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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 story for my own enjoyment.
Note: This chapter updated on 11/07/2012
Frogmorton, 1435 Shire Reckoning
Sam lay on the bed of his room at the Floating Log, seemingly oblivious to Merry’s frantic efforts to rouse him.
But although he was insensate to the outside world, there was a fierce battle underway inside his head. His soul quailed under the assault it faced from within; his mind being forced to wander the desolate wastelands of Mordor. Desperately he sought a way out of the vicious entrapment, finding only temporary reprieves in the recesses of his mind before it found him again.
For the One Ring was tormenting him constantly, trying to convince him that he alone was the cause of Frodo’s suffering because he did not stop his Master’s fall. Its ceaseless insinuations that his failure was the reason Frodo had finally left Middle Earth, causing great pain to all their friends, was eating away at Sam's heart, and he could not entirely deny them. It was using his own guilt against him! And if he didn't win this struggle against it, he would be lost forever to those he loved. Like Frodo was lost to him ...
"And whose fault is that?"
“Leave me alone!” cried Sam. It had found him once more. “I won’t listen to you!”
"What choice do you have, worthless one?"
No matter how hard he tried to fight the Ring, how defiant he was, it continued to wear him down. He could not escape.
"You do not know how, feeble creature!"
It was right, he did not know how.
He had no idea how long he had been here. It felt like an eternity and he wasn’t sure if he would ever be liberated from this dream Mordor. That thing would not let him leave it unless to taunt him with false visions of his friends and all the places he loved. It would not let go of its prey so easily.
Still he fought it with all his strength as he sought a safe exit: he would not give up! It would not take him like it had his poor Frodo.
"Why do you struggle so? You have not the power to resist me! I was crafted by a being greater than you could ever hope to comprehend. Your defeat is only a matter of time. Succumb to me now and I will reward you!"
“I’ve seen what reward you offer and I don’t want it. And the only thing great about your Master was the fall he took from that ugly big tower of his!” shouted Sam.
He felt a sudden wave of fury buffet him; the Ring seemed to pulsate with the force of its own anger.
"And you will pay for your part in that! Were it not for YOU my Master would control all these lands as we speak. YOU are the reason He fell and I will destroy you for your actions!"
Sam was caught off guard at the outrageous accusation. It seemed to be holding him personally responsible for Sauron’s demise! But Frodo was the real Saviour; Sam had only helped him along until he’d completed the task. And others had helped in Sauron's downfall, too - played a bigger part than him. Why, old Strider had raised the dead army to crush the onslaught of Minas Tirith, and had amassed a small army to stand defiant at the Black Gates! And Gandalf had risen from death itself to ensure the final victory over the Dark Lord! If Samwise Gamgee had had any part in the downfall of the Ring's Master then he had not acted alone.
"Perhaps not," it said harshly. "Yet you were the one who dragged your insipid friend across half of Middle Earth, through Ithilien, and up the stairs of Cirith Ungol. You wounded my Master’s servant there. The Baggins whelp would not have survived his time in the Tower if you had not been so bold as to rescue him - and you DARED to use me to accomplish this!"
It seethed with hatred.
"When I was trying to control his little mind there was always you pulling him away from me with your abhorrent tales of his repulsive homeland, giving him strength to resist me. He would have been mine long before he ever crossed the plains of Mordor, but for you! His resistance would have crumbled and I would be with my Master, ruling over all at His side but for YOU."
Sam trembled under the onslaught. He had never experienced so much loathing directed solely at himself before, and it was breathtaking in its force.
"Even at the end, when I finally had my prize and my Master’s victory was in sight - after all those long years I endured with that worthless half-creature, trying to get back to my Master‘s side - you thwarted all with your moment of pity towards Gollum at the Sammath Naur. Due of this act of weakness he was able to steal me back; my physical form perished alongside him in the very place of my birth! And my Master was robbed of His rightful victory!"
“Then why are you doing this?” Sam yelled. “If your Dark Lord is gone forever then you can’t hope to accomplish anything by tormenting me! It won‘t bring him back.”
"Insolent creature! My Master will never be truly gone as long as I exist - and I will never be truly gone as long as you exist! I will see to it that you never know another moment’s peace. You will never again enjoy that which you do not deserve!"
“Your Master is gone. He can’t ever come back! You’re no more than a memory and I won’t let you hurt me like you hurt Frodo!”
"I did not hurt your beloved Frodo. You did. Despite all your efforts he still claimed me. You were too late and too useless in the end. Your incompetence as a servant and so called friend sealed his doom the moment he left your petty lands."
“No!” Sam screamed, trying to stop the hateful words. “It was you. But he’s safe from you now. You can’t ever hurt him again. You’ll never touch him in Valinor!”
Head aching from his exertions, Sam could feel the sweat pouring down his body. He was burning all over, but still he struggled against the Ring.
“The Elves will heal him, Mr Gandalf will see to that. Lord Elrond and the Lady Galadriel will take care of him, and when I see him again you’ll be nothin’ more than a memory!”
"You? See him again?" mocked the Ring. "What makes you think that will ever happen?"
“Mr Frodo said as much at the Grey Havens!”
"Simpleton! He only said that your time may come, not that it would. Have you been clinging to that small hope these many years?"
“It’s not a hope, it’s a fact,” retorted Sam. “My Master wouldn’t’ve say it if he didn’t mean it.”
"Your Master does not have the power to grant you such! Only the Valar can do that. Tell me, have they spoken to you lately? Or did the Elvish ‘friends’ that you so admire confirm what you believe he promised?"
To Sam’s dismay, he was forced to admit that no such confirmation had ever been made.
"You see? If it were as you say then surely they would have made some mention of it. No, they do not deem you worthy of such a dubious honour - for you are the reason he sought healing in the first place. It would be foolish of them to ever allow you near him again!"
He sobbed, distraught at the thought this might be true. It couldn’t be true! But he racked his brain trying to remember anyone telling him with any certainty that he would have passage to the Elven home. There was nothing.
“But I have the Sea longing!” he yelled. “I wouldn’t have that for no reason!”
"What more fitting punishment could there be for a traitor? It will wound you forever without anyone having lifted a finger to draw your blood. An elegant torture. And very … Elvish," sneered the Ring.
“I’m not a traitor! I did everything I could to help Mr Frodo. I wouldn’t hurt him for the world, I’d rather die first!”
"Then why did your Master make you a false promise? It is because he despises you for not saving him and wants to know you suffer in return! The Elves would rightly grant him this small vengeance."
“Liar … stop it … it’s not true!” he cried, distraught at the thought of Frodo hating him and the Elves condoning such a punishment. They wouldn‘t. They couldn‘t! “Forgive your Sam. I did what I could. Mr Frodo…”
He was unable to continue because of his great distress. Sam knew he was in the middle of some kind of horrible illusion, but he was unable to tear himself free of it, and so it had become his reality. The Ring was hunting him, stalking him relentlessly through every corner of his mind and trying to break him with what it found there.
And it was winning.
He did not know how to fight against this. He tried to recall the good memories of his Master after its destruction, to confirm that he had not failed as the Ring claimed, and to assure himself that his greatest friend did not despise him: the look of wonder on Frodo’s face when he realised it had perished in the Sammath Naur; his joy at seeing Gandalf again upon his recovery; his happiness for his heart’s brother when Rose Cotton became Mistress Gamgee.
There! If he truly had failed, as it claimed, then Frodo could not have known these moments of peace or rejoiced at his good fortune!
But it countered by showing him the leer of greed on Frodo’s face when he claimed it; forced him to witness anew the many times Frodo had suffered during anniversaries, and then it would chant in the Black Speech, louder and louder until Sam thought he would go mad at the sound.
“Stop it! Stop it! I won’t listen to any more of your lies!”
"Then perhaps you would prefer to see some truth?"
“No, don’t. Stop!” he begged.
His efforts to stop the Ring showing him any more of its visions was futile and he found himself in the Shire watching Merry and Pippin apparently stifle a look of disappointment when he answered the door to Bag End.
"They would rather it was their cousin who greeted them. To them you are a poor substitute, who used their beloved kin and then usurped his home! Shame on you!"
“They’re my friends! They would never think that! We all miss Frodo and I would gladly swap places with him if it meant they could see him again.”
"Indeed? And what of your wife and the spawn you produce so frequently? Would you so easily abandon them?"
“Don’t you dare talk about my Rosie or my children,” screamed Sam in fury.
"Why not, short one? Have you not been wishing your life away as quickly as possible - and therefore theirs - in the vain hope that you could see your fallen friend again?"
“No! Never! My family means the world to me, I would never want to hurt them!” He was outraged by the Ring’s evil accusation.
"But you have," it said maliciously. "They are no more than a distraction to whittle away the long years until such time as your wife dies and your brats are grown, leaving you free to pass over the Sea. Do you not think they are aware of this? Perhaps you would not like to wait until your Rose is old and shrivelled? Would it not be better for her life to end now, that you may leave all the sooner?"
“Leave my family alone!” he shouted, incandescent with rage at what he was hearing. “Don’t you dare talk about them like that!”
It laughed at him, delighting in his pain; for that made it stronger and him weaker.
"I speak only of what I see. Shall I prove my point if you doubt my honesty?"
It gave him no time to reply and suddenly he was seeing Bag End. Sam watched his vision self sitting on a bench in the garden, pipe in hand, gazing wistfully West. Rosie and Frodo-lad were walking towards him with the apparent intention of joining him on his seat, but his other self had caught the scent of the Sea on the air and could not concentrate on their presence. Sam saw them withdraw from the garden, leaving his vision self to thoughts of Frodo and Valinor - but he did not miss the expression of hurt in Rosie's eyes as she left, or his son‘s confusion at being ignored.
Sam knew he often looked West. Was this really how he treated his family when the longing came over him? Did he silently rebuff them, making them feel they weren’t good enough? Tears of shame leaked from his eyes.
"Do you see? They know that they are nothing more to you than a consolation; that your real heart’s desire lies elsewhere."
“I love my Rosie. I love all my family and friends,” he wept.
"Love?" The Ring scoffed at this. "What has your love ever done for anyone? Did it save your Master? Spare his cousins’ pain upon his departure. Does it comfort your kin when your mind is with Frodo? Your love is a curse of slow agony! A poison which infects all who bear it! Better that you were dead so that they may be spared such an affliction!"
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” argued Sam weakly.
He now found himself looking at a vision of Minas Anor, the city of the King. Aragorn and Faramir stood before a marble statue of Frodo in the palace courtyard, a statue that he knew had been commissioned, but had never seen. Aragorn traced the marble Frodo’s features as he told Faramir how much he missed his friend. His regal face clenched with pain when he spoke of the Ring-bearer’s departure, both of its necessity and his own agony at being denied a final farewell.
“It was a cruel fate that Frodo could not stay to enjoy the wonders of the world he saved, Faramir. Perhaps if I had stayed with him on his journey I may have lent him my strength and he could have survived to be with us all.”
Sam’s despair increased at witnessing Aragorn’s lament, and he heard Faramir reply:
“My King, you could not have gone with him to Mordor. You were needed here. But Sam was with the Ring-bearer. He remained with him throughout and saved his life so that he could see what he did for us all and we would have the opportunity to honour him for it.”
Aragorn eyed his Steward sadly and asked what use such honour was when they would never see him again.
"You see the worth of your love, half-wit? The pain it causes? Your King does not even acknowledge your part in the deeds that gave him his crown, ungrateful Man! He believes he could have done a better job of saving your Master himself!"
The distraught Mayor of Michel Delving was unable to muster a retort, wracked with guilt and feelings of worthlessness, crying like a hobbit babe.
"And perhaps he is right. For who are you to think you can contend with the will of Sauron? A gardener! A fool! Servant of a lesser race!"
Body heaving with great sobs of agony, Sam was again incapable of response.
"Your friends blame you. They despise you. They have deserted you! You now have your true reward for your blind faith in them, for they will not assist you like you thought you had assisted your Master! They do not rush to your aid. You will remain here with me, witness to your failure forever and they will be glad to be rid of you!"
“No! They love me!” whispered Sam dazedly. “They love me.”
"If that is true where are your Hobbit friends? You deprived them of their Frodo, they will not so easily forgive and forget. And your King? Does he try to help you? Would he mourn your absence as he does your Master’s? No! He is leagues away, safe in his Kingdom and enjoying the power you helped steal for him. And your so-called Elven friends? They care not one whit for you. They laugh at your childish worship and stab you in the back with their absence."
Sam could not bear any more of this. He sought once more for temporary haven in the dark corners of his mind. If he did not get some reprieve, he would be lost forever.
Was it right? Did Merry and Pippin really consider him unworthy of their friendship? Did Aragorn secretly blame him? Did the Elves think him no more than a nuisance? Was he really so unworthy of love and respect? Did his family believe he did not care for them, his precious Rosie doubt his affections?
"Yes! Or they would be assisting you at this very moment. Do you see any of them here?"
No. He could see no one. All that he saw were the vast bleak plains of Mordor that he had been returned to once more, and the dreadful summit of Mount Doom, burning in the distance as his own body burned in turn. He was being consumed alive by the fires of hatred and despair.
"And this is where you will stay! Abandoned by them and claimed by me. You will suffer now as my Master suffers because of you; enjoy the same exile that he endures because of you; and it will be of the same eternal duration. This is the power of your love. Enjoy it!"
Sam could not fight the will of the Ring much longer; it crowed with pleasure at his pain. He retreated further into his mind - Harthad Uluithiad was beginning to lose his hope.
Author’s Note: Please bear in mind that Sam is ill, upset and has a pathological piece of jewellery out to get him. The visions the Ring shows Sam are not necessarily true representations of the people contained therein, but he is too unwell to realise that…
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