Keeper of Realities — Part 2
Burning out of Moria
Laurie slowly pulled herself up the last few feet of the Khazad-dûm wall. She was exhausted. Not from the climbing – after years of running and hiding from people who would be very happy to kill you, you get in very good shape – but transferring energy. It had taken almost all she had to take the weariness out of Gandalf to almost a caffeinated level; and more so to drain the Balrog. Laurie was weak and injured. Yet in her reserves, enough power still remained to bring the whole of Moria down.
The orcs were gone when she reached the top; but even so, Laurie slunk out with a hidden grace that would make any cat feel ashamed of its clumsy ways. Laurie slumped down against the wall, mentally wincing. The whole right side of her body was almost numb; and the parts that were not burned as if doused by hell-fire. Which, in a way, they had been.
Laurie brought her undamaged left hand up to her face: the left side was how she remembered it; but the right was raw and blistered in a burn. Laurie couldn’t see herself in a mirror – she was too real but knew what a sight she must look: red, black, white and raw. Terrible to look upon – twisted and devil-like, torn and mutated.
Ignoring the resisting stiffness of her side; Laurie pulled her dark, oversized hood over her face, letting it shadow her countenance. Then, small but upright, she ran at a great speed out the doors of Moria to follow the Fellowship.
Laurie ran for perhaps half an hour until she caught the Company, then slowed.
Keeping her head slightly bowed, Laurie approached at a slower pace – yet one of equal grace. At that moment, Frodo turned and saw her.
He was at first confused. Did he recognize this figure, covered though she was? Surely this was no Nazgul, for the cloak was green and stature straight. But there was a sort of presence, a radiating power, coming from her.
Aragorn noticed the Ringbearer had stopped, and turned. There was Frodo, staring at – whom? As swift as all his years as a ranger had taught him; Aragorn drew his bow and would have shot had not Frodo stopped him.
“Don’t shoot! She is a friend!” He said, surprising himself. “I know her; she knows Gandalf!” Aragorn stopped short but did not lower his bow.
“How do you know her?” By this time the rest of the Fellowship had turned to witness this exchange . . . and to see the strange figure not fifteen paces away. “Gandalf has never spoken to me about this . . . person.”
“I don’t remember.”
“I do!” This last part came from Sam, and Aragorn turned to him in surprise. Frodo never took his eyes off the figure who had stopped just ten paces off, as if knowing what was happening. Frodo walked up to her.
“I saw her!” Sam said, “In Moria! She saved my life, and Mr. Frodo’s too!”
“Laura?” Frodo asked softly when he had reached her, “Why are you here? I thought I saw you in Moria! But you fell after Gandalf!”
“Yes,” said Laurie in a low voice so that only the Ringbearer could hear her, “but I did not fall.”
“Then how are you here? Can you fly also?”
“Maybe. However, what I meant is that yes, I did follow Gandalf, but only for a way. I did not fall.”
“You weave mysteries with your words,” Frodo said, shaking his head. Somehow the loss of Gandalf did not seem so grievous with Laurie here. He knew everything would be all right. Well, almost everything. “Will you not come with us now that you are here? We are almost to Lothlórien.”
“Yes, I know. Listen.” Laurie and Frodo turned to watch the rest of the company.
Aragorn was still asking Sam if he was sure it had been this girl he had seen, at least until Legolas spoke his part. “Look, she is here! Frodo knows her, shall we not trust our Ringbearer?”
The rest of the Fellowship turned to look at where Frodo and Laurie were standing next to each other, as if old friends, watching them.
“Well,” said Gimli, “I will follow the Ringbearer.”
“Mr. Frodo?” Sam turned to Frodo, “You know her?” He would have taken a step forward had not Boromir stopped him.
“Why does she hide her face from us?” He asked Aragorn in a low voice. “Is she a witch come from Lórien to lay her spell on the Ringbearer?”
“I do not come from Lothlórien.” Laurie said, hearing him, “Why do you question me? I have done you no wrong.”
“Yes, but why do you cloak your face?” Frodo asked, confused, turning to her: “You never did before!”
Laurie looked at him sadly; she wished to tell him the truth – but knew that, while he would accept her as she was if she removed the hood, there were others in the company who would be prejudice against her because of first appearance. Would not that this world were free of those who saw only beauty as good! What that her old looks were here now! But she had sworn to assist Gandalf; and she had.
“I beg you do not ask me, or attempt to force me to remove this hood as yet.” Frodo looked curious, but trusted the young Qua enough not to ask anymore.
“Why not?” Pippin asked, almost a challenge from the young hobbit. Merry punched him.
“Shh! Who cares? I like her voice, let her talk!”
The men were not so easily satisfied, though. “Don’t let her come.” Boromir said stoutly.
“Let us give her until Lothlórien at least.” Aragorn replied.
“Why? So her witch friends will help her?”
“You do not know of which you speak! She will come.” He turned to Laurie, “On the condition you remove your hood.”
“I will not! Shoot at me as you will, but I will go on my own, and not be forced to hurt others for a whim!”
“Laura,” Frodo said quietly, turning to her, “why does it matter so much? Remove your hood, this is not the battle.”
“I know,” Laurie answered, sadly, “I am attempting to stop it.”
“What do you mean?” The rest of the Company (except the men who were still arguing, and an occasional quibble between elf and dwarf) were watching them. Frodo and Laurie spoke in such low voices that they could not hear the exchange, however. “What is wrong with showing your face? You did before!”
“Yes. Before. Frodo, I must ask you to trust me. What I do; I do for a reason.”
“I do trust you; you know that.” Frodo said, and then, in a louder voice: “Strider? Let her come, at least to Lórien. She is of no harm to friends.”
Laurie held out one fair hand in a sign of peace, and bowed slightly. As one, Boromir might have noticed, might to someone of a higher class attempting to seem humble. But even he, at his graceful measure, gave in.
“I apologize for any inconvenience you may have been caused by my presence. But whether I come or not, the orcs are.”
“She does have a point,” Merry noted.
“Come then, and hurry!” Aragorn started off at a faster rate then before toward the Wood.
“Why don’t you sing us a song of your people, Laurie?” Pippin asked after a while. The talk had died down, and he was getting slightly bored.
“Yes, do,” added Frodo, “for my heart longs to know more.”
“My songs have little cheer in them,” Laurie warned, “but listen, and you will learn.” Under her hood, a slight smile touched Laurie’s lips, and she began:
“Beyond the hills and trees of old
There is a place from Fairy- tales
Where lived the heroes brave and bold
When times were fair and compassion true;
“In this place there was a child
Who wished to rule the free lands
And kill the fair and the mild
The true, the kind, the gifted ones.
“Little knew of his endeavor,
Little knew of their destruction
From a one so well and treasured,
So they helped him defeat the good.
“He went out and took the old ones
Killed the young, enslaved the middle
His only weakness was his only son
Come from cruel things he had done.
“Now there was left one hero
Who knew the only weakness
By the name of Lastil Nero
He stopped the evil one;
“But he was so soon forgotten
For none did stand and fight
By the one who was begotten,
And died that very night;
“That he saved all the free lands
By taking his own life,
For he was the only son of
The cruel one’s own wife.”
Long after Laurie fair voice had stopped its melancholy ringing through the early trees of Lothlórien, the Company was silent, with the song ringing in their minds.
Author’s Notes: Thank you all for reading this!
This is actually much closer to my normal part length, so don’t worry! The last one was four parts compacted. Yes, I know I should have put it in 2- 3. Oh, well. *sigh.*
I really appreciate any comments you want to give. Thanks!