Light flooded Chris’ eyes when the blindfold was taken from her. It took her several moments for her eyes to focus before she could tell where she was. It appeared that the rangers had stopped in some form of cave that had been converted into a Gondorian outpost. There were crates of dried meat and fruit alongside weapons and the only opening she could see was hidden behind the crashing flow of a waterfall. She noticed then that her hands had been unbound as well and rubbed gently where the coarse ropes had made her skin flush and raw. Lit candles were dotted around the cave to provide more light then the opening could offer. In a glad moment she realised the hobbits stood beside her, dazed, but for intents and purpose unharmed.
“My men tell me that you are orc spies.” Faramir stated as he walked towards them. The way he spoke really seemed to irritate Chris. They were clearly not spies!
“Then your men are morons.” She spoke flatly with her eyes level to his. His sharp glace gave her a slightly irritated onceover before he turned back to the hobbits just as Sam spluttered and voiced their innocents.
“Well, if you are not spies, then who are you?” he asked in a tone that just made Chris want to hurt him. “Speak.” After a moment to consider his words Frodo finally spoke up.
“We are hobbits of the Shire. Frodo Baggins is my name and this is Samwise Gamgee, and-”
“I am their guard.” Chris spoke evenly, daring him to question her.
“I daresay you are no hobbit, Lady.” Faramir spoke with a hint of humour.
“I am Eadgyth of Rohan.” She said easily, now used to her appointed name. “If that wasn’t obvious enough from my sword and shield that you have not yet returned.” Her words edged with renewed annoyance that they had taken her gifts from Varda. His eyes rolled at her words as he moved on to what he really wanted to know. Faramir questioned them briefly about Sméagol to which the hobbits became quite uneasy. After a moment Frodo spoke up, telling vaguely of their quest and their companions. The exchange continued for a few more minutes before Chris realised what direction the conversation was going. Boromir.
He had died protecting merry and Pippin while the three of them had crossed the river. Chris has been too preoccupied with her new responsibilities for it to really register in her mind. It sounded awful now that she thought about it, that she was too busy to acknowledge the death of a friend, but it was only just dawning upon her that these people were real. They weren’t just characters from a book or screen. They were real and the concept was more than disconcerting. It appeared that subconsciously she had hoped this was all some dream were Elle and Chris would be able to play the heroes and soon they would wake, continue their lives as normal.
When her mind had cleared Chris realised Faramir had signalled the rangers to take the hobbits away, leaving the humans. Quietly he gestured for her to sit on the large rock/seat opposite to him. They sat in relative silence for several minutes. Happily she noted she could just see into where they were keeping the hobbits, who had settled into an exhausted sleep. The soft snores gently passed them before either spoke.
“You knew of Boromir’s death.” Faramir stated looking her directly in the eye; he interrupted before she could argue. “I saw it in your eyes. Yet you did not tell your companions, for their surprise was genuine.” It appeared that the ranger saw far more then he let on. Reluctantly Chris answered him.
“Yes.” was all she said before a long silence hung between them. It seemed he had expected more from her but it became obvious she could need more prompting.
“H-how did he..?” the young captain asked with a sadness that rippled through his words.
“He died bravely; defending two of our companions… he died a hero.” Her voice was gentle and slightly unsure how she should tell him. She felt it best not to say anything about the madness that had overcome him over the ring. Chris didn’t know why but she wanted him only to remember his brother as the man he had been before the shadow of the ring had come upon him.
“Why did you not tell them?” he asked as he glanced over his shoulder at the sleeping hobbits.
“They had enough to worry about without his death weighting on them.” She said simply, which was mostly true as well as the fact that she knew she was not supposed to be the one to tell them.
“He spoke of you.” Chris said suddenly before she knew she had said it. “…and your father.” She added slowly. Which was mostly true, he had praised his family highly on their travels, almost to the point of boasting, when he knew Aragorn had been listening. Faramir looked up sharply. It seemed he was unsure what to make of her statement. “He said you were a great man…” Unconsciously she leaned forward with a gentle smile “… and that your father would see it one day.” He stiffened with her words and gave a sharp nod before a ranger stood at their side. Maybe she had said too much?
After their little conversation she had been put with the hobbits who seemed to be sleeping, if not a little fitfully. They laid in the middle of the floor with rough blankets coving their small forms while Chris had taken to leaning against the hard stone wall. From where she stood she could see into the main cavern quite clearly and watched the rangers quietly. Faramir hadn’t moved from his perch where they had spoken, she wondered if her words had shaken him, she felt bad for the man. His brother had died and his father didn’t understand him, he was a scholar not a soldier but he seemed to be doing a good job in his appointed position. She could tell his men respected him. She wondered what his father thought he lacked for there was nothing that she could tell. He was smart, attractive, well spoken- wait did she think attractive?! Where had that come from? With an auditable sigh she shook her head. She was turning into Elle.
Her musings were interrupted when she noticed one of the rangers approach Faramir and whisper into his ear. They had found Sméagol… soon he would revert back to Gollum. She thought sadly. Chris had grown to like the creepy little guy, when he was being all puppyish and not evil. Faramir and two other rangers entered and made a beeline for Frodo.
“You must come with me. Now.” His tone held no compromise and he didn’t spare Chris so much as a glance before he took the hobbit away. She knew what was going to happen. Quickly she moved to the sleeping form of Sam and gently shook him awake.
“W- Urgg… where’s Frodo?” the gardener asked, the grogginess disappearing the moment he noticed his friend was missing.
“The rangers took him.” Chris answered irritably looking toward the opening the men had taken him through.
“Why? Do they know ab-” Chris’ hand clamped upon his mouth.
“Shh… they found Sméagol.” She answered before removing her hand.
“What are we gonna do Eadgyth?” the round faced gardener looked up at her with worry etched into his pudgy little face. His eyes were so rounded and afraid for his friend.
“We wait, it is all we can do…” her murmur caught him by surprise as she sat down upon the coarse blanket Frodo had been vacated from. Several minutes passed before Sam sat down beside her, glumly they sat in wait for the return of the ring bearer.
They did not have to wait longer then another five minutes as strangled screams echoed through the cavernous outpost making the pair rush to their feet.
“Sam,” She said sharply as he prepared to bolt through the opening in search of the missing hobbit “that’s not Frodo. Its Sméagol…” realisation flashed in his eyes, followed by pity for the grey mottled creature.
Heavy footsteps caught their attention as a ranger lead Frodo back to them before giving an unnecessary shove into the room.
“Oi!” she scolded as she bolted forward to catch the stumbling hobbit. The ranger paid little heed before he disappeared in the direction of the screams. “You ok?” she asked as she checked the hobbit over for any injuries he didn’t have before he left. There were none.
“I am fine, thank you Eadgyth.” He paused while another scream ripped through the air. “They found Sméagol.” Frodo said sadly, his eyes downcast.
“We know.” Sam confirmed sadly. After a moment the hobbits as upon some barrels while Chris leaned against the wall closest to them. There was a long pause before any of them spoke, only the sound of Sméagol’s beatings caught their ears. “We have to get out of here.” The gardener said suddenly, the sounds of screaming had stopped and Chris knew Faramir was on his way to where they were. “-Use the Ring, Mr Frodo-”
“Sam!” Chris snapped as the rangers footsteps became louder. “Don’t be stupid. He can’t use it! Ever!” Her tone had a final edge to it, causing both hobbits to remain silent. The ring of a sword caused Chris to stand in front of the hobbits protectively. His eyes seemed to move past her as he stared directly at the ring bearer.
“So... this is the answer to all the riddles. Here in the wild I have you. Two halflings and a woman, a host of men at my call. The Ring of power within my grasp.” Ominous dark whispers echoed around them, they were so loud she wondered how the others could not hear them, they were deafening. “A chance for Faramir, captain of Gondor, to show his quality.” His eyes shone with pride and hope, hope for the recognition he had longed for from his father. The unintelligible sound was overwhelming that for a moment she stared at Frodo, where the ring hung openly on the tip of Faramir’s sword, and wanted to take it for her own.
“No!!!” Frodo screamed before hurrying behind the barrels he had been sat upon mere moments before. The whispers ceased when Frodo clutched the evil ring in his little hands. Sam didn’t seem to notice the look that Chris had had when Morgoth’s influence had thrummed loudly in her ears, he was solely focused upon Faramir who seemed a little taken back at the hobbits pleas.
“Don’t let this be about him. There is more at stake than the opinion of one man, even if he is yo-” the sudden arrival of a second ranger made Chris pause in her reprimand. She knew what Faramir would choose and how it would end… hopefully.
“Osgiliath is under attack. They call for reinforcements.” The older ranger informed his captain.
“It’s such a burden. Will you not help him?” the pleas of the hobbits seemed unable to sway the mind of the young captain.
“Captain?” asked the ranger a little uneasily.
“Prepare to leave. The Ring will go to Gondor.” The grave pride was evident in his tone as he turned to leave.
“I thought you a better man…” Chris whispered causing him to pause in his stride and glance back before quickly hurrying away. An anger over took her as she turned to look at the cowering hobbits. “Don’t worry, we will survive this.” She promised them before they looked at her confusion clear in their round faces.
“How could you say that Eadgyth? It seems hopeless.” Sam spoke sadly as he calmed down Frodo who still seemed a little twitchy from his encounter with Faramir.“Nothing is hopeless.” Except maybe Elle. She thought quietly trying unsuccessfully to make the situation brighter. They would
succeed, of that she was sure, they were the heroes. Right?