Sam cautiously stepped up the stairs. All he could see was pitch black darkness. The tunnel was darker than the caves of the Great Spider. But Sam did not dwell on those thoughts. They had to go on. Behind him, Frodo trod, dragging his feet. "Poor Mr. Frodo", Sam thought, "the Ring must be near unbearable by now". Slowly the weary Hobbits made their way up a small and stuffy corridor. The only sound to be heard was a grinding or whirring sound. Likened to a metal smith's sharpening wheel. Sam, frightened for Frodo ran to his side.
"I'm fine Sam, really I am."
"I gather that Mr. Frodo but it's just this place, it unnerves me."
"We must go on though Sam."
"You're right Mr. Frodo, we can not stop now."
As they trudged on forward they could feel the hall opening up into a vast chamber. In place of a stuffy corridor they were in a stuffy room. All was deathly silent, but for the constant grinding sound. "It seems as if there is no life here at all, does it not Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo did not answer for he had discovered something in the back of the room.
Thousands of people were crammed into the corners and filled every empty spot on the floor in such a manor that it could not even be seen. All ages and races; men and women; young and old where seated there. At no response from Frodo, Sam turned to speak again but the words caught in his mouth. He now saw the masses too.
"What are they?", whispered Sam.
"I know not, and do not wish to know", replied Frodo.
As they studied intently the faces, they noticed something strange. Not a single eye blinked or hand stirred. Yet, the were alive as could now be faintly heard breathing. Sam discovering the throng alive, turned to Frodo.
"Mr. Frodo, we should leave now. We must find another way." "Sam, I know not the sorcery, good or evil by which these people are held; but my heart tells me this is the only way." "Then I will go with you Mr. Frodo, till the very end." " Thank you Sam, that is of much assurance."
They stepped toward the largest mass of people. With every step forward their feet stuck to the floor. And as they came even closer, they had to pick their way around a plethora of empty leather pouches. A little bit of effort and time allowed Frodo and Sam to make their way to one face in particular. It was the face of a woman, fair and young. Her expression was filled with wonder and joy,but still and lifeless. They dared not touch it, lest she should awake. Instead they studied her closely.
While looking into her eyes, Sam noticed that they were fixed upon something.
He turned to see through her point of view. There, before him was the most alarming vision he had ever beheld. Suddenly everything made sense. Entranced groups of people, empty pocketbooks, and finally the last component; all the people were adorned in mass produced shirts. The clothing bore the images of strange beings and creatures. Quickly, Sam grabbed Frodo and ran back through the long corridor. Not until they were both safely back to the main tunnel did they stop.
"Sam, what was it? What did you see?"
"Mr. Frodo, I did not want you to gaze upon it for it is deadly. It takes your living force from you. Your only goal and desire is to own it, which is not possibly. It turns you in to a being similar to the Black Riders but much worse. Neither living nor dead. You will forever crave and feel for it. This is why we ran."
"Yes, yes, Sam. But what is it?"
Sam shuddered as he spoke the words, "The Lord of the Ring Trilogy."
A great gasp came from the lips of Frodo. They both got up, and looked behind them. With haste they scurried for a safer route.
"Quickly Mr. Frodo, they are coming!"