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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 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 Nazgūl 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 Nazgūl 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 Nazgūl, 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.


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 ;)

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