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Section LXV-What New Devilry Is This?

Pain courses through me. Every breath is an effort. Shallow breaths are decidedly easier than deep ones. Never before have I realized how much of the body is involved in the taking of a single breath.

Oh, please! Do not move me! Someone rolls me over. My body longs for more air and breathes deeply, despite the excruciating pain. Aragorn helps me struggle to my knees.

Between gasps, Iím able to reassure my friends. ďIím all right; Iím not hurt.Ē Not seriously.

I endeavor to concentrate on what is being said about me, but all I am certain of is that some explanation is deemed necessary to explain my survival. Reluctantly, I release one button from its hole and pull the edges of my shirt apart, revealing the coat of mithril hidden beneath.

Gimliís admiration is unmistakable, but there is no time for dawdling. More shrieks and drums from the deep signal our battle is far from over.

Aragorn offers to carry me, but I find myself objecting, perhaps more strongly than is warranted. Itís just... Iím not dead, yet. There should be no other reason for carrying me. I will make my own way, just the same as the other members of the Fellowship.

We swiftly file out through the East door. Though once it may have been a proper entryway, it now appears more like a battered hole in the chamber wall, what with all the rubble about. We find ourselves racing through an enormous cavern. Is there no end to this place?

The echo of scuttling feet chasing after us grows louder, and now I note them to the sides; now before us! The sound reminds me briefly of a beetle I once found and brought into the kitchen in Brandy Hall. Auntie Esme was not as fascinated as I was by the creature and ensured its end with a frying pan. I think, if ever I may return there, I will not tell her of this.

No matter the direction we look, even overhead, the orcs seem to pour out of every crack and hole. They close in around us, closer and closer.

Unable to move forward, we band together, with our backs to each other. Facing out, sword in hand, we stand ready. Yet against so many, in truth, how long will we last?

A rumbling -- roar? -- deep in the mine, abruptly halts the hideous creatures in their advance. Their yellow eyes dart about them; the look of triumph at cornering their quarry vanishes in fear. They seem to completely forget us, as what reminds me of thunder grows louder, nearer. As quickly as they appeared, the orcs scatter into the dark corners of the cavern out of sight, leaving us alone and in silence, but for the approaching storm.

My relief at deliverance from the orcs is short-lived, barely a moment, if that. The noise grows, and still I may make no sense of it. Finally, Boromir voices my own question, ďWhat new devilry is this?Ē