I'll say one thing for swords, they're useful things. Heavy, yes, and clumsy, if you're not too good at wielding the things, but overall they are good things to have around. After all, who wouldn't want a huge, sharp instrument of death and destruction between them and the snarling, hissing thing that seems intent on ripping your head off at a moment's notice?
"I thought you said you kicked him off a cliff!" I snapped at Sam, my eyes never leaving the creature as it eyed the end of my blade.
"I did!" the hobbit protested.
"Well you didn't do a very good job of it." I muttered, trying to hold my nerve as the volcano rumbled ominously around us. Something was making a bloody great racket outside - I could hear the nazgul's horrible mounts shrieking from a mile away.
"Hurry up!" I called back to Frodo. The hobbit was standing perilously close to the edge of the rift that dropped down into the mountain's fiery belly. "Drop the bloody thing, quick!"
"Come on Mister Frodo," Sam added encouragingly, "what are you waiting for? Destroy it!"
"Precious!" the grey thing hissed, glaring venomously at me from the other end of my sword. The sound of its rasping voice made me want to stab it - although I had the feeling I wasn't well co-ordinated enough to do that without running myself through in the process.
"Just drop the stinking thing!" I yelled. The sounds from outside were growing louder by the moment; screams and cries of pain, the clashing of steel on steel and war horns ringing out in every direction. The noise was terrible; Middle Earth seemed to be ripping itself apart at the seams, and still the lava flow spat and hissed below us. I gripped my sword harder, hands slippery with sweat, face burning with the heat - I knew I should have brought sunscreen - as I stared Gollum down.
"Destroy it!" Sam wailed again. He was getting more and more distressed by the moment, wringing his hands, hopping up and down on his hairy feet as if the very ground were burning at him.
"No." said Frodo softly. He turned to face us, face twisted in a horrible smile. "The ring is mine."
That did it. That hairy-footed fool had dragged me across Middle Earth, made me fight my way through orcs, goblins and gods knew how many horrors, made me climb mountains, leap over gaping precipices, following on blindly with nothing but a schizophrenic thing for a guide. That same thing was now crouching inches from me, hissing and making an awful gurgling sound as its saw its "precious" so close to peril. The journey had exhausted us, separated us from our companions - whom, I must mention, would have done us far more good fighting off giant spiders than ditched on a riverbank - and resulted in the deaths of at least one of our members. What for? To chuck a piece of cheap jewelry into a volcano.
And now, it seemed, he decided he didn't want to go through with it.
Well, I wasn't putting up with that.
"What ... What are you doing?" Sam gaped at me, open mouthed, as I turned away from Gollum, stormed past him and glared down my nose at Frodo.
"You don't want to drop it?" I asked in a sickly-sweet voice. "No? Well, tough luck sunshine, 'cause that ring is going in that lava."
"Who are you to stop me?" Frodo snapped, brandishing the ring in my face, "Who are you to stand in my way? Who are you to -"
He didn't get to finish his sentence before my boot collided with his midriff. He crumpled, and before he could protest I snatched the ring out of his hand and threw it out over the chasm. It vanished into the lava with a gentle "plop" and a small shower of sparks drifted up to singe the tip of my nose as the four of us watched it fall.
"Wow." said Sam. "That was easy."
"Precious is gone?" Gollum looked rather confused. "What ... What do we do now?"
I shrugged, but before I could speak a horrible cracking noise split the air and the ground beneath our feet began to tremble. Far below, the fiery river began to buck and plunge wildly around, sizzling and snarling as it struck the walls of the mountain. I looked to my companions.
"Would now be a good time to run for our lives?"
They didn't need to answer the question. We bolted for the exit, Gollum taking the lead, me behind and Sam dragging the breathless Frodo at the rear.
Where was a giant eagle when you needed one?