Lorien – February 3019
I now take pen in hand once more to finish my tale of the journey through Moria that has led us to here, to Caras Galadrhon, City of Trees.
The battle of Balin’s tomb was not the last we would see of foul orcs and worse in that mine. As we fled the chamber, it became obvious that the entire orc population of Moria was now aware of our presence. As we made for the bridge of Khazad Dum, an army of orcs that would make the Dark Lord proud beset us. They seemed to come out of the cracks in the floor, scrambling down the columns, converging in an enormous pack. As I stood surrounded, I had the strangest feeling of déjà vu…I could not shake it.
So I closed my eyes… and I was transported back to our first apartment on Wannabe Street. Remember when we moved the fridge and that army of roaches swarmed out? They were big, ugly and nasty, too. The resemblance was startling and I had the same urge to lift my boot and stomp; however, the roaches were not armed, as I recall – and these creatures were. Blast. Why can nothing go as planned on this trip?
So there we were- surrounded – outnumbered – and highly annoyed. It looked bleak for the Fellowship. But then, a new sound echoed through the hall; a hissing, crackling sound like an old radiator about to go on the fritz. The orcs screeched and took off running, evaporating back into the ground. (I actually wished I had my camcorder – it would have been an unbelievable shot for the folks back home; reminiscent of ILM (Ithilien Life-Size Monsters) in the good old days.
“What is this new devilry,” I hissed in Gandalf’s ear. He was scrunching his eyes tightly and concentrating so hard, I feared Sam’s sausages were having an adverse effect on him and he would soon soil his robe. Then an eerie orange light filled the hall, and it suddenly grew appreciably warmer. Gandalf’s eyes flipped open; he expelled an enormous breath and shouted “RUN!” And we did, the hobbits putting on a speed I would not have imagined them capable of, except as a response to a call for dinner. Gandalf was last; I can only imagine what must be going through his mind – not to mention his system.
We made it to the bridge with little time to spare, for behind us now thundered a creature that I had only read about in our old book, “Fantastical Myths, Monsters and other Mistakes of Iluvatar.” Turns out Legolas had a copy of that same tome in his ***** pack and gave us a name for it; BALROG – A-Fire-Demon-Of-Morgoth. As if that piece of information wasn’t bad enough, the bridge had been under construction when the dwarves got wiped out, and thus, never finished; a large, very important piece was missing. No signs, no nothing. The only flashing orange light I was aware of had feet and was chasing us!
Well, Elrond did say every day would be an adventure.
Legolas jumped first, being the lightest on his feet (no, not that way – I don’t think…), And called for Gandalf to jump next, which the old man did, with surprising agility for one of his years. Next up was myself; as I prepared to jump, Merry and Pippin leapt upon me, screaming that I had promised them a piggyback ride, and now was time to keep said promise. Their timing is freakin’ unreal. Sam was next, stalwartly suffering the indignity of being picked up and heaved across the chasm like a sack of potatoes. Gimli got a running start and vaulted across of his own accord. A slight miscalculation nearly made him an orc lunchable, but Legolas was able to grab hold of Gimli’s beard and yank, much to Gimli’s dismay. It seems that touching a dwarf’s facial growth without express permission is grounds for an interracial smackdown, which we had no time for this day. Perhaps later.
Which left Aragorn and Frodo. The simple thing would have been for Aragorn to pick up Frodo and jump, like I had to. But noooo. More rock crumbled and broke off, due in no small part to the approaching fire demon. So now the expanse was impassable, the remainder of the pass shaky and the scene set for heroic doings by the would-be future king. I swear, someone is setting me up.
The bridge was swaying back and forth. Frodo looked terrified and Aragorn grim. (So what else is new?) Then they started rocking back and forth and high-stepping. I personally thought it was a bad time to start doing the macarena, but people comfort themselves in all kinds of different ways. Why NOT dance in the face of sure death?
It was a moment of revelation for me, Faramir. By all accounts, the possibility of the heir apparent to our kingdom falling to a terrible death should have filled me with glee…but instead I found myself hoping that he would be able to pull it off; though I was initially puzzled by the dance steps. I soon realized that his plan was to force the rock to fall forward, thus enabling he and Frodo to make it to our side. The fact that he was shaking his booty while firing off arrows at wayward orcs who had decided to use our little band for target practice impressed me. I know you are thinking that I was just loath to lose the smuggled brandy, but that wasn’t (entirely) it. Fighting side by side with a man, you either gain respect for him, or lose it entirely. And I have to say; he kicked major butt in Balin’s tomb. Maybe, just maybe, he would make a good king….
Much to our shared relief, they made it and we scurried for the last bridge that would hopefully lead us out of Moria. Along the way, we made one wrong turn and nearly plunged to our deaths, but soon righted ourselves and hurried on. The Balrog was hot on our trail (get it?) but we still had hope that we would escape death by barbecue and continue on.
But alas, my brother, it was not meant to be.
Gandalf was the last to cross the final bridge. He turned mid-stride and faced down the thing that pursued us. It was like nothing I had ever seen, Far…enormous, black, winged, wreathed in flame. I could feel its rage and evil washing over us, and Aragorn and I clutched the hobbits close as we stared in fear and unwilling fascination at this monstrosity. Legolas was murmuring something under his breath – whether a prayer or a spell, I could not tell you. The flames reflected off Gimli’s mighty axe until all was bathed in fire; this was as close to hell as I ever wish to come, brother.
Face to face they stood, the Balrog with his flaming whip, Gandalf wielding his staff and the weapon they call Glamdring, the Foe Hammer. Gandalf blasted the creature with light from his crystal, which held a magical flame of some sort-then, when that didn’t work, he switched to the disco-ball setting, which blinded us but did little for the ‘Rog. When that failed as well, he brought out a small boom box and blasted the monster with selections from Robert Goulet’s Vegas act. Still, the thing did not fall, though it did cover its ears Finally, the wizard brought both sword and staff smashing down on the narrow stone passageway and screamed something that sounded to me like “I have bad gas!” (I have since learned that he actually said, “You shall not pass! but since these are MY recollections…)
With that utterance, stone crumbled and the Balrog fell, plunging back into the depths of the mountain where it had slept these past ages. Gandalf then paused, as if shocked that he had pulled it off. That was his final mistake; for the whip of the Balrog cracked one last time and caught the wizard around the ankle, dragging him over the precipice. Frodo screamed “No!” and in that moment, all was lost. Gandalf was dragged over the edge and I had to scramble to keep Frodo from slipping under my arm and throwing himself after Gandalf.
That is one thing I do not need on my CV; “Lost Ringbearer in Moria because said Ringbearer was slippery as an eel and the Steward of Gondor couldn’t hold on.” I don’t need to give Dad any more ammunition. He already thinks this trip was just an excuse to party without his supervision.
With arrows flying, we beat feet away from the scene, and finally managed to exit that god-forsaken place and breathe fresh air once again. The hobbits were despondent over the loss of Gandalf, and shed many tears for their mentor. I felt so for them; they never imagined anything like this, even in their wildest dreams. Merry and Pippin clung to each other and even my promise to buy them dinner and two desserts apiece at the next pub we came to failed to cheer them. Sam wept with Legolas’s hand patting his shoulder and Frodo was a forlorn figure, tears cutting tracks through the soot on his face. Aragorn ordered us to get them up, get them moving, for we still had long to go before we reached the woods of Lothlorien, where I sit now. It seemed cruel to force them, but since none of us were up for another orc onslaught, we obeyed.
It was a bitter time, Brother, and I fear this is just the beginning; the path will grow darker, the road more perilous, and the Enemy more bold. I will not dare write much more, less these posts fall into the wrong hands…besides, postage has gone up to .37 a stamp and the air mail rates are even worse! My loan from Frodo was lost in Moria, during a particularly high-stakes game of Boggle, so I’m in dire financial straits. My army pay just isn’t cutting it these days. Work on Dad for a cost of living increase, will you? You’re the persuasive one.
And it would not kill you to write back, either. We’ll be staying in Lorien for a few more days, so pick up a pen and scratch a few lines to your older brother, all right? Here’s the address:
Tent of Boromir of Gondor
C/O Celeborn, Lord O’ Light
Flet #17, Spruce Lane
Lothlorien Proper, Middle Earth
Your loving Brother