This story is rated «NC-17», and carries the warnings «male/male, male/female, female/female scenes. blood-sports.».
Since you have switched on the adult content filter, this story is hidden. To read this story, you have to switch off the adult content filter. [what's this?]
Remember that whether you have the adult content filter switched on or off, this is always an adults only site.
14 May 2012 | 182144 words | Work in Progress
Part 35: Into the Great Dark
January 13, 3019, The West Gate
It was nearing dusk when they reached the causeway, exhausted and on edge. The ancient broken road led to a long strip of land between the surrounding cliffs and the lake. The water was dark and fetid, the odor strongly reminiscent of the dark clouds that drifted from Mordor. As they walked between the gnarled old oaks, they crossed the small beds of long dead streams until they neared the gate. As they came to the only stream still running, a shallow rill that hardly dampened the pathway, Gandalf held up his hand to halt them.
“This water feeds the lake,” he said. “It would be best to not let it touch any of us.”
Without comment, Boromir reached to gather Merry and Pip into his arms before taking a long stride to avoid any bit of the languorous stream. Following his example, Aragorn gathered up Frodo while Legolas took Sam across. Gimli leapt in the ungraceful way of dwarves, managing to avoid leaving any trace of his passing.
The road broadened to an avenue as they approached their destiny, finally ending at the cliff face between two ancient oaks. The wizard approached and passed his hands over the blank wall, speaking too softly for his words to be heard by his companions. When he stepped back, the wall began to glow with lines brightened by the moon. The design, accented by runes, was of both Dwarvish and Elven origin.
“The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak friend and enter,” Gandalf translated as the words glowed against the cliffside. Almost without thought he whispered, “Mellon,” which signaled the great slabs of stone guarding the western gate to move aside.
The wizard moved forward into the entrance, closely followed by Gimli and Frodo. Aragorn drew Anduril, which lit their way with its eldritch light. As they entered the cavern, there was the thick sound of something moving in the tarn behind them. When the last foot passed the threshold, an elongated tentacle followed it, reaching to grasp at Frodo’s ankle.
Sam cried out, feeling his master being pulled from his side; he turned and grasped at a reaching arm. Boromir stepped forward, his greatsword raised to strike. The next few minutes were occupied with grave sword strokes and ax hefts as they sought to free Frodo from the grasp of the creature of the lake.
Suddenly, the tentacles released their grip on the hobbit and, with great energy, thrust closed the western gate of Moria. They were enclosed in total darkness with no sound other than their own harsh breaths.
A few dull strokes against the stone brought Gandalf’s staff alight. “It is only forward we may venture from this point,” he stated in the encroaching darkness. “It may take all of our combined skill to make our way through the mines. Be aware, there are older and fouler things than we have yet encountered in the deep places of the world!”
“My beloved husband was a great healer amongst our people, as I’m sure you know, my Lord,” Saphron said as she stirred the potion heating on the small brazier. “We were able to combine our knowledge from before we met along with that stored in the great archives beneath the White Tower to make some very interesting discoveries.”
Gríma watched with a strong combination of anticipation and fear, knowing the step he was contemplating could mean the end. It could also mean the answer to his recently realized dreams.
“Through all the long ages, Morgoth, and later his minion Sauron, have experimented with various constructs of life,” she lectured as she worked. “Their intent, we know, was to turn all to their dark purposes. Some of their efforts, such as the orcs and, more recently, Saruman’s Uruk-hai have been quite successful.” She removed the small pot from the heat but continued to stir it as it cooled. “When my beloved died in his efforts to save our Prince, I continued some of the ‘darker’ aspects of our research. It seems that orcs, goblins and all their brethren are sensitive to more than just sunlight.”
Gríma winced at her words, wondering if they were a veiled reference to his own circumstances.
“And I have learned, my Lord,” she continued, setting aside the spoon she stirred with and picking up one of the narrow bodice daggers favored by Éowyn, “that there are many ways to circumvent even the best laid spell. I’m quite sure that your master will note that something about you has been altered.” She dipped the tip of the blade into her mixture and turned to look at the Princess who had been watching it all attentively. “We must give as much truth to the tale as possible,” she added offering the hilt to Éowyn. “The wizard will see very little to cause alarm when you tell him that Éowyn stabbed you again and you think the blade may have been poisoned. The wound will be clearly visible. With all that is on his plate, I doubt that he will take the time to thoroughly examine every aspect of one of his longest lived and loyal minions. It is not the way of his kind to really care about the misfortunes of those who serve them.”
Éowyn took the knife and looked to the pasty white shin exposed on Gríma’s shoulder by his opened robe. The area was liberally peppered with small scars made by previous efforts on her part. This was the first time she’d seen any of his flesh below his neck and something about the pale color repulsed her. It took little effort for her to plunge the blade into him.
She was unable to remove the blade immediately, as she’d grown accustomed to. Even though Saphron had advised her that this would occur, she had trouble holding back her panic before the dagger slid free.
Gríma threw back his head in an ecstasy of agony. Once freed of the knife’s hold, he fell to his knees gasping at the pain that was almost beyond his bearing. By the time he’d recovered enough to close his robe and rise to his feet, all had been cleared from the table.
“By tomorrow we will know if we were successful. If you survive the night, we will make plans for future infusions.” Saphron ignored the smell of burnt flesh and the salty smell of Gríma’s release as she made for the door, careful not to touch him. “I apologize for her Highness’s impetuousness,” she said loudly as she held the door open for his exit. “Maybe she will be of a more congenial mood later, my Lord.”
He left the room unhurriedly, though anyone watching could tell that he held one shoulder stiffly.
Éowyn stood before the dressing mirror looking at herself and trying not to feel horrified by what had just happened. Like a whisper in the back of her mind, she could feel the Worm’s progress back to his own rooms. “I feel as if I’ve become tainted,” she murmured to her reflection.
“Not at all,” Saphron said standing behind her and meeting her gaze in the mirror. “Years ago we bound the invading energy of the Dark Lord to my Lord, Faramir, as it invaded Minas Tirith. The spell brought it under control but endangered both our lords. Since then I have learned how to make the binding only one way. The part of Gríma, small as it may be, that is untouched by the darkness is now bound to you. However you can sever the bond at any time and will know immediately if any seek to touch you through it. I have made very sure of that, my treasure.”
Éowyn continued to contemplate her own reflection. Maybe the dark couldn’t touch her but she knew that what she had just done had changed her. Maybe brought her closer to the darkness.
They descended into the heart of the mountain, the flickering of torchlight reflecting off the walls of long unused passages. The air here was dry, unlike that of most caves he’d previously encountered. This made it perfect for storing the older records, ones from before the world changed and the sun and moon lit the sky. Mablung held the torch to the two mounted on the wall opposite the door they wished to enter to help increase the light. Stefle unlocked the door and hurried into the room with the lantern, quickly lighting it and placing it on the stand over the small room’s only table.
Already, Faramir was examining the scrolls and books lining the walls. Pulling an oversized volume from the shelf, he placed it on the table. Carefully turning the ancient pages he read aloud, automatically translating from the elvish script, pausing and repeating as Stefle noted all he said on the pages he’d brought for that purpose. Arithel, particularly talented in her drawings as well as tattoos, made swift, sure copies of the few plates and diagrams showing the creatures described.
They hadn’t even considered bringing any of the books up to the counsel rooms. The oldest archives were so deep within the mountain that some items had been known to disintegrate when brought out of their long held resting places. It took hours to sort through all the stored material, comparing the notes made from one volume with those from another. Later others would take the information they gathered and make a new book using both the information on the beasts and weapons of the Dark Lords, as well as the methods used to combat them. There was a book of lading, at first thought out of place, but it held the storage locations of items made for the defense of Minas Tirith.
Faramir blinked and stuttered as he read about one of, possibly, the most important items. A net made of mithril and enough to cover almost the whole city, protecting it from flighted drakes and other winged creatures of the dark. Even the instructions on how to handle the dangerously thin substance, which could cut through flesh to the bone by its mere weight, were included. His breath caught in his chest as he thought of the many terraced corners of the city that by tradition, more stringent than any law, had been kept unchanged since its founding. He’d never dreamed of a boon such as this to aid in his defense of his home.
The great fortress that was Minas Tirith would take weeks, maybe even months, to capture from the ground. There were so many traps and pitfalls that even betrayal at the very center of their defenses had a bulwark to defend against it. But this was the first he knew of something to hold back the aerial foes they might face.
Some wizards could call upon the great swans and eagles to help them, but none within his city had that power. Maybe if Mithrandir returned before the final battle, but he would not, could not rely on chance.
With a sigh, Faramir turned to the next page in the volume he was reading. One of the few color illustrations was on the following page. All reds and black showed the creature displayed. It caught his breath and somehow he knew it bade danger to the path his brother trod as he looked upon the image of the Balrog. Fire and darkness was stalking his beloved and he could do nothing to stop it.
It had been so long since they’d had a decent night’s sleep that even Gandalf stumbled on the occasional step. When they reached a branching of paths, the exhausted wizard looked up each of the three choices before them and sighed in exasperation. “I have no memory of this place at all,” he said, standing uncertainly under the arch. He held up his staff in the hope of finding some marks or inscription that might help his choice, but nothing of the kind was to be seen. “I am too weary to decide,” he said, shaking his head.
To the left of the arch was a half closed stone door. The party circled it while Gandalf held his staff aloft and Boromir pushed it fully open. Aragorn and Legolas were at the ready with bows, all four hobbits with their slings while Gimli advanced into the room with his smallest axe at the ready.
It was a smallish room with a privy hole in one corner. Obviously it was meant as a guardroom to protect the branching corridor. “I expect that you are all as weary as I am, or wearier. Let us halt here for a time until we are rested and ready to continue our journey,” said the wizard once it was verified that no present danger lay within.
In only minutes, the party had established a suitable campsite using the methods they’d developed on their trek. Sam and Boromir had a small, nearly smokeless fire going in the long abandoned fireplace with one of the hobbits’ pots hanging from a well placed hook. Merry and Pip attended the bedrolls while Aragorn set the guard schedule for the evening. Mithrandir sank gratefully onto the pallet set aside for him and turned his attentions to Frodo who was, if anything, even more exhausted then he.
Everything about the room was defensible; from the stone door with murder holes above it to the isolated water supply near the fireplace. It spoke well of the engineering and planning capabilities of the dwarves. Since they were too deep within the earth to be able to tell night from day, the company adopted a system of counting introduced by Boromir. There were places within his usual jurisdiction (not that he revealed their location) that required such methods to assist with keeping the time. As all prepared for a period of rest, the wizard counseled the ringbearer before taking himself off to the side of the chamber to have a bit of smoke. In the end, Frodo joined him for the taste of the best weed from the Southfarthing and he took comfort in the taste of smoke they shared.
As the company fell to silence, Boromir carefully used a small portion of water to wipe away the dirt of travel from his liege’s flesh. “I will wake you and Legolas for the morning watch,” he whispered. As he loosened Aragorn’s clothes to reach every part of him. Aragorn resisted briefly, more by habit than any hope of forestalling Boromir’s ministrations.
A few hours later, Boromir stirred from his listening to the small rustlings in the endless darkness alerted by Gimli’s hand on his arm. “Something lurks nearby,” the dwarf barely whispered. “It is watching us.”
A cold shaft of fear ran down Boromir’s spine at his words. He adjusted his clothes and position just enough to cover his own faint reply, “can you see it at all?”
“Barely,” came his answer. “It is nothing I have encountered before, should I fetch Gandalf?”
“Let me,” said Boromir since he couldn’t see the creature at all. “You keep an eye on our guest.”
The wizard came awake like an old campaigner, silently prepared to do battle. He gave a nod at Boromir’s report and gathering his staff moved to the door without making any sound. After a few moments observation, he struck his staff lightly on the ground. “The darkness will not hide you from our sight, Gollum!” he said as his staff came alive with light. It was very dim, although it was almost blinding to Boromir after so long in the darkness.
He was still able to make out a dark shape scuttling away into further gloom. “Should I pusue it?” he asked, recognizing the name from the tale of the cursed ring.
“No,” Mithrandir replied sighing and turning away from the door. “We have no way to hold him, even if you could capture him.”
Boromir took no insult at the wizard’s words. The creature had lived in caves for centuries so he most likely wouldn’t be successful in catching it anyway. He looked over to their sleeping companions and noted the position of the ringbearer in the dim light from the staff. The hobbits slept in a pile, having put their pallets together and he could make out that Frodo had been kept to the center. Sam looked back at him with a worried expression. “We will keep him safe,” Boromir whispered.
The hobbit gave only the barest of answering nods in acknowledgement, though the worry didn’t fade from his eyes.
January 25, 3019
Gimli wailed his grief as they examined the remains of his kinsmen in the antechamber of the greathall. Still, the hobbits held their position on guard with Boromir as they had trained to do every at every opportunity. Despite their vigilance, it was only chance that brought Boromir’s attention to the door in time to avoid the arrows that embedded themselves in it. Chance and the rising odor he knew well from defending Gondor. Slamming and barring the door in a hurry, he turned to his companions. “We have company,” he told them grimly. “Goblins, about twenty and they’ve brought a cave troll.”
Quickly they fell into formation, with Pippin, the youngest, guarding the small door they had found in the back of the chamber. Aragorn and Legolas shot arrows through the holes in the tattered doors while Gimli and Boromir covered them with their shields. Gandalf drew his sword and the other three hobbits found sheltered places along the walls to use their slings. The doors burst open suddenly, the enraged troll entering the room using the end of the large chain hanging from the collar around his neck as if it were a morning star. At first, he took out only the goblins that accompanied him, giving the companions time to take a new formation. Only the hobbits had never fought trolls before, so by unspoken agreement they concentrated the missiles from their slings on the goblins. Legolas leaped to a position high on the walls to shoot his deadly arrows, while Gimli used his short stature to duck beneath the troll and hack at its feet and legs with his double bitted greataxe. Aragorn, Boromir and Gandalf spread out around the beast, each stabbing and slashing at it when it turned its back to them.
Three hobbits can use their slings with great effect and the small nuggets of heavy metal they’d gathered with Boromir’s encouragement from the mine tailings they’d passed increased their deadliness. In only minutes, all the goblins were dead and they turned their attentions to the larger foe. Blood covered the monster from all the wounds the company had given it and it was beginning to stagger from the onslaught. Boromir grabbed the end of the chain, joined quickly by Aragorn, and they managed to topple the beast. With a fearsome leap, Gimli reached its back and brought his axe down upon its neck. Once, twice and the third stroke severed the head from the body.
As they stood for a moment breathing heavily, Legolas looked out the door and into the distance of the great hall. “More are coming,” he said with urgency. “We have no time to linger.”
Pippin already had the back door open as they all made for it. Legolas and Boromir went first to guard the way, leaving Aragorn and Gimli to guard their rear. The steps were narrow and covered with slime, dangerous at any pace, but fear kept them at a fast walk as they descended into darkness. At last they came out into a lower level of the hall, the chattering of a host of goblins on their heels. They began to run at a faster pace, Gandalf now leading them toward the bridge of Khazad-dum. When they reached the center of the hall, it became clear that they were surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of goblins. They fell into a defensive circle as their enemies drew near, prepared to fight to the death.
Frodo wrapped his hand around the pouch holding the ring, fearing that there was no way he could keep it out of the hands of the Dark Lord. “If we are to fall to these foul creatures you must swallow your burden,” Boromir said into his ear. “They will fall upon our bodies and make a swift meal of us before their master’s arrive. There is a chance IT will go unnoticed and be consumed to fall into obscurity once again.”
Looking at the man and to Gandalf, who nodded his grim approval, Fodo was ready to agree when a loud grating noise silenced the goblins. Flames roared to life at the distant end of the hall spurring the goblins to instant retreat.
“What evil comes from the depths?” Boromir asked, fear washing the color from his face.
“A Balrog,” Gandalf replied bringing to all their minds Glorfindel’s account of his fatal encounter.
Boromir lifted the horn of Gondor to his lips and gave the call for aid, which stopped the nightmare creature momentarily. “Run!” he called out and the whole party turned and fled toward the bridge.
“There are drums in the deep.”
The sun was beginning to rise as Mablung turned sharply from looking out the northern window at the strange echoing voice, which was followed closely by a single deep drum note.
As if from the furthest depths, the sound of drums echoed through the room. First just one but soon followed by many. Mablung’s breath hitched in his throat as he gripped the window ledge and realized that there was no vibration with the sound.
Knowing that he would see nothing himself, Mablung moved quickly to his Lord’s side to offer whatever aid he could.
And the drums stopped.
A long, low, grinding sound rose from the darkness of the night and flames spread in ghostly shadows as Mablung took Faramir’s arm. The creature he could barely make out brought such terror that he could neither move nor speak.
Faramir sat up, looking past him into the dark night. “What evil comes from the depths?” he asked.
“A Balrog!” came a familiar voice out of the darkness as the horror from the deep swiftly advanced.
The creature came to a halt as the Horn of Gondor sounded but for only a moment. “Run!” came Boromir’s voice as if he were in the room with them.
“They are fleeing!” Faramir called out near panic in his eyes. “Don’t stop!” He yelled seeing into the far distance. Mablung clung to his Lord, but closed his eyes, not able to watch.
“We send our strength to our Prince and to our King, may they outpace their enemies and reach the light of day,” spoke Analil in the familiar form she used for praying. All in the room repeating her words through habit.
“We send our strength to our Prince and to our King, may they outpace their enemies and reach the light of day,” she intoned again, repeating after hearing their refrain. She continued turning her words to a chant with the others following as they witnessed the spectral flight of their beloved Boromir from the nightmare creature of legend.
Borril couldn’t stop the flow of words or tears as he stood with his brother and cousin. They’d entered the room just as the drums began and were all but frozen in terror at what they watched.
It seemed as if those they prayed for gained against their pursuit to reach a dangerous looking stairway. It curved and and descended with large broken sections and no guardrails of any kind. The company continued downward, unaware of their hopeful audience. At last they came to a narrow landing leading to a narrow bridge. They crossed it with Boromir and a dwarf in the lead, keeping four little people close behind them. An elf and tall man kept the few goblins who dared to get near away with well shot arrows until Mirthrandir stopped and urged them past him. “This is a foe only I can stop,” he reprimanded sharply when the man balked at his order. “You must finish this quest, you must take the lead now.”
The man stumbled slightly as he backed unwillingly away from the Istar before he turned to join the rest of the group on the far side of the bridge. They did not progress from there, but turned to watch the old wizard face the Balrog.“Over the bridge!” cried Mirthrandir, recalling his strength. “Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly!” Boromir and the man did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind Mirthrandir at the far end of the bridge. The others halted just within the doorway at the hall’s end, and turned, unable to leave their leader to face the enemy alone.
The Balrog reached the bridge. Mirthrandir stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from its nostrils. But Mirthrandir stood firm.
“You cannot pass,” he said. The goblins now joined by orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”
The Balrog made no answer. The fire in it seemed to die, but the darkness grew. It stepped forward slowly on to the bridge, and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall. Still Mirthrandir could be seen, glimmering in the gloom; he seemed small, and altogether alone, grey and bent, like a wizened tree before the onset of a storm.
From out of the shadow a red sword leaped flaming.
Glamdring glittered white in answer.
There was a ringing clash and a stab of white fire. The Balrog fell back and its sword flew up in molten fragments.
The wizard swayed on the bridge, stepped back a pace, and then again stood still. “You cannot pass!” he said.
With a bound, the Balrog leaped full upon the bridge. Its whip whirled and hissed.
“He cannot stand alone!” cried the man suddenly and ran back along the bridge. “Elendil!” he shouted. “I am with you, Gandalf!”
“Gondor!” cried Boromir and leaped after him.
At that moment Mirthrandir lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog’s feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained, poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into emptiness.
With a terrible cry, the Balrog fell forward and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell, it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. “Fly, you fools!” he cried, and was gone.
The fires went out, and blank darkness fell. The Company stood, rooted with horror staring into the pit.
Borril and all within the room still chanting with Anilil watched the man take the lead with Boromir taking rear guard as they started up the stairway out of the chamber. Then the eerie scene faded from their vision and only the morning sunlight illuminated the room. The chanting slowly faded until Anilil’s voice came to a tired stop.
There were nearly thirty people within the room, guards, servants and those with family business before they faced the court of Minas Tirith. Borril crossed the room and fell to his knees at his Uncle’s bedside. “My Lord, what has happened?” he asked taking Faramir’s hand.
“Boromir returns with our King,” Faramir said, tears sliding slowly down his face, “and Mirthrandir has fallen into the depths with a Balrog.”
NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]
Enjoyed this story? Then be sure to let the author know by posting a comment at http://www.faramirfiction.com/Fiction/warriors-of-gondor. Positive feedback is what keeps authors writing more stories!
Thank the author
The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: CATS_MEEEOW , kabaue , Bella , WWD , Rearleciarm , mapleflavored , Shikyo-sama , whitewitchdark , MissLouise , Gwydia , Rainbow , xrmodsdemo , Sildderve , reiseLolo , veiplelpive , veiplelpive , zelpTielA , Sildderve , Sildderve , Sildderve , Sildderve , Ruiviouff , Heidacydaydek , caggittee , Todsorderut , Cywoksirori , newrock , reiseLolo , reiseLolo , ShupshogInnon , nentcibia , diesveseTig , Jaaonbf , Asseniagrerne , snishicky , #tennick[OAGSASASASX , #tennick[OAGSASASASX , seercarry , ToomOripigo , SomethingRandom , SomethingRandom , SomethingRandom , SomethingRandom , SomethingRandom , SomethingRandom , muzeyKA , muzeyKA , muzeyKA , muzeyKA , Payday Loans UK , Payday loans , BartonYieldingU4 , FletcherMassoXt , DarioDeroccolwY , TrinidadHutchinson7z , MohammadDegnan1L8 , RafaelFroncek1slJ , JarodBenner3w30 , HollisSherlockd4N , CoryRiechc , JuniorZinzow5rT0 , EarlKnauf01O2 , LucienMundy4i , MohammedStahlberg2gv , ScotSproulicw , ChetKovermanJyrQ , RonnyDandyGU0 , RudolphCluster4YL , HugoVanwhy5V , MaximoWittkopI66 , PhilKnollmanVF , IkeDebraga216 , KaseyBentleryE , ArlenShinallvcC , BlaineVarlasxHC0 , ArronNell8lg4 , DylanBrugmanSyq , JamieGaliJA , ElijahKastendieckDzP , LowellKopelX2P , CliffHufty15 , EmmittRudish0W , JimCavanaugh12h , NapoleonModineFoxj , HerbCapenercs5 , IgnacioMozickNly , DonnellHsun5vLc , FritzOdonahueUJKI , WaldoMinton5n2 , TimmyRiverollt5L , TodFutchN , JesseEisenbeis98y , GordonPettine9tS , WillMayeuxY1g0 , BlaineFouracrex8R , IanBuehrle784 , EfrenMcgwinqwC , ArmandoOesterreichPa , AbRutaudinuenep , AMugspigenen , AMugspigenen , kayakeaugmera , kayakeaugmera , Karin , NoxGold , Eloise , Maybell , Eugenio , Estella