Birds of a Feather

Chapter One: The One Ring

"What are you waiting for, Mr. Frodo? Destroy it!"

He didn't understand. It called to him. How could he destroy something that could protect him? Something that had never done him any harm…

He clutched the chain. No, it was all a trick. He had seen what it did to Smeagol. He didn't want to become that way, his mind lost. What had the last year been for but to destroy this evil? How many people had died so that he, a hobbit from the Shire, could stand on this cliff and plunge the Ring into the fires from whence it came? How many people counted on him?

Slowly, he turned to face his companion. "No, Sam," he said quietly. It was a miracle the other hobbit was able to hear him over the roar of the lava river far below them and the cries and shrieks of the thousands of orcs surrounding Mordor. "The Ring is mine."

"What are you saying?" Sam looked at him in disbelief, getting a sinking feeling that made him feel sick. He had to swallow a few times before he could finally say, "It's the Ring talking. Destroy it!"

Frodo didn't seem to hear him. He undid the chain and slowly, gingerly, removed the ring from it. He held it out, his eyes wide as he regarded its golden splendor, the beauty. Slowly, almost reverently, he moved to put the ring on.

"No, Mr. Frodo, don't!" Sam cried but it was too late. Frodo slipped the ring on and immediately disappeared, just as Bilbo Baggins had done at his birthday party, the night all of this had begun. He looked to the ground, trying to see if he could see Frodo's footsteps in the ash. He finally saw movement, and went to move forward, but was suddenly knocked onto his hands and knees by a force from behind.

He looked up to see Gollum leaping over his head from his back and onto the invisible Frodo. The hobbit yelled, wrestling with the creature as Sam watched in horror. He was afraid to intervene because he might cause Frodo to fall over the side of the cliff face, but at the same time if he didn't intervene Gollum may cause them both to fall over anyway, or get the ring and get away.

Sam struggled to his feet and moved forward just as Gollum clamped down on Frodo with his teeth. In a manner of seconds, Frodo was visible again and on the ground, clutching a profusely bleeding hand. Gollum spit out half of a finger, of Frodo's finger, and held up the ring.

"My preciouss…you're mine! Mine!" he yelled and began to dance with glee.

Frodo grit his teeth against the pain and rolled onto his stomach. He pushed himself up onto his knees and stood slowly. Gollum didn't notice as he began to slowly advance on the grotesque creature. When he got close enough, he grabbed Gollum's wrists and they once again began to wrestle for the ring.

Sam watched, his heart pounding against his ribs. Frodo was going to die for that ring.

But he was wrong. With a great shove Gollum went over the side of the cliff, and with a horrid scream began to fall, but not before he got a grip on Frodo's shirt. He pulled him over the side as well.

Sam was vaguely aware of his scream as he ran forward; reaching out as though he could somehow catch Frodo. When he reached the side his breath hitched in his throat. Frodo had caught the cliff face and was hanging there over the fires, but still alive. Sam watched with disgust and revulsion as Gollum melted into the lava, but he didn't have time to watch. He dropped to his knees and reached his hand out to Frodo.

"Grab my hand, Mr. Frodo!" he called, stretching his short arm as far as it could go and beyond. Frodo went to grab at his hand but the blood on it made his grasp slippery and he lost hold.

"Leave, Sam!" Frodo yelled. He'd done what he was meant to do. He could just die now, in peace.

"No, grab my hand!" Sam cried out earnestly, desperate to save his friend.

Frodo considered for a few moments and finally grabbed a hold of his hand.

As he did, Sam pulled hard and soon Frodo was back on solid ground. Just as they turned to look over the cliff a bright flash of light erupted from the chasm. They heard a loud, ringing sound so shrill it hurt their ears.

With cries of surprise that they couldn't hear over the din they began to feel themselves lifted into the air. Then everything went quiet. It was so quiet that it seemed to press in all around them. All they could see was white. No shadows, nothing but white but they were sure their eyes were open. Had they died anyway? Had Mordor been destroyed along with the ring?

They were lifted higher and suddenly they heard sounds again. Birds crying, the sound of sluggishly flowing water, the squelch of mud…then they were dropped and everything went black.

x x x

Frodo was the first to awake. He slowly opened his eyes, expecting a bright flash of light, but it was late in the day and the sky was cloudy. He slowly pushed himself up onto his hands and knees, his muscles aching. He must have hit the ground pretty hard. He sat back on his haunches and looked around.

He was in a swamp. In all directions he could only see an eerie fog that blanketed the ground. There were no animals, no wind whistling through the trees; the air was still and stagnant.

He looked to his left to see Sam lying face down in a shallow pool of muddy water. Alarmed, he scrambled over to him and immediately rolled him over, pulling him onto dry land.

"Sam! Sam!" he cried, shaking the hobbit, but he received no response.

"He must have swallowed too much water," Frodo thought and immediately began vigorously pumping his chest. After some time Sam began to cough and sputter. He made to roll over but couldn't quite get himself up, so Frodo took his arm and adjacent shoulder and helped him. He turned his head away as his companion dispensed of the swamp water and chunks of algae that had been in his body.

Once his heaving subsided, Sam was able to sit up on his own. He was slightly out of breath and pale, shivering from the cold. After a few moments of recovering, he said, "Thank you, Mr. Frodo. I could have drowned."

"I'm glad that you didn't." He was relieved. Now that one crisis was averted, the next could be addressed. "Do you remember what happened, Sam?"

The hobbit looked thoughtful for some time. He chewed on his lower lip as he racked his brain for the memory. "You and Gollum were fighting over the Ring…and he fell over the side."

"With the Ring?" Frodo asked, feeling a painful, longing pang in his stomach. He tried to ignore it.

Sam only nodded. "You almost fell in, too, Mr. Frodo."

"But you saved me." Frodo's memory was coming back to him now. He had been fighting Gollum for possession of the Ring when he should have already destroyed it. "It seems that we've been transported somewhere…"

"Do you believe the others came as well?" Sam asked, looking hopeful.

"I couldn't say," Frodo said doubtfully. After all, they had been the only ones there when it happened. Frodo may have actually been the only one intended to go, but because Sam had been clutching his wrist he was brought along as well.

A silence fell over the companions. Sam observed their surroundings, and didn't like what he saw. The swamp felt dangerous, cold, and unlimited. Goosebumps rose up on his arms and he rubbed at them to no avail.

"Sitting here won't do us any good," Frodo finally said. He stood and brushed himself off.

Sam did the same, taking another quick glance around. "But where do we go?"

"That's a good question."

They began to walk through the swamp, heading towards higher ground so that they could see more of the area, and hopefully decide what to do from there.

x x x

"This swamp is a helpless maze," Gimli complained. "We'll turn to dust before we get out of here."

"Have faith, my dwarven friend," Gandalf said calmly. Of all of them he was the calmest. He suspected what happened to them had something to do with magic or the Ring; possibly both. The others had had less experience with the before mentioned.

"I must agree with Gimli," Legolas commented warily. "Even my senses seem to have lost their tact here."

Gimli smirked behind his bushy red beard. "What's the matter, elf? No squirrels or tree frogs to chat with?"

Legolas chose to ignore his comment.

"Do you think Frodo is here too?" Pippin asked, looking up at Gandalf. Way up.

"And Sam?" Merry added hopefully.

Gandalf was about to answer when he noticed tracks ahead of them, the first they had seen. Upon further inspection he found them to be human-like in appearance, but large, like a hobbit's feet. "I would wager they are."

Aragorn took the lead now, carefully following the tracks so as not to ruin them or lose them. The rest of the party followed the ranger at a distance. Aragorn deftly climbed to the top of a cliff-like hill where he stopped and simply stared down at the ground before him.

"What is it?" Legolas asked as the rest reached him.

They looked to ground where he pointed. The foot prints had turned to skid marks, and a third pair of tracks had appeared, these small and shoed then giving way to sharp holes punched into the ground as if made by a sharp spear being stabbed into the ground over and over again.

"They were dragged," Aragorn stated. He lifted his head to look in the same direction. "Smoke!"

True enough, a thin wisp of smoke curled into the air, its location beyond the next hill. It was hard to distinguish it from the immobile fog, but it was certainly there.

"They've been kidnapped!" Merry exclaimed in alarm.

"We must advance with care," Gandalf warned.

He received silent agreements. Resting a hand on Merry's shoulder for reassurance, he and the rest of the party continued forth.

x x x

Sam sniffled next to Frodo, and he found himself wishing he wouldn't show fear in front of this woman. Though, he couldn't blame him; he feared her as well.

At first glance she seemed to be nothing more than an old woman, but Frodo had felt something from her…something that put him on edge and made the hair on the back of his neck stand up; something evil.

His intuition had been proved correct when she turned into a large black widow spider. He and Sam had tried to run but were caught up by the spider's fangs and dragged away. Even now Frodo could feel the blood dripping down his back and a hot, burning sensation creeping through his veins; a not unfamiliar experience that brought back unfortunate and painful memories of Ring Wraiths.

The two hobbits were tied to a post outside a small, worn down shack. The witch had disappeared inside and Sam had then voiced his fears of being eaten alive. In front of them a large fire with a black cauldron, large enough to fit a hobbit or two, was filled with water and beginning to boil. It certainly did look like they were going to be eaten. But that was too horrible…Then again, she had turned into a spider.

If only she hadn't taken Sting! He was helpless to do anything but glower while she stripped them of all but their clothes and then took their things into her home. They restlessly awaited her return, shifting and straining against their rope bonds.

The sun was beginning to set when she did emerge. She checked the fire and stirred whatever was in the cauldron before turning to the hobbits. Her expression revealed nothing of her thoughts as she regarded them, the tips of her fingers pressed together thoughtfully.

"What are you?" she asked, cocking her head ever so slightly.

"W-we're hobbits," Sam stuttered out and then swallowed.

"Hobbits?" The woman laughed loudly and mirthlessly. "What in Thedas are hobbits?"

"Thedas?" Frodo spoke up, temporarily forgetting his fear of the witch. "Where are we?"

She looked wickedly amused. "Do you not know where you are?"

Cautiously, the hobbits shook their heads.

"You're in Fereldan, an old country in Thedas," the woman explained, beginning to pace. She still seemed to be very amused and that worried the two friends. "But first you should take this potion for your bites." She reached into her old, tattered apron and pulled out a small vial filled with a vicious pink liquid. She walked over and forced half of the contents down each of the hobbits' throats and then stepped back. As she went to go back to the house she stopped, turning to look the other way. "Ah, it seems your friends are finally arriving."

"Our friends?" Sam asked, but before any more could be said they heard rustling behind them. The woman was now watching over them, back towards the swamp from whence they came.

Aragorn moved into the area slowly, his sword raised. Legolas and Gimli were not far behind, flanking him and keeping their eyes peeled for trouble. Gandalf was protecting the two hobbits, keeping them closely behind him.

The witch seemed to be getting impatient as she watched the intruders. She crossed her arms and pursed her lips. After a stare down lasting a few moments she sighed irritably and said, "Well, if you're going to crash the party, do it all the way."

Gandalf stepped forward now, raising a hand to signal peace. "Dear woman, we just came to see after our friends."

"I know." She looked at the hobbits, smiling fondly as if they were her new pets. Sam shivered. "I was just telling them where they are."

"If you would be so kind," Gandalf said, cautiously approaching, "we would be curious to know that as well."

"Tell your fools to put away their toys and I will," the old woman replied stiffly. She looked offended.

Gandalf turned to Aragorn to give him a pointed look. Reluctantly, he sheathed his sword and raised his hand to signal for Legolas and Gimli to do the same.

"As I was telling these…hobbits, you're in Thedas. A world I suspect to be much different from the one you are used to." She glared at Aragorn when he attempted to interrupt, and the continued, "The country is Fereldan. You'll find it in turmoil." She once again looked amused. "Creatures known as Darkspawn are sweeping across the land, killing and spreading their taint."

"Sounds like orcs," Frodo thought.

"I have seen that you will join this fight," she said. "I am Flemeth. I am a mage."

"A witch, then?" Gimli said with a snarl. "We shouldn't trust the rambling of an old witch."

"Oh, just an old witch, am I?" Flemeth snickered. "So be it. You'll soon find me to be right." She paced over to the fire, stirring the cauldron. "Soup?" she offered. No one accepted.

"How have we gotten here?" Gandalf asked, opting to be the reasonable one.

"I would say it was some old magic." She turned to the two hobbits still tied to the pole. "What happened to you prior to your arrival here?"

Frodo tried to look over at Gandalf, but he was too far back for him to see him. He turned back to Flemeth and swallowed. "I threw a ring into the fire. It was…"

"It was an evil ring," Sam finished for Frodo. "It was the only way to destroy it."

Flemeth smiled, her visage showing clearly that she knew. "Then it was this ring."

"This is ridiculous!" Gimli growled, stepping forward. He rounded on the witch. "You release those two hobbits and we won't kill you."

"Gimli," Aragorn warned calmly, though he didn't take his eyes from the witch. "We really should be on our way, however."

Flemeth responded by turning from the cauldron and walking into her hut. She returned with Frodo and Sam's things and untied the hobbits. "Very well, but I warn you. Heed my words." She looked straight at Gandalf, seeming to know he would be the sensible one. "Seek out the ones that call themselves Grey Wardens. Help them in their quest. In return, you will find that what you seek will also be achieved."

"One last question, dear lady," Gandalf said, trying to placate the woman. "How is that all of us, and no one else, were transported to this world?"

Flemeth shrugged. "You must have some kind of bond that this old ring recognized. I would have to know more of your world's old magic to say for sure."

"The Fellowship," Pippin and Merry whispered in unison. Gandalf nodded his agreement.

"A nutter, that one," Gimli muttered as the group left the area, following the way by a map the witch had provided.

"Are we to believe her words?" Aragorn asked, looking to Gandalf.

Gandalf considered for a moment, studying the map and then the surrounding area. "What more do we have to go on?" he said. The others found his words to be true, and the group continued on in silence. Their first task, at least, was to escape the swamp alive.

x x x

Author's Note: There you go, the first installment of my crossover between Lord of the Rings and Dragon Age. There will seem to be some dumbing down of the Lord of the Rings characters as Tolkien wrote much more eloquently than I or the writers for Dragon Age. Thedas also seems to be almost…innocent compared to Middle Earth. However, this isn't a completely serious fanfiction, mostly for fun. I hope you enjoy and please, leave no flames. They will just be a waste of your time. :D