Fall of Gandalf
Chapter 5: The Fall of Gandalf
We ran from the tomb as the laughs of goblins and more Orcs were heard in the distance. I pushed harder the further in to the darkness we got. Gandalf's staff was our only light source in the darkness once again. As we moved, I picked up the movement of creatures from all sides. We were surrounded soon after putting some distance between us and the tomb. The creatures stood and taunted us moving their blades in and out of our circle. Legolas had pushed me behind him leaving, him, Gimili, Boromir, Aragorn, and Gandalf to defend the hobbits and me in the middle, which I did not like one bit. I drew my bow and aimed just over Legolas' shoulder at one of the goblins. Its green feline eyes and pale skin were disturbing. It licked its lips as its eyes focused on me.
All of a sudden, there was a low growl like sound deep in the halls. This other stirring in the mine had them running. The mass of creatures was gone in mere moments in obvious fear. I felt a shake in the ground and a red and orange glow appeared in the distance.
Everyone relaxed but only for a second as the growl sounded once more. Time to move.
"What new devilry is this?" Boromir asked curious. I just closed my eyes, fearing this unknown threat.
"A Balrog, a demon of the ancient world. This is beyond any of you. Run!"
"Quickly!" Gandalf said pushing us through another tunnel.. We ran until we reached a set of stairs. Legolas pulled Boromir back from almost falling to his death.
"Aragorn you must lead them on. The bridge is near. Do as I say! Your swords and arrows are useless now." He ordered the ranger, pushing him forward. I looked to our right and saw the path of downward stairs we were about to take. The bridge was close indeed. We started down the stairs until we reached a gap. Legolas jumped first them Gandalf and I followed. As I landed, my footing was unsteady but I gained my balance in a few short moments. Arrows started flying in the air almost hitting the stairs around us. Legolas turned, as if it was a reflex, shot quickly and struck a goblin right in the forehead. That was impressive. Boromir grabbed Merry and Pippin next and jumped. Aragorn tossed Sam then motioned for Gimili.
"Nobody tosses a dwarf!" Gimili protested but as he made the leap, he almost didn't make it. As a last resort, Legolas grabbed his beard.
"Not the Beard!" but it brought him to safety.
"Stupid Elf." I heard him mumble under his breath as he stroked his beard a few times.
After that, the ground shook again, much more violently. This Balrog was obviously getting closer. I felt the stairs shift. Then I heard a loud crack. A piece of the ceiling fell and made the gap between the two stairs even larger. Aragorn looked nervous, it would take a lot for even him or Legolas to make that leap, let alone a hobbit. Then a second piece of ceiling fell stranding them on an even small section. Finally a third quake occurred, breaking the support of their stairs. My heart stopped. We couldn't lose Aragorn and Frodo, not now!
"Lean forward" Aragorn called out to Frodo. As they did, their stairs moved forward and collided with ours in a crash but Boromir caught Frodo and Legolas caught Aragorn. They nodded and we raced further down the stairs until we reached the final corridor before the bridge. Flames surrounded our path. Gandalf, Aragorn, and Legolas held fear in their eyes as we ran.
"Over the bridge, fly!" Gandalf coaxed. We ran faster seeing the crossing not far ahead. Gandalf stopped to face the creature as it emerged from the flames, as did I. It was like nothing I'd seen before. Its body was made of coal and flames. Its eyes and mouth glowed white from pure heat that was surly inside of it. I was entranced by it.
"Mae!" Aragorn shouted snapping me out of my thoughts and I continued running alongside him. The creature followed us leaving flames and smoke behind it.
We started to cross the bridge and slight relief filled me as I reached the other side. The stairs leading to the exit were right in front of me. I turned to see Gandalf stopped in the middle of the bridge surrounded by white light. He was chanting and yelling at the beast.
"You cannot pass!" The beast flared its wings and flames became brighter and more abundant around it. It was mocking the wizard! Yes, I has accepted the fact that this Gandalf that I have been traveling with was indeed the one and only Gandalf the Grey, one of the Iatari!
"Gandalf!" Frodo yelled noticing his mentor was still far behind us.
"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, weilder of the flame of Anor! Dark Fire will not avail you flame of Udun!"
The beast attacked him with a sword of fire. But its attack was deflected, the white sphere of magic.
"Go back to the Shadows wince you came!" Abandoning that tool, the creature brought forth a whip.
"You Shall Not Pass!" Gandalf yelled slamming his sword and staff into the rocky bridge. I saw light flash through the rock and heard the crack.
The Balrog stepped forward and the shift was heard as the bridge collapsed on the far side sending the beast plummeting to the abyss below. My heart further raised its hopes as the glow dimmed and Gandalf turned to face us. But the whip returned and pulled Gandalf's leg tripping him. He fell but held onto the ledge.
We all gasped in shock and Frodo shouted. I took a couple steps going to help him but Legolas grabbed my wrist and pulled me back.
"Run you Fools!" Gandalf shouted as he let go and disappeared into the chasm below us.
I was fighting tears as I was pulled from the mines. Though I have known him just a short time, I feel horrible over his loss. He was the one that insisted I come with this group. He was a father figure in a sense. Now he was gone.
As we came into the light of day, relief filled me briefly before I realized this sight came at a very high cost. The hobbits fell to the ground in sobs, as did most of our companions; even Boromir shed a tear and held grief for our fallen leader. Gimili struggled against both Legolas and Aragorn to run back to the mines, wanting to take on the goblins himself for all they have done. But I just looked down at the ground a lone tear fell.
"Legolas, get them up" I looked up to see the source of the voice was Aragorn. How could he expect any of us to be ready to move yet? Legolas looked at him in disbelief but then nodded and moved towards the hobbits.
"Give them a moment for pity's sake!" Boromir yelled grief still very evident on his face.
"By nightfall, these hills will be swarming with Orcs. We must reach the woods of Lothlorien. We must make haste. Gandalf did not sacrifice himself so we would not make it off the mountainside!" We all were stunned at his words. Was he not mourning this loss as well?
"Come Boromir. Legolas, Gimili get them up." He commanded.
A few moments later, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see Gimili.
"Come on lass. We best listen to the ranger." I nodded and stood following the group once more as we pushed forward once more.
Some hours later, I saw a tree line forming on the horizon. A sigh of relief left my lungs as we passed the first trees. We were safe, for now at least.
"Lorien, realm of the Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn. Long have I wished to walk in these woods. Since I was an elfling, I have dreamed of the Golden leaves." I heard Legolas state.
"When was that laddie? A month ago?" Gimili teased. I had to hold back a laugh myself at the irony. Legolas was easily the oldest here. Though, I do not know his exact age, he is most likely much older than my 230 years.
"Actually, it was nearly 2000 years ago. It is said nothing has changed in this forest since the start of the Third Age. The Golden Wood will be a sight to carry with me the rest of my days." He is at least 2000 that answers one question.
"We will rest near Hidenil and make for the capital city in the morning" Aragorn said nonchalantly. Hearing that name froze my steps. It was too soon. I can't go back. Several minutes passed before the others paused noticing my absence.
"Mae what is wrong?" Merry asked. Everyone had a look of confusion on their faces. Legolas was the first to realize why I stopped.
"Aragorn, we cannot go that route." Legolas said sternly. Aragorn's eyes widened as well.
"Maethriel I'm so sorry. It just…"
"No harm was intended. I just ask a different path be taken." I looked down. My hands were balled into fists, my knuckles white.
"We will make for the western border of the city. If we hurry we could make it by nightfall."
I didn't move. The thought of even being close to my lost home was paralyzing.
They started on the western path through the woods. Legolas stayed by my side silent just waiting. I let a tear fall down my face.
"We can go the south road, and still meet them in the great city." He offered putting a hand on my shoulder.
"Come friends. Dusk is not far off" Aragorn called back.
"We will catch up." Legolas responded.
"Maethriel, your loss is still recent and unmourned, he merely forgot. He is only human."
"He didn't mean to upset me. He was simply thinking of the quickest route"
We sat down by a stream not far from the tree line to rest and for me to stabilize mentally. I could not go before the Lady like this.
"Have you ever lost someone Legolas?" It was a personal question and I honestly wasn't expecting an answer, but for some reason he was the most understanding of my circumstance. Had he lost someone close to him?
"My mother, I was but an elfling when she sailed across the seas." His reply was but a whisper and everything made perfect sense. I looked down at the ground then at him. His face was unchanged but his eyes held sadness that I'm sure my own held. I put my hand on his and squeezed slightly. He turned to face me and smiled.
"Come, we shouldn't linger much longer. Sitting in sorrow will not help right now but perhaps Lady Galadriel may be able to" He said standing up and extending his hand. I took it and we started walking towards the southern road.