KT SHY: Hmmm… I think I've realized the reason behind the disturbing lack of reviews for the last couple of chapters. It must have something to do with the lack of slash content! Yes, I'm a businesswoman at heart and I know what you want, so here we have a trial run of Eye on the Prize… with slash!......... it's best to picture the characters with big black mustaches and then read the dialogue aloud with over-the-top British accents.
'I do say Legolas,' said Aragorn twirling his long black mustachio seductively, 'dare I be so bold as to inquire that I place my hand in your pocket?'
'Heaven forbid you be shy in your suggestions, my good fellow!' replied Legolas.
'Well then as a gentleman of such man-loving stature, I must comply!'
Yeah……………………………. it just kinda goes down hill from here.
Summary: When Sauron switches bodies with Frodo, it's an all out race against time (with the Fellowship on his heels) to get the Ring back to Mordor! NEW: Act 16: Leaving Amber-lei and the Crossing to Gondor: In which stuff happens. Oh, so much stuff! Please RnR!
Eye on the Prize
Act XVI: Leaving Amber-lei and the Crossing to Gondor
The first couple days at Amber-lei were peaceful for the most part and melted by without too much incident. Sauron remained as surly as ever, but Gollum had taken quite a liking to Yurival, trailing her wherever she went (which became kind of awkward at times, Yurival had to use quick "Look over there!" tactics then slam and lock the door whenever she had to make use of the bathroom). Gollum enjoying the attention she gave him… it had been a long time since he'd been treated like a person.
Sauron rolled his eyes in distain at this. 'You won't find me taking a shining to the wench.' he muttered while pulling a baked pie out of the oven.
'What the!?' he dropped the pie. 'Since when does the mighty Sauron help bake pies!?!?!?' He tore off the frilly apron he'd been wearing (another reject from Yurival's "younger days") and sprinted out of the room, weirded-out by his lapse of rational behavior.
He sped through the family room (still wearing pink oven mitts) and nearly crashed into the homemaker and her Gollum-y shadow.
'Oh Srodo! There you are!' she smiled. 'I was wondering if you could do me a little favour!'
'Depends on how little,' he groused.
She handed him a basket, 'I need some vegetables picked from the garden for our supper tonight, if you please.'
'You know what would please me…?' he began with a wicked grin, but in the next moment found himself out in the garden, the sun on his back, picking vegetables.
'DAMMIT! How does this keep happening!?'
Then a frightful thought slammed into mind.
Was the Hobbit body finally taking over?
'No, that's preposterous…' but then again, he wasn't too sure.
He glanced over his shoulder back toward the cottage; Yurival was sipping a cup of tea, watching him from the window. She waved cheerily only to have the gesture returned by a very un-gentlemanly one.
Sauron turned back to the vegetables, 'Stupid woman.' He plucked a radish out from the brown earth, dusting the clumps off with his bandaged hand.
Why was it bandaged again?
He'd forgotten about it again, not having heard it speak in…
How many days have I been here anyway? he thought, clarity slowly returning.
Then he looked scrutinizingly at the radish still in hand. Red, plump, crisp…
'This will sure be tasty on the salad!' he said cheerfully, then slapped himself across the face.
Sweet Morgoth! Am I loosing my mind? he panicked inside. There was something about this place. Amber-lei. It was too easy to fall into the flow of things here. He looked again at the radish, forcing all pleasant thoughts of it to the far reaches of his brain, and instead focusing on the logic of the situation.
'It's the beginning of March. You should not be here.' Ignoring the strange implications of talking to vegetables, he began to seriously take in his surroundings. The garden was fair sized, and ripe with lush vegetation. Tall trees bloomed with fruits and flowers, and green vines crawled around the stone wall that surrounded everything. The air was warm. There was no suggestion at all that it was winter.
He focused again on the wall; the land beyond was misty and vague, and it was hard to keep his eyes on it. He felt his concentration being forced back to the task at hand.
'No… fight it… fight it!' he started stabbing himself with the radish trying to regain clarity.
He crouched (splattered with radish juice) down onto his calves and tried to think. Then he addressed the Ring.
Oh! So you're finally thinking about me now, eh?
'Okay, okay, I'm sorry. Look, exactly how long have we been here?'
Since when have you been the type for philosophy?
'I mean as in here here! Smartass.'
Seven days to be exact.
'Seven!? But, it's only been a couple… you're just saying that to get back at me!'
No, it's true! the Ring defended, You've just been too busy playing "reluctant house-wife" to realize it! By the by, you look pretty cute in an apron "Srodo."
'DAMMIT!' Sauron used his favourite catchphrase.
Dropping the battered radish, he stood and turned to glare back at the cottage. Yurival was no longer in the window, having instead gone off to get some fish for Gollum.
'There is something very wrong with this place. And we are leaving tonight.'
The Ring squealed happily.
It was time.
'… leaving!' Yurival exclaimed looking a little bit worried, '… but you've only just arrived!'
They'd been sitting (except for Gollum who was perched on top of his chair) at the dinner table, finishing a supper of fish, bread and salad.
Sauron pushed his plate away and got to his feet. 'Yes, and well… I'm bored. No, no, it's not you… well mostly it isn't… okay actually yeah it is you. So, ta ta!'
Yurival stood up, looking slightly testy, blocking his way to the front door. Sauron tried to scoot around her but every time he did so she would move to keep herself between him and the door. She crossed her arms, 'I won't move until you at least give me a good explanation as to why you're leaving so suddenly. You're acting all irrational.'
He growled, and then thought for a long minute. 'It's…………hmm………my family, they're all sick… so I've got to visit them.'
She dropped her arms, 'Good heavens! If it's like that why didn't you mention it sooner?'
Sauron exploded, 'BECAUSE IT'S CONTAGIOUS, ALRIGHT? If I mentioned it I'd get everyone sick, HAPPY!? Now if you'll excuse me…'
'So that explains your aloof behavior! You were just worried about your loved ones! That's so sweet!' She reached down and pinched his cheek… he vowed silently to get her back for that one day. 'It's a sad situation. But it's nice to see people still caring about each other in these dark times. So where is it that your family lives?'
'Mor-' he stepped on his own foot to prevent the slip up, 'More toward the East… and down… down a bit South.'
'Well, alright then! Obviously you'll need some help getting there, so I shall accompany you…'
'NO! Um… you can't because…' he searched for something clever to use as an excuse, 'you're too old! And, you'd probably die on the journey. Then I'd have to bury you. See? Then it'd take me foreeever to get to my poor sick family. Now who's being irrational, hmm?'
Gollum looked up from his raw unseasoned kipper with interest. Having lived in a matriarchal society way back when (governed by his own terrifying grandmother) he knew how and how-not-to treat a lady. He wondered if the green clad woman would belt the Dark Lord for his tactlessness.
But to his disappointment, Yurival was as calm and collected as usual. 'Don't be silly, I wouldn't die, I'm not that old, but if you're referring to me getting too tired from the travel, don't worry about it. I've walked many, many leagues in my time.' She gestured with her chin toward a rack near the front door that contained many well used staffs, each more ancient and decrepit than the next. 'And besides, who would know this area better than me to help you along your way? Hmm?'
Seeing no point in continual argument, Sauron complied. 'Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure. Alright.'
'Good! Then tomorrow after tea we'll get ready to set off to your family's home. What do you think Gollum?'
Gollum shrugged, finishing his supper.
Sauron nodded, but inwardly resolved to sneak out, ditching them both in the early hours of the morning.
At around three in the morning, Sauron opened the bedroom door and peered down the stairs. From over the top of the railing he caught a glimpse of Yurival sleeping on the couch and Gollum curled up by the fireplace. He bit his lower lip, and begun the arduous trek downstairs, painfully aware of every creek and groan the old wood made. When he reached the bottom without alerting the sleepers, he padded into the kitchen, stealthily raided the cupboards (he'd learned the hard way that mortal body's tended to like food) and went about in search of a blade of some sort to remove the bandage that lay between him and the Ring.
Hurry! Cut me free! Cut me free!
'Shhshutupshutup' he whispered, looking over toward where Gollum snorted, then began kicking his leg out in sleep. Sauron's eyes roamed over toward the pair of garden sheers that hung on the wall. The one's he'd have to cross over Gollum to get at.
Should he chance it?
No, he thought, Too risky.
What is? asked the Ring obnoxiously loud.
'One more word out of you…' he let the threat hang on the air as he retreated back toward the front hallway. He'd just have to find a sharp stick or rock along the way. But now he was facing another problem.
He was finding it exceedingly difficult to get the door open. Not in a physical sense, it was only woods and the latch looked easy enough to lift. But it was if something was squashing all his will to do so. There was a very persistent urging that he turn around and head back up those stairs, into the soft bed, and go back to sleep, abandoning this folly. Why bother traveling the long road ahead? Why not relish in the comfort of warm fires, hearty meals and sweet teas? Amber-lei had everything a good Hobbit needed.
'I… am not a good Hobbit…' he growled, straining against the inner conflict, fighting against the voices, 'I'm… the biggest badass this side of Middle-Earth!'
He slammed the latch and pushed the front door open, then froze at the sound of jangling bells which had been nailed to the top of the frame. Throwing all caution aside he tore through the exit and onto the front porch.
Done and done.
He took a deep breath of free air, but started wheezing and hacking as the air was frigid and stung at his nose and lungs.
A blanket of snow covered the earth that hadn't been there the night before (Frodo's doing; but like the Small Troop, Sauron didn't know this) and all he could see was dead and frosty landscape stretching out to meet a dusky orange pre-dawn sky.
He'd been right, something was not adding up.
After all, he had been out in a lushly vegetated garden just the other morning.
In fact he remembered dwelling on the oddity of there being a lushly vegetated garden present at all in the waning months of winter…
He was tempted to look back and see if the cottage now mirrored this state of ice, but somehow he knew that if he looked back at it he would be drawn inside against his will and into the peaceful stupor that had claimed him for the past week.
Keep walking, he ordered himself, and did so, trudging through snow that came all the way up to his knees. He hadn't gotten far before…
'Where'ss it going?'
'MORGOTH IN HELL! What are you a stalker!?!?!?' He tried to collect himself after leaping a mile at the voice. Gollum's head had just suddenly popped out of the snow, everything below the neck covered in white powder (since he crawled rather than walked).
'No, jusst a groupie.' Gollum moved forward to catch up with the Dark Lord, his head cutting through the snow like a shark fin in water. 'Where the precious goess, we goes.'
'Not if I have any say in it, so shoo… shoo!' he made swatting gestures and chucked a pile of snow which only missed because Gollum dove back down into the white earth. And didn't come back up.
'Oh shooooooot…' Sauron looked around, uncertain of where the creature was, but knowing with growing certainty that Gollum would leap out at him.
Then he felt a tremendous pull on his ankle, and down he went.
For a moment things were once again calm in the forest. There was the pleasant sound of a little creek flowing beneath a thin layer of ice. A winter bird chirped. Then Sauron and Gollum came bursting out of the snow for air.
Sauron gasped, 'By Ungolianth's ugly hide, it's FREEKIN' COLD out here!'
'That's why I brought along some cloaks for you two,' said Yurival causing the two males to jump in surprise. They hadn't heard her come up. 'And some gloves and a scarf; honestly you children are all alike.'
Not taking no for an answer she pulled the two smaller figures to their feet, brushed off the snow, fastened the cloaks and scarves and firmly shoved woolly mitts onto their cold hands.
'There now, much better I should think! It's a lovely crisp morning but there's no reason to freeze to death enjoying it,' she grinned surveying her handiwork. Then taking a look around, she reached a hand into the snow and plucked up a white fluffy old dandelion (something that once again defied the laws of nature, but Sauron had seen it happen too many times to care any longer).
'These are good signs. Make a wish on the fluffs you two! For luck on our journey,' she blew on the plant, sending little pale tufts up and off to be carried away by the wind.
Let me get away from these idiots, prayed Sauron, hands enfolded and eyes clenched in concentration and intense frustration.
We wishes we gets the preciouss, wished Gollum, and then in after thought while glaring over at Sauron, and gets our ssweet revengess on this chumpsess.
I wish for better luck in future relationships, wished the Ring soulfully, I mean, I know I've got a great personality, good conversation skills, and so much more to offer, but all the men in my life just want me for my body!
The wishing out of the way, Yurival nodded while adjusting her hat, re-shouldered her provisions-pack, said aloud, 'Shall we?' then with a click of her walking stick, set off along a path of her choosing, leaving Sauron and Gollum with little choice but to follow.
The celebration to commemorate Rohan's ridiculously successful defeat of Isengard was a forty-eight hour affair. There were spectacular fireworks (apparently the Powers-that-Be hadn't sent Gandalf back to life empty handed), good food, good ale, and music that filled the whole of Edoras and rang out clearly over the night covered plains. And no one a day over the age of majority went home sober.
So it wasn't too surprising when a very intoxicated Aragorn – covered in party streamers - stumbled out of the Golden Hall in much need of fresh air. He breathed in the deep, dark night, positively glowing from the effects of two-days merry-making, and exhaled contentedly. His attention was (very gradually) caught up by a light that was beaming from the nearby mountain top. He stood there, on the front porch of Meduseld, staring at the small firey phenomenon, uncomprehending its significance.
After three hours it finally dawned on him, 'Th' bacons!'
He turned around, his arms waving and body trying to go one way while his head kept trying to face the beacons. When he was finally capable of coordinating himself, he slammed through the doors and ran/traveled-in-a-perpetual-state-of-falling-down toward his destination. Then he stumbled and spilled onto the floor, 'Th' bacons! The bacons aw' burnin'!'
'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!' cried Éomer overdramatically, and then passed out where he remained dangling halfway up the wall, tangled in banners. The past few weeks had been rough on him.
Théoden, sitting sideways on the throne with his legs hanging over the edge, glared at Aragorn from under a cold compress, 'I'm in no mood for breakfasht.'
'No, naw' th' bacons……………………… th' bacons!' Aragorn tried to emphasize the difference. 'Th' baaaaacons aw' on fih'yuuuuure!' Then he promptly passed out from retardedly excessive alcohol intake, head thudding against the floor.
'OH!' said Théoden, realization arriving swiftly, then, '…wait…...' and finally, 'OH! The Beacons!'
He leapt off his throne, posing king-like on the podium, nearly falling down the stairs in the process, "Well it'sh in my inebriated opinionion..ion that we go help Gondor, what shay you?' Getting only approving mumbles from the few occupants in the room still conscious, Théoden sealed the deal so-to-speak and went staggering out the door to find where he'd left Gamling.
'Well, that was pretty convenient…' mumbled Gandalf mysteriously from where he lay under a pile of empty beer kegs.
Gondor… earlier that day…
'So, you sure these are the best cigars in Minas Tirith?' Denethor interrogated the guard. They were both way up on the highest level of the city, the wind whipping their cloaks about.
Grunting, Denethor opened the box, brought a cigar up to his lips, lit it, and then took a few experimental puffs.
'Terrible!' he yanked it out of his mouth and threw it behind him with distain… where it landed atop the hay-stacked pile of the Beacon of Gondor.
'Uh, sire?' said the guard, who had a clear view as the embers of the cigar caught fire and began to set the hay ablaze.
Denethor, who was facing the guard and thus unaware of what was happening behind him, ignored the man completely. 'Oh,' he lamented, 'when will I ever find anything that's worth smoking?'
Triumphant music abruptly started playing (around the 2:30 mark of ROTK Track #4) as the Mountain Range Lighting Sequence began in earnest; watch tower to watch tower setting their beacons ablaze across the expanse of Gondor and all the way to Rohan… the result of which incidentally, if seen from above, looked like a long snake.
Saruman (not Sauron, in case you read the name wrong) was nearing the end of an agonizingly long walk home. In each hand he carried a piece of his ebony Wizard staff, cracked in half by Gandalf at Helms Deep. He was completely and utterly dejected, and the future looked grim.
His Uruks…… gone. His Staff of Office…… broken. Chances of getting the Ring…... lost. Odds of survival once Sauron realized he'd sent his own troops after the Fellowship without authorization only to let the Ring fall into the hands of the enemy ……
At least there was Isengard. Even with everything else gone to hell, Orthanc would remain; its finely polished stone floors, its everlasting black exterior.
Yes, let Middle-Earth destroy itself in the upcoming war. It didn't matter, he still had Isengard.
Saruman mounted the final hill, and there sprawled below him… was Orthanc, just as he'd left it.
He sighed contentedly, looking down across the plains to his lovely tower.
And there was Wormtongue, waving from the window, grinning with a stitched smile… and looking more hand-puppety than usual.
'Everything's fine, you don't have to come any closer!' he shouted waving back and forth.
'Oh I think I do,' said Saruman, 'I need a nightcap… a very potent one at that.' The outcast wizard rubbed at his throbbing temple as he continued marching towards his home … then tripped over it with a crack and landed in a sprawl on the grass.
'Wh… wh… WHAT!?'
Had the laws of perspective turned against him? He looked back to see if he was crazy, or had suddenly become giant and traveled a couple miles in one stride. No, there was nothing wrong with him, but there was Wormtongue, kneeling beside a small model of Orthanc, wielding a crudely made puppet of himself.
Wormtongue looked sadly at the model his boss had broken, 'You… killed it!'
Saruman rose unsteadily to his feet, 'You'd better have a DAMN good explanation…' he stuck his hand out for balance and was surprised when it hit something. He looked over slowly. What he'd thought at first to be a distant range of mountains and a cloudless sky… was in fact a very large and skillfully painted board.
'What IS this!?!?'
Saruman knocked over the painting in a rage, only to be greeted by a site that he never in all his long years thought he'd see.
The destruction of Isengard.
The real thing.
Water flooded the entire area, streaming from the shattered dam. Steam rose from the iron works in vaulting heaps. Every weapon of mass destruction was obliterated. Dead orcs floated as far as his eye could see. And Orthanc was cracked in half, the top part dangerously close to falling off… which it promptly did so with a deafening splash.
All was deathly, bitterly, agonizingly silent for a long time.
Then Wormtongue said with forced surprise, '………………………………. who did that!?!?'
TBC (To Be Catapulted…………………… into space!)
REVIEWS! As… in we beat the 3 digit mark! Woot!
Ainu Laire ~ *points* You! You're new!! *starts jumping around squealing for joy* Welcome to Eye on the Prize! I hope I can manage to keep you amused and entertained for as long as is humanly possible!! And muchos gratitude for helping me get up to the big 100! Sauron's story has finally caught up more-or- less with everyone else's by this point… or at least with the Small Troop; I use the Storm of Frodo as reference. The Tall Troop is still a little bit ahead. Yarr, I caught onto those spelling errors too, but I must have missed making few corrections, thanks for bringing it to my attention! ("Endoras"… what the heck was I writing about, horse riding Ewoks?)
Nine-Fingered Emilee ~ "Elrond's Gambit"!? I think you speak for us all when you say "WTF?" Man, I shoulda got those EA guys to give me more ideas for Stupid Special Move names! (Awww, it reminded you of the Super Sindarin Level Two Soul-Flash Spectacular? That's sooo cute!) Hmm… Gollum as a happy monkey, eh? Actually that does make a little more sense… good suggestion, good suggestion. And yes, monkeys are super!
Tylec Asroc ~ Of course, I'm constantly self-parodying my work! It confuses the heck out of the characters especially when they make a reference to something that should be, realize its not, and then just stand there looking confused for a couple minutes. I always get a kick out of that! Glad you liked "Jygumbous Arachnid"! I remember sitting at the keyboard then yelling behind me to Shagtser, "Is Jygumbous a word?" "Um… no." "Eeeeeexcellent."
Darth T-Rex ~ Go go gofers! Here's more!
You guys reviewed so faaaast! It's only the day after posting! Time for huggle smotheration!!!
Starbrat ~ Sauron's such a tactless jerk sometimes. Brrr… fish. *joins in the disturbing rocking back and forth*
Aranel ~ I'm so glad to finally meet you! And I'm happy to hear that you're laughing loud enough to disturb others!! I do it all the time! Plenty more Sauron and Gollum fun to come, for sure. Thanks for reading!
TO ALL YOU LURKERS: See people? What Aranel has done is a brave thing indeed. Come; show yourselves so that we may all partake in the healing process of this A.A meeting… er… I mean, Eye on the Prize reading………… (cough)
Welp! I'm afraid this's all you're going to be getting out of me this month. With school back in full force I need to focus on other things. Chiefly the script for a Conflict Film that just doesn't seem to be wanting to get done… mostly because I want the story to be quirky but my group members seem to want student-film-serious. Oh well.
OH! Have you heard the ROTK CD yet? Isn't it nifty? Billy Boyd has such a lovely singing voice, and so many of the tracks make we weep inside (and out). I wasn't really sure what to think of "Into the West" the first time I heard it at the theater (possibly because I was too wrapped up in emotion to fully appreciate its beauty), but the more I hear it the more I love it. It's so lulling, and satisfying, and my heart swells every time I hear it. There's two ways I take the lyrics: First that it's being sung to us as the audience/readers/fantasy seekers… second it seems like an endearing song from Frodo's perspective dedicated to Sam, to when they will meet again in the Grey Havens. Any takers? What do you think?
*skips off to play that CD one more time before bed…*