ACROSS THE PLAINS OF GORGOROTH
Frodo portrayed by Hobbitness
Lilandra portrayed by FreeFall
Frodo's Servants, Elfhild portrayed by Eowyn
Narrator, Ceolwulf, Vartang, Aldir, Vardamir, Frodo's Ring and Orc Soldier portrayed by Wraith
SEPTEMBER 22, 23, 24
Narrator: *From dusk, September 22nd, to dusk, September 23rd, Vartang relentlessly presses the column of Frodo, the Nine Riders, two very frightened young passengers, the armed escort of twenty men-at-arms and fifteen supply horses and remounts.*
Narrator: *The baggage wagons, under the command of Androg and Ulfast, trail far behind, and since the wagons move so slowly, they will not arrive at the destination until some ten days after the main party.*
Narrator: *Stops are made only to allow the horses time to drink and graze. During those times, the group takes time to eat. Vartang has ordered that all of Frodo's nine companions must care for their own mounts first before they themselves eat.*
Narrator: *They are still in the farmlands, grazing lands, orchards and vineyards of Nurn with occasional small woods and forests growing near the path.*
Narrator: *By dusk the next evening, they have covered fifty miles and are somewhere northwest of the sea of Nurnen when Vartang orders them to halt for the night. They stop in a small grove of mixed scrub woodland.*
Narrator: *After dismounting, Vartang dismisses the soldiers for camp duty and the soldiers soon have their horses watered and then tied to a picketline which they set up. The loads from the horses' backs are removed and placed near the campsite.*
Narrator: *Vartang orders his soldiers to fetch kindling and build a fire, and to unpack enough supplies from the packs so they can eat that night.*
Narrator: *The night passes uneventfully with nothing to mark its passage save the glittering stars in the sky.*
Narrator: *At 12 midnight, Vartang calls the order to break camp and the journey continues, with the day of September 24th passing much like the one before. A halt is called at dusk that night, and the camp is set up for the night.*
Narrator: *The party had left Baggins Hall on dusk of September 22 and did not stop until dusk September 23. Then they left at midnight and traveled 50 miles, stopping that night*
Narrator: *It is now the night of September 24 and they are 100 miles from Baggins Hall and near the border of Nurn/Gorgoroth, but it is still green with vegetation*
Narrator: *Vartang announces to the group* Enjoy the campfire tonight, for it is sure we will have none tomorrow night. We will be in the desert then, and it will be a "cold camp" (meaning no fire will be burnt).
Vartang: There is no wood to burn there. We will leave at midnight once again!
Frodo's Servants: *the women begin to prepare the food for the group - the usual trail food... bread, cheese, dried meat and fruit, water and wine.*
Lilandra: *She raises her arms high in the air then places her hands on her hips and leans back. Stretching out her sore muscles and runs her fingertips over her temples...relaxing her weary mind*
Frodo: *Frodo practically falls off his pony, still foggy from the potion he does not remember being given*
Frodo's Servants: *they bring arrange plates and bowls of food upon platters and prepare serve vartang, his soldiers, frodo, the male slaves and themselves*
Frodo: *He totters toward the campsite, hoping to eat as quickly as possible to catch a few hours of precious sleep...if that is possible, with all the voices drumming in his head*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf takes care of his horse and Frodo's pony and then ties them to the picket line. He then walks over to Frodo*
Frodo: *Frodo looks up to Ceolwulf, trying to keep his eyes open*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, I don't think you are used to much riding *he says with a grin*
Lilandra: *She had watched the women work...helping when she could but she still felt so seperated from them and they moved with haste..they needed not to be told what to do..but as a slave expected orders..but she was glad nothing was demanded of her*
Frodo: No, I am not *he smiles back*
Frodo: I think I have finally figured out how to post now, though
Ceolwulf: Good, Frodo. I knew you would learn sooner or later
Frodo: *yawns and stretches*
Aldir: *After they dismount, Aldir cares for their horses* Lilandra, how do you fare on this journey?
Lilandra: *she strokes the horses face and looks to him* my mind is a mess of thought my love
Frodo: *curls up on the ground for a brief rest before dinner....I know, he thinks at Lilandra's words*
Lilandra: i fear greatly for the future ahead
Aldir: We are both troubled, Lilandra
Aldir: Where does this journey lead? That question is not answered
Lilandra: i dont think the destination or journey there will be a good one
Lilandra: i can't supress this nervousness
Frodo: *Frodo mentally agrees with them, and thinks that he does not know what the future holds either...not sure whether or not they will hear him*
Aldir: I do not understand the need for such secrecy
Lilandra: we are seperate from the rest
Aldir: My love, I hear his voice again in my mind! Do you hear it too?
Frodo: *Frodo sighs...will he ever sleep again?*
Lilandra: *she raises her eyes to his* ...yes
Lilandra: yes..i do
Lilandra: i thought it was just me
Aldir: Tis a strange thing indeed
Frodo: *Aye, that it is*
Aldir: Why does he do this to us!
Lilandra: there is a foul force here..always
Frodo: *I can't help it...it is the rings*
Aldir: Cannot our own thoughts be sacred to us?
Lilandra: all around us i feel
Aldir: *he puts his hands over his ears* I hear him again!
Lilandra: *she shudders and moves into Aldir's arms*
Aldir: Now his voice says that he is not responsible for his thoughts. My love this will drive us mad!
Aldir: *he holds her tightly to him*
Lilandra: *he can feel her tremble*
Lilandra: i trust nothing, only my feelings for you
Aldir: *Frodo, he thinks... Why do you do this?*
Frodo: *Frodo sighs wearily*
Aldir: His thoughts have stopped!
Frodo: *I cannot help it. I think it is these rings I was to give you...*
Aldir: Oh no! *he puts his head in his hands* they have started again!
Lilandra: *she winces as she feels him again inside her mind*
Lilandra: yes...again and always!
Aldir: *He thinks again... Please Frodo... please, stop!*
Lilandra: love so much of me wants to get on this horse and ride away with you now...far and fast
Aldir: It would be easy, my lady, just to saddle them again and ride away
Lilandra: though *clings* we would be killed perhaps
Aldir: I can guide us by the stars
Frodo: *Very well, my friend, I will try...but all of a sudden your thoughts are ever present to me and I cannot help reacting*
Lilandra: tortures...or worse..seperated for always
Frodo: *Lilandra hears in her head: Oh! Not if I could help it!*
Aldir: We should first go north and then west, the way we came
Frodo: *Frodo sits up and looks over to them in dismay*
Lilandra: *cringes at a voice in her head*
Lilandra: maybe if we get away it would stop
Aldir: We must escape this madness *he holds her tighter*
Lilandra: *she interlocks her fingers with his*
Lilandra: my darling i cannot be without you
Lilandra: i will not tell you what was about to happen while you were gone*trails off*
Frodo: *Frodo feels great fear for them as he hears their plans to escape...they will be caught and killed!*
Aldir: My love, what happened, while I was in the dungeon?
Frodo: *Against his will, he touches his ring...and delves into their thoughts persuasively, concerned*
Lilandra: *she shakes in his arms and winces as her head seems to pound* my darling...
Frodo: *Do not do this! Do not put yourselves in danger. Stay, be comforted. I will look after you.*
Lilandra: *she thinks of the lecherous hands that groped for her*
Aldir: My love, do you hear his voice too? He is in my head, he is commanding me. We must stay!
Frodo: *and he covers his head in his arms and tries to block out all thoughts but his own...and succeeds in catching a brief moment of sleep*
Lilandra: *her thought...his voice...her husband's concern all swim in her mind and then it stops*
Lilandra: my love.. i fear telling you
Aldir: *he whispers in her ear so no one can hear him, hoping Frodo will stay out of his mind* Tell me!
Frodo: *Frodo sleeps on the ground, next to Ceolwulf who sits by him*
Lilandra: *she looks to his face with eyes welling with tears*
Lilandra: i and the other women of house... were to...serve Vartang..and others i fear
Aldir: I will kill him!
Lilandra: *she holds onto his arms* no love!
Aldir: I will slit his throat while he sleeps!
Lilandra: it..it didnt happen
Lilandra: *takes his face in her hands*
Aldir: *He holds her by the shoulders now* Do you tell me the truth, Lilandra?
Lilandra: *she leaves it at that and tells him not of the remarks..or the leers...or the deliberate spilling of wine upon their dress or theie roaming hands* y..yes my love
Aldir: *He searches her eyes, then sighs, his anger repressed by her words*
Lilandra: but i do not want to be in that position again for we might not be fortunate next time
Lilandra: but i would risk death to be by your side
Aldir: *he looks around the camp, and sees Vartang leaning up against the back of a tree with a wine bottle in one hand*
Aldir: *He says in a low voice* The fool drinks now
Aldir: Keep away from him as much as you can, and if he lays another hand upon you, I will kill him!
Lilandra: *She knew her husband was kind...noble...repectable...but there was a raging temper of fire there as well...she wanted to keep that flame low*
Aldir: Come now, you must eat. *he takes her by the arm*
Aldir: *He leads her over to the others*
Frodo's Servants: *there is a blanket spread out on the ground and the rest of the women sit upon it. there is much food in the center of the blanket. they beckon lilandra and aldir over to them*
Vardamir: *Vardamir takes his food and then slips into the trees. He wishes to keep his distance from all of them*
Lilandra: *she smiles to them as they approach...sits down with him upon the blanket and take a bit of food*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf, who had been sitting beside the sleeping Frodo, shakes him*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, it is time to eat now
Frodo: *Frodo has started to tremble in his sleep. When Ceolwulf shakes him he screams and pulls away*
Frodo: *stares around shaking and disoriented*
Ceolwulf: *taken aback* Frodo? What is wrong?
Frodo: *breathes a sigh of relief when he recognizes Ceolwulf*
Frodo: Oh, it was...just a bad dream...*deep breath, composes himself*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, you must eat and drink!
Frodo: *The memory of the dream is already fading*
Frodo: *nods to Ceolwulf*
Ceolwulf: Here, let me get you something *He gets up, walks over to where the food has been set out*
Elfhild: *elfhild notices ceolwulf approaching and prepares a plate of food for him and frodo. she puts the plate on a small platter along with two goblets of wine*
Frodo: *Frodo watches Ceolwulf walk over to the food and hopes he will have time to rest too*
Ceolwulf: *He takes the food from her hands* Thank you, Elfhild. Frodo is very tired tonight
Elfhild: it has been a weary journey, indeed.
Ceolwulf: *He bows to her, turns away and walks back to Frodo, setting the platter on the ground*
Frodo: Thank you my friend
Lilandra: *she forces the food down for logic of she needs it for strength..her eyes take in all around her and she focuses on the two small boys..thier innocence in all of this..she smiles sadly*
Ceolwulf: Now eat, Frodo. We will probably have a long journey before us again
Frodo: *senses that Ceolwulf is weary and in some pain...Frodo wonders if he can take his friend's pain away with the new abilites the ring has given him*
Frodo: *He nods and eats...Lilandra's thoughts prompt him to look over to the boys*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf sits down beside Frodo and begins eating his food*
Ceolwulf: *He thinks to himself.... these dressings need to be changed once again. Good thing that one of the soldiers assists me in this*
Lilandra: *what was their future to be...feels heartache for their mother*
Aldir: *Aldir, sitting beside Lilandra, eats his food*
Frodo: *Frodo eats hungrily. This is scanty fare indeed for a hobbit's appetite*
Ceolwulf: *He watches Frodo eat, hoping that he will clean his plate so he will have strength for the next phase of the journey*
Lilandra: *her fingers move to pick up piece of bread and her eyes fall on her ring and her movements stop*
Frodo: *At the same moment Frodo's eyes are inexplicably drawn to her*
Frodo's Servants: *elfhild, elffled, rian, arnasa, finduilas and her two sons sit upon the blanket eating their meal...conversing with one another*
Lilandra: *she lifts her hand a bit to examine it*
Lilandra: *her eyes move to Frodo and find they are fixed on her*
Frodo: *Frodo manages an awkward smile*
Lilandra: *she smiles back only slightly....she doesnt know why she feels him so strongly*
Vartang: *One of the officers comes over to Vartang and they finish off the rest of Vartang's bottle together. After a few coarse jokes between the two, the other leaves. Vartang pitches the bottle against the woods, then covers himself with his blanket and is soon asleep and snoring*
Lilandra: *she lowers her hand and removes her gaze from Frodo*
Frodo: *Vartang's snores bring Frodo' mind back to Ceolwulf. Frodo is afraid of letting Ceolwulf know of his new power to read minds and communicate telepathically*
Frodo: *What if Ceolwulf would consider him a servant of the enemy if he knew?*
Frodo: *Frodo fears the same thing about the girls*
Aldir: *Aldir looks at his wife questioningly, feeling she is distressed about something*
Aldir: Lilandra, are you all right?
Lilandra: *she sits, leaning against him and looks ahead* you know i am ever curious Aldir..
Lilandra: things were always stange here..the little we saw before Master Baggins left.. but now..upon his return...his appearance..these rings..the voices...it is sorcery
Aldir: Aye, that is what I think it is, but be careful. Guard your thoughts!
Lilandra: and think what my love? nothing?
Frodo: *The word "sorcery" strikes Frodo's heart like a dagger. Though he tries to use it for good purposes...and he cannot seem to help using it at all...sorcery it is, dwimmercraft of the enemy*
Lilandra: for i feel he is ever present
Frodo's Servants: *elffled overhears lilandra and aldir's conversation but says naught... strangeness seemed to follow frodo, but at least he was kind.*
Aldir: Aye, my love *he looks around suspiciously* there IS no way to guard your thoughts from HIM!
Frodo: *Frodo looks down embarassed*
Lilandra: indeed i too did believe he was friend..
Lilandra: but can he himself protect us? does he even want to?
Frodo: *I do, I do want to!*
Aldir: My love *he says, looking around again* I do not know what powers this strange creature might posesess
Frodo: *Whatever I can do to help you I shall!*
Lilandra: *shudders* my love! again
Aldir: He's back!
Aldir: I will talk to him! *he says in a determined voice* Stay here, my love
Aldir: *He gets up, walks over to Frodo. He looks down at him and says one word* Why?
Lilandra: *she places her hand lightly on her heart and watches*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks up at him in alarm* What are you talking about, Aldir?
Frodo: *Frodo's heart races...oh no!*
Ceolwulf: Have you drunk too much wine?
Ceolwulf: Do not approach Frodo in this threatening manner!
Frodo: *Now it will come out and Ceolwulf will no longer trust me*
Lilandra: *her breathing becomes harder*
Aldir: Ceolwulf, this strange creature is a sorcerer who has great powers and invades our thoughts!
Aldir: Can you not hear his thoughts?
Frodo: I am not a sorcerer!
Frodo: I do not know why this is happening
Frodo's Servants: *the other servants pause from their meal and look towards the confrontation between frodo, aldir and ceolwulf*
Lilandra: *she looks around to make sure the threatening one still sleeps*
Ceolwulf: Man, I hear only my own thoughts, not the thoughts of another. You are drunk. Go back and sleep it off!
Frodo: No, Ceolwulf...there is more here than you realize *he says sadly*
Aldir: Stay out of my mind and stay out of the mind of my wife, if you do not want trouble!
Lilandra: *she cringes...does he only speak to them?*
Frodo: I cannot help it, Aldir!
Frodo: I do not know why this is happening!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf rises to his feet and faces Aldir*
Ceolwulf: Go away, drunken fool!
Lilandra: *at this she stands*
Frodo: Upon my return, just as we were setting off, I could suddenly hear all your thoughts
Frodo: I do not know why
Aldir: *Aldir looks at him, unable to make sense of any of it*
Lilandra: *were they enemies of all here...why cannot slaves understand other slaves?*
Aldir: I am not drunk!
Frodo: Stop this, Ceolwulf!
Frodo: It is odd indeed...but we need not fight about it
Ceolwulf: *He looks to Frodo and then to Aldir* Only if he appologies
Frodo: He is not lying, Ceolwulf
Frodo: Don't you see?
Ceolwulf: See what?
Ceolwulf: The man is drunk and has accosted you
Frodo: *Frodo sighs and though he is afraid, he speaks to Ceolwulf without moving his lips...He is not drunk. I do not know why I can do this...but it came upon my return*
Aldir: *Aldir does not wish a fight with anyone. He wishes only peace for his wife and himself.* I do not know what to make of this, but I will appologize for causing this disruption. I do not fight over small things but this is not a small manner when someone invades the thoughts of my wife and myself *he turns, leaves and goes back to his wife*
Aldir: Come, Lilandra, let us go and rest before we start the journey again
Frodo: *Frodo puts his head in his hands*
Lilandra: *she relaxes in her husband's arms again then walks away with him*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks at Frodo in a strange way*
Frodo: *Frodo looks at him almost pleadingly*
Ceolwulf: I heard your voice, Frodo, in my head
Frodo: *nods slowly*
Ceolwulf: Your words were strange
Frodo: They were?
Ceolwulf: I heard in my mind that you say that this power came upon you on your return
Ceolwulf: Why did you say these things?
Frodo: Yes...when I left the hall as we went out to the horses
Frodo: I wanted to explain it, because you would have found out sooner or later anyway
Aldir: *Aldir spreads a blanket that he was given by a soldier upon the ground for Lilandra, then covers her up with another blanket. He stands, leaning against a tree, guarding her for the night*
Ceolwulf: *He thinks... is this such a bad thing, Frodo?*
Frodo: *Perhaps not, Frodo replies silently*
Frodo: *but I can guess from where it comes...and that is what is bad*
Ceolwulf: *It could be a protection, a help, he thinks... a warning, perhaps, if someone means you harm*
Ceolwulf: *Not all things are so bad as they might appear on first apperance*
Frodo: *I stopped one of the others from plotting to kill me today*
Lilandra: *her eyes look up to Aldir...supressing an urge to cry as she watches him...she will go mad if anything should happen to him..she rests her head in the crook of her arms and closes her eyes..hoping for rest*
Ceolwulf: *See, Frodo, he thinks... it could bring you good. Has it brought you harm?*
Frodo: *nods to Aldir and Lilandra...it has brought them harm. And I cannot stop it.*
Ceolwulf: *Frodo, I do not mind your being in my thoughts. If a man's heart holds no malice to another, what does it matter?*
Frodo: *Frodo smiles broadly and doesn't have time to surpress the thought...dear Ceolwulf, what would I do without you?*
Ceolwulf: *He thinks... almost glad that Frodo can see his thoughts. Though not my brother by flesh, you are my brother by adoption*
Ceolwulf: Now Frodo, you should get what rest you might take before midnight for the hour will arrive soon enough
Frodo: *Frodo nods...but before he tries to sleep he thinks of the ring and, though he is not sure it will work, tries to eliminate the pain in Ceolwulf's back*
Frodo's Servants: *the other servants wipe the plates, platters and goblets out with dry rags and put them away for the next day's journey, and then prepare to rest for the night*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf picks up the dishes and goblets, puts them on the platter and takes them to the servant ladies*
Frodo's Servants: *elfhild takes the used platter from ceolwulf and smiles at him*
Frodo: *Frodo thanks the girls, then curls up and quickly falls asleep again*
Ceolwulf: It was a very good meal tonight, ladies. We appreciate it *he smiles a friendly smile to them*
Ceolwulf: *He goes back over to Frodo, takes a blanket and covers him up* Goodnight, Frodo
Ceolwulf: *Then he turns away and goes over to the soldier who is in charge of dressing his wounds*
Orc Soldier: *after the soldier removes the old bandages, he looks at Ceolwulf's back* Doing better, aren't you, mate? Much better than last night
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says to the soldier, a gnarled old man with orcish blood* Yes, the wounds feel better tonight
Orc Soldier: *The soldier says* 'ealing nicely, mate. You wont' need these bandages much longer. What you been drinking? Orc draught? *he laughs*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf says back* Not lately, but a short while ago, I felt as though a warm hand was upon my back and too much of the pain away
Orc Soldier: *The orc looks at him derisively* Pilching orc draught, aren't you, mate? Now go back! I am done with you for tonight!
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf goes back to Frodo and lies down, soon sound asleep*
Vardamir: *Out in the woods somewhere, Vardamir finishes his food, returns it to the women and goes back into the woods. He looks around him, then climbs up into a tree*
Vardamir: *He looks back at the camp and its glowing fire. Through the branches of the trees, he looks up at the stars and hums softly* A Elbereth Gilthoniel... Silivren penna miriel
Vardamir: May Elbereth send Her flaming stars to smite the enemy!
Frodo's Servants: *the two eorlings, rian, and finduilas and her two sons all settle in for the night, and gradually one by one drifts off into sleep.*
Vardamir: *He thinks again.... Why do they have so weak a guard upon us now? Before we were bound and chained. There is some trickery here, but I do not quite know what it is*
Vardamir: *But I do know this.... with such a weak guard, perhaps I will have a chance to escape ere long and find safe haven somewhere... somewhere... perhaps in Rivendell, if it yet exists. And somehow I do feel that it is yet there, by the river Bruinen*
Vardamir: *After that thought, his mind is eased and he looks up at the stars, still softly humming*
EARLY MORNING OF SEPTEMBER 25
Narrator: *The few remaining hours to midnight pass all too quickly and soon it is the early morning of the 25th*
Narrator: *Vartang is awakened by one of his officers. He tosses the blanket off, then rising to his feet, he yawns and stretches lazily. He thinks to himself...wine...wine...*
Narrator: *He commands a trumpeter to sound the morning call*
Frodo's Servants: *frodo's servants begin to stir and prepare themselves for the ride*
Narrator: *Reluctantly, Vardamir climbs down from his tree and goes over and stands around the dying campfire*
Frodo: *When the trumpet sounds Frodo thinks he is back in Sauron's court. He starts awake panicking*
Frodo: No! No! I won't go to Him! I won't bow!
Narrator: *Ceolwulf, who is awakened, hears Frodo's thoughts. It is all right, Frodo. You are safe. It is only a trumpet*
Frodo: *struggles as though he were being held until he hears Ceolwulf's reassurances*
Ceolwulf: Now it is time for breakfast *he says out loud*
Frodo: *Frodo runs his hands over his face and up through his hair, still trembling, his eyes stinging*
Frodo's Servants: *frodo's servants begin to unpack the breakfast foods from the packs and begin serving it to vartang and his men-at-arms*
Lilandra: *her teeth chatter as a chill passes through her from the night air and she stirs...her eyes flutter open and filled once again with dread*
Ceolwulf: Frodo, you know what I would really like to have? (of course, Frodo knows exactly what Ceolwulf will say for he can read his mind)
Ceolwulf: A good bath *he laughs*
Ceolwulf: Now let us eat!
Frodo: Yes...I know *Frodo laughs too*
Frodo: *eats his breakfast quickly. Last night's dinner didn't fill him up. These men, they only eat three meals a day!*
Aldir: *Aldir, still standing guard, looks down at Lilandra* Stay here, my love. I will bring something back for you to eat
Frodo: *He sighs as he remembers the extra meals they had at Nurn. If only he had been as well as he is now to enjoy it. Back then, swallowing was painful*
Lilandra: *she sits up and watches him move away from her..hoping he comes back quickly*
Aldir: *He turns from her and goes over to where the ladies are serving the food, takes platters of food and goblets of wine from them and takes them back to Lilandra. He hands her a plate and sits down beside her*
Aldir: Eat, my love. Who knows what we are in for today?
Lilandra: *she smiles to him and takes the plate and for a moment tries to pretend they are alone*
Lilandra: *she is not successful*
Vartang: *Vartang forgoes the meal, drinking a goblet of wine instead* Now you sluggards *he announces* You must hurry and break camp! We have far to go this day!
Frodo: *Soon Frodo cannot think his own thoughts anymore because of the din around him...he hears everyone's thoughts at once. It frightens him*
Lilandra: *she brushes her fingers through her hair...adjusting it from her sleep*
Frodo: *struggles to catch Vartang's words above the other voices*
Frodo's Servants: *elfhild and elffled groan at vartang's order and mutter amongst themselves in rohirric*
Frodo: *Frodo is surprised at some of the names he hears the girls call Vartang in their heads*
Lilandra: *her stomach almost protests the food she puts into it*
Vartang: Now finish eating and you ladies *he looks to them* must once again care for your own horses and saddle them
Vartang: I was too easy on you at the hall *He looks at them by the firelight*
Lilandra: *her eyes dart quickly in Vartang's direction*
Vartang: Slaves become lazy at too much ease *he says mockingly*
Frodo: *The complete din fills with hostility towards Vartang, so Frodo looks over to their tormentor, trying to make out his words*
Frodo: *Frodo wrings his hands and breathes heavily, wondering if he is going mad*
Frodo's Servants: *once again, the servants gather up the used plates, platters and goblets around the campsite, wipe them out and pack them for the journey.*
Ceolwulf: Come now, Frodo, we must hurry. He has given the order to get ready to leave. I must saddle your pony and my horse
Frodo: *Frodo looks confusedly at Ceolwulf, having trouble hearing him*
Frodo: *Everyone's emotions are agitated this morning as they wonder about the destination, and it all projects loudly to Frodo*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf leaves and goes over to the animals, takes them to water and brings them back, combs and brushes each one and then saddles them*
Ceolwulf: *He leads Frodo's pony and his horse back to Frodo*
Frodo: Oh....thank you, Ceolwulf
Lilandra: *she eats just about all she can..which is not much after the threatening tone of Vartang is heard...she takes up her plate and goblet*
Aldir: Lilandra, I Must go saddle our mounts
Lilandra: *nods* alright my love
Lilandra: *she gathers up his plate and goblet as well and moves to clear thier place*
Aldir: *he goes over and tends to their horses, then leads them back to Lilandra*
Frodo's Servants: *one of the girls comes by to retrieve lilandra and aldir's plates and goblets and clean and pack them with the other things.*
Frodo's Servants: *after the campsite is clear, the ladies begin to care for their horses and saddle them*
Aldir: My lady, let me assist you in getting on the horse *he cups his hands, puts them down so that she can place her left foot on the stirrup. He helps her on the horse, then gets on his*
Frodo: *Frodo's head swims, and he has not had nearly enough sleep. None of them have*
Lilandra: *she holds the pommel and throws her leg over and smiles down to him* thank you
Ceolwulf: Frodo, do you need help getting on your pony?
Frodo: *The potion has not worn off yet, and his turmoil and weariness heighten his dizziness. The terror of the nightmare has not left him either*
Frodo: *He stumbles toward the pony, mumbling* no...your back...
Frodo: *tries to get on the pony*
Ceolwulf: My back is much better, Frodo. It hardly pains me at all, which is strange, since the wounds befell me just a few days ago
Ceolwulf: *He picks Frodo up and puts him on the pony and gives him the reins*
Ceolwulf: *He then gets on his own horse*
Frodo: *Frodo's face lights up and he surpresses a knowing smile...but then again, Ceolwulf can probably figure out what he is thinking anyway*
Lilandra: *how she wishes she and Aldir could just spur the horses right now and take off*
Ceolwulf: *Ceolwulf looks down at Frodo and smiles*
Vartang: *Vartang mounts his horse* Come on, sluggards, now we ride! *he laughs as he digs his spurs into his horse's side*
Frodo: *Frodo gently spurs the pony after speaking a few words of greeting to it*
Frodo's Servants: *the rohirric twins, arnasa, rian and finduilas and her two sons mount their horses and are ready for the journey*
Frodo: *His mind wanders to Tom Bombadil for a moment...then his thoughts are drowned out*
DAWN, SEPTEMBER 25
Narrator: *The rest of the night wears on with constant riding and few stops to eat. Dawn finds them traveling out of Nurn and towards the plains of Gorgoroth*
Narrator: *As they travel northwestward, they can see far in the distance, a land clouded with dusty red clouds, broken up only by the black of the Mountains of Shadow to the west and north*
Narrator: *To the northeast, they can see faintly, a spot of purest black, cloaked in shadows - the Dark Tower of Sauron*
Frodo: *Frodo becomes very quiet and pensive. A darkness seems upon him, and he is painfully sad*
Narrator: *The potion wears off on Frodo this day and his mind becomes clearer, but all the clarity of thought does is bring him a canaopy of the mingled voices of all Nine of his servants*
Lilandra: *she clenches the reigns tightly in her hands...her body shivering atop the horse*
Frodo: *His own thoughts rise above the others' and he remembers the long journey with Sam through the plains that lie ahead of them...they were so close to the end*
Narrator: *The further they ride, the thoughts of his servants become louder, until it is almost a continual din, and now Frodo's Ring begins to glow on his finger the closer they travel towards the Mountain of Doom, which lies over a hundred miles away*
Frodo's Ring: *Frodo..... it calls softly.....*
Frodo's Ring: *Frodo.... make them stop this ceaseless din that torments your nerves. Channel your thoughts and take control of your own mind*
Frodo's Ring: *You can turn your thoughts away from them, and then you can no longer hear them. Frodo, why do you not heed me?*
Frodo: *Frodo finds this all so terribly unnatural...he is frightened by it all*
Frodo: *but the din is maddening...so he tries to block out the other peoples' thoughts*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring seems to speak softly, reassuringly... Frodo... you must control your mind. Block their thoughts when you want, and heed them when you want*
Frodo: *This ring is from Sauron, he thinks. I should not heed it...but what else can I do? I do not want to go mad.*
Frodo's Ring: *Learn to control your own mind and then... you will learn to control theirs. The Ring says again reassuringly, but somehow senses the voice mocks him*
Frodo: *Frodo continues to block the other streams of thought from his own mind...but fear now mingles with his sadness*
Frodo's Ring: *The Ring seems to hum now, almost with a musical tone.... Learn, Frodo... learn the lessons of your Ring*
Frodo's Ring: *Then with a faint, mocking echo, the Ring is quiet*
Frodo: *That sounds strangely familiar...but he cannot place it....A Elbereth!*
Frodo: *He blinks and looks around...it is much quieter now*
SEPTEMBER 25, 26, 27, 28
Narrator: *The group rides all that day, camping at night, one endless day and night after another. Another day and night pass*
Narrator: *Time seems to stand still in the cold, dark monotony of the Plains of Gorgoroth*
Frodo: *Frodo remembers the indescribable torment he suffered from the One Ring on these plains...how irresistible, cajoling, taunting, threatening it was....and the wheel of fire....and the Eye...*
Frodo: *He sways in his saddle and grips it to keep steady*
Narrator: *And then on the sixth day, September 28, they are now 250 miles from Frodo's hall. They have now reached Sauron's Road, near the Morgai Mountains. The Mountain of Doom lies to their northeast*
Frodo: *Anger boils in him at the bitter irony of this situation. How close, how close he is to his destination....but no hope of ever reaching it now*
Vartang: *Then Vartang commands the column to turn to the west, and they travel westerly on the road, until Vartang calls a halt for that night*
Vartang: *He turns back to the mounted column and announces* We camp here for the night!
Frodo: *Frodo finds his mind completely clear now....but he wishes it were clouded*
Vartang: Tomorrow night we shall fare much better... Perhaps the food shall be better too *he says with his wolfish grin, his perfect teeth gleaming*
Frodo: *He does not want the thoughts and memories that come to him...back on the quest at last, but guided by the hand of Sauron!*
Vartang: *He says to his soldiers* Lads, you know now where we go?
Vartang: *He waits for their reply and with a cheer they answer* MINAS MORGUL, LORD!
Frodo: *Frodo shudders*
Frodo's Servants: *the plains of gorgoroth bring back unpleasant memories to all of frodo's servants...each one remembers being driven through these very lands by the orc slavedrivers*
Frodo: *He remembers passing Minas Morgul on the way into Mordor...then after that, came Shelob's Lair, and Cirith Ungol...but the orcs' tortures pale now in comparison to what he endured in the Dark Tower*
Lilandra: *her head which was lowered...weary and tired lifts suddenly at that disturbing cheer*
Frodo: *at least, what he remembers from the first time. Only the Valar know what happened on his last trip*
Frodo: *but more than anything, the familiar sight of Mordor brings back the throbbing loss of Sam*
Frodo's Servants: *and now they discover that they are going to minas morgul.... the dread city of the dead, a place filled with nameless evil and lidless eyes, that few dared to speak of...for the minds of men turned to fear and madness in the morgul vale*
Frodo: *As much affection as Frodo has for Ceolwulf, he can never replace Sam. The easy familiarity that Frodo has recently acquired with Ceolwulf, he had with Sam for decades*
Frodo: *Frodo and Sam had no need of rings to read each other's thoughts*
Frodo: *His heart twists as he wonders where Sam is...for he cannot remember that Sam visited him when he was dying at Lugburz, and that as much as he can, Sam is looking after him still.*
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