Author: Ainur (ainur02@yahoo.com)

Title:
Emyn Muil

Genre:
Angst

Rating:
PG-13 for dark theme. NO: Slash, sex, profanity, or violence in this fic.

Disclaimer [this goes for every chapter of the fic]:
I do not own anything, and do not make any money from this. All characters and settings are property of the Tolkien Estate. I only write fanfic for my own amusement, and hopefully I will succeed in entertaining others who share similar interests at the same time. Do NOT attempt medical remedies of any sort that are described in this fic, I am not a health care professional and have no idea what I'm doing.

Summary:
This is an AU fic that is book-cannon (for the most part) in nature. It's set during Frodo and Sam's journey through the Emyn Muil. There is an unexpected accident that could prove to change the outcome of the War of the Ring It begins on the afternoon of February 28th, the day that the hobbits meet Gollum face-to-face.

A/N:
I began this fic a while back, before seeing "The Two Towers", and have only just now resumed working on it while I have some free time. I was hoping to finish the fic before I saw TTT, so as not to allow the movie to influence the way I wrote the fic or the characters. Unfortunately thing's didn't work out that way, though I will try my hardest not to allow my viewing the movie to influence this fic. :) But, I do promise you that there are no TTT movie spoilers in this fic.
The fic is mostly planned out (in my head) and the events will stay on course, in hopes of my completing the story sooner than previous fics I've written. :) It will also likely be shorter than previous fics I've written (I anticipate that it will be somewhere between 6 and 7 chapters).

WARNING
: Please be warned ahead of time that this fic is dark in nature, and AU as well. If you find AU or dark fanfics offensive or disturbing then this may not be the fic for you.

With that said, I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it! :)

Chapter 1:

Frodo and Sam had endured two days of navigating the harsh terrain of the Emyn Muil. The two hobbits had been forced to tread a meandering path back and forth across the unfriendly, barren terrain.

Though they were indeed hobbits, the two had wished on more than one occasion that they had brought shoes along on their journey. The rock-strewn paths on which they were obliged to walk were taxing on the soles of even the toughest hobbit-feet.

It was now midday, on February 28th. Sam plopped down heavily onto a flat rock with a sigh, "Nothin' for it, Mr. Frodo," puffed the gardener, "my feet aren't gonna carry me one more step unless I've a rest and somethin' in my belly."

"I know, Sam." Frodo agreed, seating himself down next to his companion. He proceeded to lift one large, hairy foot from the ground and begin rubbing it gingerly. "I'm tired, Sam. Tired and hungry." He sighed, "And I don't think we've come any further as of now than we had by this time yesterday!" cried Frodo. "We're lost." He shook his head in dismay, squinting as he scanned the jagged horizon for he knew not what.

"Don't you be worryin' none now Mr. Frodo. We'll make it right, just you wait and see." Sam tried to comfort his master. He was glad that Frodo had followed his lead and agreed to take a rest. Sam had noticed with growing concern that Frodo had begun stumbling in his weariness. It seemed to him that his master was asleep on his feet.

"Oh my feet hurt, Sam! And my legs too…" Frodo grumbled, leaning heavily onto Sam's shoulder. "What have we got to eat?"

"Well, Master, there's the Lembas the Lady gave us." The gardener offered, putting an arm around his tired master.

"Must we always eat those? Isn't there anything else left?" Frodo asked hopefully, his wide blue eyes meeting Sam's calm brown ones.

Sam shook his head, "No, I'm afraid 'tis all we got. But they'll do better than nothin', no doubt."

Frodo nodded slowly, "I suppose you're right, Sam. We only need enough to keep us going until we reach the Mountain… and that is what Lembas are for… keeping a body alive, I mean." he let out a resigned sigh. After a moment he spoke again, "Well, are you going to give me one? Or do I have to run back to Lorien and fetch my own?" Frodo asked, a mock-indignant tone to his voice.

Sam grinned. He could feel Frodo's mouth curve into a smile against his shoulder, "Of course, Mr. Frodo!" He teased, rising from his seat to remove his pack.

The two hobbits rested their tired feet and ate a very modest lunch of Lembas and cool water. Frodo and Sam were reluctant to start out again: they were so tired, and the rock-strewn road seemed now longer than ever.

"Let us move on now." Said Frodo, "We can still cover a few more miles before dark, if we're lucky." He rose to his feet and hefted his pack onto his back again, ready to resume the trek. "One thing's for sure though," the hobbit said aloud, rubbing his calves again, "I'll sleep good tonight—Gollum or no." he jested.

It was clear to the two hobbits that their trail had indeed been picked up by something or someone. One who was both a skillful tracker, and determined to catch up with them.

Frodo then took off at a brisk pace. Both he and Sam were eager to get more ground behind them before the sun sank behind the jagged peaks. They hoped that, for once, some progress would be evident: a change in scenery, or even some signs of other life. It was very discouraging when day after day they hiked across the unfriendly terrain only to discover at the end of the day that they had made little or no progress toward their goal of finding a way out of the mountains.

*****************************

After journeying the rest of the afternoon, and on into evening, they came to the edge of a sheer cliff. Frodo debated at length whether or not they ought to try and descend it. The lands beyond appeared to be gentler, as though this cliff may provide a way out of the Emyn Muil, whereas other paths surrounding him didn't look nearly as promising: rock-strewn and uneven, they were, and all appeared to lead deeper into the shadowy peaks on winding, forbidding roads that he didn't wish to tread.

"Sam," he began cautiously, approaching the edge of the cliff with care, "I think this may be our way out."

"You don't mean to… to climb down, do you Mr. Frodo?" came Sam's tentative answer. "It looks awfully steep, and a long way down, too. I dare not take another step closer to the edge."

Frodo stepped away from the sheer, rocky edge, "Sam, this may be our chance." Frodo begged, "We must try. We've been delayed for far too long, we cannot afford to lose any more time!"

Sam nodded. He knew Frodo was right. But, as is common among hobbits, Samwise wished to avoid heights whenever possible. "Well, I've some rope. I'd near forgotten about it!" he rattled in his nervousness, "It's Elvish rope, from Lorien, and right strong too. I believe a good length of it would support your weight, and mine too with any luck."

"How far down do you think it is?" Frodo asked, stepping to the ledge again to gauge the distance from his current point to the rocky floor far below.

"I reckon… well… it looks to be a good distance, Mr. Frodo." Sam replied nervously.

"I suppose all we can do is let the full length down, and see how far it gets us." Frodo replied with a wry smile.

Sam reluctantly un-shouldered his pack and began rummaging through it for the coil of rope. Frodo stood by, gazing with uncertainty and mistrust at the distance he would soon be traveling, with only his grip on a thin line between him and the unyielding ground far below. "What else ought I do?" Frodo thought, "Gollum's picked up our trail, and every day wasted in the mountains is one more day for the Enemy to grow stronger."

"Here it is," Sam pulled out the neatly coiled length of rope from the bottom of his pack. "Now, I'll anchor it real steady to that," he gestured to a jagged outcrop of rock rooted firmly in the terrain a few feet from the cliff's edge. "Be careful, Mr. Frodo. I don't know what we would do if somethin' happened." Sam fretted, "out here in the wild like this, and we've nothin' in the way of supplies…"

Frodo smiled warmly at his concerned friend, "Don't worry, Sam. I'll be as careful as I always am." He picked up the free end of the rope, and begun tying it around his waist.

"Mr. Frodo, you best let me do it now, I know a wee bit more about ropes, I dare say." Sam smiled, taking the rope from Frodo's hands. He tied a secure knot in the silky cord, and double-checked its strength by pulling as hard as he could on each end. "Alright, that'll hold sure as anythin' will." He smiled shakily, "Now hurry up, before those clouds arrive an' make a mud-hole of this dry wasteland." Sam ended, pointing behind Frodo to the heavy clouds gathering on the horizon.

Frodo turned, noticing the rain-laden clouds with despair. He only hoped that they would be able to scale the cliff and find some sort of shelter before the storm hit.

Frodo patted Sam on the shoulder once more, and taking a shaky breath, he mustered the courage to lower himself over the edge. He scrambled for a moment, trying to get a good foothold on the ledge. Soon, he was easily lowering himself down the rock face, the rope held comfortably taut in Sam's strong grip.

A hauntingly familiar cry rang out suddenly among the darkening hills. It froze Frodo down to the marrow, and his left shoulder throbbed with new agony. The shrill cry was, unmistakably, that of a Ring-wraith.

The hobbit froze and pressed his body against the cliff, his vision faded. He could hear Sam above calling franticly down to him, but he couldn't find his voice to answer. Frodo's breath caught in his throat as he felt the knot in the rope begin to slip; he clutched at the rock wall for dear life.

"Sam!" he cried, suddenly able to speak, "Sam! I can't see anything!" his voice quavered. He was dreadfully afraid. "The knot… it's slipping… I can't hold on!" he called.

The wind carried away Sam's reply before it reached Frodo's ears. "I'm pulling you back up, Mr. Frodo!" he had said.

Alone in the blackness, Frodo was dimly aware that rain had begun to fall. It came down fast in sharp drops that stung as they hit his face and hands. He could soon here water flowing as it trickled through a thousand dark cracks and crevices in the rocks that surrounded him. His hands began to slip, and his feet slid from their hold on the slippery rock. The failing knot in the rope came completely undone. Frodo gasped franticly at the smooth rope, now completely slick from rain: it slid through his hands like soap. He hadn't even a chance to cry out for help before he felt himself falling.

Frodo scrambled to find purchase on the wet cliff-face, to no avail. He winced as the knife-like rocks tore into the pads of his fingers, and even through the bottoms of his tough-soled feet, during his fall. Eventually, the rock-ledge gave way to open air, and Frodo fell rapidly the rest of the way down with nothing to break his fall.

An anguished scream rang out into the darkness as he hit the ground feet-first.

TBC...