By Hobbitness

Frodo slowly lifts his head from his arms. Lying on
his stomach, he watches shadows play on the cold stone
walls of his cell. Torches dimly light the corridor
outside the iron grate door, and Frodo can hear rough
sneers and raucous laughter from the orcs who guard

His heart begins to race. He claws at the floor,
panicking. There is something to be feared about
those orcs, something horrible, even worse than his
old tortures. His mind strives to remember what it
is, but cannot. He seems to be standing in a dark
tomb, pushing at the stone over his head, but it will
not move, for above it is an unbearable light like the
Wheel of Fire.

He rests his head on his folded arms again, rolling
slightly to his right side, to avoid putting pressure
on his branded morgul wound. The movement brings on a
rush of excruciating pain. But it is not the usual
pain, not from a physical wound. What is it? His
left hand reaches up to press against his chest,
hoping to ease it. His heart--yes, his heart is
burning, and the flames leap throughout his body. He
trembles, breathing heavily, putting all his effort
into enduring it.

When it begins to die down, Frodo relaxes, closing his
eyes with a sigh. All of a sudden he realizes he is
crying. His throat hurts and his eyes are sore, as
though he cried for a long time before he fell asleep.
How strange, he thinks, to not know why! But from
the depths of his mind a voice calls out to him, the
voice of the old Frodo Baggins, who lived in the
outside world, cherished a happy home, had pleasant
thoughts of his own, and loved openly with unguarded
heart. The voice screams a desperate plea: "Don't
make me remember! Please! Don't make me remember!"

To quiet the voice, Frodo stops his efforts and lies
there with a blank mind. Eyes closed, he waits for
his strength to return. When he feels a little more
able, he silently addresses the voice. "Tell me. Not
knowing is worse." His heart flares in protest, so
badly that he gasps. "You don't have to tell me all
at once," he concedes. "Just tell me gradually. Tell
me what you can remember, a little at a time."

He remembers the orcs. They held him between them.
Their claws dug into his arms. And then...oh, he
cannot breathe! He rests again, waiting for the tears
to stop, waiting for his mind to clear.

His next effort reveals that he was brought before
Sauron again. That alone was a torment to bring on
insanity. The fire that blazed from the Dark Lord,
lit by his malice, heated the brand in Frodo's
shoulder until he fell to his knees. The power, the
sheer evil power grasped his mind and tore it to
shreds, mocking and torturing every layer. But worst
of all was the sight of the Ring on Sauron's finger.
That set Frodo alight with a raging blaze of his own.


But he has endured this many, many times. What was
different about this time? What happened to mitigate
Frodo's fury with sadness and hurt? Why is he
grieving so deeply?

The voice weeps now, like a child slapped by a parent.
It begs Frodo in a soft, tearful moan: "Don't...don't
make me remember."

Complying, Frodo tries to concentrate only on the
shadows performing their dance on the wall. He
watches the light flickering red on the gray stone.
He thinks longingly of its heat. Where has his shirt
gone? His thin shoulders shake with cold. And he
feels wet--why is that? Yet he is not wet all over,
only on his back.

An intense pressure builds rapidly in his head. He
cannot move. The first buried memory begins to
surface. Tentatively, he arches his back, and pain
shoots through the raw, torn skin. "Blood," he thinks
bitterly, and again feels the endless lashes.

It was the torture he feared most, for its pain, yes,
but also for its humiliation. And it happened right
in front of Sauron, who laughed at his every cry. He
feels it is the worst thing they have done to him.
Yet he knows that other tortures have hurt his body
more, or sent his mind into a crazed frenzy. Again he
wonders what was different about this time.

He remembers a lone figure in Sauron's court who does
not hate him, whose hands are icy but comforting,
whose voice is familiar. His best friend. His
gardener, Sam, who promised not to leave him and has
not done so even in this place of horror. And Sam has
suffered the worst of it. Frodo buries his face in
his arms as he remembers the day they were captured,
when a morgul blade pierced Sam's heart, and he faded
in Frodo's arms, disappearing before his master's

Sam was not there today. He did not weep for Frodo,
did not offer reassuring words after it was over.
That is what was different. Frodo was alone. Where
is Sam? Frodo whispers his name as if that can bring
him back. Wait...the voice in Frodo's head becomes
clearer, rising to fever pitch, a strained scream.
Suddenly he realizes that it is not the voice of his
mind but an actual memory. His own voice, his own
words, screaming until his throat burned.

"Sam, stop, stop, please stop, please, STOP!"

But Sam did not stop lashing him, for he no longer
remembered who he was, or that he had loved Frodo more
than his own life. Sam has forgotten everything,
except that he is a faithful servant of Sauron and
must do as the Master commanded.

Frodo's grief lies as a heavy weight in his limbs. He
cannot move. He closes his eyes. If only he could go
to sleep and never wake up. He searches his mind
desperately for a single shred of hope, but can find
none, except that if it happens again, he is sure he
will die. He can bear no more. They can do nothing
worse to him than this.

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