Sam sat up a little straighter upon his bed, squared his shoulders and continued as he looked past Aragorn to the memory of his most terrifying moments. ” I wandered in that dark and foul tower for nearly a day… hearing screams and seeing dead bodies at every turn. I finally made it to the top of the highest tower and I had still not found my master. I began to despair and in my weariness and grief I down upon a step and began to sing. Of all things Strider I sat and sang a song. Just when I was about to give up hope because I couldn’t find Mr. Frodo I heard a sad voice quietly singing back to me my words. I stopped singing and noticed for the first time that the voice I’d a heard was coming from up above. Sure enough in the next instant an Orc appeared with a ladder, snarling in it’s terrible voice ‘ you don’t have long to live, but if you don’t want the fun to start early you’d best shut up’. Well up that ladder he went and before I had my wits about me there was the sound of a whip cracking. I heard a moan and before that Orc could raise his arm to hit Frodo again I was up that ladder and had taken his hand off with Sting. Well the Orc rushed past me and in his hurry he fell headlong down the ladder and all was quiet.
Sam shook his head to clear his memory of the horror of the moment and then continued.
“I ran to the body lying in the corner of the room, and there he was Strider. He was as filthy and worn as you’d ever want to see….he had a whip mark down his side with his arm thrown up to protect himself…and was lying shivering with his eyes clenched closed. As I first knealt down to offer him comfort he recoiled in fear thinking I was one of those dreadful creatures. It took a moment or two for him to believe that I was real and not just a dream. And when I was satisfied that he was able to walk I went to find us some Orc clothing to replace what they’d a taken from Mr. Frodo…and we continued on our way” Sam finished quietly.
Aragorn once again found himself amazed at the bravery of these halflings. He’d known men more than twice their size who would have quailed at the thought of what they’d been through. ‘There is a special bravery in a friendship so strong’ thought Aragorn to himself. Out loud he asked “Sam, why were there not more Orcs to resist you? What disturbance had caused them to turn on one another?”
“Well sir” Sam replied ” they’d found Frodo’s mithril shirt and couldn’t decide who was to have the spoils. I quess we’ll never know where Frodo’s shirt and cloak have gotten to” Sam’s voice trailed off somewhat wistfully.
“Perhaps someday Sam….” Aragorn stated quietly. He knew of course that Gandalf had recovered those very items from the messenger of the Dark Lord who had tried to treat with them before the gates of Mordor. He remembered all to well those dark moments, when they’d all envisioned Frodo and Sam prisioners of the Dark Lord. He knew now that Frodo’s prison still held him in his dreams and that Sam would once again be called upon to free him. Aragorn could not interrupt Sam’s retelling to divulge the whereabouts of the items in question. He knew that Elrond’s summoning of Gandalf did not bode well for Frodo….he wanted Sam to have all the time he could with his beloved friend and master. “Go on Sam” he urged.
“We walked for days Strider, traveling by night and sleeping by day. Always fearing the sight of Orcs and sensing the presence of Gollum….or at least that’s what I felt. Mr. Frodo was so wore out, he grew weaker with each step and grew more possessed by the visions of evil that the ring carried. ” He stopped for a moment, his mind flooded with the image of those last days; the heat, hunger, thirst and weariness. “We ran out of food and water and our last day was the greatest torment I’d ever known. Mr. Frodo was so weak he tried to crawl the last bit, but I picked him up and carried him as best I could. You see Strider, I knew I could no longer carry the ring, but I could carry Mr. Frodo and the ring….so I did. We inched up the sides of Mt. Doom until we was overtaken by that stinker Gollum. Well, Mr. Frodo had just enough strength to fight him off one last time. I managed to remove Gollum from Frodo and I was ready to kill him right then and there I was…..I urged Mr. Frodo to go on and stayed back to deal with Gollum. Well that stinker was right pitiful; lying on the ground and moaning about how he would turn to dust with the end of the ring…the loss of his ‘precious’. I got disgusted and let him go to live out his pitiful life and followed Frodo up to the top.”
Sam took a deep breath and continued. “When I got to the top and went into the chamber, it was so hot and filled with smoke that at first I couldn’t see. I finally made out Frodo standing by the edge. I yelled ‘finish it master’ ” Sam’s voice grew suddenly quiet and his sadness colored his every word. “You see” Sam went on ” he couldn’t take the madness of the ring no more, his mind had finally had enough. So he put on the ring and claimed for his own. That was a dark moment and no mistake….to have come so far and watch Frodo fail at the very last moment. Well, as I was yelling ‘no Frodo’ I was hit from behind by that creature Gollum who was trying one last time to get back his’ precious’. I quess I was knocked out ’cause the next thing I remember is watching Gollum wrestle like a mad thing with something on the edge of the volcano. That something was Mr. Frodo, looked like Gollum was a fighting himself and the two of ’em tottered one way and then another. Suddenly Gollum opened his mouth and snapped down. I heard Mr. Frodo scream and saw Gollum dancing about with the ring in his hand…..with Frodo’s finger still inside it. He danced to close to the edge and suddenly he was gone. He and the ring had found their rightful ending I daresay”
Aragorns face had borne a horrified expression as he’d listened to these last few moments “What did you do next Sam?” he asked anxiously.
“Well sir” Sam continued “our world exploded then it did…I ran to Mr. Frodo and got him out of the chamber and down the side of the mountain as fast as I could. I carried him a ways until he could walk and then we tried to out run the lava and ash spewing from the mountain….at leastaways we tried for a little while. I never gave up hope sir, not until that very moment, even though I could see we’d no food or water….I felt we could try to save ourselves. But I was wrong. We came to a resting spot and he spoke to me ‘I’m glad I’m here with you at the end of all things Sam’ he said….and there he was sir….my dear sweet master from days past. No fear in his eyes nor doubt in his voice, just my Mr. Frodo as he used to be. I was so happy to see that at the end of all this business Frodo had regained himself….he was just a plain hobbit once again”. Sam quickly wiped a tear from his eye ” That’s about it sir….we tried to go down a little ways further but the heat, the ashes and the fumes from the volcano and our weariness was just too much. The last thing I remember is grabbing Mr. Frodo’s hand and falling down. That is the last of my memories…..I do not even know how we came to be here….” Sam’s voice trailed off and he stared at Aragorn….hoping for an answer to his unasked question.
“You were brought back to us by Gwaihir the windlord and several of his kin. They bore you, Frodo and Gandalf to Ilithuian where you rested a day. They then bore you the rest of the way to Rivendell where the most gifted healers reside.. You have slept for nearly two weeks Sam and your Master still seeks the healing power of sleep.” Aragorn said.
“Strider, why does my master sleep so long? Is there an injury that requires this rest?” Sam inquired gently.
At that moment they were interrupted by a knock at the door. Gandalf let himself in quietly and gestured for Aragorn to join him out of earshot of the hobbit. “One moment Sam” Aragorn said ” I’ll be back”.
“It has become more perilous for Frodo” Gandalf whispered urgently “He has passed through the worst portions of his dreams and has now the choice the legend speaks of to make. We need Samwise to be strong enough to help Frodo make that choice. It was my intent that his retelling of their tale would clear Sam’s mind and aide him in his choosing. Do you think he is strong enough Aragorn?”
Aragorn knew that Sam’s stout little hobbit body was well recovered….it was the strength of his heart that concerned him most. “Gandalf, Sam’s loyalty and love for Frodo are the strength that has guided him through the quest….to ask him to use those qualities to guide Frodo’s final choice will destroy him if they do not chose the same path” Gandalf nodded sadly and replied “Legend tells that the last ringbearer will be given the power to chose life haunted by the visions of what might have been with the power of the ring….or the peace of death. We cannot help Frodo make this choice, only Sam can. Sam alone knows if Frodo’s heart remains strong enough to overcome the evil visions the ring has left behind”
They both looked towards Sam who lay quietly awaiting their return. Gandalf’s pwerful shoulders drooped and he bowed his head sadly. “It is time” he said as he walked over to prepare Sam for the most difficult part of the quest.
Gandalf stood next to Sam’s bedside for a brief moment, observing the face of this stalwart young hobbit. He wondered if he were doing the right thing drawing him still further into the horror of the legend of the ring. He knew deep down that he had no choice, that Sam alone could provide the path that Frodo might yet choose to follow. He was suddenly angry, enraged that once again these gentle and good hearted hobbits were the ones who would pay the price set down by the dark lord Sauron and his evil followers. There seemed no end to the poison spewed forth by the dark lord and his minions.
Gandalf was brought back to the moment by the eager query of Samwise “Is it time sir? Can I go see Mr. Frodo now?” Gandalf sat near Sam’s bed with Aragorn standing near. “Yes Samwise, it is time” he replied. “First, however, there are some things that you must understand.” He paused and stared Sam full in the face “The quest is not over for Frodo, the legend set forth by the dark lord in all the lore of the ring states that the last ringbearer is given a choice with the destruction of the ring…he must chose between living with the evil memories of the ring, living each day with the knowledge that they might have done great things with it’s power, haunted by the madness that such power brings….or” he paused to note the look of complete horror that had fallen upon Sam’s face. ” Or what Sir?” Sam said “What could be worse than that? For that’s not a choice I’d be having my Mr. Frodo make.” Sam said emphatically.
“Or….” Gandalf continued “he may chose the the peace brought to him by the endless sleep of death. The time has come for us…for you Sam to help Frodo make this choice. He has wandered in fitful deams and fevers and while he now rests quietly, it is not a healthful quiet. He sinks each moment closer to death and if that would be your choice for him then you need not see him so that you may remember him as he was.”
Sam’s reaction surprised both Aragorn and Gandalf. Sam had jumped from his bed and stood shaking with anger “NO” he shouted “Evil will not win…not after what we went through, not after Frodo was willing to give everything in his world to protect yours….I won’t have it! You…” Sam’s voice was accusing “your the one who told me ‘don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee” and I WON’T.” Sam was exhausted by his outburst and began trembling violently…he grasped for the wall to steady himself, finding instead the hand of Aragorn. “Careful Sam” Aragorn said quietly. “When you are ready the healers will bring your clothes and I’ll take you to see Frodo. Aragorn motioned the elven healers standing nearby, they were ready with Sam’s clothes and Aragorn helped him to dress.
Gandalf had been very shaken by Sam’s outbrust. He could not help but feel that much of what Sam had said was true.
This is the 5th portion of a story started back in August. The story has undergone several transitions…it started with the title “Vision of the future” and then changed to “A New Vision”. Now that Sam’s retellings are at an end….now it becomes a ‘twist’ of Tolkien. I know that J.R.R Tolkien believed that each individual had it within their power to affect change and make the world better. I am not trying to improve upon his masterful storytelling….but I will continue to ask myself “What if….” I hope you will all play the “what if” game with me!