Within the Tower
“Sam?” I looked backwards. I could no longer see the lady’s light
shining in the dark. Wasn’t he just behind me? I know he was just a
short while ago. The euphoria that had seized me when I first saw the
pass had past. My voice cracked with fear. “Sam, where are you?” I
glanced at the pass ahead. The tunnel’s end at last, but I couldn’t
I slowed and thought “I ought to head back the way I had just come.”
Sting gave off a soft glow around the edges. Orcs? Oh dear, where was
I heard his voice, but I could not make out from what direction his
voice came from or what he said. “Sam?” A noise sounded behind me. “At
last” I thought “There you are.”
I felt the stab in my neck. Seems the shirt does not protect all. One
step, Sting dropped from my hand. I could no longer hold it. Two steps,
an eerie darkness covered my sight. Three, the blood drained from my
face, oh please, not again. My body could no longer hold up its weight.
I dropped to my knees as the poison began to eat its way through my
system. A single crawl. And the world was gone.
Another wave rocked the deck, the ship tossed upon the tempest. Water
splashed onto my face. Where was I? The sea sickness again turned my
stomach. Would this voyage ever end? Strange, I had always heard that
the sea was made of salt and water. The water splashing on my lips
wasn’t salty. I wish the deck would stop rocking, where was the wind
that would so rock a ship? The deck spun. The water dropped again.
My eyes partially opened. I could see nothing but the floor, the wall.
The coolness of the rock beneath my face let me know that I was not
aboard a ship. My neck felt like it was on fire. My shoulders and head
aching from the pain; “What a horrid dream I had Sam. All about a
tunnel, a spider, and a ship. I feel so sick. Is there anything to make
tea with?” I spoke to the wall. There was no answer.
I opened my eyes all the way. The empty room was spinning. I shut my
eyes again. I fought to keep down the nausea. This isn’t right. There
were stairs and a tunnel and nothing…..Maybe Sam has gone scouting
around. I hope we don’t go very far today. If I sit up, I think I am
going to be physically sick. The room is already starting to get warm.
I think I had better just lie here on the cool floor and slee….
Pain flared in my ribcage. What?…Then I felt the kick again.
“Wake up you dunghill rat.” I opened my eyes and jumped back in fright.
An orc. I was found. Another kick sent me sliding towards the wall.
“Gorbag! I tol’ ya to let him be. He’s not fer you to ‘buse.”
“Garn, Shagrat, yer spoilin my bit o fun. It was only a kick or three,
get him use to the question’r when he arrives. Why should he get all
the fun? We do all the work.”
“Gorbag, I ha’ me orders and yer not ta inerfere, our orders are to
search, strip and confine any spies. I tol’ yer that afore. An that’s
what I’m goin ta do.”
There were four of them in the room. Where did they come from? There
were no doors, nor windows that I could see. I was trapped. Where was
my sword and more importantly where was Sam? A single torch was lit in
the room. That was no help. It was too far away. I couldn’t go anywhere
and my back was against the wall. The four of them advanced claws and
teeth bared. I grabbed the only weapon I could find, a loose rock on
the floor, and slung it at one of the orcs. The other three laughed as
I caught him in the eye.
“HA! Gorbag, yer idiot, you deserved that”
“I’ll show the rat what needs deservin’.” He grabbed me up by my hair.
I lay dangling, my scalp burning. He slammed my head up against the
wall. The impact caused the room to turn red and then black. The words
filtered through the darkness.
I felt myself falling. I never reached a bottom. A vile liquid was
being poured down my throat. I nearly choked on it. The hideous faces
before me grew clear. Their knives were now out and they ran their
fingers over them. I could not think. My ribs and my head were both
“So little dunghill rat, what are you doing in the tunnel?” Nothing, running, hiding….
“Where did you come from little dunghill rat?” nowhere, lost, empty….
“Where did you get the pretty shirt?” shirt? I am naked in the dark….
“Why did you come to Mordor?” why was I here….
“How did you find the tunnel?” alone, guided. guided?
Again and again the same questions came at me. Again and again the same
answers came to me. Nothing, nowhere, alone. My breathing became
labored. It was getting more painful to squeeze air past the bruised
“Garn, we won’t be able to get straight answers from him until the
spiders poison wears off. By then the question’r will be here”
The voices receded and the darkness returned.
I wandered through Bag End. The rooms were unlit save for the kitchen.
The fire was roaring in the fireplace. At the table sat Bilbo. Mumbling
to his self and writing. It was so hot.
“Hullo Bilbo, what are you doing?”
“My dear boy, what ever are you doing up so late? You’re running a fever. You should be in bed. Resting.”
“Well, sir. I couldn’t sleep.”
“Me neither lad.” He laughed. “That’s why I am sitting out here.”
“What are you writing, sir. It looks like a list?”
“It is a list lad, let me read it off to you….cloak, staff, sword,
shirt, mail shirt and a precious mithril one at that…bundle it all up
and take it…”
“Why sir, it almost sounds like almost everything you left the Shire with….”
“The Shire? Dunghill rat, what is that?”
“Are you being silly Bilbo, that’s where we live, remember?”
A crack sounded and I felt the whips lash across my bare shoulders. A groan escaped my lips.
“Dunghill rat. What is this shire yer onto ‘bout?”
I shook my head. “Nothing, a dream.”
“Well, quit yer yammering. Yer wish you had enough to tell the question’r when yer seen ‘im”
“Where are my clothes?”
“Where yer goin’ yer not going ta need ‘em.”
Where I was going? I lay huddled on a pile of rags in a corner. Where
was I going? Why was I alone in this room of orcs? Sam, my friend what
has happened to you? The tears slid down my face. If anything has
happened to you, I will never forgive myself. Everyone is gone. I have
forgotten something, something important. I wish I could filter through
this internal fog. What have I forgotten? There is the tunnel, the
spider and nothing….
“Snaga!” The voice came through the (floor?) .
“Snaga! He can’t go anywhere, leave be and come help. Gorbags brought
in his force; he’s tryin’ to pinch that pretty shirt. I need yer skill
as arch’r not guard.”
The orc standing guard raised a trap door and descended. Well that
answers that question. He took the torch with him. The room was soon
left in darkness. Now how do I use that to get out? The sounds of
battle reached me. The clang of swords, the screaming and cursing. I
put my hands over my ears. I was being taken back in time. I have heard
this sound before…..where? when? Moria, a wave of sorrow flowed through
me, Moria……Oh Gandalf….How I wish I had your fatherly advice here and
The trapped door opened again. Two bowls were quickly pushed into the
room, and it shut again. I fumbled through the dark room. Trying to
remember the direction of the light….water…bread…Well they did need to
keep me alive for the questioner who or whatever, that was. The battle
sounds had been drawing nearer. How soon before Gorbag reached me
again. Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown that rock at him. I took my food
and water back towards the bedding I had made for myself out of my
shredded backpack. How soon before one of them returned with their
whips and knives again? I sat in the dark ate and drank. The water
helped. My throat and head felt like they were on fire. Something was
missing. Ah. That’s what it is. The sounds of battle have stopped. Who
won? Shagrat or Gorbag. I shivered. I don’t know which one I feared
more. A wretched choking scream reached my ears. And then silence. The
eerie silence was worse than listening to the battle.
Inside the tower
That loneliness built
a tower constructed
of ashes and silt
Lost and alone
a blanket woven of fear
unable to shed
these ravaging tears
My friend will come
I must not lose hope
How did we end up
on this slippery slope..
“Singing me to sleep now are you Bilbo? You haven’t done that for years.”
Bilbo chuckled. “I’ve missed it too lad. Did you attend to the singing at the Great Fire last night? I made up a new song.”
“Yes sir, I heard it. It was all about Earendil. Mr. Strider called you cheeky.”
“Did you hear the new one from Sam, too?”
“Sam? No sir, I must have missed that one.”
“I will sing you a bit of it then. ‘In western lands beneath the sun,
the flowers may rise in spring’. Leave it to Sam to sing about flowers
and a tower.”
“Beyond all towers strong and high. Beyond all mountains steep. It does stick with you don’t it?’
“Ho la! You dunghill rat! Stop your squeaking, or I’ll come deal with you.”
“I don’t understand.”
The trapdoor opened with a crash. Snaga had come back.
“See now, if ya don’t want the fun to begin now, then ya had best lie
quiet. ‘Eres a reminder fer ya.” Again the whip crack. This time it
laid a welt onto my side. My flesh burned from its contact.
”That was pretty” Snaga snarled. “Let’s try ‘nother.” I only half heard
him through the haze. I braced for the next blow, huddled on the floor,
my arms covering my head for protection. A scuffle sounded behind me. I
didn’t dare to turn and look the very thought of looking at the orc
while he whipped me filled my soul with dread. Please just get it over
A sob caught me and tears ran down my cheeks. A trick. I know it’s a
trick. He is just playing with me again. If I roll over I will be more
exposed. He’s already invaded my dreams as Bilbo. That’s what it is,
another dream about to become another nightmare. I waited. My eyes
shut. I felt the arms lift me into sitting position. A gentle hug was
given. I opened my eyes and peered into the eyes of Sam. A dream it has
to be a dream. Sam was lost. “Am I still dreaming?” Soon he will start
beating me again for speaking out of turn again. “Sir, you’re not
dreaming, it’s me. I’ve come.” I lay back in his arms. Still unable to
believe that it was him. The other dreams of Bilbo had seemed real too.
“I can not believe it, an orc with a whip turns into Sam. Was I
dreaming, when I heard the singing?” I muttered to myself. “No sir that
was me. I nearly gave up. I couldn’t find you.”
“My dear Sam, please don’t disappear after I wake up.”
I closed my eyes and fell back asleep.
“Come. Mr. Frodo, you must wake up.” I felt the small kiss on my
forehead. “Please Sir; I must get you out of here.” I sighed and
reopened my eyes. It was still Sam. He hadn’t disappeared. I sat up.
“Where are we? How did I get here?”
“Well sir, we are in the top of that tower that we saw.”
“I can’t rightly say, Mr. Frodo, sir, more than a day, I guess. But sir
we don’t have time for tales. The orcs that were here have either fled
or are dead. Who knows how many messengers have been sent to Barad-dur
already. Or what’s lurking behind this maze of doors and stairs.”
“Something hit me, Sam, the world went all black and the nightmares
started. Orcs surrounded me. They stripped me of everything Sam, my
clothes, my heart, nearly my life. Their eyes still haunt me. Awake or
asleep; I can see them leering at me. You must tell me how I got here
“Not now Frodo, there is no time. Don’t talk about them orcs, sir. If
you talk about them it will only make them more real to you. Think
about something different.. Can you walk?”
Could I? I hadn’t tried before. I was too afraid of calling more attention to myself.
“I can try” He helped me to my feet. “Yes, I can. I’m just so very
tired Sam. I guess I am not as hurt as I feel. My neck, ribs and head
positively ache, but yes I can walk.” Slowly I paced across the room.
The steps becoming easier as I went. Yes, I felt much better as I kept
“Well, sir, as I see it we need to get you some clothes, get out of here. And continue on our way.”
Our way? Our way…..was to Mt. Doom. I stopped in my tracks. It hit me,
the quest, everything came back to me and slapped me in the face.
“Sir…what is it?”
“Sam, they’ve taken everything, do you understand? Everything. I have
failed. Lorien, Rivendell, Ithilian, The Shire. It’s all gone. Even if
we get out of here we couldn’t escape. The vision in the lady’s mirror
has come true. I have failed.” I dropped to my knees and put my face in
my hands. “It’s all over.”
Sam knelt beside me.
"But Sir, the quest hasn't failed. They didn't take everything. Begging
your pardon, Mr. Frodo, but I thought you were dead. You weren't
breathing, moving or anything. I took the Thing from you sir. I kept it
"S-Sam you've got It…..You've got it here. Bless you Sam! You are a marvel! Where is it? Give it to me."
"Alright sir, If you insist, but it is a terrible weight. Are you sure you don't want me to carry if for you?"
He drew the chain over his neck and handed it to me. The touch of the
Ring in the palm of my hand caused my vision to blur, the face that was
before me changed. My body broke out into a fevered sweat. A strange
lightheadedness had caused the room to spin and I was on the verge of
losing my balance. This was a new orc. It was as I thought. The
pleasant dream had erupted into a nightmare again. "NO!...It's mine,
you can't have it, I won't let you take it from me." The violent words
spat out of my mouth.
"M-M-Mr. Frodo.....Please don't talk like that, they are going to be coming soon."
Come for you, come for you. The words echoed through my head. The
questioner had come. Why had he dressed as Sam? What a terrible
torment, far worse than the other orc tortures by whip. But I had the
Ring again and that was all that mattered.
"I will tell you nothing. You will get nothing. You are nothing. You lying, sneaking thief."
"Oh, Please Sir....Wake up....Don't say such cruel things to me."
I saw the questioner scrambling away from me, startled. The voice
sounded full of tears. Orc's cry? I rubbed my eyes and as my vision
cleared. The questioner was gone, and in his place he left a weeping
Sam. From the expression on his face it looked as though I had stabbed
him through the heart. My words came back to me. My poor Sam. I have
wounded you deeper than I had ever been wounded. The tears now ran from
"Oh Sam, I am so sorry, what have I done. Will you ever forgive me?
After everything you have done for me. I am so very sorry. I forgot
about The Ring's powers. And how quickly it has consumed me again; I’m
sorry Sam, you won't be able to help me that way again. It is my doom
and my burden. You can not come between me and it again."
"But I can still help you others ways, can't I, Sir? We need to get you
some clothes and some gear. I'm afraid it will have to be orc gear. I
doubt they have a hobbits wardrobe handy." He said trying to smile; he
wiped his eyes with his sleeve.
"Of course, my dear boy, of course you may help.” I rubbed the tears
out of my own eyes. "I-I don't think I can make it without you."
I paced across the floor. I should have gone with him; I should have
gone with him, my thoughts beating time with my pounding head and
footsteps. What if something happens to you, Sam? I couldn’t bear it. I
have to do something. The waiting was getting unbearable. I glanced
around the room. Not much to see by the torchlight. My bed of rags, the
ladder, the knife that Sam tossed onto the floor; the knife! I stopped
and stood staring at the orcs knife lying next to the ladder. My
fevered head began spinning visions of fear; once again I saw the knife
in the orcs hands. Clenching, unclenching their claws the tiny pricks
of pain as they questioned me. I shook my head. I had to think of
something else. That route lead to madness. I clutched the cloak around
me; thank goodness Sam left me this. It at least adds a small measure
Keep moving, Frodo. I said to myself. Keep
moving. I walked over to the torch and took it down from its bracket on
the wall. I wonder what I can find in the dark corners of my den. Maybe
they left something behind to help us. The heat of the torch so close
to my face, sent another wave of nausea, through my stomach. I am not
going to be sick again, I am not. My hands began trembling, the
torchlight flicker in tune. I sat the torch on the floor and backed
away from it. It was too much for the moment, I sat down against the
wall. Taking deep breaths I waited for the feeling to pass. I chuckled
to myself; maybe it’s a good thing Sam had left to go find some clothes
and gear. I felt weaker than a kitten.
Breathe. Frodo. Breathe.
Listen to me talking to myself. Well at least
the sick feeling has faded again. A shiver ran through me. Hot one
minute, cold the next. At this rate we’ll never get out of this tower.
Let alone to the mountain. I looked at the torch, its red glow causing
shadows to flicker around the room. I wonder if that’s what it will be
like at the Cracks of Doom. Hot like the feel of the torch when it was
so near my face, or cool like the rock against my back? Will the walls
have the same eerie shadows? The torchlight flared up as a new section
of wood was lit. A white sparkle came from a corner just beyond. One of
Sam’s favorite sayings came back to me. “Now what the blazes could that
I rose to my feet and wandered past the
light. A cheer of hope leaped from my throat. “Lembas!” Some broken,
some in just pieces but honest-to-goodness, Lembas. Thank you Elbereth!
I put a small piece in my mouth and sighed at the taste. Thank you Lady
Galadrial. Eagerly now I went to work gathering up the broken bits and
put them into a pile. Picking up the dropped torch. I wandered through
the room. Spying into the corners and edges. The orcs must have hated
these worse than Gollum. The bits were scattered everywhere. A measure
of hope had returned. And at that moment I heard a soft voice echo up
through the trap door.
“Elbereth. Elbereth.” Sam had returned.
I lowered the ladder and up he climbed. He dropped a large bundle on the floor.
“Quick now Mr. Frodo, I had to search a bit
to find anything for someone our size. And it took longer than I
thought it would. I’ve met and seen nothing but I think this place is
being watched like one of those Flying Riders is up in the darkness
where he can’t be seen.”
"That was a bit of a loud thump Sam. Are you
sure you didn't forget anything?" I chuckled as we watched several
helms of various sizes rolled away from the pile on the floor.
"I only have just the one head, Sam."
"I wasn't sure which one would fit, so I grabbed several." He said blushing.
I looked at the clothes and my smile faded.
The breeks were made from some unknown animal skin and the simple
leather tunic that was covered in an unknown filth. There was also a
large mail shirt, a belt and short orc sword. Sam caught my look of
disgust. "Sorry sir, the Morgul stuff was in better shape and had a
better fit, but I didn't think it would be smart to walk around Mordor
dressed as one of those orcs. Especially after this business here in
"No, it's okay Sam. I hate to think what you
had to go through to get these for me." I picked up my pants by my
fingertips. I held them out at arms length the smell coming from them
turned my stomach. I swallowed, unable to hide the green color coming
over my face.
"Well, sir, I did slam the pants and shirt up
against the wall a couple times to knock any critters out of them. But
there was nothing to be found. Um...are you okay sir."
The room grew hot. Quickly I dropped the
pants and moved to the far side of the room. I couldn't stop the wave a
nausea this time. I waved Sam away as he tried to comfort me. I leaned
my head forward against the wall. The coolness reviving me after a bit.
"Sorry Sam" I said apologetically. "There's
nothing else you could have done." I came back to the pile of clothes
and put them on. My skin crawling from the touch of them.
Sam helped me to put on the mail shirt and
found a helm that fit. Sort of. The weight of them nearly dropped me
back to my knees. "I forgot how heavy these things might be."
"Sam! If you apologize one more time, I'm going to kick you." I said with a small grin.
"Yes, sir." He chuckled. "You know sir, not
only do you look like an orc, your starting to sound like one too." He
put on an orc mail over his clothes, then he put a cape around his
shoulders and a helm on his head.
"Grrr...So, I guess we are just about ready.
Did you make inquires about inns on the way? Nothing less will do for
such a fine looking pair of orcs."
“Except what's left in my pack of Faramir's food and the elves bread. I don't think I have much water left in my water bottle."
"Ahh, but that's where your wrong Sam." I
said with a small smile. "They cut up my water bottle and took
Faramir's food, of course, but I have gathered up a fair supply of
lembas myself. Eat a cake of lembas and drink that last drop in your
bottle. I'm not going to budge from here until you do."
"Yes Sir, Mr. Orc."
"And just you remember that...Grrr.."
We started down the steps. They were long and
wearisome. I was already tired and dizzy by the time we reached the
first landing. Wearily I sank to the steps as Sam lit a new torch. He
partially drew Sting, the blade was dull.
“Ready?” He asked laying his hand on my shoulder. I nodded.
“How far down is it?”
“Well Sir, I didn’t count the number of
landings on the way up . More than ten, I reckon, The torch I carried
burned out before I reached the top. So I expect it’ll be about the
same amount of time going back down. I counted at least 200 steps ‘fore
I lost my reckoning.”
“Well let’s get started again.” I stood up .
The stairs seemed to sway. Sam reached out and steadied me. “It might
take more than just a couple of torches, Sam.” I chuckled.
“Well Sir, we’ll just cross those bridges when we come to them.”
Landing after landing. It was me against
these horrid steps. Still going down was a lot easier than it would
have been if we were climbing up. The weight of the iron about me
dragging me earthward. My breath turned to gasps for air.
Landing after landing. Poor Sam has already
had to climb them once. I concentrated on putting my feet on each step.
I swayed and leaned against Sam. He put his arm around my waist and
kept me on my feet.
At the next landing I halted. Enough. I had to rest.
"Hold up Sam" I said and sat down on the
landing step. "I must catch my breath for a moment." My ribs and lungs
were aching from the strain of breathing, and the stairway had begun to
spin. I put my head in my hands as he sat in the step next to me. We
paused until the sound of my breathing return back to almost normal. I
started to shiver as the sweat cooled on my skin. The smell of the orcs
clothing rising about us.
“Sam, I think I need some fresh air, lets move on again.”
“Yes sir.” He stood up and lit another torch. He extinguished the first torch, the smoke began rising from the embers.
“Half a moment Sam.” I noticed the smell of
wood smoke coming from it. That surely would surely smell a lot better
than what I had been smelling. I stepped over to the still smoldering
torch and let the clean smell of wood smoke seep into the clothes.
After a moment the smell masked the worst of the orcish odors. “Okay
Sam, I’m ready.”
Landing after landing was past. I gazed at
the gray stone floor. My vision blurring as the sweat poured down under
the helm into my eyes.
Landing after landing. Would we never reach the bottom?
“Well that makes ten, Sam.”
He chuckled. “Yes Sir, I was counting them too.’
The second torch was beginning to burn itself
out. When at last we reached the bottom step. Cautiously we leaped
across the orc lying dead in the partially opened doorway. We picked up
a couple of shields to finish our disguise as we peered into the
courtyard. It was empty. Sam pointed to the left.. “That’s the way we
need to go to get out.” He whispered in my ear. “There are two stone
watchers there. They are rather scary to look at. The lady’s glass got
me in – it should get us out.” I nodded in understanding. As we looked
towards the stone watchers, I felt their anger and hatred. An evil
malice radiated from them that we could feel across the distance of the
courtyard. We stepped out into the open area. Each step a drag and a
torture. My strength being sapped from my body. What was wrong with me,
even the stairs weren’t this exhausting? We weren’t even to the archway
before my remaining strength dissipated. I dropped to my knees.
“ I can’t go on, Sam, I’m going to faint” the
effort even to speak was a painful chore. “I think I am going to be
sick, I don’t know what’s come over me.”
“I do, Mr. Frodo” he said as he helped me
back to my feet. “It’s that gate. There is some devilry there, but
we’re going to get though. It can’t be more dangerous than before.” He
drew out the ladies glass. The phial blazed with a brilliant light that
illuminated the courtyard around us, But the wall was still there.
Suddenly he cried. “Elbereth”
The thoughts and the words from the elves
came into our minds. “Aiya Elenion Anacalina” The words burst from my
throat. Suddenly we felt the will of the watchers broken like the snap
of a cord. We stumbled forward. Sam caught me up into a surprised
stumbling run. We had just passed through the gate when there was a
loud crack above us. The keystone of the archway fell at our heels. The
wall gave way and fell into ruins. The low clanging of a bell sounded
and up from the watchers was raised a loud wail. To our horror it was
answered by a shriek in the black sky. My words were answered. A Nazgul
Running now in fear and a blind dark (Sam had
put away the phial again thank goodness). Sam caught my arm. “Don’t run
that way Mr. Frodo, there is a sheer drop. Follow me.” He led the way
down the road, a swift bend took us out of sight of the tower. We
cowered back against the rock. Stopping for the moment to calm our
racing breath and hearts. The cliffs around us echoed the yet
unanswered shrieks of the terror. We didn’t pause for long. The road
swung eastwards again and we were once more exposed.
“This won’t do Sam. We need to get off the
road. If we were real orcs we would be running towards the tower, not
away from it. The first enemy of any type that we meet will know us for
“But we can’t, sir, not without wings.”
“Well there is bridge not to far ahead. We should be able to get off the road there.”
Onward we ran, coming at last to the bridge,
further up the road we saw the red torches of the rapidly approaching
orcs. “Now, Sam. We have to go over the edge now.” We climbed over the
small ledge and clung to the edge. We each took a deep breath. The dark
hid the bottom.
He nodded “Well here goes, Mr. Frodo. Goodbye.”
We let go.
For about a dozen feet we dropped. Instead of
landing on sharp rocks as we anticipated, the drop landed us into a
tangle of thorny bushes. We lay quietly nursing our bruises and
scratches as the orcs trampled over the bridge and were gone.
We had escaped.
Bruised, scratched, tired and weary we had escaped.
Hope still remained for the company of two.
“Thank you Sam.” The tears glistened in my eyes.
“Thank you for coming for me.”