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Answering the Call: 7. Samwise
"No, Mr. Frodo," Sam said before he knew it. He felt the darkness of the Tower and the valley beyond press upon him. "Now that I know how heavy this burden is, I think you need to regain your strength before taking It back. Now let's get you some clothes and get you out of here-"
"No, Sam, you can't. It's mine!" Frodo cringed as the words tumbled out of his mouth.
"I know It is, Mr. Frodo," Sam said forcefully, now understanding Frodo's struggle. "And It's a terrible weight that never should have been put upon you. I know now; I can feel It hanging on my neck like, well, like the weight of the world, if you don't think that's making too big a thing out of It." Sam sighed before continuing. "I just want to give you a moment of peace, Mr. Frodo. You need more rest than I can give you. But if I can give you a respite, won't you let me?"
A hint of hope crept into Frodo's voice. "Sam, I know you mean well, but you can't do this for me. Only I can do this. I will only find peace when It's destroyed."
"Just for a little while, Mr. Frodo, and you'll feel better, you'll see. Now let's get out of here, before those Orcs return and we really find ourselves in a pickle."
The spark of hope flickered out of Frodo's eyes. "Oh, no, Sam," he whispered, shutting his eyes as he shivered. "No. You can't..."
"Yes, I can, Mr. Frodo. I will carry It for you, and after we destroy It, you can finally have your peace you've been wanting."
Frodo looked at Sam hesitantly. "You still want to destroy It?"
"Of course, Mr. Frodo. If it's the only way to take the burden from you, then that's what we must do. I'll carry It to Mount Doom for you or until It gets too heavy for me to carry. At least then, you'd have regained some of your strength."
Wariness replaced hope as Frodo relented. "All right, Sam, let's go then."
They escaped the tower and began their trek again, the weight of the metal circle on the chain growing heavier with each of Sam's steps. They encountered Orcs who thought to return them to the line of marchers. After slipping away unseen, they painstakingly made their way across the desolate plain. Finally, they reached the Mountain of fire. Sam heard the voice of the Ring louder now. It murmured of land rich and fertile, of clear, cold water, of rest. He spied Frodo watching him and saw, too, the weariness etched into the creases between his brows. Frodo's desire for what he held lingered in his eyes. Sam carried the Ring for Frodo, yet he had not taken Its weight from his master's shoulders. And so he continued, though he was already beyond his strength.
In time, they encountered Gollum again. But now Sam was too weary to fight and Frodo had only begun to regain his strength. Gollum attacked Frodo first but then turned on Sam. Sam held him off for a time, but even Frodo could not pry Gollum away. They were both too weak. The creature who had once been Sméagol put his hands on the Ring and claimed It for his own, running off into the barren distance of Barad-dûr.
The two hobbits watched as Gollum scampered away with their possession, with their duty, with their hope. They had no strength to chase. They would not find him. Not before Sauron did.
"Now what?" Sam asked wearily.
They leaned against each other in exhaustion and despair and waited for the world to end.
"I'm glad that you're with me, Sam. Here, at the end of all things."
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