Black and Gold

by NorthStar
Part IX

Frodo and Sam did run then, Sam pulling a pain-wracked Frodo behind him. When Frodo could go no further, Sam was forced to stop and look around desperately for cover. Everywhere he looked, bucking horses and bright blades darkened with orc blood danced before his eyes. And the song of the Rohirrim was hypnotizing; while not as lovely a tune as the wood elves sang, he felt as though these notes had a will to carry them along on their own. Unheeding of Frodo’s protests, Sam finally made for the least scary looking tree on the borders of the forest and ducked under its overhanging branches. They threw themselves down, panting, wondering what the outcome of the melee outside was going to be.

If Boromir was here, where was the rest of the fellowship? Had they ridden with the Rohirrim or fallen to some unnamed foe? Or had they been separated during the onslaught and were there, but unseen?

While Sam was fretting, Frodo found his eyes drawn to the clearing where the Uruk-Hai and Boromir now fought. Their prior meeting was fresh in each mind, and each smelled the other’s blood…and wanted it spilt. Evenly matched in skill, Lurtz had the advantage of height, if not strength. Each blow was met by a parry or answering blow. For Frodo, it was like watching an intricate dance, and he found it fascinating, even as his blood ran cold; which victor would be more dangerous?

Lurtz had finally gained the advantage, wounding Boromir heavily in the leg and causing him to collapse on the ground in agony. Lurtz took a moment to savor his victory, running his finger along the finely honed edge of the Gondorian blade, admiring its heft and intricately carved handle; before plunging it into Boromir’s chest with a roar.

The dying man turned his head towards the trees, and in doing so, caught Frodo’s horrified gaze. The Uruk-Hai also followed his gaze, and upon catching sight of Frodo in the thicket, his mouth curved into a terrifying smile. With barely a last look at his fallen foe, he turned and strode towards the spot where the hobbit lay.

Sam had ventured further back, looking for a path that Frodo could easily get down, hoping to lead him away from the killing and back towards where they had started. He barely heard Lurtz until the orc stood once again over Frodo, whose eyes were wide with dumbstruck horror. Blood of both men and orc dripped off him, splattering the elven cape with black droplets. Red rage boiled up in Sam. Hadn’t Frodo been through enough?

Faster than he had ever imagined he could move, Sam lunged for Frodo, pushing him aside and laying hold of Sting, hot to his touch. He drew the small sword from its scabbard and threw himself at Lurtz, slashing as he had seen Strider do.

The ring strained on its chain, pulsing, pushing its way through buttons and cloth to see; it was close now to its master, wasn’t it? It would not be long now before it was free – free to return to the hand that first made it.

Lurtz sidestepped Sam's advances and picked him up by the neck with one huge hand, his nails digging into the hobbit’s soft flesh. He squeezed. Sam felt himself losing breath, but did not stop swinging his sword.

Then all went black for Samwise Gamgee of Bagshot Row, the Shire.

As he lost consciousness, Sting fell from his hand and landed on the ground, where the sun mingling with the blue light cast an eerie glow over the three. From the high ground of the ridge above the forest, a pair of keen eyes discerned the light and made for the clearing with preternatural speed.

Sting did not go unborne for long.

Frodo reached for Sting, and as his fingers closed around the handle, he felt the same strength rush through him as Bilbo had in the caves of the Misty Mountains so long ago…

Pain forgotten, he got to his feet and leapt up, swinging Sting in a semi-circle to bring the blade down on the heavy arm that dangled Sam like a rag doll. The blade bit through armor, flesh and bone, severing it from its owner. Sam fell to the ground with a thump, the orc’s arm still gripping his neck.

Frodo staggered back against a tree, the shock of what he had done flooding through him. Lurtz looked in disbelief at the steaming stub where his arm had been, and bellowed, the sound booming off the trees and echoing over the plains. He reached for Frodo with his remaining hand, kicking Sting out of the hobbit’s nerveless fingers.

Frodo stood transfixed, having no doubt that Sam’s fate was now to be his own.

The ring now lay wholly outside his shirt, the chin twisting as a hangman’s noose around his neck. The hand wrapped around his neck… and yanked.

Freed, the ring slid off its silver chain and into the palm of the Uruk-Hai. He looked down at it in wonder. Then the thick fingers wrapped around it, hiding it from sight.

Also freed, Frodo slid to the ground, still waiting for the killing blow that did not come.

The air was suddenly soft as rain, clear and sweet.

Lurtz was gone.

As was the one ring.

Frodo crawled over to Sam and pulled the twisted fingers away from his friend’s neck, pushing the arm away. He stroked where the cruel nails had cut into Sam’s flesh, probing for a pulse, praying to feel a breath stirring, a heartbeat. Sam could not be gone. He couldn’t be. Frodo’s eyes filled with tears and fell on Sam’s face, soaking it. He buried his face in Sam’s shoulder and sobbed.

“Mr. Frodo, you’re a-getting me all wet, now,” came a hoarse but familiar whisper. “No need for this, I’m still here.” Frodo did not answer, but smiled through his tears and held Sam tight as the light from Sting diminished.