Book 2: chapter 10

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We retreat further into the chamber after closing the large doors and barricading them as best as we could. There, we can only wait for the inevitable to come while our hearts pound in anticipation.

Gimli picks up two axes, jumping onto the tomb of Balin while baring his teeth. "Let them come! There is one dwarf yet in Moria who still draws breath!" he calls, ready to start the battle and avenge Balin's death.

Wood fragments splinter from the door as something heavy slams into it from the other side. In reaction I pull out an arrow from my quiver and mount it onto my bow, getting ready to shoot down the enemy at the first sight of them.

With every blow, the doors splinter further until a gap forms itself. Legolas, Aragorn and myself waste no time in firing, but it only gives us extra seconds to spare until the doors are nearly blown of their hinges. Orcs are quick to rush inside accompanied be a cave troll, towering above all of us.

Seeing as my bow has little use here, I strap it back into its spot at by back before unleashing my sword. It sings as it's pulled from its sheath and gleams dangerously in the little light present. Before long it is covered in the thick splatter of orc blood.

I jump in front of Samwise and Frodo as orcs go to assail them and are quick to cut them down. "Get to the back! Try to stay out of the way!" I tell them. They nod hastily, retreating to the back of the room.

Looking towards the troll, I see it's rampaging in anger as it's being attacked from different sides. Especially Legolas seems to bother the creature, as he's able to go for the soft spots in its thick hide. Aragorn and Boromir too try hard to make the troll their priority, but are distracted more than once by having to aid the hobbits.

My head whip to the side at the sound of a pained yell. Somehow the troll got close to Frodo and the hobbit is now up against the wall and pierced by a long spear. His eyes are closed as he sinks to the floor, motionless. "No, Frodo!"

The other hobbits scream in fury and dash towards the troll that easily towers over their tiny figures and lash out with their tiny swords.

Pippin, distracting the troll by repeatedly driving his short sword into its back, gives Legolas the opportunity to drive an arrow into its throat, making it sway before falling to the ground with a loud thud.

The onslaught of orcs has stopped for the time being and we all rush towards Frodo who lies still on the floor.

I perk up in surprise when he lets out a sudden cough and his eyes flutter open. "He's alive!" Sam calls out in relief.

"It's alright." Frodo coughs. "I'm not hurt."

"You should be dead. That spear would've skewered a wild boar!" Aragorn calls with mild surprise.

Gandalf smiles knowingly. "I think there's more to this hobbit than meets the eye." he says before Frodo reveals his secret held underneath his shirt.

"Mithril! You are full of surprises, master Baggins." Gimli calls in glee, instantly recognizing the material.

We our jerked out of our reverie when the sounds of drums echo on the walls once more. "To the bridge of Khazad-dum!" Gandalf orders in alarm.

Following Gandalf, who is quite fast despite looking aged, we rush through the large chamber of Dwarrowdelf, myself clutching the wrists of Merry and Pippin to make them keep up with the pace.

I glance towards the ceiling as a wave of movement catches my eyes. It is packed with orcs and goblins and they quickly close in on us, trying to trap us for certain. "We will not make it." I mutter in realization.

Not soon after having said so, they come down on us and herd us together, back-to-back as they encircle us. We can only fight now, but I doubt we will last long. Being in the minority is quite the understatement here.

All is quite for a moment as we wait for the inevitable when suddenly a roar sounds from some distance away. The sound makes the hairs on the back of my head stand on end. It also seems to have an effect on our enemies as they stiffen in fright before wasting little time to retreat back to the darkness. I do not suppose that it's a good sign though.

A faint light grows at the end of the large hall accompanied by the sound of something large and heavy making its way over. "What is this new devilry?" Boromir asks, fear edged on his voice. The ground beneath us starts to shake as the light and shadow grows.

My breath hitches in my throat as Gandalf explains; "A Balrog...a demon of the ancient world! This foe is beyond any of you! Run! Quickly!" he urges, leading the way.

I dare not look back at the creature following us as we rush over the stairs high above the depths of Khazad-Dum.

I jump over the gap in the stairs with ease, quickly followed by others, though Gimli needed some not-so-welcome help as he nearly fell over backwards into the darkness. Aragorn and Frodo are the last follow, but find themselves trapped as the stairs collapses around them.

The stairs sway back and forth and Aragorn times the movement and makes himself and Frodo lean forward, letting the part of the stairs topple over towards the rest of us, jumping across just before the rock beneath their feet disappears. We take no rest but run onward and towards the bridge.

I can no longer ignore the balrog as it has now appeared behind us, following. It is even bigger than I expected it to be. Its body is blackened and covered in fire. On its head stand menacing horns and flaming wings sit upon its back. As it roars, a wave of heat hits us.

Passing through an archway, we reach another open space with the bridge of Khazad-Dum, the only thing separating us from the outside. I can faintly see daylight trickling inside from around the corner. Hope courses through me at the sight of it. "Over the bridge! Fly!" Gandalf orders. We heed his word without question.

After rushing over the narrow bridge without taking regard of the depths looming below, we turn to see that Gandalf has lingered behind. He faces the balrog who has risen from the darkness, his staff held in one hand and his sword clutched in the other.

"Gandalf." I breathe, getting ready to intervene, although my legs are shaking.

"You cannot pass!" he calls out determinately towards the creature, making it halt and roar up on its legs, seeming to grow larger at the challenge. I frown worried. Will Gandalf really fight the beast?

"I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun!" he calls towards the creature. It snarls in response, taking a step forward and lashing out with a flaming sword, clashing it against Gandalf's sword. The flaming sword shatters.

"Go back to the shadow!" Gandalf commands. Displeased, the balrog flares up and lashes out a fiery whip, daring Gandalf to continue.

Gandalf raises his staff as it glows. "You.Shall.Not.Pass!" he shouts, bringing down the staff onto the bridge. The balrog steps forward once more, but the stone beneath it collapses and the balrog tumbles down with a mighty roar, leaving Gandalf to stand alone.

Relief washes over us, so glad to be rid of such evil. Gandalf turns around, looking tired, but relieved himself. Sadly, it is short lived as his eyes widen when the balrog's whip lashes out from below and wraps itself around Gandalf's ankle, dragging him to the edge.

"Gandalf!!" I screech, fear gripping me as I watch him struggle to hold on, clawing at the dirt. I rush past Frodo who is held back by Boromir, but do not get far as I'm tackled to the ground. "No!! Let me go!!" I shout, struggling. The sight of Gandalf goes blurry as tears start to obstruct my vision.

All seems silent for a moment before Gandalf opens his mouth to speak. "Fly, you fools!" he calls out before letting go and disappearing into the darkness below.

I can only scream my lungs out as I'm lifted of the ground and carried outside. How will I go on without Gandalf being there? My mentor, my friend...my father.

Sad isn't it? I pictured Gandalf to be everything to Therith. He was the one who reached out to her, coaxing her to start living and guiding her along before she was able to stand on her own two feet. It's a harsh blow to the woman.

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