Memoirs of Gandalf:

II: Roads I Will Not Tell

© 2001 Edwin A. Scribner. "Morgoth made me do it."

The following document was derived from a copy of the Red Book of Westmarch.

The original entry was one of a series of addenda, entered since Bilbo, Frodo et al. went into the West. It is presumed that Gandalf gave it to Sam at the time the ship sailed, but there is no record of this handover. The language was Westron, and in keeping with the nature of the conversation it describes, it has here been translated with considerable contemporary jargon. The reasons for Prof. Tolkien ignoring it are obscure.


'Then tell us what you will and time allows!' said Gimli. 'Come, Gandalf, tell us how you fared with the Balrog!'

Mid Year's Day of the year 3021, the last year of the Third Age, found Gandalf back in the King's Palace at Minas Tirith. He had promised to give Elessar a few days of his time, to attend the lavish mid year celebrations and also to offer some counsel, possibly the last counsel that he would give the new King. Everywhere about the old city there was organised activity, new buildings being constructed, old ones repaired. Produce was arriving at the gates daily as the year, fourteen twenty in the Shire where it was renowned for its bounty, had also yielded record harvests in Gondor and nearby lands.

Despite some considerable reluctance, the old wizard had at last given in to the gentle persuasion of Arwen and had consented to put on a fireworks display. Those who saw it considered that it must have been the best ever in Middle-Earth, but then none of them had ever seen one of Gandalf's displays in the Shire. There was, of course, much feasting and merrymaking, and also an art exhibition. Paintings and sculptures, of a standard not seen for centuries, vied for the public's attention and many a fine piece sold for record prices. However, amid this joyously peaceful occasion the possibility of future war had not been entirely neglected, and a parade of soldiers, both infantry and cavalry, featured in the official proceedings, the troops being inspected by the King who rode a beautiful grey stallion. It could perhaps have been Shadowfax's young brother, and certainly it was from Rohan, a gift of King Eomer who was watching proceedings from the Royal Box, along with Faramir and Eowyn. Many other Rohirrim were in the crowd.

Several days after the celebration, about the eleventh hour, Gandalf was seated alone in the Royal Refectory. This was the general dining room for palace staff. Elessar, while retaining all the dignity necessary for a King, was nevertheless quite egalitarian and would frequently dine with his staff and their friends. On this occasion, however, the Refectory had been cleared by the King's orders and Gandalf was so far its only occupant. This was where Gandalf had chosen to have "a long talk with Strider". Elessar has asked that certain of his friends use this name when speaking to him in private and in any case it seemed not unreasonable as Elessar was wont to "stride", since this was his method of travel for many years and he still felt somehow a bit out of place on a horse.

The "long talk" was what the King had begged as a last special boon before Gandalf went back to the West whence he had come. It would be the wizard's final word on many matters of great importance, so Elessar had cancelled all engagements for this and the next three days. Gandalf had said: "You may ask me any questions you like. How much I am prepared to answer them will, of course, be up to me but you may find me much more open than you expect. However, I particularly counsel you not to reveal our discourse to anyone but those you most trust. My answers may be recorded for posterity, which is why I will permit your scribe to attend, but they should not be released from your care until after your death and then they should be passed only to your successor. I cannot foresee whose hands they may eventually reach, but you will be their steward for your appointed time." To this Elessar had uncompromisingly assented, asking only that Arwen also be allowed to hear their converse and even perhaps to participate. To this Gandalf readily acquiesced.

About noon the refectory staff brought in a light meal, mainly bread, butter, assorted fruits and herbs, with flagons of water and wine. As an afterthought, a jug of mead was also placed on the board. Actually the head of the refectory had been reminded by Arwen of Gandalf's partiality for mead. This particular jug was from the cellars of Rivendell. Soon after the table was laid, the King entered with Arwen and a young man, tall and of noble mien but with long slender, almost elf-like hands and delicate fingers, who carried a quill, inkwell and large sheaf of paper. This was Tekardil, the King's Scribe. He wrote swiftly and accurately with both draft and final copies. His father and grandfather had also been scribes to the steward house and their service had in all cases been exemplary.

Small talk accompanied the luncheon but, as soon as the board was cleared and the trio were seated comfortably, Elessar began the serious matters of counsel, as always with grave courtesy.

"Gandalf my old friend, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your offer."

"Then don't try" said the wizard with a wink. "You're here to ask, I to answer. Let's get started. I'm anxious to finish because I happen to know you have some more of that Rivendell mead."

"I can recall when you needed reminding about basic meals. I think you learned a thing or three from the hobbits."

"That I did indeed! They really know how to enjoy life."

"No need to write that down, it's been well documented by the hobbits themselves" said Elessar good-naturedly to his scribe as the latter began note-taking. Tekardil stopped abruptly.

"Where will I start? Fortunately I considered that carefully and I have a mind to return to your adventures with the balrog, and of course those 'roads that you will not tell' ".

Gandalf winced visibly, then looked steadily at the King.

"You see that as very important?"

"Yes. As I understand there are only five or six maiar who have come into our histories in this age. Three of the five wizards, Sauron himself and the balrog. Oh, and possibly Tom Bombadil."

"Yes, Tom is one of us" Gandalf confirmed. "Six seems about right. We never found out where the two Blue Wizards got to, but presumably somewhere in the east. I expect that they'll start religions in due time."

"Sauron and Saruman met their ends. You slew the balrog. That leaves Radagast and Bombadil. Both seem to have become hermits and are generally keeping away from people so I presume they'll have little or no impact on future humanity."

"I think that's a reasonable guess. However, you know about Goldberry. She could come into future history. She is apparently immortal and yet she doesn't have the aspirations of most elves to go into the west. It's doubtful that she'd be accepted there anyway."

"Yes, Goldberry is certainly an unknown, but from what you've told me of her she won't constitute a danger."

"Oh no. Never a danger. She is truly lovely." Gandalf's eyes misted over slightly and he seemed to be dreaming of things far away. "I hope that in some way she will become involved with humanity. She could perhaps be the last immortal in Middle-Earth."

"Gandalf! Do I detect a note of wistfulness? Maybe even yearning?"

Gandalf nodded slowly. "Just a bit, perhaps. Now let's get back to that infernal balrog."

"You have, I believe, read the account that Gimli wrote of my conversation with you at our first meeting since my return, and of course you were there yourself."

"Yes. I thought I'd go through that with you and get you to elaborate."

"Not a bad idea. So: there we were on Durin's Bridge. By the way, was that ever rebuilt?"

"If it hasn't yet it will be soon. The dwarves are returning to Moria, but they're doing so with great care. I think they're suspicious that that balrog wasn't the only one."

"That is entirely possible, but yet I think it's unlikely that another will show up. I think that, were there more than one balrog in those tunnels below Moria, either they would have teamed up or one would have slain the other. I saw no evidence of more than the one."

"You hoped to send the balrog into the abyss ... " continued Elessar hopefully.

"Yes. However I could sense that it was unlikely to succeed. You saw a whip thong curl around my leg. That was not all that happened. You didn't see that he put a strong compulsion spell on me at the same moment. The whip I may have been able to hew through. The compulsion spell came at a very bad time. I'd just spent myself in throwing down the centre span of Durin's bridge. I was exhausted."

"Long time you fell and he fell with you," prompted Elessar.

"Under those conditions ten seconds is a long time! I couldn't say how long, but he was able to hurt me a lot. Of course we fell into complete darkness, but for the fire from his head and back. Then we plunged into the water and that went out. Darkness was complete. I certainly don't know how deep we were but I would guess perhaps a mile. However, I do have some 'perception', even in total darkness, and undoubtedly so did he.

"We were in a vast chamber, but the floor was not entirely covered with water. A water course that might have been a river ran along one side and there was a flat rock ledge on the other side. The water flowed but very sluggishly. It was clear but of a strange colour which I could not clearly perceive, though I think it was brown. I managed to get out of the water. By now, by the way, I was as naked as the balrog. However I still had my sword, while he seemed to have lost his whip in the fall. He lunged at me, and I managed to slash at his wrist, though it didn't seem to do much damage. He attempted to grab me and it was then I realised he was covered with thick glutinous slime. So we fought: he with his bare hands, I with a sword, but neither made much impression on the other.

"I tried reasoning with him. He was, I'm sure, capable of understanding me, but he took scant notice. He wouldn't answer any of my questions. The only sounds he made were grunts and gurgles.  I wanted to know whether he knew of Sauron's recent activity, and what he hoped to achieve by lurking deep underground and killing all comers. I can only conclude that his tutelage by Morgoth amounted to brain washing. He was once of the same kind as myself, but now he was little more than a savage beast, with no sense of reason. Vaguely I wondered how this could have happened. He was nothing like the cunning master strategist Sauron, whose motives were base but who still appeared to have plenty of intelligence to set about fulfilling them. It appears that Morgoth had trained him for mindless combat.  Possibly he would have been of little use to Sauron, even had Sauron communicated with him. As it was, though, his disruptive influence was working very much in Sauron's favour.

"Eventually he gave up fighting and just stood there, eyeing me off, although I presume that his eyes were conveying nothing to him. I tried speaking to him again but with, perhaps predictably, the same results. It was beginning to dawn on me that he had me in a trap, as I had no idea how to get out of here, or even whether there was a way out. He seemed to be considering something, and that may well have been it. Suddenly he fled. The rock ledge beside the water was quite flat and he made good speed. I was hard put to keep up with him."

"At last he fled into dark tunnels."

"Yes. When you've heard my story I think you'll realise why I wouldn't discuss those tunnels then. They were huge, big enough for the balrog to pass through easily, and he was about twice as tall as I am. They were, as best I could tell, cut from, or lined with, some very smooth grey stuff. They were almost circular, but for a flattened floor. There was nothing in them to slow the balrog down and he led me a merry chase, to use the word 'merry' very loosely indeed! Every so often we would come to a junction, where one, two or even occasionally three tunnels branched off. Sometimes he would turn into one of these side tunnels, others he would continue straight ahead. He certainly seemed to know the way.

"On occasions I could perceive some strange writing on the wall near a junction. It appeared to be runes though not of a mode with which I was familiar. Suddenly I realised: these tunnels could only have been made by, or on instructions from, Morgoth in the beginning of Arda. They were what was left over from his mighty underground fortress, Utumno or Udun. It was always suspected that its labyrinthine tunnels ran under all of Middle-Earth. Very little of it had been destroyed at the end of the first age. Several of the balrogs had fled there and thus escaped the wrath of the Valar. Others, then, were probably in these tunnels somewhere, but the network may be so vast that hundreds of balrogs could have remained hidden in them indefinitely, without encountering each other. My need to keep up with the balrog was great indeed."

"In that despair my enemy was my only hope."

"Exactly. I managed to keep up with him, but at what cost to my body? I could keep going until it dropped, but that was getting dangerously close. If I died down here ... but I didn't want to think about that. Soon the balrog began to go noticeably slower, pausing at each junction and looking hard at the runes. Was he getting lost, or was he just looking for some specific location? If so, what location? Once we passed a tunnel that opened into a very large cavern. I caught an impression of large benches, long trestle seats and bones. Lots of bones. Maybe Morgoth had had prisoners in there.

"The balrog had just made a sharp left turn. Fortunately I was right behind him so I saw what he did, otherwise I would have been in deep trouble. He leaped up, apparently into the roof of the tunnel, but he kept on going and disappeared from sight. I thought: 'There must be a hole in the roof, but can I muster the strength to jump that high?' I just managed it, with a bit of help from a levitation spell that worked imperfectly but just enough for me to make it. The hole was small and momentum carried me past it onto the floor of a tunnel above. Even so, I may have had difficulty finding the balrog had he kept going fast, but it seemed that he was getting tired too as he was just up ahead, moving slowly.

"This tunnel was quite different in appearance from the others that we'd been running through. It had a flat floor and the cross section was more rectangular than circular. Also the walls were quite rough. Clearly this was not a part of the old Utumno labyrinth. It must, then, be a part of Moria. Then it struck me: the hole in the tunnel. This was where the mithril miners broke through into Utumno and disturbed the balrog, to their great cost. The balrog soon found the hole and entered the mines, killing dwarves at will.

"On and on the balrog ran, apparently very familiar with the layout of Moria. In places I could see the veins of mithril showing through the tunnel walls. Hopefully, if I ever got out of this, the dwarves might be able to re-enter Moria and close the hole, then continue working this mine. Mithril would not only be a wonderful material for many purposes, it could give the dwarves some much needed trade material. However there was a balrog to be slain first.

"After what seemed an eternity of twisting and turning, during which I thought several times that we were going in circles, I became aware that we were headed slowly upwards. Suddenly the balrog turned a corner sharply and entered a chamber, from the centre of which rose a large spiral stone staircase. I guessed that this was the bottom level of the Endless Stair, a truly incredible engineering feat that led right up the inside of Celebdil. I dreaded the thought that the balrog was headed there, although at least he would be going back to daylight. The top of the stair was, I knew, in Durin's Tower, another amazing feat of dwarf construction. It was hollowed out of a large piece of black basalt sitting on top of the mountain. Celebdil was once a volcano.

"Basalt? Volcano?"

"Oh. Sorry. I got carried away with a bit of personal knowledge. The top of Celebdil was formed by the same process that is currently going on in Amon Amarth. A lot of rock was forced from the depths of the earth, molten and under tremendous pressure. Many thousands of years ago it solidified there.

"Thanks. Carry on."

"Well, I made it to the top, just, but I was now completely exhausted and I wondered what possible motive the balrog had for heading to what seemed like a dead end. Suddenly I found out. It burst into flame again. Apparently it needed daylight, or maybe there was something else in the air. This was very high and, as I told you long ago, there was cloud below is but the sun shone brightly on the peak. A ray of sunlight slanted through one of the two windows in the tower's topmost room.

"Apart from the fire though, the balrog was unarmed. So: did he hope to burn me to death? Could I perhaps put out the fire with spells? I had to try something. To begin with I kept him away with the sword of which I had managed to keep hold. He circled me warily, although I thought the blade had had little effect on him. Then he stopped as if considering his next move. His next move was to try to cast a spell of some sort on me. I think he was trying to paralyse me. It didn't come off, and I tried a trick of my own. His body convulsed with a spasm. Several times I managed that, and I could have managed no more but fortunately that was sufficient for him to fall, apparently exhausted, to the stone floor. Those violent muscle spasms are very taxing on bodies and this fellow seemed to have lost some control over his body.

"I was too weak myself to follow up with an immediate attempt to put out his fire, so I took advantage of his apparent immobility, allowing myself time to consider my next move. Perhaps putting the fire out would not be a good idea. I had been unable to deal with the balrog when he was 'cold' previously. What about simply throwing him through the window? However, that might not have much effect unless I could also 'slay' him in some way. All this would require a lot of strength, probably the last of the strength that I had. What then? Here I was on the roof of the world with no way down but via the stair. Of course going down would be easier than coming up, but I had no idea of the way out of Moria from the stair's base. I would be substantially worse off than when imprisoned by Saruman on Orthanc.

"I couldn't afford to wait too long. The balrog was undoubtedly regaining his strength and also probably working out his own battle strategy. Suddenly my muscles stiffened. He was trying a spasm spell on me! It wasn't working too well though; indeed to judge from the noises outside he was expending a lot of its energy uselessly on the surrounding air. Lightning crackled and the edges of the windows suddenly glowed green. I then hit him with another spasm. That made him wild, and again he attempted the same thing on me. Again it didn't come off properly; flashes of lightning and a sudden flurry of hail proclaimed an extravagant waste of energy.

"This battle plan was playing into my hands. I wondered if he realised it. He seemed so incredibly dim witted; could Morgoth have done that to him? Well, this was not the time to wonder why, I had to use my advantage while it lasted. I again produced a spasm in his muscles. Not too severe this time; let him think I'm losing my power. Again he made a terrific effort. Again the energy was wasted on the unyielding air, but this time there was more. A deep, growing rumble below us announced the dislodgement of stone in the lower part of the tower. Chances were that the stone had blocked our exit via the stair.

"The balrog seemed to be getting desperate. I watched him carefully. Was his fire dying down? That would be a good indication that his energy was failing. Let it go just a bit longer, then I'd throw everything I had at his internal organs, plus enough force to throw him through the window. Several more times, however, I sent him into a spasm and several more times, in a passionate outburst, he made vain attempts to cause the same effect in me, the main result being a continuation in the fireworks outside.

"At last I could wait no longer. He would surely realise the futility of his actions and then he'd try to re-gather his strength. I gathered such strength as I had left and managed to hurl his body through the window. I had a last impression of his heart and other internal organs tearing apart under the effects of my spell as his body struck the side of the mountain below me. Then I passed out."

Fortunately the wizard had been speaking reasonably slowly. Nevertheless, Tekardil had been hard put to take it all down. He continued writing frantically as Elessar, obviously quite excited in anticipation of what would come next, reminded Gandalf:

"Then darkness took you and you strayed out of thought and time, and you wandered far on roads that you will not tell. Will you still not tell?"

"It's not so much a matter of unwillingness now, more of inability. You are material people and my essential existence is non-material. My material existence was a necessary part of my pilgrimage to Middle-Earth, but after slaying the balrog I could no longer sustain my body. It was damaged beyond my ability to repair it. My spiritual self immediately returned to Valinor. There the Valar were waiting. Slaying ainur was way beyond my charter, and I would need to give an account of myself. I explained as best I could how the balrog was a big unexpected factor in the ring quest and that I was clearly the only one capable of dealing with it. Moreover it took everything I had. Where was the balrog now anyway?

"They had no idea. No doubt it was wandering around somewhere, but it was completely impotent in a material sense, so the danger had been removed. Hopefully, I also pointed out, the dwarves would now be able to reclaim Moria, provided that the War ended in Sauron's defeat. That of course was a big proviso and they knew it, but it was an important preamble to what I knew I must ask for next. I wanted my body restored and permission to see the war to a conclusion, which must be reached within a few months at most. If the free people couldn't win in that time the victory would certainly be Sauron's but my presence could be critical. That was how I put it.

"They didn't reply at once, and I had the impression that there was considerable mind to mind discussion going on which I could not perceive. At last Manwe asked me to come up the Mountain. This was a very unusual case, almost without precedent. It appeared that Manwe was going to seek the counsel of Eru, and he never did that except in the most extreme cases, such as when Ar-Pharazon sailed the Numenorian fleet to Aman. Essentially it was an admission that, whatever part of the Great Music gave the required guidance (and there always was a relevant part for any dilemma in Arda), none of the Valar could interpret it, perhaps because none could remember it.

"We went together to the pinnacle of Meneltarma. There the whole of Arda is visible. I'm sorry, but there are things I am forbidden to reveal about that view, but in any case they are not relevant to my experiences. What happened next is not forbidden to me to divulge, but it is virtually impossible to express in a language that you could understand. This also applied to the Ainulindale The document that Rumil finally produced is an amazing piece of translation which certainly does give as much of an impression of the Great Music as any narrative in a language of Middle-Earth could. Hence I think it's worth a try.

"Essentially what happened was this. We were both permitted beyond Ea, to the Halls of Eru, in order that Eru could convey the message interpreting the relevant sections of the Great Music. What this was like in any sense that you could understand is probably best conveyed by imagining that these sections were re-played. In them we perceived that I was indeed permitted to return to Middle-Earth, with enhanced powers and in the office of the leader of the Istari, so I would accordingly wear the white in Saruman's place.

"I bowed and was silent. Manwe and I then took our leave and were returned to the Mountain, where Manwe confirmed that this would be the verdict of the Valar and that I could be returned to my body just as soon as steps could be taken to ensure my subsequent survival. To this end, changes were made to my body, and Gwaihir was sent with messages to Galadriel in Lothlorien, where I would be conveyed after my reincarnation. I also learned that Eru had another message for Manwe: Galadriel was to be pardoned and permitted to return to the West. However, this and certain other events were still contingent on the defeat of Sauron, and in this matter Eru would not reveal future events, because they involved the actions of hobbits who are Men for the purpose of the great Music and therefore can go beyond the Music's original bounds. These events were from the Beginning a matter of revelation to the Ainur only at the time of fulfillment.

"I was restored to my body, which still lay in Durin's tower. I soon realised that I did have great new powers. I needed to lie there and carefully explore them before I ventured away and in any case I was naked and had no means of removing myself from the peak. For two days I lay there, during which time I could perceive much that was happening."

"You said the tower was crumbled to dust."

"Poetic licence? It was badly damaged but, except for the cold which didn't seem to affect me, there was no danger as all the weather was well below me."

"Each day was as long as a life-age of the earth."

"A lot was happening. I guess it did seem like a long while. It was, in fact, only two days. Gwaihir swooped down out of a clear blue sky about the middle of the second day since I first regained life.

"He scooped me up with the remark I reported to you about how light I was. I asked him to carry me to Lothlorien. He replied that was exactly what Galadriel had told him. I suspected that his orders actually came from elsewhere but as there was no argument about my destination I let it go. By the way, he carried me in his talons, which are so large that they looped easily around me without harm. The ride was short and uneventful. It ended in a high flet, well above the Royal Pavilions. Galadriel and several of her handmaidens were there to welcome me and provide me with a comfortable bed. Galadriel also personally brought food, drink and white robes. What's more, she personally fitted them," he added with a mischievous wink.

"She's quite a wonderful lady, huh?"

"What can I say in the presence of her grand-daughter?" said Gandalf, with an even more mischievous twinkle of the eyes.

"Would you like me to leave?" queried Arwen facetiously, joining in the fun. In fact wild horses couldn't have dragged her away at that moment.

"Believe me, I have nothing bad to say about the greatest elf who ever lived, perhaps discounting Ingwe and his kin, but they went early to Valinor and have remained there ever since so they hardly count in relation to Middle-Earth. However, Galadriel was banned from Valinor for two Middle-Earth ages, so the Valar didn't exactly see her as squeaky-clean."

"But she was given a full pardon." Added Arwen.

"Yes, and richly deserved, I'm sure. Her role in the ongoing opposition to Sauron has been profoundly important, but of course I don't need to tell you two anything about that. However, the rejection of the Ring when Frodo offered it to her was of course the final point that got her over the line."

"But suppose Sauron had recovered the Ring."

"She would probably have still been accepted, provided that she could find a way back. Sauron would have tried hard to prevent her and he may well have succeeded."

"Well that's idle speculation now. I, on the other hand, must remain here, my own choice."

"Yes, my lady," replied Gandalf, "and I am afraid that you will find the consequences very hard in the end."

"That's as may be," Arwen replied with finality.

"So, what happened to you in Lothlorien?" asked Elessar who still considered the wizard's tale to be incomplete.

"Well, I needed rest and a bit of TLC. Galadriel personally supervised both. I was never wanting for anything. She was almost embarrassingly attentive. However, I didn't feel any embarrassment at first, indeed I relished the attention. I soon felt my body growing stronger. After several days I took a few tentative steps. As days went by I soon found my feet, and I was then transferred to the ground, where I took ever longer walks.

"Eventually I realised that I would have to leave. I now know how the Company felt."

"Yes, the desire in all of us except Boromir was certainly to stay there indefinitely, but of course we all knew that was impossible."

"And so did I," replied Gandalf. "I set about planning my journeys. Galadriel provided me with a handy backpack, some food of various sorts including lembas, and a small flask of her best mead. The mead didn't last long," he concluded ruefully.

"When we parted she looked sad. I told her that the hope of Middle-Earth was on her shoulders as much as anyone's and she had done great deeds to date, so she should be optimistic. 'Cheer up, dear', I told her, 'if all goes well you'll soon be taking ship for the West, with me among others.'

"That seemed to brighten her up. 'Oh, to go with you into the West!' She looked pensive, then added 'Gandalf! Elf with a stick! Well, my sticky elf, may we meet again soon!'

" 'Sticky elf?' I exclaimed, 'That epithet is not to my liking. I think you had better find something else or I will call you Gal'.

" 'Ick! Well what would you like me to call you?'

" 'Olo would be nice.'

" 'Hrm. Oh all right Olo, but ...' her voice trailed off. That brief image of a coquettish, fun loving princess faded forever. Later I thought about it and, you know, I'm rather sorry that I put her off so quickly. It was a side of that proud maiden that I'd otherwise never have seen."

"It's a side I'm sure I've never seen," added Arwen looking quite incredulous, although she was probably disposed to believe the wizard.

"Count me in that too," put in Elessar.

"Well it was good to have been anyway. The rest of our talk was very businesslike. I then left Lothlorien and by various ways eventually arrived where you were, and where you mistook me for Saruman."

Elessar pondered long, realising that he would probably get little opportunity to have Gandalf clear up any point of which he was unsure now.

"I assume that you consider the tunnels of Utumno to be exceedingly dangerous. I was thinking that they might be of some use."

"It's really difficult to guess just what the risk is, but there were certainly more than one balrog unaccounted for after the taking of Morgoth, and this is probably the only available hiding place for them. One possible sequence of events that might have rendered Utumno safe would have been the balrog I slew having first slain all the other balrogs. I think that is unlikely but my opinion probably doesn't count for much in these circumstances."

"In that case I think that we won't go into them. The dwarves need to know the danger, but I suspect that they may risk it to close up the hole that let the first balrog through. Another balrog loose in Middle-Earth would probably be almost unstoppable, but the value of the mithril is great indeed."

"You might have a fight if you tried to forbid the dwarves access to Moria. I think that's a wise decision."

"That balrog: did it have a name?"

"None that you could have called him by. None of the balrogs did. The one called Gothmog was given that name just as an epithet, it certainly wouldn't have answered to it."

"Did you notice anything in Durin's Tower?"

"Not a thing. It looked as if it had been stripped bare, by whom I do not know. Not that I had leisure to look carefully but there was no obvious furniture or anything that I could see that looked like a hiding place."

"The Eagles: these are dispatched by the Valar?"

"As a general rule, though the authority is sometimes delegated. I doubt that you'll see any more Eagles in Middle-Earth, but it is always possible."

"Did you get all that down, Tekardil?"

"Certainly, my lord."

"In that case, I think we may thank you and give you your leave. I'd like a good draft of that in a few days. Then we'll run over it and you can make a final copy. Thank you, good scribe."

"Thank you my lord. Lady, sir," he gave small formal bows to the other two as he retreated with his writing material.

"Now, oh wizard,  may we dispense with further formalities, and call for the mead?"

"I never thought you'd ask!"

"You know, we do have some Lothlorien mead too." Said Arwen airily.

"Lady, I am only too well aware of the excellence of Lothlorien mead, and I assure you that I will gladly accept what I presume was an offer before I depart your halls. However, tonight I am rather looking forward to some of the produce of Rivendell."

Elessar picked up the small King's Signal Bell that had been placed on the board for him and rang it several times. The refectory manager was not long in coming. He bore a jug that would perhaps have held two quarts of mead. Bread and cheese also appeared without any specific requests having been made.


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