Frodo and Denethor

by Lothithil

Chapter 6: Goodbye Again

It seemed only a short distance along the tunnel before the rough-hewn walls closed in and a pile of rubble clogged the passage. Gandalf, Faramir and the Rangers could go no further. At the top of the rubble heap gaped a small hole, just large enough for a small body to slip through. Bergil and Peregrin would accompany Frodo and Sam to the end of the tunnel. Bergil knew the turnings that would lead them to the drainage ways, and Peregrin refused to stay behind.

"There may be orcs. I will defend my cousin and friends, should the need for steel arise." He patted his sword and looked very brave in his armour and in truth, Frodo was loath to lead the young Bergil so near danger and leave him to return through darkness alone.

"Very well, Peregrin, you will come with us," said Frodo sternly, "But no further than the end of the tunnels. I will travel into danger easier of heart knowing that you are behind these strong walls, with Gandalf and Faramir looking after you."

Pippin managed to look dignified, and said, "Cousin, I have seen quite a bit since we were last together. I would follow you to the ends of the earth, but I know that I would only slow you down or be a worry. I have no desire to get closer to that place," and he waved his hand eastward. "With your leave, I shall wait here for Merry, and try to serve the Lord of the City to the best of my ability." He glanced down at his toes, "Unless you want me to go with you."

"No, Pippin. You are a guard of the Citadel now... look at you in that armour! Your father would burst with pride, and Bilbo will be delighted when he sees you! This is where you should be. Now, let's get me where I should be."

Frodo turned to Faramir, words having been said and tears shed, he bid the man farewell. The Man bowed to him formally. "Go with the good will of all good men, Frodo Baggins." Frodo returned his bow.

Gandalf knelt once again and looked Frodo in the eyes. "Beware the pass of Cirith Ungol, Frodo. Would that there were some other way less perilous! I know that Faramir has warned you, and I can add no more except to say that it is a dreaded place. Keep your light close to you and stay together." He placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Being wise doesn't mean you always know what to say. Go in hope and come back with speed. With you all our hearts travel, even when the road darkens beyond endurance."

Frodo bowed his head, then turned and climbed up the rubble heap. Bergil and Peregrin were already inside. He looked back just before going inside. "Gandalf, if you should see Aragorn... tell him I said 'thank you'. Gimli and Legolas, too." He crawled into the dark hole and passed from their sight.

Sam clamoured up behind. Gandalf reached up and handed him his heavy pack.

"Thank 'e, Mr Gandalf, sir. This has been a hard road, and the hardest is to come, I'm thinking, but I am kinda glad things worked this way. I am glad to know that you are alive again."

"Thank you, Samwise. See to it that you are the same when I see you again, and your master, too, and I will put on a fire-works display for you that will be more spectacular than any you have seen before."

"Ah, sir, I would settle for a quiet hearth at Bag End, I would, and a tale or two of Adventure... someone else's Adventure, that is!" Sam shoved his bag into the hole and stuck his head in, then pulled it back out and said, "Captain Faramir?"

Faramir looked up, "Yes, Master Gamgee?"

"If you don't mind my saying so, sir, I would like to thank you for helping us. I knew that you were a Man of quality when we met. I am glad that you found it out, too. The very highest quality, sir," and then Sam turned and wormed his way into the hole. Gandalf covered his eyes and did not move for several moments.

~~~~~


Faramir stared at the hole through which all the hope for the survival of his people and his city had disappeared. His handsome face became set. "There will be little chance that they will find a clear path to the crossroads, Gandalf."

"Yes," Gandalf sighed, and the word was heavy on his tongue. "The armies must be drawn away from the ruined city. That would be the only help we can render to Frodo, answering his greatest need. Theóden cannot arrive before five more days pass and we cannot wait so long."

Faramir pointed eastward. "He will believe we have the Ring. Will He attack or wait?"

Gandalf stood silent, consulting his heart. "He will not wait. But he will not hurry the forces except to lay siege. We must hasten his hand."

Faramir sighed, and said as if to himself, "So my path is laid before me. At last, my hearts speaks clearly so that I can understand. Anborn," he called to his friend, "Assemble the Rangers in full armour and horse. We ride with the dawn." Anborn gave him a crisp salute and disappeared into the darkness.

"Faramir," Gandalf began to speak, but Faramir interrupted him. "As for Frodo, so for me; there is no better way than the darkest road. We will ride out and attack them. They will flock to drink our blood, the hosts of Mordor, the first spilt in battle. I will not weaken the defense of the city by drawing more men from the walls. My Rangers will ride with me, even into the mouth of horror."

"My lord Faramir!" A Citadel guard was in the street, calling for him. Faramir came out to hear his words. "My lord Faramir! The lord Denethor asks that you come again to the Citadel. He would have speech with you." The guard showed him the tokens that Denethor has sent with him, three shards of a broken ox horn.