Our journey continues on, one more day. Gandalf insists we must reach Moria tonight. He assures us there is a stream not far from where we camped. We may follow this to the West door of Moria.
Was it only last night? I struggle to banish from my mind the memory of the attack by the... what were they called? Oh, yes, Wargs. No one speaks of the incident, for we ask ourselves a common question: Was it real? Our memories alone speak of the truth of it, unless we shared the dream -- nightmare. Yet doubt creeps in, for nothing remains of the battle in the morning light but scorched trees and Legolas' arrows strewn about. No trace of any Warg body to be found anywhere, as though it never happened.
Gimli now leads the way with Gandalf. The dwarf's enthusiasm is not felt by the rest of us. In truth, it was at first, if only for moving forward, but as the day wanes our excitement ebbs away, as the stream is still unfound. Gandalf's frustration builds at his inability to locate the landmark watercourse. However, he seems to move forward with greater purpose. Aragorn is unfamiliar with these lands for he wandered other places. Gimli, though a dwarf, is well acquainted with stories of this dwelling of his people, but knows the way not at all, only that his cousin lives there. Gandalf himself is uncertain, admitting he traveled this way but once, long ago.
Much seems to have changed, as things seem to do in the wild, I am learning. How unlike the Shire. Change touches me as well.
Gandalf calls me to him, some nonsense about helping an old man, and yet I cannot help but worry. I hurry to his side and slip under his arm, uncertain how I may possibly help considering our size difference. He leans on me much like his staff.
He asks me about my shoulder. With everything else, I'd almost forgotten. For a moment, I focus my thoughts and realize it is better than it was. It still aches from time to time, but I do not mention this. There's nothing to be done for it what hasn't already been done.
He asks me about the Ring... I hesitate, unable to open myself to the truth. I endeavor to hide my surprise at his own admission; he feels Its power growing as well. For myself, I dare not put it into words, not yet, perhaps in the hope it will seem less real, or more removed, if I do not speak of it.
What a strange conversation. Gandalf speaks more softly, as though to keep others from hearing. My uneasiness swells with each word uttered. Hope diminishes. Evil will be drawn to me? Is it not enough I carry evil with me? He warns it will emanate from outside the Fellowship. I understand this, from the first day the Black Riders hunted me. As Boromir passes us on the trail, Gandalf confesses he fears evil from within the Fellowship as well. He fears? What hope is left to me?
I do not wish to fully form the thought Gandalf's words imply. I approach instead the most obvious question in my dilemma.
"Who then do I trust?"
He entreats me to trust myself, my own strength. My own strength? What strength? I am but a hobbit. I must ask, for I do not understand.
"What do you mean?"
"There are many powers in the world, Frodo, for good and for evil. Some are greater than I am and against some I have not yet been tested."
Riddles; more riddles. I struggle to understand his words and find my thoughts interrupted by the awed voice of Gimli.
"The walls of Moria."
My gaze turns to where he is pointing. Those aren't walls; they are towering cliffs!