Gandalf smokes his Pipe in Moria, and ponders...........

by Vison

.........Pipeweed. Pipeweed....ah. Here we are. Now for my Pipe. Naturally it's at the bottom of my pack......not broken, at least. I might just take up smoking one of those carved wooden ones-they don't break, even if they make the smoke taste of burned wood.........There we are..... Hmmmm..........well, it helps me think, and I must think. That noise! Drums?.......A hammer? Doom, doom.....then, tap, tap, tap-tom......gone now....

Now, if I had a nice soft chair and a glass of ale, and maybe a cheery little fire in a hearth......... even my Powers cannot produce all that luxury. But I can prop my pack against the wall, so, and lean on it, and stretch my legs out and there......I have been more comfortable. But I have been less comfortable, too, so I can make the best of this! Stuck up among the Horns of Orthanc, I would have thought this rough seat was blissful comfort.......Three ways. Three doors, so to speak. Three. A magical number, it is said.....Three rings for the Elven Lords.....now, there is Magic, if you will.....and lo! Here is one of those rings, on my very finger......yet it will not choose the door.....Sam would be disappointed.....he longs to see Elven magic......

There they are, all asleep, even Legolas. Elves seem seldom to sleep as Mortals do. Rather they lie dreaming and seeing at once, and I believe that they sometimes confuse the two. I would not say so to Elrond but Legolas is merrier and might like a jest....Legolas has taken the Hobbits under his wing, I see. Seldom have I seen an Elf like him. His father I know well, but Legolas is not like Thranduil, who has lived so long near Dwarves that he has taken on some of their testy nature. Legolas has never before left his Greenwood home, and he is eager as a Man for adventure........there is a cool purpose in his manner. The incursions of the Orcs into Mirkwood have not gone unpunished.....he is famous for his bowmanship, I hear, even among Elves.......

Aragorn is lying flat on his back, with his hands folded across his breast-he looks as though he is laid out for burial.....now, why would I think that? If I were given to brooding on Omens and Portents, it would make me shiver, perhaps, but I am not so given. No, poor Strider, he is weary, and that is a restful posture, and no corpse has its long legs crossed at the ankles-he has learned to take his rest when and where he can, even under a leafless bush in the rain.....he must draw deep now, on all his being, for his great Task is before him....I saw him with Arwen before we left Imladris, walking with her while the Smiths reforged Narsil. They have named it Anduril, Flame of the West-very apt. But there are flames and flames, are there not?. Some are brief flares, others are Beacons that burn steady and long-which will he be, Aragorn? Elrond has sent him forth with his blessing.......I wonder, does Elrond wish he had sent him forth years ago.....the maiden waits, glimmering in the shadows like a star, dreaming of her love...he is worthy of her, if worth be all, but there is a look in Elrond's eyes that was not used to be there.....

Look at Boromir, who cannot rest even in his sleep.....Lying on his side, his drawn sword clutched in his hand, legs bent as if running, his face contorted with bad dreams......I do not think Boromir will ever rest easy again. He is tormented, he torments himself, with what he will not confess, especially to himself.........The Lord Denethor his father watches from the White Tower for his return, and Boromir dreams of a mighty gift, one that will bring a smile to the stern face of Denethor-a smile, at first. Then what? I think Boromir has not thought that far ahead.........As far only as white roses tossed under his horse's hooves and maidens who wish to fling themselves at him as well.....No, no, I must not mock this bold young man even in my thoughts.....he dreams of saving his city and his people, but alone, unaided, unshared glory......Well, Aragorn will have to deal with that, for I am bound to Frodo, and the Ring. It is not too soon to plan how we shall divide our Fellowship. Galadriel will no doubt have her notions, but even the Wise cannot walk in our shoes.......or the hairy feet of Hobbits!

Gimli Gloin's son sleeps heavily. The mere fact of being in Moria does not trouble Gimli as it does the rest of us. He does not feel the weight of the Mountains above us, nor does he feel the Dark as some substance, thick, dragging us down......But Gimli sleeps hard as he walks hard and works hard and eats and plays...he is like all his kind, in that. Great power of endurance and exertion, then an enormous need for rest, falling asleep as if struck by a blow to the head, hoping there is a bed to fall on! One of Durin's trusty folk, is Gimli, with his sharp axe...... I will not rest until I am out of this heavy blackness. I feel every ounce of every hundredweight of Rock above me. Pressing down, down, crushing. With every little noise I hear the beginning of the Mountain's closing, the dead unliving Rock seeking to heal itself of these openings......The Naugrim, they are strange folk. The old tales tell that they were made of Stone themselves and I think it must be so, for them to love this place.........

Peregrin Took is finally asleep. I wonder if he feared I would fling him into that well.......perhaps he will take a lesson from it, but I hope that is all....there are fell things in the deeps, and his carelessness may have woken something better left...doom, doom.....a drum...let sleeping dogs lie, they say....if it was only a Dog! Some hound of Sauron I fear, or worse......I cannot imagine why we have see no sign of Gimli's kin, if they be here......Moria is vast, but not so vast that they would not know of our entrance. My heart forbodes me that they do not know because......well, I will not say it, even in my thoughts. I must order my thoughts, I am rambling.......it is the rock, weighing on me.....and the knowledge that we must go forward, for we cannot go back.

The Watcher in the Water! That was a near run thing-how boldly Samwise leapt to Frodo's aid! Many times I have said that there is more to these Hobbits than one would think......my dear old friend Bilbo, for one. The study of Hobbits! I leave Radagast to the beasts and birds, and it is only too plain what Saruman studied.....Alone of the Wise, I sought the Shire......alone of the Wise I took delight in these friendships..... His heir Frodo is more than worthy of Bilbo's possessions-he has inherited more than the blade Sting, or gold or land....... Bilbo's courage, and merry heart, and much besides. From somewhere he has got Nobility, and High-mindedness---and strength.....he will need all that, and I hope it is sufficient. Much I can do, but put steel in a backbone I cannot........I fear he keeps himself to himself too much...will he ask for help or counsel, when the time comes? I must be on the watch, for it is to his Aid that I am called, and was called, so long ago.......I have known him since he was a child, crying for his mother and father......poor lad that he was, I fear that pain has marked him. Ah, he can be merry as any Hobbit, but too often he stands watching, setting himself apart, fearing joy.....Yes, that is it, he fears joy....he accepts what comes with courage, but it is in the accepting that he shows his metal, not only in the courage.....he is learning what it is that he carries and I fear he will know too much of these matters before the end.....whatever the end may be.....

Now do we most need that which has gone from us, the wily wisdom of Saruman.....that festers in me like a bad tooth, aching, wasting my energy, poisoning my surety......fool that he is, my brother Curunir! If wishing could cure him, he would be here with us now....but I do not see him sitting on a rock floor smoking pipeweed.....no, no, he would have contrived something grander, I am sure.....

Meriadoc lies near Boromir. Sprawled like a child. That is it, of course. These Hobbits are not children, but Men. Young they are, Merry and Pippin, and because they are small, Men and Elves and Dwarves-and the Enemy-will persist in seeing them as Children. Childlike, at times, in the backwater of the Shire-but those long knives they carry are as deadly as Anduril or Glamdring...Boromir teaches them swordplay...and he has come to see that they are not boys-bold and eager and, unfortunately-heedless....yes, heedless as they are......a Hobbit walking party! Well, they are learning, too....they have already faced foes that outmatch anyone, not just Halflings......tall Men of Gondor have no more courage than is contained in these small folk.....courage that needs tempering, as fire tempers steel.....

Samwise sleeps near Frodo, even in sleep he gets his stout body between Frodo and whatever he sees as Danger. I hope he does not roll over once more, and roll down that Pit.........If ever there was a book that should not be judged by its cover, that book is Samwise Gamgee. Plain Sam, with his broad face and common nose...... A worshipper of beauty! A romantic heart beats in his bosom-I marveled at his face, listening to the singing in Elrond's house!.....he has taken on this duty of caring for Frodo, some think in ignorance of what is to come....well, we are all ignorant of what is to come, and Sam would take it on anyway.....steadfast, he is. Whatever we count courage by, Sam has it in full measure. But he has more, I think. The other two, Meriadoc and Peregrin, they have that bright physical courage, too, like most young Gentlemen of their sort. But Sam, who comes of no family, whose hands are callused and stained with dirt, Sam has that kind of dogged grit and gut deep devotion that will see him through......and he will be the one to notice the starshine.........

........There! There is that little noise again......and there! Just there.....two little gleams.....we are being followed and I fear to put a name to the follower.......we cannot lose him in here, but maybe when we are out on the stony ground....and into the Golden Wood.....Yes. Into the Golden Wood where Galadriel waits.....odd, how I always say Galadriel, and never Celeborn.....yet his wisdom is not less than hers.....he speaks through her, I think, knowing her beauty draws all to her.....she warned against Saruman, long ago....and she was right, horribly right.....how is it that she could see it? What could she see in him that we, Elrond and Cirdan and the others could not see? She is called Sorceress, Enchantress.....yet I would call her Far-Seer, Heart-Reader. When she turns those great eyes on one, it seems to draw the very soul out of the breast....cool she is, Galadriel, cool as sharpened steel to the hand, and as dangerous.....ruthless in her purity, unstained, merciless. Well, we do not need mercy in these days, but her calm hardness, the blade that fears not to cut deep.....it will be good to sit in council with her and her Lord, and to rest under the Mallorn trees in Caras Galadon, before we take up our journey again.....There! is that a hammer? No, it is a drum.......... Doom, doom.....far down and away from here.....

I told them I would choose our Way. Three choices. Right, left, and middle.....eeny, meeny, miny, moe.....and catch What by the toe?

Another pipe, while I think. The pipeweed glows in the bowl I hold in my hand, the dried leaves packed tight, yet they writhe and curl and burn white for the tiniest space of time....were there perched on my finger some tiny being, scarce as large as a mote of dust, would that being stand on the edge of a vast pit of Fire? And I-now I blow out one breath-and the little being falls and is consumed........thus it is with those of us who journey here....we are held in some hand, we are moved by some power.....I did not even see the imagined quick burst of flame when my imagined being fell...........I must get up.....these are sleepy thoughts. It is time to move! Wake up, you sluggards!