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"O Elbereth Starkindler from heaven gazing-afar, to thee I cry now in the shadow of (the fear of) death. O look towards me, Everwhite."                              -Sam's Elven Prayer from Lord of the Rings

 

 

The following are thrilling stories of light in the face of darkness.  Enjoy!

 

A Knife in the Dark -From Fellowship of the Rings

Flight to the Ford -From Fellowship of the Rings

The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm -From Fellowship of the Rings

Shelob's Lair -From The Two Towers

Battle of the Pelennor Fields -From Return of the King

Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance -From Prince Caspian

In the Dark Castle -From The Silver Chair

The Dark Island -From Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Shasta Among the Tombs -From The Horse and His Boy

Deep Magic From the Dawn of Time 

                                                    -From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Triumph of the Witch

                                             -From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time

                                                    -From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Frodo's Mithril Armor

Sam's Song in the Dark

The Gifts of Father Christmas

 

 

 

A Knife in the Dark

 

As Strider was speaking they watched his strange eager face, dimly lit in

the red glow of the wood-fire. His eyes shone, and his voice was rich and

deep. Above him was a black starry sky. Suddenly a pale light appeared over

the crown of Weathertop behind him. The waxing moon was climbing slowly above

the hill that overshadowed them, and the stars above the hill-top faded.

The story ended. The hobbits moved and stretched. 'Look!' said Merry.

'The Moon is rising: it must be getting late.'

The others looked up. Even as they did so, they saw on the top of the

hill something small and dark against the glimmer of the moonrise. It was

perhaps only a large stone or jutting rock shown up by the pale light.

Sam and Merry got up and walked away from the fire. Frodo and Pippin

remained seated in silence. Strider was watching the moonlight on the hill

intently. All seemed quiet and still, but Frodo felt a cold dread creeping

over his heart, now that Strider was no longer speaking. He huddled closer to

the fire. At that moment Sam came running back from the edge of the dell.

'I don't know what it is,' he said, 'but I suddenly felt afraid. I

durstn't go outside this dell for any money; I felt that something was

creeping up the slope.'

'Did you _see_ anything?' asked Frodo, springing to his feet.

'No, sir. I saw nothing, but I didn't stop to look.'

'I saw something,' said Merry; 'or I thought I did – away westwards where

the moonlight was falling on the flats beyond the shadow of the hill-tops, I

_thought_ there were two or three black shapes. They seemed to be moving this

way.'

'Keep close to the fire, with your faces outward!' cried Strider. 'Get

some of the longer sticks ready in your hands!'

For a breathless time they sat there, silent and alert, with their backs

turned to the wood-fire, each gazing into the shadows that encircled them.

Nothing happened. There was no sound or movement in the night. Frodo stirred,

feeling that he must break the silence: he longed to shout out aloud.

'Hush!' whispered Strider. 'What's that?' gasped Pippin at the same

moment.

Over the lip of the little dell, on the side away from the hill, they

felt, rather than saw, a shadow rise, one shadow or more than one. They

strained their eyes, and the shadows seemed to grow. Soon there could be no

doubt:

three or four tall black figures were standing there on the slope,

looking down on them. So black were they that they seemed like black holes in

the deep shade behind them. Frodo thought that he heard a faint hiss as of

venomous breath and felt a thin piercing chill. Then the shapes slowly

advanced.

Terror overcame Pippin and Merry, and they threw themselves flat on the

ground. Sam shrank to Frodo's side. Frodo was hardly less terrified than his

companions; he was quaking as if he was bitter cold, but his terror was

swallowed up in a sudden temptation to put on the Ring. The desire to do this

laid hold of him, and he could think of nothing else. He did not forget the

Barrow, nor the message of Gandalf; but something seemed to be compelling him

to disregard all warnings, and he longed to yield. Not with the hope of

escape, or of doing anything, either good or bad: he simply felt that he must

take the Ring and put it on his finger. He could not speak. He felt Sam

looking at him, as if he knew that his master was in some great trouble, but

he could not turn towards him. He shut his eyes and struggled for a while; but

resistance became unbearable, and at last he slowly drew out the chain, and

slipped the Ring on the forefinger of his left hand.

Immediately, though everything else remained as before, dim and dark, the

shapes became terribly clear. He was able to see beneath their black

wrappings. There were five tall figures: two standing on the lip of the dell,

three advancing. In their white faces burned keen and merciless eyes; under

their mantles were long grey robes; upon their grey hairs were helms of

silver; in their haggard hands were swords of steel. Their eyes fell on him

and pierced him, as they rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword,

and it seemed to him that it flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of

the figures halted. The third was taller than the others: his hair was long

and gleaming and on his helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword,

and in the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it glowed with

a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on Frodo.

At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground, and he heard

himself crying aloud: O _Elbereth! Gilthoniel!_ At the same time he struck at

the feet of his enemy. A shrill cry rang out in the night; and he felt a pain

like a dart of poisoned ice pierce his left shoulder. Even as he swooned he

caught, as through a swirling mist, a glimpse of Strider leaping out of the

darkness with a flaming brand of wood in either hand. With a last effort

Frodo, dropping his sword, slipped the Ring from his finger and closed his

right hand tight upon it.

 

Flight to the Ford

 

The hobbits were still weary, when they set out again early next morning.

There were many miles yet to go between them and the Ford, and they hobbled

forward at the best pace they could manage.

'Our peril will be greatest just ere we reach the river,' said

Glorfindel; 'for my heart warns me that the pursuit is now swift behind us,

and other danger may be waiting by the Ford.'

The Road was still running steadily downhill, and there was now in places

much grass at either side, in which the hobbits walked when they could, to

ease their tired feet. In the late afternoon they came to a place where the

Road went suddenly under the dark shadow of tall pine-trees, and then plunged

into a deep cutting with steep moist walls of red stone. Echoes ran along as

they hurried forward; and there seemed to be a sound of many footfalls

following their own. All at once, as if through a gate of light, the Road ran

out again from the end of the tunnel into the open. There at the bottom of a

sharp incline they saw before them a long flat mile, and beyond that the Ford

of Rivendell. On the further side was a steep brown bank, threaded by a

winding path; and behind that the tall mountains climbed, shoulder above

shoulder, and peak beyond peak, into the fading sky.

There was still an echo as of following feet in the cutting behind them;

a rushing noise as if a wind were rising and pouring through the branches of

the pines. One moment Glorfindel turned and listened, then he sprang forward

with a loud cry.

'Fly!' he called. 'Fly! The enemy is upon us!'

The white horse leaped forward. The hobbits ran down the slope.

Glorfindel and Strider followed as rear-guard. They were only half way across

the flat, when suddenly there was a noise of horses galloping. Out of the gate

in the trees that they had just left rode a Black Rider. He reined his horse

in, and halted, swaying in his saddle. Another followed him, and then another;

then again two more.

'Ride forward! Ride!' cried Glorfindel to Frodo.

He did not obey at once, for a strange reluctance seized him. Checking

the horse to a walk, he turned and looked back. The Riders seemed to sit upon

their great steeds like threatening statues upon a hill, dark and solid, while

all the woods and land about them receded as if into a mist. Suddenly he knew

in his heart that they were silently commanding him to wait. Then at once fear

and hatred awoke in him. His hand left the bridle and gripped the hilt of his

sword, and with a red flash he drew it.

'Ride on! Ride on!' cried Glorfindel, and then loud and clear he called

to the horse in the elf-tongue: _noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!_

At once the white horse sprang away and sped like the wind along the last

lap of the Road. At the same moment the black horses leaped down the hill in

pursuit, and from the Riders came a terrible cry, such as Frodo had heard

filling the woods with horror in the Eastfarthing far away. It was answered;

and to the dismay of Frodo and his friends out from the trees and rocks away

on the left four other Riders came flying. Two rode towards Frodo: two

galloped madly towards the Ford to cut off his escape. They seemed to him to

run like the wind and to grow swiftly larger and darker, as their courses

converged with his.

Frodo looked back for a moment over his shoulder. He could no longer see

his friends. The Riders behind were falling back: even their great steeds were

no match in speed for the white elf-horse of Glorfindel. He looked forward

again, and hope faded. There seemed no chance of reaching the Ford before he

was cut off by the others that had lain in ambush. He could see them clearly

now: they appeared to have cast aside their hoods and black cloaks, and they

were robed in white and grey. Swords were naked in their pale hands; helms

were on their heads. Their cold eyes glittered, and they called to him with

fell voices.

Fear now filled all Frodo's mind. He thought no longer of his sword. No

cry came from him. He shut his eyes and clung to the horse's mane. The wind

whistled in his ears, and the bells upon the harness rang wild and shrill. A

breath of deadly cold pierced him like a spear, as with a last spurt, like a

flash of white fire, the elf-horse speeding as if on wings, passed right

before the face of the foremost Rider.

Frodo heard the splash of water. It foamed about his feet. He felt the

quick heave and surge as the horse left the river and struggled up the stony

path. He was climbing the steep bank. He was across the Ford.

But the pursuers were close behind. At the top of the bank the horse

halted and turned about neighing fiercely. There were Nine Riders at the

water's edge below, and Frodo's spirit quailed before the threat of their

uplifted faces. He knew of nothing that would prevent them from crossing as

easily as he had done; and he felt that it was useless to try to escape over

the long uncertain path from the Ford to the edge of Rivendell, if once the

Riders crossed. In any case he felt that he was commanded urgently to halt.

Hatred again stirred in him, but he had no longer the strength to refuse.

Suddenly the foremost Rider spurred his horse forward. It checked at the

water and reared up. With a great effort Frodo sat upright and brandished his

sword.

'Go back!' he cried. 'Go back to the Land of Mordor, and follow me no

more! ' His voice sounded thin and shrill in his own ears. The Riders halted,

but Frodo had not the power of Bombadil. His enemies laughed at him with a

harsh and chilling laughter. 'Come back! Come back!' they called. 'To Mordor

we will take you!'

'Go back!' he whispered.

'The Ring! The Ring!' they cried with deadly voices; and immediately

their leader urged his horse forward into the water, followed closely by two

others.

'By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair,' said Frodo with a last effort,

lifting up his sword, 'you shall have neither the Ring nor me!'

Then the leader, who was now half across the Ford, stood up menacing in

his stirrups, and raised up his hand. Frodo was stricken dumb. He felt his

tongue cleave to his mouth, and his heart labouring. His sword broke and fell

out of his shaking hand. The elf-horse reared and snorted. The foremost of the

black horses had almost set foot upon the shore.

At that moment there came a roaring and a rushing: a noise of loud waters

rolling many stones. Dimly Frodo saw the river below him rise, and down along

its course there came a plumed cavalry of waves. White flames seemed to Frodo

to flicker on their crests and he half fancied that he saw amid the water

white riders upon white horses with frothing manes. The three Riders that were

still in the midst of the Ford were overwhelmed: they disappeared, buried

suddenly under angry foam. Those that were behind drew back in dismay.

With his last failing senses Frodo heard cries, and it seemed to him that

he saw, beyond the Riders that hesitated on the shore, a shining figure of

white light; and behind it ran small shadowy forms waving flames, that flared

red in the grey mist that was falling over the world.

The black horses were filled with madness, and leaping forward in terror

they bore their riders into the rushing flood. Their piercing cries were

drowned in the roaring of the river as it carried them away. Then Frodo felt

himself falling, and the roaring and confusion seemed to rise and engulf him

together with his enemies. He heard and saw no more.

 

The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm

 

`Now for the last race! ' said Gandalf. 'If the sun is shining outside we

may still escape. After me! '

He turned left and sped across the smooth floor of the hall. The distance

was greater than it had looked. As they ran they heard the beat and echo of

many hurrying feet behind. A shrill yell went up: they had been seen. There

was a ring and clash of steel. An arrow whistled over Frodo's head.

Boromir laughed. `They did not expect this,' he said. `The fire has cut

them off. We are on the wrong side! '

`Look ahead! ' called Gandalf. `The Bridge is near. It is dangerous and

narrow.'

Suddenly Frodo saw before him a black chasm. At the end of the hall the

floor vanished and fell to an unknown depth. The outer door could only be

reached by a slender bridge of stone, without kerb or rail, that spanned the

chasm with one curving spring of fifty feet. It was an ancient defence of the

Dwarves against any enemy that might capture the First Hall and the outer

passages. They could only pass across it in single file. At the brink Gandalf

halted and the others came up in a pack behind.

'Lead the way, Gimli! ' he said. 'Pippin and Merry next. Straight on and

up the stair beyond the door! '

Arrows fell among them. One struck Frodo and sprang back. Another pierced

Gandalf's hat and stuck there like a black feather. Frodo looked behind.

Beyond the fire he saw swarming black figures: there seemed to be hundreds of

orcs. They brandished spears and scimitars which shone red as blood in the

firelight. _Doom, doom_ rolled the drum-beats, growing louder and louder,

_doom, doom_.

Legolas turned and set an arrow to the string, though it was a long shot

for his small bow. He drew, but his hand fell, and the arrow slipped to the

ground. He gave a cry of dismay and fear. Two great trolls appeared; they bore

great slabs of stone, and flung them down to serve as gangways over the fire.

But it was not the trolls that had filled the Elf with terror. The ranks of

the orcs had opened, and they crowded away, as if they themselves were afraid.

Something was coming up behind them. What it was could not be seen: it was

like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape

maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and to go before

it.

It came to the edge of the fire and the light faded as if a cloud had

bent over it. Then with a rush it leaped across the fissure. The flames roared

up to greet it, and wreathed about it; and a black smoke swirled in the air.

Its streaming mane kindled, and blazed behind it. In its right hand was a

blade like a stabbing tongue of fire; in its left it held a whip of many

thongs.

'Ai! ai! ' wailed Legolas. 'A Balrog! A Balrog is come! '

Gimli stared with wide eyes. `Durin's Bane! ' he cried, and letting his

axe fall he covered his face.

'A Balrog,' muttered Gandalf. `Now I understand.' He faltered and leaned

heavily on his staff. `What an evil fortune! And I am already weary.'

The dark figure streaming with fire raced towards them. The orcs yelled

and poured over the stone gangways. Then Boromir raised his horn and blew.

Loud the challenge rang and bellowed, like the shout of many throats under the

cavernous roof. For a moment the orcs quailed and the fiery shadow halted.

Then the echoes died as suddenly as a flame blown out by a dark wind, and the

enemy advanced again.

'Over the bridge!' cried Gandalf, recalling his strength. `Fly! This is a

foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly! ' Aragorn and Boromir

did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind

Gandalf at the far end of the bridge. The others halted just within the

doorway at the hall's end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face

the enemy alone.

The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span,

leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring

gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow

about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs

whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.

`You cannot pass,' he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence

fell. `I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You

cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the

Shadow! You cannot pass.'

The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness

grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself

up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still

Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and

altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a

storm.

From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.

Glamdring glittered white in answer.

There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire. The Balrog fell back

and its sword flew up in molten fragments. The wizard swayed on the bridge,

stepped back a pace, and then again stood still.

'You cannot pass! ' he said.

With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and

hissed.

'He cannot stand alone! ' cried Aragorn suddenly and ran back along the

bridge. '_Elendil!_' he shouted. 'I am with you, Gandalf! '

`Gondor! ' cried Boromir and leaped after him.

At that moment Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the

bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding

sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet

it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the

rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into

emptiness.

With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down

and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and

curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and

fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools!

' he cried, and was gone.

 

Shelob's Lair

 

Hardly had Sam hidden the light of the star-glass when she

came. A little way ahead and to his left he saw suddenly, issuing from a

black hole of shadow under the cliff, the most loathly shape that he had ever

beheld, horrible beyond the horror of an evil dream. Most like a spider she

was, but huger than the great hunting beasts, and more terrible than they

because of the evil purpose in her remorseless eyes. Those same eyes that

he had thought daunted and defeated, there they were lit with a fell light

again, clustering in her out-thrust head. Great horns she had, and behind

her short stalk-like neck was her huge swollen body, a vast bloated bag,

swaying and sagging between her legs; its great bulk was black, blotched

with livid marks, but the belly underneath was pale and luminous and gave

forth a stench. Her legs were bent, with great knobbed joints high above

her back, and hairs that stuck out like steel spines, and at each leg's end

there was a claw.

As soon as she had squeezed her soft squelching body and its folded

limbs out of the upper exit from her lair, she moved with a horrible

speed, now running on her creaking legs, now making a sudden bound. She was

between Sam and his master. Either she did not see Sam, or she avoided him

for the moment as the bearer of the light` and fixed all her intent upon

one prey, upon Frodo, bereft of his Phial, running heedless up the path,

unaware yet of his peril. Swiftly he ran, but Shelob was swifter; in a few

leaps she would have him.

Sam gasped and gathered all his remaining breath to shout.  'Look out behind! ' he yelled.

 'Look out master! I'm' -- but suddenly his cry was stifled.

A long clammy hand went over  his mouth and another caught him by the neck, while

 something wrapped itself about his leg. Taken off his guard he toppled backwards into the

 arms of his attacker.

`Got him! ' hissed Gollum in his ear. `At last, my precious, we've got him, yes, the nassty

 hobbit. We takes this one. She'll get the other.  O yes,

 he promised; he won't hurt Master at all.  But he's got you, you nassty filthy little sneak!'

 He spat on Sam's neck.

Fury at the treachery, and desperation at the delay when his master was in deadly peril,

 gave to Sam a sudden violence and strength that was far beyond anything that Gollum

 had expected from this slow stupid hobbit, as he thought him. Not Gollum himself could

 have twisted more quickly or more fiercely. His hold on Sam's mouth slipped, and Sam

 ducked and lunged forward again, trying to tear away from the grip on his neck. His

 sword was still in his hand, and on his left arm, hanging by its thong, was Faramir's

staff. Desperately he tried to turn and stab his enemy. But Gollum was too

quick.  His long right arm shot out, and he grabbed Sam's wrist: his fingers were

like a vice; slowly and relentlessly he bent the hand down and forward, till

with a cry of pain Sam released the sword and it fell to the ground; and all

the while Gollum's other hand was tightening on Sam's throat.  

Then Sam played his last  trick. With all his strength he pulled away and got his feet firmly

 planted; then suddenly  he drove his legs against the ground and with his whole force

hurled himself backwards.

Not expecting even this simple trick from Sam, Gollum fell over with Sam on top, and he

received the weight of the sturdy hobbit in his stomach.  A sharp hiss came out of him, and

 for a second his hand upon Sam's throat loosened; but his fingers still gripped the

sword-hand.  Sam tore himself forward and away, and stood up, and then quickly he

wheeled away to his right, pivoted on the wrist held by Gollum. Laying hold of the

staff with his left hand, Sam swung it up, and down it came with a whistling crack on

Gollum's outstretched arm, just below the elbow.

With a squeal Gollum let go. Then Sam waded in; not waiting to change the staff from left

 to right he dealt another savage blow. Quick as a snake Gollum slithered aside. and the

 stroke aimed at his head fell across his back. The staff cracked and broke. That was enough

 for him.  Grabbing from behind was an old game of his, and seldom had he failed in it.

But this time, misled by spite, he had made the mistake of speaking and gloating before he

 had both hands on his victim's neck. Everything had gone wrong with his beautiful plan,

since that horrible light had so unexpectedly appeared in the darkness. And now he was

face to face with a furious enemy, little less than his own size. This fight was not for him.

Sam swept up his sword from the ground and raised it. Gollum squealed, and springing

aside on to all fours, he jumped away in one big bound like a frog. Before Sam could reach

him, he was off, running with amazing speed back towards the tunnel.

Sword in hand Sam went after him. For the moment he had forgotten everything else but

the red fury in his brain and the desire to kill Gollum.  But before he could overtake him,

Gollum was gone. Then as the dark hole stood before him and the stench came out to

meet him, like a clap of thunder the thought of Frodo and the monster smote upon Sam's

mind. He spun round, and rushed wildly up the path, calling and calling his master's name.

He was too late. So far Gollum's plot had succeeded. 

Frodo was lying face upward on the ground and the monster was bending over him, so

intent upon her victim that she took no heed of Sam and his cries, until he was close at

hand. As he rushed up he saw that Frodo was already bound in cords, wound about him

from ankle to shoulder, and the monster with her great forelegs was beginning half to lift,

half to drag his body away.

On the near side of him lay, gleaming on the ground, his elvenblade, where it had fallen

useless from his grasp. Sam did not wait to wonder what was to be done, or whether he was

brave, or loyal, or filled with rage. He sprang forward with a yell, and seized his master's

sword in his left hand.  Then he charged. No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the

savage world of beasts; where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth alone,

will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.

Disturbed as if out of some gloating dream by his small yell she turned slowly the dreadful

malice of her glance upon him. But almost before she was aware that a fury was upon her

 greater than any she had known in countless years, the shining sword bit upon her foot

and shore away the claw. Sam sprang in, inside the arches of her legs, and with a quick

upthrust of his other hand stabbed at the clustered eyes upon her lowered head.  

One great eye went dark.

Now the miserable creature was right under her, for the moment out of the reach of her

sting and of her claws. Her vast belly was above him with its putrid light, and the stench of

it almost smote him down. Still his fury held for one more blow, and before she could sink

upon him, smothering him and all his little impudence of courage, he slashed the bright

elven-blade across her with desperate strength.

But Shelob was not as dragons are, no softer spot had she save only her eyes. Knobbed and

pitted with corruption was her age-old hide, but ever thickened from within with layer on

layer of evil growth. The blade scored it with a dreadful gash, but those hideous folds could

not be pierced by any strength of men, not though Elf or Dwarf should forge the steel or

the hand of Beren or of T®rin wield it. She yielded to the stroke, and then heaved up the 

great bag of her belly high above Sam's head. Poison frothed and bubbled from the 

wound. Now splaying her legs she drove her huge bulk down on him again. Too soon. 

For  Sam still stood upon his feet, and dropping his own sword, with both hands he held

the elven-blade point upwards, fending off that ghastly roof; and so Shelob, with the

driving force of her own cruel will, with strength greater than any warrior's hand, thrust

herself upon a bitter spike. Deep, deep it pricked, as Sam was crushed slowly to the 

ground.  

No such anguish had Shelob ever known, or dreamed of knowing, in all her long world of

wickedness. Not the doughtiest soldier of old

entrapped, had ever thus endured her, or set blade to her beloved flesh. A shudder went

through her. Heaving up again, wrenching away from the pain, she bent her writhing

limbs beneath her and sprang backwards in a convulsive leap.

Sam had fallen to his knees by Frodo's head, his senses reeling in the foul stench, his two 

hands still gripping the hilt of the sword.  Through the mist before his eyes he was aware

dimly of Frodo's face and stubbornly he fought to master himself and to drag himself out

of the swoon that was upon him. Slowly he raised his head and saw her, only a few paces

away, eyeing him, her beak drabbling a spittle of venom, and a green ooze trickling from 

below her wounded eye. There she crouched, her shuddering belly splayed upon the 

ground, the great bows of her legs quivering, as she gathered herself for another 

spring-this time to crush and sting to death: no little bite of poison to still the struggling 

of her meat; this time to slay and then to rend.

Even as Sam himself crouched, looking at her, seeing his death in her eyes, a thought came 

to him, as if some remote voice had spoken, and he fumbled in his breast with his left

hand, and found what he sought: cold and hard and solid it seemed to his touch in a 

phantom world of horror, the Phial of Galadriel.

'Galadriel! ' he said faintly, and then he heard voices far off but clear: the crying of the

Elves as they walked under the stars in the beloved shadows of the Shire, and the music of

the Elves as it came through his sleep in the Hall of Fire in the house of Elrond. 

 

Gilthoniel A Elbereth!

 

And then his tongue was loosed and his voice cried in a language which he did not know:

 

A Elbereth Gilthoniel

o menel palan-diriel,

le nallon sn di'nguruthos!

A tiro nin, Fanuilos!

 

And with that he staggered to his feet and was Samwise the hobbit,

`Now come, you filth!' he cried. `You've hurt my master, you brute, and you'll pay for

it. We're going on; but we'll settle with you first.  Come on, and taste it again!'

As if his indomitable spirit had set its potency in motion, the glass blazed suddenly like a

white torch in his hand. It flamed like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark

air with intolerable light. No such terror out of heaven had ever burned in Shelob's face

before.  The beams of it entered into her wounded head and scored it with unbearable

pain, and the dreadful infection of light spread from eye to eye. She fell back beating the

air with her forelegs, her sight blasted by inner

turning her maimed head away, she rolled aside and began to crawl, claw by claw, towards   

the opening in the dark cliff behind.

Sam came on. He was reeling like a drunken man, but he came on. And

last, shrunken in defeat, jerked and quivered as she tried to hasten from him. She reached

the hole, and squeezing down, leaving a trail of green-yellow slime, she slipped in, even as

Sam hewed a last stroke at her dragging legs. Then he fell to the ground.

Shelob was gone; and whether she lay long in her lair, nursing her malice and her misery,

and in slow years of darkness healed herself from within, rebuilding her clustered eyes, 

until with hunger like death she spun once more her dreadful snares in the glens of the

Mountains of Shadow, this tale does not tell.

Sam was left alone. Wearily, as the evening of the Nameless Land fell upon the place of

battle, he crawled back to his master.

 

Battle of the Pelennor Fields

 

     But lo! suddenly in the midst of the glory of the king his golden shield was dimmed. The new morning was blotted from the sky. Dark fell about him. Horses reared and screamed. Men cast from the saddle lay grovelling on the ground.

     'To me! To me!' cried Théoden. 'Up Eorlingas! Fear no darkness!' But Snowmane wild with terror stood up on high, fighting with the air, and then with a great scream he crashed upon his side: a black dart had pierced him. The king fell beneath him.

     The great shadow descended like a falling cloud. And behold! it was a winged creature: if bird, then greater than all other birds, and it was naked, and neither quill nor feather did it bear, and its vast pinions were as webs of hide between horned fingers; and it stank. A creature of an older world maybe it was, whose kind, fingering in forgotten mountains cold beneath the Moon, outstayed their day, and in hideous eyrie bred this last untimely brood, apt to evil. And the Dark Lord took it, and nursed it with fell meats, until it grew beyond the measure of all other things that fly; and he gave it to his servant to be his steed. Down, down it came, and then, folding its fingered webs, it gave a croaking cry, and settled upon the body of Snowmane, digging in its claws, stooping its long naked neck.

     Upon it sat a shape, black-mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of steel he bore, but between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly gleam of eyes: the Lord of the Nazgûl. To the air he had returned, summoning his steed ere the darkness failed, and now he was come again, bringing ruin, turning hope to despair, and victory to death. A great black mace he wielded.

     But Théoden was not utterly forsaken. The knights of his house lay slain about him, or else mastered by the madness of their steeds were borne far away. Yet one stood there still: Dernhelm the young, faithful beyond fear; and he wept, for he had loved his lord as a father. Right through the charge Merry had been borne unharmed behind him, until the Shadow came; and then Windfola had thrown them in his terror, and now ran wild upon the plain. Merry crawled on all fours like a dazed beast, and such a horror was on him that he was blind and sick.

     'King's man! King's man!' his heart cried within him. 'You must stay by him. As a father you shall be to me, you said.' But his will made no answer, and his body shook. He dared not open his eyes or look up.

     Then out of the blackness in his mind he thought that he heard Dernhelm speaking; yet now the voice seemed strange, recalling some other voice that he had known.

     'Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!'

     A cold voice answered: 'Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.'

     A sword rang as it was drawn. 'Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.'

     'Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!'

     Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. 'But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.'

     The winged creature screamed at her, but the Ringwraith made no answer, and was silent, as if in sudden doubt. Very amazement for a moment conquered Merry's fear. He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them. There some paces from him sat the great beast, and all seemed dark about it, and above it loomed the Nazgûl Lord like a shadow of despair. A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy, had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek. A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes.

     Éowyn it was, and Dernhelm also. For into Merry's mind flashed the memory of the face that he saw at the riding from Dunharrow: the face of one that goes seeking death, having no hope. Pity filled his heart and great wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke. He clenched his hand. She should not die, so fair, so desperate At least she should not die alone, unaided.

     The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he hardly dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on him. Slowly, slowly he began to crawl aside; but the Black Captain, in doubt and malice intent upon the woman before him, heeded him no more than a worm in the mud.

     Suddenly the great beast beat its hideous wings, and the wind of them was foul. Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.

     Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair but terrible. A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly. The outstretched neck she clove asunder, and the hewn head fell like a stone. Backward she sprang as the huge shape crashed to ruin, vast wings outspread, crumpled on the earth; and with its fall the shadow passed away. A light fell about her, and her hair shone in the sunrise.

     Out of the wreck rose the Black Rider, tall and threatening, towering above her. With a cry of hatred that stung the very ears like venom he let fall his mace. Her shield was shivered in many pieces, and her arm was broken; she stumbled to her knees. He bent over her like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.

     But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.

     'Éowyn! Éowyn!' cried Merry. Then tottering, struggling up, with her last strength she drove her sword between crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her. The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown rolled away with a clang. Éowyn fell forward upon her fallen foe. But lo! the mantle and hauberk were empty. Shapeless they lay now on the ground, torn and tumbled; and a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of this world.

 

 

Frodo's Mithril Armor

 

But even as they retreated, and before Pippin and Merry had reached the

stair outside, a huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high, clad in black mail from

head to foot, leaped into the chamber; behind him his followers clustered in

the doorway. His broad flat face was swart, his eyes were like coals, and his

tongue was red; he wielded a great spear. With a thrust of his huge hide

shield he turned Boromir's sword and bore him backwards, throwing him to the

ground. Diving under Aragorn's blow with the speed of a striking snake he

charged into the Company and thrust with his spear straight at Frodo. The blow

caught him on the right side, and Frodo was hurled against the wall and

pinned. Sam, with a cry, hacked at the spear-shaft, and it broke. But even as

the orc flung down the truncheon and swept out his scimitar, Andúril came down

upon his helm. There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The

orc fell with cloven head. His followers fled howling, as Boromir and Aragorn

sprang at them.

_Doom, doom_ went the drums in the deep. The great voice rolled out

again.

'Now! ' shouted Gandalf. 'Now is the last chance. Run for it! '

Aragorn picked up Frodo where he lay by the wall and made for the stair,

pushing Merry and Pippin in front of him. The others followed; but Gimli had

to be dragged away by Legolas: in spite of the peril he lingered by Balin's

tomb with his head bowed. Boromir hauled the eastern door to, grinding upon

its hinges: it had great iron rings on either side, but could not be fastened.

'I am all right,' gasped Frodo. `I can walk. Put me down! '

Aragorn nearly dropped him in his amazement. 'I thought you were dead! '

he cried....

(a few minutes later) And now what about you, Frodo? There was not time to say so, but I

have never been more delighted in my life than when you spoke. I feared that it was a

brave but dead hobbit that Aragorn was carrying.'

`What about me? ' said Frodo. 'I am alive, and whole I think. I am

bruised and in pain, but it is not too bad.'

`Well,' said Aragorn, `I can only say that hobbits are made of a stuff so

tough that I have never met the like of it. Had I known, I would have spoken

softer in the Inn at Bree! That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar!'

'Well, it did not skewer me, I am glad to say,' said Frodo; `though I

feel as if I had been caught between a hammer and an anvil.' He said no more.

He found breathing painful.

'You take after Bilbo,' said Gandalf. `There is more about you than meets

the eye, as I said of him long ago.' Frodo wondered if the remark meant more

than it said....

(a quite a while later when they finally got to tending wounds) He (Aragorn) opened his

pouch and drew out some withered leaves. `They are dry and some of their virtue has one,

he said, but here I have still some of the leaves of _athelas_ that I gathered near 

Weathertop. Crush one in the water, and wash the wound clean, and I will bind it. Now it

 is your turn.  Frodo!'

'I am all right,' said Frodo, reluctant to have his garments touched.

`AII I needed was some food and a little rest.'

`No! ' said Aragorn. `We must have a look and see what the hammer and the

anvil have done to you. I still marvel that you are alive at all.' Gently he

stripped off Frodo's old jacket and worn tunic, and gave a gasp of wonder.

Then he laughed. The silver corslet shimmered before his eyes like the light

upon a rippling sea. Carefully he took it off and held it up, and the gems on

it glittered like stars. and the sound of the shaken rings was like the tinkle

of rain in a pool.

`Look, my friends!' he called. `Here's a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an

elven-princeling in! If it were known that hobbits had such hides, all the

hunters of Middle-earth would be riding to the Shire.'

`And all the arrows of all the hunters in the world would be in vain,'

said Gimli, gazing at the mail in wonder. `It is a mithril-coat. Mithril! I

have never seen or heard tell of one so fair. Is this the coat that Gandalf

spoke of? Then he undervalued it. But it was well given! '

`I have often wondered what you and Bilbo were doing, so close in his

little room,' said Merry. 'Bless the old hobbit! I love him more than ever. I

hope we get a chance of telling him about it! '

There was a dark and blackened bruise on Frodo's right side and breast.

Under the mail there was a shirt of soft leather, but at one point the rings

had been driven through it into the flesh. Frodo's left side also was scored

and bruised where he had been hurled against the wall. While the others set

the food ready. Aragorn bathed the hurts with water in which athelas was

steeped. The pungent fragrance filled the dell, and all those who stooped over

the steaming water felt refreshed and strengthened. Soon Frodo felt the pain

leave him, and his breath grew easy: though he was stiff and sore to the touch

for many days. Aragorn bound some soft pads of cloth at his side.

`The mail is marvellously light,' he said. `Put it on again, if you can

bear it. My heart is glad to know that you have such a coat. Do not lay it

aside, even in sleep, unless fortune brings you where you are safe for a

while; and that will seldom chance while your quest lasts.'

 

Sam's Song in the Dark

     Softly Sam began to climb. He came to the guttering torch, fixed above a door on his left that faced a window-slit looking out westward: one of the red eyes that he and Frodo had seen from down below by the tunnel's mouth. Quickly Sam passed the door and hurried on to the second storey, dreading at any moment to he attacked and to feel throttling fingers seize his throat from behind. He came next to a window looking east and another torch above the door to a passage through the middle of the turret. The door was open, the passage dark save for the glimmer of the torch and the red glare from outside filtering through the window-slit. But here the stair stopped and climbed no further. Sam crept into the passage. On either side there was a low door; both were closed and locked. There was no sound at all.

     `A dead end,' muttered Sam; `and after all my climb! This can't be the top of the tower. But what can I do now?'

     He ran back to the lower storey and tried the door. It would not move. He ran up again, and sweat began to trickle down his face. He felt that even minutes were precious, but one by one they escaped; and he could do nothing. He cared no longer for Shagrat or Snaga or any other orc that was ever spawned. He longed only for his master, for one sight of his face or one touch of his hand.

     At last, weary and feeling finally defeated, he sat on a step below the level of the passage-floor and bowed his head into his hands. It was quiet, horribly quiet. The torch, that was already burning low when he arrived, sputtered and went out; and he felt the darkness cover him like a tide. And then softly, to his own surprise, there at the vain end of his long journey and his grief, moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell, Sam began to sing.

     His voice sounded thin and quavering in the cold dark tower: the voice of a forlorn and weary hobbit that no listening orc could possibly mistake for the clear song of an Elven-lord. He murmured old childish tunes out of the Shire, and snatches of Mr. Bilbo's rhymes that came into his mind like fleeting glimpses of the country of his home. And then suddenly new strength rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his own came unbidden to fit the simple tune.

 

          In western lands beneath the Sun

            the flowers may rise in Spring,

           the trees may bud, the waters run,

            the merry finches sing.

           Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night

            and swaying beeches bear

           the Elven-stars as jewels white

            amid their branching hair.

 

           Though here at journey's end I lie

            in darkness buried deep,

           beyond all towers strong and high,

            beyond all mountains steep,

           above all shadows rides the Sun

            and Stars for ever dwell:

           I will not say the Day is done,

            nor bid the Stars farewell.

 

     `Beyond all towers strong and high,' he began again, and then he stopped short. He thought that he had heard a faint voice answering him. But now he could hear nothing. Yes, he could hear something, but not a voice. Footsteps were approaching. Now a door was being opened quietly in the passage above; the hinges creaked. Sam crouched down listening. The door closed with a dull thud; and then a snarling orc-voice rang out.

     'Ho la! You up there, you dunghill rat! Stop your squeaking, or I'll come and deal with you. D'you hear?'

     There was no answer.

     'All right,' growled Snaga. `But I'll come and have a look at you all the same, and see what you're up to.'

     The hinges creaked again, and Sam, now peering over the corner of the passage-threshold, saw a flicker of light in an open doorway, and the dim shape of an orc coming out. He seemed to be carrying a ladder. Suddenly the answer dawned on Sam: the topmost chamber was reached by a trap-door in the roof of the passage. Snaga thrust the ladder upwards, steadied it, and then clambered out of sight. Sam heard a bolt drawn back. Then he heard the hideous voice speaking again.

     `You lie quiet, or you'll pay for it! You've not got long to live in peace, I guess; but if you don't want the fun to begin right now, keep your trap shut, see? There's a reminder for you!' There was a sound like the crack of a whip.

     At that rage blazed in Sam's heart to a sudden fury. He sprang up, ran, and went up the ladder like a cat. His head came out in the middle of the floor of a large round chamber. A red lamp hung from its roof; the westward window-slit was high and dark. Something was lying on the floor by the wall under the window, but over it a black orc-shape was straddled. It raised a whip a second time, but the blow never fell.

     With a cry Sam leapt across the floor, Sting in hand. The orc wheeled round, but before it could make a move Sam slashed its whip-hand from its arm. Howling with pain and fear but desperate the orc charged head-down at him. Sam's next blow went wide, and thrown off his balance he fell backwards, clutching at the orc as it stumbled over him. Before he could scramble up he heard a cry and a thud. The orc in its wild haste had tripped on the ladder-head and fallen through the open trap-door. Sam gave no more thought to it. He ran to the figure huddled on the floor. It was Frodo.

 

 

The Gifts of Father Christmas

 

It seemed to Lucy only the next minute (though really it was hours and hours later) when she woke up feeling a little cold and dreadfully stiff and thinking how she would like a hot bath. Then she felt a set of long whiskers tickling her cheek and saw the cold daylight coming in through the mouth of the cave. But immediately after that she was very wide awake indeed, and so was everyone else. In fact they were all sitting up with their mouths and eyes wide open listening to a sound which was the very sound they'd all been thinking of (and sometimes imagining they heard) during their walk last night. It was a sound of jingling bells.

Mr Beaver was out of the cave like a flash the moment he heard it. Perhaps you think, as Lucy thought for a moment, that this was a very silly thing to do? But it was really a very sensible one. He knew he could scramble to the top of the bank among bushes and brambles without being seen; and he wanted above all things to see which way the Witch's sledge went. The others all sat in the cave waiting and wondering. They waited nearly five minutes. Then they heard something that frightened them very much. They heard voices. "Oh," thought Lucy, "he's been seen. She's caught him!"

 Great was their surprise when a little later, they heard Mr Beaver's voice calling to them from just outside the cave.

"It's all right," he was shouting. "Come out, Mrs Beaver. Come out, Sons and Daughters of Adam. It's all right! It isn't Her!" This was bad grammar of course, but that is how beavers talk when they are excited; I mean, in Narnia - in our world they usually don't talk at all.

So Mrs Beaver and the children came bundling out of the cave, all blinking in the daylight, and with earth all over them, and looking very frowsty and unbrushed and uncombed and with the sleep in their eyes.

 "Come on!" cried Mr Beaver, who was almost dancing with delight. "Come and see! This is a nasty knock for the Witch! It looks as if her power is already crumbling."

"What do you mean, Mr Beaver?" panted Peter as they all scrambled up the steep bank of the valley together.

 "Didn't I tell you," answered Mr Beaver, "that she'd made it always winter and never Christmas? Didn't I tell you? Well, just come and see!"

 And then they were all at the top and did see.

 It was a sledge, and it was reindeer with bells on their harness. But they were far bigger than the Witch's reindeer, and they were not white but brown. And on the sledge sat a person whom everyone knew the moment they set eyes on him. He was a huge man. in a bright red robe (bright as hollyberries) with a hood that had fur inside it and a great white beard, that fell like a foamy waterfall over his chest.

Everyone knew him because, though you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures of them and hear them talked about even in our world - the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only funny and jolly. But now that the children actually stood looking at him they didn't find it quite like that. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.

 "I've come at last," said he. "She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch's magic is weakening."

 And Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if you are being solemn and still.

 "And now," said Father Christmas, "for your presents. There is a new and better sewing machine for you, Mrs Beaver. I will drop it in your house as, I pass."

 "If you please, sir," said Mrs Beaver, making a curtsey. "It's locked up."

 "Locks and bolts make no difference to me," said Father Christmas. "And as for you, Mr Beaver, when you get home you will find your dam finished and mended and all the leaks stopped and a new sluicegate fitted."

 Mr Beaver was so pleased that he opened his mouth very wide and then found he couldn't say anything at all.

 "Peter, Adam's Son," said Father Christmas.

 "Here, sir," said Peter.

 "These are your presents," was the answer, "and they are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well." With these words he handed to Peter a shield and a sword. The shield was the colour of silver and across it there ramped a red lion, as bright as a ripe strawberry at the moment when you pick it. The hilt of the sword was of gold and it had a sheath and a sword belt and everything it needed, and it was just the right size and weight for Peter to use. Peter was silent and solemn as he received these gifts, for he felt they were a very serious kind of present.

 "Susan, Eve's Daughter," said Father Christmas. "These are for you," and he handed her a bow and a quiver full of arrows and a little ivory horn. "You must use the bow only in great need," he said, "for I do not mean you to fight in the battle. It does not easily miss. And when you put this horn to your lips; and blow it, then, wherever you are, I think help of some kind will come to you."

Last of all he said, "Lucy, Eve's Daughter," and Lucy came forward. He gave her a little bottle of what looked like glass (but people said afterwards that it was made of diamond) and a small dagger. "In this bottle," he said, "there is cordial made of the juice of one of the fireflowers that grow in the mountains of the sun. If you or any of your friends is hurt, a few drops of this restore them. And the dagger is to defend yourse at great need. For you also are not to be in battle."

"Why, sir?" said Lucy. "I think - I don't know but I think I could be brave enough."

 "That is not the point," he said. "But battles are ugly when women fight. And now" - here he suddenly looked less grave - "here is something for the moment for you all!" and he brought out (I suppose from the big bag at his back, but nobody quite saw him do it) a large tray containing five cups and saucers, a bowl of lump sugar, a jug of cream, and a great big teapot all sizzling and piping hot. Then he cried out "Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!" and cracked his whip, and he and the reindeer and the sledge and all were out of sight before anyone realized that they had started.