Chapter 3 – To Moria
The day passed quickly, and soon night had fallen. Shadows flitted across the plains, making me nervous. The moon was full, and cast a silvery light all around us, making everything glow with an eerie light. We came to a cluster of boulders, which had a hollow in the middle. It was big enough to shelter all of us from the biting wind, and there was a place for Bill to rest too. I took Bill from Sam and untacked him. He nickered softly and immediately started munching on the coarse grass around us. Patting his flank, I carried our packs back to the others. Merry and Pippin were building a fire, without success. Every time a spark lighted the wood, the wind would blow it out.
"Here. Let me."
I knelt in front of the fire, spreading my cloak out and shielding the logs from the worst of the wind. Merry and Pippin tried again and this time, a spark caught. Soon, a fire was blazing. Everyone gathered round, stretching out their hands. Wordlessly, I handed out lambas bread. We sat in silence, each lost in our own thoughts. As I ate, I stared in to the fire. Shapes began to dance before my eyes: horses galloping; elves dancing; a sword swinging in a deadly arc through the air. I followed these shapes, losing myself in the flickering flames. A battlefield sprang up, and I could see masses of people fighting. In my head, I heard the distant shouts of men, and the clash of metal. All of a sudden, the eye of Sauron appeared, burning in to my mind. I gasped, and scrambled backwards.
"What is it? What's wrong?"
Legolas turned to me, alarmed, hand reaching for the bow lying by his side.
"Nothing, nothing. My mind is playing tricks."
I let out a nervous laugh, not meeting anyone's eyes.
"I will take first watch."
I stood and walked away, towards a pile of rocks. I climbed them and nestled myself on top, so I could see all around us. Darkness had cloaked the land in inky shadows. Sighing, I unhooked my blades from my back and laid them in front of me. They glinted in the pale moonlight, and the stars etched in to their blades winked and shone. I crossed my legs and scanned the horizon. Nothing. I relaxed slightly. Silence echoed behind me. I looked behind me. The fire had burned low: the glowing embers lighted everyone's faces. The hobbits had curled up together near the back of the space. Aragorn and Gandalf were sleeping sitting up against the rocks. Gimli snored on the floor right next to the fire. Legolas had wrapped his cloak around himself, and was leaning against the back of the rocks, near the hobbits. His face was peaceful, his hair draped across his face. My throat constricted, and I swallowed hard.
Unbidden, an image floated through my mind: Legolas was sleeping peacefully on a large bed, the headboard decorated with intricate vine and tree carvings. His face was peaceful, a light smile on his face as he curled tighter around the smaller form sleeping beside him. I shook my head sharply, forcing the memory away. It was no good to dwell on things that were no longer. Despite our agreeing to give each other another chance, I could not push down the almost crippling doubt that things would never be the same between us again.
"Mind if I join you?"
A voice sounded from below me and I looked down to saw Boromir looking up, a hesitant smile on his face. I waved my hand and he climbed up and sat down next to me. We didn't say anything for a while; we just stared out as if we could actually see anything.
"You seem restless. You have not said anything until tonight."
Boromir broke the silence. I glanced sideways at him: he was watching me.
"It is hard for me to talk. I am still raw from this morning."
My voice wavered, and I cleared my throat, trying to hide it. He placed a hand on my shoulder, and through that simple gesture I could feel all his sympathy, his worry, his anxiety.
I whispered the words, staring down at my feet. After a few moments, he let his hand drop.
"You are hiding something. What did you see in the fire?"
His tone was sharp and I could feel his gaze on me.
"The eye of Sauron."
There was no point in lying to him; I sensed that he could tell if I was.
"Does he know where our path is leading us?"
He shifted until his body was facing me. I did the same. We sat facing each other and in the moonlight, he looked gaunt, and drawn.
"No, I do not think so. He knows that the Ring is not in Imladris anymore, but he does not know where exactly it is."
Boromir breathed out softly, clearly relieved.
"That is a good thing. The less he knows, the more time we have."
I nodded in agreement, but didn't reply.
"It is strange. I hardly know you at all, yet there is something familiar about your face."
Boromir looked at me, eyes calculating, trying to remember me.
"I visited Gondor when you and your brother were no more than children. I stayed for only two weeks – I came to discuss a few issues with your father – but you and your brother insisted on escorting me everywhere. Apparently, a lady should always have an escort."
I smiled a little at the memory, suddenly seeing the child in place of the grown man. Boromir chuckled lightly, a faint flush staining his cheeks. I shook my head and looked back down at my blades as Boromir spoke.
"If you do not mind me saying, I feel it a little unfair that you know me when I know nothing about you."
I raised an eyebrow at his audacity, but he just stared back, eyes sparkling in the moonlight. I chuckled and held my hands out a little.
"What would you like to know? I cannot promise to answer all of your questions, but I promise to at least be truthful."
Boromir paused for a moment, thinking on his questions.
"Where is your family? You seemed very close with Lord Elrond."
I bit my lip, eyes turning out to the shadowed landscape. Boromir had no idea how hard it was for me to answer this question.
"My mother abandoned me when I was just a baby. My father was killed in the war against Sauron at the end of the Second Age of Sun. She left me at Elrond's door, and returned to the Undying Lands."
I started talking, but my voice cracked a little. I coughed and began again.
"He took me in and raised me as his own. It was only a few hundred years ago that I learnt I had a brother; a twin. He had been left with Lady Galadriel. Haldir, he is called."
Even now, after thousands of years, the hurt still existed deep inside. To abandon your own children, when they were no more than babes in arms, was something I could never and would never understand.
"I see. So how did you become Queen? You must be descended from royalty,"
Boromir's face was rapt with attention.
"I am descended from Fingon, the first son of Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor."
A crease appeared between his brows as he struggled with the information.
I smiled a little; I often forgot that only a few men were like Aragorn, and that the majority only knew the very simplest of facts about the Elves.
"The Noldor were the mightiest of Elves who inhabited Middle-Earth. We are the Elves most far-famed in the songs and tales that have come to the ears of Men, for we were the Elves who wrought the great jewels, called the Silmarils, and the Rings of Power."
I stopped a moment, allowing what I had said to sink in.
"Do you know of the War of the Jewels?"
Boromir shook his head, and gestured for me to explain.
"Curufinwë, also called Fëanor, was the son of the King Finwë of the Noldor and his Queen, Miriel. Fëanor was the most learned in the crafts of Aulë, Maker of Mountains. One of Fëanor's greatest deeds was the making of three beautiful gems that captured the Light of the Trees of the Valar within their crystals. They were the most beautiful jewels ever seen, for they shone with a living light. However, this caused the greatest bane to the Elven people. Melkor, one of the Valar who was later called Morgoth, the Dark Enemy, came with the great Spider Ungoliant and destroyed the Trees of the Valar, slew Finwë and stole the jewels. Fëanor swore an oath of vengeance on Melkor, and pursued him to Middle-Earth from the Undying Lands. The War of the Jewels lasted through all the days of the First Age of Sun. Fëanor was slain in the War, as were his seven sons: Amras, Amrod, Caranthir, Celegorm, Curufin, Maedhros and Maglor. Fëanor's brother Fingolfin and Fingolfin's children, Fingon, Turgon and Aredhel, were also slain in the War. The third son of Finwë, Finarfin, had remained in the Undying Lands to rule the remants of the Noldor. However, his four sons, Aegnor, Angrod, Finrod Felagund and Orodeth, were killed, leaving his daughter, Galadriel, the only survivor of all the Noldor lords and their children that went to Middle-Earth."
I stopped again, catching my breath. Boromir no longer looked as confused as he did, but I could still see questions in his eyes.
"I am still a little lost. You mentioned you were descended from Fingon, yet he was killed in the War of the Jewels."
I shook my head, and explained, trying to make it as clear as possible.
"Fingon's son, Gil-galad, was not killed in the War. He set up the last Noldor high kingdom in Middle-Earth, called Lindon. Gil-galad was my father. Haldir and I were born many years before the war against Sauron at the end of the Second Age. My mother left me with Elrond, and Haldir with Galadriel when we were a few days old. She returned to the Undying Lands, while my father remained in Lindon."
Boromir nodded his understanding. I watched his face, noting how he shifted, as if embarrassed. He looked up and found me watching him. Looking slightly apologetic, he spoke up.
"I do not wish to sound disrespectful, but shouldn't Haldir be King, as he is the male heir to the throne?"
My lips twitched in amusement but I held in my laughter, not wishing to offend him.
"There was no High King of the Noldor after my father died. Galadriel was the noblest Noldor to remain in Middle-Earth. She and Elrond knew of my brother's and my heritage. Once we came of age, Haldir had every right to claim the title of King. However, he refused and named me as heir to the throne, and so, I became Queen."
Boromir nodded, looking thoughtful. I looked out to the horizon, and was surprised to see it lightening. I nudged Boromir, and pointed to the horizon. He nodded once again, and stood, stretching. He jumped down off the rock, and wandered in to the camp. Soft snores filled the air minutes later. I settled myself, and turned to face the horizon, to watch the coming dawn.
We set off again early in the morning. Pippin trailed behind, eyes half closed. I waited until I was level with him, and then continued walking.
"Why do we have to leave so early?"
He yawned widely, and I giggled at him. He grinned sheepishly and covered his mouth.
"If we do not leave this early, we will lose time, and that is the one thing we do not have enough of."
I answered his earlier question, glancing down at him. Pippin snorted and looked up at me.
"Can you not just make time?"
I laughed properly for the first time in days. Pippin grinned and started laughing too. I ruffled his hair, and we walked in companiable silence.
We walked for hours more, until we came to a clearing. There were rocks lying around, and a few brown shrubs. In the distance, the Misty Mountains rose up, snow topping their peaks.
"We shall rest here."
Gandalf spoke suddenly, striding towards a group of rocks. Everybody gratefully dropped their packs, and sank to the ground. I did not wish to stop. I had been feeling uneasy for a while now, but I held it in. The Hobbits were clearly exhausted and Frodo looked like he would collapse at any moment. I looked over at him. He was sitting with Sam, who handed him some water. Good. Sam would take care of him.
"Sit, Seraphina. We will be here for a little while."
Aragorn called out from a top a rock. He had pulled his pipe out, and was smoking it. Wisps of smoke curled lazily in to the air.
"I feel too restless to sit. I need to do something!"
I called back to him, eliciting a shake of his head.
"How can you need to do something when you did not sleep at all last night? You are like a child."
Boromir answered instead, smiling as he walked towards me. I shrugged, and scuffed the ground with my feet. The sound of a sword being drawn made me look up. Boromir was standing in front of me, sword in hand.
"Come. Let us see how true of a warrior you are."
He grinned and I heard Gandalf chuckle. I looked round. Everyone had sat up, and was watching avidly.
"I do not wish to harm you."
I replied by drawing my own blades.
"We'll see about that."
We circled each other, like a pair of hawks. Suddenly, he lunged forward. I parried his blow with my right blade, and swung my left one up. He disengaged and blocked it. I jumped back, and shifted from side to side. Boromir watched me carefully. I leapt forward, bringing both blades up and over my head. He flung his sword up to meet my two, and we struggled with each other for a few seconds. He slid his sword down the length of mine, and pushed me back. I lost balance and fell to the floor. Boromir ran forward, and turned his blade down, as if to stab me. I rolled backwards, just as the tip of the sword hit the ground. Gasps came from all around us.
"You put up a good fight, Seraphina. But do you really think you can win? After all, you are just a lady."
Boromir taunted me, a grin splitting his face.
"Just a lady? Your father confessed to me that he thought the same when you were born."
Laughter erupted from all sides. Boromir growled and ran forward, sword outstretched. I waited until the last moment before catching his word in between my two and spinning . He spun with me, and I swept his feet out from underneath him. He lay on his back, with my blades to his throat. Both of us were panting. After a few moments, I sheathed my blades and held my hand out. He clasped it and I pulled him up.
"Where did you learn to fight like that?"
Boromir questioned me, sheathing his own sword.
"I had lessons from one of the best."
I replied, thinking of Elrond and one of our many lessons. I had insisted on learning to fight, much to his chagrin. He had caved eventually and many a evening had been spent with him tutoring me in the art of swordsmanship. I heard the patter of feet approaching and turned toward the source. Merry and Pippin ran up, eyes alight with excitement.
"Can you teach us to fight like that?"
Merry asked me, looking between Boromir and I. I looked down at the two Hobbits, who grinned like children who had just received presents. I looked at Boromir and held up my hands.
"I am sure that Boromir will teach you a few things."
I shot a smile at the two Hobbits and walked over to Legolas and Gimli, who were sitting on a rock.
"You are a fierce fighter, lassie. I would not want to get on the wrong side of you."
Gimli chuckled, his eyes shining.
"I had the misfortune to do just that. She had me begging for mercy."
Legolas spoke, his voice amused. Gimli turned to him, a surprised expression on his face. A wide grin broke out on my face as I looked at him.
"I remember that day well."
I laughed, shaking my head at the memory. I looked back up and Legolas stretched out his hand. I hesitated for a moment and then accepted it, allowing him to pull me up on to the rock they were sitting on. They moved apart, so I sat in between them. Gandalf joined us, he too smoking his pipe. I shook my head.
"What bothers you?"
Gandalf asked, one eyebrow raised.
"The obsession that the male of every species has of smoking a pipe – save maybe my kin."
Gandalf smiled ruefully, puffing deliberately on his pipe. Snorting lightly, I ran my eyes over the camp. Boromir was giving Merry and Pippin their fighting lesson, whilst Aragorn offered encouragement. Sam and Frodo sat below Aragorn, looking on.
"So where do we go from here?"
I looked to Gandalf, as did everyone else. My knowledge of these parts was shaky, to say the least.
"If anyone was to ask for my opinion, which I note they're not, I'd say we were taking the long way round. Gandalf, we could pass through the Mines of Moria. My cousin, Balin, would give us a royal welcome."
Gimli spoke instead, his voice alive with excitement.
"No, Gimli. I would not take the road through Moria unless I had no other choice."
I looked at Gandalf in surprise. As Gimli and Gandalf continued to argue, I noticed Legolas had got up, and was looking intently to the South. I joined him and looked too. A black shape was flying towards us. It was hazy and kept shifting, as if alive.
"What is that?"
Sam's voice sounded from below and I looked down to see that Frodo and Sam had wandered over.
"Nothing. It's just a whiff of cloud."
Gimli answered the Hobbit, staring at the shape.
"It's moving fast…against the wind…"
Sam said the words thoughtfully, as if he didn't quite believe Gimli. Legolas and I jumped down from the rock, and continued to look at the shape. Boromir, Aragorn, Merry and Pippin had stopped fighting. As the shape got closer, I suddenly realised what it was. Legolas turned to me, fear registering on his face.
"Crebain from Dunland!"
He shouted out, moving to hide our things.
Aragorn yelled, pulling Merry and Pippin with him. Everyone scrambled for a hiding spot. I poured water over the fire, and grabbed my pack. I dived underneath a shrub, automatically moving with Legolas, just as the crows flew over our camp. Their cawing filled the air, and black feathers fell from the sky. I instinctively curled in to Legolas, who pulled me closer. I buried my head in his shoulder. The steady beating of his heart kept me calm and the familiar feeling of his arms around me made me feel safe.
After a few minutes, the cawing grew fainter, as the crows flew southwards. I crawled out from under the shrub, Legolas close behind. We stood and waited for the others to emerge. I quickly gathered everything and retrieved Bill, who had cantered off a way in fright. I returned with him, and Sam took him, speaking softly to him, and stroking his nose. I stood behind Frodo, who was shaking slightly. I placed my hands on his shoulders, and squeezed gently. He looked up and gave a trembling smile. We all looked to Gandalf, who was gazing at the Misty Mountains.
"What were they, Gandalf?"
Frodo asked him, his voice quiet.
"Spies of Saruman! The passage South is being watched. We must take the Pass of Caradhras."
We climbed the snowy slopes of Caradhras. Legolas and I lead, with Gandalf close behind. The others helped the Hobbits, who were too small to walk in the waist deep snow. We had come to a path along the side of the mountain, and had to fall in to single file. A vicious storm had sprung up, and snow was blowing everywhere. Legolas and I ran ahead. We ran with ease across the top of the snow, our steps light. We stopped suddenly, and stared in to the blinding storm. A cruel voice filled the air:
"Cuiva nwalca Carnirasse; nai yarvaxea rasselya!"
"There is a fell voice on the air!"
Legolas called back to the others.
"Let us get away from the edge."
I took his hand and pulled him back, suddenly afraid. A deafening boom filled the air.
"It is Saruman!"
Gandalf yelled out the warning, sounding panicked. We all flattened ourselves against the back of the cliff edge as an avalanche of snow and rock came tumbling down. Waiting until the onslaught was over, Gandalf strode to the edge, and, lifting his arms, started chanting a counter curse:
"Losto Caradhras, sedho, hodo, nuitho i 'ruith!"
His voice was lost on the wind, the wind whipping away his words. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck the top of the mountain. A second avalanche of snow began to fall. Gandalf continued to stand near the edge, bellowing in to the wind. Just as the avalanche was about to hit, Legolas leapt forward and pulled Gandalf back from the edge. A thick blanket of snow fell on top of us. All I could see was white; noise was muffled; I could barely breathe. Panic rose in my throat. I pushed it down and clawed above me. Finally, I broke free, and hauled myself out of the snow. I helped the others out, and made sure the Hobbits were okay. The wind had died down a little bit, and the snow did not completely blind us.
"We must get off the mountain! Make for the Gap of Rohan and take the west road to my city!"
Boromir spoke up animatedly. Aragorn shook his head in frustration.
"The Gap of Rohan takes us too close to Isengard!"
My eyes glanced towards Aragorn first, to check he was uninjured, and then to Legolas. On finding they were no worse for wear, I relaxed a little, drawing Merry and Pippin closer to me, trying to warm them.
"If we cannot pass over the mountain, let us go under it. Let us go through the mines of Moria!"
Gimli joined in, his voice loud. I looked at Gandalf. A shadow of doubt appeared in his eyes, of a fear that lay unsaid.
"Let the Ring-bearer decide."
Gandalf said finally, looking grim. Frodo looked from face to face, his expression uncertain.
Gandalf prompted him, that same look of uncertain fear in his eyes.
"We will go through the mines!"
"So be it."
Gandalf muttered to himself, looking defeated. Unease fluttered in my stomach as I wondered what evil lay in the mines that had struck so much fear in to Gandalf's heart.
All of the stuff Sera says to Boromir about her past is contained in 'A Tolkien Bestiary' by David Day. Its essentially a book containing loads of background info about LOTR.
Also, I have no idea whether or not the true heir to a throne can pass it on to their sibling, but let's pretend, in the case of this story, they can!
Cuiva nwalca Carnirasse; nai yarvaxea rasselya! – Wake up cruel Redhorn! May your horn be bloodstained!
Losto Caradhras, sedho, hodo, nuitho i 'ruith! – Sleep Caradhras, be still, lie still, hold your wrath!