The Lord of the... whatever, Book VI, Chapter 2:

The Land Of Mojo

   Sam had just wits enough left to seize the phaser from Gullible and
thrust it back into his breast.  "Run, Gullible!" he cried.  "No, not
that way!  There's a sheer drop over the wall. Follow me!"  Down the
road from the gate they fled.  In fifty paces, with a swift bend round
a jutting bastion of the cliff, it took them out of the line of fire
from the Tower.  They had escaped the hue and cry of the Balrog
servants for the moment.  Cowering back against the rock they drew
breath, and then they clutched at their hearts.  "Chin oop, Samwise
Gamgee!  Ye hae come tae fer tae be broot doon bae a wee bit o' hairt
atteck noo..." muttered Sam.  Perching now on the wall beside the
ruined gate a Nazdaq sent out an alluring yet morbid aria.  All the
cliffs echoed.  In terror they stumbled on.  Soon the road bent
sharply eastward again and exposed them for a dreadful moment to a
search beam from the Tower.
   A scintillating red point appeared on the back of Sam's head scant
milliseconds before Gullible staggered into him and they both tumbled
to the ground.  A puff of dust several meters beyond heralded the
impact of thousands of steel flechettes hurled from a rifle mounted
at the top of one of the battlements.  As they flitted across the
killing field they glanced back and saw a great chrome-steel shape
upon it, manlike in shape yet taller; then they plunged down between
high rock-walls in a cutting that fell steeply to join the
Morgul-road.  They came to the way-meeting.  There was still no sign
of orcs, nor of an answer to the song of the Nazdaq; but they knew
that the silence would not last long, in Mordor's places of high
culture.  At any moment now the coherent photonic beam bombardment
would begin.
   "This will nae do, Gullible," said Sam.  "If we were real orcs, we
should be walking aroond in sweats, with backpacks on oor shoulders
and books under oor arms, not roonin' away as if being sniped at wi'
laser-sighted ordinance.  The first enemy we meet'll ken we are nae
orcs.  We must get oof this road somehoo."
   "But we can't," said Gullible, "not without wingses, precious!"

Sam shuddered at the thought of Sauron's jet-propelled Balrogs
streaming forth from the tower and its six outbuildings.
Even as he mused in dread, a tall Man appeared not twenty paces
distant.  Sam and Gullible started and faced him in wonder, as they
hardly ever missed the onset of one of the Big Folk, however
stealthy.  The man was dressed in very worn traveling leathers and
wore a distinctive-looking sword and a silvery guitar.  For a moment
Sam feared that Maglor was back to cause more trouble, but then he
saw that the man had no ears.  He must have grimaced in pity, for
the man chuckled and said, "Don't worry, they'll grow back.  I've
lost my eyes before, so I know.  Now let's get out of sight.  Follow
   As Sam and Gullible trailed the man warily, the sky above began
to turn overcast rapidly.  Shortly the sun peeked out from behind a
cloud... then another sun, then another.  Sam whirled in amaze and
saw that the Tower had vanished and all of Sauron's buildings along
with it.  "Who be ye, and where be ye takin' us?" he demanded.
   "Good questions, though the full answer would take longer than we
are alloted, Master Samwise, or should I say Lenindil?  That isn't
really your name, you know."
   "How come ye tae noo my name, or, er, what isn't my name...?"
sputtered Sam.
   "I know many things about you, for you have followed me into battle,
and fought for me, and against me, and died for me, and by my hand.
I will answer your first question and perhaps the rest will become
clearer.  I go by many names, few of them yet known in Muddle-earth,
but someday at least a few of you shall have heard of Corbin of
   "Corbin of Ember?  Well, who th--" began Sam, but Corbin had
already begun to walk into the east.  Sam and Gullible had to hurry
to catch up.
   As they walked, Corbin listened carefully to Sam's tale of the 
quest as it had transpired from his point of view, pausing it briefly
to ask questions and comment.  When they all stopped to rest and take
what few morsels of food Corbin could spare them, Sam managed to fool
Gullible into dropping the Ring by shouting that it was on fire - which,
as he expected, worked flawlessly.  Soon they moved on, with Corbin
deftly leading the pair across a landscape that changed rapidly.

   Meanwhile, at Sauron's tower, chaos had erupted, not for the first
time this morning.  Frodo was taking a coffee break - a much-needed
one, he muttered fitfully to himself - when a sudden commotion caused
him to dash to the stair to see what was going on.  Suddenly he sighted
three reavers, dressed in furs and outrageous-looking armor, bashing
Jîvz and the many other orcish servants with the flats of their swords.
Frodo realized suddently that they had come for him!  As ran for his
life, the leader seized Gorbush's head in one great hand and bashed
it against Lugnardo's.  A hollow crack! rang out as Spiegel, wailing
in alarm and rage, leaped forward and was caught deftly by the second
reaver.  The third made a quick grab and Frodo, too, was trapped.
Both Spiegel and Frodo now wrigged in undignified and highly agitated
postures atop the shoulders of two tall warriors, while the middle one
inspected the unconscious butlers and poets.
   "We had best make haste," he averred, looking at the inordinately
large and ominously empty pots of espresso strewn everywhere.  "There
is evil here that does not sleep!"

   The sky, having cycled through shades of graphite and snow as well as
ruby, strawberry, tangerine, lime, sage, blueberry, indigo, and grape
hues, was now dim and unremarkably empty, a single westering yellow
sun hidden from view.
   "And here we shall part ways.  Here comes my associate with your
'master' and that strange hobbit woman, Spiegel."
   A hulk of a Man was herding a bedraggled and miserable-looking Frodo
and an even more miserable-looking Spiegel along.  His clothing
was scant and he wore fur-lined boots and bore a gigantic two-handed
   "What ho, Cimmerian?" cried Corbin.  "What is best in life?"
   "Crush da enemy, see dem driven before me, and listen to da
lamentations of dere women!" grinned the barbarian.
   "How--?  HOW did he get that - TRAITOR - out of Sauron's grip?"
shouted a flabbergasted Sam.
   "Let us ask him," suggested Corbin amiably.  "How did you rescue
them, my friend?"
   "I had some... help," the huge man replied, his grin widening.
   Suddenly, and with only a whisper of sound, a huge bronze dragon
materialized between the parties.  Astride it sat a proud warrior,
only vaguely human-looking, with a silver hand.  Behind him was
seated an albino personage of regal bearing and unreadable
countenance.  His eyes held a chilling intelligence as he regarded
Sam and Gullible wryly.  Strapped to the man's waist was a very
large black runesword that reminded Sam of Dagnabit, the incredibly
talkative blade of Turin that had driven him, ironically, to fall
upon it in order to smother its incessant babbling.  The bronze
dragon belched flames unhurriedly and spat out a brownish,
sweet-smelling substance on the ground.
   "Very good!" exclaimed Corbin enthusiastically.  "That's better
than I thought.  Did you complete the extraction without any hassles?"
   "A little collateral damage," admitted the barbarian, nodding at
the first prince, who shifted his position to reveal a bound and
gagged Gorbush, and Spiegel, whose thin ankles were bound with
orcish rope.  The latter sniveled and burst into fresh tears.
"Thug, C'rum, we hates it forever, enron, enron!" she hissed,
   Corbin spoke decisively.  "That's enough, Konan.  Why don't you
untie them now?"  The barbarian complied silently as Corbin mused,
"How would the two of you like to come with me to a place where
there are many orcs, well-treated and free from the domination of
such a one as yon Sauron?"  Gorbush continued to snore obliviously.
   At this Spiegel perked up.  She mustered her dignity and looked at
Corbin levelly, no mean feat considering their difference in height.
   "Come.  We are needed.  There is much that you can do."
   Corbin bent low to Sam, Gullible, and Frodo, whom the Cimmerian
war chief had shoved into the reunited group.  "Remember - trust no
one.  The truth is... out there.  And the next time you meet a 
strange girl who escaped from some lab, don't be so surprised if she
can beat the crap out of you."  Corbin winked conspiratorially and
stood.  "It's time to go," he called to the royal dragon-riders and the
barbarian, who followed a newly resolute-looking Spiegel as she strode
alongside the bronze.  "To Britannica first, and thence... to Draino!"
cried Corbin.  Together the party of six strode into the distance and
   Scant seconds had passed when another man with no ears, dressed in
silver and black, carrying a silver harp and an eerily similar blade,
staggered into view.  His hair was dark but seemed unnaturally reddish
at the roots.  Sam, Gullible, and Frodo pointed in unison.  "Next
shade over!"

   Sam quickly took charge of the reunited group, over the expected
grumblings of Frodo and the unexpected consternation of Gullible,
who now seemed sullen and withdrawn.  Sam rallied both to march on.
At length they stopped, and sat side by side, their backs against a
boulder.  All were sweating.  Frodo tried to eat a few handfuls of
the artificial snow and realized that it had no effect on his
thirst.  "If Sauron himself was to offer me a glass of water, I'd
shake his hand," he gasped.
   "Don't say such things, ye traitor, or I'll cut ye throot!" snarled
Sam.  Then he stretched himself out, dizzy and weary, and he spoke
no more for a while.  At last with a struggle he got up again.  As
he expected, Frodo was fast asleep.  "Wake up, pig!" he said.  "Come
on, ye soft slob!  You've hardly walked in days."
   Sam kicked Frodo in the ribs and elbowed Gullible for good measure,
though the latter was wide awake.  "MOVE out, lazy asses, or I'll
kick ye all the way to the Mountain, and that's a fact!  DOUBLE
TIME!"  He now led the way, northward as near as he could guess,
among the stones and boulders lying thick at the bottom of the
great ravine.
   Frodo continued to whine until Sam relented and handed over his
cloak, which Frodo swapped with his heavier orc jacket.  "That's
better!" sighed Frodo.  "I feel much cooler.  I can go on now.
But this campus is really depressing.  As I read theory in Sauron's
library, Sam, I tried to remember the Brandywine Bar, Woody's End,
and The Water - any of the fine pubs in Hobbiton.  But I can't see
them now."
   "Will you stop talking of water!" cried Sam.
   "If only the Lady could see us or hear us, I'd say to her: 'You
imperialist oppressor, all we want is light and water: just clean
water and plain flashlights, not this bottled phosphorescent ooze
that's probably irradiating us all.'"  He hauled the Phial, now
glowing with its own faint green light, out of its lead-lined bag
and shook it at a cringing Gullible and Frodo.  "But it's a long
way to Lorien and that crazy--" Sam sighed and gesticulated
wildly towards the heights of the Ethel Duwap, now only to be
guessed as a deeper blackness against the black sky.
   As Frodo, Sam, and Gullible stood and gazed, the rim of light
spread all along the line of the Ethel Duwap, and then they saw two
shapes, moving at a great speed out of the West, at first only a
pair of specks against the glimmering strip above the mountain-tops,
but growing, until they plunged like a bolt into the dark canopy and
passed high above them.  As they zipped along, bobbing in the
breeze, the disembodied voice of a Nazdaq sent out a song in a
long, reverberating baritone; but this tune no longer held any
terror for them: it was the song of the washed-up, ill tidings
for the Dark Tower.  The Leech-king had met Ms. Eowynifred of
Edoras City, Edoras, and her significant ohtar.
   Sam's quick spirits sank again almost at once.  Even nestled in
his pocket, the burden of the Ring felt like an awful weight strapped
to his waist - like the millstone of Sandyman's oppression!  He
looked at Frodo suspiciously, wondering if he realized the effect
his words were having.  Making a quick decision, he hauled Frodo
aside, out of Gullible's view, surreptitiously slipping the ring
from its chain and holding it at the base of his thumb.  "You look
pale, Frodo," he observed with mock concern.  "I've got one
thing I wanted: a phaser.  Enough to help us, though I guess it's
dangerous too.  Try a bit further, and then have a rest.  But take
a morsel to eat now, a bit of the Elves' food; it may hearten you."
Pulling a twinkie from his pack and unfolding the forlorn leaf
from it, he jammed his thumb into it quickly, then divided it into
three pieces and handed one each to Gullible and Frodo.  Swallowing
the sweet, spongy cake as best they could with their parched
mouths, they plodded on as Sam strode with a smug grin that neither
of the others noticed.
   The light grew no stronger, for Mount Viagra was still belching
forth a tremendous blue fume that, beaten upwards by the opposing
airs, mounted higher and higher, until it reached a region above
the wind and spread in an immeasurable roof, whose central pillar
rose out of the shadows beyond their view.  They had trudged for
more than an hour when they heard a sound that brought them to a
halt.  Unbelievable, but unmistakable.  Water trickling.  Out of
a little gully, so sharp and narrow that it looked as if the ground
had been generated by some low-grade terraforming software, water
came dripping down: the last remains, maybe, of some sweet rain
gathered from far distant seas, but ill-fated to fall at last upon
the walls of the Black Land and wander fruitless through the UNM
campus.  Here it came out of the rock in a little silver creek,
and flowed across the path, and turning south ran away swiftly to
be lost among the dead stones.
   Sam sprang towards the banks eagerly.  "If ever I see the Lady
again, I will tell her!" he cried.  "THIS is potable water, not
that two-in-one watch dial paint she gave us!"  Then he stopped.
"You drink first, Frodo," he said.
   "All right, but there's room enough for two."
   "I didn't mean that," said Sam.  "I mean: if it's poisonous, or
something that will show its badness quick, well, Master Bilbo
was always going on about noblesse oblige, if you understand me."
   "I do, you worthless scum.  But I think we'll trust our luck
together, Sam; or our blessing.  Still, be careful now, if it's
very cold!"  Frodo's tongue was still numb from the touch of the
magical sparkling snow.
   The water was cool but not icy, and it had an unpleasant taste,
like that of carbonated water laced with caffeine and brominated
vegetable oil, or so they would have said at home.  Here it seemed
beyond all praise, or indeed any aversion to caffeine overdose. 
They drank their fill, and Sam replenished his water-bottle.  After
that Frodo felt easier, and they went on for several blocks, until
the broadening of the road and the beginnings of a rough wall along
its edge warned them that they were drawing near to another campus
   "This is where we turn aside, Gullible," muttered Sam distractedly.
"Now, according to the folding map that came with the Deed, we must
turn east."  He sighed as he looked at the gloomy ridges across the
valley.  "I have just about enough strength left to get up to the
College of Law there.  And then I've got to get some sleep."
   The river-bed was now some way below the path. "You go to sleep
first, Frodo," he said.  "It's getting dark again.  I reckon this
day is nearly over."  Frodo was, of course, asleep before the words
were fully spoken.  Sam struggled with his own weariness, expecting
Frodo to attack him for the Ring, but not daring to reveal his
subterfuge; and there he sat silent till deep night fell.  Then at
last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and
looked out.  The land seemed full of legal briefs being shuffled
and books being unshelved and sly noises, but there was no other
   They woke together, hand in hand in hand.  All withdrew their hands
in shock and looked at each other warily.  Sam was almost fresh, ready
for another day; but Frodo sighed.  His sleep had been uneasy, filled
with dreams of being impaled upon a Tree of Pain by an aristocratic-
looking fellow whom everyone called "Count", and waking brought him no
comfort. Still his sleep had not been without all healing virtue: he
was stronger, more able to stagger along through the huge campus.
Strangely enough there was no mass transit here, though Lithlad
Station had been a hotbed of activity.  They did not know the time,
nor how long they had slept; but after a little wandering and search
they found a covered walkway that took them partway across the Upper
   Against his earlier expectation, Sam now hoped that Frodo might
survive until they could get back to Hobbiton - who there would believe
that Frodo had willingly signed over Bag End to him?
   "Since you've got the map," he asked casually, "have you any notion
how far there is still to go?"
   "Uh, see, it's like this," Frodo answered.  "You know how Sauron
kept sending me to those World Cultures and Geopolitics lectures?"
   "Yes, and--?"
   "Well, they kept impressing upon us how the political boundaries
of Mordor, internal and external, were changing all the time,
and the geography was in upheaval, too, what with it straddling
the thrust fault zone that Mount V--"
   "You threw away the map, DIDN'T YOU!  AAAAAARGH!"  In a fit of
rage Sam tackled to Frodo the ground and raised his fist to pummel
the hapless hobbit to a bloody pulp.  Before his hand descended,
however, it occurred to Sam that killing Frodo would not help
him recover any information.  Instead he yanked the Phial of
Galadriel out of Frodo's jacket again and pressed it to Frodo's
forehead.  A cold sweat beaded across it instantly as Frodo squirmed
to get away from the highly radioactive solution of radium and
phosphorus isotopes.  Within moments he stopped writhing and begging
and became lucid.
   "All right, here's what I remember from El Rond's maps in
Rivendell - bear in mind, this was made when Sauron was still in
Don Guldur and so it's subject to change, and the elevation is still
not as accurate as lat-long, but it's better than the propagandistic
maps on the Deed and the jammed GPS surveys that Jîvz showed me.
I remember clearest that there was a place in the north where the
western range and the northern range send out spurs that nearly
meet.  That must be over sixty miles from the bridge back by the
Tower.  It might be a good point at which to cross.  But of
course, if we get there, we shall be further than we were from
the Mountain, about the same distance as from the bridge I should
think.  I guess that we have gone about thirty miles north from
the bridge now, twenty-five to the outskirts of campus and eighty
or so blocks cross-town through campus itself and over the high
street before the tents.  Even if all goes well, we could hardly
reach the Mountain in a week.  I am afraid, Sam, that the burden
will get very heavy, and you shall go still slower as we get
   "You let me worry about that," answered Sam, withdrawing the
Phial and carefully replacing it in the lead-lined pouch.  He'd have
to remember the Phial as a way of making people talk; perhaps the
Lady had done him a favor after all.  "Well, to say nothing of
water, we've got to eat less, or else move a bit quicker, at any
rate while we're still in this valley.  One more bite and all the
food's ended, save the Elves' breakfast cakes."
   "Come on then! Let's start another march!" said Sam for what
seemed the hundreth time.
   "I'll try and be a bit quicker, Master," said Frodo, still
supine, drawing a deep breath and shuddering in relief.
   The trek continued interminably.  Still far away, forty miles at
least, they saw Mount Viagra, its feet founded in ashen ruin, its
huge cone rising to an artificially-maintained height, where its
caldera was swathed in cloud.  Its fires were now dimmed, and it
stood in smouldering slumber, as threatening and dangerous as a
hobbit's appetite between lunch and tea.  Behind it there hung a
vast shadow, ominous as a thesis defense, the veils of Barad-dur.
The Dark Power had returned to this stronghold and was now deep in
thought, and the Eye turned inward, pondering a high-resolution
videoteleconferencing system: a bright sword, and a still-overweight
but now dignified face it saw, and for a while it gave little thought 
to other things; and all its great campus, gate on gate, and building
on building, was wrapped in a brooding gloom.
   It was not yet quite dark again.  They plodded along, on into the
night.  The hours passed in a weary stumbling trudge with a few brief
halts as Frodo complained of a burning sensation on his temples.
Sam looked at the "burns" and concluded that Frodo's hypochondria was
getting the best of him.  At the first hint of grey light under the
skirts of the canopy of shadow they hid themselves again in a dark
hollow under an overhanging stone.
   He gave Frodo water and an additional twinkie, and he made a
pillow of his jacket to squelch Frodo's incessant claims of
a splitting headache.  Sam did not bother to tell Frodo that he
had drunk the last drop of their water, and eaten Sam's share of
the food as well as his own.  He expected as much gratitude from
his former master as he did from Gandalf. When Frodo was asleep Sam
bent over him and listened to his breathing and scanned his face.
With surprise he noted that Frodo's thick hair had begun to fall
out in clumps, and that even the light fuzz on the backs of his feet
was thinning.   "Well, if he croaked, it would serve him right!"
Sam muttered to himself.  "But I'll not have it on my head.  Water
we must have, or he'll die of thirst before anything else does him

   Sam, Frodo, and Gullible gazed out in mingled loathing and wonder on
this hateful land.  Between them and the smoking mountain, and about
it north and south, all seemed ruinous and dead, a desert burned and
choked.  They wondered how the Lord of this realm maintained and fed
his research and teaching assistants.  Yet students he had.  As far
as their eyes could reach, along the skirts of the Morgai and away
southward, there were camps of brightly-colored tents, some ordered
like small towns.  One of the largest of these was right below them.
Barely a mile out into the plain it clustered like some huge nest of
insects, with straight dreary streets of huts and long low drab
buildings.  At the western margin, a roundish green one made from
Elvish-looking canvas read PUHJAFOONI/TELEFON.  About it the ground
was busy with folk going to and fro with a strange spring in their
steps; a wide road ran from it south-west to join the
Morgul-way, and along it many lines of small black shapes were
   "I don't like the look of things at all," said Sam.  "Pretty
hopeless, I call it, saving that where there's such a lot of folk
there must be wells or water, not to mention food.  And these are
Men, not Orcs, or my eyes are all wrong... wait, is that a BALROG
down there singing?"
   Truth to tell, the trio could see the camp teeming with Men,
Elves, dragons, and even a few Ents and Hobbits.  Neither he nor Frodo
knew anything of the duchy of Nurn away south in this wide realm,
full of graduate students toiling in the fields by the dark sad waters
of Lake Nurnenshire, nor of the great roads that ran away east and
south to tributary lands, from which the soldiers of the Tower brought
long waggon-trains of chocolate and booty and new dwellers in the camp.
Here in the northward regions were the mines and forges, and the
musterings of a long-planned conspiracy; and here the Dark Power,
moving its armies like pieces on the board, was gathering them
together.  Its first moves, the first feelers of its strength, had
been checked upon its western line, southward and northward.  For
the moment it withdrew them, and brought up new forces, massing them
about Cirith Goofy for an avenging stroke.  And if it had also been
its purpose to defend the Mountain against all approach, it could
scarcely have done more.
   Frodo squatted upon the outer marge of this strange and wondrous
commune, or so it seemed to him.  He sat thus while long hours
were measured by the wheeling clouds above him, noticing only
belatedly, when his stomach began to growl, that Sam and Gullible
had beaten a hasty retreat.  The hills echoed with his plaintive

   Meanwhile, more than half a league away, Sam and Gullible had
hardly begun to breathe more freely again when harsh and loud they
heard orc-voices.  Quickly they slunk out of sight behind a brown
and stunted bush.  The voices drew nearer.  Presently five orcs
came into view.  Four were clad in all-weather parkas of the kind
Frodo had just thrown away; they were small, slack jawed and
sharp-eyed, with wide nostrils at which they picked with the hands
that were not holding their short bows: evidently trackers of some
kind.  The other was a large bearded orc, like those of Lugnardo's
company, bearing the token of the Eye upon a great white apron.
He wore a tall, bouffant hat and carried a short blade in one hand
and a pronged weapon in his other.  As usual they were quarrelling,
and being of different nationalities they used the Common Speech
instead of the tongues of their old countries or the cant of their
respective character classes.
   Hardly twenty paces from where the hobbits lurked the small orcs
stopped.  "Screw you guys!" the plumpest one snarled.  "I'm going
home."  It pointed across the valley to the orc-hold.  "I'm not gonna
wear my nose out on stones any more.  There's not a trace left, man.
I've lost the scent thanks to your body odors.  They went up into the
hills, not along the valley, I tell you."
   "Not much use are you, big fat ass?" said one of the other trackers,
wearing a blue and red helmet adorned with the Lidless Eye.
   "Yeah, snot-nose!" chimed another, wearing a light greenish
leather helm.
   The last of the trackers, zipped tightly into his hooded orange
parka, mumbled an unintelligible phrase that Sam suspected was
   "Oh, yah?" snarled the first tracker.  "Up yours!  You don't even
know what we're looking for!"
   "It's not our fault we got bad information!" shouted the second
   "Yeah, you heard the Nazdaq!  He said there were nine people and
a dragon we were after: two dragon-riders; a barbarian; four
halflings, one woman and three men; an orc; and an Emberite. What a
load of BS!" concluded the third.
   "Yeah, those guys are on crack!" agreed the second.
   "You idiots!" said the first tracker.  "YOU'RE on crack!  The
Emberite probably isn't even IN this shade anymore, and I've seen
only three sets of tracks, so he probably took the dragon and five
of the people with him!"
   "What do YOU know, big fat ass?!" shouted the second tracker.
   "Yeah," added the third.  "Maybe the dragon took to the air and
is carrying the rest."  At this the fourth tracker mumbled his
   "Respect my authoritah, or ah'm gonna report you!"
   "Who to?  Not to your precious Lugnardo!  He's the first one
those dragon-riders knocked senseless on their way in to get the
halflings!" laughed the third tracker.
   "Whassa matter, fat ass, can't take the heat?" mocked the second.
   The other halted, and his voice was full of fear and rage.
"Ah... hate you gahs... SO MUCH..." he choked as he drew his bow.
Suddenly he pointed it at the other three and released. The first
two dodged swiftly, but the arrow struck the last tracker squarely
in the torso.  Black blood began to stain his parka as he slumped
soundlessly to the ground.
   "Lord of Darkness!  He killed Snaga!" cried the second orc.
   "You bastard!" shouted the third.
   "Kids, kids!" cried the big orc.  "It's all right... you know,
hunting the forces of light reminds me of a song that HE taught us
to sing, all the way back in the First Age..."

     You say you serve the Master...
     But who's the boss of you?
     Not just any old bastard
     Vampire or Balrog, fool!
     You gotta know who owns your soul
     And if you done forget his name
     He'll throw you in a bottomless hole
     'Cause baby, he's the King of PAAAAAAAAIIIIN!

     Tell me who's your Dark Lord, baaaaaby?
     Don't give me no ifs, buts, or maaaybes!
     He'll show you why hate is fun
     'Cause he's the King of the Night
     Drown Manwe, Varda and the sun!
     And he's sexy like a barrow wiiiiight!
     Now don't he look smooth like an evil god...
     Time to make sweet looooove and a little pod!

"Oops, sorry, children," muttered the singer abstractedly.
   At this, Sam and Gullible snapped out of their trancelike
stupor.  For a while they had sat in silence, listening with a
mixture of wonderment, shock, disgust, and bemusement, unable to
turn away.  Now, Gullible stirred.  "Pods!  Who would have thought
it, eh, saddam?   If this nice friendlinesss would spread about
in Mordor, half our trouble would be over."
   But the large orc was not finished.  "Ladies and gentleorcs, Mr.
Elton John!" he cried, still oblivious to any onlookers except
the trackers.
   "Quickly, Gullible," Sam whispered.  "There may be others about!"
The hobbits took their leave while the leaving was good.

   As they trudged on, Sam continued: "We have evidently had a very
narrow escape, and the hunt was hotter on our tracks than we
guessed.  I feared it was so.  But that is the spirit of Mordor,
Gullible; and it has spread to every corner of it.  Orcs have always
behaved like that, or so all the stereotypes say, when they are on
their own.  But you can't get much hope out of it.  They hate our
quaint agrarian and semi-pastoral culture far more than they love
their strange mix of high- and low-brow entertainment.  If those
five had seen us, they would have dropped all their quarrel until
we were back in Sauron's grip.  This is what I came to understand
at Sauron's retreat."
   There was another long silence.  Sam broke it again, but with a
whisper this time.  "Did you hear what they said about 'three male
halflings'?  But that means..." and they both turned in unison as
if to look at Frodo, who was now so far behind them that they
could hardly spot even a speck on the horizon.
   "I feared it was so," said Sam uncharacteristically, "I tell
you, when I think of that Frodo I get so hot I could disintegrate
him right on the spot!"

   Slowly the light grew, until it was clearer than it yet had been.
A strong wind from the West was now driving the fumes of Mordor from
the upper airs.  Before long the hobbits could make out the shape of
the land for some miles about them.  The trough between the
mountains and the Morgai had steadily dwindled as it climbed
upwards, and the inner ridge was now no more than a shelf in the
steep faces of the Ethel Duwap; but to the east it fell as sheerly
as ever down into the south parking lot of the Mall.  Ahead the
water-course came to an end in broken steps of rock; for out from
the main range there sprang a high barren spur, thrusting eastward
like a wall.  To meet it there stretched out from the grey and misty
northern range of Ered Lithography a long jutting mass of stone
shaped like a giant beak: Carach Malden.  Between the ends there was
a narrow gap: the Orthancmouthe, beyond which lay the deep dale of
Ufat.  In that dale behind the Morononn were the tunnels and deep
armouries that the servants of Mordor had made for the defence of the
Black Gate of their land; and there now their Lord was gathering in
haste great forces to meet the onslaught of the Captains of the West™.
Upon the out-thrust spurs forts and towers were built, and
watch-fires burned; and all across the gap an earth-wall had been
raised, and a deep trench delved that could be crossed only by a
single bridge.
   A few miles north, high up in the angle where the western spur
branched away from the main range, Sam and Gullible quaked at the
sign of doom that stood before them: the old castle of
Wolfenstein™, now one of the many orc-holds that clustered
about the dale of Ufat.  A road, already visible in the growing
light, came winding down from it, until only a mile or two from
where the hobbits lay it turned east and ran along a shelf cut
in the side of the spur, and so went down into the plain, and on
to the Orthancmouthe.
   To the hobbits as they looked out it seemed that all their journey
north had been for nothing.  The plain to their right was filled
with flames, and they could see there neither camps nor troops
moving; but all that region was under the vigilance of the forts
of Carach Malden.
   "We have come to a dead end, Gullible," said Sam.  "If we go on,
we shall only come up to that orc-castle, but the only road to
take is that road that comes down from it - unless we fight our
way through, level by level.  I was never any good at those 3-D
first-person shooters."

   Gullible crept out wearily, and flitting from stone to stone
with more than hobbit-care, he went down to the water-course, and
then followed it for some way as it climbed north, until he came
to the rock-steps where long ago, no doubt, its spring had come
gushing down in a little waterfall.  All now seemed dry and
silent; but not wanting to go back and listen to Sam's disturbed
nightmare-mumblings, he stooped and listened, and to his relief he
caught the sound of trickling.  Clambering a few steps up he
spotted Frodo standing over a tiny stream of dark water that came
out from the hill-side, and realized with some annoyance what source
of the sound was.
   When Frodo had finished defiling the water, Gullible clambered a
few yards further upstream and tasted it, and it seemed good enough.
Then he drank deeply, refilled the bottle, and turned to go back.
   "Well, luck did not let uss down," he muttered, "but that was a
near thing!  Isn't it enough to have orcses by the thousand AND the
people of Gondor™ on their way without that idiot hovering about,
saddam?  If we catches him again, I'll have to kill him myself, or
he'll give uss away, or even the Fat Lord, saddam!"  He sat down by
Sam and did not rouse him, for fear that he'd have to listen to an
all-night bleating, griping, whimpering, so-you-can't-sleep moan-fest.
Proletarian or bourgeois, these Hobbiton types were all alike...
stark raving insane.  But the wretch did not dare to go to sleep
himself.  At last, when he felt his eyes closing and knew that his
struggle to keep awake could not go on much longer, he wakened Sam,
   "That Frodo is back again, Mr. Samwise," he said.  "If it wasn't him,
then there iss two of him - ach, ss! - forget we said that, preciouss!"
   "What?!  You mean he was here?  But he could have killed me,
Gullible!" cried Sam.  "Why didn't you track him down and stun him with
my phaser?  He could have given our position to the orcs!  You'll gladly
strangle your own kind with or without the Ring, but a murdering sneak
thief, noooo, those are your kind of people, or should I say your
ILK--" Sam spat.
   Gullible shook his head.  "Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose,"
he muttered, an aphorism he had learned while in Sauron's keeping.

   Some twelve miles further they halted, resting at a bend in the
road. They had hardly started on their way again when suddenly in the
stillness of the night they heard the sound that all along they had
secretly dreaded: the noise of singing. It was still some way behind
them, but even without looking back at the torch-bearing line, they
could hear voices, some droning monotonically, some chanting out of
key, all in rapid onset.
   "I feared it, Gullible," said Sam, receiving a dirty look in return.
"We've trusted to luck, and it has failed us.  We're trapped at last!"
he said.  He sank to the ground beneath the wall of rock and fingered
the safety catch of his phaser.  Gullible sat down wearily beside him.
   They did not have to wait long.  The orcs were going at a great
pace.  This group, short and squat, seemed to have skin with a
light blue tinge and the maws of the soldiers gaped to an
impossible size.  Those in the foremost files bore torches.  On
they came, red flames in the dark, swiftly growing.  Now Sam too
bowed his head and covered their feet with backpacks, hoping that
it would hide their appearance when the singers reached them; but
at length he realized that it was impossible to blend into this
   "If only they are in a hurry and will let a couple of tired
students alone and pass on!" he thought.
   And so it seemed that they would.  The leading orcs came loping
along, panting, holding their heads down.  They were a gang of
the smaller half-Toon breeds being driven unwilling to their
Dark Lord's wars; all they cared for was to get the march over
and be able to stop singing.

     We don't want to look like Toons today
     But the Animé Lords say "Nay, nay, nay!"
     We're gonna sing all day, all day, all day!
     Where there's some Dip there's a way!

Beside them, hovering up and down the line, went two of the large
fierce daleks, flicking wet brushes at the feet of the orcs
and muttering "DIS-IN-TE-GRATE!".  File after file passed, and the
tell-tale torchlight was already some way ahead.  Sam held his breath.
Now more than half the line had gone by.  Then suddenly one of the
slave-drivers spied the two figures by the road-side.  He flicked a
brush at them and yelled: "GET-UP!"  They did not answer, and
with a monotonic whistle he halted the whole company.
   Feeling a strange animosity in response to the use of all-caps and
multiple exclamation points, they struggled to their feet, and
keeping bent, limping like footsore soldiers, they shuffled back
towards the rear of the line.  "NO-NO, NOT-AT-THE-REAR!!" the
slave-driver shouted.  "RANK-THREE, FILE-TWO-AND-THREE!"  He sent
his long Dip-impregnated brush whistling over their heads and they
feigned fear; then with another long tone he started the company off
again at a brisk trot.
   It was hard enough for poor Sam, who had painted the doors in Bag
End without adequate ventilation on many a summer evening; but for
Gullible it was a torment, and soon a nightmare.  He set his teeth,
trying to stop his head from spinning at the fumes, and he
struggled on.  The stench of both inks and solvent dripping from
the singing orcs about him was stifling, and he began to gasp and
cough.  On, on they went, and he bent all his will to draw his
breath and to make his legs keep going; and yet to what evil end
he toiled and endured he did not dare to think.  There was no hope
of falling out unseen: Now and again the orc-driver fell back and
beeped at them.
   "DIS-IN-TE-GRATE!" he jeered, flicking the brush at their legs.
of the dalek held nearly no modulation.
   They had gone some miles, and the road was at last running down a
long slope into the plain, when Gullible's strength began to give out
and his will wavered.  He lurched and stumbled.  Desperately, Sam
tried to help him and hold him up, though he felt that he could himself
hardly stay the pace much longer.  At any moment now he knew that the
end would come: the weakling would faint or fall, and all would be
discovered, and their bitter efforts be in vain.  "I'll have that big
slave-driving monstrosity with this phaser, anyway," he thought.
   Then just as he was putting his hand to the handle of the phase
pistol, there came an unexpected relief.  They were out on the plain
now and drawing near the entrance to Ufat.  Some way in front of it,
before the gate at the bridge-end, the road from the west converged
with others coming from the south, and from Barad-dur.  Along all the
roads troops were moving; for the Captains of the West™ were
advancing and the Dark Lord was speeding his forces north.  So it
chanced that several companies - Toons, half-Toons, and full-blooded
orcs - came together at the road-meeting, in the dark beyond the
light of the watch-fires on the wall.  At once there was great
jostling and cursing as each troop tried to get first to the gate
and the ending of their songs.  Though the drivers yelled and plied
their dips (or whips), scuffles broke out and some gun arms were
deployed.  A troop of heavily-studded daleks from Barad-dur charged
into the Durthang line and threw them into confusion.
   Dazed as he was with the awful mind-numbing singing, Sam woke up,
grasped quickly at his chance, and threw himself to the ground,
dragging Gullible down with him.  As they fell, one of the toon orcs
behind them was blasted by an enemy dalek gun and went spinning
into oblivion.  Slowly on hand and knee the hobbits crawled away out
of the escalating melee, until at last unnoticed they dropped over
the further edge of the road.  It had a magnetized guardrail by
which even the headless troop-leaders could guide themselves, and
it was banked up some feet above the level of the open land.
   They lay still for a while.  It was too dark to seek for cover, if
indeed there was any to find; but Sam felt that they ought at least to
get further away from the highways and out of the range of dalek
   "Come on, ye git!" he whispered.  "One more crawl, and then you can
lie still."
   With a last despairing effort Gullible raised himself on his hands,
and struggled on for maybe twenty yards.  Then he pitched down into
a shallow pit that opened unexpectedly before them, and there he lay
like a dead thing.

Book VI, Chapter One / Table of Contents / Book VI, Chapter Three
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This chapter of this epic work is presented through the courtesy of Banazir the Jedi Hobbit <hsuwh-aaaaaaat-hotmail-dawt-com>. Copyright © 2002 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. Gondor™ is a trademark of Saul Zaentz and Tolkien Enterprises, who hold all merchandising rights to Gondor™ and its subsidiaries. Corbin of Ember appears through the courtesy of Revlon. He is not scheduled for public appearances at this time.