CD No. 3 Episode III: The Knife in the Dark

[The fire crackles. Merry struggles to catch his breath]

Merry: I have seen them, Frodo! I have seen them, here, in the village. The Black Riders!

Frodo: Merry!

Sam: What is it, Mr. Merry?

Pippin: Are you all right?

Merry: Yes. B - but, I've seen the Riders!

Nob: I found him, sir.

Frodo: Go on, Nob!

Nob: Well, sir, Mr. Butterbur sent me out with a lantern. I - I thought I could see something in the road. It... it looked as if two men were stooping over something, lifting it. I - I gave a shout, but when I got up the spot, there was no sign of them. O - only Mr. Brandybuck. He seemed to be asleep. And when I shook him, he said, "I thought I had fallen into deep water."

Merry: I don't remember what I said. I went to pieces. I - I don't know what came over me.

Aragorn: I do. It was the Black Breath.

Merry: Who are you?

Frodo: It's all right, Merry. This is Strider. He's a friend of Gandalf's. I will explain later.

Aragorn: Tell us what happened from the beginning.

Merry: Ehm, well, I stayed indoors for an hour. And then when the others didn't come back, I - I went out a stroll. I was standing, looking at the stars, when suddenly I shivered and felt that something horrible was creeping near: there was a sort of deeper shade among the shadows across the road. It slid away at once into the dark without a sound. I followed it as far as the last house on the road.

Aragorn: You have a brave heart, but it was foolish.

Merry: No, it was neither brave nor foolish. I couldn't help myself. I seemed to be drawn, somehow. Then... then something came behind me and I... I - I fell over.

Sam: Poor Mr. Merry!

Pippin: What will happen now, Strider? Will they attack the inn?

Aragorn: No, I think not. But you must all stay here in the parlour and you must not go to your rooms! For they are sure to have found out which those are. We will remain together and bar this window and the door. But first, Nob and I will tell old Butterbur what's happened and fetch your luggage from the other rooms.

- - - - -

Butterbur: Well, Masters. We've ruffled up the bed-clothes and put a bolster down the middle of each bed in case anyone comes meddlin'.

Nob: And I made a nice imitation of your head, Mr. Baggins.

Butterbur: Nob!

Nob: Oh! Eh, sir, Underhill, sir! With a brown woollen mat.

Frodo: Thank you, Nob.

Pippin: That sounds most life-like! But what will happen once they've penetrated the disguise?

Aragorn: We shall see. Let us hope to hold the fort till morning.

Butterbur: Don't you worry, Strider! We won't let 'em in if they come. Well, good-night to you all. Come on, Nob!

Nob: Oh, yes, Mr. Butterbur.

Frodo: Good-night to you both.

Sam: Good-night.

Frodo: Oh, and thank you!

Pippin: Thank you.

- - - - -

Narrator: That night, Frodo's sleep was troubled by dreams.

[Frodo snores and mumbles to himself]

Frodo: Secret... the Ring.

[The sounds of Frodo's dream are heard: Riders gallop]

Frodo: It's Gandalf... Gandal... Secret.

[The horses in Frodo's dream become nearer and louder. Frodo moans. A Nazgûl screams. Frodo wakes with a start, gasping. The horse-hooves fade away]

[A rooster crows. The door opens]

Frodo: No!

[He gasps and his breathing steadies]

Frodo: Is it morning already?

Aragorn: Yes, and we must be up and gone from here without delay.

Frodo: Which way are we to go, Strider?

Aragorn: Well, we can hardly hope to leave Bree unnoticed, but I shall try to get us lost as soon as possible. And if we once shake off pursuit, I shall make for Weathertop.

Frodo: Weathertop? W - where... what's that?

Aragorn: It's a hill, just north of the Road, about half way from here to Rivendell. But now we must wake the others.

Frodo: Yes. Yes, I feel very relunctant to leave, but I know that leave I must. Pippin, come on!

[The hobbits groan and mumble as they wake]

Frodo: Merry! Sam! Sam, time to get up.

Pippin: Oh, and I was having such an enjoyable dream about you and that absurd song of yours last night. The cow jumped over the moon indeed! And right in the middle of my story. And then to go and disappear as well. How very ridiculous of you, Frodo!

[Frodo laughs]

Merry: Oh, I wish I'd been there to see it. The worthies of Bree will be discussing it a hundred years hence.

Aragorn: I hope so, Merry. I hope so!

[Butterbur runs in]

Butterbur: Oh, oh! Never has such a thing happened in my time.

Aragorn: What's the matter, Barliman?

Butterbur: A raid on the Pony! I never thought I'd live to see the day.

Frodo: M... Mr. Butterbur, what's happened?

Butterbur: Oh, Mr. Underhill, you're in greater danger than you know. Someone broke into the inn last night!

[Frodo gasps]

Aragorn: I thought you said you and your folk would watch!

Butterbur: We did! I haven't closed my eyes all night but I never heard a sound. But it's a good job you weren't in your beds. They forced the windows and they slashed the bolsters! And that there brown mat that Nob made to look like Mr. Underhill's head, beggin' your pardon, was torn to pieces.

[The hobbits gasp]

Aragorn: We must be gone at once.

Butterbur: But you can't!

Merry: What do you mean? Why can't we?

Butterbur: They broke into the stable and took every pony and horse in the place.

Frodo: Ah! This is terrible!

Aragorn: Well, anyway, ponies would not have helped us to escape horsemen. It is food and stores that trouble me. We cannot count on getting anything to eat between here and Rivendell. How much are you prepared to carry on your backs?

Pippin: As much as we must.

Sam: Well, I can carry enough for two.

Frodo: Oh, can't anything be done, Mr. Butterbur?

Butterbur: Well, I...

Frodo: I mean, can't we get a couple of pon... or even one for the baggage? I don't suppose we could hire them. But, well - but we might be able to buy them?

Butterbur: Well, I doubt it, but I'll do what I can. I'll rout out Bob and send him round as soon as maybe.

Aragorn: Yes, you had better do that. I'm afraid that ends all hope of our starting early and slipping away quietly.

Butterbur: I'm afraid so. Oh, to think of it! A raid... on The Prancing Pony...

- - - - -

Narrator: After their breakfast, the hobbits had to repack and get together further supplies for the longer journey they were now expecting. It was close on ten o'clock before they at last got off.

[Butterbur pulls a relunctant pony by its reins]

Butterbur: Come on! Come on, come on! No - come on.

Frodo: Ah!

Butterbur: Oh, well. We've got your pony, of sorts, Mr. Underhill. Well, he's a poor old half-starved creature.

Frodo: Ah...

[The pony neighs]

Frodo: How did you manage it?

Butterbur: Well, I'm afraid he belonged to Bill Ferny.

Pippin: Who's Bill Ferny?

Butterbur: Oh, he's a bad man, Mr. Took, with an evil name in Breeland. And queer folk call at his house.

Aragorn: And what's worse, I think I saw him creep out of the inn last night, after Mr. Underhill's accident.

Butterbur: Did he now? Then I guess that's how those Black Riders knew you were staying here, and which rooms you were likely to be in.

Aragorn: Barliman's right. It was probably Ferny who sold them news of you. He would sell anything to anybody.

Butterbur: Yeah, and now he's sold me his pony, and for twelve silver pennies, what's more. Which is at least three times what it's worth.

Frodo: Twelve pennies! Oh, I don't think I can afford that, Mr...

Butterbur: Oh, Lord bless you, Mr. Underhill! I've paid for the pony. And I hope as Mr. Brandybuck will accept eighteen pennies more, as payment for his other ponies.

[He pulls out the coins]

Frodo: What?

Merry: Oh, no! No, no, I couldn't, Mr. Butterbur. It - it's not your fault they were stolen.

Butterbur: Strider might not agree about that. Well, anyway! I insist.

[He gives the money to Merry]

Merry: Oh... thank you.

Butterbur: I promised Gandalf I'd do whatever I could for you, and... and so far, I've done precious little to help.

Aragorn: And now, we've delayed long enough. We must start at once. Sam, load up the pony.

Sam: Yes, Mr. Strider!

[Sam straps the baggage to the pony]

Frodo: Well, thank you, Mr. Butterbur. I hope we shall meet again, someday, when things are merry once more. I should like nothing better than to stay in your house in peace for a while.

Butterbur: And I should like nothing better than to have you all.

Aragorn: If Gandalf comes, Barliman, tell him what's happened, and that we are heading for Weathertop...

Butterbur: Yes.

Aragorn: ...and then to Rivendell.

Butterbur: Yes. Yes, I will.

Aragorn: Well, make sure you do. And don't let one thing drive out another this time.

Butterbur: No, no! Of course not. I'll remember all right.

[Sam slaps the pony, who neighs]

Sam: Come on, you miserable old creature. Come on! Come on over here.

[Sam leads the pony]

- - - - -

[The pony walks along the road]

Aragorn: This is where we leave the open road and take to cover.

Pippin: Not a short cut! Our last one nearly got us lost.

Aragorn: Ah, but you had not got Strider with you then. My cuts, short or long, don't go wrong.

Merry: Then, eh... why are we going the wrong way, already?

Aragorn: Quite simply because Bill Ferny would have watched where we left the road, for certain. Though I don't think he will follow us himself. But it is what he may tell the others that I am afraid of. I don't suppose the Riders are far away. We will double-back, soon enough. But if they think we have gone in this direction, so much the better.

- - - - -

Narrator: The next day, they began to steer a steady course eastwards. All was quiet and peaceful. But on the third day out from Bree, they drew near the Midgewater Marshes.

[The hobbits and Aragorn struggle through the watery ground. Midges swarm around them]

Sam: I don't like these Marshes, Mr. Strider!

Aragorn: Nor do I, Sam. Even the Rangers do not have a trail here. So we must be very careful not to lose our way! Much of Midgewater is little more than a shifting quagmire.

Pippin: I'm being eaten alive! Midgewater! There are more midges than water!

Sam: What I want to know is, what do they live on when they can't get hobbit?

[They laugh]

- - - - -

Narrator: The next day, the fourth, was little better. But by the fifth day, they had left the straggling pools and reed-beds of the Marshes behind them. The land before them began steadily to rise. And away in the distance, eastward, they could see a line of hills. The highest of them had a conical top, slightly flattened at the summit.

[The pony walks. A wind blows]

Aragorn: That is Weathertop. We might reach it by noon tomorrow if we go straight towards it. I suppose we had better do so.

Frodo: What do you mean?

Aragorn: I mean, when we do get there, it is not certain what we shall find.

Frodo: Why? What do you fear?

Aragorn: There is of course a faint hope that we may meet with Gandalf there, but I am afraid that if the Riders don't find us in the wilderness, they are likely to make for Weathertop themselves.

Frodo: What do you advise us to do?

Aragorn: I think... I think the best thing is to go straight eastward and make for the line of hills, not for Weathertop. That way, we can come to Weathertop from the North and less openly. Then we shall see what we shall see!

Pippin: But why haven't we seen anything of those Riders, if they're still after us?

Aragorn: They may not yet have had news of us. And not all the birds are to be trusted, and there are other spies more evil than they are.

Sam: You do make me feel uncomfortable and lonesome, Strider!

Aragorn: I am sorry, Sam. But I fear there is little comfort for us, at present.

Merry: Strider, did enemies make these paths to Weathertop?

Aragorn: No, this path was made to serve the Watchtower of Amon Sûl, that once stood upon its top. It was burned and broken by a terrible enemy, who is now but a servant of the Enemy we face. It is told that Elendil stood there watching for the coming of Gil-galad out of the West.

Pippin: When was that?

Aragorn: Long ago, in the days of the Last Alliance between Men and Elves.

Merry: And who was Gil-galad?


Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.

His sword was long, his lance was keen,
his shining helm afar was seen;
the countless stars of heaven's field
were mirrored in his silver shield.

But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are.

Merry: Oh, don't stop, Sam!

Sam: Well, that's all I know. I learned it from Mr. Bilbo when I was a lad. He used to tell me tales like that, knowing how I was always one for hearing about Elves.

Frodo: Ah! I am learning a lot about Mr. Sam Gamgee on this journey. If we're not careful, he'll end up by becoming a wizard, or a warrior!

Sam: Hoo! I hope not. I don't want to be neither.

Pippin: Fancy old Sam knowing all that history, while I never learned such things.

Sam: L - like I say, it was Mr. Bilbo as taught me. He was mighty book-learned, was old Mr. Bilbo. And he wrote poetry. He wrote what I've just sung.

Aragorn: He did not make it up. It is part of the lay that is called The Fall of Gil-galad, which is in an ancient tongue. Bilbo must have translated it.

Sam: There was a lot more, all about Mordor. I didn't learn that part, it gave me the shivers. I never thought I should be going that way myself!

Pippin: Going to Mordor! I hope it won't come to that!

Aragorn: Do not speak that name so loudly!

Pippin: Sorry, Strider.

- - - - -

Narrator: For the rest of that day, the travellers continued on their way, until they came, at last, to the summit of Weathertop.

[A strong, cold wind blows. They try to catch their breath]

Merry: Well, here we are!

Frodo: Yes.

Merry: And very cheerless and uninviting it looks! There is no water and no shelter. And no sign of Gandalf. Mind you, I don't blame him for not waiting, if he ever came here.

Aragorn: I wonder. Even if he was a day or two behind us at Bree, he could have arrived first. He can ride very swiftly, when pressed.

Pippin: Wouldn't he have waited for us?

Aragorn: I don't know, Pippin. But - what's this?

[Aragorn picks up a rock]

Frodo: Well - it's only a stone.

Aragorn: Yes, but - what do you make of these marks, Frodo?

Frodo: Give it to me. Ehm, well, they're scratches. A stroke, a - a dot, and three more strokes.

Aragorn: It might be a sign left by Gandalf.

Frodo: Ah!

Aragorn: Though one cannot be sure.

Merry: But what would they mean, if Gandalf made them?

Aragorn: Well, the first scratch might be the G-rune for Gandalf. If so, I should say they stood for G3, and were a sign that Gandalf was here on October the third: that is three days ago now. It would also show that he was in a hurry and danger was at hand, so that he had no time or did not dare to write anything longer or plainer.

Frodo: Yes.

Aragorn: I guess that he was attacked on this hilltop, but with what result, I cannot tell. He is here no longer, and we must now look after ourselves, and make our own way to Rivendell, as best we can.

Sam: How far is it to Rivendell?

Aragorn: It must be twelve days from here to the Ford of Bruinen, where the Road crosses the Loudwater that runs out of Rivendell. In all, we have at least a fortnight's journey before us.

Frodo: A fortnight! A lot may happen in that time.

Aragorn: Yes, it may.

Frodo: Look.

Aragorn: Get down - all of you!

[A Black Rider screams far below]

Frodo: What is it?

Aragorn: I don't know, but I fear the worst.

Pippin: What do you mean?

[It screams again]

Aragorn: I mean, I think it is the enemy.

Sam: Then hadn't we better clear out quick, Mr. Strider?

Aragorn: We must certainly decide what to do at once. We cannot reach anywhere before nightfall.

Frodo: Is there no escape, then? I, mean, eh - if I move, I shall be seen and hunted. And if I stay, I - I shall draw them to me!

Aragorn: There is still hope, Frodo! We must find a dell on the hillside and camp there, and we must build a fire. These Riders fear fire and those who wield it. Fire is our friend in the wilderness.

Sam: Maybe. It is also as good a way of saying "here we are" as I can think of, bar shouting.

- - - - -

[A fire crackles. The hobbits and Aragorn eat]

Merry: Strider, tell us of Gil-galad. Ehm, do you know any more of that old verse you spoke of?

Aragorn: I do indeed, Merry. And so does Frodo, for it concerns us closely.

Frodo: Oh, I... I only know the little Gandalf told me. Gil-galad was the last of the great elf-kings of Middle-earth. Gil-galad is Starlight in their tongue. Now, with Elendil, the Elf-friend, he went to the land of Mo -

Aragorn: No! I do not think that tale should be told now with the servants of the Enemy at hand.

Frodo: No.

Sam: Well, then tell us some other tale of the old days, a tale about Elves before the fading time. I would dearly like to hear more about Elves; the dark seems to press round so close.

Aragorn: I will tell you the tale of Beren and Lúthien, in brief - for it is a long tale of which the end is not known; and there are none now, except Elrond, that remember it aright as it was told of old. Lúthien was the daughter of Thingol, the King of the Elves upon Middle-earth when the world was young. And she was the fairest maiden that has ever been among all the children of the world. As the stars above the mist of the Northern Lands was her loveliness, and in her face was a shining light. Now, Beren was a mortal man who came once to the hidden kingdom of Thingol. And there he beheld Lúthien singing and dancing in a glade of the forest of Neldoreth; and he named her Tinúviel, that is Nightingale in the language of old. Many sorrows befell them afterwards and they were parted long. Tinúviel rescued Beren from the dungeons of Sauron, and together they passed through great danger. Yet, at the last, Beren was slain, and died in the arms of Tinúviel. But she chose mortality, and to die from this world, so that she might follow him. And it is sung that they met again beyond the Sundering Seas. And after a brief time walking alive once more in the green woods, together they passed, long ago, beyond the confines of this world. So it is that Lúthien Tinúviel alone of the Elf-kindred has died indeed and left the world, and they have lost her whom they most loved.

Pippin: Look! The moon is rising: it must be getting late.

Sam: I don't know why, Mr. Strider. But I'm afraid.

[Black Riders breathe and sigh in the distance]

Aragorn: Keep close to the fire, with your faces outward! Get some of the longer sticks in your hands!

Merry: Why? What is it?

[Aragorn hushes him]

Frodo: No...

Pippin: What's that?

[Frodo moans]

[The Black Riders begin to chant the Ring inscription:

Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.]

Lord of the Nazgûl:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

[Frodo moans and the Riders chant: The Ring! The Ring!]

Lord of the Nazgûl: Put on the Ring. Put on the Ring.

Frodo: The Ring!

[Frodo slips the Ring on]

Sam: Mr. Frodo! W - where are you? Where have you gone?

[The Black Riders sigh]

Frodo: Ah! I see you now! I see you!

[The Witch-king pulls out his sword]

Lord of the Nazgûl: The Ring!

[Frodo is stabbed]

Frodo: No!

[He screams]

Frodo: A Elbereth! Gilthoniel!

[He screams again. A flaming torch whips through the air]

Aragorn: Back! Back! Get back!

[The Riders retreat; their sighs fading away. Frodo removes the Ring]

Frodo: Strider... Strider...

Merry: Have they gone?

Aragorn: Yes, Merry. But not for long, I fear. There were only five of them. Why were then not all here? I don't know. But I do not think they expected to be resisted.

Sam: W - what have they done to Mr. Frodo?

Aragorn: He is wounded, Sam. I fear they believe that wound will subdue him to their will.

[Sam cries]

Aragorn: We shall see. Don't despair! You must trust me now. Your Frodo is made of sterner stuff than I guessed. Though Gandalf hinted that it might prove so. He is not slain. And I think he will resist the evil power of the wound longer than his enemies expect.

[Frodo groans]

Frodo: Where is the pale king? I saw him; I saw all of them. I saw their helms of silver and their swords of steel. I saw their pale faces. And those terrible eyes!

Pippin: Look! Over there.

Frodo: Hm?

Pippin: A cloak!

Sam: I'll fetch it, Mr. Frodo.

Frodo: Ah! It's his! It - it's his! It's his!

Aragorn: Let me see. Yes, look. Here is where Frodo's sword went in. But a cut in the cloak is the hurt that it did to this enemy, I fear. For the sword itself is unharmed. And all blades perish that pierce the dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth Gilthoniel, the Star-queen of old. And more deadly to Frodo was this!

[Frodo gasps]

Sam: Who's knife is that, Mr. Strider?

Aragorn: I believe it belongs to the one who attacked Frodo. It was this knife that gave him the wound. Ah! And its point has been broken off!

[The sword dissolves away]

Sam: Mr. Strider, look!

Merry: The blade! It's - it's melting!

Aragorn: Yes. It is an evil and accursed weapon, and few have the skill in healing wounds that that makes. Frodo?

[Frodo gasps loudly]

Aragorn: Frodo, we must go at once. We are in great peril here and we can hardly meet greater danger where-ever we go.

Frodo: Yes...

- - - - -

Narrator: The travellers started off in a southerly direction, and made their way slowly and cautiously. But there was no sign of the Riders. For days, they struggled on. And with each day that passed, Frodo's pain worsened.

[The hobbits struggle as they walk]

Merry: It's no good. We can't go any further! I'm afraid this has been too much for Frodo. I am dreadfully anxious about him. What are we to do? Do you think they will be able to heal him in Rivendell, if we ever get there?

Aragorn: We shall see, Merry. It's chiefly because of Frodo's wound that I am so anxious to press on. But I agree. We can go no further today.

Sam: But what is the matter with my master? His wound was small, and it's already closed. And there's nothing to be seen but a cold white mark on his shoulder.

Aragorn: Frodo has been touched by the weapons of the Enemy, and there is some poison or evil at work that is beyond my skill to drive out. But don't give up hope, Sam!

Pippin: But how long is it going to take us to get to Rivendell if we keep on trying to get through these pathless hills?

Aragorn: You're right, Pippin. Tomorrow, we must make for the Road again, whatever danger must beset us. The Road is our only way to the Ford.

- - - - -

Narrator: Back on the Road, they saw no sign of any other travellers. There being now no possible course for them to take, they trod the Road as fast as they could. As the shadows of early evening lengthened, a cold wind flowed down to meet them from the mountains ahead. Suddenly, they heard a sound that brought fear back into their hearts.

[A wind blows. Horse-hooves gallop down the Road towards them in the distance]

Aragorn: A horse! Quick, get off the Road!

[They run into the surrounding foliage]

Sam: Now then, Bill! Don't go throwin' Mr. Frodo off.

[Bill neighs]

Frodo: Bill? Who's Bill, Sam?

Sam: Why, it's the pony, sir. I named him after his old master, Bill Ferny.

[Frodo laughs]

Sam: Though perhaps that's insulting the poor creature.

Aragorn: Quiet! Get down.

[The horse grows nearer. Bells tinkle]

Frodo: That... that doesn't sound like a Black Rider's horse.

Aragorn: No. But we shall see. It's a white horse. Why, it's Glorfindel. Glorfindel! Glorfindel! Wait!

[The horse stops. Glorfindel is out of breath]

Glorfindel: Ai na vedui Dúnadan! Mae Govannen!

Pippin: It's an Elf!

Sam: So, that's an Elf!

Aragorn: It's all right! It's quite safe. This is Glorfindel, who lives in the house of Elrond Half-elven, at Rivendell.

Frodo: Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo.

Glorfindel: Hail, and well met at last, Frodo! I was sent from Rivendell to look for you. We feared that you were in danger upon the Road.

Frodo: Ah! Then Gandalf has reached Rivendell?

Glorfindel: No. He had not when I departed; but that was several days ago. No, we learned that the Nine were abroad and that you were astray bearing a great burden without guidance. But come! There is no time for further news! There are five Riders behind us, and where the other four may be, I do not know. I fear that we may find the Ford is already held against us. But we must risk the peril and go on.

Sam: Look! My master is sick and wounded. He can't go on riding after nightfall. He needs rest.

Aragorn: Frodo has been wounded by a very evil weapon, Glorfindel.

Glorfindel: Then he shall ride my horse. His pace is light and smooth, and if danger presses too near, he will bear him away at a speed that even the black steeds of the enemy cannot rival.

Frodo: No, he will not! For I shall not ride him, if I am to be carried off to Rivendell, or anywhere else leaving my friends behind in danger.

Glorfindel: I doubt very much if your friends would be in danger if you were not with them. It is you, Frodo, and that which you bear that brings us all into danger.

Frodo: Ah, yes...

- - - - -

Glorfindel: The Ford of Bruinen is before us now, and our peril is at its greatest. For my heart warns me that the pursuit is now swift behind us, and other dangers may be waiting at the Ford.

Pippin: I'm too tired to care about any dangers.

Merry: We can't go on much further!

Aragorn: My dear hobbits, we must. Come on!

[The bells tinkle as Glorfindel's horse begins to walk]

Sam: It won't be long now, Mr. Frodo, sir.

Frodo: Oh, Sam...

Pippin: Oh, behind us! Look!

Glorfindel: Fly, Frodo! Fly! The enemy is upon us!

[Asfaloth neighs]

Glorfindel: Ride forward, Frodo! Ride!

Aragorn: They are holding him with their will, Glorfindel.

[The Black Riders grow steadily louder]

Glorfindel: Ride on! Ride on! Noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!

[Asfaloth runs forward]

Glorfindel: The other Riders are at the Ford! Ride on! Do not stop!

Rider: The Ring! The Ring! The Ring!

[The Riders chant:

Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.]

[Frodo crosses the Ford and reaches the other side]

Frodo: Go back! Go back to the land of Mordor and follow me no more!

The Riders: The Ring! The Ring!

[Frodo unsheathes his sword]

Frodo: By Elbereth and Lúthien the Fair, you shall have neither the Ring nor me!

The Riders: Ash Nazg! Ash Nazg! Ash Nazg!

[The water rises to a roar]

Frodo: The river... the river is rising!

[The Riders cry out]

Frodo: I am falling! I am falling! Help me!

- - - - -

[Frodo wakes, startled]

Frodo: What a hideous dream. Where am I? Where am I? What is the time?

Gandalf: In the House of Elrond, and it is ten o'clock in the morning.

Frodo: Eh... Gandalf!

Gandalf: Yes, I am here. And you are lucky to be here, too, after all the absurd things you've done since you've left home.

Frodo: Ah, w - where's Sam? And... and are the others all right?

Gandalf: Yes, they are all safe and sound. Sam was here, until I sent him off to get some rest, about half an hour ago.

Frodo: What... what happened, at the Ford? It - it all seemed so dim somehow; it still does.

Gandalf: Yes, it would. You were beginning to fade. The wound which you recieved on Weathertop was overcoming you at last. A few more hours, and you would have been beyond our aid. If only you had held out, and not slipped the Ring on your finger.

Frodo: How do you know that?

Gandalf: You've talked long in your sleep, Frodo.

Frodo: Oh, I...

Gandalf: Don't worry! Though I said "absurd" just now, I didn't mean it. I think well of you - and the others. It's no small feat to have come so far and through such dangers, still bearing the Ring.

Frodo: We should never have done it without Strider. Oh, but we needed you! I did not know what to do without you.

Gandalf: I was delayed, and that nearly our ruin. Yet, I am not sure; it may have been better so.

Frodo: I wish you would tell me what happened! Why were you delayed?

Gandalf: You will soon hear all you wish to know. We shall have a Counsil as soon as you are well enough. At the moment I will only say that I was held captive.

Frodo: You?

Gandalf: Yes, I, Gandalf the Grey. There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming. The Morgul-lord and his Black Riders have come forth. War is preparing!

Frodo: Then you knew of the Riders already - before I met them?

Gandalf: Yes, I knew of them. The Black Riders are the Ringwraithes I once spoke to you of, the Nine servants of the Lord of the Rings. But I did not know that they had arisen again or I should have fled with you at once. For the moment we have been saved from disaster, by Aragorn.

Frodo: Yes, yes - it was Strider that saved us.

[He laughs to himself]

Frodo: I have become very fond of him. Well, fond is not quite the right word. I - I mean he is dear to me; though he is strange, and grim at times. In fact, he reminds me often of you.

Gandalf: There are few left in Middle-earth like Aragorn son of Arathorn. The race of the Kings from over the Sea is nearly at an end.

Frodo: Huh?

Gandalf: Yes, it may be that this War of the Ring will be their last adventure.

Frodo: Do you really mean that Strider is one of the people of the Old Kngs? I - I thought they had all vanished long ago. I - I thought he was only a Ranger.

Gandalf: Only a Ranger! My dear Frodo, that is just what the Rangers are: the last remnant in the North of the great people, the Men of the West.

Frodo: Ah!

Gandalf: They have helped me before; and I shall need their help in the days to come. We have reached Rivendell, but the Ring is not yet at rest.

Frodo: No, I suppose not. But I hope I shan't have to go any further. I have had a month of exile and adventure, and I find that has been as much as I want.

[Gandalf laughs softly and grimly]

Gandalf: Now! How do the side and shoulder feel?

Frodo: Well, I - I can move my arm again, a little. It - it's coming back to life. It is no longer cold.

Gandalf: Good! Elrond has cured you: he had tended you for days, ever since you were brought in.

Frodo: But... days?

Gandalf: Well, four nights and three days, to be exact. We've been terribly anxious. They tried to pierce your heart with a Morgul-knife. If they'd succeeded, you would have become a wraith, like them, only weaker, under the dominion of the Dark Lord Sauron. A splinter from the knife was deeply bedded in your side and working inwards. But Elrond removed it.

[Frodo shudders]

Gandalf: Ah, don't be alarmed! It's gone now.

Frodo: Oh. What about Rivendell and the Elves? Is it safe here?

Gandalf: Until all else is conquered. There is a power here to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell.

Frodo: And the Black Riders? Were they drowned in the flood?

Gandalf: No. Their horses must have perished, and without them, they are crippled. But the Ringwraithes themselves cannot be so easily destroyed.

Frodo: But we are safe now?

Gandalf: Yes. Yes. You are all safe - for the present. Soon, there will be feasting and merry-making to celebrate the victory at the Ford of Bruinen. And you will all be there, in places of honour.

Frodo: Ah, splendid! It is wonderful that Elrond and Glorfindel and such great lords, not to mention Strider should take so much trouble, and show me so much kindness.

Gandalf: Well, there are many reasons why they should. I am one reason. The Ring is another: you are the Ring-bearer. And you are the heir of Bilbo, the Ring-finder.

Frodo: Oh, dear Bilbo! I wonder where he is. I wish he was here and could hear all about it. It would have made him laugh.

[They laugh]

Gandalf: You miss Bilbo greatly, do you not?

Frodo: Yes, I would rather see him than all the towers and palaces in the world.

- - - - -

[Someone knocks at the door. Frodo stands and opens it]

Frodo: Sam!

Sam: Mr. Frodo, sir! It's so good to so good to see you up and in yourself again.

[Frodo laughs]

Sam: Oh, your hand! It's - it's warm!

Frodo: What...?

Sam: It's been so cold during those long nights. But glory and trumpets! When Gandalf asked me to come and see if you were ready to come down, I thought he was joking.

[Frodo laughs again]

Frodo: I am ready, Sam. Let's go and look for the rest of the party, yes?

Sam: Right, sir!

- - - - -

[A brook trickles. Birds sing]

Merry: Here is our noble cousin!

Pippin: Make way for Frodo, Lord of the Ring!

Gandalf: Hush! We should not name evil things here. The Lord of the Rings is not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is again stretching out over the world! We are sitting in a fortress. Outside it is getting dark.

Pippin: Gandalf's been saying a lot of cheerful things like that. He thinks I need keeping in order. But, oh - it seems impossible somehow to feel gloomy or depressed in this place. Oh, I feel I could sing!

[Frodo laughs]

Frodo: I feel like singing, myself, Pippin. Though at the moment I feel more like eating and drinking!

[Pippin laughs]

Gandalf: That will soon be cured. Elrond has commanded a high feast tonight, and you are to sit with him at his table.

Merry: And after the feast, there's the story-telling. You'll hear some grand old tales here, Frodo.

- - - - -

[A fireplace crackles]

Gandalf: This is the Hall of Fire, the place of songs and stories that Merry spoke of. But except on high days it usually stands empty and quiet. People come here who wish for peace.

Frodo: There's one over there who seems to have found it!

[Gandalf laughs]

Gandalf: The little figure sleeping by the fire, you mean?

Frodo: Yes.

Gandalf: Come! Let us disturb his slumbers.

[Bilbo's breathing is slow in sleep]

Gandalf: Awake, little master!

[Bilbo wakes]

Gandalf: Come, Frodo. This is the hour you've wished for. Here is a friend that you've long missed.

Bilbo: Hullo, Frodo my lad!

Frodo: Ah! Bilbo!

Bilbo: So, you've got here at last. I hoped you'd manage it. Well, well! So all this feasting is in your honour, I hear. I hope you enjoyed yourself?

Frodo: Yes! But why weren't you there? And why haven't I been allowed to see you before?

Gandalf: Because you were asleep, Frodo. But he saw you, all right. He sat by your bedside with Sam each day. But I know you'll want to be left alone together, with your stories. Don't keep him up too long, Bilbo!

Bilbo: I won't Gandalf! You can be sure of that.

[Gandalf's footsteps are heard as he exits]

Frodo: But, eh... eh - tell me! How did you come here?

Bilbo: Oh, it was no great adventure. I found my way here, and here I've been. I shan't travel again. I've done this and that; I've written some more of my book. Time doesn't seem to pass here. It just is. A remarkable place altogether. I hear all kinds of news, from over the Mountains, and out of the South, but hardly anything from the Shire. I heard about the Ring, of course. Fancy it causing such a disturbance!

Frodo: Yes.

Bilbo: It's a pity that Gandalf didn't find out more sooner. I could have brought the thing here long ago without so much trouble. I've thought several times of going back to Hobbiton to fetch it. But you know what Gandalf said?

Frodo: No?

Bilbo: "The Ring has passed on, Bilbo. It would do no good to you or to others, if you tried to meddle with it again." It's an odd sort of remark, just like Gandalf. Have you got it here, with you? I can't help feeling curious, you know, after all I've heard. I should very much like to peep at it again.

Frodo: Yes, I've got it. It - it looks just the same as ever it did.

Bilbo: But I... I should just like to see it for a moment.

Frodo: Oh... very well. Here.

Bilbo: Let me hold it. Just for a moment.

Frodo: No.

Bilbo: But it's mine. I found it. Give it to me!

Frodo: No, Bilbo!

Bilbo: My - my birthday present! Thief! Thief, thief, th - we've lost it, my - my precious! It's gone! Gollum, gollum! Gollum, gollum!

Frodo: Bilbo! Bilbo!

[Bilbo catches his breath]

Bilbo: I understand, now. Put it away.

Frodo: Yes.

Bilbo: I'm sorry. Sorry you have to come in for this burden: I'm sorry about everything. Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story. But, don't let's worry about it now - let's have some real news! Tell me... tell me all about the Shire!

[Footsteps approach]

Frodo: Well it's - it's so difficult to know where to begin! I... oh, but here's Strider!

Bilbo: Strider? I've never heard him called that before. He's Dúnadan.

Aragorn: They call me Strider in Bree, and that is how I was introduced to him. But are you fully recovered, Frodo? Gandalf told me you were on your feet again.

Frodo: Yes, a little thinner, perhaps, but my arm has healed.

Bilbo: Where have you been, my friend? Why weren't you at the feast?

Aragorn: Often I have to put mirth aside. There were tidings out of the wild that concerned me.

Bilbo: The Lady Arwen was there.

Aragorn: So I have been told. And now that I have seen Frodo's recovery with my own eyes, I am going to find her. Until tomorrow, at the Great Counsil!

Frodo: Yes.

[Aragorn walks away]

Frodo: Bilbo, why do you call him Dúnadan?

Bilbo: The Dúnadan. I thought you knew enough Elvish at least to know Dúnadan: Man of the West, Númenorean.

Frodo: Ah. A - and Arwen, who is she?

Bilbo: Oh, the Lady Arwen. Well, surely you saw her at the feast?

Frodo: There was one Lady. She sat alone under a great canopy. I had never believed such loveliness could exist on earth. And... and she -

Bilbo: She is loved by Aragorn.

Frodo: I see! But who is she?

Bilbo: She is the daughter of Elrond and Celebrían. And like all of her line, she had the life of Eldar. For many hundreds of years, she dwelt in Lórien, in contentment, before she met Aragorn, or Strider, as you call him. To marry him, she must renounce her immortality. And her father, Elrond, had decreed that she shall not be the bride of any man less than King of both Gondor and Arnor.

Frodo: Strider? Become a king?

Bilbo: Well, it's not so remote a possibility as you might imagine.

Sam: Oh, Mr. Baggins!

Bilbo: Ah, well, what is it, Sam?

Sam: I - I've come for Mr. Frodo, sir, beggin' your pardon. He only got up today, for the first time, and there's... there's a counsel meeting early tomorrow.

Frodo: Oh, yes.

Bilbo: Quite right, Sam! Quite right. Ah, well! Good-night, Frodo.

Frodo: Good-night.

Bilbo: I'll take a walk, I think, and look at the stars of Elbereth in the garden. Sleep well!

- - - - -

[Footsteps walk towards each-other]

Elrond: Welcome. Welcome. Come, Frodo! Sit here by my side. Here, my friends, is the hobbit, Frodo son of Drogo. Few have ever come hither through greater peril or on an errand more urgent.

Gandalf: No, indeed.

Elrond: Frodo, Strider and Glorfindel are already well-known to you. This is Gimli son of Glóin, of the Dwarves. Who was comrade to Bilbo in the quest for Smaug's treasure-hoard.

[Bilbo laughs]

Elrond: And this is Legolas son of Thranduil, the King of the Elves of Northern Mirkwood.

Frodo: Honored to meet you.

Elrond: And this is Boromir, a man from the South.

Boromir: Yes.

Elrond: He arrived in the grey morning, and seeks for counsel. I have bidden him be present, for here his questions will be answered. So! We are all met and there is much for us to debate, and each has something to tell. Gimli son of Glóin, speak first.

Gimli: I have come hither for counsel, for my people are deeply troubled. It's now nearly a year since a messenger came in the night to my father. He came from Mordor...

Messenger: The Lord Sauron the Great desires your friendship. Rings he will give for it, such as he gave of old. But he needs news from you. News of the creatures called Hobbits, for one of these was known to you on a time. Find this hobbit-thief, and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies. Find it, and the three rings that the Dwarf-sires possessed of old shall be returned to you. And Moria - the realm of your fathers shall be yours for ever!

Gimli: ...twice the messenger has returned, and gone unanswered. The third and last time is to come before the ending of the year. And so I have been sent by my father to crave the advise of Elrond.

Elrond: You have done well to come. You will learn that your trouble is but part of the trouble of all the western world. The Ring! What shall we do with the Ring? The least of rings - the trifle that Sauron fancies? First, so that all may understand what is the peril, the tale of the Ring shall be told from the beginning, even to this present. And I will begin this tale, though others shall end it.

Narrator: A part of this tale was known to some there, but the full tale was known to none. It was a long tale full of deeds great and terrible, and the sun rode up the sky and morning was passed ere Elrond ceased.

Boromir: So this is what became of the Ring! Isildur took it. That is tidings indeed!

Elrond: Isildur took it, Boromir, as should not have been. It should have been cast then into Orodruin's fire, where it was made. But Isildur would not listen to our counsel. But soon he was betrayed by it, to his death. And so it is named in the North Isildur's Bane.

Gimli: But what of Sauron?

Elrond: His power was diminished, but not destroyed. His Ring was lost, but not unmade. The race of Númenor decayed and only Gondor endured.

Boromir: Give me leave, Master Elrond, to speak of Gondor, for I am the son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor who holds the citadel of Minas Tirith until the King shall return. We are hard beset by the Enemy, whose power grows ever mightier. Only the River now lies between us and the dark powers of Mordor. Those who shelter behind us give much praise, but little help. Only from Rohan now will any men ride to us, when we call. In this evil hour, I have come on an errand over many dangerous leagues to Elrond. I come not for allies, but for wisdom, counsel, and the unravelling of hard words. On the eve of the last assault on Minas Tirith, a dream came to my brother, Faramir, in a troubled sleep, and afterwards, to me. In that dream I thought the eastern sky grew dark and there was growing thunder, but in the West a pale light lingered, and out of it I heard a voice, remote but clear...

[A voice cries out:

Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand. ]

Boromir: Denethor, my father, told me that Imladris was Rivendell, where Elrond the Half-elven dwelt, greatest of lore-masters. So to the House of Elrond have I come to seek the meaning of the dream.

Aragorn: And here in the House of Elrond your dream shall be made clear to you.

[He draws his sword and casts in on the table]

Aragorn: Here is the Sword that was Broken!

Boromir: And who are you, and what have you to do with Minas Tirith?

Elrond: He is Aragorn son of Arathorn, and he is descended through many fathers from Isildur Elendil.

Aragorn: The sword was broken beneath him when he fell. It has been treasured by his heirs when all other heirlooms were lost. For it was spoken of old among us that it should be made again when the Ring - Isildur's Bane was found. And now that hour has come. The sword shall be reforged and I will come to Minas Tirith! Isildur's Bane is found.

Boromir: How may this be? Where is it?

Gandalf: Bring out the Ring, Frodo! The time has come. Hold it up, and then Boromir will understand the remainder of his riddle.

Frodo: Very well. Here it is!

Elrond: Behold Isildur's Bane!

Boromir: The Halfling! But Isildur perished ere this age of the world began, they say. How do the Wise know that this Ring is his, and how had it passed down the years until it is brought hither by so strange a messenger?

Elrond: That shall be told.

Bilbo: But not yet, I beg, Master! Already the sun is climbing to noon, and I feel the need of something to strengthen me.

Elrond: I had not named you, Bilbo. But I do so now. Come! Tell us your tale. The briefer, the sooner you shall be refreshed.

Bilbo: Very well. I will do as you bid.

Narrator: To some there Bilbo's tale was wholly new, and they listened while the old hobbit recounted his adventure with Gollum.

Boromir: A strange tale, indeed! But still, this is not proof. How came Gollum by the Ring?

Gandalf: He found it in the Great River nigh to the Gladden Fields where Isildur fell.

Boromir: And where is this Gollum now?

Legolas: He was in prison, watched over by the Elves of Mirkwood. But he has escaped through their kindness and his cunning. These tidings I were sent to tell you.

Gandalf: They were already known. But you are most welcome here, Legolas.

Gimli: Master Elrond, may I speak? What is this Ring of which we've heard so much? What is its worth above the other Rings of Power?

Gandalf: Upon this Ring, which you have seen here, held aloft, there are letters which may be read if one has the strength of will to set the golden thing in the fire, a while. That I have done and this I have read:

Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

Elrond: Never before has any voice dared to utter the words of that tongue in Imladris, Gandalf the Grey.

Gandalf: And let us hope that none will ever speak it here again. Yet if that tongue is not soon to be heard in every corner of the West, then let all put doubt aside that this thing is indeed what the Wise have declared: the treasure of the Enemy; and in it lies a great part of his strength of old. Know then the words on the Ring:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Here we all are, and here is the Ring. But we've not yet come any nearer to our purpose. What shall we do with it?

Gimli: It seems to me that we have three choices: to keep the Ring from Sauron, to send it over the Sea, or to destroy it.

Elrond: There is not the strength in us to withstand the Enemy. Now, at this last, we must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our only hope; to walk in peril to Mordor. We must send the Ring to the Fire.

Boromir: I don't understand all this! Why do you speak ever of hiding and destroying? Why should we not think that the Great Ring has come into our hands to serve us in the very hour of our need? Let the Ring be your weapon. If it has such power as you say, take it and go forth to victory!

Elrond: Alas, no. We cannot use the Ruling Ring. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil. Its strength, Boromir, is too great for anyone to wield at will. If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, he would then set himself on Sauron's throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear. As long as the Ring is in the world, it will be a danger even to the Wise.

Gimli: What of the Three Rings of the Elves? What would happen to them if the Ruling Ring were destroyed?

Elrond: We know not for certain. Some hope that the Three Rings, which Sauron never touched, would then become free, and their rulers might heal the hurts of the world that he hath wrought. But maybe when the One has gone, the Three will fail, and many fair things will fade and be forgotten. That is my belief. Yet all the Elves are willing to endure this chance, if by it the power of Sauron may be broken, and the fear of his dominion be taken away for ever.

Boromir: So we return once more to the destroying of the Ring. What strength have we for finding the Fire in which it was made?

Gandalf: We have one great advantage. The only measure known to Sauron is desire, desire for power. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.

Elrond: At least for a while. The road must be trod, but it will be hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.

Bilbo: Very well, very well, Master Elrond! Say no more! It's plain enough what you're pointing at. Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair, and Bilbo had better finish it, or himself.

[Gandalf laughs]

Bilbo: When ought I to start?

Gandalf: My dear Bilbo. If you had really started this affair, you might be expected to finish it. But you know well enough that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.

Bilbo: Yes, but Gandalf...

Gandalf: We do not doubt that you are making a valiant offer, but one beyond your strength, Bilbo. You cannot take this thing back. It has passed on. If you need my advice any longer, I should say that your part is ended.

Bilbo: I have never known you give me pleasant advice before. But tell me, if not me, well, then who?

[The noon-bell rings]

Frodo: I, Frodo son of Drogo will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.