Ruckus to Gain Peace; Part 5 - In The Lion's Den
They soon discovered that the King of Gondor and Arnor was of a unwavering mind, and could not be deterred from his course, no matter what the danger. And they recognised this as one of the reasons he was able to stir courage in the hearts of others, thus making him a good leader. They found that another leadership quality, was the fact that he cared about the lives of others, and took it upon himself to ensure their welfare if he could.
With his mind made up, and them unable to change it, the people pointed out the way to area where the missing members of their community had gone. Aragorn set out again, with Borlach and Bór at his side. They would not let him deter them from following, just as he would not let them deter him from going in the first place. Aragorn was reminded of the stubbornness of his friends Legolas and Gimli, and quickly realised that the only reason Legolas hadn't followed him anyway, was because the Dwarf had not been present.
The trio reached the mountains, and Aragorn dismounted and let Brego leave. But the horse stayed put, and watched him. The other two followed suit, but their horses saw no reason to leave, as Brego certainly wasn't. "Don't worry about them." Aragorn said, and then spoke to the three horses in a language which the two Easterlings couldn't understand. But they guessed it was the same language that his name Elessar originated from. The horses nudged Aragorn and turned away. Then they began to walk away slowly. Aragorn turned back to the other two. "They will await our return in the last place we rested. Which would count as that settlement, because we tarried there. If you insist on accompanying me, then you must be ready to face the worst. If you are faint of heart, I suggest you call back your horse and turn back. And you'll have to be quick, before they're gone."
"I'll follow you to whatever end. I still consider myself as in your debt." Borlach replied.
"I won't falter now." Bór added. "I love my mother dearly, and I can spend time with her again thanks to you. We are both in your debt."
"If you insist. But I can promise you this won't be pretty." Aragorn replied looking at something on the ground in the light of the full moon.
"What is it?" Bór asked.
"Spiders." Aragorn replied and he cast a glance all around. "I don't like these tracks in particular." He said pointing at the ground with a grimace. "I've never seen a spider of that size before, and I'd hoped not to. Probably the mother. And all these smaller tracks are her children's. They'll be the cause of the problem. As I feared. Be on your guard. Spiders of this size are dangerous enough with just their magnitude. But, as all spiders, they're also armed with a poisonous secretion, which will render you powerless against them."
Bór and Borlach exchanged glances as Elessar walked calmly onto the old mountain path. They decided that they'd still assist him, and so followed.
Aragorn stopped constantly to check the tracks. Finally, he found the opening to a cave, and gave his two followers one last chance to turn back. But they did not turn back and so the three entered into the deep darkness, leaving the light of the stars and moon behind them, taking a single torch with them. Aragorn didn't like taking the torch with them, but if they were to be attacked, they'd have to see their assailants. Aragorn drew his sword, and his two companions followed suit. Aragorn carried the torch in one hand, his sword in his other and led the way.
He discovered something on the ground and held the torch out for one of the others to take, so he could take a closer look at what had caught his eye. Bór took the torch and held it high enough for Aragorn to see what he was doing. Aragorn hardly needed the torchlight to see what he had found. It was a jewel and it was emitting its own light. Aragorn gasped. Though he had never seen one before, he knew what lay in front of him. But it had been to his understanding that there were none left on Middle-earth. He gazed at the beautiful jewel, and understood how easy even an elf could possess a Dwarven trait in the presence of such a gem. It was the most beautiful non-living thing he had ever seen.
"A silmaril!" He whispered in awe. He reached out to pick it up. "The silmarilli were supposed to be gone from this world. One was thrown into a chasm in the ground, while another into the ocean. And the world had changed since then." Aragorn stopped himself just short of touching the gem. He stood up and turned away.
"What's wrong?" Borlach asked.
"Morgoth defiled the gems. I won't touch it." Aragorn said quietly in disgust.
"That doesn't bother me." A female, malevolent voice said in a near hiss.
The three turned to face it and Bór held up the torch for more light. What stood before them chilled their bone marrow. A giant spider, bigger than any other, stood before them, watching them keenly with evil intent. Bór gasped and stumbled backwards, dropping the torch.
"NO!" Aragorn shouted and tried to catch the torch, as it was their only hope. But it was too late. The torch had extinguished upon hitting the ground, and a deep darkness loomed around them. The spider was out of sight, and all around came the scuttling sound of many feet. Aragorn turned and grabbed the silmaril, holding it up high to give them light.
"Why thank you!" The spider said and lunged forward. She knocked the silmaril out of his hand, and he watched as she went over and devoured it.
"Ungoliant!" Aragorn gasped, understanding now. "You're still alive. You took the silmaril from the chasm in the ground. You've kept it all this time, to eat it at a later time."
"And here I see that you're no elf, but just as wise as some of them." She replied. She began to circle him it pitch darkness, but Aragorn could hear her eight legs on the ground. He turned around following the sound. "Very impressive." Ungoliant hissed, and tried to move more silently. But Aragorn's eyes still followed her, even if he couldn't see her.
"Where is it?" Borlach hissed in a panicked voice.
Aragorn stared at the darkness, and saw a patch darker than the rest. A large bulk, standing tall before him. At the foremost part of this deeper darkness were four glints of moisture. Her eyes. She was right there. He could see her, even in the dark, because she was darker. But how he followed her the most, was from the horrible sense of pure evil. An evil which had made even Morgoth worried. He heard his heart pounding in his ears. He could almost hear the spiders' anticipation to have a fresh meal.
Then he heard Ungoliant lunge forward again, but not at him. She had aimed for Bór. Aragorn threw all instincts to the wind, save the instinct to defend others, and knocked Bór away from her path. Her retaliation was immediate as she knocked Aragorn to the side with one of her forelegs. Aragorn hit the wall, and had to pull himself off, as there were traces of the spiders' silk on the wall. He stumbled away from the wall, and heard the desperation in the breath of his comrades. He held up his sword and readied himself to fight the horror that surrounded him and his companions.
It was thankful that the company still had their weapons, as they seemed to be all that kept the monsters at bay. The spiders moved around, and hissed angrily at the trio as they failed to get any closer. They wouldn't chance the weapons, as they knew of many spiders that had been killed by swords. Shelob, who had dwelt in Cirith Ungol, was one of them.
Ungoliant, however was undaunted. All she struggled with was who to go for first. With Aragorn on full alert and watching her, she decided that HE was a threat to her children. And so she made her choice. But Aragorn didn't make the situation easy for her, as he dodged her attacks. She grew frustrated, and her children decided to help, and spread their silk around the cave. Ungoliant tried a sudden attack, which Aragorn could only block. He did, but was knocked backwards. He stumbled, and a few of the spiders saw to it that he fell.
Aragorn hit the ground, but found that he couldn't get back up. There was fresh silk on the ground, and the spiders had knocked him onto it. The spiders were immediately upon him, trying to sting him, but even down and seemingly defenceless, Aragorn held them off. Ungoliant was a different matter. Aragorn had just got one of the spiders off him, when Ungoliant loomed out of the darkness, and prepared to finish him. Aragorn barely managed to free his arms, and held out his sword.
Ungoliant attacked, oblivious to his sword, until it was too late. The force she attacked at caused the sword to just glide into her abdomen. She let out a bloodcurdling screech, and her children fled in terror. They didn't know what had caused her to screech, but they didn't want to find out.
Aragorn didn't have an opportunity to enjoy his victory. Ungoliant's attack had a lot of force in it, and as the hilt of his sword stopped the blade going any deeper, the monster's weight and strength met with Aragorn's. His arms buckled and her weight came down on him. A searing pain tore through his right side, grazing past his ribs, and a cry of pain escaped his lips. He realised that her sting had made contact and hit its mark, him. All he had done was put it off course slightly. It had been aimed at his chest, but the pain caused by his sword had caused Ungoliant to go off target.
But piercing him at all was enough, and the poison was being carried rapidly through his body. Even if he survived the poison, it was only a matter of time before the other spiders came back and finished him off. He wanted to tell Bór and Borlach to search for survivors, but could make no sound as the poison stole away his consciousness. Everything began to fade in haze, and he passed from all knowledge, his body losing all temperature. He became limp as one who was dead. On the edge of his awareness, the weight of Ungoliant moved and was gone. But then he knew no more.