Hi! I'm bonnie Celt, and this is my first fanfiction that I've ever really shared with anyone, so I hope ya'll like it. Please send me comments, suggestions, and reviews; I'm not sure how far I want this to go. Should Aurora (my OC) stay only until the end of the Fellowship of the Ring or should she stay through the end of The Return of the King? Anyway, here it is, like it or not! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own the LOTR trilogy, or anything connected to it. The decendants of J.R.R. Tolkien have that honor.
Aurora was tired; not just tired, but exhausted. She had had a rough day at school that day, what with two tests and a quiz to take. Then there was the teasing, taunting, and the general obnoxiousness of her classmates toward her.
Aurora, who was eighteen, five foot three inches, and had straight brown hair that fell to the small of her back and brown almond-shaped eyes, was getting ready to graduate. Unfortunately, she was not well liked at school. She had moved to California from the rural suburbs of Richmond, Virginia, and her simple, Southern ways were not particularly accepted by the snobbish students of Summer Valley, California. They were fifty miles away from Hollywood, but the kids still thought that they were above everyone else, living that "close" to celebrities. While they were born practically in Hollywood, she was born in Richmond, once the capital of the South. This was probably the main reason she was looked down upon; her consistent use of "ya'll" and other Southern or otherwise un-Californian words and phrases did not endear her to them either. She just had to keep telling her self that it was just for this year. By next year, she would be graduated and gone to college. Anything to get away from them.
Aurora was also very different in her interests as well. Most of the teens cared about the latest cell-phone, I-pod, going to the mall, and having a boy or girlfriend. While most girls were all into the latest fashion trend (even if it was hideous in reality), Facebook, and boys, Aurora could really care less about such things. At school, most of her classmates could not wait for the bell to ring so they could get home, to their friends' house, or to the mall. Aurora, on the other hand, loved to learn. One of her favorite classes was history, especially anything from the Wild West and earlier. She loved to learn about the Civil and Revolutionary Wars because some of her ancestors were in them. She was distantly descended from Benjamin and William Henry Harrison, Patrick Henry, and Jefferson Davis, all who made history around her home town of Richmond. She also loved Ancient Old World history; the older, the better. She also loved literature, and one of her favorite time periods to read about was the Middle Ages (mostly stuff like the King Arthur legends and "The Lady of Shallot").
In October, at the "Masked Ball" Halloween party at school, Aurora had gone in a green velour Medieval- styled gown, with huge, draping sleeves and a gold cord belt to match the trim on the neck line, hem, and sleeves. She had worn a simple gold-painted mask with cording around the edge to match. While she though at least this would seem like a natural choice, she was still scoffed at for being a history nerd. She was mocked all night for pretending to be Lady Guinevere or the Lady of Shallot.
Only one student did not make fun of her that night. A new girl, Scarlett, who was from Atlanta, Georgia, had moved to Summer Valley the week before. She loved Aurora's costume and thought it was perfect for a masked ball. Of course she came in a Southern belle costume, complete with huge hooped skirt, and a thoroughly Southern accent. The only way she had been able to get away with her costume without ridicule was the fact everyone knew the movie Gone with the Wind. Everyone thought it was a bit of a joke, what with her being from Atlanta and her name being Scarlett. However, from that night on, she was nicknamed "O'Hara", and people would ask how things were "back at Tara". Scarlett just took it all in her stride; she would smile and reply, "Things are goin' just fine, thank ya'll for askin'."
Being the only two Southerners for hundreds of miles made Scarlett and Aurora automatic friends, even though they had different interests, were in different classes and could only see each other at softball practice. Neither of them were great athletes, but for some reason Coach Knight let them both on the team, much to the disappointment of their team-mates.
It was now April, and Coach Knight was working them all hard to get them ready for their first game. After softball practice, Aurora had said good-bye to Scarlett and immediately headed to Summer Valley Stables for her afternoon job of cleaning horse stalls, grooming and feeding horses, and taking them out to the pastures. Mucking out stalls may be a crumb job, but the work mercifully paid for her to continue the horseback riding lessons she had started in Virginia. Aurora loved horses. She always had, as far back as she could remember. Her favorite horse was a light brown and white paint with a white face called Rain. The mare had such a sweet and gentle spirit, although she did have a little bit of spunk sometimes. She was often used when young children were learning to ride because she would behave when she sensed an eager, but cautious little rider on her back. Her trainer was a young Indian named Ray, one of the stable hands. He was quiet and he went about his work without ever a word of complaint about anything, unlike the other hand, Norman, who complained about everything. Ray was probably Aurora's only true friend even though they didn't get to talk much because of their work.
When her chores were over, Aurora immediately got ready for a ride. She always rode Rain when she could, but when she couldn't, she rode a chestnut named Rigel, who had a white star on his forehead.
As she put Rigel's tack on him she told the stallion about her wearisome day at school. Aurora often talked to the horses when she groomed or saddled them. She found it comforting to be able to tell someone about her troubles, and the horses never scolded her or anything. Rigel and Rain would just listen, often almost seeming to understand. When she finished saddling Rigel, she said, "Enough pity-partying; are you ready for a ride?" Aurora gracefully mounted the stallion and directed him to one of the empty pastures where they could gallop freely. As they raced across the grass, Aurora felt all of her troubles lift from her shoulders and her weariness disappear from her body. She felt so alive and free and joyous as she and Rigel cantered across the plain. This was when she felt truly happy.
After her ride, Aurora led Rigel back to his stall, and groomed him once she had removed his tack. "Thanks for the ride today, Rigel. That was fun wasn't it?" she whispered to the horse as she got ready to leave. Rigel whinnied at her, and she laughed as she gave him a carrot, his favorite treat. When Aurora left his stall, Rigel neighed after her. She immediately stroked his long nose. "Don't worry, boy. I'll be back tomorrow." She assured him as she kissed his nose and left for home.
After dinner, Aurora did her homework, slipped into her nightgown. She was rather traditional, rarely wearing pants except for yard work and riding. She preferred old fashioned culottes (1800's riding skirts) and skirts to jeans. As she settled under her blankets, she turned her Native American flute CD on to help her fall asleep. For some reason, her last thoughts before falling asleep were about the new movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, she and Scarlett had watched the first half of two nights ago at Scarlett's house during their slumber party. They were to finish the second half tomorrow night at Aurora's slumber party. "I wonder what happens next?" she thought dreamily as she finally drifted off.
Aurora woke in the middle of the night freezing cold. She shivered as she pulled her thin blanket tighter around her. "Why is it so cold?" she thought. Then she realized something light and cold was falling on her face, and something was damp beneath her. When Aurora opened her eyes, she couldn't believe what she saw. She was outside and there was snow all around her. Suddenly, the wind picked up and soon it became a blizzard. Aurora knew her only hope was to find some kind of shelter and pray she made it through the night. She thought perhaps she could find a village, but that hope was soon dashed when she realized she was on a mountain pass. She wrapped up in her blanket, and trudged through the snow, vainly hoping that the far side was near. A great warmth and sleepiness threatened to overcome her as she soon grew tired of her snowy march. She pushed on, however, knowing that to stop now would mean her death. Just when Aurora thought she could go no further, even if it mean freezing to death, she thought she saw a golden glow, a flickering light, in the darkness ahead, as if a fire was burning. Without even thinking, she trudged toward the light, hoping it meant people and a warm fire. As she neared it, she half expected it to disappear as a figment of her imagination, but it didn't. Aurora saw what appeared to her exhausted eyes to be four men and five children. Or maybe the one with the red around his face is a really short man with a beard, she thought blearily. Aurora staggered up to them.
"Please…let me come near…..please...help…" she gasped out before collapsing. The last thing she remembered was three of the men bending over her, one of them looking vaguely familiar.
The Fellowship of the Ring traversed up the snowy mountain pass for hours before they finally stop in the shelter of a cliff for the night. The Fellowship was comprised of nine companions on a secret quest. There was the old wizard, Gandalf the Grey, with his long grey beard, grey robes, blue pointy hat and a gnarled staff. Then there were two men, Aragorn, a Ranger of the north, and Boromir, captain of Gondor and son of its Steward. Legoles of Mirkwood was an elf, and Gimli, son of Gloin was a dwarf. The last four of the Company were Hobbits of the Shire: Frodo Baggins (the Ringbearer) and his childhood friends, Samwise Gamgee (known as Sam), Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), and Peregrin Took (called Pippin). As the temperature dropped, it became clear that a fire was necessary for the Fellowship's survival through the coldest part of the night. So, a fire was made from the wood each of the nine comrades had carried with them up the mountain, although it took the wizard Gandalf using magic to finally get the fire lit.
"If there are any to see, at least I am revealed to them." Gandalf said as a spout of blue-green flame sprang out, and the wood flared and sputtered. "I have written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin."
The snow continued to fall, and the night grew colder still. As the last pieces of wood were tossed on the fire, Aragon commented, "The night is getting old. The dawn is not far off."
"If any dawn can pierce these clouds." replied Gimli gloomily. Boromir looked up at the blackness.
"The snow is growing less," he said, "and the wind is quieter." Just then, a small bundled figure emerged from the darkness. As it approached, they realized it was a person. It muttered something to them before it collapsed wearily in the snow. Legolas, Aragorn, and Boromir jumped up to help whoever it was wrapped up in some kind of cloth. As they pulled the layers away from the person's face, Boromir could not help but notice how thin the blanket was and wondered who would be wandering in the mountains at night with so little to ward off the cold. Suddenly they all gasped as the face was revealed. It was a girl! She had a pale face and dark hair. Aragorn quickly picked her up and set her down near the fire. Gandalf could not believe it either.
"What in the world would bring a lass like this out on such a night?" Gandalf murmured as he examined her. "She has been wandering long and hard this night. She is utterly exhausted. Look at the dark circles beneath her eyes and the cuts on her feet from stumbling on hidden stones."
"What?" cried Gimli.
"This poor girl has been walking in the snow barefoot, probably for a good portion of the night." Aragorn replied sadly.
Boromir couldn't believe it. How long had this girl walked through the snow and why? Anyone with sense would never have left home on a night like this. He gently pushed a strand of damp hair away from the girl's face.
She only looked about sixteen or seventeen. Who was she?
All through this, the hobbits watched sleepily from where they were huddled up against the cold. They were equally curious and concerned for the girl, but they had come a long way today and were very tired.
Boromir found a spare blanket and draped it over the girl's small frame. Then he sat down with his back against the wall nearby. All of the Fellowship were tired; the climb they had made had been laborious, but, mercifully, they were headed back down in the morning. As they all got a few more hours sleep, no one noticed the girl begin to murmur restlessly in her sleep and her temperature begin to rise. Within the next two hours, she began to toss and turn. As her temperature continued to get higher, she eventually fell into a deep sleep.
The Fellowship woke at dawn and began to prepare for their climb back down the mountain. Boromir leaned over and gently shook the girl's shoulder to wake her, but she did not respond. He noticed the blankets were all tangled as if she had tossed and turned restlessly in her sleep, but he had not heard a sound during the last few hours. Her face seemed flushed but he thought it had something to do with the early light. Then he reached out and touched her face.
"Aragorn, Gandalf, come quickly!" he cried.
"What is it Boromir?" Aragorn asked, knelling down on the girls other side. Gandalf stood over them, concern written on his face.
Boromir replied "Feel her, Aragorn. I am certain she has a fever." Everyone could hear worry in his voice. Aragorn laid his hand on her forehead, and nodded
"You are right," He confirmed. "She is burning up. We should leave quickly. There is little I can do for her here."
"Will she be alright?" Frodo asked.
"If we can get her down off this mountain where Aragorn can treat her properly, yes, she will be alright." Gandalf soothed the hobbit's worrying.
Gimli looked up and shook his head. "Caradhras not forgiven us," he said. "He has more snow yet to fling at us, if we go on. The sooner we go back down the better."
Everyone agreed, but their retreat would prove difficult. Only a few feet from the remains of their fire, the snow was many feet deep. There were great drifts and much of it was piled against the cliff. Legolas suggested that Gandalf go in front with a flame and melt a path, but Gandalf said that he had to have something to work with. He could not burn snow.
"Well," said Boromir, "when heads are at a loss bodies must serve, as we say in my country. The strongest of us must seek a way."
"Then let us force a path hither, you and I!" said Aragorn. Boromir led the way, and Aragorn followed him. Slowly they moved off, and were soon struggling. In places the snow was chest-high, and Boromir, the shorter of the two, seemed to be swimming or burrowing rather than walking.
The others waited huddled together, watching until Boromir and Aragorn dwindled into black specks in the whiteness. Legolas had gone ahead of the two men, running lightly on the top of the snow. An hour, maybe, passed, though it seemed for longer, then at last they saw Legolas coming back. At the same time, Boromir and Aragorn reappeared around the bend far behind him and came laboring up the slope. Legolas brought the good news of a great drift just beyond the bend being only the width of a wall and quickly diminishing to a "white coverlet to cool a hobbit's toes."
"Ah, it is as I said," growled Gimli. "It was no ordinary storm. It is the ill will of Caradhras. That drift was laid to cut off our escape."
"But happily your Caradhras has forgotten that you have Men with you." said Boromir, who came up just then. "We have thrust a lane through the drift; and for that all here may be grateful who cannot run as light as Elves."
"But how are we to get down there, even if you have cut the drift?" said Pippin, voicing the thought of all the hobbits.
"Have hope!" said Boromir. "Aragorn and I will bear the little folk, the others no doubt will make shift to tread the path behind us. Come, Master Peregrin! I will begin with you." He lifted up the hobbit and strode forward. Aragorn and Merry came behind. When they finally reached the far side of the great drift, Merry and Pippin were set down, and they wait for the rest of the Company to arrive as Legolas went back for the girl.
After a while, Boromir returned carrying Sam. Behind in the narrow but now well-trodden track came Gandalf, leading Bill the pony with Gimli perched among the baggage. Last Aragorn came carrying Frodo, and Legolas carrying the girl. They passed through the lane; but hardly had Frodo touched the ground when with a deep rumble there rolled down a fall of stones and slithering snow. When the air cleared of the blinding spray they saw that the path was blocked behind them.
"Enough, enough!" cried Gimli. "We are departing as quickly as we may! The threat of snow lifted; the clouds began to break and the light grew broader. They found that the snow became steadily more shallow as they went down, so that even the hobbits could trudge along. Soon they all stood once more on the flat shelf at the head of the steep slope where they had felt the first flakes of snow the night before. Aragorn knelt down, filled a rag with snow, and gave it to Boromir, who was now carrying the girl, to use as a cold compress.
"We must go down once." said Gandalf, "Not even on the knees of Caradhras will we wait for another night-fall!"
A cold wind flowed down behind them, as they turned their backs on the Redhorn Gate and stumbled wearily down the slope. Caradhras had defeated them.
It was evening, and the light was fading fast when the Fellowship finally made camp for the night. They were all weary. Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas had taken turns carrying the girl, as they feared she would be too much for their already burdened pony. They had continued to bath her neck and face when they could in an effort to cool her burning body, but it seemed in vain, as she had never stirred in her sleep all day. Aragorn was beginning to worry in earnest about whether or not he could bring her fever down. He gently laid her down in the grass, and began to unwrap her from the blankets, then froze. He looked confused, and blushed.
"What is it, Aragorn?" Gandalf asked.
Gandalf had rarely seen him seem so chagrined. "She's what?"
"She's wearing a nightgown." Aragorn replied awkwardly, looking up at him.
"What?" the hobbits chorused.
"It would seem that our young friend decided to brave the mountain pass in nothing but a thin blanket and her nightclothes." Gandalf replied.
"Perhaps she was desperate to get a message over the mountain." Gimli suggested.
Boromir scoffed "Wearing that?"
"Like I said." Gimli answered, "Maybe she was desperate and hadn't a moment to lose.
Gandalf shook his head. "If she really intended to cross the mountains in the night, she would have worn better clothes, a cloak, shoes, and brought a lantern with her." said Gandalf. "No, she never intended to be there, yet, for some reason, she was. There is something strange at work here."
"Indeed." agreed Legolas. He helped Aragon arrange the blankets in order to maintain her modesty, but still allow them to be able to bath her face, neck, and arms with cool cloths. Gimli and Sam began to prepare a meal while Merry and Pippin went to refill their water skins. Boromir and Legolas watched the girl while Gandalf and Aragorn held a whispered conversation a few feet away.
Boromir laid a hand on the girl forehead, gave a sigh of relief. Her temperature had dropped noticeably, though the fever had not entirely left her. As he brushed her brown hair away from her face, he found himself wondering what color her eyes were. Were they blue, or green, or brown like her hair? Wait a minute, why was he thinking such things?
After they all had eaten, Gandalf called a council.
"We cannot, of course, go on again tonight," he said. "The attack on Redhorn Gate has tired us out, and we must rest here tonight, if not only for our sakes, but for the sake of our young guest."
"And then where are we to go?" asked Frodo.
"We still have our journey and our errand before us," answered Gandalf. "We have no choice but to go on, or to return to Rivendell."
Pippin's face brightened visibly at the mere mention of returning to Rivendell; Merry and Sam looked up hopefully. Frodo looked troubled.
"I wish I was back there," he said. "But how can I return without shame—unless there is indeed no other way, and we are already defeated?"
"You are right, Frodo," said Gandalf: "to go back is to admit defeat, and face worse defeat to come. If we go back now, then the Ring must stay there: we shall not be able to set our again."
"Then we must go on, if there is a way," said Frodo with a sigh. Sam sank back into gloom.
"There is a way that we may attempt," said Gandalf. "I thought from the beginning, when first I considered this journey, that we should try it." Gandalf then told them about the Mines of Moria. Only Gimli lifted up his head; a smouldering fire was in his eyes. On all the others a dread fell at the mention of that name. Even to the hobbits it was a legend of vague fear. Neither Aragorn, Boromir, or Legolas wanted to go into Moria, but Gimli was completely with Gandalf. When he was asked for his opinion, Frodo suggested that no vote be taken until they had all slept on it. Then they heard a very soft sigh. They quickly turned around to find the girl was watching them with weary, troubled eyes.
"She awake!" sang Merry and Pippin excitedly. Gandalf told them to be quiet as Aragorn knelt beside her and felt her forehead.
"Her fever has broken!" he said happily. Boromir knelt down beside him with a smile on his face. They had all been worried about her succumbing to the fever.
"How do you feel, dearheart?" Gandalf softly asked her as he sat down on her other side. "You have had us worried about you all day."
The girl just stared at them all with fear in her huge brown eyes.
When Aurora woke, she felt quite warm although her bed seemed to be filled lumps. Why did she feel so weak? Then she heard male voices not far from her. Why was that? Suddenly she remembered her midnight trek on a strange snowy mountain. Then she remembered finding the group of people with a fire. She had tried to ask for help, but she couldn't remember anything beyond that.
She could tell that it was nearly dark, and she could smell a fire and something else she couldn't put a name to. She then decided to face whoever it was who had her. She took a deep breath and let it out softly. She opened her eyes, and it took everything in her to keep from screaming at the sight that met her eyes. She was surrounded by the most peculiar strangers she had ever seen.
They were all men and boys in strange attire. Two of the boys shouted out "She's awake!" as if they knew her. One of the men immediately knelt beside her and laid a cool hand on her head. He had dark hair, a close beard, and kind blue eyes. He told the others that her fever had broken. What fever? Was that why she felt so weak? This man seemed familiar to Aurora, but she couldn't say why. In fact, the four boys seemed familiar too, as well as the elderly man with a long silver beard who sat next to her and asked how she felt. He said that she had had them worried about her all day. Why were they worried about her? Was it the fever she had apparently had? Another man with light brown hair and a beard knelt beside the dark haired one. He had a smile that spoke of relief. All Aurora could do was stare at the strangers. Who were these people and what did they want with her?
When the girl did not say anything, Gandalf reached out to comfort and reassure her, but she drew away, clearly frightened and confused.
"It's alright," he said. "We only want to help you." She still said nothing. He just smiled at her. "Perhaps you would like something to eat. I'm sure you must be hungry by now. Sam!" he called. "Is there some stew left or did you hobbits finish off the last of it?"
"Yes, sir, we left some! We were hoping she would wake up soon." Sam replied, hurriedly filling a small bowl which he quickly brought to Aragorn. With a "beggin' your pardon, miss.", he and Gandalf helped her to sit up against the boulder she was lying by. Aragorn offered her some stew, but she hesitated in eating it. However, it seemed her hunger won the upper hand over her fear and she took a bite.
"See, we aren't going to hurt you." said Aragorn. He offered another spoonful, which she took. Within a few minutes, she had eaten it all. "I am glad to see you eating this soon after your fever broke." he commented. "You should recover quickly now." Just then, Boromir brought one of the water bottles over, which he passed to Aragorn. "Here, you should drink some water now." Unfortunately, eating seemed to have drained her of much of her strength and energy, so Aragorn supported her head while she drank. She took a few sips before shaking her head and leaning back against the rock. Her breathing was slightly labored and her eyes were closed in weariness. Maybe I spoke too soon about recovery, thought Aragorn.
Seeing the girl so weak and frightened tore at the Company's heart, especially Boromir's. He could not say why, but for some reason he felt drawn to her. All of them tried to comfort her, but every time she would draw away in fear. As the night wore on, the wind seemed to whistle across the hillside.
"How the wind howls!" Frodo said.
Suddenly Aragorn leapt to his feet. "How the wind howls!" he cried, "It is the howling of wolf-voices. The Wargs have come west of the Mountains!"
"Need we wait until morning then?" asked Gandalf, "It is as I said, the hunt is up! Even if we live to see the dawn, who now will wish to journey south by night with the wild wolves on his trail?"
For their defense in the night the Company climbed to the top of the hill under which they had been sheltering. It was crowned with a knot of old and twisted trees, about which lay a broken circle of boulder-stones. In the midst of this they let a fire, for there was no hope that darkness and silence would keep their trail from discovery by the hunting packs.
Round the fire they sat, while the still nameless girl lay in the grass. Those who were not on guard dozed uneasily. Poor Bill the pony trembled and sweated where he stood. The howling of the wolves was now all round them, sometimes nearer and sometimes further off. In the dead of night many shining eyes were seen in the peering over the brow of the hill. Some advanced almost to the ring of stones. At a gap in the circle a great dark wolf-shape could be seen halted, gazing at then A shuddering howl broke from him, as if he were a captain summoning his pack to the assault.
Aurora watched and listened to everything around her with a growing horror. The wolves were all around them now, howling, the chief wolf summoning others to the hunt. She watched Gandalf stand up and stride forward, holding his staff high.
"Listen, Hound of Sauron!" he cried. "Gandalf is here. Fly if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if your come within this ring."
"Wow, he's brave." Aurora thought.
The wolf snarled and sprang towards then with a great leap. Suddenly, there was a sharp twang. Legolas had shot an arrow from his bow. With a hideous yell, the leaping wolf fell to the ground with the Elvin arrow in its throat. The watching eyes of the wolves suddenly disappeared. Gandalf and Aragorn went forward, but the Wargs had fled, and night around them grew quiet.
Aurora knew that in slaying the wolf Legolas had protected her, and she wanted to thank him, but her eyes were too heavy to keep open any longer now that the danger had passed. She tried to speak as he walked by her, but she was already asleep.
Aurora did not sleep well that night. She thought she heard shouts and howls and felt a great heat all around her in her sleep. When she woke the next morning, however, she couldn't help but wonder if the noises that had invaded her dreams were real or not. The ring of trees was charred and burned as if a fire had swept the hilltop. Legolas's arrows were all over the ground as well. What happened? How could she have slept through a battle? One of the hobbits (she thought his name was Sam) told her about Gandalf setting the trees ablaze to fend off another Warg attack in the night while the others searched in vain for the bodies.
"It is as I feared," said Gandalf. "These were no ordinary wolves hunting for food in the wilderness. Let us eat quickly and go!
As they prepared to leave, Boromir, Aragorn, and Legolas came over and knelt beside her. She had listened to their talk last night and this morning and had quickly learned their names.
"I'm afraid you are still too weak to travel." began Aragorn. Were they going to leave her here?
Her fear must have shown because Boromir smiled and said, "Don't worry, we are not leaving you to fend for yourself."
"With your permission, Boromir, Legolas, and I will take turns carrying you until you are well." said Aragorn. "But I must warn you, it is a dangerous road we are about to take you down. I wish there was somewhere we could take you to recover, but there is no such place in this country." The other two looked at her solemnly.
Under normal circumstances, Aurora would never let a man carry her anywhere, but then these were far from normal circumstances. She was traveling with the Fellowship of the Ring! As soon as she had learned Gandalf, Aragorn, and the hobbits' names, she knew why they had looked familiar. They were in that movie she and Scarlett had watched! She assumed the reason that she didn't know the others is because Frodo had just reached Rivendell at the end of the DVD's side one. She had also decided not to tell them anything about that because it would lead to too many questions she couldn't answer.
She bit her lip and looked up at Aragon. She knew he would not harm her for anything, and she wanted to trust him and the others. In spite of the fear she could not dispel, Aurora nodded her consent.
"Here," said Boromir, "I will bear you first." He leaned down so the girl could put her arm around his neck. She seemed to pause for a moment, then she slipped her arm around his neck, and he gently lifted her, his arms at her back and under her knees. She blushed, and he realized perhaps this was the first time a man had carried her. He tried to take her mind of this by talking to her.
"I'm sorry if this makes you uncomfortable," he began. "but we fear that you might be too much for Bill to take, what with the other baggage he has to carry." To this she merely nodded. "I guess I should introduce myself, shouldn't I?" he continued. "I am Boromir, son of Denethor, but I suspect you know that already." The girl gave a small almost guilty looking smile and nodded. Not wanting to push his luck, he waited to see if she would say anything, but she didn't. She was still quite weak; Boromir could tell. After an hour, she began to get sleepy, but she seemed to be afraid of resting her head on his shoulder.
"If you're tired, you should sleep." he said. She looked up at him with questioning eyes, as if asking permission to rest her head. He just smiled.
"It's alright. Go ahead." He whispered. She smiled and nodded sleepily, then gently laid her head on his shoulder.
The girl slept for the next few hours, and woke when Boromir was getting ready to pass her on the Legolas. She gave him a small smile as if to thank him as he gently put her in the Elf's arms. Legolas sang softly to her, hoping to perk her interest in something. A few hours later, Legolas gave her to Aragorn. It was during this time that the hobbits, especially Merry and Pippin tried to engage her in conversation by plying her with questions about home. When she didn't answer, they told her about the Shire and Buckland, recounting numerous silly tales of their kin, trying to get a laugh out of her. They were sure they almost got her to laugh once, but they were unsure if it was a silent laugh or simply a huge smile.
When they stopped for lunch, Aragorn carefully set the girl down as Merry and Pippin continued their recount of taking some of Gandalf's fireworks at Bilbo Baggins's 111th birthday party. Of course they told her about getting caught too. During Merry and Pippin's entertaining of the girl, it seemed that the guard she had for some reason kept around herself had fallen. When Gimli had decided to sneak up and scare them for fun, she did not notice him, and she let out a strange little screech. It sounded sort of like a loud, high-pitch peep.
"So," Gimli laughed, "you do have a voice. We were beginning to wonder if you did."
But she immediately threw her walls back up and would not answer any questions. She did, however, throw Gimli a look filled with daggers.
"If looks could kill, I'd be dead right now." Gimli murmured to Gandalf. Gandalf quickly looked up and saw her face.
"She definitely has spirit, don't she?" he laughed.
"I don't think I ever want her mad at me." said Merry.
"Indeed!" Gimli smiled into his beard.
After lunch, Boromir carried the girl again, wishing that hobbits had been able to get her to speak. They were telling her stories once more, hoping to bring her guard down again. Over the few hours, they told her every tale and sung every song they think of. When they had run out of things to tell her, Merry and Pippin finally grew silent, looks of defeat on their faces. Suddenly, she laughed. It was a sweet, tinkling little laugh, and a look of sympathy was on her face. Boromir, Pippin, and Merry were so shocked at first that they could only stare. Boromir almost dropped her when her laugh washed over him. Then they all burst into smiles and laughter, and Merry and Pippen ran up ahead to the others to tell them. The girl sighed happily and rested her head on Boromir's shoulder. A few minutes later, the others came to see if she would speak, but she had already drifted off to sleep again. This time, though, there was a slight smile on her face.
"I'm glad that she at least seems to be getting more comfortable around us." said Gandalf. "Well done, you two. This is a sign that she is beginning to trust us."
"It is a good sign, indeed, Gandalf." Boromir replied, smiling.
Suddenly Gimli, who had pressed on ahead, called back to them. He was standing on a small hill and pointing to the right. Hurrying to him, they saw a deep, narrow channel below them. It was the remnants of a stream; only a trickle of water flowed over the red and brown stones that lined the riverbed. On their side of the banks there was an old, broken path that led the way among the crumbling walls and paving-stones of an ancient highroad. They had finally found Sirannon, the Gate-stream. Everyone wondered had happened to all the water that should have been there.
Aurora knew that they had to be getting close. They had found remnants of what Gandalf called the Gate-stream, and the sun was getting close to setting. Aragorn was carrying her now, but she could tell that he was wearying. All of them were. Aurora didn't know how to measure distances like they did, but she could tell they had come several miles today. She felt bad about them having to carry her, but she knew she wouldn't have made it an hour before she was exhausted.
A few minutes later, they found the place where the stream fallen over the rocks to the bed below. Only a trickle ran out, but it was clear that the fall had once been full and strong. Gandalf said it was called the Stair Falls, and that a set of stairs cut in the rock should be near. They soon found the stairs and climbed them swiftly. Behind them was a bright golden sunset, but neither it nor the blue sky was reflected in the dark waters that met them at the top of the stairs. Apparently the Sirannon had been dammed and now the valley was filled with a dark, ominous lake.
"There are the Walls of Moria," said Gandalf, pointing across the lake to vast grey cliffs on the other side. "And there the Gate stood once upon a time, the Elves Door at the end of the road from Hollin by which we have come." Aurora could not see a single crank of any in the pallid cliff face across from them. In the end, they found a narrow strip of land on the northern side of the lake to walk on. Unfortunately, there were weedy pools that they had to walk through, but they were only ankle-deep, and Gimli strode forward undeterred. The others went behind him a single file treading with care, because footing was treacherous. Frodo shuddered with disgust at the touch of the dark unclean water on his feet.
As Sam led Bill up to dry land, a plop was heard, as if a fish had disturbed the water. They turned to see dark ripples spreading from the center of the lake as the last rays of the sun sank out of sight. Soon they found a rocky shore, only a dozen yards across. Their path was obstructed by fallen rocks, but they picked their way by staying close to the cliff. As they searched for the doors, Gimli tapped the rock with his axe as if expecting to hear echoes.
"Dwarf doors are invisible when closed." He commented
"Yes, and even their masters cannot find them if their secret is lost." replied Gandalf.
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" muttered Legolas, which did not go unnoticed by Gimli.
Just then, Gandalf seemed to have found what he was looking for. He was running his hands over a smooth place between two ancient holly trees and murmuring under his breath. He had told Aurora early that holly was the token of the Elves of Hollin and they had planted the trees there to mark the end of their realm. Suddenly the moon came out and faint, glowing lines appeared. They steadily grew thicker and brighter and an arch of Elvish letters as high as Gandalf could reach appeared. Beneath it was a hammer and anvil surmounted by a crown with seven star. Under these were two trees, each bearing crescent moons. The brightest image, however, was a many-rayed star in the center of the door.
While all of them stared in awe of the sight before them, Gandalf explained what it was made of.
"The images are wrought of ithildin that mirrors only starlight and moonlight, and sleeps until it is touched by one who speaks word now long forgotten in Middle-earth. It is long since I heard them, and I thought deeply before I could recalled them to my mind."
By this time, Aragorn had set Aurora down against a small boulder.
"What does the writing say?" asked Frodo.
Gandalf reached up and pointed with his staff. "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria." He translated. "Speak, friend, and enter."
"What do you suppose that means?" asked Merry.
"It's simple," he replied. "If you're a friend, you say the password and the doors will open." He placed the top of his staff against the star and said in a commanding voice, "Annon edhellen, edro hi amen! Fennas nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!" The Doors did not move.
"Nothing's happening." Pippin said.
Gandalf took a step back and repeated to spell with his arms raised. Still the Doors did not open. "I once knew every spell in all the tongues of Elves or Men or Orcs, that were ever used for such a purpose." He muttered as he pushed against the wall in frustration.
"What are you going to do then?" asked Pippin before he could restrain himself.
To that Gandalf cried out, "Knock your head against these doors, Peregrin Took, and if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will try to find the opening words." He then sat down before the Doors in deep thought, muttering under his breath. While he searched his memory for the right word, Aragorn and Sam took the packs off of Bill since they knew he could not be taken into the mines. As they turned him loose, Aurora sincerely hoped he would find his way back to Rivendell. Gandalf came and sat on the rock Aurora was leaning against, still trying to find the words to open the Doors. Merry and Pippin, who were now bored, begin throwing stones into the water. Aragorn quickly caught Merry's wrist as black ripples spread eerily across the surface. "Do not disturb the water." He advised.
Suddenly, Frodo had an idea. "It's a riddle! 'Speak, friend, and enter.'" he said. "Gandalf, what's the Elvish word for friend?"
"Mellon." he replied. The Doors began to open. Everyone got ready to go in, but as Gandalf put his foot on the lowest step, two things happened at the same time. Frodo was grabbed by ankle, and he fell with a cry. Bill galloped off around the edge of the lake with a scream of fear. Sam started to go after him, but ran back to Frodo when he heard his master's yell.
The water was seething as if many, many snakes were swimming up from the southern end of the lake. A long, pale, luminous tentacle had slipped out of the water and seized Frodo by the foot. It was dragging him to the water, but Sam was already hacking it with his knife. The arm let go, but as Sam was pulling Frodo away, twenty more arms shot out of the water. One snatched up Frodo by the ankles and held him dangling in the air. It was exactly what Aurora thought a Kraken would be like. Aragorn and Boromir slashed at the tentacles holding Frodo aloft, as Legolas loosed an arrow. Aragorn managed to hack off one of tentacles and he caught Frodo as he fell. Aurora had already stared toward the open Doors, but Boromir grabbed her up and carried her the last few steps through the Gate. They were just in time. A great many arms came out of the water and slammed the Doors shut, causing tons of rock to fall over the Doors. The only way out was now completely blocked.
"Now shall have to face the long dark of Moria." said Gandalf as he fit a crystal into the top if his staff. It began to glow with a golden-white light. "We'd better stay close," he cautioned. "There are fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world."
As they began to climb, Aurora knew that Boromir's actions were the only reason that she was still alive. If he hadn't grabbed her, she would have never made it. She also knew she should thank him, but her long silence made her almost afraid to speak. Aurora now knew that none of the Fellowship would ever harm her and she trusted them with her life. So, finally putting aside the last of he fears, she took a deep breath.
Boromir knew it had been close. He and the girl almost did not make it through the Doors before the monster outside brought all that rock and rubble down on the doorway. He didn't want to think what would have happened to her if he hadn't been there to help her the last few feet.
Now she was resting quietly against his shoulder. Boromir couldn't help but think of how brave she had been. She hadn't screamed once or remained rooted to the ground on fear, waiting to be rescued. She had jumped up and tried to get through the doors with distracting the warriors from saving Frodo. Unfortunately, many things had been accidentally left behind in their haste, including her blankets. When they discovered this, Merry had quickly and gallantly offered her his cloak, which she gratefully accepted even though it didn't even reach her knees.
The sound of someone clearing their throat brought Boromir out of his thoughts.
"Thank you for saving me." a small, soft voice said. He looked down to find the girl looking up at him, blushing. He couldn't believe it! She had finally spoken!
"You're welcome." he replied. She ducked her head and stared at lap. "Do you mind telling me your name now?" he asked, hoping she would answer.
She paused a moment. "Aurora" she whispered.
"Aurora. It's beautiful." he said. "Do you know what it means?"
"Something to do with dawn, I think." Aurora replied. Just then, they reached the top of the stairs and Frodo suggested they rest and eat something. Apparently he was beginning to shake of the memory of the monster's attack. His proposal was welcomed by all and they sat on the upper steps to rest.
As Boromir set Aurora down by the wall, he said, "I have made an interesting discovery as we climbed these stairs."
"Oh really?" said Gandalf. "And what was that?"
"Our friend here can indeed speak." he replied.
"She spoke to you?" Pippin gasped
"Go on, you may as well introduce yourself to the others now." He told her.
She blushed furiously before speaking. "My name is Aurora."
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Aurora." said Merry as he extended his hand. She took it, and blushed once more.
"Indeed it is a pleasure." laughed Gandalf.
While they ate, Aragorn came and sat by Aurora. "How are you faring?" he asked.
"I still feel weak and sometimes a bit shaky." she replied.
"That is to be expected so soon after have such an illness." he said.
Aurora sighed. "I'm sorry that I must be a burden to ya'll. I mean, ya'll were probably having enough troubles in the wilderness without me to complicate things. I can't defend myself even when I'm not recovering from something."
"Don't worry about us. We don't mind. Once we are out of Moria, however, I think we could work on the self-defense." Aragorn assured her.
"Thank you, sir" she smiled.
"Ah!" said Gimli. "Not only does she speak, but she has manners!"
"Yes, I was raised to respect my elders, Master Gimli." she replied with a laugh.
After their brief rest, they were on the march again, with Gandalf in the lead, his staff in one hand and his sword in the other. Behind him was Gimli and behind him came Frodo with his sword drawn as well. Sam followed his master, Legolas, now carrying Aurora, came after him. The other two hobbits and Boromir came next. In the dark at the rear Aragorn walked grim and silent.
Aurora had protested against Legolas carrying her, and had begged to be allowed to walk on her own for a while, but Aragorn firmly but gently denied her. "Your fever only broke last evening. You are not strong enough yet." he said. So, Aurora had reluctantly allowed the Elf to carrying her on through the dark passages, Merry's cloak wrapped tightly around her shoulders. To pass the time, Legolas whispered Elvin songs in her ear, and after a while, Aurora joined him, humming in harmony. Aurora had always had an ear for music, and she had quickly picked up on how to harmonize. When Legolas passed her on to Aragorn, he told him about it.
"I too have made a discovery about our young lady." he said. "She loves music and can sing quite well."
"Really?" asked Pippin and Merry.
"No!" Aurora replied sarcastically. "I'm terrible!" The hobbits laughed. They knew that if Legolas thought she could sing, she must at least have a decent voice.
All day they wondered through an unending maze of passages that was completely baffling. Aurora was amazed that Gandalf could find a way at all. Gimli, unfortunately, was of little help in that respect. Gandalf consulted him when he was unsure of the way, but Gandalf always had the final say. The passage had twisted and turned for a while, then made a steep descent. After a while it leveled out and the air grew warm and stifling. Aurora kept the cloak on only to maintain her modesty in front of the others. Many times they could feel cooler breezes issuing from dark arches on either side. There were a great number of these, and Aurora soon gave up counting them.
It was a good thing that the Fellowship had Gandalf for a guide, or they would have been completely lost. There were not that many different paths to take, but there were cracks and holes in the floor. One such fissure was seven feet across and spanned the entire passage. It took Pippin a long time to gather enough courage to jump across the gaping hole; Aurora closed her eyes and buried her face in Aragorn's chest when he leaped over it with her in his arms.
It was after nightfall when the Company had finally entered the Mines. Gandalf did not reach is first real check until they had been going for several hour with only a few brief rests. There were three passages under an arch, all still going eastward. The left-hand passage went down, the middle continued straight, and the right-hand passage climbed upward.
"I have no memory of this place." said Gandalf as he studied the arch. "I am too weary to decide." he continued. "I expect that you are all as weary as I am, or wearier. We had better halt here for what is left of the night."
To the left of the arch was the half-closed door to a room. Merry and Pippin quickly pushed forward without thinking, so happy were they that they could rest in relative shelter. Aurora and Gandalf called for them to stop. Gandalf went in first, carefully examining the room. His staff-light fell on a hole in the middle of the floor with rusty chains and broken stone around it.
See? One of you might have fallen in and still be wondering when you were going to strike the bottom." Aragorn said to the young hobbits.
It appeared to be a guardroom with a well in the center for the guards. At some point the well cover must have been broken.
The Fellowship was preparing to sleep when they heard a deep, magnified plunk. Pippin, on a sudden impulse, had dropped a stone down the well. Gandalf was both relieved and angry at Pippin when the hobbit told him what he had done.
"Fool of a Took!" he growled. "This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party. Throw yourself in next time, and then you will be no further nuisance. Now be quiet!"
Then, tapping, as of hammers, could be heard in the distance. It sounded eerily like signals of some kind. This did not bode well with the Company even as the sound faded and stopped.
Pippin was given the first watch as a "reward". After a hour, however, Gandalf told him to go to sleep. "I cannot get a wink, so I may as well do the watching." he said. Gandalf took out his pipe and watched for the next six hours before waking the others. "During the watches I have made up my mind," he told them. "I shall take the right-passage. It is time we began to climb up again."
Aurora quickly braided her her tangled hair before she was lifted up by Boromir. She sincerely hoped Aragorn would let her do some walking soon. She hated having to be a burden to the three men who had carried her for two days now. For the next eight hours the Company climbed the path chosen by Gandalf. It seemed to wind steadily upward in great mounting curves, growing wider and loftier as it went. There were no holes or cracks in this passage; the floor as level and sound. No tunnels or galleries open on either side. They advanced some fifteen miles that day, measure in a direct line east, though they must have actually walked twenty or more.
They marched until the hobbits could go no further without rest. As they tried to find a place to sleep, the walls suddenly vanished on either side. They seemed to have found a wide, empty space, and they crowded anxiously together.
Gandalf was pleased. "I chose the right way." he said. "At least last we are coming to the habitable parts, and I guess that we are not far now from the eastern side. But we are high up, a good deal higher that the Dimrill Gate, unless I am mistaken. From the feeling of the air we must be in wide hall. I will now risk a little real light."
He raised his staff, and for a brief moment, it blazed like a flash of lighting. For a few seconds an enormous hall with mighty pillars supporting a vast roof high above their heads could be seen. Three arches were illuminated; one on the left, one on the right, and the last straight ahead. The smoothly wrought stone of the hall shone and flashed like glass before the light faded.
"That is all that I shall venture on for the present." said Gandalf. "There used to be great windows on the mountain-side, and shafts leading out to the light in the upper reaches of the Mines. I think we have reached them now, but it is night outside again, and we cannot tell until morning. If I am right, tomorrow we may actually see the morning peeping in. But in the meanwhile, we had better go no further. Let us rest, if we can. Things have gone well so far, and the greater part of the dark road is over. But we are no through yet, and it is a long way down to the Gates that open on the world."
The Fellowship camped that night in a corner of the hall to avoid the chilly draft that came through the far archway. Gimli sang a song his people wrote about Durin, the founder of Moria. As he sang, his voice echoed around the huge hall. When he finished, Gandalf told them about the Mines.
"The true wealth of Moria was not in gold or jewels, but in mithril." He said. "Bilbo once had a set of mitril rings that Thorin gave him."
Gimli gasp. "That was a kingly gift!"
"Indeed it was." replied Gandalf. "I never told him, but its value was greater than the manner of the Shire."
Soon, silence fell and, one by one, the Fellowship fell asleep. Just before she drifted off, Aurora thought she two points of light, almost like luminous eyes, but she shook it off as a figment of the her tired mind.
Aurora woke the night morning to find most of the Fellowship already stirring and dim light falling in her face. A long pale beam fell through a shaft high above the eastern archway. Through the northern arch a faint light could be seen as well.
"Good morning!" said Gandalf. "For morning it is again at last. I was right, you see. We are high up on the east side of Moria. Before today is over we ought to find the Great Gates and see the waters of Mirrormere lying in Dimrill Dale before us."
"I'll be glad to finally get out of this dark place." said Aurora.
"I too shall be glad." said Gimli. "I have looked on Moria, and it is great, but it had become dark, and dreadful; and we have found no sign of my kindred. I doubt now that Balin ever came here."
After breakfast, Gandalf decide, in order to find the right direction to go, to explore the passages beyond the aches. The Fellowship then made its way through the northern arch and found themselves in a wide corridor. To their right was a room filled with dazzlingly bright light, that practically blinded the Company when they entered. Deep dust enshrouded shapes on that they could not make out. In the center of the room was a large block of stone topped by a slab of white marble.
"It looks like a tomb." said Frodo as he leaned forward to examine the runes cut deeply into the surface of the rock. Gandalf came and stood beside him.
"These are Daeron's Runes, such as were used of old in Moria," said Gandalf. "Here is written in the tongues of Men and Dwarves:
BALIN SON OF FUNDIN
LORD OF MORIA.
"He is dead then," said Frodo. "I feared it was so." Gimli cast his hood over his face, and Aurora, whom Legolas had been carrying, reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm so sorry, Master Gimli." she whispered. The Fellowship stood silently by the tomb of Balin, but at lenghth, they stirred and began to seach for anything that would tell them of Balin and his peoples fate. A small door was found on the other side of the chamber beneath the shaft of light. Beside it they found many old bones, broken swords and axe-heads, and cloven shields and helmets. Some of the blades were the crooked, blacken scimitars and Orcs.
This room had many alcoves cut in the walls which housed wooden chests bound in iron. Unfortunately, all of them had been plundered, and beside one there was the remains of a book. It had been stabbed and slashed and was difficult to read because of the many black, bloody stains. The pages cracked and broke as Gandalf picked it up. For a long time Gandalf pored over it with Frodo and Gimli looking over his shoulders.
Finally Gandalf looked up from studying the delicate pages and told them that it seemed to be an account of the colony brought there by Balin. As he read bits of it out to them, it sound like the colony had a good start but they fell under attack and were trapped. It spoke of drums sounding in the deep. The last line was "We cannot get out." Tears slowly slid down Aurora face at the thought of the poor dwarves trapped in the very room the stood in.
"They seem to have made a last stand by both doors," Gandalf said; "but there were not many left by that time. So ended the attempt to retake Moria! It was valiant but foolish. The time is not come yet. Now, I fear, we must say farewell to Balin son of Fundin. Here he must lie in the halls of his fathers. Come, let us go! The morning is passing."
"Which way shall we go?" asked Boromir.
"We should leave by the eastern arch of the hall," replied Gandlaf, "and bear right and south, and go downwards. Come now! Back to the hall!" He had hardly finished speaking when a great rolling Boom seemed to come from depths far below. They run to the door as Doom,doom rolled once more. It was if the caverns around them were being used as a huge drum. Then an echoing horn was blown in the hall, and other horns and cries answered it. They could hear the sound of many hurrying feet.
The drums continued to beat as Aragorn told them to shut and wedge the doors. At Gandalf's command, the east door was left ajar and Aurora was hiding on the stairs beyond. Marching feet and wild cries could be heard in the corridor. Both Gandalf and Frodo's blades were glowing with a pale blue light. As Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas barred the other door, arrow came whistling in and barely missed them.
"They have a cave troll." remarked Boromir as they used old swords and axes to bar the door.
I'm afraid that's all I've got for now. I hope all ya'll readers out there like it so far and will send me lots, and lots, and LOTS of reviews, comments and suggstions. PLEASE do: there all welcome! - Bonnie Celt