See here for the playthrough report.
When Frodo came to himself he was still clutching the Ring desperately. He was lying by the fire, which was now piled high and burning brightly. His companions were bending over him. “What has happened? Where is the pale king?” he asked wildly. They were too overjoyed to hear him speak to answer for a while; nor did they understand his question. At length he gathered from Sam that they had seen nothing but the vague shadowy shapes coming towards them. Suddenly to his horror Sam found that his master had vanished; and at that moment a black shadow rushed past him, and he fell. He heard Frodo’s voice, but it seemed to come from a great distance, or from under the earth, crying out strange words. They saw nothing more, until they stumbled over the body of Frodo, lying as if dead, face downwards on the grass with his sword beneath him. Haladon ordered them to pick him up and lay him near the fire, and then he and Gildor disappeared. That was now a good while ago.
While they were talking he returned, appearing suddenly out of the shadows. They started, and Sam drew his sword and stood over Frodo; but Haladon knelt down swiftly at his side.
“Have no fear Sam, I am not a Black Rider,” he said gently, a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, “nor even in league with them. I have been trying to discover something of their movements; but I have found nothing. I cannot think why they have gone and do not attack again. But there is no feeling of their presence anywhere at hand. Gildor has continued the search for them, but I was compelled to return” When he heard what Frodo had to tell, he became full of concern, and shook his head and sighed. Then he ordered Dori and Merry to heat as much water as they could in their small kettles, and to bathe the wound with it. “Keep the fire going well, and keep Frodo warm!” he said. Then he got up and walked away, and called Sam to him. “I think I understand things better now,” he said in a low voice. “There seem only to have been two of the enemy. Why they were not all here, I don’t know; but I don’t think they expected to be resisted. They have drawn off for the time being. But not far, I fear. They will come again another night, if we cannot escape. They are only waiting, because they think that their purpose is almost accomplished, and that the Ring cannot fly much further. I fear, Sam, that they believe your master has a deadly wound that will subdue him to their will. We shall see!” Sam choked with tears. “Don’t despair!’ said Haladon. “We have persevered through much together thus far and you must trust me now. Your Frodo is made of sterner stuff than I had guessed. He is not slain, and I think he will resist the evil power of the wound longer than his enemies expect. I will do all I can to help and heal him. Guard him well, while I am away! If I do not return in two hours, Findol will lead you onward, he shall see you safely to Rivendell.” Then he hurried off and disappeared again into the darkness.
Frodo dozed, though the pain of his wound was slowly growing, and a deadly chill was spreading from his shoulder to his arm and side. His friends watched over him, warming him, and bathing his wound. The night passed slowly and wearily. Dawn was growing in the sky, and the dell was filling with grey light, when Findol at last stood.
“We can wait no longer. Frodo’s wound is growing more severe, and soon I fear he shall be beyond our power to save,” he said. “We must leave this place and make for Imladris with all haste. In any case we are in great peril here after dark, since the attack of last night, and we can hardly meet greater danger wherever we go.”
As soon as the daylight was full, they had some hurried food and packed. It was impossible for Frodo to walk, so they divided the greater part of their baggage among them, and put Frodo on Eothain’s horse. They started off in a southerly direction. This would mean crossing the Road, but. it was the quickest way to more wooded country. And they needed fuel; for Findol said that Frodo must be kept warm, especially at night, while fire would be some protection for them all. It was also his plan to shorten their journey by cutting across another great loop of the Road: east beyond Weathertop it changed its course and took a wide bend northwards.
They made their way slowly and cautiously round the south-western slopes of the hill, and came in a little while to the edge of the Road. There was no sign of the Riders. But even as they were hurrying across they heard far away two cries: a cold voice calling and a cold voice answering. Trembling they sprang forward, and made for the thickets that lay ahead. The land before them sloped away southwards, but it was wild and pathless; bushes and stunted trees grew in dense patches with wide barren spaces in between. The grass was scanty, coarse, and grey; and the leaves in the thickets were faded and falling. It was a cheerless land, and their journey was slow and gloomy. They spoke little as they trudged along. Frodo’s heart was grieved as he watched them walking beside him with their heads down, and their backs bowed under their burdens. Even the sturdy dwarves seemed tired and heavy-hearted.
Before the first day’s march was over Frodo’s pain began to grow again, but he did not speak of it for a long time. Four days passed, without the ground or the scene changing much, except that behind them Weathertop slowly sank, and before them the distant mountains loomed a little nearer. Yet since that far cry they had seen and heard no sign that the enemy had marked their flight or followed them. They dreaded the dark hours, and kept watch in pairs by night, expecting at any time to see black shapes stalking in the grey night, dimly lit by the cloud-veiled moon; but they saw nothing, and heard no sound but the sigh of withered leaves and grass. Not once did they feel the sense of present evil that had assailed them before the attack in the dell. It seemed too much to hope that the Riders had already lost their trail again. Perhaps they were waiting to make some ambush in a narrow place?
At the end of the fifth day the ground began once more to rise slowly out of the wide shallow valley into which they had descended. Findol now turned their course again north-eastwards, and on the sixth day they reached the top of a long slow-climbing slope, and saw far ahead a huddle of wooded hills. Away below them they could see the Road sweeping round the feet of the hills; and to their right a grey river gleamed pale in the thin sunshine. In the distance they glimpsed yet another river in a stony valley half-veiled in mist.
“I am afraid we must go back to the Road here for a while,” said Findol. “We have now come to the River Hoarwell, that the Elves call Mitheithel. It flows down out of the Ettenmoors, the troll-fells north of Rivendell, and joins the Loudwater away in the South. Some call it the Greyflood after that. It is a great water before it finds the Sea. There is no way over it below its sources in the Ettenmoors, except by the Last Bridge on which the Road crosses.”
“What is that other river we can see far away there?” asked Merry.
“That is what is called by men Loudwater, the Bruinen of Rivendell,” answered Findol. “The Road runs along the edge of the hills for many miles from the Bridge to the Ford of Bruinen. But I have not yet thought how we shall cross that water. One river at a time! We shall be fortunate indeed if we do not find the Last Bridge held against us.”
Next day, early in the morning, they came down again to the borders of the Road. Sam and Findol went forward, but they found no sign of any travelers or riders. Here under the shadow of the hills there had been some rain. Findol judged that it had fallen two days before, and had washed away all footprints. No horseman had passed since then, as far as he could see. The pair stole their way back to the company and reported what they had seen.
“Well then,” said Bilbo, “it seems as though we are left with little choice now but to cross the Bridge and hope against hopes the Riders do not find us there.”
The company started with fright, for all too near it seemed a piercing cry stabbed through the morning air, cutting through to their bones. Dori cursed under his breath, “They are nearly upon us! Do we hide or flee, master elf?” he asked of Findol.
“The call came from the west. We must fly now, across the Bridge before our enemy seizes it as a point of passage.” With that the company scrambled down to the Road as quick as they were able. After they gathered themselves on the Road, the company set off to the river with as much haste as they could muster, Findol leading with Eothain taking the rear, watching for any sign of approaching Riders.
After a mile or two they saw the Last Bridge ahead, at the bottom of a short steep slope. Findol turned to the company and drew breath to speak, when the man of Rohan cried aloud, “Onward! The Enemy comes! Fly now!” Plunging down the hill, the company were relieved to see no black figures waiting for them, but the heavy sound of hoofbeats on the Road behind them spurred them on so that even if there had been they would not have paused, but rushed their foe in desperation. Findol urged the hobbits and dwarves on and took the remainder of his kin to the rear of the group to aid Eothain in delaying their pursuers as long as they could. Merry stole a glance over his shoulder as they reached the bridge and the sight he beheld chilled his heart colder than any blast of northern snow ever could, for cresting the ridge they had just left were a pair of horsemen robed in black, holding long cruel swords by their sides. With a fell cry, the pair plunged down the hill in pursuit, spurring on their black steeds as they closed with the rearguard of the company.
Not daring to look back, the hobbits pushed onwards, followed closely by Bofur and Dori. The Bridge itself was long and narrow, for although the waters it spanned were not particularly wide, the ravine housing the river was rather deep and shaped like an arrow-head so that the gap covered was easily four or five times wider than the river itself. The stonework was ancient and graceful as the columns supporting it stood proudly against the flow of the river, daring it to even attempt to bring down the crossing. The Road itself was set with great paving stones on the bridge, large enough that two or three hobbits might have comfortably stood on a single one, with walls running along the sides high enough that the hobbits’ heads only barely crested it, but the bridge was only wide enough for two horse to pass each other, anything larger such as a cart would have to wait until the Bridge was clear before attempting the crossing.
At the each end of the bridge sat what were once small gatehouses, from which in their ascendancy a small garrison of the Men of Arnor would have been able to hold the crossing against a much larger force, for it would have been difficult to attack the gatehouses with any powerful siege equipment without risking the Bridge itself, though now both gatehouses lacked their defining features and were little more than archways under which travellers passed without so much as a second thought, time and scavengers having wrecked more damage than any host out of Angmar ever managed. Despite its dilapidated state however, the Dunedain had several times used the Bridge as a choke-point at which they either bled the enemy for every step they took across it or even turned them back altogether, whether it be a marauding Orc-party seeking easy plunder, a roaming warg-pack and once even a troll that had become lost and wandered down from the Ettenmoors. With a handful of bowmen hidden on each archway and spearmen in each gatehouse, the enemy would find themselves stopped from leaving the bridge on one or sometimes both ends by the spearmen, which arrows slowly picked off those trapped before them. Of the hobbits however, only Bilbo knew of its history, and as they passed from the warm earthen path onto the cool paving stones his mind flitted back to his time in Rivendell where he had studied the Fall of Arnor from those there in Imladris who could remember the events described in his books as though it were only a week past.
Led by Merry with his sword drawn, the hobbits dashed under the archway leading on to the Bridge, not pausing to contemplate its construction or history, though Bofur cast an appreciative eye over the craft of stonework as he and Dori followed their companions. “I’m sure we did much less running”, puffed Dori as they went.
“I’m sure we did,” returned Bofur, “I’m sure our belts will fit us looser than they did when we left Erebor.”
“It’s a good thing we didn’t bring Bofur, he’d have to be rolled instead of running.”
“Aye, we’ll we could have just gotten him to sit in the arch behind us. I’d like to see those Black Riders try and get past that.”
Dori could not stifle a laugh, startling Tom Cotton who was just ahead of them. “Are they always like this?” he asked Bilbo.
“I see it as a good sign. With dwarves, it is often when they fall silent that one needs to have cause for a concern,” the older hobbit reassured.
From atop Eothain’s horse, Frodo was able to turn and see over the heads of his companions to the skirmish just before the Bridge. The melee had turned into a fighting retreat with the elves and Eothain moving toward the archway in an attempt to use it to keep the Nazgul in front of them. One of the black figures was unhorsed and fighting on foot, while the other was wheeling about on his horse trying to use its momentum to break through the defenders. The fallen body of one of the elves lay prone on the ground where the Riders’ charge had met the defenders. Gasping with the pain as his shoulder ached, with fresh lances of torment stabbing into him with every jolt from the horse’s motion, the hobbit buried his face into the back of his mount’s neck, desperately trying to block out the agony. Beside him, Bilbo turned to see how their companions were faring and let out a cry of dismay, for just over the ridge had appeared a second pair of the dread horsemen. They paused on top of the hill, as though surveying the scene before them before they too wailed and galloped down toward the melee. The old hobbit called out a warning to Findol and the others, who were already sorely pressed to keep the first two Ringwraiths at bay. Seeing the danger before Bilbo’s call reached them, the elves together pushed back the Nazgul on foot, a small dagger was hurled into the other’s horse and then as one they turned in flight before the fresh reinforcements, desperately trying to outpace the thundering steeds of the Black Riders.
The hobbits were nearing the end of the bridge when Pippin bent as he ran and scooped up a small pale-green jewel. “Look here Sam,” he panted as they ran, “it’s another one of those elf-stones. Do you think that maybe…”
“Ain’t got no time nor puff to be thinking, begging your pardon Master Pippin,” gasped Sam, “we needs to be off this bridge as quick as possible.”
“By my beard!” Dori shouted from the back, “Would you two just hold your tongues and run!”
Sam flushed red and lowered his head, desperately trying to maintain pace with Eothain’s trotting horse. “Don’t worry Sam,” Frodo mumbled so the dwarf couldn’t hear, “he doesn’t mean anything by it.”
“I know Mr Frodo,” Sam said, “it’s just, look up ahead! See there!”
Raising his head, Frodo squinted his eyes to try and see through the pain. He could make out a dark figure stepping into the archway of the gatehouse before them, raising his arms as if to bar their way. “Another one!” Frodo cried.
Behind him Bofur laughed, “I should think not lad. Not unless these Black Riders have shrunk a foot and have grown beards!”
Frodo looked again, his blurred vision slowly coming into focus. Before them stood not a Ringwraith as he feared, but a dwarf with a red beard, clad in red leather armour and wielding a stout two-headed axe. “There you are!” the newly arrived dwarf bellowed at them. “I have been searching this infernal wilderness for days now, looking for your worthless hides. I am half-starved, been eaten alive by insects of every shape and size and my tinderbox got wet last night! Where have you been?” The dwarf’s face had become as red as his beard with the effort of his shouts, so much so that Pippin faltered in his pace towards him.
“Where were we?” returned an irate Dori, “Where were you? You had said you’d stay in Bree until we rejoined you! We were there a week ago, and there was no sign of your hide nor hair!”
Coming under the archway, the hobbits paused in their flight to regain their wind while Dori and Bofur greeted their erstwhile companion. “I was waiting for you at the inn there, when I was accosted by this ranger, called herself Elgarain or some such name, and told me there were spies of the Enemy lying in wait there. She told me the best thing I could do for your safety was to leave the town so as to lead them off. I made camp on a hill overlooking Bree that night and was woken from my sleep by a warning bell as it seemed half the town was on fire.”
“I’m afraid you must blame us for your broken sleep,” apologised Bilbo between breaths, “we were obliged to partake in a portion of arson to cover our escape. It would appear as though we just missed you that night, though we are glad to see you now.”
“And yourselves also, Master Baggins. If word got back to my father I’d let his old friend get himself killed before you’d even got to Rivendell he would never let me hear the end of it. He’d say that at least he got you to confront a dragon before your life was in any serious danger,” Gimli said with a chuckle, “but tell me, who are these dark horsemen pursuing you? And what is wrong with this lad here?”
“This lad, as you called me,” Frodo was able to manage a wry smile, “is his nephew, Frodo son of Drogo, at your service. And those horsemen are the ones who have injured me so. We are on our way to Rivendell where we hope Elrond might be able to heal me.”
The dwarf bowed low, “Gimli, son of Gloin, at your’s and your family’s. Well in that case, we had best be off. How is your energy?”
“That depends,” answered Bofur, “we dwarves are natural sprinters, but are wasted on cross-country.”
“And I don’t think we can manage much further without collapsing,” panted Tom Cotton, prompting a wheezing Fatty to shake his head vigorously.
The company broke into a run however, as Findol called from behind them to flee before it was too late. Bofur cursed under his breath, “We can’t even stop for two minutes for a breather. I’ll be glad to see the back of those wraiths, let me tell you that.”
Gimli led the company off the Bridge, rounded a corner in the Road and turned left off of it, through a wall of bushes that clawed and scratched at them as they passed into a narrow ravine that led away through the steep lands that lay to their north. As they turned the corner, Frodo turned back to see Findol and the close the distance to them, but Eothain was not with them. Under the archway leading off the Bridge he stood, tall and fair as his fathers before him. Wielding the sword of his line, Eothain son of Eothred faced the Nazgul of Mordor alone with a song on his lips, and was never again seen on the green hills of Rohan.
The company were glad to leave the cheerless lands and the perilous Road behind them; but sorrow filled their hearts at the loss of Eothain, who they had come to regard as a friend on their journey together, and this new country seemed threatening and unfriendly. As they went forward the hills about them steadily rose. Here and there upon heights and ridges they caught glimpses of ancient walls of stone, and the ruins of towers: they had an ominous look. Frodo, who was not walking, had time to gaze ahead and to think. He recalled Bilbo’s account of his journey and the threatening towers on the hills north of the Road, in the country near the Troll’s wood where his first serious adventure had happened. Frodo guessed that they were now in the same region, and wondered if by chance they would pass near the spot.
“Who lives in this land?” he asked. “And who built these towers? Is this troll-country?”
“No!” said Findol. “Trolls do not build. No one lives in this land. Men once dwelt here, ages ago; but none remain now. They became an evil people, as legends tell, for they fell under the shadow of Angmar. But all were destroyed in the war that brought the North Kingdom to its end. But that is now so long ago that the hills have forgotten them, though a shadow still lies on the land.”
“Where did you learn such tales, if all the land is empty and forgetful?” asked Peregrin. “The birds and beasts do not tell tales of that son.”
“I have seen many of these things come to pass myself,” said Findol; “but many more things than I can tell are remembered in Rivendell.”
Fatty was a little ahead of the others. Suddenly he turned round and called to them. ‘There is a path here!’ he cried.
When they came up with him, they saw that he had made no mistake: there were clearly the beginnings of a path, that climbed with many windings out of the woods below and faded away on the hill-top behind. In places it was now faint and overgrown, or choked with fallen stones and trees; but at one time it seemed to have been much used. It was a path made by strong arms and heavy feet. Here and there old trees had been cut or broken down, and large rocks cloven or heaved aside to make a way.
They followed the track for some while, for it offered much the easiest way down, but they went cautiously, and their anxiety increased as they came into the dark woods, and the path grew plainer and broader. Suddenly coming out of a belt of fir-trees it ran steeply down a slope, and turned sharply to the left round the corner of a rocky shoulder of the hill. Merry and Tom Cotton went on ahead but had not gone very far before Tom came running back, followed by Merry. They both looked terrified.
“There are trolls!” Tom panted. “Down in a clearing in the woods not far below. We got a sight of them through the tree-trunks. They are very large!”
“Then we will come and look at them,” said Bofur, picking up a stick. Frodo said nothing, but Bilbo looked amused.
The sun was now high, and it shone down through the half-stripped branches of the trees, and lit the clearing with bright patches of light. They halted suddenly on the edge, and peered through the tree-trunks, holding their breath. There stood the trolls: three large trolls. One was stooping, and the other two stood staring at him.
Bofur walked forward unconcernedly. “Get up, old stone!” he said, and broke his stick upon the stooping troll.
Nothing happened. There was a gasp of astonishment from the hobbits, before Dori let of a laugh he had been stifling and then even Frodo joined him. “Well!” he said. “We are forgetting our family history! These must be the very three that were caught by Gandalf, quarrelling over the right way to cook thirteen dwarves and one hobbit.”
“I had no idea we were anywhere near the place, until these two came back shouting about trolls in broad daylight” said Bilbo. “In any case you might have noticed that one of them has an old bird’s nest behind his ear. That would be a most unusual ornament for a live troll!’
They all laughed. Frodo felt his spirits reviving: the reminder of Bilbo’s first successful adventure was heartening. The sun, too, was warm and comforting, and the mist before his eyes seemed to be lifting a little. They rested for some time in the glade, and took a meal right under the shadow of the trolls’ large legs.
In the afternoon they went on down the woods. After a few miles they came out on the top of a high bank above the Road. At this point the Road had left the Hoarwell far behind in its narrow valley, and now clung close to the feet of the hills, rolling and winding eastward among woods and heather-covered slopes towards the Ford and the Mountains. The Road lay quiet under the long shadows of early evening. There was no sign of any other travellers to be seen. As there was now no other possible course for them to take, they climbed down the bank, and turning left went off as fast as they could. Soon a shoulder of the hills cut off the light of the fast westering sun. A cold wind flowed down to meet them from the mountains ahead.
They were beginning to look out for a place off the Road, where they could camp for the night, when they heard a sound that brought sudden fear back into their hearts: the noise of hoofs behind them. They looked back, but they could not see far because of the many windings and rollings of the Road. As quickly as they could they scrambled off the beaten way and up into the deep heather and bilberry brushwood on the slopes above, until they came to a small patch of thick-growing hazels. As they peered out from among the bushes, they could see the Road, faint and grey in the failing light, some thirty feet below them. The sound of hoofs drew nearer.
They waited in the bush and watched as two Black Riders galloped along the Road going east. The company remained still, and not even Bill nickered as though he too wanted to remain hidden from the terror below them. Once Findol was satisfied they had passed beyond earshot, he led them down onto the Road. “We must make haste, who knows how long before they return.”
The Road was still running steadily downhill, and there was now in places much grass at either side, in which the hobbits walked when they could, to ease their tired feet. In the late afternoon they came to a place where the Road went suddenly under the dark shadow of tall pine-trees, and then plunged into a deep cutting with steep moist walls of red stone. Echoes ran along as they hurried forward; and there seemed to be a sound of many footfalls following their own. All at once, as if through a gate of light, the Road ran out again from the end of the tunnel into the open. There at the bottom of a sharp incline they saw before them a long flat mile, and beyond that the Ford of Rivendell. On the further side was a steep brown bank, threaded by a winding path; and behind that the tall mountains climbed, shoulder above shoulder, and peak beyond peak, into the fading sky.
There was still an echo as of following feet in the cutting behind them; a rushing noise as if a wind were rising and pouring through the branches of the pines. One moment Findol turned and listened, and soon even the hobbits could hear footsteps running behind them. Emerging out of the trees to their right Haladon was sprinting towards them, sword drawn and face pale with fright.
“Fly!” he called. “Fly! The enemy is upon us!”
The white horse of Rohan leaped forward. The company ran down the slope with Findol and the newly-returned Haladon following as rear-guard. They were only half-way across the flat, when suddenly there was a noise of horses galloping. Out of the gate in the trees that they had just left rode a Black Rider. He reined his horse in, and halted, swaying in his saddle. Another followed him, and then another.
He did not obey at once, for a strange reluctance seized him. Checking the horse to a walk, he turned and looked back. The Riders seemed to sit upon their great steeds like threatening statues upon a hill, dark and solid, while all the woods and land about them receded as if into a mist. Suddenly he knew in his heart that they were silently commanding him to wait. Then at once fear and hatred awoke in him. His hand left the bridle and gripped the hilt of his sword, and with a red flash he drew it.
“Ride on! Ride on!” cried Bilbo, and he slapped the horse. At once the white horse sprang away and sped like the wind along the last lap of the Road. At the same moment the black horses leaped down the hill in pursuit, and from the Riders came a terrible cry, such as Frodo had heard filling the woods with horror in the Eastfarthing far away. It was answered; and to the dismay of Frodo and his friends out from the trees and rocks away on the left three other Riders came flying. One rode towards Frodo: two galloped madly towards the Ford to cut off his escape. They seemed to him to run like the wind and to grow swiftly larger and darker, as their courses converged with his.
Frodo looked back for a moment over his shoulder. He could see Findol and Haladon try to engage the Ringwraiths pursuing him but one rode over Haladon, driving him to the ground. The setting sun caught the blade of another Rider as it cut down into Findol’s back, leaving the elf sprawling on the Road. The rest of the company moved out of the path of the Black Riders, who were intent on the pursuit of Frodo, all except Dori who planted his feet and lowered his spear before him. The lead horse reared in fright at the blade stabbing at his underbelly, but the second and third wraiths overtook their delayed companion on either side of him. Overwhelmed, Dori dropped his spear and reached for his hand axe, but his war-cry died on his lips as he too was cut down where he stood in defiance.
Despite their ferocity, the Riders behind were falling back: even their great steeds were no match in speed for the white steed of the Mark. He looked forward again, and hope faded. There seemed no chance of reaching the Ford before he was cut off by the others that had lain in ambush. He could see them clearly now: they appeared to have cast aside their hoods and black cloaks, and they were robed in white and grey. Swords were naked in their pale hands; helms were on their heads. Their cold eyes glittered, and they called to him with fell voices. Suddenly an arrow shot from the trees the ambushers had just left, embedding itself in the lead Nazgul’s horse. With a scream, the mount collapsed, throwing its rider in a heap onto the ground. Frodo looked and saw a figure sprinting from the tree line toward the crossing, nocking an arrow in a great bow as they went. They paused to loose their shot, which embedded itself in another horses haunch but did not deter its pace. Then another cry came from the trees and a seventh Rider burst from them, charging toward the lone archer. Caught in the open, Frodo could only watch as the Nazgul cut down his unknown ally with a single stroke of their sword. The pain in Frodo’s shoulder swole as the distance between him and the wraiths closes. Fear filling his mind, Frodo shut his eyes and buried his head into the mane of his horse.
Frodo heard the splash of water. It foamed about his feet. He felt the quick heave and surge as the horse left the river and struggled up the stony path. He was climbing the steep bank. He was across the Ford.
But the pursuers were close behind. At the top of the bank the horse halted and turned about neighing fiercely. There were six of the Nine Riders at the water’s edge below, a seventh was on foot and closing fast, and Frodo’s spirit quailed before the threat of their uplifted faces. He knew of nothing that would prevent them from crossing as easily as he had done; and he felt that it was useless to try to escape over the long uncertain path from the Ford to the edge of Rivendell, if once the Riders crossed. In any case he felt that he was commanded urgently to halt. Hatred again stirred in him, but he had no longer the strength to refuse.
Suddenly the foremost Rider spurred his horse forward. It checked at the water and reared up. With a great effort Frodo sat upright and brandished his sword.
“Go back!” he cried. “Go back to the Land of Mordor, and follow me no more!” His voice sounded thin and shrill in his own ears. The Riders halted, but Frodo had not the power of Gildor. His enemies laughed at him with a harsh and chilling laughter. “Come back! Come back!” they called. “To Mordor we will take you!”
“Go back!” he whispered.
“The Ring! The Ring!” they cried with deadly voices; and immediately their leader urged his horse forward into the water, followed closely by two others.
“By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair,” said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, “you shall have neither the Ring nor me!”
Then the leader, who was now half across the Ford, stood up menacing in his stirrups, and raised up his hand. Frodo was stricken dumb. He felt his tongue cleave to his mouth, and his heart labouring. The power and weight of the Ring felt heavy on his mind. His sword broke and fell out of his shaking hand. The horse of Rohan reared and snorted. The foremost of the black horses had almost set foot upon the shore.
At that moment there came a roaring and a rushing: a noise of loud waters rolling many stones. Dimly Frodo saw the river below him rise, and down along its course there came a plumed cavalry of waves. White flames seemed to Frodo to flicker on their crests and he half fancied that he saw amid the water white riders upon white horses with frothing manes. The three Riders that were still in the midst of the Ford were overwhelmed: they disappeared, buried suddenly under angry foam. Those that were behind drew back in dismay.
With his last failing senses Frodo heard cries, and it seemed to him that he saw, beyond the Riders that hesitated on the shore, shadowy figures wielding flames. The black horses were filled with madness, and leaping forward in terror they bore their riders into the rushing flood. Their piercing cries were drowned in the roaring of the river as it carried them away. Then Frodo felt himself falling, and the roaring and confusion seemed to rise and engulf him together with his enemies. He heard and saw no more.