The Lord of the... whatever, Book II, Chapter 10:

The Berating Of The Fellowship

     Aragon, after ordering Sam to hide their boats in the brush 
alongside the river, and also mentioning that building a small trailer 
for each of the boats would greatly increase their resale value, led the 
party a short distance inland. Near the feet of Momen Hen they found a 
small glade of green grass among the bushes, with a picnic table carved 
with countless initials and an overthrown bucket of trash thoughtfully 
     "Here we will rest for now," Aragon said with undue solemnity. 
"Though it worries me to see that the trash collections are off. Saddened 
I am to see Momen Llaw and Momen Hen in disrepair! Once, long ago, they 
were well-known, and income-producing."
     "Not exciting enough in these modern times," Boromir™ said simply.
     The others filed in and lay down upon the green, and so relaxed and 
chatted idly about the weather while Sam made their camp, muttering quiet 
epithets to himself. After a time Frodo stepped aside and talked to 
Aragon. "Is this place safe?" he asked. "I feel a certain foreboding. 
Though it might just be that Sam's grumblings about the idle rich being 
put to slow death on a roasting spit are beginning to annoy me."
     "I do not know," Aragon replied. "Though a shadow has been on my 
heart, and a rock in my boot, ever since we arrived. A watch we will set 
tonight. Tell Sam to take care of it."
     "Er, well, I'm not sure that would make me sleep much better," Frodo 
replied. Sam was sitting off to one side by his cook-pots, sharpening a 
huge carving-knife and looking at him threateningly. Frodo put a hand 
over his throat and tried to imagine sleeping with Sam as his guard. 
"Mmmmmmaybe Sam should, er, have the night off, or we can inject him with 
tranquilizers or something."
     "Okay, you'll keep the watch instead," Aragon replied abruptly.
     Frodo blinked, and before he could answer the tall Ranger stood and 
walked over to Arwen, who said something under her breath about Frodo and 
laughed. Pipsqueak sat off to one side, asking of Morrie yet again who it 
was who had pushed him into the well in Moira; and Morrie gave another of 
his wide, honest, innocent gestures of ignorance. Giggly and Lego-lass 
stood several feet away arguing heatedly, at first about long-held Elvish 
and Dwarvish grudges, then about the differences between the sexes, and 
eventually about the virtues of single parenting. Their voices rose to a 
fierce crescendo, and they leaned in so closely to shout at one another 
that almost Frodo thought they were going to stop suddenly and kiss. 
Boromir™, in contrast, sat silently at the picnic-table, idly carving 
the initials B™ into the tabletop with his sword, his unseeing eyes 
focused on some bitter deep internal turmoil. Eventually the initials 
were carved completely through the table; and Boromir™ continued, 
inexorably, carving his way onwards into the ground. Frodo refused to 
look in Sam's direction, though he could feel Sam's eyes boring into his 
back like twin steel drill-augers, and heard the quiet mutterings behind 
him grow gradually more menacing as Sam's dialect grew ever more 
threatening and impenetrable.
     "Keep the watch!" he said quietly to himself. "Were I surrounded by 
ten thousand Orcs, and a thousand Balrogs or three, I think I would find 
sleep easier."

     Midnight came. The growing Moon passed its zenith and began its slow 
course towards Valhalla. Frodo looked over his companions. The Fellowship 
slept fitfully, each waking at whiles to check their pockets for valued 
possessions before drowsing to sleep again. Arwen and Lego-lass sat 
quietly in Elf-fashion, not in sleep but in the half-asleep, half-awake, 
three-quarters real, one-third dream, two-fifths waking daydream, 
one-over-Pi waking daydream sleeping nightmare idling random thought 
which the Elves take in place of sleep. At length Arwen stood. "Excuse 
me," she said quietly, "I've got to go see a man about a wolverine, or 
something." She straightened her black leathers, adjusted her shuriken 
and throwing-knives, and stepped into the night.
     Her black, thigh-high leather boots squeaking quietly through the 
underbrush, Arwen made her way stealthily to the riverbank, where she 
crouched near the boats, checked her weapons yet again, and waited. Her 
Elvish eyes scanned the darkness, while her mind raced. I'm here! she 
thought proudly. I've made it into the movie for sure now. No getting 
rid of me! No way I'm going to sit around at Dad's, writing poetry and 
knitting ugly banners while all the action's going on down here. But I'm 
not taking any chances. Not even one. In this manner her thoughts ran 
wildly through the long-secluded corridors of her mind, until at length 
she heard the splashing of icky little feet just upstream. She went 
still. A slipblade dropped silently down her wrist and into the curve of 
her right hand. She held her breath and waited.
     A webbed hand, pale and slimy in the fading moonlight, reached from 
the water and grabbed the blunt end of one of the boats. A pair of 
luminous green eyes rose up behind it, and suddenly an ugly wet slimy 
horrible pathetic little fish-eating geek splashed out of the river and 
flopped squeaking into the boat. "Ick! Ick! Icky icky ick! Ssssss!" 
hissed the creature. "Musst search backpacks. Musst feel for secret 
compartments. Musst work on mastering tricksy idiosyncratic dialect. 
Yesss! Yesss, pringles. Yesss- urrk," the figure added, as Arwen 
grabbed it by the head with her left hand and flashed the slipknife up to 
the creature's throatwith her right.
     "Listen to me, Gulible, or Gullible, or however the hell it is you 
spell your name," Arwen hissed in a quiet whisper. "I need your help."
     "Ach! Ssssss! Nassty Elven bitch! Sets us up, it doess. Stoods us 
up, humiliates uss, yesss, saddam! Dinner reservations we hads, yesss; 
flowerses, nice gowns it boughts for you in Moira-land. Even Orcs who 
play the violin we finds, yesss! But it stoods us up; it humiliates us; 
it leaves us with a hell of a minimum to drink up! Complete personality 
change it has wreaked, saddam, in convenience to plot, fortunately. 
Poor Gulllible! Tricksy Elven sstrumpet! Nassty sweet-talking 
tight-fisted leatherbound harlot! Guliblle will help you not. Voice 
lessons have I taken from Yoda."
     "Find the Orcs," Arwen continued, pressing gently on the air supply 
to the creature's lungs. "Tell them where we are. Tell them to attack the 
Fellowship exactly as the Sun reaches noon. You got that? Exactly at 
noon! Do that, and I'll make up for Moira. Fail, and you'll be here for 
dinner the next time I see you. As the main course. Got that?"
     "Ssssss! Nasssty crawdad! Wench! Think about it I will. Let me go! 
Give me libertine or give me death!" Gulible flapped its paws 
pathetically, fear and hatred fighting lust, and all three fighting 
common sense, which was in somewhat short supply at the moment. Arwen 
looked hard and searchingly into the creature's eyes, then released her 
grip. Gulible flapped about ludicrously and flopped over into the water 
with a splash, and immediately began retreating, muttering something 
unintelligible about the treachery of Emma Peel.
     Arwen looked after him in satisfaction. Arwen Saves The Day! the 
headlines rang in her mind. Some Orcs would attack, and then she would 
arrive heroically and singlehandedly drive them off. So simple! 
Strong-willed daughter of Elvenhome saves heir of Elendil, and 
Ring-quest! Surprise Orc-ambush driven back by fierce counterattack from 
beautiful and mighty Elven-princess! Glossy pictures in magazines and 
"Arwen the Morningstar" fan-clubs were soon to replace her current bleak 
future of appendices and the occasional scholarly comment about her 
geneaology. A major part in the movie would certainly be hers after this! 
She adjusted her tight leather tunic, checked her spring-darts and 
tasteful belt-flail, and made her way back quietly to the sleeping camp.

     Red dawn rose from the East, and the wind carried a smell of burning 
leaves and fiery marshmallows. Above them Tol Brandir stood, proud but 
rundown, a once-mighty mountain now waiting for a redesign and new 
weather-resistant siding. Momin Hen stood oily and desolate next to them, 
a great attraction in years gone past, now dusty and forlorn. Across the 
River Frodo could catch the rays of dawn alighting upon Momin Lhaw, and 
was saddened to think of that high place of the Atlanteans now held by 
the Enemy and used as a third-rate Orc casino.
     Sam prepared breakfast, and the Fellowship ate it in silence. Frodo 
even decided not to comment on the razor blade Sam had placed in his 
eggs. After they had finished, and Sam had completed the washing up, 
Aragon called everyone together to discuss the Quest.
     "The day has finally come," he began, "when we have to decide, once 
and for all, what the hell it is we're supposed to do next. Gandalf, El 
Rond and Galadriel all thought it incredibly important that we speed 
directly to Mount Viagra and destroy the Ring without delay. Of course, 
none of them are here to actually help or anything, but that's what 
they thought we ought to do for them. Boromir™, of course, wants to 
return to his native land-"
     "What time is it?" Arwen suddenly cut in, oblivious to the 
conversation. She was sitting quietly off to one side intently oiling and 
polishing her weapons.
     "Hm? Oh, uh..." Aragon answered, taken off-guard. He gazed at the 
sun and the shadows. "Oh, about ten-thirty, I think. So, Boromir™ 
wants to-"
     "Are you sure?" Arwen cut in again.
     "Yes," Aragon answered, somewhat less calmly, "I'm sure." After a 
pause he continued. "Boromir™ wants to return to his native land, the 
Magic Kingdom of Gondor™, and the great City of Minas Tirith™, 
which has long stood as a place of Magic™ and Wonder™. I, of 
course, want to go there and claim my rightful Kingship to it and 
subjugate it to my will and put Boromir™ out of a job. Though I'm sure 
we'll find something else for you, Boromir™," he added hastily. "Maybe 
an associate vice-president in charge of production, or something. 
Anyway, there is also this subpoena from Isengard to deal with, written 
in Aruman's own hand."
     "It looks a lot like Gandalf's handwriting to me," Pipsqueak cut in 
     "Yes, well, you know, wizards' handwriting all looks the same," 
Aragon replied, looking quickly at the document. "Anyway, we must now 
decide which of these three causes we shall take up first. I suggest we 
now all go directly to the fastness of Minas Tirith™, and there take 
counsel and supplies and thirty or forty thousand of my heavily-armed 
subjects to aid us in our other missions East and West."
     "Sounds good to me," Lego-lass replied.
     "Me too," chorused Morrie and Pipsqueak together.
     "I liked it the last time I was there," Arwen added, looking up 
briefly from her toe-spikes. "'Corsairs of the Tampalas' was fun."
     "From that great fastness we may strike a mighty blow against the 
Scum-lords of the East," Boromir™ agreed heartily. "Along with other 
traitors," he added darkly, his eyes boring into Frodo's back.
     "We Dwerrows have long held the long-standing and proper opinion 
that Gondor™ is a gruesome, dishonorable hell-pit of leeches and 
vipers," Giggly stated. "But if we're stuck with having to go visit 
Mordor and Aruman as well, I admit I wouldn't mind having a few divisions 
of armoured cutthroats and vicious attorneys handy to back us up."
     "Nobody cares what I think anyway," Sam said sullenly.
     "Well, then, it's settled," Aragon rejoiced. "We're going to 
     "Well, but, uh-" Frodo began.
     Aragon stopped and stared at the puny Hobbit. Legions of his future 
subjects were awaiting his holy edict; yet here was Frodo, delaying him. 
"Yes?" he demanded.
     "Well, you see, I still have an estate in Mordor to claim! Sir 
Frodo Baggins of Nurnenshire, remember? My own little estate by the lake, 
with lots of vast hemp fields, and legions of cowed slaves to tend them? 
Nobility? Respectability? A title? Cucumber sandwiches, and one of those 
big long robes? You think I came along on this stupid useless low-budget 
shark-infested holiday because Gandalf had some chores to take care of? 
No, we need to go straight to Mordor! I suppose I can do something about 
the Ring once I get established, if you think it's important. I'll have 
Sam take it to the Fires of Doom once he's got my luggage rounded up. And 
yes, Sam, I'll even give you a raise for that. And one more hour of 
unpaid time off per week," he said, glancing round for his servant. Not 
finding him, however, he paused then plunged ahead. "Well, maybe skip the 
raise, then," he continued. "But Mordor calls me, and there I must go. 
Minas Tirith™ will still be there for you after I've claimed my 
estate. Probably, anyway."
     "But everyone else has voted to go to Gondor™," Aragon insisted. 
"We outvote you, so it's decided." Democracy was, after all, still a 
useful tool until he actually became a monarch.
     "But I have to go to Mordor!" Frodo answered.
     Seeing the glares he was getting from the rest of the Company, Frodo 
relented somewhat. "Well, okay," he agreed sullenly. "Just, uh, I, I just 
need a few minutes to think about it, is all."
     Aragon nodded. "Just be back here by noon," he replied. "Arwen's 
been very insistent about leaving just past noon."
     The meeting ended. Deeply annoyed, Frodo began wandering upwards 
along the path to the top of Momin Hen. Maybe things will look less 
bleak from higher up, he thought. Unnoticed by the others Boromir™ 
rose, his soul carrying enough bleak to cover four or five epic novels, 
and began ascending the path behind him. The others resumed their various 
arguments and obsessions from the day before, creatures of habit which 
they were.
     Arwen checked the angle of the sun once more. With another quick 
adjustment of the poison dart compartment at her breast, she strode back 
into the wilderness. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty paces. Nicely 
inconspicuous. Room for a running start. But enough? She increased it to 
fifty paces. Okay, be fair, sixty. Had to have the advantage of surprise, 
after all. A nice, round seventy-five paces would be perfect. She and the 
Fellowship could no longer see each other at all through the brush. Good, 
good! Complete advantage of surprise. She slipped on her spiked platinum 
knuckles, tied her hair back to increase visibility, released it again to 
increase desirability, and waited. Noon. She was impatient, but she 
forced herself to wait. After waiting two thousand years for a heroic 
opportunity like this, she could wait another hour and fifteen minutes.

     Gondor™! Frodo stomped his way along the path leading up Momin 
Hen, hands clenched into fists, occasionally uprooting delicate flowers 
or throwing rocks at small animals in his fury. Gondor™! Stupid 
useless little kingdom on the edge of being obliterated, populated by big 
clumsy Men who thought trademarks were a sign of nobility. Frodo was 
obviously more noble and genteel than the lot of that commercial 
money-grubbing rabble, that was certain. And now they wanted him to set 
aside his Eru-granted rights, his clear and unquestioned claims to 
nobility, his big castle and army of paycheck-free agricultural workers, 
and further delay the manifest destiny he obviously deserved! Oh, sure, 
the legalese of El Rond demanded that he destroy the Ring before he could 
claim his Estate; but that was just a petty legal detail. The good 
offices of Sauron would certainly take care of that minor technicality. 
Just like El Rond to needlessly complicate everything, the bloated 
million-year-old dolt. With these thoughts Frodo made his way to the peak 
of Momin Hen, where he stepped up to the observation platform. A plaque 
next to the railing, long ago damaged by weather and the graffiti of 
ancient tourists, could just be made out, though Frodo could not 
understand the forgotten language:

      Myghty Gyndor strytches yut byfore yyu. Ty thy lyft ys thy myghty
  fyrtress yf Mynas Dynald, whyre yur fyne rytating rystaurant cymmands
  y splyndid vyew yf yur vynquished fyrmer ylly, Myrdor. Ty thy ryght ys
  Mynas Myckey, Tywer yf thy Mygic Kyngdom, lyoking fyrward ty thy Wyst 
  ynd wynderful Ytlantis. Bytween thym, stynding pryudly yver thy Ryver
  Ynduin, stynds Dysgiliath, thy Cyty yf Tymorrow. Tyrning ty thy Nyrth
  yyu cyn sye Gyndor's syster kyngdom, Yuroarnor, whych wy're syre wyll
  by y rysounding syccess!
      By syre ty vysit nyarby Mymin Lhyw, whyre yyu cyn lysten yn yn
  cynversations yn thy yctive bydrooms yf Gyndor ymployees!

     Looking out Frodo at first saw only a grey mist, like a fog in a 
deep morning vale, or an overly-steamy bathroom mirror. After a moment, 
however, the ancient dust gave way, and Frodo found himself able to see 
remarkable distances. Facing West he looked upon the green fields of 
Edoras, where many horses ran, with Men riding them - great tall Men with 
golden hair and a look which was, even to Frodo's untrained eyes, clearly 
and unmistakably Anglo-Saxon in every regard, pre-Normanic, possibly 
Mercian though it was hard to tell from this distance, though rather 
inexplicably they all seemed to be wearing kilts, and occasionally 
throwing a Frisbee. At the very foot of the Musty Mountains Frodo could 
just make out a tower of shimmering white, surrounded by a splendid 
garden of great beauty and ringed with a wall of beautiful, translucent 
marble. Obviously the tower of the evil heinous wizard traitor Aruman. 
Frodo quickly hurried on.
     Frodo's gaze quickly turned North. Following the line of the 
Mountains he came to the three high peaks which crowned Moira. For a 
fleeting moment he thought he had seen an old man in white sitting in a 
lounge chair beside an old man in red, drinking cocktails and laughing at 
some unheard joke; but the vision passed, and he realized that looking 
North was making him really jittery for some reason. He wheeled around 
once more to face the South.
     He saw the Sea. He saw the Off-White Mountains, proud, cold and 
pointy. His gaze picked out Minas Tirith™, and he looked upon it in 
amaze: a beautiful city, clean and immaculate, surrounded by seven walls 
of stone and surmounted by a castle with tall narrow spires of storybook 
beauty, where Frodo could just make out large numbers of people standing 
in incredibly long lines trying to look like they were still excited 
about whatever the hell it was they were waiting such unbelievable 
lengths of time for. Many of them carried souvenirs. A surprising number 
of them seemed to be wearing round black helms with mysterious 
protrusions, like Boromir's™. Every single one of them looked like 
they had spent too much money. Frodo was about to turn away when he saw - 
or thought he saw; it must have been a mistake, it must have been - 
some sort of giant rat walking through the avenues, waving at the people; 
who did not scream or run away, as sensible people would, from a grinning 
six-foot-tall rodent. Frodo blinked. It couldn't have been. Perhaps it 
was just a reflection, or something.
     Saving the best for last, Frodo turned East towards Mordor. 
Somewhere out there was the wonderful land of Nurnenshire, soon to be his 
home. His gaze crossed the River Anduin, gazing only briefly at the 
heavily-dated ruins of Disgiliath; then going further they came across 
the great dome of Minas Epcot upon the mountain-range. The sanitized 
commercialism of Gondor™ gave way to the hideous neon glitz and media 
bombardment of the Enemy. Frodo's eyes unwillingly crossed the plain, 
passing billboards innumerable and countless one-hour motels. Gas wars 
were being fought. Commercialism was rampant. Film crews were busy with 
remakes of "Flipper" and "Mr. Ed". Orcs lit bonfires upon the plain and 
toasted marshmallows by having slaves hold them into the fires for them 
with their bare hands. In the center of the hideous arid plain he saw the 
deadly sputtering fire of Mount Viagra, which no man would admit to 
seeing. Its purple flames raged up unexpectedly, then crashed down to 
silence with a dozen undocumented side-effects.
     And then Frodo saw it: a tower great and terrible, with buttresses 
of knife-edged iron, walls of impenetrable stone, doors of heavy adamant 
all marked "ENTRANCE ONLY"; battlement upon battlement, chamber upon 
chamber, window office upon window office, tall, black, immeasurably 
strong, laughing at flattery, filled with self-confidence, cracking its 
gum, telling bad jokes, and ringed with a thousand heavily-sharpened 
dinner forks: the Barad-dur, Fortress of Sauron the Terrible. Frodo stood 
as one turned to stone, unable to look away. The Ring suddenly felt 
heavier on its chain, like a great weight, dragging him downwards. In the 
Dark Tower Frodo felt an Eye which never slept; and then it became aware 
of him, a fierce will, unknowing of mercy, and now as it turned towards 
him he felt unable to move, unable to resist; and the Power came ever 
closer, reaching past Momin Lhaw, reaching towards him like an arm of 
terror; and then suddenly all went black, and there was a click, and 
Frodo could see no more.
     "Pesky things," Frodo muttered to himself. "No wonder nobody uses 
them any more. You'd think a quarter would give you more than three 
minutes. And now I'm out of change." And he kicked the great 
coin-operated binoculars on their pivoting metal base, limped back a few 
feet, and sat on a stone bench.
     After a moment Boromir™ came into the clearing. Seeing Frodo he 
immediately ran forward, drew his sword and prepared to cleave the puny 
Hobbit in half; but just as Frodo was about to scream he stopped, looked 
at his sword as if it had just been placed in his hand by a passing 
street-vendor, and laughed self-consciously as he put it back in its 
scabbard. "I, uh, I was just thinking about getting you a quarter," he 
explained lamely. "Halfling. Cut in half. Uhm, so, a quarter, you see. 
Get it? Ahh ha ha ha ha ha. Uhm. No, Really, Frodo, I am ill at ease. I 
came to talk to you. May I not sit down? The view's beautiful from up 
here. I'm surprised more people don't come by. I think a quarter for 
three minutes is very reasonable. Quite a bargain, really. Uhm. Oh, look, 
you cleaned the lenses. Jolly good. Though that's Union jurisdiction, you 
know. Could get in a lot of trouble. But I won't tell anyone if you 
don't. I mean, it's no big deal, you know, really. Um. Uh. So, uh... I 
guess you were really wanting to go to that estate in Nurnenshire, hm?"
     "Yes," said Frodo.
     "The one that the Great And Terrible Enemy Of All The Free Peoples 
is offering you."
     "That's the one," said Frodo.
     "And you believe it."
     "Well, of course I do!" Frodo snapped, irate. "I've got a piece of 
paper and everything. It's all official. Look," he continued, reaching 
into his jerkin and pulling out the envelope from the Nazdaq, "it's got 
official-looking seals on it, and signatures in blood-red ink and 
everything. Yes, I'm sure it's only ink."
     "You trust this?" Boromir™ demanded.
     "Well, of course I do!" Frodo replied haughtily. "Sauron's a big 
and important man. I'm just an insignificant little hobbit who has, by 
chance, the blood of great and honoured nobility coursing through my 
veins. Why would he deceive me? He knows I'd be a valuable asset to 
Nurnen, that's all. And he's right." Frodo held up his head and looked to 
the East, hoping the light would catch his face just the right way and 
let Boromir™ see, just for a moment, the nobility of ancient and 
powerful Sea-kings in his visage, but the sun went behind a cloud and he 
continued to look like a puny insignificant little hobbit who was 
sticking his lower lip out obnoxiously.
     "Maybe you aren't aware of the wiles of the Enemy," Boromir™ 
responded. "Here in Gondor™ we have been fighting a terrible battle 
against the Evil One for uncounted centuries. Once Gondor™ was a fair 
land, powerful and well thought of in the tourist trade; yet now it is 
but a shadow of its former self, bare and desolate, its concession stands 
all but closed, its parking lots bare-"
     "Looked pretty crowded through the binoculars," Frodo cut in.
     "That? A cruise ship from the Havens. We get those but twice a 
year, and had to make a big concession on the hotel fees even to get 
that. The rest of the time Gondor™ is a ghost town, our people 
unemployable, idle and bored. Yet that is but a part of our woes. The 
Nazdaq have conquered Minas Epcot, and made it into a place of horror-"
     "I heard it was a place of horror already," Frodo interrupted.
     "-and the Leech-king killed Eisner, the last King, in single combat; 
Eisner held two Aces and a Jack, and the Leech-king held a repeating 
crossbow with barbed and poisoned quarrels and a battleaxe-"
     "So did he bluff?" Frodo asked.
     "-and Disgiliath has fallen, and our Great Monorails can no longer 
run, and every day our defenses grow weaker. Even a single division of 
     "Mouseketeers?" cut in Frodo.
     "Musketeers," Boromir™ corrected, "could aid us greatly; but we 
can't get them, because gunpowder hasn't been invented yet-"
     "But we've got fireworks," Frodo interrupted pedantically.
     "Do you realize you've interrupted five times in the last ten 
paragraphs?" Boromir™ said angrily. "I'm trying to make you realize 
that Sauron is a damned liar!"
     "What?" Frodo demanded.
     "A liar! A teller of falsehoods! A deceiver of men's hearts! Why the 
hell do you think everyone's been calling him evil? Why do you think we 
refer to him as 'Sauron the Base Lord of Treachery'? That document 
you're clutching and carrying everywhere in your sweaty little fist is a 
trap, you know - a trap devised by Sauron and delivered by the Nazdaq to 
reel you in and bring you to the Dark Tower!"
     "But why?" Frodo demanded. "It doesn't make any sense! What would 
Sauron have to gain by trapping me? Use your head, Boromir™, or take 
stronger medications-"
     "Because of the Ring!" Boromir™ snapped, finally getting to 
interrupt Frodo for a change. "You have the Ring. It's Sauron's Ring. 
Sauron wants it back. And he'll torture and destroy you for it."
     "Not true! Not true!" screamed Frodo.
     "Of course it's true, dolt! Gandalf told you Sauron was a fool. El 
Rond told you too. But Sauron is no fool. He has been searching for his 
Ring, the power of which will make him stronger a thousandfold, and 
you're willing to go up and hand it to him! And then he would crush all 
resistance! He will destroy Gondor™-"
     "I'm not listening! I'm not listening!" Frodo screamed, sticking his 
fingers in his ears. "La la la la la la la-"
     "And then Lorien," Boromir™ shouted, "and then Rivendell, and 
Edoras, and then he will trample the Shire and put its inhabitants all to 
torture and slow death as the price for your keeping the Ring in his 
despite - will you stop singing! - and all your precious Bagginses, or 
Bagginsi, or whatever they are, will die, and all the Brandybottles will 
     "No! No! No! No! No!" Frodo yelled in agony.
     "-and all the Tooks will die-"
     "No!" screamed Frodo. "No! Sauron would never hurt Cassiopeia! You
damnable liar!" And with that Frodo drew Sting and stabbed 
Boromir™ through the abdomen.
     "Aaaaaaaaaggggghhhh!" screamed Boromir™, and fell.

     Frodo looked at Boromir™. The powerful Man was trying to raise 
himself up onto his hands and knees, gasping desperately. Oh my Eru! 
Frodo thought. What have I done! I've killed Boromir™! It's murder! 
Oh my Eru! He dropped Sting but then picked it up again to wipe it free 
of fingerprints, which only succeeded in getting even more of 
Boromir™'s blood onto his hands and tunic. Damn, he thought.
     Boromir™ crawled away into the brush. Maybe nobody will find 
him, Frodo thought, looking after him. Yeah. That's fine. Or maybe we 
were attacked by Orcs. Everybody'd be fine with that. Maybe I'll say he 
attacked me first. After all, he's been acting pretty strange lately. 
I'll say he wanted the Ring. And I had to stab him.
     But who'd believe that? Frodo answered himself. We were going to 
go to Gondor™. Why would he take the Ring here? What would he want 
the Ring for, anyway? No, nobody'll buy a story like that. It's too 
implausible an idea.
     "I've got to get out of here," Frodo said aloud to himself. "I'll go 
to Mordor alone. Sauron will protect me. Diplomatic immunity. After all, 
I'm a nobleman. And Boromir™ was an enemy of Mordor, after all. I'll 
have done Sauron a service. He should be grateful." And with that Frodo 
looked about, chose a path that would take him back to the boats without 
going near the others, and departed.
     A pair of eyes gleamed from the underbrush. Underneath them could 
just be seen a mouth frowning in consideration. Then the eyes departed, 
also going down Momin Hen but by a faster way.

     "Are you telling me Feenamint wasn't an inventor?" Lego-lass demanded.
     "No, that's not what I said," Giggly answered with some heat, "I'm 
just saying he didn't do anything original. Now Oolee, now he made 
some truly original things. He was creative! Feenamint had good crafts 
skills, but he didn't really make anything very inspired, now did he?"
     "I'd like to see you make a slipcast," Lego-lass said pointedly.
     "Oh, sure, the slipcast; but he couldn't make the light, now 
could he?" Giggly said, triumphant.
     "Nooo, he got that from the plants," Lego-lass smiled archly. 
"And that was Lavanna's work. Nothing to do with ol' Oilee whatsoever."
     "Oolee," Giggly corrected.
     "Anyway you don't see Dwaerrowseses making light or great jewels or 
anything, but they burn plenty of plants for firewood, or just for fun-"
     "I'm not willing to listen to these add himinem attacks-"
     But just then their engaging conversation was interrupted as 
Boromir™, his hands over his bleeding midriff, stumbled headlong into 
the clearing. "Frodo!" he gasped. "It was Frodo-" And then he fell 
forward upon his face.
     "Ai! Ai!" Lego-lass shrieked, and she and Giggly threw their arms 
around one another. The Dwarf drew his axe. "Fear nothing!" he giggled. 
"If I see that halfling bastard I'll protect y-..." And then with a 
sudden mutual impulse they leaped away from one another, both fighting 
shock and horror and some idea even more terrifying.
     Aragon jumped to his feet. "The Ringbearer!" he yelled. "He's gone 
amok. We must now bring him to justice. Gimlet! Legless! Find my beloved 
Aardvark! Mungo, you and Piglet guard Boring® here. Meet me back at the 
boats!" And with that Aragon drew his sword and dashed up the path of 
Momin Hen. "Endurit! Endurit! Fear me, little Shire rat-bag!" he shouted.
     Giggly and Lego-lass, themselves caught in a moment of utter 
emotional uncertainty, made for the west-path together, then for separate 
paths, then paused; then wordlessly reaching a decision the two followed 
Aragon up the trail, close after one another, but not too close.
     A long silence fell. Moribund thoughtfully pulled out his pipe. 
"Soooo, Boromir™," Morrie said slowly. "I think I've got some bandages 
in my pack... How much are they worth to you?"

     Pipsqueak, sitting on a log watching Morrie bargain with the wounded 
Man, looked about the clearing idly. The grass was green, the trees and 
brush provided gentle shade and protection from the winds, and the 
foliage was beautiful to look upon. But then he saw something else, 
something subtly different in the trees, and a new and somewhat 
disquieting thought occurred to him.
     When we came down the River, he thought to himself, there were 
those Orcs jumping around on the plains who looked a lot like trees. 
Being out on the plains it wasn't very effective camouflage, like Strider 
said. But in a place like this, with trees and bushes all the way around 
you... boy, if they looked like trees, I bet a whole battalion of Orcs 
could creep right up on you and you wouldn't even notice - unless you 
happened to look up at just the right moment.
     "Uh, Morrie?" Pipsqueak said aloud in a quiet falsetto. "Uh, you 
might want to stop talking for a minute and look over here..."

     Killer! Butcher! Murderer! Voices of guilt rang through Frodo's 
mind like mighty church-bells. You fool! They'll give you the Chair for 
this. What he meant by that he hardly knew, yet it frightened him. He 
envisioned a merciless and mighty Executioner beating him over the head 
with an immense, heavy chair. Mordor's my only hope. I've got to get to 
the boats. I've got to get to the boats!
     Frodo stumbled blindly through the trees. He thought he heard some 
screaming off in the distance towards the camp, but it could just as 
easily have been the voices pointing fingers and crying J'accuse! in 
the labyrinths of his mind. There was also a crunching sound, a sound 
like breaking wood, which he disregarded until he reached the River, 
where he found Sam smashing the last of their three boats with Giggly's 
spare axe.
     "Sam! What the hell are you doing!?"
     Sam looked up. There was an evil look on his face, an evil smirk in 
his eye. "That's Mister Sam Gamgee to you, ye bourgeois Shire-born 
hobgoblin," Sam answered, hefting the axe with his strong working-class 
hands. "An' what I'm doin' is wreckin' these nasty seedy little 
death-traps afore ye try to use 'em again."
     "But we've got to escape!" Frodo said dementedly. "There were Orcs! 
Hundreds of 'em! And they attacked me, and they killed Boromir™, and-"
     "No Orcs attacked ye," Sam replied, his dialect thick and pointed. 
"It was you as attacked Mister Boromir™, of the Royal House of 
Gondor™; and that's his blood there on your hands, it is, and all of 
Ulmune's oceans won't be enough t' wash ye clean of it. Aye, Mister 
Frodo, an' there's no denyin' it. I know all aboot it."
     "That's crazed," Frodo parleyed. "If I had killed Boromir™, how 
would you know-"
     "Because I followed ye," Sam snapped. "After sneakin' in to the 
Council of El Rond, and followin' ye t' see the Lady's bath an' all, ye 
think I'd let this meeting go by unobserv'd? Nae, Mister Frodo, nae; 
and I do it because I don't trust ye, ye wee cutthroat. I scouted out all 
the paths, and I watched ye go up the great Hen, and I watched 
Boromir™ tell ye about Mordor an' Sauron's treachery, and I saw ye go 
nutso an' stab him. An' I knew ye'd be headin' for the boats - the nasty, 
accurs'd boats," he shuddered - "an' seein' as I had nae the stomach for 
'em anyway, I did ye out of 'em an' satisfied meself doubly. So there's 
no goin' on, Mr. Frodo. Or should I say Mr. Mud."
     "Sam, Sam," Frodo said, shifting mental gears and trying for 
supplication. "I had to do it. I had no choice. He was trying to stop me 
from going to Nurnenshire."
     "And claimin' your estate," Sam sneered.
     "Yes," Frodo answered, "and claiming my estate. Sam! I would have 
agreed to anything, if you could have helped me; but now the boats are 
smashed, and my hope is lost. I feared it was so. Damn it." And Frodo sat 
down heavily on the remains of one of the broken keels.
     Sam looked at his master long and thoughtfully. "You'd've gone 
straight into Mordor?" he asked.
     "Yes," Frodo answered. "Of course I would. Where the hell else would 
I go?"
     "And you'd agree to anything t'get there?"
     "Sure. Anything," Frodo said despondently. He played idly with a 
twisted oarlock.
     Sam looked at him appraisingly. "So if I had a way to get you into 
Mordor, you'd go there willingly, and you'd agree to anything to be able 
t' do it?"
     Something about Sam's tone made Frodo look up. "Sam? Is there 
another boat here or something?" he asked, rising to his feet. "If you're 
holding out on me-"
     "Keep your hands away from th' sword!" Sam demanded, wielding the 
axe and producing a handful of deadly cutlery. "I'm only sayin' as I 
may be able to help you. To go to Mordor. But only on certain conditions."
     "What conditions?" Frodo said desperately. "Name them!"
     Sam leaned back, cheerfully. "We-ell," he said slowly, "for 
starters, I get a pay raise. Fifty percent. An' retroactive to the 
beginning of last year."
     "Fifty per c-" Frodo started, then stopped himself. He could 
almost hear the rest of the Fellowship coming with bright keen Swords of 
Justice. "Oh, okay. All right. But only if we can leave right n-"
     "And you has t' carry your half of the baggage," Sam continued, 
indicating the heavy packs lying next to one of the smashed boats.
     "Oh, all right," Frodo replied. Under Sam's watchful gaze he 
shouldered one of the packs. It was astonishingly heavy. Frodo had never 
done menial labor before. "All right," he answered, trying to inhale. 
"All right. That's only fair, I supp-"
     "AND you'll be doing half the cooking throughout the rest of the 
trip," Sam continued. "And the washing-up. And you'll stand half the 
watches. And give me the wake-up calls from now on."
     "Ho-kay," Frodo gasped. He was concentrating on the pack.
     "And before you go to Sauron to claim your little estate in 
Nurnenshire, ye'll write up a legal document that gives me complete 
ownership of Bag End," Sam added. "As a little bonus for years of long 
service. If you're profiting, I'm profiting too."
     "Bag End! Oomph," Frodo said, trying to find his new center of 
gravity. How had Sam carried this thing for so long? "What do you want 
that for?... Well, all right, very well; I won't be needing it anyway."
     "And just in case Boromir™ is right about the Ring," Sam added, 
"I don't want no Dark Baddies takin' over the Shire just when I'm about 
to come into my own. So ye'll be destroyin' the Ring before ye try to 
contact any officials or claim any Estate."
     "Blackmail! Foul, tricky besotted blackm- Well, all right, I 
suppose; as long as it's on the way," Frodo answered, trying desperately 
to stay calm.
     "And there won't be any more lickin' of fingers, or suckin' of 
toes or any other personal displays o' th' sort; an' if ye try it I'll 
cut your throat then and there, Mister Frodo. An' that's a fact," Sam 
added vehemently. "Swear to all that. Swear by the Deed."
     "The Deed?" Frodo asked.
     "Aye, the Deed," Sam answered. "By the Deed to Nurnenshire. Crooked 
as a three-dollar bill it may be, but it has a hold o' your soul, and 
ye'll never break that oath if ye want to enjoy your estate." Sam 
fairly spat out the last word, as though he had just avoided saying 
comeuppance instead.
     "All right," Frodo answered. "I swear by the Deed to Nurnenshire 
that I shall go straight to Mordor, and to give you a fifty per cent pay 
raise retroactive to last year, and to carry half the baggage and do half 
the cooking and washing-up, and half the watches and wake-up calls, and 
give you a legal claim to Bag End before claiming the Estate, and destroy 
the Ring first, and not try to get you excited or suck on your fingers or 
toes or any other appendages. So help me Deed.
     "Now, Sam," Frodo continued, as the pack straps dug painfully into 
his shoulders, "how do you propose we get across the River? Fly? Swim? 
Use that fourth boat you were keeping hidden in your mess-kit for later? 
Smelt some iron, forge a shovel and tunnel our way under?"
     Sam smiled smugly. "We-ell, Mr. Frodo, I thought we'd walk a little 
bit farther South, and then walk across on that disused track for 
Boromir™'s ol' Monorail. See, it goes right across the water, there, 
straight over to Momin Lhaw."
     "Sam! You're a genius!" Frodo laughed.
     And soon later two little figures could just be made out walking 
across the narrow track towards the Eastern side of the River, one 
already starting to feel the weight of his great burden, and each with a 
hope in their hearts. For one of them went to Mordor hoping that the 
stories of Sauron's hatred and lust for vengeance upon Frodo would prove 
utterly false, and the other went hoping those same stories would prove 
satisfyingly true.

     Time passed. The shadows moved slowly. Before long the sun reached 
its zenith.
     "Aaaaiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeaiaiaiaiaiaiaiaia ha ha ha hahahaaaaaaa!" 
The brush burst aside! A burst of deadly shuriken flew through the air, 
each cutting through the air of the clearing with a searing whine and 
embedding themselves into the trunks of trees. With a sudden flash of 
black leather a lithe figure leaped into the clearing, ronin-blade in 
one hand, sharpened darts in the other, keen-eyed, beautiful, confident 
and vicious. "Fear not!" the figure shouted. "Mighty Arwen, 
warrior-princess, is here!..."
     After a moment the silence continued to greet her. She stopped. She 
paused. She looked at the sun. It was noon. It was noon! Where the hell 
was everyone? She looked about the empty clearing, angry, yet a 
desolation crept upon her heart. Did they leave early? Why would they 
do that? And where the hell were the Orcs?
     Was she too late?
     She checked the sun yet again. It must be noon! Must be. Maybe. 
Unless... unless they measured noon differently in southern climes. Or 
something. Anyway, why would they leave without her? Had they forgotten 
her? Those bastards!
     There was some blood on the ground, trailing off towards Momin Hen. 
Probably Aragon had got another one of his nosebleeds. She'd told him 
high altitudes weren't good for him. There was some black stuff on the 
ground as well, a lot of it, which she might have identified as Orc-blood 
if she'd led a less sheltered life. Tree-sap, she thought to herself. 
Probably just some sort of tree-sap.
     Arwen sat down dejectedly. She began idly throwing her 
silvered-steel darts at the picnic table. Every step she took went wrong. 
Every attempt to get more coverage in the movie seemed to backfire on 
her. She couldn't even get a mention in Chapter Seven. Dammit! What the 
hell was this? Some sort of conspiracy?
     For a long moment the Elven-maid sat there, alone, her eyes unseeing.

     Finally she stood. She pulled a few of the less-damaged shuriken 
back out of the trees where they had lodged. The throwing-darts she 
ignored. Gondor™, she thought. They were going to Gondor™. To 
Minas Tirith™. Everyone was agreed. Well, I'll just follow them and 
meet them there. I shouldn't miss more than a chapter or two before I'm 
back with the others again. And Aragon had better have a damn good excuse 
for leaving me like this, the bastard.
     With a final shrug Arwen picked up her pack, tied her hair back for 
practicality and left it there, and proceeded South, her feet tracking a 
perfect line straight towards Minas Tirith™. She knew her way there, 
and she knew the others were going straight there as well. This time 
everything would work out. This time she was certain to be central to 
the plot. This time.

Book II, Chapter Nine / Table of Contents / Book III, Chapter One
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This chapter of this epic work is presented through the courtesy of O. Sharp <ohh-aaaaaaat-netcom-dawt-com>. Copyright © 2000 by the author. All rights reserved. Some variance between this e-text and the original printed material by Professor Tolkien is inevitable. Using this as an electronic resource for scholarly or research purposes may lead to a certain degree of academic embarassment. All agree that the printed version of the text, available from respectable publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Ballantine Books, is to be preferred. Boromir™, Minas Tirith™ and Gondor™ are trademarks of Saul Zaentz and Tolkien Enterprises, who hold all merchandising rights to Gondor™ and its subsidiaries. This chapter proudly sponsored by the International Alliance of Servants, Squires and Lackeys, Local 1420.