Lorien, - February 3019
My dear Brother
It is with equally heavy heart and hand that I write to you from the Golden Wood of Lorien, the Realm of the Lady of Light.
I promised to faithfully recount my adventures to you, and I have done so, so far as I can. Let me write to you further now of the perils that beset us in that cursed mine.
After regaining our way, Gandalf led us into the great dwarf realm of Dwarrowdelf, a magnificent city that once existed under mountains, hidden from all but the most adventurous eyes. It is bare now, and cold, and little remains of its former glory. It is a puzzle to me that such a vertically challenged folk as the dwarves could fashion such an airy place, with tremendously high ceilings and spiralling columns that seemed to reach for the heavens themselves. I posed this question to Gimli, and was rewarded with the terse reply “cherry picker and hydraulic lifts.” He would say no more than that, and in fact, seemed eager to change the subject. Pippin, eavesdropping, got quite excited over the word “cherry” and for a moment, confusion reigned as the hobbits dropped their packs and started busily mixing and rolling dough on any smooth surface. It took several minutes and finally, a sharp rap on the head from Gandalf to quiet them down. Very disappointed, they put away their baking pans and shuffled along behind us, completely crestfallen.
It seemed that we would make it through this area without incident, but as we rounded a corner, and open door caught Gimli’s eye and he bolted, ignoring our cries of “hey, whaddya think you’re doing?” We followed him into a chamber, within which rested a stone tomb. It had apparently been the site of a wake for Balin, Gimli’s kin, for there were still remnants of feasting, wine bottles, kegs and cups everywhere; even in death, the dwarves of Moria were loath to give up their libations. Blast it all – I really WOULD have had a good time here…
Gimli was most upset, and I offered him what comfort I could, while surreptitiously looking around for any unbroken bottles. I thought I saw a decanter of Courvoisier, but Aragorn swiftly scooted that away into a corner. Blasted hoarder – if he’s going to be king, he has to learn that sharing is the fastest way to make friends. Gandalf, meanwhile had pried a decrepit book out of a skeletal hand and was reading aloud. The hobbits, anticipating story time, clustered around, and Gandalf foolishly gave Pippin charge of hat and staff. (More on that in a minute). Legolas was scouting for slightly-used arrows, wiping them off with a special lint-free cloth he keeps handy for such occasions, and Aragorn was stalking around fingering his sword hilt and looking paranoid; haven’t seen him smile since I got bowled over at Hollin. Well, I wasn’t about to do pratfalls for his amusement, so that was that.
Anyway, it was no bedtime stories Gandalf was reading – it was an account of how the inhabitants of Moria had become overrun with orcs and their last stand near Balin’s tomb. Cheerful stuff. Seeing Gandalf engrossed in the story, Pippin took the opportunity to poke at a skeleton perched atop a well-like structure. The skeleton promptly fell in, which wouldn’t have been so bad, if not for the heavy chain and weight attached to it. Remember when we took Dad’s “Winged Victory” skeet-shooting trophy and tossed it out our window to see if the wings really worked? And they didn’t? And the god-awful clanging sound it made as it hit each and every rock jutting out of the wall on the way down? Magnify that by 10x, and that’s about how it sounded. I figured the wizard would make Pip disappear for good after that, but he just yelled at him for being a “Fool of a Took.” The little guy was visibly relieved – Eru knows what HE was imagining for his afterlife.
For a moment, all was quiet. Then a steady drumming sound rose up from the well, growing louder and louder until it filled the chamber, then a high-pitched chattering sound overtook it! “Orcs,” said Legolas with certainty, unslinging and stringing his bow with one motion.
We unsheathed swords once again; even Gandalf pulled out his weapon, wielding an impressive sword in one hand, staff in the other. Gimli leapt up on the tomb, growling into his beard and swinging his axe in a mighty arc. Massive forearms on that guy. I booked it for the door, and peering out, almost got my nose pierced by an orc arrow; but not before I saw their secret weapon – a cave troll. Freakin’ great for our first time out as a battle unit, huh? Aragorn and I barred the door with axes, then took up our spots and waited…
Breaking the door down with sheer numbers, they swarmed in like hornets; deformed, green-skinned, slobbering and surprisingly well-armed. Legolas and Aragorn managed to pick off several in the first wave, but they kept coming. We plunged in, and the fight was on! Even the hobbits got into the action, Sam swinging his pans left and right, while Merry and Pippin plunged their little daggers into whatever came their way. Frodo did what he could, but it soon became obvious that the cave troll had it out for him, and he retreated to a spot behind a column; a near fatal mistake, brother. He called for Aragorn’s aid (and for that matter, why does no one call to ME for aid?)The troll managed to spear him in the chest, a mortal blow. He crumpled, and even Aragorn could not deflect the blow, nor was anyone else near enough.
With the ringbearer apparently dead, the rest of us threw ourselves even more gustily into the fray. I will never forget looking up and seeing Merry and Pippin atop the troll’s head, driving their daggers into his skull, tears rolling down their faces.
Legolas finally brought him down with well-placed arrows to the throat. It toppled down, cracking and splintering the floor underneath it.
Aragorn crawled over to Frodo and found that miraculously he was still alive. How, you might ask? It seems a certain mithril shirt made its way from Bilbo Baggins’s hand to his nephew’s. He is perhaps better equipped than any of us had heretofore dreamed.
But there was no time to admire pretty things, even though Gimli could have no doubt feasted his eyes on the gleaming silver across Frodo’s chest for hours more. We had to get moving, for more were coming. We still had a bridge to cross.
We bolted out the door, but at the last moment Aragorn turned back. Had he left any orcs unslain? No. He returned swiftly, stuffing under his coat a dusty brown bottle and two slightly chipped brandy snifters. He caught me looking at him, and smiled slightly, nodding conspiratorially at me.
I think I see a drink or two in my future after all.
I will finish this missive soon, Faramir. There is more to tell and I must get what little rest my mind allows me. I dream of Gondor, of the White Tower and the dreams do not permit me much sleep. I wish to post these last thoughts from Lorien, as I have been told that there are precious few postal boxes between here and Mordor.
Your loving Brother