For hours, the fellowship trudged through the deep snow with the whistling wind causing a blizzard of snow to be driven in their faces and hair. They struggled, single-file, along the narrow ledge through the waist-high snow. Their limbs were shaking with cold and snow clung to their hair, beards and clothes.
Silvren could feel the cold air numbing her skin and she fought to keep her teeth from chattering as Legolas walked lightly over the top of the snow leaving no more than a simple impression in the snow, the cold not affecting at all. Silvren, not liking the seemingly bottomless pit the ledge hung over, walked in the snowy trench behind Gimli, who was grumbling as he went. She could hear what she thought was whispering through the howling wind. The whisperings sounded like shrill cries ad wild howls of laughter as if someone was watching them struggle through the snowy storm. She heard it again and realized that it was in fact a cold voice chanting as if the person was reciting a spell. The voice sounded dark and full of hatred as it whistled past her delicate ears.
Legolas, who had been walking beside on the ledge, suddenly scurried ahead of her to the ledge that lay in front of Gandalf. He stood there gazing out into the howling wind and snow that was being driven into his face, listening carefully to the voices that he too had heard.
“There is a foul voice in the air.” he called out to Gandalf.
“It’s Saruman!” Gandalf shouted into the wind.
A loud thunderous crash sounded from above them and the snow covered rocks came crashing down over the side of the ledge.
“He’s trying to bring the mountain down!” Aragorn shouted to Gandalf as the swirling snow clung to their hair, face, and clothing. “We must turn back!”
“No!” Gandalf shouted, glaring back at Aragorn. The old wizard climbed up onto the snowy ledge and began chanting a spell into the wind which did nothing but make Saruman even more furious. A bright bolt of lightning flashed through the ominous clouds overhead and struck the snowy peak of the mountain that lay directly above them.
Silvren’s eyes shot up to see the lightning hit the peak and then see a torrent of snow come crashing down towards them. The mass of snow poured down upon the awaiting fellowship and covered them in a dark, clod heavy blanket of snow. Silvren gasp as the cold snow engulfed her in its dark blanket of icy cold wetness and shut out all light there was outside.
“Silvren!” Legolas called out as he fought his way out of the snow, his voice full of panic and fear as some of the snow fell into his mouth and quickly melted upon touching his warm tongue.
Silvren could hear someone calling her name as she struggled through the snow, trying to reach the surface. Her head finally broke through the mass of snow that had buried her. She gasped for air as she cleared the snow away from in front of her and off her face. “Legolas?” Silvren coughed and glanced about her.
“I’m here.” he answered her faint call to him.
Right in front of her, Gimli fought his way out of the snow, grumbling as he came up from beneath the snowy grave. The other members of the fellowship broke through the snowy barrier as well, the poor hobbits nearly frozen as their teeth chattered none stop.
“We must get off the mountain!” Silvren heard Boromir shout to Gandalf. “Make for the Gap of Rohan and take the west road to my city!”
“We can’t go that way, the Gap of Rohan takes us too close to Isengard!” argued Aragorn, the wind howling past him and the hobbits, seeming to carry his voice off with it.
“If we cannot pass over the mountain, let us pass under it!” Gimli said excitedly. “Let us take the road of Moria.”
Silvren gnawed on her lower lip at the clouded expression that passed over Gandalf’s aged face at the mere mention of Moria. She knew a little about Moria and to her that was plenty of knowledge for her. She had no desire whatsoever to enter the mines but she knew she would if she had no other choice.
“Let the Ringbearer decide.” Gandalf said at last.
Everyone turned to gaze upon Frodo who was sheltered beneath Aragorn’s arm. Frodo glanced helplessly at Sam who stood beneath Aragorn’s another arm. But Sam could only look at Frodo in return and shrug his shoulders as if to ay he didn’t know.
“We cannot stay here!” Boromir called out over the howling of the wind as he grasped Merry and Pippin tighter as the shivered violently in the cold. “This will be the death of the hobbits!”
Frodo shivered and looked back as Gandalf before answering, “We will go through the mines.” The words sounded like a high-pitch, blood gurgling scream of death to Silvren’s ears.
Soon they were all trudging back down the steep slope of the mountain as the snow falling down upon them grew thinner and thinner. Frodo’s legs ached and he was chilled to the bone as well as hungry and in much need of rest. A cold wind blew against their backs as they continued tiredly down the slope towards the path that would take them to the dreaded gates of Moria.
It was sometime later in the evening when they finally halted for the night, all of them well exhausted and all deserving the much needed break on their bodies. The small group sat huddled in a small circle as they quietly ate some food they had packed for the trip. The wind that had died down was now creating a hissing noise among the rocks and trees that lay nearby. A howling and wailing sound was carried upon the wind a sent a series of fright-filled tingles down their spines.
Aragorn jumped to his feet after hearing one the howls and exclaimed, “It’s the howling of wolf voices. The wargs have come west of the mountains!” his voice was filled with alarm and fear as his blue eyes gazed out at the trees and rocks and then back down at Gandalf.
“How far is it to Moria?” asked Boromir.
“There is a door South-west of Caradhras about fifteen leagues as the crow flies.” Gandalf answered grimly.
“Then let us start as soon as it is light tomorrow, if we can. The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears.” said Boromir as he glanced over at Silvren who quickly glanced away from his unwanted gaze.
“Aye, that is true.” Aragorn muttered as he loosened his sword from its sheath. “But where the warg howls, there the orcs prowl.” he gazed at Boromir as took his seat once again.
“I wish I had taken Master Elrond’s advice.” Pippin muttered to Merry. “I don’t think I’m any good after all.”
Silvren smiled to herself, overhearing Pippin’s quiet remark. For their safety, they company climbed to the top of the small hill under which they had been sheltering under. It was crowned with a knot of old and twisted trees, about which lay a broken circle of stone boulders.
Aragorn lit a small fire in the middle for all of them knew that there was no hope that the darkness and silence would keep their trail from being discovered.
They sat huddled around the fire and while Gandalf took the first watch, the others dozed uneasily.
Legolas sat with his back leaning against one of the cold, hard boulders. Silvren sat curled up next to him like a young elfling with her head leaning against his chest. Legolas’ arm was wrapped protectively around her as his other hand rested on his leg, ready to grab his bow in an instant. Both Legolas’ and Silvren’s bow and quiver lay inches away from them in case they were needed.
Poor Bill trembled and sweated with fear but he remained where he stood. The howling of the wolves was now all around them, sometimes closer and sometimes further away. The night was pitch black with no moon or stars to comfort them. The small fire that sat in the middle of their group was the only light they had and even that was failing.
In the dead of the night many sinister eyes were seen peering over the top of the hill, some of which slowly advanced towards the ring of stones. At the gap of the circle a great dark wolf-shape appeared. His eyes shone brightly with revulsion and his growl was low and fearsome. He stood at the gap of the circle gazing at them and then he let out a tremendous how that resembled a captain commanding his army to attack.
Gandalf jumped to his feet when he saw the large wolf-shape approach the ring and walked towards the shape with his staff held high in his hand. “Listen, foul beast of Sauron, Gandalf is here. Fly if you value your rotten skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout if you step within this ring.” Gandalf growled, his eyes also glowing with a tremendous fierceness.
The wolf snarled at Gandalf and sprang at the old wizard with a great leap, but as he did, a great ‘twang’ was heard. Legolas stood with his bow in hand and Silvren remained sitting as she stared mutely at the great beast.
There was a hideous yelp s the leaping figure fell to the ground with a loud, heavy thud. The elvish arrow pierced the beast through his throat. All at once the shining eyes that had been watching them vanished.
Aragorn stood up and walked over to Gandalf and together they walked forwards and discovered that the hill was now deserted, the entire pack had fled. All around them was silence; nothing was to be heard except the whistling of the wind that was dying down.
The night was old and the waning moon which they could not see was setting behind the breaking clouds when Frodo suddenly started from his sleep. Silvren and Legolas were also woken suddenly and without warning a storm of fierce howls broke throughout the entire camp. A great host of wolves had gathered silently and were now attacking them from all sides.
“Put more fuel on the fire!” Gandalf shouted to the frightened hobbits. “Draw your blades and stand back to back!”
Through the light of the blazing fire, Frodo could see many grey shapes leap over the ring of stone and many more followed them.
Aragorn stabbed one of the shapes through the throat and Boromir sliced off the head of another one. Next the tem stood Gimli with stout legs spread apart, wielding his iron axe, his eyes eager to draw some blood.
The arrows of Legolas and Silvren flew through the air and into the hearts and of the wolves. Stooping over the fire, Gandalf lifted a burning branch and strode forward to meet the wolves. The y backed away from him with their tails between their legs as he approached.
“Naur en edraith amen! Naur dan I nagurhoth!” Gandalf cried.
With a roar and a crackled the trees above him burst into flames and the fire leapt from tree-top to treetop and the entire hill became crowned with a burning light.
Legolas sent his last arrow whistling through the night air and plunging into the heart of the chief wolf. All the remaining wolves fled and the fire slowly died down until there was nothing but fallen ashes and sparks left. A bitter smoke rose from the burned tree-stumps and drifted away from the hill. Everybody settled back down but no one slept.
The following hours dragged by slowly as they waited for the clouds to break and the sun to rise. When the sun finally did rise from the east there was no sign that the wolves attacked them earlier. All that remained were the burnt tree-stumps and the arrows of Legolas and Silvren which were all intact but one of Legolas’.
“Let us eat quickly and then be off.” Gandalf said to them us they prepared their breakfast and put away their blankets.
The weather had changed for the better that day. The wind that had been blowing during the night had ceased and the clouds vanished from the sky, leaving the sun to beam down upon them.
“We must reach the doors but sunset.” Gandalf gazed at the mountains before them. “Or I fear we shall not reach them at all.”
“Then lead on.” Boromir said grimly.
Gandalf led the company back towards the mountains and as the morning passed them by, the company still wandered across the barren country of red stones.
All was bleak and dry, no water was to be seen nor heard. There was no living thing or birds to be seen except for them. The land seemed completely void of life.
The company was footsore and tired, but they trudged along the rough, winding path for many miles. Silvren remained by Legolas’ side no matter how fast or slow he walked, she dared not leave his side. Soon they came to a sharp bend in the road and as they rounded the corner they saw before them a low cliff with a broken and jagged top. At the top of the cliff there seemed to be an overhanging slab of rock that looked like a broken section of an old bridge that had brown water trickling down as if it were a natural waterfall.
Silvren cringed at the sight before, she was use to seeing rocks but the rocks she was accustomed to were comforting and beautiful, not jagged and fearsome. The place looked so haunting and bare to her; it was as if no life could survive there, unless you were a dwarf she thought. Silvren shuddered at the thought of what could be living in there, and for one spilt second, she wished she had stayed behind in Rivendell. She glanced down at the hobbits who were trudging along in front of her and in front of them walked Aragorn who looked just as displeased about the place as she and Legolas did. Gimli, who was in front of Aragorn, hopped and strutted eagerly up the road. Boromir walked just ahead of the dwarf and in front of him was Frodo and Gandalf was a couple of paces in front of him.
“Frodo, come and help an old man, will you?” Gandalf asked the young hobbit who was a few steps behind him. Frodo hurried forward and took part of Gandalf’s weight onto his shoulder.
“How’s your shoulder?”
“Better than it was.” Frodo answered quietly.
“And the Ring? You feel its power growing, do you not?” Gandalf asked in a hushed tone. “I’ve felt it as well. You must be careful now. Evil will be drawn to you outside the Fellowship and I fear…from within.”
The two stopped walking and Boromir caught up to them and passed them as Gandalf and Frodo glanced up and watched him suspiciously.
“Whom then do I trust?” Frodo whispered.
“You must trust yourself.” Gandalf muttered in return, both of them speaking in low voices. “Trust your own strength.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are many powers in this world, for good and for evil. Some are greater than I am and against some, I have not yet been tested.” Gandalf spoke in a way that Frodo was still lost and confused.
At that moment Gimli gave a sudden gasp of awe as he pointed ahead at the sheer cliff face of grey stone. It was ragged with the signs of time, water and wind.
“The walls of Moria.” Gimli murmured.
Silvren drew in a deep breath when she saw the walls that lay behind a dark lake of water. The sight before her made her nervous and the place seemed so unreal and disturbing. Dead trees seemed to grow out of the water near the rocky ledge, and lichen seemed to hang from the branches which made the area seem even creepier.
Slowly, they made their way to a narrow ledge and land between the cliff and the dark water. Fallen rocks and stone littered the ground beneath their feet.
Silvren shuddered as they walked past the filthy lake, there was something about it that sent a warning signal through her body, but she didn’t know what it was so she kept her mouth shut. Her ring which hung on a golden chain beneath her tunic was emitting a pale blue light but she didn’t know it. Legolas reached behind him and grabbed her hand and squeezed it, trying to sooth her nerves as he pulled her closer to him.
“Dwarf doors are usually invisible when closed.” Gimli said cheerfully as they walked along the narrow ledge. He tapped his axe against the stone wall and tilted his head towards the wall, listening carefully as if searching for the hidden door.
“Yes, Gimli.” Gandalf said as his own eyes carefully scanned the stone wall for any sign of a door.
“Even their own masters cannot find them if their secrets are forgotten.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Legolas whispered so Gimli could hear him and Silvren bit back a smile and small giggle.
“Uh!” Frodo muttered as his foot slipped and splashed into the murky water and shook in disgust as they continued along the dry strip of land.
Not far ahead of them, Gandalf had stopped walking and stood beneath the overhanging branches of two Holly trees. They were the largest Holly trees Silvren had ever seen and wondered why they grew so large in a dismal place such as this.
“Ithildin.” Gandalf murmured silently. “It mirrors only starlight and moonlight.” he said as he turned around and glanced up towards the sky as wisps of thin clouds floated in front of the white moon.
The white moonlight rested on the stone wall and the carved notches lit up and glowed with silver light. Gandalf smiled and took a step back as he lifted his staff and followed the words over the glowing arch. “It reads, ‘The doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter’.”
“What does it mean by ‘Speak, friend, and enter’?” Merry asked.
“Oh, it’s quite simple.” Gandalf said. “If you are a friend, you speak the password and the doors will open.” Taking a deep breath, he stepped back and lifted his staff once more and pressed it against the star shaped carving in the middle of the door that was carved beneath the hammer and anvil. “Anon edhellen, edro hi amen!” Gandalf said in a powerful and commanding voice.
Silvren gazed at the stone doors as nothing happened. She cast a slight glance over at Legolas and then down at Pippin who looked up at her and shrugged his shoulders. Gandalf grunted beneath his breath but refused to give up. “Fennas nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!” Nothing happened.
“Nothings happening.” Pippin murmured.
Silvren glared at Pippin and slapped his back, hoping he would remain quiet.
“I once knew every spell in all the languages of Elves, Men and Orcs.” Gandalf muttered, his face growing weary frustrated.
“Don’t worry, it’ll come back to you.” Silvren tried comforting him.
“I certainly hope it does, my dear. Otherwise we shall be in quite a bit of trouble.” he glanced up at her with eyes full of wisdom and fear. A tingle crept up her spine and she gulped back her fear.
“What are we going to do then?” Pippin asked, obviously not paying any attention to Silvren’s hint.
“Knock your head against these doors, Peregine Took!” Gandalf growled as he turned his gaze upon the young hobbit. “And if that doesn’t shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will try to find the opening words.” he said and turned back to the door.
Silvren stood wearily beside Legolas beneath one of the Holly trees as Gandalf continued chanting spells in many different tongues and even tried them backwards but nothing seemed to work. Legolas ran his fingers ever so slowly through her short hair, his mind seeming to be elsewhere as he gazed off into the distance.
“The mines are no place for a pony. Even one as brave as Bill.” She heard Aragorn say softly to Sam as they took their gear off the pony’s back.
“Bye- bye Bill.” Sam choked.
“Go on, Bill. Go on.” Aragorn said with a gentle pat on Bill’s back.
“Don’t worry, Sam, he knows his way back home.” he said as Bill went clomping back the way they had come.
A splash of water caught Silvren’s attention and she turned to see ripples in the water from a rock that Pippin had thrown. Obviously Merry and Pippin had grown bored and were trying to entertain themselves as they gathered up rocks along the waters edge.
Silvren watched as Merry flung a rock into the water. Pippin lifted his arm to throw another rock but was cut off by Aragorn as he grabbed the hobbit’s arm. “Do not disturb the water.” he hissed and then glanced up and met Silvren’s gaze. She noticed the same fear and uneasiness that she felt reflected in his soft eyes and he too could read it in hers.
“Oh it’s useless.” Gandalf muttered as he flung his staff to the ground and took his hat off his head as he sat down on a rock in silence.
The ripples of the water grew and came closer as Merry and Pippin squinted into the darkness as if they were searching for something. Aragorn and Boromir were also starring out at the water with a look of concern on their faces.
“It’s a riddle.” Frodo said suddenly. “Speak friend and enter.” he glanced over at Gandalf. “What’s the elvish word for friend?”
“Mellon.” Gandalf glanced up at the young hobbit.
A low rubble came from the wall and the heavy stone doors slowly scarped open, revealing a dark, empty cave. Everyone stood to their feet and stared at it in wonder, somewhat relived that the long wait was over. Gandalf started in first as he fixed a clear stone to the top of his gnarled staff. Slowly and unwillingly, Silvren stepped down from the root she had been standing on and followed Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf into the darkness. Aragorn and Boromir also followed but kept glancing back at the filthy look. Neither of them had a good feeling about the lake, but just like Silvren neither of them said anything.
“Soon, my elven friends,” Gimli said proudly, “you will enjoy the fabled hospitality of the dwarves! Roaring fires, malt beer, and ripe meat off the bone!”
Gandalf blew gently on the clear stone and it lit up, shedding a soft glow in the dark room and then a look of dismay invaded is facial expressions.
Silvren gasped in horror and a sick feeling fell over her as she gazed about the deserted room. Numerous rotten corpses lay scattered on the stone floor and stairs. They were bodies of dwarves that still had their armour on and wisps of grey beards clinging to the lower jam of their skull. Some of the corpses were still clutching their axes and had arrows protruding through their cobweb covered corpse.
“This, my friends, is the home of my cousin, Balin.” Gimli said happily, not yet noticing the disaster that surrounded them. “And they call it a mine. A mine!”
“This is no mine.” Boromir muttered in disgust. “It’s a tomb.”