A/N: Elvish is in italics
Over 100 reviews! Yay! I feel so happy:) Anyway, sorry for the long wait, but I've been busy with exams.
For simplicity's sake, only Gandalf (and Saruman) will be referred to as wizards. So if I say 'the wizard danced the mambo' I'm not talking about Iri or the other dimension travellers.
Sorry for the long wait, but as I've said, I've been busy (shrugs). I won't have much time to update during the summer either, so I'll probably only update once or twice this summer and focus more on editing previous chapters. Frequent updates will probably have to wait until September. Sorry about that.
Thanks for all those that reviewed, and remember, I'm still looking for a beta!
January 11, 3018 T.A.
It didn't seem to take half as long descending the mountain as it did ascending. The company, the hobbits in particular, were grateful for the gradual decrease of snow and wind and the increase in temperature. When they had finally arrived at the base of the mountain, they set up camp and decided their new path.
"I still stand by taking the route through the Gap of Rohan. It will ensure our swift arrival to Minas Tirith where not only will we and the Ring be protected, but it will also give us a position of strength to attack from."
"And I still say that that road will take us too close to Isengard and Saruman." Aragorn retorted.
"And what route do you suggest then?" Boromir asked "We were already unable to pass over the mountain."
"If we cannot pass over the mountain," Gimli said "then let us go under it. Let's go through the mines of Moria."
Gandalf contemplated what the others said for a moment, and then spoke. "Let the Ring bearer decide."
Everyone turned to a slightly uncomfortable Frodo for the final decision. "We will go through the mines."
Gandalf sighed wearily. "So be it."
Eager to start moving again (especially since a few precious days were wasted on the mountain), the fellowship continued on their way until night fall. They became even more anxious to move when they heard the howling of wargs (wolf-like animals nost of which are servants of Sauron). Finally they decided to make camp at the top of a small hill, where a small clearing which was surrounded by a ring of stone boulders lay. Since the wargs would undoubtedly be able to track them from their scent, the company lit a fire, deciding that it couldn't do any more harm.
It wasn't long before the howls became closer and louder, and the fellowship could see luminous eyes surrounding them. Finally a large warg broke from the trees and moved to the edge of the clearing, emitting a long howl as if to warn troops to be ready to attack. Gandalf stood and brandished his staff. "Listen Hound of Sauron! Gandalf is here. Fly if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you come within this ring."
The warg growled in response and with a mighty leap, sprang towards the fellowship. Few even had enough time to blink before a loud twang was heard, and the warg thudded lifeless to the ground, an elvish arrow through its throat. The watching eyes retreated, and no more howls were heard. With Boromir keeping the first watch, the company fell asleep.
Frodo woke suddenly from his slumber. From the position of the moon, he could tell that morning was fast approaching, maybe a little under an hour before sunrise. From all around a cacophony of howls rang in the night. A host of wargs had surrounded them once again, and were now attacking from every direction.
"Fling fuel on the fire!" Gandalf yelled to the hobbits who had little to no experience in these types of situations. "Draw your blades and stand back to back."
Iri watched as Aragorn thrust his sword through a warg's jugular, and then side stepped the jaws of another. Boromir wasted no time in stabbing it through its side before turning his attention to another beast. Gimli, Legolas and Gandalf were killing their fair share of the beasts as well; the twang of Legolas' bow was a constant source of noise and the pile of dead wargs by Gimli was getting larger than the dwarf responsible for it. As for Iri, though he had plenty of experience in battle so that he was alert and calm, he couldn't fight half as well with his weapons as he used to in his own world with magic. The only weapon he was good at (his bow) was out of his reach thanks to the numerous amount of wargs. But then Iri noticed that the wargs were leaving the hobbits well enough alone due to fear of the fire they had taken shelter beside. Iri concentrated on his magic and sent the fire towards a group of nearby wargs. The wolf-like creatures yelped as their fur caught fire. Panicked, they retreated and tried to stop the flames from spreading. Seeing that his attack worked. Iri continued to manipulate the fire towards their attackers. Finally, as Legolas let loose another arrow, which caught fire mid-air and pierced the heart of the wolf-chieftain, the wargs retreated and fled. Iri released control on the fire and allowed it to falter and die, feeling as if he hadn't slept in a week. Vaguely Iri noticed Sam and Pippin talking and Aragorn and Legolas scanning the area for any more foes. Iri let the others take care of things, as he lay down and instantly fell asleep.
When he next woke it was morning and all signs of the wargs were gone. Besides the scorched grass and trees, the small pools of blood and Legolas' arrows (which were in a pile at the top of the hill), none could tell that a battle had taken place a few hours ago.
"It is as I feared," Gandalf said "these were no ordinary wolfs hunting for food in the wilderness. Let us eat quickly and go!"
The fellowship quickly left, knowing that if they didn't reach Moria before sunset, they were likely to be attacked by wargs again. The sun was setting when they finally caught sight of the flat grey wall on which the entrance to Moria was hidden. Iri's appreciation of the awesome sight was slightly diminished after overhearing Boromir mumble something about being caught between wolves and the wall. That statement only seemed more likely when the company reached the Wall of Moria and could find no trace of a door.
"Dwarf doors are invisible when closed." Gimli explained, periodically taping his awe against the stone for some sign of the hidden doors.
"Yes, even so their own masters can't find them." Gandalf said. "And their location has now all but been forgotten."
"Why is that not a surprise…" Legolas muttered.
Besides shooting the elf a contemptuous look, the dwarf ignored the jab and continued his search for the elusive doors. Finally Gandalf paused at a section in the wall between two holly trees. "Ithilden, it mirrors only starlight and moonlight…"
As Gandalf spoke, the moon broke through the clouds and the reflecting light allowed the fellowship to see the shining outline of an arch decorated with ancient lettering and symbols.
"It reads," Gandalf said "the Doors of Durin, lord of Moria, speak friend and enter."
"What do you suppose that means?" Merry asked.
"Well, it's quite simple. If you are a friend you speak the password and the doors will open."
With that said, Gandalf placed his staff against the doors and started chanting in an unknown language (to Iri at least). Unfortunately nothing happened. So Gandalf tried again. He tried again using different words, different languages, different pronunciations and tones (and combinations of all of the above). Needless to say, the fellowship was waiting for some time.
While Gandalf tried (so far unsuccessfully) to open the doors, Aragorn and Sam were unloading Bill, since they couldn't take the loyal pony into the mines with them (much to Sam's displeasure). Boromir was then sorting the equipment into what they needed to take, and what they could leave behind. Legolas and Gimli stayed with Gandalf, trying to help him as much as possible by giving advice and suggestions (since the doors were made by elves and dwarves, when both species got along well). Merry and Pippin quickly became bored and restless and started competing who could throw stones the furthest into the dark lake beside them. Seeing what the two young hobbits were up to, Aragorn grabbed hold of Pippin's hand before he could complete his next toss.
"Do not disturb the water." Aragorn warned them, unable to say exactly why he felt so apprehensive about the murky depths.
Suddenly Frodo, who had stayed with Gandalf by the doors stood up, looking at the doors as if he had just noticed them there.
"It's a riddle…" Frodo muttered. "Speak friend, and enter." He turned to face Gandalf. "What's the elvish word for friend?"
Understanding crept into Gandalf's eyes as he spoke loud and clear. "Mellon."
There was the sound of heavy stone grinding against each other as the mighty doors swung open. Everyone stood up, happy to finally be able to continue on. Gandalf led the way, everyone else trailing behind as they entered the mines.
The air was stuffy and stale, making Iri dread going further if it was this bad at only a few meters into the mines.
"Soon Master Elf," Gimli began, seemingly undisturbed by the dark and creepy atmosphere "you will enjoy the fabled hospitality of the dwarves. Roaring fires! Malt beer! Red meat off the bone! This is the home of my cousin Balin, and they call it a mine! A mine!"
Iri only listened to Gimli's speech with half an ear – he could see shapes on the ground, but it was too dark to know exactly what they were. It was Boromir who first figured it out.
"This is no mine," the Gondorian stated, looking around "it's a tomb."
Iri took a closer look at his surroundings, seeing that the Gondorian was indeed correct – the shapes on the ground were the decaying bodies of slain dwarves. Legolas pulled out an orcish arrow from one of the bodies. "Yrchs!" the elf spat in disgust.
"We make for the Gap of Rohan," Boromir stated, looking around the mine warily "we should have never come here. Now get out of here! Get out!"
The hobbits, who were the closest to the exit began shuffling backwards, unsure of what to do. Before they could decide, a slimy pale green tentacle, which had slithered unnoticed from the water, made itself known by wrapping around Frodo's ankle and yanking the poor hobbit towards the water. It was Sam's startled yell which brought the others running from inside the mine. By the time they reached the hobbits, the creature had dragged Frodo to the water's edge, where Merry and Pippin had a secure grasp of their friend to prevent him going further and Sam had finally succeeded in cutting off the limb attached to his master.
Unfortunately, the creature hadn't conceded defeat yet. Only moments after Frodo was free, at least a dozen new tentacles sprang from the water, knocking everyone else back and taking the Ring-bearer once more. Iri and Legolas began shooting at the tentacles, hoping that the monster would drop the hobbit and retreat, while Aragorn and Boromir began hewing and hacking at tentacles on their way towards Frodo. Finally, Aragorn cut off the limb holding Frodo, causing the hobbit to fall into Boromir's arms.
"Into the mines!" Gandalf yelled, hoping to find some shelter from the beast. Everyone followed the command and were soon rushing into the darkness as swiftly as possible, Frodo still in the arms of the Gondorian captain.
The creatures many tentacles followed them, reaching the great doors to the mines and slamming them shut, creating a small cave-in which blocked the exit. Everyone stood silent and still for the moment, catching their breaths from the close call, until Gandalf interrupted it.
"We have now but one choice," the grey wizard said, lighting the end of his staff to give off light as he spoke "we must face the long dark of Moria. Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world."
With those words Gandalf walked off, leading the company deeper into the mines.
"Quietly now," their guide advised "it's a four day journey to the other side. Let us hope that our presence here may go unnoticed."
January 15, 3019 T.A.
This had to be Iri's least favorite part of the journey so far. While he usually had no problems with the dark, traveling for days on end with only the faint glow of Gandalf's staff as the only source of light was rather uncomfortable. Add the fact that the air was rather stale and dank (and the smell of rotting corpses didn't help), and that for the past half hour they had been stuck, since Gandalf had forgotten which way to go – well, on the whole, the ex-wizard would have preferred to be elsewhere.
Gimli seemed to be the only one enjoying their time in the mines thus far – to him Moria was an ancient and sacred place filled with secrets and treasures from his people's past, and therefore the dwarf was more than pleased to find himself within its depths.
That's not to say that the entire journey within the mines was terrible. Every now and then the fellowship would come across something from either the old dwarfish kingdom which had resided there, or from the newer settlement that Balin was trying to establish. It was interesting to see and learn about the dwarfish culture – like the first time Iri saw mithril; a metal that as far as he knew, didn't exist on Earth, but was apparently stronger than diamond but easier to craft and far more useful and rare.
Iri sighed quietly. He was bored. Presently, everyone was just sitting around while Gandalf tried to spur his memory. A flash of movement from the corner of his eye caused Iri to abruptly sit up. From the way Frodo was peering over the ledge, he wasn't the only one who had seen it. A few moments later Iri and Frodo caught sight of it again – it was a figure, about the size of a hobbit, which was using its hands and feet to leap from rock to rock, progressively making its way towards the fellowship. Iri and Frodo shared a glance before quickly making their way to Gandalf.
"There's something down there!" Frodo told the grey wizard.
"I know," Gandalf calmly replied "it's Gollum."
"Gollum?" Iri asked, trying to remember what he'd been told about the creature Bilbo had tricked and stolen the ring from.
"Yes. He's been following us for three days." Gandalf elaborated.
"He escaped the dungeons of Barad-Dûr?" Frodo asked incredulously.
"Escaped?" Gandalf asked "Or set loose?"
Iri and Frodo were struck mute, figuring out the meanings of Gandalf's implied statement. Gandalf took the opportunity to continue talking.
"And now the Ring had drawn him here. He will never be rid of his need for it. He hates and loves the Ring, as he hates and loves himself. Sméagol's life is a sad story. Yes, Sméagol he was once called." Gandalf continued, addressing Iri's and Frodo's looks. "Before the Ring found him...before it drove him mad."
" It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance!" Frodo exclaimed, the stress from the situation bleeding into his voice.
Gandalf gave Frodo a sharp look. "Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death, and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo Baggins?"
Frodo became silent after that, thinking over the wise wizard's words and feeling properly chastised.
"Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment." Gandalf continued. "Even the very wise can not see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, before this is over, for good or ill. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many."
Feeling the weight of his destiny, Frodo sat down next to Gandalf. "I wish the Ring had never come to me." They young hobbit said sorrowfully "I wish none of this had happened."
"So do all who live to see such times," Gandalf responded, leaning towards Frodo in a supportive and grandfatherly manner "but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you also were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought."
Iri watched the scene between Gandalf and Frodo with nostalgic fondness. He could practically see himself as a teenager in Frodo's position and hear Dumbledore's advice in Gandalf's words.
While Frodo silently processed Gandalf's words and Iri became lost in old memories, the old wizard suddenly cried out in triumph.
"Ah! It's that way!" Gandalf said, indicating the right-most tunnel.
Glad to finally be moving again, the company set out once again, hopefully for the last time before leaving the mines. After about an hour long march, the fellowship found themselves within a large, cavernous room.
"Let me risk a little more light…" Gandalf murmured, increasing the glow of his staff. The extra light allowed the company to see more of the great hall they were in; the large pillars reaching further up than they could see and the beautifully carved arches. They all stood in awe of the grand sight.
"Behold! The great realm and Dwarf city of Dwarrowdelf!" Gandalf announced.
"Now there's an eye-opener and no mistake." Sam muttered to Frodo.
They shook themselves out of their stupor and began making their way through the hall. Part way there, Gimli, catching sight of an adjacent room, yelled out and ran from the company.
"Gimli!" Gandalf called, following the dwarf into the room. There, Gandalf and the others found the dwarf sobbing over a crypt. Iri looked around – there were many decaying bodies and weapons lying around. Gandalf strode forward to look at the writing upon the crypt.
"Here lies Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria." Gandalf translated. "He is dead then – it is as I feared." Ignoring Gimli's distress for the moment, the wizard handed Pippin his staff and hat before taking a large and dusty book from the grasp of a corpse.
Legolas looked around in agitation. "We must move on, we cannot linger!" The elf muttered to Aragorn, shooting an indiscernible look at the grieving dwarf. Before the ranger could reply Gandalf began reading from the book out loud.
"They have taken the bridge. And the second hall. We have barred the gates, but we cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums, drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out…They are coming."
The fellowship stood in an uncomfortable silence after hearing the ominous and disturbing last moments of the dwarves which had died.
Suddenly a loud crash breaks the silence. Iri turned around to see Pippin at the far side of the room, next to an old well and headless corpse. From Pippin's shocked and guilty expression, it was easy to figure out that the hobbit accidentally knocked the corpse's skull down the well. But as Pippin turned to face everyone, the rest of the corpse followed the skull into the well, dragging a chain and bucket along with it. The noise ricochets off of various caverns and halls, seemingly filling every nook and cranny of Moria with its loud echoes. Pippin winced with each sound.
After an endlessly tense moment, in which everyone strained to hear the sound of the enemy swarming upon them, the company relaxed and let out the breath they were holding.
"Fool of a Took!" Gandalf exclaimed, slamming the book shut and putting it down. "Throw yourself in next time, and rid us of your stupidity!" he yelled, taking back his hat and staff. The wizard hadn't even taken two steps away from the youngest hobbit before a resounding BOOM was heard.
The company froze in their shoes, straining to hear where it came from, half-hoping it was just a figment of their imagination. But sure enough, the first BOOM was then answered by two more.
The fellowship looked around in fear, as the drum beats echoed through the mines, sounding as if they came from everywhere.
"Frodo!" Sam yelled, indicating his master's dagger.
Frodo unsheathed Sting, allowing the company to see the glowing blue blade.
"Orcs!" Legolas yelled, hearing the distant battle cries of his people's enemy.
The beats of the drum were getting steadily louder and numerous. Boromir ran to the entrance of the room, looking to see how close the enemy was. The Gondorian was almost skewered by arrows for his efforts.
Aragorn dropped his torch and ran to help the other human, yelling at the hobbits as he ran. "Get back! Stay close to Gandalf!"
Boromir hurried to close the old rotting doors, announcing what he saw to the approaching ranger. "They have a cave troll!"
Legolas began throwing the two humans weapons of the fallen dwarves to use for strengthening the doors by barring them shut. The others pull out their miscellaneous weapons, preparing for the battle ahead. It isn't long before orcs begin pounding on the other side of the door, trying to get in.
"Aarrggh! Let them come!" Gimli exclaimed "There is one dwarf yet in Moria who still draws breath!"
The pounding of the enemy weakens the doors until bits of wood breaks off, leaving spaces where orcs brandish their weapons. The twang of arrows brings a few deaths to the orcs closest to the doors, where Iri, Legolas and Aragorn were shooting at the spaces in the doors that the creatures had created.
Finally, the doors were no longer able to hold back the enemy, and a swarm of orcs come rushing in. Aragorn, Iri and Legolas shot as many as possible before the enemy was upon them, but were then forced to give up their bows and join the others fighting with their swords.
Iri suddenly found himself in the middle of the battle – it was very chaotic, with orcs dying left, right and center. He knew that as much as he tried, he still wasn't that proficient with a sword and was just barely avoiding getting maimed, let alone slaying orcs at the speed the experienced members of the fellowship (a.k.a. everyone but Iri and the hobbits) were doing.
At the corner of his eye, Iri noticed an orc leading a massive cave troll from a chain into the room. The troll was so large, that in order to get in, it broke the doorway. Legolas shot it in the chest, but the troll ignored it as if he only got pricked. Its beady eyes fixed on Sam, who was frozen solid in the shadow of the large creature. But just as the troll was bringing its large club down on the hobbit, Sam dove between its legs to safety. It lumbered after the fleeing hobbit, trying to crush him underfoot when Sam was saved by Boromir and Aragorn pulling on the chain attached to the troll's collar. That only made the troll go after them instead; using a mighty swing which caught Boromir in the stomach and sent him flying across the room into a wall. Gimli was the next person to take on the troll, throwing his ax at it, where it became imbedded in the troll's large shoulder. Unfortunately, the axe didn't seem to make any impression on the troll who never faltered in trying to smash the dwarf. With much dodging and a bit of luck, Gimli was able to escape unscathed with a number of orcs taking the brunt of the troll's attack.
Iri was too distracted fighting orcs to see how Legolas fared as the troll went after him next, but he was confidant that the elven prince would not do too badly. It wasn't until the cave-troll set its sight on the hobbits that Iri was once again fully aware of it.
Merry and Pippin tried to keep Frodo from harm's way, but the troll was able to separate the ring-bearer from his companions. As the large brute advanced upon him, Frodo felt a sudden warmth fill him and brandished his blade. "For the Shire!" Frodo yelled as he leapt forward and stabbed the cave-troll in the foot. The troll reared back in pain, yelling out his fury. Frodo tried to get away as the troll sought his revenge, but was unable to avoid the spear that the troll tried to skewer him with.
The rest of the fellowship stared with stunned disbelief as Frodo was pierced. The hobbit seemed to fall in slow-motion as the troll left him for dead. No words were needed as the company advanced upon the cave-troll for retribution. The remaining orcs were taking down swiftly and carelessly, as if they were merely flies in their way. Merry and Pippin jumped on the cave-troll's back and stabbed it over and over again in the back of the neck. Unfortunately, their blades did not do much damage on the thick hide of the troll (unlike Frodo's enchanted blade). The cave-troll reached back and threw Merry across the room. The rest of the fellowship surrounded the troll, attacking with swords, arrows and in Gimli's case, an axe. Finally the troll was defeated.
They had barely waited for the troll to take its final breath before rushing towards the ring-bearer. Aragorn got there first and turned the hobbit over to see if there was anything he could do. Everyone was surprised when Frodo appeared to be not only alive, bu relatively unharmed.
"I'm alright, I'm not hurt." Frodo told everyone, trying to reassure his stunned companions.
"You should be dead!" Aragorn spoke in disbelief "That spear would have skewered a wild boar!"
"It thankfully did not skewer me," Frodo replied, panting slightly "but I still feel as though I've been caught between a hammer and an anvil." Though Frodo had not even received a scratch thanks to his gift from Bilbo, he was sure to get a nasty bruise (which the hobbit could already feel forming) and in the meantime found breathing painful.
"You take after Bilbo," Gandalf said, with a twinkle in his eye. "There is more about you than meets the eye."
Sure enough, Frodo lifted up his shirt to reveal the shirt made of mithril that he was wearing.
"Mithril!" Gimli exclaimed in shock. "You are full of surprises Master Baggins!"
Gandalf looked around wearily at the sound of approaching orcs. "We have spent too much time here. Quick, to the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm!"
The fellowship quickly grabbed there belongings and left the chamber for the great hall. They had only run a few hundred meters before they were once again surrounded by orcs, this time in far greater numbers. Though the situation seemed hopeless, the company formed a tight circle, each facing outwards with their weapons at the ready to fight to the death.
Before the snarling and leering orcs attacked, there was a loud rumble. The orcs looked around nervously as another, closer, rumble was heard, and at the end of the hall a flicker of flame could be seen. The orcs panicked and quickly fled, leaving the fellowship alone in the hall as the rumbles became increasingly louder and the fire increasingly brighter.
"What is this new devilry?" Boromir asked.
Gandalf seemed almost reluctant to admit what was steadily approaching the hall. "A Blarog – a demon of the ancient world."
Only Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn seemed to know what in the world that was – and judging from their expressions it was not something that they wanted to meet, ever.
"This foe is beyond any of you." Gandalf told them. "Run!"
The company took no time following the order as they sprinted towards the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm. When they reached the end of the hall, Gandalf stopped to let the rest of the fellowship go through first. As they ran past, the wizard stopped Aragorn with a hand on his shoulder. "Lead them on Aragorn. The bridge is near." The ranger hesitated, looking torn as to what he should do. Gandalf roughly pushed him away yelling "Do as I say! Swords are of no more use here."
The fellowship continued their trek down steep stairs, through winding paths and around missing sections, all while trying to keep ahead of the demon which was steadily gaining on them, if the rumbling growls were anything to go by.
Iri stopped as he reached a section in their path which fell away to nothing. He, along with the rest of the fellowship, found themselves on a set of stairs which would lead to the bridge of Khazad-dûm. Unfortunately, there was nothing besides a thousand meter drop on either side, an approaching Balrog from the back, and a gap of about two meters until the next section of the stairs in the front. While Iri was usually comfortable with heights, looking down at the gap and seeing no bottom whatsoever was somewhat disconcerting.
Iri's thoughts were interrupted in the form of Legolas, who hopped over the gap as if he did it everyday. The elf looked back and gave Iri an encouraging look, telling with no words that he would catch him. Iri felt his chin lift at the unspoken challenge. He had done enough life-defying stunts and been though too many near-death experiences to be afraid to now! Taking no more time Iri jumped across, landing easily on his feet beside the blond prince. Legolas gave Iri a look of surprise/amusement/exasperation, to which Iri simply raised an eyebrow.
Unfortunately a group of orcs ruined their moment by shooting at the fellowship from behind some pillars on a higher level. As Iri returned fire, Legolas caught Gandalf as he jumped over to their side of the gap. Legolas then took out his own bow to help Iri with the remaining orcs. Taking advantage of the distracted orcs, Boromir grabbed Merry and Pippin and jumped over the gap. But as the Gondorian jumped, the edge of the stairs (from the side he jumped from) crumbled and fell, making the gap grow to a three meter distance. Aragorn grabbed hold of Sam and tossed him across the gap where Boromir caught him. But as he reached for the Gimli, the dwarf swatted his hand away.
"Nobody tosses a dwarf!"
With that said, Gimli gave a mighty roar and leapt across the chasm. His feet reached the edge of the other side, but the dwarf was unable to keep his balance and began falling backwards. Legolas reached forward and yanked the dwarf to safety by his beard (much to Gimli's dismay).
Just then the loud rumblings of the Balrog became so close that the fellowship could feel the ground trembling. That caused the already crumbling stairs to deteriorate some more, once again increasing the gap, this time to a staggering 5 meters. Everyone looked across the gap in dismay – how were Aragorn and Frodo ever be able to cross that distance?
As the balrog approached more and more rocks fell due to the heavy footsteps and deep rumblings. One such falling boulder happened to hit the section of the stairs right behind where Aragorn and Frodo stood – causing their section of the stairs to have an unstable foundation and wobble dangerously.
"Hang on!" Aragorn told Frodo, getting an idea. "Lean forward!"
The slight shift in weight from the ranger and the hobbit tipped the stairs towards the others, until they were able to safely jump into the rest of the fellowship's waiting arms.
The company didn't get the time to celebrate after the near-death experience, since the Balrog was getting increasingly nearer and no matter how many orcs Iri and Legolas shot down, more seemed to take their place and make arrows rain down upon them. Finally the fellowship reached the bridge.
"Over the bridge!" Gandalf directed them, seeing a pillar of flame in the corner of his eye. "Fly!"
The company quickly ran across, not noticing that the wizard only followed them up to half-way across; choosing instead to hold his ground and calmly wait for the approaching demon.
At first the demon seemed to be nothing but a wall of fire, until a great shadow appeared within it, slowly taking shape to become a large horned demon, something which only could be imagined in your worst nightmare.
"You cannot pass!"
The wizard's words stopped everyone in their path – including the fleeing fellowship who noticed for the first time that Gandalf was not among them and was now facing the balrog on his own.
"Gandalf!" Unable to stand the thought of what could happen to his pseudo-grandfather Frodo tried desperately to return to the old wizard's side. But he was held back by Boromir who realized that there was nothing any of them could do.
"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Arnor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn!" Mithrandir yelled. The Balrog did not heed the istari's words and instead struck out at his foe with a large sword of fire. Gandalf was able to block the attack, forcing the Balrog to take a step back. Clearly displeased with his lack of progress, the demon roared out his fury to the unfazed wizard.
"Go back to the Shadow!" Gandalf tried commanding it once again.
And again the balrog ignored the wizard and stepped forward onto the bridge, this time brandishing a whip of fire. The rest of the company watched the confrontation on pins and needles – they desperately wished to help but knew that they would probably be more of a hindrance to Mithrandir than an aid. Just when they were about to run back to help Gandalf anyway, the wizard made his move.
"You shall not pass!"
With that said, Gandalf brought down his staff against the bridge sharply and with much force. His staff broke and fell from the istari's hands. A blinding wall of white flame sprang up between the wizard and the Balrog. The bridge cracked and broke from under the demon's feet, making the Blarog fall down into the abyss with a terrible cry. But as it fell, it struck out at it's foe one last time, catching Gandalf around his knees and dragging him down as well. Mithrandir vainly grasped at the rock, trying to save himself. He looked out at the rest of the fellowship.
"Fly you fools!"
And he was gone.
About reviews: I appreciate all reviews, good and bad, so keep them coming. I usually don't reply to reviews unless they contain a specific statement or question in terms of the story, so a review of just 'good job' won't get a reply (but I still appreciate them!). If you post an anonymous review that I feel I should answer, I'll post my response at the end of the next chapter. The rest, I'll reply to directly, either just before or just after I post the next chapter (that way it's easier for me to remember which reviews I already answered).
Dragon: While I agree that their wizard powers are an important part of the HP world, I don't think it would work in this story and so I won't be giving them their powers back. They'd be too strong with them; they could just make a porkey to Mount Doom, drop the ring off and be done. (I'm assuming that since the ME world has nothing like porkey, that they have nothing to defend against it/stop them from doing it). I do believe that magic is integral to their personalities as well; so they do have magic, but they just can't manipulate it. Basically they're the same with a few improvements (e.g. keener senses), with no wands and unable to do wandless magic. You are right about how they should feel more of an impact with the abrupt change in lifestyle; when I edit the earlier chapters I'll take that into consideration.
ranni: I'm going to edit the beginning chapters, hopefully it won't be so dull. And Harry is the main charater from whenever-he-ended-up-in-middle-earth on.
Lisa : Looking back, I can definitely see how you can find areas dry and boring. Eventually I'm going to go back and edit/rewrite the earlier chapters and hopefully it won't be so bad.