Letters from Faramir

by Agape4Rivendell

XII:  Moria, as described by Peregrine Took

Moria. We are facing the mountains again but this time going south of them. Breakfast is hurried and small. I am starting to need more, especially with no second breakfast, no elevenses. How is a Hobbit to survive? Gandalf is pushing us very quickly - he wants to be at the gates before nightfall.

I don't like the look on Gandalf's face. There is something amiss here. I'm not sure what it is, but he is definitely troubled. He looks to the left and to the right and mutters to himself something awful. If he is trying to make me feel better, he is not doing a very good job of it.

We come to a stagnant river - how can a river be stagnant? I remember the cool, clear Brandybuck and wish heartily that I was there. This feels cold and slimy to my feet. Frodo shivers as he passes through it. I fear for him. He's changing. Is it the wound from the Morgul blade? Is it the Ring? He clutches at his breast now and again and I wonder. He seems to have lost all happiness. Sam looks towards him constantly, his brow creased in worry.

Finally, we reach a cliff and Gandalf starts running his hands over it as we walk along. He murmurs Elvish words. Gimli is like a shadow following close by and muttering to himself. If it weren't getting dark, I would laugh, but the mood is not for laughter. Gandalf would definitely snap at me. We come to a large, dead-looking lake. And we stop - somewhere here is the entrance according to Gandalf, but I don't see anything but more cliff.

I don’t understand. Gandalf and Boromir seem to be in a battle – one that started after we escaped Caradhras. I don’t understand it at all. Gandalf is upset about Boromir’s questioning. Boromir doesn’t want to go through the mines of Moria and Gandalf snaps at him. Now Boromir is upset that Gandalf doesn’t seem to know the way in, nor even the password and Gandalf accuses him of being witless. This is a term he usually reserves for me. I don’t like it at all though. Why are they fighting?

There are two trees - large and very out of place. Here Gandalf stops and mutters and murmurs some more. Suddenly, I can see the tracing of some letters on the rock. They look to be Elvish. I wonder out loud what Elvish writing is doing on a Dwarven door and Gandalf says the door was made long ago in the times when Elves and Dwarves traded freely. Legolas and Gimli are fighting over who caused the riff between Dwarves and Elves. Gandalf tells them to stop. This is turning into a very long day.

And Sam has stopped talking to Gandalf altogether. We must leave Bill the Pony behind. Poor Sam, after having argued quite a bit with Gandalf, has burst into tears and turned towards the pony. I don’t blame him. Bill will be food for the wolves before we’ve been gone very long. How can Gandalf let this happen? Why didn’t we leave Bill in Rivendell?

Boromir must be really upset. He scowls at this horrible lake, says how much he hates it, and throws a stone into it. Frodo is terribly upset at him for throwing it. He is more afraid of the pool than of the wolves or of Moria, it seems. Why does he feel this way? I'm so very glad I didn’t throw a stone myself. I was definitely going to. Boromir looks at me and I can feel the laughter in his eyes. I’m glad I can lighten his mood a little. He knows I was going to join him in this. It looks like a stone would jump at least five or six times, maybe even seven on such a smooth surface. The lake ripples continue and continue. That is strange. I move closer to the wall.

Gandalf snaps at me now. I was just wondering what he was going to do. Nothing he says or does has opened the door and I am getting tired of just sitting here. I wish I could smoke. Or toss stones. Or have a little snack. By the look of it, supper will be very late tonight. Merry says something about the door and Gandalf laughs and says he's a fool (Gandalf not Merry) or something like that. Then he speaks one word and the door swings towards us - open at last. The air is warm and close and doesn't smell good at all. I am suddenly thinking I don't want to go in there. I think I want to go back to the Shire. I don’t like any of what is happening here and I like Moria even less. I feel we will never find our way out once we enter this dark place.

The ripples on the lake continue and are now lapping at our feet. Chills run up my legs as the water touches them, but it is not from the cold. Wolves are calling to each other and Sam looks miserable. A shout from Frodo and I look back and see him being dragged towards the lake by some snake-like thing. It is horrible. Bill rears in fright and runs away with Sam after him. I am frozen solid; I cannot move for the fear in me. At least a dozen, mayhap, two dozen of these arms start towards us. Gandalf’s yells wake me up and I am free and run into Moria. So does Merry, but, Sam, bless him, pulls out his sword and hacks away at what holds Frodo’s leg. They both run through the gate, but the creature does not attack us. It attaches itself to the doors and pulls them shut. We are prisoners of Moria now. I feel a hand on my shoulder and I jump, the breath stolen from me, but I hear the voice of Boromir, telling me not to fear, he is near, he has his sword unsheathed and ready and he will let nothing harm me. Tears come unbidden to my eyes and I feel myself shaking. Poor Frodo, if this is how I feel, how must he be feeling, having been the one attacked? I can hear Sam crying quietly and muttering about Bill. Poor old Sam. What a hard chose to make between Bill and Frodo.

I am so sorry to hear Boromir’s next words. He whispers his doubts, but the whisper echoes through the cavern and now all know his distrust of Gandalf. In measure, he is right. Gandalf told us he had not been in this part of Moria before, neither has Gimli or Strider – so who will lead us? If there was light, I know I would see the glint in Gandalf’s eye as he snaps back, ‘I will lead us.’

It is very dark and we have no torches. Gandalf does something with his staff and suddenly there is light. Not very much, but light nonetheless. I do feel better with the light. We could not have passed this way without it – but I will not say anything. Gandalf is not very happy at the moment with Boromir. And he has already growled at me once. I don't need that to happen again.

When we reach the top of the steps, Frodo thankfully asks if we can stop and eat. I’m surprised at myself – I have forgotten about food. When I tell Merry, he touches my forehead and says I must be ill. Food, even cold, is such a pleasure at this moment. My heart has returned to its proper place and I can breath again…and I can think about food again.

We are going forward quickly now and I am glad and so is everyone else, except perhaps Gimli. I want out of here as soon as possible. Gandalf has his sword drawn as does Frodo, but there is no hint of light or color coming from Sting and I feel better because of that. We walk forever, it seems, with Boromir right behind me and I know that Strider is behind him. He has not said a word since we came to the gate. Maybe if I did that too, kept my mouth closed, Gandalf would stop glaring at me.

Who is Queen Beruthiel? Gandalf and Gimli have stopped for a very long time and we gather together in fear. Strider says there is no need to fear – that Gandalf can find his way home better than her cats. But I’ve never heard of her. We’re moving forward again and no one will answer my question.

There are great rifts in our path now. Great rifts and we must jump some of them - they are so large. The men do it with ease. And, of course, Legolas floats over them. But we Hobbits have to jump. We can’t even see the bottom. Why did I come? Why did I ever come? This one is very large – at least twice my height. I can’t cross it. I will be left behind. Gandalf’s voice is harsh as he tells me to jump. I cannot. My feet stick to the ground as though a barrow-wight was holding them down. I will be left alone. Suddenly, Boromir jumps back and stands next to me. He says nothing, just stands there. I can hardly see his face. I know what he is thinking. He knows I can do this. My face flushes red. I know I can do this too. I take a deep breath and jump and much to my amaze, Strider catches me. Boromir follows close behind and lays his hand upon my shoulder. I know he’s smiling. So am I.

Gandalf has reached a place where he murmurs he doesn’t know the way. I’m surprised – I hear no grunt or harsh word from Boromir. He seems to be following more willingly now and I am glad for it. I can’t stand it when these two fight. I love Gandalf so much – he has been a friend my whole life – though his visits to the Shire have not been frequent. But whenever he came, I seemed to be visiting Bag End and would sit with Frodo and watch as Gandalf and Bilbo made the most wonderful smoke rings. Gandalf’s would fly to the top of the kitchen ceiling and just float around. It was wonderful fun. Ah, to be back in that kitchen now. He loves Hobbits, I can tell. And no matter that he growls at me – most of the time I deserve it. And now Boromir has entered my life and I find I love him too. I wish they would be friends.

Gandalf says we may rest now and Merry and I run into the side room where he gestures for us to go. He shouts at us to stop – and the tone in his voice frightens just enough to make us stop quickly. He brings the light with him and then only do I see that, just steps in front of us is a large, well-like hole – we would have certainly fallen into it, but not for his shout. I let my breath out slowly.

The others all start getting themselves ready for sleep with blankets and such, but that well – it looks too inviting. It calls to me – well, not really, but I must look into it – see where it goes. It is very dark. Drat, I can’t see anything. Ah, there are small stones about its mouth. So I quietly pick one up and let it drop. My arms shiver – it still has not stopped. What if I had fallen in? At last, I hear a watery plunk and breath a sigh of relief, but the sound keeps echoing and echoing. It won’t stop. Gandalf swings around with fear in his eyes. Oh dear. I’ve made another mistake. I have to tell him what I’ve done. I can’t leave him with that fear in his eyes. He calls me his favorite term, ‘fool of a Took.’ What can I say? He’s right. I’ve got to stop doing these things. It will be the death of us all! And now I have to stand first guard. All the rest settle and Gandalf stops his staff from glowing and I am alone in the dark. It is so very, very dark. I am stationed by the door, but the hair on the back of my neck is standing straight up. I know something is crawling out of that pit. I hear noises coming from that direction. What am I to do? Maybe I can put my cloak down over it and put a few stones on the edges. That way, if anything comes out, I will hear it and I can yell for help. No, I don’t dare do anything. I don’t even know how far the well is from me. I would probably fall down it and that would definitely make Gandalf angry! Besides, I need my cloak – I am shivering so. No, there is a definite sound and it is headed my way. Help…a hand covers my mouth and Boromir whispers, ‘Be still, little one. I’ve come to keep you company.’ He wants to know if I was going to throw stones in the pool and I tell him, yes, I was all ready – I had some in my hand. He laughs quietly and tells me about how you and he, Faramir, went fishing one time and he told you to be very still and not to frighten the fish. The hours you waited for the fish to bite. And how he had just felt a gentle tap and was waiting one more instance before setting the hook, when you threw a stone into the pond and he lost the fish. How angry he was with you till he saw your face. He laughs again and says that’s what my face looked like when Frodo yelled at him outside Moria. He squeezes my arm and says he will sleep now, he has the next watch, but if I need him, he will hear me.

Hours pass. It must be hours. Something stirs. It is Gandalf. He comes to me – the light is most welcome. I tell him how sorry I am and that I will never look at another thing! I truly mean it. He laughs and tells me to rest. I can now. All the noises seem to have stopped. I have two brave men with me.

Breakfast or dinner or supper – who knows what it is, is hurried and cold. I need real food. We walk again for ages with only two short breaks. The passage finally opens wide. Gandalf does something with his staff and the light becomes brilliant. We are in a large hall with great, tall pillars that reach beyond my sight and beautiful black walls that shine in Gandalf’s light. He says we’re nearing where the Dwarves lived. He sounds very pleased with himself. We will sleep the night here, for Gandalf says it’s truly night. I fall on my blanket; my feet are sore. But the terror of this place seems worse, now that we are in the open. We huddle close together in a corner away from the cold wind that rushes over us. Gimli suddenly stands up and sings. I think it is about how the Dwarves began but it ends very sadly. Sam is delighted with the song and begs Gimli to teach it to him.

Boromir strides over to Gandalf. They put their heads together and whisper. I wish I could hear. Gandalf puts his hand on Boromir’s arm. It is done in friendship. Now I can sleep.