Yet another short story. About Frodo. Yay.

It was gone. That terrible burden he had carried all these days, weeks, months. This lifetime, it seemed.

Elation, giddiness, happiness unlike any other he had ever experienced coursed thought him. He could only sit, on that narrow outcropping, sit and stare at the hot lava encircling him.

'The Shire', he thought.

The lovely, happy, calm Shire. With Merry and Pippin stealing carrots and potatoes from Farmer Maggot. Old Gaffer teaching Sam the ways of the garden. Himself sitting in those lush, green fields, gazing out and loving, so passionately, all in sight.

What was it all for, if not for the Shire. Why had he traveled the world, twice over it seemed, stumbled through the plains of Mordor, and climbed Mt. Doom, if not to preserve the wonder that was the Shire.

Fate was so wonderfully cruel.

To live, to live through the destruction of the Ring, the destruction of the Eye, of Sauron. Only to die here, on a rock jutting out of the slopes of Mt. Doom, surrounded my molten rock. Unable to leave. Unable to go back, back to the Shire.

He lay back, his head resting against the uneven surface of the rock, and stared at the sky. It was dark, a darkness with no stars to shatter its infinity. No, that was not true. A small star was beginning to make its way through the vast gloom. He watched its struggle, its battle to shine through the obscurity. As he felt his consciousness slide away, he watched that lone bright light, fighting for existence in the land where shadows and darkness reigned. Watched it fight, and win.

Was that a screech he heard, just before he fell into a blissful void of nothingness?

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