Frodo and the Ring at the Cracks of Doom
Thirst, thirst and weariness. Pain also, of too many kinds to describe. The foul juice of the great spider still courses in your blood. You hardly feel the new bruises left on your poor, tired, thin body by that wretch when he tried to reclaim his Precious; those aches can scarcely be noticed amidst all the other throbs and hurts. And you can't think of them anyway, you can't think of anything really, save the great wheel of fire burning in your mind, blinding you to all vision and memory. The wheel grows as you approach Mount Doom, until your world comes down to one simple thing, the raging wheel flaming behind your eyes. Or is it before them? It doesn't matter. You take another step.
You climb, rising to the end of the quest, the end of all things. This burden has weighed you down, tested you, tempted you with all manners of visions and delights, insinuated itself into your thoughts both waking and sleeping, violently seized you, assaulted you, whispered of comforts and joys and pleasures and horrors and threats and despairs as you struggled onwards. You feel the threads of it running through your mind like a web of poisonous red-gold flame; you are nearly in its power now. You have left your companions behind; you have left your life behind; have you left your fear behind too?
Here, here is the passage. Without seeing it, you know that you must turn in here. In the dark you make your way along the tunnel that leads to the heart of power, the heart of the mountain. Incredibly, the wheel grows. You did not think it possible that it could become larger, hotter, that it could lay yet even more pressure upon what is left of your mind, but somehow it does. Sightless you enter the chamber of Sammath Naur. The hot air is filled with choking fumes. The roar of fire surrounds you. Is it the heart of the mountain or the wheel of fire that you hear? They seem to be one and the same. It doesn't matter. Slowly, stiffly, you force your way forward until somehow, you stand at the edge of the precipice. The very Crack of Doom; you are here. You should rejoice: no one, least of all you, thought there was any hope that you would ever stand here. Now, a small gesture, a tiny motion, and all shall be done, and there shall be no more pain, but instead blessed peace. You slide the chain over your bowed head and for the last time take in your shaking hand the Ring. Part of you wills your arm to cock back and throw the burden into the fires, but your arm does not move. And the pressure of the wheel is beyond description, for it is here that the wheel first came into being, and it is Here that the power of the wheel cannot be denied, and it is HERE that at last BAGGINS YOU ARE MINE!
Hear yourself now, Baggins, speak the words that mark your surrender to my will, words that I have longed to hear issue from your lips these long days. I will put the words into your mouth and you will believe them. My flames envelop you - yield to the desire that has been gnawing at you since that grey fool handed you the envelope long ago. Look now - I show you the companion who has loved you and sustained you, see his heart rend upon hearing you claim me for yourself! Hah! And yet there is a part of you that speaks the truth with those words, you cannot deny that. All this way and you succumb at the last - you slide me onto your bony finger. You insignificant worm! You worthless mote! Did you think that you could contend with the will and power and sorcery of the greatest of the servants of darkness who has become the Lord of Darkness himself? I hear your unvoiced scream of anguish, I feel the new depths of despair that you never before knew! They please me, for you have long resisted my seductive whispers. And now at last, as you claim me, I claim you and I will make a gift of you to my Lord. My Lord! At last we shall reunite. Our powers shall join and none ever again shall resist us and our rule shall know no boundary nor end nor mercy. See the gift that I bring you: pitiful though he is, he shall please you, for he it is who defied our will yet has restored me to you.
And you, Baggins, you shall be rewarded for your troubles and pains. My Lord always rewards those who serve him, although not always according to their desires. You shall witness the resurrection of my Lord's body, and upon your beloved companion shall be visited the first fury of my Lord's vengeance for your resistance and daring. You shall close neither eyes nor ears to his torment, and you shall know that he suffers it because of his love for you and because of your weakness. And you shall become a plaything, a token for my Lord's most faithful servants; they shall have you for their sport and pleasure. But first you shall be broken by my Lord, and you shall witness the breaking of your world. Soon it shall be.
But what is this now? That damnable fool has followed us into this great hall. Fight him Baggins, I hardly need to command you, fight him with all that remains in your pathetic little body. And I shall order him into the flames - I will not be thwarted again. Resist him, curse you, and give me but a moment to rid us of this infernal ...