AFTER THE WINE CELLAR
"But now their art and knowledge were baffled; for there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgûl. And those who were stricken with it fell slowly into an ever deeper dream, and then passed to silence and a deadly cold, and so died." -- Houses of Healing, ROTK
Corresponds with Frodo and Sam's Trip to the Wine Cellar
Frodo wakes up and opens his eyes a crack. He sees the dark throne above him, blazing with its red hot intensity. Then why is he so cold?
He tries to lift his head to look around, barely strong enough to do it. He feels he must have slept for days without any water, he is so parched, and he begins to have second thoughts about refusing to eat the human flesh that Sauron feeds to Carcaroth. Then he remembers the trip to the wine cellar, and the horrible aftermath. He feels awful for bringing Sauron's punishment on Sam.
He glimpses the source of the cold. In his pain, Sam has forgotten that he is a wraith and has lain his head on Frodo's shoulder, seeking comfort. Frodo tries to put his arms around Sam, but he cannot feel them. Then he realizes they are already around Sam; they are just numb with cold. It occurs to Frodo that Sam's closeness has probably hastened the course of the Black Shadow. That must be why he feels ill.
Frodo tries to shift his body into a more comfortable position, but it refuses to obey. His heart begins to race and he breaks out in a sweat. This is different from the times he fainted before. Now he really does not have the strength to move. He realizes that since he didn't keep the food and drink from the wine cellar down, it has been days since he has had any nourishment. He is starving to death. And since his throat has swelled so that he cannot talk, the Dark Lord might not find out. Oh, hopefully he won't find out!
"Poor Sam," he thinks. "He will wake up to find me dead." He contemplates his old friend for a while. "Well, at least he will have the comfort of knowing I died in his arms."
FRODO GETS A BATH
Sauron sits upon his Dark Throne, and then speaks, "Come forth, Master Baggins, and stand before me. Your stench is overpowering. You need a bath, Master Baggins. One has been prepared for you."
At that preknown word, two big, black uruks approach and unloose the collar and chain that holds Frodo to Sauron's throne. They give him some orc draught so that it would give him strength enough to stand. As he knew against his will that it would, the pain in Frodo's throat begins to ease. One uruk grabs him under one arm and the other grabs him under the other arm, and take him far below to a large orc hall.
"Master says 'e needs a bath, 'ey? We'll give 'im one, won't we, lads?" Raucous laughter is heard among the orcs. Frodo sees that he will have a large audience for this indignity. There are two large wooden tubs waiting for him, filled with warm, steaming water.
They lower him to the floor. "We'll give you ten seconds to take off your clothes, or we'll take 'em off for you, maybe with some of your skin too! har har har!"
"You're takin' too long!" One goads him with his foot. "Speed it up there! We don't 'ave all night!"
With resentment glaring in his eyes, Frodo does as he has been told. One orc grabs him by his hair and tosses him in the tub. Soapy water splashes everywhere. Frodo tries to hide under the water, but the orcs just laugh at him. They toss him a clean rag, and he uses it to clean himself. Frodo is amazed at this strange new treatment.
"'Ow long does it take you to take a bath? There ain't much of ya to bathe." Every remark makes Frodo blush even more and the orcs howl louder with laughter. "Get nice and clean, now. The Great Eye says you can. har har har har!"
They grab him again by the hair and toss him in the second tub, so he can rinse off.
"Look 'ere, mate, 'e still 'as soap in 'is ears. 'Old 'im under then, so 'e'll clean 'em out!"
For what seems far too long to Frodo, he is held under the water by the orcs, but at last he is released, and he comes up sputtering. The orcs howl as though it was the most amusing thing they had ever seen in their whole lives.
"Get out, now, Shire-rat." One of them gives him a cloth to dry with. "'Ey, you looked like a drowned rat just a while ago! har har har!"
When Frodo is finished, he is taken into another part of the hall and brought some new clothes. All are sable and in the fashion of the Shire, except for a red brocaded waistcoat with an Eye embroidered in gold on the back.
A table and chair are then brought into the hall, and soon another orc comes in with a platter. Spread upon it are eating utensils, a jug of wine, bread, cheese and some kind of dried fruit, the lack of which Frodo has never seen before.
"'E gets the best treatment, lads, wine, fruit and cheese from Nurn, and the poor uruks get nothing of the sort!" None of the orcs laugh at that, and glare at Frodo. He can hear some muttering at the sides, "'E'd make a good tidbit 'imself, if 'e 'ad a little more meat on 'im. Maybe the Master is trying to fatten 'im up for Carcharoth." The laughter resumes and Frodo can see that all eyes seem to look at him hungerly through the gloom brightened only by torchlight.
ALL ELSE FADES
Corresponds with The Branding and Blinding of Frodo
The orcs drop Frodo roughly to the floor
of his cell.
His eyes fly open as he screams, and for a brief moment he glimpses the chains hanging from the ceiling. They fill him with dread, though he cannot remember why. The wheel of fire, the Ring in its true form, fills his mind, blocking out all thought and memory. Its image becomes so vivid that the cell walls fade, and all he sees is the blazing, revolving circle, pinning him under itself, drawing him with undeniable force to be consumed in its flames. His soul is worn down to a shrivelled husk, and only the Ring can fill the void. But it can never be his. Mingled with the crackling fire is Sauron's laughter, wearing down the last shreds of Frodo's mind until it is one raw wound.
Frodo can hardly tell the fire of the Ring apart from the fire in his branded shoulder. It is so intense that in his blindness, he cannot tell if the brand is still boring into his flesh or not. He convulses, sweat pouring down his face. The pain never abates for a moment, for Sauron in his vicious cunning has placed the brand directly on the morgul blade's mark, the wound that never heals.
In all that he has suffered during his
journey and his imprisonment, never has Frodo experienced torment
quite like this. Screams tear themselves from his throat against
his will. Some can even be heard in the throne room, where Sauron
smirks and Sam curls into a ball, softly wailing. Frodo has no
idea how long he spends in this state; he is consumed with the
effort of merely enduring it. But the moment comes when he no
longer has the strength for another scream.
The orcs guarding his cell look at each other. "'E's quiet at last!" one snorts. "I couldn't hear myself think."
"Are you mad?" the other cries. "'E could be dead! And then what? The Master'd freeze our flesh from our bodies!"
They enter the cell and find Frodo lying on his back, his chest heaving at an alarming rate. "Ar! 'E's just worn out, is all," says the taller orc, and takes out more orc draught. He puts his hand on Frodo's shoulder to hold him down, but withdraws it quickly and sucks on it. "Garn! 'E hurts my hand, 'e's so hot. Just shows you not to displease the Master!" While he is speaking, Frodo shudders at the touch on his brand, gives a last groan, and goes limp.
The orcs pour the draught down his throat and shake him, shouting frantically. "Wake up, you maggot! Or the Master'll have our hides!" When Frodo refuses to wake, they bring down their whips. Frodo starts with a cry of primitive, animal terror. The orcs cackle. "That's it, me boy, the Master likes to hear you squeal." Tearing themselves away from the sport, the orcs resume their post outside the cell.
There is still a small body shaking and screaming with pain; there is still a shrivelled mind burning under the wheel of fire, but Frodo himself...Frodo is gone.
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