A/N: Hi again. So. Um. Still own nothing. Notes at the end.
With just eight and a half thousand men they marched to contend the will of Sauron. Harry had been brought up to ride with the leaders and listened as Prince Imrahil laughed at the absurdity of it.
Such scant numbers could never hope to dent the defences of Mordor. The Mountains of Shadow were tall and impassible by any mortal man and within them crept dark creatures from before light ever fell upon Arda from the lamps of Aulë. Nameless evils and spawn of Ungoliant of such dread countenance that even Orcs dared not tread there.
The only passage through was either the Pass of Cirith Ungol which Aragorn took great care to avoid or the Black Gate of Morannon which lay across the Pass of Cirith Gorgor.
"Surely this is a joke!" cried the Prince of Dol Amroth. "A host so small marching to the Black Gate of Mordor is a madness beyond any I have known."
"Madness or hubris," said Gandalf, "And it is the latter we must hope the Dark Lord sees in our march for it will surely see our weapon closer to its destination."
Harry agreed with Imrahil for had he known that they were to march to battle with so few against defences so great he might have made more attempt to dissuade Éowyn from following in his tread. Now that he knew he still would not gainsay her, as much as he wanted to keep her safe she wanted the same of him.
The march was easy and untroubled for before the day was out they passed by the way to Minas Morgul and left a watch should a new host come forth. Gandalf cryptically counseled that anything more might draw the eye of Sauron towards that which would best remain hidden. The Morgul Vale was quiet and empty, no more Orcs dwelled there for the Tower of Sorcery had been emptied to lay the siege upon Minas Tirith.
Despite this the long years held under the Shadow of Sauron left it an evil place that no man would tread lightly. The fields of the Vale were set aflame and the host of the West continued on.
For near a week the host marched and ever darker did their mood become. A failed ambush set by Orcs and men of Khand was driven off thanks to the skill and warning of the Gondorian scouts. The battle did not last long and few men were lost as the attackers broke and retreated before it even came to true blows. After that no more was seen of the enemy yet a shadow over their hearts grew ever darker.
Finally, after the brief battle Gandalf decided that Harry should know of the true stakes of their quest as by now the die was cast whether for good or ill. He told him the verse of the Rings of Power.
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
Harry's knowledge of Sauron's history was still sorely lacking and he did not in full understand the story Gandalf spun. In his mind he saw the One Ring as being alike a Horcrux and the anchor that held Sauron to the world. In truth this was far from true for the fallen Maia was immortal and needed no such trinkets. Yet it served to understand the importance of the Ring and he was told that even now, with hope and the luck of the Valar, it moved closer and closer to its destruction in the fires of Orodruin.
"So now we are bait," explained Gandalf finally. "No more can we do to aid Frodo in his task directly but it is hoped we might draw the gaze of the Enemy away from his own lands while the bravest of us pass through to the Cracks of Doom and the final destruction of the Ring."
Harry was filled with many emotions upon hearing the story. Incredulity that such a task would be given to a Hobbit of all things. Amazement at the audacity they showed in sending the most dangerous weapon of the enemy right into his lap. Frustration that the task could have been completed so much earlier had he known.
"It is a pity you did not tell me of this earlier," said Harry, somewhat put out. "I could have taken the Ring to Mount Doom in a few hours at most."
"I was given to understand that you did not wish to take full part in our trials?" asked Gandalf. "Would you truly have dived headfirst into the most crucial part of our fight without heed?"
"Well, perhaps not," admitted Harry. He had, after all, been most loath to enter the war even on the sidelines as he had. "But even now I'm sure I could find the Hobbit and see the Ring destroyed in less than a day."
"The Ring is a perilous thing, most perilous. Do not be fooled by its small size and unassuming appearance," said Gandalf. "It can bend even the mightiest among us to its will. You also are much too obvious to the sight of the Enemy for me to ever risk such a thing."
"I have fought possession before," said Harry in frustration. "I am not weak minded."
"Strength of mind has little to do with resisting the allure of the Ring," Gandalf said. "It is more the strength of your desires that will undo you."
Harry was finding it hard to understand the Wizard, if the Ring had a compulsion charm upon it then how could it be so difficult to resist its pull? "I don't follow?"
"I have been tested by the Ring," admitted Gandalf. "And I did not even touch it. I am sure if I had it would have taken me completely. I dread to imagine what I might have done with such terrible power."
Harry doubted that such power could be possessed by a thing so small and plain as Gandalf had described. "Surely you exaggerate, Gandalf?" he asked. "The Ring would be dangerous to the unsuspecting, I admit, but it surely can't be as bad as you say?"
"The Ring bears the greater part of the power and will of Sauron the Deceiver," Gandalf clarified for him. "And you would do well to remember it. Not since Morgoth has a more powerful evil been seen in this world. You yourself have seen the works of Morgoth, have you not? The remains of darkest Udûn in the uttermost North?"
Harry shivered in remembrance of those Dark shores. They were not a pleasant introduction to his new world. "I have, but I could fight the Darkness there. Perhaps not forever, but I did it for many days before I found my way free from the warped rocks and churning water."
While Cuiviénen had brought him nightmares and fear in the night it was nothing to the terrors of Udûn. Great beasts of many eyes roamed the waters there and dark chittering things lined the shadows and ever sought to bring an end to any that walked in the light. For days did Harry did not sleep yet as each day past it became a greater nightmare and he was almost undone. He saw no foes yet ever they resided in the corner of his eye and the back of his mind. He heard their voices in the wind and smelled their stench in the air yet no sight nor sound did he find of them.
At the end and in desperation he performed the most harrowing escape he had ever known. He Apparated clear into the air at the farthest reaches of his sight and then did it again before he fell. Again and again he Apparated, crossing the wide leagues occupied by the chiefest evil ever seen in the history of the world. Each time he appeared he hoped to leave the shadows and clawing darkness behind yet ever it pursued him. Finally he reached a barren shore and was utterly spent in his exhaustion and managed to Apparate one last time to the ground, landing heavily and near breaking his leg in the process. Beside where he lay was a single green shoot, young and fresh and alive. It was the first green thing he had seen since his arrival and he wept to see it.
"And yet all you saw was the very faintest memory, almost beyond recall," Gandalf said. "By the reckonings of Men and Elves that cursed place was shattered and cast down more than ten thousand years ago. Evil fades, as do all things in time. Yet still it bore enough power to test you sorely I do not doubt. Sauron is no Morgoth, of that you should be grateful. His evil is but a shadow of that of Morgoth yet a living shadow is so much greater than such a distant memory."
That was unbelievable to Harry. When he had arrived in that place he had felt the evil presence immediately, alike to the sensation of Voldemort's Horcruxes. Yet this evil was across a land as large as a country and in some places stronger even than that.
"I do not wish to put you down, my boy," said Gandalf kindly. "You should be grateful that you will never be tested by the Ring as I was. It leaves an itch that cannot be reached."
Harry still did not fully believe the man. If there was one thing he was entirely confident of it was his own self-possession. He could not believe that his mind could be so simply overcome by a simple band of gold, no matter how evil its maker. He felt that perhaps Gandalf was simply more susceptible to the Ring than Harry was. He eventually took his leave from the Wizard and went to spend a short time with Éowyn as he ruminated on the old man's words.
Still the march continued and even darker did the mood become. Overhead far and unseen by all save Legolas flew the winged Nazgûl and though they did not descend nor let loose any sound the dread of their presence was palpable and some men lost hope.
Aragorn bade those whose courage failed them remain not a day from Morannon for he said they may yet regain their honour and fight a battle worthy of story. More than a thousand men took his offer and turned back to hold the crossroads from their foe. So it came to pass that the Lords of Gondor stood before the Black Gate of Mordor with just seven thousand men.
The Captains of the West formed their troops upon two hills that sat at though mouth of Cirith Gorgor and awaited the response of the Dark Lord. The Nazgûl had descended again and now sat perched about the towers of the Morannon. Men did quail from their gaze as they looked down upon them as so many beasts to the slaughter.
The gates did not open nor did any sound pass from within and the Captains of the West knew their ruse must be maintained. So it was that Aragorn, now proclaimed the King Elessar, rode into hailing distance of the towering iron fastness of the Black Gate.
Harry was bid to ride alongside and did so though took pains to remain towards the back of the retinue and unseen.
"Let the Lord of the Black Land come forth!" cried the heralds. "The King Elessar is come to demand atonement for the misdeeds of Mordor! Come forth to justice!"
A long silence was the reply and at first it seemed that Sauron would not take the bait. But long he had seen these events and long had his plans be set. A rumble issued from the huge iron gates of Mordor and slowly they pulled aside. From within came a group of riders and at their head upon a massive horse rode one known only as The Mouth of Sauron. So long had he been in the service of his dark master that his name had been long lost to time and when asked he said only that he was The Mouth.
"Are there any here who are worthy to treat with me?" he asked scathingly through a mouth warped and bloodied by the evil words spoken on behalf of his master. "Not the Lord of this paltry host, surely. For any brigand could muster such a pathetic host and call himself King."
No answer came from Aragorn but his gaze burned with such fury and hate that the Black Messenger shrank beneath it. "I am the ambassador of Sauron the great and may not be assailed!" he cried.
"And so you have not. Yet it is also customary for an ambassador to use less insolent language when treating with another yet it seems you cannot keep your black tongue behind your lips," said Gandalf as he rode forward.
"Ahh," said the Messenger. "So Gandalf the Grey is the spokesman. Much we have heard of your schemes and plots ever at arm's reach and ever from a safe haven. How much desperation must you feel that you would come here where death awaits you so readily?"
"For death is all you will find here, as your friends did before you." Then the Mouth threw down a wrapped package and out of it spilled a coat of finest gleaming silver rings and Harry heard Pippin cry out in anguish.
"You have another of the little rats with you I see," said the Mouth. "You have grown desperate in your dotage, Gandalf the Grey, if you would try to send such misbegotten spies into the realm of the all seeing eye. Yet the halfling was dear to you I deem. Or perhaps his task was one you would not see fail? It matters not for if you wish him to live then you will hear the command of Sauron the Great."
Harry then rode forward for he had heard such speeches before. "I don't think they will, oh great Mouth," he said forcefully. "For we both know that there is nothing that could stop their deaths at your master's hands even if he did still live."
"And you? What place do you have to interrupt the treaty of your betters?" snapped the Mouth.
Gandalf laid a hand on Harry's shoulder and shook his head. "Though Harry speaks out of turn in this he speaks for all of us. Much though we wish I friend would return to us we would not sacrifice everything for your lies and treachery."
"So this is Harry, who the peasants of Rohan call Gledfréa. The Wanderer, the Lost, the Hermit, the doom of your charges," the Mouth sneered for his Master had seen Harry and his actions from afar. The Dark Lord had watched Harry from his first appearance upon Arda, for it was no surprise to him. For years he had watched and bided his time for he knew that the eons meant nothing in the Nameless Void. Much did the Dark Lord glean from his mind in the years of his wanderings and he knew Harry son of James could be no threat to him for he had not the power to contest the Lord of Mordor directly, "Such august company you keep oh great King."
"Silence!" cried Gandalf as he cast aside his grey raiment and a light shone beneath as his white robes were uncovered. He moved forward and picked up the package thrown to the ground by the Mouth. "We will bandy no more words with the forked tongue of Sauron the Deceiver! These few items we will take to remember our lost friend by. Begone now for your embassy is over and your death awaits you now should you linger here!"
Then rage twisted the face of the Messenger of Sauron as he was sent from their presence, for he could not stand against the Captains of the West in their umbrage. Long years he had served under Sauron from meanest follower to Chief mouthpiece and never had any treated him with such disdain. Yet he could not then teach them the folly of their words for his Master had plans laid already for that purpose and none stole the Dark Lord's prize from him and lived. He returned to his fell horse in a rage and struck its sides with such force that blood ran from new wounds and the creature sprang away and back towards the refuge of the Morannon.
Before he even came near though the trap of Sauron was sprung in its full force. From the Gates issued a great wave of Orcs and Trolls in such numbers that soon all the ground of Cirith Gorgor was black with their presence. From the shadow of the Ered Lithui came a great host of Haradrim who came behind the host of Gondor and encircled them in their entirety. Still though the sky was not marred by the clouds of his sorcery for the wind yet blew strongly from the West and chased before it all pestilence and shadow.
Soon the two hills upon which the host of the West was drawn up were surrounded by forces more than ten times their numbers for Sauron had sprung his trap and done it with all the force available to him.
Overhead the Black Captains returned to the wing anew and their fell beasts loosed their cry yet even now the men did not quail. Upon one hill stood the standard of the White Tree and on the other the White Swan and Horse of Rohan and all around their armour shone in the light of the sun. From his place at the fore of his half of the force Aragorn called out in a voice, clear and strong and bid they stand for today would not be their doom.
With a great shout that shook the very ground the forces of Mordor charged the two hills and battle was joined in fury. Harry moved through the fray like a battering ram, ever surrounded by a circle clear of Orcs or warriors of the Easterlings. Éowyn was far from him on the other mound and he meant to reach her though thousands of Orcs stood before him.
None could stand against him and the smell of burning flesh spilled into the air as flames issued from his wand. Orcs and Sauron's newest breed of Trolls both were blasted to ruins by flashes and spells from his wand and their dropped weapons rose up at his command impaled those around their once wielders.
He was utterly heedless of the battle going around him for he saw Éowyn now from afar and ever did she stand at the forefront of the battle in her attempt to push their line towards Harry. The light of the sun shone in her hair and she was a bastion of strength for the defence yet she pushed too hard in her want. Seeing her now Harry knew she could not stand for ever for in her need she had become separated from the main force. The charms he had laid upon her turned aside all the blades and arrows of the Orcs yet all about her they pressed inwards, determined to end one who so effectively defied the darkness.
Harry knew he could not allow any harm to come to her and so he gathered his magic and burst towards her appearing in a bright flash that threw all the Orcs for yards around to the ground and those nearby cried in terror. All about him there was a short lull as the Orcs mastered their fear under the watchful gaze of their dark master.
"I almost lost sight of you my Lady," he called to her now that he was at her side. "I was worried you might be lost before I could find you."
She laughed for the battle fury of her sires had returned and she knew the joy of war as she slew. "Lost? I think not! I told you we would remain together even through this darkness," she cried joyfully.
As she spoke a shadow descended and darkness rolled across the sky at his command, though no Witch King was he. Khamûl he was and now leader of the Eight that were Nine. The Black Easterling he was known as and a great King of Rhûn he had been before Sauron gifted to him one of the Nine rings of men. Now, though, his power could not match the Witch King and in moments his beast was felled from below him by flash of magic and steel and his black form was sent tumbling to the ground.
Harry would not allow the Nazgûl any time nor triumph in his attack and he struck almost instantly.
Before Sauron's new Captain could rise he was struck by fire of such ferocity that his Morgul Blade was melted and ruined and his armour was blasted from his body. No mere flame could destroy such a true servant of Sauron though and he stayed yet bound to Middle-earth until his Master would fall. Even in his immortality he was much diminished by the assault and lost his physical form and was forced to flee to his Master's fastness. Even as he fled the remaining Nazgûl came together to break the flagging defence of Men.
For though the lines of Men had great strength in Aragorn, Éomer, Imrahil, Gandalf, Harry and the spell bolstered Éowyn they could not be in all places at once. The forces of the Orcs pushed ever at them giving no time nor pause for breath or planning. The Captains of the West cut through the Orcs like they were grain before the scythe but they could not come to the aid of their men. All about each hill the Orcs pushed at those places not held by a great Captain of Men and the lines there buckled.
Of all the Captains only Harry still remained mobile about the battle and the cracking of his hasty Apparitions echoed across the battlefield as he fought desperately to stop the defensive formation from collapsing in the face of such overwhelming numbers.
But then the light again burst through the darkness brought upon them in the Black Easterling's descent. The fresh wind blew renewed again from the West and all about the men took up a shout. "The eagles are coming! The eagles are coming!"
And come they had. Gwaihir the Windlord came with his brothers Landroval and Meneldor and brought a great force of the eagles of Thorondor. They descended upon the Orcs and men of Harad and bore many skywards to drop them amidst their own or crushed them mightily in their strong talons. The greatest of them contested with the fell birds of the Nazgûl and drove them back and away from the hosts of men. Bred by Sauron from forgotten creatures of the Elder days in a mockery of the Eagles of Manwë. The light of the Valar was not within them and they could not in the end contest the sky with Manwë's creatures.
The men cheered and cried at the sight for the Orcs were struck by a terror at the new threat though they did not yet break nor flee such was the strength of Sauron's fell will.
Then it seemed the world paused. For the presence and Eye of Sauron lifted from the battle and fled east to Orodruin. Hearing their Master's fear and panic the Ringwraiths broke from the battle and flew with all speed to the Mountain of Doom. The Orcs surrounding the two hills broke then for their Master's will had released them in his uttermost panic and they cried without purpose and were cut down by sword and by talon as Men fought back resurgent at the expression of Sauron's terror.
Long moments passed and Harry knew that something was wrong. Nothing had happened, Sauron yet remained and the Ring could not have been destroyed. Had it been cast into the fiery pit of Mount Doom as Gandalf said then Sauron's power would be broken and all his works in Middle Earth would be cast down. Far distant the great tower of Barad-dûr was pinned still to the heavens. The Ring had not been destroyed.
The terror of Sauron past and now the Men trembled at his fierce and terrible jubilation. The Ring had returned to him and its bearer had capitulated to its will. All knew that the day and the world were to be lost, ever shrouded in darkness and despair until the end of all things.
Harry could not allow that to happen, he would not. Frodo was at Mount Doom, that was why the Ringwraiths rode thither with such urgency. He could still save everyone.
He looked to Éowyn after tearing his gaze from still quiet Orodruin and she immediately divined his purpose.
"No!" she cried and lunged to clutch at him.
He twisted and at the moment Éowyn clutched at him in desperation he disappeared from the battle. She felt such discomfort as she had never before experienced, as if her body was being squeezed by the mightiest of trolls. It past in but a moment and they both reappeared upon the slopes of the Mountain of Doom with a mighty crack that shattered stone upon their arrival.
Éowyn released him and fell to the ground retching as the sensation had been far beyond the most unpleasant thing she had very experienced. Still though she looked up and said, "I said you would not be permitted to leave me like that again."
Harry extended his hand to her, smiled and said ruefully, "I should have remembered I could not deny you. But we must be quick. I fear the ring bearer may have succumbed at last."
With a quick spell he was able to roughly locate Frodo and saw that he was still within the great chamber of the Cracks of Doom. Grasping Éowyn to him he apparated again, this time to the door that led into the heart of the great volcano. The sensation was not so unbearably sickening this time, whether due to the shorter distance or her own acclamation she did not know.
"Éowyn, you must stay here and make sure no-one leaves the cavern. He would be invisible so I will have no easy time finding him," he said. "I need you to do this for me."
For a moment she regarded him but finally accepted the need and weighed her sword again in her hand for she would not fail though she was tired and weary of battle.
Far behind them the Winged Nazgûl rode upon the wind faster than any creature in that age of the world. Their Master immediately sensed the presence of the human sorcerer whom he had long watched from afar appear within his realm. No being of such power could hope to pass into the Nameless Realm without drawing His sight. His terrible will and need drove the Nazgûl on yet they would not come fast enough.
Harry then ran within. He saw before him a hobbit who was shouting frantically for Frodo of whom there was no sign. There was no sign of anyone else yet his wand told him Frodo yet remained within the mountain and the precipice was no so wide that he could easily pass without notice.
A whispered spell later and a fine white powder settled across all the ground about him. He moved forward and repeated the spell until he saw footprints in the dust and he knew that Frodo was attempting to get by him.
A red spell flashed into the invisible Hobbit and his body reappeared as it fell and disturbed the thin powder. As he fell the Ring dropped from his finger and finally Harry came to hear its siren call in his mind.
He saw the power he could wield through the ring, it could give him the power to return to his home and he stared in wonder at the power of Sauron's chiefest creation.
Surely with this Ring he could save everyone. The power it contained was alike to nothing Harry had seen before. He had thought it nothing more than Horcrux yet now that he saw it he knew it was so very much more.
The power of Sauron was part of the making of the world. His voice sung in the music of the Ainur that brought the world into being. He had the power to warp and change all things to his purpose and should Harry take it for himself no-one would ever stand in his righteous path again.
He moved slowly towards the thin, flawless strip of purest gold. He heard the tired voice of the other Hobbit calling to him yet he ignored it as one would a fly.
"Don't do it!" the Hobbit cried. "It has to be destroyed!"
Harry did not hear him. No mere Hobbit could know of the true power of the Ring, the glory and strength it could bring its wielder. The Hobbit could not know Harry's loss nor his longing for home that was ever a dull ache within his heart and his memory.
Surely with the Ring he could drive the Orcs from Gondor and Rohan. He could make all the Men, Elves and Dwarves of Middle-earth live together in peace. He could return to his home, the home so cruelly denied him.
A stray thought flickered to Éowyn.
She would not begrudge him this. He had told her of his loneliness and loss, he had told her of the wonders of his world and the friends now consigned to memory. She would not deny him his reward. None would.
He would save the world with the power of the Ring and all would thank him. He could return to his home and surely Éowyn would join him. No-one would deny the hero of Middle-earth such a boon. If she did not come then he could make her, she would surely forgive him in time.
His hand was inches from the Ring as it lay upon the ground, fire flickering across its mirrored surface. He picked it up.
Such a small thing, feared by so many. So many who lacked the mental fortitude or moral will to risk it. Had not Dumbledore said that only Harry was truly worthy of the Elder Wand, of all the Hallows? Of all Men only Harry had the moral character to be entrusted with such power. Only Harry knew when to use it, and when to abstain.
He saw in his mind's eye the happiness he could bring to both worlds with the Ring. An eternal age of light and wisdom brought about at his behest.
He brought it up to his eye and held it between two fingers.
Gandalf was as weak as Dumbledore, he knew. He did not have the strength to carry such a burden of responsibility. Harry had carried that burden through all his years. All his friends, his entire country and now the entire world had come to rely upon his judgement and character. He, of all people, was the only one worthy of that power.
A pair of hands grabbed at the precious ring held just inches from his finger. The Hobbit was not content with merely shouting his ignorance to the world he would also fight Harry for the Ring. Harry grasped tightly at the Ring as the desperate Hobbit grabbed for it in envy.
Harry's hand shot out and the halfling was thrown from him to land in the white dust still strewn across the floor. A cloud of the powder flew up as he was cast from Harry with the most powerful piece of wandless magic he had ever conducted.
He stared again at the Ring with new wonder, such strength could it grant him. Even now, just resting upon the palm of his hand it granted him magics beyond any he had before conducted. His hand came up, his finger extended.
He slipped the Ring onto his finger.
A/N: I have been both dreading posting this chapter and giggling with glee at the thought. I may simply be a terrible person.
So yeah, you know how Harry thought he pretty much had the measure of Middle-earth and how he thought he was a total unassailable badass? Yeah, well, pride is one the the greatest weaknesses you can have when presented with the Ring. Also, beating Imperius is cool and all but you know a fallen demi-god of evil and deceit trumps that right?
Oh, and I planned for eight chapters so... done? (ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!)
Ok, not the end. There's more to come and I'll drop a small spoiler. Harry doesn't become the new Dark Lord. So hopefully I wont get too many angry messages.
Aulë is a Vala, think Hephaestus. The craftsman of the Valar. He made Dwarves. He also made gigantic towers called the 'Lamps' that lit the world before even the Elves were created. Morgoth threw them down (because that's his shtick), then the two Trees were planted. Morgoth killed the Trees (with Ungoliant, giant spider demigod Cthulhu thing) and then the Sun and Moon were created.
The Ered Lithui are the mountains that form the northern border of Mordor. Also called the Ash Mountains. The western and southern borders are the Ephel Dúath or the Mountains of Shadow.
The One Ring. I really need to point some things out. Its primary power comes from its ability to convince you that it is useful. Even Elrond and Galadriel believe they could have the power to wield it but shy from doing so because they know how evil it is. They probably couldn't. As Aragorn says it answers only to Sauron and no-one else. It does not talk to you it instead twists your thoughts to its purpose. This is why Harry is so out of character at the end of the chapter when confronted by the Ring, just as Boromir falls out of character when tempted by the Ring. It's not a Horcrux or even vaguely like a Horcrux in truth, it is a focus for Sauron's power of domination. As a result of the power he put into it losing it or having it destroyed is a dire loss but in the books he is alluded to having a physical body even without the Ring in his possession.
The reviews so far have been most enjoyable to read. I hope it continues even despite what I did in this chapter.