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Welcome! This is a Lord of the Rings roleplaying game based on the trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (book verse).

Frodo and Sam failed in their quest to destroy the one ring. It is lost in Mordor, and the two Hobbits had no choice but to turn back. The fate of Middle Earth once more is undecided.

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One Ring to rule them all..
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» Mordor--on The Doorstep
Frodo Inactive
 Posted: Jul 7 2014, 00:48
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Mordor. The knowledge that that was where Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee were was frightening, and quite sobering. The area was so bleak, so colorless. Dark gray and black rocks, a slight fume in the air making breathing unpleasant--it was so different from the wholesomeness Frodo had grown up taking for granted. Here the plants were used to the parched climate. Leaves were spikey and tough, small; branchwood covered in spines and thorns; roots running so deep into the earth, digging into cracks in rocks, and any fruits they had seen had been hard, thickly skinned like gourd squash some grew in the Shire, and used to make soup ladles once the squash rind had been scooped out. Mordor plants bearing tiny fruits as hard as stone were not edible. Both Frodo and Sam had cautiously smelled them, but they were foul to the nose.

The two had recently been released, with Gollum, by the Ithilien Rangers, who had given them each two waterskins, which was all they could spare, and some nuts and dried berries, which would supplement all they had left of the lembas given them by the Elves of Lothlorien.

Luckily, Sam had the pack with the supplies, tho Frodo had his own two waterskins and one of Gollum's. Sam had the other one given to Gollum, as he refused to carry anything. He did not like things touching his skin. He would not carry any pack or gear.

And now he had abandoned them, on these perilous steps leading only to something Gollum said was way into Mordor.

So Frodo, had called a rest, in hopes Gollum would either return, he and Sam could gather energy and perhaps courage to attack the rest of the staircase. If Gollum did not return, they would have to go on without their guide. Not that Gollum had been a trustworthy guide. There was never a time Frodo had actually trusted the thing that had once been Hobbit-like. But carrying The Ring, which now Frodo wore on a chain around his neck, had turned Gollum into a creature more than 500 years old. The Ring had corrupted Gollum's appearance, and Frodo did not like to look at him, and feared that somehow his own appearance would change, though only his spirit felt the weight and darkness of the Ring yet. Weight as in heaviness, as well as psychological effect. Frodo smiled far less often than he had before becoming the Ring Bearer.

Not that he would have smiled much, especially since losing Gandalf in Moria. And since then, things had only gotten worse. Frodo, resting on the steps, catching his breath, was fighting a gathering tendency toward depression. This quest, so perilous at the beginning, had now become seemingly hopeless. The Hobbit felt he had to muster some fight against the dimming of his mood. There would be no chance to reach Mount Doom and destroy The Ring if he lost hope.



Frodo studied the old lichen and moss covered stone steps leading so wearyingly up, and looked over at Sam, where he rested near him. The entire sojourn in Ithilien had been a tiring ordeal, more emotionally than physically, although by then everything was physically draining for Frodo and his loyal Samwise.

"I did not know Boromir had died, Sam, truly. Now I am even more fearful of what became of the others. Do you suppose we will ever see them again, or the Shire, or Farmer Maggots farm with his carrots and cabbages, and all that mischief we got into with Merry and Pippin?"

It was a rhetorical question, and he did not wait for Sam to answer before looking in his pack, so much lighter now that there was hardly anything in it. The Lembas had dried into weightless bits. Frodo tried to remember what coney stew tasted like, or cheese and apples, butter with bread, cabbages and carrots and potatoes and fresh-ripe corn all cooked together with beef or venison.

He could not remember. He looked up at the darkening sky, slated over with clouds that did not smell of rain, nor anything hopeful. Mordor was a wasteland, indeed it was, and they still had so far to go.

"Sam," Frodo said, still looking at the sky until he turned to his friend and continued. "Merry and Pippin must be alive yet. They must, or we would be doomed. We would feel it. And the same is true with Aragorn, and Legolas, and Gimli. They live, because they are needed to do what they are doing, as we are needed to continue with our task. It is no easy thing asked of any of us, my dear Sam. But if we refuse this, we doom all. It is a heavy burden, and yet lighter knowing that we may yet be of some help to our companions, all the wholesome things we left behind us in the Shire." He managed a tiny smile. "You being with me, gives me courage I would not have at all if I were alone."

Frodo reached over and patted Sam's knee, for they had been through far too much for the usual formality that existed between them to still remain. They were two friends, on an impossible journey which had to succeed. "We will make it to Mount Doom and destroy this cursed Ring. I do not know how, only that we will."

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Samwise
 Posted: Jul 7 2014, 04:17
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It was bitterly cold - that relentless chill wind pushing against them all the way up the long climb, and they still weren’t quite at the top. Sam sat huddled close to Frodo and once again rubbed his aching knees from the strain of climbing unknown hundreds of stone steps that weren’t much less steep than a ladder in many places. Slippery and broken too, a lot of them, so they’d been climbing on hands and knees almost more than on their feet. No edible food or drinkable water, either.

Sam’s wounded feelings were unexpectedly comforted by Frodo's gesture. He turned his head and met his friend’s eyes and managed a brief, genuine smile in return, reflexively reaching across to tug Frodo’s cloak more snugly about, and then trying (not very successfully) to tug half of his own cloak across them both. It hardly reached across Frodo’s nearer knee, but it was something.

Gollum hadn’t stayed with them when they stopped to rest, which pleased Sam. Every minute he didn’t have to deal with that aggravating creature he counted as a blessing. Sam knew, even if Frodo seemed oblivious, that Gollum had been working to insinuate a wedge between them ever since they'd captured Gollum in the Emyn Muil. It wasn’t that Sam blamed Frodo for whatever success Gollum had had, and maybe the wedge was only in Sam’s own eyes, but at least while he and Frodo rested alone here that wedge seemed gone.

“You might have, Mr. Frodo,” Sam replied perfectly frankly, but smiled at the same time. “But there’re some jobs as just shouldn’t be tried without someone to help, that’s plain fact. This is one of them jobs, if ever there was one. Don’t worry, Mr. Frodo, I’m right with you, where I belong.” Sam stated that like the plain fact it was, too.

“I do think the others are still alive. Captain Faramir thinks so, too, and his reasons felt right, if that makes sense. So we’ll see them again.” Sam made sure to sound confident of this, even though he wasn't, simply because he knew how much Frodo needed to keep hope in his heart on this last leg (he dearly hoped) of their quest. Not saying he disagreed with what Frodo had just said, he just wasn’t sure how well he understood it, not being such a deep thinker.

“We’ll succeed, too, and then life will be much better for everyone. Those who’re good and decent folk, that is. Aragorn and all are doing their part, as we’re doing ours, so, it’ll work out.” He stumbled to a stop, pretty sure he’d gotten things jumbled, but hoped he’d made sense anyway.

“It’s odd what you miss about home, and when. Right now I’m missing my Gaffer’s home brew. Not that drinking it now wouldn’t be foolish, but it would warm a body up. Funny, I always imagined this dirty place would be too hot, not too cold.” Somehow, here on the doorstep of Mordor, he wasn’t willing to speak the place’s name aloud for fear of… he wasn’t sure what exactly.


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Frodo Inactive
 Posted: Jul 28 2014, 19:37
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[Joint post between Frodo and Sam]


It was approaching an especially uncomfortable time of day, for the sun was casting long shadows across all. No longer was there any warmth on the stairs. Frodo silently sighed, for there was no more time to wait for Gollum.

"Sam, we cannot wait any longer for him. He isn't coming back. I fear for what is ahead, so let us face it with as much bravery as we can, together." He wanted so badly to drink a sip from the waterskin, but there was so little water for how long they would need it. He offered one of the skins to Sam, though, after pretending to drink a little. How much Samwise had done for him, for so many years, and only recently did he fully appreciate it! What a staunch companion he was! It was strange, for when Gollum was around, he made him doubt Sam in subtle ways, but when Gollum was away, there was no question who Frodo trusted: Samwise Gamgee. Maybe, he thought sluggishly, with surprising effort, it was better if Gollum did not return.

Sam was downright surprised at this. It was one of the very, very few times (that he could recall) since they'd begun traveling with Gollum that Frodo had concluded on his own that Gollum hadn't kept his word. He glanced a couple times at Mr. Frodo to make sure he'd heard rightly, and was pretty sure Frodo was right, but he had his own reasons for not agreeing right away.

"You might be right, Mr. Frodo, but let's try once more to get Smeagol to come back." He had to remind himself to call their sneaking guide that name, because he'd learned the hard way that hearing his old birth name seemed to keep Gollum less temperamental, some of the time anyway, though nothing seemed to make him hate Sam less.

Smeagol?" Sam called softly, since they didn't dare make any loud noise in this place. He leaned forward a bit to look up and down the accursed stone steps, but nothing moved. "Hey, Smeagol, where've you got off to? We need to move on. Now." Still nothing. Sam knew Gollum could hear them, since his ears were seemingly thrice as keen as an owl's (which was *not* a compliment).

Frodo shifted only a little, as he was getting stiff in the cold shadow of the stairs. He heard nothing, no sound from Smeagol at all. "Do you think he is... hurt? Needs us?" He did not think so, but, it would be unkind to leave Gollum – Smeagol -- out there, injured. "Sam, should we look for him?"

Sam sighed, thinking over that idea. He also realized he was still holding the water skin Frodo had handed him. He was thirsty (and hungry), but he mumbled thanks and handed the skin back without drinking any. They hadn't seen or heard the least sign of drinkable water, and their own supply was running low, so best spare it as much as possible. He didn't begrudge Frodo drinking a sip, though, as he needed it more.

"You know how Smeagol is, how he screeches and howls to wake the dead when anything hurts him. Besides, where could we even reach to go looking? There's still that near-bottomless drop on our right, and steep cliff to our left that we couldn't climb at all. I'm not even sure Gollum could climb that. I can't think of anyplace he'd go except... onward into that tunnel. Do you realize that Gol-- er, Smeagol hasn't really told us anything about what's on the *other side* of that tunnel? Despite that he's admitted to having been here once before?"

Frodo stowed the waterskin in his pack and kept looking around him all the while. "I had realized that, Sam." He shuddered. "And I think you are right. If the worst we find ahead of us is another ambush, it will be enough danger to suit me, thank you." Frodo caught Sam's eyes, his own bright blue and clear, which they were not always on this journey. "He is evil, Sam. Smeagol, or at least Gollum, is evil. It is this ring which made him so. I cannot let it corrupt me that way. I do not want to become... like him. Don't let me!"

"I won't, sir, don't worry," Sam replied, his plain grey eyes meeting Frodo's confidently. Because he felt completely confident in this. He grabbed hold of Frodo's hand and gripped it firmly in his own broad gardener's hand.

"You won't turn evil, Mr. Frodo, no matter what, and soon we'll be done with this nasty quest. Remember how Mr. Gandalf said Smeagol had already been a bad, nasty, wicked-hearted sort even before he found it (or it found him). That's never been you, Mr. Frodo, and never will be!"

Sam was such a comfort! "I hope you are right," he answered, squeezing Sam's hand before letting it go. "I think we should prepare for the worst ahead." He drew Sting, and was glad it was not glowing blue. He put his cloak over it, and turned to face the upward climb. "It is time to go. If we are climbing into an ambush, let it not be in the night." It was so much easier to face dangers if the sun was even a little bit still in the sky.

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Samwise
 Posted: Aug 2 2014, 07:43
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Sam looked at Sting when Frodo drew it and felt greatly relieved that it wasn’t glowing blue, for how would the two of them, all alone on this slippery mountainside, fight off even one Orc? It had crossed his mind whether Gollum had been captured by Orcs, but then Sting would be glowing.

“Right you are, Mr. Frodo,” he agreed, sincerely, even though it came out sounding only like a sigh of resignation, for he was in equal measure weary and uneasy. His knees especially still ached, and they still had a bit more climbing to do. He didn’t complain, though, for he knew Frodo felt even more sore and weary and uneasy, partly because of that Burden he carried on the chain around his neck, and partly because he wasn’t a gardener.

“I hope it’s not much farther to the top,” he grumbled as he got to his feet, giving Frodo a hand up, too. He already knew his pack was in order, including that the Elven rope was securely attached. They began to climb again, using their hands a lot to keep from slipping on the treacherous stone steps, and wherever there wasn’t enough room for them to climb side by side, Sam put Frodo ahead the better to look out for him.

At every moment, Sam watched and listened for any sign of Gollum. His conscience was demanding that if they saw any path Gollum might have strayed onto, they’d have to look for him in case he were genuinely in need. For although he truly believed Gollum was a hopeless case, he wasn’t entirely without pity. Sam did pity Gollum, in rare moments – just never, ever enough to forget that Gollum’s insane craving for the Ring meant he’d murder Mr. Frodo in a blink if they didn’t watch out. Knowing that put a tight limit on how sorry Sam could feel for Gollum, and if that were ungenerous, well then Sam would confess his failing.

They saw no path that Gollum might have taken, though, and the dark certainty grew in Sam’s mind that Gollum knew exactly what Frodo and he were doing and had abandoned them for a purpose which was surely evil. He grew nervous that it might be Gollum who would ambush them to try and steal back the Ring. Would he attack them out here on the mountainside, or wait for the deeper darkness of the tunnel? Gollum feared Sting and knew Frodo would use it, so Sam bet on the tunnel.

Eventually Sam noticed slight changes. First, the bitterly chill wind blowing against their faces eased up a little. That might have just been the weather, but then Sam noticed the air smelling worse than before.

“I think we’ve about reached that tunnel, Mr. Frodo. There’s a new stink on this breeze. Do you smell it?” He quietly drew his own sword in anticipation of trouble ahead.

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Frodo Inactive
 Posted: Aug 29 2014, 04:46
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[Joint post between Frodo and Sam]

(FRODO)
The air had become especially hard to breathe since this new smell was so very much surrounding them. "I do not know what makes that stink, but it cannot be wholesome," said Frodo to Sam, as he once again forced himself not to reach for the Ring. It was a habit he was trying to break, yet could not quite, to constantly see if the thing was safe. He had told himself over and over -- and meant it -- that he was keeping the wretched Ring safe so he could destroy it, not because he craved it. He did crave it, but he was determined not to let it destroy him. He had seen too much of what it did in the destruction department. He only wanted to be rid of it, even while it plagued him with thoughts of it.

"Sam, I hate that we must go into this tunnel in such darkness, and with evil ahead. I feel it, and am sure you do too. And I think Gollum is either ahead of us in the tunnel, or behind us to some ill purpose. We must be especially careful." He added, with a touch of dry sarcasm, "Considering how dark it is in there, I don't suppose daylight out here makes much difference, for we saw no way to avoid this place."

He pulled Sting out of its scabbard, almost in a way wishing it were glowing blue, for at least that was some light. But then he thought that darkness may be their ally in the tunnel, providing what was in there could not see them as they tried to sneak through. "Sam, we have the light Lady Galadriel gave us. We can use it if we have to, but... perhaps it is not the best thing right away? Although, how will we get through this with that horrid stench? I can barely breathe this foulness as it is."

(SAM)
“Let's not use that phial of light unless we absolutely must, I'd say. Best if we can sneak through without anything noticing." Sam was already whispering, because he'd caught sight of what must be the tunnel entrance just a little higher up the mountainside. A patch of darker darkness in the mountainside. Once they climbed about fifteen feet more, Sam was certain.

"There it is, Mr. Frodo. Whew, this smell could choke a horse! Just try not to breathe deep, and grit your teeth, and let's get past it. And watch out for Gollum, or anything else. Is your blade out and in hand?" Sam's was, and he wasn't hiding it.

(FRODO)
"Sting is in my hand, Sam. And I think it best we hold onto one another, so we do not separate and get lost. I think this would be a bad place for that." He pulled his Elven cloak tight about himself, holding it in the hand not holding Sting, which was held close yet pointing forward. His hand full of cloak he reached for Sam. "I think we must make ourselves small and keep quiet. Here, take my hand, and let us get through this as fast and careful as we can."

(SAM)
"Right!" Sam whispered back, adjusting his hold on his cloak as Frodo did, after a brief wordless debate over whether they should put their hoods up. Cloaking their heads would make them even less visible, but it would also shrink their field of vision a lot. That idea was just too frightening, so he left his hood down without a word about it.

Clasping tight hold of Frodo's hand in his larger, broader one, Sam hoped they could sneak through side-by-side, for he wanted Frodo neither ahead of nor behind him. He knew how tired Frodo was, and how worn down, and in any case Sam believed himself to be the fiercer fighter, if it came to fighting. Whether an enemy came at them from ahead or behind, Sam would put himself between it and Frodo.

"Hold Sting where we'll see if it glows, sir," he whispered barely louder than a breath, for there was a slight echo. "If there are Orcs about, they'll notice us no matter what, so may as well use Sting’s light if it gives any. In we go now, side by side as much as we can."

(FRODO)
Whispering just outside a hole in a mountainside which emitted such foul air as to be nearly unbreathable, Frodo nodded, then whispered, "Right, my dear Sam." For nods were no longer visible. It cheered Frodo to not be alone, and especially to be with a friend as dependable and good as Sam.

"Together, as best we can." He inched forward, and felt something sort of pull Sting. He stopped, and listened hard, but heard nothing. So he reached out with his hand more forward than the point of his blade, and recoiled when his hand met stickiness. "Oh Sam," he whispered, dispirited and more frightened than even five seconds before. "I feel spider-webbing, sticky. What is ahead in here? Can it see us even in what is so dark to our eyes?"

(SAM)
"Drat!" Sam whispered forcefully at the news of spider webs, and Frodo's unnerved reaction. He hesitated, backed out a few steps (drawing Frodo along) to study the mountainside once more for any way around this tunnel, but there was no other passable way -- as he already knew, and scolded himself for trying to avoid facing the fact.

"There's no way but through, Mr. Frodo, I'm sorry to say. I suppose there would be spiders here, this being the sort of dirty hole they like. Yes, they can see in the dark better than us. But we're too big for 'em, they'll keep their distance. Here, I'll clear our way through the cobbing." And he did, slicing through the web at the entrance with more effort than he'd expected, but not enough to really worry him. Moving further in, slowly and carefully, they didn't encounter too much more webbing across the path, though his sword hand, which he lightly brushed along the tunnel wall to make sure there was a wall and not a pit, felt traces of webs.

Once he passed what seemed to be a fair-sized hole in the wall, but when he passed a second one, he further tightened his grip on Frodo’s hand in case either of them missed their footing and fell, whispering very quietly indeed, "Maybe it means nothing, but there are holes in the walls deep enough that I can’t feel to the back. Maybe passages. What about on your side?"

(FRODO)
Frodo was remembering the spiders Bilbo had written about in his book, "There And Back Again." Those Mirkwood spiders, vile and huge. As big as a Hobbit, plus adding all those long legs. He shuddered, and then moved ahead with Sam, searching for his courage so he could be of some use. He had begun feeling around with Sting, trying to quell his revulsion at this place, and had noticed openings web-covered, some free of catching cobs.

"Sam, there are some on my side too," he whispered, his voice nearly shaking. "And if there was that great web across the opening when we came in, that means... that means Gollum did not enter the way we did, if he is in here at all. He is probably behind us, then.” Frodo knew how deeply Gollum hated Sam, so he pulled himself more together so he could watch for the former Ring Bearer. He would not let him hurt Samwise!

"I hope these tunnels are not long or complicated," he whispered. He knew Gollum had lured them there, and therefore the tunnels were almost surely complicated AND long. "We just need to focus on getting through this. If you smell better air from one of these tunnels, we should probably go that way. That is what Gan... Gandalf taught us, in Moria."

(SAM)
"That's right," Sam said, meaning about both Gollum and Gandalf. He was surprised and self-reproachful that these thoughts hadn't crossed his mind already, but on the other hand knew it was a sign that Frodo wasn't too unnerved to think straight, which was a great comfort. *Now, Sam, just don't You lose your nerve!* he reminded himself sternly.

"I sure wish Mr. Gandalf were here! He'd know just what to do. So far I haven't caught a single whiff of cleaner air, either. Mind where you step in case there's a hole in the ground." He was by then keenly nervous of those holes in the walls, strongly suspecting they were passageways, but who or what made them? And how much farther to the other end? Sam's mind pleaded to know. They must have crept a fairly long way, and the heavy fetid air made breathing a misery.

(FRODO)
They had come some ways into the cave, even moving so slowly. They kept to the relatively web-free tunnels, moving their feet forward while keeping them on the ground, not lifting them for fear of stepping in a hole. As it was, they had stepped around some holes already, finding them and able to avoid them. But Frodo wondered, growing increasingly anxious, if they were being led closer in to the center, since open tunnels would surely be the ones the web-maker chose when moving quickly.

"Sam, Sam," Frodo breathed, his anxiety shortening his breath. "We must rest and think this through. Should we cut through a web and hurry as much as prudence allows to one of the crevices we have found? In case something rushes past us? That spider -- and we can only hope it is but one -- should we keep heading perhaps straight into its lair, or try to divert it and... what should we do?"

(SAM)
This stopped Sam in his tracks, the better to think very hard, since Frodo pointed out a serious question indeed. By then Sam had grown definitely worried about how many spiders might live in this cave, or how large they were. He didn't think he was just letting his imagination run away with him, even though there was nothing better than this stinking dark tunnel to make one imagine all kinds of horrid fears. But there was nothing imaginary about those spider webs!

“I honestly don't know what's best, Mr. Frodo," he whispered barely louder than breathing, which he was trying to do as shallowly as possible without making himself dizzy. "I'm not easy about cutting through webs, since spiders can feel the vibration when you do that. It's what gets their attention. And these gaps in the wall—can’t tell which ones have a back, and which might be passages. If they’re like a maze, we could end up really trapped. I'd say we should keep going along the main tunnel. It's most likely to lead us out the far end -- and get us back into breathable air."

(FRODO)
Frodo found Sam's reasoning sound, and in truth he was growing more and more unnerved by the dark, the stinking air, and all those webs. But something else came into his mind, a suspicion. "Sam, Gollum led us here. That means he does not believe we will survive this. Whatever is in here can kill both of us, will try to kill both of us. How else would Gollum get his... what he wants back? Is it possible he has alerted whatever is in here, so it or they know already we are coming?" He had kept his voice very low, but realized that the air smelled worse now.

"We must be getting closer to something, and it is not a nice something. I can barely get the air into my lungs anymore, it is so putrid. I think we should hurry as much as we can, with more caution than we have already used. I am going to pull my hood closer around my face and try to block the stench a bit." And this he did, one-handed as he refused to let go of Sam.

As he closed the cloak's hood better over his mouth and nose, he heard a strange squeaking, whining sound, and a rustle. It was not too near, but nearer than was comfortable. "Sam, we must find a place to hide, lest it comes down this tunnel."

(SAM)
"Ohhhhhhh no," Sam breathed, more a frightened dread-filled sound than words, upon hearing that ominous noise that most definitely wasn't wind or anything decent. If that sound came from a spider, it must be unnaturally big. He hoped it was only one!

"Right, Mr. Frodo! Ohhh, that Gollum’s having a laugh now. Maybe he told that we’re coming… or maybe he knew he didn't need to. Here, in here!" He started to pull Frodo into a depression in the wall of the tunnel to protect their backs, but before they crowded in he thought he saw a dull gleam of movement ahead.

"Wait, sir, what's that?"

(FRODO)
As Frodo, unnerved as he had ever been, which was saying a lot on this journey, turned toward the movement, his footing became unsteady, for the ground wasn't where his foot had expected it to be. It was further down, and he lost his balance with a cry of surprise and dread. His backpack strap slid on his sword arm, knocking Sting from his grip, and he found himself rolling without weapon or pack down a long downward incline, ending in a sticky web which caught him instantly.

"Oh Sam! I slid! I am caught in the web! Watch out, for surely it will come now!"

(SAM)
"Mr. Frodo!" Sam cried out desperately as their handgrip suddenly wrenched apart. In the murk, he couldn’t see exactly what happened to Frodo, and even his voice echoed strangely, but Sam was relieved to hear it because that meant Frodo was alive and he knew pretty nearly where he was.

"I'm coming, Mr. Frodo!" he yelled, plunging forward to snatch Sting from the ground to use as a second sword. But then he got his first clear look at the web-maker, and it was hideously big! Moving fast… but straight for Frodo!

"Hey you devil! Hey!!!" he shouted, flashing Sting in his best hand with his barrow blade in his left, trying to force the monster to leave Frodo alone. It worked. The spider, hissing venomously, charged toward Sam.

With Frodo’s cries spurring him to utmost fierceness, Sam’s one simple goal was to get past the spider so he could shield Frodo until he could cut him free, but that meant he had to get in close. Too close. He barely saw one of its thick legs flick, but his breath grunted out painfully from the kick to his stomach. Winded, struggling to breathe again, he fell and watched helplessly as the spider, impossibly fast, turned away and rushed back toward Frodo. He had no breath to answer his dearest friend’s call.

(FRODO)
It was a sound of fear that tore out of Frodo when he saw the spider turn on Sam, and then back to him. Frodo screamed once, Sam's name, before summoning his courage. He had to help his friend. "ATTERCOB!" he yelled, knowing from Bilbo how spiders hated being called that. But when the spider in turn shrieked and was upon him quicker than he could have imagined even in a nightmare, he felt the fangs pierce his shoulder, near the Morgul scar, and his world faded with his hope.

"All that's good and holy, protect Sam," he thought and whispered, slurring his words, as he was spun into unconsciousness as the spider wrapped him in webbing. He did not feel anything as he was shoved into the web.

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Samwise
 Posted: Sep 8 2014, 09:23
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Shred’s of breath dragged back into Sam’s lungs too late to save his master from the monster’s evil. Groaning and gasping, the worse because even his starved lungs protested against filling with the stench-thickened air of the cave, Sam nevertheless staggered to his feet, but he felt trapped in an inescapable nightmare, seeing his dearest friend in the grips of the monstrous spider. It was quickly wrapping Frodo from feet to shoulders in webbing, exactly as a garden spider wraps prey caught in its web. But Sam heard strange unnatural sounds from the spider, when it should have worked silently. This spider was laughing to itself, he thought – laughing or… talking?

Attercop! That’s what Frodo had shouted at it. Like… Mr. Bilbo, in his story of Mirkwood. No natural spider cared a whit about insults. That was when Sam realized this monster was more like an Orc, or maybe a Troll – at least a little bit smart, not mindless. And he dared not assume it was as stupid as an Orc or Troll, not when Frodo’s life was at stake. And what else were Orcs and Trolls? Evil. Evil created by Evil. And what worked best against Evil?

While this realization came upon Sam, the demon spider was still busy wrapping Frodo in webbing. Sam still grasped Frodo’s keen Elven blade, Sting, in his right hand. Hurrying to Frodo’s pack, dropped on the ground only a few feet away, he groped in it praying that Galadriel’s magic Phial of Light was there. It was! Sam sheathed his barrow blade and grasped the Phial in his left hand.

“You filthy devil!” he cried out several times in a voice equally violent and desperate, advancing quickly toward the monster. At first it seemed to ignore him, but when he got within a few yards it turned away from Frodo with an angry, creaking hiss, and glared at Sam with a remorseless cluster of yellow-black eyes. From that near, Sam could see how deathly white Frodo’s face was, which frightened his soul but also flooded his heart with fury. A red haze seemed to fill his mind, even more intense than during that terrible battle in the halls of Moria.

“Filthy attercop!” he hissed, the better to make this orc-spider forget about Frodo. The spider responded with fresh hatred at the insult, and took a scuttling step toward this offensive pest. Just as Sam hoped. He held the starlight-phial high and cried, “Galadriel!” A pure glow of purest light immediately burst to life within the magic phial, before which the spider flinched. “Galadriel!!” Sam cried out, louder, but the Phial did not glow much brighter.

Gurgling and hissing with redoubled hatred, the spider overcame its aversion to the pure light and scuttled forward again. Made fierce by his fear for Frodo, Sam sprang forward with a great shout and slashed Sting in a mighty backstroke at the spider’s nearest leg, shearing off the claw. He knew he must attack quick and fierce, before the spider turned the tables and he had to concentrate on defense. He’d learned that much from the battles the Fellowship had fought.

Sam didn’t know it, but he was very fortunate that the spider had lived so long alone, with nothing venturing into its lair except Orcs, stupid creatures that the spider had long since learned exactly how to kill. It had been ages since even the smartest Orc had given much of a contest. The spider had forgotten what a serious battle was like, had forgotten when to feel fear.

Sam was much smarter than an Orc, and much braver, driven not merely by simple self-preservation, but by absolute friendship and loyalty. In a wink, before the spider could do more than hiss in pain from the surprising wound, Sam darted in between her front legs and slashed at her eyes, one of which went dark. In shocking pain and unable to see or bite its enemy since Sam now stood underneath its belly, the spider gave a gurgling, squeaking almost-scream and scuttled backward so as to bring eyes and fangs to bear.

Sam was too quick, though, slashing Sting across the underbelly, which he guessed was the most vulnerable part except the eyes, and he was right, though only because his blade was a fine Elven one. So ancient was the spider, and so thick her hide, only a fine Elven blade could have cut through. Even with Sting, it took all Sam’s strength and several rapid slashes before he opened a wound. Evil yellow-green slime oozed in a thin line across the filthy leathery underbelly, and the stench leaking from the cut nearly made Sam faint.

Choking and gasping for better air, Sam desperately slashed again, trying to deepen the cut. But the horrible bulbous belly lowered down toward him. Knowing the spider meant to crush and smother him to death, he might have tried to dart out from under and slash at the eyes again, but the spider’s legs were folding up rapidly as it lowered its heavy belly, and he couldn’t slip through. Trapped, Sam prayed, braced his feet, raised Sting straight overhead, locked his arms and shoulders, and gritted his teeth.

Had Sam tried to stab Sting into that belly with his own strength, he could not have pierced it. But the spider unwittingly drove its own weight down upon that Elven blade, and so was grievously pierced. The spider’s power, and Sam’s own determination not to let Sting’s point be turned aside, drove Sam to his knees and lower still, but he was saved from death when the spider, blindly desperate to escape the agony, raised itself off and scuttled away, legs twitching in gruesome spasms, yellow-green slime dripping from its belly and one blanked eye.

Sam, gasping for more breath now that he was no longer trapped, saw the spider’s remaining eyes glow with a new reddish gleam, saw it bunch its thick legs, and knew it was about to spring, going for the kill.

Grimly, he thrust forward the Phial again. “Galadriel!!!” he cried once more, and added all other names and honors he’d heard her called. This time the Phial glowed brighter, and perhaps because the demon spider was now weakened, the magic worked more. Tendrils of the pure light splashed across the spider’s eyes, and its body flinched spastically as if burnt by fire, eyes convulsing as if infected by the purity.

Sam pressed his attack again, pure violence in his mind, meaning to blank out more of those eyes, to kill the demon that meant to kill Frodo and him, but the spider with a hissing, gurgling shriek retreated to a passageway in the tunnel wall just large enough for it to slip into, and scuttled out of sight. Frustrated, Sam stopped and listened, but the spider sounds faded away and did not resume.

Then, finally, the red haze of fury faded from his mind and he returned fully to being plain Sam Gamgee, servant and friend of Mr. Frodo Baggins. With a choked cry of fear for his dearest friend, he rushed to his side. “Mr. Frodo, you’re safe now. The spider’s gone, maybe even killed. Mr. Frodo?” he begged for some sign of life, first shaking his master’s shoulder, then patting the still, deathly pale face.

Frodo’s face felt too cool, frighteningly still. He looked-- dead. Beginning to sob against hopelessness, Sam put his cheek near Frodo’s nose and lips and felt no breath. “Oh no, Mr. Frodo!” Bitter tears filled his eyes and fell upon Frodo. He prayed, and prayed, and begged. “Oh no, Mr. Frodo. Please, wake up! Please, don’t leave your Sam, I’m right here!”

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Samwise
 Posted: Sep 28 2014, 23:06
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Group: Hobbits
Posts: 34
Player: Rowy
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In a desperate panic, praying fervently in his heart, Sam used Sting to saw through the cords encasing Frodo’s body, muttering harshly to himself, “What a fool, Sam Gamgee! He can’t breathe bound tight like this, of course not! Set him free, set him free!” As sharp as Sting was, it took so long just to cut through the tough cords across Frodo’s chest that Sam settled for that.

“Mr. Frodo, wake up, please!” he begged again over and over, lifting his master’s head and shoulders into his lap and tapping his white cheeks, which felt cold. Frodo remained pale as a ghost and responded not the least bit. “It’s me, your own Sam! Oh Frodo, don’t go where I can’t follow!”

Those last words hung dreadfully in the still, fetid air, sinking down like a smothering shroud about Sam’s head. Frodo wasn’t asleep. He was dead. Poisoned. Dead. Sam’s throat constricted so painfully, and his heart, that he felt he was dying too. He bowed his head down over Frodo, until all was silent as death. Sam wished to die, right there, beside his master and dearest friend whom he had failed to protect.

“What can I do for you now, Mr. Frodo?” he asked aloud after a long silence, though speaking only to himself. “I promised Mr. Gandalf I’d never leave you, never lose you. But I’ve lost you, haven’t I? I won’t leave you, though, not ever.”

But then he seemed to hear an echo of something from the past. *I have something to do before the end, and I must see it through.* They were his own words after he’d looked in Lady Galadriel’s Mirror and seen a vision of his beloved Shire being destroyed. He remembered what Frodo and Galadriel - and Gandalf and Elrond - had said about the whole purpose of the Fellowship, the quest.

“But what’s to be done now? Go on alone? I can’t, Mr. Frodo. And I can’t leave you alone in this evil place, un… unburied.” It was then that he remembered another vision the Mirror had shown him, the vision of Frodo lying still, as if asleep, in darkness near a stone wall. The Mirror had foretold Frodo’s death, the only part of the visions Sam had forgotten because he’d assumed Frodo had only been asleep. Bitterness at the realization began a long, painful debate in his failing heart. But eventually duty, and being sure what Frodo and Gandalf and all their companions and friends would want, directed Sam’s decision and gave him resolve.

“I have to go on, Mr. Frodo, and try to finish this quest. Sam Gamgee, trying to reach Mount Doom on his own, will look a fool and probably be one, but if I don’t try, it’d betray everyone’s hopes who’re counting on us to do the job. War’s already begun on poor Gondor, though I hope not going the Enemy’s way, but pretty soon everything will go the Enemy’s way if this quest fails. So I’ve got to see it through if I can.”

Feeling like a thief, but resolute and sure in his head (if not entirely his heart) that he was doing the best thing, Sam kept Galadriel’s Starlight and also Sting, but left his barrow blade with Frodo in exchange. He remembered Frodo’s mithril shirt, but not only could he not bear the idea of taking it off his friend, it would be too small for him to wear. He emptied Frodo’s pack of anything useful, which was only his nearly-empty waterskin and a few bits of food, for Sam had already been carrying everything else because Frodo was so heavily burdened by The Ring.

“Mr. Frodo, I hope you understand, I’m not stealing this from you, I honestly don’t want it,” he murmured as he gently eased the chain off over Frodo’s dark curls, which pulled The Ring out from where it had lain hidden on his breast. Sam barely glanced at the treacherously, traitorously bright thing.

“Lord Elrond’s Council gave The Ring to you, Mr. Frodo, so it’s wrong to put myself forward. But they also gave you companions to help you complete this quest. It mustn’t fail, and I’m the only one left. This wasn’t supposed to happen, but it has.” With a final sob of grief, he kissed Frodo’s cold forehead and carefully settled his head and shoulders to the ground. It was Frodo’s utter lack of reaction to losing the Ring that erased any tiny, lingering hope Sam had had that he wasn’t really dead.

Reluctantly, fearfully, Sam hung the Ring’s chain around his own neck, and immediately the weight of The Ring bore his shoulders nearly to the ground. Had it been this heavy for Frodo? How had his master borne it for so long? Knowing the Ring could make itself either easier or more difficult to carry, depending on its evil master’s will, Sam wondered whether it didn’t want to pass to him. Maybe. But his resolve seemed to increase his strength, and with great effort he stood up and found that he could move and walk despite the burden. But he also noticed that he felt different inside, as if his eyes and ears were keener while his heart felt grey-tinged, like a subtle sickness. He looked down at his master with greater respect and compassion than ever, which was saying a great deal.

“Mr. Frodo, I understand better now, and when I finish this quest, I’ll come back here to you. That’s a solemn promise, sir.” He took Galadriel’s Starlight out of his pocket, he knew not why, perhaps hoping that somehow it could still redeem the wrongness of things. It did glow softly, like an evening star in summer, and shone on Frodo’s face, and in that radiance his face looked fair and peaceful. Grateful for the comfort of that final sight, Sam sighed, turned away, and walked onward through the bitter darkness, the saddest and loneliest steps of his life.

He had to pass the filthy trail the wounded spider had left on the ground. He glanced at it only once, his mind bent upon finding the way out of the tunnel. The tunnel Gollum had led them into. Traitor! Coward! It was well for Gollum that he was not there, for he would have found out just how fierce and deadly Frodo’s servant could be!

Before long Sam thought he perceived a very faint greyish light up ahead. The way out, he hoped, although beyond it lay Mordor itself. Sam paused and looked back one final time at his friend, then walked lonely but resolute toward that grey light.

Sting, still in his hand, began glowing blue. He stopped in fear, then heard a tramping sound. Orcs coming! For a moment Sam didn’t hide, so hungry was he to avenge Frodo, but his better sense returned before it was too late. He had to run back past Frodo to find a suitable passage to hide in, though by then he was wracked by chills of horror, remembering blood-curdling stories of how orcs treated the dead. He wanted to stand between them and Frodo’s body and fight to his last breath, but that would betray the quest Frodo had given his life for. That was all that kept him in hiding, though he had to bite down hard on his own hand to keep quiet.

He could just see Frodo from his hiding place. The tramping orc feet and clanking metal armour grew very loud inside the tunnel and he could hear their guttural voices as their yellow torchlight slid along the walls. When they tramped into full view, Sam’s heart froze. There were more than a score of normal orcs, plus two much larger ones the likes of which Sam had never seen before. He couldn’t fight all these! Even the smaller orcs were taller and heavier than the Moria ones, only about Dwarf height but with over-long arms and heavier weapons. The two Big Orcs, though, were nearly as tall as Men (if they hadn’t walked crook-legged), with faces less distorted, though somehow what should have made them look less ugly instead made them even more sickening. Each goblin carried a shield with a big red eye painted on.

As soon as they saw Frodo, the Big Orcs shouted in deep voices, “Spy! A spy!” and the smaller ones laughed gleefully, gathering around Frodo gawping until the Big Orcs bashed them aside with the order, “No spoiling!” Then a few sulked away and hence discovered the trail of spider gore. The goblins were even more gleeful then. Sam found that by listening hard he could understand enough of their ruined speech to learn that they knew about the monster spider and had learned the hard way never to come near the tunnel except in a large group.

“This puny spy don’t look plucky enough to hurt ol’ Shelob, but he must’a tricked her. Ha! She kilt ‘im but didn’t get to eat ‘im, ain’t that funny!”

“Stupid!” snapped another. “This little spy ain’t dead, can’t ye tell? Shelob has two different poisons. When she binds one up like this, she’s makin’ a meal, and she don’t eat dead meat nor drink cold blood. So this one ain’t dead. Oh, what sport we’ll have wi’ ‘im when he wakes up!”

A great deal of loud cackling ensued, but although Sam nearly screamed, it wasn’t in rage at the goblins. He was furious at himself! Frodo wasn’t dead, but now he was captured!

“No spoiling! No sport!” roared the two Big Orcs in their much deeper voices. “The Great Eye commands it! We keep the spy in the top of the Tower 'til we report about ‘im.”

The ordinary orcs grumbled but obeyed quickly, picking up Frodo and leaving the same way they’d come, but still laughing cruelly.

Sam waited until all was quiet before leaving his hiding place, and he dared not even whisper though he was screaming inside. [i]*Sam Gamgee, you idiot, you fool! Mr. Frodo’s not dead, but you’ve gone and let him be captured! And they’ll find his mithril shirt and Lorien cloak – what will they make of them? But settle down, Sam, settle down and think or you’re no use to Frodo.*[/i]

He couldn’t fight that many orcs, there were twenty-five if there were one! All he could do was follow, see where they put Frodo, and figure out how to rescue him. There would be a way! Sam told himself that again and again as he stealthily followed the orcs’ trail.

It was full night outside. Such was Sam’s first look at the Nameless Land, all brooding shadows, even the light from moon and stars mostly blotted out by clouds. The only relief was that the air stank a great deal less and wind made it feel less stifling, though the air felt somehow unhealthy in his throat. He stood on the lip of a wide dirt path that stretched away into Mordor, flanked by steep rocky slopes.

It was fortunate that Sam had been so cautious, for hardly had he stepped out from the tunnel’s mouth than he ducked back. The orcs had not taken the road, but turned sharply aside and were climbing up the mountainside toward a great dark tower almost overshadowing the tunnel mouth. He guessed the tower was Cirith Ungol which Lord Faramir had mentioned. Sam’s heart sank like a stone when they carried Frodo inside and slammed the gate shut.

Once sure that nothing stirred outside the tower, Sam crept forth and took a better look, searching anxiously for a way in. Red-yellow light glowed in nearly every slit window, and he could hear coarse orc voices echoing within the stone walls. He knew there were at least twenty-five orcs inside, but maybe a lot more. The walls were smooth stone, impossible to climb even if Sam weren’t deathly afraid of heights. Since the back of the tower, the west side, seemed built right into (or out of) the mountainside, he climbed up to see if he could get in back there, but it was no use.

He’d have to go in by the front gate, or not at all.

For what felt like a long time, Sam skulked in the shadows near the tower, anxiously debating with himself. He could only see two choices, neither one much good. Either enter by that front gate, try to fight his way to Frodo and probably die, or wait where he was for a better chance. But he was already weakening from thirst and hunger, and he couldn’t get more supplies to last him. And how long could Frodo wait for rescue before those orcs tormented and killed him? Or what if they moved Frodo to an even more hopeless prison? Finally, when push came to shove, Sam was a Hobbit of action, so he tightened his belt, held blue-glowing Sting ready, and forced himself to march toward the front gate despite his quailing heart. He’d find a way through, he would!

Before he’d revealed himself, there was a burst of noise and the tower gate clanged open! Two orcs ran out, but fell flat before they got far. Dead? Peering hard, Sam saw knife hilts sticking out of their backs. The tower door must have stayed open then because the night grew loud with battle - screams and snarls, curses, clangs and thuds. Several more orcs ran from the open gates only to fall dead. Wondering what was happening, but with hope growing in his quailing heart that he’d have a lot fewer goblins to fight than he’d feared, Sam waited until all was quiet again before creeping up to the gates.

“Come on, Sam, now for it!” he spurred himself and darted forward, but suffered a wicked shock, as if he’d run smack into an invisible wall. He tried again, but something he could not see was barring his way! Looking about in confusion, he noticed two hideous stone statues just inside the courtyard, each with three heads facing in different directions. They were stone, but Sam felt the malevolent gaze of their eyes and knew with an icy shudder that they were aware of him. Watch-guards, empowered by Sauron to bar intruders from entering.

Hardening his own will, Sam tried to push past that barrier, but only got a headache for his trouble. Then a thought came to him and he held forth Galadriel’s Star-phial, speaking her name aloud like a prayer. Quickly a pure white light streamed forth from it, striking especially the black eyes of the Stone Watchers. All other shadows quickly fled from the pure light, though those stone eyes glittered, intensifying their spirit of malice until Sam’s heart shrank. In the end, though, Galadriel’s light overpowered even the Watcher’s will.

Sam sprang past them at once, returning the Phial to his pocket, but as he did he heard a shrill noise break from the Watchers and echo up through the tower, and like a signal’s answer high above a sharp bell clanged once.

“That’s done it! I’ve rung hullo at the front door,” Sam muttered grimly, certainly fearing attack but moving resolutely through the stone courtyard. It was very dark, except for a reddish-yellow glow shining forth from the partly open door at the far end. The flagstones were littered with dead orcs, some still locked together in a mutual deathgrip. Sam avoided looking closely, hurrying to the tower door and obliged to jump over the body of a Big Orc that was wedging the door open.

Inside the tower was very dim, lit only by widely spaced torches in wall brackets. Many more dead orcs, and a lot of filth that Sam was grateful he couldn’t see well. All was so quiet that even the slight sound of Sam’s feet on the flagstones seemed loud. It was very fortunate Sam did not have to wander through that horrid place, searching everywhere, for already his fears returned even worse than before and his nerves felt weak. But the Big Orcs had said the top of the tower, so Sam began climbing the only stairway he saw.

The eerie quiet, the unknown darkness behind countless chambers and passages, the feeling that at any moment death could spring out of any shadow and crush his neck from behind, and that wall of malice barring the gates outside – Sam was very nearly unnerved. He would have preferred a real fight (against not too many orcs at a time) to this constant silent dread. Only his resolve to rescue Frodo kept him moving up those stairs.

He had climbed high and wondered, groaning, just how tall this tower was, when suddenly he heard some orc make a sickening noise of pain, then heard uneven footsteps approaching from ahead. An orc limped into full view and stopped in surprise when it saw Sam, and while he saw that one of its arms hung limp, it saw the blue glow of Sting. It snarled and raised a scimitar, but a little too slow. Sam lunged and drove Sting into a tear in its belly armour, then flung the body off the stairs and rushed onward.

Later he came to a landing with only two doorways off it, lit by a single torch. He saw no more stairs, only a ladder leading up to a square hole in the ceiling. He hoped he’d reached the top of the tower. He hoped Frodo was at the top of that ladder!

Amazed (and not entirely grateful) that he’d only had to fight one orc, he sprang one step toward that ladder, but then sprang into hiding in the nearest dark side room, for a hulking shadow suddenly appeared and climbed down the ladder. The massive Big Orc grunted to itself, holding a heavy mace in one huge hand and a bundle in the other. A sword and a coiled whip were at its belt. Sam shrank back, terrified nearly out of his wits, praying that the Big Orc wouldn’t notice him. It didn’t, hurrying straight down the stairs until the sound of its passing faded away. As it passed through the torchlight, however, Sam had gotten a look at the bundle it carried – the bright silver-white glint of Frodo’s mithril shirt, his grey Lorien cloak, and Sam’s barrow blade.

Frodo must be up there! That certainty was more than enough to restore Sam to action. He charged up ready to slaughter any last orcs that threatened Frodo. Sam’s head came up in the middle of a simple round turret room lit by a torch and a slit window letting in a reddish glow. All Sam saw at first was a long-armed orc crouched on the wooden floor, fingering some small bright things. Springing up at sight of Sam, though flinching from the bright Elvish gleam of Sting’s blade, it snarled and lashed him with a whip. Sam had surged up into the room like a cat and managed to take the lash across his arm and side, which bruised him and tore his jacket. He slashed at the orc’s whip arm, severing its hand. Shrieking in rage, the orc rushed at Sam, who slashed wildly while ducking aside. By providence, the crazed orc stumbled headlong through the opening, landed with a nasty crunch, and moved no more.

Sting’s glittering blue glow immediately faded. With danger gone, at least for the moment, Sam quickly spotted Frodo lying in the shadows by the stone wall. The rest of the spider’s cords had been cut away, but he wore only his breeches. Rushing to him anxiously, Sam was intensely relieved to see that Frodo was no longer deathly white, and he was breathing! Sam knelt beside him, seizing and chafing his hands.

“Mr. Frodo, I’m here! It’s your Sam. Wake up, Mr. Frodo!”

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Frodo Inactive
 Posted: Nov 18 2014, 22:50
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Group: Inactive
Posts: 42
Player: Jean
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Joint Post with Samwise Gamgee


Frodo gasped awake, flinching in terror expecting more hideous Orc threats, until he dared open his eyes and look, and what he saw looked very like Sam, but he must be dreaming and wondered how this would turn into the next nightmare. He’d already had so many.

Sam, his strength renewed by the tremendous joy and relief of finding Frodo still alive, went on speaking reassurances as he lifted Frodo’s head and shoulders into his lap. His master was bruised and scraped and chilled from exposure to the night air and the cold wind knifing into the round turret room through the narrow slit window. The discolored wound from the spider’s sting stood out against the fair skin of Frodo’s shoulder, but he was breathing well and no longer looked deathly.

“Am I still dreaming?” Frodo mumbled to himself in confusion, still not quite awake but too exhausted to remain tense for long when nothing hurtful was happening. “Why is Sam in my nightmare?”

“You’re not dreaming anymore, Mr. Frodo. Wake up. It’s really me! I’m here and you’re safe.” For now he added silently, with a glance at Sting to make sure the blade wasn’t showing any blue glimmer.

“I can hardly believe it!” Frodo grasped weakly, staring up at Sam’s trusty familiar face. When he was sure, he tried to smile with a stiff face and clutched at Sam, overswept by a wave of relief so powerful that he could have fainted again. “How under the stars did you find me, Sam? And where am I?”

“At the top of a tall tower just inside Mordor, right against the mountain. I think it’s called Cirith Ungol. I snuck along behind the Orcs who took you here. It was hard holding onto hope that I’d find you alive, but I have, and here you are, bless you!”

“But how did I get—“ Frodo started to ask, but then some tentative memories began to return and one hand rubbed the wound in his shoulder. “Oh, that giant spider. It was going to attack you, and it stung me. But I don’t remember Orcs, not until I woke up in this room when an Orc poured some horrid hot drink down my throat. My head cleared then, but soon I wished it hadn’t, for two huge ones stood over me. They questioned me until I fainted, and then there were nightmares, and then more questioning, round and round until I felt I might go mad. I was terrified they would eat me at any moment! I don’t think I told them anything too unwise, but…” he trailed off uncertainly, because it was hard to remember what answers he'd really given since the real memories seemed jumbled together with the nightmares. He shuddered.

“Later, Mr. Frodo, we can try to sort it all out. But first we’ve got to get away from this tower before any more Orcs come. Are you well enough to stand and walk? Or I can carry you.” Weary as he was, he felt he could carry Frodo if it came to it, since the leaving would be all down stairs and no more climbing.

“No, Sam, I think I’m not too much hurt,” Frodo said, hoping he spoke truly. He did not want to burden Sam even more than already. He got to his feet with a boost from Sam and found that although he felt stiff and tired, he was steady enough. Taking some deep breaths, he carefully walked a bit around the small bare room, careful of the open trap door with the head of a ladder sticking through. When his foot trod on several small metal things, he saw that he’d stepped on two of the silver buttons that had burst off his jacket when the Orcs stripped him searching for clues and valuables. He’d been awake for that.

“When did those two brutes leave me alone? In my last nightmares there was a lot of noise, like arguing and fighting, but it sounded...” The confusion returned over what had been real.

“You didn’t dream that, Mr. Frodo,” Sam told him. “I don’t know why, but the Orcs in this tower warred on each other awhile after they brought you here. At least a hundred of them had all nearly killed each other off by the time I got inside. Lucky for both of us I only had to fight two.” By then Sam meant that sincerely, for although he’d half been spoiling for a fight earlier just to break the unnerving silence on his long climb up the stairs, now he was just grateful to have found Frodo alive and still be healthy enough to help him.

“Two of the last three guarding you – maybe they quarreled over your finer things, because one came away with a crippled arm and then the other left carrying your things in a bundle. I killed your last guard just now, or more like I wounded it and it fell out the trap door head first.”

“They took my things away?” Frodo gasped. Finally clear-minded enough to fully realize the enormity of the disaster, he crumpled to his knees in despair. “Oh no, Sam! They took the Ring!” he wailed and moaned. “They’ll bring it to the Dark Lord. The quest has failed! Oh Sam, even if we escape Mordor, where can we go that would be safe anymore? Now the Shadow will spread to ever corner. I’ve failed! All is lost.”

“No, Mr. Frodo,” Sam assured him. “They didn’t find the Ring. Because I took it. I mean, I kept it from them.” He suddenly felt nervous and guilty trying to explain. “I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo, but after that spider stung you, I thought you were dead. You seemed dead, I couldn’t wake you up though I tried a long time. So I meant to try and finish the quest for you, as the last service I could give.” He fumbled to get his fingers around the chain and pull the Ring into sight. At that moment, though, he felt reluctant to give it back to Frodo. He hesitated.

You’ve got it?” Frodo gasped in amazement. “Sam!” he smiled hugely in relief, drawing breath to praise him to the heavens, but abruptly everything shifted.

Give it back to me!” he demanded. “You can’t have it!” His hand shook reaching for it, so anxious did he feel, for in his sight a terrible change happened and Sam became an Orc, and the horrible vision seemed so real, so easy to believe.

“All right, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said quickly, trying to reassure him. The shocking change in his master’s mien frightened and pained his heart in equal measure. He had such misgivings about returning the Ring, but in his heart he knew it wasn’t because he wanted the Ring for himself. It was because he’d felt the real physical weight of it around his own neck, noticed how it tinged his senses. By carrying the evil thing for just one day, he understood a lot better why Frodo felt so weary and battered in both body and spirit. He didn’t want him to have to suffer it anymore. But if he kept the Ring now, when Frodo asked for it back, it really would be stealing, and he’d never steal anything from his master and dearest friend. Quickly, seeing the alarming look in Frodo’s eyes, he drew the chain off over his head and held out the Ring, but he couldn’t bear to not offer to help.

“Here inside Mordor, Mr. Frodo, this Ring is even heavier and more dangerous than ever. I wish you needn’t still carry the burden alone. I could help you carry it?”

“No, you won’t, you thief!” Frodo snapped, snatching the Ring from Orc-Sam’s hand and backing away in fear and revulsion at sight and sound of Orc-Sam speaking, grasping for the hilt of Sting even though it wasn’t there.

Sam, stricken to the quick, dropped to his knees and covered his face behind his hands, his heart wrung with the worst pain of his life. He couldn’t bear to see how Frodo was looking at him – wide-eyed and shaking with fear and hatred.

Frodo didn’t know how long he stood shaking, clutching the Ring so tight in his fist that the chain bit into his fingers, until the horrible vision of Orc-Sam faded away. He hoped the spell had only lasted a moment, for after rubbing his other hand across his eyes to clear them he beheld his dear friend kneeling with face contorted in pain, and his own despicable words echoed in his ears.

“Oh Sam, I’m sorry!” he cried, tears welling in his eyes. He dropped to his knees before his dearest friend and clasped him round the shoulders. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please forgive me! What came over me? It’s this hateful Ring. But understand, dear Sam. The burden fell to me, and I must see it through to the end.”

“I know, Mr. Frodo, I understand,” Sam answered in a choked voice, after his chest eased enough to allow for breath. He understood all too well, after having borne the Ring for only one day. It broke his heart that Frodo must bear the burden again, but he offered no more argument. At least, when he looked at his master again, Frodo seemed his true self once more, kind and caring.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Frodo went on, feeling a great need to make amends if he could, for in the wake of his fear and anger came pure guilt. “It’s because I know the burden of this Ring so well that I can’t let you, of all people, bear the burden. You of all people, after all you’ve done! It would shame me forever to let you suffer it in my place.”

“I understand, Mr. Frodo, it’s all right,” Sam assured him, even though he didn’t agree that it would be wrong of Frodo to let him share the burden, but he couldn’t bear to hear any more just then and didn’t want Frodo to go on feeling bad.

“At least I can still help you reach Mount Doom.” Taking a deep, tired breath, he got to his feet and offered Frodo a hand up too, as faithful a servant and friend as he’d ever been.

“First things first, you can’t cross Mordor in just your breeches. I didn’t see your clothes in that bundle, except your Elven cloak. What a pity they got that.” Looking about in the shadowy room, he spied where Frodo’s shirt, waistcoat, and jacket had been cast aside. He picked them up and shook them out.

“Those creatures managed to put tears in your jacket and waistcoat, and they’ve burst off all the buttons, but they’re still wearable. Your shirt’s shredded, but I’ve a spare in my pack.” Draping the once-fine clothes over his shoulder, he slipped off his pack and pulled out his spare shirt, crushed and somewhat stained and much too large for Frodo, but it was a lot better than nothing. He helped Frodo into it and gave him the waistcoat and jacket, then picked up as many of the silver buttons as he saw and stuffed them into his pocket, for no better reason than not wanting to leave anything of theirs in Mordor if they could help it.

“I’ve got two other things you’ll be glad to have back, Mr. Frodo. Sting and The Lady’s Star-glass. I expected to need them to reach Mount Doom. Here they are.”

“Thank you, Sam, for all you’ve done. No one could ever have a better friend,” Frodo said with emphasis, trying still to make up for how he’d wounded his dear Sam. Sting still had its belt, which he fastened around his waist, and Galadriel’s Star-glass went into his deep jacket pocket.

“But where is your own sword, Sam?” he asked, noticing the lack. “And… are you hurt? You fought that horrid spider, and you said you fought two Orcs here.”

“I’m well enough,” Sam answered. The fresh bruises from where the whip hit felt a bit hot, but he could still move all right, and he was surely in better shape than Frodo. “But I left my barrow blade with you when I took Sting, and I saw it in that bundle.” He didn’t actually mention the loss of Frodo’s priceless mithril shirt, which was a really tragic loss, but if Frodo wasn’t mourning it just yet, that was just as well.

“We’ll find you a sword on our way out,” Frodo promised, “Though I’m sorry it will likely be an Orc sort. But what is the way out? And how do we find Mount Doom?” For he realized how poor an idea he had of where they were, having seen nothing beyond that dark tunnel.

“There’s a dirt road, or path, leading farther into Mordor,” Sam answered, “But let’s take a look out this window. If it faces east, we’re up high enough to get a bird’s eye view. Something out there's letting in this red glow.” Upon discovering that they were each too short to see anything useful from the bottom of the slit window, Sam wove his fingers together for Frodo to step into, which boosted him high enough to see Mount Doom in the distance. The red glow came from the fires burning within it. The road leading away from the tower would start them out in the right direction.

Sam led the way down the ladder to the first landing below Frodo’s prison room. His final guard lay in a broken-necked heap near the bottom of the ladder, mercifully not where they had to step on it. Sam took its curved Orc sword for a weapon, and on their long climb down the curving stairs he foraged two long knives, one for each of them. The long climb to the foot of the tower was revolting and both Hobbits, by effort of will, avoided looking clearly at the Orc carnage they passed, though it was impossible to be blind to it. Sam, at least, still found it blessedly less unnerving than his journey up the stairs had been because he was not alone and not plagued by fear that he would either fail to find Frodo or would find him dead.

It was almost a relief, by comparison, when at last they crept out the front door of the tower, still jammed partly open by the body of the dead Big Orc. Knowing that all the Orcs in the courtyard were dead, they hurried through, the better not to see the worst of the carnage.

The last stage was getting past those malevolent three-headed stone Watch-guards. Frodo did not know about them, but when it became an exhausting effort to keep walking toward the outer gate, Sam realized that the Watchers’ evil will worked just as much at preventing strangers from leaving as from entering. By the time neither of them could manage one more step, both could feel the fierce malice of the stone devils like a terror trying to crush their heartbeats.

Fortunately, Sam had already discovered the trick to getting past them. He explained to Frodo as best he could, and so Frodo held forth Galadriel’s Star-glass and spoke better and wiser words, in Elvish, than Sam even knew, and once again the Watcher’s powerful will broke before the greater power of pure Light, and they ran past the statues and out the gates as fast as their shaky legs could carry them.

As before, a terrible shrill cry broke from the Watchers when the Hobbits escaped, and came the answering clang at the top of the tower. In case there were fell creatures near enough to hear those tell-tale alarms, Sam and Frodo kept on running until they found a place where they could scramble up into deep shadows among rocks on the mountain’s slope near the path. By then they were more staggering than running, and hid in the shelter of the rocks a good while to rest.

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Samwise
 Posted: Jun 7 2015, 22:06
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Unfortunately, they had not gotten much rest of body – and even less of mind – hiding there before hearing the ghastly cry of a Nazgul on the wing. They saw its looming shadow scud overhead and watched it land at the Tower’s gate, answering the Stone Watchers’ alarm.

For several minutes there was eerie silence. Nothing seemed to answer the Nazgul’s call. But they knew that couldn’t last long before at least Orcs came, and maybe they’d be searched for. They weren’t hidden well enough if Orcs came along the road on alert, and couldn’t hide any better on that barren rocky slope, but if they ran further away toward the bridge and the Nazgul happened to look their way during the wrong few seconds, it might see them. They must choose between equal dangers, and choose soon! Getting farther from that tower seemed the better choice.

“Here, Mr. Frodo, wrap my cloak around you,” Sam whispered urgently, thinking that even if he were sighted, Frodo would not be. He wanted Frodo to be as safe as possible. But Frodo refused, saying he was smaller and quicker already and so needed the cloak less. That argument didn’t settle with Sam, but there was no time to argue, and after the trouble in the prison tower Sam was more wont to hold his tongue, as he nearly always had until he and Frodo had struck out alone weeks ago.

As fast as they could, terror and desperation lending wings to their heels, they broke from the shadows and dashed a little further along the road, then across the stone bridge spanning a deep ravine. Providence was with them, for they had not been spied!

They had not quite reached the further end of the stone bridge before the hue and cry began in earnest. Away behind, from Cirith Ungol, harsh bells clanged and they heard what might have been galloping horses. Coming toward the bridge from ahead of them sounded answering Orcish cries with the messy tramping of many iron-shod feet.

“Quick, Sam, over the side!” Frodo hissed desperately. They had no choice but to scramble down onto the lower parapet of the bridge, which put them safely out of sight of the Tower but not from prying Orc eyes, so they had to risk dropping completely down into the ravine, unable to see how far they’d fall or what they’d land on because the shadows below the bridge were too dark.

“Here goes, Mr. Frodo. Let go and pray!” Sam gasped and then let go, dearly praying it wouldn’t be the death of them. They got quite a surprise, though, for instead of a terrible breaking fall onto rocks, they only fell about ten feet onto stiff-branched shrubs. They lay quietly, keeping their breathing and wincing as silent as they could until the last sounds of tramping Orcs passed by overhead. Then they groaned, for the stiff dry thicket had jabbed and scratched them painfully.

“I didn’t suppose anything would grow here,” Sam grumbled, “But these nasty bushes are just what Mordor would sport. Good thing they don’t have thorns.”

Frodo groaned, “Because thorns would not make them worse. Ouch!” That sentiment was much echoed for the next few minutes while they extricated themselves from the thicket and took stock of their new injuries – nothing serious, but enough that even Sam was short of his usual humor, especially at the discovery that a quite inconvenient tear had been rent in his pack, forcing him to rearrange the contents and reminding him yet again that they were very nearly out of both food and water.

“I guess we’ll do as well just following this ravine for a while,” Frodo said, feeling resigned, “Unless it refuses to turn northward enough.” They followed that ravine for longer than they wanted, as it turned out, since especially at night they could not find a way to climb out once they would have preferred to. They struggled along for hours among rocks, stiff dry shrubs of the same sort they’d fallen on, and deep shadows. The only advantage was that they needn’t fear being seen, but the exertion left them dreadfully parched, Frodo dizzy, and Sam dull-minded from lack of sleep for nearly two days straight. When they finally could go no further without resting and sat huddled together leaning on each other, Sam shocked them both by falling sound asleep!

This post has been edited by Samwise: Jun 28 2015, 22:41
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Samwise
 Posted: Jun 28 2015, 22:41
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It must have been early morning when they set out again, though in Mordor it was still fairly murky, at least down in the ravine. Frodo led the way, Sam horrified at himself for falling hard asleep despite worrying about a sneak attack by Gollum, who was still alive as far as they knew.

“This blind darkness must be getting to me,” Frodo commented glumly, and feeling more than a little disturbed. “I can’t seem to remember the look or smells of the Shire – good food cooking in the kitchen, the hills and fields, the water tumbling through the mill, the Brandywine River – I can’t really remember them anymore, Sam.”

That upset Sam – far more than he allowed his master to know – but his attempt at encouragement was perfectly genuine. “Don’t fret, Mr. Frodo. You’re thinking too much about water, is the trouble. I’d want clean water and sunshine now even more than fresh food!”

Frodo made no further comment about it, but having realized he couldn’t truly remember their home became a nagging worry and heart-pain as they struggled on. After awhile Frodo suddenly turned and pulled Sam down in a crouch.

“There’s a Black Rider above, I can feel it. Keep still!” They ducked their heads together and Sam pulled his Lorien cloak over both of them. After the Nazgul was gone, Frodo breathed a tremulous sigh of relief. He didn’t notice that Sam had watched him closely to make sure he kept his hands away from the Ring. That same thing happened twice more as they struggled further into Mordor, and it was hard to say which Hobbit found it more unnerving, both of them in terror of the Nazgul, but Sam also ever worried that the Ring would manage to tempt Frodo to put it on so the Nazgul would find them. In those moments, that was what Sam dreaded the most!

Finally the ravine bent truly northward, and they knew from the red glow visible even above the rim overhead that they were headed directly toward Mount Doom. Eventually the murky sky, which had long since turned grey in what passed for daytime in Mordor, truly astonished them by revealing a rim of true sunlight! It was creeping over the southwestern rim of the mountains separating Mordor from the Free West! When they were sure the sunlight was real, they even paused to watch, puzzled but amazed. Truly, the sunlight kept creeping northeastward, the gloomy edges of Mordor’s clouds grudgingly tattering like thinning smoke.

“It’s like sunlight coming through—“ Sam bit his tongue, abashed, for he had been about to say “Dirty prison windows.” But he would not speak such gloomy words to Frodo, even though Mordor did feel much like a prison, one from which there might be no escape even after they destroyed the Ring. But that very thought they must resist.

“Good clean sunlight, Mr. Frodo! Isn’t it beautiful? It has to mean something good, something hopeful.”

“Perhaps, Sam,” Frodo replied after a long moment, but his face and voice were glum and weary and he looked away from the sunlight as if it pained him. “But it doesn’t help us. We must go East, not West, and there is no help here.” Despite himself, even his voice began to tremble and break. “I’m so tired, and the Ring so heavy! I see it all the time in my mind, Sam. It won’t let me rest.”

Sam’s spirits sank again, replaced by even worse anxiety for his master. He so wanted to help! But he didn’t know how, not really, not help that Frodo would accept. But he grasped Frodo’s arm in a supportive way, for he could see how terribly weary he was, and began leading the way as much as was possible when walking side by side.

Eventually they found themselves trudging uphill as the ravine shallowed. Sam was partly relieved, since being down in the ravine so long was what had first put the word “prison” in his mind, but partly uneasy because of not knowing whether their way could remain concealed on higher ground. He could tell they were getting closer to Mount Doom because the air was smelling steadily more bitter from the fumes that seemed to belch continuously from the angry mountain.

Eventually they came to what must be an Orc track that headed almost due north. They knew it was risky to use it, in case a patrol of Orcs came along, but Frodo was just too exhausted to struggle further along the rougher route, so they risked the Orc path. They followed it for some hours without meeting trouble. Perhaps intruders were never expected to travel *toward* Mount Doom.

After a few hours walking along that track, they were utterly astonished to see a little way ahead what looked very much like a thin but swift-flowing streamlet running right across their path! It then flowed sharply downhill into a crevice that had dropped open on the east side of their path.

“It looks fresh!” Frodo gasped, hardly daring to hope it was real, drinkable water. “It must be flowing down from the mountains. Oh Elbereth!” They both strove to hurry toward it on their weary, sore legs.

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