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Section LXIV-Cave Troll

Gandalf takes up his stance in front of us, though I am certain not for long. Aragorn places himself in front of Gandalf, Legolas to his immediate left, and Boromir stands the other side of Legolas. Boromir holds his shield in his left hand and sword ready in his right, and then gives it a quick turn. He told us once it helped him feel the balance of the blade and relax his grip. Aragorn and Legolas both have arrows nocked and drawn.

The orcs hack a sliver of an opening in the door proper, and Legolas lets the first arrow fly, followed by one from Aragorn; both find their marks. The orcs break through the door and another arrow flies from Legolasí bow as well as one from Aragorn and a final one from Legolas, before Boromir, Legolas, and Aragorn find themselves in the midst of battle. Gimli joins the fray as the orcs advance. They pour in like ants over sugar. So many...

Gandalf springs into battle, and we rush in behind with cries of ďThe Shire!Ē

Duck the cut. Boromirís fencing lessons prove more useful than I anticipated, for the orcs seem only to know how to cut and slash. I remember the constant repetition of the different parries in varying orders seemed on occasion tedious, yet now it serves me well, for I need only allow my hands and feet to do what they have been taught. If I survive this at all, it will only be because of Boromirís patient teaching.

As the troll crashes in, the ground shakes and momentarily I must concentrate on keeping my feet beneath me. I find myself in a corner near stairs to the upper level with Merry and Pippin close at hand. I have no time to wonder at the safety of the others as I am fully occupied with defending myself.

Parry, parry, thrust. I hear the crashing of the massive club, and spy it out of the corner of my eye. Parry, thrust. I must concentrate on the orcs about me. Parry, cut, parry, thrust. Iím forced up the steps, grateful Boromir required us to practice on varying terrain. Parry, cut, thrust.

Merry, Pippin, and I move along the upper level. All the while, there is the crashing of the cave troll, with the sound echoing off the walls. Suddenly, Merry pushes me behind a pillar with Pippin close by keeping watch on the rest of the chamber.

We have cleared out the orcs behind us and Legolas is clearing them before us, though I do not remember when or how he made his way to the same level. He swiftly dispatches the last two orcs near us when a chain flies past causing him to duck and duck again then jumping back in our direction as the great chain crashes down. Again it flies like a whip and wraps around the next pillar. Before it may loose, Legolas firmly places his foot where it crosses itself holding it in place and he travels up it as though it were a broad path. I peek around the pillar as Legolas straddles the massive shoulders, holding his balance as the troll sways and twists. Though the arrow strikes true the beast seems more annoyed than hurt, as though bitten by a mosquito.

Merry, Pippin, and I continue our flight around the upper level. Partway between two pillars in the back, the troll takes note of our progress and raises his club to strike. It crashes down between us. I jump back behind the pillar we just left. The heavy breathing approaches where I hide, and I slip to the other side. The sound dims, and I steal back to the other side of the pillar. Hot reeking breath; he seems to... sniff... like Black Riders... my stomach lurches. Each breath is a struggle...

The breathing fades away and I move to the very back of the pillar again to catch my breath. A roar bursts on my ear. I try to back away and lose my footing, falling into the corner. The troll grabs me by the right foot. Though I struggle and claw at the stone around me I am dragged toward that maw.

ďAragorn! Aragorn!Ē I hear clearly my desperation.

I grasp Sting firmly in my hand and strike at the paw holding me. In its effort to escape the sharp bite of my blade it yanks me off the edge and releases me. The drop is not far to a pile of rubble, but it knocks the wind from me.

Aragorn springs to my aid thrusting a spear into the trollís massive body. I endeavor to catch my breath. The troll drops the raised club behind him. Merry and Pippin throw rocks. A giant fist slams Aragorn to the side.

With Sting gripped firmly in my right hand, I shake Aragorn with my left in an attempt to wake him. No more time. I duck the spear and it strikes the stone wall just over head. Sting lands another strike on the trollís burly arm and I rush forward to escape. The trollís spear stabs the wall, halting me. A quick glance to search for another way and I feel myself flung against the wall behind me as the spear is withdrawn, dazing me. As my head clears, I know I must move... too late. I am pinned to the wall by the spear. Sting slips from my fingers.

Pain... I never imagined it this way; itís different from the Morgul blade... For the briefest of moments, I gasp for breath...

I hear Sam cry, ďFrodo! Frodo!!Ē The sounds of battle resume about me. My legs begin to give way...

The cool floor against my face... blackness...