January 14, 2018 (January 13, 3019)

Company reaches Moria by nightfall

Shire Reckoning: January 13, 3019 (Afteryule 13, 1420)

Pages To Read:
-FR.Journey “When the full light” (~p.5) – “showed his sharp nose, and the puff of smoke.” (~p.20)

Events/Illustrations:
– In the morning, the dead bodies of the wolves have vanished. Gandalf describes the course, which is to head south-eastwards to the West Gate of Moria. Gimli is eager, Boromir and the others less so.
– After some searching, they find the path to the gate. Nearing the gate, they see a small trickle of water that used to be a waterfall.
– Climbing up the stairs, they that the stream issuing from the gate has been dammed up and now a lake fills the valley before the gate. (Tolkien original illustration: the West Gate of Moria)
– Realizing that Bill the Pony won’t be able to enter the mines, it is decided to set him loose.
– Going around the lake, the company hears a noise in water and see ripples out in the middle. Daylight fades.
– Now between the lake and the cliffs, the company continues until they reach two great Holly trees. Gandalf announces that they have found the gate, but that it is hidden.
– The company sits around for a while, waiting for Gandalf to figure out how to reveal the doors. Gimli and Legolas bicker over who is to blame for the falling out between dwarves and elves, and Sam mourns over having to set Bill free. Eventually moonlight reveals a shimmering design on the wall. (Illustration: moria, by aegeri).
– (Here in most editions of the book is Tolkien’s illustration of the Doors of Durin.)
– The message on the doors says “The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter.”
– Gimli thinks they need a password of sorts to get the doors to open, because apparently dwarves excel at complicated magic doors. The Company becomes frustrated when Gandalf is unable to come up with the right word.
– Boromir is bored and throws a stone in the lake, which spooks Frodo.
– After a while, Gandalf finally solves the riddle and speaks the Elvish word for ‘friend,’ which indeed opens the door. Just as the Company is about to enter, a writhing mass of tentacles burst out of the water and grab Frodo!
– Bill the Pony runs away in fear and Sam saves Frodo by slashing his knife at the tentacle around Frodo’s ankle.
– Gandalf hurries everyone inside as the creature bring the gate crashing down. (Art: Watcher in the Water, by ullakko.)
– Trapped inside, the Company realizes the only way out is through.
– After some food, they prepares for some long marches. The Mines of Moria are freaking gigantic and it is at least forty miles to the other side.
– The Company walks in silence through Moria. Gandalf leads with a dim light from his staff. Frodo carries Sting, but as it isn’t glowing, there is no immediate threat of orcs.
– The way through the mines is twisted and presents many obstacles, such as huge cracks in the floor that the hobbits have to jump over.
– Frodo starts feeling the effects of the Ring, as well as thinking that he hears some light footsteps following the group.
– Reaching a three-pronged fork in the path, Gandalf announces he is a bit lost and decides the Company should rest. In a little side room, they find an old well, which Pippin throws a stone down. Gandalf is angry (see quote below), especially when they hear a faint hammering sound in the depths.
– The Company settles down for a rest and Gandalf keeps watch, smoking and trying to remember details his previous venture into Moria.

Trivia, quotes, and details:
– Honestly, the magic door is kind of contrived, but it makes for a good scene in the end. It’s not as bad as the moon runes in The Hobbit which wins the prize for the most ridiculous dwarven security mechanism. Plus Tolkien’s illustration for the doors is pretty iconic so that’s cool.
– Also there’s this incredible quote from Gandalf when Pippin nags him about opening the doors: “‘Knock on the doors with your head, Peregrin Took, but if that does not shatter them, and I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions, I will seek for the opening words.’
– Gandalf then doubles down on Pippin with an even more famous quote as they reach the fork in the path and Pippin drops a stone down the well: “‘Fool of a Took! This is a serious journey, not a hobbit walking-party. Throw yourself in next time, and then you will be no further nuisance.’

From the Tale of Years:
Attack by Wolves in the early hours. The Fellowship reaches the West-gate of Moria at nightfall. Gollum begins to trail the Ring-bearer.

Notes: Sorry again for the late update. If I can catch up I’ll be trying to write the posts the night before and post early morning (US time) so that everyone can see them the day of, but obviously I’m still a bit behind on that. As for the reading: I usually make the distinction between days based on sunrise, but obviously it’s unclear when the sun rises with respect to their underground journey. Thus I just put the break in where there’s a break in the text, while the Company sleeps. Finally, tomorrow’s reading isn’t as long as today’s so maybe the update will be shorter too! ~Tom

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