Enduring Moria by White Wolf|
Disclaimer: Tolkien's creations are safe for a little while longer, since all I can do is play with them. I don't own them.
Summary: Legolas finds himself weighed down by the darkness of Moria, overwhelming him with fear. Frodo, suffering from his own fears, seeks the elf's aid.
Legolas sat on a rock at the very edge of the light that radiated out from Gandalf's staff. Beyond yawned the dark vastness of Moria. As unnerving as the darkness was, Legolas could not bring himself to turn his back to it, so he stared into that blackness. Doing so served another purpose: it allowed the elf to hide his fears from his companions.
The Fellowship had been in Moria for two days and every minute of that time, the elven archer had to force down the panic trying to rise up from deep inside his stomach and grip his heart with its icy fingers.
He was a skilled and experienced warrior, the son of a king, yet here he was feeling like a child afraid of the dark. How ashamed his father would be of him right now. How humiliating that none of the others, not even the small, innocent hobbits, appeared as unsettled as he was. No, not unsettled - afraid. He was afraid.
Fear keeps you sharp, his training masters had always told him. But, uncontrolled fear could also paralyze you and make you useless as a warrior. The trick was to turn it to your advantage. Use the fear, they said, to focus your skills on the task at hand.
Aragorn, his long-time friend, knew his aversion to caves. The ranger had given him encouragement, as only he could, when they had approached Moria. Even Gandalf, who had known the prince most of his life had tried to ease his foreboding.
When they had been attacked by the Watcher outside the Moria gate, Legolas had gone into warrior mode without thinking and had acquitted himself admirably. Now, all of that bravado, genuine as it may have been, was washed away - in his own mind, at least.
The elf believed that if he could just think of this as merely a shallow cave and not a deep hole with countless tons of rock above him, perhaps he could endure it. But, the truth of what this place was didn't allow him to fool himself. It niggled at his mind until he could barely function.
Legolas tried to take his friends' words to heart, knowing that they were right. He had fought the Shadow in his woodland home with skill and determination for years. No one, who had survived something like that, lacked the character it would take to survive the trip through this dark, underground world, they told him. But, they were his friends and not exactly impartial.
In truth, it wasn't the fell beings now dwelling in Moria that Legolas feared, although he was sure many would be frightening to behold. It was the darkness itself, the total lack of light that affected the elf so dramatically, as if it wanted to take his very soul and twist it into something foul.
However, no sooner had Legolas stiffened his resolve to fight his feelings of dread than the darkness once again pulled at him, whispering its insides corruption in an attempt to overwhelm his once brave heart the way it had been corrupted by the things that inhabited it.
He hated feeling this way. It was unbecoming to one who was always supposed to demonstrate the behavior of an invincible elven warrior. Perhaps, it was a flaw in his nature that he felt the need never to appear vulnerable. More than one person had told him he had too much pride.
In another attempt to ease the elf's mind, Aragorn had said, "Your many battles with the darkness of Sauron's minions have given you the strength of will you need to endure any darkness, Legolas, even Moria." If only he could accept those words as true.
Once the members of the Fellowship had moved deeper into Moria, the doubts came again to Legolas, crashing in on him with a force he found impossible to push away. 'Perhaps I am not the warrior I think I am. Perhaps, this place has exposed me as a true coward that no amount of pride can mask,' he berated himself mentally.
He turned to look toward the rest of the company, fully expecting them to be staring at him and whispering. He could almost hear them.
"He's supposed to be this brave elven warrior."
"Yeah, but look at him. He's just plain scared."
"How can we ever trust him to protect us?"
Legolas almost groaned, even though no one was paying the least bit of attention to him. They may not be talking about me, but they are surely thinking about my cowardice.
Working hard to control his erratic breathing, Legolas stopped breathing all together, when he heard footsteps coming toward him. He knew immediately it was not Aragorn or Gandalf, the only two people who knew of his fear of being underground.
One thing the elf was good at was masking his feelings. Thus, it was a face completely devoid of expression that he presented to - Frodo? The presence of the Rinbearer surprised him.
"Do you mind if I join you?" Frodo asked politely.
Legolas didn't have to force the smile that graced his lips. "Of course not."
Frodo took a seat on a rock next to the elf. He looked somewhat hesitant, as if he wanted to say something but was not quite sure how to proceed.
"Is there something I can do for you?" Legolas asked in a soft, encouraging tone.
He knew the burden that the Ringbearer had taken upon himself, when he agreed to take the One Ring to Mordor. Legolas was always eager to help the hobbit in any way he could.
"I was hoping that you could give me some pointers."
"About...?" Legolas asked, fully expecting that Frodo wanted some pointers on handling weaponrs.
"This place. Moria."
That answer took Legolas completely by surprise but before the elf could tell him that the dwarf was the one he should be asking, Frodo began to explain.
"I don't know all that much about elves," he admitted. "I did learn a few things, though, while we were in Rivendell. I know, for instance, that you're a wood-elf, raised in the forest."
"That is true," Legolas said, his smile widening, partly because he was impressed by the hobbit's effort to learn something of his people and partially at the thought of those people and his forest home.
"I also know that wood-elves love the light, the outdoors, the stars, the animals and all of Nature. So, it occurred to me that you probably wouldn't like Moria very much. I was just thinking that maybe you would be the one to give me some advice on how you function so easily in a deep, dark place like this. It frightens me."
The earnest look on the hobbit's face touched Legolas, and his expression softened.
"I find it so oppressing," Frodo continued. "How do you deal with all the darkness down here?"
It was Legolas who now took a deep breath. He glanced past Frodo toward Aragorn. The ranger was engaged in what looked to be an intense conversation with Boromir. Had the ranger sent Frodo to 'comfort' his friend? If so, he was giving no hint of it now. Legolas decided not to ask Frodo, preferring not to risk embarrassing the hobbit if he had indeed been asked to be a confidante.
Frodo's honest face prompted Legolas to be just as honest. "I am not the best one to ask, because I am not dealing with Moria as well as you might think. I also find it oppressing. To tell the truth, I find the darkness here unnerving." That was a hard admission to make, but seeing the soft, earnest eyes of the hobbit made that admission a little easier.
"I never would have guessed," Frodo stated, and his tone showed that the statement was sincere. "You always look so confident."
Legolas gave a short, humorless laugh. "I am anything but confident, Frodo. In a battle, yes, I can acquit myself well. If, for instance, a horde of orcs were to attack right now, I would fight them off with confidence, because that is what I am trained to do, just as I helped with the Watcher at the entrance. But, just walking through this place with all the shadows and the sounds..."
"Sounds?" Frodo asked with doubt in his voice. "This whole place is so quiet. What sounds are you referring to?"
"To mortals, Moris seems dead and silent, but to an elf, there are sounds everywhere, both natural and unnatural ones that can make the skin crawl."
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Legolas regretted saying them. He realized that it would be much better to let Frodo, and all the others except Gandalf, who knew better, think Moria was indeed dead and silent, not full of noises whose identity was a mystery and could easily unsettle them.
Frodo, who had been staring into the darkness, trying hard to see what might be making the noises that only Legolas could hear, turned back to face the elf.
"I am sorry I told you that, Frodo. You have enough to occupy your mind."
"I would prefer to know what we may have to face here before it is sprung upon us," the hobbit replied with a half smile on his young face.
The archer had no doubts that there were things down here that could hear as well as he could, but if they were not expecting anyone to be here, maybe they were not listening.
"We must trust that Gandalf will not lead us into trouble, if it can be avoided." That was the best advice Legolas could offer the hobbit.
"I do trust Gandalf," Frodo said. "But, even a wizard cannot know everything - or so he is always telling me."
"I think as long as we make no more noise than that made by whatever is already down here, we will not attract any attention and can pass unnoticed." Legolas hoped he sounded more sure about that than he felt.
"There is one thing I do know," Legolas said. "I know that we cannot let the Enemy win just because we are afraid of what we cannot see. Sauron and his minions are depending on us being so frightened that we will have lost half the battle before it has hardly begun. Think only of the final goal, Frodo. Moria is a minor inconvenience compared to what is at stake.
"A little fear, even though it may seem monumental at the time, is a small price to pay for the freedom of all of Middle-earth. That is how I will endure Moria, and I have no doubt it is how you and the rest of the Fellowship will endure, as well." It was the first confident thing Legolas truly felt.
The elf realized with a slight start that he was giving Frodo the same advice Aragorn and Gandalf had been trying to give him. He hoped the hobbit took it to heart better than he had.
Fordo smiled. "Thank you, Legolas. I knew you would be able to help me deal with my fears. And, you are right. Fear, as long as we don't let it overcome us, is a small price to pay for freedom. That is why I have accepted the burden of the Ring."
Frodo stood up, gave Legolas a quick hug and walked back to the rest of their companions.
Legolas noted that the hobbit's steps were a little lighter and his back a little straighter. He also noticed that his own heart was lighter, as well. As he had tried to help Frodo, he had also ended up helping himself in the process.
Legolas discovered a rejuvenated resolve growing within him. The anxiety he felt at being in Moria would last but a few days. Frodo's would last, growing each day, until he reached Mount Doom and destroyed the Ring. In the face of that knowledge, Legolas felt humbled yet infused with a new-found determination to help the Ringbearer reach his goal. He was willing to pay the price it took to help free Middle-earth from Sauron's encroaching grasp.
With a deep sigh, the elf stood up and rejoined his companions, a smile on his lips. He would face whatever Moria had to offer, with as much courage and dignity as he could muster.
Legolas was determined that no one would fall or suffer any defeat because of his fears. They weren't gone. They would never be gone, not as long as he found himself underground.
And so, refusing to be crippled by his fears, he forcibly pushed them to the side. He would endure, not just Moria but whatever came against them to the end of the Quest and beyond, if necessary.