Swiftly, I weave my way through the trees, my ears sharply attuned to any possible pursuit. The only sounds are my own feet lightly rustling through the leaves blanketing the forest floor and my laboured breathing, though I am uncertain if it is from my flight or my fear.
Again and again, I push away the memory of Merry’s face, commanding me to flee... escape... I must choke back the unbidden sob rising in my chest. Will my dear cousins escape?
My fears almost overwhelm me. I hesitate, easing to a trot, glancing back over my shoulder. Mayhap I could help?
What if I slipped the Ring on my finger, only one more time? It would hide me from the enemy... no, no, no. The fresh memory of the Eye, mayhap not even a quarter hour old, burns through my mind. I cannot help, except to keep the Ring from falling into the hands of the enemy.
I breathe deep and run faster, bursting through the edge of the woods onto the shore of the lake, grateful my haste did not lead to folly. No one is about.
My sweeping gaze takes in the scene of our camp. How many times, since Lothlórien, have I sorted through my mind what I would need to continue on alone? I set to work gathering up my pack from where I lay it by a tree... was it only an hour ago now?
I must ensure I gather what lembas I may need. Silently, an apology aches in my heart for my Companions. Forgive me if I have taken too much and left too little. I may only hope your hunting skills will make up for the discrepancy.
Grateful I am the boats were emptied by the Fellowship as soon as we landed. I glance at the three craft and know which I will take: the one I have shared with Sam and Aragorn for so many days and miles. I toss my pack into the far end.
Only a moment more may I spare for my friends.
I glance behind me, and pull out the Ring. I pause, holding It tightly, then gradually uncurl my fingers, revealing the simple gold band.
So beautiful It is, sitting on my palm, beautiful and treacherous.
My gaze strays to the faraway shore...
I leave behind... what? All that is good and truly of worth... for what? An uncertain future... Mt. Doom... an apt description... filled with fear and despair... will I survive even as far as Mordor, without my companions, guides, and protectors... alone...
My lament to Gandalf in Moria echoes in my mind...
I wish the Ring had never come to me, I wish none of this had happened.
Little did I anticipate then to what depth this wish would reach... Gandalf is lost... and Boromir... tears blur my vision.
Too many sacrifices...
Suddenly Gandalf’s voice whispers to my heart...
So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.
All choices are gone. There is now only one path to follow... how much time is left to me? It matters not...
I will do the deed required of me, even if it means throwing myself in with It.
The way is set. My fingers snap shut, clutching the Ring. No more time... I must leave now. I stuff It in my waistcoat pocket.