Mar 25, 10:35am
Today in Middle-earth
TIME - March 25
Map of the Battle of the Black Gates from Journeys of Frodo: An Atlas of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings by Barbara Strachey.
March 25, 3019 (S.R. 1419)
1. The Captains of the West come to the Black Gate.
(not from the appendices)
..."No choice was left them but to play their part to its end. Therefore Aragorn now set the host in such array as could best be contrived; and they were drawn up on two great hills of blasted stone and earth that orcs had piled in years of labour... ....When all was ordered, the Captains rode forth towards the Black Gate... ...Gandalf as chief herald, and Aragorn with the sons of Elrond, and Éomer of Rohan, and Imrahil; and Legolas and Gimli and Peregrin were bidden to go also. So that all the enemies of Mordor should have a witness...
...'...Come forth! they cried. 'Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth...'
...There came a long rolling of great drums like thunder in the mountains, and then a braying of horns that shook the very stones and stunned men's ears. And thereupon the middle door of the Black Gate was thrown open with a great clang, and out of it there came an embassy from the Dark Tower... ...The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dûr he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said; 'I am the Mouth of Sauron... ...Is there any one in this rout with authority to treat with me?' he asked. 'Or indeed with wit to understand me? Not thou at least!' he mocked, turning to Aragorn with scorn. 'It needs more to make a king than a piece of elvish glass, or a rabble such as this....'
......Aragorn said naught in answer, but he took the other's eye and held it, and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow...
...'...You have naught to fear from us, until your errand is done. But unless your master has come to new wisdom, then with all his servants you will be in great peril,' said Gandalf.
...'So!' said the Messenger. 'Then thou art the spokesman, old greybeard... ...I have tokens that I was bidden to show to thee—to thee in especial, if thou shouldst dare to come.' He signed to one of his guards, and he came forward bearing a bundle swathed in black cloths.
...The Messenger put these aside, and there to the wonder and dismay of all the Captains he held up first a short sword such as Sam had carried, and next a grey cloak with an elven-brooch, and last the coat of mithril-mail that Frodo had worn wrapped in his tattered garments. A blackness came before their eyes... ...their hearts were dead and their last hope gone. Pippin who stood behind Prince Imrahil sprang forward with a cry of grief.
...'Silence!' said Gandalf sternly, thrusting him back; but the Messenger laughed aloud.
...'So you have yet another of these imps with you!' he cried. 'What use you find in them I cannot guess... ...it is plain that this brat at least has seen these tokens before, and it would be vain for you to deny them now.'
...'I do not wish to deny them... ...But why do you bring them here?'
...'Dwarf-coat, elf-cloak, blade of the downfallen West, and spy from the little rat-land of the Shire... ...here are the marks of a conspiracy. Now, maybe he that bore these things was a creature that you would not grieve to lose, and maybe otherwise; one dear to you, perhaps? If so, take swift counsel... ...what his fate shall be depends now on your choice.'
...No one answered him; but he saw their faces grey with fear and the horror in their eyes, and he laughed again, for it seemed to him that his sport went well. 'Good, good... ...He was dear to you, I see. Or else his errand was one that you did not wish to fail? It has. And now he shall endure the slow torment of years... ...This shall surely be--unless you accept my Lord's terms...'
......Gandalf said, 'This is much to demand for the delivery of one servant... ...what surety have we that Sauron the Base Master of Treachery will keep his part...'
...'...Surety you crave! Sauron gives none... ...These are his terms. Take them or leave them!'
...'These we will take!' said Gandalf suddenly. He cast aside his cloak and a white light shone forth like a sword in that black place... ...Gandalf coming seized and took from him the tokens: coat, cloak, and sword. 'These we will take in memory of our friend,' he cried. 'But as for your terms, we reject them utterly. Get you gone, for your embassy is over and death is near to you. We did not come here to waste words in treating with Sauron, faithless and accursed; still less with one of his slaves. Begone...!'
2. The Host is surrounded on the Slag Hills.
(from the appendices)
..."...Down from the hills on either side of the Morannon poured Orcs innumerable. The men of the West were trapped, and soon, all about the grey mounds where they stood, forces ten times and more than ten times their match would ring them in a sea of enemies... ...Upon the one hill Aragorn stood with Gandalf, and there fair and desperate was raised the banner of the Tree and Stars. Upon the other hill hard by stood the banners of Rohan and Dol Amroth, White Horse and Silver Swan... ...But in the front towards Mordor where the first bitter assault would come there stood the sons of Elrond on the left with Dúnedain about them, and on the right the Prince Imrahil with the men of Dol Amroth tall and fair, and picked men of the Tower...
......Pippin had bowed crushed with horror when he heard Gandalf reject the terms and doom Frodo to the torment of the Tower; but he had mastered himself, and now he stood beside Beregond in the front rank of Gondor with Imrahil's men... '...I wish Merry was here...'
......the first assault crashed into them... ...a great company of hill-trolls... ...Like a storm they broke upon the line of the men of Gondor... ...At Pippin's side Beregond was stunned and overborne, and he fell: and the great troll-chief that smote him down bent over him, reaching out a clutching claw; for these fell creatures would bite the throats of those that they threw down.
...Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse pierce through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out. He toppled forward and came crashing down... ...burying those beneath him. Blackness and stench and crushing pain came upon Pippin, and his mind fell away into a great darkness....'"
3. Downfall of Barad-dûr and the passing of Sauron.
(from the appendices)
..."...under the wings of the Nazgûl the shadows of death fell dark upon the earth. Aragorn stood beneath his banner, silent and stern... ...Upon the hill-top stood Gandalf, and he was white and cold and no shadow fell upon him....
......As if to his eyes some sudden vision had been given, Gandalf stirred; and he turned, looking back north where the skies were pale and clear. Then he lifted up his hands and cried in a loud voice ringing above the din: 'The Eagles are coming!'
...There came Gwaihir the Windlord, and Landroval his brother, greatest of all the Eagles of the North... ...behind them in long swift lines came all their vassals from the northern mountains, speeding on a gathering wind. Straight down upon the Nazgûl they bore, stooping suddenly out of the high airs, and the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale.
...But the Nazgûl turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor's shadows, hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower; and even at that moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled... ...The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid....
......Gandalf lifted up his arms and called once more in a clear voice. 'Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.'
...And even as he spoke the earth rocked beneath their feet. Then rising swiftly up, far above the Towers of the Black Gate, high above the mountains, a vast soaring darkness sprang into the sky, flickering with fire. The earth groaned and quaked. The Towers of the Teeth swayed... ...the Black Gate was hurled in ruin...
...'...The realm of Sauron is ended!' said Gandalf. 'The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.' And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them... ...there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush fell....
......Then Gandalf, leaving all such matters of battle and command to Aragorn and the other lords, stood upon the hill-top and called; and down to him came the great eagle, Gwaihir the Windlord, and stood before him.
...'Twice you have borne me, Gwaihir my friend... ...Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing. You will not find me a burden much greater than when you bore me from Zirak-zigil, where my old life burned away.'
...'I would bear you,' answered Gwaihir, 'whither you will, even were you made of stone.'
...'Then come, and let your brother go with us, and some other of your folk who is most swift! For we have need of speed greater than any wind, outmatching the wings of the Nazgûl.'
...'The North Wind blows, but we shall outfly it,' said Gwaihir. And he lifted up Gandalf and sped away south and with him went Landroval, and Meneldor... ...And they passed over Udûn and Gorgoroth and saw all the land in ruin and tumult beneath them, and before them Mount Doom blazing, pouring out its fire."
4. Frodo and Samwise reach the Sammath Naur.
(from the appendices)
..."The path climbed on... ...and came to the dark door in the Mountain's side, the door of the Sammath Naur... ...all Mordor lay about the Mountain like a dead land, silent, shadow-folded, waiting for some dreadful stroke.
...Sam came to the gaping mouth and peered in. It was dark and hot, and a deep rumbling shook the air. 'Frodo! Master!' he called. There was no answer. For a moment he stood, his heart beating with wild fears, and then he plunged in. A shadow followed him.
...At first he could see nothing. In his great need he drew out once more the phial of Galadriel, but it was pale and cold in his trembling hand and threw no light into that stifling dark. He was come to the heart of the realm of Sauron and the forges of his ancient might, greatest in Middle-earth; all other powers were here subdued... ...all at once there came a flash of red that leaped upward, and smote the high black roof. Then Sam saw that he was in a long cave or tunnel that bored into the Mountain's smoking cone....
......The light sprang up again, and there on the brink of the chasm, at the very Crack of Doom, stood Frodo, black against the glare, tense, erect, but still as if he had been turned to stone.
...'Master!' cried Sam.
...Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a clear voice... ...clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose above the throb and turmoil of Mount Doom, ringing in the roof and walls.
...'I have come... ...But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!' And suddenly, as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight. Sam gasped, but he had no chance to cry out... ...Something struck Sam violently in the back, his legs were knocked from under him and he was flung aside, striking his head against the stony floor, as a dark shape sprang over him. He lay still and for a moment all went black."
5. Gollum seizes the Ring and falls into the Cracks of Doom.
(from the appendices)
..."Sam got up... ...dazed, and blood from his head dripped in his eyes. He groped forward, and then he saw a strange and terrible thing. Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen foe...
......The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed... ...Suddenly Sam saw Gollum's long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit. Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm's edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring with Frodo's finger still thrust within its circle. It shone now as if verily it was wrought of living fire.
...'Precious, precious, precious!' Gollum cried... ...he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail PRECIOUS, and he was gone.
......Sam ran to Frodo and picked him up and carried him out to the door. And there above the plains of Mordor, such wonder and terror came on him that he stood still forgetting all else, and gazed as one turned to stone... ...there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; and the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven summit. The skies burst into thunder seared with lightening. Down like lashing ships fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, with a cry that pierced all other sounds... ...the Nazgûl came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out.
...'Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee,' said a voice by his side. And there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away. There was the dear master of the sweet days in the Shire.
...'Master!' cried Sam, and fell upon his knees. In all that ruin of the world for the moment he felt only joy... ...The burden was gone. His master had been saved; he was himself again, he was free. And then he caught sight of the maimed and bleeding hand.
...'Your poor hand!' he said. 'And I have nothing to bind it with, or comfort it. I would have spared him a whole hand of mine rather. But he's gone now beyond recall, gone forever.'
...'Yes... ...But do you remember Gandalf's words: "Even Gollum may have something yet to do?" But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam....'
...'...Yes, I am with you, Master,' said Sam, laying Frodo's wounded hand gently to his breast. 'And you're with me. And the journey's finished. But after coming all that way I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me, somehow, if you understand.' ...'Maybe not, Sam... ...but it's like things are in the world. Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now. We are lost in ruin and downfall, and there is no escape.'
...'Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place here, from this Crack of Doom, if that's its name...'
...'...Very well, Sam. If you wish to go, I'll come,' said Frodo; and they rose and went slowly down... ...towards the Mountain's quaking feet, a great smoke and steam belched from the Sammath Naur, and the side of the cone was riven open, and a huge fiery vomit rolled in slow thunderous cascade down the eastern mountain-side.
...Frodo and Sam could go no further. Their last strength of mind and body was swiftly ebbing. They had reached a low ashen hill piled at the Mountain's foot; but from it there was no more escape....
......And so it was that Gwaihir saw them with his keen far-seeing eyes, as down the wild wind he came... ...two small dark figures, forlorn, hand in hand upon a little hill, while the world shook under them... ...And even as he espied them and came swooping down, he saw them fall, worn out, or choked with fumes and heat, or stricken down by despair at last, hiding their eyes from death.
...Side by side they lay; and down swept Gwaihir, and down came Landroval and Meneldor the swift; and in a dream, not knowing what fate had befallen them, the wanderers were lifted up and borne far away..."
6. Minas Tirith
(from the appendices)
..."And so the fifth day came since the Lady Éowyn went first to Faramir; and they stood now together once more upon the wall of the City and looked out. No tidings had yet come, and all hearts were darkened...
...'...What do you look for, Éowyn?' said Faramir.
...'Does not the Black Gate lie yonder?' said she. 'And must he not now be come thither? It is seven days since he rode away.'
...'Seven day,' said Faramir. 'But think not ill of me, if I say to you: they have brought me both a joy and a pain that I never thought to know. Joy to see you; but pain, because now the fear and doubt of this evil time are grown dark indeed. Éowyn, I would not have this world end now, or lose so soon what I have found.'
...'Lose what you have found, lord?' she answered... '...I know not what in these days you have found that you could lose. But come, my friend, let us not speak of it! Let us not speak at all! I stand upon some dreadful brink, and it is utterly dark in the abyss before my feet... ...I wait for some stroke of doom.'
...'Yes, we wait for the stroke of doom,' said Faramir. And they said no more... ...And as they stood so, their hands met and clasped, though they did not know it. And still they waited for they knew not what. Then... ...above the ridges of the distant mountains another vast mountain of darkness rose, towering up like a wave that should engulf the world, and about it lightnings flickered; and then a tremor ran through the earth, and they felt the walls of the City quiver. A sound like a sigh went up from all the lands about them; and their hearts beat suddenly again.
...'It reminds me of Númenor,' said Faramir, and wondered to hear himself speak.
...'Yes,' said Faramir, 'of the land of Westernesse that foundered, and of the great dark wave climbing over the green lands and above the hills, and coming on, darkness inescapable. I often dream of it.'
...'Then you think that the Darkness is coming... ...Darkness Unescapable?' And suddenly she drew close to him.
...'No,' said Faramir, looking into her face. 'It was but a picture in the mind. I do not know what is happening. The reason of my waking mind tells me that great evil has befallen and we stand at the end of days. But my heart says nay; and all my limbs are light, and a hope and joy are come to me that no reason can deny. Éowyn, Éowyn, White Lady of Rohan, in this hour I do not believe that any darkness will endure!' And he stooped and kissed her brow...
.....And before the Sun had fallen far from the noon out of the East there came a great Eagle flying, and he bore tidings beyond hope from the Lords of the West, crying: 'Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor, for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever, and the Dark Tower is thrown down.'"
7. Gondor proclaims their New Year on this date.
(not from the appendices)
[Gandalf speaking to Sam after he wakes in The Field of Cormallen]
... '...in Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King.'"
March 25, 3020 (S.R. 1420)
1. Frodo comes home.
(not from the appendices)
..."Sam stayed at first at the Cottons' with Frodo; but when the New Row was ready he went with the Gaffer. In addition to all his other labours he was busy directing the cleaning up and restoring of Bag End; but he was often away in the Shire on his forestry work... ...meanwhile Bag End had been set in order and Merry and Pippin came over from Crickhollow bringing back all the old furniture and gear, so that the old hole soon looked very much as it always had done."
March 25, 3021 (S.R. 1421)
1. Birth of Elanor the Fair, daughter of Samwise.
(from the appendices)
..."Frodo was ill again in March, but with a great effort he concealed it... ...Sam had other things to think about. The first of Sam and Rosie's children was born on the twenty-fifth of March, a date that Sam noted.
...'Well, Mr. Frodo,' he said. 'I'm in a bit of a fix. Rose and me had settled to call him Frodo... ...but it's not him, it's her. Though as pretty a maidchild as any one could hope for... ...So we don't know what to do.'
...'Well, Sam,' said Frodo, 'what's wrong with the old customs? Choose a flower name like Rose. Half the maidchildren in the Shire are called by such names, and what could be better?'
...'I suppose you're right, Mr. Frodo... ...I've heard some beautiful names on my travels, but I suppose they're a bit too grand for daily wear and tear... ...The Gaffer, he says: "Make it short, and then you won't have to cut it short before you can use it." But if it's to be a flower-name, then I don't trouble about the length: it must be a beautiful flower, because, you see, I think she is very beautiful, and is going to be beautifuller still.'
...Frodo thought for a moment. 'Well, Sam, what about elanor, the sun-star, you remember the little golden flower in the grass of Lothlórien?'
...'You're right again, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam delighted. 'That's what I wanted.'"
March 25, 2003
Tolkien Reading Day
...Launched in 2003 by the Tolkien Society, this annual event is a celebration of J.R.R. Tolkien's works. It encourages individuals, library groups, and education to engage in the study, discussion, and just plain enjoyment of life in Middle-earth... and beyond. The date of March 25 was chosen in honour of the fall of Sauron and the destruction of the One Ring.
We have been there and back again.
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