The Lord of the... whatever, Book VI, Chapter 3:

Mount Viagra

  As the grey light of morning came again to Mordor, Sam woke and looked
about the hollow where he and Gulible had taken refuge the previous
night.  A foul sump of oily water ringed with lurid algae lay at its
bottom, and as he slept Sam had slid down nearly to its edge.  Gulible
was nowhere to be seen.
  Unwilling yet to move, Sam thought through the whirlwind of events
that had landed him in this unhappy place.  Affection, revenge, and
simple inertia had carried him this far, but weariness at last led him
to frankly consider the task that lay ahead.
  "Was this the job I was hired to do when I started?" Sam asked
himself.  "To help Mr. Frodo into his inheritance and then die with
him?  Well, that is my job, but I'm nowt but a ninnyhammer if I go
through with it.  I would dearly like to see Bywater again, with Rosie
leading the Revolution at my side.  Much as I'd like to see Mr. Frodo
draw his last breath, this quest is useless; it's high time I cut my
losses and head home.
  "Still," he thought, "I can't think somehow that Gandalf and Elrond
would have sent Mr. Frodo on this errand if there hadn't a' been any
hope of his coming back with more money for them to take.  What do I
have to show for all the work I've done these past months?  A deed
signed over that nobody will believe, Mr. Frodo gone so I can't bring
him back to the Shire to set off the Revolution, and a lot o' wasted
blackmail that won't do no good either way.  If I'm to get anything
out of this at all, the Ring must go into the Fire and Frodo's got to
live through it... for a little while.  Why am I left all alone to
make up my mind?"
  At that thought, Sam began to wonder where Gulible had gone.  He
bent his knees to stand, only to find that his feet had dipped down
near the water in the night and were now covered by a thin layer of
ruby red growth, moist and sparkling in the growing daylight.  With a
cry he scraped the algae away as best he could, using dirt and gravel
to scour it off.  Eventually the worst was gone, and all that was left
was a light silvery sheen that persisted for days.
  Sam walked up out of the hollow.  The land all about was dreary,
flat, and drab-hued: a sparsly populated urban wasteland strugling to
maintain a meager existence between the inhabited regions of Mordor.
Wide and featureless vacant lots, some dry and barren, some filled
with tall brown grasses, were interspersed with occasional buildings:
broken and tumbled remnants of failed restaurants, motels, and
convenience marts lined the roads.  A few miles to the north-west, a
pair of long-abandoned apartment buildings stood like sombre grey
ghosts, for few would tolerate the long commute.  South-eastward, far
off like an erect sapphire tower, rose the Mountain.  Strange smokes
spilled forth from its peak and rolled down its sides to the plains
  Nothing was moving in the direction of the crossroads where they had
made their escape, but Sam thought he saw a distant hint of motion to
the east.  A great thoroughfare led that way: the road that led to the
Dark Tower itself.  Its golden cobblestones were worn and dirty with
the passage of many feet, but it remained in good repair, and taking
care not to be seen Sam nevertheless moved quickly.
  Soon a small figure came in view, dancing wildly in the middle of the
path.  Sam crept forward stealthily, until finally he peered out from
behind a crumbling wall only to see that the flailing form was that of
Gulible, who was not just dancing but singing as well.  He marvelled
that anyone other than Tom Bombadil could spout such nonsense.  But
his amusement soon turned to alarm, for Sam heard far off a noise of
tramping feet and harsh voices: Orcs were coming up the road from
Barad-dur, and soon Gulible's crazed behavior would mean discovery and
torture for them both.
  Sam leapt from his hiding place and shoved the loony off the path,
tackling him to the ground on the far side where they were hidden by
the tall growth.  As the maniac lay on the grass, Sam held his mouth
closed to keep him silent.  At first, Gulible struggled to break free,
but as the Orcs drew nearer he went silent and limp.  Intent on their
destination, the Orcs passed swiftly without so much as a glance to
either side.  Their voices receded into the distance, and Sam finally
removed his hand allowed Gulible to speak.
  "Ach, thanks," he said.  "We was thirsty, yess, and we sipped from
the water where we slept."  At this, Sam realized that what he had
taken for dirt on Gulible's face was in fact a residue of dull brownish
mold.  "We thinks just a few sipses couldn't hurt, saddam, but one
was enough.  It tickled our throat, yes, and burned our brain into
dust.  Dusst!  We didn't come to our senses until you knocked us down,
no, saddam."
  "Well," said Sam, "I've been thinking a bit, and I reckon that going
on to the Mountain will be the end of us, like as not.  Maybe we'd
best be getting away while there's a chance, and leave this dreary
land to Sauron and Mr. Frodo."
  "It mustn't say such things!" exclaimed Gulible with unexpected
force. "The Precious must go into the Fire, yess, or else we'll never
be normal again, no, saddam.  It gnaws at our mind all the time,
saddam, near or far, filling us with longings and lusst.  If the
Precious goes we'll have a healthy brain again, yes, and p'raps other
rewards, too."
  "But see here, Gulible: I want to get home again, and that's a fact.
Throwing the Ring into the Mountain won't help much if we don't live
to enjoy it.  How can we get back once it's gone?"
  "We'll tell you," he croaked, looking sidelong at Sam with a glint
in his eyes.  "We has a plan, yes, a way back when the Precious is
gone. All arranged in advance it is, yes, very secret, but we knows it.
Let Don Giovanni show you!"
  "A way back!" said Sam doubtfully, looking down at Gulible with
searching eyes.  "Why didn't you tell me about this, or Mr. Frodo?"
  "You didn't ask, saddam.  But now you say: let's go home.  So Don
Giovanni is very afraid.  He wants to be rid of the Precious, and
we're so close, yes, never have the chance again.  So Don Giovanni
will share his secret, saddam, when times is right."
  "Gulible," Sam said, "I don't like trusting you, but it don't seem
as I've got much choice, if I'm t' get any good out of this quest at
all. We need to move quickly, so let's trust to luck again and follow
the road.  We're off to seek the Mountain!"  The two travellers returned
to the path, heading east into darkness.

  Days passed as the companions walked mile after bitter mile toward
Sauron's fortress.  Their provisions dwindled quickly, until they were
left with no food but the twinkies of the Elves.  They did not
satisfy desire, or for that matter do much to keep the wanderers on
their feet at all.  And yet as they relied on it alone, this waybread
of the Elves gained a potency that the travellers did not suspect, for
their bodies were filled with preservatives, so that even after death
their corpses would endure beyond the measure of mortal kind.
  More pressing was their need for water.  "Water, water!" muttered
Sam, much to the frustration of Gulible who was trying to ignore his own
growing thirst.  Neither of them were willing any longer to touch the
few dubious pools of standing water that lingered in scattered basins
beside the road.  They had last filled their bottles at a fast food
French restaurant a day ago, but the exorbitant price of bottled water
in this harsh place had cost them their last penny; there was no hope
of any more.
  Eventually, the road drew even with their goal: looming above the
ruins of an old motel on their right, the blue-tinged tower of Mount
Viagra gleamed in the fading light.  Fumes and smokes began to taint
the air, adding to their thirst.  They sought shelter for the night in
the abandoned motel, but sleep long evaded them.  Dream and waking
mingled uneasily, a sure sign that their all-twinkie diet was
getting the best of them.
  As the night grew old, they were awakened by noises like the pitiful
cries of a tortured thing.  Creeping through the ruins, they came upon
a wimpering creature dressed in Orcish garb lying stiff on the ground,
its hands clenched into fists.  Tears seeped from its closed eyes, and
it began to chant as if to itself: "I'd be tender, I'd be gentle, and
awful sentimental regarding Orcish art!  I'd be friends with the
barrows and the Orcs who shoot the arrows if you wouldn't break my
heart!  Just because you're presumin' that I am some kind-a-human, you
went and broke my heart!"
  "Spiegel?!" exclaimed Sam.
  "Who--Sam?" she replied, confused as she woke from her own uneasy
sleep.  Her voice still seemed full of the pain that had filled her
dreams.  "What are you doing here?"
  "That's what I was just going t' ask you," he said, holding Gulible
back.  A long, lingering hug from Don Giovanni seemed to be the last
thing she would need in her current state.  "We're off to the
Mountain.  But I thought you'd gone off with Corbin, and Gorbush."
  "Corbin did just as he promised," she said, sitting up and
straightening the Orcish cloak around her shoulders.  "He took us to a
world where the Orcs were truly happy, where they could be their own
masters, free from the hatred of foe and overlord alike that surrounds
them here.  Gorbush and I looked on that world with joy, but my
happiness was short-lived.  For the first time, Gorbush was among Orcs
who were not slaves at heart: Orcish women with the same independent
spirit that drew him to me.  The last I saw, he was chasing after some
Orc-hussy named Lartip.  He never even said goodbye.
  "When Corbin stopped by to visit, he offered to bring me back here.
I just haven't had the heart to move yet; I feel all hollow and empty
inside.  I just want to sleep."  Wrapping her cloak tightly around
her, Spiegel curled into a protective little ball on the floor.  Sam
and Gulible lay back down nearby, and they all tried to get such rest
as they could before the dawn.

  The light of morning slowly filtered through the haze that
surrounded the Mountain, and a dim semblance of daylight grew about
them. Gulible packed up their things, leaving behind some old blankets
and cooking supplies that they no longer needed.  Sam stood beside
Spiegel, who was once again lying stiff and immobile on the ground.
"Wake up, Spiegel!" he said.  "Time for another journey."
  She opened her eyes, but did not rise.  "I can't manage it, Sam,"
she said.  "It is so hard to go on alone, so hard."
  Sam knew before he spoke that such words might do more harm than
good, but his feelings for the girl were still strong and he could not
keep silent.  "Then come with us for a bit, Spiegel," he said.  "You
know we'd welcome you, and gladly.  Where else would you go?"
  "I wasn't sure," she replied.  "I thought at first that I might join
back with Sauron so that I could work to make the Orcs' lives better
here; that's why Corbin dropped me off here near his tower.  But then
I thought of the happiness of the Orcs I had seen living free of his
domination, and I couldn't bear to go back to him.  I don't know what
to do.  It's hard to make choices with a broken heart."
  Sam nodded.  "It is," he said.  "But I've been thinking, maybe your
broken heart could be healed by doing a good deed, by bringing freedom
to all the Orcs in Sauron's realm.  Isn't helping them what you've
really wanted all this time?"
  "Yes," she said tentatively, "yes it is.  I don't need to be an Orc
to help the Orcs!  I can love all the Orcish people even if my heart
doesn't belong to any of them."  She paused.  "Even if it belonged to
someone else."
  As if roused by a sudden bell, Spiegel rose quickly, and stood up
and looked away southwards.  She threw off her black cloak, her heavy
belt, and even her dress: all gifts from Gorbush.  She stood there
lithe and beautiful, clad only in her undergarments, and her red hair
and green eyes glinted in the dim light.  "There, I'll be an Orc no
more," she cried.  "Let him hate me, if he will.  We're off to seek
the Mountain!"

  At last the three companions turned their faces to Mount Viagra and
set out.  Their spirits were higher than could be expected from their
poor night's sleep.  It helped that Spiegel had a little water to
share, the last of what was left for her by Corbin.  Even a mouthful
helped tremendously, and the Mountain's fumes did not hurt their
throats quite as much as they had the previous day.  In fact, Sam and
Gulible found that the tainted air seemed somehow to stiffen their
resolve, helping them rise to the challenge that lay before them.
Spiegel felt no such inspiration, but she was not as weary as they
were, and drew fresh strength from her recovering spirits.
  The land was rough and hostile, and yet they made much progress, and
ever the Mountain drew nearer.  No buildings were to be found here,
far from the road, and the fields were overgrown and untended.  Late
in the afternoon they walked through a field of poppies, and Sam was
surprised to find himself making a mental note to tell Morrie about
the prospects for opium exports here.  Now the bulk of Mount Viagra
loomed vast before them: a huge mass of ash and slag wreathed in
bluish fumes, out of which a sheer-sided shaft stabbed skyward into
the clouds.
  All too soon the light began to fail, and the renewed hope and
strength that had carried them through the day began to falter in the
growing dark.  Sam and Spiegel trudged slower and slower, and Gulible
began to stagger as the harsh air and long march finally took their
toll.  At the base of the Mountain, he sank down and said: "I'm
thirsty, Sam," and did not speak again.  Sam gave him a mouthful of
their precious water, and Gulible quickly fell into a deep sleep, his
breath rattling in his chest.
  Sam and Spiegel tried to rest as well, but all the doubts that they
had set aside in the light of day came back to haunt them that night.
As they both tossed and turned, Sam's spirits sank lower than they had
in days.  Tears welled in his eyes at the thought that he might never
see his Rosie again.  Desperate to focus on a pleasant thought, he
spoke quietly to Spiegel: "Do you remember our time in the hot tower
in Disgiliath, the day we met the eagle?"
  For several slow heartbeats, Spiegel was silent.  "I know that such
things happened," she finally said, "but it seems so very long ago.
Since Gorbush left me, no taste of food, no feel of water, no memory
of tree or grass or flower have any meaning for me."  She paused for a
moment, and then two.  "I am naked in the dark, Sam."
  The seconds passing in the night seemed endless, timeless.  At last
he groped for Spiegel's hand.  It was cold and trembling.  She was
  "I didn't ought to have left my blanket behind," muttered Sam; and
lying down he tried to comfort Spiegel with his arms and body.  Sleep
took them, and the dim light of the last day of their quest found them
side by side, as slowly the light of the unseen Sun filtered down into
the shadows where the three hobbits lay.

  "Wake up, wake up!  Wake up, sleepies!" Gulible croaked, clawing at
Sam and Spiegel where they lay.  "No time to lose.  We must go, yes,
we must go at once.  No time to lose!"  Spiegel sat up suddenly and
seized him by the arm, and then pulled herself to her feet.  Sam
groaned, but with a great effort of will he staggered up as well.  A
sense of urgency which he did not understand came to him, and he saw
that the others also seemed to have felt the call.
  "We sees something," Gulible whispered nervously, "something moving
around the base of the Mountain, saddam.  Don Giovanni tries to
follow, saddam, but it was tricksy, yes, and it slipped away."
  "Could it have been Mr. Frodo?" Sam asked.
  "Frodo?" asked Spiegel.  "I assumed he had gone back to study with
Sauron.  What would he be doing here?"
  "He got distracted, yes, went off on his own," answered Gulible.
"Maybe he wants to help destroy the Precious."  Turning to Sam, he
said, "P'raps it was him, yes, but it looked too big.  More like a
wraith, saddam, tall and pale, or some other nasty thing.  Maybe
even the Dark Lord himself, saddam."
  With Gulible's warning, they all began to peer nervously from side to
side.  "Frodo and Sauron an wraiths, oh my!" Spiegel exclaimed, and
those fears drove them to press on.
  The three companions began to ascend the base of the Mountain.  There
where it met the plain, the air was full of fumes, making breathing
painful and difficult.  Sam and Gulible found that the enhanced vigor
that had sustained them the previous day had given way overnight to a
painful tension with no hope of release, and Spiegel began to choke on
the foul air.  As they went on, one by one they slipped to the ground
and crawled on their hands and knees, until at last their wills could
drive them no further and their limbs gave way.
  They lay together on the slope, panting for breath.  They soon
realized that they had climbed more than half way up the Mountain's
base, and had risen above the worst of the reeks that coiled and
drifted down below.  Their strength gradually returned.  After a few
minutes, Gulible asked, "How far iss there to go?"
  "I don't know," said Sam, "because I don't know where we're going."
  Slowly, Gulible and Spiegel turned to face Sam, as the disbelief on
their faces changed to raw anger.  "You WHAT?" yelled Spiegel.  Her
sudden fury seemed to bring her new strength.  "You DON'T KNOW?  You
brought us all the way here to destroy the Ring without knowing what
to do when we got here?  Were you going to mention this at some point,
or did you plan to wait until we'd climbed to the very top of this
blasted slagheap?"
  "I thought it would be obvious!" Sam answered.  "I mean, how hard
could it be to find the Cracks of Doom once we got here?"  The others
just stared.  "Frodo was the one who learned all the maps!"
  "Well he's not here now," said Spiegel.
  "Yes, he is," said a voice.  Turning, they saw a shocking sight:
before them stood Frodo, but grotesquely changed.  Whatever strange
and dreadful paths he had trodden, driven by a devouring desire, they
had left grievous marks on him.  Fully six feet tall he stood, thin
and haggard, all bones and tight-drawn skin.  There was no hair to be
seen anywhere on his body, and there were open sores on his forehead.
He wore nothing but a scrap of cloth wrapped about his loins, and his
sparkling white stone dangled on a chain about his neck.  A wild, mad
light flamed in his eyes.  "Give me the Ring!  Once it is gone, the
Nurnenshire estate will be mine!  Give it to me!"
  "Frodo, what happened?" asked Sam.  "What in Middle-earth has
happened to you?"
  The overgrown hobbit paid no attention.  Towering over Sam he cried,
"It is mine, I say!  Give me the Ring, NOW!"
  "I don't have it," said Sam, as calmly as he could manage.
  "You WHAT?" yelled Spiegel and Gulible together, staring at him in
even greater amazement than before.
  "Then where is it?  Tell me!" demanded Frodo.
  "I'm really not sure," said Sam, relishing his old master's
frustration.  "But I know for a fact that either you have it, or
Gulible does."
  Gulible yelped with surprise and fear as the gigantic Frodo whirled
to face him.  "No, no, saddam, we doesn't have it, we doesn't."
  Frodo was not appeased.  "Now, now!" he gasped, clutching at Gulible's
breast.  "Now, you creeping thing, give me the Ring!  You cannot
betray me now!"
  So strange was the tableau that it seemed to Sam that he saw these
two rivals with some bizarre other vision.  A crouching shape, scarcely
more than a shadow of his younger self, a creature now wholly ragged
and dejected, yet filled with great confusion and fear; and before it
stood stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure hairless and white, but
from deep in its gut there came a resounding growl.  Out of the growl
there spoke a commanding voice.
  "Hand over the Ring, and trouble me no more!  If you touch it ever
again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom."
  The crouching shape shrank away, terror in its blinking eyes, when a
new figure came in view.  It was Spiegel, and she reached up high and
slapped Frodo squarely on the cheek.  "Shame on you!" she scolded,
staring up at him with her hands on her hips.
  "What did you do that for?  I didn't hurt him," said Frodo, beginning
to cry.  "You didn't have to go and hit me, did you?  Is my nose
  "Well, of course not.  What a fuss you're making!  When you go
around picking on people weaker than you are... why, you're nothing but
a great big coward!"
  "I know," he sobbed, "I know.  I've felt so odd lately... I feel all
thin, sort of stretched.  And my head is always hurting, and I've
been hounded by foul-mouthed Orcs, and I haven't slept in days... and
now you've all gotten so short and you're keeping the Ring from me and
I'll never get my estate need to destroy it before I get the estate
I'm thirsty very thirsty hungry all being so cruel don't know what to
do..."  He fell flat upon the ground and whimpered.
  "It's because of the Precious," guessed Gulible.  "He's like this
because of the nasty Ring, yes, and the sooner we get rid of it, the
sooner he'll rest, saddam.  Now where iss it?" he asked, turning to
  "I fed it to one of you in a twinkie," Sam admitted.  "I don't know
which.  But I figure you're right: destroying the Ring will probably
be good for him.  Not that I'd mind if it wasn't!"
  Sam looked at Frodo.  "Oh, curse you, you imperialist pig!"  he
muttered to himself.  Out loud, he asked, "Can you take us to the
Cracks of Doom?  Do you know the way?"
  Frodo lifted his head, with only a trace of hope in his eyes.  He
spoke quietly, almost in a whisper.  "Yes, I will come.  There's a
path not far up the slope from here; it will take us where we need to
go."  They helped him to his feet, and as they all began to climb
again, Frodo gazed up and ahead.  "We're off to seek the Mountain!" he

  They soon reached the path that Frodo had spoken of.  They did not
know it, but it was in fact the tail end of Sauron's Road from
Barad-dur, the same gold-paved road that they had followed before,
eastward from Ufat toward the Dark Tower.  The four of them walked
slowly but with confidence up that climbing road, winding back and
forth up the mountainside.  With a last eastward bend, it passed in a
cutting along the face of the shaft and came to the dark door in the
Mountain's side.
  Facing that door across the intervening miles, the pinnacle of
Barad-dur seemed to gaze directly on the hobbits.  The hobbits paid
little attention, focusing instead on the terrible door.  For a moment
they stood at the gaping mouth, their hearts beating with nervous
fear, and then they plunged in, giving no thought to the Freudian
implications of that act.
  Fearfully, they took a few uncertain steps into the dark, and then
all at once there came a flash of purple: vivid red fires leaped upward
and smote the high blue roof.  As the light flashed, a deep voice sang
as if from nowhere and echoed about the cavern:

    "DOOM!  The Cracks... of DOOM!"

They all spun around, this way and that, but no trace of a singer
could be seen.  When a few moments had passed without further musical
accompaniment, they all relaxed.  "This is a mighty strange place,"
said Sam, "and that's a fact."  In the flash, they had seen that they
were in a long tunnel that bored straight into the Mountain's hot
center.  Only a short way ahead, its floor and the walls on either
side were split by a great fissure, out of which the purple glare
came, now leaping up, now dying down exhausted; and all the while far
below there was a continuous groaning noise as of great engines
throbbing and laboring.
  They walked to the brink of the chasm, to the very Crack of Doom,
and just as they reached the edge the light sprang up again, and the
deep ringing voice returned to its ominous song:

    "The Chambers of Fire... the Fires of DOOM."

"That could get a bit annoying," said Sam.
  Frodo, his unnaturally tall body silhouetted against the pulsating
light, now spoke in a compelling voice.  "Who now is the bearer of the
Ring?  The wearer of the Ring?"  The others hung their heads, but said
nothing: they were filled with thoughts of darkness and despair, and
they had no answer for him.  "Beware!  Its mighty power has yet to be
shown!"  Frodo turned to them in madness and anger, ready to take the
Ring from its bearer by force if need be.  He lunged forward, but had
no chance to act, for at that moment many things happened.
  A great rush of wind came from outside, a sound like the beating of
vast wings.  At the same time, something struck Sam violently in the
back, a huge ball that bowled all four of them to the ground.  It slid
with terrible speed toward the fissure, and slipped in... only to
become lodged in the crack by virtue of its considerable girth.
Slowly, arms and legs reached out and grasped for purchase on the
nearby rocks.  Then, the obese man raised his head.  It was Gandalf.
  "Fat Lord!" said Gulible, "I've brought them here, yes, just as
I was told.  The Precious, too, and we're ready to throw it in,
saddam.  Only..."
  The wizard tried to pull himself up out of the crack, but the same
bulk that had saved him remained caught on the jagged rock at its
edge.  Gulible ran forward and began to help pull him to safety.  As
Gandalf twisted and Gulible tugged, a sudden tearing sound was heard,
followed by the sound of a balloon quickly deflating.  Gandalf
struggled up into the tunnel with his robes now hanging loose about
him and a great punctured inner tube drooping below them to the
ground.  "Only what?"  he asked.
  "Only the nasty hobbit put it in our food, saddam!" said Gulible,
getting the words out in a rush.
  Gandalf surveyed the situation, consternation on his face.  Then
with a suddenness that startled them all he started laughing!  "Eat
me to be tall!" he cried.  "Of course, of course!"  With an evil light
in his eye, he jumped on Frodo and tried to drag him into the fissure.

  Sam and Spiegel lay on the floor of the tunnel in shock, still dazed
from their fall and the strange events that had followed.  What
followed transpired so quickly that they had no chance to act, but
could only watch in awe and horror.  Frodo on the edge of the abyss
was fighting like a mad thing with his murderous foe.  Gandalf pressed
him hard, but Frodo's newfound size gave strength to his desperation
and he began to make progress, fighting his way away from the Fire.
  Suddenly, Gulible leapt into the fray, grabbing Frodo's knees and
tripping him.  The three combatants swayed to and fro, so near the
brink that they almost tumbled in, and then they all fell to the
ground.  Gandalf landed on top of Frodo, and as Frodo struggled to
rise Gandalf tried to keep him down.  He grabbed hold of the chain
around Frodo's neck and choked the hobbit to the floor, but with a
sharp twist the chain snapped and came loose in Gandalf's hand.
However, the wizard did not lose his grip, but caught hold of Frodo's
shoulders and pinned him to the ground.  They were locked in a
stalemate: Frodo could not rise, but Gandalf could not budge him
toward the Fire.
  But they had forgotten Gulible!  As Gandalf pinned Frodo's shoulders
and prevented his escape, Gulible clawed at his belly.  Suddenly Sam
saw Gulible's hands spread apart; his white teeth gleamed, and then
snapped as they bit.  Frodo began to scream in horror and agony, for
Gulible continued gnawing into Frodo's gut, searching for the Ring.
The screaming went on and on, and then Gulible leapt to his feet,
crying out in triumph with the Ring clenched between his teeth.
Gandalf turned to look, and at that moment Frodo lashed out with a
foot and kicked Gulible in the groin.
  Gulible gasped with pain, and then went wide-eyed in terror as,
gulp, down went the Ring into his own throat.  They all stared at
him, as he began to gibber at them, shrinking back toward the chasm in
fear.  "No, no, saddam, it didn't happen.  It can be fixed, yes.
We'll throw up the Ring!  Just give us a little time, just a little,
  Frodo stared up at Gulible with a hungry, greedy gaze.  "No, Frodo,"
gasped Gulible, recognizing his deadly peril and the thread upon which
his doom now hung, "search your feelings!"
  Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a greedy voice, a voice louder and
more piercing than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose above the
throbs and groans of the Mountain, ringing in the roof and walls.  "I
will not wait now to do what I came to do," he said.  "I will not
await the Ring.  The Deed is mine!"  And Frodo kicked Gulible firmly
in the knees.  He toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then
with a shriek he fell.  Out of the depths came his last wail, and he
was gone.
  With a great roar, fires leapt up and licked the roof as the Ring and
its final bearer were consumed.  Gazing through the door into the
distance they saw a vision of ruin: towers fell and mountains slid;
walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and
spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an
overwhelming wave; and then at last over the miles between there came
a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook; and
we all desperately wished that we didn't now have such a tragically,
horrifyingly vivid understanding of this scene.

  They all stared out the door at the cloud of black dust that cloaked
the ruins of Barad-dur, stared until the last rumblings of its
collapse died away.  They all knew that no body could survive that
devastation: for good or ill, Sauron was no more.  Sam, Spiegel, and
Frodo all looked at each other with guarded hope: were their goals in
reach at last?  Were they worth the price?
  Then, out of the darkness by the Crack of Doom there came an
unexpected sound: Gandalf had begun to laugh an evil laugh.  The
hobbits turned to face him, and for the first time saw that he wore
three glittering Rings on his right hand.  Nenya, the Ring of
Zirconium, nabbed from Galadriel's nightstand while she was helping
Celeborn to dress himself.  Pinta, the Ring of Tinted Glass, won from
El Rond in a game of cards after he was convinced it would lose its
powers when the One was destroyed.  And Dubya, the Ring of HeNe,
"borrowed" from Cirdan two thousand years ago when Gandalf claimed to
have misplaced his laser pointer right before giving a lecture.
  "Sauron is dead," he said.  "I can sense it.  I can sense it!  The
Rings give me powers beyond my wildest dreams, and my last rival for
the Overlordship of Middle-earth is no more!  What can I not do in
this hour?  The Rings will give me power of Command!"  The wizard
began to stride up and down along the abyss, speaking ever more
loudly.  He seemed to have entirely forgotten Frodo and the others,
and his talk dwelt on walls and weapons, and the mustering of men.  As
he spoke, the aura of power about him seemed to grow stronger and
stronger, almost as if evil energy was visibly flowing into his body.
The hobbits cowered away from him in growing fear.
  After several minutes, he reached a fevered pitch.  "Then I will
bring the might of Gondor™ down on the Easterlings.  Once they are my
subjects, it will be time for the greatest crusade yet, for we shall
wipe the vile race of Orcs from the face of the world."  At this,
Spiegel choked, but said nothing.  He went on, "After scouring their
ilk from Mordor, it will be easy to sweep on to the south and capture
Harad.  And then, oh yes, then it will be time to turn on the Elves
and pay them back for all the humiliation they've caused me over the
years.  I will raze all of their precious forests!  I'll see them cut
to the ground one by one, even if it takes all the saws here in Mordor
to do it!"
  As Gandalf spoke those words, a bright glow sprang up from his left
hand and it became more brilliant by the second.  Before Gandalf had
more than a moment to register the light coming from Frodo's stone, a
bloodcurdling shriek tore through the chamber.
  A blade whirled and flashed in the growing light as Maglor leapt from
his hiding place in the shadows and charged straight at Gandalf.
Startled, the wizard stepped back and raised his right hand to strike
the Elf down with his Rings of Power.
  He stepped too far.  With a cry, he tumbled backwards, arms spinning,
even as Maglor slashed at his falling body.  No longer protected by
his balloon padding, the wizard plunged into the fiery pit and was
  As the Three Rings perished with their wearer, flames thrice as
intense as before burst forth from the depths of Mount Viagra,
liquifying the roof of the cavern and bathing Maglor and the hobbits
in an unholy radiance.  Fire belched from the Mountain's summit, and
the earth began to shake.  Through all this, Maglor didn't move, but
stood staring down at the crack where Gandalf had fallen.  The hobbits
felt no such compulsion to stay: Sam and Spiegel lifted Frodo, who had
finally collapsed from pain and exhaustion, and carried him out the

  "Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee," said a voice by his side.  And
there was Spiegel, pale and tired and yet herself again, the lovely
hobbit lass Sam had shared such joy with in Disgiliath.  The Orcs had
been saved from both slavery and extermination; her burden was taken
  "Spiegel!" cried Sam, and taking her in his arms he kisssed her on
the lips.  For in this moment he thought nothing of Rosie or of the
Revolution to come, but only this: here and now, they were alive.
  "I am glad you are here with me," said Spiegel.  "Here at the end of
all things, Sam."

Book VI, Chapter Two / Table of Contents / Book VI, Chapter Four
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