After Aragorn had treated and bound Frodo's wounds and decided he could be moved without further hurt to his head or leg, Frodo was carried from the scene of battle to a comfortable spot by the lake near the boats. He lay wrapped in cloaks and blankets to keep him warm and protected from shock.
"I have done my best for him," Aragorn remarked with a heavy sigh. "His leg is set and immobilized, and I have wrapped the twisted ankle; they will heal in time, though it will be long before he can put much weight on that foot and leg. The concussion is a concern. Frodo will need to rest and not move about in order to allow his head to mend. The herbs I have administered have taken away some of the pain, and athelas had helped clear his mind and his speech is less halting. Regular doses of an infusion of athelas should continue to help with that as his head heals."
Even so, he looks ill, thought Boromir. It is obvious he is in pain still, though he tries to smile and thus comfort us. Even the short journey here in the steady arms of Aragorn has shaken him; he cannot even sit up nor can he yet take any food. What will happen now, I wonder? Frodo is by no means able to travel without help, not for some time. What will this mean for the Quest? Gimli asked that question, as well, and Aragorn has yet to answer....
As if in response to Boromir's thoughts, Aragorn spoke.
"There is little point in trying to soften the blow," he said, his voice filled with regret. "I believe it is obvious to all of us that Frodo's injuries are severe. He cannot make the journey to Mordor in this condition."
The Fellowship stared at Aragorn, shocked at the pronouncement.
"Is it truly the end, then?" Legolas asked, dismayed. "Cannot we wait for Frodo to heal, and then continue on to Mordor?"
Aragorn shook his head. "Nay! It might be weeks before he is able to stand, let alone walk. Even then he will be incapable of such an arduous journey. We must take him to a place of safety where he can heal properly; that journey, too, will take time, for we must go warily so as not to tax his strength further. As for the Quest to destroy the Ring, we cannot afford such delays, for every moment is precious if we are to succeed in ridding the world of that evil. If we wait for Frodo to heal, I fear it will be too late! I do not know what to do...."
"There are also the captive hobbits to be considered," Gimli reminded him. "We cannot simply go on our way with no thought for their rescue! Delay could mean their death, or worse."
"Yes, Gimli," agreed Aragorn. "I had not forgotten them. We cannot leave them to that fate; they must be rescued. But Frodo cannot go with us in that attempt, so we must take thought for his safety -- and the safety of the Ring."
"Well, that's easy enough, then," Gimli said with a sharp nod of his head. "We'll split up. Some will go after the young hobbits, and the others will take Frodo to a safe haven, and the Ring with him. This Minas Tirith in Gondor sounds like a sturdy place, how about taking Frodo and the Ring there?"
"No!" Boromir cried, leaping forward to clutch at Aragorn's arm, as if the Ranger might then and there approve the suggestion. "The Ring cannot go to Minas Tirith. It must not! The White City is indeed a place of strength that could very well stand against the Dark Lord and his armies -- but not if the Ring is there. Taking it there will doom us all... and my father will be the first to fall."
"What?" exclaimed Gimli. "Do you not trust your own father to keep Frodo and the Ring safe?"
"How safe was Frodo with me?" Boromir choked, looking fiercely at each member of the Company, challenging them to deny the truth of his words. "The Ring's presence was enough to tempt me. It will be the same for my father. Frodo would not be safe bearing the Ring, even in Minas Tirith. Now that I know how easily it can twist even the most honorable intentions, I can say without hesitation that I do not trust anyone to keep the Ring safe. My father... his battle with Mordor has been long, and it has worn him down. He is still strong in will and in leadership, but the roots of his despair are deep -- deeper than my own! I fear what might happen to him if such a weapon comes to his hand...." Boromir looked pleadingly at Frodo. "You know what happened to me, Frodo. You know what I tried to do. I do not want that to happen to anyone else, least of all my own family! I cannot allow it."
"Boromir is right," Frodo said quietly. "There is no place of safety left in this world where the Ring can be taken or kept -- no place other than the fires of Mount Doom. Unless the Ring is destroyed, it will continue to work its evil, twisting good people to do harm and bringing ruin wherever it goes."
"What do you suggest, Frodo?" asked Aragorn quietly.
"What I suggest is this: since I can go no further on this road, then the role of Ringbearer must pass from me. Someone else must take the Ring and destroy it."
They tried to argue with him, that there must surely be another way, but their arguments were half-hearted at best. Everyone could see that truly this was the only way, but they could not bear to acknowledge it as yet.
"What use is the Company to the Ringbearer if one among us does not step forward to claim the errand when I myself can go forward no longer?" Frodo urged persuasively. He spoke slowly and carefully, but his voice was clear. "Lord Elrond could not have foreseen it would come to this, but I am certain he would agree with me that this is the only way. Do you remember what he said to me? 'The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need...' The need is now very great! Taking the Ring to hide it is no better than casting it away or eventually delivering it to the Enemy's hand. So, really, there is no other choice, no other way -- one of you must take the Ring in my stead."
Boromir watched the others as they stood stunned and confused, wondering if any would step forward to accept the Quest. But no one did. Perhaps they fear what might happen to Frodo if the Ring is taken from him, thought Boromir. He has had it so long in his possession, it will not be easy to hand it over to someone else. It might even bring him to madness! But he is the one offering it freely now, so perhaps that will make a difference. In any case, it is not a task to take on lightly; they do well to hesitate! A great burden it will be, to bear the Ring and resist its evil....
Boromir now understood fully the difficulty of that task, what stepping forward to accept the burden of the Ring might mean. He marveled that Frodo had ever had the strength to continue bearing it, once the true nature of the Ring was known to him. Boromir hung back, silent and reluctant, ashamed to say anything that might even remotely suggest he was willing to take the thing he had once coveted, and now heartily wished had never been brought into existence.
Frodo's quiet voice interrupted Boromir's thoughts. "Let me be the one to decide, then," the hobbit suggested. "If I choose the next Ringbearer, then there is no chance for the Ring's influence to enter in and cause strife among you. I know what is needed, and I will appoint the best person to go in my stead."
"Frodo..." Aragorn sighed, but then he bowed his head in agreement. "Very well. You know best how to act in this matter. I wish I could lead you better, make the decision for you, but I am at a loss in the face of this dilemma and I fear to make a wrong choice -- one that will doom us all. We will await your decision. Once the choice is made, we can decide among those who remain who will go after Merry and Pippin, and who will escort you to safety."
Frodo nodded. "I will not be long in choosing," he assured Aragorn. "I know there is no time to be lost, and I already delayed things earlier with my indecision. My mind is clearer now, and I know what I must do. Let Sam stay with me, I'll have him call you when I am ready to speak."
Aragorn bowed his head once more and left Frodo to his pondering.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.