West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
A Fitting Grave
The Ring makes a promise.
At first, everything was blurry. No, not blurry, but somehow shifted, as if everything he could see were two inches to the right of itself. The light was muted and mournful, and the air seemed to dance madly around him, whispering drily.
He clutched the wall as he struggled to stand. He could go on, he only needed to get his bearings. The air had a taste of metal. Finally up on his feet, he squinted into the grey gloomy distance.
Life was something he had always taken for granted. There'd been winter, but that was a part of things. It had its place, sometimes more severe, sometimes less. Things died, but this... this was not winter. Here was not sleep but death itself. Here the earth itself had died, no, had been murdered, and the knowing of it smote his gardener's heart. How black a soul could do this thing?
Would that you had the power to right this. The deep, gentle voice came out of nowhere, a soft warm pressure upon his heart. Take away this terrible darkness, and heal the land. He choked a little at those words, tears starting in his eyes. The voice sounded kind, and he was tired. Tired of filth and dread and hopelessness. Tired of grief. Come down to the valley, and you will see what to do.
And he could. Just like that, he saw himself striding across the ashy miles, all the way to the center of the dark, thirsting land, a golden light streaming from his hand. He felt the sharp ground as he knelt, and in one hard thrust, he drove his hands down into the gritty earth.
It was like nothing he could have imagined. Power leapt like the shout of a thousand throats, down through his arms into the earth. In great thundering waves, the dry tortured dust roiled up into rich mounds of loam, spreading outwards like the ripples of water in a pond, over mile after mile. Light leaped upwards as well, and in less time than it takes to tell, the wind was blowing the dark away.
And the sound when he drew his sword (his master's sword), the sound of a thousand swords unsheathing with his! A grand army marched transformed, now strong and fair, to follow him and overthrow the Dark Throne. Horns blew, banners of green fluttered, and in the footsteps of the soldiers sprang up roses and wheat.
The glory will be swift and sure, murmured the golden voice. All will flock to your side. For who would choose death if he could have life? The land burgeoned. In the space of seconds up sprang fields of herbs, clambering thickets of berries, streambeds lined with violets and willows, great orchards of fruit trees, and enough apples, 'taters and barley to feed the world.
"Yes," he thought, weeping a little. Yes, the voice agreed. So the land will come to be healed, and this shall be your memorial. He thought of a dell near a mossy stream, and a stone with writing carved in it. He thought of the world happy, well-fed and at peace. A fitting grave. If he could give him that, then perhaps he see his job done, and rest.
His hand was barely an inch from the chain around his neck when another voiced sliced into his hearing, this one seeming to come from far away on a puff of cold air. One word only it spoke, sharply and with fright,
He started, his hand dropping to his sword, and looked quickly around him. The rocks were grey in the whispering wind, and Mordor as endless and barren a wasteland as it had always been. Sam bowed his head in pain. It had all been a cheat and a lie, as well his heart would have told him, had he asked. How could he make such wonders, after all? He was only a hobbit, unlearned at that, and the world was not his to re-order. There would be no land reborn, no miracle of life abundant at his hands. Only this dreary road, on which he'd set his feet after Frodo's all those months ago.
Sam turned away from the bluff, and took up the job his master had lain down. He might win through. But even should he be spared, no one would know. If there was a grave, it would be shallow and full of dust.
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