Fellowship debates their route from Hollin
Event Type: General
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: January 12, 3019
An event in the Quest of the Ring; see that entry for an overview:
It was evening, and the grey light was again waning fast, when they halted for the night. They were very weary. The mountains were veiled in deepening dusk, and the wind was cold. Gandalf spared them one more mouthful each of the miruvor of Rivendell. When they had eaten some food he called a council.
'We cannot, of course, go on again tonight,' he said. 'The attack on the Redhorn Gate has tired us out, and we must rest here for a while.'
'And then where are we to go?' asked Frodo.
'We still have our journey and our errand before us,' answered Gandalf. 'We have no choice but to go on, or to return to Rivendell.'
Pippin's face brightened visibly at the mere mention of return to Rivendell; Merry and Sam looked up hopefully. But Aragorn and Boromir made no sign. Frodo looked troubled.
'I wish I was back there,' he said. 'But how can I return without shame — unless there is indeed no other way, and we are already defeated?'
'You are right, Frodo,' said Gandalf: 'to go back is to admit defeat and face worse defeat to come. If we go back now, then the Ring must remain there: we shall not be able to set out again. Then sooner or later Rivendell will be besieged, and after a brief and bitter time it will be destroyed. The Ringwraiths are deadly enemies, but they are only shadows yet of the power and terror they would possess if the Ruling Ring was on their master's hand again.'
'Then we must go on, if there is a way,' said Frodo with a sigh....
'There is a way that we may attempt,' said Gandalf. 'I thought from the beginning... that we should try it. But it is not a pleasant way, and I have not spoken of it to the Company before. Aragorn was against it, until the pass over the mountains had at least been tried.'
'If it is a worse road than the Redhorn Gate, then it must be evil indeed,' said Merry. 'But you had better tell us about it, and let us know the worst at once.'
'The road that I speak of leads to the Mines of Moria,' said Gandalf. Only Gimli lifted up his head; a smouldering fire was in his eyes. On all the others a dread fell at the mention of that name....
'The road may lead to Moria, but how can we hope that it will lead through Moria?' said Aragorn darkly.
'It is a name of ill omen,' said Boromir. 'Nor do I see the need to go there. If we cannot cross the mountains, let us journey southwards, until we come to the Gap of Rohan, where men are friendly to my people, taking the road that I followed on my way hither. Or we might pass by and cross the Isen into Langstrand and Lebennin, and so come to Gondor from the regions nigh to the sea.'
'Things have changed since you came north, Boromir,' answered Gandalf. 'Did you not hear what I told you of Saruman? With him I may have business of my own ere all is over. But the Ring must not come near Isengard, if that can by any means be prevented. The Gap of Rohan is closed to us while we go with the Bearer.
'As for the longer road: we cannot afford the time. We might spend a year in such a journey, and we should pass through many lands that are empty and harbourless. Yet they would not be safe. The watchful eyes both of Saruman and of the Enemy are on them. When you came north, Boromir, you were in the Enemy's eyes only one stray wanderer from the South and a matter of small concern to him: his mind was busy with the pursuit of the Ring. But you return now as a member of the Ring's Company, and you are in peril as long as you remain with us. The danger will increase with every league 1 that we go south under the naked sky.
'Since our open attempt on the mountain-pass our plight has become more desperate, I fear. I see now little hope, if we do not soon vanish from sight for a while, and cover our trail. Therefore I advise that we should go neither over the mountains, nor round them, but under them. That is a road at any rate that the Enemy will least expect us to take.'
'We do not know what he expects,' said Boromir. 'He may watch all roads, likely and unlikely. In that case to enter Moria would be to walk into a trap, hardly better than knocking at the gates of the Dark Tower itself. The name of Moria is black.'
'You speak of what you do not know, when you liken Moria to the stronghold of Sauron,' answered Gandalf. 'I alone of you have ever been in the dungeons of the Dark Lord, and only in his older and lesser dwelling in Dol Guldur. Those who pass the gates of Barad-dûr do not return. But I would not lead you into Moria if there were no hope of coming out again. If there are Orcs there, it may prove ill for us, that is true. But most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were scattered or destroyed in the Battle of Five Armies. The Eagles report that Orcs are gathering again from afar; but there is a hope that Moria is still free.
'There is even a chance that Dwarves are there, and that in some deep hall of his fathers, Balin son of Fundin may be found. However it may prove, one must tread the path that need chooses!'
'I will tread the path with you, Gandalf!' said Gimli. 'I will go and look on the halls of Durin, whatever may wait there — if you can find the doors that are shut.'
'Good, Gimli!' said Gandalf. 'You encourage me. We will seek the hidden doors together. And we will come through. In the ruins of the Dwarves, a dwarf's head will be less easy to bewilder than Elves or Men or Hobbits. Yet it will not be the first time that I have been to Moria. I sought there long for Thráin son of Thrór after he was lost. I passed through, and I came out again alive!'
'I too once passed the Dimrill Gate,' said Aragorn quietly; 'but though I also came out again, the memory is very evil. I do not wish to enter Moria a second time.'
'And I don't wish to enter it even once,' said Pippin.
'Nor me,' muttered Sam.
'Of course not!' said Gandalf. 'Who would? But the question is: who will follow me, if I lead you there?'
'I will,' said Gimli eagerly.
'I will,' said Aragorn heavily. 'You followed my lead almost to disaster in the snow, and have said no word of blame. I will follow your lead now — if this last warning does not move you. It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you, Gandalf. And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!'
'I will not go,' said Boromir; 'not unless the vote of the whole company is against me. What do Legolas and the little folk say? The Ring-bearer's voice surely should be heard?'
'I do not wish to go to Moria,' said Legolas.
The hobbits said nothing.... At last Frodo spoke. 'I do not wish to go,' he said; 'but neither do I wish to refuse the advice of Gandalf. I beg that there should be no vote, until we have slept on it. Gandalf will get votes easier in the light of the morning than in this cold gloom. How the wind howls!'
At these words all fell into silent thought. They heard the wind hissing among the rocks and trees, and there was a howling and wailing round them in the empty spaces of the night.
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South
1 A league is approximately three miles.
Elena Tiriel 9Jan12