Frodo and Sam flee into the trough of the Morgai
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: March 15, 3019
An event in the aftermath of Frodo's Capture by Orcs at Cirith Ungol and the prelude to the Destruction of the One Ring; see those entries for an overview:
Then they ran. ... A bell clanged; and from the Watchers there went up a high and dreadful wail. Far up above in the darkness it was answered ... [by] a winged shape, rending the clouds with a ghastly shriek.
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 1, The Tower of Cirith Ungol
Sam had just wits enough left to thrust the phial back into his breast. 'Run, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'No, not that way! There's a sheer drop over the wall. Follow me!'
Down the road from the gate they fled. In fifty paces, with a swift bend round a jutting bastion of the cliff, it took them out of sight from the Tower. They had escaped for the moment. Cowering back against the rock they drew breath.... Perching now on the wall beside the ruined gate the Nazgûl sent out its deadly cries. All the cliffs echoed.
In terror they stumbled on. Soon the road bent sharply eastward again and exposed them for a dreadful moment to view from the Tower. As they flitted across they glanced back and saw the great black shape upon the battlement; then they plunged down between high rock-walls in a cutting that fell steeply to join the Morgul-road. They came to the way-meeting. There was still no sign of orcs...; but they knew that the silence would not last long. At any moment now the hunt would begin.
'This won't do, Sam,' said Frodo. 'If we were real orcs, we ought to be dashing back to the Tower, not running away. ... We must get off this road somehow.'
'But we can't,' said Sam, 'not without wings.'
The eastern faces of the Ephel Dúath were sheer, falling in cliff and precipice to the black trough that lay between them and the inner ridge. A short way beyond the way-meeting, after another steep incline, a flying bridge of stone leapt over the chasm and bore the road across into the tumbled slopes and glens of the Morgai. With a desperate spurt Frodo and Sam dashed along the bridge; but they had hardly reached its further end when they heard the hue and cry begin. Away behind them ... loomed the Tower of Cirith Ungol.... Suddenly its harsh bell clanged again, and then broke into a shattering peal. Horns sounded. And now from beyond the bridge-end came answering cries. Down in the dark trough, cut off from the dying glare of Orodruin, Frodo and Sam could not see ahead, but already ... upon the road there rang the swift clatter of hoofs.
'Quick, Sam! Over we go!' cried Frodo. They scrambled on to the low parapet of the bridge. Fortunately there was no longer any dreadful drop into the gulf, for the slopes of the Morgai had already risen almost to the level of the road; but it was too dark for them to guess the depth of the fall. ...
[Even] as they fell they heard the rush of horsemen sweeping over the bridge and the rattle of orc-feet running up behind. ... [The] hobbits landed, in a drop of no more than a dozen feet, with a thud and a crunch into ... a tangle of thorny bushes. ...
When the sound of hoof and foot had passed he ventured a whisper. 'Bless me, Mr. Frodo, but I didn't know as anything grew in Mordor! ... These thorns must be a foot long by the feel of them.... Wish I'd a'put that mail-shirt on!'
'Orc-mail doesn't keep these thorns out,' said Frodo. 'Not even a leather jerkin is any good.'
They had a struggle to get out of the thicket. ... Their cloaks were rent and tattered before they broke free at last.
'Now down we go, Sam,' Frodo whispered. 'Down into the valley quick, and then turn northward, as soon as ever we can.'
Day was coming again in the world outside, ... but here all was still dark as night. The Mountain smouldered and its fires went out. The glare faded from the cliffs. The easterly wind that had been blowing ever since they left Ithilien now seemed dead. Slowly and painfully they clambered down, groping, stumbling, scrambling among rock and briar and dead wood in the blind shadows ... until they could go no further.
At length they stopped, and sat side by side, their backs against a boulder. Both were sweating. 'If Shagrat himself was to offer me a glass of water, I'd shake his hand,' said Sam.
'Don't say such things!' said Frodo. 'It only makes it worse.' Then he stretched himself out, dizzy and weary, and he spoke no more for a while.
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 2, The Land of Shadow
Elena Tiriel 15Aug06