Lady From Beyond the Sea - Chapter 5--Kazad-dum
Zandra listened as Gandalf told Legolas of their meeting.
"I had just finished speaking to Thror, though I didn't know who he was at the time, and I was continuing on to try to discover if the Necromancer was in fact Sauron, when I heard a soft cry from the cell next to the Dwarf King. "Please," she cried, "Please don't go. It's been so long since I have seen light." Her plea broke my heart, so I approached her, brightening my staff so she could see more light. She had been in the dark so long that it nearly blinded her."
Zandra shuddered at the memory. It had been so dark, then the light came around the corner, and her heart had leapt with a hope it had not felt in uncounted years. When it left she could not help but cry out, taking the risk that it was but one of Sauron's servants.
"She was pale from lack of sun, her eyes dull from hopelessness; it tore at my heart. She thanked me profusely, her voice ragged from disuse. I asked her how long she had been there, and she merely shrugged. Her eyes were busy devouring the light. Despite the obvious comfort that the light brought her, I had my mission still to accomplish, so with regret I turned to go. "Please," she said again, "take me with you." With much remorse I promised her to return if I could. I could not put my mission at stake." Gandalf paused, and Zandra could hear the emotion in his voice as he continued, "As I left, I could hear her crying softly, I had never heard anyone cry in a manner quite like it. It was completely devoid of hope. I turned back, I could not leave her."
Tears blurred the glowing pool Zandra had created. He had abandoned his mission for her. No matter that she had been able to tell him the Necromancer's identity, he had not known. Gratitude swelled her heart anew. She had known as he turned away, that if he left, so would her last vestige of hope, and with no hope she would go mad. After all that time spent trying to stay sane, to come so near to escape, and be abandoned would have finally broken her.
"It took her a whole month to remember Thror's name. If not for her I wouldn't have found Thorin, and we would have still be plagued by that dragon. And worst of all, someone else would have found the Ring."
"I saw her," Legolas whispered, "At the Battle of the Five Armies, and wondered who she was."
"She couldn't have told you. She couldn't remember her name for several months after that," Gandalf said sadly.
"She couldn't remember her own name?" Legolas asked appalled. Zandra winced at the tone in his voice.
"It had been too long since anyone had used it," the wizard said bitterly. Zandra recalled the anguish of not knowing her name all too clearly. "There is still much that she cannot remember."
Zandra could feel Legolas's gaze on her back, and wondered bitterly what expression was in his eyes. Horror? Disgust? Shock? Curiosity? Or, worst of all. . .pity? She closed her eyes against the unexpected wave of pain that this thought brought. She didn't know if she could bear seeing pity in Legolas's eyes. She would prefer seeing nearly any expression but that.
She was surprised at the depth of her feeling about that. Why was she so worried what Legolas thought? She shook her head slightly to clear her thoughts. It wasn't the fact that it was Legolas, she told herself, she hated seeing pity in anyone's gaze. That was all . . . or was it?
"I know her name now," Legolas was saying, "But I am no closer to discovering who she is. Who is she?"
Zandra sighed and shook her head again. Good question, she thought to herself, Who am I?
Gandalf roused everyone from sleep, and announced his decision to take the right hand passage. They marched on, and more swiftly, for they had reached what had once been an important road.
More than once Zandra felt Legolas's gaze on her, but she would not let herself meet it, for fear of what she would read there. She was heartily ashamed of her loss of control in the night, and was determined it should not happen again, even if it meant that she did not sleep until they left Moria.
Eventually they came to a large cavern, which pleased Gandalf very much, "I chose the right way," he said. "At last we are coming to the habitable parts. I will now risk a little real light."
Zandra turned her face to Gandalf's staff. She had seen more than enough of caverns, but the light was very welcome, even though staring at the light temporarily blinded her, she drank in every precious second of light.
They decided to spend the night in the great hall. As Zandra unrolled her blankets, Legolas hesitantly approached her.
"Will you be all right?" he asked. She looked at him sharply, her chin raised, ready to defy his pity, but she could read only concern in his expression.
"Uh,. . . yes," she said, tripping over the words, "Really it is not the dark. It is the combination of the dark and the small space." She risked a small half-smile, "That guard room, or whatever was too much like. . ." she stopped, unable to force the words out. "But this," she flung out one arm, to indicate the great cavernous hall, then shrugged her shoulders, "I can handle this."
Legolas nodded, and turned to unroll his own blankets, but stopped as she continued, "Th. . .thank you though. Legolas." she said hesitantly. He smiled in return, a tender look lighting his eyes.
Zandra turned swiftly back to her blankets, for once very thankful for the dim light, as it hid the blush that heated her cheeks. Fool! she castigated herself, It was only kindness. You are a ninny to read anything more into it. This darkness has muddled your head.
The morning dawned, and much to Zandra's surprise and delight, they could see it, though dimly to be sure. After they breakfasted, Gandalf counseled them to look around before deciding which way to go. They found a large square chamber. A shaft of light fell directly on a single oblong block. Zandra felt a chill come over her at the sight of it. Frodo voiced her thoughts.
"It looks like a tomb," he muttered, and bent forward to look more closely at it. Gandalf stood next to him, and read aloud the words inscribed upon it.
"Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria."
"He is dead then," said Frodo. "I feared it was so."
The Company of the Ring stood silent for a while, but at length they stirred, and soon found the shattered remains of a book. Gandalf glanced over it, and began to read.
"We cannot get out. They have taken the Bridge and the second hall. . . The pool is up to the wall at Westgate. The Watcher in the Water took Oin. . .We cannot get out. . . The end comes, . . . drums, . . . drums in the deep. . . They are coming."
At those words Zandra felt the now familiar fear well up inside her. Trapped in the dark again. No light. A scream began to form in her throat, but she stifled it sternly. She forced the fear back, and became aware of Legolas's hand on her arm. She looked up and saw the encouragement in his eyes. She smiled, and nodded her thanks.
Suddenly there came a great rolling Boom which seemed to come from the depths below. 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.
"Slam the doors and wedge them!" shouted Aragorn.
"No!" Zandra cried, the panic creeping up again, "we must not shut ourselves in!"
"Keep the east door ajar! We will go that way, if we can," Gandalf advised.
Boromir wedged the door shut with broken sword blades. But a huge arm and shoulder slowly pushed it open, and a great, flat, toeless foot was forced through below.
"The Shire!" Frodo suddenly called, stabbing with Sting at the hideous foot. Arrows came whistling in, and Zandra and Legolas sent theirs in return. Then the orcs came flooding in, one after the other. Zandra drew her blades, and, driven by her hate for these things created by pure evil, she darted among the orcs, her razor sharp swords flashing like lightning. None who faced her survived. Suddenly the attackers fled howling, and Zandra whirled in time to see Aragorn split the head of an orc-chieftan, and Frodo slip to the ground, a spear in his side.
"No!" she yelled, as Aragorn scooped up the stricken hobbit.
"Now!" shouted Gandalf. "Run for it!"
They made for the stair. Gimli had to be dragged away by Legolas. Boromir shut the door behind them.
"I am alright," gasped Frodo. "I can walk. Put me down!"
Zandra cried aloud in delight as Aragorn almost dropped him in amazement.
"I thought you were dead!" he cried.
"There is no time for wonder," called Gandalf. "Off you go, all of you. Wait for a few minutes for me at the bottom, but if I don't come soon, go on!"
"No!" Zandra cried in protest, "I can't leave you to hold the door alone!"
"Do as I say!" Gandalf said fiercely, and Zandra reluctantly followed the Company down. Soon, without Gandalf they were immersed in darkness. Zandra grabbed up one of the water bags and poured some water into her hand. With a little bit of concentration she formed it into a small globe, and it's center began to glow with a faint blue light, but it was enough to see by. She led them down the passage.
Suddenly at the top of the stair there was a stab of white light, and Gandalf came flying down the steps, urging them on ahead of him.
"Now for the last race! Look ahead, the Bridge is near," Gandalf called, "If the sun is shining outside, we may still escape!"
Suddenly Zandra saw before her a black chasm. At the end of the hall the floor vanished and fell to an unknown depth. The outer door could only be reached by a slender bridge of stone. At the brink she halted for a moment as Gandalf called out:
"Lead the way Zandra, straight on and up the stair beyond the door!"
Obediently she made her way across, followed by Legolas, Gimli and the hobbits, and last Aragorn, Boromir, and Gandalf. She glanced back and saw a red glow growing in brightness. When they reached the other side she saw Legolas turn and set an arrow to his string. Then, to her shock the arrow fell to the ground.
"Ai! ai!" he wailed, "A Balrog! A Balrog is come!"
Her head snapped up, and she saw in shock the immense creature of shadow rear up, wreathed in flame.
"A Balrog," Gandalf muttered, "What an evil fortune! And I am already weary. . .Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly!" Aragorn and Boromir did not heed the command, and Zandra started back. The others halted just within the doorway at the hall's end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face the enemy alone.
Determination glittered in Zandra's eyes, all fear forgotten.
"Go back!" Gandalf warned Zandra over his shoulder.
"Water quenches fire Gandalf." she said, her voice stone hard, "I can defeat this foe."
"No." He held her gaze for a moment, and a great battle of wills ensued. "You must go with Frodo." Tears stung her eyes, and she nodded her understanding.
Gandalf stood in the center of the bridge, facing his foe. Zandra whirled around and blocked Aragorn and Boromir's path as they tried to run to Gandalf. She heard the ringing clash as red sword met white.
"He cannot stand alone!" Aragorn cried, trying to pass Zandra, but she stood firm, if Aragorn tried to push her she would fall into the darkness.
"Aragorn, we need you," she whispered, "Frodo needs you."
A surge of power hit her, and knocked her into Aragorn. She twisted around and saw the bridge crack. With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung it's whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasping vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. "Fly you fools!" he cried, and was gone.
Zandra felt the cry build up in her throat, "Gandalf!" she screamed, anguish tearing at her soul. He had saved her, freed her, and she had been forced to stand by while he fell into darkness.
They ran wildly up the stairs beyond the door. Several times Zandra stumbled and nearly fell, her pain making her unsteady on her feet, but each time Legolas was nearby and held her up.
Thus, at last, they came beyond hope under the sky, and felt wind on their faces. They did not halt until they were out of bowshot from the walls.
Zandra gazed around her. The sun was shining; the clouds were white and high. After the darkness of the mines, the sight should have made her cry out for joy. But her vision was blurred from the tears that stung her eyes, and all she could think was: It should have been me. I should have fallen. Gandalf should be here, not me. Not me.