Chapter 4 – In the mines
"The walls of Moria."
Gimli spoke in hushed tones. I looked up. We had come to a huge wall of grey stone. A grey lake was beside us, and we stood on a thin shingle beach. Everything was quiet: no wind stirred the branches of the two trees on the beach; no birds chirped and tweeted. I scanned the wall but could find no door.
"Dwarf doors are invisible when closed."
Gimli explained, catching my confused expression. He started tapping along the wall with his axe and the rest of us followed suit. Gandalf simply watched us, and then strode over to the trees. He brushed his hand across the rock in between the gnarled branches of the trees. Spidery silver lines started to appear as dust fell off the rock. The moon appeared from behind a cloud and illuminated the spot where the trees were. Framed by the sharp shadows of the two trees, the silvery lines grew brighter, and shone with a sheer white light. The lines outlined a door formed of two columns beneath an arch with a star in the centre. Writing in Sindarin appeared across the top. Too weary to try and read it, I seated myself against the wall, some distance away from the rest of the party, who had gathered around the doorway.
"It reads: 'The Doors of Durin – Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter."
Gandalf read aloud, his eyes scanning the door.
"What do you suppose that means?"
Merry piped up from beside him, startling Gandalf a little. I stifled a giggle and closed my eyes.
"Oh, it's quite simple. If you are a friend, you speak the password and the doors will open."
I heard a knock against the wall and turned my head. Gandalf had set his staff against the star in the centre of the archway. He spoke, and his voice was deep and strong with power:
"Annon Edhellen, edro hi amen!"
The door did not open. Gandalf tried again:
"Fennas Nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!"
Again, nothing happened. I rested my head against the wall. I was weary all over. I could not sleep; the eye of Sauron did not let me. He was everywhere in my dreams. Some nights I felt as if I was back in his tower. I heard the screams of the Nazgul, and the growling of orcs. I would face a high backed chair. I could see nothing of what was sitting in it, yet it exuded a great power. I would kneel, head bowed. The power from the chair would shift, and I knew that the person had risen. Raising my head, I would stare in to fiery red eyes, full of hate, and anger. That would be the moment I would wake up. Pippin's voice brought me back to the present.
"Nothing's happening. What are you going to do about it, Gandalf?"
The wizard turned towards the Hobbit, frustration emanating from him.
"Knock your head against these doors, Peregrin Took! And if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from your foolish questions, I will try to find the opening words!"
Gandalf snapped at the Hobbit and Pippin took a step back, eyes wide.
"Do not take your anger out on Pippin, Gandalf. It will bring us no closer to opening the doors!"
I scolded the wizard, glaring at him. I did not like to see Pippin shouted at, however foolish he may be. Gandalf merely grunted, not affected by my words, and turned back to the doors. I sighed and spoke to the others.
"I suggest we leave him to it. We could all do with a rest."
Rocks tumbled over each other as everyone moved away from Gandalf. Silence fell upon our little area and the night deepened. I stared up at the stars, seeking out one in particular. I found it, and focused in on its bright light. It calmed me slightly, and I breathed in deeply.
"How long has it been since you last slept?"
Legolas appeared silently beside me, his voice quiet. He sat next to me, legs crossed. Sighing, I tried to stay upright but the proximity of his body had me leaning against him.
Legolas sighed in annoyance and tilted my head up so I was looking at him.
"You must get some rest, or you will collapse!"
His tone was chastising and I just shook my head, turning my head away. I went to sit up but his arm snaked around my waist, holding me against him. My muscles tensed, but he tried nothing more and I relaxed once again. I knew he was annoyed at me and I explained my inability to sleep, tone quiet.
"I cannot sleep. There is a dark presence around us: it seeps into me, and clutches my heart. Every time I close my eyes, I feel as though something will creep up on us and destroy us all."
I shivered slightly and Legolas lifted the hand around my waist. Gently, he stroked my hair, calming me. The familiar action, one he had acted out so many times before, soothed my nerves.
"It is your mind. I agree: there is a malevolent power that hovers over us, but it cannot harm us. Sleep. I will watch over you."
I started to pull away in refusal, but he held me firm. Deciding that refusal would only expend more energy, I closed my eyes. I could hear the rhythmic thud of his heart; I could feel the gentle rise and fall of his chest. It soothed my fears, and, against my will, I drifted off to sleep.
"Seraphina! Wake up!"
An insistent voice invaded my dreams. I ignored it, trying to focus on my sleep. Suddenly, an image of the Eye appeared and I shot up, gasping for breath. Legolas was crouched in front of me, hands on my shoulders, eyes searching my face. I shrugged him off, and stood up. Brushing off my clothes, I finally looked at Legolas.
"Gandalf has opened the gates."
Legolas explained the situation, turning away slightly. Behind him, everyone had stood and was waiting for us. We walked over to join them.
I whispered the words to Legolas, looking up at him. He took my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. We all started for the door, grateful to be moving. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the lake rippling. Curious, I turned to look at it. Frodo and the other Hobbits waited patiently as I scanned the water. Shaking my head at my paranoia, I walked through the doorway with the Hobbits just behind me. Without warning, a long, snaking tentacle erupted from the water and grabbed Frodo's ankle. It started to drag him backwards out of the doorway.
I yelled out, drawing my blades. The other three Hobbits clutched Frodo, desperately trying to keep him from the water, as the tentacle wrapped tighter around his ankle. I brought my blades down upon the tentacle, gouging a chunk of flesh. The tentacle released Frodo, and slithered back in to the water. The other members of the party had run back and were helping the hobbits to their feet. Suddenly, five tentacles burst from the water. They shot towards us, and slapped the Hobbits aside. Grasping Frodo, they pulled him over the water and high in to the air. Gandalf and Gimli rushed to protect the other Hobbits. Legolas drew his bow, and fired an arrow. It pierced a three-pronged tentacle that was wrapping itself over Frodo's face. I ran in to the water, closely followed by Boromir and Aragorn. I started attacking the beast, slicing any tentacle that my blades could reach. Frodo's yells filled the air. Looking around desperately for higher ground, I spotted a rock protruding from the water. I sprinted towards it, dodging the tentacles which tried to grab me. Clambering on to the rock, I could see better what we were up against.
Frodo was being lowered towards the beast's gaping maw, which was ringed with fangs. It was set in a gilled face, akin to some ancient kraken. Wild, old eyes glistened fish-like in its head. I continued to attack the tentacles, hoping that the damage we were inflicting on it would convince the beast to release Frodo.
All of a sudden, Aragorn sliced through the tentacle holding Frodo. The beast bellowed in pain and the tentacle's assault stopped for a minute. Frodo dropped in the waiting arms of Boromir, who promptly ran with Frodo towards the mines. We all hurried towards the door. Looking back, I saw that the beast had recovered, and a hand-like appendage uncoiled, snaking after us. Legolas stood at the door, arrow aimed. He released the arrow, and it drove straight in to the beast's right eye. It roared in pain again, and the tentacle retreated slightly. Legolas turned and ran in to the caves after us, just as the beast reached out towards the doorway. The beast slammed in the wall, unable to fit through. Slabs of rock crashed down from the ceiling, completely blocking the doorway. The last rays of moonlight were extinguished and we were plunged in to darkness. I could hear everybody's heavy breathing. A small light bloomed from Gandalf's staff, illuminating a small area in white light. His face was covered with grime and dust, and his mouth was set in a grim line.
"We now have but one choice. We must face the long dark of Moria. Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs, in the deep places of the world. Quietly now: it is a four day journey to the other side. Let us hope that our presence may go unnoticed."
I felt like screaming. We had travelled for what had seemed like a century, and had come to a fork in the path through the mines, but Gandalf had forgotten the way. We had been seated before the three paths for more than an hour. I hated to be underground: I needed to feel the wind, see the open sky, hear the birds. I paced, wringing my hands.
Frodo stood uncertainly atop a rock. He looked pale, and gaunt. Dark shadows rested underneath his eyes. I looked up at him.
"I need some help."
He whispered, looking down at his feet. I guessed what was wrong. Holding out my hand, he took it and jumped down from the rock. He bent his head and removed a chain from around his neck. The Ring seared my palm as Frodo handed it to me. We had been doing this for some time. I would take the Ring for a few hours every so often to give Frodo a rest from its influence. Frodo breathed out and rolled his shoulders. Colour had already returned to his cheeks, and he no longer looked as if he would collapse at any minute. I placed the Ring around my own neck, hiding it beneath my cloak.
"Thank you. I know how much it hurts you."
Frodo looked up at me, relief clear in his eyes.
"It does not hurt me."
I answered quickly; too quickly. His eyes sought mine and I stared back.
"Gandalf told me a little about what happened. I am sincerely thankful for what you are doing for me. I know that you have a connection with the Ring."
Frodo took my hand, smiling a little. I swallowed hard, tasting bile. I was not angry at Gandalf for telling Frodo: he had a right to know who was protecting him.
"If it was hurting me that much, I would not be taking the Ring from you. I can handle myself."
He let go of my hand, and stepped back. I knelt down until I was level with him.
"Trust me, Frodo. You are not causing me harm."
I tried to reassure him: the last thing he needed was to worry about me on top of everything else. Frodo suddenly stepped forward and hugged me fiercely. I hugged him back, feeling tears spring up. Frodo was our hope, our light. Whatever it took, I would help him complete his quest. I did not care that I had to endure pain: I would do anything to help Frodo. I released Frodo from my embrace. He looked back. Everyone had stood and was gathering their things together.
"Looks like Gandalf remembered the way."
I pushed myself up, and picked up my pack. Frodo waited for me to get everything together, and then, together, we followed the others deeper in to the mines.
We continued to walk. Before long, we came to a more open space. Broken, ornate columns lay tumbled across the floor. The air smelt musty, and damp. There was another smell that I could not identify, but it made me uneasy.
"Let me risk a little more light."
Gandalf spoke up, lifting his staff higher. His staff illuminated a grandiose hall of stone. Tall pillars stretched to soaring ceilings, and went on for what seemed forever. I heard Gimli gasp in awe at his ancestor's work.
"Behold: the great realm and Dwarf city of Dwarrowdelf."
Despite the beauty of the structures surrounding us, dread raced down my spine and my eyes cast around, finally finding what was wrong with the picture.
"If it is a city, then where are all its inhabitants?"
I asked the question sharply, looking around. I spotted an arrow on the floor. I picked it up, and examined it. Drawing in a sharp breath, I showed the others.
Boromir spat the word, his eyes glowing with disgust. I scanned the area around us again before speaking.
"Stay alert. I do not think they know we are here. Let us keep it that way."
We walked forward down the corridor, cautiously. Ahead, a chink of light shone through an open doorway. With an exclamation of surprise, Gimli ran forward. The rest of us followed. We had entered a small room. The walls were scarred and broken. Skeletons lay scattered about the place, their broken weapons laying beside them. A crypt was positioned in the centre of the room. A single ray of sunlight shone on to it. Gimli was kneeling beside it, head resting on the crypt. His sobs filled the room.
"'Here lies Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria'."
Gandalf read aloud, translating the runes on the crypt. Gimli's sobs rose to a wail. The other men went to support Gimli. I stayed with the Hobbits, who stood nervously in a huddle. Gandalf scanned the room, and spotted a tome clutched in the hands of one of the skeletons. Handing his hat and staff to Pippin, he bent and extracted the tome from the skeleton's hands, gently blowing dust off the cover. He opened it, and dirt fell from the pages.
"We must move on! We cannot linger!"
Legolas glanced around, his voice heavy with panic. I caught his gaze and shook my head slightly; panicking was not an option.
"'They have taken the bridge and the second hall'."
Gandalf read from the pages of the tome.
"'We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes'."
We all listened to Gandalf read the last moments of the dwarves. Pippin started to back away from Gandalf, who continued to read.
"' Drums, drums, in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out. They are coming!".
I turned towards the Hobbits, and saw only three. Fear rose in my chest as I looked around for Pippin. He was standing by a stone well, still clutching Gandalf's staff and hat. The skeleton of a dwarf sat on it, which Pippin was examining curiously. Relieved, I turned back towards the others. We were all silent, thinking on what we had just heard. A resounding crash shocked us. I whipped round, blades already drawn. Pippin stood guiltily by the well. The corpse's head was missing, and I guessed the crash was the head falling down the well. As we stared at Pippin, the rest of the corpse slipped in to the well, dragging a chain and bucket with it. The noise ricocheted down the well, and I had no doubt around the halls below us. Pippin winced at every new sound. Finally, silence fell again. We all relaxed slightly. I sheathed my swords, sending a hard look at Pippin.
"Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time and rid of us of your stupidity!"
Gandalf growled at the hobbit, whipping his hat and staff out of Pippin's hands. Pippin stood awkwardly by the well, head hanging. We all turned away.
I slowly turned back to the well, as did everyone else.
The sounds died away for a moment. Then, like a heartbeat, they started up again.
Sam gasped suddenly, pointing to Frodo's side. Frodo's sword was glowing blue.
The word slipped out of me in a rush, my heart beating fast already. Boromir and Aragorn rushed to the door to take a look. Arrows hissed through the gap in the doors.
"Get back! You stay close to Gandalf!"
Aragorn shouted to the hobbits, dodging an arrow that flew through the gap. Gandalf drew his sword, and the Hobbits followed suit, drawing closer to the wizard. Aragorn and Boromir worked to close the doors. Boromir placed his back to the door.
"They have a cave troll!"
His face was grim and my stomach clenched. That was not good. Legolas started to throw weapons towards Aragorn and Boromir to act as a blockade. I joined in, rushing to find anything that could help. Gimli stood atop Balin's crypt, brandishing his axe.
"Argghh! Let them come! There is one Dwarf yet in Moria who still draws breath!"
I grinned at the Dwarf's courage and drew my blades. They shone in the limited light. I knew they were hungry for battle. I could feel fire in my veins, and power surged through me. Gripping them, I stood right next to Aragorn, and adopted a fighting stance. Glancing sideways, I caught Boromir's surprised expression. I sent him a grim smile before returning my attention to the door.
I wanted to fight; to kill; to feel Orc flesh beneath my blades. The Ring was influencing me but at this point, I did not care. I would deal with the consequences later.
The door started to shake as the creatures outside pounded on the door. Bits of wood splintered off, and weapons appeared in the gaps, hacking down the door. Without taking my eyes off of the door, I heard the sound of a bow being aimed. I crouched and an arrow whizzed over my head. It sailed straight in to the head of an Orc, who emitted a shrill cry. I jumped back up, just as the door broke apart. A wave of armour-clad Orcs poured in. With a battle cry, I engaged the Orcs. I could hear Gandalf and the Hobbits join the fray. Dispatching an Orc with a stab through the chest, I fought my way to the Hobbits. They were defending themselves well, although fear clouded their eyes. An Orc charged towards them, a vicious snarl on its face. With a determined look, Merry swung his sword and beheaded the Orc. I joined their group, killing any creature that came towards us. Sam paused suddenly, his attention drawn upwards. I too looked upwards. A cave troll smashed its way through the doorway, raining dust and rocks on to our heads. Chains ran from its wrists to an Orc.
I yelled to the Hobbits, fighting to make them hear me above the noise. They nodded and resumed defending themselves. I ran towards the cave troll. Legolas fired an arrow, and it embedded itself in the troll's shoulder. Roaring, it clapped a hand to its wound. I dispatched the Orc holding the chains, and took them instead. The troll lumbered forwards towards the group of hobbits. They scattered, except Sam, who stood transfixed. The troll swung its mace down towards Sam. At the last minute, Sam dived underneath its legs and escaped. Turning, the troll sighted him again. Cornered, Sam cringed in to the wall. Desperately, I yanked on the chains with all my strength. The troll fell back, and Sam scampered away. The troll twisted its arm, whipping the chains forward. I tried to disengage but it was too late. I was flung across the room, landing with a thud against the wall. My vision blurred as I struggled to get up. Dimly, I saw Gimli swing his awe in to the shoulder of the troll as it advanced towards me. He struck the wound Legolas made earlier. The troll swung his mace in to the crypt, shattering it, and knocking Gimli off. Finally getting to my feet, I was immediately attacked by an Orc. It knocked me off balance, and we fell to the floor. I felt it's teeth clamp down on my shoulder. Crying out in pain, I grabbed it's head. It released me for a second, and I twisted it's head sharply. I heard a snap, and the Orc fell limp. Pushing it off me, I scrambled to my feet and quickly assessed the fight.
The Hobbits were on the far side of the room. Merry and Pippin pushed Frodo to safety behind a pillar, while Sam used the skillet we used for cooking to knock out an Orc who had crept up behind him. Confidant that the Hobbits could handle themselves, I turned my attention back to the troll. It was swinging it's chains above its head. Spotting Legolas, it struck out at him. Dodging the chains, Legolas ran towards a pillar. The troll lashed out with the chains again. They whipped round the pillar, and caught. Legolas darted forward and stamped the chain tighter. Running along the chain, he jumped on to the troll's shoulder, and using two arrows, he shot it in the back of the head. The troll whimpered and stumbled. Legolas jumped down, landing lightly on his feet. He looked across the room and saw me. Nodding, we started forward, towards the troll. Without warning, the troll brought it's mace down where the Hobbits where. They dodged out the way, but Frodo was separated from Merry and Pippin. The troll started to search for Frodo, who hid behind a pillar. I looked over at Legolas, who was engaged with four Orcs at once. I hacked down a goblin, when Frodo yelled out. He had been dragged out by the troll. Frodo slashed the troll's hand with his sword, and fell to the floor. I ran forward, but was intercepted by more Orcs. Fending them off, I saw Aragorn stab the troll with a spear. Rocks flew from another direction, hitting it in the head. Furious, the troll brought his arm down, knocking Aragorn out cold.
Blocking an Orc's sword, I knocked it off balance and stabbed my blades through its head. Pulling them out, I ran towards the inert body of Aragorn. Frodo got there first and shook him. The troll stepped towards them.
I screamed at Frodo, sprinting towards them. Frodo looked up and began to run, but the troll block his way with the spear, throwing him back. Everything slowed down. The spear arced through the air, and landed in Frodo's chest. A little gasp of surprise escaped his lips as he slid to the floor. I watched Frodo slump down. Rage filled my body. I felt my eyes darken, until my vision was red tinted. I looked down. My skin was pulsing gently with a dark light. The Ring burnt my throat, but I did not care. I sprinted forward, grabbing Merry and Pippin in the process.
"Stab it in the head!"
I yelled at them and with a grunt, I flung them towards the troll. They landed on its shoulders. They drew their swords and began stabbing it over and over in the head. I stood below, stabbing his stomach with everything I had. The others joined in. Legolas stood on higher ground, arrow ready. With a roar, I buried my blades to the hilt in the troll's stomach. It opened its mouth, and Legolas fired. The arrow struck home. The troll reached towards its mouth, stunned. With a long groan, it collapsed to the floor, throwing Merry and Pippin off. I yanked my blades out, and turned to get the Hobbits up. They rushed back to Frodo.
The room was quiet: all Orcs were either dead or had fled. Everyone was gathered round Frodo. I joined them, my heart beating loudly. Aragorn slowly turned him over. A small moan came from Frodo. His eyes opened and gasps of relief came from everyone.
Sam cried out joyously, looking up at Gandalf.
"You should be dead! That spear would have skewered a wild boar."
Aragorn' voice was rough with emotion and he placed a hand on Frodo's shoulder.
"I think there's more to this Hobbit than meets the eye."
Gandalf pierced him with a look. Frodo slowly reached up and pulled his shirt open, to reveal a glimmering chainmail of Mithril.
"Mithril! You are full of surprises, Master Baggins!"
Gimli exclaimed at the sight, awe-struck. Knowing that Frodo was alright, I walked a little distance away. Breathing heavily, I waited until my vision returned to normal. I felt sick. I did not understand what had come over me. I suspected it had something to do with the Ring, but I did not care to find out. A throbbing pain in my shoulder brought me back. I stretched out my arm and checked it. My tunic had been ripped away. The teeth had dug in deep. Blood had run down my arm, and more was still oozing out. Tearing off the rest of my sleeve, I wrapped it carefully around the wound. I winced as I tied it off; if I was not careful, it would become infected very quickly. The sound of people moving off made me turn around. Frodo had got to his feet and they had all moved towards me.
"You gave me a fright, Frodo."
I smiled at him, my lips trembling slightly. I knelt down and cupped his face in my hands.
"Promise to never do that to me again."
A tear trickled down my cheek before I could dash it away. Reaching in to my tunic, I pulled the Ring over my head, and placed it back on Frodo's neck, who quickly hid it in his own shirt. He smiled at me, and gave me a nod. I pushed myself back up on to my feet. We were standing near a gaping hole in the wall, made by the cave troll during the fight. Down the corridor, distant shrieks and cries of more Orcs and goblins reached our ears. We all looked at each other fearfully. As one, we looked at Gandalf for guidance. He looked back wearily, but his face was set in determination.
"To the Bridge of Khazad-dûm!"
Annon Edhellen, edro hi amen! – Gate of the Elves, open now for me!
Fennas Nogothrim, lasto beth lammen! – Doorway of the Dwarf-folk, listen to the word of my tongue!
Hannon le– Thank you