"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
-From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
-From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
-From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
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
'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
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
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
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.
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
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
'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
'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.
`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
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,
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 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
'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
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
'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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
'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! '
(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.'
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.
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
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!"
was their surprise when a little later, they heard Mr Beaver's voice calling to
them from just outside the cave.
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.
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.
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
do you mean, Mr Beaver?" panted Peter as they all scrambled up the steep
bank of the valley together.
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!"
then they were all at the top and did see.
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
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.
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."
Lucy felt running through her that deep shiver of gladness which you only get if
you are being solemn and still.
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
you please, sir," said Mrs Beaver, making a curtsey. "It's locked
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."
Beaver was so pleased that he opened his mouth very wide and then found he
couldn't say anything at all.
Adam's Son," said Father Christmas.
sir," said Peter.
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.
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."
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."
sir?" said Lucy. "I think - I don't know but I think I could be brave
"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.