The Land of Shadow
|The Return of the King chapters|
The Land of Shadow is the second chapter of the sixth book in The Return of the King.
Sam and Frodo run away from Cirith Ungol as horns peal in the tower. They run onto a long bridge, but as they approach the other side, they hear a company of Orcs quickly approaching. The orcs cannot see the two Hobbits, but are heading straight for them. Frodo and Sam jump over the edge of the bridge, landing safely on the side of a cliff. With great difficulty, they clamber down to the valley below. Mount Doom lies to the east, but the Hobbits travel northward, hoping to evade any Orc search parties.
Frodo and Sam have only some of Faramir’s provisions, a few lembas, and no water. After a night of weary travel, they find a small stream and joyously refill their water bottles. The Ring grows heavier around Frodo’s neck with every step. Mount Doom is still nearly forty miles to the east, across a great valley. Behind the mountain sits Barad-dûr, Sauron’s home, from which the Dark Lord directs his will over Mordor. Scattered all over the valley, as far as the two Hobbits can see, the armies of Mordor await the final battle. There is no hope of moving undetected through so many enemies, but Frodo and Sam again have no choice but to go on. They continue moving northward, looking for a good place to leave the mountains and move east. They overhear two Orcs quarrelling, speaking of a rumor about a great Elf in bright armor who is on the loose.
On the third day, Frodo and Sam turn into a narrow eastward road and travel over it for several miles in the darkness. After some time, they hear a great company of Orcs approaching from behind. The Hobbits are unable to move aside, and the company overtakes them, but in the darkness its leader assumes the Hobbits are orcs and forces them into line with the others. For what seems like hours, they travel with the Orc company at an excruciating pace. Frodo is in agony from the Ring’s increasing weight. After a time, they reach a busy crossroads. Armies from the south are moving in anticipation of Aragorn’s army. In the confusion of the converging companies, Frodo and Sam jump aside and crawl behind a nearby boulder.