For many dark, shadow-filled nights they had trudged on this way, breathing in poison fumes and ever in the fear of the Eye. Frodo and Sam had now passed into Cirith Ungol where sleepless sentinels had once and still kept their watch for intruders, never resting, never ceasing to turn the valley towards evil.

The One Ring had a will of its own, and as it came nearer to Mount Doom where it was forged long ago, and it sensed its master’s presence. it strove harder now more than ever to get back to Sauron, but verily the Eye was now occupied with going-ons in the East, where He had sprung forth a trap and was gathering all armies to him. With the One Ring He would have dominion over the races of Middle-Earth, and so plunge it into darkness. Fearing war He had started war instead, so that his forces would fall swiftly on Gondor, the only free kingdom left, and where Gandalf was preparing troops to rally against the Enemy.

Ever Frodo felt the dark burden that he was bearing grew heavier, and Sam tried to comfort him and bring him back to his senses, for Frodo was delirious sometimes, and only had nightmares when he slept. This day they could go on no further even as Gollum urged them to hasten. Wearied, they staggered under a hollow hall formed by twisted boughs, dead branches and brambles to rest. As their eyes closed and the soft breathing of sleep was heard, so did Gollum slipped off into the bushes suddenly.

‘Hobbits are brave, o yes, to have come so far. But soon I will take them to Her, yes my love, then when she has feasted on them I shall have my precious back,’ said Gollum, on fours sniffing the air and scouting the area. But then his green eyes turned blue, and Smeagol emerged, ‘No! No! Not Master, nice Master, Smeagol promised, Gollum swore on the precious to serve him.’

‘Maybe not,’ came Gollum, stronger now, ‘but he is a Baggins, yes, and Baggins took away my precious, stole it from us! That fat hobbit – always suspecting, tricksy he is, calling Gollum names … He will do for Her Ladyship, and She likes fresh meat. And then, we will see…’

Thus Smeagol was controlled by Gollum, who was not to be denied, and this discussion continued until before the night of Doom he sneaked away quietly to the lair of Shelob the Great, evil personified.

A great darkness, stench and malice rose in swirls to Gollum at the entrance of her cave which had many exits; but he had come here many times, worshipped her and saved himself from being eaten, and was not afraid.

And he crawled on and on, slowly but surely deeper down. Even in the gloom he could not see, only hear, for her webs were spun of malice greater than any other. At last he reached her hole where the great darkness poured forth steadily, greeted Shelob and promised to bring fresh meat for her soon.

‘Soon, your Highness, soon,’ he thought to himself as he got back to where Frodo and Sam were waiting for him, ‘you shall have them, tender and sweet. And then we’ll pay them back, my precious, oh yes, we will. Soon!’

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