Lord of the Rings - Moria Page
The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
"Look ahead!" called Gandalf. "The Bridge is near. It is dangerous and narrow."
Suddenly Frodo saw before him a black chasm. At the end of the hall the floor vanished and fell to an unknown depth. The outer door could only be reached by a slender bridge of stone, without kerb or rail, that spanned the chasm with one curving spring of fifty feet.
It was an ancient defence of the Dwarves against any enemy that might capture the First Hall and the outer passages. They could only pass across it in single file. At the brink Gandalf halted and the others came up in a pack behind.
"Lead the way, Gimli!" he said. "Pippin and Merry next. Straight on, and up the stair beyond the door!"
Arrows fell among them. One struck Frodo and sprang back.
Another pierced Gandalf's hat and stuck there like a black
feather. Frodo looked behind. Beyond the fire he saw swarming
black figures; there seemed to be hundreds of orcs. They
brandished spears and scimitars which shone red as blood in
the firelight. Doom, doom rolled the drumbeats, growing
louder and louder, doom, doom.
Legolas turned and set an arrow to the string, though it was a long shot for his small bow. He drew but his hand fell and the arrow slipped to the ground. He gave a cry of dismay and fear. Two great trolls appeared; they bore great slabs of stone, and flung them down to serve as gangways over the fire. But it was not the trolls that had filled the elf with terror. The ranks of the orcs had opened and they crowded away, as if they themselves were afraid. Something was coming up behind them. What it was could not be seen; it was like a great shadow, in the middle of which was a dark form, of man-shape maybe, yet greater; and a power and a terror seemed to be in it and to go before it.
It came to the edge of the fire and the light faded as if a cloud had bent over it. Then with a rush it leaped across the fissure. The flames roared up to greet it, and wreathed about it; and a black smoke swirled in the air. Its streaming mane kindled, and blazed behind it. In its right hand was a blade like a stabbing tongue of fire; in its left it held a whip of many thongs.
"Ai! ai!" wailed Legolas. "A Balrog! A Balrog is come!"
Gimli stared with wide eyes. "Durin's Bane!" he cried, and, letting his axe fall, he covered his face.
"A Balrog," muttered Gandalf. "Now I understand." He faltered and leaned heavily on his staff. "What an evil fortune! And I am already weary."
The dark figure streaming with fire raced towards them. The
orcs yelled and poured over the stone gangways. Then Boromir
raised his horn and blew. Loud the challenge rang and bellowed,
like the shout of many throats under the cavernous roof. For a
moment the orcs quailed and the fiery shadow halted. Then the
echoes died as suddenly as a flame blown out by a dark wind, and
the enemy advanced again.
"Over the bridge!" cried Gandalf, recalling his strength. "Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly!" Aragorn and Boromir did not heed the command, but still held their ground, side by side, behind Gandalf 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. Gandalf 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 Gandalf stood firm.
"You cannot pass," he said. The 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 Udûn. 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; but still Gandalf 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 Aragorn suddenly and he ran back along the bridge. "Elendil!" he shouted. "I am with you, Gandalf!"
"Gondor!" cried Boromir and leaped after him.
At that moment Gandalf 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.|
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