TheSlave of the Ring

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate.No profit has been nor will be made from this story

Inspired by Raksha's idea for a "Boromir Week".

Jeder giere nach seinem Gut,
doch keiner genieße mit Nutzen sein!
Ohne Wucher hüt' ihn sein Herr;
doch den Würger zieh' er ihm zu!
Dem Tode verfallen, feßle den Feigen die Furcht:
solang er lebt, sterb' er lechzend dahin,
des Ringes Herr als des Ringes Knecht:

All shall lust to possess it, but none shall delight in its use! Without gain, its lord shall guard it; it will draw his executioner to him! Destined to die, let fear fetter the coward; so long as he lives he shall pine for death, the Lord of the Ring as the slave of the Ring ; - Wagner- Das Rheingold. Scene 4

Aragorn was obviously deeply distressed over Mithrandir's, or the old meddler's- as my father always called him – death, that he should neglect the needs of the Halflings. He stopped only when Legolas called attention to their plight.

We saw then that Frodo and Sam were obviously injured. Blood was trickling down Sam's face, while Frodo was breathing with some difficulty. It surprised me the Ringbearer yet lived. Maybe my eyes had deceived me in the darkness of Moria and the spear had but caught in his clothing.

Full of apologies, Aragorn scooped up Frodo in his arms. He demanded then I do likewise with Sam. The son of Arathorn had immediately proclaimed himself leader when Mithrandir fell. I knew someone had to be in charge, but why had they not turned to me, the Captain General of Gondor?

This weatherworn ranger claims to be the heir to the throne of our Realm. He seems to forget that Pelendur rejected Arvedui's claim in the days of our longfathers. I imagine my father will dismiss Aragorn's with equal certainty. I can scarce believe that this Northern Chieftain should dare to command me, the Heir to the Stewardship as if I were already one of his underlings!

I let it pass for the time being, for I have little knowledge of this region, whereas Aragorn does.

Still carrying Frodo, Aragorn led the way into a dell surrounded by pine trees, where we finally stopped to rest. It was a pleasant spot, sheltered and secluded, with a stream flowing through it.

I half expected him to order me next to fetch firewood or water; however, he assigned that task to Legolas and the younger Hobbits, while Aragorn himself set about tending Frodo and Sam's hurts.

I lay back against a tree and closed my eyes for a moment, listening to the peaceful sound of the running stream combined with the young Hobbits' chatter and Aragorn's fussing over the small gardener.

I opened my eyes again, surprised when Frodo started to protest that he did not want to remove his shirt for Aragorn to examine his wounds. Strange behavior indeed for a Halfling. Only yesterday, Pippin had been telling me about running naked on the grass with Merry and Sam at the bidding of someone called Tom Bombadil. He had laughed, devoid of embarrassment, whilst telling the story, as had the others. It had been the only light moment in a fearsome tale of wraiths and long dead kings.

Hobbits were not like the men of Gondor with their modesty and inhibitions. Yet, Frodo was acting more like my little brother would, at the prospect of removing his shirt.

Rather to my surprise, given his grief for Mithrandir, Aragorn then laughed aloud. Look, my friends!' he called. Here's a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an elven-princeling in! If it were known that hobbits had such hides, all the hunters of Middle-earth would be riding to the Shire.'

I rose to my feet and walked over for a closer look. My father's would be successor was holding aloft a shining silver corslet, which shimmered in the late afternoon sunlight. When shaken, it tinkled like the bells we decorate our horses' bridles with, when we celebrate a victory over the Enemy. Such occasions have grown few of late.

Gimli was enraptured by the sight of the shining garment. "It is a mithril-coat. Mithril! I have never seen or heard tell of one so fair, " he exclaimed in amazement.

Little wonder, Frodo had been so loth to reveal it, for Dwarfs are renowned for their lust for Mithril. Yet, Gimli's eyes were full of admiration, with no hint of coveting the precious metal for himself. Frodo, however, still looked uncomfortable

Aragorn then gently removed the soft leather shirt that Frodo was wearing under the mail. We all clustered round him, curious to see how well the Mithril coat had protected him from the Orc spear.

I barely noticed the bruises, which covered his chest and side; for now I could see it plainly - the Ring!

I had wanted so much to look at it again; ever since that one glimpse I had been granted at Rivendell. It was a beautiful thing; yet I could not say why, for it appeared but a plain gold circlet. The rings I wore were finer by far to look upon; but this was unique, this was different. It seemed to me the fairest thing ever wrought upon Arda since the dawning of the sun. And they planned to cast it in the fire!

If Aragorn were to come to Minas Tirith, with such a weapon to use against the Enemy, even my father would welcome him gladly. A sword reforged was not token enough to give Isildur's heir the winged crown. However, the Ring was a different matter entirely! All of Gondor would welcome him.

I smiled to myself as I thought of Faramir. My brother was forever dreaming of the return of the King, when the White Tree would blossom again. He is such a dreamer, my little brother, for how could a dead tree come back to life? He so badly wanted this errand, but our father appeared relieved when I begged it instead. He feared Elves and old legends might turn Faramir's head and wisely trusted my steadier judgement instead.

Yet, Aragorn appeared oblivious to the precious heirloom, seemingly focussing his attentions entirely on Frodo's bruised ribs. The man was a fool, the Ring was within his grasp and he did not take it. Frodo would yield it willingly; for had he not said it belonged to Aragorn before the whole council?

Aragorn reached out his hand. For a moment, I thought the sight of the Ring again, had brought him to his senses. He could use it to save all of us. But no, he merely patted Frodo's shoulder and moved away from him.

He then called for water and his eyes suddenly met mine. For a moment, I feared he could see into my soul, for suddenly his gaze hardened and became stern and cold. I never could quite fathom the man; he could be warm and gentle one moment, unyielding as granite the next. He looked so like my father, then, with the same disconcerting way of seeing into the hearts of men. I shivered, despite the now merrily blazing fire and my thick cloak.

"Help the others prepare food!" Aragorn said abruptly. "We must leave here before sunset."

Again he was ordering me, as if I were already one of his subjects! He cast some athelas leaves in the water Legolas brought.

Our would be king then knelt in front of Frodo to bathe his wounds, blocking my view of the Ring by so doing.

The sweet scent of athelas filled the dell and the others were refreshed by it. My heart remained heavy, though, for I could think of nothing save the Ring. From that day forward, it haunted my thoughts.

A/N The idea for this ficlet has been in my head for a long time, but only last night did it come to me how I might write it. I doubt I will return to Boromir as Aragorn and Faramir appeal to me more, though I shall, no doubt further polish and revise this as I do all my stories. The dialogue in italics is taken directly from Tolkien's book.

I hope to return to "A Time to Reap" within the week, all being well.

This story also appears on my LJ together with the myth that inspired both Tolkien's book and Wagner's opera's.