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Old October 12th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter

Chance Encounter

Title: Chance Encounter
Author: Telcontar Rulz
Disclaimer:I don’t own anything you recognize. I wish I did.
Category: LotR/KoH crossover
Type: Action, Adventure, Drama, Humour
Rating: Teen
Characters: The Fellowship, Faramir, Eomer, Balian of Ibelin, Guy de Lusignan, Galadriel, Celeborn etc.
Warnings: Violence, Torture
Brief Summary: The Fellowship of the Ring meets up with someone not of their world. Will he help them or will he hinder them?


Chapter 1: Campfires and Whirlpools.

A/N: This is my first ever fanfic so please be nice and review. If you don’t like crossovers then don’t read it. Also could be slightly AU.

The night was dark for the new moon gave no light to the inhabitants of Middle Earth. Clouds veiled the stars. There was nothing except for the small group of people making camp on the coarse grass.
Pippin wanted a fire, or to be exact, he wanted a fire so he could have a hot meal. For some strange reason that was beyond the hobbit’s comprehension, Gandalf had forbidden them to light a fire. Stranger still, Merry had agreed with the wizard.

“You don’t know who might be watchin’ us, Pip,” his cousin had said. Pippin thought that the entire Fellowship was being overcautious. He did not like his supper cold and he disliked standing watch even more. Staring into the dark for two hours was not his idea of fun. Fortunately for him, Boromir noticed how much he hated standing watch and would often do it for him. Pippin was extremely grateful that the generous man of Gondor was part of their Fellowship.

Sam looked wistfully at his pots and sighed. He, like Pippin, wanted a hot meal but he understood the dangers of making a fire. Not for the first time, he wished that the Ring had not gone to Frodo. Hobbits were not supposed to travel so far from home. Moreover, they were not supposed to go on quests to save the world. That was supposed to be the responsibility of the Big Folk.

Aragorn was taking the first watch of the night. His keen Ranger’s eyes peered into the darkness, discerning the slightest movements. He tried to concentrate but his thoughts kept on wandering back to Imladris. He pulled out his pipe then decided against lighting it. Even the slightest amount of light might betray their position to the enemy. He felt the presence of someone behind him and he turned around to see the dark silhouette of Legolas.

“You seem restless, Estel,” said the elf softly.

“I was thinking of our time back in Imladris,” explained the man.

“Ah,” said Legolas knowingly and Aragorn felt the urge to hit the elf on the head. It was slightly difficult to do so as he was sitting down whilst the elf was standing.

A light shot from the sky down to the ground some miles south of their camp, startling the entire Fellowship. Boromir leapt to his feet and unsheathed his sword. Pippin choked on his water and Frodo’s hand flew to the chain on his neck.

“Mithrandir, what was that?” asked Legolas.
“I’m not sure,” replied Gandalf. “Whatever it is that fell from the sky, we will come across it sometime tomorrow, if it hasn’t moved from where it fell.”
________________________________________

Balian stared out across the dark, tossing waves. His mind was on Jerusalem, on Sibylla. She had refused to relinquish her power and she chose to stay in the East. He could have stayed and become her Champion but he had had enough of politics. Deep down, he was hurt that she had chosen power over him. “The heart will mend,” Brother John, the Hospitaller, had said. Balian doubted that his ever would. One particular large bolt of lightning struck the water, narrowly missing the ship that he was in. Suddenly, the water started to swirl, creating a whirlpool that was dragging the ship down. Everyone panicked and even Balian was afraid. He did not want to be pulled down into a watery grave. The mast cracked and the ship broke into two. Balian clung on desperately to a crate full of spices, trying to keep his head above water. The last thing that he remembered was the cold salty water flooding his mouth and nostrils.
________________________________________

“So what do you think fell from the sky last night?” asked Pippin. Merry rolled his eyes. His cousin had been asking everyone ever since the event.

“A comet,” replied Frodo. He too, was getting tired of the young Took’s question.

“Peregrin Took,” growled Gandalf. “If you do not shut that infernal mouth of yours, I shall sew your lips together.”

From the back of the column, Aragorn snorted and broke into a coughing fit. Legolas’ lips were pressed tightly together as the elf fought to suppress his laughter. Boromir, who did not know the wizard quite as well as the others did, looked genuinely surprised. The hobbit in question, much to his credit, shut his mouth and sulked.

Merry came up behind Pippin and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “If we walk a little faster, I daresay we would come across whatever it is quite soon,” he said. “It fell just behind that boulder.”

Pippin was not the only one whose mind was on the mysterious falling object. Legolas and Gimli were also debating about the same topic.

“I say it was just a rock,” rumbled the dwarf.

“How do you know it was not a fallen star, or a sign from the Valar?” demanded Legolas.

“You elves have an overactive imagination,” snorted Gimli.

“And dwarves lack the ability to think beyond their limited knowledge,”
retorted the elf.

Sam seemed so amazed to see one of the Firstborn behaving in such a childish manner that he could only stare at Legolas and say nothing.
“Alright children,” said Aragorn to both the elf and the dwarf. “Stop arguing. We’ll find out soon enough.”

“Wait a moment…” began Legolas indignantly.

“Who’s the child here?” finished Gimli. They glared at Aragorn who shrugged, and left them to their endless debating. He caught up with Gandalf, who was at the front.

“We should be just about there,” he said to the wizard.

“You want to know, don’t you?” said Gandalf.

“Well, a little curiosity is good for the health,” said Aragorn.
Gandalf chuckled. “Go on ahead then, if you are so curious,” he said.
“Do you think it’s safe?” asked Aragorn.

“It’s only a couple of yards away,” said Gandalf. “We’ll be able to help you if you find trouble.”

Aragorn sprinted ahead. Legolas saw him leave the group and left Gimli in mid-sentence to follow him. Not to be outdone, the dwarf cursed and ran after the elf. The man and the elf reached the boulder together and stared down at their find. It was a man, lying face down on the ground. His clothes were damp and his dark hair was stiff with a white powdery substance. Aragorn knelt down next to the man and felt for a pulse. “He’s still alive,” he said to no one in particular.

Legolas also knelt. The elf took some of the white substance from the man’s hair. He rubbed it between his fingers and sniffed it. Then he cautiously licked it. “Salt,” said Legolas. “He’s covered in salt.”
Aragorn turned the man around. He looked familiar but he did not know where he had seen him before. The man’s skin was dark like an Easterling’s. A red puckered scar ran down the side of his face from his temple to his jaw. His beard and moustache were also dark and neatly trimmed. His hands were rough and calloused, much like Aragorn’s own. A finely crafted sword with a red jewel embedded in its hilt was strapped to the man’s belt.

“Where could he have come from?” asked Legolas. Aragorn looked at his friend and suddenly, he understood why the man looked so familiar.

“He looks like you, Legolas,” said Aragorn.

“Who looks like the pointy-eared elvish princeling?” said Gimli, catching up with them and puffing hard.

“This man here,” replied Aragorn “the man who fell from the sky.”

The rest of the Fellowship soon reached them and they made camp there for the night. They stripped the man of his wet clothing and brushed as much salt of him as they could. Since he was more or less of the same size as Boromir, they dressed him in some of Boromir’s spare garments. Not once did the stranger wake.

Pippin was tempted to shout in the man’s ear or do anything to wake him. The stranger had a lot of questions to answer.
________________________________________
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Last edited by nuit; February 20th, 2008 at 09:13 PM.
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  #2  
Old October 12th, 2007, 05:35 AM
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GeminiGirl GeminiGirl is offline
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Well you certainly got my attention with that TR, this is a very intriguing start! Look forward to seeing how this develops.

I notice you have rated this story YA, so it should be in the mature fanfiction forum. If you don't have the password, you can pm Nuit and I'm sure she'll move this over there as well for you.

~Gem~
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Old October 12th, 2007, 10:13 AM
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Avalon Mists Avalon Mists is offline
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Agree with Gem, an intriguing start. You've got the tone of the fellowship's characters, some quite in particular. Will be much interested in the second installment.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Wow!! Really interesting
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Old October 12th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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WOW WOW WOW!!! I love it!!!! I love Balian so this is the perfect story for me!!! Mines up by the way. 'Confused' I'd love it if you could tell me what you think!!
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Old October 13th, 2007, 09:05 PM
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Interested to see where you are headed! I have moved your fic as you see, if you think that it will not rate the mayure section than please let me know.
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Old October 13th, 2007, 09:52 PM
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Great start. I am very interested in where this is going.

I enjoyed your conversations, you had it just right with Legolas and Gimlis, fantastic stuff.
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Old October 14th, 2007, 03:46 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter


Disclaimer: I don’t own anything or anyone that you recognize. They all belong to their respective creators/directors. I’ll put them back when I’m through with them.

Thank you to everyone who reviewed. Your comments were most inspiring. Thanks to Nuit for moving this to the right section. I knew I would've missed something when I read the guidelines.

Chapter 2: The Blacksmith

Once again, night fell and Gandalf refused to let the Fellowship have a fire, despite pleas from Pippin. The stranger was still unconscious, much to their annoyance. They were silent as they sat in a circle close to each other, each immersed in his own thoughts. The only sound was the constant scraping of rock against metal as Boromir sharpened his sword. No one noticed when the stranger’s eyes slowly opened.
________________________________________

Balian found himself staring at a dark sky riddled with stars. He was lying on dry, hard ground and he had no recollection of how he got there. All he remembered was his head slipping beneath the dark turbulent waves. As he became more aware of his surroundings, he could hear muffled whispers somewhere close by. Cautiously, he turned his face towards the sounds. Less than a foot away from him sat a group of nine people. Four of them were so small that they could only be children. Their garb was strange to him, some more than others. What struck him as most unusual was the lack of a campfire on a cold night such as this. He tried to lift his head for a better look but fell back with a small groan. His body ached fiercely and his head swam.

“He’s awake,” he heard someone say. A hand lifted his head while a cup was put to his lips.

“Drink,” commanded a different voice. Cool sweet water flooded his mouth and soothed his parched throat. When his vision cleared, he saw nine pairs of concerned eyes looking down at him.

“Where am I?” he asked, squinting up at them.

“We are near Hollin,” said the old man with a long grey beard and solemn grey eyes.

“Is that in Europe, or the Holy Land?” asked Balian. He had never heard of a place called Hollin but then, he had not heard of Ibelin before his father told him of its existence.

The old man looked at one of his companions, a man of about forty with dark silver-streaked hair. The man shrugged and the old man turned his attention back to Balian.

“We know naught of that which you speak,” said the old man, whose voice was unusually strong for one of such a great age. He stroked his beard. “Where do you hail from, stranger?”

“France,” replied the confused blacksmith. How could anyone not know about Europe or the Holy Land?

The dark haired man and old greybeard exchanged looks again.
“Who are you?” asked the one with dark hair.

“I am the blacksmith,” said Balian.
________________________________________

Aragorn sighed with exasperation, causing Legolas to smirk. The man glared at the elven prince who tried to look innocent.

“If you are a blacksmith,” said Aragorn “how did you come by such a sword?” He indicated the stranger’s fine weapon.

“Family heirloom,” replied the stranger. He did not seem like he was about to say anymore on the matter.

“What is your name?” asked Gandalf, hoping that the stranger’s name might help them to find out where he was from. He was dark, like one of the Haradrim but his clothes were definitely not from Harad. Neither was his accent. The more they questioned him, the more confused they became.

“Balian,” replied the man. He would not elaborate.

“Balian,” repeated Gandalf, trying out the name on his tongue. It did not sound like a name from Harad, nor was it a name of the Rohirrim or the Gondorians. This was getting stranger but the moment and Gandalf did not like it. Was Balian –if that was indeed his real name- a spy or was he just an innocent blacksmith as he claimed to be.

Balian did not want to give up his true identity. He had become too famous over the last few months for his liking. He did not want to be forced back into fighting to regain Jerusalem. He’d had enough of war to last a lifetime. He told them his real name only because he thought it was a common name. From the old man’s expression, it apparently was not.

“Balian,” cut in a glowing blonde being with a piercing blue gaze. “What do you know of Mordor?”

The question surprised the blacksmith. “Nothing,” he replied. What in the world was Mordor? Was he supposed to know anything about it?

Legolas scrutinized the man’s expression. It was quite blank. Either the man was a very good actor or he was genuinely confused. He looked at Aragorn to see what he thought of all this. Aragorn looked just as confused as Balian. The elf decided to try something else. “When we found you, you were covered in salt and your clothing was damp,” he said. “Why?”

“I was shipwrecked,” replied Balian “in the ocean.”

Now Gandalf knew that the man was no spy. If he was a spy, he would have had a more credible answer. Hollin was nowhere near the sea. Something strange was going on.

Balian could sense the relief his interrogators felt. He looked at them for an explanation as to why they had been so suspicious. None came and he was not about to openly ask for one.

“You must be hungry,” said the one with dark hair, handing him some travel rations.

“Thank you,” said Balian, taking the food gratefully. His stomach ached from being so empty. Then he noticed that he was dressed in clothes that were not his own.

“These garments…” he began, looking at the dark haired man.

“Your clothes were damp and salty,” replied the man. “Boromir over there lent you some of his spares.” He indicated a younger man with light-brown hair and a serious face.

“I thank you for your generosity,” Balian said to Boromir. All of a sudden, it seemed as if all the suspicions of this strange group had evaporated. They all started talking at once, introducing themselves.

“My name’s Pippin,” said one of the small beings which Balian had mistook for children. “I’m a hobbit.”

“I’m Merry,” said another. “I’m Pippin’s cousin.”

Balian nodded at these enthusiastic ‘hobbits’, unsure of what to say.

“Gimli at your service,” said a short, stout creature with masses of red hair and a thick red beard.

“Er…Balian at yours,” he said awkwardly. The creature had to be a dwarf. There was no question.

Gimli chuckled. “You’ll get used to it lad,” he said. Balian warmed up to him immediately. He reminded him of Brother John who was always uncommonly kind and cheerful.

The food strengthened him and he managed to sit up by himself. The blonde being was watching him carefully and Balian nodded at him to tell him that he did not need help. For a while, they looked at each other. Finally, the blonde one spoke.

“I am Legolas,” he said so quietly that only Balian could hear him.
“I…” began Balian but the Legolas cut him off.

“I heard you the first time you told us your name,” he said.

Balian did not know what to say to that so he kept silent.
________________________________________

The next morning, Balian was woken by the sound of hobbits fighting over food. He watched with silent amusement as Merry and Pippin squabbled over the last bit of spiced sausage until Gandalf stopped them with a piercing glare. The rest of the Fellowship ignored the young hobbits. They were used to their antics.

Aragorn watched as the stranger offered to help Sam carry some of the supplies. He seemed to have no harmful intentions but the ranger was not sure. His story was too strange to believe yet it could not have been a lie.
Sam seemed reluctant to let anyone touch his precious pots but after reassurances from Balian, he finally let the man share his load. The one called Frodo seemed unusually nervous. Balian did not question the hobbit, sensing that it was none of his business and that it would be better if he did not know. Pippin’s complaints about how heavy his pack was distracted Balian and he hurriedly offered to help the young hobbit. Unlike Sam, Pippin readily agreed.

A/N: Well, here’s the second chapter. It’s not very action packed yet but I promise you it will get more exciting once they reach Moria. After all, Balian has never seen anything like it before. ________________________________________
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Old October 14th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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Well I can see how Balian will be of help to the Fellowship with his skills but I wonder what he is going to get out of this adventure... Would be quite a thing to deal with, to suddenly 'be dropped' in the middle of a strange world such as Middle Earth with all its weird and wonderful people and beasts... A very interesting concept TR, looking forward to the next chapter!

~Gm~
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Old October 14th, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Well, anything with Balian (or the Elf for that matter) is of interest. Enjoyed what I have read so far and it would certainly be confusing to the blacksmith from Earth

Interesting concept which I will follow with interest.

thanks TR

cheers
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Old October 16th, 2007, 07:56 PM
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Thanks TR I do wonder how he'll be able to go back, but maybe he just won't want to after he becomes friends with the Fellowship.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 02:19 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Review Replies:

GeminiGirl: Balian still doesn’t really know what’s going on, but he’s a flexible and tough guy so he’s just adapting and trying to figure out what this place is and what he’s supposed to be doing here. He’ll get some help from his new acquaintances. Since he comes from a superstitions period in time, he’ll accept the strangeness easily enough.

Stormdancer: Poor blacksmith is certainly rather confused at the moment, but he’s not one to ask many questions and so he’ll wait for people to offer him clues and answers and then piece it together himself.

Lydia: I’m still wondering how he’ll get back myself. He definitely has nothing left to draw him back to his own world because Sibylla abandoned him, poor baby.

Thanks to all reviewers. Any comments are welcome.


Disclaimer: I don’t own anything or anyone that you recognize. They all belong to their respective creators/directors. I’ll put them back when I’m through with them.

Chapter 3: Change of Plans

The Company, along with its latest addition, carried on travelling south towards the Gap of Rohan. Legolas watched Balian closely, searching for any clue as to what sort of man the blacksmith was. He seemed like the quiet sort who readily agreed to anything. The elf wondered what sort of background the man had and where he had gotten his scars. Balian did not seem to have opinions at all yet he must have as he did not seem like a simpleton. He just seemed to be content helping out whenever he could.

They continued walking day and night, stopping only for slight rests. Gandalf did not want to stop during the day at all but after the hobbits’ constant nagging, he reluctantly agreed to let them stop for lunch on the third day after Balian joined them. Upon stopping on a small rocky hill, Sam pulled out the last of the sausages and set about preparing a meal. Boromir, Merry and Pippin practised swordplay. Frodo watched Sam cook. Balian brushed down the pony as best as he could and fed their beast of burden a few apples. He looked up to see Legolas smiling.

“You like horses?” asked the elf.

“I shoe them for a living,” replied Balian.

“Is that all you do for a living?” questioned Legolas.

“I make farming tools and weapons, amongst other things,” said the man.

“How did you get that scar?”

Balian smiled a little and did not answer. “Some things are better left forgotten,” he said. Legolas cocked his head and did not ask anymore questions. So the man had a past that he wished to forget. He left Balian tending to the pony and went to stare into the distance. Behind him, Legolas could hear Gimli giving Gandalf a piece of his mind. Legolas shook his head. The foolish dwarf wanted to go through Moria.

A dark cloud appeared in the distance. Legolas frowned. It was unnatural to see a single dark cloud in an otherwise blue sky. As it approached, the elf realised that it was moving against the wind. He now knew it was not a cloud and he felt extremely uneasy. Other members of the Fellowship seem to have noticed it too. He could hear Boromir and Gimli talking about it. The dark shape drew nearer and the elf’s keen eyes could see that it was actually a group of small individual flying things.

“Crebain, from Dunland!” he shouted.

“Hide!” cried Aragorn. He did not need to say it twice. Everyone went scrambling for cover. The blacksmith even attempted to hide the pony. Unfortunately, there was not a hiding place that was big enough to hide the beast of burden. They lay low and stayed still until the flock of black birds had passed. Gandalf was the first to emerge and the rest followed one by one.

“Spies of Saruman,” said the wizard with disdain. “The passage south is being watched. We must take the pass of Caradhras.”

Boromir looked up in dismay and a murmur rippled through the Company. Balian was confused. Why was this such a bad thing?

On seeing his confusion, Aragorn pointed up to the mountains that loomed above them. “We’re going there,” said the ranger simply. Now Balian understood.
________________________________________

The way up the steep snowy slopes of the mountains was hazardous. The hobbits often slipped and lost their footing in the thick snow and it was up to Aragorn who brought up the rear to catch them. They were almost near the top of the slope they were climbing up when Frodo fell. He tumbled like a ball down the slope and came to a stop only when Aragorn caught him. The first thing the hobbit did after he was helped to his feet was put a hand to his throat. He seemed to panic when he could not find what he expected to find there. It was only then that Balian noticed Boromir was lagging behind the rest of the group. The man from Gondor stooped down to pick up something from the snow. He lifted it before his face and said something which Balian could not hear. He seemed to be in a trance until Aragorn called out to him.
“Boromir,” said the ranger sharply. “Give the Ring to Frodo.”

Tension was escalating and to the spectators, this could easily turn into a violent confrontation. Fortunately, Boromir did as he was told.

‘So Frodo is carrying a ring,’ thought Balian. ‘Why is that ring so important?’
________________________________________

The Fellowship soon reached an icy cliff face. There was a narrow path along it covered in a thick layer of snow that reached the men’s waists. Aragorn, Balian and Boromir each carried a hobbit on their backs while Pippin perched miserably on top the luggage on the pony’s back. The winds were strong and it pressed them against the cliff face. The snow stung their faces.

“We should stop!” Aragorn shouted to Gandalf, struggling to be heard above the howling of the wind. “We can’t go on much longer without rest. This cliff face can shelter us from the wind.”

“Shelter?!” muttered Sam who was huddled on Balian’s back. “If this is shelter then one wall and no roof make a house!”

Balian smiled. He agreed with the hobbit’s analysis of Aragorn’s statement. He lowered Sam to the ground and leaned against the cliff with a sigh.

“Tired?” asked Legolas. Balian noticed that the elf was able to walk on top of the snow and he seemed unaffected by the cold.

“Hobbits are heavier than they look,” said Balian, mustering a smile. He had seen and heard one of the legendary debates between Legolas and Gimli and he had no desire to get involved in one.

“Well, you were carrying Sam,” said Legolas. “He carries a lot of supplies.”
Balian remembered what had happened between Aragorn and Boromir on the slope and he decided to ask Legolas about it. “Legolas…” he began. “About that ring that Frodo carries…”

“What about it?” asked the elf sharply.

“Why is it so important?”

Legolas sighed. “The ring which Frodo carries is the One Ring,” he explained. “It is the key to Sauron’s success.”

“Who is Sauron?” asked Balian

“Sauron is the Dark Lord,” replied Legolas. “He is evil and he desires to rule over all of Middle-Earth. Sauron’s fate is tied to that of the Ring. The only way to kill him is to destroy the Ring.”

“Then why don’t you destroy it?” asked Balian. “Why travel all this way?”

“The Ring cannot be destroyed by any craft we possess,” said Legolas, quoting Elrond. “It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came. Frodo chose to carry out this task and the Fellowship was chosen to help him by protecting him.”

“Why did Boromir take so long to give it back to Frodo then, if it is indeed Frodo’s burden?”

Legolas looked around cautiously. On seeing that no one was paying any attention to them, he moved closer to Balian. “The Ring draws people to it,” he said in a low voice. “It corrupts minds by giving false hopes and promises. It calls to each and every one of us. Sauron can feel it too and if anyone puts it on, Sauron will see him.”

“I haven’t felt it,” said Balian.

“That is because you have not seen it,” Legolas told him. “Once you see it, it will start calling to you. Do not believe anything that it tells you.”

After the brief rest, the Company carried on. Gandalf had given them each a mouthful of miruvor to refresh them. Aragorn insisted on swapping hobbits with Balian.

“Sam’s too heavy for one man to carry all the time,” insisted the ranger. “Frodo’s lighter.” Balian did not want to argue so he did as the ranger suggested. Frodo was indeed much lighter than Sam, but he was also tenser. Balian felt that this hobbit did not trust him as much as the other hobbits did. He couldn’t blame him. The Ring must have affected the hobbit. It made Balian nervous just knowing that he was carrying the Ringbearer.

As soon as Balian had the hobbit on his back, he knew that Legolas told him no lie. He could feel himself being tempted by the Ring. It promised him power and most of all, Sibylla. It took all his willpower to ignore its call.

The going became more difficult as they continued their way through the pass of Caradhras. The flying snowflakes half blinded them. Legolas, who was not encumbered by the snow, brought up the rear. He quickly overtook the entire company then stopped.

“There is a foul voice on the air,” he said.

“It’s Saruman!” shouted Gandalf. Before Balian could wonder about who or what Saruman was, snow tumbled down from above them, burying the entire company. Balian was knocked off the narrow path and the Ringbearer along with him.

A/N: Heheheh. An evil cliffie! This chapter contains quotes from the FotR movie.
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Old October 19th, 2007, 02:25 AM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything or anyone that you recognize. They all belong to their respective creators/directors. I’ll put them back when I’m through with them.

Chapter 4: Awakenings

‘This is it,’ thought Balian as he fell through the air ‘I fall to certain death.’ Brother John appeared before him. The Hospitaller’s face was streaked with dirt and blood but he had the same amused smile that he always wore.

“All death is certain,” said the monk’s voice in Balian’s mind. Somehow, the memory of his farewell comforted Balian. He felt a sharp pain in his side as his body hit a rock that was jutting out from the cliff. He cried out but the wind drowned out his voice. The edges of his vision darkened. He did not feel the impact as he hit the snow-covered ground.
________________________________________

Pain emanated from his side. It was cold. He was tired, so tired. He wanted to sleep but something made him open his eyes. White. There was white everywhere. For a moment, he could not remember where he was, or why he was there. Then everything came flooding back and Balian started to panic.
Frodo. Frodo fell with him.

Where was Frodo?

He pushed himself up through sheer will and wiped the snow from his face. “Frodo!” he tried to shout, but it only came out as a hoarse whisper. He looked about wildly, desperately trying to locate the hobbit.

A small bump lay concealed under a cold white blanket. It was the prone form of the Ringbearer, lying face down. Balian stumbled to Frodo’s side. He fell onto his knees beside the hobbit. “Frodo,” he whispered softly. With shaking hands, he reached out to turn the hobbit over.

Frodo’s face was pale and his lips were blue. To Balian’s relief, he was still breathing. The blacksmith quickly took the hobbit into his arms and wrapped his cloak about both of them. He winced as the movement aggravated the wound in his side. With fumbling hands that were numb with cold, he tried rub some warmth into the hobbit’s hands and feet. He looked up at the sky. It was starting to snow heavily and he needed to find them some shelter before they were buried in an icy grave. Picking up the unconscious Ringbearer, Balian got up stiffly and walked along the base of the cliff. After what seemed like a century, he found a small recess in the cliff face which could fit the two of them. After sending up a grateful prayer to the heavens, he crawled inside. It was cramped but he was glad that they were out of the snow.

A glint of gold caught his eye. The Ring; he had forgotten all about it. It had slipped out of Frodo’s shirt and it now called to him, inviting him to put it on. It promised him that it would grant him the strength to survive in this bleak situation. It offered him the power to destroy Sauron. His body and mind seemed to be out of control. His hand itched to touch the smooth gold. Slowly, he reached out…

“…do not believe anything that it tells you…”said Legolas’ voice inside his head. “…it corrupts minds by giving false hopes and promises… It must be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came…”

Balian hesitated. ‘Do not do this!’ cried one part of his mind, but another part –one that was alien to him- urged him to put it on.
In his indecisiveness, he saw Godfrey as he last remembered seeing the old knight.

“…safeguard the helpless, and do no wrong” said his father in a weak voice. “That is your oath…”

Balian’s hand reached up to touch his cheek, feeling the phantom sting of the slap his father had dealt him. Godfrey would not have wanted his son to fall to the Ring’s power. He could not disappoint his father, the man who’d had so much faith in him. He could not give into the Ring’s persuasion. His mind cleared as if someone had thrown cold water into his face. The Ring was Frodo’s burden. As a member of the Fellowship -whether by chance or by choice- he would help Frodo to complete his task. Carefully, he slipped the Ring back under the hobbit’s shirt and held him closer. They would survive this, and the Ring would be destroyed. He would see it done.
________________________________________

“Where did they go?” shouted Pippin desperately, peering over the edge of the path. “I can’t see them anywhere!”

“No one can see anything through this dratted snow,” came Gimli’s gruff voice.

“Do you see them, Legolas?” asked Aragorn anxiously. His eyes were full of fear.

“No,” replied the keen-sighted elf. “This snow is impeding my vision.”

“We must find Frodo!” shouted Boromir. “It isn’t safe for him to be all alone!”

“We have to go down and search for them when it stops snowing so heavily,” said Legolas. “Hopefully they haven’t gone too far.” He wanted to add ‘if they survived’ to the end of his sentence but it seemed too morbid and he did not want to discourage the rest of the Fellowship. They were probably all thinking the same thing anyway. Boromir’s omission of Balian had not gone unnoticed by the elf. That was why he had stressed the word ‘they’ to remind the man from Gondor that they were searching for two people and that Balian was one of them.

“We should go down now,” insisted Boromir. “What if orcs find Frodo?” Apparently he was deliberately omitting the blacksmith.

“Balian is with him,” said Aragorn, who obviously did not notice how hostile to each other Legolas and Boromir were. “He should be relatively safe.” None of them wanted to consider the possibility that one or both of the pair could be injured or worse.

“I don’t trust the man,” said Boromir. “We don’t know where he is from, or what his purpose is or … whether he can resist the Ring.”
Legolas turned to Boromir sharply, fixing the man with an icy stare. “I have faith in Balian,” he said coldly. ‘And I wonder Boromir,’ he thought ‘are these really the reasons why you don’t trust him, or do you have other motives?
Aragorn looked up in surprise. Legolas did not trust anyone easily. The blacksmith must indeed be an extraordinary person if the elven prince had faith in him.

“Legolas is right,” said Gandalf. “We cannot search for them with it snowing so heavily. More likely than not we will fall to our deaths if we try to make our way down right now. We shall wait for this storm to pass before we search for them.”
________________________________________

When Frodo woke, he could not see anything. It was dark and his head hurt. He was cold. As he slowly regained consciousness, he realized he was not alone. “Gandalf?” he whispered.

“Frodo,” said a voice, too young to be Gandalf’s “Frodo, stay still.”

“Aragorn?”

“I wish he was here with us. He would know what to do.”
Slowly, Frodo opened his eyes. “Balian?” he said, squinting up at the dark face above him. “What happened?”

“I fell,” said Balian. “I’m sorry.”

“How could you fall?” demanded Frodo. He was more frightened than he was willing to admit. He did not like the thought of being alone with a man he was not quite ready to trust.

“The snow knocked me off,” said Balian softly. “I’m sorry.”

“What are we going to do now?”

“The sun has fallen. We will wait until morning before we start looking for the others. Are you injured?”

“My head hurts.” Frodo then realised that Balian might also have been hurt during the fall. “What about you?”

“I’ve had worse, I think,” said Balian. “Rest, Frodo; you’re going to need it.”

A/N: Alright, so Balian and Frodo are isolated from everyone else. And why doesn't Boromir like Balian? Any suggestions? Reviews keep me inspired (hint hint)
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Old October 26th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Chapter 5: Attack in the Dark

Balian did not realize that he had fallen asleep until he was woken by a jolt of pain. Frodo had kicked him in the ribs while dreaming. Cursing himself for being off guard, he tried to stretch to relieve the cramps in his muscles. Night had fallen and it was pitch-black. He couldn’t make out anything in the gloom.
He winced as he accidentally bumped his wound. It would need tending before it festered and killed him. ‘I’ll look at it in the morning,’ he decided. ‘Then we’ll go find the others. They must be waiting for us.’
________________________________________

The Fellowship sat miserably next to each other. Even Bill the pony seemed distressed. Their thoughts dwelt on their missing companions. “Could they have survived the fall?” asked Pippin. “It’s a long way down.”

“They will have survived,” insisted Legolas. “Balian is strong and Frodo is not as helpless as he seems.”

“They’ll be cold an’ hungry an’ scared,” murmured Sam. “They weren’t carryin’ no food.”

“We’ll find them in the morning,” Aragorn assured the distraught little gardener although he was not feeling so optimistic inside.

“We should never have entrusted the blacksmith with the Ringbearer,” said Boromir sourly. “He doesn’t know the lie of the land and he won’t be able to protect Frodo if they are attacked.”

“Don’t be so sure of that, son of Denethor,” said Gandalf. “There’s more to the blacksmith than that which he shows. He’s a better man than you think.”

“He’s a blacksmith,” said Boromir with disgust although Legolas sensed that this was not the source of the man’s discomfort. “He’s not a warrior. He won’t know how to defend Frodo.”

“Are you implying that you do?” said Legolas. “He carries a sword and I am certain he knows how to use it.”

“Quiet, you two,” commanded Gandalf. “Frodo and Balian are missing, possibly injured. They do not need us to bicker amongst ourselves.”

Both the man and the elf sullenly swallowed the words they were about to throw at each other. Legolas knew that Gandalf was right, as usual. They needed to cooperate to find both Frodo and Balian. Moreover, Boromir’s words had sown a seed of doubt in his mind and he began to question Balian’s prowess. The man was a blacksmith, a craftsman. Did he really know how to protect the Ringbearer and their quest?

Aragorn noticed that Legolas seemed unsettled and he put a hand on the elf’s shoulder. “What are you thinking about?” he asked.

Legolas shook his head. “I was just wondering about the truth of Boromir’s words,” he said softly. “Does Balian truly possess the skill to protect Frodo?”

Gimli overheard this statement. “Whaddya mean he doesn’t have the skill, elf?” he demanded gruffly, although no one could miss the underlying concern in his voice. “Balian works with metal! He makes weapons; of course he can wield them! He’s a blacksmith, for Aulë’s sake, not some bloody stargazer!”
The last statement was meant to infuriate the elf and thus lighten the Fellowship’s mood but it only drew a small smile from Legolas.

“I hope that you’re right, dwarf,” said Legolas “except you might want to know that this stargazer can also wield weapons, with lethal results.”
“Whatever,” snorted Gimli “you’ll just chop off one of your ridiculous braids, that’s what’ll happen.”
________________________________________

He was back in Bag End. A fire was blazing in the hearth and he had a soft blanket wrapped around him. He was curled up comfortably in Bilbo’s favourite armchair. It felt warm. He pushed himself deeper into the chair. Suddenly, the chair moved…

Frodo opened his eyes and they slowly adjusted to the dim light. He was not in Bag End and he was not curled up in an armchair. He looked up at Balian’s face. The man was sleeping. Even in his dreams, the blacksmith looked serious. His lips moved slightly as he mumbled “Rise a knight.”

‘What is he talking about?’ wondered Frodo. ‘What knight?’

“Balian,” he said softly. The man jerked awake.

“Is it morning already?” he asked, shaking away the sleep from his mind. He looked outside. The snow had abated.

“We should leave now,” said Balian. “They’ll be looking for us and I want to find them as soon as possible. I don’t want to spend time alone in a strange place where danger is all around us.”

Frodo agreed and crawled out of the little cave. Moment’s later, Balian emerged. He winced as he straightened himself and his hand flew to his side. “What’s the matter?” asked Frodo in concern. “Are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” said Balian hurriedly but the hobbit didn’t believe him.

“Let me have a look at that!” commanded Frodo.

On seeing that the hobbit would not give up until he complied, Balian reluctantly sat down and let Frodo help him to undo his shirt.
Frodo gasped when he saw Balian’s torso. A long jagged wound ran from his ribs to his hip. The edges of the gash were still seeping blood slowly. It was fortunate that the wound was not deep. “If we don’t clean that out, it’ll fester,” said Frodo.

“How do you suggest we clean it?” asked Balian.

Frodo didn’t answer; instead, he took some snow in his hands and pressed it against the wound. Balian jerked as the cold white substance touched his flesh but he forced himself to remain still so that Frodo could finish his task.

“Don’t worry about it too much,” he assured the hobbit. “It looks worse than it feels.” It wasn’t exactly a lie; Balian did not know what a wound like that was supposed to feel like, so he could safely assume that it looked worse.

Frodo paid no heed to him but continued to clean the wound. At last he stood back to inspect his handiwork. “There!” he said with satisfaction. “I wish we had some salves and bandages but since we have neither, this will have to do for now.”

“I’m very grateful,” said Balian, getting up stiffly. “Shall we go now?”
The awkward pair made their way to where they had fallen. Much to Balian’s dismay, they could not find the Fellowship. They had already left…
________________________________________

Aragorn woke as soon as the sun’s first rays crept over the horizon. Legolas was already awake and he was looking down the cliff with a troubled expression on his face. “It’s too high,” he said “and too slippery. We will surely fall to our deaths if we try to climb down here.”

“But…” said a horrified Aragorn “What about Frodo and…and…Balian?”
“We can only hope that they survived,” said Legolas. What he did not know was that there was a deep snowdrift at the bottom to break the unlucky pair’s fall.

“If they…did not,” continued the elf “we will still need to go down there to retrieve the Ring.”

“Are you saying that we should expect the worst?” asked the ranger.

“Just don’t expect the best; you might be disappointed.”
________________________________________

“So what do we do now?” asked Frodo in despair. “They’ve left!”

“I do not believe that they would go on without you,” said Balian. “You have…well, you it and that thing is the basis of this entire quest.”

“How do you know about…about…what I carry?” demanded Frodo.

“Legolas told me,” said Balian. “I asked him.”

“How did you even find out about its existence?” demanded Frodo suspiciously. ‘And why would Legolas tell him?’

“I saw it, when you dropped it on the slope and Boromir picked it up.”

“Oh.”

“Come. We should hurry. I prefer not to spend another night out here alone. There might be wolves or bears around.”

Balian and Frodo picked their way across the snow. Balian’s hand was always on the hilt of his sword. He could see nothing that slightly resembled a threat but it was best to be careful. Little did he know that they were being stalked.
Night fell, and they could still see no sign of the Fellowship. Balian and Frodo huddled together against the cold, leaning against each other’s backs-or rather, Frodo leant against Balian’s back. Their eyes darted to and fro constantly, watching for any sign of danger. Their stomachs were empty and they tried to stave off their hunger by eating snow. They were exhausted and Frodo soon found himself nodding off. Behind him, Balian was also doing the same.

Suddenly, Balian heard scuffling noises not far from where they were sitting. He opened his eyes too late; their assailants were upon them. Balian quickly pulled his sword from its sheath; His side was stiff and sore. Much to his chagrin, he could not take a high guard. Behind him, Frodo unsheathed Sting. Balian tried to put himself between Frodo and their attackers. They fought valiantly, cutting down many foes but it was to no avail. The enemy were too many and the two were soon overcome. Their swords were wrenched from their hands and they were bound tightly. Balian struggled fiercely when they tried to bind him. He struck out in every direction and his foot caught one of their captors in the head. Someone hit the back of the blacksmith’s head with the hilt of a sword. Ironically, it was the sword of Ibelin, given to Balian by his father Godfrey. A sharp pain lanced through Balian’s head, and then he knew no more.

A/N: Here! Action at last!
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Old November 24th, 2007, 08:24 PM
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Chapter 6: Captured

His head throbbed and his side ached. His mouth was dry. Balian thought that he had felt better after the siege of Jerusalem. He was lying on a hard cold stone floor. Slowly, he opened his eyes. They were in a dimly lit cave somewhere in the mountains. Frodo lay beside him. The hobbit was curled up in a ball against the cold. The coarse rope cut into Balian’s flesh. Painfully, he inched towards the Ringbearer.

“Frodo,” he whispered. “Frodo, are you alright?”

Tentatively, the hobbit turned to face Balian. His eyes were frightened but the small creature’s mouth was set in a grim and determined line. “Orcs,” he said flatly.

Balian frowned in confusion. What were orcs? Frodo jerked his head in the direction of some black shapes huddled around a fire. Balian could make out dark leathery faces in the orange glow. They were a ragged bunch, always snarling at each other. Many of them were maimed. Most of these things were missing parts of their bodies.

“What do they want?” asked Balian quietly so that the orcs would not hear.

“They’re servants of the Dark Lord,” said Frodo. “I’ve only ever heard about them from Gandalf, Bilbo and the elves in Rivendell, but it’s easy enough to recognize them. They’re cruel things that enjoy others’ pain.”

Balian did not know much about the creatures of this strange place but he understood enough from Frodo’s short explanation.

“Frodo,” he said “we must not let them find it. If they decide to question us, I’ll say that you’re the village idiot and I’ll try to draw their attention to me. You have to escape, without me if you must. If they find it, the whole world will fall.”

Balian stared long and hard at Frodo, hoping that the little hobbit understood.
“What about you?” asked Frodo. “I can’t just watch them hurt you and do nothing!”

“Then don’t watch.”

***


“Curse this snow!” growled Gimli. If it wasn’t for it then we would never have lost the lads.”

The Fellowship was slowly making their way downhill on a safer path than the one that Balian and Frodo took. After the loss of their companions, all of them were sombre. No one felt the desire to do anything except find the missing Ringbearer and his protector. Even Pippin had lost his appetite. Legolas often went ahead of the others to scout and to look for any sign of their missing companions. Never in the long time that he had known the elf had Aragorn seen Legolas so impatient.

At last, they were at the place where Frodo and Balian had fallen. The snow had covered many signs but Aragorn could make out a set of tracks. Much to their relief, there were no bodies to be found.

“So Balian made his way along the bottom of the cliff,” said Aragorn, analysing what he saw. “We can safely assume that he was looking for shelter. He was wounded. There are signs of blood under the snow and he was favouring one side. His tracks are deep so he must have been carrying Frodo.”

“That is good,” said Gandalf. “We know that both of them survived and Balian was well enough to walk while carrying Frodo.”

“But if Balian was carrying Frodo, doesn’t it mean that Frodo was too hurt to walk?” asked Merry anxiously.

“Or Mr. Frodo just hadn’t woken up yet and Mr. Balian didn’t want to stay here,” pointed out Sam optimistically.

“Now all we have to do is follow the tracks and find them!” said Pippin happily.

***

“Balian,” said Frodo quietly “the orcs are approaching.”

The black creatures were getting up from their places and stretching. Their eyes were fixed on the dark corner where the prisoners were being kept. Balian could sense their bloodlust and he swiftly prayed for the strength to endure what was to come.

“Be without fear in the face of your enemies,” he whispered, both to Frodo and to himself. “Have courage.”

The orcs advanced upon them. The largest one, obviously the leader, sneered down at the captives. Instinctively, Balian put himself between the monster and Frodo. He had sworn to safeguard the helpless.

“Well, well,” said the orc. “What’ve we here? A man and a midget? What’s yer business in the mountains.

“I was on my way home,” said Balian in a calm voice, infuriating the orc.

“And ‘im?” demanded the beast, pointing a finger at Frodo. “What’s he doin’?”

“The village idiot? He travels with me.”

“Villagers eh?” sneered the orc. He put his face close to the blacksmith’s and Balian could smell the foul odour of rotting flesh on the monster’s breath.
“I don’t believe you,” hissed the orc. “Your weapons are far too fine for you to be just villagers.” He grabbed Balian’s collar and hoisted him to his feet. The blacksmith gasped in pain as the rough treatment aggravated his wound. A glint of metal caught the orc’s eye. It was the ring that Sibylla had bought on the day she met Balian. She had given it to him as a lover’s token. He wore it on a chain around his neck.

“What’s this?” cackled the orc. “A pretty ring? Do you still claim to be a villager?”

“I’m the blacksmith,” said Balian truthfully. The orc did not believe him
“You will tell me the truth eventually, whether you want to or not,” he snarled, throwing Balian to the other orcs.

***

The Fellowship stood around the churned up patch of snow. “There was a struggle,” said Aragorn, voicing everyone’s thoughts. “Orcs, I think.”

“This is awful!” moaned Pippin. “They’re dead!”

“Not necessarily,” said Legolas quietly. “Orcs like to have some sport with their prisoners before killing them. We’ve found elves still alive after having been captured by orcs months before.”

“We must find Frodo before the Orcs kill him and take the Ring,” said Boromir urgently.

“Surely Mr. Balian will protect him,” said Sam. The rotund gardener was horrified that his master could be suffering this very moment while they were talking.

“Balian will do whatever he can,” said Legolas “but if he…well, there will be no one between Frodo and the orcs.”

Everyone was silent for a while as they contemplated the worst outcome. Finally, Aragorn spoke. “Legolas, Boromir and I will look for the orcs’ lair,” he said. Gimli was about to protest when Aragorn turned to him.

“I know you want to come, Gimli,” said the ranger “but you cannot keep up with the rest of us. Anyway, someone needs to stay behind to keep Gandalf and the hobbits safe.”

The wizard raised an eyebrow in amusement but said nothing. This was Aragorn’s way of placating the irritated dwarf. They could not afford anymore long arguments.

“Come on, Pip,” said Merry. “We’ll go find some wood to start a fire. I’m sure that the Big Folk will want hot drinks and food when they come back with Frodo and Balian.”

***

A/N: This chapter is sort of short but this is the best place to stop. Trust me; I know what I’m doing Apologies to all the Boromir fans out there; I know the Boromir in the book is probably not such a jerk but someone needs to be a jerk and he just seemed like the most likely person in the Fellowship to be obnoxious.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 08:51 PM
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Chapter 7: A Blacksmith’s Torment

Each breath was agony. His back burned with pain. The orcs held him down; their grip was stronger than any manacles’ hold on him. With each lash of the whip he tensed, too tired to cry out anymore. Balian waited for reprieve but none came. He could feel hot blood running down his back, mingling with sweat and grime. He prayed for unconsciousness, or anything that could stop his torment.

“He still won’t talk, Gurshak,” snarled one of the orcs to their leader.

“Give ‘im some time to think about it,” said Gurshak. “We don’t want our fun to end too quickly.”

The wounded blacksmith was roughly tossed back into the corner where Frodo lay waiting, too frightened to move. The sound of leather on flesh and Balian’s cries were burned into the hobbit’s memory. He waited until the orcs were out of hearing range before crawling to Balian’s side. The man’s breathing was laboured and his hair was matted with blood. His features were etched with agony although he was trying very hard not to show it.

“Balian,” whispered Frodo. “I’m so sorry…sorry for everything…”

On hearing the hobbit’s voice, Balian opened his glazed and pain filled eyes. “Whatever for?” he asked. His voice was hoarse and soft from pain. “It isn’t your fault.” He managed to give Frodo a weak smile. “Don’t worry about me,” he said. “You have an important task. I’m insignificant. No one will miss me. They’re all on the other side, waiting…”

“Who?” asked Frodo. “Who’s waiting?”

“My wife,” said Balian with a wistful smile on his face. His voice was distant. “She was beautiful, so beautiful and when she was with child, she was the most splendid sight to behold. She’s waiting for me, with my son of course…he should be almost three by now…”

Frodo gazed up at the blacksmith’s face. It was so sad yet so full of hope. He hoped that this would not be the end for either of them for he dearly wanted to hear the rest of Balian’s life story. As he watched, Balian’s eyes slowly closed again. “Balian?” whispered Frodo. He was frightened. The man was not responding. Only the slight rise and fall of his ribs indicated that he was still alive. The hobbit watched Balian sleep, knowing that the man needed the rest if he was to survive. Despite the blacksmith’s words, Frodo still blamed himself, and the Ring, for what had happened. He decided that he would keep watch over Balian. It was the least he could do for the man.
As time passed, Frodo’s eyelids grew heavy and despite his efforts to stay awake and keep watch over the wounded blacksmith, he fell asleep.
________________________________________

Balian was rudely awakened by a sharp kick in the stomach. He gasped and curled up tightly, instinctively protecting himself. A rough had grabbed his hair and he was dragged to where Gurshak was waiting. He was thrown down before the orc’s iron shod feet. A large fire burned brightly behind the orc. Inside it were what seemed to be pieces of hot metal. Balian had some vague ideas as to what they were for but he had no desire for his thoughts to be confirmed. The blacksmith lifted his head and glared defiantly at the orc’s sneering face. There was nothing else he could do.

“Ready to tell the truth today?” asked the orc.

“I am the blacksmith,” said Balian, his voice full of venom. The orcs around him snickered.

“Very well then, blacksmith,” sneered Gurshak. “You are familiar with horses, I s’pose?”

“What’s it to you?”

The orc’s grin widened. He held out his hand and one of the others passed him something made from leather and metal.

“You shoe horses, don’t you?” said Gurshak. Balian did not answer. Gurshak did not seem to mind his stoic silence. “Therefore you should know how to break a horse,” the orc continued. He dangled the thing in his hand before the blacksmith’s face. It was an odd looking bridle, made for something with a much shorter nose than a horse.

“Perhaps it is time you learnt how the poor animals felt when you forced them to become your beasts of burden.” Gurshak delivered this sentence with shining eyes.

Two strong hands grabbed Balian by the arms and pushed him down. Another yanked back his head by his hair. Rough fingers squeezed the hinges of his jaw, forcing his mouth open. The bit, a piece of round metal approximately the thickness of a man’s finger, was pushed into his mouth. The orcs began to tighten the straps around his head and neck until he could hardly breathe. The bit pushed against the corners of his mouth, breaking the delicate skin there. It dug into his tongue painfully and pressed it to the bottom of his mouth. Balian could taste his own blood. It trickled from the sides of his mouth as the bridle made it impossible to spit or swallow. Around him, orcs laughed with cruel delight at his suffering.

“How does it feel to be a beast of burden?” asked Gurshak. When Balian did not respond, the orc roughly backhanded him. Balian would have been sent reeling by the force of the blow if the orcs had not been holding him down. He stared up at Gurshak with all the hatred and scorn he could muster.
“I see you have not been broken yet,” growled the orc. “Bring the saddle!”
A saddle, made for a small pony, was brought to Gurshak. The orc leader jerked his head in Balian’s direction.

“We improvised this saddle just for you, blacksmith,” said Gurshak with a smile. “We’ve put a couple more holes in the girth so that you can fit it.”
Balian arched in pain as the saddle was violently slammed onto his back. The leather chafed his raw flesh. The orcs began to tighten the girth. He screamed as they pulled on it. The pressure on his ribs was unbearable. He felt his already injured ribs crack under the pressure.

The orcs cheered. “Who’s goin’ ta ride ‘im?” one demanded.

“I’m the captain,” roared Gurshak. “I shall ride him!”

Balian struggled wildly at this statement, until one orc pointed his scimitar at Frodo. “You make more trouble, and ‘e’s goin’ ta pay,” growled the creature. Balian looked at Frodo, and then glared up at the orc. He had never felt so helpless before, except for the time when the midwife took his stillborn son away. He had no choice but to let the orcs do as they pleased with him.
________________________________________

Aragorn was thankful that the orcs had left a clear trail for them to follow. They had journeyed far from the rest of the Fellowship whilst following this trail, hoping to find their missing companions.

“Aragorn!” hissed Legolas into the ranger’s ear. The elf pointed to a cave in a distance from which the cheers of orcs could be heard.

“They’re in there,” said Boromir, his face full of worry. The other two looked at him and said nothing. Instead, they made their way to the cave.

The sight that greeted their eyes made their blood boil. The orc leader sat astride a bridled and saddled Balian who was on his hands and knees. The other orcs cheered as the rider cruelly applied the whip to the blacksmith, raising bloody welts all over his body. Boromir averted his gaze in disgust. ‘Why is he letting himself be humiliated like this?’ wondered the man of Gondor with disdain. He definitely would have fought against this treatment, no matter how futile his actions would be.

“Aragorn,” whispered Legolas urgently “we must do something, and quickly. They’re killing him!”

The ranger shook his head. “The orcs are too many,” he said. “We cannot win if we rush in there with blades bared and arrows knocked. The only way to overpower them is through stealth. We must wait until they tire of their game and rest. Then we will take them while they are unprepared.”

“The element of surprise,” said Boromir approvingly. “The question is, will they let their guard down before they find it?”

“They’re too occupied with the blacksmith,” said Aragorn, stating the obvious. “No one is paying much attention to anything else. I just hope Balian is strong enough to last until we put our plan into action.”
________________________________________

“He’s not a bad ride!” cackled Gurshak gleefully. “I should mark him as one of my mounts!” The other orcs laughed cruelly. A brand in the shape of an eye was brought. The end was glowing red. Balian’s hand was held down flat with the back of it facing up. He dared not fight for fear of the orcs taking out their anger on Frodo. He cried out in pain as the hot metal came into contact with his skin and seared his hand. His body bucked but the orcs held him still. The scent of burnt flesh assailed his nostrils, making him feel ill. At last the orcs took the brand away.

Gurshak picked up the blacksmith’s maimed hand and inspected his cronies’ handiwork and smiled in satisfaction. “The mark of the Great Eye,” he breathed. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Balian did not reply. Gurshak snorted in annoyance and bodily threw the man the other orcs who were now slavering at the prospect of more ‘fun’.
________________________________________

Legolas could feel anger building up inside him as he watched the orcs torture the blacksmith. ‘We’re coming for you, Balian’ he thought. ‘We’ll make them pay.’
________________________________________
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Old December 13th, 2007, 08:14 PM
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Chapter 8: Rescue Mission

Aragorn, Boromir and Legolas waited until nightfall. As Aragorn had predicted, the Orcs tired of their game with Balian and they unceremoniously threw the man back into the dark corner after having taken off all the tack. Soon, they were dozing off around the fire.

Aragorn signalled to Legolas, who put an arrow to his bowstring and fired. The elven missile flew true and hit one of the sleeping orcs in the neck. Black blood spurted from the wound and the Orc died with a quiet gurgle. One of the others grunted but did not wake. The elf was able to take down two more of the foul creatures before the orcs realized that they were under attack. As soon as one of them sounded the alarm, the two men and the elf rushed into the cave, shooting and hacking at the unprepared Orcs. The fight was fierce but brief. One Orc managed to score a shallow gash on Legolas’ thigh before he was cut down by the prince’s flashing twin knives. Boromir slashed in every direction and was soon covered in hot black blood.

Aragorn found himself facing the Orc captain. Gurshak was a more competent fighter than most Orcs and the ranger was tired after having travelled so far. Aragorn could feel his arm vibrating after having parried a blow delivered by the Orc. He was quickly forced back and was desperately defending himself. Just as Gurshak was about to strike at Aragorn again, the Orc suddenly stopped in the middle of his onslaught with the tip of an elven knife sticking out of his chest. Aragorn nodded at Legolas, giving the elf his thanks. He was too breathless to speak. Legolas understood and he dipped his head in acknowledgement of the thanks.

Boromir was already at Frodo’s side, having cut down the last Orc. Aragorn hurried to Balian’s side. The blacksmith was conscious but only just. He hissed in pain as Aragorn gently prodded at his chest to feel for any broken bones. Two ribs were cracked while a few others were bruised. His entire body was riddled with cuts, welts and bruises. The burn on the back of his hand was red and angry. As the ranger examined the bloodied blacksmith, Legolas went to find Balian and Frodo’s missing weapons. Boromir and Frodo aided the elven prince in searching for the swords. They found them in a pile of Orc weapons, shining brightly from amidst the dark blades. Frodo lovingly strapped Sting back onto his own belt while Legolas took Balian’s sword and wrapped it in one of the Orcs’ cleaner cloaks. He planned to present it to the man once they got back to the others.

Boromir stood to one side, observing the elf’s actions. Jealousy was building up inside him. He had difficulty understanding why everyone had so readily accepted Balian while he still felt like a stranger. Was he, Boromir son of Denethor, not a member of this fellowship? Why then did Aragorn and Legolas seem to care more about Balian, a mere blacksmith whose origins were unknown, than about him? Legolas even made it his own business to seek out the blacksmith’s sword! Boromir kept these bitter emotions inside and they festered, poisoning him against Balian.

Meanwhile, Aragorn was trying to persuade Balian that he was not well enough to walk on his own. The ranger found that this was no easy task; the blacksmith was stubborn. He reasoned in a perfectly calm voice —although the slight quavering indicated that he was exhausted— that his ribs were broken and not his legs. It took a few steps before Balian was finally convinced that he needed help. Aragorn wrapped the other man in his own cloak. Balian’s clothes —or rather, the clothes that he had borrowed from Boromir— were in tatters.

Frodo also insisted on walking on his own but after some impressive persuasion from Legolas, he allowed Boromir to carry him. The tired group slowly made their way back to the others. All of them were looking forward to some decent rest and a hot meal that, hopefully, Gandalf had permitted the three hobbits and the dwarf to make.

***

Merry was keeping watch when he spotted figures slowly making their way down the slope. As they came closer, the hobbit could see that they were the missing pair and their rescuers.

“Gandalf!” he shouted with excitement “Gandalf, they’re back! Frodo an’ Balian an’ Strider an’ Legolas an’ Boromir are back!”

“Hush, Meriadoc,” said the wizard in a reprimanding tone although his eyes were twinkling with joy. “Calm down. You do not want to bring down a host of orcs upon us.”

“Mr. Frodo’s back?” squealed Sam. “I need to make tea, an’ stew! He’ll be famished and I haven’t got no dinner prepared! Where’s those dried mushrooms…” Still muttering to himself, he rummaged around in his pack for the treasured ingredient.

Pippin jumped up and down, laughing with joy and relief. He and Merry began to dance a little jig.

Legolas arrived first, limping slightly. With a sigh, the elf sat down in front of a small fire and gratefully accepted a cup of tea from Gimli. “You’re bleedin’, elf,” commented the dwarf gruffly.

“I’m fine,” insisted the elf a little testily.

“We’ll see what Aragorn says,” retorted the dwarf.

“He won’t know about it.”

“We’ll see.”

Boromir and Frodo came next. As soon as Frodo’s feet touched the ground, he was overwhelmed by his two cousins and his gardener who were all trying to hug him at the same time.

“So glad you’re back!” cried Merry.

“We’ve all been worried sick! I even lost my appetite!” shouted Pippin

“You must be starvin’ Mr. Frodo,” Sam rambled on, pushing a cup of tea into Frodo’s hands and putting a blanket around his shoulders. “The stew should be ready soon. It’s your favourite…”

Gandalf did not take part in this joyful banter although he was also extremely glad that Frodo was back, alarmed but otherwise unhurt. His eyes were fixed on Aragorn and Balian. The last two were making slow and painful progress across the rocky terrain. Balian had tripped and fallen and he seemed to be having trouble getting up. Looking back at the others to see that they did not need him for the moment, he strode towards the struggling pair.
Aragorn was trying —without much success— to help the blacksmith to his feet without further injuring him. When Gandalf reached them, he did not speak to either of them. Instead, he supported the wounded man’s other side and their combined efforts finally allowed Balian to get to his feet. All three were relieved when they finally reached the campsite without any major mishaps.

“Sam,” said Aragorn “I need hot water.” The ranger pulled out bandages and various herbs and salves from his pack and sat down next to Balian. He gently helped the blacksmith to remove the tattered remains of a shirt from his upper body. There was a gasp. Aragorn turned to see Pippin standing behind him with eyes wide and mouth gaping.

“That must hurt,” whispered the little hobbit. Balian looked embarrassed and he gave a little smile.

“It looks worse than it feels, little one,” said the blacksmith softly.

“I don’t believe this nonsense about wounds looking worse than they feel,” muttered Aragorn, washing the other man’s wounds. “Wounds hurt as bad as they look or I’m a mushroom.”

“What’s this about a mushroom?” demanded Merry.

“Nothing,” replied Pippin. “Strider said that he is a mushroom if Balian’s wounds don’t hurt.”

“I didn’t say that it doesn’t hurt,” said Balian. “I said it looks worse than it feels.”

“And I’m a mushroom if that’s true,” said Aragorn. He began to bind Balian’s chest tightly and the blacksmith winced.

“Honestly, Aragorn,” said Legolas, coming over. “How would you know how he feels?”

“You know as well as I do how Orc-inflicted wounds feel —Legolas, you’re bleeding!”

“I’m fine!” protested the elf. “It looks worse than it feels!”

Everyone burst into laughter, including Balian who ended up groaning because laughing hurt his ribs.
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  #18  
Old December 13th, 2007, 08:18 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything that you recognize. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of putting them back where they belong after I’m through with them.

Chapter 9: Choices

When Balian woke, he did not know where he was. What he did know was that he was relatively safe. The sun was peeking out from behind grey clouds and the air was crisp and cool, tainted by only the faintest scent of strange smoke. Gingerly, he sat up; his sides were stiff and sore but at least he felt alive and more hale than he had been in a long time.

Gimli sat with his back to the sleeping members of the Fellowship, puffing on a pipe with a broad bowl. Silently, the blacksmith tried to stand but he immediately regretted his decision. Dizziness overtook him. His head swam and his vision became hazy. A loud roaring noise filled his ears. He sat down with a gasp, causing the robust dwarf to drop his pipe and whip around in alarm. Legolas had sprung to his feet at the sound holding one of his white elven knives and Aragorn’s hand was on the hilt of his sword. Undisturbed by this sudden flurry of movement, the four hobbits slept on.

Everyone relaxed slightly when they learnt that the source of this commotion was Balian. Aragorn frowned at the stubborn blacksmith and severely reprimanded him for risking more damage to his already battered body. The speech sounded strangely rehearsed to all who heard it and Legolas could remember hearing it from someone else. He sniggered behind his hand but when the ranger glowered at him, he quickly turned the snigger into a cough. Gimli took this opportunity to thump the elf hard on his back, causing Legolas to give the dwarf a scathing glare.

Gandalf watched this display of frivolity with amusement. ‘Young ones,’ he thought fondly, shaking his head. ‘They recover so quickly.’ However, he made no move to stop them, knowing that they needed some entertainment to lighten their mood.

***

After a light meal of hard cheese and dried fruit —of which the hobbits highly disapproved¬— the Fellowship all sat down to discuss the next step that they were going to take.

“We should make for the Gap of Rohan,” suggested Boromir “then take the road to my city.”

“The Gap of Rohan takes us too close to Isengard,” said Aragorn.

“We must not get close to Isengard at any stage of our journey,” said Legolas. “Saruman is watching the Gap of Rohan, Boromir. We should not take that path.”

“But there is no other way!” protested Boromir. He was becoming impatient. “We have failed to pass through the mountains. The Gap of Rohan is our only hope!”

“There is one other way,” said Gandalf slowly. Everyone turned to look at the old wizard.

“The Mines of Moria,” breathed Gimli in awe. Legolas choked back a cry of dismay. It occurred to Balian that there was much dissension between the elf and the dwarf although he could not guess why. They were actually rather similar, despite appearances. Both were stubborn and compassionate people who also possessed a sense of humour. The blacksmith could not understand why they were always at each others’ throats.

“I have passed through the mines before,” said Aragorn quietly “and I do not wish to do so again.”

The hobbits said nothing. Even they had heard of Moria and they feared its name. Many terrible stories had been told about that place. Only Balian, who knew next to nothing about Middle Earth, was confused as to why a mere mine could strike fear into courageous people such as Aragorn and Legolas.

“I will not go to Moria,” said Boromir vehemently. “What do Legolas and the little folk say? Surely the Ringbearer’s voice must be heard.” It did not go unnoticed by the rest of the Fellowship that he had conveniently omitted Balian.

“I do not wish to go to Moria,” said Legolas quietly. “However, this choice is not mine to make. I will go wherever the Ringbearer goes.”
Merry, Pippin and Sam nodded in agreement. “We’ll go where Frodo goes,” said Merry with determination.

All eyes turned to Frodo, who looked around for advice and opinions. The hobbit’s gaze settled on Balian, who now wished that he was invisible so that he would not have to comment on something he knew nothing about.
“What do you say, Balian?” asked Frodo. Boromir snorted in disgust as if to say ‘what does he know? He’s not one of us.’ Everyone ignored him and focused on the blacksmith in question.

“I know nothing about these mines,” said Balian. “This is your decision, Frodo. Whatever you ask, I will serve.”

Frodo remained silent for a long time. He did not want to go to Moria but common sense told him that it was the only way. “We will go through the Mines,” he said at last.

“So be it,” said Gandalf. “We will go through the mines, but only when our companions have recovered from their ordeal.”

***

The Fellowship set off for Moria after a delay of two weeks. Balian was still stiff but he had recovered enough to walk on his own and fight if he needed to. The path they took to Moria was relatively easy compared to the Pass of Caradhras, although the Company seemed more gloomy than usual, except for Gimli. The dwarf was as excited as a child with a new toy. His excitement, however, was not contagious. The usually lighthearted elf looked depressed and he did not even argue with the dwarf. Balian did not ask why they were all so downhearted. It was none of his business after all. After three days’ journey, they finally saw the walls of Moria or rather; Gimli saw it and pointed it out to them.

“Moria, the pride of the dwarves,” announced Gandalf. “It was built in the elder days, when there was friendship between all races, even between the elves and the dwarves.”

“It was not the dwarves’ fault that the friendship waned,” said Gimli.

“I have not heard that it was the fault of the elves,” retorted Legolas. His eyes glittered dangerously and more than once, Balian thought that he was going to hit Gimli. Fortunately, Gandalf intervened.

“I have heard both,” said the wizard “and I will not voice my conclusion now. Please, Legolas and Gimli, at least be friends. I need you both to find the doors.”

“Dwarf doors are hidden from those who do not know where they are,” announced Gimli proudly.

“Yes, Gimli,” said Gandalf. “There own masters cannot find them, if their secrets are forgotten.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” muttered Legolas rather loudly. Gimli glowered at him but said nothing.

Balian took no notice of the debate between the elf and the dwarf. Rather, he was focusing on the foul pool in front of the wall. It was dark and stagnant. The water was probably undrinkable.

“He’s found it!” cried Pippin. Balian whipped around. Sure enough, there was a shape of an arched gateway on the wall, made by glowing lines. The blacksmith looked at the doors in confusion. Why were they glowing, and why did they have no handle?

“It reads here ‘The doors of Durin, Lord of Moria,’” said Gandalf, pointing to the runes engraved at the top of the arch with his staff. “—’speak, friend, and enter’.”

“What do you suppose that means?” asked Merry.

“It’s very simple,” replied Gandalf. “Just speak the password and the doors will open.”

‘This is a mad world,’ thought Balian, watching Gandalf as the wizard tried out many strange words on the door. ‘Maybe it would’ve been better if I had stayed in the Holy Land…’ His thoughts were disturbed by Aragorn, who was reprimanding the younger hobbits for throwing stones into the pool. Balian fancied that he saw a ripple that was not caused by the falling stones. “Aragorn…” he whispered “there’s something in there—“ He did not get to finish his sentence for at that moment, Frodo had helped Gandalf to figure out the password and the doors of Moria had sprung open.
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  #19  
Old December 13th, 2007, 08:23 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chapter 10: Into the Mines

The gaping maw of Moria was dark. Tentatively, the Fellowship stepped inside one by one. The air inside the mine smelled foul, as if it was tainted by rotting carrion. When Balian’s eyes had adjusted to the inky blackness, Gandalf had already kindled the light on the tip of his staff. It gave out a cool glow, illuminating everything around it.

Gimli was busy describing the ‘fabled hospitality of the dwarves’ to Legolas, who was only half listening. From the light of Gandalf’s staff, Balian could make out grotesque shapes lying on the floor of the mine. A closer inspection revealed them to be corpses of things long dead. However, Gimli, in his rapture, did not notice much. “…and they call it a mine,” said the dwarf in disbelief “a mine!”

“This is no mine,” said Boromir quietly, his voice laced with horror. “It’s a tomb.” To Balian, this equated to throwing a bucket of cold water over the dwarf and he felt slightly annoyed at Boromir’s careless words. Gimli’s jubilation was quickly turned into dismay and grief.

“No…” choked Gimli. “No!”

Balian’s heart ached for him. He knew what it felt to lose friends and family. He had lost enough.

Legolas bent down to pull an arrow from one of the corpses and examined it. One experienced glance told him that it was not made by men or elves or dwarves.

“Goblins,” he said in disgust, straightening and fitting an arrow to his bow. Aragorn and Boromir drew their swords as if preparing for an attack. Balian did likewise. He trusted the instincts of his companions.

“We make for the Gap of Rohan,” said Boromir. “We should never have come here.” His voice was full of conviction. Now that he had seen Moria, Balian felt inclined to agree with Boromir’s last statement, unless something more terrible than this awaited them at the Gap of Rohan.

“Get out, all of you,” Boromir was shouting “get out!”

The blacksmith was just thinking that it was slightly foolish to shout when there could be enemies about but his train of thought was interrupted by a cry from one of the hobbits. He whipped around. Something had caught Frodo and Sam was busy helping his master. Without looking back at the other members of the Fellowship, he raced out of the mines. Whatever it was that had grabbed Frodo had just released its hold, having been driven off by Sam’s blade. However, just as Frodo was being helped to his feet, what seemed like many snakes shot out of the water, knocked all the other hobbits away and caught hold of Frodo’s ankle again.

Balian hacked desperately at the tentacles, trying to reach the Ringbearer. For every tentacle that he cut off, two more seemed to replace it. He narrowly avoided being caught by one. The other swordsmen, namely Aragorn and Boromir, were also occupied with cutting off tentacles. It was a losing battle but their only wish was to free Frodo, who was being swung around in the air. They were all soaked by the foul water and the tentacles just kept coming. The creature’s head broke through the surface of the pool. Balian could not find words to describe it. It just looked horribly wrong. Its eyes were two dark bulbous looking things while it seemed to have more than one pair or jaws lined with sharp teeth. The tentacles sprouted from its head. He definitely preferred the battle at Kerak.

Boromir managed to cut through the tentacle which dangled Frodo in the air and the soaking heap of hobbit tumbled into the man’s outstretched arms.

“Into the mines!” shouted Gandalf. They didn’t need to be told twice. Balian scrambled as fast as he could over the slippery rocks and into the relative safety of Moria. He could feel the monster’s foul breath behind him and its roar filled his ears. It was gaining on him. Just as he reached the doors, an arrow flew above his head and buried itself in the beast’s eye. The monster groaned in pain, falling back for a moment. That was all the time that he needed to throw himself into the mines, and none too soon. The monster was back again. It seemed bent on destroying the Fellowship. They ran further into the mines and out of reach of the beast’s tentacles. On seeing that they had escaped from its grasp, the monster grabbed the doors and flung them shut with all its might. Rocks fell, blocking the way. When the dust had cleared and Gandalf had rekindled the light, they could all see that they were trapped.

“We have now but one choice,” said the wizard grimly. “We must face the dark of Moria. Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than orcs down here.”

The Fellowship continued on wards in single file. Balian, who was near the back, noticed that Legolas stayed extremely close to the light on Gandalf’s staff. ‘Of all the things that kindle fear, he dreads the dark,’ thought Balian wryly to himself. If Legolas was a good example of an elf, then elves must surely be strange creatures indeed.

The mines were vast, and strangely devoid of equipment except for a ladder here and there. The blacksmith wondered what was mined and why the miners had taken the time to build such hazardous paths. They were walking along a narrow path on the edge of a large chasm. It was strangely warm inside the mines and after the cold of Caradhras, it was not unwelcome.
“The wealth of Moria was not in gold, or jewels,” explained Gandalf “but mithril.” The wizard held the light over the chasm and the rays were reflected by veins of silvery metal until the whole chasm turned into a pit of light. They all gazed down in awe for none of them had seen such great wealth before. The wizard let them admire the scene for a while before turning the light back to the path.

“Bilbo once had a shirt of mithril rings that Thorin gave him,” continued Gandalf.

“Oh! That was a kingly gift!” gasped Gimli.

“Yes,” said Gandalf and Balian could detect the smile in his voice although he could not see the wizard’s face. “I never told him, but its value was greater than the value of the Shire.”

The blacksmith did not understand most of what was being spoken of and he hoped that once they got out of this dark and dreadful place, he would be able to learn how this Bilbo got his expensive mail shirt.

Boromir scanned his surroundings and took no notice of the anecdote that Gandalf was telling. His mind dwelt on the soft-spoken and well liked blacksmith. Moria was treacherous. It was so easy for a man to fall to his death. One small inconspicuous nudge to upset his balance and…No, he could not do that. He would not stoop to that level. Besides, the sharp-eyed elf would suspect him. It would be better to make the Fellowship suspicious of Balian and drive him away of their own accord.

The blacksmith in question was not aware of his companion’s malicious thoughts. Rather, he was wondering as to why the Fellowship had stopped.
Gandalf looked around him. Nothing seemed familiar. “I have no memory of this place,” murmured the wizard with a frown. He turned to the rest of the Fellowship. “We shall rest here for a while,” he said.

Pippin let out a sigh of relief and promptly sat down. Merry and Sam followed suit. Legolas, Aragorn and Boromir leaned against the same rock while Gimli sat opposite the hobbits. Frodo sat slightly apart from the group. He was occupied by thoughts. Balian stood to the side and kept watch while Gandalf was alone on an outcrop of rock, puffing on his pipe and thinking.

For a long time, no one spoke. The darkness of Moria was discouraging and it weighed down heavily on their spirits. The Ringbearer seemed especially troubled to the observant blacksmith. Cautiously, he moved closer to the hobbit and finally sat down quietly beside him and crossed his long legs.
Frodo was startled to see Balian beside him. The man was as quiet and subtle as a ranger. However, he welcomed the man’s company. Balian was not talkative as his fellow hobbits were liable to be and Frodo trusted him. They had been through quite a lot together and the little hobbit had come to appreciate the blacksmith’s stoic silence. Somehow, he seemed more like a hobbit than all the other Big Folk.

It was Pippin who broke the silence. “Are we lost?” he asked in a loud whisper.

“No,” replied Merry.

“I think we are,” insisted the young Took. No one commented.

“Merry,” said Pippin.

“What?” snapped Merry.

“I’m hungry.”

Aragorn rolled his eyes and looked meaningfully at Legolas.

“Hobbits,” said the elf with a fond smile, shaking his head.

“It’s my birthday soon,” said Pippin with a sigh. “I don’t think I should expect a party.”

“You want a party in a place like this?” demanded Merry.

“Not really,” said Pippin. “I was thinking of a party similar to Bilbo’s. You know, outdoors with plenty of food and fireworks.”

“Bilbo was turning one hundred and eleven, Pip,” said Merry. “You’re only turning twenty-nine!”

Balian’s eyes widened when he learned that Pippin was older than him. The little hobbit was so childlike, it was impossible to think of him as a child older than ten!

“Yes,” Pippin was saying “but I’m the youngest in the Fellowship so I’m special and therefore I deserve a nice party!”

“How do you know you’re the youngest?” demanded Merry hotly. Boromir looked extremely amused. Only hobbits could argue about such mundane things such as birthday parties while trapped in Moria.

“Well, that’s easy,” said Pippin. “I’m the youngest hobbit. Strider looks older than me so he ought to be older. Same with Boromir and Legolas is an elf so he must be older. Gimli is one hundred and twenty. Gandalf was old even before I was born so I don’t think I need to mention him. And Balian…how old is he?”

Merry shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. “Why don’t you ask him?”

“But that would seem rude!”

“I think he’s used to it by now. You’re always too nosy for your own good. “

Frodo seemed to have been distracted by his cousins’ silly behaviour. He was smiling as he watched the debate’s progress. The Ringbearer gave Balian a nudge.

“So how old are you?” asked the hobbit.

Everyone looked at the blacksmith expectantly and he inwardly cringed.

“Come on,” pleaded Pippin. “You don’t have to be shy.”

Balian looked down at the ground. Suddenly, the rock seemed quite interesting.

“Just tell him,” urged Frodo. “He won’t leave you alone until you do.”

“Twenty-eight,” mumbled Balian.

“What did he say?” asked Pippin.

“He’s twenty-eight,” said Frodo “so you’re not the youngest.”

It was actually quite surprising to learn that Balian was the youngest member of the Fellowship. He acted like someone who was much older.

“Look what you’ve done, Pip,” said Merry in annoyance. “You’ve embarrassed him.”

“What? I made him tell us how old he is; that’s nothing to be embarrassed of,” retorted Pippin.

“Alright, gentlemen,” chided Aragorn softly “that’s enough. Can’t you see that our young blacksmith here does not like being at the centre of attention? Anyway, you’d better be quiet. You don’t want to attract things of an unsavoury nature."

The group went back to being silent again but their mood had been lightened.
A movement caught Frodo’s eye, giving him a fright. He tapped Balian’s arm and pointed. The two of them peered into the gloom then Balian looked at Frodo in confusion. His night vision was poor compared to the hobbit and he could not see anything.

“There’s something out there,” Frodo whispered to the bewildered blacksmith.

“It’s Gollum,” said Gandalf, who had overheard them. “He’s been following us for three days.”

“Gollum?” asked Balian. “What—“ He was rudely cut off by Legolas.

“Where?” demanded the elf, bounding up to the outcrop where Gandalf was sitting. Frodo pointed into the darkness. The elf narrowed his eyes, listening intently. Then without warning he put an arrow to his bow. Only Balian’s quick reflexes stopped Legolas from shooting and alerting the unpleasant inhabitants of the mine of their presence.

“What are you doing?!” Legolas hissed at Balian, whom he was wrestling with. He tried to pry his bow from the blacksmith’s hands but the man was stubborn and would not let go.

“Do you know what that is, and what it has done to me?!” demanded Legolas furiously.

The hobbits had never seen the elf so wrathful and they were terrified by his outburst. Even Aragorn and Gandalf, who knew the elf well, were shocked.

“Legolas stop this!” pleaded Balian. He was surprised by the elf’s unnatural strength. Legolas ignored his plea and kept on trying to shoot at Gollum. In his anger, he drove his elbow into the man’s healing ribs, causing Balian to hiss with pain. Aragorn quickly scrambled up to where the two were and tried to pull them apart. Gandalf was already trying to calm Legolas down, to no avail. For a moment, the arrow was pointing at Balian’s chest. Gandalf quickly pushed the man aside before something that Legolas would regret forever happened. Finally, Aragorn and Gandalf, with some help from the rest of the Fellowship, managed to separate the two and pacified Legolas enough so that he did not attempt to shoot anything anymore.

“Why did you stop me?!” demanded the elf through clenched teeth, glaring venomously at the breathless blacksmith who was clutching his ribs. “Why did you stop me from avenging my kin?! I thought we were friends!”

“We are friends,” insisted Balian helplessly.

“No we’re not,” spat Legolas. He turned and stalked away. Aragorn followed him and tried to reason with the elf but Legolas refused to listen.

Gandalf helped Balian to sit down. “Are you alright?” he asked.
Balian nodded. His eyes were full of hurt and confusion. Why was Legolas acting this way? As if he had read his thoughts, Gandalf began to explain.
“Balian,” said the wizard “Gollum was once a prisoner in Legolas’ kingdom. When he escaped, he caused many of Legolas’ comrades to be killed and moreover, Legolas was in charge of guarding Gollum. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but Legolas’ father was furious and I suspect that Legolas bore the brunt of his anger.”

“So he wants to kill Gollum to avenge his friends and himself,” finished Balian. Gandalf nodded.

“He’s very angry at you for taking away this chance,” said Gandalf “but I am certain that in time, he will forgive you. I can only ask you to forgive him as well for his rash actions.”

Balian nodded. He hoped that this moment of reconciliation would come soon.
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Old December 13th, 2007, 08:25 PM
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Chapter 11: Drums in the Deep

The darkness closed in about him. He hated it; hated it so much he wanted to scream except he could not do that for fear of alerting their enemies. There was no life, save for the presence of his companions. He missed —no, needed— the voices of trees, the cool caress of the wind and the light of the sun. They told him that he lived.

The screams of dying elves —his friends and comrades— reverberated in his mind. He could see their faces, contorted with agony even as the light left their eyes. Their blood covered his hands and the earth around them, mingling with the blood of their enemies. He had not forgotten his promise to avenge them and he’d had the perfect chance…until he interfered.

Legolas glanced scathingly in Balian’s direction. The blacksmith looked dejected. His shoulders were slumped and he sat with his arms around his knees. Ever since their disagreement, they had not spoken to each other. The rest of the Fellowship was as nervous as a herd of deer that knew they were being stalked. All of them kept glancing at Legolas but quickly looked away when he met their gazes. None of them dared to speak to him for fear of inducing his ire. His father was well-known for his legendary temper and although Legolas had inherited none of Thranduil’s viciousness, he could still be terrifying, as they had just found out.

Gandalf’s mind constantly dwelt on the incident between Balian and Legolas. It would take some time for the elven prince’s temper to cool down but he knew that eventually, Legolas would be able to see Balian’s reason and forgive the man. And the blacksmith did not hold a grudge, which should make the reconciliation smoother. The dark of Moria was probably hindering Legolas’ ability to reason. The wizard had known the elf since childhood. Legolas abhorred dark, closed-in places. Being underground for such a long period of time was very taxing for him. He would come to his senses soon enough once he sees the sun and his beloved trees again. This brought Gandalf back to the problem at hand; he needed to get them out of Moria. He pulled his pipe from his mouth and sighed, then his brow creased and he sniffed the air a few more times. There was fresh air coming from one of the carved archways. Fresh air meant that there was an outlet…

“Ah, It’s that way!” he declared, almost gleefully.

“He’s remembered it!” cried Merry, a grin lighting up his face. He scrambled to his feet. The rest of the Fellowship followed suit, wearing eager expressions.

“No,” said Gandalf, approaching the archway “but the air doesn’t smell so foul down here.” He smiled at Merry, who was standing beside him and enthusiastically peering into the darkness beyond the archway. “If in doubt, Meriadoc,” the wizard advised “always follow your nose.”

They slowly filed through the archway with cautious steps, apprehensive about what they would find there. The whole place sounded hollow. Their footsteps were magnified ominously in the dark. There could be a hole anywhere, just waiting for one of them to put their foot in the wrong place. Legolas shuddered. Why would anyone, save for creatures of the dark, want to make their home here?

“Let me risk a little more light,” breathed Gandalf, passing a gnarled hand over the glowing crystal on the tip of his staff. The light intensified and revealed tall stone columns easily twice the height of the walls of Jerusalem. Balian’s eyes widened in awe and admiration as he took in the sight. Never in his live had he seen such find craftsmanship. The pillars themselves had been cut from the rock of the mountain and they were as smooth as glass. Intricate patterns had been carved into them lovingly. This place must have been magnificent to behold in its days of glory when Moria had not been ransacked and pillaged by orcs. As it was, its beauty, although it was only a shadow of its former splendour, held them in a trance.

“Behold the great dwarven city of Dwarrowdelf,” said Gandalf. His voice, although soft, was magnified by the great domed ceiling which rivalled that of any cathedral.

Gimli spotted a partially open wooden door leading into a chamber illuminated by natural light. He gave a shout and began to run towards the door, not paying any heed to Gandalf’s warnings. The rest of the Fellowship ran to catch up with him. Legolas, being one of the eldar, was the swiftest. He entered the chamber first, followed by the men then Gandalf and the hobbits. They found Gimli kneeling in front of a box-like tomb, his face etched with grief and sobbing.

“Here lies Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria,” read Gandalf sadly from the inscription carved into the smooth surface of the stone in dwarven runes. “He is dead then. It is as I have feared.”

Gimli was still in denial and Boromir placed a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder to offer what comfort he could. Balian stood to the side and offered up a swift prayer for Gimli’s kinsman and for Gimli as well. He had grown rather fond of the dwarf and hated to see his friend grieving.

Legolas and Aragorn stood behind the rest of them. “We should leave now,” Legolas said to Aragorn. His voice was almost a hiss and he emphasized every syllable. “We cannot linger.” Aragorn glanced at the elf. His friend was nervous and tense but Gimli deserved some time to pay his last respects to his cousin. The ranger said nothing.

Meanwhile, Gandalf had pried a heavy dusty book from a dwarven skeleton’s hands. Many pages fell out or disintegrated as the wizard opened the old book. “Maybe this will let us know what happened here,” he said. All eyes turned to Gandalf with apprehension and dread. Balian didn’t want to know what had happened, at least, not until they were out of this horrible place of death.

“They have taken the hall and the second bridge,” intoned Gandalf in his rich voice. “We have barred the gates, but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums, drums in the deep. We cannot get out…they are coming…” The wizard stopped, for these seemed to be the last words the scribe wrote before he fell. The words were ominous and made filled their hearts with cold trepidation.

A loud crash made them all jump and whip around to find the source of the noise. It was Pippin, who had been fiddling with a skeleton that was sitting at the edge of a well. The skull had fallen off and tumbled into the empty blackness. As Pippin looked up guiltily at Gandalf, the rest of the skeleton followed the skull and along with it went a heavy chain with a bucket attached, presumably used for drawing water when the mines were still occupied by civilized people. It was several moments before the clanging and crashing ended. With each sound, the guilty hobbit cringed. When it was all over, Pippin looked up to see the furious wizard’s face.

“Fool of a Took!” cried Gandalf. “Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!”

Balian thought this was slightly harsh. The hobbit did not do it on purpose. However, Pippin’s actions had probably endangered them all by alerting whatever it was that killed the dwarves of their presence.

A piercing shriek came from the depths of the well; it was answered by another. Soon there was a chorus of harsh shrieks. Drumbeats followed. The sounds drew closer. Frodo unsheathed his blade. It glowed blue. “Orcs!” shouted Legolas. His eyes were full of hate.

“Stay back!” Aragorn commanded the hobbits. “Stay close to Gandalf!” Boromir went to the doors and peeked out but soon jerked his head back. Two arrows were embedded in the place where it had been moments before.

“They have a cave troll,” said the Gondorian in disgust. He slammed the doors shut and Aragorn helped him to bar them with long-handled axes that Legolas was passing them. Balian positioned himself in front of the frightened hobbits and drew the sword of Ibelin. Anything that wanted to hurt the hobbits would do so over his dead body. His sides were still stiff but thankfully, he was able to take a high guard. Gimli planted himself on top of Balin’s tomb. “Let them come,” he snarled. “There is one dwarf yet in Moria who still draws breath!”

Legolas and Aragorn, their only archers, stood at the front with arrows fitted to their bows. Boromir was behind them, shield on one arm and blade bared, ready for anything that was to come through the door. It wasn’t long before the orcs managed to hack a hole in the rotting wood. An arrow emerged from the hole but Legolas fired first. The orc fell back with a scream but it was replaced by another. Aragorn shot the replacement before the doors were broken and all the orcs rushed in.

These were smaller than the ones that Balian had first encountered during his unlucky side trip but they were no less foul. He felt only contempt for them as he cut them down. From behind him came a battle cry and the hobbits rushed forward, stabbing and cutting like little soldiers. Sam put his frying pan to good use while Merry surprised the blacksmith with his viciousness. It almost matched Balian’s own.

They seemed to be winning the battle when something large, loud and grey barged in, brandishing a heavy club. It went straight for Sam who avoided being crushed by diving between the monster’s legs. Legolas shot it in the shoulder, but that only angered it more. It turned its attention to the elf and things might have gone awry if Gimli had not distracted it by chopping at its legs with his axe. The troll —as that was what it was— swiped at the dwarf with its club. Gimli just managed to leap out of the way.

The troll hit out in every direction, not caring if it killed orcs or not. In the process, it smashed Balin’s tomb, sending fragments of rock everywhere. It was about to attack Gandalf when Balian caught its attention. The blacksmith had been fighting orcs and he was covered in black blood. He looked like something that would haunt a man’s darkest dreams. The troll lashed out at him and Balian swiftly ducked while delivering a glancing blow to the troll’s upper leg.

Gandalf could see the blacksmith from the corner of his eye and he was impressed by the man’s ferocity and swordsmanship. Balian was a seasoned warrior and fought like one who did not fear death. However, a little more caution would not go amiss and the wizard made a note to remind Balian afterwards. Sadly, he never got the chance until much later.

Meanwhile, the troll was once again distracted by Legolas who had fired two arrows at the same time from a ledge. The troll was trying to hit the elf with its chain and very nearly succeeded. The last attempt ended in the chain tangling itself around a pillar and thus disabling the troll momentarily. Legolas took this chance to run across the chain and onto the troll’s shoulders. He stood astride the troll and shot the top of its skull. The arrow shattered upon impact.

‘That thing must have a very thick skull,’ thought Balian, beheading and orc.

The troll now concentrated on the hobbits and it managed to isolate Frodo. It seemed almost desperate to destroy the hobbit after so many botched attempts to kill one of the Fellowship. In his frantic state, Frodo called out to Aragorn for help. The ranger immediately leapt between the troll and the Ringbearer with a long spear in his hand, looking every bit like a knight in shining armour, except he wore no armour.

With a violent thrust and an enraged snarl, he plunged the spear into the troll’s body. The troll roared in pain and for a moment, it seemed like it was dying. Unfortunately for Aragorn, trolls were extremely resilient creatures and this one was also highly annoyed. With an arm the size of a small catapult, it swiped Aragorn off his feet and threw him against the stone wall, rendering the man unconscious. The troll yanked the spear from its ribcage and was about to stab the man when Frodo made a valiant attempt to defend Aragorn. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion and the rest of the Fellowship could only watch in horror as the troll first flung Frodo against a wall then drove the spearhead into the little hobbit. Frodo tried to scream, but all that came from his lips were gasps of pain. His face had gone pale. Sweat beaded his face like small diamonds. His eyes rolled back in their sockets and he fell forwards, seemingly dead.

Something seemed to have snapped inside Merry and pippin when Frodo hit the ground. They leapt from the ledge they were standing on and onto the troll’s head, stabbing at its scalp viciously with their short swords. The infuriated troll reached up and plucked Merry from his position on its shoulder but a quick blow from Pippin made the troll drop the young Brandybuck.

With fury that he only reserved for the likes of Reynald de Chatillon and Guy de Lusignan, Balian lunged at the troll and leapt onto its back, plunging his sword in with all his might. Legolas stood in front of the troll, aiming at its neck and waiting for it to expose its throat. When the sword of Ibelin entered its flesh, the troll lifted its head and roared. At that moment, Legolas changed his target and released his arrow. The arrow entered into the troll’s brain through the top of its mouth. The troll staggered, moaning. Pippin, who was still on top of it, clung on tightly. The troll stumbled, once, twice, then fell on its face and tossed Pippin to the ground. The sword of Ibelin was still embedded in its back.

Aragorn wasted no time in getting to Frodo. The man was still dazed from his impact with the wall and was crawling on his hands and knees. “Oh no,” he whispered when he reached the hobbit. His face was filled with fear and grief. He reached out to lift up the little body. Imagine his surprise when Frodo gasped for breath, very much alive.

“It’s alright,” said Frodo breathlessly, gazing at the wide-eyed faces around him. “I’m not hurt.”

“You should be dead!” exclaimed Aragorn in awe and confusion. “That spear would’ve skewered a wild boar!”

Gandalf smiled warmly down at Frodo. “I think there’s more to this hobbit than meets the eye,” he said with eyes twinkling. Slowly, Frodo undid his shirt to reveal a very fine and well-crafted mail shirt which glittered brightly as if it had been woven from beams of starlight.

“Mithril,” breathed Gimli in wonder. “You are full of surprises, Master Baggins.”

More shrieks brought them out of their reverie. “To the bridge of Khazad-dum,” said Gandalf. They followed him out of the chamber which once housed Balin’s tomb and into the dwarven city of Dwarrowdelf. Orcs were streaming out from holes in the ceiling and down the pillars like a swarm of ants. The Fellowship was soon surrounded by snarling, bow-legged creatures. They drew their weapons and prepared for a battle they knew they could not win.


A/N: I used phrases from the FotR film in the chapter. Don’t kill me if I didn’t get them entirely right. They were all from my memory and I haven’t seen FotR for a while.
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Old December 26th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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Great dialogue right through out. I can hear them speaking in my head and they are all true to character.

I like how you have the true elements of Balian coming through so strongly. I have never really read any cross over fiction before so this is very interesting for me.
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Old December 29th, 2007, 11:37 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Disclaimer: I don’t own anything that you recognize. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of putting them back where they belong after I’m through with them.

Chapter 12: Out of the Mines

‘So the quest ends here,’ thought Balian, taking a high guard and preparing to do battle. He glared at the sneering twisted faces of the orcs. They bared their stained yellow teeth at him, but he was a veteran of many battles and was not in the least intimidated by the display. He gripped the hilt of his sword so tightly that his knuckles were white. If he was to die, then he would at least die a knight.

The orcs were closing in on them when what sounded like a guttural growl caught the foul creatures’ attention and sent them scrambling back into the holes and cracks from whence they came. There was an unnatural orange glow the end of the great hall. None of them knew what it was. Legolas aimed in that direction, panic written all over his fair features. Gandalf’s head was bowed in thought.

“What is this new devilry?” demanded Boromir in a shaking voice, trying to hide his thinly veiled fear.

“A balrog,” replied the wizard gravely and slowly. He raised his head and they could see his eyes were filled with despair and determination. “A demon of the shadow world.”

On hearing Gandalf’s reply, Legolas turned as pale as the moon’s face. His eyes were wide with terror and he was swallowing rapidly.

“This foe is beyond any of you,” continued the wizard. “Run!”

The entire Fellowship sprang into action, speeding for the exit. ‘I wish he’d told us to do this earlier,’ thought Balian wryly as the air around them began to grow warmer. They were running through a narrow tunnel and it seemed as if all of hell itself was on their tail. ‘I could have done without the explanation.’

Boromir was the first to run out of the tunnel, closely followed by Legolas. A moment later, Balian heard a cry from Boromir. The stairs at the end of the tunnel had only a few steps. If Boromir had not stopped in time or if Legolas had not pulled him back, the man from Gondor would’ve fallen to his death in the dark hungry depths of Moria. It was fortunate that the hobbits —who were just behind the elf— had managed to stop also. One more step from Sam and his momentum would’ve caused six of the Fellowship to plunge to their deaths.

There was another flight of stairs carved into the wall at the mouth of the tunnel. It went at right-angles to the stairs that Boromir nearly fell from.

“Lead them on, Aragorn,” cried Gandalf, gripping the man’s shoulder tightly. “The bridge is near!”

Aragorn hesitated but Gandalf shoved him roughly. “Go!” he shouted. “Swords are of no more use here!”

Balian suddenly understood why Aragorn was reluctant to do as Gandalf asked. The old wizard intended to fight this evil alone! “I’ll fight beside you, Gandalf,” he cried. “I can’t leave you to do this alone!”

“No, you fool!” shouted the wizard, pushing Balian in Aragorn’s direction. “You must go! You cannot fight this thing! I entrust the safety of the Fellowship to you two! You must not fail me!”

Aragorn and Balian stood there, stunned. Gandalf had just made the fate of Middle Earth their responsibility. At last, Aragorn spoke. “We will not fail you,” he said.

“Good,” said Gandalf. “Now go!”

Aragorn and Balian gathered the rest of the Fellowship and they followed Aragorn into yet another hall. Gandalf brought up the rear. The balrog’s footsteps made the rock vibrate and shatter, showering the Fellowship with dust and other debris. They came to a part in the stair where there was a large gap, about seven feet wide. All of them were at a loss as to what to do, except Legolas. The elf took a flying leap and soared across the gap, landing gracefully on his feet like a cat. He beckoned to them urgently. “Gandalf!” he called. The wizard jumped and landed on the other side with Legolas steadying him. A few orc arrows landed just in front of Merry and Pippin’s toes, causing the hobbits to jump in fright. Legolas lifted his bow and returned fire.

Boromir took Pippin in one arm, Merry in another, and jumped. Some of the stair crumbled beneath his feet when he took off but all three managed to make it to the other side. Aragorn tossed Sam across like a sack of meal and was about to do the same to Gimli but the proud dwarf declined. “Nobody tosses a dwarf,” rumbled the stout bearded creature. With a battle cry, he leapt and landed just at the edge. If Legolas had not grabbed his thick red beard —much to Gimli’s chagrin— the dwarf would have fallen to his death. When Gimli had been pulled to safety, Balian tossed Frodo over and Boromir caught the little hobbit. Then more of the stair under their feet crumbled, further widening the gap.

Now only Aragorn and Balian had to cross. “Go on, Balian,” said Aragorn, eyeing the gap. “It’s not going to grow any smaller.” Balian nodded and said nothing. He stared at the gap and the darkness beyond. It was really very far and He would fall a very long way if he missed the other side. He turned to Aragorn, who looked rather uncertain, and then glanced back. The balrog was getting very close. Either way, there was almost a certain chance of death.

‘All death is certain,’ repeated Brother John’s voice in his head. Balian was preparing to jump when a rather large piece of rock fell behind them; now the part they were standing on was teetering dangerously. The two men struggled to keep their balance. They heard the groaning of rocks as the rough surfaces rubbed against each other.

“Lean forward!” shouted Aragorn. Balian did as he was told. Aragorn had a very commanding manner.

Legolas watched as the two men stood on the brink of the teetering piece of dwarvish construction, striving for survival. ‘Oh Valar, please don’t let them die!’ he prayed silently. “Come on!” he breathed out loud, opening his arms and preparing to catch one of them. The section of stair tilted forwards towards the Fellowship, then it toppled in their direction and the two men were thrown at them.

Legolas was almost knocked off his feet as Aragorn’s body slammed into him. Beside the elf, Boromir had caught Balian and both looked a little shocked. The blacksmith and the Gondorian faced each other. No words passed between them. However, Gandalf would not let them waste any more time and they were herded down the stairs and towards a narrow stone bridge with no rails. It was then that the Fellowship finally got to see the balrog. It was a gargantuan flaming beast with a human like body and ram’s horns on its head. Its eyes were naught but fiery pits in its skull and its skin resembled the surface of burning coals. It held a three thronged whip of fire in its clawed hand. When it opened its mouth to roar, flames and hot air came out, reminding Balian of his forge back in France.

‘Satan must look something like this,’ thought Balian, who could not resist looking back at the monstrosity that was chasing them.

“Hurry!” shouted Gandalf “Across the bridge!” The Fellowship ran across the narrow stone bridge one by one until they were all on the other side.

Almost all. Gandalf was the last to cross. He stood in the middle of the bridge, barring the balrog’s way. The hot air currents made the wizard’s robes billow about him. He held his staff in one hand and sword in the other, resembling a great warrior from the legends of old.

“You shall not pass!” he shouted to the balrog, brandishing his weapons and standing firm. The balrog snorted and took a step forward so that one of its huge feet was now on the bridge. It flicked its whip menacingly but Gandalf was undaunted.

“I am a servant of the Secret Fire,” intoned the wizard “Wielder of the flame of Arnor!” He lifted his staff and conjured a globe of light around himself. The balrog pulled out a burning blade and struck at Gandalf. Its sword shattered on the shield of light.

“Go back to the shadow!” commanded Gandalf. “The dark fire shall not avail you, Flame of Udûn!” The balrog growled in annoyance and took another step forward.

“You shall not pass!” repeated Gandalf, louder this time and with every syllable articulated. The wizard drove his wooden staff into the rock of the bridge. There was a loud rumble but nothing else happened. The balrog snorted disdainfully at the Wizard’s display of power. It put another foot forward. This time, the section of bridge it stood on crumbled beneath its feet and it fell into the dark chasm which separated it from the Fellowship. As it fell, it lashed out with its whip and caught Gandalf around the ankles, pulling the wizard down with it. “Fly you fools!” cried Gandalf, and then he was gone.

***

The sunlight was unbearably bright. The breeze was cold but he felt numb. Gandalf was gone. To Frodo, it seemed as if all hope had fallen with the wizard. Gandalf had been his guide, his mentor, his refuge. He let his feet take him away from the rest of the grieving Fellowship. He did not know where he was going. He cared not. He stood at the edge of a cliff, the Ring resting on his open palm. Everything seemed grey and silent. He felt lost.

Balian had not known the wizard for long, but he too felt a sense of loss. Without Gandalf, who was to lead the quest? He stood silent, remembering the short amount of time that he had known the wizard. Gandalf had seemed wise and gentle, reminding him a little of his own father. He had hoped that the wizard would be able to help him get back to France once the quest was over. Now it seemed the quest would never be over, and he would never see his home again.

Boromir had not known Gandalf very well, for it was Faramir who had spent time following the wizard and learning from him. Yet the eldest son of Denethor had placed his hope in the quest that Gandalf had led. He had believed that with Gandalf’s aid his city would be saved and the glory of Gondor would be restored. Gandalf’s fall had shown him that he could place his hope in no one; neither one of the wisest people in Middle Earth nor the heir of Isildur whom Gandalf was so keen on helping to regain the throne. No, only the Ring could save Gondor and Boromir would do anything in his power to get it.

Aragorn wished he could give the Fellowship time to grieve for their fallen leader, but circumstances would not allow it. They had to get to the woods of Lothlorien by nightfall or else they would be overwhelmed by the orcs that dwelt in Moria. He turned to Legolas. The elf was silent and his eyes were filled with grief, but he was not overcome by it. “Legolas,” said Aragorn “get them up.”

“Give them a moment for pity’s sake!” cried Boromir.

“By nightfall these hills will be swarming with orcs!” said Aragorn. “We must reach the woods of Lothlorien. Come Boromir, Legolas, Gimli…” his eyes fell on the blacksmith who stood as still as a statue. “…Balian. Get them up.” The ranger did not look to see if they were following his instructions. He made his way to Sam, whose face was wet with tears. “On your feet, Sam,” he said, pulling the hobbit to a standing position. Then he looked around. Legolas and Balian were trying to persuade Merry and Pippin to get up while Boromir was restraining a furious dwarf who was trying to get back into Moria. Frodo was nowhere in sight.

“Frodo!” called Aragorn, whipping his head in every direction, searching for the missing Ringbearer. He found Frodo, standing at the edge of a precipice and holding the Ring. He slowly approached the hobbit. “Frodo?” he asked quietly. The hobbit turned his tearstained face to the ranger.

“I wish the Ring had never come to me,” said Frodo in a shaking voice.

“But it did,” said Aragorn gently. “No one can change the past. We can only try to make the future better. Come.”

Frodo reluctantly followed Aragorn back to where the others were waiting.

“Keep an eye on Frodo,” Aragorn whispered to Balian. The blacksmith looked surprised at the request but he nodded.

The Fellowship made their way down the hill. The grass was fragrant and soft underneath their feet but no one took much notice of it. All they could think of was Gandalf’s last moments and all of them felt guilty to some degree that they did not help the wizard even if such a gesture would have been futile.

It was almost nightfall by the time they reached the woods and they were all relieved when they entered it. To Balian, this seemed like one of the ancient sacred places that men were not supposed to go into. Apprehension gripped his heart. The woods were beautiful and unlike anything he had ever seen. The trees had smooth grey trunks and golden leaves hung from their branches. Dying sunlight filtered through the canopy, creating a golden pattern on the forest floor. They were like sculptures, these trees, except they were living.

“If I had come here in spring then my heart would be glad,” said Legolas with a sigh.

“I am glad although it is winter,” replied Aragorn. Elves were sometimes just too selective for their own good.

Gimli, however, was not feeling glad at all. “Stay close little hobbits,” he said, beckoning to them. “They say a great sorceress lives here. An elf witch, of terrible power.”

Balian raised an eyebrow. He was not superstitious and did not believe in such things. He wondered what Legolas would say if he had heard the dwarf’s comment. It was fortunate for Gimli that Legolas was too engrossed in the trees.

“All who come here fall under her spell,” continued the dwarf. The hobbits looked around in fear. Their eyes were wide.

“Well, here’s one dwarf she won’t ensnare so easily,” said Gimli with contempt. “I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox—“

He had hardly finished his sentence when the tip of an arrow appeared, just inches from his face. Balian would have laughed at the dwarf’s expression if he was not surrounded by hostile looking people who were pointing arrows at him.

“The dwarf breathes so loud we could have shot him in the dark,” said their leader smugly. They all had golden hair and pointed ears. ‘They’re elves!’ Balian realized. Suddenly, one of the archers who were aiming at Balian gave a panicked shout. The leader rushed over.

“What’s this?” he demanded, seizing Balian’s hand—the one that the orcs had branded. The elf inspected the mark and then looked at the blacksmith with so much hatred that it made Balian’s blood freeze.

“You are a servant of Mordor,” spat the elf. He turned to his companions. “Kill him.”

***

A/N: Another evil cliffie!

Thanks, Kiwi, for your comment!
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Old December 30th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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Oh! That was an unexpected twist. I had not thought about that brand putting him in danger. I hope that Aragorn and Legolas can make things right. Once again the dialogue is great and you are staying true to the story but also creating you own within - well done
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Old December 30th, 2007, 11:45 PM
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Telcontar Rulz Telcontar Rulz is offline
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Chance Encounter


Disclaimer: I don’t own anything that you recognize. I’m just borrowing them without permission but with every intention of putting them back where they belong after I’m through with them.

Chapter 13: Into Elvish Territory

The elves prepared to shoot Balian and turn him into a pin-cushion. The blacksmith closed his eyes and prepared for death. He hoped they would kill him quickly. It would be painful otherwise.

“Wait!” shouted Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam at the same time.

“He’s innocent!” said Aragorn.

“I can vouch for him!” declared Legolas.

“I can explain!” cried Frodo

“Don’t kill him!” begged the rest of the hobbits.

The other elf arched his eyebrow. “Do elaborate,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I kill a servant of the Dark Lord, a haradrim, by the looks of him?”

“He’s not one of the haradrim,” said Aragorn. “He’s from…another faraway country. He was shipwrecked when we found him in Hollin…”

Bit by bit, Legolas explained how they met Balian, albeit not very clearly, and what sort of person he was. The elf captain’s expression became more and more perplexed.


“He was shipwrecked in Hollin,” stated the elf flatly “and he is a blacksmith who just happens to inherit a sword with a ruby in the hilt.”

“No, no,” said Aragorn. “He was shipwrecked and we found him in Hollin.”

The elf looked skeptical.

“Look here, Haldir,” said Legolas impatiently “I can promise you that he does not serve Sauron.” Aragorn recognized that tone. Legolas only used it as a last resort.

“Are you certain?” asked Haldir.

“I swear on my honour as a prince of Mirkwood that he is not a servant of the Dark Lord,” said Legolas. “Will that suffice?”

Balian gave a start. Legolas was royalty? He turned to look at him. Legolas stood tall and proud. His eyes were cold and piercing and his mouth was set in a firm line. Yes, he definitely looked like royalty.

The elf called Haldir looked uncomfortable. “Yes, my lord,” he said. “We will allow him to live, but we can let neither him nor the dwarf pass.”

“They’re part of this fellowship, Haldir,” said Aragorn testily. “They have to come with us.” The ranger was not aware that he had lapsed into Sindarin and now only the elves could understand their conversation. Frodo, who had a scant knowledge of the language, found the quick and heated exchange rather hard to follow.

After some hand-waving, raised voices and earnest expressions, Haldir finally relented. “Fine,” he said, although his expression said it was anything but. “They can pass through the woods on the condition that both are blindfolded and the man is bound.”

“Now wait here,” growled Gimli “I will not be insulted like this!”

“A plague on dwarves and their stiff necks!” cried Legolas in exasperation. “You cannot pass if you do not agree to this!”

“I will oblige if Legolas here shares my blindness,” said Gimli with an evil mischievous glint in his eyes.

“I am an elf and a kinsman here,” said Legolas, growing angry in his turn.

“Now let us all say ‘a plague on elves and their stiff necks!’” said Aragorn. “The whole Fellowship shall go blindfolded. Now hush, you two! I didn’t see our young blacksmith complaining about his conditions.”

Balian was already being bound and blindfolded. He had not said a single word.

“Well,” said Gimli as a piece of dark cloth was wrapped around his eyes “just as well the lad didn’t complain or Aragorn would’ve insisted that we go bound as well. A merry troop of fools we will look then.”

“Alas for the folly of these days,” said Legolas, who did not find the situation as amusing as Gimli did. “Here all are enemies of the One Enemy, and yet I must walk blind, while the sun is merry in the woodland under leaves of gold.”

The Fellowship listened to Legolas’ tirade with some amusement. ‘Elves are certainly very strange,’ thought Balian. ‘Some of us were almost shot and he laments the fact that he is not allowed to admire the scenery.’

They continued their journey without their sight, led expertly by the residential elves along the safest paths. No one stumbled or fell. The woods had a fragrant and wholesome smell. It was how Balian had imagined heaven to be like. Birds sang in the branches above them and the trees rustled in reply. He thought that he had never heard a sweeter sound, save for his wife’s laughter and Sibylla’s musical voice. The ground was firm beneath his feet. The ropes that bound his hands were smooth as if they were woven of silk. They irritated him not at all. Although the elves treated him with suspicion, they were by no means cruel and he was grateful for that.

They travelled in silence until one of the elves began speaking in their melodic language to Haldir. The two elves conversed for a while then Haldir addressed the Fellowship. ‘It seems that the Lady knows that you are coming,” he said. “She has ordered that you are all to go free, even the dwarf and the haradrim.”

When Balian’s blindfold was removed, he realised that it was night. These sacred woods looked even more ethereal under moonlight and starlight. The trees looked as if they had been crafted out of the finest silver, with each leaf lovingly wrought by its creator. The cool night breeze gently caressed his skin and tugged playfully at his hair, like the hands of a lover. “Oh Sibylla, I wish you were here with me,” he whispered. She would have enjoyed this magnificent sight. He knew that he would have enjoyed it more with her by his side. Then guiltily, he remembered his late wife, Jocelyn.

“It is lovely, is it not?” said Aragorn, approaching from behind to stand beside him.

“Yes,” said Balian softly. The other man did not seem to hear him.

“We need to get rid of that mark on your hand sometime soon,” Aragorn continued. “It will cause you nothing but trouble.”

Balian looked at his hand and scrutinized the unsightly scar. “How do you plan to do it?” he asked.

Aragorn took Balian’s hand and inspected the mark. “I don’t want to damage any of the muscles and tendons in your hand, so I won’t be cutting the mark out,” said the ranger. “I was thinking of putting another brand there to cover it and make it look like a scar from a really bad burn. We will need the proper equipment and sedatives so I suggest we wait until we reach Calas Galadhon. Until then, I suggest that you hide it from the elves. It makes them uncomfortable.”

The blacksmith nodded but said nothing. The ranger put a hand on his shoulder. “Come,” he said “get some rest. We still have a long journey ahead of us tomorrow.”

Balian followed Aragorn to where the rest of the Fellowship was lying on the ground upon beds of soft grass and golden leaves. Legolas was nowhere in sight.

“Don’t sleep there,” said Gimli to Balian, indicating a spot under a particularly tall and majestic tree. “The elf might fall in the middle of the night and crush you, lad.”

“Elves do not fall out of trees,” said Legolas’ voice in annoyance from amidst the branches. “Only heavy and clumsy mortals do that.”

“Hey!” protested Aragorn. “That only happened because you insisted that I would be safer sleeping in the manner of the wood elves than on the ground!”

Balian settled himself near the hobbits to watch the show from a safe distance. Only Sam was asleep. Merry and Pippin were whispering to each other while Frodo sat slightly apart from them, staring into the distance with dull eyes. Gandalf’s death had hit the Ringbearer hard and the hobbit looked like he was in need of comforting. The blacksmith went over and sat beside him. Frodo turned around and looked at Balian with large sad eyes.

“I see him every time I close my eyes,” said Frodo in a small voice. “I see the look on his face as he falls. Why did he have to be the one who dies? Why did he have to leave?”

“I don’t know,” said Balian softly. “I have yet to find the answer. I asked myself the same thing when my wife and child died. I only know that Gandalf loved us very much. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. As long as you remember him and the things that he taught you, he’ll always be with you.”

“You have a wife, Balian?” asked Pippin. It seemed that the conversation was no longer private.

“And a child,” Merry reminded his younger cousin. “Anyway, he had a wife and child.”

“What happened?” asked Gimli. Dwarves treasured their women and children very much. It was a tragedy to lose either and unthinkable to lose both.

“My child was a stillborn,” said Balian quietly, not looking at them. He plucked a few blades of grass from the ground and twisted them between his fingers. “My wife fell into melancholy. She hanged herself one day while I was not in the house.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Pippin immediately, putting a comforting hand on the man’s elbow.

Boromir looked in Balian’s direction in surprise. Although he did not like the blacksmith, he felt sorry for the younger man. He would not like to go through what Balian had experienced and he would not wish it on anyone else, not even his worst enemy.

“How did you get your sword?” asked Merry, trying to change the subject. They were all feeling rather uncomfortable. There was nothing that one could say to a man who had lost those dearest to him, and in such terrible ways.

“My father gave it to me, before he died,” replied Balian. Another death. Balian’s family seemed to know the Grim Reaper very well.

“How did he get it?” asked Aragorn.

“He was the Baron of Ibelin,” said Balian. Bit by bit, the Fellowship managed to worm his story out of him. By the end of it, they were all amazed at what had happened to their ‘young blacksmith’.

“So in fact, you are not a blacksmith at all,” said Gimli. “You’re a knight!”

“You defend cities and build siege engines?” asked Boromir in disbelief. Balian thought he heard a hopeful note in the Gondorian’s voice.

“You seduced a princess?” said Legolas with wide eyes full of respect.

“No, the princess seduced him,” corrected Aragorn. “Weren’t you listening?”

“Why did you decide to let Guy live, after all that he’s done to you?” demanded Merry. “Why didn’t you take up the King’s offer?”

“Because it would’ve been wrong to do so,” replied Balian. “To let the King kill Guy so that I could marry Sibylla and become Prince Regent would have been murder and adultery. I couldn’t sell my soul.”

“You would’ve made a better Prince Regent —and King— than Guy,” said Legolas. “Then you could have prevented the war.”

“I don’t think the people would have accepted a blacksmith as a king,” said Balian. “They would’ve overthrown me. Anyway, I didn’t want to be king and I still don’t want to be king. I’m just a blacksmith.”

“No, you’re a knight and a baron, not to mention the defender of a city,” said Aragorn. “The Free Peoples of Middle Earth will have need of your services before the end.”

“And I will be glad to serve them,” said Balian “but for the time being, I would like to rest for a while. It has been a rather trying day.”

“Aye, I second that!” said Gimli. With that, the dwarf closed his eyes and was soon snoring.

***

They reached Calas Galadhon late next morning. It was a grand city nestled amongst the giant trees of Lothlorien and Balian had never seen anything like it. All the houses were built amongst the branches and stairs curled around the trunks of the trees like climbing serpents. Everything was so graceful and elegant that he felt completely out of place. Haldir led them to a giant platform supported by the topmost branches of the tallest trees, where a whole delegation of elves awaited them.

Two very tall people, presumably the Lord and Lady of this place stepped forward solemnly to greet them. They were arrayed in fine garments made of light silvery material and they shone with internal light.

“Nine there are here, but not the same nine who set out from Rivendell,” said the Lord. “Tell me, where is Gandalf? I much desire to speak with him. I can no longer see him from afar.”

“Gandalf the Grey did not pass the borders of this land,” said the Lady. Her voice was low and melodious. “He has fallen into shadow.”

“He was taken by both shadow and flame,” said Legolas sadly. “A balrog of Morgoth, for we went needlessly into the net of Moria.”

“Needless were none of the deeds of Gandalf in life,” said the Lady comfortingly. “We do not yet know his full purpose.” She turned to Gimli, who was looking rather depressed. “Do not let the darkness of Khazad Dûm fill your heart, Gimli son of Gloin,” she said gently “for the world has grown full of peril, and in all lands love is now mingled with grief.”

Her eyes travelled over them, and rested on Balian. The man thought he could hear her voice inside his head. ‘Welcome, Balian son of Godfrey,’ she said to him. ‘I have seen your coming long before you were born. Do not be afraid. It is by the will of the Valar and indeed the One that you are here. Your purpose is known only to them.’ She released him from her gaze. He felt stunned. Who was this woman who seemed to know everything about him? He had so many questions that he wanted to ask her but she was already addressing the Fellowship, who seemed unaware that she had spoken to him.

“Go now and rest,” she was saying “for you are weary with sorrow and much toil. Tonight, you shall sleep in peace.”

***

A/N: Galadriel finally makes an appearance and the Fellowship finally gets to know Balian’s story!

Thanks Kiwi, I hadn't thought of the brand problem until I was writing the chapter. A little bit of extra angst never hurt. I'm glad you're enjoying it!
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  #25  
Old December 30th, 2007, 11:54 PM
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KiwiGirl KiwiGirl is offline
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Good chapter. Everyone knowing how the other fits more. Liked the interaction with Boromir too. Poor Balian so much pain and yet so much dignity.

You seem to be on a real roll with this!!
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