Frodo and Sam have come so far, reached the land of Darkness, alive. As difficult as it was finally entering Mordor, with a fear for their lives, the last stretch of their journey will prove their toughest yet.
Through all the lands they have marched, with varying degrees of difficulty, Mordor is what they were marching towards. Now that the two Hobbits are within its walls, the surroundings of which Boromir spoke on the Council of Elrond, has come to fruition. Ash, dust and the poisonous fume of the air itself works to incapacitate anyone who might be bold enough to cross its borders. The influence of this place on their bodies starts to weigh them both down.
Although out of immediate danger, their armor camouflage is beginning to weigh heavily on their worn bodies. The closer the Ring is to home the louder it screams for its master, the heavier it begins to weigh on its carrier.
Frodo: “I can’t… I can’t manage the Ring, Sam. It’s… it’s… it’s such a weight to carry. It… such a weight.”
Sam: “We’re going that way. Straight as we can. There’s no point in carrying anything we’re not sure to need.”
Frodo cannot move another step in the armor they had to adorn themselves in order to pass the company of Orcs. However, now that the Orc company had been called to the Black Gate, without anyone in their path, they can take their armor off. There is no point in carrying on wearing these garments if it is only going to drag them down. It would seem that they would not need any weapons or protective gear to defend themselves when there are no Orcs in sight.
They throw their Orc armor into a fissure, leaving them only in shirts and pants. In itself a good enough cover of their bodies. However, when the nighttime comes, the cold sets in, proving their clothes insufficient. But there is nothing for it now, but powering through with what they have.
Sam’s strength in the tower of Cirith Ungol was an unmatched feat of bravery. He was quick, passionate and efficient with the blade. Now, there are weak signs of his strength. The fumes and ash and dust have managed to stifle his strength. He can’t move as quickly as he did before entering Mordor.
Inhalation of poisonous fumes will do that to a body. The body only focuses on getting as much oxygen as it can to keep going. When there is none, every ounce of oxygen in the blood and cells of his body are his reservoir, which as they move ever closer to Orodrúin, are being depleted.
They are cold, hungry, thirsty, weak, exhausted and wanting for a breath. Neither of those primary needs can be fulfilled at this point. Whatever they had to eat, drink, sleep and breathe last is going to have to suffice.
Light through shadow
As night falls, Sam and Frodo rest against a rock face. As if looking for inspiration, Sam looks out into the sky. What he can see are dark clouds flowing, obstructing the view of the stars. Until a little hole in the clouds opens.
Mister Frodo, look! There is light, and beauty up there, that no Shadow can touch.Sam
There is a perfect, starred night sky just beyond the clouds of Darkness. There is more to it all than just this. However, having been surrounded by only Shadow, they, along with their spirits cannot but adjust to them.
Sam finds some hope in the stars above, not for the two of them, but a general observation. What he wants to say is that with all that they see around them, there will always be a part of the sky that this Darkness surrounding them cannot influence. Above it, light and brightness is always there, no matter the Shadow.
It is in itself a wonderful metaphor for the situation they find themselves in. There is a light within them that the Shadow won’t reach. No matter how pained their bodies might be, their souls will remain the light guiding them. And when all is said and done, the light at the end of the tunnel, which they may not be able to see right now but will follow nonetheless, will be the brightest one they have ever encountered. It will mean much more to them coming out of this Darkness than it would be coming out of sunlight.
The appreciation of its shine and sparkle will grow in magnitude. And gratefulness for having reached it will be immense.
Frodo cannot comment on anything Sam had said, he cannot even open his eyes. He has fallen asleep, exhausted, worn out.
Last few drops
As Aragorn’s company moves in view of the Black Gate, Frodo and Sam continue their walk through Mordor. They cannot go far without the need for rest. They stop to sit and catch what is left of their strength. Frodo tries drinking some water from his bottle, but there is none left.
Take mine, there’s a few drops left.Sam
Sam gives his bottle of water to Frodo. With only a few drops left, Frodo cannot quench his thirst, but that is all of the water they will have. Sam is going without quenching even a small part of his thirst. He remains as thirsty as he was when they entered Mordor. The last few drops oof his water source he gives his friend to help him as much as he can.
When it comes to sharing in times of need, almost always battle ensues between people. Everyone wants to keep as much for themselves as possible. To share the last of the only water source with someone else is to make a great sacrifice. It goes to show how much Sam is devoid of selfishness.
No way out scenario
Frodo empties the last of the water.
Frodo: “There’ll be none left for the return journey.”
Sam: “I don’t think there will be a return journey, Mister Frodo.”
The roles have switched as it turns out. Initially, it was Frodo who believed in a one-way journey. Although he only expressed with lingering eye contact, while on the Cross-roads, he mentioned him having a feeling that he won’t be coming back. Sam was always there to reassure him of the certainty of a return journey. He was keeping his friend’s spirits up all this time.
Now, that they have entered Mordor, he has lost his spirits and by the looks of his surroundings, he cannot but imagine a no way out scenario. The barren wasteland that is Mordor cannot but give rise to hopelessness and despair.
Frodo looks up at Sam with a pained expression in his eyes. If even Sam had given up wishful thinking of returning home, then all they now have is each other. They cannot look into the future and see what it will bring them. There is only the here and now and their decisions and actions within real-time.
Sam holds out his hand for Frodo to help him up from the ground. That is the symbol of their last stretch of the journey. The two of them, alone, within enemy territory, relying only on themselves for survival. It may seem as though they have nothing, but they have something which will prove to be more important than anything they could have taken with them – their friendship.
Facing the Eye
Aragorn’s troops reach the Black Gate, arranging themselves in a pattern with Aragorn front and center. Simultaneously, the two Hobbits stagger across the plains while the Eye of Sauron scans the area.
Frodo staggers forward, clutching the Ring around his neck, waving whatever it is that he sees standing in his way. The Ring emanates its power more forcibly than ever before. Its voice carries louder, stopping Frodo in his tracks. He has heard the Ring’s master, he calls to him, Frodo only needs to find the source of the voice.
Frodo! Get down! Hide!Sam
The beam of the Eye finds its target at last. As Frodo slowly turns around to face the Ring’s maker, the Eye’s pupil narrows in focus. The carrier of his precious Ring had been found, within his walls nonetheless. There is both relief and rage in Sauron’s gaze.
Frodo’s eyes widen in terror as he faces the one he had only come to know in the Void. He is here, before him. The vast power of its being is overwhelming Frodo, the fear of him he carried for so long now faces its source in “flesh” for the very first time. Frodo’s mental, emotional and physical capacities are not able to handle the strain and the burden of this encounter. Frodo falls to the ground, obstructed from the view of the Eye by an outcropping of rock. The Eye does not leave Frodo’s location. It frantically searches in its vicinity to find the Ring again.
Sam screams for Frodo, moving closer to help him. He does not know what the Eye had actually done to Frodo. He is still lying there, lifeless, almost frozen in position with his eyes still wide open.
This has turned Sauron’s attention from the Black Gate, where Aragorn’s army awaits him. Follow me to my next post.