The Circles - Book Six - Chapter 27

The Circles - Book Six - Across the Wide Hamada
Chapter Twenty-seven
The Prisoner Beneath the Throne
Written by Angmar and Elfhild

As the day of July 5th wore on, Orodruin belched out one reeking wave of black and sooty gray smoke after another. Strengthened and fortified by Sauron's malice, the towering column of ash, dust, soot, cinders, and fine debris began to form a far-reaching roof above the fiery mountain. A fell wind began to stir in the east, picking up the odious mass and carrying it ever westward. Across the sky the darkness spread like liquid shadow, a poisonous canker eating the heavens.

The Dark Lord sat brooding upon His throne, bent forward, His chin resting upon His palm, the fingers of the other hand slowly tapping out a foreboding cadence upon the arm of His great chair. "Let the spies of the Valar see that no matter how My kindred seek to thwart Me, I will escape their snares and be triumphant in the end!" His mighty voice boomed, echoing from the walls of the chamber. A feeble shuffling under Sauron's throne disturbed His sulking reverie, and His clawed hand clamped down on the arm of His throne when He heard the golden chain rattle as it was dragged across the floor.

"If I possessed It," the small figure's voice contained a wistfulness which brought a deep growl rumbling in Sauron's throat, "I would not use Its power for wreaking wanton destruction that serves no earthly use."

"What dost thou know of power, My little thief?"

"Enough... I have seen more than enough of it lately, and I daresay that I will see even more in the days to come." He glanced out the Window of the Eye and was appalled when he saw another violent convulsion rip through the mountain as it spewed out fire and smoke. If only he had the Ring, he would end all this madness and bring peace to the world again. He waited for the Dark Lord's reaction. Perhaps it would be another cuff to his head, or a boot to his stomach, but none was forthcoming.

"But thou art not impressed, I deem!"

"Not overly, for I have seen it all before. I've always wondered, though, what is the purpose of all this? Why do You expend so much energy just to make a mountain spew forth flame?"

"Thou feeble little worm! Neither dost thou know of the deep things that mold and shape this earth, driving it upon its inexorable course, nor of the complexities of being a Guardian of Creation! If thou didst, thou would not babble out such nonsensical questions!"

"Perhaps I do not know these things, but still the thought has occurred to me that the power of the Ring could be put to much better use... to heal instead of destroy..." His throat parched by the foul air of Mordor, the thrall reached out for the jeweled dish that served to hold his water, and had the overwhelming urge to bend down his head and lap up the liquid like a dog. Realizing the thought came from Sauron's twisted mind, he caught himself and refrained. He still had some degree of dignity left. Not much, but some. He knew Sauron would be amused at his weakness, and that thought irked him. Holding the dish in his hands, he lifted it up to his mouth and drank deeply, pretending that the vessel was his old teacup. He had grown accustomed to the heavy taste of minerals, and sometimes when the fading memories of the Shire lulled his mind, the water seemed to taste as sweet and fresh as that from home.

"Thou taxeth My patience, O miserable thrall. Who art thou to talk to Me of devising plans to regulate the forces of nature? In thy overbearing arrogance, thou assumeth too much! Thou desirest to be Lord of Middle-earth, but thou art fit to rule nothing! Nothing!" Sauron's voice thundered, causing the jewel encrusted walls to vibrate, the many gemstones pulsing and throbbing with the Dark Lord's wrath. "Wert thou there when Melkor the Mighty sang the song of sense and reason during the discordant Music of the Ainur? Wert thou there when Melkor in His great love and compassion hurled down the Lamps Illuin and Ormal in an attempt to undo the irreparable damage inflicted upon a newborn Arda by the Valar? Wert thou there with Melkor when He took the Silmarils from the hall of the ungrateful Fëanor, who had misused what he had created under the Great One's tutelage? Didst thou see Melkor's great bravery when He was brutally struck down and crippled by Fingolfin the Treacherous? And didst thou see the savagery of the Valar when they cruelly hewed Melkor's legs from under Him and banished the great friend of Elf and Man to the Void? Speak if thou canst!"

"No, I cannot say that I saw any of these things, but I have heard and read of some of them, although the tales I heard differ considerably from Yours. However, I still fail to see what all that has to do with the horrid way You keep Your realm."

"Iluvatar was playing a twisted and humorless jest upon Middle-earth when He inflicted the world with thy worthless race!" One thing about these Shire people, though. They were resilient, like the tenacious grass which sank its roots between the cracks in the barren, rocky land before the gates of Angband. Of course, Sauron chuckled, that trait made Halflings all that more amusing to torture...

"Then why do You bother with me? Either let me go, or simply kill me!"

Suddenly the halfling was yanked forward by the leash. The water dish flew up into the air and landed with a clatter, the precious fluid splashing upon the stone floor. Only a few drops had made it into his mouth, and he considered licking up the spilled liquid on the floor, but he would not let the Dark Lord have that satisfaction.

"I would have a look at thee!" Sauron snarled as His ebony hand lifted up the halfling's chin, the claws digging into the soft flesh of his neck and cheeks. Drops of blood oozed from the punctures, dripping down onto his crisp white shirt. Gritting his teeth, the halfling flinched under the tight grip. The baleful eyes of the foul Being probed into his soul, and he felt his will faltering under that piercing gaze. "My chubby pet," Sauron chuckled as at last He relaxed His grasp, "even if I did allow thee to leave, thou wouldst quickly return, for I have something which thou desirest very much." The Dark Lord waggled a long finger, the molten gold of the Ring in sharp contrast to the blackened flesh.

With a savage cry, the halfling leapt for the Ring, his eyes gleaming with a feral light. Before his hand could reach the prize, however, Sauron threw him to the floor before His throne and placed a heavy boot upon the thrall's heaving chest. The halfling came back to his senses when a red hot, searing pain shot through his chest as one of his ribs cracked, the excruciating agony making it almost impossible for him to breathe.

"When wilt thou ever learn, O thief, that thou must endure pain whenever thou tryest to steal what is not thine? Perhaps in learning endurance, thou hast learned to love pain?" Sauron eyed the writhing figure on the floor and smirked malevolently. "Thou shouldst be grateful to Me for the vast honors which I have given thee! I will keep thee for a very long time before I let thee wither and die away. Thou wilt see the full expression of My manifold powers before I am done with thee!"

"If I had a choice, it is an honor which I would decline," the halfling gasped out haltingly, struggling to breathe through his tortured lungs. He was surprised that he had enough strength and courage to say that. Sometimes he thought the only thing that kept him alive was lust, the desire which constantly burned and gnawed at his soul. The Ring! It was his! If he were Lord, he would set things right and banish Sauron to that ghastly place where Morgoth was imprisoned! He would help the good people of Gondor and Rohan, and give them back their lands!

No, no! his horrified mind screamed. He should not think such things! The One Ring was as evil as its Master, corrupting any who used it, twisting every noble intent into some dark malignancy! Every part of his brain and soul accepted that fact, absorbing the knowledge into his consciousness, making it a part of his being. He could not deny that reality... But why should he pretend? He had claimed the Ring for his own in the Sammath Naur, and knew of its great power. Even the Nazgûl had bowed before him, hailing him as Master, for those all too fleeting moments. And then Sauron came, and it was over... Despite all compunctions of right and wrong, good and evil, he still desired the Ring more than anything else in the world, even more than his own freedom.

His existence had come down to nothing but one endless weary day after another of seeing the Ring upon His finger. At those moments, he felt an incredible jealousy, as though he were pining for an unfaithful love. Sometimes, especially just before he fell asleep on the cold, hard floor, he was certain he could hear the Ring whispering his name in a soft, silken voice that was filled with love and longing. Oh, how he longed to reach out and caress this golden, mysterious thing which clutched at his heart and soul! Then his brain would recoil in horror, and he would remind himself of the quest which he had failed. Crushing pangs of guilt would sweep over him, and he cursed himself for his weakness. Middle-earth was doomed to slavery because of him!

After these wretched episodes, he was unable to eat, falling into a deep melancholy, depressed at the uselessness of his existence. When he went so long without food and water that he became weak to the point of fainting, the Dark Lord would simply call His guards, who would force a feeding tube down his throat and fill his stomach almost to bursting. Those times when they fed him reeking stuff that smelled of decaying meat, which he was sure must be the flesh of men, he promptly vomited it back up. It was far simpler and much less disturbing to his stomach simply to eat the food they gave him without any fuss.

He was aware that Sauron was droning on again, dogmatically pounding his brain like some demented pedagogue. How he wished he could shut that Voice out of his mind, but he could do that no more than control his lust for the Ring.

"Many would be eager for the opportunity which thou hast, to sit at My feet and be witness to the momentous happenings which herald great portent to the future of Middle-earth," Sauron told him, enjoying the torment that He was inflicting upon the halfling who had dared try to supplant Him. How tortured the wretched little creature was! The Dark Lord knew that the thrall hated Him and His Ring, but yet he lusted for the Ring, and hated himself most of all for the forbidden desire he tried constantly to quell. Truly he was damned, Sauron thought with an evil chuckle of satisfaction.

"Verily, our goals are not that much different," the Dark Lord purred as He shifted the weight of His boot on the prisoner's chest, rolling the halfling's mangled ribcage. "Thou desirest to be Lord and to create a world filled with peace and happiness, where everyone has a voice, everyone has a part in ushering in this new golden age. Those wert thy thoughts when thou placed My Ring upon thy finger and claimed it for thy own." His voice became low, menacing, filled with danger. Though He knew He was being petty, Sauron could not help feeling a certain perverse joy in haranguing the wretched creature who had dared threaten His rightful rule.

"It is still my wish to see a world filled with peace and happiness, where goodness is rewarded and evil is punished," the halfling choked out as he managed to draw a partial breath of air. Sauron's foot was crushing him, and he felt dizzy, as though he were going to float away. "It does not seem as though I will ever see it, though."

"What thou wilt see, halfling," Sauron chuckled ominously, "is the full implementation of My plan. Since thou thinkest that I am so foolish, I wilt enlighten thy inferior brain to My grand design. Thou wishest to know why the chambers of Amon Amarth spew forth rivers of fire and pillars of smoke. They do not do so for an idle whim. Nay, indeed they have a purpose." The laugher became more menacing. "Tremendous amounts of ash and debris will linger in the middle airs, spreading across mountains, rivers, endless leagues of land, reflecting the light of the Sun and ushering in a premature winter in the lands of the West. Even the rain that falls from the heavens shall be tainted, bitter as gall, blighting the land and the water so that the trees sicken and the fish die. Perhaps even thy fat rat-folk shall feel the pangs of hunger in their bellies this winter."

Despair and dread clutched Frodo's heart like the icy hand of the Undead King. He must find some way to save Middle-earth from this wicked fiend who would destroy all which was green and good in the world! He must get the Ring from Sauron, even if he had to gnaw it off the Dark Lord's finger! Only then could the world be safe from evil! Once he righted all the wrongs inflicted by the Dark Lord, he would throw himself in the Mountain of Doom and end this abhorrent legacy once and for all. Only in death would he know freedom.

Of course, as Frodo stared up at the gleaming Ring upon Sauron's hand, perhaps he would live and rule instead, and be Frodo, Lord of Hobbits, King of Kings, Emperor of the Earth, and Master of All.


While Frodo's thoughts are a bit of a mystery in the published Lord of the Rings, Tolkien did explore Frodo's temptations and delusions of grandeur in his unpublished notes and outlines. These quotes take place right before Frodo claims the One Ring.

"Then suddenly a new thought arose – not from outside – a thought born inside himself: he would keep the Ring himself, and be master of all. Frodo King of Kings. Hobbits would rule (of course he would not let down his friends) and Frodo would rule hobbits. He would make great poems and sing great songs, and the earth should blossom, and all should be bidden to his feasts."
--"The Story of Frodo and Sam in Mordor," Sauron Defeated (The History of Middle-earth Volume IX), edited by Christopher Tolkien, 5.

"[…] he will keep it, wield it, and himself have Power alone; be Master of all. After all he is a great hero. Hobbits should become lords of men, and he their Lord, King Frodo, Emperor Frodo. He thought of the great poems that would be made, and mighty songs, and saw (as if far away) a great Feast, and himself enthroned and all the kings of the world sitting at his feet, while all the earth blossomed."
--Sauron Defeated, 6.

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