On This Day in Middle-earth

March 24th

Frodo and Samwise make their last journey to the feet of Mount Doom.

The Host camps in the Desolation of the Morannon.

We are approaching the end of a long and wearisome journey. Frodo and Sam have finally made it to the feet of Mount Doom and the Host of the West has their last camp before they reach the Black Gates.

I don’t have to go into much detail here about what both of these parties are feeling/thinking.

Both are standing over the edge, they know and can see what lies beyond. Both parties are about to take a leap into darkness, hopefully some light will be able to shine at the end. It can be hard to hope in these moments, darkness seems to creep in and it’s easy to despair. There’s courage in fighting and there’s courage in hoping when all seems lost. Sam has hope, Sam has the most hope out of the Fellowship. He is fighting for that hope for his home, for his Rosie, for his Gaffer, for the Shire. It’s his hopefulness that allows this journey to go on, and it’s his strength that carries Frodo to the end. So much can go wrong when you’re behind enemy lines, but Sam and Frodo’s story has the most hope here.

Let’s just read some examples about how mentally draining their journey was.

For the hobbits each day, each mile, was more bitter than the one before, as their strength lessened and the land became more evil. They met no enemies by day. At times by night, as they cowered or drowsed uneasily in some hiding beside the road, they heard cries and the noise of many feet or the swift passing of some cruelly ridden steed. But far worse than all such perils was the ever-approaching threat that beat upon them as they went: the dreadful menace of the Power that waited, brooding in deep thought and sleepless malice behind the dark veil about its Throne. Nearer and nearer it drew, looming blacker, like the oncoming of a wall of night at the last end of the world.

Such dreadful rest, every moment the fear of being caught gets worse and worse.

Sam, wih all his strength, had moments of doubt.

He could not sleep and he held a debate with himself. “Well, come now, we’ve done better than you hoped,” he said sturdily. “Began well anyway. I reckon we crossed half the distance before we stopped. One more day will do it.” And then he paused.

“Don’t be a fool, Sam Gamgee,” came an answer in his own voice. “He won’t go another day like that, if he moves at all. And you can’t go on much longer giving him all the water and most of the food.”

“I can go on a good way though, and I will.”

“Where to?”

“To the Mountain, of course.”

“But what then, Sam Gamgee, what then? When you get there, what are you going to do? He won’t be able to do anything for himself.”

To his dismay Sam realized that he had not got an answer to this. He had no clear idea at all. Frodo had not spoken much to him of his errand, and Sam only knew vaguely that the Ring had somehow to be put into the fire. “The Cracks of Doom,” he muttered, the old name rising to his mind. “Well, if Master knows how to find them, I don’t.”

“There you are!” came the answer. “It’s all quite useless. He said so himself. You are the fool, going on hoping and toiling. You could have lain down and gone to sleep together days ago, if you hadn’t been so dogged. But you’ll die just the same, or worse. You might just as well lie down now and give it up. You’ll never get to the top anyway.”

“I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind,” said Sam. “And I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart. So stop arguing!”

At that moment Sam felt a tremor in the ground beneath him, and he heard or sensed a deep remote rumble as of thunder imprisoned under the earth. There was a brief red flame that flickered under the clouds and died away. The Mountain too slept uneasily.

Hope and strength are powerful tools.

Thank you for your time and remember, not all those who wander are lost.

– The Wandering One

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