Tainted Heartbeats

By Aria Breuer

Disclaimers: All material from The Lord of the Rings book trilogy belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. All material from the film trilogy, with the same title, belongs to Peter Jackson. All original material, characters, places, items, and plot elements belong to the author of this fan fiction three-shot story.

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This is my first attempt at posting a three-shot. I hope this works, since there are a few heroes and a lot of enemies telling these events. I also hope you, the readers, enjoy this story. It took me many times to proofread and revise this story, to get the events of the three-shot where they are today.

This three-shot story was critiqued by my beta-reader Sauron Gorthaur, who helped me with grammatical mistakes, punctuation, and typos.

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Diversion, One-Shot

Frodo Baggins waited patiently inside a dimly-lit billiard room. In the middle of this room was a pool table. Tall, wooden bookcases stood against cream-colored walls; beside them were plants inside large, mosaic vases. There weren't any windows, but there was a mahogany door on one side of the room. The door's gold handle could easily be spotted a few feet away. At the current moment, the door was locked tight.

Frodo himself couldn't explain why he had been sent into this room. The only part he could recall about being in the Shire was a monstrous creature chasing him into the Old Forest. That was the last time he had been in Middle-earth. Now that he and his friends were on the run, Frodo thought their best option would be to leave the abandoned mansion. However, he needed information on the creatures' followers: the villains.

The heavy silence was broken by a loud click. Frodo looked up, alert, as the door handle turned slowly. On the other side of the door stood Samwise Gamgee, who held in his hands a thick, yellow office folder. Frodo sighed in relief as he stood up from the cushioned chair. It had been months since he journeyed with Sam into the land of Mordor, on their perilous quest to destroy the One Ring.

As he approached his best friend and companion, Frodo asked, "Did you find the blueprints?"

Sam nodded. "Here," he replied, handing the folder over to his master. While Frodo skimmed the blueprints with his eyes, Sam told him with a worried response, "We have to do something, Mr. Frodo. We have to stop those cats before –"

Frodo interrupted with a sharp gaze. "Sam, I know." He paused. "With luck, we can avoid those animals."

Curious, Sam asked, "What is your plan?"

"We need to make a diversion. Hopefully, Merry and Pippin can perform that task," said Frodo, grinning slightly. "Then we need to escape this ruined mansion, before it caves in on us." He stared hard at the first blueprint on top of the stack, still lying inside the folder. A moment passed, which followed by Frodo pointing out a thick, white line running vertically across the blue paper. "We can use the mining tunnels to bypass the entrance hall."

Sam raised an eyebrow at him. "If the shafts haven't collapsed, then we can use them. Otherwise –"

Frodo gave his gardener a concerned expression. Calmly, he answered, "This plan will work. Once we're back in the Shire, you can go home to Rosie and Elanor." Hesitant, Frodo added, "I'm not sure what is out there for me…" He let his voice fade away. Doubtful, he thought, who would wait for me? Returning his gaze to Sam, Frodo said with confidence, "You have to trust me. We have to try."

Sam paused. He murmured, "Mr. Merry and Mr. Peregrin are in the kitchen, nearest to the entrance hall."

Frodo's expression changed from confident to tense. "Come on. We had better find them, before something else does." He then led Sam out of the billiard room.

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Frodo and Sam snuck into the kitchen, in hopes of avoiding the monsters. The second the two hobbits spotted their friends, Sam rushed over to the counter, where he found Merry and Pippin gorging down on food. When Sam brought up the plan Frodo told him to hurry, for he saw one of the creatures climb down a set of ruined steps, which stood a few yards away from the door. A moment after Pippin realized his stomach ached he left the counter, and his supper, behind.

Once Pippin was reunited with his friends, Frodo whispered to him and Merry some of the finer details of his plan. Merry and Pippin agreed to create a diversion, but they urged Sam to accompany them in their scheme. Before Sam could argue, Frodo shushed the hobbits. The four were almost smelt out by the same beast that now lurked in the entrance hall. Frodo knew he would not have another chance, if the plan failed on him. In haste, Frodo sent Merry and Pippin out of the kitchen, straight into the creature's path. The creature snapped its head at the two young hobbits, forcing the cousins to stop in their tracks. As the beast growled, it showed a hungry look in its deep, bloodshot cat eyes. Merry glanced nervously at Pippin, and then tore across the hall into a dark opening. Pippin chased after his cousin until he too vanished from Frodo and Sam's sight.

Sam darted out of the kitchen before Frodo could grab his sleeve. The gardener dodged past the beast in a flurry. He did not look back as he ran through the narrow opening, which had been cut jaggedly into the stone. Down a flight of wooden stairs, Sam found Pippin clutching one of the steps for dear life. He stopped momentarily on the fifth step, as he heard breaking wood. He had just climbed onto the next step when the board broke under the weight of his foot. Sam fell through a huge gap in the stair that dragged him further towards a vent chute. After a slide down the chute, Sam entered a stone tunnel, where he hit the surface of its slimy, rushing water.

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Frodo hid behind the wall as more creatures advanced towards the narrow, dark opening. He only needed to look outside the kitchen to realize there was no clear path to leaving the mansion, from the front doors. While the creatures were distracted, Frodo darted out of the kitchen and entered an empty hallway. Nestled against the walls were paintings, set inside rustic, gold frames. On one corner of each painting was an insignia, dipped in golden reds and blues.

Midway down the hallway, Frodo caught a glimpse of one monstrous being: it had charcoal skin, sharp claws, and razor-sharp teeth. Frodo had not expected this encounter, nor did he plan on waiting around for the beast's attack. He whirled around, right as a second creature stood before him. Next to the creatures' massive build, compared with his short height, Frodo felt hope slipping away. As his heart froze, Frodo glanced over his shoulder and saw a nearby passageway with a darkened opening.