Battle of the Chamber of Mazarbul
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: January 15, 3019
An event in the Battles of the Fellowship at Moria; see that entry for an overview:
'The last thing written is in a trailing scrawl of elf-letters: they are coming.'....
A sudden dread and a horror of the chamber fell on the Company....
Gandalf raised his head and looked round. 'They seem to have made a last stand by both doors,' he said.... 'So ended the attempt to retake Moria!....
'But our visit to this room has not been in vain.... This must be... the Chamber of Mazarbul; and the hall must be the twenty-first of the North-end... on the Seventh Level, that is six above the level of the Gates. Come now! Back to the hall!'
Gandalf had hardly spoken these words, when there came a great noise: a rolling Boom that seemed to come from depths far below, and to tremble in the stone at their feet. They sprang towards the door in alarm. Doom, doom it rolled again, as if huge hands were turning the very caverns of Moria into a vast drum. Then there came an echoing blast: a great horn was blown in the hall, and answering horns and harsh cries were heard further off. There was a hurrying sound of many feet....
'Trapped!' cried Gandalf. 'Why did I delay? Here we are, caught, just as they were before. But I was not here then. We will see what —'
Doom, doom came the drum-beat and the walls shook.
'Slam the doors and wedge them!' shouted Aragorn....
'No!' said Gandalf. 'We must not get shut in. Keep the east door ajar! We will go that way, if we get a chance.'
Another harsh horn-call and shrill cries rang out. Feet were coming down the corridor. There was a ring and clatter as the Company drew their swords. Glamdring shone with a pale light, and Sting glinted at the edges. Boromir set his shoulder against the western door.
'Wait a moment! Do not close it yet!' said Gandalf. He sprang forward to Boromir's side and drew himself up to his full height.
'Who comes hither to disturb the rest of Balin Lord of Moria?' he cried in a loud voice.
There was a rush of hoarse laughter...; amid the clamour a deep voice was raised in command. Doom, boom, doom went the drums in the deep.
With a quick movement Gandalf stepped before the narrow opening of the door and thrust forward his staff: There was a dazzling flash that lit the chamber and the passage outside. For an instant the wizard looked out. Arrows whined and whistled down the corridor as he sprang back.
'There are Orcs, very many of them,' he said. 'And some are large and evil: black Uruks of Mordor. For the moment they are hanging back, but there is something else there. A great cave-troll, I think, or more than one. There is no hope of escape that way.'
'And no hope at all, if they come at the other door as well,' said Boromir.
'There is no sound outside here yet,' said Aragorn, who was standing by the eastern door listening. 'The passage on this side plunges straight down a stair: it plainly does not lead back towards the hall. But it is no good flying blindly this way with the pursuit just behind. We cannot block the door. Its key is gone and the lock is broken, and it opens inwards. We must do something to delay the enemy first. We will make them fear the Chamber of Mazarbul!'....
Heavy feet were heard in the corridor. Boromir flung himself against the door and heaved it to; then he wedged it with broken sword-blades and splinters of wood. The Company retreated to the other side of the chamber. But they had no chance to fly yet. There was a blow on the door that made it quiver; and then it began to grind slowly open, driving back the wedges. A huge arm and shoulder, with a dark skin of greenish scales, was thrust through the widening gap. Then a great, flat, toeless foot was forced through below. There was a dead silence outside.
Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his sword rang, glanced aside, and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched.
Suddenly, and to his own surprise, Frodo felt a hot wrath blaze up in his heart. 'The Shire!' he cried, and springing beside Boromir, he stooped, and stabbed with Sting at the hideous foot. There was a bellow, and the foot jerked back, nearly wrenching Sting from Frodo's arm. Black drops dripped from the blade and smoked on the floor. Boromir hurled himself against the door and slammed it again.
'One for the Shire!' cried Aragorn. 'The hobbit's bite is deep! You have a good blade, Frodo son of Drogo! '
There was a crash on the door, followed by crash after crash. Rams and hammers were beating against it. It cracked and staggered back, and the opening grew suddenly wide. Arrows came whistling in, but struck the northern wall, and fell harmlessly to the floor. There was a horn-blast and a rush of feet, and orcs one after another leaped into the chamber.
How many there were the Company could not count. The affray was sharp, but the orcs were dismayed by the fierceness of the defence. Legolas shot two through the throat. Gimli hewed the legs from under another that had sprung up on Balin's tomb. Boromir and Aragorn slew many. When thirteen had fallen the rest fled shrieking, leaving the defenders unharmed, except for Sam who had a scratch along the scalp. A quick duck had saved him; and he had felled his orc: a sturdy thrust with his Barrow-blade. A fire was smouldering in his brown eyes....
'Now is the time!' cried Gandalf. 'Let us go, before the troll returns!'
But even as they retreated, and before Pippin and Merry had reached the stair outside, a huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high, clad in black mail from head to foot, leaped into the chamber; behind him his followers clustered in the doorway. His broad flat face was swart, his eyes were like coals, and his tongue was red; he wielded a great spear. With a thrust of his huge hide shield he turned Boromir's sword and bore him backwards, throwing him to the ground. Diving under Aragorn's blow with the speed of a striking snake he charged into the Company and thrust with his spear straight at Frodo. The blow caught him on the right side, and Frodo was hurled against the wall and pinned. Sam, with a cry, hacked at the spear-shaft, and it broke. But even as the orc flung down the truncheon and swept out his scimitar, Andúril came down upon his helm. There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The orc fell with cloven head. His followers fled howling, as Boromir and Aragorn sprang at them.
Doom, doom went the drums in the deep. The great voice rolled out again.
'Now!' shouted Gandalf. 'Now is the last chance. Run for it!'
Aragorn picked up Frodo where he lay by the wall and made for the stair, pushing Merry and Pippin in front of him. The others followed; but Gimli had to be dragged away by Legolas: in spite of the peril he lingered by Balin's tomb with his head bowed. Boromir hauled the eastern door to, grinding upon its hinges: it had great iron rings on either side, but could not be fastened.
'I am all right,' gasped Frodo. 'I can walk. Put me down! '
Aragorn nearly dropped him in his amazement. 'I thought you were dead!' he cried.
'Not yet!' said Gandalf. 'But there is time for wonder. Off you go, all of you, down the stairs! Wait a few minutes for me at the bottom, but if I do not come soon, go on! Go quickly and choose paths leading right and downwards.'
'We cannot leave you to hold the door alone!' said Aragorn.
'Do as I say!' said Gandalf fiercely. 'Swords are no more use here. Go!'
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Elena Tiriel 4Jul04