28. The Time Has Come
The horses stepped along the path. It was curiously free of snow for winter. The legends had that it was always coated with snow, sometimes with a thick layer of treacherous ice. Treacherous. Yes, this was the most treacherous pass of them all. Crossing the slopes of Orodruin would be better than this. But this was the only way to get to Lorien.
There were small shrines lining the path to the gate itself. At least ten by the look of it, though all but one had collapsed. There were some animal's teeth on two, a little stone carving on another, and a half-buried arrow on the next to last. The last though, was decked with beautiful flowers. So strange to see fresh flowers in such cold weather.
"I don't like this," one of the riders said as they entered the pass.
"Whyever not?" another inquired.
"It's…clear. Caradhras is never like this. It's up to something."
"What do you mean?" another chuckled. "You speak of it as though it were alive!"
"It is! It…speaks. Sometimes. It's up to something. You can be sure of that."
The others in the group laughed at the speaker. A mountain that talked? How mad! The man must've lost his wits!
Caradhras watched them without the maniacal hatred that had colored nearly all its other decisions regarding travelers. It watched without the indifference it showed most animals. Instead, it watched with intense interest. Who would it be that would free it from the plague of the balrog? Sauron or Gandalf?
As the travelers continued up the pass, Caradhras hoped the goblin would know it was time. Everything hinged on the goblin.
"What is it?" Grish growled. He much preferred his dwelling in the southern range of his realm to Caradhras. Here he was caught between the mountain and the balrog. And he wasn't sure which one was worse.
"It's…it's…" the goblin stammered.
"Spit it out!"
"What about the mountain?"
"It's… You have to come see for yourself, sir!"
Grish rolled his eyes, but followed the goblin toward a cave leading to the pass. He didn't know why he'd come to Caradhras, but he felt like he should check up on it once in a while. Make sure it hadn't caused a cave in and killed every goblin living it. He wouldn't put something like that past the wretched mountain.
"I don't see anything," he growled as he looked out on the pass.
"There's no snow," the goblin whispered, looking at the bare rock with fearful eyes.
There wasn't. Smooth rock lined the pass, making for easy travel. There were no potholes, no sudden drop-offs, nothing. It looked like an ideal road, an invitation to travelers.
Grish frowned. What was the mountain playing at now?
And then he knew.
"Get the goblins!" he snarled. "There are travelers on this pass!"
"Yes, sir. But they're heavily armed. And there are a lot of them."
"Capture them!" Grish snarled. "They are it!"
"Follow my orders!"
The goblin nodded and hurried off. So, the time had finally come, eh? Well, Grish was going to fulfill Sauron's orders. He'd kill the travelers and doom the Istari's plans. But not before he knew exactly what it was that could tip the balance of the world.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.