Frodo had fallen.
Many harsh miles he had traveled but whether out of blindness or weariness he had collapsed to the earth at last. He was not alone either. He heard Sam drop to his left and there they both lay too weak to move. And to Frodo’s horror the voice that had plagued him for all these wretched weeks awoke.
“Rest here.” it whispered softly.
At this it paused and Frodo felt a numb haze begin to fill his limbs.
“Rest here,” it repeated even more kindly, “and you will have peace.”
The word seemed such a rare and beautiful promise, peace, and though it came from the ring Frodo sensed this was not wholly a lie. Surely if he lay here his body would eventually succumb to its weariness and then. . .
“Peace.” The voice answered.
A thought struggled inside him for some time. It finally surfaced to the forefront of his mind and burned brightly like a small flame. No, he could not rest. He had made it all this way and he had a task to finish. Gathering his strength he tried rousing his legs, but they were merely deadweights and refused to support his weight any longer.
What was he to do now?
Frodo looked up wearily and saw what lay before him. The looming mountain towered over the very world. From its mouth red tails of flame shot forth over the poisoned sky. They hissed wickedly through the dark air as if daring him to complete his task.
Somehow this scene did not frighten Frodo. Rather, the small flame now blazed within him and was seized by sudden determination. He was not going to lie down and die so close to the end. No, he had come not for himself, but for his beloved Shire.
His face hardened and he stretched forth a hand. If he could not walk, he would crawl. Pitifully he heaved himself inch by inch up the slope; he pushed away any thoughts of pain and clung desperately to a few scattered memories of home. But, as quickly as his newly found strength had come it crumbled. The beautiful memories became shadows. Then the fire within him flickered, and was no more.
He slumped into the ash and let weariness take him. He would obey the words of the ring, let sleep carry him away from this place and be free. . .
But someone tore him from death’s welcoming embrace. Strong hands drew him up into their arms and turned his face from the dust to sky.
It was Sam.
*“Do you remember the Shire, Mr Frodo? . . . It'll be spring soon, and the orchards will be in blossom; and the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket; and they'll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields; and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”
He knew these things were real though he could not see them, and the words were familiar. But no, all of these bright hopes were gone from him.
*“No, Sam. I can't recall the taste of food; or the sound of water; nor the touch of grass . . . I'm naked in the dark. There's no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see it with my waking eyes.”
Trembling, he no longer saw Sam, but had he; he would have been surprised to see that his simple hobbit face now grew stern.
*“Then let us be rid of it - once and for all! Come on, Mr. Frodo. I can't carry it for you ... but I can carry you! Come on!”
Frodo realized he was being lifted from the ground and onto Sam’s back. At the same time he felt some of the darkness leave him. He sighed deeply.
He could make it---They could make it.
(*) Asterisks indicate text taken directly from the script of the Return of the King.
Chapter End Notes:
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