Author's Note: Well guys, this is the last chapter. I really needed to finish this story as school work is piling up! I hope it doesn't seem like it's ending too abruptly. Anyway, I again wish to thank all of you who have read and reviewed my story. Even if you haven't reviewed, I thank you for reading and sincerely hope you enjoyed it!

Danny Barefoot: Thanks again for your insightful remarks. I look forward to reading more of your Sam story! Good luck!

Gamgeefest: I have been thinking more on our Radak question. I went back and looked at Ch 10 and something I had written there may explain his behavior. I think he was like the people that went along with the Nazis. He did it in the hope it would protect his people. Radak figured if he delivered the Hobbits to the Mouth of Sauron, his village would be safe. He hated the Mouth of Sauron as much as anyone, but he feared what would happen if he defied him. It's a thought, anyway!

Chapter 15 Hobbit's Revenge

The Hobbits cowered beneath the heavy roots of the tree where Sam and Merry rested. They couldn't be certain the Black Wizard had found them, but they feared he had spotted the smoke from their fire. They at least had had the foresight to retrieve the barrels and hide them among the trees. If the Mouth of Sauron knew they had traveled down the river, then it was obviously only a matter of time before they appeared at this place. Frodo could still hear the eagle's cries above them. He couldn't help but remember similar experiences with the Nazgul. His fear now was no less.

After what felt like an eternity, they realized the eagle's screams seemed more distant. Hesitantly, they crept to the edge of the trees and looked upward. Frodo almost cried with joy as he realized the eagle had flown off into the distance. Perhaps they were safe for a while longer. The two Hobbits glanced at each other in relief and turned to return to their friends.

As the neared the tree, Frodo began to feel a sense of foreboding. Something felt very wrong. He slowed to a halt and looked around anxiously. "What's wrong?" whispered Pippin, also feeling apprehensive.

"I don't know," replied Frodo tensely, "Something is wrong."

"Could it be me?" A tall figure clothed in black stepped out from behind a massive oak, barring their way. The Mouth of Sauron stared down at the terrified Hobbits, his dark eyes glittering in triumph. "Did you stupid halflings honestly believe you could escape me?" He laughed harshly. "I do not know how you discovered the way to the river, although I do have my suspicions. However, you have proven more resourceful than I would have expected." He then glanced back at the still forms of Merry and Sam lying in their woody sanctuary on the hill above him. "And Master Samwise actually survived the journey, did he? You Hobbits are difficult to kill!" He then turned his attention back to Frodo and Pippin.

The two Hobbits began to slowly back away from him, when the Black Wizard lunged forward, grabbing Frodo by the throat. The wizard's eyes were blazing furiously. "No one makes a fool of me!" he hissed shaking Frodo viciously. "No one!"

Frodo fought to break the wizard's hold. It was getting more and more difficult to breathe as the wizard tightened his grip. Pippin moved to help his cousin, but the wizard slapped him away with little more thought than he would a mosquito. These Hobbits would learn a lesson if it killed them.

Sam slowly became aware of shouting. Pippin? He thought groggily. Then, he heard a voice that turned his blood to ice: the Mouth of Sauron! His eyes flew open and with horror, he realized that Black Wizard had Frodo! It took him a moment to realize that not only did the wizard have his beloved master, he was choking him! Frantically, Sam looked around and spying Merry's knife, pulled it from its sheath and, and panting with the effort, struggled to his feet. With strength born of fury and desperation, he flung himself forward and plunged the knife deep into the wizard's exposed back.

The Mouth of Sauron, unlike the Istari, was not immortal. He had lived an unnaturally long life through the use of black magic, but he was not invincible. He screamed in agony and rage. He tossed Frodo aside. Then rounding on Sam, sent him flying into the tree. He swiftly turned and advanced on the stunned Hobbit with every intention of killing him then and there.

Pippin regaining his senses quickly took stock of the situation. He knew an opportunity when he saw it. He was the only one in the party still armed and in a moment, had his small sword firmly gripped in his trembling hand. With a cry of anger, the brave Hobbit flew forward and using all the strength he could muster, thrust his shining sword through the Black Wizard's body. Again, the wizard whirled around, but now his eyes were wide with shock. He stared at Pippin in utter disbelief and then glanced down at the blade protruding from his chest. With a loan moan, he fell heavily to his knees, then slowly slumped to the ground. Between the two of them, Pippin and Sam had managed to destroy the Lieutenant of Barad-dur.

Frodo struggled to his feet, still gasping for breath, his throat burned terribly. He stumbled to his cousin and stared down at the wizard's bleeding body. Frodo closed his eyes for a moment, then turned to Pippin and embraced him. The younger Hobbit was trembling in shock. He then pulled away from Frodo and with his irrepressible grin, said, "Well, that will teach him not to mess with Hobbits in the future!" Frodo laughed shakily, then hurried over to where Sam lay in a heap at the base of the tree.

"Sam?" he called anxiously, "Sam? Can your hear me?"

There was blood on the back of Sam's head, but with a low moan, he opened his eyes and looked up at Frodo. "Did we get him?" he rasped.

Frodo laughed again, "Yes, Sam! He's dead!" Sam smiled, gave a small sigh of relief and closed his eyes. The nightmare was over. Never again would he have to face that monster. He felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Maybe there was hope after all.

Pippin and Frodo carried Sam back to where Merry lay and carefully wrapped him in Frodo's cloak. It was soaked with river water and Sam's blood, but it was all they had. They dragged the Black Wizard's body out of the trees and dumped him unceremoniously into the river. He could join his victims in their watery grave. Pippin rebuilt the fire and for the first time since this ordeal began, they relaxed.

Frodo was worried though. Even if the Mouth of Sauron was gone, were his men still looking for them? Even if they weren't, how were they to get home? They had no provisions, no maps, and two gravely injured companions. Obviously, they couldn't start out immediately. He knew they would have to stay here at least a few days and hope Sam and Merry would recover enough so they could leave. Pippin agreed.

So, Pippin and Frodo did what they could for their friends. They were able to catch small fish in the river and snare a few scrawny rabbits. Presumably they wouldn't starve. But Merry and Sam seemed to be getting worse. Both burned with dangerously high fevers. Sam was having trouble breathing and the rattling sounds in his chest did not bode well. Frodo and Pippin feared they would be burying their friends in the forsaken place.

It was early one morning and the black curtain of night was beginning to lift revealing the brilliant pinks and yellows of the rising sun. Frodo was taking his turn sitting with the invalids, using damp rags torn from his and Pippin's shirts to try and relieve the fevers. He stood up to stretch and to walk down to the river for some fresh water. It was cold this morning, as it was every morning. He shivered as he hurried out of the relative protection of the trees. It was then he heard a strange noise coming from the east. He turned, but the rays of the early morning sun were blinding him.

The noise was getting louder and with dismay, Frodo recognized the sound as the rumble of hoof beats. Riders were approaching! With a cry of panic, he started to scramble back towards the trees to warn Pippin. "Frodo!" He froze in shock. Did someone call his name? He turned again towards the approaching riders, still unable to clearly make them out. There appeared to be perhaps four of them and they were advancing quickly. He couldn't possibly outrun them. With a sense of defeat, Frodo waited for them to arrive, but as they came nearer, he slowly realized that he recognized them! These were no Easterling soldiers come to kill them, it was Aragorn and Gandalf and with them Gimli and Legolas! In the front, leading them, was Jalan. They had been found.

With a shout of joy and relief, Frodo began to run towards them. "Here we are!" he cried waving to them, "Here!"

The riders pulled to a halt and Aragorn leaped from his horse, grabbing Frodo in a huge bear hug. "You're alive!" he cried, "We thought we'd never find you!" The others were off their horses now, except for Jalan, all embracing and shouting with excitement.

"What about the others, Frodo?" asked Gandalf after the greetings were done. "Is Sam truly alive?"

Frodo's smile faded, tears in his eyes. "Yes, Sam is alive, but barely. That Black Wizard hurt him badly. Merry has also been wounded. They need help right away! Pippin is alright, as am I!" He then frowned, "However did you find us?"

Aragorn turned to the boy on the horse. "Young Jalan here found us. He spotted us in the mountains and realized we must have been tracking you. He explained what had happened and led us to where the river leaves the mountains. We hoped we would either find you here or at least some sign of where you had gone."

Frodo turned to the Easterling boy who had turned out to be their savior in the end. He looked up at Jalan, smiled and simply said, "Thank you." Jalan ducked his head in embarrassment and turned away for a moment. Then shyly, returned the smile. Perhaps there was hope that peace could be made between the Easterlings and the Men of the West.

Frodo led the others to the trees. Pippin was already awake and joyfully threw himself into the arms their friends. Aragorn and Gandalf hurried over to Merry and Sam to assess their condition. Aragorn swiftly applied a poultice of athelas to Merry's shoulder, knowing the leaves would draw out the infection. Merry was strong and Aragorn believed he would recover quickly. He was often amazed at the recuperative powers of Hobbits. He then turned to Sam. Upon removing the cloak, the full truth of what Sam had been through came to light. Aragorn's jaw tightened in anger. He could hear Gimli cursing under his breath at the sight. Gandalf looked furious. But, there was work to be done if Sam was to be saved.

Sam thought he must be dreaming. He could swear he heard Strider's voice speaking to him. Frowning, Sam slowly opened his eyes and found himself staring into to Aragorn's weary but smiling face. "Hello, Sam." he heard Aragorn say.

"This can't be happening," thought Sam fuzzily. He blinked several times, but the face was still there, smiling even more broadly than before. "Strider?"

Aragorn nodded, his grin never leaving. He had used his healing powers to push back the hand of death and although Sam would have a long, painful recovery, his chances of survival were now much better. "How do you feel, Sam?" He asked gently.

Sam took stock of the situation. He felt considerably better than he had and although moving was painful, for the first time in weeks he began to think he might survive this. "I'm alright, " he smiled weakly, then frowned. "What about Master Frodo? And Pippin and Merry?" He started to try and sit up. Aragorn gently pushed him back.

"They're fine!" he replied with a laugh. "Pippin has been telling us all about your adventures! It just proves that it is never safe to leave Hobbits alone for any length of time!" He laughed again, then looked fondly down at the pale, thin Hobbit. It was hard for him to believe that this was the same stout Samwise Gamgee who had threatened him back at the Prancing Pony so long ago. They had all been though so much since then. "You did it, Master Gamgee," he said quietly, pushing Sam's hair from his face. "You destroyed the Ring of Power. You saved us all."

Sam blushed a deep crimson. "I only finished what Mr. Frodo started." he mumbled self-consciously. "No need to make a big to do about it!" Aragorn laughed again, shaking his head in amazement. Hobbits were indeed remarkable creatures.

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It took some weeks, but the remaining members of the Fellowship along with Jalan, finally returned to the city of Minas Tirith. Sam and Merry both regained much of their health on the journey, although Sam would carry the scars, both physical and mental for the rest of life. Aragorn declared Jalan would become a squire in the Citadel Guard. The people of Gondor and Rohan were ecstatic when they learned the final Ringbearer had not perished in the eruption of Orodruin and great celebrations were held in his honor, much to Sam's dismay. He was vastly relieved when things finally settled down and the city turned its attention towards preparing for the King's wedding.

On evening of the King's wedding, Sam and Frodo took a break from the festivities and stood on the ramparts of the city looking out towards the glowing fires of Mt. Doom. "I used to come here all the time to talk to you," admitted Frodo with a small laugh, his arm around his friend's shoulders. "I couldn't believe you were really gone."

Sam stared out across the Pellenor, his mind reliving those awful days on Mt Doom. "All I could think about was destroying that cursed ring so's I could get back to you." replied Sam, tears rolling down his face. He couldn't bring himself to meet Frodo's eyes. "I am so sorry I left you, Mr. Frodo! I thought you were dead!" Turning away,he suddenly broke down in sobs. Frodo stared at him aghast.

He grabbed Sam's shoulders and turned to face him. "Sam," he said, own eyes glistening, "You could not have known I was still alive. Taking on the quest by yourself was the bravest thing I've ever heard of. In the end, it all worked out. I'm safe. You're safe and the Ring was destroyed. We have all suffered in this war, Samwise Gamgee, but the important thing is, we are still together! Sauron has been destroyed and things are being set to rights. Someday soon, we'll go back to the Shire, you, me, Merry, and Pippin, and our lives will get back to normal!"

Sam brushed away the tears and smiled again at his dearest friend. He then got a faraway look in his eyes as he considered the future. With a wistful expression on his face he softly whispered, "Rosie Cotton!" Frodo laughed, then clapping Sam affectionately on the shoulder, the two Ringbearers turned to rejoin their friends and to celebrate the beginning of a new life for them all.

The End