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The Cusp of Victory  by Kara's Aunty

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Sam’s showdown with Gollum on Sauron’s Road does not unfold as the Fates decreed …

A Trabble (300 words)

Chapter One: Sauron's Road 

“Now!” said Sam, rounding on Gollum as Frodo fled up the long path towards the Sammath Naur, “at last I can deal with you!” He leaped forward with his drawn blade ready for battle. Gollum drew back with a vicious growl.

“Thinks it can hurt uss with nasty cruel steel, it does,” he hissed. “Stupid fat hobbit wants to keep uss from the Preciouss! Well, we won‘t letss it!”

Quick as a flash, the erstwhile Ring-bearer bent down, grabbed a sizeable rock from the rubble-strewn path and threw it with all the force of his loathing towards his nemesis. Caught off guard, Sam wasn’t quick enough to duck from its path; it struck his left temple. Pain exploded through his head and he staggered, stunned by the blow. Heat trickled down his face and into his eye, blinding him on one side. He tried to right himself before his enemy took advantage, swiping frantically at the blood with his filthy sleeve.

But it was too late. Frenzied snarls sounded from ahead - no, from above! The maddened creature was flying at him!

And him as could barely see to defend himself!

Righteous anger flooded the little gardener. That slinker! What sort of a sneak attacked a half-blind hobbit? And what sort of a servant was he anyway, to lead his master through all the evils of Arda and on to the cusp of victory itself, only to abandon him to an uncertain fate for no more than the flick of a stone?

The Gaffer would have his guts for braces if he found out!

Fighting nausea and dizziness, Sam opened his good eye, raised his sword and, summoning all his wrath, took his best stab in the direction of the snarls.

And, against all the odds, the snarls stopped.

Forever.

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Author's Note: Some dialogue taken directly from The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 3: Mount Doom.

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Gollum‘s death leaves Sam shaken.

A double-Droubble (400 words)

Chapter Two: Aftermath

Sam’s eyes remained fixed on the haggard figure lying crumpled at his feet. Slowly, he pulled his blade from the thin, still chest, fighting nausea when it disturbed hands clasped uselessly over the fatal wound which he had inflicted. Light was forever dimmed from Gollum’s lamp-like eyes, though shock and disbelief lingered yet like a lover’s kiss on his slackened jaw.

Death had caught the feral creature by surprise.

Although the confrontation was over, Sam’s heart still hammered frantically in his chest: thump-thump, thump-thump! It was so loud, that he half-expected the noise to draw the Eye’s gaze from the north and settle malevolently upon him, before all the orcs of Arda came rushing to rip him from the mountain-side and bring him forthwith to Barad-dúr. Or maybe the Dark Lord would send them Black Riders instead, all the better to hasten his interrogation and torture while he demanded his Precious.

Alarming thoughts indeed; though try as he might, Sam still couldn’t tear his eyes from the prone form of Gollum.

He should feel relieved that the murdering sneak was finally disposed of. What had Slinker ever brought his dear, tormented master other than tribulation and treachery? Had he lightened Frodo’s burden with tale or song? No! He’d weighed it down with lies and deceit! Had he offered Frodo the safest passage to lands so black, that no peaceable folks would think on them, let alone traverse them? No! He’d led his weary master up endless, wicked stairs and straight into the lair of a hobbit-eating spider!

A huge hobbit-eating spider!

He should feel relieved.

But he didn‘t.

For Slinker had not always been evil. There was a time when he had been little more than a simple, hobbit-like creature called Sméagol who lived by the river, delighting in sunshine and all growing things; who had been content with good food and family and laughter. And so he would have remained; living and dying in blissful ignorance of the horrors in the world, were it not for one unlucky fishing trip with his friend …

A sudden gust of wind blew chill round the mountain, pulling Sam from his shock. Setting his jaw, he wiped his sticky temple, then his bloody blade, and sheathed it.

“What’s done is done,” he whispered, turning on his heel and speeding up the rocky path. Sméagol was beyond his aid.

But Frodo was not.

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Victory is close in the Sammath Naur. But for whom?

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Three: Sammath Naur

Sam plunged into the Sammath Naur. Deep rumblings shook the air, and he couldn’t tell if it was the rage of fire and rock ahead, or the wild beatings of his own fearful heart. Unable to see through the inky blackness, he withdrew the phial of Galadriel and held it aloft. But it remained pale and cold.

He cursed his luck. The lady’s starglass could be no light for him in this dark place - not in the very heart of Sauron’s dominion.

If only he’d thought to bring along a nice stick of wood for a torch!

Taking a few uncertain steps forward, he was startled by a sudden flash of red.

The Fires of Doom! Birthplace of the accursed Ring!

And soon to be the place of its undoing, if he knew his master …

In answer to his thoughts, redness flared again. It leapt upward, smiting the black roof and illuminating the tunnel with ruby fury. A rumour and a trouble, as of great engines, throbbed and laboured in depths unseen. The sound echoed down the tunnel towards Sam, a rumbling noise that seemed like the anger of Sauron himself, come to greet him with derision:

Thou art no more threat to me than a feather to the wind!

The light faded. Squaring his jaw in determination, Sam stepped forward. When flames next appeared, he spied Frodo standing tense and erect on the brink of the chasm, black against scarlet. Wild hope sprang to life in the gardener’s chest, leaping as far and true as the flames ahead.

It was almost over! No longer would his dear master suffer the violations of Sauron’s wicked jewel. Soon it would melt into the very fires that wrought it all those years ago. The One Ring and its creator would perish! Then they’d be no more threat to Frodo than … than …

Than a feather to the wind!

All that remained was for Frodo to do the deed itself. But his master wasn’t moving. He stood motionless on the very Crack of Doom itself as if hypnotised.

What was he doing? That Ring wouldn’t throw itself into the fire!

“Master!” cried Sam.

Finally, Frodo stirred and spoke, his voice clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard. It rose above the throb and turmoil inside the mountain.

“I have come,” he said. “But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!”

Horrified, Sam watched as Frodo put the Ring on his finger and disappeared.

The gardener gasped in utter dismay. The Ring had won! His master was consumed!

All was lost.

Or was it?

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Author’s Note: Some text and dialogue lifted from The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 3: Mount Doom.

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: After Frodo claims the Ring, Sam has a decision to make…

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Four: Dilemma!

Sam’s despairing cry was lost amidst the roaring fury of fire when Frodo’s long defiance of Sauron’s jewel finally crumbled. The One Ring now dominated his dearest friend’s body and mind.

That iron Baggins‘ will had been broken at last!

No! It couldn’t be. Sam wouldn’t believe it! Frodo had fought so hard, and for so long … He’d be shattered if that evil thing corrupted his purity and made a mockery of the gentle hobbit he had ever been; just like he was back in the dreadful Tower of Cirith Ungol after calling Sam a thief.

“Oh, Sam. What have I said? What have I done? Forgive me! After all that you have done. It is the horrible power of the Ring … You can’t come between me and this doom.”

“Begging your pardon, Mr Frodo, but yes I can!” he thought grimly, as his eyes swept the dusty ground before him; he may not be able to see his master, but even invisible hobbits left footprints. “I’ll not let you struggle alone - not as long as there’s a breath to be had in this poisonous cave!”

Yet time was against them: the Dark Lord must surely be aware of the danger he was in. It was a matter of minutes until his servants showed up …

“Frodo, you have to take it off!” yelled the little gardener aloud. “He knows you’re here now. He knows it is here!”

“Go home, Sam,” replied Frodo. Yet not Frodo - there was a hard edge to his master’s voice that did not sit right in Sam’s ears.

It was the voice of the Ring.

Sam heaved with anger and hatred for it.

“I‘m sorry, Mr Frodo. Your Sam’s not going anywhere; and sure as eggs is eggs, he’ll see you right again.”

Though in order to do that, he would need to separate the Ring from Frodo - and in his current state, Frodo would not part from it without a fight …

The gardener swallowed hard. Nothing seemed more foreign to him than the thought of harming so much as a curly hair on his beloved master‘s head. It was plain wrong, is what it was! But there was nothing else for it. He’d just have to think of it as attacking the Ring.

And that he could do.

He lunged forward in desperation, hoping to catch a telltale sign of his enemy’s presence. Brown eyes swept the ground wildly, searching, seeking, hoping, until …

There!

The unmistakable dent of a hobbit tread appeared not three feet to his left. Sam didn’t even pause to think: he leapt to the side and barrelled straight into the invisible figure ...

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Author's Note: Some text and dialogue lifted from The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 1: The Tower of Cirith Ungol.

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Friend becomes foe in the Sammath Naur …

A Trabble (300 words)

Chapter Five: Insurgency

The hobbits crashed to the ground in a tangle of limbs, rolling dangerously close to the precipice. Ring-Frodo, caught off guard by the attack, was winded for a moment, giving Sam precious time to locate his invisible master’s right shoulder and fumble blindly down the accompanying arm.

A shriek of rage made Sam wince in pain as Ring-Frodo bucked hard in an attempt to dislodge him. Sam pushed him awkwardly back onto the dusty rock with one shoulder whilst scrabbling down his arm with both hands. Snagging the rough orcish fabric of Ring-Frodo’s tunic, he pulled the forearm towards him to clutch at fingers …

Suddenly, Ring-Frodo grabbed his hair and yanked Sam’s head back viciously.

“Thief!” yelled the maddened hobbit into his ear. “It’s mine!”

Sam gasped as the wound to his temple throbbed in protest. Reflexively, he abandoned his quest for the Ring to free his hair from the other hobbit’s grip.

“Mr Frodo! I only want to help! You have to let it go, sir! You have to let it go afore it destroys you - afore it destroys us both!”

“The Precious is mine, thief! Mine!

Enraged, Ring-Frodo locked his right arm under Sam’s chin; the gardener felt the touch of his hand as it crept its way over his shoulder …

The Ring was within his grasp! All he had to do to free his master was grab at it, pluck it from his finger, and throw it into the waiting abyss!

But the opportunity never came. The hand snaked its way over his left shoulder and anchored itself with maddened ferocity to the back of his neck. Brutal pressure was applied to his throat and all thoughts of grabbing Sauron’s trinket slipped from Sam’s mind as his master proceeded to strangle him …

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Primal instincts take over as Sam fights to cling to his life …

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Six: Survival

With all the smoke and ash filling the glowing red chamber, it was already difficult to breathe. Having his oxygen further depleted by a raging hobbit bent on crushing the life from him sent Sam into a panic. He tried to gain some footing to push himself up as he scrabbled at Ring-Frodo’s restraining arms; to force the other hobbit into releasing his grip. Ring-Frodo’s arms only tightened, and this time, he locked both legs around Sam’s torso, holding him securely in place.

Spots danced before the gardener’s eyes as the pressure to his throat mounted. Ring-Frodo was grunting with the effort it took to subdue his victim, and Sam’s desperate need to inhale was becoming ever more urgent …

Being deprived of air was beginning to have the strangest effect, as the dying gardener soon discovered. To him, it felt like he was two people: one hobbit, bucking madly on the precipice of the Sammath Naur as his master tried to kill him; and another, more rational hobbit, telling him to keep calm, and bemoaning Frodo’s terrible grief if his master ever realised that the Ring had made him murder his most loyal friend.

This thought anchored him as, dizzily, Sam fought for his life. Thrusting one hand under Ring-Frodo’s right leg, he pulled Sting free. The smooth blade slipped effortlessly from its scabbard and eased its way over Sam’s hip, then in between his chest and the back of Ring-Frodo’s knee.

Feeling the sudden coolness of metal against skin, the Ring-bearer clamped down harder with his legs, but Sam was now filled with the strength of the desperate; Ring-Frodo’s efforts were no match for his determination. In one jerky movement, he twisted his hand mid-motion and drew Sting sharply to him, slicing into the muscle and sinew of both struggling hobbits.

Ring-Frodo’s agonised yell was even more painful to Sam than the deep gash he had suffered himself - but the dangerous tactic had worked; he was freed at last! Rolling away from his incapacitated attacker, Sam pulled himself onto all fours, gasping and choking and as he clutched at both throat and blood-soaked chest.

Tightening his grip on Sting, he stumbled to his feet. Sam swayed unsteadily for a moment before righting himself; sharp hobbit ears followed a familiar voice warped by pain, and frantic eyes searched the ground for the matching pool of blood that would betray Ring-Frodo’s presence.

There!

A sob rose in his throat as Sam realised what had to be done to save his master. With his eyes locked on the growing stain, he raised his sword and swallowed heavily.

“I‘m sorry, Mr Frodo, sir. Forgive your Sam!”

And then he advanced …

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: The calm before the storm …

A Trabble (300 words)

Chapter Seven: Anticipation

Churning, burning, turning …

Was that the fiery fury of Lake Doom in the chasm below, sensing the pivotal battle playing out on the precipice above? Did it perceive the presence of that One terrible child of its own creation? Did it yearn once again to hold its offspring in a warm caress, as any mother would her babe? Did it realise that in doing so, it would silence that child forever?

Or was the motion naught more than the protestations of one shrivelled hobbit stomach, more queasy now with the thought of what its owner must do than it had ever been with lack of food these long days past?

Smoke clouds swirled in hedonistic delight around the Sammath Naur, thrilling as much in the deadly confrontation above as in the fiery lake below. Thick plumes stung his abused throat as Sam staggered towards the traitorous pool of blood that dripped from the crook of Ring-Frodo’s knee. Ash settled on the wound at his temple; burning, mingling, and ran thereafter in a river of dark gore down his face. It struck at the deep laceration running up his abdomen and chest; biting, clawing, searing its way through parted flesh and settling into the wound below.

But the pain it caused was nothing compared to that inflicted by the gasps of agony from the invisible figure ahead. Sam could almost see him clutching desperately at his ruined knee and willing the flesh to knit together once more.

Yet who was it that cried? Sam’s beloved master, come to himself once more, only to find himself enveloped by the terrible pain his servant had caused him? Or Ring-Frodo, incandescent with rage that his leg would not support him enough to flee before the next assault?

He would know soon enough …

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Ring-Frodo fights back without mercy as Sam continues his mission to free his master from the thrall of the One Ring …

A double-Droubble (400 words)

Chapter Eight: Retaliation

Putting all the energy he could behind the motion, Sam launched himself at the tell-tale pool of blood a few feet away. Ring-Frodo’s screams of pain were temporarily smothered when he crashed on top of the invisible hobbit. His adversary rallied enough to writhe madly underneath his attacker.

“Traitor servant! I’ll kill you. We will kill you!” he yelled furiously as he punched, scratched and kicked out with his good leg at any part of Sam he was able to reach. But the gardener held fast, straddling his enemy’s stomach with his greater weight and immobilising his torso.

Ring-Frodo continued to lash out with leg and arms; Sam inadvertently dodged a blow, which hit his pack instead. The weight of the heavy pack tilting to the side almost unbalanced him, so he struggled out of it while pinioning the other hobbit’s wounded knee into the dusty ground. An unearthly screech from Ring-Frodo fought for dominance with the roaring might of Sammath Naur.

“Aagh!! Stop! Release us! We command you to release us!

“Begging your pardon, but I’m not yours to command,” grunted Sam, fighting to keep the rabidly furious Ring-Frodo pinned to the ground with one hand, that he could bring Sting to his neck with the other and demand he give him the Ring.

It was no easy task: Ring-Frodo screamed and struggled, cursed and kicked. As Sam fumbled up his torso toward his neck, the enemy suddenly grabbed his searching arm and sank his teeth into it.

Hard.

Sting clattered to the ground as Sam yelled in pain. His adversary’s sharp teeth anchored themselves deep into flesh until the gardener, frantic with the need to free his wrist, began to punch his attacker in the head with his other hand.

No sooner had he released his grip on Ring-Frodo’s torso than the enemy stopped worrying at his wrist and wriggled free; Sam collapsed to the ground, trying desperately to staunch the blood flowing from the hideous wound. Tears streamed down his face as he grabbed a filthy handkerchief from his breeches pocket and tied it clumsily around the bleeding flesh with one hand and his teeth.

But in his haste to staunch the deadly flow, he had lost track of Ring-Frodo. Only when he felt the slight weight on his own back, and cold mithril tickling at his own neck, did Sam realise his mistake.

Ring-Frodo had Sting!

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Author's Note: Rating upgraded due to violence and bloodshed.

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: With Ring-Frodo ready to end his life, Sam is faced with an impossible choice …

A double-Droubble (400 words)

Chapter Nine: Decisions

"You would use our own sword against us?" hissed Ring-Frodo. With Sting set firmly against his neck, the gardener didn't dare move. "You would steal our Precious from us?"

"It's not your Precious! It's his! Frodo, listen to me: it's your Sam. Your Sam, sir! You know I'd never lie to you! I don't want to hurt you - I'd never do that! But you need to take it off! We need to destroy it afore it's too late - Sauron'll know as you have it! You'll never be able to escape with it now - not when you're wearing it here of all places!"

Ring-Frodo pressed him to the ground, leaning heavily on his shoulders with his good knee so that Sting dug a little deeper into Sam's neck. A hand clamped over his mouth.

Sam swallowed hard. Ring-Frodo's head was almost tucked into his neck as he hissed scornfully in his ear.

"Be silent! It is not for you to concern yourself with our fate, traitor! We are the master of the Ring now, not you … and not him. We! Us! It is ours, no other's!"

Sam didn't hear him, so aware was he of the sudden coolness of metal pressing itself tantalisingly against his lips.

The Ring!

Evil emanated from it in waves, warping Frodo's mind, relishing in the conflict between the two hobbits.

It was toying with them! It knew where it was. It knew its true master was near.

And it knew it only had to play for time until the Dark Lord's servants arrived to claim it …

Ring-Frodo had to be stopped. But how? What was a simple gardener to do? His master was so far gone he wouldn't listen to reason; Sting was millimetres from ending his life, and Frodo's own would be forfeit soon after.

He had to do something - and he had to be quick about it!

Ring-Frodo continued to goad him, pressing Sting's sharp blade deeper into his skin, clamping his right hand tighter across Sam's mouth to silence his protests …

The Ring-hand.

And so it came to him: there would never be another opportunity as good as this. Time was pressing, the enemy was ready to strike, and the Ring was so close.

Close enough to taste.

If Sam wanted to separate his Frodo from its deadly thrall, a sacrifice would have to be made …

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: With Ring-Frodo ready to end his life, Sam is faced with an impossible choice …

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Ten: Alternatives

No! He couldn't do it. He couldn't! What sort of a hobbit would even think about biting off someone's finger?

A desperate one! came a thought unbidden. As desperate as you!

Revulsion flared in Sam's heart as he recognised the same insidious voice that had tried to tempt him back at Cirith Ungol.

The One Ring. It was trying to influence him - to convince him to attack his master!

Do it!

As if he would leave Mr Frodo with such an ugly reminder of his one moment of weakness throughout this long, difficult journey! No. It would not be Samwise Gamgee who left a mark of shame on his poor, dear master - not when he didn't even deserve it!

DO IT!

The Ring was only trying to distract the two hobbits long enough for its own master's servants to arrive.

Sam wanted to lash out and hurt it.

Kill it!

You cannot kill me. But you may yet bear me as before … Claim me for yourself, Samwise the Strong! Bear me, and together we shall end Frodo's suffering. It is the only way to save him!

No! He'd sooner start wearing boots like them cracked Bucklanders than wear the Ring again. And he'd certainly never maim his master.

But maybe he could maim the Ring?

It was a wild idea; something so audacious, so desperate, that he would never have dared it otherwise.

His eyes fell on the pack he'd shrugged off minutes ago; it lay a mere foot away to his right. With a silent prayer to the Lady Elbereth that she forgive him for the defilement to come, and that Ring-Frodo wait just a minute longer before slicing his neck, Sam's fingers crept carefully towards it. Sting pressed further into his neck, drawing a warm trickle of blood and, fearing discovery, his hand stilled.

"No longer will you plague my steps, lusting after that which you were never worthy to bear!" growled a dangerous voice in his ear. Sam's heart pounded furiously against his ribs. Had his opponent guessed his intent?

But no. Ring-Frodo merely continued to hiss insults in his ear, as if preparing himself for the final draw of the blade.

Why did he falter? Was his master fighting its influence still, sickened at the thought of killing his own dear friend?

This thought spurred him on. Robbed of the facility to respond, Sam's aching, bloody hand resumed its dangerous journey and soon encountered the hardy fabric of the pack. Carefully drawing back the flap, fingers crept inside, skimming over the elven cloak and the small bread knife until, finally, he located the cool, elegant form of his quarry.

The Phial of Galadriel …

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Credit: Wikipedia.org

Summary: Sam hopes that elvish magic will help him foil the evil machinations of the One Ring. But will he get more than he bargained for …?

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Eleven: Star-glass

Slowly, Sam drew the Star-glass out from his pack and dragged it towards himself. Inch by painful inch it edged its way through the filth of the Sammath Naur; a pale, dim bottle of elven purity whose light was powerless to cut through the darkness at the heart of Sauron’s realm. Yet as cold and dead as it now remained to his touch, it seemed to bring his mind alive with elvish voices raised in beautiful, urgent song.

A song which was familiar to him! One he had sung before, yet never had it seemed more appropriate to him than here, on the very Cracks of Doom ...

Beneath Ring-Frodo’s hand, Sam’s lips moved in time to the steady, silent prayer.

“A Elbereth Gilthoniel, o menel palan-díriel, le nallon sí di'-nguruthos! A tíro nin, Fanuilos!”

The Star-glass crept closer …

Ring-Frodo felt the motion of lips beneath his fingers. Believing Sam to be begging for his life, he laughed scornfully.

“It is too late for mercy, traitor!”

The Star-glass crept closer still …

Ring-Frodo yanked Sam’s head back and prepared to pull Sting along the length of his neck.

“Now you shall meet your doom!”

No! He’d almost had it! He’d almost had Frodo!

Sam raised his left hand, trying desperately to hook it under the sword and halt its journey while he offered a frantic prayer for aid.

“Elbereth Gilthoniel! Lúthien Tinúviel! Lady Galadriel! Arwen Undómiel! O’ wondrous ladies help me! Help me NOW!”

As the sharp elven blade began to draw its way inexorably across his throat, Ring-Frodo suddenly stilled to sniff at the air. An inexplicable coldness began to invade the Sammath Naur, creeping closer, closer, until it enveloped the hobbits. Ring-Frodo began to tremble. He lowered Sting and swung around on one knee to face the archway entrance, dragging Sam with him and, together, they witnessed the dreadful answer to Sam‘s prayers.

Nazgűl!

The sudden screeching of fell beasts echoed off cavern walls; wings beating furiously as they carried their hissing riders towards the hobbits.

It was all the distraction Sam needed. Fighting the pall of terror clutching at his heart, he pulled the Star-glass to his chest and, using Ring-Frodo’s temporary paralysis, fumbled at the stopper.

Please, please open!” he begged, working it with his bloody fingers until, success! The crystal lid fell away …

Leaving him with but one thing to do.

As the Nazgűl soared towards their master’s victory, and Ring-Frodo - revealed to them at last - trembled in terror, Sam snatched his adversary’s hand from his mouth, raised the Star-glass and cried aloud.

“Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!”

And he tipped the Light of Eärendil over the One Ring of Sauron …

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Translations:

A Elbereth Gilthoniel
O Elbereth Star-kindler,
o menel palan-díriel,
from heaven gazing afar,
le nallon sí di'-nguruthos!
to thee I cry now beneath the shadow of death!
A tíro nin, Fanuilos!
O look towards me, Everwhite!

Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima!/Hail Eärendil, brightest of stars!

Author’s Note: The song of Elbereth and Sam's other elvish quote are taken straight from The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 10: The Choices of Master Samwise.

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Credit: Wikipedia.org

Summary: Will the Light of Eärendil be enough to help Sam free Frodo from the One Ring’s thrall ..?

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Twelve: Insult

For a moment, it was as if nothing had happened. Sam’s heart sank all the way to his toes as Ring-Frodo cried out in protest and jerked his hand free to punch at his ear.

Reeling, he fell to the ground. His vision swam, and the oncoming figures of the Nazgűl appeared to the gardener as no more than dark blurs hurtling through air, their manic hisses reaching into his ears as if through a deep lake of foul water.

Sam had failed.

He had failed his master, he had failed Gandalf and he had failed Mr Bilbo. Samwise the Fool was no match for the power of the One Ring. Now he would die; though whether before or after Ring-Frodo depended entirely on whether the Dark Lord’s servants reached him first …

Just as that thought faded from his mind, and as he was determining whether or not he had the strength to rob them of this pleasure by grabbing Ring-Frodo by the waist and taking them both over the edge of the precipice before it was too late, it happened.

A slow, gurgling wail began to rise from behind the gardener.

Ring-Frodo!

The wails carried above the loud whooshing of swirling ash and the screeches and hisses of beasts and Riders alike. As the blurs of the Nazgűl came slowly into focus, Sam could see that they had stopped dead in their tracks and were beginning to sway - no, writhe on their terrible mounts.

Was his desperate gamble paying off? Had the Lady Elbereth heard his prayer after all?

Hope flared from spark into roaring flame as the wails increased: higher and higher they rose, into a shrill staccato that stung his ears worse than anything he had ever heard in his life.

Gamgee! screeched a voice in his mind, and Sam knew its hateful touch instantly.

The Ring.

GAMGEE! it screamed over and over while Ring-Frodo’s wails escalated to an almost unbearable pitch. Shaking with fright, Sam put his hands to his ears in a futile attempt to shut out the terrible sounds of his master‘s pain, but they could not still the accusatory voice shrieking in his mind.

DEFILER! DEFILER!

The chant was soon taken up by the Nazgűl:

“GAMGEE! DEFILER! DEFILER!”

Black Riders writhed on steeds, alternately clutching at their right hands and clawing at their heads as they screamed. No move was made now to approach the hobbits, the Nazgűl rendered seemingly immobile by whatever injury the Water of Light had inflicted upon the Ring; but their cries rose in kind with Ring-Frodo’s wails - terrible ululations that combined with the stricken hobbit’s into a dark symphony of disbelief, pain and …

Fear.

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Author’s Note: A nod to Larner, from whom I pinched the phrase ‘Water of Light’. Hope you don’t mind …

Crikey, this was the fastest chapter I’ve ever whipped up! Hope the quality hasn’t suffered as a result, but I just couldn’t bear to keep my faithful reviewers and readers hanging on.

Well, not too much, anyway!

Kara’s Aunty ;)

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: The Star-glass wreaks its greatest damage yet …

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Thirteen: Injury

Within the Sammath Naur, a macabre orchestra of sound assaulted Sam as he lay quivering in fright upon the ground. Ring-Frodo's high-pitched wails cut him to the bone; the screeching of Nazgűl pierced his heart as they writhed in impotent rage upon their steeds; and always the same hateful shrieks echoed through his mind as the One Ring voiced its fury:

GAMGEE! DEFILER! DEFILER!

Within seconds, there was a deep rumble from outside the chamber. Rock began to vibrate beneath him as the rumble grew to a roar that seemed to sweep steadily inwards like a dark wave of malice.

And with its arrival a new voice rose above the cacophony.

"Gamgee! GAMGEE! DEFILER!"

Though he had never heard it before, Sam knew there was but one being with the power to shake the earth thus …

The Dark Lord Sauron!

Their master's ire drove the seething Nazgűl to new heights of rage and, incredibly, their voices rose as one, bouncing off the rocky walls of the chamber until they shook; drowning out the roar of fire until Sam thought he might go mad.

"Move, Samwise! Move!" he urged himself, terrified that their master's voice would break whatever spell the Star-glass had inadvertently cast upon the Nazgűl. With shaking limbs, he pulled himself to his feet.

As one, the Riders locked on the movement, their cowled heads following every step as Sam stumbled backwards away from them.

"Frodo! Frodo!" he yelled, trying to locate his stricken friend over the terrible din. He could feel the eyes of the Black Riders boring into his back as surely as he heard their unearthly screeches calling out his name, and it terrified him. With hands stretching blindly before him, Sam staggered unsteadily across the rumbling ground. But before he could locate his master …

"No!"

Dread clutched his heart. He knew that voice!

"Mr Frodo! You have to take it off. Destroy it! Do it now!"

"NO! My Precious!"

The air before him seemed to shimmer and dance, whirling on one spot not four feet away as if yearning to take shape.

A hobbit shape.

Sam's eyes widened incredulously when it coalesced into a familiar form and, with one final, ghastly shriek, a body appeared from thin air and crashed to the ground.

"Frodo!"

The air stilled: chants and shrieks and dark accusations - all fell away as every eye within the chamber landed upon the sobbing hobbit clutching at the smoking ruin of his finger. And lying innocently at his side, tarnished, yet still whole …

The One Ring.

Seeing it freed from torment, the spell on the Nazgűl fell asunder and, with a screech of triumph, they made their move …

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Author's Note: I have tried to determine if the Eye of Sauron was capable of (even limited) vocalisations, but have been unable to do so. I believe it can communicate telepathically with the Nazgűl, and that is my validation for its knowledge of Sam's name; but blast! if I can find anything to verify if it is capable of actual speech. So I'll just have to hope it is, and use it thus, and pray it doesn't come over as 'movie-verse' (which I always avoid).

Also, I think we can pretty much forget the 'drabble' chapters I had hoped to include in this fic. I just can't seem to nail anything respectable under 300 words …

Kara's Aunty ;)

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line Cinema, etc. I have written this fic for my own enjoyment (and, hopefully, yours too).

Credit: homeandgardenguideonline dot com.

Summary: Just as Frodo is finally separated from the Ring, Sam finds himself with faced with a new dilemma …

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words - just for a change …)

Chapter Fourteen: Quandary

Time itself wavered as the fate of Middle Earth hung in the balance - and Bag End's little gardener was torn about how to proceed.

What to do now?

Rush to his newly liberated master's side and help to somehow ease his pain - pain from the stump of a finger that the gardener had managed to deprive him of despite his silent promise not to?

Make a wild dash to throw the Ring over the edge of the precipice that he was so very, very close to, and thus topple the Dark Lord forever?

Or turn and defend his master from the terrible Nazgűl soaring up behind them?

Such grand decisions weren't meant to be made by such as he! He was a gardener. A simple gardener! By all rights, what he should be doing now was turning soil and removing the winter mulches to replace them with fresh ones. Or bringing a nice cup of hot tea to Mr Frodo as he translated one of his elvish poems in the study, and making sure as he had enough firewood to see him through the last of the winter's biting cold. He shouldn't be standing here on the very edge of the world itself making choices better left to the likes of Gandalf or Strider.

But Gandalf was dead and - for all he knew - Strider might be as well. It was Sam who had to choose now - and he'd better do it fast!

Nazgűl screeched ever closer at his back and time slipped steadily away as he wavered …

Frodo.

The Ring.

Or the Nazgűl?

Tick tock; tick tock; tick tock.

"I don't know what to do! I don't know what to do!" Sam thought wildly; anxious to comfort his sobbing friend, to apologise for what he had done, but knowing that time was against them. Already he could feel the disturbances in the air caused by the wings of the fell beasts …

A booming noise shook the Sammath Naur, making the cavern tremble. Sam crashed to his knees, trying desperately not to spill the remaining fluid within the Lady Galadriel's pretty Star-glass.

"GAMGEE!"

The voice of Sauron the Terrible, still reeling from the assault on his trinket, snapped Sam from his indecision after what had seemed to him like an eternity, but was in truth a matter of seconds.

Precious seconds …

"Up with you, now, Samwise! Stop doddering about like an old gaffer when there's danger snapping at your master's heels! Get yourself up and do the job that needs doing!"

But just as he readied himself to lunge at the Ring, something snapped at the fabric of his shirt.

A fell beast!

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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line Cinema, etc. I have written this fic for my own enjoyment (and, hopefully, yours too).

Summary: The End of Days is finally come. But whose ..?

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words - again. Sorry …)

Chapter Fifteen: Doom

Quick as a flash, Sam spun violently around. There was a rip of fabric as his shirt split and he saw a tattered strip of material dangling from fetid grey teeth. Above the beast, a Nazgűl leaned forward, hand outstretched. Without thinking, Sam raised the Star-glass and threw the remaining liquid at his attacker. Water soared through the air, splashing straight into the hood of the hissing Nazgűl and dribbling down onto the fell beast's back.

The effect was instantaneous.

Piercing cries rent the chamber. Rider and mount bucked into the air before crashing against the two beasts behind them, landing several feet away in a tangle of robes and wings. Thick, grey smoke rose from hood and flesh, rising in furious coils and melting into the ash clouds swirling throughout the Sammath Naur. Servant and steed thrashed spastically on the ground, consumed in throes of agony.

Whether they perished or not, Sam couldn't say: there was no time left to stand and watch. The remaining Nazgűl were closing in fast - and looking none too pleased at what he'd done to their friend!

Closing his ears to their vengeful hisses, Sam shoved the empty phial into his tunic pocket, turned smartly about, and threw himself bodily at the tarnished Ring. He snatched it from the dirt and scrabbled to his feet just as Frodo made one final, feeble grab for his Precious.

The motion was futile: Sam already stood at the very brink of the chasm.

Desist! screamed the Ring in his mind, but its voice sounded strange now: rougher, coarser …

Vulnerable.

Suddenly he realised what wrath had been visited upon it: though the Water of Light could not destroy it, it had temporarily weakened Sauron's gem.

It was a small comfort to Sam - but only small; there was naught to say the Dark Lord couldn't repair the damage that had been done to it, if it were delivered to him still.

As for what he would do to Sam and Frodo for their parts in its injury …

Reflect on the power you might hold! rasped the Ring, intruding on his thoughts. Samwise Gamgee, Most Honoured Gardener of Middle-Earth!

But its words were no more than the desperate treaties of a doomed foe.

He clasped it tightly in his fist, feeling the perfect symmetry of it one last time before raising his arm. With a twist of his head, his gaze landed on the speeding Nazgűl now less than ten feet away.

"The Ring! The Ring!" they chanted in unison.

"If you as wants it, then go and get it!"

And without further ado, he flung it with all his strength into the burning abyss below.

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Author's Note: Gosh, I really hope I haven't portrayed Sam as some sort of super-hobbit. I had intended to have Frodo chuck the Ring into the pit, but given his current incapacitation, and the fact that he was unable to do so himself in canon, it seemed slightly bizarre for him to do so here.

I have no idea what the effect the Light of Eärendil might have on either the Ring or the Nazgűl, so anything I've came up with is pure speculation. Hopefully good speculation though …

*sheepish smile*

Just a few more chapters and then finito, folks. My brain needs the rest after this mad writing frenzy …

Kara's Aunty ;)

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line Cinema, etc. I have written this fic for my own enjoyment (and, hopefully, yours too).

Summary: The fate of the hobbits hangs in the balance as the One Ring soars towards Lake Doom and the Nazgűl make a final bid to snare it before it is lost forever …

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Sixteen: Flight

With an almighty cry, the fell beasts veered sharply to the left under the urgent instruction of their hideous Riders. Knowing their master's ire if they failed, not one among them dared to hesitate: they dove straight down into the chasm, a company of terrible might, frantic to claim the Dark Lord's prize before it fell beyond their reach.

"The Ring! The Ring!"

Down, down, down they spiralled with breathtaking speed, chanting, screeching and swooping around the ruby red chasm, undeterred by the increasingly ferocious heat of the deadly lake below. A huge, thick finger of flame, over two hundred feet in height, shot up from the depths of the burning lake. Many of the Nazgűl managed to swerve around it in time, but not all. Two were enveloped by the fiery fury, their screams lost amid the churning roar of lake and rock below. Yet the demise of their companions could not stop the others in their desperate flight.

Sam left them to their fate.

Turning on his heel, he dashed from the ledge and ran to his master.

"Mr Frodo! It's about time as we left, if you take my meaning," he cried, gesturing to the pit behind them. He reached out and hauled the other hobbit up by his underarms. Frodo was still nursing the stump of his index finger when he fastened teary eyes on Sam.

"Sam, the Ring -"

"Don't you be a-worrying about that, sir," replied Sam, swallowing his guilt at the sight of his master's injury. "It's beyond us now, and with a bit o' luck, it's beyond them Nazgűl, too. Now come on, let's go, Mr Frodo!"

He slung Frodo's arm around his shoulders and together they half-ran, half-stumbled down the Sammath Naur towards the dark entrance at the side of the mountain.

Just as they reached the twisted corpse of the beast Sam had felled with Frodo's Star-glass, there came a huge roar from behind and the chamber began to shudder and throb violently. Frodo buckled to the ground.

"The Ring!" he shouted. "It is destroyed. I feel it!"

Sam hauled him back up. "Then we need to leave afore we're destroyed as well!"

But Frodo buckled again.

"I can't Sam. It's my leg! It won't take me any further."

"Well it mightn't. But I can!"

He lifted Frodo onto his back and staggered over the heaving ground towards freedom. The air grew steadily thicker with fumes that rushed down the tunnel from the belching abyss, making each breath the hobbits drew more painful than the last; but finally, gloriously they stumbled through the archway.

And as the mountain top exploded, Sam strove to get Frodo away from its fiery fury.

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Author's Note: That was, without a doubt, the most difficult chapter of this story that I've written yet. No idea why, it just was. I think one more chapter ought to wrap the fic up though, thank goodness. I'm absolutely knackered …

Kara's Aunty ;)

Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc. I have written this for my own enjoyment.

Summary: Orodruin explodes and the hobbits race for their lives …

A double-Droubble and a half (450 words)

Chapter Seventeen: Deliverance

Sam raced down the shaking mountain as the crown of Mount Doom shattered, shooting lava hundreds of metres high in a deadly fountain of fire, rock and ash that reached up towards the blackened sky before tumbling back to earth in terrible wrath. An angry red river spurted from the dark doorway of Sammath Naur; it ran down the mountain, sweeping rock, slag and stone along with it, and burning all in its path.

Carried by little more than sheer determination to see his master out of danger, the gardener laboured to keep one step ahead of his new adversary; leaping, dodging, running, running, running.

"Get off the path!" yelled Frodo frantically. "It's following the path!"

With a great leap, Sam sprang from Sauron's Road onto a narrow ledge that ran along the cliff-side. He followed it along its length for fifty yards before it petered into nothingness, leaving them stranded at the side of the shaking mountain. Spotting a jutting rock ten feet down he gripped Frodo's arm tightly.

"Hold on now, sir. We're going to have to jump for it."

Frodo hooked his legs firmly under Sam's arms and the gardener leaped the distance onto flat rock. The force jarred their bodies, and Frodo slipped from his back onto the boulder. Sam sank to his knees beside him and they huddled together, exhausted and breathless, while they watched the ruination of Mordor.

And mighty that ruin was. Thirty miles to their east, the Tower of Barad-dúr came crashing down to earth, sending smoke and steam billowing and hissing into the air before they, too, smote themselves upon land. A terrible rumble issued from the wasteland of Gorgoroth, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook as the plain heaved and cracked.

Orodruin reeled. More fire belched from its summit, and the skies burst with thunder and lightning before disgorging their contents in a heavy black rain which whipped and lashed at craters, fissures and hobbit skin alike.

"It's the end of the world," gasped Sam dazedly.

"But we face it together, my dear Sam."

The gardener dragged his gaze from the destruction ahead and settled it upon his master's face instead. Clear bright orbs locked on his brown ones and Sam, though dizzy and fatigued, rejoiced to see his friend free of the Ring's influence.

"You're back!" he croaked.

Frodo smiled wanly. "Yes, Sam. I'm back."

But his joy receded when Sam caught sight of Frodo's maimed hand. "I'm sorry, sir."

Fingers touched Sam's ravaged wrist. "As am I."

And as the world around them screamed in fury, two small hobbits huddled together, arms entwined, foreheads touching, and eyes closed, before darkness finally claimed them both.

THE END

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Author's Note: Some text lifted from The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 3: Mount Doom.

Yes! Done and dusted, folks. Hope it's been as much fun for you as it has been for me. There will be a sequel, but not for a while, and definitely not in any form of drabbles, which I'm obviously rubbish at. It's prose pour moi from henceforth. Prose, prose, prose!

Thanks to all for reading, and especially to those of you who left reviews!

Kara's Aunty ;)





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