(Sort of!)

Greetings, readership! I know, it's been forever since the last update, and for that I do most heartily apologize. Real Life and Other Fandom Plotbunnies staged a successful coup d'état on my LOTR-fic brain space.

A Small Warning: The invading regime has not been overthrown yet. We may be in for another long wait…

Title: The Weeping Wraith, Chapter Twenty-One-and-a-Half

Disclaimer: Um, still not mine. Nyuh-uh. Nopers.

Replies to reviews: Thank you all so very, very much for your comments. Truly, the review board is a major source of inspiration for me—note that I'm trying to kick my muse back into gear by posting this and garnering a few "THAT'S ALL!" reviews.

A few of you posted questions about Sam carrying the Ring and about Legolas' eventual fate, but I beg you, be patient with me! Believe me, I've sat and pondered these things for years—YEARS, now, can you believe it's been so long?—and I think I've come up with some pretty good stuff. All will reveal itself in due time, when my muse graces me with its presence again!

And so, without further ado, here's the tiniest, most pathetic excuse for a pseudo-chapter in the history of TWW…

(Here's hoping that QuickEdit doesn't destroy the formatting!)

Frodo Baggins dreamed that his face and hands were pressed flat against a pane of chilled glass. The air around him was cold enough to numb his fingers and nose, so cold that his breath fogged before his eyes.A terrible dread clenched round his heart, though he knew not from whence it came. He felt that he should run, but when he tried to move, he found that he could scarcely feel his limbs.

Beyond the glass lay a fathomless black maw, one that devoured all light and warmth. At this, the frightened hobbit shut his eyes, for the longer he gazed upon the gaping void beyond the glass, the more he felt that he would be hurled into it, and be lost for all time. He wanted to weep for the terror in his heart, but no tears would come, and nary a moan or whisper would issue from lips gone cold as stone…

Frodo woke with a gasp, and lay still for many long minutes as his heart slowed its thunderous pace. He lay prone upon a smooth, cold floor of solid black hue. As in the dream, his hands and face were numb with the chill, but he quickly discovered that he could move again, and after some moments he lifted his head and stared about in amazement. He was imprisoned within a soaring, high-ceilinged chamber that was at once grand and horrifying—grand, for its majestic scale and piercing austerity; horrifying, for its walls were crafted of a tortured, deeply creviced black resin of some sort. The bare flooring reflected the harsh light pouring from some unseen source high above.

The hobbit pushed his weary body up and sat for a long moment, shivering with more than the cold. He rubbed at his arms and reached round to pull his cloak tighter around his shivering form; but to his dismay, the cloak and its Elven-crafted clasp were missing. Frodo nearly cried out at this discovery, for the cloak had been a gift of the Lady of Lothlórien, and thus was a rare and precious possession. Too, Sting was gone from his side, and this grieved him deeply as well—it had been Bilbo's gift to him before their parting at Rivendell.

Frodo pressed his hands to his chest, shuddering at the lingering bruises and chill left where the silver wraith had gripped him. He hardly remembered the actual journey, save for fleeting glimpses of the landscape as the horse sprinted over the plains. The memory of cruel claws and a rasping voice, however, would haunt his thoughts for a long time to come, and the deathly still breast to which he'd been clutched had quite frozen him to the bones. His hand moved to his neck, feebly searching for a weight that was not there, and he was scarcely aware of what he was doing until his fingers found naught but his own shirt, the glimmering mithril mail, and the bruised flesh beneath.

The Ring. He had given it into Sam's keeping, he now remembered. Frodo felt that a heavy weight had been lifted from him; yet, as he considered it, he realized that a heavier burden had fallen in its place. He worried for the friends and guardians he'd left behind on the plain. Had he been right to give such a terrible duty over to Sam? Would the younger hobbit indeed be able to carry the vile Thing, or would it devour him and the others whole, as it surely had the power to do?

Frodo slipped his hand into his vest pocket, and breathed a sigh of relief, for the perfect green leaf that had fallen into his boat a mere ten days before was yet folded within. He remembered Aragorn's words to him concerning Lady Elbereth, and was comforted to think that the Lady of the Stars was watching over him, even in such a dark and horrible place as he found himself now. "But please, Lady," he whispered under his breath, "if it is not too much trouble, watch the others even more so than I, for surely they have far greater need now…"

End of Chapter Twenty-One-and-a-Half. Also known as "The Chapter In Which Absolutely Nothing Happens."

Like I said, this is the sorriest excuse for a chapter in the history of TWW. I most humbly apologize for that. I started writing this chapter over a YEAR ago, but my muse suddenly died, and I didn't want to post until I had a proper chapter written…

…however, this past weekend I decided to just up and post the blasted thing, in all of its miniature and unfinished glory. Bleh.

Hopefully, the full Chapter Twenty-Two will be forthcoming. Patience, young Padawan, patience!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you stick around!