A Big Leap

by Mrs. Frodo


Moria: rumbling and heat and numberless orcs and a great flaming balrog––and now a chasm, dropping away before them to unknowable depths. But Legolas the Elf prince was in front and undaunted. What was such a leap to him? He was agile; he was strong. He sprang over and landed gracefully as a cat on his feet. Turning, he stretched out a hand to Gandalf, calling his name––which might have been heard, perhaps, but for the calling of his own name, not loud but clear as icy starlight. The voice was all business and, unless his Elf ears heard wrongly (little enough chance of that), it was displeased.

The red glow of the balrog approaching from behind was eclipsed by a blaze of white which lit the cavern to full day end to end. The Company gasped and turned as one.

“All right, cut that out!” said the voice. “Just come right back over that chasm, Thranduilion. Now.”

Legolas’ face turned hot pink as he obeyed.

“Oh, pity sake,” muttered the source of the light, a radiant, respendent female burning at its core like a fountain of fire. Her starry eyes flashed here and there, searching. “Ah-ha! There you are!” She beckoned. “Come here, Ring-bearer.”

Face drained of all color, Frodo approached her, eyes wider than was mortally possible. He went to his knees before her. “Elbereth.”

The Vala smiled fondly. “That’s right. On your feet now, dear.” As he complied, knees shaking, she put her long white hands on his shoulders and turned him about to face the others. Frodo looked as if he might faint.

“All right, class,” Elbereth said, giving each of them a look in turn. “Since you seem to have forgotten every last thing Elrond Peredhil might have taught you during that stay in Imladris, here’s a refresher course: ‘RingQuest 101.’ Who’s this?”––patting Frodo’s shoulder.

The rest of the Company gave her blank stares.

“Ummm...Frodo, Your Grace,” said Aragorn, feeling foolish.

Elbereth nodded. “What’s his title?”

Merry stuck his hand in the air. “Ring-bearer.”

“Why?”

Boromir tried not to let annoyance creep into his voice. Somehow he felt it would not do to further irritate a Vala. “Because he carries the Ring, Lady,” he said, bowing for good measure.

Frodo peered up at the tall, majestic Vala in mingled shock and wonder as she began the motherly business of tidying his dark curls. “And what’s he supposed to do with the Ring?”

“Take it to Mt. Doom, where it must be destroyed,” said Gandalf patiently. He knew quite well just how little it would do to further irritate a Vala.

“And why is it him?" asked Elbereth. "Why not somebody else here?”

Sam was trembling, but he stepped forward. “‘Cause Mr. Frodo’s the only one as can, Your Royalness.”

“Good call, Samwise. And what are you all doing here?”

Gimli shifted his axe from one hand to the other. “Protecting Frodo, Lady, and to see his quest fulfilled if we can.”

“Right. So who’s the Company’s first concern?”

“Frodo,” said Gimli, chorused by Merry and Pippin.

“On whom does this quest depend?”

“Frodo,” sighed Boromir, resisiting the urge to roll his eyes.

“On whose shoulders does the fate of Middle-Earth rest?”

“Frodo,” said everybody together.

Frodo was blushing scarlet. He fidgeted and looked down.

Elbereth’s star-eyes gleamed like the edge of a razor. “And who was the first across that chasm to safety?”

The Elf seemed to shrink just a little. He put a trembling hand in the air.

“Exactly,” Elbereth sniffed. “And who was all set to go over next? Olorín, the only one with any chance of coping with the balrog coming up behind!”

Gandalf reddened and scraped the ground with the toe of one boot. “Legolas told me to,” he muttered. Legolas glared at him.

“And who would it have been next? Frodo? No? Aragorn? No? Let me guess––oh right, of course. The younger hobbits, Boromir, Gimli. Leaving Frodo and Aragorn––the Ring-bearer and the heir to the throne of Gondor––the only hope of destroying the Ring and the only one capable of uniting the Secondborn against the darkness––to take their chances on a tottering, crumbling pillar of stone with the balrog thundering up behind while the rest of you scamper off! Brilliant idea! What were you thinking?”

From somewhere behind Elbereth came a ground-rattling roar. She looked back at the red glow which swelled brighter by the moment. “Don’t make me come over there!” she snapped.

The roar and the glow faded to a grouchy rumble.

“All right, then. Let’s try this chasm-thing again. Heir of Elendil first! Go on, Prince Estel, up to the front of the line. You, Boromir, get the honor of throwing the future Bane of Sauron to Aragorn. Throw well or I’ll come after you! Then and only then, once those two are safe on the other side, hoist Samwise across and take the youngsters over. Then the Dwarf, then the Elf––lastly Olorín, before this pillar crumbles into the flames. And in future, all of you THINK, blast it! This little excursion of yours is too important to muff!”

The Vala bent low and gave Frodo a quick whisper before she released him. “I’m always in earshot, sweetie; don’t you forget it.”

“Thank you, Lady!” gasped Frodo just before Boromir scooped him up.

Elbereth saw the revised plan to its completion. “Honestly. It's almost like Elrond hadn't told them a thing!" She shook her head. "Got to have a word with Eärendil and Elwing about that boy....”