Hope Amidst Darkness

xxx Quotes taken from the chapter The Stairs of Cirith Ungol (TTT).

xxx (...) 'I am too late. All is lost. I tarried on the way. All is lost. Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain.' And overcome with weakness, he wept. And still the host of Morgul crossed the bridge.

Frodo watched them marching to war. His blurred sight made the comforting thought to be just dreaming more real, but at the same instant the hobbit knew terribly well that this was reality and not a dream. Another urgent wish came over him to put on the Ring and to escape unseen, but he fought the urge down with all of his might. He curled up, feeling only pain and despair, letting his tears flow as he wept to find some relief of it all. So hopeless... so very tiring. If he could only lie down and sleep; sleep to regain at least some of his willpower. His body was betraying him, becoming an enemy of his mind. An enemy... an enemy.

No. You deny yourself, Frodo Baggins. You deny all that you could possess. All that you could be. Put It on, and the weariness will pass. No more despair. You will forget the meaning of sadness.

Frodo shivered while trying to fight the voice inside his head down. He was vaguely thinking how it must feel to drift off into insanity, a moment that returned every single day, and not only once. Hot, evil fire seemed to build and whirl around in his chest while the air to breathe seemed to thicken and to choke him. Frodo coughed when he fought for his breath, still dimly aware of the Morgul army marching beneath him, though he was also aware of dear Sam and Gollum besides him.

An iron fist seemed to crush him. It closed around him, slowly, tormenting, driving him insane with the aim to make him beg for his end.

Frodo expected the Witch King to turn up in front of him at every second, ready to take him away to endless terror, or to a slow death caused by unimaginable tortures. But no one came. The silence around him was horrifying; more so because he felt the presence of those huge amounts of evil creatures setting out to the Great War. The War of the Ring.

All is lost and has been in vain.

Frodo clenched his fists that still tried to clutch the chain, that tried to reach for the Ring (on your chest, there, there... so easy to reach! You fool, don't deny me!) and laid his head back onto the black, cold rocks. He managed at the last moment not to bang his head backwards against the rocks to drive away the dark voice inside him (around your neck, you know it, Frodo Baggins!) and to feel the release and reality of flowing, warm blood. The poor, weary creature noticed the rocks were cold; a sharp contrast to the warm and wet tears on his face. But he found no relief in weeping this time. Hopelessness tore at him, and he wished Gandalf was with them to guide them and give them strength and hope. But Gandalf had fallen into the Shadows, never to be seen again.

'Where may you dwell now, dear Gandalf? Where are you now, where are you now? Have you found peace?' Frodo thought over and over again, choking back a wail of despair and loneliness. His silent questions were not answered. He was still shivering, but there was something... someone warming him. The weary hobbit could not tell anymore where he was, or why he was here, and sank back into soothing forgetfulness. It made him close his eyes, and his breath came more easily. His hands relaxed and lay still in his lap. Then he took his hand up again to hold close to another item.

xxx Cold and hard it seemed as his grip closed on it: the phial of Galadriel, so long treasured, and almost forgotten until that hour. As he touched it, for a while all thought of the Ring was banished from his mind.

For a while Frodo felt fragments of peace and warmth. He tried to breathe deeply and to ready himself for the things still to come. But as soon as he let go of the phial the voice came back, echoing in his head.

All that you could possess. All that you could be. Let me embrace you... let me warm you.

At least the evil voice had reduced to a whisper now; a whisper Frodo knew already. It was always with him, horrifying and comforting at the same time. It meant that he was not alone, and would never be. He soundlessly cried for help, and slowly he fell into an exhausted sleep. Frodo was unaware of Sam watching him worriedly and sadly. Even Gollum looked with pity at Frodo, or so it seemed. Sam nevertheless noticed the cold gleam in Gollum's pale eyes.

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When Frodo relaxed and glided over to sleep, he remembered the moment when he had touched Galadriel's phial just a few minutes before. There had been light that had banished the dark voice of the Ring, and the warmth radiating from the light had soothed his itching wounds. Even his left shoulder had seemed to get warmer and the pain of the Morgul wound hadn't troubled him as much.

Frodo now enjoyed the warmth of the radiating light again, more intense this time. When he opened his eyes, he looked at an indigo night sky, with shining stars that knew nothing of darkness and despair.

Elbereth... take me away from here, let me find peace.

A voice was singing, clear and ethereal. Frodo relaxed some more; the dark voice of the Ring was now quiet, paralysed by the Light. The night sky was changing slowly into dawn, and Frodo looked at a landscape so peaceful and beautiful, he just wanted to go and stay there. The air was filled with sweet fragrances of flowers, and a salty breeze made him think that the Sea must be near. Frodo could breathe, breathe easily, and his heart sang with joy. There was no pain, just beauty and that light. He still clutched the phial that had grown warm in his hands.

Frodo found himself standing on a ship, watching a far horizon and the Sea. Gandalf was with him, but even now Frodo wondered how that could be possible. He heard Gandalf speak to him, about healing and passing into the West. Peace spread in Frodo's mind, and he was filled with acceptance and new strength to face whatever might come.

The vision faded, and the singing voice and stars surrounded Frodo again. He didn't understand the words, but still felt the need to listen to what the voice was telling him. He closed his eyes again, and felt a soft breeze upon his forehead, like a light kiss and a blessing had been granted him. Warmth flooded his body, and he sank into a deep sleep and into a world where only peace existed.

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Sam watched his master who had fallen asleep in such a horrifying situation. But that might be the best thing to do, since they couldn't move on right now anyway. Sam felt bone-tired and weary as well, but Mr Frodo needed some rest more urgently. Sam's heart ached for his master, and the tears Frodo had shed just a few moments earlier had made him want to break down and cry as well. Weep for his poor and gentle master who had to go through such horrors. Why Frodo? He, the gentlest and friendliest of all hobbits Sam knew. He didn't deserve such fate.

So Sam was determined to help Frodo with all of his might, though he could not do very much. Well, at least he could watch over Frodo, and keep Stinker at bay. One never knew what the treacherous creature would come up with next. He might as well push Sam and his master from the rocks when both of them were asleep. Naturally, Gollum would try to get his Precious back first.

Sam looked over to the hunched creature that tried to hide in an even darker place than Sam and Frodo were seated in. Sam sensed that Gollum was afraid as well, and not up to evil tricks in these moments. Some pity stirred in Sam's heart, but it didn't protect against the mistrust he felt entirely. He sighed, and settled back into a more relaxed position, leaning against the rocks. Sam put an arm around Mr Frodo, to shelter him in his urgently needed sleep.

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xxx Then , at a great distance, as if it came out of memories of the Shire, some sunlit early morning, when the day called and doors were opening, he heard Sam's voice speaking. 'Wake up, Mr. Frodo! Wake up!'

Slowly Frodo opened his eyes, slightly surprised that it was still dark around him. He thought that he had travelled so far since he had wept in despair and had fallen asleep because he had felt too weary to go on. Now Sam shook him gently and told him to get up. Frodo learned that his sleep had not taken more than an hour... even less. But he felt refreshed, and filled with new hope and trust in himself.

"They're gone, Mr Frodo. We'd better go and see to find a more sheltered place." Sam gave Frodo some lembas, and Frodo managed to swallow a few bites before Gollum nudged them to move further.

"We must go on, precious. Now, now! They will find us, they will see us! Fell beasts are still around. Come on, hobbitses, climb! Climb the stairs, make haste!"

Gollum was shivering with anxiety, coaxing them to get up quickly and to approach the dark land of Mordor. 'Leaving one danger to stumble into even more dangerous and unknown situations,' Frodo thought. His face was set, nearly only a grimace from still feeling weary and having difficulties moving. But his face also showed steadfast determination to finish this. At whatever cost.

Come what may. I will not give in. I will not give in! There is still light that shines above all despair, and it's worth fighting for.

He felt a slight breeze around him again, and thought to smell water and salt. Just a remainder of his dream, but it gave him enough hope and strength to place one foot before the other and move on.

"Come on, master, come on! Hurry! No time to rest here, we must move on, preciousss, they will see us, they will hurt us!"

Gollum's shrill voice suddenly made cold shivers trickle down Frodo's spine. Was he doomed to become like that? A cursed and torn creature, insane and pitiful at once?

Either that, or you will slowly die, Frodo Baggins. I will break you, mentally and physically. So don't deny me. The only option to stay sane is to accept me. You will be powerful beyond imagination. You can do all the good you want to with my help. Why wait?

Why wait... Why, oh why? He felt so weary, so tired. Why not end it here? Why not give in?

His hand went up to his chest to clutch the chain. The only option to stay sane is to accept me. You will be powerful beyond imagination. Why struggle any longer? Suddenly he found Sam at his side, steadying him and taking Frodo's hands in his.

"It's all right, Mr Frodo. I'm here. Don't worry."

Frodo breathed heavily, sweat streaming down his face. He shivered, and leaned weakly and gratefully onto Sam. How could Sam still be so strong? Frodo looked at his friend and noticed Sam's parched lips, his dirty face and worn clothes. It appeared to Frodo that he saw Sam clearly and consciously for the first time in a long, long while. Where had he been when Sam needed his support? A wave of guilt washed over Frodo, making him feel nauseated. What had he dragged Sam into? He should have left him behind at Parth Galen so Sam would never have to go through this with him. Yet Frodo was glad to have Sam at his side. All would have been lost already, if not for Sam. Frodo Baggins was now bound to an invidious and evil piece of jewel, and the only hope he had was death and peace after the Quest would be achieved. He had found such peace in his dream before... when he actually had not wanted to wake up anymore.

The hobbit felt hot tears build again, and at that moment he told himself not to give in to his weakness, nor to the Ring that now whispered to him with sweet and angelic tongues. He tried to think of the Shire, the green fields, his smial, his books. The smell of ink, the comforting noise of his feather gliding over the paper while he wrote. Should he ever return, he had to write this down; Bilbo would like to read all about it. And somehow Frodo was sure that writing the tale would suit him much better than telling the story. Oh, he so longed to see and to hug Bilbo. The thought of his dear uncle made him take the next steps... the thought of saving his beloved Shire... more steps... the reunion of the Fellowship... Frodo climbed, sweating and coughing, but his thoughts gave him hope amidst the darkness.

It was not yet too late. And he would fight until the end of it all.

The End