‘Damn, damn, damn. What do I do now?’ Sam bit his lower lip and could only stare at the spot where Dimple disappeared. Only his friend's foot prints remained. Frustrated, he kicked loose snow under foot, sending up a spray into the air. ‘Drat it all. Take the bracelet into the Binbole Wood, they said. A simple enough task any hobbit could do. Instead, I forget my cloak, it's past dinner time, and my squire is kidnapped by some wight.’
Sam rummaged through his leather pack, his fingers brushed against cool metal. He pulled out the silver bracelet, decorated with engraved vines wrapping around the band. The hobbit turned it around in his hand, tracing the sharp runes of dwarves written inside. ‘Oh, Mr Frodo, what I would do to have a tid bit of your counsel.’
He slipped the bracelet back into his pack. A moan sailed through the winter air brushing the tiny hairs on Sam's neck.
‘Mr Sam.’ Dimple’s voice sounded hollow and distant. ‘Help me!’
Sam turned around searching for its origin, but saw no trace of his companion. He raised his fist into the air and shouted, 'You leave him be, you hear me foul spirit!'
Her laugh was like the shattering of ice, stabbing into his mind. Sam collapsed to his knees clasping his head. 'If you want him, Sam Gamgee of the Shire, come to the Barrow Downs and bring the bracelet with you.'
Her voice withdrew and he was left gasping. He stood up and shook his head to clear his mind from her spectral touch.
‘I’m coming, Dimple.’ Sam murmured the promise and set off at a sprint.
He saw the plains through the gaps in the trees, when a trio of figures appeared barring his way. Sam skidded to a halt, his hand wrapping around Sting's handle. The smell of rotting meat and all things unclean invaded his senses. He had smelled this stench before.
'Lookey at what we got 'ere, grubs.' A goblin wrapped in furs stepped forward, a wicked mace resting on his shoulder. 'We found our fat rabbit.'
Sam drew Sting from its sheath, its blade bathing the forest in its blue light. The goblins squinted against its brightness. The green ugly speaker looked to the blade and then at the hobbit, bursting out in a croaking laughter that was joined in by his fellows.
Tears streaming down; the goblin tried to speak through deep breaths. 'Oh, look, the fatty has an elf pig sticker.' He pointed at Sting, and laughed some more. 'Yer know 'ow to use that do ya?'
Sam sliced the air in front of the goblin and put his weapon up. 'Why don't you come closer and I'll show you.'
When the goblin advanced, Sam swung Sting again. The foul creation of Morgoth sidestepped the swipe and caught the hobbit by the wrist. Sam tried to pull away but the goblin's grip was too strong. It applied more pressure. The hobbit grimaced from the pain, and after a few moments of bone grinding against bone, Sam relented and released his weapon.
'What's your kind doing in the Shire?' Sam said through gritted teeth.
'It asks us, Kruun?' A smaller goblin, skinny and lanky wearing an Orc's skull as a helmet, addressed the one dressed in furs. He sidled up to Sam. 'We be the ones askin' the questions.' The back of its hand snapped across Sam's face leaving a stinging welt on the hobbit's cheek.
'Urlak, be nice.' Kruun released Sam and propelled him backwards.
Caught off balance, the hobbit fell on his backside, causing more laughter from the goblins. Once their amusement was sated, their leader threw up his hand for silence. He advanced on Sam, looming over him.
'Yer gots something I wants.' His eyes focused on the hobbit's pack. 'Just give us the shiny bracelet, and we'll let yer leg it.'
Sam held up his chin, defiant. 'I don't know what you're talking about.'
The goblin was silent, its bulbous black eyes not looking away. It let out a gurgling laugh crinkling the goblin's face.
'I like yer, halfling. Yer gots guts to lie to me.' The goblin's fist struck Sam's jaw snapping his head sideways.
Sam tasted blood in his mouth, and his ears rang from the blow.
Kruun returned to his men. 'Restrain the rabbit, boys.'
Sam tried to crawl to Sting, but the goblins caught him and yanked him up. They pinned his arms behind his back and applied enough pressure to bring moisture to Sam's eyes.
'I'll ask again. Yer going to give me whats I want?'
'I honestly don't...'
The goblin leader interrupted Sam, 'Orgra, break one of his stubbies.'
The squat goblin with a bone piercing his nose got hold of the hobbit's little finger. Sam struggled but was halted by the sharp crack, and lightning shooting up his arm.
Gasping, Sam glanced up at the goblin leader. 'You stinkin' gobby.'
'Oh, no need to get all nasty now.' Kruun stepped forward, grabbing hold of Sam's chin between his thumb and forefinger. 'Give me the bracelet.'
'No,' Sam answered through gritted teeth.
Kruun's grip tightened. 'Alright then. Orgra another.'
The pain burned a trail up to Sam's head, and blackness coloured the edges of his vision. His legs trembled, and he would have collapsed if the goblins weren't holding him.
'Kruun, can'ts I just knife 'em and pick the shiny from its corpse?' Urlak asked.
Kruun answered with a meaty backhand.
‘Oi!’ The small goblin squealed. 'Wot's that fer?'
'Yer an idiot, Urlak. He's got to gives us it for the enchantment to work.' He returned his attention back to Sam. 'Yer gonna do that, halfling?'
'No.' Sweat thickened on Sam's forehead.
'Shall I break another?' Orgra licked his lips, anticipating the order.
'No, it looks to me that it won't work.' A grim grin curled the goblin's mouth. 'Let's start cuttin' 'em off instead.'