The Lord of the Ring
Sam, hidden behind a cutting boulder, looked down upon the fires and desolation of Mordor. A shuffling sound behind him told him of the presence of his unlikely companion.
Initially, Sam had thought Gollum would betray him and kill him in his sleep, and so he had watched him with care, even when Gollum was too sick to even keep his eyes open. But then, the hobbit had lessened up on his suspicions. Gollum had nothing to gain by killing him. His goal was to recover the Ring, and Sam's Elven herbs were his only chance of staying alive until he could accomplish that goal.
Gollum had at first been appalled at the herbs' Elvish origins. When Sam first applied some of it on his stump, he had wailed so loudly that the gardener had been scared it had alerted all the Orcs of Mordor. He had made it clear to Gollum that if he so much as made another sound, their deal would be off. That had somehow cooled down the creature's loud outspoken disgust at the feeling of the herbs on his wound.
They had walked for three days before reaching the hidden stairs of Minas Morgul. After climbing the last step, Sam's relief at not having fallen to his death was short-lived when he smelled the pungent odors coming from the tunnel they were supposed to cross.
After much questioning and threatening, Sam finally got Gollum to tell him of the nature of the monster living in the tunnels. "A giant spider, just my luck!" Sam had thought to himself. However, Gollum also volunteered a piece of information concerning the spider's weak spot: "It's under her bellisses, yess my Precious…"
With Gollum's guidance, Sam had hoped to cross the tunnels without encountering the spider. However, as of late, Gollum could not seem to stop the low whine that was always seeping through his throat. His stump wasn't healing very nicely, and he would often stop and lick at it with a bitter face like a wounded animal. And all the while, he would whine in a hissing tone that was about to render Sam insane.
It was one of those cries that attracted Shelob's attention on them as they navigated through the thick cobwebs of her lair. Sam and Gollum managed, however, to escape to an open space. To this day, Sam still did not know how he had survived the one-on-one fight with the spider that had ensued.
His mind had simply gone blank as he dodged her poisonous sting over and over again, while at the same time trying to fight her off with his short sword.
Gollum hadn't been of much help, hiding behind a rock and whimpering in fear with his head under his arms. But then, Sam had managed to slash his sword into her belly not once, but twice. As green liquid poured out of the mortal wound, Shelob had shuddered, and then had fallen immobile as her legs stiffened underneath her in death.
Sam had crawled out from under her belly, drenched in spider blood and still unable to believe he had just defeated such a creature.
He thought the spider would be the last hurdle standing between him and Mordor, but then he saw the Watch Tower filled with Orcs standing right outside her lair. Fortunately, Gollum told him he knew a secret way around the Tower so that they would not be seen from above.
Sam was relieved, but kept his guard up nonetheless.
And now, he and Gollum were finally laying eyes on the plains of Gorgoroth stretching into miles and miles of desolation down from their hiding place, to as far as the eye could see. Below them, dark Orc figures moved about, more than he could count. Among the Orcs also marched tall dark Men from the South, with their faces hidden behind their black scarves. Behind the Men, giant beasts stamped past ominously, their tusks illuminated by the fires of Mordor.
"Oliphants," Gollum spat out in distaste.
"Those poor beasts do not belong here," Sam muttered under his breath.
Gollum hissed softly behind him. Sam turned around, watching him carefully. "What are you displeased about? We've gotten so far already."
Gollum threw him a murderous look. "And this is as far as we will go… Gollum! Gollum! So many Orcses… " He lifted his head up to scan the skies. "And the winged beasts… the skies are too dark to see them… but they are up there. Up there!"
He started whimpering again as he rubbed his head with his only hand. Sam eyed his stump; there was still pus oozing from it. Either the Elven herbs were not working, or Gollum's body was simply rejecting them.
When he crossed Gollum's eyes again, he saw a glint in there that he did not like at all. Gollum caressed his infected arm and leaned in close to Sam. "Fat hobbit would not lie… would he? He promised he'd heal us if we led him into Mordor… and led him we did…!"
"Yes, you did," Sam admitted. "And I am never one to tell lies, not even to stinkers like you. These herbs are true healing herbs." He looked away and finished: "Just be patient."
Now that he was finally in Mordor, he needed to lose Gollum somehow if he could. Gollum would only become a threat and a hindrance if he ever really did find Mr. Frodo among all these enemies. And that was hoping that his Master was still alive.
Sam shook his head. Thinking too much was unlike him. He should just act, and hope for the best, and maybe some luck would be on his side.
The tower of Barad-Dur and Mount Doom stood as two looming figures at the end of the plain. His destination was the Tower.
He was about to slide out of his hiding place when he realized there was a flow to the Orcs' movements down below.
"They are all heading towards the Tower…" he whispered to himself.
In the distance, what seemed like giant birds were flying around and below the Eye of Sauron, screeching. Sam knew that those were no birds at all, but the Ringwraiths answering to the call of their Master.
"It looks like trouble is brewing," he muttered again before sliding down the slope.
He heard Gollum scrambling down after him, and eyed the rocks around him. What if he just smashed the creature's head? For some reason, he could not bring himself to do that. Sighing at his own foolishness, he started gliding from one rock to another, following after the Orcs and the Men marching towards the Tower.
He had been going quite a distance already and was thinking that some luck was finally on his side, when Gollum let out a piercing wail behind him. Scrambling into a ditch, he peered out and saw a Haradrim scout lifting Gollum up by the neck.
"What is this?" the warrior spoke harshly.
The earth trembled as an Oliphant stopped right beside the ditch where Sam was hiding. Sam eyed the wrinkles in the beast's leg in awe and horror.
"Repugnant creature," the Haradrim scrunched up his nose at the smell of infection coming from Gollum's stump. "Are you by yourself? Speak!"
Gollum wailed again when the point of a lance was pressed against his chest.
Gollum's globular eyes swept around the background and found those of Sam. Sam recoiled further inside the ditch. Seeing this, Gollum's eyes filled up with hatred, and opening his mouth wide, he screamed in direction of the gardener.
The Haradrim followed his gaze and saw Sam's face peeking back from the ditch. "There!"
A ladder was thrown down from the cage on top of the Oliphant's back as more warriors sauntered down. Sam climbed out of the ditch, his heart hammering in his chest, and started running around the Oliphant as his pursuers gave him chase.
He sneaked beneath the belly of the Oliphant as the Southrons bent down and tried to slash him with their lances. One of their strokes cut open the Oliphant's hind leg, and the latter recoiled brusquely with a cry of pain. The motion sent two warriors to the ground, as the third one jumped to move out of the way.
Sam dived away just in the time before one of the beast's legs could reduce him to a mound of jelly. Suddenly, he saw the ladder leading up onto the Oliphant's back flapping in front of his face, and without thinking, he grabbed it and started climbing.
The Southrons cursed as they seized the ladder and went after him. Sam kicked one in the face to send him flying back down. He climbed the last steps and was relieved to see that there was no one at the reins. Behind him, the Southrons have started climbing again. Sam unsheathed his short sword and started hacking away at the ropes of the ladder. A Southron was about to reach him when the ladder finally gave way, sending all his pursuers to the ground.
"Kill him, you idiots!" the Haradrim who was holding onto Gollum shouted.
A Southron put an arrow on his bow and shot it. Sam jumped into the cage as the arrow planted itself on the spot he was standing a second ago. More arrows flew up at him, one grazing his arm.
Another arrow planted itself on the Oliphant's neck. Letting out a wild cry, the beast stood up on its rear legs and charged away into the plains.
Sam screamed and almost bounced off the Oliphant's back had he not taken hold of the reins.
Behind him, the Southrons shouted as they gave chase, but the Oliphant soon left them in a cloud of dust. Looking ahead, Sam saw the lines of Orcs scattering away noisily as his mount charged through their ranks.
Sam pulled on the left rein as hard as he could with both hands and with his body weight, screaming: "Go left! Left!"
Finally, the Oliphant's head deviated left, heading towards the black tower of Barad-Dur.
Allie watched in horror as her wolf body threw itself at Frodo's figure. Her claw ripped off his cloak and made a scratch on the mithril shirt he wore underneath. Both hobbit and wolf then collided against the wall opposite the window.
Baadash's shadow loomed over them as his laughter filled the empty hall.
Allie saw Frodo panting painfully with a hand pressed to his chest, and then her eyes zoomed in on the vein on the side of his neck, pulsating with his heart beat. She could feel the will of the Blood Ring commanding her to rip his throat open, but by sheer power of will, she stayed with her head retracted.
Frodo climbed back on his feet, not letting go of Sting. He eyed Allie frantically, and then eyed the window.
The Uruk raised his hand and showed them the Blood Ring wrapped around his index. "You are my prize, Glor Bereth. All you need to do is to kill that nuisance, and your new life can start. A life of servitude under the great Baadash! I shall be feared as the best Wolf-Rider of Isengard!"
Allie eyed the rope still hanging outside the long window. She saw that Frodo was looking at it as well.
Baadash made a fist with his hand and uttered the next order: "Rip the Halfling to pieces!"
Frodo dashed towards the window with all his strength. Allie managed to hold still for a second more before she leapt after him with a howl. She tried her hardest to slow down, forcing her legs to stop running, but it was as though invisible strings were attached to every hair of her body and a giant puppet master was pulling the strings.
A second before her teeth closed on Frodo's shirt, the latter jumped out of the window and gripped onto the rope, swinging wildly in the air. He let go a bit and slid down the rope, wincing as the rough texture cut into his palms. However, the rope was short and did not reach the ground underneath. When he reached the very bottom, he tightened his fingers around the last knot and stopped his descent abruptly, letting his legs dangle in the void. He looked down, and saw that he was still quite a distance from the ground. If he let go and fell, he would break his spine.
Looking up, he saw the golden wolf framed in the narrow window. Baadash appeared at her side, grinning savagely. He popped out a small knife from his pocket and started cutting down the rope. The wolf gnarled at him silently, unable to move a muscle.
Frodo clenched his teeth in hopeless rage.
Even if he did survive the fall, Baadash would send Allie after him again. He could not see an exit to their hopeless situation. Was this his end? His heart drummed painfully at this perspective.
He crossed the wolf's silver eyes anxiously, but Allie suddenly broke eye contact and looked beyond him into the distance.
Did she think it was hopeless as well? If Allie had given up, it really must mean that this was the end. But then, a thought stroke him: Allie would never look away in his last moments. He knew her well enough to be certain of this.
Suddenly, a loud stomping noise filled his ears, resembling that of a giant creature's feet paddling on the ground.
"Mr. Frodo!" he heard a familiar voice call out from below.
Frodo didn't have the time to be surprised before the last threads of the rope snapped, throwing him into a free fall. As he looked down, he saw Sam's familiar face rushing towards him, closer and faster, until their bodies collided together. Panting, he gathered himself up as he felt the ground moving beneath him.
Except that it was not the ground at all. Sam and he were riding on top of a moving Oliphant!
Sam gathered the thick reins with both hands and tried to haul the Oliphant to a stop, but to no avail.
"Hang on tight, Mr. Frodo! The beast is no longer listening to reason!"
Frodo seized one of the sides of the cage on top of the Oliphant as the latter circled around Barad-dur and headed towards the front gate. Frodo's eyes widened. "We can't go over there!"
His hand plunged inside his pocket to make sure the Ring was still there.
Again, Sam tried to make the Oliphant change trajectory. However, the beast let out a loud trumpeting sound and shook his giant head, almost throwing Sam off the saddle.
Soon, the main entrance of Barad-Dur appeared in sight. The two hobbits saw a battle taking place on its threshold. Orcs were trying to enter, but they were being held back by a tall Southron and an auburn wolf.
"That's Hunter and Pippin!" Frodo exclaimed.
Sam gritted his teeth. "If we are heading there anyway, let us make an appropriate entrance. Can I borrow your sword, Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo blinked for a second in confusion, before handing over Sting that he was still clinging in one hand. Sam took up the sword and plunged the blade into the Oliphant's neck on the left side. The beast let out a loud cry of pain before deviating leftward towards the mass of Orcs assembled in front of the main doors of Barad-dur.
Frodo shied back into the shadow of the saddle as the light of the Great Eye fell upon the advancing Oliphant. The Orcs on the ground also looked up with bloodshot eyes just in the time to be stamped to death by the column-sized legs of the beast.
Sam let out a cheer that Frodo did not echo. As the Ring-bearer lifted his eyes to the skies, he saw the Nazgul diving down towards them. He clutched the Ring inside his pocket and tried to make himself as small as possible as the piercing screech enveloped them.
At the doors, thanks to the respite caused by the Oliphant's stampede, Hunter found an opening to run towards Pippin and to jump onto his back. The auburn wolf dashed through the gap in the lines of the Orcs and broke free from the noose of death they had been fighting in.
Sam let go of the reins to cover his ears as the Nazgul let out their scream again. The Oliphant, mad with terror, crashed against the side of the Tower, but did not go down. With a wild cry, it destroyed part of Barad-Dur with its tusk before deviating north into the emptiness of the plains. Orcs shot arrows and threw spears at it from below, but the beast continued its run.
Giving up all hopes of controlling the beast, Sam clung to the saddle and focused on not getting bounced off by its galloping strides.
Frodo looked up and saw the Nazgul chasing after them in the skies. Suddenly, the Oliphant tripped and almost went down nose first. Sam looked down and paled. "M-Mr. Frodo…" he stuttered as he pointed at the hind leg of the Oliphant.
Frodo directed his gaze there and saw Baadash riding on top of the golden wolf. He had his spiked whip around the Oliphant's leg and it was sinking deeper into flesh with each of the Oliphant's steps.
"That damn Uruk…" Frodo muttered in fury.
How dare he ride on top of Allie like that? If only he could get that Blood Ring away from him…
Baadash pulled harder on the whip and the Oliphant tripped again. This time, however, it lost its balance and went crashing into a boulder. Frodo and Sam clung to the ropes for dear life as the beast toppled over and fell on its side like a mountain.
Sam crawled out from underneath the saddle, coughing at the dust. Frodo did the same beside him, and pulled out Sting that was still planted in the neck of the beast.
Golden paws stopped in front of them; looking up, they saw Baadash grinning down on them from Allie's back.
"Get off her!" Frodo yelled, his blue eyes blazing.
Baadash let out a guttural laugh. "You should worry more about yourself, Halfling. Do you not know death when you face it?"
At this moment, Pippin's auburn shape collided against Allie's flank, sending both wolf and Uruk rolling on the ground. Hunter jumped down from Pippin's back and lifted his blood streaked long-sword.
"What have you done to Queen, you despicable scum?" he roared in cold anger.
Pippin bared his fangs and growled silently.
Baadash stood up slowly, caressing Serecor on his finger. "Interesting. Very interesting. I have heard of the dominance of a Queen over her subjects. Shall we see that in action?" He kicked Allie towards Hunter and Pippin. "Kill them!"
The golden wolf leapt forward with despair in her eyes. "Run away, Pippin!"
The auburn wolf took on a defensive stance with all fours spread out and belly close to the ground. "Not a chance, Allie. I'd rather fight you and die than leave you here bound to that Uruk-hai!"
"No! The Blood hierarchy will not allow you to win!"
Allie reached Pippin and pinned him to the ground with her claws. Hunter raised his sword beside her, but was unable to strike.
Frodo nudged Sam and pointed silently to Baadash, who was enjoying the scene. Sam understood Frodo's meaning, and quietly picked up a rock. They edged along the flank of the fallen Oliphant and slowly slid closer to the Uruk.
However, before they could make their move, thousands of footsteps rose around them as Sauron's Orc army closed in on them. On the sky, three Nazguls cast their shadows on the scene below as they circled past. Sam dropped his rock and covered his ears when they let out their soul-splitting screech.
"It's all over, Mr. Frodo!" he winced. "We will be caught!"
"No!" Frodo seethed. He couldn't allow them to be brought back to that horrible place again. His legs hurt at the mere memory of the small rusty knife peeling off his skin.
He threw a glance at Allie, and saw her dominating Pippin with the Blood. Pippin let out a wail as blood started running out of his nostrils due to the pressure of Allie's will.
Allie shot a sidelong glance at Hunter. He was still under the influence of the Ent Water, so she could not communicate with him, but she hoped that he would understand her message. "Strike me!" her eyes pleaded. "Use your sword, Hunter!"
Hunter's eye widened, and he gripped the hilt of his sword till his knuckles turned white.
Baadash's laughter resonated around them as Serecor shone on his finger, red as blood.
"Forgive me, Queen!" Hunter roared as he lifted his sword to strike. At that moment, one of the Nazgul dived down and snatched Hunter off the ground and into the sky.
"Hunter!" Allie screamed.
The Nazgul flew higher and higher, and Frodo had the dark certitude that the Ringwraith had the intention of dropping him from the heights. Even Hunter would not survive a fall like that; his bones would break like glass.
Orcs poured through from behind the dead Oliphant and charged towards Frodo and Sam. Frodo charged back at them with Sting, killing them off one by one as they approached.
Sam picked up small rocks and threw them at the Orcs, having lost his own sword on the mad dash on top of the Oliphant. The rocks, however, did nothing to slow down the Orcs, who soon encircled him.
"Sam!" Frodo cried, and then broke through the circle, swinging, cutting, and slashing like he had often done in practice with Allie. Except that now, it had all become so terrifyingly real.
In the meantime, Pippin was choking from the blood bubbling out of his jaw. "Pippin! No!" Allie cried out as she tried her hardest to stop projecting her will onto him.
"Allie…" Pippin croaked. "Please…"
"Mr. Frodo!" Sam shouted in anguish beside them.
The golden wolf forced herself to look sideways and saw that an Orc had managed to disarm Frodo, who was now vulnerably sprawled down on the ground with a fresh cut on his arm.
The Orc who had injured him stepped forward and lifted his sword for the finishing blow.
"FRODO!" Allie shrieked.
In that moment of despair, her sight turned to black, and she lost consciousness for a second. When she opened her eyes again, she suddenly found herself standing between the Orc and Frodo. She did not have time to be surprised before a gaping wound opened up on her neck from the sword of the Orc.
Behind her, Frodo looked up in shock with his face half red from the blood that had spattered from the wolf's wound.
Allie regained her senses and bit off the head of the Orc who had attacked her. Once her enemy crumbled to the ground, a deep ache and a terrible weakness overcame her as she crumbled on her side. Frodo crawled beside her and frantically pressed his hand on her wound to stop the bleeding, but to no avail. His eyes were frantic, but he did not know what else to do.
Baadash took a step forward in disbelief. How had she broken free? The dominance he had over her should have been complete! He stared down at the Blood Ring, and then made a fist again.
"Stand up!" he roared towards the golden wolf.
Satisfaction returned to his eyes when the wolf slowly stumbled up on her legs.
"Stop it! You will kill her!" Frodo yelled.
"Shut your trap!" Baadash screamed back furiously. And then to Allie: "You worthless beast! Kill him! Kill him already!"
Slowly, Allie turned towards Frodo. "Stop me," her eyes begged, and then: "Kill me!"
Frodo took a step back in horror. "No!"
A new wave of Orcs rushed towards them again. Sam called out Frodo's name as he picked up Sting off the ground and tried to fend them off.
Frodo took another step back from Allie when his fingers brushed against the Ring in his pocket.
Ash nazg durbatuluk
Allie's body shook and she collapsed again, only to slowly stand back up when Baadash ordered it with the Blood Ring.
Ash nazg gimbatul
Frodo's eyes travelled from Allie's wound, to Pippin panting weakly on the ground, to Sam fending off the Orcs all by himself. He looked up at the Great Eye and at the Nazgul about to let go of Hunter. They were surrounded.
Ash nazg thrakatuluk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul
In that instant, he knew that all was lost. The Orcs and Nazgul would kill them; they would find the Ring among their dessicated remains, and Sauron would plunge all of Middle-earth into the darkness.
The Ring was tugging at his mind, whispering dark and tempting words.
His friends and faithful companions were so close to dying a meaningless death in this desolate place, so far from all that was green and beautiful. If he couldn't save Middle-earth, could he at least save them from this fate? Could he give them a little more time to live, even if it meant living under Sauron's terror?
All sounds faded around him as he took the Ring out of his pocket.
He met Allie's horrified glance, and for a second, he thought he could hear her voice screaming: "What are you doing, Frodo?", before the whispers of the Ring took over in his mind. He gave Allie a small and tired smile, and then vanished as he slid the Ring upon his finger.
On top of Barad-dur, Sauron's flaming eye widened, his dark pupil dilating to fill the entire eye. The Nazguls froze in mid-air, and the Orcs stopped in their advance. Sauron's dark whispers filled the air urgently, enveloping them all in the cursed Black Speech of Mordor.
The whispers of the Ring answered back.
And then Sauron saw him: the Halfling standing beside the fallen Oliphant, with the One Ring shining on his finger. Frodo looked back at the Lord of the Ring, sitting on top of his dark Tower.
"Frodo Baggins…" Sauron whispered. "I have found you."
Frodo cowered an instant under his gaze, but then stood straight again. "The Ring is mine now, and I will use it as I will!"
Dark laughter enveloped him. "Do you think you can overpower my will and the will of the One Ring?"
For only answer, Frodo snatched his eyes away from Sauron's Eye to look up into the smoky and wavering skies, where white spectres flew past on the back of dead creatures. He searched for the Witch-King of Angmar, and found him straight above his head, still holding onto Hunter.
Frodo raised his fist with the Ring shining blindingly on his finger.
"Come back down with the Southron!" he commanded.
The Witch King let out a hollow laugh. "You cannot order me, Halfling."
Sauron's dark whispers filled up Frodo's head, making him drop to his knees. Still, with an enormous effort that took all the energy he had left, he raised his eyes to the Witch King once more and commanded in a voice that filled up the spectre world: "By this Ring, I command you to come back down!"
The Ring shone and the smile faded from the Witch King's pale face. The air sizzled with the clash of their two wills. Frodo's chest felt stuffy, and black spots started dancing in front of his eyes, but slowly, as though pulled down by a string, the Nazgul started descending down towards the ground as Hunter shouted angry words and slashed his sword uselessly from the beast's claws.
As the Nazgul got closer to the ground, Hunter suddenly sensed the waves of evil magic from the Ring of Power. He convulsed in the claws of the creature, and then transformed back into his wolf self with a howl of pain.
Frodo clutched at his heart as he kept up his command.
Sauron's voice filled up his head once more: "I commend you for submitting the one of the Nine, Frodo Baggins, but only one can be the Lord of the Rings. Only one."
The Ring started burning his hand, and then a dark shadow sprung out of the Eye and rushed towards him.
Frodo screamed as his consciousness was shattered. The Witch King shook his head and started to regain altitude once more. However, Hunter bit off the claw of the dark beast with a single snap of his fangs. Dark blood flowed as the Nazgul let go of him. Hunter's grey shape twirled in the air, before landing heavily onto the ground.
Sam backed away from the Orcs when he heard the agonizing scream of his Master. Frodo was still invisible, but Sam followed his scream and dropped down on his knees next to the spot where Frodo was convulsing on the ground.
The Witch King landed in front of Sam on the back of his winged beast. Sam tried to drag Frodo's invisible body away, but one slap from the wing of the beast sent him flying against the flank of the dead Oliphant.
Frodo was suddenly spread out on the ground as though by an invisible hand. The pressure on his chest was so great that he was unable to draw a breath. Soon, the lack of oxygen made his vision blur and his head turn.
"Take it," the voice of Sauron commanded.
The spectral hand of the Witch King extended down towards the hobbit, and the One Ring pulled up Frodo's hand, trying to reach the Ringwraith. Frodo tried to hold his arm down with his other hand, but it was no use. He screamed in agony when the icy fingers of the Witch King brushed against his hand before slowly sliding the Ring off his finger.
A tremor of dark excitement washed over the land as Sauron's eye seemed to gain in size.
"No… please…" Frodo managed to make out as he became visible again.
Hunter picked himself up off the ground and rushed towards the winged beast, but the latter snapped at him with its enormous teeth and forced him back again.
"What of the Halfling?" The Witch King asked.
"The others will dispose of him. Bring me the Ring!" came Sauron's ecstatic reply.
As the Witch King took flight towards Barad-dur with the Ring, Sauron's Black Speech filled the land of Mordor, no longer a whisper, but now loud and powerful: "A new age has started; the age of darkness, the age of fear! There will be no more light or hope in Middle-earth. Orcs, Goblins, and Trolls, creatures of darkness, my sons, it is now your time to live on the surface, unafraid. We will annihilate those who oppose us and rule this Middle-earth with death! It will start with the world of Men. Long enough have they defied us and resisted us. They will fall, and fall hard."
A loud and savage clamor rose from Mordor at those words.
Frodo lied there, catatonic, as he watched another Ringwraith loom above him with sword raised. There was the sound of metal on metal, and then Sam was above him, barely blocking the cursed blade with Sting.
When he thought all was lost, a light started shining feebly from the pocket of his shirt. Slowly, with a hand that seemed to weigh like bags of lead, he took out the phial of Galadriel. The fluid inside looked sluggish, as though the star contained in it was dying along with all the hope in this world.
"Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!" Frodo called out with his remaining strength.
A blinding white light washed over them, like a star exploding after its life had been spent. The Orcs and the Nazgul screamed in pain, covering their eyes.
Frodo felt fangs lifting him off the ground by his collar and recognized the grey fur of Hunter. Pippin scrambled up on his feet with difficulty and seized up Sam by the collar as well.
As Hunter carried him in his jaw, Frodo saw Allie lying there on the ground and stretched a hand towards her. The wolf's silver eyes followed him till he disappeared in the white light. When he was gone, she looked towards Baadash and saw him covering his eyes like the other servants of Sauron. She crawled towards him, a dark intent to kill blazing in her eyes. However, her body failed her in this critical moment, as a black veil fell in front of her eyes and she sank into nothingness before she could reach her enemy.
Miles from Mordor, in the white city of Minas Tirith, soldiers looked on ominously at the lightning cracking beyond the mountains of Mordor.
Boromir, his father Denethor, and his brother Faramir walked to the walls on top of Minas Tirith to look at the darkness gathering at their doorstep.
"War is coming," Boromir stated, "There is no more time."
"Osgiliath…" Denethor hissed as he rammed his fists down on the wall in front of him. "Osgiliath needs to hold or else we are finished! Gondor is not yet ready for this war! Our numbers are too few!"
Boromir exchanged a look with Faramir, and then said: "Osgiliath is already lost. If you send Men there, it will only be a massacre."
"So be it," Denethor whispered. "We need time for all the soldiers to gather and for the weapons to be finished!"
Boromir wiped a hand across his face, and then said: "As you wish, Father. I shall get my horse ready."
Denethor whipped his head towards him and put two shaky hands on his elder son's shoulders. "But you have only just come back! No, Boromir, you stay close to me! The Men of Gondor need you as their captain. You shall lead them into war from here. Yes… the last war to save the world of Men." Looking slightly over his shoulder at Faramir, he added in a whisper: "Your brother Faramir will take care of Osgiliath. You can do at least that much, can you not?"
"Father!" Boromir protested.
"I shall not disappoint you," Faramir replied in an expressionless tone, before walking away.
Further to the West, on top of the dark tower of Orthanc, Saruman put down the palantir and trembled slightly. "The Dark Lord and the One Ring have been reunited."
From behind him, Grima Wormtongue started wringing his hands to stop them from shaking. "W-what about Rohan, my Lord?"
The White Wizard walked to the window and looked down at the forges working day and night in the pitches of Isengard.
"The plans for war remain the same. The destruction of Rohan will be my gift of good will to my Lord."
Grima bowed and slid back into the shadows.
In Fangorn Forest, Councillor looked up and smelled at the air with troubled eyes. "They have failed," he whispered to himself. "Can we still be saved?"
Beside him, in the clearing, Treebeard was deep in Council with a dozen other Ents. Sensing something in the atmosphere of the forest, they all stopped talking in their low rumbling voices and stood still. Merry uncrossed his arms and looked at them all. "Have you reached a decision?"
After a long moment, Treebeard bent down close to him and, to the hobbit's dismay, Merry saw fear in the Ent's golden eyes. "I am afraid…" Treebeard started, "that the great calamity of our time has started."
Merry could only gaze back in fear and confusion.
On the road between Edoras and Helm's Deep, Legolas stopped his horse and looked East with a startle. Gimli stopped his horse beside his. "What is it, Legolas?"
The Elf swallowed slowly. "The shadow of the enemy has taken form."
A hand smashed down on his shoulder, making him jump. Legolas turned around to meet the piercing eyes of Aragorn. "What is it you say?" the Ranger inquired.
Legolas held his gaze for a long time, before saying: "Aragorn, I am afraid that the hobbits have failed."
"No!" Gimli exclaimed.
Aragorn himself seemed shaken.
"What shall we do now?" Legolas asked in a low voice.
At this moment, King Theoden rode up to them. "Why are we stopping? Is everything in order?"
Aragorn looked around him, at the women and children of Rohan following after them. He also met Eowyn's questioning eyes from a few meters away. "It is nothing," he said. "We should hurry on to Helm's Deep."
He exchanged a quick glance with Legolas and Gimli, and then rode on.
Legolas murmured a silent prayer in Elvish, and spurred his horse to a trot behind Aragorn's.
Frodo awoke to the sound of Sam's voice. His gardener seemed to be talking to himself like he often did when he was taking care of the flowers in Bag-End's gardens. His soothing and familiar voice drone on and on somewhere beside him, complaining of the coldness of the weather and of the lack of food. Frodo's muddled brain registered the conversation but could not attribute any sense to it. His whole body felt heavy as lead, but also fragile as glass. He felt as though he had been dismembered and then put back together again. Several times.
He tried to think, but his thoughts kept getting scattered around like butterflies in a field of flowers. He was incapable of focusing on anything. He wasn't even sure if he still knew of his own identity.
"Mr. Frodo, are you awake?" Sam's voice resounded near to him.
"Mister…Frodo…" he tasted the words on his tongue. "Frodo… Frodo Baggins… I am Frodo Baggins…"
"What are you saying Mr. Frodo? I can't hear you!"
Sluggishly, he pushed himself up on one elbow. Sam's concerned face floated into his field of vision as strong hands held him up.
Tears of joy and relief gathered in Sam's brown eyes. "That's right Mr. Frodo! It is your Sam! Thank the Lords you have finally awoken!"
"Where…" Frodo swallowed with difficulty as his empty blue eyes swept around his surroundings. An auburn wolf was lying in front of him, and a giant grey wolf was behind him. They were both looking at him with concern shining in their bright eyes.
Slowly, he lifted a hand and put it on Pippin's muzzle. Pippin licked his hand gently, his green eyes sad.
He blinked as bits and pieces of memories from before he lost consciousness started to return. As he remembered them, they started coming back faster and faster.
The Ring. The pain. The Nazgul. Sauron.
Allie, the golden wolf, lying beside the Uruk-hai as Frodo was being lifted away by Hunter into the blinding white light.
He stood up abruptly on his feet and looked around, but he could not see her anywhere. Only him, and Sam, and the two wolves were present in this tiny ditch on the borders of the enemy's territory. Frodo tried climbing out of the ditch, but his strength failed him. Maybe Allie had gone around to scout. She had to be nearby. She could not possibly…
Pippin nudged him gently with his head, and then brushed against his hand. Slowly, Frodo looked into his green eyes, and saw the pain there.
He shook his head once, and then twice.
Gripping at the rocks and the dirt, he crawled out of the ditch on his stomach, and then stood up with the help of his knees. His frantic eyes caught sight of Mount Doom in the distance and he started running towards it on unsteady feet. He heard Sam call out his name, but his voice sounded distant and muffled. All he could clearly hear was the sound of his own heartbeat drumming in his ears.
And then a grey wall interposed itself between him and the mountain of fire. He face-planted into it and fell back onto his behind. Slowly, he looked up into the blueness of Hunter's eye. He could read pain and anger in the wolf's gaze.
"She is not dead," Sam's voice said behind him soothingly. "I don't understand exactly how it works, but when I was traveling here with Pippin, he once told me that if the Queen of the pack dies, the wolves would lose the Blood link with each other. But, Pippin and the grey one are still connected! Isn't that right, Pippin?"
The auburn wolf nodded.
However, instead of feeling relief, Frodo could not stop remembering how that Blood Ring, Serecor, had held Allie prisoner in her own body. He could not forget the torture he had endured in Barad-dur; and he could not forget the scars on her body from the hooked whip of the Uruk-hai.
Was Sam telling him that only he had escaped to leave her all alone in that hell?
Slowly, he arched his neck up towards the skies above that were darker than ever. The enemy had the Ring and Allie, while he had nothing left, not even hope.
He wanted to cry, but his eyes remained dry.
"Come on, Mr. Frodo. We have to get out of Mordor now," Sam's voice urged.
"You go ahead," Frodo replied in an undertone. "I made a promise to her that we would get out of his place together."
Sam knelt in front of him. "Please don't say that, Mr. Frodo! You will only get killed if you go back now! The enemy is more powerful than ever because they have the Ring! Our only hope is to get to Minas Tirith and alert them to the threat, if they don't know already!"
"Hope?" Frodo asked bitterly. "I don't need such a thing. I will never be able to live with myself if I turn back here. I know better than you that getting to Allie now is more impossible than destroying the Ring ever was, but I have to."
A painful knock to the head threw him harshly to the ground. Sam turned around in shock at Hunter who had just pawed Frodo in the head. Frodo slowly sat back up as a trickle of blood ran down his cheek from a fresh cut on his forehead.
"Oh my, you are bleeding!" Sam exclaimed, deterred, as he fished out his crumpled handkerchief to try and wipe the blood off.
Frodo let him fuss over him, his eyes fixed on Hunter. "Don't ever do that again," he stated coldly. "Have you forgotten that I saved your life? I did the one thing I knew I wasn't ever supposed to do, but in that moment I saved you, and Pippin, and even Sam."
But not Allie. He couldn't save Allie. And now the rest of the world was also doomed.
Frodo's hand rummaged inside his pocket out of habit, but the Ring was long gone. The feeling of loss that assaulted him made him shiver.
Sam shook Frodo by the shoulders. "And that is why you have to remain alive, Mr. Frodo! Do you think Miss Allie would be able to forgive herself if she knew you died because you foolishly dashed into the enemy's nest? We will save her, Mr. Frodo! I can promise you that! But not this way!"
Pippin nodded, his green eyes more expressive than ever, begging him to listen to Sam.
Frodo looked at all of them without seeing them. Save Allie? Was there even an infinitesimal chance of that now? Sam could only say that because he didn't know how powerful Sauron really was. When his will had clashed against that of the Dark Lord's for possession of the Ring, never had he felt so hopeless and crushed. There was something broken inside of him now; something that he knew could never be fixed again.
Frodo could see hope in Sam's eyes still. Good for him. But soon he would see how futile that would be against the darkness.
"What do you want me to do then?" he asked. "Go back to Minas Tirith and seek protection from the people that I have let down? Lay my shame and my failure at their feet and beg for forgiveness?"
Sam's shoulders sagged.
Frodo slowly stood up on his feet, refusing Sam's help. He then continued limping towards Mount Doom, barely noticing that blood was soaking through the bandages around his legs again.
Hunter considered his pitiful figure for a moment before heading towards him. Frodo sensed him come, but did not turn around; he kept limping forward with his eyes strained to the mountain of fire. Hunter looked down upon him from behind, and exchanged a glance with Pippin. If wolves could cry, Pippin would no doubt be crying at this very moment. His green eyes were shinier than usual as he gave Hunter a single nod.
"What is he going to do?" Sam whispered, before gasping as the grey wolf hit Frodo on the side of the head with his paw.
Frodo fell to the ground without a sound.
"Mr. Frodo!" Sam ran to him, panicked, and realized that his Master had been knocked unconscious.
"What did you do that for?" he shouted in direction of the grey wolf.
Hunter's blue eye remained fixed upon Frodo as he gently picked him up by the collar and deposited him onto Pippin's back. Understanding flowed over Sam's eyes as he wiped away his tears with the back of his hand.
Taking in a deep breath, he looked back at Pippin and quietly said: "Come, the secret stairs are this way. Let's get out of this foul place."
Sam then led the way, followed by the two wolves.
Behind, deep within the fortress of Barad-Dur, a giant in armor slid the One Ring onto his gloved finger and sat down on the throne made of bones. In front of him, the Mouth of Sauron knelt. "What is your first command, my Lord?"
Deep within Sauron's helmet, two eyes full of flames opened. "Gather the army at Minas Morgul" he said in Black Speech. "And announce my return to Middle-earth."
Happy New Year people! :)
And as usual, let me know what you think! Even if it's a tiny thought, I'd be happy to read it, so leave it in reviews section below! :D
And who else has gone to see the Hobbit? It was awesome returning to Middle-earth! :D Bilbo is such a cute character!
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