The quill slipped from his fingers leaving a dark stain on the parchment. A shiver ran through his body. He did not behold the bleary images before his darkening eyes though he tried heavily to focus on them. They were gone too swiftly, and his mind was too slow to catch their meaning. His head grew heavy and still his eyes were staring blankly into the distance. His furrowed brow spoke of deep concentration, but his mind was empty, too weak to grab hold of what was going on. The room started to spin. His blind eyes rolled back in their sockets as his head lolled forward, his chin sinking to his chest.
Frodo blinked trying hard to fight a dizziness, so strong it almost made him sick. Slowly he got up in the huge armchair in his study trying to remember what had happened. His head felt heavy and Frodo reached a trembling hand to his forehead. It was covered with sweat. He frowned trying to lift the curtain that veiled his memories. But he was too weak, and the attempts alone made his head ache. Frodo tried to shake away the pain and dizziness but that only made it worse, and he grew tired. Exhausted, he finally leaned back in the armchair, closed his eyes and listened to his rapid breathing. Something was wrong, but he could not understand what it was. His maimed hand reached for the white gem hanging on a chain around his neck. His fingers gently closed around it and his lips formed the name of Elbereth.
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
His own shriek, faint and distant in his ears made him wince. No, it could not be. That darkness had long passed. It was over.
Shadows danced before his fluttering lids: long, black and menacing. They were still here, and they were close… so close.
Frodo scrambled to a sitting position; his eyes desperately dashing from one corner to the other as if some threat or menace was awaiting him there. His free hand clasped the desk while the other still clung tightly to the gem. He was shivering, his body shaking from fear and exhaustion. Taking gasping breaths, Frodo tried hard to fight the terror that threatened to overwhelm him, but then, his terrified eyes beheld the page he had been filling with words at a time he now could no longer remember.
The moon lifted our spirits but what this night brought was worse than any long night before this had. A shadow, black and ominous, came flying to us right from the accursed hills in the south, and its deadly cry pierced our hearts like a knife.
Frodo's eyes grew wide as he read the last lines, focusing only on the black ink-stain the quill had left. It was growing, growing until it filled the page and all he could see. The Nazgûl's cry was in his ears and that alone sent a deadly chill through his body. His shoulder ached as if pierced by shards of ice. Desperately, Frodo covered his ears with his hands as his vision blurred. He tried to blink the shadows away but they remained, as did his pain. It would never end; it would never be over.
But the fit passed and when Frodo lifted the quill with trembling fingers only a tiny spot of ink marked the ending of his last line. Frodo dared not read it again but closed the book with one swift movement. The pain his first reading had brought along was only just fading, and he did not want to increase it again for the chill in his shoulder remained and slowly spread all about his body.
"What's the matter, Mr. Frodo?"
Frodo had not heard Sam's coming and jumped at the sound of the familiar voice. Sam should not see the pain he was in, should not see the dread that threatened to engulf him. Whatever had taken hold of him it would pass. He would fight the darkness with all his strength or die in the attempt. Sam should learn nothing about it, for his dear friend had been worrying for far too long, and there was no need to burden him.
Frodo tried to get to his feet but dizziness betrayed him. He swayed and slumped back on the chair.
"I'm wounded, wounded; it will never really heal." He had spoken before he even knew an answer to Sam's question and though he knew the words, his mind could no longer catch their meaning.
Sam's concerned gaze was upon him, and it angered Frodo that he could not even overcome his vertigo. Gently Sam reached for his arm and helped him to his feet when Frodo attempted to stand.
"I'm fine, Sam," he said as he staggered to the doorway. "I just need a little rest."
Sam frowned as he led Frodo to his room, unsure about what was happening with his master. He was far paler than usually, and his eyes looked faint and distant as if Frodo saw things long past and forgotten. He did not seem to be oriented to where he was. Gently, Sam sat Frodo onto his bed and reached out to unbutton his master's shirt, but Frodo firmly pushed Sam's hand away declaring that he could manage without his help. Nodding slightly, Sam let his gaze wander over his master, which he seemed hardly to recognise. He was concerned because he had realised that Frodo's left hand had grown cold like it had done on their journey to Rivendell. Still, he did not worry too much. Frodo had probably only overstrained himself with writing all day and would feel better in the morning. Sam went to the hearth where he put a fresh log into the dying embers and stirred the fire to new strength. As he got to his feet, he asked Frodo if he wanted some dinner but the older hobbit shook his head telling him that he just wanted some sleep, and so Sam left the room quietly, yet a disturbing feeling unfurled within him.
As soon as Sam was gone, the darkness Frodo had held at bay overwhelmed him, and he slumped his head onto the pillow shaking like a leaf. Shadows danced before his waking eyes and even when he forced his lids to close, they would remain. A deadly chill paralysed his weary body, slowing down his desperately beating heart. Yet he felt tiny drops of sweat trickling down his neck. He was wheezing as if some invisible force aggravated his already gasping breaths. The room was dark to his eyes though night had not yet come. His body was numb as if cold had frozen all life within it. He would die now in the eye of the shadows.
Frodo forced his eyes open. Darkness should not claim him. He had fought it once, and he would fight again. Never would he succumb. Faintly he recalled a similar fit in early March but that had not been as strong as this one. Or was it and he just could no longer remember? Before Frodo could bring his mind to concentrate, searing pain in his shoulder robbed him of all thought. He cried out, his right hand pressing the cold, white scar on his shoulder. It was throbbing, pulsing as if awakened to life.
They were coming, they were close, and his wound was answering their call just like the Ring once did. Through the wound he had become one of them, one of the Nine, and he would never find a place to hide. They would find him, capture him and show him pain worse than anything he had yet experienced.
"When the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you, this will bring you aid."
Frodo reached for the gem around his neck with clammy fingers clutching it until his knuckles turned white and his hand trembled. Cold sweat poured down his face leaving a salty taste on his parted lips. The gem would help, as would the fire. They feared fire and would not come near it.
Frodo staggered towards the dazzling flames even though the sight of them made him dizzy. Surprisingly, his wobbly legs did not give way until he had reached the hearth.
His left arm hung loosely at his side, numb and cold. Suddenly feeling like choking, Frodo let go of the gem and tried to unbutton his shirt. But the trembling in his right hand grew worse and most of the buttons slipped from his damp fingers. When he took hold of one anyhow, his fingers shook so hard, he feared he would tear it off so he gave up after the first four buttons had been opened.
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
Frodo felt the chill inside the dell as he listened to Aragorn's voice. Lúthien was dancing for him in the flickering fires and wherever her feet touched the embers the light increased. Her beauty dazzled even the flames. The shadow of her long, black hair moved among the flames like a leaf in autumn. The beauty of her dance enchanted Frodo.
But then, the shadows changed, growing darker and more menacing. Frodo was not sure if he was really drawing back or if only his dizziness made him feel like flinching. Terror seized him, as the embers grew ever darker and loomed up before him like threatening shadows. Panting, he backed off towards his bed as the shadow that once had been Lúthien's silken hair turned into the ominous shape of a Black Rider. Its shrill shriek echoed in his ears and his wound answered the cry with throbbing pain, so strong it almost made him faint.
Petrified, Frodo crouched on the ground trying to shield his ears from the terrible sound and avoid the gaze of the Nazgûl slowly approaching him. But he could not take his eyes from the creature. He had to watch as it came closer, the sound of the hooves getting louder and louder.
He pulled himself up onto the bed only with the strength of his right arm. His pounding heart drowned even his haggard breathing. The Witch-King was coming for him. There was no escape. Darkness awaited him, and darkness was where he would go. Dark curls stuck to the clammy forehead as silent tears mingled with his sweat. Blind eyes stared at a ceiling veiled by shadows. The galloping stopped and Frodo heard iron shoes hitting the floor.
He had come. There was no escape. His eyes closed and his hand slipped limply from the bed. Darkness laid his arm around the hobbit's troubled mind and he knew no more. Night had come. It was the sixth of October.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.