Okay, this one's for kicks.
A while ago a blogger compared the first full Maldene novel as being Lord Of The Rings meets Homer’s Odyssey. Nice and complimentary and thank-you for that, but after a bit of thinking I realized that I had a chance for a little bit of comical mayhem. So with apologies to Tolkein, I now present my first (and possibly last; we’ll see how this goes) “What If-“ article. In this case the premise is, “What if Frodo was on Maldene”?” Same quest, same set-up, just physically moved to Maldene’s environs. Things may have turned out just a little bit different (and don’t ask me how this came out all in present tense)…
Frodo approaches the volcano, ring in hand ready to chuck it into its mouth, while trying to fend off Golem from taking it.
“At last I’m here. Just chuck this thing into the lava and the evil will be no more.”
“Back you foul creature, you. This is for the good of the world!”
“I’m sure you think that.”
“What? Who said that?”
Frodo looks around and spots a tall man in the shadows. Human wearing a turban and a shadow over his face… except for his eyes. Those piercing eyes. Frodo turns to look at him, finds he can’t meet the man’s stare, and quickly looks away.
“Are you Sauron? Well, if so you can’t stop me.”
“No, my little one, my name is Miro and you’re on Maldene now. Always have been, actually. Sauron was just… a diversion of mine.”
“A what?! No, you’re trying to trick me.”
“Well, I would think that part obvious, though the truth is that I already have.”
“Precious. Must have Precious. Hand it over NOW!”
Frodo kicks Golem away and holds onto the Ring even tighter. A step, then two, closer to the lip of the volcano.
“I’m going to throw it in,” Frodo threatens.
“Then please hurry up and do it already. I have a schedule to keep.”
“Wait– What? You WANT me to destroy the Ring?”
For a moment Frodo looks puzzled, while a slender grin slips its way across the shadows of Miro’s face.
“Why my dear Hobbit, that is what this entire charade has been about. I want you to destroy the Ring.”
“B-but, if I do then Sauron will be destroyed, and he’s your… servant, I guess. Right?”
“Exactly,” Miro smiles. “Now just throw that dirty little Ring into the lava and unleash the fires of destruction that will result.”
“Gimme Precious,” Golem pleads.
Frodo is about to hurl the Ring, while Golem has grabbed himself around one leg to hold him back, then stops, a thoughtful look upon his face.
“Fires? What fires?”
Miro sighs, taking a step out of the shadows. He is seen wearing a glittering robe though the shadows still seem to cling to his face, almost as if a separate entity of their own.
“I can see that I shall have to explain this. Very well… That ring is tied to Sauron’s soul, so by destroying the Ring you destroy his soul.”
“That is kind of the idea,” Frodo replies. Meanwhile Golem is still struggling with him.
“The soul of a powerful wizard,” Miro continues. “Such power as would be unleashed would wreck havoc throughout this entire valley. Oh, admittedly that would also destroy the little force of Orcs here as well, but I’m finished with them anyway. The important part is that the resulting conflagration will unleash something even more horrendous and better suited to my designs. Sauron was a useful tool to lure you here with, but his role is done. Now… destroy the ring then you can be about your way.”
For a moment Frodo can only stand in utter confusion. Then Golem makes a leap for him, to which Frodo nimbly leaps aside and gives him a kick in the rear that sends him over the edge. Golem goes screaming down into the lava, turned to vapor upon contact.
“At least he’s dealt with,” Frodo exclaims as he straightens back up.
“Yes, he was a nuisance,” Miro agrees. “And to think, all this time he was trying to stop you from destroying that Ring. Interesting, don’t you think?”
“Wait,” Frodo realizes, “are you trying to tell me that… Golem was the good guy?! B-but–”
“Demented, and had trouble expressing himself in a civilized conversation, but yes,” Miro tells him. “He knew about the powerful Old One imprisoned within this volcano and how the destruction of the One Ring would finally release it. You know, I went through a lot of trouble getting Sauron to create that Ring just so it could be later tossed into the lava and fulfill my plans. Yes, I’ll be needing that Old One to march on the King’s castle.”
“B-But, that’s impossible. Totally reversed from what I– You’re trying to trick me.”
“We’ve already established that. Now, destroy the Ring like you were going to. I’ll give you a treat?”
For a moment Frodo can only stand there, unsure what to do. The Ring is still in his hand calling to him… as is his friend Samwise running up the ramp to the cave entrance. Should he destroy it or not now?
“I’m confused. What should I do?”
“Master Frodo! Destroy the Ring now! Why are you hesitating?!”
As Samwise comes running up, Miro makes a comment perhaps only heard by Frodo.
“My, my; it sounds like your friend is eager to see that Old One unleashed. He’s not the stalwart defender of Life that poor Golem was… right before you shoved him into the lava. And all he was trying to do was stop you from–”
“Golem!” Frodo realized. “I killed him. He was trying to prevent me from unleashing a disaster and– No one’s getting this Ring. I’ll keep it for myself and keep that Old One imprisoned. THAT should mess up your plans, Miro!”
“Master Frodo, no!”
Frodo puts on the Ring and fades away, leaving Samwise blindly feeling around for his friend. Miro, meanwhile, yawns.
“You expect a little ring of invisibility to fool me? You haven’t been paying attention.”
“Master Frodo, please take off the– Who the heck are you?”
As Samwise stops for a moment to gape at Miro, an invisible and possibly quite mad Frodo sucker punches him, then kicks him over the edge. Frodo can be heard laughing as he watches his friend plunge down into the lava.
“THAT will stop your plans. Sorry Samwise, but you were working for the wrong side. This is for your own good, you’ll see. This Ring will never be destroyed and the world will remain safe… Safe… safe.”
As Frodo is panting, Miro calmly steps over and places a hand out into the air before him.
“Are you quite finished, my little one?”
Frodo appears right where Miro had reached out to, the taller man’s hand now seen to be atop his head. The hobbit has a mad look in his eyes, an unhealthy gleam.
“I’ve defeated you, you know,” Frodo heavily pants. “And I’ve guessed your plan. You can’t destroy the Ring yourself or you would have just taken it from me and thrown it in yourself. You need me to throw it into the lava, but I won’t!”
“An astute deduction,” Miro pleasantly smiles. “It would seem that you have me stymied. Of course, you’re forgetting something.”
“What? I’m the only one that can do this and unleash that creature you want so bad, and I won’t do it, no matter who I have to kill to prevent it!”
“Anyone? Because I could simply take control of your mind then order you to toss it in. Where will you be then? The Ring will be destroyed and my little creature unleashed.”
Frodo’s breath is coming hard as the words go through his increasingly twisted mind. The face of a madman realizing the inevitability of consequence, then suddenly brightening with an idea. He takes the Ring and slams it into Miro’s grip, then begins running for the edge as fast as he can.
“Now you’ll never be able to get me to destroy the Ring! I’ve beaten you, I’ve won!”
With a mad laugh, Frodo jumps off the edge, plunging down for the lava. It is on his way down that Miro looks at the Ring in his hand and grins, his words the last that the little hobbit will ever hear.
“Of course, the other way of unleashing that Old One is for three living sacrifices; an enemy, a close friend, and one willing. It’s a far neater way of freeing the creature than getting a volcano to blow up, don’t you think?”
…It is not too much later when a pair of Frodo’s friends are distantly noting the unrest of the great volcano… and why it seems to be growing a pair of large flaming eyeballs and standing up. More than one of them utters the same question.
“What the heck just happened over there?”