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Timeline Event

Frodo, Sam, and Gollum cross the Dead Marshes

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Dates: March 1, 3019 ~ March 2, 3019


March 3019
Frodo begins the passage of the Dead Marshes at dawn.

Frodo comes to the end of the Marshes.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

The hobbits were now wholly in the hands of Gollum. They did not know, and could not guess in that misty light, that they were in fact only just within the northern borders of the marshes, the main expanse of which lay south of them....

'How do we shape our course now, Sméagol?' asked Frodo. 'Must we cross these evil-smelling fens?'

'No need, no need at all,' said Gollum. 'Not if hobbits want to reach the dark mountains and go to see Him very quick.'.... 'I know other ways. More difficult, not so quick; but better, if we don't want Him to see. Follow Sméagol! He can take you through the marshes, through the mists, nice thick mists. Follow Sméagol very carefully, and you may go a long way, quite a long way, before He catches you, yes perhaps.'

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

They went slowly in single file: Gollum, Sam, Frodo....

The hobbits soon found that what had looked like one vast fen was really an endless network of pools, and soft mires, and winding half-strangled water-courses. Among these a cunning eye and foot could thread a wandering path. Gollum certainly had that cunning, and needed all of it. His head on its long neck was ever turning this way and that, while he sniffed and muttered.... Sometimes he would hold up his hand and halt them, while he went forward a little, crouching, testing the ground with fingers or toes, or merely listening with one ear pressed to the earth....

[They] went on again... with only brief halts. These they made not so much for rest as to help Gollum; for now even he had to go forward with great care, and he was sometimes at a loss for a while. They had come to the very midst of the Dead Marshes, and it was dark....

The fens grew more wet, opening into wide stagnant meres, among which it grew more and more difficult to find the firmer places where feet could tread without sinking into gurgling mud....

Presently it grew altogether dark.... When lights appeared Sam rubbed his eyes: he thought his head was going queer. He first saw one with the corner of his left eye, a wisp of pale sheen that faded away; but others appeared soon after....

At last Sam could bear it no longer. 'What's all this, Gollum?' he said in a whisper. 'These lights? They're all round us now.'....

Gollum looked up.... [He] was crawling on the ground, this way and that, doubtful of the way. 'Yes, they are all round us,' he whispered. 'The tricksy lights. Candles of corpses, yes, yes. Don't you heed them! Don't look! Don't follow them! Where's the master?'

Sam looked back and found that Frodo had lagged again.... He went some paces back into the darkness.... Suddenly he stumbled against Frodo, who was standing..., looking at the pale lights. His hands hung stiff at his sides; water and slime were dripping from them.

'Come, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam. 'Don't look at them! Gollum says we mustn't.'....

'All right,' said Frodo, as if returning out of a dream. 'I'm coming. Go on!'

Hurrying forward again, Sam tripped, catching his foot.... He fell and came heavily on his hands, which sank deep into sticky ooze, so that his face was brought close to the surface of the dark mere.... Wrenching his hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. 'There are dead things, dead faces in the water,' he said with horror. 'Dead faces!'

Gollum laughed. 'The Dead Marshes, yes, yes: that is their names,' he cackled....

'Who are they? What are they?' asked Sam shuddering....

'I don't know,' said Frodo in a dreamlike voice. 'But I have seen them too... grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad.... But all foul, all rotting, all dead.'....

'Yes, yes,' said Gollum. 'All dead, all rotten.... The Dead Marshes. There was a great battle long ago, yes, so they told him when Sméagol was young, when I was young before the Precious came. It was a great battle. Tall Men with long swords, and terrible Elves, and Orcses shrieking. They fought on the plain for days and months at the Black Gates. But the Marshes have grown since then, swallowed up the graves; always creeping, creeping.'

'But that is an age and more ago,' said Sam. 'The Dead can't be really there! Is it some devilry hatched in the Dark Land?'....

'Sméagol doesn't know,' answered Gollum. 'You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them. We tried once, yes, precious. I tried once; but you cannot reach them. Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch. No precious! All dead.'

Sam looked darkly at him..., thinking that he guessed why Sméagol had tried to touch them. 'Well, I don't want to see them,' he said. 'Never again! Can't we get on and get away?'

'Yes, yes,' said Gollum. 'But slowly, very slowly. Very carefully! Or hobbits go down to join the Dead ones and light little candles. Follow Sméagol! Don't look at lights!'

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

At last they came to the end of the black mere, and they crossed it, perilously, crawling or hopping from one treacherous island tussock to another. Often they floundered, stepping or falling hands-first into waters as noisome as a cesspool, till they were slimed and fouled almost up to their necks and stank in one another's nostrils.

It was late in the night when at length they reached firmer ground again. Gollum hissed and whispered to himself, but it appeared that he was pleased....

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

Lyllyn 13Jun03
Elena Tiriel 1Mar07

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