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Timeline Event

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum reach the Desolation of the Morannon

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 4, 3019


At last, on the fifth morning since they took the road with Gollum, they halted once more. Before them dark in the dawn the great mountains reached up to roofs of smoke and cloud. Out from their feet were flung huge buttresses and broken hills that were now at the nearest scarce a dozen miles away. Frodo looked round in horror. Dreadful as the Dead Marshes had been, and the arid moors of the Noman-lands, more loathsome far was the country that the crawling day now slowly unveiled to his shrinking eyes.... Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds..., as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows....

They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting monument to the dark labour of its slave...; a land defiled, diseased beyond all healing — unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with oblivion. 'I feel sick,' said Sam....

The gasping pits and poisonous mounds grew hideously clear. The sun was up..., but even the sunlight was defiled.... [Unfriendly] it seemed, revealing [the hobbits] in their helplessness — little squeaking ghosts that wandered among the ash-heaps of the Dark Lord....

[They] sought for some place where they could rest. For a while they sat without speaking under the shadow of a mound of slag; but foul fumes leaked out of it.... [Gollum] crawled away on all fours. Frodo and Sam crawled after him, until they came to a wide almost circular pit.... It was cold and dead, and a foul sump of oily many-coloured ooze lay at its bottom. In this evil hole they cowered, hoping in its shadow to escape the attention of the Eye....

A great thirst troubled them, but they drank only a few drops from their bottles.... The hobbits took it in turn to watch. At first, tired as they were, neither of them could sleep at all; but as the sun... was climbing down..., Sam dozed. It was Frodo's turn to be on guard. He lay back on the slope of the pit, but that did not ease the sense of burden that was on him.... He lost count of time, hovering between sleep and waking....

Suddenly Sam woke up.... It was evening. Frodo... had fallen asleep, and had slid down nearly to the bottom of the pit. Gollum was by him. For a moment Sam thought that he was trying to rouse Frodo; then he saw that it was not so. Gollum was talking to himself....

Sam had lain still, fascinated by this debate, but watching every move that Gollum made.... [He] roused himself with an effort and sat up....

'What's the time?' he said sleepily.

Gollum sent out a long hiss through his teeth. He stood up for a moment, tense and menacing; and then he collapsed,... crawling up the bank of the pit. 'Nice hobbits!...' he said. 'Sleepy heads, yes...! Leave good Sméagol to watch! But it's evening.... Time to go.'

'High time!' thought Sam. 'And time we parted, too.' Yet it crossed his mind to wonder if indeed Gollum was not now as dangerous turned loose as kept with them. 'Curse him! I wish he was choked!' he muttered. He stumbled down the bank and roused his master.

Strangely enough, Frodo felt refreshed.... Gollum welcomed him with dog-like delight. He chuckled and chattered, cracking his long fingers, and pawing at Frodo's knees. Frodo smiled at him.

'Come!' he said. 'You have guided us well and faithfully. This is the last stage. Bring us to the Gate, and then I will not ask you to go further. Bring us to the Gate, and you may go where you wish — only not to our enemies.'

'To the Gate, eh?' Gollum squeaked, seeming surprised and frightened. 'To the Gate, master says! Yes, he says so. And good Sméagol does what he asks, O yes. But when we gets closer, we'll see perhaps we'll see then. It won't look nice at all. O no...!'

'Go on with you!' said Sam. 'Let's get it over!'

In the falling dusk they scrambled out of the pit and slowly threaded their way through the dead land. They had not gone far before they felt once more the fear that had fallen on them when the winged shape swept over the marshes. They halted, cowering on the evil-smelling ground; but they saw nothing in the gloomy evening sky above, and soon the menace passed, high overhead, going maybe on some swift errand from Barad-dûr. After a while Gollum... crept forward again, muttering and shaking.

About an hour after midnight the fear fell on them a third time, but it now seemed more remote, as if it were passing far above the clouds, rushing with terrible speed into the West. Gollum, however, was helpless with terror, and was convinced that they were being hunted....

[He] whimpered. 'Three times is a threat. They feel... the Precious. The Precious is their master. We cannot go any further this way, no. It's no use...!'

Pleading and kind words were no longer of any avail. It was not until Frodo commanded him angrily and laid a hand on his sword-hilt that Gollum would get up again. Then at last he rose with a snarl, and went before them like a beaten dog.

So they stumbled on through the weary end of the night, and until the coming of another day of fear they walked in silence with bowed heads....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 2, The Passage of the Marshes

Elena Tiriel 3Mar08

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