Strangers From a Distant Land

Questions and Answers: Middle-earth Q&A

(Grace's POV)

The sun shone down from a break in the clouds. It had been cloudy and chilly the past week, ever since the Fellowship left, in fact. Grace felt as if the sky was reflecting her mood: dreary and depressed. She sat down on a bench in the garden, the same bench that she had met Bilbo on. There was no-one nearby. 'Dan and 'Ro were out yrch-hunting, as they called it, Bilbo was writing another song with Lindir, and Bellethiel and Miril were nowhere to be found. She looked down at the book in her hand. With a bit of puzzling she could read the words written in Tengwar on the cover.

A Sindarin Grammar
Compiled by Erestor for Argonui's Use
TA 2860

It proudly proclaimed. Grace's eyes had looked like Gollum's when she realized that Argonui was Aragorn's great-great-grandfather.

When Erestor had realized who Grace was, and the predicament that she was in, he had apologized profusely, and to make amends he had begun to teach her Sindarin. That was where she had come from now. She didn't know much, maybe enough to get her point across to someone who spoke no English, or Westron, as it was called here, and her vocabulary consisted mostly of words for objects around the house. Erestor was a good teacher, though, and she was progressing rapidly. It helped being surrounded by the language on a regular basis, she supposed.

Grace sighed and opened her book. It just had to be written in Tengwar. That was one of the first things that she had learned, but still.

"Hír nín," she muttered under her breath, "not hír nin. Will I ever get that right?"

Doo-duuun! A clear horn call came up from the direction of the gates, interrupting her train of thought. Grace looked up from her book, closed it with a snap, jumped up, and ran lightly down the path, catching up her long skirts as she did so. She turned a sharp corner, brining her to a ledge overlooking the path to the river. The view was screened by trees and bushes, but through the foliage Grace could see a line of elves and men, some on horseback, some not, making their way up to the gate to Lord Elrond's house. Turning she ran back in the direction that she had come, taking the quickest way to the main house of Imladris.

She reached the front door a few minutes after the, well, the procession, for lack of a better word. There was a flurry of activity, each person there, besides Grace, knowing where to go and what to do. The twelve year old stood to the side feeling awkward and out of place.

"Ithilwen! Thank the Valar! Run to the in Hall of Healing and fetch clean rags and a bowl of water. We have run short, and there are still many more to tend to." Before Grace registered who was talking to her, Bellethiel was gone.

Grace blinked, and then shook herself. "Right, elven infirmary wing. On it!" She whirled around and dashed into the House.

Ten minutes and several wrong turns later, she was back, her arms full of strips of linen, a bowl of water carefully balanced in front of her. Things had settled down slightly. The uninjured men that were not aiding the healers had left, and the various pallets were organized. Still, it was hard to find Bellethiel in the group gathered there. Miril found her first.

"Thank you, Ithilwen," she exclaimed, upon seeing her arms full of cloth and water. "Come over here." There was a man lying on the ground, a long gash on his upper left arm. He looked very pale, but he managed something between a grimace and a smile.

"Lady Grace," he murmured.

Grace blinked, nonplussed, before recognizing him. "Halbarad!"

"Here, hold your hands here like so," Miril told her, showing here where to place her hands. "Keep them, there, that's right."

Several minutes passed, the two elves working in silence. Finally they were finish, and Halbarad lay asleep.

"Will he be alright, Miril?" Grace asked.

Miril wrapped her arm around her. "Yes," she replied, "he will be fine. Come, there are many more who need our help."

Together the two stood and walked to the next wounded Dunedan.

(Maggie's POV)

It seemed like they had walked for days. In all likely hood, they probably had. At times, Gandalf seemed to think that he was some sort of tour guide, like right now.

Currently he had stopped and was feeling the wall, running his fingers over the veins of Mithril that were there. He now turned to the group.

"The wealth of Moria was not in gold or jewels – but mithril. Bilbo had a shirt of mithril rings that Thorin gave to him."

Gimli's eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. "That was a kingly gift!"

"Yes," the wizard agreed. "I never told him, but its worth was greater than the value of the entire shire.

Maggie, who was walking directly behind Frodo, saw him stagger slightly.

As they trudged through the dark mines, Maggie became aware that she had much better night vision than the others. Things were clearer in the dark then they had ever been before. She clutched the Ring to her chest. It had been growing heavier lately, weighing on her mind, and she didn't like it. Something was off. She scoffed. Of course something was off, she was carrying the most evil and dangerous object in Middle-earth, for Pete's sake. She shook herself mentally and quickly directed her mind to something completely different. Ah! There she had it! Dr. John Hamish Watson's voice played though her mind. "There's a severed head. There's a severed head in the fridge. Why is there a severed head in the fridge."

The Company soon came to a steep stair that led to a splitting of ways. When they had all reach the top, Gandalf looked around with an air of confusion. "I have no memory of this place." He sounded extremely worried. Plopping down on a rock to think, he pulled out his pipe.

The rest of the fellowship followed suit, Aragorn and Merry also pulling out pipes. Merry, Sarah, Pippin, and Sam talked quietly together, mostly about food.

Maggie went to sit beside Gandalf, clutching the Ring. She had a bad habit when it came to necklaces, always holding them in her hand and tugging on them. She leaned against him a bit as he smoked and muttered to himself. Frodo came up, talking to Gandalf urgently.

"There is something down there," he said, pointing back the way that they had come.

Gandalf nodded, as if he had suspected it. "It is Gollum.

"Gollum?" repeated Frodo.

Gandalf nodded again. "He has been following us for three days."

"He escaped the dungeons of Barad-Dur?" Frodo sounded incredulous, and for a good reason.

"Escaped…or was set loose," Gandalf seemed to occasionally enjoy being ominous. "Now the Ring has brought him here." Gandalf glanced at Maggie's hand, and then back to Frodo. "He will never be rid of his need for it. He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself." Gandalf shook his head sadly. "Sméagol's life is a sad story.

Frodo looked up, confused.

"Yes, Sméagol he was once called. Before the Ring found him. Before it drove him mad."

Maggie shivered, squeezing her hand tighter around the object in question.

"It is a pity Bilbo did not kill him when he had the chance," Frodo said bitterly.

"Pity?" asked Gandalf, putting his arm around Maggie. "It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Pity and Mercy. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death and judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or for ill, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many."

Frodo sighed. "I wish Bilbo had never found the Ring. I wish none of this had happened."

Gandalf put his other arm around Frodo. "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are many other forces at work in the world, Frodo and Maggie, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, just as Frodo was meant to bring it to Rivendell, and Maggie was meant to bear it. And that is an encouraging thought." After that bit of advice, or encouragement, or whatever you want to call it, Gandalf looked up and strait down one of the passages. "Ah! It is that way."

Merry scrambled to his feet. "He's remembered!"

Soon everybody was on their feet again, and Gandalf led the way down the new passage as he answered Merry.

"No, but the air dos not smell so foul down here. If in doubt, Meriadoc, always follow your nose."

They walked for a long while. Maggie's tired feet could not tell if it was one hour or twenty. At last the dim glow that Gandalf's staff gave off stopped reflecting on the two walls of the passage, and instead illuminated a small circle around them.

"Let me risk a little more light!" With those words, Gandalf's staff lit up, giving off a blinding flash of pure white light. It hurt Maggie's eyes after such a long time in the dark.

"Behold the great realm and Dwarf-city of Dwarrowdelf!"

The hall was vast. Great columns going up as far as the eye could see, in all directions. Maggie could just imagine it teaming with dwarves, lights and lanterns making it as bright as a summer's day. Then the light was gone, Gandalf dimed his staff again. Through the gloom they could make out a single shaft of light slanting down into a room off of the main hall. Gimli evidently recognized it for what it was. He took off running.

"Gimli!" Gandalf called in alarm.

They all hurried after him, and found him kneeling beside the tomb, sobbing unabashedly. Gandalf stepped up to the white marble slab, and read the inscription.

"'Here lies Balin, Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria.' He is dead then." Gandalf continued speaking, but as if to himself. "It is as I feared." He handed his hat and staff to Pippin, then bent down and lifted a heavy, dust-laden book from the skeleton that still held it. He opened it, ignoring the few loose pages that drifed down, and blew the dust off.

"They have taken the bridge," he read, "and the second hall. We have barred the gates, but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums, drums in the deep." He paused to turn the page.

The four male hobbits look frightened. Maggie was being held close by Sarah, who was also shaking slightly. They both knew what was coming, and that they might die. It was one of those moments where even if nobody died in the movie, a stray arrow might very well kill them. They tuned back in as Gandalf began to read again.

"We cannot get out. A Shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out. They are coming." Gandalf looked up as he said the last three words, and Maggie was not entirely sure if he had read them, or meant them.

There came a clang. Then a crash. With each noise the culprit, Pippin, winched. There was utter silence for a minute, then-

"Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!" Gandalf snatched first his staff, then his hat from the hobbit.

Boom! Boom! Boom boom! Boom! Drums began to sound. Maggie's stomach started to feel like a clothing machine on spin cycle. Boom! Boom! She pressed closer to Sarah, who in turn was squeezing her tightly. Boom! Sam's eyes widened as he looked at Frodo, or, more specifically, at his sword. The sword that was currently glowing blue.

"Frodo!" he said in alarm.

Cries came from outside the room, shrieks and yells in many voices. Legolas quickly identified them, though it was rather unnecessary at the moment. "Orcs!"

Boromir ran to the door, looking out. Two arrows came whistling through, embedding themselves in the wood mere inches from his face.

Aragorn noticed the Hobbits and Sarah. "Get back!" he told them. "Stay close to Gandalf!"

The wizard positioned himself in front of them, gathering them together behind him. Aragorn and Boromir shoved the doors into position.

"They have a cave troll," Boromir remarked, as he caught the axe Legolas tossed them.

Gimli leapt onto Balin's resting place. "Aarghhh!" he shouted, hefting his formidable axe. "Let them come! There is one dwarf yet in Moria that still draws breath!"

Gandalf drew Glamdring the Foe-Hammer from its sheath. Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam took this as the single to draw their own swords, three barrow-blades and Sting. Sarah drew her long knife, and Maggie detached her sling from where she had tied it to her belt. She quickly fitted a stone into the pouch, and then took a step back from the others.

The creatures outside began to batter against the rotting doors. Axe blades began to show through the wood, some of them of dwarf make, though only Gimli could tell that. As soon as there was a hole, Legolas shot an arrow through it. It must have it something, as there was a hideous screech, the attack stopped for a second, then redoubled in its ferocity.

The doors slammed into the stone floor and goblins leapt through. Legolas and Aragorn sent arrow after arrow at them, but they soon had to abandon their bows. Gandalf lead the charge of hobbits, while Maggie shot a few stones, was very careful not to hit one of their own. It all developed into chaos from there. It took Sarah three cuts and almost losing her arm to realize that she was more of a hindrance than a help. She quickly hid in a corner, lying completely still. Maggie was whipping off stones left and right, taking out orcs with the loaded sling than a launched stone more often than not.

They had gotten rid of about three quarters of the orcs before a new threat came in; the aforementioned cave troll. Legolas shot an arrow into its left shoulder, making it angrier than before. Its beady eyes fell on Sam. Maggie twirled her sling and a stone made contact with hit its forehead. Unlike Goliath, it only served as a minor irritation, allowing Sam to throw himself out of the way, but also drawing attention to the stone thrower. It swept it club in her direction, connecting with her middle, and throwing her out of the way and against a wall.

Pain exploded in her ribs. Maggie screamed. Through a fog, she watched Sam bash orcs with a frying pan (hey, it worked for Rapunzel in Tangled), then finally the troll being killed. As far as she could see, Merry and Pippin took her idea of rock-throwing, and were pelting the troll with them. Sarah had 'come back to life' and was helping them, as the orcs were clearly ignoring her. Then something seemed to happen, and the Fellowship froze, and then resumed motion quicker than ever. They threw themselves with a greater effort at the beasts. Merry and Pippin jumped on the troll, sinking their barrow-blades into it's thick hide. Boromir, Gandalf and Legolas became orc-killing machines. Dimly, Maggie realized that Frodo must have been 'killed'. Soon, there was only the troll left. Everyone threw themselves at it. Finally, Legolas shot an arrow in to its mouth.

It let out a sound like a wounded, er, something, and slumped to the floor, dead. There was a calm, and then Aragorn, Sam, and Gandalf rushed to Frodo, with Pippin and Merry close behind. Legolas and Boromir began to collect lost weapons, with Gimli helping them, when the dwarf caught sight of Maggie.

"Quick, lass!" he called to Sarah as he ran to her. Sarah followed him at a sprint.

"Maggie! Maggie! What happened?"

"Troll. I think I broke a rib."

Maggie saw Sarah's dirt-and-tear streaked face look at Gimli, clearly lost and terrified. He laid a heavy hand on her back.

"It'll be all right lass; your friend will be fine." He looked up. "Boromir!" he called, as Aragorn was helping Frodo to stand.

Boromir handed his arm load of Aragorn's knives to Merry, and ran over. He took one look at Maggie, and then picked the hobbit up in his arms. She put her's around his neck, as Gandalf yelled their destination. They took off running once more.

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