Chapter Six

We march down the hill to the Mines of Moria, I with high expectations, thanks to Gimli. The guy made it sound better than heaven. I have no doubt that I will be very disappointed. I lean over to Rachel, desperate to break the heavy silence. "So, what do you think the Mines of Moria will be like?" she shrugs her shoulders. "I dunno. Probably not to grand, seeing as the title says it's a mine. People can often get absorbed in their pride." I nod. "Yeah. But do you know what would be cool? If you told me that one thing that you've been keeping from us."

Rachel rolls her eyes. "I haven't been keeping anything from you. I'm telling you it's all in your head." "I know you've been hiding something, and I can't imagine why you'd be keeping it from us, I mean, we won' judge you or tell anyone." she had been keeping something a secret from us ever since sixth year. We had pestered her to no end, but she wouldn't relent. I am seriously considering tying her to a chair and making her tell us. "There. Is. Nothing. To. Tell." her patience is wearing thin. "I've told you that." "I don't think so—"

Then I trip. I trip over something that looks suspiciously like a foot, and start to tumble down the sloped path face first. My arms instinctively whip forward to protect my face as I roll onto my side, and I roll the rest of the way down until I come to rest at Gandalf's feet, sprawled on my back. I peer up at him awkwardly from my place on the ground. "Well, hello," he frowns down at me as I pull myself into a sitting position to glare at Rachel, who is laughing at the top of the hill. "Oi! At least I got down here first!" she ignores my comment. "You deserved it, Liz! You shouldn't pester me like that!"

I wait until they are all down before whapping her on the arm. "Ow," she mutters, rubbing the assaulted limb. "You deserved it," a glare.

"Dwarf doors are invisible when closed," Gandalf says while running his hand on the unnaturally smooth mountain side. "Sometimes even their creators can't find them again," "Why doesn't that surprise me?" Legolas murmurs under his breath. An indignant shout from Gimli tells us the comment had not gone unheard by the Dwarf, and I smile, ready to join in with the jesting. "That's a pity," I say loudly, not bothering to 'try' to hide it from Gimli. "You guys aren't making Dwarves sound to intelligent, are you?" Gimli growls and puts his hand menacingly on his axe, and I laugh, knowing that he wouldn't really use it against me.

The Dwarf grumbles as I laugh joyously, but we stop simultaneously when the Moon is uncovered by a dark cloud, shining its light on the mountain side. Blue lines begin to make their way into the shape of an elaborate door, glowing in the night's darkness. Gandalf makes a sound of satisfaction as he walks towards it, lighting the tip of his staff blue in the process. "Blimy! It's an over-sized sonic screwdriver!" Rachel shouts. Gandalf ignores the comment and continues to tap the tip onto the top of the door, reading, "Speak 'friend', and enter. Simple enough," he mutters an incantation, and steps back to watch... nothing happen.

"Well," he says to himself, and tries again with a different spell. "Perhaps this'll help," I step forward, my wand pointed out in front of me. "Alohomora!" agin, nothing happens. "Um, it was worth a shot?" I take a step back. "I'll let you handle this, Gandalf." he nods at me, and continues to guess. This lasts for what seems like hours, Merry and Pippin resorting to tossing rocks, and Aragorn and Sam letting Bill the Pony go. Merry throws the first rock in, and Pippin prepares another one, until Aragorn grabs his arm, whispering something.

I turn to Legolas, who has moved to stand beside me. "Why do you think he stopped them?" he looks at m. "I sense something in the water. Don't you feel it?" I look at him strangely. "Is this another weird Elf power?"

"Yes."

"Can you teach me how?"

"Yes. Now, I want you to strain your senses, try to hear everything at once, try to see everything at once, and try to feel everything at once." I nod, doing as he asked. "Now, just relax your body, you are too tense." he touches my arm, which of course makes me tense up more. "Relax." And I do, and I seem to see a dark shape underneath the surface, but I can't see it at the same time. It's like it is in my mind. "Cool," I breathe. He lets go of me, and I break my concentration to look at him. "And you do this all the time?" I say incredulously. He laughs at my tone. "Yes. Once you get used to it, it is not that hard." I grin up at him, and try to focus on Rachel.

I stifle a laugh as I see what she's doing. She is approaching Aragorn, looking very shy, and taps on his shoulder. He turns to look at her, and a cherry red blush covers her entire face. "Hi," she says. Her voice sounds faint, as if said through water. "Hello," he says calmly. "Um, what are you doing?" he looks at her strangely. "Sitting." the blush deepens. "Oh, I, um, didn't notice. I was um, sitting too awhile back." "Were you now?" "Yes. Um, I'll just be going." I break my concentration, holding back laughter.

"I can make good use with this, thanks for teaching me, Legolas," he smiles at opens his mouth to say something, before the door suddenly swings open.

Gandalf immediately strides into the pitch-black mountain, the rest of us following rather reluctantly. This was not on my bucket-list. As soon as we are all in, the darkness pressing all around us, Gandalf lights up his staff again to reveal a huge room, almost cavernous, with stone steps leading further in. I take a step forward to take a closer look, and hear my foot crunch into something. I look down to find my foot embedded in a ribcage. I stifle a scream and pull my foot out, backing up quickly. Boromir notices my distress, and looks around, realizing that that wasn't the only skeleton. "This is no mine," he says. "It's a tomb."

Legolas quickly bends down to pry and arrow from a skeleton's chest. "Orcs," he says distastefully, throwing the arrow onto the ground. Gimli seems to be stifling sobs as he kneels down next to a skeleton. "My kin," he seems to be whispering. Suddenly, Becca lets out a scream. I turn around quickly to find her being dragged out by what appears to be a tentacle. Frodo lets out a similar cry. "Mr. Frodo!" Sam cries, rushing towards him. "Becca!"

We follow them outside to find a humongous squid rising out of the water, flailing our friends in the air. In the corner of my eye I see Legolas pull an arrow out of its quiver, and shoot straight into the eye of the beast. I copy his movments and when a shoot, it sails straight over the squids head, splashing into the water. "Concentrate!" Legolas informs me, shooting another arrow. I draw another arrow, this time focusing on my movements and aim. It thuds into the squid's forehead and a do a happy little cheer. I had been aiming for the eye, but this was good enough. It screeches in pain and drops Becca, and Aragorn catches her, carrying her to land.

Legolas shoots in the other eye, and that seems to be enough for the monster. It drops Frodo (who is caught by Boromir) and plunges its body back into the water, flailing its tentacles. We all rush back into the saftey of the mountain, and the squids tentacles smash into the entrance, making rocks fall and sealing our exit.

"Well," Gandalf says, lighting his staff. "We are left at the mercy of the Mines of Moria."

0^0

We have been traveling for what must have been days, with only one or two breaks, which is why I am pleased when we stop at a small place littered with various rocks. "I have no memory of this place." Gandalf has parked himself in front of two passageways, one leading to the left, and the other to the right. I, recognizing a break, plunk myself down on a fairly large rock, Rachel and Becca joining me.

Merry and Pippin sit across from us, and Pippin whispers, "Merry?" "Yes, Pippin?" "I'm hungry." I smile as Merry gives him a glare. I can't blame him, as we hadn't eaten in the past three days. I am hungry also.

"This way." Gandalf decides, walking into the right one. "He's remembered!" Pippin says happily. "No, the air smelled fresher this way," Gandalf corrects. "Remember, always follow your nose," I get up reluctantly. "Can we just rest for a little while?" Gandalf looks around, as if waiting for someone, or something. "No, we must be on our way, Elizabeth,"

We follow the passage until we reach a large corridor with stone columns and rooms in between them. "You'll love the Mines!" Gimli informs us. "Delicious red wine, ripe meat off the bone! There is also—" he cuts himself short, his eyes trained on a room to the right. "No," he whispers. "No!" he is wailing now, running to the room. "No!" "Gimli!" Gandalf puts out a hand to stop him, but he is too late. Gimli had already reached the room. The rest of the Fellowship races after him.

We find Gimli bent over a white block of stone, sobbing. Gandalf approaches him, and reads the words carved into the stone aloud. "'Here lies Balin, Son of Hundin,'" Another wail from Gimli. "Who was that?" Gandalf just sighs and shakes his head. "An old friend. We went on a journey together, with Thorin Oakensheild." "So he was with Bilbo on his adventure!" Frodo exclaims. A certain amount of sadness covers Gandalf's face. "Bilbo?" Becca asks. "My uncle," Frodo explains. "He went on an adventure before I came along. He's writing a book about it! I've read what he has so far, and it's fairly good—" a sudden crash interrupts Frodo. We all turn around to see Pippin by the well, wincing with every noise. A chain is slipping quickly into the well, and soon enough, the bucket goes tumbling down.

By the lack of noise, I worry greatly for Pippin's well-being. Gandalf takes a step forward with the book in his hands, raised as if to hit Pippin, but he lowers his arm almost reluctantly. Instead, he settles for insults instead of physical violence. "Fool of a Took!" he says harshly to Pippin. "I was a fool to bring you along!" Pippin hangs his head in shame at the words. I feel almost sorry for him. As Gandalf walks away from the rest of us, a thundering drumbeat echoes throughout the mountain. "Fool of a Took!" Gandalf says in exasperation as the drumbeat grows louder and louder within each second. A numb feeling of fear settles in my stomach, dreading what was to come.

Boromir rushes to the old, beaten door, peering out and into the hall. He turns back to look at us, annoyance written all over his face. "They have a cave troll," he informs us. "Shit," I mutter. "Shit, shit, shit." I was to be of no help in this matter, maybe even get in the way of the others. Because even as Legolas and Aragorn barricade the door, I know that it won't hold them. We will have to fight, because that's just the way the world works around here.

Legolas and Aragorn finish blocking the door and back up quickly, bows drawn. Wait! When did Aragorn get a bow? I draw my own bow, with some difficulty, and feel utterly useless. This wasn't going to end well. I feel as if I am seconds away from death. Suddenly, Legolas shoots an arrow into the crack in the door, and a heavy thump issues from the other side. The face of another Orc can be seen through the crack, and Aragorn lets an arrow lose, killing the monster instantly. They are here. A thud echoes throughout the room as something banged on the door. Another thud, and the door snaps and collapses, letting in tons of Orcs like flies. As they swarm us, I see a huge, reptilian – like creature. The troll.

It screams and smashes a stone column, as if to say you see? I'm tough. I'm scary. You must fear me! I needed to help in this matter. I swallowed a scream and knocked an arrow, letting it lose into the chest of an Orc. It dropped dead onto the floor. I just killed someone. I shake off the shock and try to shoot at the Troll, missing by a few feet. I sigh and put away my bow, drawing my wand instead. A flash of red light goes through the room, stunning a few Orcs. Rachel and Becca follow my lead, stunning and killing Orcs. There was no time to worry about the forbidden spells right now. I might have seen a flash of dots, but I must be mistaken.

As soon as most of the Orcs are gone, I focus my spells on the Troll, trying to weaken it so that someone more experienced would come and finish it off. I don't weaken it enough though. It dances around a column for a small period of time, before roaring in triumph. It grabs a spear and jabs at something. A small noise of pain and everyone in the room goes silent in shock as Frodo Baggins falls to the floor, dead.

Everything else after that seems to be in slow motion. Sam goes to Frodo, crying, as Merry and Pippin jump on the Troll in anger. I watch the Troll open its mouth wide, and join Legolas in firing our arrows into it. With a groan, the Troll's beady eyes roll back into its head, and it collapses to the floor, motionless. I climb over the body to reach Frodo, and kneel next to him, a few tears coming to my eyes.

But then, blue eyes shoot open, startling me. I jerk my head back into Aragorn's chin, causing him to cry out in shock. Well, that'll be a story to tell to my grandchildren. "Have I ever told you of the time I broke the king's chin?" As I rub my head in embarrassment, Frodo sits up. "Mister Frodo!" Sam cries out, rushing to hug the dark haired Hobbit. "We though you were dead!" Merry explains to him, a grin on his face. "There may be more to this Hobbit than meets the eye," Gandalf says, a twinkle in his eyes. Frodo opens his shirt, revealing a glimmering chain-mail shirt. "Mithril!" Gimli breathes.

I open my mouth to ask what the hell that was, when a brush of soft fur came into contact with my hand. I look down, startled, to find a snow leopard looking up at me with blue eyes. "Oh my Lord!" I cry, running away from the creature. "Everyone, out! OUT!" no one moves. I look around, bewildered. Becca mouths something to me.

She's an animagus. That's Rachel.

Well, that's a shocker! Hopefully... I'll get to the Balrog next chapter, as this chapter was getting rather long. And I thought this was to be a shorter chapter!