Gandalf leads the way into the darkened entrance of the mine. A light appears at the top of his staff. Memories of his fireworks flash through my mind. His magic serves a useful purpose, though the hobbits of the Shire would never believe it.
Gimli is going on about the food and drink his cousin will provide. At least it’s warmer in here. Then I freeze at Boromir’s words: “This is no mine; it’s a tomb.”
I startle, at my feet is an arrow-riddled skeleton. My breath catches in my throat. I am no longer certain which is colder, the outside of this cave or the inside. I struggle to understand the words spoken and quell my fear at the same time. Goblins? Perhaps Boromir is right, and we should go the other way.
What’s that? brushing past my foot?
Boromir shouts, “Now, get out of here! Get out!!”
I’m yanked to the floor. Something is dragging me by my ankle back to the mine’s opening. Though I scramble to free myself, it is as though I’ve no strength against it!
Out on the open shore again, Sam strikes at the snake holding my leg fast with his sword. Is it enough to free me? I cannot hold back my cry for help.
Sam continues to hack at the thing. As the slimy animal releases me, I sigh heavily in relief.
What is this?! So many snakes! rising out of the water! striking away my friends! One grasps me about the ankle again hauling me into the air to dangle upside down over the water. Fear floods through me, am I even calling for help?
Is this many creatures or just one?
I hear Merry call my name. Legolas’ arrow strikes the flesh of the beast close to where it holds me. It serves only to cause the snake to shake me.
“Strider!!” Is that my terror-filled voice?
Another snake? Wraps around my wrist, holding me fast. Try as I might to kick with my free foot and swing with my free fist, it is useless; the beasts only tighten their grip.
A great head rises from the water below me. Not many snakes but a single creature with many appendages and a maw gaping wide filled with teeth. I feel its hot breath. What a hideous stench. I shall be devoured in one bite. To end, like this?
Something distracts it, and it raises me high over its head again.
Falling! I am falling! The wind is knocked from me as I am caught in Boromir’s arms, narrowly missing his sword. I wrap my arms around his neck, holding on, as he wades through the water to shore. I hear him shout to Legolas for aid.
We touch shore, and I am on my feet being herded into the mines. I do not look back. In truth, I see nothing at all, blindly running forward. I do hear the destruction behind me. We run across the dark hall to the stairs on the far side, before we pause and look back, only to see the doors and walls collapsing.
I feel Sam’s hand on my shoulder, as I struggle to regain my breath. I turn to look at him. I know he is there but see nothing but ink blackness. The rocks begin to settle and all to be heard is our labored breathing.
Finally, Gandalf coaxes the stone in his staff to shine forth welcomed light, though its offered comfort is diminished by his words.
“We now have but one choice, we must face the long dark of Moria. Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.”
There is nothing for it but to move forward.