Scarcely. Scarcely could he draw breath now, and his throat burned with the wanting of the thin air that seemed caught, caught even as he was, in befouled webs.
Sam. Where was Sam? He should be here, shouldn’t he, be here by his side, in all this darkness, and they should end together, if end they must…..
With cold clarity, he remembers: he had sent Sam home.
No! No, he never had done so. Why? Why should he, why would he do such a thing?
Madness, this was madness.
Unbidden, his mind slowly draws forth a picture. A hobbit, is it? No, wait. Tangled hair hides this visage. No hobbit, then, though he is minded that the Stoors were oft spoken of as being bearded like Men. Gollum, Smeagol that was, is the oldest Stoor he might know, and he certainly has no hair of mention, and certainly none upon his face.
A man, then, and his mind searches wildly for a name. He must know this Man, and this man must know where Sam has gone.
Now, that was merely silly. That was the stuff that he had for luncheon, betimes, in places where there still was luncheon…in places where he was not the main bill of fare for said meal…..
What in the Four Farthings was he thinking? WHO was PJ, and why did he have a sudden urge to drink a litre entire of milk?
And Frodo knew, of a sudden, that this Man, this PJ person, was the source of all that was currently wrong in his world.
HE was the one who’d sent Sam home…..the one who’d forced an unwilling Ring-bearer towards a too-soon ending at Osgiliath…..the one who’d sent an innocent halfling to face a Lady and her Mirror alone…..
Next, Frodo supposed, as he dangled within the cords of the web, next he’d no doubt be called upon to throw *himself*(and not the stupid Ring, which was beginning to pain him something awful) from the precipice of the Sammath Naur. IF, that is, he could manage to come that far.
But, really, his mind argued, how likely was that? No, far more likely he would end here, and the world with him. Still, something in the back of his mind would not cease, something struggled, still, against the darkness.
Somewhen, a voice echoed in the blankness that slowly consumed him……
“Good! That was……good. Let’s just try it one……more……..”
His own scream ran through the cavern, slicing through his confusion as swiftly as the blade drew through the confining web….
Run. He must run. And towards the light, the light that poured through a half-seen opening at the end of the tunnel.
Oh. Was he dreaming, lost again, or was this blessedly real? For Sam was at his back, running swift behind him, as he should have been. Out of sheer relief, Frodo stopped, turned. He felt dazed, but as long as Sam was here, then all was right.
Sam’s face crinkled with concern.
“Sam! It is you! For a moment, I – well, I thought……”
“Thought what, master?”
Frodo searched for words, but found none.
“Never mind. As long as you are here, that’s all…..dear, Sam….as long as you are with me…..”
Sam smiled, took his hand as if to hold him from something that might do him harm.
“Mr. Frodo, I’m glad to be with you, sir, but there’s something as wants saying, before you go gettin’ all glad about that door-way there being filled with light and all…..”
Frodo wondered what else there could possibly be, at this point, which might further serve to ruin his day.
Sam’s hold on him now included a strong hand wrapped about Frodo’s arm, a hand steadying enough to hold Frodo motionless.
“That light there…..”
Frodo looked at him in puzzlement.
“that light, now, sir. It ain’t the sun, Mr. Frodo……”
Frodo smiled, held the star-glass aloft….
“No, sir, nor the light from a twin of your own blessed glass, more’s the pity…..”
A rush of dank-hot air ran through the tunnel, a horn, (very much like that of the late Captain of Gondors’), sounded.
Frodo stood transfixed.
Sam gently helped him up.
“My old gaffer has a saying, Mr. Frodo: soonest said, soonest mended. I’ve been talkin’ (beggin’ your pardon) rings around the point, but now we’ve come to it: that light there, sir, it ain’t the sun, nor yet a star…….”
(and Samwise, despite his declaration of getting to the point, seemed unable to actually *find* it…..….)
Something inside Frodo broke then, and he roughly shoved Sam against the wall, tripping over a length of metal laid upon the dark floor as he did so. His internal counter chalked this one as one-hundred-forty-four. A gross. He’d remember this, if ever he again saw Gandalf.
He bit his words off with great, long-suffering precision.
Sam looked about wildly, took a calming breath.
“Bless you, sir, it’s……
So to speak.