Ranger, Ring-Bearer, and Resolution|
I borrowed these characters
from Tolkien for fun, not to make money.
When Aragorn meets the Ring
Bearer, he is far from impressed.
I stretched out my legs and
took a sip of Barliman Butterbur’s excellent ale to soothe my increasing
frustration. Why oh why had that fool of an innkeeper not allowed me
a word in private with the Hobbits? And why oh why had Gandalf allowed
one so unsuitable to be wandering around carrying the thing that could
destroy us all? For granted, Gandalf usually knew what he was doing,
but this time I was starting to wonder if he might for once be mistaken.
I would have expected someone more sensible than this Frodo to be Bilbo
Baggins’ beloved heir.
I sighed at the memory of overhearing
the party of Hobbits discussing their dangerous mission. I had followed
them into Bree. They had acted as if they were going on an agreeable
adventure. How could the most dangerous thing on Arda have been entrusted
to one who seemed to have no more sense of danger than a young child?
Even this crowded room was
full of danger; Bill Ferny was rarely up to any good and one of the
Southron travellers looked like a troublemaker.
Ah, my feet ached tonight,
as did my heart. I had lost good friends at Sarn Ford, men who had given
their lives for these Hobbits. And where was Gandalf?
I realised that the one the
others had addressed as Frodo was looking at me. I returned the gaze
and saw that the Hobbit was asking Butterbur something. As soon as the
innkeeper bustled away, I beckoned Frodo over. The Hobbit came reluctantly.
I threw back my hood before addressing him, making it clear that I knew
exactly who Frodo was and warning him that his companions were saying
far too much where unfriendly ears might overhear them.
Frodo looked uncomfortable,
but met my gaze, something which seasoned warriors were often loth to
do, which earned my grudging respect. It seemed though, his young companions
were too intoxicated by either the attentive audience or Butterbur’s
strong ale to exercise any caution and one of them started recounting
the story of Bilbo’s farewell speech.
I leaned over and whispered
in Frodo’s ear “You had better do something quick!”
I had expected he would either
buy his young friends more drinks to distract them, or tell them it
was time to retire for the night, but no, the foolish Hobbit leapt on
a table and began to sing. I could have groaned aloud. Could he not
understand that it was vital not to draw attention to himself? Frodo
had a pleasant singing voice and his audience clapped and cheered and
demanded more. The Hobbit obliged and gave an even more spirited rendering
of the song. He leapt and danced and sang and tripped over a tray of
mugs after an especially vigorous leap. Then he vanished!
I struggled to remain outwardly
unmoved. The fool! How could he be so stupid? To use the Ring of Power
in the crowded common room of an inn? I noticed two unsavoury looking
characters slip quietly from the room. No doubt they were spies. A Dúnedain
child would have had more sense than this Hobbit! Something needed to
be done and quickly!
Frodo reappeared crawling under
the chairs towards where I was sitting in the dark corner.
did you do that?” I said “You have put your foot in it! Or should
I say your finger?”
flushed and denied he knew what I was talking about, even when I addressed
him by his real name and demanded a quiet word with him as soon as the
uproar had died down. The Hobbit reluctantly agreed.
Butter entered and everyone began talking at once. I slipped away and
took a seat in the private parlour by the door and debated what to do
next while I waited for Frodo to join me. It was essential that I talk
some sense into him and make him aware of the danger he was facing.
I would need to accompany Frodo to Rivendell; that was surely what Gandalf
would have wanted. Where was Gandalf anyway? It was strange that he
was not here. I felt a stab of anxiety concerning my old friend. Maybe
I should suggest to Frodo that I took care of the Ring on the journey?
After all, I was far bigger and stronger than the Hobbit and much wiser.
few minutes later Frodo and his companions entered. It was not until
they had built up the fire that they saw me. The youngest, whom I’d
heard the others call “Pippin,” addressed me in a friendly and inquisitive
manner, seemingly unperturbed by my presence.
introduced myself and Frodo immediately demanded to know what I wanted.
I decided to frighten him a little, he still was not wary enough given
the danger that he faced. “I will tell you what I know, and give you
some good advice - but I shall want a reward,” I told him.
what will that be, pray?' said Frodo warily.
took me for a scoundrel – good. At least he was starting to learn
some caution. I smiled as I replied “'Just this: you must take me
along with you, until I wish to leave you.”
looked far from pleased at the prospect of my company. Did he truly
think that he and his companions would have any hope of reaching Rivendell
should not agree to any such thing, until I knew a good deal more about
you, and your business,” the Hobbit replied.
leaned back in my chair and crossed my legs, settling myself more comfortably.
”Excellent!” I said.
do you know?” asked Frodo.
got up and looked out to make certain we were not being overhead and
then closed the door tightly. I told him how I had overheard him saying
he would use the name Underhill and that I knew of his secret
and all about the Black Riders. I chided him too for using the Ring
was a sheer accident!” Frodo protested.
naive he was! There are no accidents where Rings of Power are concerned.
No doubt the presence of agents of the Enemy in the room had caused
it to manifest itself. Frodo decided to play innocent and not to understand
my meaning, to my increasing exasperation. Did he not understand the
Black Riders would stop at nothing to gain their Master’s Ring?
I recalled my own dealings with them. I hope I am no coward, but the
very thought of them freezes my blood. They drain all hope and life
from a man by their very presence, leaving him helpless and easy prey.
The first time I encountered them I was frozen to the spot and only
survived thanks to Halbarad who dragged me to my horse. An ordinary
enemy can kill you, but these creatures destroy not only the body, but
can turn their victims into wraiths like themselves. I thought of the
devastation they had so recently wrought at Sarn Ford.
will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where there is no help.
Do you wish them to find you? They are terrible!'” I told the Hobbits.
I found I was clenching my hands and gripping the arms of my chair.
If those creatures were to take the Ring it would be the death of all
that was good in Middle- earth. My people would be hunted to extinction
and there was small hope that any Hobbit would be spared either unless
perhaps as a slave to do the Dark Lord’s will.
drew my hand across his brow, tortured by these dark thoughts. “Perhaps
I know more about these pursuers than you do. You fear them, but you
do not fear them enough, yet. Tomorrow you will have to escape, if you
can. Strider can take you by paths that are seldom trodden. Will you
have him?” I was almost begging Frodo now. I could not let him wander
off into the wilds with the Ring. I could feel its power even as we
the first time, Frodo’s servant, who was addressed as “Sam”, spoke
up, imploring his Master to beware of me. Frodo announced that he did
not trust me at all. Only Pippin seemed to be warming to me. I sighed.
It seemed I would have to trust them with my true identity, something
I was loth to do as they all seemed incapable of caution and keeping
their mouths shut. There was nothing else for it unless I ..
then Butterbur entered with candles and a letter from Gandalf. The fat
innkeeper then warned the Hobbits not to take up with a Ranger when
he saw me with them! The impertinence of the fellow! If he but knew
what horrors the despised Rangers keep away from his doorstep! If he
were told, though, the knowledge would take away the very peace we strive
to grant these simple people. At least he had the honesty to say he
could not protect his guests from the Black Riders.
bustled away looking alarmed and Frodo read the letter aloud. Gandalf’s
tidings only increased my concern for my old friend. He did, though,
tell the Hobbits my true name and counselled them to trust me. Frodo
then chided me for not having told them sooner that I knew the Wizard,
while Pippin made foolish remarks that he would resemble me after a
few days in the wild. As for Sam he still stubbornly suspected me of
being a spy or an impostor.
patience finally snapped. Here was I, the last heir of the great house
of Elendil forced to live alone and friendless like a beggar in the
wild, never thanked and never trusted, begging for the right to escort
a gaggle of foolish suspicious Hobbits!
hand went to my sword and I threw back my cloak to make myself look
even more imposing. I could take the Ring now. Was I not heir to Isildur
who rightfully took it as wergild for his father? There was no need
to harm the Hobbits; a mere threat would suffice. If I had the Ring,
I could keep it from Sauron’s clutches far better than these hapless,
dithering Hobbits. I could swiftly depart Bree with it and leave the
Black Riders far behind. I would be the most powerful man on Arda and
could reclaim the throne of my ancestors. Most important of all, my
impossible dream of marrying Arwen would come true! I could give her
the life of luxury and comfort she deserved, we would have children
together and I would restore the fortunes of my people. I would ..
gazed at the frightened faces yet defiant faces of the Hobbits. They
clung together, forming a protective ring around Frodo. What courage
it must have taken for these small folk to leave the shelter of the
Shire! What madness had seized me? The Ring was trying to work
its evil upon me. It had betrayed and destroyed Isildur. It would not
take his heir. The Ring was not mine, nor any man’s, but it was in
Frodo’s keeping and I must do everything within my power to protect
him. I was resolved. I smiled, my heart melting within me. “I am Aragorn
son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will,”