Frodo's Exciting Day Out

by Llinos
beta Marigold

Chapter 6
With Eggsies and Flowers and Fish

"I think you had better settle down and get ready," Landroval announced as he finally finished the last bit of giant spider he had been savouring. "We're just about coming up to Mount Doom."

"Thank you Landroval," Frodo was always polite, especially to eagles. Particularly an eagle that had just crushed in his claws a spider that actually was the 'biggest one in the world' and casually devoured Her whilst humming, …there were kegs, kegs, of great big hairy legs, in the Quartermaster's Stores… "Is everything looking all right? For the drop I mean?"

"I was a trifle anxious that we might be intercepted by Nazgûl," Landroval said casting his eagle eyes about constantly, "but apart from that great screech just now, it all seems remarkably quiet."

As they flew closer to the great mountain, a plume of flame and smoke belched from the volcano funnel, sending clouds of sulphur and asphyxiating gases and fumes into the darkening sky.

"It looks quite cross, doesn't it," remarked Sam, "do you think it's safe?"

"I don't think safe is the word I would use to describe it," Frodo said with trepidation, "I'm sorry Sam if our little day out is getting more exciting than you're used to. Next time we'll just go for lunch in the Green Dragon. Still," Frodo smiled at the gardener, his head on one side, "I'm glad you're here with me Sam, it would have been really boring on my own."

"Whatiss Sméagol then?" Gollum was quite slighted, "Is we's not good friendses with the hobbits? Iss we not entertaining enough for the Masster of the Preciouss?"

"I'm sorry Sméagol," Frodo's dislike of the creature was beginning to move more towards a genuine pity, "I didn't mean to be rude. Of course you're entertaining and perhaps you'd like to join us for lunch when we go."

"Iss there fisssh?"

"Oh yes," Sam joined in enthusiastically, "you get great fried fish and chips at the Green Dragon on Fridays, almost as good as I cooks meself."

"Fried!" Gollum repeated in dismay. "Spoiling nice fish, scorching it. Give me fish now, raw and wriggling. and keep nassty chips!"

"Well," Frodo considered, "I suppose we could get the landlord to pop it in a fishbowl for you, you know so it's still swimming. But it's much nicer fried…"

"We have arrived!" Landroval interrupted the culinary discussion as they flew over the very Cracks of Doom. "The hour has come for you, small perian, to reduce the Great Fortress of Barad-dûr to naught and rend asunder the malicious workings and evil deeds of the terrible Lord Sauron in all His might and dreadful splendour."

"Oh," said Frodo, "so I have to drop it now?" He carefully took the Ring from around his neck and laid It on his palm. "Now that I come to look at It, It seems so small and harmless, and beautiful, it seems a shame to destroy It."

"See!" Gollum gloated, "We told the hobbitses! We told thems. Masster can't do it! Oh no! He can't throw the Precious away!"

"Well I will in a second," Frodo began to stroke the piece of gold lovingly, "perhaps I'll just wear It again, just for a moment."

"Noooo!" Sam cried out in alarm, "you can't put It on! Remember the last time when you were trying rings on and got that big ruby one stuck? Took two bars of soap and half a pound of best butter to get it off!"

"Oh Sam," Frodo laughed, "don't fuss, I'll be careful this time."

"I think," Landroval was circling now and growing hotter by the minute, "that you should just throw It in now."

"If the nice Massster doesn't want to throw the Preciousss," Gollum's eyes had lit up and grown wide with excitement, "we can keep It for him! Gives It to usss my Precious!" And with that, Gollum flung himself on Frodo, bowling him over the side of the eagle and snatching at the Ring in his open hand with a triumphant cry of joy and pain.

0-0-0-0-0-0

The Dark Lord in his eyrie was in a black mood! Blacker and deeper than any he had faced before. Nothing was going right. His Lieutenant had failed to return. His palantír was stuck on repeat. His Armies were who knows where! And it was only the first day of His battle for Middle-earth!

Then suddenly! Across the void a clarion call came to his mind! It was seeking Him, crying out to Him in His darkness. At last It had found the way back to Him.

He reached out into the heart of His domain, to the very edges of Orodruin and the Cracks of Doom. It was there in the place It was forged! Waiting for Him, Its true and only Master, to claim It!

0-0-0-0-0-0

Frodo clung to Gollum's hand resolutely as he dangled under Landroval and over the fiery river of the volcano below. "Get me up!" He demanded loudly and insistently.

"Yesss Masster!" Sméagol had really not wanted to kill Frodo, especially after he had invited him for lunch and everything. He just got a little over excited when he saw his Precious after all this time.

"Coming Mr Frodo," Sam reached down and grabbed the seat of Frodo's britches and hauled with all his strength.

Sam's added weight put the whole operation off balance and Frodo shot up on to Landroval's back much faster than anyone was anticipating, especially Gollum. The creature was jerked violently backwards and slid off the other side of the eagle, albeit, still clutching frantically to the Ring in Frodo's hand.

"Oops! Sorry!" Sam leaned over and made another grab, this time for Gollum. "Come on up you daft 'a'porth!" As he pulled the wriggling creature up by his arm, Frodo, who was still carrying on the tug-of-war with the Ring, slipped backwards again.

Once more Sam pulled Frodo up, this time keeping a firm grip on Gollum. As the two faced each other across the back of the eagle, the Ring pressed into their clutched palms, Landroval's voice came wafting up and it did not sound happy. "If you do not drop that accursed Thing into the furnace at once, I shall dump you all in there and be done with it!"

At that moment a terrible shriek rang out across the Plateau of Gorgoroth. Great winged shapes were bearing down upon the lone eagle and his burden and the three small creatures cringed from the sound, as a bolt of dread and pain shot through their hearts.

"Mr Frodo, please," Sam whispered fearfully, "you have to let It go."

"I will if he will," Frodo glared at Gollum.

Sam was about to entreat the gangling creature to have mercy upon them all and let Frodo dispose of his burden, when another terrifying cry rent the molten gas plumed air. "Oh for Pity's sake!" Sam momentarily closed his eyes and muttered a quick prayer for forgiveness to whoever had the power to grant such things, then grabbed his Master and the creature by the necks and banged their heads together. He then prised their fists apart to reveal the One Ring, lying glinting in the red glow of the raging furnace and, with a flick of his finger, sent It flying into the river of lava below.

"Let's go!" he shouted to Landroval and before the Nazgûl could know their doom laden fate, before the towers fell and mountains slid, walls crumbled and melted, crashing down. Before any of that could happen, Landroval was out of there!

0-0-0-0-0-0

"I think we are almost finished," Gandalf shaded his eyes against the sun as he watched the distant speck grow into Landroval. Gwaihir and company had flown close enough to observe Mordor, whilst maintaining a safe height. The Wizard chuckled happily, "made quite a stir though, did it not?"

"I'll say!" Merry's eyes shone with excitement, "that was brilliant! Even better than your fireworks Gandalf!"

"Especially the bit when the mountain exploded and the tower fell over," Pippin joined in enthusiastically. "Kaboom! Just like that. Must've made an awful mess of the people inside, bet there was blood and guts and grizzle and gore all over the place!"

"I should not think that Tower had too many dwarves or elves or suchlike in there," Gimli pointed out. "Probably was mostly just full of orcs."

"Yes," Legolas agreed, "thousands of orcs I shouldn't wonder."

"Gosh!" Pippin frowned, "I'm glad I didn't live there – not with all those baths."

Gandalf was, for once, intrigued to know what Pippin was talking about and was just going to ask him when Frodo and party arrived. "Gollum! Well I hardly expected to see you here. I take it you managed Frodo?"

"Oh yes," the hobbit replied airily, "it was a breeze really."

"Very nice," Gollum muttered, "talks about throwing my precious away, just like that! Just a breeze! A walk in the park. A stroll round the mountain! Huh! Very nice my precious, very nice!"

"Oh shut up," Sam elbowed Sméagol in the ribs, "you weren't much help, trying to talk him out of it and grab It for yourself at the same time. I should have just let you fall in and be fried with It! Oh excepting you don't like fried things – do you!"

"Um well," Gandalf looked thoughtfully at the gangling creature, "I had thought that was the plan… Oh never mind, all's well that ends better."

"That's what my Gaffer alus…"

"Look never mind about your Gaffer, Sam," Merry interrupted, "could we get on, only we're going to miss tea at this rate."

"Yes, I agree," said Gandalf, surprisingly supporting Merry, "we just have to pop over to Minas Tirith to drop Aragorn off to be King and then we'll be off home."

"Actually," Aragorn looked abashed, "there's no need for everyone to come with me. That is, I'm quite capable of telling them myself." He waited a beat, but no one spoke, "Gandalf, it might be good if you came, then you could explain about the prophecies and so forth."

"Fine," Frodo decided, "If Landroval and his friends are happy to take us, we could go on ahead and get the kettle on, and we'll see you later."

"This is an acceptable arrangement," Gwaihir, being the Lord of all the Wind Lords, spoke for them all, "I trust there will be an adequate supply of seedcake."

"I'll get right on that Sir," Sam doffed his imaginary cap, having lost his hat for wringing during earlier aerobatics. "Stinker here… I mean Slinker here…"

"Sam!" Frodo's voice had that note of caution his servant hated.

"…I mean Sméagol here, can give me a hand."

"Makes the cakesies? Sméagol?" The creature looked incredulous, "with eggsies and flowers and fish and things?"

"Well I'm not sure about the fish," Sam grimaced and screwed up his nose.

"This sounds like an excellent recipe for cake," Landroval commented, "eagles do not make good cake, but we enjoy it when offered."

"Right! Sam gritted his teeth, "so that's half a dozen seedcakes and a couple of fish cakes. I'll do my best."

0-0-0-0-0-0

It had not taken too long to get back. The wind was in the right direction, which was odd, as it seldom blew from east to west, and the velocity was well within eagle cruising parameters.

Frodo sat in the main comfy chair, knowing he would probably relinquish it to Gandalf as soon as he arrived. After all he was the host and would stick to his duty, however painful. He flicked through some messages that had accumulated during his day out.

There was one from his estate agent. Someone named Sharky had put in an offer for Bag-end and the agent seemed to think he wouldn't do better.

"I'll have to see him in the morning," Frodo muttered to himself, "let him know I've taken it off the market for good."

Frodo immediately recognised the flamboyant script and red seal on the next letter. A long rambling missive from Bilbo, telling his nephew that he was thinking of taking a long sea voyage before retiring permanently and did Frodo fancy coming with him.

"Hmm," Frodo mused to himself, "I'll have to think about that one." On the one hand, the idea of getting away from it all sounded good, but what would he do with Bag End? He really did not like the idea of some stranger living there. Maybe he'd just leave it to Sam, perhaps once he'd asked that young Farmer's daughter Rose to marry him – yes, that would work.

The eagles, Landroval, Coedwigwr and Gorawen sat expectantly perched on the roof of Bag End. Even Frodo's best parlour would not accommodate their wing spans.

Merry and Pippin were actually making themselves useful by laying the table. In deference to the eagles, Frodo had decreed a picnic. The evening was still warm and the cousins set out cups and plates on a long bench table and even used doilies on the cake stands. Sam was up to his arms in flour and fat, baking for all he was worth.

He had had a little trouble to start with as Frodo had neglected to bank the fire before going out and, after he relit it, Gollum had doused it again in fear of it being seen. Sam pointed out that it no longer mattered.

"So Sméagol puts the eggsies in the cakesies?" Gollum asked for the tenth time.

"Yes, yes," Sam explained again, "only you need to break the shells first. Aggghhhh! No you throw the shells away, don't put them in the basin!"

"Sméagol not going to learn the nasty hobbit cooking!" The creature sulked and skulked into the corner, "It's too higgledy-piggledy for Sméagol."

"Come on," Sam encouraged, "you need to learn something else to do with yourself now you haven't got Rings to chase all over the place. You could do with a hobby and with a bit of fattening up."

He was interrupted by a cry from the garden. "Sam! They're here, Gandalf's here! Is the tea made? How are the cakes doing?"

Sam rushed into the garden, wiping his hands and arms on his apron as he went. Gollum slunk after him. "There're sandwiches to start and bread and jam and honey." Sam nodded to the well-appointed board and took Gandalf's staff. "Please help yourselves, Mr Frodo will be out directly. I'll fetch the crumpets and the tea."

"Wine for me please," Legolas called.

"I'll have coffee," Gandalf sat at the head of the table and helped himself to a cheese and tomato sandwich.

Legolas and Gimli seated themselves next to Merry and Pippin, who needed no such invitation. The eagles flew down and perched upon the bench, eyeing the bread and butter suspiciously.

Frodo joined them and took the far end of the table. "So?" He looked enquiringly at Gandalf, "How did Aragorn get on? Oh and where is he?"

"Well," began Gandalf with the air of someone settling in to tell a long story, "We arrived in Minas Tirith in the middle of a party. It seems that Denethor has had enough of being Steward and wants to spend more time with his sons. He had a nasty shock when he dreamt Boromir was dead and so has decided to retire."

"And Aragorn?" Merry asked, "does he get to be the King?"

"Well yes," Gandalf said between mouthfuls of sandwich. "Seems there's a vacancy now. Boromir doesn't want the job, far too busy repelling invaders and such."

"But I thought the war was over?" Frodo frowned. "Wasn't that why I took the Ring?"

"Oh yes," Gandalf agreed, "I think it's all in his mind. He just likes playing soldiers if the truth were told. Anyway, Denethor doesn't think Faramir is up to the job, so Aragorn turned up at just the right time."

"So he's King now?" Pippin asked, "with a crown and everything?"

"No," Gandalf said, "not yet. There were a few conditions."

"Really?" Legolas raised his eyebrows, "I thought being the heir of Isildur was the only qualification."

"Apparently," Gandalf finished the sandwiches and started on the crumpets, "he has to be married. So," he bit into the buttery honeycombed side without getting a jot of jam on his beard, "he already had a sort of arrangement with Elrond's daughter, Arwen and she's on her way down. In fact Meneldor has kindly taken her."

"Oh," Frodo looked around, "I wondered where he had got to. Sam we must save him some seedcake."

"The Coronation is next week," Gandalf continued, "after which Denethor intends to go and spend some time with his old friend King Théoden in Rohan."

"That sounds nice," Frodo poured more tea for the wizard, forgetting he had coffee in his cup. "Have they known each other long?"

"Well Théoden grew up in Minas Tirith, so I suppose so." Gandalf surreptitiously poured the tea/coffee away and beckoned Sam to fetch him another cup. "I understand that Denethor is going to speak to him about the value of children and intends to persuade him to retire and hand over to his son Théodred, or perhaps his nephew Éomer."

"Is Boromir going with him?" Merry asked. He had been quite impressed with the tall handsome warrior and was interested to know his fate.

"No," Gandalf explained, "he's too busy guarding things and planning to guard things. But he is taking his other son, Faramir. Apparently Théoden has a very attractive niece, Éowyn, and Denethor thinks she and Faramir might get along."

"So that's all the loose ends tied up pretty much!" Sam had been busy serving during most of the explanations and now sat himself down with a fresh brewed cup of tea, leaving Sméagol to pass the fish cake around to the eagles. "Unless there's anything else we need to do?"

"No," Gandalf considered for a moment, "I think that's it. Oh, except Aragorn and Denethor both said to say, thank you to Sam and Frodo for saving Middle-earth and Meriadoc, your knighthood is in the post for killing the Witch-King."

"What about me?" Pippin cried, "I helped!"

"Hmm, well the records just say Merry," Gandalf was checking a long parchment he had pulled from his robes, "and killing a Witch-king equals a dubbing,"

"Well I'm going to kill something all on my own next time." Pippin said with a sulk. "And it's going to be something really big, like a troll or something."

"You mind it don't fall on you," Gimli warned, "I'm not pulling you out if it does."

As the sun grew red and big and began to sink to the horizon, Gandalf looked at Frodo's watch and tutted. "Well I really must be off." He turned to Gimli and Legolas, "Are you two coming or staying here?"

"We're going to Ithilien for a bit," Legolas said, "I couldn't see it very well, but Gimli said it looked the sort of place I might like."

"Yes," Gimli added, "then we're going to see some caves I spotted – sort of glittery and shiny. I'm hoping to find some good glass-making materials so I can make the elf a new pair of spectacles. I may even run to contact lenses."

"That would be nice," Legolas smiled at his new friend. "And perhaps if you shave your beard off and stoop down a bit, you might even pass for an elf."

"Hmm," Gimli considered this, "worth a try."

"But you are all coming to the Coronation?" Gandalf shook the crumbs out of his robes and smoothed them back into place. "If the eagles don't mind doing the honours."

"It would be our pleasure," Gwaihir winked at Sméagol, "If the gangly creature promises to bring more fishcake."

"So Frodo," Gandalf swigged the remains of his coffee and stood up, "Did you enjoy your day out?"

"Yes, thank you so much," Frodo tried to suppress a yawn; he'd had a long day. "It was very exciting!"

The End (nearly)

Epilogue

Several days later Peregrin Took met with Fatty Bolger and persuaded him to swap back all his prize marbles in exchange for one really big marble. Fatty had been very impressed with the sheer enormity of the thing and took it home wrapped in the thick material Pippin had carried it in to save it from getting scratched or, heaven forbid, damaged or, as Merry had pointed out, leaving fingerprints as evidence.

Fatty squirreled it away in his room where his prying sister and mother would not find it and there he removed the cloth and ran his hands over the smooth, satisfying glass orb and gazed into its swirling depths. As he lay in bed at night, it sang to him.

At first Fredegar did not mind the singing, but it was the same words, over and over, "Build me an army worthy of Mordor! Build me an army worthy of Mordor! Build me an army worthy of Mordor!" Over and over and over again.

Freddy found he slept less and less and listened more and more. The voice was insistent, compelling and now it followed him into his dreams and his nightmares. He began to lose weight and his hair started to grow thin.

People would comment behind his back about how ill and wan he was looking. Not hobbit-like at all, it was whispered. Even his mother had to agree. She tried to fatten her son up again, but he seemed to have lost all interest in her well stocked board.

He would wander around listlessly all day muttering to himself. And, if anyone had cared to listen, they would have heard him saying, "where shall I start? I don't know how armies are made? What do I have to do? Where's Mordor anyway?"

Eventually, one day in late September, Freddy ran away. All he took was his giant glass marble, some thick clothing and his father's bow and arrows.

The last news anyone heard about poor mad Freddy was that he was hiding up in the Brockenbores by the hills of Scary. There he was slowly gathering to him other slightly crazed or disaffected ruffians and ne'r-do-wells and his band of rebels was growing day by day.

Freddy, alone in his tiny den at night, would whisper lovingly to the orb, "It's coming, I promise, I am doing it. I am building you an army worthy of Mordor!"

0+0+0+0+0 Really The End 0+0+0+0+0

Marigold: My favourite bit of this chapter, as you know, is this:
"I thought you were enjoying yourselves," Aragorn said patiently, "you liked the dead people – now didn't you?"
"Yes," Pippin conceded, "but they didn't do much. I mean, you just released them from their oath and then they all ran away!"
Llinos: Well great minds and all that! Actually, I sympathise with Pip here, fancy having dead people that don't do anything!

Althea: Merry and Pippin's squabbling and I Spy game were hilarious, especially since I've recently been enclosed in a car on a long journey with two youngsters very much like them.
Llinos: And you're still laughing about it! You must have greater fortitude than Aragorn and co! Seriously!

ladyAlyafaelyn: Yes, I concede- I am American. But the Brits totally rock! I mean, seriously! They had the Beatles, the Pythons, Princess Di- what's not to like?
Llinos: And Fae, how could you forget Sean Bean, Dom Monaghan, Billy Boyd, Sir Ian McKellan, and… ahem… Professor Tolkien!

Grey Wonderer: Oh, and you took one of my potential prize answers away when you mentioned Tom Bombadil! Now I have to start thinking all over again.
Llinos: Good, keep thinking, you may just win for effort if nothing else! Although I'm sure there must be many gaping holes that you can push me down.

Anso the Hobbit: A contest, eh? I shall have to look that up.
Llinos: Yes, quick run… you have to enter! The prizes are amazing, well they're not – but run anyway!

Sam: Lol, that I Spy game sounds like something my sister and I would do to purposely annoy Mom...and just think, when we get yelled at, we can always blame you :)
Llinos: Steady now Sam, I wouldn't want to cross your Mum! Although she'd have to come a long way to catch me – still? Erm, she doesn't know any eagles, does she?

shirebound: Merry and Pippin are just like two kids in the back of an auto, trying to keep themselves entertained and driving their parents mad.

Llinos: Yes but I'd swap them for my kids any day. (NB I should add that my kids are now v. grown up and don't play I-Spy any more!)

slightlytookish: I never played "I Spy" as a child but I remember singing with my friends "99 Bottles of Beer" and "The Song That Doesn't End" especially to torture other people
Llinos: Usually "I-Spy with my little eye" is quite a respectable game. I don't know if it's played in the US and Marigold wasn't sure, except she didn't know it. However, this version was invented by my daughter and I joined in to annoy people. She was little but I was big, so had no excuse

To everyone:

Thanks everso for all your kind reviews and if you have enjoyed this story, please enter the competition which will be reannounced on my lj (llinos – feel free to friend me) in the course of this weekend.