Child of Mordor - Seven- yes, I know, the last said it was seven. That was my fault.
Child of Mordor- Seven
Legolas had seen her there for an instant. And it had almost cost Boromir his life. Legolas' distraction gave the creature a moment to think and it had thrown a tentacle at Boromir. The Man had sliced off the deadly limb, and caught Frodo when he fell from the Watcher's embrace. Then they had run into the unending darkness of Moria.
But Legolas had seen her. Neoresh had been watching them through the entire fight. It brought a vague sense of despair to Legolas, for it had been close to three months that he had not thought or dreamed of her. But now she had returned and if this time was the rule, she would not come at any time when he could afford to lose focus.
But he was inclined to be gloomy, even for an Elf. Moria had not turned out as Gimli had described it, with frolicking dwarves and roaring fires in every room, but as a tomb for hundreds of slaughtered dwarves. He had pulled a goblin arrow out of the rotting skeleton of one, so they knew their enemy. But it was unpleasant to climb up stairs littered with the bodies of once living dwarves, and to walk down dark passages surrounded by the watching eye sockets of the dead.
He felt a hand on his shoulder. He jumped. They had been in Moria for three days now, and even Legolas was getting jumpy. But it was only Gandalf, looking at him with curiosity.
"Walk with me a while," he said gently. "We have things to talk about."
Legolas nodded but said nothing.
"Now," said Gandalf softly. "I will go straight to the heart of the matter. You see her, don't you? Neoresh, the daughter of Sauron?"
Legolas stopped where he stood. "Do you see her?" he choked out. "How did you know I did?"
Gandalf took him impatiently by the arm and started walking again, as the others exchanged curious looks.
"I could tell," Gandalf so soft that Legolas strained even his elven ears to hear. "By the fear in your eyes. I know that there is very little you fear, and even less that would throw you from your focus."
Legolas stared. "How can live each day knowing as much as you do?" he asked in awe.
Gandalf smiled slightly. "Tricks of the trade. But back to business. In response to your other question, no, I cannot see her. But I feel her presence here, Legolas. She is like a torch that calls all creatures of evil to it. She is here now in the mines, waiting for us I know not where. And it is highly likely that I will only know when she is upon us."
Legolas was nearly knocked over by the news that Gandalf could not tell. But it was foolish to believe that Gandalf was all-powerful just because he was a wizard. But, Legolas realized, he had been doing just that.
"I understand, Gandalf. I too will watch for her, but if you cannot sense her, I will not."
Legolas was wary for the rest of the journey. It was hard to measure time underground, but he thought it was about 6 hours before they fund Gimli's cousin Balin in his tomb.
Gimli had run into the chamber, and was kneeling and sobbing with anguished moans. The rest of the company had followed more slowly, cautious of what they would find in the room. But when Gimli gave no signs of being in danger, the others rushed in.
Gandalf had placed his hand on Gimli's shoulder and muttered something about "as I feared." Legolas was saddened at Gimli's loss, but he should have expected it. Then Gandalf bent to the dead dwarf beside the tomb and removed a thick book from its skeletal hands. He glanced at the writing in the book and Legolas shivered. He could feel something stirring in the outer reaches of the mines and he felt a gnawing fear that he knew what frightened him.
He leaned to Aragorn and whispered to him. "We must move on. We cannot linger." Fear drove his thoughts, and his voice grew soft.
But Gandalf ignored Legolas, if he had heard at all, and began to read aloud.
"They have taken the bridge, and the second hall. We have barred the gates, but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums, drums in the deep. We cannot get out. A shadow draws near. We cannot get out. They are coming."
Legolas felt the blood drain from his face. So this was how the great dwarves of Moria had spent their last days. Trapped, surrounded by the enemy, with no hope for life. He fought back a shudder.
Then he jumped, and Boromir next to him cursed. Pippin, the youngest, and silliest, hobbit, had pushed the skeleton of a dwarf down hole in the great chamber. The noise, which was not the loud, rang like a thunderclap in the silence of the mines as it went on a downward journey, crashing into hard stone, and crying out their presence to whatever hid in the mines.
Gandalf turned slowly around to face the hobbit, poorly contained fury on every line of his face.
"Fool of a Took!" he exclaimed, and Legolas assumed he was insulting the creature's lineage. "Throw yourself in next time, and rid us of your stupidity!"
Legolas would have laughed if he hadn't heard the drums.
Silence fell in the tomb.
The drums grew faster....
Faster, and then they lost all rhythm and were just a pounding war beat for the thousands of feet Legolas could hear making an even deadlier pounding in his ears. Then one of the hobbits spoke, and Frodo pulled out his sword. Legolas instantly recognized it as Sting, and saw its blue glow. But only needed that to confirm what he had already guessed.
"Orcs," he hissed.
Boromir ran to the door, his footsteps adding to the pounding noise of Orcs, drums, and shrill cries. He flung the door open and two arrows hit scant inches from where his face had been. He jerked back, his face pale, pulling the door shut behind him.
Aragorn ran to his side, and pushed one of the heavy axes that littered the floor into the two door brackets. Legolas moved forward, bent and threw him another one. Just as the Man put that in, they heard a roar, and Boromir muttered, "They have a cave troll!"
Legolas took a moment to wonder why everyone's hidden sense of humor rose when they were facing certain death, then stepped back towards the hobbits, determined to honor his vow. He had promised Frodo his bow, and his life, and he would stand by that. So he drew his bow, fit an arrow to it, and waited for his death to come pounding in.
When the first Orc broke a hole in door, Legolas fired threw it and heard a squeal of pain as the Orc died. He had taken another arrow from his quiver and held his bow at the ready again before the next Orc had made its way to the dead one's place. Merry, one of the hobbits, sucked in his breath at the shot and the speed of Legolas' reflexes. Legolas spared him a look that he hoped was a smile and not a grimace before he returned his attention to the door.
Then the Orcs burst through.
They came in a swelling tide of death, carrying with them a stench so horrible that Legolas's keen Elf senses reeled. His eyes watered, but he bit it back and regained his balance.
Please, he thought, as the Orcs surged around him. Please, don't let her come now. Then all he could do was hope that the Valar knew who he meant.
Neoresh walked silently along the halls, Gurthdae loping in front of her, every muscle hard and tense poised for battle. Everything was dark in Moria, so dark even that even Gandalf and Legolas, the elf, had needed to summon light. But Gurthdae was a warg, and needed no light to see in the dark, and Neoresh willingly followed his lead.
Her black gown snaked along the floor, and her black veil covered her pale face and ebony hair, causing her and her wolf to simply disappear into the shadows. Her black eyes flashed at every sound, but it was always far in the distance, and she would continue on. She had somewhere to go, and she had little time left.
The battle was over in minutes, but to Legolas it seemed to have gone on for hours. He was not tired or stiff as Aragorn and Boromir were, but his mind was wearied from the constant action. Never before had he fought in such a battle, and he was ashamed to admit to himself that he had been afraid.
His heart had also stopped for a minute when it appeared that Frodo had been gored by a blow. But he wore Bilbo's old coat of mithril, and the attack had only bruised and winded him.
Legolas had let his attention wander, but now he was brought sharply back by the sound of more Orcs shrieking and running.
"To the bridge of Khazad-Dhum!" hissed Gandalf.
Gandalf led the way, and Legolas followed almost instantly. Boromir and Aragorn stayed back to guard the hobbits and for a moment Legolas wondered if he should help them, but he would have slowed them all down if he had waited. So he renewed his pace and sped forward, close behind Gandalf.
Then, from all around him, he heard a noise that struck chords of fear in his heart. Orcs, scuttling down from the walls and up from the earth, running behind them, screaming their feral battle cries and shifting ahead of them in the shadows so that, Legolas realized with a heart-stopping jolt, they were completely surrounded.
But Gandalf continued to run. Legolas' lungs fought for air as his mind fought for a way to escape. But never before had he been in Moria, and he knew nothing of its secret ways and of its exits. So as his tired lungs began to heave, Legolas felt in his bones that these painful gasp would be the last breaths he ever drew.
Gandalf had stopped now, and purely out of reflex Legolas had drawn his bow and had an arrow nocked before he had entirely stopped running. The swords of both men and the wizard were out, Gimli brandished his axe, and all four hobbits had their little knives in their hands, Frodo's glowing an almost blinding blue. At the sight of Frodo's brave and weary face, Legolas felt shame at his exhaustion, his desire to give up and die, and prepared to die as a hero, as all those around him would do.
The earth roared under his feet. Red flames lit up his vision. Shadows danced across his eyes until they formed one pattern. A woman, robed in black.
Legolas noticed with the back edge of his mind that all the Orcs were scuttling back into the hide-aways in the walls and suddenly wished he could do the same. Gimli shouted vaguely in triumph, and Legolas looked at him scathingly until he quieted. Then all their eyes turned to great bursts of fiery light that were slowly erupting along the length of Dwarrowdelf. They lit up the entire length of the hall, like great shadows of flame. Shadow. And Flame. And then Legolas understood. He did not need to look at Gandalf to know she was here.
Then she appeared.
A dark figure, sweeping down the hall in her slow, deadly walk, every step burning into Legolas' soul. He saw all the others stare at her black figure, casting no shadow in the deadly light of the monster that approached them. Boromir was the first to speak.
"What is this new devilry?" he breathed to Gandalf.
Gandalf did not speak. The hobbits had turned toward him and stared with fear in their eyes. Legolas realized what Gandalf felt. Could he frighten them anymore than they already were?
When at last he spoke, he had made his decision by giving Boromir the other answer to his question.
"A balrog," he said slowly. Legolas heard Boromir curse softly in anger. That was not the answer to his question.
"A demon of the ancient world." His voice quivered. Then he spoke again, and this time he acknowledged the greater evil that was ahead of them. "These foes are beyond any of you." And now, the placid voice of the powerful wizard rose in fear. "Run!"
No one needed any urging, and even the hobbits kept up moving at twice the pace of the others. But the red light gained on them and gained on them, until Legolas could feel the heat of it on his back. And once again, as his lungs fought to fill themselves, he prepared himself for death.
Neoresh walked slowly down the column of light cast by the balrog. Even its fiery shadow would have scorched an ordinary mortal to death, but Neoresh was used to fire and hardly noticed the heat on her skin. Her eyes glowed like obsidian and scored lines of pain down the backs of the members of the Fellowship that brought up the rear. They would bear her scars till death.
Something was catching in her lungs. She was breathing hard, as if she was running and as if she was tired, but she was only walking and was quite rested, even using mind control over he Balrog. Balrogs were thick-witted creatures and she had found it easy to gain control of this one. But now she was limping and there was nothing wrong with her legs. She looked up suddenly, for no reason, and caught a glimpse of blond hair whisking around a corner. Legolas, the Elf. Why was she connected to his thoughts? How was that possible? She wanted to kill him and suddenly she was inside his mind? She had to be free of him immediately, or else she would die with him. But try as she might, she could not loose her connection to him without loosing the balrog. And if she lost the creature, it would turn on her. She would have to be ready to lose them both at the last moment.
Something caught at her heart when she thought of Legolas dying. She had been watching him, and he had been the easiest mind of all the Fellowship to enter. He was the only who was curious about her. She meant something to him, something more than just a tool or a ruler to be afraid of, as she was with her father and with Saruman. And he meant something to her.
Neoresh shook her head to clear it and cut her arm with her own power to bring her out of Legolas' mind. He feared her, and all she felt for him was thankfulness that he was so easy to use. There was nothing more between them. Nothing.
Suddenly, anger welled up inside her. She wanted to mean something to somebody and she was jealous of all the happiness the Fellowship enjoyed. It seemed like they had their happiness at her expense, and she suddenly wanted better than to slaughter them all. She wanted their leader. Gandalf. She would rip their structure out from under them and see how well they held.