Letters from Faramir
XIII: Balin's Tomb, as described by Peregrine Took
When we wake there is light. I don’t know if it’s sunlight or what, but
I am very glad to have more than the little from Gandalf’s staff. Ack,
so this is breakfast. My stomach growls and remembers Mum’s cooking.
The sausages, eggs, fresh bread, jams, tarts, apples, juice, cakes –
Merry hits my arm and I realize I have been talking out loud. Better to
think about good Hobbit food than this everlasting darkness. These
aren’t mines – these are whole countries that we have been walking
through! When do they end?
Last night Gandalf was talking about the Dwarves and what they were
about here in Moria. He spoke of silver and mithril and jewels, but the
only things I want to see are the Shire and my family and the Prancing
Pony. A heavy sigh escapes my lips; Boromir looks over at me and
smiles. I think he can read my mind. Oh, Gandalf also told us about
Bilbo and his adventures with the Dwarves and something about a mithril
shirt. Gimli’s eyes were the size of troll’s eyes. Well, I haven’t
actually seen a live troll’s eyes, thankfully, but I have seen Bilbo’s
stone ones at Trollshaws.
Boromir is wondering aloud as to which way we will go. Gandalf finally
decides and we are off. Only a short distance away is a smaller room.
There is a beautiful beam of light shining into it and I have to blink
from the darkness we have just passed out of. The dust is very thick
and I try not to disturb it. I remember my promise to Gandalf. There is
a large box in the room with writing on it. Gandalf says it is not a
box, it is Balin’s tomb. How horrible. All alone here and covered in
dust. Gimli hides his face. I wish I knew what to say to him. Boromir
touches his arm. I hope that touch is as comforting to Gimli as it is
to me. My eyes fill with tears and my heart aches for him. He has been
so kind during this adventure. I remember the stories Bilbo told of the
Dwarves and their courage and the fun they had and I wish I had known
him. I think Frodo knew him. I’m sure he must have – the Dwarves came
to Bag End many times. It was the talk of the Shire, every time one
There is a book and Gandalf reads it. It reminds me of Bilbo’s book – a
history of the Dwarves here in Moria, but as he reads, I look around
the room. My eyes have become accustomed to the light and I now see
that there are skeletons all over the floor. We have been walking on
them unawares. I want to retch. To think my toes have disturbed these
poor Dwarves, friends and family of Gimli. I move closer to Merry who
looks at me strangely. He hasn’t seen and I point down. He grabs my
arm; his eyes open wide. We both move closer to Boromir. What has
happened here? I see swords and helms on the ground. Some are like the
Orc weapons at Michel Delving – the ones brought there by Bandobras
Took after he defeated the Orc army in the North Farthing.
My thoughts are pulled back by Gandalf’s voice. He’s saying, ‘They
cannot get out. They are coming.’ Who is coming? What did I miss?
Suddenly, there is a deep booming noise – like a great drum. I can’t
decide where it’s coming from. Gandalf looks up in surprise and says he
has been a fool – that we can’t get out. Legolas says, ‘They are
coming,’ and he is not reading from the book. Boromir goes to one of
the doors, the western one, and starts to close it, but Gandalf runs
over shouting, ‘Wait!’ He puts his staff through the crack in the door
and it shines brightly as he yells something. There are footsteps and
horrid laughter outside and arrows fly into the door, right near his
Frodo has Sting out and it is shining – it’s Orcs. Boromir pushes the
door closed and shoves wood and broken sword blades into it to keep it
shut. Strider says there is no one outside his door, the eastern dorn.
Suddenly, a horrible scaly-looking arm pushes its way in the western
door. Boromir hacks at it with his sword, but his sword is flung to the
ground. It has a notch where it hit this thing – it’s a troll. Frodo
yells and stabs Sting into its foot and it screams and pulls back. ‘One
for the Shire,’ shouts Strider. The western door is now being pushed
upon from the outside. It sounds like hammers are beating on it.
Finally, there is a huge opening and Orcs are pouring through. Merry
yells and starts forward with his sword flying and so do the rest of
the Company. Sam has killed an Orc! We have only been able to slow them
down, but Sam has actually killed one. Ted Sandyman – you better watch
out now! You are no match for Samwise the Brave! The Orcs are surprised
by us and pull back after many of their number are killed. We are about
to fly out of the eastern door, when, suddenly, another band of Orcs
enters the room. Their leader charges towards us. It is huge and just
pushes Boromir with its shield and throws him to the ground. As Strider
charges it, the Orc takes his spear and thrusts it towards our little
band. He shoves the spear into Frodo and pushes him against the wall.
Sam hacks at the blade and it breaks in two, but he is no match for
this thing. As it raises its sword, Strider cleaves its head in two.
The other Orcs run away. Sam is yelling Frodo’s name but Gandalf is
pushing us all out of the door. Strider stoops, picks up Frodo’s body
and runs. Legolas is shouting at Gimli to follow us and I am crying.
Frodo is dead. Boromir is slamming the great door shut and we fly
towards the stairs. Frodo is not dead!!! He is telling Strider to put
him down. Strider looks at him as if he is a ghost and Sam jumps on him
and hugs him. Gandalf yells at us to run but stays behind himself.
Strider and Boromir want to stay with him, but he pushes them through
We stop part way down the steps. Merry and I are in tears. Frodo is
leaning heavily against Sam and Sam is trying to hold him up all the
while sobbing. It is so dark. All I can see is a faint light above us.
It must be Gandalf’s staff. How will we ever be able to go on? There is
a bright light and a thud from above. Gandalf is thrown down the stairs
and lands right in front of us. He looks so old, so very tired. Boromir
rushes to help him stand. He says we must continue in the dark – that
he has no strength left for light. What does he mean? Where does the
light come from? We run down flight after flight of very narrow stairs.
I am most afraid. What if we fall off? Gandalf is using his staff to
feel where we should go. The end of the stairs come up quickly. I know
we are going to fall. We’ve been traveling at least an hour and all I
can hear is the quick breath of our Company. Frodo is near as we run
and I am concerned. He moans softly and seems to be having trouble
breathing. Do I tell Gandalf? There is no sound of anything following
us. Can we be free? Might we be able to escape?
Gandalf stops and starts to sit down. Gimli helps him to the step and
asks what happened above. I am learning so much more about Gandalf. At
one time, I thought he was only good for fireworks and smoke rings and
jokes, but there is more to him than meets the eye, as he would say. He
says he put a spell on the door, but that something much more powerful
than anything he had ever felt before opposed him. The thud we heard
was the collapse of the ceiling over the hall as they fought. Chills
run up my arms. What are we fighting against? It is definitely more
than Orcs. Gandalf turns towards Frodo and asks him how he is. I am so
grateful. I didn’t know what to do about him. But Frodo says he is all
right. Strider is funny. I’m surprised. He says he would have spoken
softer in Bree if he knew Hobbits were so tough.
It is getting hotter as we go and Gimli says he thinks he can see a
light, but it is red. Oh dear, Gandalf thinks the lower hall might be
on fire! Where can we go – we can’t go back up? We can’t go to the
Hollin Gate, it’s been destroyed by that horrible creature. And now, it
seems, we can’t get to the Great Gates either. What are we going to do?
We come to a great hall, so very much larger than the one where we
camped. Was that only last night? Gandalf says the Gate is near. We
have only to run a short way through this hall, then over a bridge,
then up some stairs, along a wide road, through another hall and then
to the Gate. This doesn’t sound short to me! I hope he’s all right. The
further we go, the more tired he seems, and, almost, afraid. I’ve been
good this day, haven’t made any mistakes or said anything to disturb
him. I hope it has helped.
We run into the hall and it is very hot. Boromir laughs and that lifts
my spirits. Maybe we will escape. He loves this kind of adventure, I
think. The Orcs are trapped on the other side of a rift in the floor. I
can see the bridge to our left. It is very narrow. There is a horrible,
black chasm that it crosses over. I will not throw a stone down this
Gimli leads the way to the bridge, but I stop. Arrows are flying all
around us. One just misses Frodo and another sticks in Gandalf’s hat. I
would laugh at the sight, but for the terror all around us. The Orcs
are bringing large stone slabs to put over the rift. They will be on us
shortly. Legolas, as always, has his bow out and ready to shoot at
them, when suddenly he cries out in fear and drops the arrow. His cry
is the most frightening sound I have ever heard. When has anyone ever
heard an elf cry out in fear?
Something very large and black and very frightening is coming up from
between the Orcs. They fall away in front of it. This is what made
Legolas cry out in fear. I can hardly move. A terror flows from it,
whatever it is. Legolas gives it a name. It is a Balrog. ‘Durin’s
Bane,’ says Gimli. My mind cannot understand this. Isn’t a Balrog from
long ages past? How can one be here – now? It leaps across the rift and
is coming right for us. The Orcs are coming over the rift too. There is
no hope. Gandalf says he is weary. What are we to do? Boromir winds his
great horn. I am so very glad to hear that noise echoing through this
great hall. The Orcs and the Balrog stop. Are we to be saved? No, the
echoes of the great horn stop and the enemy starts forward again.
‘Over the bridge,’ Gandalf yells, ‘Fly, Fly,’ but Strider and Boromir
stand side by side at the far end of the bridge. They will not leave
him. We are across the bridge and at the hall. And we stop. We can’t
leave Gandalf alone. What are we do to? The Balrog has reached the
bridge and Gandalf stops his flight in the middle of the great span.
Strider and Bormir wait at this end. I can faintly hear Gandalf. He is
yelling that the Balrog cannot pass. What can he do to stop him? He
looks so small and alone against this great and horrible creature.
Everything is suddenly silent, even the Orcs have stopped their
screaming. Again, Gandalf yells that the Balrog cannot pass and some
other words that I can’t understand. The Balrog moves onto the bridge.
‘Someone help him,’ I cry out, but no one hears me in their terror. The
creature holds out a great red sword and Gandalf’s sword gleams white.
It has struck Gandalf, but no, Gandalf’s sword repels it, gleaming
white and beautiful. The Balrog is falling backwards and its sword has
melted. I can’t believe my eyes. What magic is this that Gandalf has
done? ‘You cannot pass,’ he yells again. And I feel hope. He has
stopped this creature, perhaps he can do it again. Perhaps we will make
it outside. Gandalf had said the Gate is very close. The Balrog leaps
forward. It has a whip in its hand. Strider screams, ‘He cannot stand
alone,’ and rushes onto the bridge. He shouts other things, but I can
hear his last line, ‘I am with you, Gandalf!’ ‘Gondor!’ cries Boromir
and leaps after him. My heart is in my throat but I am so proud, so
grateful to have these two men with us. Such courage in the face of
certain death. I don’t remember ever hearing tales of Balrog’s being
beaten. Gandalf lifts his staff and hits it against the bridge. No, it
breaks and falls from his hand. A bright light nearly blinds me, but
the bridge collapses in front of him and the Balrog falls! We are
saved….nooooo….its whip circles about Gandalf’s knees and drags him
along the bridge. Gandalf tries to hold on, but he cannot. As he falls,
I hear him cry, ‘Fly, you fools!’ He is gone. He is gone.
We all stand in silence. Then Strider and Boromir fly back across the
part of the bridge left standing, but it crumbles as they reach this
side. Strider cries for us to follow him. I try to run, but can hardly
see for the tears in my eyes. Gandalf has fallen. Boromir follows us as
he cries for us to run. The drums have started up again. What will we
find in the Hall, at the Gates? Orcs – they are waiting for us as we
pass through the Hall, but Strider slays their captain and the rest of
the Orcs run in fear. Finally, we pass through the Gate without any
further harm…but the harm to our hearts. We continue to run past the
Gate and into the open air. I want to shout, to breath the fresh air,
but my throat is closed for the tears welling up into it…We have
reached the Dimrill Dale. The sun is shining and there are brilliant
clouds in the sky, but I only see darkness and despair. I can still
hear the drums and it seems as though they are crying, ‘Doom, doom.’
Yes, that is how I feel now. Doom is upon us and Gandalf is lost. I
fall to the ground and sob bitter tears. A horrible thought comes to
me. Is it my fault? Did the stone I drop in that well cause of all
this? Did it wake the Orcs and the Balrog? Is it my fault that Gandalf
is dead? My crying turns into loud wails and Merry kneels by my side,
holds me close, and his tears join mine. I have never felt so alone, my
heart has never felt a wound like this before, never have such shame
and guilt flooded my mind.