Frodo's Choice

by Peregrine

The darkness was heavy upon him. Shelob's lair lay behind him, whispy flags of shredded web waved in the foul wind, as if beckoning him back. He would not go back. But he was so weary. So weary. The last of his energy had been sapped away by that miserable Gollum, the creature attacking him from behind, only to be thrown over a cliff by his own rage. Frodo had tried to save him, reaching out to snatch him back. But it was useless. And yet he knew the pitiful creature was not dead. He lurked somewhere in the shadows.

But he was so tired.

Frodo stumbled onward, the Ring heavy around his neck. Darkness pressed all around him. Tears flooded his eyes. He was alone.

"Oh, Sam..." he whispered to no one. "I'm so sorry..."

Why had he sent him away? He could see his friend at his feet, weeping as if his very life were ended. Frodo's heart twisted and he wept--wept for Sam. Wept for himself.

There was no going back.

Frodo's foot caught on a rock and he stumbled forward. He managed to grab onto a stony cliff-side outcropping, but his strength was gone.

"I'm so sorry..."

More than just for Sam. He had failed.

With a sob, Frodo fell to his knees. Darkness swirled around him and he fell forward--

--and landed heavily upon a springy carpet of leaves and soft grass. Frodo lay still a moment, not daring to move, not daring to think. The air was warm--not the heavy hotness of Mordor or of Shelob's lair. It was warm and sweet. There was a scent upon it that he recognized. He turned his head, feeling leaves get caught in the sticky webs matting his hair. There, growing just beside him, was a bed of bright elannor...

Frodo slowly lifted his head and his eyes flew wide. There, standing tall in a pool of sunlight, glowing like a star, was Galadriel. She smiled down at him, beautiful and radiant. Frodo felt his heart skip a beat. And then he knew why he was there, so far away in his mind.

She was offering him a choice. He heard her voice in his head...

"If you do not find a way, no one will..."

But there were hidden words. She was offering him something else. A chance to turn away. A chance to let his burden lie upon the road. He could so easily now stand and walk away from it.

Galadriel bent down and extended a perfect, slender hand. Her eyes were like pieces of the sky.

Stay if you will Frodo Baggins, her voice spoke silently. Or do what you set out to do. I give you strenth for both.

He could take her hand, or he could lie there and sleep and let the troubles of the world pass him by. He could forget. He could sleep. He had a choice. She was offering him freedom. Offering him strength.

Frodo looked up at her hand. He so wanted to just ignore it. To just sleep. To forget.

But he had made his choice already. Without saying a word, he reached out and gripped her hand. She smiled so brilliantly that it seemed as if she was the sun herself. She laughed silently and effortlessly heaved him to his feet--

--and he stood alone in the oppressive darkness of Mordor. But he had made his choice. He would go on.

Someday he would sleep. Someday he would forget. But not yet.