DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything affiliated with Lord of the Rings. Anything copyrighted is owned by its respected company/owner.



Frodo ran as he had never run before.

The Ringwraiths were after him.

The Ringwraiths- so close he could almost feel their breath on his neck- did Ringwraiths breathe? Strider said that they were not dead, and yet not alive- they lived a cursed half-life, always lusting for the Ring.

Frodo risked a glace behind him and instantly regretted it- the dark shape of his evil pursuer loomed ever closer. Soon it would be inevitable- he would have to turn and fight.

Frodo brandished his blade quickly, eyes narrowed, ready for battle. He let out a sudden yell, a scourge bursting through him- he must protect the Ring! The thought coursed through his mind, consuming him. Sweat stung his eyes as he lashed out again and again with his sword, intent on his opponent, determined to win the fight. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. Frodo fervently wondered whether this was an effect of his own mind, or The Ring upon his finger.

He thrust out again with his blade, this time striking home, leaving a gash in the Ringwraith's cloak. The dark creature did not stop, or stumble, or even seem to take notice of his wound; he only lunged forward again, bearing down on Frodo, as if the wound did not hurt him, only anger him, and make him all the more determined to defeat his opponent.

The Ringwraith delivered a cruel, harsh blow, which would have proven disastrous had Frodo not anticipated the move just in time, barely parrying it. This seemed to anger the Ringwraith even more- he lunged again, seemingly determined to strike the hobbit if it was the last thing he ever did. He swung his blade-

A white-hot pain coursed through Frodo's shoulder. He cried out in anguish, making desperate slashes with his blade. Never had he felt such pain in his life.

"The Ring," he thought dimly. "I must take off the Ring. No one will find me- I am invisible. I must take off the Ring."

With considerable effort, he brought his left hand to his right, slowly drawing the Ring off of his finger. It did not even occur to him that the Ringwraith had stopped his advance, just when it seemed he could deliver a killing blow to his opponent. Perhaps this was because he believed that he already had.

Frodo, the Ring off of his finger, collapsed to the ground.

***

Slowly, slowly, Frodo was regaining consciousness. He was first aware of the cold, horrible pain coursing through his side and shoulder, so intense that he could barely stand it. Then, he became aware of his body- his legs, straight out on the ground, his eyes, closed, his chest, gently rising and falling. Then his senses returned- hearing, smell, feel. He could hear the sounds of muttering voices, and the smell of damp earth. He forced his eyes open, groaning as he did so.

"Shh!" A voice said. "I think he may be awake!"

"Mr. Frodo?" a familiar voice asked. "Are you awake, sir?"

It was Sam, his faithful servant.

Frodo tried to reply, but his voice would make no sound. Clearing his throat, he tried again.

"Y-yes," he managed this time. He swallowed, moistening his vocal chords. Then, "What happened?"

"You were injured," a voice said. Merry this time. "We don't know how bad-"

"It doesn't look so bad," another voice piped up. Pippin. "It's only a little wound-"

Before anyone could say or do anything, Pippin leaned over close to Frodo, pulling back his shirt a bit to expose the wound.

"See…" he started to say.

Frodo never heard him.

Before he could think of anything, a cry escaped his lips, and Frodo gasped, eyes wide.

"Pippin!" Merry cried, grabbing his cousin by the collar and pulling him back.

"I…I'm sorry Frodo…" Pippin stammered. "I didn't know…"

"Well, you shouldn't have, anyways!" Merry admonished. "Are you all right, Frodo?"

"I…I'm all right." Frodo forced himself to say.

He closed his eyes, trying to relax. His shoulder throbbed.

"Where has that Strider got off to now?" he heard Sam say.

"I don't know," Merry replied. "He went to look for something or other- I don't know what."

"When will he be back?" Samwise demanded.

"No telling with him," said Merry. "Could be in five minutes; could be in three hours. Who knows?"

"Not me, but I wish he'd get back," said Sam.

"I thought you didn't trust him," Merry said.

"I don't," said Sam. "I mean, rather, I didn't. Well…I'm just not sure about him. But I'm beginning to trust him- Frodo was on the ground, unconscious, and he could have done anything to him then, kill him, or take the Ring- but he didn't. Instead, he carried him here. I think we can trust him- but I still want to be cautious. In the meantime, there must be something that can be done for Frodo."

Throughout this conversation, Pippin remained silent. He was feeling terribly guilty. While Merry and Sam were still talking, he leaned close to Frodo.

"I really am sorry, Frodo," he whispered. "I didn't mean to hurt you."

"It's all right, Pip," Frodo said, forcing his eyes open to look at his younger cousin.

"I know, but…but…I just feel so bad about it. I shouldn't have- and I'm worried, Frodo. It does only look like a little wound, but…but…it seems to hurt you so…and you were unconscious for so long…I don't understand it."

Before Frodo could reply, Merry came over to them, admonishing Pippin again.

"Are you over there bothering Frodo again, Peregrin Took?" he demanded. "Come over here, and make yourself useful! Boil some water; we're going to try and clean the wound."

Pippin looked guilty again. He glanced at Frodo apologetically. Frodo cracked a slight smile.

"It's all right, Pip," he said softly. "Go and do as Merry tells you; it'll be ok."

Pippin smiled and headed over to where Merry stood, hands on hips.

Sam slipped over next to Frodo.

"How do you feel, Mr. Frodo?" he asked.

"My shoulder hurts," Frodo admitted. "And I feel so cold…"

Sam slipped his cloak down his shoulders, taking it off and tucking it around Frodo, carefully avoiding his wound.

"I don't understand it," Frodo whispered weakly. "It's just as Pippin said- it looks like so small a wound- why-"

"Hush, Mr. Frodo, you mustn't be exerting yourself none, now," said Sam gently. "You should rest."

Frodo sighed deeply, albeit weakly, wincing a little as his shoulder flared up in protest as he tried to shift positions.

He was just drifting into an uneasy sleep when he heard Pippin exclaim "Strider!" suddenly.

Forcing his eyes open again, he faintly saw the shadow of Aragorn striding into the camp. Sam stood up, drawing his sward and standing over Frodo protectively.

"I am not a Black Rider, Sam, nor in a league with them," Strider said, kneeling next to Frodo.

Merry crept up next to Sam.

"I thought you trusted him now," He whispered, so that only Sam could hear.

Sam shrugged slightly, never taking his eyes off of Frodo and Aragorn.

"I don't know," he whispered back. "I just don't know."

Strider was drawing long, green leaves from a pouch on his belt.

"I have walked far and long to find these," he said. "They are of a rare plant, with special healing powers. I am lucky to have found them. But on a wound such as this, their effects may be small."

"A 'wound such as this'?" Pippin repeated. "What kind of wound is it?"

Strider sighed.

"It is the wound of a mongul blade," said Strider somberly.

"A what?"

"It is a deadly blade, carried by the Ringwraiths," Aragorn explained. "An evil knife. But no more about it now. We must do what we can for Frodo, and get him to Rivendell as soon as possible."

He stood then, going over to the fire and dropping some of the leaves into the water boiling there. Then he took the pot suspended over the flame off of it's handle and brought it over next to Frodo, pulling a clean scrap of cloth from his cloak.

"Here, Sam," he said, handing both items to the hobbit. "Take these, and bathe the wound well. I must go now and see if I can find anything else."

"Anything else?" Pippin repeated. "Meaning you have found something?"

"I have, indeed," said Strider, pulling something from his belt.

It was the hilt of a sward, with no blade.

"The blade has melted," Aragorn said, before anyone could even draw the breath to ask. "But I fear that before it did, part of it broke off into the wound, and is now working inwards. If that is so, we do not have much time."

He then strode off, saying no more.



More will be added to this story soon! That is, if anyone is interested in hearing more- this is my first LOTR fanfic, so please review!