Sam looked around as he stood on the cliffs of the volcano, ring safely tucked in a bag that he had never been able to open. It was that kind of smarts and know-how that had gotten him this far into Mordor. He’d let Frodo rescue the evil Gollum but had insisted he take the pathetic creature back to civilization. It had no hope of redemption this close to the ring and in the heart of Sauron’s cursed lands. Parting with Frodo had been sad, but Sam was brave and willing to do his part. Better him, he thought, than Frodo.
He took one last look over the edge of the volcano and wondered if the end of a quest was supposed to be hard. He remembered how he’d been warned of the temptation of the ring and tried to imagine struggling to rid himself of it, but it wasn’t in him. Magic rings weren’t very valuable compared to a warm meal and a nice pipe and Sam longed to be home in the Shire.
He’d expected some sort of twisted monster to try and stop him, maybe something like Gollum perhaps, but no one was here. He was alone. He felt at the thick bag and could just barely feel the outline of the ring inside it. What a silly little thing to have a war over, he thought. Then, without reservation, he tossed it over the cliff edge into the fires of Mt. Doom where it had once been forged.
It was anticlimactic, to be sure, but climaxes were for heroes and he preferred cakes to climaxes. As he began his long walk out of Mordor, he passed the time planning menu after menu that he would enjoy once he’d found a proper kitchen.
* * *
Days later, he opened the door to the Baggins house and shouted a friendly greeting. He’d expected Frodo to be happy to see him, but had not expected his friend greet him with a tearful embrace.
“Yes, it’s me.” he said, patting Frodo’s head. “It’s your Sam. Now let’s have some cake.”