had suffered no injury.
Now they were faced with the problem of getting Frodo and Sam to the
lower circles of the city unseen. Though the sun was now limping toward
the west, casting shadows long across the city, still there were many
eyes alert on the streets, and three halflings together would doubtless
stir some unwanted interest.
So they covered Frodo and Sam in cloaks of black and set small silver
helms of the knights of the city on their heads. Then singly they were
led downwards, accompanied by two men each, Sam first with Damrod and
Mablung, then Frodo with Gandalf and Faramir. Peregrin came last with
Bergil and Beregond, and he smiled and waved to the folks who might
have seen 'him' walk past just before.
"My, the lord Denethor does keep his esquire busy, it seems," they
thought as they watched him march past, before turning back to their
Frodo was nervous and had to force himself not to turn constantly to
stare up at the tower above their heads. "What if Lord Denethor
recovers and sends soldier's after us?" he asked Gandalf.
"I persuaded the Steward to retire for a few minutes," Gandalf said
with a smile that tugged his white beard and made his face glow with
humour. "He has had such a busy day, I thought a nap would do him good."
"Gandalf!" Frodo felt a thrill in his heart to see his friend smile and
speak with laughter. So new and vital did the wizard seem now, but
still there was that gentle and strong hand and word he had come to
love and respect. He walked close to him and held his hand, wishing
that their parting would not come.
Less than a day he had been here in the White City, and yet it seemed a
year since he had passed through the great gates. They walked past them
now, casually heading toward the place that Bergil had called the
Lampwright’s Street. Many of the soldiers who had come into the city
were billeted here. These men were unfamiliar with halflings and
mistook them for children as they walked with their tall escorts. They
headed toward a warehouse near the wall of the city on the south side.
Here they took time to let Frodo and Sam rest. Some sleep they had
gotten in their private chambers, but very little, and Frodo was weary
of the struggle with the palantir and the Eye. Remembering it make his
shudder, and he could feel the sweeping probe of thought now, bereft of
light but eager and angry. He sat between Sam and Pippin, holding their
hands with his eyes closed. But he could not rest. Time was slipping
"Gandalf," he called softly. The wizard had been speaking with Faramir
and Anborn. He put them aside and came to Frodo at once. "Gandalf,
Denethor had an Eye..." Frodo did not release his friends hands, but he
needed to tell Gandalf what had happened. "It was just like... I think
Peregrin interrupted him softly, "I have seen it, too, Frodo."
Frodo stared at him. "How? What was that thing?"
"A palantir, a stone of far-seeing," Gandalf answered. "With it, one
can see all the lands about that his thought could reach, were it lit
by light of sun or lamp. Your foolish young cousin found one that
Saurman had unintentionally discarded, and looking into it he met
someone he shall not soon forget."
Pippin swallowed but did not hang his head. What was done, was done and shame repaired nothing.
Gandalf continued, "The kings from over the Seas brought them to Middle
earth after the fall of Numenor, and they were used to keep the vast
kingdom connected, seven stones placed in strategic places. Sauron must
have captured the one that was once in Osgiliath, a master stone that
sees what all the other see. I wondered how Denethor had gained his
visions, and it seems to be also the source of his decay. With these
tools he and Saurman have both been betrayed and misguided. I had not
been aware that Denethor had found one. It must have been buried in the
vaults of the city among other lost treasures, lost for centuries. “
Pippin shivered. "It was night-time when I... when I looked into the stone." he ventured bravely.
Gandalf paused and pondered. "Yes, it was. Maybe Sauron can utilize the
palantir differently that for the purposes for which they were
designed. It may be that he can use it to see in darkness, since that
has ever been a strong ally to him. Curious..." The wizard looked at
the halflings and offered them a small smile. "I guess even the wise
can learn something new. No time now for supposing!"
He continued to word his thoughts for Frodo’s benefit. "Little use has
the Steward put his foresight to, other than to demean the honour of
the city. We cannot allow him to continue to neglect the defenses."
Here the wizard was looking at Faramir, and the captain's face was long
and grim. Gandalf turned back to Frodo, meeting his frightened eyes.
"He has tried to show you to the Enemy, or was coerced to do so by His
will. I do not know what evil will come of this."
"Perhaps... He was blinded by the light also," Frodo suggested
cautiously. "I did not know what I was doing, but the star-glass that
Lady Galadriel gave me seemed to... to make the thing… the palantir go
dead. I know it is too much to hope that He would be injured, but maybe
He will not hurry to look again soon."
"I am sure the pure light of Eärendil was most uncomfortable to
Him!" Gandalf laughed a little. "He may hesitate or he may strike
blindly. We do not know what he will do, and that is a disquieting
thing. But we will act on what we do know, and that is that you must
get out of here as quickly as possible."
Gandalf closed his eyes. The words were harder to say now than they had
been in Bag End, so many months ago. "The Ring cannot stay here."
Frodo smiled grimly and stood up. "I know Gandalf. And I still intend
to carry out what I have promised, even now. The world is in no less
peril than it was. That much has not changed, nor my intent to see that
peril ended. I still do not know the way, though. I seem to have lost
"We can offer you some guidance in this, Frodo," spoke Faramir. He relayed to Frodo their plans to help him leave the city.
When Faramir had spoke to the others of the tunnel to Osgiliath, Bergil
had happily informed him that it could be passed by one of small size,
and that he had himself taken the tunnel in days past. His father
Beregond offered him a frown that was robbed of its sterness by such
good news, and so it was decided to try the tunnel. Truly, the only
alternative was to ride in the open, which would be hopeless indeed in
the face of the armies of Mordor.
But Faramir despaired. "The maze of underground corridors are complex.
I fear that you will be lost in them; how will you find your direction?
And if you do, the armies are camped both east and west. You will have
to elude them and strike toward the crossroads... and even then, the
passage of Minas Morgul is hard to make, and the stair near-impossible
to find. It seems outrageous that you are expected to find them alone.
I should go to guide you."
Frodo smiled at the man and took his hand. "Little do you know of my
folk, good Faramir. We are hole-dwellers, and living and moving
underground are natural to us. Given my bearings I shall not falter.
With Bergil to lead us to the place where we can find the river
crossing, we shall come to light safely, should the tunnels remain
intact and secret. Once beyond... well, so long as there are no rangers
about, we should be safe!"
Faramir laughed at the jest, ducking his head as if embarrassed. "Your
good heart and spirit heal my despair, Frodo. Obstacles rise up endless
before us, and yet you bring me to laughter and hope. You must come
again out of the Dark Land. I will that this not be our last meeting."
Frodo's smile faded. "I cannot lie to you, Faramir and say that such a
hope lives in my heart. I have always known that this journey would
have a dark ending. But I say to you: I will remember you, whatever
shadows yawn before me."
Faramir knelt and looked into Frodo's eyes. "I would ask for pardon for
my actions against you, and if it were possible I would seek
forgiveness for Boromir as well. Restless his spirit may lie, after his
dark deeds. I hope that my actions now will redeem us both. I am more
loath now to release you than I was before, when first I happened upon
you anigh Henneth Annuin. But it is not now for love of my father that
my heart yearns to keep you."
Frodo placed his hands on Faramir's shoulders, as if giving a
benediction. "I must go. I will always remember your kindness and
friendship, Faramir. If forgiveness is my gift, then all your deeds I
would release. Against Boromir I harbour no claim of injury. Let him be
at peace and suffer no unrest on my behalf. And please, take care of my
kinsman Peregrin, and Merry, too, should he appear in Minas Tirith in
days to come. Don't let them get lost in your big city."
Faramir's eyes bled tears to hear this. He pressed Frodo's small hands
to his forehead. "Great you are, Master, in kind heart and wisdom. It
is meet that your hands be the ones to deal this doom to the Enemy of
hope." He sighed and rose. "We must go. Time is fleeing."
They followed him into the darkness.