Lady From Beyond the Sea - Chapter 4-A Dark Journey, and a Dark Secret
When they halted for the night Gandalf called a council to decide what course they would now take. Legolas kept a watchful eye on Zandra, though she said little. Her comments on the mountain had increased his curiosity. But he could read nothing in her expression. Her face was carefully blank, and the depths of her eyes were inscrutable. As he examined those green eyes he tried to think of a color that he could compare them to, oak leaves perhaps, or maple, but nothing was quite right. He turned his attention back to Gandalf.
"There is a way we may attempt," he was saying, "I thought from the beginning that we should try it. But it is not a pleasant way, and I have not spoken of it to the Company before. Aragorn and Zandra were against it, until the pass over the mountains had at least been tried." Legolas turned his gaze back to Zandra, but her face was fixed as if frozen.
"The road I speak of leads to the Mines of Moria," said Gandalf. Dread fell over Legolas at the mention of that name. Gimli lifted up his head, a smouldering fire in his eyes. Zandra abruptly stood, and walked a little away from the circle, her back stiff, as if she were struggling to hold herself under control.
Why did she do that? wondered Legolas, for it seemed very uncharacteristic. But then he still did not know her well.
"The road may lead to Moria, but how can we hope it still leads through Moria?" Aragorn said darkly.
"I will tread the path with you, Gandalf!" said Gimli. "I will go and look on the halls of Durin, whatever may wait there--if you can find the doors that are shut."
"Good Gimli!" said Gandalf. "You encourage me. We will seek the hidden doors together. And we will come through. I the ruins of the Dwarves, a dwarf's head will be less easy to bewilder than Elves or Men, or. . ." he hesitated for a moment, and it seemed to Legolas that he glanced at Zandra, "or Hobbits. Yet it will not be the first time I have been to Moria. I passed through, and I came out again alive! But the question is: who will follow me, if I lead you there?"
"I will," said Gimli eagerly.
"I will," said Aragorn heavily, "You followed my lead almost to disaster in the snow, and have said no word of blame. I will follow your lead now--if this last warning does not move you. It is not of the Ring, nor of us others that I am thinking now, but of you, Gandalf. And I say to you: if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!"
Legolas saw Zandra whirl around at Aragorn's words, and for an instant he saw the fear in her eyes, before she shut them, swallowing and breathing heavily, her fists clenched at her sides.
"I will not go," said Boromir; "not unless the vote of the whole company is against me. What do Zandra, Legolas and the little folk say? The Ring-bearer's voice should surely be heard?"
"I do not wish to go to Moria," Legolas said, his eyes intent on Zandra, What could have inspired that fear in her? Slowly she unclenched her fists, and opened her eyes. Their expression was again carefully controlled, though Legolas could see some emotion flickering occasionally, though to fast for him to read. She lifted he chin, almost as in defiance of some unknown foe.
"I will follow where you lead Gandalf." she said clearly. Suddenly it seemed the howling of the wind grew louder. Aragorn leapt to his feet.
"That is the howling of wolf-voices. The wargs have come West of the Mountains!"
"It is as I said," Gandalf muttered, "The hunt is up! Who now wishes to journey south by night with wild wolves on his trail?"
So the Company left to search for the doors of Moria the next morning. Legolas attempted to engage Zandra in conversation as they marched, but she was unreachable. She seemed to have withdrawn into herself, only responding to a few remarks that Gandalf made to her. Legolas sighed in frustration at all of his unanswered questions.
Finally they came to a dark still lake. Neither sky nor sunset was reflected on its sullen surface.
"There are the walls of Moria," said Gandalf, pointing across the water. They made their way around the lake, and soon they found two large holly trees.
"Well here we are at last. Holly was the token of the people of Hollin, and they used it here to mark the end of their domain, the West door of Moria." He turned around and looked at everyone, Zandra was standing a little apart, gazing off across the lake, her back deliberately towards the walls.
"While I am searching, will you each make ready to enter the Mines? For here I fear we must say farewell to our beast of burden."
"But you can't leave poor old Bill here!" cried Sam, "It'd be nothing short of murder to turn him loose with all these wolves about."
"It will be short of murder, I hope," said Gandalf. He laid his hand on the pony's head, and spoke in a low voice a few words of blessing, "There Sam! He will have quite as much chance of getting home as we have."
Zandra came away from her vigil at the lake with a tender look in her eye, and helped Sam unload Bill, speaking soft words of comfort to the forlorn hobbit.
"Well, here we are, and all ready," said Merry, "but where are the doors?"
"Dwarf doors are not made to be seen when shut," said Gimli, Legolas rolled his eyes at the pride apparent in the dwarf's voice. The moon came from behind a cloud, and faint lines appeared, like slender veins of silver running in the stone.
"What does the writing say?" asked Frodo.
"They say only: The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter."
What does it mean by speak, friend, and enter?" asked Merry.
"That is plain enough," said Gimli, "If you are a friend, speak the password, and the doors will open."
Gandalf tried several commands of opening, but to no avail, so he sat down to think.
"Do not let that pony run away!" said Boromir, "It seems we shall need him still. . . How I hate this foul pool!" He stooped and, picking up a large stone, he cast it far into the dark water.
The stone vanished with a soft slap, but at the same instant there was a swish and a bubble. Great rippling rings formed on the surface out beyond where the stone had fallen. Legolas, who was again covertly watching Zandra, saw her shake herself out of her stupor at the splash.
"Do not disturb the water!" she said anxiously, " I have seldom sensed water so unwholesome. Dark things dwell in water such as this."
Legolas looked at her, surprised at her vehemence, then he heard Gandalf start laughing, and turned his shocked eyes to the wizard.
"I have it!" he cried, "of course, of course! Absurdly simple, like most riddles when you see the answer."
Picking up his staff, he stood before the rock and said in a clear voice, Mellon! Legolas saw the star shine out briefly, and fade again. Then silently a great doorway was outlined, though not a crack or joint had been visible before. Slowly it divided in the middle and swung outwards inch by inch, until both doors lay back against the wall.
"I was wrong after all," said Gandalf, "and Gimli too. The opening word was inscribed on the archway all the time! The translation should have been say "friend" and enter. I had only to speak the Elvish word for friend and the doors opened. Quite simple, too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days. Now let us go!"
He strode forward and set his foot on the lowest step, and Legolas began to follow, when suddenly Frodo cried out, and they whirled to see a long sinuous tentacle wrapped around Frodo's foot, and dragging him into the water. Sam was slashing at it, but his knife did little. Zandra drew one of her curved swords, and the sharp blade sliced cleanly through the tentacle. Then Sam began to drag Frodo away, and twenty other arms shot out of the water.
"Into the gateway! Up the stairs! Quick!" shouted Gandalf. Legolas roused from the horror that had seemed to root him to the ground where he stood, and began to follow the others into the gateway, when he noticed Zandra, seemingly frozen staring into the darkness of Moria, her sword loosely clasped in her hand, as the tentacles seethed behind her.
"Zandra!" Gandalf roared, as he too noticed her paralysis. Legolas swiftly ran to her, and grabbing her arm, dragged her into the Mine. They were just in time. Legolas and Zandra were just a few steps up when the groping tentacles seized the doors on either side, and with horrible strength, swung them round. With a shattering echo they slammed, and the Company was plunged into darkness.
Legolas felt Zandra go stiff beside him, and heard her gulping breathes of air.
"Zandra?" he whispered, gripping her arm again. She pulled away from him. Then Gandalf lit his staff, and he saw her, her arms wrapped around herself, and for an instant he saw the stark panic in her eyes. Then she got control again, and it was gone, so quickly that he almost doubted that he had seen it.
After only a brief rest they started on their way. They marched on and one. It was after nightfall when they had entered Moria, and they had been going for several hours when Gandalf had his first serious check.
"I have no memory of this place at all!" he said. Zandra was standing beside Legolas, and she gave a little whimper. Legolas looked at her, but her eyes were unreadable again, and there was no sign that she had made a sound.
"I am too weary to decide," Gandalf said at last, shaking his head. "And I expect that you are all as weary as I, or wearier. We shall halt hear for what is left of the night."
They found a chamber near the archway, and cautiously filed in. In the middle of the floor there was a large round hole, like the mouth of a well.
They all began to unroll their blankets and make their beds as far from the hole as possible. Legolas noticed that Zandra took special care to be as far from both the hole, and the door, as possible. Her movements were stiff and jerky, much different from the grace that he had noticed at Rivendell.
Suddenly there came a plunk, very distant, but magnified and repeated. Legolas drew his bow, and tensed his body, ready for anything.
"What's that?" cried Gandalf. Legolas let his breath out in relief when Pippin confessed to dropping a stone down the well. "Fool of a Took!" growled Gandalf. "Throw yourself in next time, then you will be no further nuisance. Now be quiet!"
Nothing more was heard for several minutes, though Legolas strained his sensitive Elvish ears for any trace of sound, when there came, out of the depths, faint knocks: tom-tap, tap-tom then, after a while the knocking died away, and was not heard again.
"You, Pippin, can take the first watch, as a reward," Gandalf growled, and rolled himself up in a blanket.
Legolas could not fall asleep, so he laid awake in the darkness. Presently he saw Gandalf rise and tell Pippin to get some sleep. Legolas did not know how much time had passed when he hear someone cry out in their sleep. He started up, and felt Zandra thrashing in her blankets. He rushed over, and touched her sweat drenched hair. Gandalf also got up and came over.
"Zandra!?" he whispered, gripping her arm to shake her awake. She jerked her arm away from him, and curled herself up in the corner. He could see the faint glitter of her eyes looking at him, but he had the feeling that she wasn't seeing him. Gandalf lit his staff again, and Legolas could see that Zandra was staring unseeingly, pure terror filling her eyes. He reached towards her again, but pulled back as she cringed away from his touch.
Gandalf brought the light closer, and touched her forehead, murmuring that everything was alright. Finally her shoulders relaxed, and awareness entered her eyes, she buried her face in her hands. After a while she looked up, and her face was again calm, though Legolas could still see a hint of fear in her eyes, kept carefully in check.
"I. . ." Zandra swallowed, "I think I had best take over the watch. I shall not sleep again this night." She smiled, though Legolas could tell it was forced. Gandalf nodded mutely. She walked to the doorway, and sat with her back to them. Legolas heard a splash of water on the stone, and a faint glow appeared before her, turning her huddled figure into a faint silhouette.
Legolas turned a questioning gaze to Gandalf, who sighed in resignation.
"She has gone through a lot," he said quietly, "The unrelenting dark terrifies her."
"Why?" Legolas asked.
"When I found her, . . . she was in the dungeons of Dol Guldur."