Jan 15, 12:22pm
Today in Middle-earth
TIME - January 15
January 15, 3019 (S.R. 1419)
1. The Bridge of Khazad-dûm, and the fall of Gandalf.
(from the appendices)
..."… there came a great noise: a rolling BOOM that seemed to come from depths far below, and to tremble in the stone at their feet. They sprang towards the door in alarm. DOOM, DOOM it rolled again... ...Then there came an echoing blast: a great horn was blown in the hall, and answering horns and harsh cries were heard further off. There was a hurrying sound of many feet.
...'They are coming!' cried Legolas.
...'We cannot get out,' said Gimli.
...'Trapped!' cried Gandalf. 'Why did I delay? Here we are, caught, just as they were before. But I was not here then. We will see what----'
...DOOM, DOOM came the drum-beat and the walls shook.
...'Slam the doors and wedge them!' shouted Aragorn. 'And keep your packs on as long as you can: we may get a chance to cut our way out yet....'
......There was a blow on the door that made it quiver; and then it began to grind slowly open, driving back the wedges. A huge arm and shoulder, with a dark skin of greenish scales, was thrust through the widening gap. Then a great, flat, toeless foot was forced through below... ...Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his sword rang, glanced aside, and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched.
...Suddenly, and to his own surprise, Frodo felt a hot wrath blaze up in his heart. 'The Shire!' he cried, and springing beside Boromir, he stooped, and stabbed with Sting at the hideous foot. There was a bellow, and the foot jerked back, nearly wrenching Sting from Frodo's arm. Black drops dripped from the blade and smoked on the floor. Boromir hurled himself against the door and slammed it again.
...'One for the Shire!' cried Aragorn. 'The hobbit's bite is deep! You have a good blade, Frodo son of Drogo!'
......but even as they retreated, and before Pippin and Merry had reached the stair outside, a huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high, clad in black mail from head to foot, leaped into the chamber... ...With a thrust of his huge hide shield he turned Boromir's sword and bore him backwards, throwing him to the ground. Diving under Aragorn's blow with the speed of a striking snake he charged into the company and thrust with his spear straight at Frodo. The blow caught him on the right side, and Frodo was hurled against the wall and pinned. Sam, with a cry, hacked at the spear-shaft, and it broke. But even as the orc flung down the truncheon and swept out his scimitar, Andúril came down upon his helm. There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder...
......DOOM, DOOM went the drums in the deep....
...'...Now!' shouted Gandalf. 'Now is the last chance. Run for it!'
...Aragorn picked up Frodo where he lay by the wall and made for the stair, pushing Merry and Pippin in front of him. The others followed; but Gimli had to be dragged away by Legolas: in spite of the peril he lingered by Balin's tomb with is head bowed. Boromir hauled the eastern door to... ...it had great iron rings on either side, but could not be fastened.
...'I am all right,' gasped Frodo. 'I can walk. Put me down!'
...Aragorn nearly dropped him in his amazement. 'I thought you were dead!' he cried.
...'Not yet!' said Gandalf. 'But there is no time for wonder. Off you go, all of you, down the stairs! Wait a few minutes for me at the bottom, but if I do not come soon, go on! Go quickly and choose paths leading right and downwards.'
...'We cannot leave you to hold the door alone!' said Aragorn.
...'Do as I say!' said Gandalf fiercely. 'Swords are no more use here. Go!'
...'...I am afraid Balin is buried deep, and maybe something else is buried there too. I cannot say. But at least the passage behind us was completely blocked. Ah! I have never felt so spent, but it is passing. And now what about you, Frodo? There was no time to say so, but I have never been more delighted in my life than when you spoke. I feared that it was a brave but dead hobbit that Aragorn was carrying.'
...'What about me?' said Frodo. 'I am alive, and whole I think. I am bruised and in pain, but it is not too bad.'
...'Well,' said Aragorn, 'I can only say that hobbits are made of a stuff so tough that I have never met the like of it. Had I known, I would have spoken softer in the Inn at Bree! That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar!'
...'Well, it did not skewer me... ...though I feel as if I had been caught between a hammer and an anvil.' He said no more. He found breathing painful.
...'You take after Bilbo,' said Gandalf. 'There is more about you than meets the eye, as I said of him long ago....'
......The ranks of the orcs had opened, and they crowded away, as if they themselves were afraid. Something was coming up behind them. What it was could not be seen: it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and terror seemed to be in it and to go before it....
...'...Ai, ai!' wailed Legolas. 'A Balrog! A Balrog is come!'
...Gimli stared with wide eyes. 'Durin's Bane!' he cried and letting his axe fall he covered his face.
...'A Balrog,' muttered Gandalf. 'Now I understand.' He faltered and leaned heavily on his staff. 'What an evil fortune! And I am already weary.'
...'Over the bridge... ...Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly!' Aragorn and Boromir did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind Gandalf at the far end of the bridge. The others halted just within the doorway at the hall's end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face the enemy alone....
...'...You cannot pass... ...I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'
...The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward... ...and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall; but still Gandalf could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone: grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
...From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.
...Glamdring glittered white in answer.
...There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire. The Balrog fell back and its sword flew up in molten fragments. The wizard swayed on the bridge, stepped back a pace, and then again stood still.
...'You cannot pass!' he said.
...With a bound the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed...
......Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog's feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.
...With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered, and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools!' he cried, and was gone."
2. The Company reaches Nimrodel late at night.
(from the appendices)
..."'Lothlórien!' cried Legolas. 'Lothlórien! We have come to the eaves of the Golden Wood. Alas that it is winter...'
...'...Lothlórien!' said Aragorn. 'Glad I am to hear again the wind in the trees! We are still little more than five leagues from the Gates, but we can go no further. Here let us hope that the virtue of the Elves will keep us tonight from the peril that comes behind....'
...'...Here is Nimrodel!' said Legolas. 'Of this stream the Silvan Elves made many songs long ago, and still we sing them in the North... ...All is dark now and the Bridge on Nimrodel is broken down. I will bathe my feet, for it is said that the water is healing to the weary.' He went forward and climbed down the deep-cloven bank and stepped into the stream.
...'Follow me!' he cried. 'The water is not deep. Let us wade across! On the further bank we can rest, and the sound of the falling water may bring us sleep and forgetfulness of grief.'
...One by one they climbed down and followed Legolas. For a moment Frodo stood near the brink and let the water flow over his tired feet. It was cold but its touch was clean, and as he went on and it mounted to his knees, he felt that the stain of travel and all weariness was washed from his limbs."
[league = 3 miles]
We have been there and back again.
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