Moria – January 3019
Ah, Brother Mine
When last we met, in word at least, I was anticipating a warm seat, roast meat and dark ale in the company of my good friend Gimli’s family line. Alas, it was not to be. Many fell deeds and dark adventures have befallen us since I sealed that note…but I best tell you these events in order, so that you may better understand where I find myself now.
We gathered ourselves and advanced into the dark tunnel that lay beyond the door of Durin. Gimli’s excitement was contagious, and even Legolas had to smile at the dwarf’s upbeat mood, a rare sight indeed. However, no sooner had we all gotten inside than a sickening crunch underfoot warned me that all was not as we had hoped. The stench was unreal – I had thought nothing could be more foul than your gym shorts after rugby practice – but this, this was unmistakable. Glancing about, sick at heart, I spoke first –“This is no mine. This is a tomb.” As Gandalf shone his light along the wall, the rotting remains of the line of Balin dripped their life’s blood along the cracks and in rivulets onto the floor, which was liberally sprinkled with bones. Gimli cried aloud, and Legolas pulled an arrow out of a skull and sniffing it, spat out “goblins!” That word served to galvanize our forces, and with drawn swords and bows, we prepared for the onslaught.
Again, I urged them. “We make for the gap of Rohan…we should never have come here.”
No sooner had I spoken then a scream rent the foul air and cries of “Aragorn, Aragorn!” rang in my ears. Spinning about, we found that a big mean nasty water serpent-thing had grabbed Frodo and was dragging him back out the door towards the water. The hobbits were desperately hacking away at any available tentacle, and managed to free him once - only to have it lash out and grab him again…and this time it flung him far up. It reminded me of the bungee jump we did off the tower at home; that sickening drop, then the rush back up. I felt like vomiting just watching him; can’t imagine he felt any better. Anyway, Aragorn and I worked on whatever we could reach, Gimli slashing at the lower parts. It reared out of the water, hissing at us, and blast, was it ugly! Legolas took that opportunity to drive an arrow into its throat, which finally did the trick. Frodo dropped like a stone into my arms, still gasping and retching. We scrambled for the door, followed by the monster. Throwing its weight against the stone, it managed to destroy the door, effectively sealing us in the mine.
We had no choice but to make our way into the tunnel. The air was dank and the way dark. Lit only by Gandalf’s staff, Aragorn’s Bic and the hobbits fluorescent light sticks, we moved on.
After a while, we stopped for a rest and to stretch our legs. I thought we were just getting a breather, but as it turns out, we were lost. Word of advice – never trust an old man who says, “Wizards have no compass. Wizards need no compass.” Obviously not a Hogwart’s graduate, hey?
Gimli sat and stared at the ground, despondent. He was a bit cheered when Aragorn offered him a pipe, and soon a small funnel of smoke could be seen, but no trace of man or dwarf. Guess they never got the “Tobacco Kills” lecture in health class. Legolas went back to his yoga, this time standing on his head. I find it amazing that his hair stays always in place, unbuffeted by wind, snow or slime. (Do these elves have EVERY contingency covered?) The hobbits were hungry, as usual. I could hear Pippin whining that he was sick of apples and that now, on account of Gimli’s promises, he was fixated on meat. Merry, exasperated, offered to roast him an orc head lying nearby, and soon the cavern was ringing with cries of “gross!” This exchange led to a “what’s grosser than gross?” contest which, having nothing better to do, I joined in on. And let me tell you; for innocents having led a sheltered life, they have surprisingly fertile imaginations. Yuck.
Frodo was chatting with Gandalf, another black lung candidate, but since he’s probably immortal, what does he care? After getting booted out of the gross-out contest on the final round (I won’t tell you what finally won – you don’t want to know), I wandered up near them, hoping to get a rousing conversation going about something-anything-, but as I neared I heard them talking about fate, pity, free will and other things I didn’t care to contemplate at this moment. So I went back and played Yahtzee with the hobbits.
Soon, Gandalf stood up and with a smile, said, “this way.” He must have had either some sort of flash or else someone slipped him a compass on the side. He claimed that the air smelled less foul that way. Sure, sure.
I think we were all glad to get moving again – I was itching (literally) to be out of that close atmosphere, and my fondest wish at that point was to breathe fresh air again. Between the decomposing flesh, pipe smoke and our general unwashed state, I was ready to pass out. The steam baths at Rivendell seemed very far away then….
But on. Thus far it has been quiet, as Gandalf had hoped. We hear nothing ourselves except each other’s footfalls. I am hoping that nothing worse than a mutant octopus lurks and waits for us in this dismal place.
I will write further when I have more time. My pen runs dry, and somehow I don’t think Aragorn is willing to part with his hi-liter, as there is not a Staples Superstore for many leagues.
My fondest to you, little brother. May this find you in good health and in the arms of a buxom tavern wench, or her sister…