Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings © J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings movies © Peter Jackson/New Line Cinema. I own nothing.

WARNING FOR THE WHOLE STORY OVERALL (PLEASE READ!): This is a pretty dark fan fiction. It is all T rated, but there is some violence, character death, character torture, battles, creepy stuff, extreme angst etc. Basically, it's all the kind of stuff that gives the movies a PG-13 rating. The plot revolves around a "What-if-this-had-happened" situation. If you have a problem with any of these things, then don't read this!

Author's Note: First of, I have not forgotten about my other stories; I am just suffering from writer's block. This is my first Lord of the Rings fan fiction. It's kind of half-movie, half-book verse. The events from the actual Lord of the Rings plot usually go with the book-version, but I'm using the movie-verse Frodo. I don't hate Frodo no matter what I do to him in my stories, so don't get the wrong impression when you read this. There is a central OC, but NOT A MARY-SUE!

Reviews are welcomed, but no flames, please. Please understand that this is ANGST!


Chapter 1

The Torment of Barad-dûr

Somehow, Frodo Baggins knew that he was in grave danger as soon as he woke up. He sensed it before he heard the calls of orcs around him or saw where he was. He even knew it before he could even remember the events of the previous day.

He recalled travelling towards the Land of Shadow with Sam Gamgee, shortly after escaping Cirith Ungol. They had been so close to victory, but fate had been cruel.

Gollum had been following them. He had become even more cautious and swift, if that was possible, and neither Frodo nor Sam had detected him.

It had been a cold and wet night, for a storm had just passed by. Frodo had volunteered for the first watch, and Sam had uneasily fallen asleep. The first few minutes had been uneventful, but near the end of Frodo's watch, the Ring-bearer had seen something move in the shrubs nearby.

He'd gone closer to investigate. Perhaps it was only an animal of some sort… but of course, few harmless creatures liked to venture so close to Mordor. Frodo had wandered too far.

There hadn't been any cry of surprise, or long fight. It all happened very fast. A moment later, Frodo found that he had been struck to the ground and something was on top of him, clawing at his neck. He tried unsuccessfully to push his assailant off. Gollum had begun to gnaw and tug on the chain that the One Ring hung on.

For a short while, they struggled on the ground. Then, the chain came loose, and, as quickly as he'd attacked, Gollum ran off with his Precious.

Some power had gripped Frodo at that moment. It wasn't only the desire to regain the Ring for the cause of his quest that made him blindly pursue Gollum, heedless of Sam's alarmed calls behind him.

The stronger motive was much more selfish. A strange thought had come to Frodo: He'd been robbed of something that rightfully belonged to him, something more valuable than any other possession.

Frodo did not know how long the chase had continued. He'd followed Gollum's triumphant shrieks through the rugged wasteland, without keeping track of exactly where he was going or what he could encounter. The only thing on his mind was the Ring, and his longing to have it back gave him the energy to pursue Gollum deep into the woods, despite his previous exhaustion.

He'd been barely aware of his friend now far behind, searching and calling for him.

He'd been barely aware of the danger.

He'd lost Gollum a while later, and had wandered aimlessly in the vain hope of finding the creature. What Frodo had found was a ring of boulders where a group of orcs had made a little camp. Ill fate indeed!

Of course, it had not taken the orcs long to notice the hobbit's presence. Capture had consisted of a short chase followed by a mess of struggling and kicking, which had ended when Frodo was knocked unconscious by a particularly hard blow to the head.

It all seemed so impossible, so surreal. The idea of such extreme misfortune in such a short amount of time was bitterly comical. Nonetheless it had all happened.

Questions raced through Frodo's mind. Where was Sam? Had he been caught also? Was he there, with Frodo or was Sam still trying vainly to find his companion?

Well, if Sam had escaped capture, Frodo hoped that his friend had decided against looking for him. If there was a time when strict loyalty would lead to something awful, this was it. But it wasn't the time to worry about that; he didn't even know what exactly what type of situation he was in.

He felt something cold and thin wound around his legs and arms. He opened his eyes wearily and saw that there were little wires wrapped around him. They were coiled around in little rings up and down each limb, about an inch or so apart. Very odd…

Besides that, Frodo was lying on what seemed to be a flat, elevated board, and was nearly naked. He tried to get up, but found that, strangely enough, the seemingly delicate wires acted like ropes, binding him to the board. He craned his neck around to look at his surroundings.

He was in a torch-lit room with stone walls and a high ceiling. There was a black statue in the corner of some hideous thing whose shape could not be clearly perceived. Next to Frodo were what appeared to be the tops of levers, and all about him, there were orcs.

Some were chattering to each other, while others had busied themselves with the levers. One glanced at Frodo and called to another orc, "Oi! He's awake!"

Frodo struggled helplessly against the wires, while a burly orc came forward and leered down at him.

"Alright," growled the orc. "The Dark Lord wants answers, and trust me, we will get our answers. It only depends on if you tell us what we want now or if we have to make you scream first."

He turned and called, "Do you have everything ready, boys?"

A smaller orc answered, "Yes, Gorghâsh. You can start."

Gorghâsh turned back to Frodo. "First, let's get a few things straight," growled the orc. "And then, we'll see whether it's worth keeping you alive. You were found crawling around the borders of our land. What brought you there?"

There was a pause while Frodo searched for a reasonable lie. Unfortunately, there weren't many reasons that a hobbit would go wondering around the edges of Mordor. Without thinking, he uttered the first thing that came to mind:

"Lost," he said. "I... I lost my way."

It was a rather pathetic fib, and the hesitation in Frodo's voice didn't make it any more convincing. Gorghâsh narrowed his beady eyes and nodded at another orc. Frodo felt the wires around him get tighter, until they pierced his skin. He whimpered a little.

"Do you take me for a fool, you rat?" said Gorghâsh. "I have heard about your miserable kind from others. Your kind don't wander far from your home in the west willingly, unless you have a purpose to serve elsewhere. What was it this time?"

As the orc spoke, the wires dug deeper into Frodo until they were cutting through flesh and into veins. He was barely paying attention to the questions and expletives being thrown at him. All he really heard was his own tortured screams.

Finally, the wires loosened, leaving deep lacerations in their place. The shrieks were reduced to little sobs. The world was blurred by tears that Frodo was unable to subdue and he was only fully brought back to it when someone shook him roughly. There was a different orc stooped over him with a crooked-edged dagger.

"You have some importance in this war, don't you?" it hissed. "Some precious secrets that you've been told to keep? Yes, we've had our suspicions ever since we found you. Just reveal a few things or I'll slice you up even more."

The knife was moving closer. Frodo lay still, trying to hide his terror. He thought of the rest of the broken Fellowship; he remembered Aragorn, his cousins, Sam… surely they wouldn't give in so easily to the Enemy. Frodo had to do the same. He winced when he felt the blade pierce his shoulder.

The wires had shifted a little and were now tightening again. Frodo shut his eyes and repeated, silently to himself, "There's still hope as long as you keep quiet. Don't say a word. Don't tell them anything." He tried not to scream for he didn't know exactly what he would cry out if he did. The board beneath him was growing hot; burning, burning.

Frodo wasn't sure quite how long the agony continued. After a while,the only clear thought in his mind was of the stinging pain and the longing for it to end. Far off like an echo, Frodo heard someone growl, "He's being stubborn. He's hiding something."

"Bring him to The Eye," said a new, cold voice. It wasn't gruff enough to belong to an orc. Frodo sensed that it was one of the men from the South who he'd seen marching towards to Black Gate at a time that seemed lost now.

"The Eye?" said the first speaker. "Are you sure that…"

"The Halfling wouldn't try so adamantly to conceal any insignificant matter," said the second. "He could hold an advantage for us, and, although I know how amusing you find this process, we don't have time to wait here for him to crack. He will not be able to withstand the power of the Dark Lord. Bring the Halfling to The Eye and he shall break quickly."

There was a reluctant sigh followed by a hoarse call of, "Alright. We're taking this scum to The Master."

The wires loosened once more and Frodo was pulled roughly into a standing position, only to collapse on his knees. Someone kicked him, but he did not rise, for he was too weak and in too much pain to do so.

Even if this wasn't the case, he wouldn't have gone anywhere willingly, not after what he had just heard. The mere feeling that the Eye of Sauron was looking upon him had been horrible even in lands far away from Mordor. Frodo had no desire to stand directly in its presence. Who knew what he would reveal under its power?

"Please," he thought to himself. "Let them be satisfied with what they're doing now. Let them change their minds."

But he knew how hopeless this was. The choking feeling of dread gripping him grew rapidly as he was dragged out of the dim chamber, down a long, dark flight of steps, leaving a trail of dark red drops behind him.

Frodo knew where he was now: Barad-dûr, the dreadful fortress whose name was uttered with a grim or quavering voice in distant lands, for it meant misery and terror. None could infiltrate the stronghold of the Dark Lord.

The sickening feeling that there would be no salvation coming or chance of escape hit Frodo. His captors could do whatever they wished to him, and no help would come. He knew that they would kill him in the end, once they got bored.

A voice echoed in his head, "This task was appointed to you, Frodo of the Shire. If you do not find a way, no one will." The burdening sensation of failure overcame him. Gollum couldn't hide the Ring forever. Sauron would regain it. The shadow would spread and the Shire and all other places once fair and peaceful would be stained with the blood of the Free People.

Frodo tried to suppress these thoughts for regardless of how things would end, he could not afford to fall into any deep state of distress and let something slip out about the Fellowship or exactly who had the Ring now. He could buy some time perhaps, although he didn't see what real help this could provide; it was all he felt he could do now…

But as he ascended the stairs further, a sense of terrible might filled the passage and the hope of staying strong against it dwindled.