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Through Thick and Thin - Chapters 1-7 Written By: Eeva

The four hobbits land in serious trouble when leaving the Shire for Bree...


The Hobbits approached farmer Maggot’s farm cautiously. Frodo felt his stomach turn at the memory of farmer Maggot’s dogs and how they had once chased him all the way back to Brandy Hall, when he was stealing Maggot’s mushrooms as a lad. But now everything was very quiet… almost unusually quiet. The Hobbits sneaked forward, unwilling to draw Maggot’s dogs near them. All at once, a strong arm grabbed hold of Frodo’s elbow from behind him. Frodo cried out in surprise as the strong hand forced him to face its owner. Breathing very quickly, Frodo found himself staring into the angry eyes of farmer Maggot himself. “Well well well!” bellowed Maggot, “Young Frodo Baggins, isn’t it? Sneaking around my fields, are ya, boy? Stealing from my crops again?” “No, Mr. Maggot, I’m not…” Frodo tried to say, but Maggot would have none of it, and just tightened his grip on Frodo’s arm. “You know what happens to the likes of you, now don’t you, lad? My dogs would love to get their claws on you!” “Please, Mr. Maggot! I’m sorry, sir, please not the dogs!” Frodo gasped terrified and looked at his friends for help, “Pippin, do something!” At the mention of Pippin’s name, Maggot immediately loosened his grip on Frodo’s arm and turned around to see the other three hobbits standing behind him, almost ready to burst out laughing at the sight of Frodo squirming to free himself from Maggot’s clutches. “Young master Peregrin!” exclaimed Maggot, surprised, “And master Meriadoc! Well, I didn’t see you there! I hope the day fares you well?” “Very well indeed, sir” replied Pippin, “We were just passing through. I can assure you that our good friend Frodo here had absolutely no intentions of stealing anything, he’s way too respectable for that!” Pippin winked playfully at Frodo, who nodded frantically to his captor. To his amazement, Maggot let go of his arm. “Sorry about that, master Baggins… you can never be too careful these days” said Maggot and straightened Frodo’s jacket, where it had been slightly misplaced, when he had been grabbed. “It’s quite alright, sir” replied Frodo, still shaking slightly. “It’s just… I’m just not your dogs’ best friend, that’s all.” Maggot laughed heartily and bid the hobbits inside for a mug of ale, which they willingly accepted.

At nightfall they were ready to continue on their quest. Farmer Maggot and his wife had supplied them with a large basket of mushrooms as to wipe away any trace of old grudge there had once been between Maggot and Frodo. As soon as they left the crops and ventured onto the main road again, Merry and Pippin suddenly burst out laughing. “Oh, you should have seen yourself, Frodo!” Merry said between giggles, “You were so frightened of Maggot that I thought you were going to faint right into his arms!” “Now that’s not funny in the least!” scolded Sam, “That’s how you would have reacted if you had been in the same position as Mr. Frodo!” Merry and Pippin tried to sustain their laughter with bad results. “Shush!” hissed Frodo, and the other three hobbits jumped in surprise. “I hear footsteps! Someone’s coming!” he whispered, and strained his ears. “I hear them too!” said Pippin and scurried forward on the road to look behind a bend. “Pippin, what do you see?” whispered Merry. Pippin held his breath. There were two rather gruff looking men walking down the road, and to his horror Pippin noticed that they were walking straight towards the hobbits. They seemed to be coming from the direction of Hobbiton. Pippin wondered what two large men would possibly want from the Shire, but his thoughts were cut off when he realized that the men neared him all the while faster and faster. “Big folk!” he gasped after a pause. “They’re headed this way! Hide!” He quickly ran over to his friends. “We can’t hide!” whispered Sam frantically, “There are only open fields around us!” They looked around them, searching for any place at all they could hide in. Merry pulled Frodo’s sleeve and nodded towards a small bush near the road. “Come on” Frodo whispered to his friends, “It is our only hope! We must not be seen!” And they ran quickly behind the bush and crouched down on the ground. Soon the men came into view and the hobbits gasped in disgust. The taller of the two had long greasy hair, a pointed nose and a rather nasty looking scar across his left eye. The other man was more heavily built than his companion but he didn’t have the same ill-favoured look as the other. He had short hair and his face was slightly round. Both were dressed in filthy jackets, trousers and cloaks and wore big leather boots. The both of them also carried large heavy-looking backpacks. To their horror, the hobbits also noticed that they were both heavily armed with knives, sticks and long swords. They seemed to be sunken deep into a heated conversation about something. “Be quiet” whispered Frodo to the others, “We mustn’t attract any attention to ourselves out here”. But as soon as he had said that, he felt this sudden fear come over him. He could feel that these men were dangerous and that they must not under any circumstances see the hobbits. Without himself noticing it, his hand slinked into his pocket and slowly pulled out a small shiny object. ‘No! Don’t use it, you fool! Put it away!’ he heard his own voice crying out inside his head. ‘Gandalf told you not to!’ Frodo closed his eyes. That was true, Gandalf had urged him not to use the Ring at any cost, but if he now didn’t, surely these ruffians were going to notice him and take the Ring. And what chance did even four small hobbits have against two large men? Frodo considered his chances over and over again, but his mind had somehow seized working. All he could think about right now was disappearing. Slowly, he moved the Ring toward his finger... when suddenly he heard Pippin cry out, “No, Frodo! Don’t use it! What if they take it from you?!” And just then Pippin noticed that he had perhaps said it a bit too loud, but it was now too late. Maybe the men hadn’t heard him… or had they? Sam gave Pippin a warning glance. There were only open fields to their sides and behind them, and in front of them was the road. They had no chance of escaping if the men had heard them. All they could do now was stay hidden and be as quiet as possible and hope that the men would just pass them by. Suddenly everything became very quiet. The hobbits glanced nervously at each other. Frodo could almost hear his own heart beating. He still held the Ring in his hand as if in a frozen gesture. All at once two pairs of large hands grabbed hold of Sam and Merry, who screamed in surprise. Pippin didn’t even have a chance of getting up before a foot was planted on his back to keep him from escaping. Merry, Sam and Pippin looked around them in alarm to see what had happened to Frodo, but he was nowhere to be seen.


“Well, look at that, Silas!” said the taller of the men to his companion and looked at the hobbits, frowning, “You local children? From Bree?” “They’re Halflings, Eran, Halflings!” said the other man, trying to keep a hold on Sam, who was struggling with all of his strength to get free. “Oh, that’s right, Little Folk! I could have sworn there were four of you” said Eran. Sam was the first one of the Hobbits to open his mouth. “You let us go this instant!” he bellowed at the men, “We’re on an urgent errand, we have to go!” The men looked at each other briefly before bursting out laughing. It was a cruel, cold laugh, which sent chills down the Hobbits’ spines and told them that they were indeed in big trouble. Eran leaned his scarred face close to Sam’s, and said in a voice as calm and threatening as a cat about to jump on a mouse. “Now listen here, ya little worms, here’s the deal. As long as my partner and I have you under our control, you will… you WILL do as we say. Because if you don’t, we will do things to you that you could never imagine even in your worst nightmares! So… do I have everyone’s undivided attention now?” The Hobbits nodded, too frightened to do anything else. This man was serious, there could be no doubt about that. “Alright…” Eran continued, “I’ll get straight to the point. We know one of you carries something of great value” Sam and Merry turned to look at Pippin, who was still lying on the ground on his stomach, captured by one of Silas’s heavy boots. Poor Pippin shrank back in fear and finally realized that the men really had overheard him talking about the Ring. His heart sank at the thought of endangering Frodo’s journey before it had actually even begun. ‘What kind of a friend am I anyway?’ he thought to himself as his eyes filled with tears. Silas noticed Merry and Sam looking at Pippin, and pressed his foot even harder down on his back, which made him whimper in pain. “Is it you, then?” Silas asked Pippin, “You have it, don’t ya?” The pain in Pippin’s back was getting worse, and all he could to was cry out, “No! No!” This was too much for Merry. “Stop it! Don’t hurt him!” he shouted at Silas and squirmed even harder in Eran’s grip. Silas shot Merry a warning glance full of anger. Merry immediately lowered his gaze and seized his struggle. “P-please don’t hurt him…” he said in a much softer and pleading tone, “He doesn’t have it” he added quietly. “None of us three has it!” groaned Pippin miserably from under Silas’s weight. “Pippin!” hissed Sam in a warning. “I knew it!” shouted Eran furiously, “There were four of you! Where is your friend?” The Hobbits said nothing and tried to avoid his gaze. Eran turned Merry around to face him and held his arms in a painfully tight grip. Merry bit his lip not to cry out in pain. “I ask you again… Where… is… he? WHERE?!”

Frodo watched the situation in horror from a distance. He had put on the Ring just in time to escape behind a few trees and bushes just a short while away from where his friends were held. He had taken the Ring off his finger immediately when he reached the trees and tried now to listen intently to what the men were saying. They were looking for him! He must not be found! If he got caught now, everything would be lost. They would take the Ring from him and his quest would fail, all of Middle-Earth would be in danger. He was not going to let it happen! He watched in horror as Silas dug out a long piece of rope from his backpack, and tied first Sam’s hands together behind him and then his legs. He then did the same to Pippin and Merry. Frodo had to help his friends somehow… His thoughts were interrupted by Eran’s voice echoing through the area, calling out to him. “Hey, Halfling! We know you’re out there and we know you are the bearer of a certain precious trinket!” Frodo gasped and covered his mouth with his hands, hoping the men would not hear his breathing, which had suddenly become very fast and ragged. “If you ever want to see your friends alive again,” continued Eran, “I suggest you surrender freely and give us the thing you carry, and nothing will happen to you!” Frodo had never yet felt so helpless. He hadn’t a clue about what he was to do. He had to come up with something, and quickly so. When Frodo seemed to show no sign of co-operation, Eran started to grow impatient. “Alright then! Have it your way!” he shouted out into the chilly night, “We’ll start with this one, he’s been defiant enough for my taste!” and he shoved Merry to the ground and drew out his long sword. “NO! No!” both Pippin and Sam cried out and Pippin fell into hysterical sobs. “Don’t you DARE!” Sam shouted, but it was to no avail now, “Mr. Frodo, stay hidden! We’ll manage! Don’t give It to them!” Pointing his sword at Merry’s chest Eran shouted once more, “This is your last chance, lad! On the count of three, I will strike!” Merry squeezed his eyes shut and waited, his whole body trembling with fear. Frodo could almost hear the blood rush through his veins. “ONE!” A strange buzzing filled his ears and his head began to ache terribly. “TWO!” He felt as if he was going to be sick. “THR—“ “I’m here!!” he heard himself shouting at the top of his lungs as he emerged through the trees. “I am here!”


The tip of Eran’s sword had been only inches away from hurting Merry. Merry slowly opened his eyes and to his relief and also his horror, Eran was looking in the direction of Frodo now, and he lifted slowly the blade away from Merry’s chest. “Frodo no!!” Sam shouted, but Frodo looked at him sadly and shook his head. “So… look who finally decided to show up!” mocked Eran as Frodo approached them, “Frodo, was that your name?” Frodo nodded with clenched teeth. “Let my friends go” he said, trying to keep his voice steady, “Look, good sirs, surely we can come to a reasonable solution here…” Eran interrupted him rudely, “Now listen here, Halfling! You are not in a position to reason or lay any terms here!” “…as long as no one gets hurt!” Frodo finished his sentence with irritation. It was lucky for Frodo that he was standing at a distance from Eran, for otherwise the man would probably have hurt him badly. He simply glared daggers at Frodo and snarled, “We lay the terms here now, boy! Now, you had better comply, or terrible things will happen here tonight!” Frodo lifted his hands up in defeat. There was no point in angering these men any further. “Alright” he said quietly, “Just calm down. Let’s talk about this...” Eran gave him a sharp look, which made him realize that he was trying to reason again. “I’m sorry” he whispered and made a gesture for Eran to speak. “You finished reasoning?” Eran snapped at him. Frodo nodded, looking firmly at Eran, who spoke slowly and with a dangerous tone in his voice, “Give me the thing you carry… and you shall all be spared. It’s as simple as that”. “Frodo, don’t listen to him! Don’t do it…!” Sam cried out, but wasn’t able to continue, when Silas gagged him with a filthy rag. “Mmh!” Sam tried to protest, but it didn’t do any good. “Look after them” Eran said to Silas and got up and started to make his way slowly towards Frodo. “Now, lad, give it to me and then I will allow you all to go home”. “I don’t have it anymore” Frodo lied. He seemed amazed by his own words, but then he thought that it might actually work. Before he left his hiding place behind the trees, he had buried the Ring deep into the ground near the roots of one of the trees. Now he only hoped with all of his might that it would remain hidden and safe there until he got the chance to dig it out again. The look in Eran’s eyes started to frighten Frodo more and more as he approached the Hobbit. There was a gleam of madness behind those eyes, something Frodo had never seen before in anyone’s eyes. “What do you mean you don’t have it anymore?!” Eran shouted furiously. Frodo gathered up all his courage to answer. “I lost it”. Eran’s voice was as cool and calm as a peaceful ocean. “You… lost it” he simply said. It was not a question, but a statement. Eran nodded his head and without warning he backhanded Frodo across the face with the force of a troll. Frodo swayed for a moment and the last thing he heard before he fainted were the voices of his friends crying out in horror.

“Shut up!” Eran’s voice shouted from somewhere near him. “No, you listen to me!” this time it was Silas, “We agreed to go along with the plan! What’s all this talk about robbing these poor boys and going to Staddle?” Silas shouted angrily. Frodo opened his eyes carefully and looked around him. Where was he? He didn’t recognise this place. They were somewhere at the edge of a forest, and before them was an open field. Judging by the deepened darkness, it was now probably past midnight. There was a small fire burning near him. Frodo had been awakened by the sounds of Eran and Silas arguing over something. To his amazement Frodo noticed that he was not bound. His cloak and jacket had been removed, and he suspected that the men had searched him for the Ring. He slowly turned to his side and saw the backs of Merry, Sam and Pippin. They were leaning against a heavy boulder, and judging by the sound of their breathing, they were asleep. They were also stripped of their jackets and cloaks, and their hands were bound behind them. Frodo found it quite out of place to smile, but he couldn’t help himself when he saw how Pippin leaned his head against Merry’s shoulder as they slept. He turned his head around and saw Silas and Eran in the distance. He strained his ears, trying to pick up words from their argument. Silas seemed very upset about something. “I just don’t understand why you always have to act so cocky? You’re not that special, you know!” he shouted with a hint of hurt in his voice. “Yes I am! I am very special!” replied Eran, “And you know why? Because I’m the boss! You just don’t seem to get it into that thick skull of yours!” “That still doesn’t give you the right to change the plan when you feel like it!” shouted Silas, “I am part of this as much as you! I don’t even understand why we have to do this… I mean, it just doesn’t feel right” Eran looked like he was just about to say something very rude, when he happened to look to the direction where Frodo lay. “He’s awake!” he said to Silas and they both ran over to Frodo before he could get up. “Watch the others” Eran said to Silas, “I’ll handle this”. Frodo’s stomach turned at those words and he wondered what was going to happen to him. Eran drew out a small knife, which could very well have served as a short sword for a Hobbit, and placed it at Frodo’s throat. “Planning an escape, are we?” Eran hissed to Frodo. Frodo found it best not to annoy these men, and so he simply shook his head. “Yeah?” said Eran, “Are ya sure? ‘Cause you looked like you were just about to sneak over to your friends and untie their bonds”. “No” Frodo whispered untruthfully, “No, I wasn’t going to…” “Enough!” Eran said harshly and pressed the knife closer to Frodo’s throat, “Now… you had better start to remember where you left the thing you carry, or you know what’s going to happen to your friends”. “Please…” Frodo gasped, his eyes wide with fear, “Don’t hurt them…” To his amazement Eran got up and walked over to sit on a boulder. Apparently he was tired, or so he looked. They were both quiet for a long time, and Frodo felt a sudden urge to open his mouth to plead with Eran to let them go, but he didn’t dare. After a painfully long silence, Eran spoke. “What is this famous thing that you carry anyway?” Frodo looked at the man with a quizzical gaze, “I do not understand… Do you not know? I thought you…” Eran interrupted him rudely, “No, I do not know! Me an’ Silas were sent out to hunt down a halfling that carries something of great value, but we weren’t told what it was. We only know that we will be rewarded with a great prize if we happen to find the halfling and bring him to our leader. We had been sent to search throughout the Shire, and there we got very good clues about the whereabouts of a certain Mr. Baggins, who had fittingly just left his home in the fair village of Hobbiton” Frodo gasped in shock, “Nobody was supposed to know about my task! Y-you did not hurt them, did you? Please tell me you did not hurt anyone!” Eran said nothing for a while, and just fingered his knife, lost deep in thought. At length he said with a malicious tone in his voice, “There was a fat little Shire-rat who willingly spilled out every bit of information he had about you, Baggins. Short even for a halfling, quite round, light brown hair, green vest…” Frodo immediately recognized the hobbit as Fatty Bolger. Of course… Fatty had been the only one left in the Shire who knew about Frodo and the Ring. Seeing the agonised look on Frodo’s face, Eran added, “No, we didn’t hurt him… bad. His head might be a bit sore tomorrow as we kept beating it against a rock until he spoke” Frodo’s eyes filled with tears at those awful words. He could not even find words to describe how much he hated these men! But he would forgive Fatty, he had had to protect his own life! Frodo would not hold anything against him for that. He was only grateful that Eran seemed to have forgotten to inquire about the Ring any further. After a while Eran stood and walked over to Frodo. Frodo watched as he reached into his backpack again and pulled out a piece of rope. “No…” Frodo whispered, “Please no…” “Be quiet” Eran said, “Don’t struggle” and he bound Frodo’s hands in front of him and then his ankles. “Sleep while you can” Eran said as he stood again, “In the morning… we shall discuss the whereabouts of your treasure again”. Frodo could not possibly sleep any more, but thought it best to comply and closed his eyes and eventually drifted into a restless sleep.


Frodo woke up to a terrible pain in his back and neck. With his wrists and ankles bound, he had certainly not slept good. The morning was pale and grey and there was no sign of the sun anywhere in the sky. He was fully awakened when he felt his ankle bonds being cut. He looked up to see Silas giving him a pitying look. “I know this is terrible for you” Silas said quietly, “I don’t like it either, but hey, it has kept me on the road this far”. “What do you mean?” whispered Frodo. Silas let out a deep sigh. “Eran and I met a long time ago in Bree. Somehow he convinced me into thievery with him. We don’t know much that goes on in the world these days, but one thing was certain at that point; we had to eat! We started small, robbing unsuspecting Hobbits just like you lads. But then Eran’s ideas started to grow more and more insane, and soon we found ourselves as outlaws… but we made a living doing it, and so I stayed with him. But now I’m not so sure about this anymore…” Frodo looked at the man with an _expression of mixed surprise and pity. And then he thought of an idea that might, just might, save him and his friends. “Silas… Your story sounds so sad, and I am sure you could do fine on your own if you only found a place to work and make a decent living for yourself. You don’t need Eran!” And after taking a deep breath, he continued in a whisper, “Help us. Untie my hands. Leave him! He does not deserve help from a good and kind man such as you. I know that deep inside of you, there is a will to do good…” Silas turned his face away and said quietly, “You don’t know me… there is no turning back for me now…” Frodo could not find any words to comfort him, so instead he looked into the man’s pale grey eyes and said in a small pleading voice, “Help us… let us go… listen, I know where the thing that I carry is, but I lied to Eran… Run away from him! Come with us! Please, help…” He stopped suddenly when he saw  Silas’s eyes grow large and stare at something behind Frodo. Frodo turned slowly around, and saw Eran towering above him like a vulture about to finish off his prey. “So!” shouted Eran, looking at Silas, “Surely you weren’t going to turn your back on me, now were you, Silas, my friend?” Silas got up and looked Eran straight in the eyes and said steadily, “Of course not, Eran! The Halfling tried to buy his freedom, but he won’t fool me!” And the two men laughed again. It was the same cruel laugh that Frodo had heard before. Eran gave his partner in crime an approving pat on the shoulder. “I knew I could count on you. Now come on. I shall untie the others’ feet. We have some walking to do”. And grabbing hold of Frodo and pulling him roughly to his feet, Eran whispered, his voice full of malice, “Don’t think me deaf, Halfling. You said you know where the thing is hidden, and now you’re going to take me there!”

Eran’s grip around Frodo’s arms grew all the while harder as they walked. “Where are we going?” asked Frodo, trying to play innocent. “Oh, you know damn well where we are headed to!” replied Eran, “We’re going right back to the place where we first met yester evening. You had the thing, when the four of you were hiding, and when you emerged from behind those trees, you said you had ‘lost’ it. So it must be somewhere in that area”. At the mention of his friends, Frodo looked straight ahead and saw Silas leading the three of them. Their hands were now bound in front. Silas had apparently attached a piece of rope to each of their wrist bonds and held the other ends of the ropes in a firm grip. After walking for a short time, Frodo noticed that the place where they were first caught was indeed not far from the place where they had camped last night. The road was quiet and there was not a living soul in that area. As soon as they arrived there, Eran motioned for Silas to stop and turned Frodo around to face him. “And now… I’m going to give you one last chance to save your friends… I ask you one more time… Where is It?” Frodo looked at Sam, Merry and Pippin, who all shook their heads wildly. “We are not afraid of you!” Merry shouted to the men, “We are proud Hobbits of the Shire and we have always been brought up to believe that foul deeds will be the death of you! So you can rest assured that we will resist you to the very end!” Frodo looked Eran straight in the eyes, and lifted his head proudly. “I will not tell you where It is! You shall never find out!” Eran said nothing for a while, but when Frodo glanced sideways at Silas, he noticed that he had clearly been moved by the Hobbits’ bravery. Silas was soon brought up from his reverie though, when Eran said quietly to him, “Do it”.


Silas turned to look at Merry, Pippin and Sam with a sad _expression in his eyes. “I’m really sorry, little ones…” he said to them so that Eran could not hear. “Oh, I bet you are” said Pippin ironically and glared daggers at Silas. ‘If only you knew how this pains me’ Silas thought to himself as he pulled out his sword and pointed the tip against Pippin’s abdomen. Suddenly fear filled Pippin’s eyes as he understood that this man was really going to hurt him… no, not hurt… worse. He buried his face in his tied hands and wept. “Be brave, Pippin” said Merry loud enough for Eran to hear. Frodo watched in mute horror as Silas raised his sword and flung it down towards Pippin’s left arm. Somehow he missed the arm, but just enough to cause a bleeding wound. Pippin cried out in pain and collapsed to the ground. Merry and Sam were just about to rush over to him, but were stopped by the blade now pointed at them instead. “Don’t you move” said Silas quietly. “Out of the goodness of my heart I give you one more chance, boy” said Eran to Frodo, and Frodo realized that Silas had missed Pippin’s arm on purpose. The two men had probably gone through this several times the night before when the Hobbits were sleeping. Entirely out of shock, Frodo remained quiet, unable to say or do anything. “That was my final warning” declared Eran and nodded to Silas. Silas positioned himself above Pippin and raised the sword in the air again, this time to kill. That was when something stirred inside of Frodo, and without any warning the tears burst out of him like rain in summer. “NO!” he shouted in complete terror and threw himself on the ground at Eran’s feet and, covering his face with his hands, he wept in desperation. “Please no!” he cried out between sobs, “Do not hurt them! Please…” Eran had clearly not expected such an outburst, and he was quite taken aback by it. Frodo looked up at him with pleading eyes and tears running down his cheeks. “I will do anything you tell me!” he shouted, desperately grasping the hem of Eran’s cloak. “Where it It?” Eran simply said, with absolutely no emotion in his voice. Frodo looked at him sternly, “Let me get it.” Eran suddenly laughed and shook his head, “And run away with it as soon as you find it? I don’t think so!” Frodo rose to his feet and looked the man straight in the eyes, “I know exactly where it is. You will save a lot of time, if you let me get it” Eran stood still for a moment, clearly thinking about Frodo’s proposition. Then, he turned to Silas and said, “You go with him, and I’ll look after these three.” Silas walked up to Eran. “I still don’t like you changing the plan!” Silas said to Eran quietly. Without warning Eran spat at the ground before Silas’s feet, “The decision is mine alone! Who are you? You’re nobody! You’ll never be worth anything!” And with that, he turned around and, pulling out his sword, started to walk over to Sam and Merry, who were now kneeling at the ground by Pippin’s side. Frodo quickly made eye contact with Merry. ‘Go! Go!’ he mouthed to Merry. Merry shook his head and whispered “Not without you!”, but Frodo simply nodded ferociously. Before Silas or Eran could do anything, Merry pulled Pippin off the ground and nudged Sam on the shoulder. “Come on!” Merry hissed to Sam. It all happened so fast, and before Eran could even blink, Merry was already on the other side of the road. Pippin, on the other hand, was still in shock, and in his haste to get away, tripped on a rock, and fell to the ground, hitting his head. Frodo’s eyes widened in shock, when Pippin remained lying there motionless.

Sam took a few steps backwards, but stopped dead in his tracks when Silas grabbed hold of Frodo and placed his sword at his throat. “Mr. Frodo!” shouted Sam, but Frodo would have none of it, “Go, Sam! GO!” he whispered, but Sam would have none of it either, “No, Mr. Frodo, I’m not leaving you or Pippin here! Never!” Frodo risked a glance up a Silas, “You don’t have to take this from Eran! I ask you again, please help!” Silas looked in the direction of Eran, who started to run after Merry, but said nothing. “Go, Sam!” Frodo whispered in despair, “Trust me! Please go! Find Merry! Do it!!” Sam looked at him intently for a moment, before running off towards the direction Merry had fled in, all the while trying to stay out of Eran’s sight. Frodo could only pray that Merry and Sam would be able to escape the wrath of the man chasing them. “Go get your treasure” Silas said suddenly. Frodo looked at Pippin, wanting nothing more than to run over to him and see if he was alright. He was so still… Silas grabbed Frodo by the arm and shoved him towards the trees. “Get it!” he said again, now with a more threatening tone. For a split second, Frodo thought about getting the Ring and running off, but he could not leave Pippin. Hanging his head in defeat, he trudged up to the large tree, where he had left that cursed object, and started digging in the ground. A familiar gleam of gold hit his eyes. He picked up the Ring and looked at it. ‘All of this happened only because of you!’ his mind shouted angrily to the golden object in his hand. He turned his gaze to Silas, who kept his eyes glued upon Frodo, ready to run after him and capture him, if he tried to escape. Letting out a defeated sigh, and putting the Ring in his vest pocket, Frodo started to walk slowly back to his captor.

When he at last stood before Silas again, he noticed that Eran had returned. Frodo could have shouted out in joy, for he saw that he returned alone. “They got away?” asked Silas in a careful tone, for Eran looked as if he could have exploded with anger. When he spoke, however, his voice was surprisingly calm. “They got away” he said quietly. Silas only stared at him, afraid to say anything. “It doesn’t matter though” muttered Eran. Frodo could almost feel that something terrible was about to happen, but he did not even dare to guess. He shot a quick glance at Pippin, who still was not moving. “Pippin!” Frodo whispered, “Pippin, are you alright?” But he got no answer. “There’s been a change of plans!” shouted Eran suddenly. “We’re going to Isengard!”

Sam gasped in shock and put his had over his mouth as he was watching the situation from the other side of the road, where he was hiding at the roots of a few birch trees. Silas’s eyes, on the other hand, lit up at hearing that. “So… you mean to go through with our plan after all? We’re not going to Staddle?” Eran looked at him and said, “We are taking the halfling to Saruman according to the original plan. At least I intend on having my reward.” Silas nodded his head and smiled anew, “Everything is ready. Let’s be on our way!” Sam could not contain his rage any more. These men, these… scoundrels! They worked for Saruman! He should have known! ‘You fool, Samwise!’ he cursed to himself, ‘Why didn’t you realise it in the first place?’ Suddenly a hand was laid on his shoulder and he jumped in surprise. “Sam! It’s me!” he heard Merry’s voice whispering shakily. He looked up at Merry and saw that he was weeping. “Oh Sam, what is going to happen to them?” Merry said in a small, trembling voice, “They need our help now more than ever! What are we going to do? Pippin… my Pippin…” but his voice betrayed him. Sam held him close in a warm embrace and said quietly, “Don’t you worry, Mr. Merry… we’ll find a way”. And to himself he thought, ‘Well, whatever is going to happen, I choose to stay by their side, no matter what! Through thick and thin! Don’t you worry, Mr. Frodo, I won’t leave you!’


Silas approached Pippin’s lifeless form cautiously. Frodo was looking for a sign from Pippin, any sign that he was alive, but he found none. “Just pick him up and bring him over here so that we can leave!” shouted Eran to Silas. Silas turned slowly Pippin around and to his horror Frodo saw strains of blood running down from his forehead. Silas put his hand on Pippin’s frail neck to feel for a pulse. Frodo waited, his breath catching in his throat. After what seemed like an eternity, Silas announced, “He’s just unconscious!” Frodo heaved a sigh of relief and scarcely noticed that his arm was roughly grabbed by Eran. Silas lifted Pippin gently in his arms and carried him over to where Eran and Frodo stood. “What of the others?” Silas asked quietly. “Never mind them” replied Eran with a wicked smile on his lips, “Let them run home to their families!” “Yeah, but what if they call for help?” asked Silas. “Don’t tell me you’re worried about the Little Folk trying to attack us!” said Eran and laughed, “Even if they do call for aid, we will already be far away!” Silas did not look at all comforted by those words. He chose to say nothing however, fearing he might anger Eran again. “And now…” said Eran, “We leave”. And he fastened a length of rope to Frodo’s wrist-bonds, like Silas had done before to the other three hobbits, and started to walk down the road, pulling Frodo after him. Frodo tried his best to keep up with Eran’s quick pace, all the while looking around him at his surroundings, searching for any signs of Sam or Merry. Finding none, he turned his head around to look behind him at Silas, who was carrying Pippin’s limp body in his arms.

“They’re moving!” whispered Sam to Merry. Merry had been sitting on the ground, hugging his knees close to his body and resting his head against his knees. His eyes were still red from crying and he was shaking slightly. “Come on, Mr. Merry” urged Sam, “We can’t lose them from our sight!” Merry, however, showed no sign of hearing Sam’s words and just sat quietly on the ground. Sam walked over to him, and, grabbing his shoulders, shook him hard, “I’m really sorry if I sound rude, Mr. Merry, but… get a grip of yourself! Mr. Frodo and young Mr. Pippin are out there at the mercy of those… those…” He could think of dozens of foul words to describe the two men, but thought it best not to say them aloud, so he simply whispered though clenched teeth, “Those creatures. Please get up, Mr. Merry, and help me keep an eye on our friends.” Merry slowly lifted his gaze, looked Sam in the eyes and said, his voice suddenly full of renewed strength, “You’re right, Sam. We have to be strong and alert now. Through whatever dangers they take Frodo and Pippin, I am willing to follow them!”


Eran stopped walking when he felt a small tug at the rope connecting Frodo to him. He turned around to see that his prisoner had fallen to his knees in exhaustion, practically ready to lose consciousness. “Wait!” Eran yelled to Silas, who was walking at a short distance ahead of him. Silas turned around too, still holding Pippin, who had not yet shown any signs of waking up. They had been walking for several hours now and the darkness of night was beginning to fall upon them. Eran walked over to Frodo and looked down at him and then at their surroundings. They were almost completely out of the open fields now and surrounding them were dense forests on both sides of the road. Somewhere far away they could hear the distant howling of wolves. “Hey Eran…” said Silas, “We should find a place to stay for the night somewhere in the woods. That halfling doesn’t look so good. Neither does this one, for that matter”. Silas could tell it from Eran’s face that he was beginning to feel tired too, no matter how hard he tried to act as if he wasn’t. Eran nodded and turned back to Frodo. “Get up, you” he said, tugging at Frodo’s wrist bonds, “You’re going to get your rest”. But Frodo was too weak and tired to move. He looked at Eran with weary eyes and merely whispered, “So tired… I need water…” Eran simply rolled his eyes and bent down to pick Frodo up in his arms and carried him into the forest on the right side of the road, where Silas had already gone. Not far from the road they set up a small camp, where there was a small clearing in the trees. Eran laid Frodo on the ground, not far from where Pippin was now lying, and fastened the rope binding his wrists to a nearby tree. Frodo tried to say that he was very thirsty, but he was so weak, that his words got stuck in his throat, and came out only as incoherent muttering. He tried again, and barely managed to whisper, “W-water…” But Eran did not seem to hear him at all, and walked over to Silas, who was now stirring up a small fire. “You take the first watch” Eran said, digging up an apple from his backpack. Frodo watched as Eran took the first bite of the apple, and then he suddenly noticed that his stomach was growling. He couldn’t remember the last time when he had eaten. He started to feel even weaker by the minute. Eran suddenly noticed that Frodo was looking at him. An evil gleam flashed in Eran’s eyes, and, taking another bite of the apple, he got up and slowly started to walk towards Frodo. “You want this, don’t ya?” he said in a teasing voice and waved the half-eaten apple in front of Frodo’s tired eyes. Frodo could not bring himself to do anything else but nod weakly. Eran bent down to bring himself to the hobbit’s level, and for a little while the both of them looked at each other, one in tired confusion, the other in menacing contentment. For a passing moment, the hungry hobbit almost thought that the man actually would let him have a small bite of the apple… but he was soon proven wrong. Eran took greedily yet another bite, got up and laughed quietly before walking away to sit down on the ground near the fire. He seemed to feel so pleased with himself for once again proving his power over the Halflings, that he didn’t even notice Silas looking at him scornfully. Frodo’s heart beat even faster. How could anyone be so cruel?! He felt so sick and betrayed, but he didn’t have the strength to do anything else but weep in pain and frustration.


It was still dark when Frodo opened his eyes. He had actually managed to sleep for a little while, despite his ever growing fear and hunger. It was definitely not dawn yet, judging by the darkness.  “Frodo…” Someone called his name in a small voice. “What?” he blurted out drowsily, and steadied himself on his elbows to look around him. The small fire was now starting to die down and Eran was asleep on the ground. Silas was sitting with his back against a large rock, looking almost ready to fall asleep himself… and Pippin was lying on the ground next to Frodo, awake! “Pippin!” Frodo shouted out in surprise. “Shh…” whispered Pippin, “I’m alright. I had a long sleep. But how about you?” Frodo wanted nothing more than to throw his arms around his young cousin, but found soon that his hands were still tied and tightly attached to the tree. He tugged ferociously at the bonds but completely in vain. He took a closer look at Pippin and noticed that he had been bound too, exactly in the same way as Frodo. “I’m alright” Frodo said quietly, but added after a pause, “Well, I’m a little thirsty, but it’s nothing…” But at that exact moment, his stomach growled again, and Pippin moved closer to him, looking at him intently, “You’re famished, Frodo! I can see it in your face. Here…” Pippin reached into his vest pocket as well as he could with his hands tied, and pulled out two slices of an apple. “Here, eat this” and he handed the slices to Frodo. “How did you get these?” asked Frodo in amazement. “I woke up a few hours ago” explained Pippin in a low voice as not to attract Silas’s attention to them, “You had already fallen asleep. Silas cut an apple in half and ate one half and gave the other to me. I saved some for you. Have they given you anything, Frodo? Anything at all?” Frodo lowered his gaze and shook his head. “No” he whispered, “Nothing”. Pippin’s eyes widened in shock, “Well, don’t just sit there then, eat!” Frodo had almost forgotten about the apple slices in his hand and quickly swallowed them in a split second. Although the slices were small, Frodo couldn’t remember the last time he had tasted anything as delicious. “Thank you, Pippin…” he whispered, feeling very moved, “You know, before I fell asleep, I thought that I wasn’t going to make it through the night…” But Pippin silenced him immediately, “Don’t you ever say anything like that, Frodo! Ever!” He reached out and held Frodo’s hands in his own in a tight, comforting grip. “It’s going to be alright…” Frodo wasn’t certain if Pippin was saying that to really comfort him, or if he was actually just trying to convince himself. But either way, it felt good to be close to someone dear, to feel a gentle touch, to hear a friendly voice… and at that very moment, Frodo truly believed in his heart that everything would turn out fine.


As quietly as he could, Merry made his way slowly towards the weak light of the dying fire in the shadows near the forest glade. He crouched down behind a heavy boulder and carefully raised his head above it to look at the glade. He suppressed a gasp as his eyes fell upon Frodo and Pippin, bound to the trees. But it was also an indescribable relief to see them both awake and, seemingly, unhurt. “Merry, what do you see? Are they there?” Sam whispered quietly from a distance. “Yes” replied Merry, “they are all right. Both of the men seem to be asleep”. Sam and Merry had followed them in secret all the way to the forest glade, and were now watching the scene before them from behind trees and through the thickets. “Sam…” whispered Merry, “we could sneak over and free them and be off towards Bree even before the men could say ‘pipeweed’. I can move very quietly, I can untie them in an instant”. Sam looked at Merry in the light of the weak flames. He seemed so determined and full of such resolution Sam had never seen in him before. But he silently agreed that something had to be done, even if it would risk everything. “All right” Sam said quietly, “but I’ll come with you”. He took a few steps forward and came out from behind the trees. But he somehow knew their brilliant plan was almost too brilliant to work. As they moved cautiously towards the glade, Merry accidentally tripped on a thick fallen branch, which he didn’t see in the shadows, and fell forwards on the ground. For a brief moment it seemed as if time had stopped right there. Too frightened to move, both Merry and Sam just stood there nailed to the spot, Merry lying on the ground, and Sam standing behind him, his heart beating so fast he felt out of breath, but feeling extremely grateful that they were not yet out on the glade, and were still hidden in the surrounding shadows. The noise must have been loud enough, however, because Frodo and Pippin started looking around them with frightened looks on their faces, and Silas, whose eyes had been closed, but whose breath had not yet grown heavy, opened his eyes and got up, quickly as lightning, while Eran stirred in his sleep. Silas drew out his knife and gazed around the clearing. “Who’s there?” he shouted to the darkness around them, but got no answer. He slowly backed away towards Eran and shook him to wake him. While Silas had his back turned to them, Sam quietly pulled Merry up from the ground and they sneaked quickly back to the shelter of the trees. “There’s someone out there” they heard Silas saying to Eran, “I heard something”. Eran had gotten to his feet and he, too, gazed into the darkness of the trees around them. “Are you sure?” he asked Silas with suspicion, “Are you sure you’re not imagining things?” Silas turned away from him and raised his knife again, while he strained his eyes against the dark. “No, there was definitely something out there” he replied, with a bit of nervousness in his voice. At that precise moment more wolves could be heard howling, but a lot closer this time. Sam and Merry jumped in fright and Frodo and Pippin shifted closer to each other. Eran looked at Silas, and now there was a definite uneasiness in his voice too as he spoke. “We had better leave. Now” And nodding towards Frodo and Pippin he said, “You get one and I’ll get the other. Get our things”. And as they sped from the clearing, Frodo looked behind him towards the darkness and wondered…

On and on they went, steadily quickening their pace, with the hobbits growing weaker and more tired all the while as the night went on and shifted slowly into early morning, and the morning into day. Frodo wondered whether he and Pippin should simply have untied each others’ hands while they were back in the glade and fled from the spot, but then a horrible thought struck him. They had no idea where they were, they would definitely not survive out in the wilderness on their own with no provisions and especially not in their weak state and what’s more, there were wolves out there, or even more horrible beings the hobbits had encountered only in their restless nightmares. But then a small hopeful thought flickered through his mind… could it have been Sam or Merry who had been on their trail during the night…? He glanced at Pippin, who was walking a bit behind him, led by Eran this time. Pippin raised his head to look at Frodo and Frodo could see a tear falling down on Pippin’s cheek. He wanted to say something to comfort his youngest cousin, but he did not dare in front of the men. The only thing he could do was to give Pippin a small encouraging smile, although, all of a sudden, it felt painful to smile, for everything seemed so wrong at the time. His own vision grew blurry as tears filled his eyes, too, and he could feel his desperation grow as the tower of Orthanc finally loomed threateningly from above the treetops.




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