A Mishap in Moria: 1. A Mishap in Moria

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1. A Mishap in Moria

"And now, we face the long dark of Moria....."

That was how it started, with Gandalf's solemn and doom laden warning. Dripping with the threat of danger, and constant peril. And the company of nine collectively shuddered as they set off into the inky black depths.

But that is not how it actually was.

Not at all.

After the drama of escaping the fearsome clutches of the Watcher in the Water, and the chilling discovery of dwarven corpses littering the entrance halls, Moria was somewhat quieter than they had expected.

At first, the smothering darkness and unrelieved dusty atmosphere held a menace of its own. But after hours of trudging through passages and climbing rock stairways seeing little but that which was illuminated by the crystal on Gandalf's staff, Moria became monotonous.

Gandalf led the way, which was fine for the wizard; he could see where he was going. Legolas, for all his fierce courage and skill, detested the silent darkness and so stayed close to the meagre light cast by Gandalf's beacon. And for Boromir and the Ranger there was the need to stay vigilant by watching the rear of the party. Only Gimli felt at ease so far underground and even he could take time to gawk and marvel at the cavernous mine workings and magnificent stonework.

But for a hobbit, it was boring. Hour after hour of trudging through the dark with nothing to see except the back and hindquarters of whoever was immediately in front of him.

It was not surprising then, that Pippin needed a distraction. After all, he reasoned, hobbits need some form of stimulation to keep them alert and on their toes, otherwise they would be no use to anyone.

That was Pippin's argument. Humour was necessary to keep up morale, he told himself. Aragorn the Angry, Boromir the Bore and Gandalf the Grump ought to realise that.

They had trudged through the mines for almost two days - or at least it felt like two days, for Pippin could not tell whether it was day or night. It was musty and dark and they had to keep quiet, creeping in silent order through the endless caverns of Moria.

Their journey was becoming more hazardous; in many places there were great cracks and fissures in the walls and floor. In other parts huge holes had opened from the passage of water; far below there came the sound of it crashing down dark cataracts into the bottomless lake which lay at the roots of the mountain.

Progress was painfully slow and the strain of avoiding the treacherous pitfalls took its toll on all of them.

However, Aragorn alone found his own diversion. Whenever they gained themselves a respite on safer ground, or when their way was a little less steep, at some point he would hear the soft sound of suppressed elven laughter. He was intensely curious as to what was causing Legolas's mirth; all the more so because the elf was trying to hide it.

The Fellowship filed along a narrow passage where the walls closed in around them and the floor was thick with choking dust. Above them, the rock ceiling dipped alarmingly as if the roof had collapsed, and Aragorn feared that they would soon find the way blocked by a rock fall. But to his relief the walls gradually opened out once more and there was room to breathe, or at least to walk two abreast.

Aragorn stopped short. There it was again - that soft snort of laughter. What was the blessèd elf laughing at?

His thoughts were interrupted as Boromir drew up beside him.

"Every path looks the same in this place." the Gondorian muttered. "Ruined stairs and cavernous vaults, all long deserted and in decay. Moria is a maze - even the wizard seems confounded. How do we know that he can lead us out?"

"Gandalf's sense of direction does not bother me." Aragorn told him. "Not as much as discovering what so amuses Legolas."

The big man chuckled. "He's an elf. Perhaps being shut off from the daylight and open air has unhinged his mind."

"No. I think not."

Boromir shrugged. "We should ask him, then."

Aragorn laughed softly at this suggestion. He shook his head.

"He will not tell us."

"What do you mean, he won't tell?"

"I mean that unless he wants to tell you, he will avoid the question." the Ranger said levelly.

"Pah!" Boromir scoffed. "How can he do so if he is asked directly?"

"You can try if you like." Aragorn grinned at him. "But you will get nothing from him that he does not intend to give."

Boromir grunted and shoved his shield further up on his shoulder.

"I will." he sniffed. "The Eldar like to shroud themselves in mystery, but they cannot baffle me."

***********************************************************************

The Man of Gondor had hoped to get the elf on his own before engaging him in conversation, but the opportunity did not present itself.

The company was footsore and tired. They had stopped for a water break on a high walkway and all were sitting in line with their backs against the cavern wall. There was nowhere else to go as the pathway was narrow and steep. Boromir had to step over the others to get to where Legolas sat, and it seemed to him that all eyes were on him as he made his way up the line.

"Legolas…I would ask you something." said Boromir as he halted alongside the elf.

The archer nodded curtly. "Do you wish to speak here?"

"We have little choice." Boromir smiled. "Perhaps if I may sit beside you?"

"Of course." Legolas replied, politely shuffling sideways to make room for him.

Boromir sat.

"It is of little import I am sure…" the man started quietly. "But I want to know… what is it that you are laughing at?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Ever since we rose to resume our journey, from time to time I have heard you laughing at something…or at someone."

Legolas blinked as if surprised by the question.

"The hobbits amuse me." he answered. "There is precious little else in this grim place to raise a smile."

"Granted. But come now, there is more to it than that. I have heard you giggling."

Legolas's smile turned frosty.

"Sir. I assure you that your ears cheat you, for elves do not giggle."

"I know what I heard!"

The elf tilted his head and regarded the man curiously.

"Are you in poor spirits, Boromir?"

"Me? No….!"

"Are you certain? This place is most oppressive."

"I am fine."

"But I have not seen you smile in a long while." the elf countered.

"It matters not..."

"Your countenance has been ever grave since we entered this place…." Legolas frowned concernedly. "And you yourself called it a tomb. Such a morbid connotation proves a troubled mind."

"I am well." the man averred. "Like you, I would prefer to be out of these mines, but it does not affect me as you suggest."

"Perhaps you should confide in Aragorn or Gandalf…"

"I don't think so!" Boromir cut him off, not liking the way the conversation was going.

"Shall I sing you a song, Boromir?"

"No."

"A song may lift your spirits….lighten your mood."

"I do not require a song. My spirits do not need lifting. My mood is fine!"

"Ah." Legolas smiled serenely. "But it does not appear thus when you raise your voice, crease your brow and scowl so."

"I … I think I'm going to have a lie down." Boromir grated.

"Very wise." the elf nodded sagely. "A rest will restore you."

Grinding his teeth in frustration, Boromir rose. And as he shuffled to his place at the back of the line, the man of Gondor could hear Aragorn chuckling to himself.

************************************************************************

It had happened quite suddenly.

As they proceeded together along one of the wider passages, the ground on which they walked had opened up beneath them and all had fallen, consumed by the dust and the darkness.

The noise of the collapse had been deafening - but in the silence that followed, one by one the Fellowship found themselves scattered, breathlessly clinging to ledges wherever they could find a foothold.

"Don't move..." Boromir warned the hobbit, hissing through his gritted teeth. "I think I can reach a handhold if I stretch a bit...."

"But I'm already stretched a bit....!" Pippin gasped.

"Save your breath.." groaned Merry.

Gimli grunted under the weight of Merry, who was perched precariously on his shoulders.

"Where's the elf?" the dwarf asked.

Aragorn spoke, his voice coming from somewhere in the darkness above them.

"He is climbing. He has almost reached the next ledge." he replied.

"I hope it's more roomy than this one!" Gimli muttered as he tried to shift position without losing his footing.

"Aragorn...I am on the ledge!" Legolas called down to the Ranger. "Where is Boromir? I have need of his height to help me reach the top."

"I'm here..!" Boromir shouted up to him. "But I have hold of Pippin. I cannot move without letting go of him."

"Legolas...I'm climbing up now! " Aragorn called out. "Guide me as best you can."

"Be careful, Aragorn! The sides of the shaft are treacherous. Test your weight against the rock ere you move upwards."

For seemingly endless moments everyone listened breathlessly as Aragorn climbed up to join the elf on the relative safety of the ledge above them.

"I can't see a thing!" Aragorn complained. "How can you tell how far we are from the top?"

"The air is better up here." Legolas replied. "I can feel and hear the draught from the passages above me. But the next part is difficult; there is a smooth band of rock here and there are no handholds that I can reach. I need to stand on another's shoulders to reach above this band."

"Stand on my shoulders, then.." Aragorn stooped and linked his hands to make a step for the elf.

"Nay, Boromir is taller, mellon nîn." Legolas bent close to the Ranger's ear and lowered his voice. "I may only have one chance to do this. We have to make it the best chance possible. For if I were to fail, you would be left alone on this ledge with no means to help any of the others."

Aragorn paused, then he squeezed the elf's shoulder in acknowledgment.

"Very well. But how do we get him up here?"

"First we must relieve him of the hobbit who burdens him. There is room here on the ledge, and distance is not so great...between us we must have something that we could use as a rope to pull Pippin up..."

Aragorn thought for a moment, then nodded and started to undo his belt.

**********************************************************************************

Once they had found a solution to their problem, it was simply a matter of time and effort to extract their seven companions from their various predicaments, one at a time .

Pippin was drawn up to the ledge first, leaving Boromir free to climb. Once Boromir gained the ledge, Legolas was able to set off again upwards, leaving Aragorn and Boromir to retrieve first Merry, then Gimli from their lower position.

By the time Gimli was back among them, Legolas had reached the top of the pit and he cast down a rope. He helped Aragorn up first, and then together they pulled Merry and Pippin out of danger.

The two hobbits were very relieved to be out of the mineshaft that had almost been the death of them. They huddled together, keeping quietly out of the way while the elf and the Ranger continued the recovery of Gandalf, Frodo and Sam.

After a while, Merry sat up, peering curiously at the Ranger in the flickering torchlight.

"Pippin...." he whispered "Why has Aragorn got no leggings on?"

"Shhh. It's rude to ask...especially at such a time. Keep quiet."

Merry blinked, nonplussed at Pippin's sobriety.

"Very well, Pip." he muttered "But what ever the reason is, I'll wager that you've got something to do with it."

Pippin did not reply.

**********************************************************************************

At last, they were all safe. Well as safe as one can be in the Mines of Moria.

Pippin, however, felt much less safe than the others. Apprehensively he watched Aragorn as the Ranger coiled and stowed the rope and then turned to retrieve his leggings from Sam.

Sam shook his head in wonder as he handed the garment over.

"The seams in those must be awful strong ...to be used like that...as a rope , I mean..."

The Ranger quirked an eyebrow at him.

"Oh yes, Sam. They most certainly are strong...but the stitching had a little reinforcement. Didn't it, Pippin?"

Pippin cringed as Aragorn bore down on him with a maddened gleam in his eye.

"It was just a prank.!... A perfectly harmless one!" the hobbit protested defensively.

"What did you do?" Merry wanted to know.

"He stitched up the fly while I slept." Aragorn grated menacingly.

Legolas stifled a snigger; the Ranger glared at him.

"I plead for clemancy!!! Clemancy!!!!" Pippin shrieked as Aragorn grabbed him by the ear and pulled him to his feet.

"I admit that it was a stupid thing to do...!" the hobbit babbled. "But it's a good job I did it, otherwise....we'd all still be in the mineshaft!"

Aragorn paused. He released Pippin's ear and looked at Gandalf, as if asking for judgment.

"He has a point... " the wizard conceded.

"A point, yes!" Pippin looked beseechingly at his companions, seeking their support. "In fact, it's just as my mother used to say!"

"And what was that?" Gimli wanted to know.

Pippin shrugged, then beamed at them brightly.

"A stitch in time saves Nine."

End

****************************************************


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Carfax Abi

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Humor

Rating: General

Last Updated: 05/28/08

Original Post: 05/28/08

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