5. To Kill Two Birds with One Stone
The wolves approached slowly. The fine men had their weapons drawn, but we were quite nicely trapped and death seemed the most probable outcome. We couldn't fight that many. We needed time. We had to get into Moria. I gnawed my claws. Why do I have to come up with ideas?
The beasts charged. Bones cracked. Blood splattered. Fur flew. I had backed up to the Wall and tried to support my joints turned to playdough. Trying to look anywhere except the blood-bath, I noticed that the locker room-reeking lake was getting… bubbly. Then, like in that horror movie with the killer hand, a tentacle tiptoed out – and right flippin' toward me. I pressed flat to the Wall while it sqooshed and squelched nearer and way too nearer… Manwë's Blowdryer! That's nasssty!
I happened to glance to my right and left and felt momentarily cheery 'cause there was a cool, antiquated tree on either side of me.
Wait a minute.
I turned around and smacked the Wall with my forepaws. Open! Open! Mellon! Please!!! I looked behind and saw not one but three tentacles slithering around the rocks. Eww! Ewwww! I lifted a stone with my nifty toes and crunched the tip right off the nearest. Hehe. The dismembered end flipped and twitched. The tentacles seemed to hesitate before throwing themselves forward with a vengeance. They battered and tore into the Wall in their blind attempts to get at their mutilator. I ran in circles, somehow avoiding falling rocks. I heard renewed shouts from the Company, running and more squelching as more of Squidward joined in to thrash the Wall.
After that, I don't know what happened. One second Frodo was screeching behind me. Next the whole world was tumbling down. "In! Inside!" Someone screamed. I was thrown, then crushed. Everything was dark and I couldn't breathe. A terrible, endless BOOM filled my whole head. Then there was a terrible silence.
"I-is anyone alive?" came Merry's shaky voice.
"I think so!" said Pippin's.
"Bless you, Hobbit!" groaned Gimli.
"I am pleased your power of speech has not been damaged, Master Dwarf!" laughed Legolas. "Aragorn?"
"I am here. Boromir? Is that you?"
"It is." Boromir spat out rubble.
"And that makes – how many?" said Gandalf. I could just picture him trying to count on his fingers. "The Ringbearer! Frodo! Frodo!?" The whole Company chimed in and beat around in the dust.
"Shut UP!" Frodo sat maybe a foot away from me. He seemed intact, anyway, he was doing something to his face, and I dearly hoped that was not inside his nose.
"Is the otter with you?" Gandalf's voice was a mix of relief and trepidation.
"Good, good! That makes…" the wizard counted his fingers. "Eight – and then me." He fumbled around in his robes for a moment and suddenly there was light!
After the initial blindness, Aragorn had us all line up and treated our lacerations, which were surprisingly few and minor. That done, we decided we definitely deserved some food. It was then that we discovered all the food had been left on Bill. The younger Hobbits actually shed tears. Fleetingly, I wished been squashed in the Gate's collapse. But we had to bite down on our despair (better than nothin') because the only way now to get some eatables – maybe even non-sugary ones and that thought was exciding – was to go forward.
Gandalf at last cracked out his secret Miruvor, and each of us took a great gulp. We trekked onward. The elvish liquor reacted strangely in our empty stomachs, so many weeks filled with naught but sweets, and this was manifested noisily when we hit the stretch of path riddled with bottomless pits:
The air reverberated with his quick footfalls. Legolas was dashing toward a crack, towing Pippin, whose arms were spread wide like wings. The Elf threw him and jumped directly after. "Catch me!!!" yelled Pippin to nobody. They fell into a heap on other side, laughing. Merry already had had his turn, and laughed hardest of all as the other two missed crushing his head by inches.
Legolas called over. "Frodo, do you wish to be next? Or you, Dwarf?"
Gimli looked snubbed, yet he backed up for a run and jumped. In mid-leap a giant grin spread under his beard and he sang aloud: "I'm Kiiiing of Khazaaad!" He smacked down on the opposite ledge.
Then said Pippin's voice from the distant dark: "Oooh! Legolas, look! Another chasm!"
"Yes!" shrilled Merry. Already we could hear Legolas running and the flying Merry's ecstatic shriek.
Boromir pointed wildly across the gorge to the unseen source of their echoing laughter. "They are mad." He swung his finger back at us. "All of you are mad."
Aragorn gripped both his shoulders. "Calm yourself, Boromir!"
The Gondorian flung off Aragorn's hands. "This company is consumed by madness. Just look at the Halflings! First Frodo, now the other two with the Elf, then the Dwarf. Who's next? Who's next…?"
Gandalf pounded his staff on the stones with a thud that echoed eerily from the invisible ceiling. "Quiet, all of you! Aragorn, go after the others and tell them wait for me silently.Boromir, get Frodo and Odi across."
Frodo scowled. "I don't want to go with him." I had to agree. I didn't think he had forgotten about his shield.
The wizard sighed so loud that dust from somewhere overhead toppled into our faces.
In the end, Aragorn helped Frodo and me – I shut my eyes the whole time, as though it mattered in the oreo-ific darkness – and three chasms later, we were across to where the Hobbits, Dwarf, and Elf were waiting, flushed and still tipsy.
Gandalf sternly cleared his throat and began a pep-talk. "Listen to me – do stop frolicking, Master Took!" He again cleared his throat. "Yes, my friends, the Company has had difficulties, met with danger, but we knew it would be so when we set out. Keep first in your minds the Quest. Don't give into despair. We will be out soon if you all are quiet and let me think. Otherwise we shall not be getting out."
My stomach rumbled. I'd give my tail for a cricket. Mmmm. Crickets… my tongue fell from my mouth and dripped drool. I wondered what time it was. Oh yes! My watch! Did it still work? More importantly, was the fake leather edible? I turned to my tail and pinched the dial. The face glowed pale green. I happened to glance up and saw other circular green glows not far away. Curious. What was it reflecting from? The face darkened before I had time to read the hands. I made ready to press it again, but noticed that the green reflections had not faded with the watch and were, in fact, getting closer like they were sliding down a pole. I suddenly had this feeling of being sniffed out as a snack. In one instant everything clicked into place. HOLY SHOES!
Everyone came running. I guess I looked a little insane, jumping, chittering, waving my paws. The green lamps had gone, of course. I wasn't fooled. Who else could that be? But these guys had no idea. I thought I could try, anyway, and so, facing mostly Legolas, Aragorn and Gandalf, I made slinking motions, tried to gurgle in my throat and held out my paw to stroke an invisible ring. Their lips were parted and eyes wide. Ain't working. Boromir was nodding, but only out of satisfaction that his madness theory was confirmed. Gandalf decided we all needed a break.
I moaned. Noooo break. Want out. We sat in the dark miserably for hours, hungry, thirsty and listless. Heaven knows nothing makes me more disagreeable than an empty stomach. I snapped Frodo's hand as he triedto lift me into his lap and was sadistically satisfied by his ow!
A wearisome time later, we set out once more. The younger Hobbits soon needed support by the men. Gimli dragged his boots.
We stumbled maybe an hour before we hit the guardroom with the three passages. I rolled my eyes as Gandalf paused and went down the right tunnel. Even Boromir wasn't complaining at this point. I had heard him muttering more gravy in his sleep.
Well, then, le's get outta this stinkin' pit.
When, countless hours later, our bearded leader thought we could use another break, I leaped and hissed and nipped his ankles, till he was forced down the path. Why prolong the misery? Out, out, out. No pauses! Wimps. C'mon! We don't need water! Food is for wusses! Doubt not that also the goblins, Balrog, and Gollum were on my mind. Maybe if we went fast enough, we'd miss 'em.
We finally reached the great, creepy openness of Dwarrowdelf. Everyone was wilting. Gandalf gave us the last drops of the miruvor, which seemed to blast fire through our limbs, giving us just enough umf to raise our eyes to the… whatever was hidden in the blackness. Sooo close to getting out! The Company's lethargy was so extreme a side trip seemed synonymous to suicide, yet I was ready to do anything to avoid Balin's tomb. I didn't need to. It must have been that we were there at night because no sunlight filtered into that room and we passed it quite obliviously.
Doodadoo. Through halls, under arches, down a million stairs, hip hop over holes in the floor. We were getting along quite nicely.
As we fell out of another archway and as Gandalf spewed "Behold, the Second Hall," the floor rattled. We had one common instinct and that was to RUN – and as we did a crack appeared in the floor ahead, growing, smoke billowing out of it. We leaped as one. Just as we cleared it, the fissure opened fully and barfed red heat. We panted, flat against the floor. Man, that was cool.
"Not much farther now," said Gandalf, using his gift for the anticlimax and lifting himself by his staff. We marched warily across the hall. My ears were wholly perked; I bit my tongue at each breath of the Company, at every falling pebble. We had come too far and seen too little of the inhabitants. I dreaded with each sound that the next would be doom, doom. If I ever wanted the maggots scared from me that was the LotR passage I read.
Doom, doom, doom.
"What was that?" said Merry.
Gandalf turned around and an arrow appeared in his hat. Maybe a bazillion goblins surrounded us and began a-hacking. Well, that shouldn't have been a surprise. We hadn't exactly been considerate, noiseless visitors. I instantly removed myself to the back of a rock. The pummeling was getting pretty intense. I risked a tiny peep.
Wow. Who knew gore was so… messy. I felt the miruvor revolt against me. Frodo bounded over from nowhere, shrieking: "Everyone STOP! ODI'S NOT FEELING GOOD!" The whole room plunged into silence; even the goblins stood motionless, like gaping gargoyles.
And then there was none. The goblins, I mean. They just picked themselves up and vanished. Was my being sick so ghastly?
A suffocated heat. A light-sapping darkness. And something was standing behind us.
Legolas and Gimli screamed, would ya believe, screamed like second-grade girls, Gimli jumping into Legolas' arms and Legolas falling onto his bottom. Merry and Pippin tried to run and tripped on the two fallen warriors. Aragorn and Boromir swung their blades forward, but they themselves swayed on the spot. Gandalf alone stepped forward. He mouthed for us to run and shouted to the big, bad shadow: "STAY, demon! I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of --"
Kasplat! Gandalf was batted maybe twenty feet and hit some pillar. The Balrog took a mountain-shaking step forward. Ok. Now we ran. Aragorn and Legolas picked up the wizard by his arms. Pippin nabbed Gandalf's glowing staff and took the lead. As I tried to scramble for it, I felt a hard hit to my middle. Through watering eyes, I saw beside me Boromir, flat on his face, cursing. Frodo swept me away. I watched Boromir scramble to his feet to stand, stand alone as the Balrog towered over him. He raised his sword, the Balrog his whip. Gimli, jogging heartily beside us, blubbered: "A brave, brave sacrifice."
The rest was a blur. Not even the Bridge of Stupendous Narrowness put an indent in my memory. We were tired, hungry, depressed, bleeding, exhausted, dead. We collapsed outside the East Gate. We basked in mindless thankfulness in the warm morning sun.
Gandalf stirred and lost no time in bathing us with his maw's perfume. "Frodo," he murmured. The Hobbit approached and Gandalf looked him over. "Frodo, you are not hurt? Good. Very good… Frodo, how is the Ring?"
For a moment, Frodo seemed to return to normal; his eyes melted of their hardness and his face lost its insane lines. He gasped and frantically felt about his neck.
Though barely above a whisper, his voice was high and panicked. "I – I think I left it in Rivendell…"
To be continued…
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.