Orc-troops overtake Frodo and Sam on the Road to Udûn
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: March 18, 3019
An event in the prelude to the Destruction of the One Ring; see that entry for an overview:
After doing some twelve miles, they halted. A short way back the road had bent a little northward and the stretch that they had passed over was now screened from sight. This proved disastrous. They rested for some minutes and then went on; but they had not taken many steps when suddenly in the stillness of the night they heard the sound that all along they had secretly dreaded: the noise of marching feet.... [Looking] back they could see the twinkle of torches coming round the bend less than a mile away, and they were moving... too fast for Frodo to escape by flight along the road ahead....
[Frodo] looked wildly up at the frowning wall, where the road-builders of old had cut the rock sheer for many fathoms above their heads. He ran to the other side and looked over the brink into a dark pit of gloom. 'We're trapped at last!' he said. He sank to the ground....
'Well, we can but wait and see.' And with that [Sam] sat down beside Frodo under the shadow of the cliff.
They did not have to wait long. The orcs were going at a great pace. Those in the foremost files bore torches... red flames in the dark, swiftly growing. Now Sam too bowed his head, hoping that it would hide his face when the torches reached them; and he set their shields before their knees to hide their feet.
'If only they are in a hurry and will let a couple of tired soldiers alone and pass on!' he thought.
And so it seemed that they would. The leading orcs came loping along, panting, holding their heads down. They were a gang of the smaller breeds being driven unwilling to their Dark Lord's wars; all they cared for was to get the march over and escape the whip. Beside them, running up and down the line, went two of the large fierce uruks, cracking lashes and shouting. File after file passed, and the tell-tale torchlight was already some way ahead. Sam held his breath. Now more than half the line had gone by. Then suddenly one of the slave-drivers spied the two figures by the road-side. He flicked a whip at them and yelled: 'Hi, you! Get up!' They did not answer, and with a shout he halted the whole company.
'Come on, you slugs!' he cried. 'This is no time for slouching.' He took a step towards them, and even in the gloom he recognized the devices on their shields. 'Deserting, eh?' he snarled. 'Or thinking of it? All your folk should have been inside Udûn before yesterday evening. You know that. Up you get and fall in, or I'll have your numbers and report you.'
They struggled to their feet, and keeping bent, limping like footsore soldiers, they shuffled back towards the rear of the line. 'No, not at the rear!' the slave-driver shouted. 'Three files up. And stay there, or you'll know it, when I come down the line!' He sent his long whip-lash cracking over their heads; then with another crack and a yell he started the company off again at a brisk trot.
It was hard enough for poor Sam...; but for Frodo it was a torment, and soon a nightmare. He set his teeth... and he struggled on. The stench of the sweating orcs... was stifling, and he began to gasp with thirst. On, on they went, and he bent all his will to draw his breath and to make his legs keep going; and yet to what evil end... he did not dare to think. There was no hope of falling out unseen: Now and again the orc-driver fell back and jeered at them.
'There now!' he laughed, flicking at their legs. 'Where there's a whip there's a will, my slugs. Hold up! I'd give you a nice freshener now, only you'll get as much lash as your skins will carry when you come in late to your camp. Do you good. Don't you know we're at war?'
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 2, The Land of Shadow
Elena Tiriel 22Aug06