Now, don't be mean. I know this is late, I know, but I'm not perfect, am I?
PLEASE DON'T HURT ME! *hides in corner* I wrote a long chapter to make up for it!
Disclaimer by Nen (cause Archer's hiding, so she can't do it): Archer does not own Lord of the Rings or anything affiliated with it. She does own me, and that makes up for it!
Me: NEN, STOP LYING! YOU KNOW IT DOESN'T! *cries quietly*
Nen: Oh, stop crying, you big baby! I'm facing much worse than you are!
Me: *quietly* and you'll face even worse later...
Nen: What was that?
Me: ermmmmmmmm...Hey, is that Aragorn?
Nen: ... I'm not falling for that.
Me: Darn. Ummmm...on with the show!
Once we arrived at the foot of the mountain, I felt dread seep back into my bones. I'd much rather be frozen solid in the snow than warm but about to enter the place I feared more than anything.
Of course, I hated Mordor, but it didn't scare me. I at least could feel hatred there, an emotion I knew how to deal with. But in the land of the dwarves, I felt terror, and that was something I was not used to at all. I am many things, but I am almost never afraid.
Despite my many protests, I had found myself standing next to an inky lake, searching for a door I never wanted to find.
"Dwarf doors are invisible when closed," Gimli said to the hobbits, his chest swelling with pride.
I rolled my eyes.
"Indeed, sometimes their own masters cannot find them if their secrets are lost," replied Gandalf, who was examining the stone.
Legolas smirked, and I immediately knew he was up to no good.
"This does not surprise me…"
I snickered, watching as the dwarf and elf glared at each other. Aragorn half-smiled in my peripheral vision.
The search went on for a while, and I realized with a jolt what Gandalf meant about the secrets of Dwarfish doors. I tapped my bracelet, gaining a strange look from my companions, and whispered a small spell before anyone could object.
I was instantly pained with a headache, but rewarded with the clouds uncovering the moon, shining its light down onto the rock. Gandalf looked at me as if scolding a small child, and I fought the urge to hide behind something. His gaze was diverted, however, by white writing appearing on the stone.
"Ithildin," he said to the rest, who didn't understand. "It mirrors solely starlight and moonlight."
We all admired it, and the non-Elvish speakers looked to Gandalf for a translation of the white words above the door. He sighed.
"It reads: The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter."
Merry pursed his lips, looking at the door quizzically.
"And what is that supposed to mean, exactly?"
"It's quite simple, Meriadoc. If you are a friend, you speak the password, and the door will open."
Thus, the long period of password-trying began. I sighed, metaphorically banged my head against the stone next to me, and began to sharpen my blades. Frodo sat down next to me, and I smiled at the hobbit. He returned the grin, before opening his mouth as if to say something, then closing it. My smile grew, and I chuckled at his indecision
"Frodo, you should know by now that I don't take offense at nosy questions. It's alright, you can ask."
His blue eyes glinted gratefully.
"I was just wondering about magic. Gandalf's seems so different from yours, and Radagast, the wizard Uncle Bilbo told me about, is different from the both of you."
I blinked, a little surprised at his inquisitiveness. Then again, Frodo was the most observant of the Halflings.
"Well, it's been a while since I've talked with the Brown Wizard, but I know some things of his magic. See, there is a difference between the magic of different individuals. Radagast indulged himself in the magic of forests, so that's why he's so affected by anything to do with the woodland realm. It might interest you to know this, but that was the realm of magic I was to go in, as well."
Frodo raised an eyebrow at this, but I continued without pausing.
"My father was the Hunter of the Forest, and my mother could bring plants springing to life with her very touch. They expected me to become just like them. Of course, that wasn't a path I was going to take, not after…"
I stopped talking, refraining my mind from going to dark places. Frodo began to act concerned after a while, so I shook my head and began to talk once more.
"Anyway, I bet you can guess what my magic is centered on."
He pondered for a moment, and I could nearly see the gears turning in his head, before he mumbled his thoughts aloud.
"The wind at the Council…the fog on the hill…the clouds…your magic is based on the weather, isn't it?"
"Well done, Frodo."
He proudly raised his chin, and I nearly laughed, biting on my lip. He looked at me, and I knew he was about to fire another question.
"What about Gandalf?"
"Oh, that's easy. Gandalf is a master of fire, as I believe he's demonstrated before."
Sam came waddling up to us, plopping down protectively next to his fellow hobbit. He contributed to the conversation, having heard what I had just said and gotten the gist of what we were talking about.
"So that's how his fireworks are so grand."
I laughed quietly, before standing and sheathing my swords. Frodo turned to talk to his gardener, and I was left to my own thoughts once more. That wasn't something I necessarily welcomed, but I did really need to think about something.
And that something came in the form of a ruggedly handsome, brave, young man.
I sighed. Aragorn…he was still my closest friend, though I knew that was not the complete truth to our relationship any longer. We were something different, something much more troubling, but also something much stronger. The feelings that he stirred up inside me were dangerous, ones that I wanted to act upon but also didn't at the same time.
I didn't want to put a name to it, but it wasn't something I could avoid any longer. Could I possibly…have feelings for him?
I looked over at Aragorn, and was shocked to see that he had been staring at me as well. I could feel the blood pounding to my cheeks as I looked away, and I hissed at myself inside my head.
Get a grip, Nen. You're literally thousands of years older than him, and besides, what would a future King of men want to do with a weakling sorceress who can't even do a simple cloud-moving spell without being pained?
I scowled, knowing that the annoying voice could be right.
"Nen?" Aragorn asked, striding up beside me.
Then again, it could be wrong, I thought hopefully.
"Yes?" I replied, turning to face him
He took a deep breath, and looked like he was about to say something important, when we heard a great splash. I had my bow armed instantly, but it turned out to be only Pippin, who was throwing rocks into the water. I was relieved and lowered my bow, but Aragorn was a little more wary.
"Do not disturb the water," he hissed, taking the stone from Pippin.
I nodded solemnly, eyeing the lake in a different light now. There was indeed something off about it, something that made me want to shoot into the depths, attempt to find out exactly what was down there.
"Oh, it's hopeless," Gandalf groaned, leaning on his staff for support.
Frodo walked over to him, and I watched the exchange, wondering what was going through the hobbit's mind.
"It's a riddle," he murmured, turning to the wizard. "Gandalf, what's Elvish for friend?"
The earth began to rumble, and amazingly, the door opened wide. I frowned, knowing that I had just gone from blissful boredom to an even worse fate. Cautiously, I began to walk towards the now gaping hole in the stone, keeping my bow in hand.
"Soon, Master Elf, you will experience the hospitality of dwarves!" Gimli bellowed with a smile from ear to ear.
I paused at the doorway, an instinct buried deep into my reflexes stopping me. Something was wrong here.
"Roaring fires, malt beer, ripe meat right off the bone!"
I took a deep breath, searching for the smell of burning wood. I gagged on the foul air, a scent much different reaching my nose.
"This, my friend, is the home of my cousin, Balin!"
It was a scent I'd encountered before, and once loved, but now hated with my entire being.
"And they call it a mine…"
It was the smell of death.
I cried out for Gandalf to illuminate his staff, and as he did so, we saw the true remnants of Moria. Skeletons lay across the room, and the whole place smelled disgusting, like rotting meat. I coughed; cringing in disgust as Boromir accidentally kicked the helmet of one.
"This is no mine….it is a tomb!" he yelled.
Gimli halted in shock, and then proceeded to collapse onto the floor, sobbing. Legolas crinkled his nose in disgust, plucking an arrow out from one of the bodies.
"Goblins," he muttered, throwing the arrow to the floor.
Suddenly, a cry filled my ears, and I turned in horror as Frodo came speeding by me, a slimy tentacle wrapped around his leg.
"HELP!" he screamed, pulled by the tentacle high above the water.
Furiously, I raised my bow, aiming flawlessly so that the arrow hit the tentacle. It pierced the slick skin, going straight through. The creature responded with a horrifying shriek, and dozens of tentacles shot out of the water, one of them re-grabbing Frodo as he fell.
I pulled out arrow after arrow, shooting each tentacle as they came. Boromir and Aragorn charged into the water, hacking into the slimy limbs. Legolas shot next to me, and we all fell into the dance of warfare, time seeming to slow down.
This had been what drew me into the art in the first place-the lethal dance between two enemies. Bobbing and weaving, spiraling out of reach just to come crashing down. The sharp sweep of a sword coming down, the gentle bend of a bow, the lethal cutting edge of an arrow flying through the air. I was born to dance…and therefore I was made to fight.
I reached for another arrow, feeling the soft white feathers touch my fingertips before quickly being brought to the harsh string. My muscles tensed as I pulled it back, then relaxed as I let go.
Time resumed, and I watched in horror as the mouth of the beast came roaring to the surface, monstrous jaws open wide. Both Legolas and I never faltered, each of us aiming for a respective eye. Mine was knocked off course by a stray tentacle, but Legolas' hit its destination, and almost at the same time, Aragorn chopped off the limb holding Frodo. I sighed in relief as he caught the hobbit, and frantically motioned for them all to get inside.
Legolas and I covered their retreat, distracting the creature by shooting a few more arrows at it. To my terror, the monster began to pull itself out of the lake, following our retreating forms. Legolas grabbed my arm, pulling me as we scurried after the running figures of the Fellowship towards the Doors.
With my legs full of adrenaline, the elf and I quickly rushed into the mine, the Doors slamming behind us. I placed my hands on my knees, panting to try to recover my breath. We were now in pitch black, the darkness I so feared surrounding us on all sides.
I felt my heartbeat fail to slow, even if my panting did, and I knew that it wasn't because of the rush of exercise anymore. No, I was terrified. As a child, I had not been scared of the dark, and as an adult, I feared it almost more than death.
"We now have but one choice," Gandalf called, knocking his staff against a stone to light the room.
"We must face the long dark of Moria."