We lay upon the ground. My back to the other eight; I stared at the three doorways, which way were we to go? It was getting so hard to recall the old paths. How many generations of man has passed, since my feet last tread these halls? What if I chose wrong? The problem was, I had no memory of ever being in this part of the mines. Well one thing was for sure I wasn't going to get any more sleep. I sat up.
Poor Pippin sat staring at the well. I could just imagine the thoughts going through his mind. They were more than likely the same ones that were in mine. What if something came out? Why ever did he drop that foolish stone? 'Fool of a Took', I watched as a sob shook his small frame. He jumped as my hand softly touched his shoulder. "I'm sorry Gandalf..." He started to say; his voice shaky from tears.
But I shook my head. "Go on lad, get some sleep. I know you are tired. I'm not angry with you any longer. The stone was unfortunate; what's done is done. Maybe nothing will come from it and since I cannot sleep anyways. I will take your watch," I watch as the young hobbit sought his blankets. I repeat in a whisper to myself. "Maybe nothing will come from it."
I know what I need, my pipe.
The dark presses around us all. I silence the light from my staff. In the dark my ring glows with its own power. What will happen when the One goes into the fire? Will it be as Galadrial and Elrond think? That the three will fail and we will grow tired of Middle Earth? Me, tire of Middle Earth, grow tired of these ridiculous Hobbits? Still, The Shire has lost some of its appeal without Bilbo there. Ah what a good friend he has been these many years. It is so very sad to see him aging in Rivendell these past years, such spirit in so small a person. Glad to see the Ring didn't corrupt him and he was able to finally break free of it in the end. Will Frodo find the same strength? The Power is growing in it. I can now feel it as it calls to my own ring, such a temptation in so small a package. The One Ring! What I could do with it! I would cause Orthanic and Barad-dur to fall into crumbling heaps of ruin. I would free the slaves that Sauron uses so maliciously. I would turn the Desert of Gorgoroth into.... No. What am I thinking? It is so easy to be tempted by the ring. I must not turn into another Saruman. If I can hear the ring calling to me, who else is hearing it speak? Boromir, for one, that is for certain, but what of the others? Aragorn? Gimli? Legolas?
The end of my pipe glows and I blow smoke rings as I let my mind wander through the tunnels of my past. Where did I go wrong with the turnings? If only I had entered from Hollin's gate before. It would be so much easier to guide us through. The path I followed before was wide and well marked.
I have sat too long; I need to stretch my legs.
Three doorways, any could be the right one.
All entrances are the same height and width.
The dust at their openings is undisturbed.
Which way to choose?
I pace between the three.
No! Wait! Not this one, it has a foul sulfurous odor.
No we will not take that way.
It must be one of the other two. Both go in the same direction one flat, one slopes upwards. Upwards? Could we still be below the level of the gates? How do I choose? What if I am wrong? We would wander for weeks in these tunnels. What I need is a sign. Wait what is that noise?
Hello Gollum, old friend.
I see your eyes shining in the dark.
What are you doing down that corridor?
"Gollum may yet do good that he does not intend."
My words come back to me.
Six hours have past.
Time to go.