• Published 23rd Aug 2015
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Fellowship is Magic - Mr-War

Something strange is happening in Twilight's palace. The magic mirror has started acting strangely during a period of intense solar flares, leaving her worried about what complications might occur. The next thing she knows, through a sequence of even

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The Watcher and the Mines of Moria

The Watcher and the Mines of Moria

In two days time, the Fellowship found themselves in a deep valley of rock, hiking through a difficult and narrow trail, and at night no less. Frodo, Gandalf and Twilight were up front, while Pinkie and Spike chatted merrily with Sam, Pippin and Merry. Fluttershy and Applejack brought up the rear, guiding Bill the Pony with Aragorn. Rainbow Dash was on auto-pilot, navigating about the rocks and drops with ease. Rarity was talking with Gimli.

"So, what exactly are these Mines of Moria?" she asked the dwarf. Gimli chuckled.

"A Dwarf nation, lass! My cousin, Balin, rules it!" he explained. Rarity nodded.

"I think you mentioned it back at the Council," Rarity said, "I recall, just before we embarked on our quest."

Gimli nodded. "Yes. I suspected that Moria may have been a quicker route to take. After all, which seems faster- going under a mountain, with nothing but rocks and dwarves in your way, or on a mountain, with snow and wolves lurking about?"

From behind them there was a loud snort. Gimli let out a low growl and whirled around. There, he and Rarity saw Legolas, looking fixedly on a point beyond them. "Was that you, elf?"

Legolas blinked innocently, meeting Gimli's angry gaze.

"Me? Surely you would never expect me to act so undignified, Master Dwarf." the elf replied smoothly, with a small smirk. Gimli grumbled low under his breath and trudged on. As Legolas walked past Rarity, he leaned over and whispered, "At least, not to his face."

Rarity broke into a fit of giggles and had to duck aside for a moment to calm down.

"Ach! There they are!" Gimli cried suddenly. Everyone looked up- Rainbow Dash, just in time to watch as she crashed into Rarity and nearly knock them both over. "These are where the doors to Moria are located!"

Pinkie Pie ran up, looking around. She expected to see very large doors, from the way Gimli had described Moria to them- And since he had been blathering on about Moria for nearly a week, they were expecting something grand.

"Where are they?" she asked as they walked around the gigantic lake in the middle of the valley.

Gimli, who was tapping the rocky walls, glanced back at her. "Dwarf doors are invisible when closed," he explained, giving part of the wall a little tap with his axe.

"Yes, Gimli," Gandalf said. "Some are so well hidden and protected, their own masters cannot find them, if their secrets are lost."

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Legolas muttered wryly. Gimli gave the blonde a positively evil look, and Pinkie, Fluttershy and Rarity giggled softly to themselves. Finally, the company reached a larger plot of rock and dirt, where they stopped. Dead, twisted trees curled out like warped hands, as though beckoning them to the water.

"Let's see..." Gandalf murmured, approaching the wall and examining it carefully. Twilight came up behind him, and saw that there were vague runes carved into the ancient stone. "Ithildin... It reflects only starlight and moonlight."

The wizard glanced back momentarily, as a cloud rolled away, revealing a full moon. The light seemed to flow down as easily as water, illuminating the area far better.

The runes suddenly began to glow, creating an arch, a door, with runes carved into it. Gandalf smiled in satisfaction- the first time he had smiled in days, actually. "It reads," He said, tapping his staff on the runes at the top of the door, "'The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, friend, and enter.'"

"What do you suppose that means?" Merry asked, observing the glowing door with awe.

"It's quite simple, really. If you are a friend, you speak the password and the doors will open," Gandalf explained, pressing the head of his staff against a star-like rune on the door. He bellowed something in the same language he had on Caradhras.

"Annon Edhellen, edro hi ammen!"

Everyone tensed, expecting something to happen. Silence. Nothing happened.

Gandalf seemed taken slightly aback by this. He and Frodo shared a glance, before the wizard put both hands on the door, and belted out something else they couldn't understand.

"Fennas Nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!"

"Nothing's happening," Pippin said bluntly.

"No kidding," Spike muttered.

Gandalf shot the two a warning glance, and they both fell silent. The wizard pushed up against the door a little.

"Are they stuck?" Fluttershy asked. Gandalf shook his head, and gave a little grunt of frustration.

"I once knew every spell in all the tongues of Elves, Men and even Orcs," He whispered. "I can hardly go through them all..."

"What are you going to do, then?" Pippin asked loudly.

"Knock your head against these doors, Peregrin Took! And if that does not shatter them, then I am allowed a little peace from foolish questions!" Gandalf snapped, whirling to glare at the young hobbit.

"Maybe we should use AJ's head. Her skull's a lot harder," Rainbow Dash suggested.

Applejack, in response, punched Rainbow Dash in her foreleg, earning a yelp from the Pegasus in both pain and surprise. "Ya started it, Sugarcube."

Twilight didn't even bother to talk this time. She grabbed Applejack with her magic, and Rarity grabbed Rainbow Dash with hers, before they proceeded to drag the quarreling friends apart, so Gandalf wouldn't summon some sort of thunderbolt to electrocute them both. And considering what they had witnessed Saruman do back on the mountain, that wasn't really hyperbole.

About an hour later, the fifteen other members of the Fellowship were laying around, as their sixteenth member attempted to open the door with every combination of Elvish, Westron, Dwarvish, and Orkish words he could come up with.

Aragorn walked up to Sam, who held onto Bill's reins. "If we are to go into Moria, we need to release Bill. The pony will not enjoy the mines."

"But you can't leave poor old Bill behind in this forsaken place, Strider!" Sam cried, angry and distraught at the news.

"The mines are no place for a pony, even for ones as brave as Bill," Aragorn said kindly to the hobbit.

"You mean we can't come in?" Pinkie asked as she and Fluttershy approached.

"Middle Earth ponies then," Aragorn corrected himself, before turning back to Sam. "You will need to choose between Bill and Frodo."

"Bill would follow Mr. Frodo into a dragon's den if I led him," Sam muttered. "It would be nothing short of murder just to release him into the Wild, with all those wolves about."

"Bill is a smart pony," Fluttershy said to Sam sympathetically. She'd had enough conversations with him to know that for a fact.

"He will find his way home," Aragorn finished, giving Sam a compassionate look. Sam tearfully, and aggressively threw down the packs off Bill, and, with some help from Fluttershy, took off all the baggage and tack on the pony. Once he was bare, Bill stared at Sam mournfully, turned around, and slowly trotted away.

As this went on, Twilight and Applejack leaned against the cliff wall near Merry and Pippin.

"Twi' couldn't Ah jus' buck this 'door' down? Or at least use yer magic to blow the door up?" Applejack asked.

"We probably shouldn't. If there are dwarves inside I don't think that they would appreciate us damaging what's technically their home. They might think we're trying to invade, and this would only go worse from there," Twilight explained. "There's also the fact that we still haven't discovered what's in there that Gandalf is so afraid of," she added in a whisper.

"Right... which means we may be here a while," Applejack concluded.

"Most likely," Twilight replied and nodded.

"So... that Saruman wizard definitely sounds dangerous." Applejack said, trying to pass the time as they waited.

"Well considering how he can have birds act as his spies, and the other fact that he caused an avalanche on the mountain... yeah he's pretty dangerous," Twilight said.

Another pause of silence.

"So Twi', if we were guessin', wha' do ya think is inside Moria, that Gandalf's worried about that he didn't want to go through here?" Applejack asked.

"I don't know, but if he's scared... then we might be facing something very powerful in there," Twilight answered.

"Yeah, it's what it might be, though, that worries me," Applejack replied, not liking that they didn't know one way or another.

Spike, Merry and Pippin had discovered a new way to pass the time- attempting to skip rocks on the surface of the lake. Rainbow Dash, glowering, joined them. After a moment, she managed to calm down a little. It felt good to have a little noise in an otherwise silent place- if you excluded Gandalf's voice. After she had thrown about three rocks, she felt someone grab her hoof before she could chuck another. Turning, she saw it was Aragorn.

"Do not disturb the water," The Ranger whispered. Rainbow Dash, Spike, Merry and Pippin blinked, before looking out into the water curiously. Was there something in there that Aragorn, but not they, could see?

"Why?" Rainbow Dash asked. But Aragorn merely shook his head and walked over to their packs. Again, with nothing to do, Merry and Pippin sat down back to back, Rainbow Dash settling down next to Spike.

While this was going on, Pinkie noticed Rarity's own method of passing the time; walking around supposedly aimlessly with her horn glowing, as she looked at the ground. That was enough to get her curiosity going, and motivated her to go on over to see what she was doing.

"What's up, Rarity?" she asked, idly tilting her head sideways as she did.

"Mostly just waiting at the moment," Rarity replied, "I was hoping to find out what sort of gemstones Middle Earth has to it, but I'm not finding anything here. I assume the dwarves have already picked the area clean by now; they had more than a five year head start to work with," she commented.

Just then Gandalf gave up at the door. "Oh, it's useless!"

He threw down his staff and sat down beside Frodo and Twilight, pulling off his hat, too frustrated to keep at it. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Boromir watch as a ripple ran through the water.

Frodo stood up and looks at the writings of the glimmering gateway intently.

"It's a riddle," he stated. "Speak 'friend' and enter. What's the Elvish word for friend?" Frodo asks.

"Mellon," both Gandalf and Twilight replied at the same time, the latter of the two giggling in response.

Just then, there was a deep rumbling noise, and the ground quaked slightly. Everyone turned to see the Doors of Durin opening. Immediately, they all gathered their things and jumped up to join Frodo, Gandalf and Twilight. The wizard placed a translucent crystal in the gnarled head of his staff, and it glowed slightly.

"Whadda ya know, they've got flashlights in this world too," Rainbow Dash commented.

Gandalf was the first to enter the mines, followed closely and eagerly by Gimli, who gladly led the less eager elf into the darkness.

"Soon, Master Elf, you will enjoy the fabled hospitality of the dwarves! Roaring fires, malt beer-"

"Did you say beer?" Rainbow Dash asked with a glint in her eye. Applejack and Pinkie Pie also looked interested.

"Yes, the best beer around! And of course, there is ripe meat off the bone!"

"Oh, that is simply disgusting..." Rarity muttered, cringing with the rest of her friends at the mention of meat.

Gimli, heedless of their thoughts, continued. "These mines are the home of my cousin Balin- and to think, they call it a mine. A mine!"

Rarity smiled, and reached over to the nearest wall, to get a sense of where it was. She felt something cold and brittle beneath her hoof, but it was too dark to see what it was. Just then, the light from Gandalf's staff grew brighter. Boromir spoke, sounding horrified.

"This is no mine," He yelled. "It's a tomb!"

Rarity, who had diverted her attention to the man when he spoke, turned back to the object under her hoof- and screamed. It was a skeleton! Rarity had placed her hoof on the brittle hand bones of a skeleton, somehow stuck to the wall. Everyone, in horror, now realized that the entrance hall was filled with skeletons.

From the arrows and severed bones that lay about, it didn't take a genius to realize a battle had taken place. "No..." Gimli gasped, running around and staring in horror at the grisly scene. "NO!"

Rainbow Dash immediately threw an arm around a shaking Fluttershy, while Aragorn and Twilight attempted to console Rarity, who was still screaming at actually standing upon a dead body.

Nearby, Legolas tore an arrow out of a dwarf skeleton. After a moment of examination, he dropped it like it was a cobra. "Goblins!" He hissed.

Aragorn and Boromir drew their swords. Twilight, Rainbow Dash and Applejack took this as a cue, with Twilight lighting up her horn in preparation for a spell as they looked around for any visible threats.

"We make for the Gap of Rohan," Boromir said darkly. "We should never have come here!"

Spike moved back so that he was standing with the four hobbits, who were all pressed in together. He felt Frodo stumble a little, and he grabbed his arm.

"Frodo?" he questioned shakily. Without warning, Frodo jerked away- Though Spike soon realized it was not of his own accord. Something was coming out of the lake, and it had Frodo around the ankle! "FRODO!" He yelled as he was dragged towards the lake.

Twilight spun around just in time to catch sight of Frodo being dragged back towards the entrance by something. Acting on instinct rather than conscious thought, she let loose a bolt of magical energy ahead of Frodo, apparently hitting whatever it was that had him, as immediately he was no longer being pulled back.

"I don't think Rohan's a viable option," she commented as she flew over to where Frodo laid in order to see just what had happened. What she found wasn't what she'd expected to find; it was a large tentacle, severed by her blast, and still oozing whatever sort of blood had been running through it.

The next thing she knew, she felt herself being grabbed, and suddenly pulled back before she could do anything more than scream in shock.

"Twilight!" Spike yelled in terror at seeing her be the next to get grabbed.

The majority of the Fellowship flooded out of the mine's entrance just in time to see... something in the lake with many tentacles, quickly sink beneath the surface of the lake, dragging Twilight right along with it.

"Wha' in tarnation was that thing!?" Applejack asked as Rainbow Dash took off, flying over the spot Twilight had gone down in some vane hope of managing to find their friend.

"A Watcher," Gandalf stated darkly, "something that is far older, and fouler, than even the orcs themselves..."

"I don't care what it is, it's got Twilight!" Spike stated, furious that everyone was just standing around and doing nothing. But bubbles had already stopped rising, meaning that Twilight had no air left in her lungs. And if they didn't get her up soon, she was gonna be dead.
And then a whole new crop of bubbles started rising, along with a bright purple light shining through the darkness of the water.

"What's happening?" Pinkie asked as the glow started increasing, switching from purple to bright white.

"I don't know, how should we know?" Rainbow Dash replied as she swooped back over onto dry land. She couldn't explain it, but she had a really bad feeling about all this...

Without warning there was an explosion underwater, sending a huge amount of water flying upwards, practically soaking the Fellowship where they stood.

And then came a rain of entrails and loose tentacles falling to the ground, splatting against anything -and anyone- they hit, much to the disgust of everyone present.

Twilight breached the surface of the water soon after, gasping for air and couching as she dog paddled her way back to the shore, weakly dragging herself back up onto dry land again, completely soaked to the bone.

"Anyone for fried octopus?" she asked weakly, before collapsing onto the ground as she continued struggling for air. She was vaguely aware of the others crowding around her, talking either to her or amongst themselves, But she couldn't even begin trying to comprehend what they were saying; not over the blood pounding in her ears right now. She was going to need time to recover before she was up to talking again.

"What happened to her eyes!?"

She knew the shriek came from Rarity; that was the only way to describe it. The frightened shrill tone of her friend had managed to cut through whatever haze she was in, motivating her to look upward as they looked down to her.

"That's freaky," Pinkie added.

"I dunno. I think it looks kinda cool..." Rainbow Dash commented.

"Does somepony want to tell me what the big deal is here?" Twilight asked as she moved to sit up, her head spinning in the process.

"The whites of your eyes have turned blood red," Legolas stated, finding it necessary to look away as he did. Just looking at them made his own eyes hurt and water.

Twilight blinked as she tried to process the given explanation. "That's... understandable really. I had to hold my breath the entire time I was down there, I likely suffered a subconjunctival hemorrhages as a result."

"That's not good," Spike stated. He didn't know a lot about biology, but the word "hemorrhage" was never a good one to encounter.

"It's a lot better than some of the alternatives that could've been experienced," Twilight pointed out as she found the strength to stand up again. "Seriously. A subconjunctival hemorrhages can be had from sneezing too hard, so it's hardly a life-threatening issue that has to be tended to. It'll clear up after a few days."

Those native to Middle Earth could do little more than stand dumbfounded as the conversation unfolded before them, involving topics of discussion that went well beyond their understanding. Some refrained from speaking due to not having an idea what to say, while others were more keen on focusing on the pieces of Watcher that were around them, and could potentially be cooked over a fire for later.

"We are quickly getting nowhere. We must make for the Gap of Rohan immediately. Who knows what dangers the mines of Moria may hold for us," Boromir pointed out. They were lucky that the Watcher had met its match in such short order. But inside the confined spaces of the mine, they might not be so lucky.

"Gandalf does," Twilight pointed out as she finally found the strength to stand up, soaked to the bone, and covered in mud. "And I think it's about time you fill us in on the details. I didn't risk being drowned by something the Neighponese eat, just to be given the runaround! We're not going a step further, until we get some answers! Now spill, Gandalf, what's in Moria that had you wanting to risk those mountains?" she asked, or rather demanded as she glared at the wizard, wanting answers.

For a moment, Gandalf said nothing, not wanting to speak. But not speaking was apparently not an option. Now that Twilight had spoken up, the others were silently siding with her, and wanting answers. He would have to speak.

"A demon of the ancient world. An evil far beyond the comprehension or mortal men..." he spoke darkly.

"Shudde M'ell?" Rainbow Dash asked.

Gandalf looked at her in bewilderment, before shaking his head. "Far worse than that, I fear. What lays dormant in Moria, is a Balrog. Shadow and flame, giving physical form in pure wickedness. It cannot be reasoned with, it cannot be bargained with. It does not feel fear, or pity, or remorse... once it finds its prey, it will not stop, ever, until it has been caught. It is far beyond any of us. I fear it we set foot within, we will risk incurring its wrath..."

None of the Fellowship dared to speak in light of this new information. What was there to be said about the revelation that they'd almost walked into a demon's lair?

"We make for the Gap of Rohan," Frodo spoke quickly.

That motivated Boromir to speak. "We can be there in a matter of days. Let us be away from this accursed place!"

And then they heard it.

It was low at first, somewhere off in the distance, but everyone had managed to hear it regardless. It sounded like wolves, but it was apparently enough to set every single member of the Fellowship on edge, making them look all around in a frightened manner.

Another howl sounded, closer this time. It sounded like wolves, but at the same time not like wolves. The pitch and tone was all wrong, making it sound far more frightening, causing more than a few hairs to stand on end.

"Wolves?" Spike asked as he looked to the others.

"No. This is something far worse than any pack of wolves," Aragorn stated.

"I fear that we have no choice in the matter at this point," Gandalf spoke up, "we have little choice but to brave the mines of Moria. At least the Balrog is dormant. Quickly now, we must seal the gates!"

For Twilight and the others to hear Gandalf urging them all into Moria, after being fearful of going inside just minutes ago, spoke volumes as to how bad the source of the approaching howls was. Whatever it was making its way towards them, was apparently even more terrifying than the prospect of a Balrog.

With little in the way of discussion the group hurried into the entrance, Twilight using her magic to force the doors shut once again. So long as... whatever it was that was practically breathing down their necks couldn't read Sindarin, and couldn't speak it, they'd be alright. For the time being anyway.

"Will that hold them?" Fluttershy asked.

"Ah sure hope so," Applejack stated.

"Quietly now. It is a four-day journey to the other side. Let us hope our presence will go unnoticed," Gandalf whispered as he started up the stairs.

Like a whip crack, all eyes and heads turned to regard Pinkie in unison.

"What?" Pinkie asked.

The Fellowship had been wandering Moria for over two days now, and it was quickly coming closer to three.

They walked slowly and cautiously, making sure to keep to the thin path and avoid all the crevices that opened up to the thick darkness. They mostly kept quiet, for when one spoke aloud their voice made echoes in the empty chasm, and to disturb the silence could mean attracting unwanted attention. When they stopped, they ate and drank sparingly, for they knew not if there would be any setbacks in the journey to reach the eastern side of the mountain.

It was also during this time that they discovered just how extensive Twilight's injuries went. Beyond the burst blood vessels in her eyes, one of her wings had also been plucked of a number of primary feathers by the Watcher, leaving her incapable of flight. According to Rainbow Dash's assessment of the damage, it would take weeks for the feathers to fully grow back in; much to Twilight's annoyance, as she'd just gotten back to flying, only to have it taken away from her once again.

Coming up on the third day, they now walked along a narrow path, their left side a steep, unaccommodating wall and their right side opening to a large, black abyss. Most members of the Company all but hugged the wall and as far away from the edge as possible.

Gandalf shone the light from his staff about them, looking with particular interest at the walls. They seemed to glimmer in the light. "The wealth of Moria was not in gold, nor jewels, but mithril," he stated, letting his staff hover above the abyss.

Slowly and cautiously, everyone who dared to looked down. The light illuminated the chasm a bit, and they could see that it went down for miles and miles, past the sight of even the elf's keen eyes.

"Mithril?" Rarity asked. "What is that?"

"Pure silver, lass," Gimli answered as he looked upon his forefather's work in silent pride. "Rarer than any jewel or other precious metal, mithril was sought out by all dwarves and other races." With typical dwarvish enthusiasm for all things metalworking he further explained, "Mithril can be polished like glass and its beauty does not tarnish with age like common silver. It can also be beaten like copper, and crafted into armor that can withstand any blow, even one I think from Applejack's bucks."

Applejack chuckled in response. "It might, but Ah doubt the fella wearin' it would jus' shake it off."

"Is this mithril on the walls?" Twilight asked with obvious interest, pointing out the shimmering glints of dust in the stone.

"Aye, but that's just a pinch of it," Gimli said, stroking the walls lovingly. "I wish I had my tools for this. Moria is the only place known in Middle-Earth with mithril, and a good amount of it too!"

"We do not have enough time to mine anything, even mithril," Aragorn whispered, turning to face them. "Let us move on. We do not want to disturb anything within these mines."

"We can always come back for it after we're done. I doubt it's going anywhere," Pinkie pointed out.

They started to move again. "Bilbo had a shirt of mithril rings that Thorin gave him," Gandalf said thoughtfully.

"Ah, now that, my friends, is a kingly gift!" Gimli said in awe.

"Yes. I never told him, but its value is probably greater than the value of the Shire, and everything in it," he said with a small laugh.

"Where is it now?" Rarity asked, a glint within her eyes. She wasn't a metal worker, but to hear them speak of its value, she could only imagine what creations she would make with mithril. And if dear Bilbo had a shirt of it, she could perhaps take some inspiration from it.

"Probably still gathering dust in the Michel Delving Mathom-house, I suppose," Gandalf replied, chuckling as he shook his head.

"What!" cried Gimli with shock. "It should be on a prince, not in a museum of the Shire gathering dust!"

Gandalf shook his head again. "Well, we cannot worry about that now," he said. "Let us move on."

Fluttershy glanced at Frodo; he looked to be slightly troubled and she frowned. "Are you all right, Frodo?"

He abruptly came back to the present. "Oh yes, I am fine, Fluttershy," he said, and swiftly walked past her to join Gandalf.

Her frown did not disappear, but she soon concluded that his strange behavior was because of the mines or the Ring, or both. She didn't need any evil trinket to be bothered by the area; even with the wizard's light to guide their way, the darkness of Moria felt greater and deeper than any darkness she had ever felt before, and she imagined it was the same with the hobbit. The yellow Pegasus did not long dwell on these thoughts, however, and rather concentrated on the path before her and the thought of the sunlight that would warm her once they were out of there.

Within half an hour the thin, precarious path finally ended, but soon the Company found their way was littered with more crevices than in the days before. Thankfully, the lights of Gandalf's staff and Twilight's horn made it so that none of these obstructions came to them by surprise. Without Gandalf or Twilight, it would have been impossible to go through the mines, even with the torches that Aragorn, Rarity, and Boromir held aloft. The crevices were simply too many, and too sudden.

After walking a few more hours they came upon their first true hindrance. They came upon a crossroad that held three passages, all leading east. The one on the left went downwards, while the one on the right rose. The path in the middle ran fairly straight, or so it seemed to them.

Gandalf concentrated equally on each one, a deep frown etched on his face. "I have no memory of this place at all!" he said. The wizard lit up the doorways, looking for some sort of writing to tell him where each passage went. He saw nothing that could help him and sighed. "This is as good a place as any to rest; we have been journeying for a long time and all need it," Gandalf had perched himself cross-legged on a rock in front of the doorways pondering which one the Fellowship should take. The rest of the Fellowship was sitting on the steps while they waited for the wizard's memory to come back to him.

Some members of the Fellowship smoked their pipes while every one of them could hear Pippin whispering to Merry, fretting how hungry he was. Pinkie Pie was sitting next to Gimli on one of the stairs.

"I apologize to you Pinkie for my foolish earlier optimism about Khazad-dum," Gimli said to her quietly.

"You don't need to apologize to me for anything Gimli!" Pinkie replied. "You couldn't have known what happened here."

Gimli nodded before continuing, "Along with my father, my cousin Balin was actually on the adventure where Master Bilbo received his mithril coat. Being a mere lad of sixty or so, I could not join them, but I loved the stories they used to tell about it. When we came here, I hoped Balin could have told them to you and the others, but now..."

"If we don't find your cousin, you'll just have to tell me his stories for him," Pinkie tried to comfort Gimli. "Hopefully you'll tell them to me over a few mugs of the fine dwarven ale that you keep mentioning!"

Gimli gave a small smile in return. "You may pass out from all the ale you consume before I finish telling them Pinkie!"

"Oh we'll see about that," Pinkie replied and giggled.

The Fellowship rested for a total of three hours, some sleeping the whole time, some mostly silent, and others mostly speaking quietly with each other. Near after two hours passed, when Pippin and Merry had fallen asleep, all pipes were away, and everyone was silent for the moment, when both Rainbow Dash and Frodo spotted something to the south, the latter's ears twitching in the process. Frodo went to Gandalf while Rainbow Dash walked over to Aragorn.

Aragorn opened an eye as Rainbow Dash came over. The cyan Pegasus sat down next to him, and the Ranger glanced at her questioningly.

"Are you in need of something?"

"Something's following us," Rainbow Dash whispered, pointing down to where she had seen the movement.

Aragorn followed her hoof. "Gollum," he simply stated.

"Gollum?" Rainbow Dash quickly went through her memory, and her thoughts went back to the council of Elrond and to Bilbo's tale on how he had gained the Ring. "You mean that creature that Bilbo took the Ring from?"

"Do not speak of such matters here!" the Ranger warned her in a sharp hiss. "But yes, it is him. He has been following us now for three days."

"Shouldn't I fly over and catch him or something?" Rainbow Dash asked, lifting an eyebrow. "I'm sure I can catch him before he has a chance to run." She tensed her wings in preparation for flight.

"Nay, do not! Gandalf believes he will have some part to play before this is over, and does not wish for his death."

"That's... that's just stupid."

"It is not my decision to make. Even if it were, I would not so lightly throw Gandalf's advice aside."

"Just because he's wise, doesn't mean he's perfect. Twilight's like the smartest pony I know, and she almost destroyed Ponyville over a homework assignment that she didn't even have to do," Rainbow Dash retorted.

"...You do not say," Aragorn stated, not sure how exactly to reply to something like that.

"Trust me, you wouldn't believe half of the crap we've seen. It'd curl your bear," Rainbow Dash replied, idly wondering if she could hit Gollum from here if she kicked a rock in his direction. Maybe pop him right between the eyes and give him a reason to hang back for a while.

A short while later, Gandalf's chuckle suddenly filled the area. "Ah- it's that way!" He jerked his head toward the door on their far left.

"He's remembered!" Merry exclaimed. Everyone let out a slight sigh of relief.

"No," Gandalf said, picking up his powder-blue hat from the rock beside him, placing it on his gray head, and lit the crystal on his staff again. "But the air doesn't smell so foul down here. Remember, Meriadoc- When in doubt, always follow your nose."

So, they trekked down farther into the darkness, with only Gandalf's crystal and Twilight's horn for light. The tunnel they walked down was narrow, and Spike suspected he had just bumped into a skeleton- honestly, he didn't want nor need to know.

They reached the end of the stairs about two minutes later. "Let me risk a little more light," Gandalf murmured as he held up his staff to shine its light into the cavern even further. "Behold the great realm and dwarf city of Dwarrowdelf!"

The ponies caught their breath along with the rest of the Fellowship at what they saw. Whereas they were horrified when Gandalf's staff revealed the massacre by the Doors of Durin, they were in awe of what his staff revealed now. They saw an enormous stone hall supported by ornate columns that stretched up as far as the eye could see. Gandalf told the Fellowship this wondrous structure was known as the 'Twenty-First Hall' by the dwarves who dwelt in Khazad-dum.

Sam spoke for the whole Fellowship when he remarked at the sight before them. "That's an eye opener, make no mistake."

As the Fellowship continued its journey through the Twenty-First Hall, they eventually came across a set of double doors to their right. Two wooden doors were pushed opened and revealed a room that had a beam of sunlight streaming through its back wall through a small shaft. Gimli gasped when he noticed something in the middle of the room ,and began running towards it. Gandalf and Twilight called out his name, but Gimli could not be persuaded to stop. The rest of the Fellowship walked quickly to follow after him.

As the Fellowship passed through the doors, Gandalf turned to see dwarven runes marked over the doorway they had just entered. "This is the Chamber of Mazarbul, Khazad-dum's chamber of records," he remarked to the rest of the Fellowship with the exception of Gimli.

Gimli was kneeling at what appeared to be a stone altar or sarcophagus. Gimli gave a muffled cry of "No" at the sight before him.

As the fifteen other members of the Fellowship joined him, Twilight noted that the Chamber widened out from the doorway into a large square shaped rooms. There were steps leading up to ledges that ran along the lengths of both sidewalls. On these ledges were what looked to be old bookcases whose contents had long been ransacked, probably by the Goblins Legolas mentioned earlier. Most disturbing were the old dwarf skeletons spread about the room, including one that had been left perched sitting on a small well in the back of the Chamber. She had no idea how it was just sitting there in defiance of gravity.

Gandalf studied the dwarven runes on the stone object that Gimli was kneeling before. "Here lies Balin, Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria," Gandalf interpreted them for the whole Fellowship aloud. "He is dead then, it's as I feared."

Gimli let out a sorrowful moan as Gandalf confirmed the answer to what had happened to his cousin who came here thirty years earlier. As he begun to mumble some prayers in Dwarvish, Fluttershy came up to him and wrapped her forelegs around Gimli in a hug, which Gimli accepted as he wept on her shoulder, as a show of comfort and support.

Gandalf had noticed a thick tome being held by a skeleton leaning against Balin's Tomb, presumably the tome's author in life. Gandalf handed his hat and staff to Pippin so he could remove the tome from the skeletal grasp of its owner. He blew the accumulated dust off the tome's cover before carefully turning its pages of parchment.

Twilight moved next to him and observed the writing. "It's the writing from the coffin," She muttered. Gandalf nodded.

"Yes," He said. "The Angerthas. A writing often used by the Moria Dwarves." With the others, Legolas quietly approached Aragorn.

"We must move on," He whispered as softly as possible. "We cannot linger."

"Give him a minute," Fluttershy whispered firmly from her hug with Gimli, eyes narrowing sharply. When she saw Aragorn and Legolas' surprised looks, she said to Legolas, "That's right, you're not the only one that can hear everything."

Gandalf began reading aloud from the tome. "They have taken the Bridge and the Second Hall. We have barred the gates, but cannot hold them for long. The ground shakes. Drums. Drums in the Deep..."

Gandalf's reading of the account of these dwarves apparent last stand was making Twilight nervous, along with other members of the Fellowship. She appreciated that Gandalf was trying to honor the fallen dwarves by retelling the story of their last moments, and shed light on what they experienced. But if the Fellowship did not resume its journey soon, and if Goblins were still about, they may soon have to record a last stand of their very own.

Holding Gandalf's staff and hat, Pippin tried to tune out what Gandalf was reading. Due to the peaceful life the Shire had afforded him, he could not imagine how horrible it must have been for Gimli's kin to have been trapped in this room awaiting their doom. Pippin tried to distract himself by the skeleton sitting on the well at the back of the Chamber. The skeleton seemed to be holding the well's heavy chained bucket as well as having an arrow lodged in its ribcage. Pippin slowly walked towards it trying to figure out how it remained sitting on the well's edge despite the weight it carried.

He almost yelped as a pink hoof latched onto his arm and pulled him away, Pinkie coming into view and shaking her head. That was enough to break him out of whatever thoughts he'd been having.

They turned back to Gandalf as he continued his narration. "A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out..."

Pinkie wrinkled her nose, desperately trying to hold suppress a sneeze that was wanting to form. She really shouldn't have been standing so close to Gandalf when he'd retrieved the book.

Gandalf came to what appeared to be the last entry in the tome that had been hastily scrawled down on the page with some drops of what presumably was the author's blood, darkened by age. "They are coming..."

There was a moment of silence among the Fellowship. Only for it to be broken as Pinkie's sneeze finally broke loose in full force. Hearing her, one would think it was Princess Luna who had sneezed instead, as it was enough to send Spike falling back against the well.

And as he did, the skeleton perched atop the ledge slowly began sliding backwards.

"Oh no, no, no, no!" Pippin yelled as he quickly reached out to grab the skeleton before it could fall down the well. But all he succeeded in grabbing was the arrow in its chest, which did nothing to stop it from falling down the well, raising a great deal of commotion in the process.

And just to add insult to injury, the corpse was dragging the heavy chain and bucket right along with it. Spike tried to grab it before it could go crashing too, but the momentum it had built up ripped it right from his hands, nearly pulling him off its feet in the process. He was helpless to do anything but listen with the others, at the amount of noise that was caused in the aftermath.

They were all gonna be Balrog chow for certain now.

Gandalf was furious at this point. Whatever element of surprise they had previously, was now long gone. He had done his best to impress upon them just how much danger they faced, and yet they still carried on as if it was the Shire.

"Ach! You idiot! Gandalf told us not to touch anything!"

Gandalf had to stop at that, not expecting Pippin to be the one who would be speaking up at this point, as he confronted Pinkie.

"It's not my fault, it's not like I sneezed on purpose," Pinkie replied defensively. "Besides, Dashie's the only one of us who can actually not touch anything. The rest of us have to touch the floor when we walk on it," she pointed out.

Pippin's response was a frustrated, inarticulate yell as he threw his hands up in resignation, finding Pinkie impossible to deal with.

"Well we're pretty much bucked sideways right now," Rainbow Dash commented.

Twilight gave Rainbow Dash a hard glare. But before she can scold her for such pessimism, she heard a loud rhythmic pounding that seemed to come from out of the well that echoed throughout the Chamber. The rest of the Fellowship also heard the pounding sound coming through the Chamber's entrance.

"Drums in the Deep..." Rarity whispered.

The pounding of drums was quickly followed by the echoes of numerous high pitched screeches and howls. Looking at Frodo's scabbard, Sam gasped. "Frodo?" The Equestrians were taken aback when Frodo withdrew Sting to reveal its blade was glowing light blue. Their mystery of why it was doing this was answered in one word by Legolas, who was listening to the screeches to determine their source. "Orcs!" he proclaimed with warning.

Boromir turned and ran to another set of doors, where the scattered, strange noises were coming from. Rainbow Dash followed, hovering behind him. The rainbow-maned Pegasus ran out first, followed immediately by Boromir. The Gondorian suddenly grabbed Rainbow Dash by the scruff of her neck and ripped her back- a good thing, considering that a moment later, an arrow buried itself in the wooden door behind them- right where Rainbow Dash's head had been.

Rainbow Dash was pale as a sheet as she stared at the embedded arrow that would have instantly killed her. She really owed her LIFE to Boromir.

Another arrow zoomed in and hit the door near Boromir's face, making him jerk back.

He and Rainbow Dash jumped back into the tomb, and pulled the doors shut. Aragorn and Applejack joined them a moment later, pushing up against the doors.

Boromir, who had gotten a fairly good look at what was coming at them, had a wry and dark look on his face. "They have a cave troll," he wryly commented mostly to Aragorn.

Applejack had no knowledge of what a 'Cave Troll' in Middle-earth was, but given Boromir's tone she was willing to bet it was a lot bigger and meaner opponent than orcs and Goblins were. Given the situation she wasn't going to ask if it was as bad as the Watcher though.

"Now that jus' ain't fair," she commented.

"I will be sure to let them know of your objections," Boromir replied sarcastically.

"Stay behind Gandalf!" Aragorn called to Fluttershy, Spike and the Hobbits. Legolas and Rarity, thinking quickly, grabbed some axes and spears from a nearby rack and tossed them to Aragorn, Boromir and Applejack. The two warriors and farmer slammed them into the door handles, forming a makeshift lock bracing. "They'll break through this, but it'll buy us some time to get into defensive positions," Aragorn muttered. "Rainbow, Applejack, get back and get ready."

Applejack and Rainbow Dash, still pale, nodded and ran back to stand next to Twilight and Rarity.

Gandalf drew his sword, Glamdring, while the Hobbits pulled out their swords, and Spike, his hand-axe. Legolas, Rarity and Aragorn strung arrows onto their bows. Applejack and Rainbow Dash tensed up their muscles in preparation for a charge.

While the others got ready for battle, Twilight took a different approach, working her magic on the barricade. It was enveloped in her aura, the surface rippling as it was forcibly changed and warped into something new. Gone were the two wooden doors, and assortment of weapons in front of it. Now it stood in the form of a single panel of wood, the grain running from side to side rather than top to bottom, with two large steel bars anchored at the top and bottom.

"They'll have a much harder time getting through a single piece of wood when the grain is against them," she explained.

A moment later, the Fellowship was prepared for the incoming attack. Gimli, with a murmured word of respect, climbed atop Balin's Tomb, axe at hand. "Let them come! There is one dwarf yet in Moria who still draws breath! Khazad-dum!"

"Khazad-dum!" Pinkie yelled. Several eyes were soon on her in confusion. "What? We need a battle cry," she stated.

Rainbow Dash just shrugged in response. "Khazad-dum!" she yelled, figuring it was as good as anything else.

Pinkie, meanwhile, was looking around the chamber for a weapon to defend herself with until she spotted a large pile of rocks by the far wall, most of them about the size of a hoof. Grinning, she gathered as many rocks as her forelegs can carry and joined Gimli on top of the tomb, standing on her hind legs.

"We're not going to get out of this one without ending a few lives, are we?" Rarity asked solemnly, already suspicious of the answer; suspicious enough to already be readying an arrow.

"Live long enough to actually have regrets to experience," Aragorn commented.

Facing the chamber entrance, the Fellowship arrayed itself in battle order. In the order's front line from left to right stood Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Aragorn, Legolas, Rarity and Boromir. Gimli and Pinkie Pie stood on top of Balin's Tomb and were standing behind Legolas. Behind Applejack and Aragorn were Gandalf, Fluttershy, Spike and the four hobbits.

On the other side of the door the Goblins began pounding on the door, trying to break through. And all too soon, despite having to cut against the grain, weapons started breaking through the barricade, splintering spaces of the door.

The first clear gap that was opened was quickly utilized, as Legolas shot an arrow through the gap and a shrill cry ringing out from impact with a Goblin unfortunate enough to be on the other side. The Elf notches another arrow to his bow as Aragorn shoots another Goblin through the gap in the door, quickly followed by Rarity's arrow, much to her own amazement.

Despite the number of arrows being sent downrange, it did little good. It was only a matter of seconds before the Goblins succeeded in bringing down the barricade, and charge at the Fellowship.

As soon as they broke through, however, Pinkie's barrage started, numerous rocks being hurled downrange and slamming into the incoming horde, knocking them off their feet in the process, with bits of their chest plates breaking off from the force of the impact.

Aragorn, Legola, and Rarity continued in their storm of arrows as the Goblins poured through the doorway. Pinkie continued with her own barrage, bowling many goblins, however in just a couple of seconds, she'd managed to exhaust her supplies and had to hurry to gather more rocks, and place a pile on her foreleg. It was that break in the siege that gave the goblins the opportunity necessary to pour into the chamber, and close the distance to the point where bows and arrows would be useless. Now it was time for getting up close and personal.

Gimli yelled in a battle cry as Aragorn quickly puts away his bow and arrow and draws his sword as a Goblin jumps at him, managing to cut across the goblin's unprotected stomach. Boromir charged forward, blocking a goblin with his shield and then stabbing it, while Legolas moved behind the safety of the others as he continues to fire his arrows at the attacking Goblins, using the tip of an arrow to stab a Goblin if it gets too close to him.

Rarity shot an arrow into the Goblin that jumps at her, making sure to dodge the body that flies at her, and quickly rolls to her left, finding her back against the wall as another goblin charge towards her in reach, she quickly shot another arrow at the goblin, taking it down before it can reach her.

One goblin charged at Gimli and Pinkie Pie on the tomb, and Gimli quickly lobs off its head with his axe. With a yell, Gandalf launches himself into the fray, with Spike and the Hobbits following close behind, each of them knowing that they either had to fight, or they were going to die.

Twilight made use of her mana sword to block a goblin's own rusted metal sword, before -reluctantly- stabbing it into her combatant's gut.

Applejack, not being able to use a weapon, had to rely on her own bucking capabilities to keep goblins back, kicking wildly and fiercely at anything that got too close to her. Some went flying back from the force they were subjected to, their armor breaking under the impact of her hooves.

And then she felt a heavy weight landing on her back as she was roughly grabbed. Looking back one of the goblins had managed to jump onto her back.

"Get off me ya no good ornery varmint!" she shouted and began to thrash about wildly, treating the situation like a rodeo back home. She wasn't about to stand for being rode by any goblin, orc, or whatever these things were accurately called.

Spike's primary tactic of combat was exhaling massive jets of green flames anytime a goblin got too close for his own comfort. And at seeing what he could do, most were all too willing to give him a large berth, knowing that a dragon wasn't to be approached lightly.

"I should've just stood by the doorway and breathed at them," he commented to himself.

Rainbow Dash was all over the place, literally and figuratively, in her combat efforts. Her fighting style was much like it had been when she'd faced the Uruk-Hai back at Orthanc, while coupled with her high speed to get in, confront a goblin up close and personal, knock it silly, and then move onto the next one before it knew what had hit it.

Through all of the chaos unfolding, Fluttershy crouched down as she carefully navigated the battlefield, with goblins tripping over her as she muttered an apology to every last one, before Spike or one of the hobbits would come and finish off the downed goblin before it had a chance to get up. She looked up and shrieked when she saw a Goblin standing over her with its sword raised to cut her down. But before it could actually do that, it received an arrow to the neck as it falls down to the ground, lifeless. Fluttershy turned to see Legolas with his bow pointed at where the Goblin used to stand, flashing Fluttershy a smile as he focused back on the rest of the goblins.

Frodo ducked under a goblin's sword, Pippin prepares to face another, Merry stabs one goblin multiple times, Sam drives his sword right through one goblin's stomach, and Spike sliced opened the legs and feet of any Goblin that was too close for him to exhale fire at.

Rarity was certainly no fool. She realized that the number of goblins pouring into the chamber was greater than the number of arrows they had at their disposal. And they were getting far too close, far too quickly, for arrows to continue being an option. She had little choice but to draw her sword and engage them at close quarters... until she saw a dropped goblin sword, and opted to snag it instead. She'd much rather risk damaging something as crude as it, rather than her own elven blade.

Now if she could just get her heart to quit pounding in her ears as they approached her.

To any onlooker in the battle, Rarity looked like she was dancing/gliding through the Goblin horde with her elegant, beautiful, and graceful moves that screamed perfection and deadly precision. Or at least that was her own interpretation of what they'd see...

Twilight didn't have a clue as to what motivated the goblins to rush them like they were, but they weren't showing any signs of letting up anytime soon. And she really, really didn't want to have to kill all of them. Although she doubted they'd be giving her much choice in the matter.

"Get off me, ya ornery varmint!" she heard Applejack yelling as she jumped and bucked wildly, before finally throwing the goblin on her back off and to the ground. "They jus' don' let up!"

"Tell me about it," Twilight commented as she saw another goblin coming for them. "HEY!" she yelled at it. "Ever hear of pinball?" she asked, causing it to quirk its head to the side in confusion as she blasted it, but it generated no visible result. "Applejack! Buck it!"

"Ya got it, sugarcube," she stated as she spun around and kicked the goblin, sending it flying with enough force to crash into the wall, only to bounce off and go flying in an entirely different direction, crashing into anything in its path. "Now wha' was that?"

"It'd take too long to explain. Suffice to say, it's going ballistic, and will be for a while," Twilight stated, before ducking as another goblin was sent flying for one reason or another. If the goblins weren't going to leave them alone, then they might as well be useful to their cause.

Sam paused in the heat of battle, his attention drawn upwards by a new commotion. Aragorn also looked up as the cave troll smashed its way through the doorway, chains leading from its neck to two pairs of goblin hands. The troll then lets out a loud bellow, catching the attention of the others as they looked at it. Legolas quickly shoots the cave troll in the shoulder; the beast growls and claps a hand to the wound. Sam continues to stare, frozen, as the troll swings its mace down at the Hobbit.

"AHHHHH!" Sam yells in terror as he dove under and through the troll's legs and crawled away as the troll turns, and sighted him again.

The troll walks over to where Sam had cornered himself and raised its left foot as it was about to squash Sam as he cringed. Until it suddenly felt something pulling back on it, nearly throwing it off balance.

"Pick on someone your own size you fat motherbucker!" Rainbow Dash yelled, forelegs wrapped around the chain as she pulled back on it with all of her might. She was quickly joined by Aragorn, Boromir, and Applejack, each of them pulling back as hard as they could, nearly toppling the beast in the process.

And then they pulled again and send it toppling over.

"Timber!" Boromir yelled in surprise as the troll fell, hitting the ground hard, and crushing a goblin that was unfortunate enough to be in its path.

"Aw yeah!" Rainbow Dash cheered as she raised her hoof high for Boromir to slap with his hand. They were buckin' awesome!

Unfortunately their celebrating was far too premature, as the troll was getting back onto its feet, and retaliating by swinging its club at them, forcing them to scatter. But at least their efforts had given Sam the opportunity needed to escape.

Although that wasn't to say that Rainbow Dash refrained from delivering a flying kick to the troll's face when the opening presented itself, much to its displeasure and discomfort.

Standing upon the tomb of Balin, Gimli threw one of his axes at the troll, piercing its shoulder near Legola's arrow prior, while Pinkie Pie threw rocks at the troll. The troll ignored both as it walks towards Gimli and Pinkie, and then swings its mace into the tomb, shattering it and forcing the dwarf and the party pony to jump off to avoid getting smashed.

Twilight ran over to Merry, Pippin and Frodo in the middle of the battle, opting to blast a charging goblin out of the way.

"Merry, Pippin take Frodo and try to keep out of that troll's sight, got it!?"

"On it Twilight," Merry said as he and Pippin quickly took Frodo to safety, the three of them getting behind a pillar on the upper catwalk.

Gimli hacked at one goblin as the troll swings its mace at him, while ducked and the monster struck an attacking goblin instead, while yet another goblin came at Gimli from behind as he fell down.

From where she stood, Twilight was doing her best to survey how things were progressing. So far they'd been managing to hold their own against the ever-increasing influx of goblins anxious to cut them to pieces, and without actually suffering any casualties. Of course there was still the cave troll to be dealing with, but one crisis at a time.

Her focus returned to what was in front of her just in time to see a mess of goblins making for her. Only for them to be scattered as Pinball Goblin plowed right through them. At least they had that going in their favor, so long as they knew to avoid his trajectory.

Gandalf knocked out a goblin with his staff, and then sliced another behind him with his sword while twisting around. Rarity jumped up onto higher ground and shot an arrow at a goblin in front of her, sticking it against the wall in the process, much to her own amazement.

Although that amazement was short-lived as she saw the troll was no longer being preoccupied by Rainbow Dash, and was readying the chain around its neck as a weapon, and had its sights fixed firmly on Legolas...


The sneak attack failed in no small part thanks to Rarity's advanced alert, allowing the elven archer to avoid being struck by the incoming swing by ducking down.

And then came the timely intervention of Rainbow Dash and Applejack joining the fray; the former latching onto the end of the chain and pulling it up and around the nearest pillar, and the latter helping anchor it in place, stopping the troll from being able to ready another swing.

"Nail the big fella already!" Applejack yelled out.

Legolas took the opening and ran up the chain onto the troll's shoulders, and and fired an arrow point blank at the troll's head, only for it to break on contact with the thick skull it was up against. With the element of surprise now gone, the troll returned its focus to him, forcing a tactical retreat back to relative safety.

"Alright, that's it!" Rainbow Dash stated as she prepared for desperate measures. Applejack could hold the troll in place for a bit, giving her the opportunity to act. Looking around she spotted a discarded goblin shield and picked it up in her front hooves, before flying directly at it. "Eat this!" she yelled as she raised the shield high and smashed it over the troll's head, shattering the rusted construct in the process; evidence of just how hard of a head they were up against. Applejack had nothing on this brute.

The fact the shield had broken, however, did nothing to dissuade her from her next course of action though. That being to slug it out with the troll, laying into it with a series of blows to its face as hard as she could, much like when she'd fought with the Uruk-Hai back in Isengard. And despite how tough the troll was, it could still experience the effects of pain, and there was plenty of pain to be felt right now.

"RD, hurry it up! This big fella pulls harder than an angry buffalo!" Applejack yelled as she held fast to the chain wrapped around the stone pillar, all the while finding it increasingly difficult to keep it where it was.

And then she heard the sound of the chain snapping at the collar. Now the troll was free, and there was nothing she could do about it...

Sam, meanwhile, was forced into the position of actually having to get down and dirty with the goblins; mainly in the form of walloping them with his cast iron skillet as they got close, finding it much more familiar in his hand than his sword.

"I think I'm getting the hang of this!" he stated as he smacked another goblin that came at him from behind, barely managing to avoid hitting Spike in the process.

"Yeah, frightening isn't it?" Spike replied as he slammed the pole end of his axe onto a goblin's foot, causing it to hop in pain, and letting him use the bearded portion to hook its other ankle and pull it down to the ground.


"What was that?" Sam asked, caught off guard by the sudden yell from somewhere in the room.

"Don't know, don't care," Spike replied, too focused on the fight at hand to worry about anything else.

And then came an all new commotion.

Rainbow Dash's hooves, as well as her pasterns, were aching terribly right now. Despite her best efforts at slugging things out with the troll, the best she had managed was bloodying up its face. This thing was obviously a lot tougher than any Uruk-Hai. Granted it was feeling the pain too, and actually moving away from her, but she hardly counted that as a worthwhile return; not when her intention was knocking it out.

She considered the chain that had just broken off from the collar. She could grab it, wrap it around the troll's neck, and try choking it out. But there were still too many goblin archers around for her to stay stationary for that long. The risk was too great, and she knew that even with all the adrenaline pumping through her system.

At least the troll wasn't fixated on her right now. At least she had that going in her favor.

"These fellas play rough," Applejack commented, before kicking a goblin right in the face as it advanced on her.

"I'm SO not getting butt rutted by these guys!" Rainbow Dash commented as she swooped down next to Applejack, and proceeded to pull the chain loose from the pillar.

"Now jus' wha' in the hay are ya gonna do with that?" Applejack asked.

"I don't know, I'm making it up as I go along," Rainbow Dash commented before pulling the chain loose, and flying back into the fray with it.

After departing from Rainbow Dash the troll has found the other three hobbits as they walked out into the open on the high ground, and attacked after picking up its mace, attempting to smash the trio, but wound up smashing the walkway instead, forcing them to separate.

"FRODO!" Aragorn yelled, seeing him and the other hobbits separated as he continued to engage the goblins.

Frodo quickly hid on the other side of the pillar as the troll looked for him from the opposite side he was on.

Meanwhile, Aragorn continued his efforts to fight his way to Frodo, punching a goblin to his right with his left arm, and then twisting around and cutting another goblin across the stomach.

Back with Frodo, the troll was beginning to move to the other side, causing Frodo to quickly move to the other side to avoid the troll, before it came in from the other side, sniffing for him. It disappeared shortly after, and Frodo carefully looked around the pillar to see the troll gone, drawing a deep breath in the process.

Applejack joined Aragorn in fighting their way to Frodo, kicking one goblin off the high ground, and then bucking another goblin against a pillar.

As Frodo breathed a sigh of relief, the troll appeared again around the pillar, roaring in the hobbit's face, causing him to stumble and fall back behind the pillar in a corner. The troll still found him nevertheless and grabbed him by his leg, lifting him up off the ledge.

"Aragorn! Applejack!" Frodo yells desperately.

Aragorn and Applejack breathed heavily, exhausted. Still, they continue on. "Frodo!"

Frodo slashed the troll's hand with his sword, causing it to drop him to the ground, twisting its injured hand and staring at it. Frodo laid on the floor, the wind knocked out of him from his less than graceful landing. The troll, recovered from its injury, raised its mace to swing down on him, but Aragorn leaped down into the gap with a spear in hand and rammed it into the beast's front, but fails to penetrate deep enough into the thick hide, only bruising it with the spear.

Applejack was soon to join in the fray, unleashing a powerful buck to the troll's exposed leg. Unfortunately while it wobbled, and possibly suffered a fracture, it showed no signs of actually slowing down. It was even tougher than the Nazgul had been, and that was saying something.

A shower of rocks soon followed, coming from Merry, Pippin, and Pinkie who had joined in, bouncing stones right off its thick skull, much to its annoyance. And then came a loose pillar courtesy of Pinkie, shattering against its head and dazing it good, but still not bringing it down; if anything it was just getting angrier and started swinging recklessly at them, forcing them to scatter.

And as they scattered for their own safety, the troll returned its attention to Frodo, and slowly picked up the spear Aragorn had used against it.

Rainbow Dash had recognized that her efforts against the cave toll were going to be futile, and all she'd succeed in doing was tire herself out faster. It was just too big, and too strong to be a one-pony effort. So while the others focused on it, she was doing her best to keep the goblins focused on her instead of them. If she kept the goblins away, they might have a chance of bringing the troll down.

And in her case, that involved rearing up on her hind legs and wildly swinging the chain about at any goblin unfortunate enough to be within her reach. And if they didn't happen to be in reach of her chain? Then she moved into range so that they couldn't avoid her, slamming it into them from any number of improbable angles as she spun about, presenting them with a danger from whatever direction they might try and come.

More than a few goblins had been unfortunate enough to get chain whipped to varying degrees of severity. Some really unfortunate ones had found one of their limbs ensnared, and were subsequently pulled right off the ground and used to add to the chaos as they were pulled off the ground and flung into their brethren like a wrecking ball.

Some had launched counterattacks against her, as was to be expected. And if it weren't for her mad maneuvering skills, and quick thinking, she would've lost more than a few feathers like Twilight had. Individual links of the chain would be used to catch sword tips, the chain itself would be used to parry slashes and ensnare axe heads, or shaved forward to slam into their faces when they got just a little too close for her own comfort.

She'd be the first to admit, it was more luck than anything that left her unscathed throughout it all.

Unfortunately that luck apparently didn't extend to other member of their party; something realized when she saw Frodo get impaled by the troll's spear, pinning him to the far wall of the chamber.


Frodo couldn't quite remember the last time he'd felt this much pain in his life. The morgul blade was certainly up there, but it was an entirely different sort of pain compared to now. At least with the morgul blade he'd been semi-coherent of his surroundings, and what had been going on around him.

This time around, however, the impact of being slammed against the wall had completely knocked the wind out of him, leaving him dazed and disoriented, unable to properly focus on what was unfolding around him with the cave troll. He was vaguely aware of the others screaming something or other, but he wasn't really comprehending any of it. His mind felt like it was in a fog, and his vision felt blurry, making it hard to focus on anything. He tried to get a better look, but the throbbing in the back of his head made it far too painful to do anything but simply lay still, and wait for the world around him to stop moving so wildly.


It was the loud, piercing shriek of a wail that cut through the haze more than anything. He struggled to focus his eyes, but all he saw was a yellow and pink blur coming out of nowhere, and slamming into the blur that was the troll with a sickening thud even he could hear, followed a loud groan as it collapsed on the ground.

Twilight couldn't believe what she'd just witnessed happen; not any of it. But whether or not she believed it, that didn't change the fact that things had happened as she'd seen them happen.

Frodo, despite their best efforts at watching out for him, had fallen victim to the troll, impaled on the end of a spear like he was fixings for a shish kabob.

And then out of nowhere had come a wailing Fluttershy, who had spent the entire battle hiding away, and slammed into the back of the troll's neck with such force, a snapping sound not unlike crisp celery practically echoed off the chamber walls. What followed next was the troll's head taking on an unnatural angle as it groaned and fell to the ground, its body completely lifeless on impact.

The cave troll, which Rainbow Dash had found far too strong to take on by herself -to say nothing of the rest of them- had just been killed with a single blow from Fluttershy of all ponies. How did something like that happen?

The sounds of battle had all come to a stop at this point, everyone displaying varying degrees of surprise, disbelief, and fear. Even the remaining goblins, which had been anxious to tear them apart just a while ago, were now making a retreat out of the chamber in light of seeing their greatest force so easily dispatched. She couldn't really blame them for their fear, as even she was afraid at this point.

By now the realization was setting in for Fluttershy; that much was apparent from the look on her face. She was the absolute last pony Twilight would've ever thought would actually take the life of another for any reason, regardless of the circumstances they found themselves in. And yet she'd freely done just that in response to Frodo being killed. Now came the aftermath when the gravity of the situation hit her full force.

Rarity had been by her side in an instant, weapons disregarded as she pulled the distraught Pegasus into a firm hug, assuring her that everything was alright. Twilight knew that it likely wouldn't be alright, but there was little else that they could really do at this point in time.

There was a moment of silence as the Fellowship regrouped in the middle of the tomb, as the many dead bodies of the goblins now littered the floor along with the dead cave troll in the middle. Gandalf and everyone else quickly rushed over to Frodo's downed position, as Aragorn crawled to him, having woken up from being knocked out in his struggles with the troll.

"Oh no," Aragorn whispered.

"The ring."

It was Rainbow Dash's statement as she slowly approached Frodo's body that brought Twilight back to her senses regarding her surroundings.

"We need to take the ring. We... we can't just leave it here, Sauron will get it for sure," she pointed out shakily as she stepped closer, wrestling with remorse over the loss of a comrade, the desire to simply have the ring for herself, and a sense of guilt for not being able to stop the troll on her own.

"I am not dead just yet..." Frodo groaned painfully as Rainbow Dash's hoof touched him, causing her to jump back in surprise.

"He's alive!" Twilight shouted to the others in amazement.

Aragorn quickly approached and turned Frodo's body over as the hobbit groaned, gasping for air, the whole Fellowship sighing in relief.

"I'm all right," Frodo said, dazed, as though trying to convince himself of this.

"But... how though?" Rainbow Dash asked, not understanding what was going on.

"Rainbow Dash is right. You should be dead! That spear would have skewered a wild boar," Gimli stated.

Gandalf stepped forward, leaning a bit on his staff. "I think there's more to this hobbit than meets the eye," he said. Frodo stared, and then quietly pulled aside his jacket and shirt, to reveal a shiny, hard type of shirt beneath.

"Wow..." Spike whispered, "what is that?"

"Mithril! You are full of surprises, Master Baggins," Gimli said with a small smile.

"That's what harvested mithril looks like?" Rarity asked, her eyes shining with inspiration on what she can make with the shirt if given the opportunity.

"That still doesn't explain how he's alive," Twilight pointed out as she stepped closer, "I can accept that the mithril provided more resistance than the troll's spear could overcome, thus keeping Frodo from being skewered like a marshmallow at a campfire. But that still wouldn't keep him from experiencing the blunt force trauma that went along with it. His bones should've been broken from the impact," she explained.

The only theory that came to mind, was that the mithril was laced from some unrecognized magic that enabled it to shield against blunt force trauma, and disperse it in a way that kept the wearer from suffering horrible injuries. That was the only thing that made sense right now.

But before she could actually conduct any scans of the shirt to see for herself, the sounds of the goblins could be heard. Gandalf and the others looked at the main door to see the shadows of many goblins approaching their position.

"Man don't they ever give up!?" Rainbow Dash yelled out.

"Is there another way out of here?" Twilight asked as she charges up a spell from her horn.

"Yes... To the Bridge of Khazad-dum!" Gandalf yelled, turning and jabbing his staff at the door.

"Fluttershy, look at me, darling," Rarity spoke as she brought her friend's attention to her. "I know what you're going through right now with the troll, I really do. But you need to hold it together a little bit longer, until we're out of the mines. Can you do that?" she asked.

Fluttershy could only mumble in response, but she managed to nod regardless.

The Fellowship quickly got up and headed through the hole in the wall into a high, ornate hall of pillars with a ray of light breaking through from some high shaft. Twilight ran besides Gandalf with her spell at the ready, Rainbow Dash was doing her best to tone down her speed as her natural Pegasus speed would of left everyone else behind but at the same time trying to run fast like the others to escape from the massive goblin horde that was pursuing them.

"Twilight! How many do you see!?"

"I can't tell! They keep on popping up all over the place!"

"We're in so much trouble," Rainbow Dash commented as she eyed the hundreds -or maybe thousands- of goblins that had them surrounded on all sides, cutting off all their escape routes. There was no way they could take on all of them at once; she knew she sure couldn't. "Any ideas for how we get out of this one?"

"Well, one idea. But it's awful risky," Twilight stated as she kept her eyes darting back and forth.

"And this isn't risky?" Rarity asked.

"Whatever it is, do it! Do it!" Merry urged.

Twilight knew that they were right. If she didn't act, things would end very poorly for all of them. The risks were extreme no matter what course of action would be taken. She gave a solemn nod, took a deep breath, and with the aid of the Royal Canterlot Voice unleashed the most massive, intimidating, animalistic roar that she could manage.

Her tactic went far beyond an enhanced roar, however, as she was supplementing it with forcing more magic into her presence, much like when she'd broken up the arguing at Elrond's council, in order to create an overwhelming presence in the area that would be hard for anyone to ignore; like a sudden and intense change in the air pressure. Added to that was the bright glow coming from her eyes, which had taken on a blood red sheen due to the hemorrhage of several days previously.

That, combined with the acoustics of the mine's chamber they were in, caused a magnified effect that left the ground feeling like it was trembling beneath her hooves, as the others were forced to cover their ears. But it also had the effect of causing the goblins to halt their advancement, and stare wide-eyed at them.

Finally the need to breathe became overwhelming, and it necessitated her stopping her verbal assault against them.

"That was the best you could do?" Rainbow Dash asked in disbelief. She'd been expecting something a lot bigger than just an angry roar. Making it worse, whatever shock value it'd held, it was wearing off, as the goblins seemed intent on eating them again.

And then another roar sounded in the distance, far different from what Twilight had managed. That one caused the goblins to panic, and retreat as fast as they could in every direction, even scaling the massive pillars like a hoard of cockroaches.

None of them knew for certain what it was that caused that roar. But they all had a good idea of what it might be, as they saw the glow of fire slowly approaching their position.

"Ah think we jus' went from bad ta worse," Applejack commented.

"I think... I think I might have just wound up challenging the balrog for dominance," Twilight stated uneasily, unsure of what else to say. She knew the risks of using the roar here in Moria, but it was the only thing she could think of at the moment. Now she was deeply regretting it. "This... this is gonna be so bad."

"In ways that you cannot possibly comprehend," Gandalf said in a low tone. "RUN!"

None of them needed to be told twice. Like an arrow from a bow, they were off, running behind Gandalf as he led them out of the chamber.

"Quickly!" Gandalf stated as he and Aragorn ushered the others through the doorway and to the stairs that would lead them to the bridge to Khazad-dûm. Only to notice that about half of their party was nowhere to be found. Looking back he saw Twilight and the others standing around calmly and casually. The fools! "Quickly! This foe is beyond any of you!"

"Actually, we've got this," Rainbow Dash replied as she turned to look in Gandalf's direction, a total absence of fear in her voice as she spoke.

"Perdy much. This ain't our first rodeo. We've been known ta knock a few demonic entities down in our time," Applejack added with a nod.

"We kicked their butts hard!" Pinkie stated and bounced.

"O-only because they started it. We couldn't just do nothing," Fluttershy clarified.

"We'll take care of this, it's pretty much our fault anyway. You go on ahead, we'll catch up," Twilight told him, before turning back around to watch the fire coming closer. "What do you think, girls? Should we go all out right off the bat?"

"Oh most definitely," Rarity stated and nodded. "There's no sense to let this brute linger a moment longer than necessary. Let's get this over with and be done with it."

Gandalf couldn't believe what he was hearing, or seeing. These ponies were foolish, they were insane, they were crazy! They thought that they could defeat something like a balrog by themselves?

Another roar in the distance brought all of their attention forward. The balrog had appeared them. Tall, towering over all of them at a good forty feet, its body a perverse amalgamation of fire and shadow in a strong bipedal musculature, flames jetting out form the cracks in its shadowy skin, its beastial skull wrapped in a sheathe of untamed flames.

It was far, far more terrifying than Gandalf's description had done justice.

"Oh dear," Fluttershy squeaked and shrank back in terror.

"Steady there, Sugarcube," Applejack said as she braced against Fluttershy backing into her. "It ain't over yet."

"We'll take it down!" Rainbow Dash stated firmly as she flared her wings.

A guttural roar from the balrog as it approached on its hind legs, tail swinging from side to side with each step took, did nothing to suggest that it was terrified of their front.

"Alright, girls, let's do it!" Twilight stated, urging them on to victory despite the odds. They'd faced down the likes of Nightmare Moon, Discord, Sombra, and even Tirek. This balrog had nothing on them.

"Rainbow Harmony Powers activate!"

It was a shared unison from the six of them, followed by each of them being engulfed in a column of light, that snapped Gandalf out of his own thoughts on the matter, and forced him to look away as a piercing, whistling noise enveloped the chamber. And then came the outward explosion of something that he had never before experienced in his life, and was nearly knocked right off of his feet because of it.

When the light became slightly more tolerable to his old eyes, and he could look out and see what had happened, he became aware of the fact that the six of them looked far different, radiating magic the likes of which he had never felt before. It was simultaneously oppressive to the point of being able to crush the soul, and overwhelming brilliant and comforting, like the sun on a calm spring day. It inspired hope, and optimism, and... the urge to squeal like an excited child as he bore witness.


The yell broke Gandalf out of his trance, as she six of them, each engulfed in a field of bright light, literally flew off and slammed into the balrog's chest with enough force to knock the demon right off its feet, and send it flying backwards, before crash landing on its back with a heavy thud that shook the ground. And they had done it all with apparent ease. How was this possible?


It was Aragorn who placed his hand on his shoulder, bringing him back to the present, breaking his focus on how the balrog was getting up again. The would-be king stood beside him, just as confused as he himself was.

"What sort of magic is this?"

"According to what they have said, it is the magic of friendship..."

There was nothing but fury on the part of the balrog as it swung at the bright lights assaulting it, only to come up with nothing but a handful of thin air, its targets moving far too fast for it to hope to catch. And all the while it was being swarmed and slammed into by six tiny targets, pummeled from every direction with enough force to stagger it with every impact landed. It had been woken up for this!?

As it climbed back to its feet again, it brought forth its whip of fire to swat at these nuisances. Only for the end of the whip to the grabbed by the orange light, an excited yell of "Yeehaw" sounding as the whip was pulled and coiled tightly around its upper body, restraining its arms against its sides, leaving them unable to move. This was accompanied by two forceful impacts against its back and lower leg, sending it toppling once again with an angered roar as it crashed.

"Sayonara, fire butt!" came the next excited yell, followed by a sharp kick to the chin that sent the balrog skidding across the mine's floor, before crashing into -and through- one of the massive pillars that supported Moria's ceilings.

It was very hard for Rainbow Dash to not be excited when they were in Harmony Mode. The sheer amount of power and strength that they freely commanded, was so difficult to believe. It felt electrical, like every single cell in her entire body was saturated with positively charged magical energy. It was like the best sugar rush in the whole wide world, and a feeling of utter invincibility; and here they were finally getting the chance to actually test out the limits of what they could do if need be. Each one of them, even Fluttershy, was beating the balrog senseless by themselves, and when teamed with one or more partners, they were a force to be reckoned with.

She had no idea what it was like to wield magic beyond that of basic weather manipulation, or what it was like to be an Alicorn, but she was pretty sure this was close to it.

But even with all that power she could feel coursing through her veins, and the utter absence of fatigue that had been plaguing her after the fight with the goblins, the balrog failed to be impressed, as it was getting back up yet again.

"Wow! He just won't give up!" she stated, both impressed and annoyed at the same time.

"Rainbow Dash! Stop teasing the demon, we've got a lot of work left to do!" Twilight called to her from where she and the others had gathered together.

"Alright, alright," Rainbow Dash grumbled and flew back to where the others had gathered. She knew it was time to stop playing around, and start getting serious. The balrog wasn't responding to friendly persuasion, so now it was time to business. She took up her spot next to the others, suspended off the floor by the sheer intensity of the Harmony power they were channeling right now, knowing what had to be done.

"All power to the harmony cannon?" Pinkie asked.

"Are we seriously callin' it that?" Applejack asked in response.

"We can discuss this later, just fire the darn thing already!" Twilight barked. The others nodded in response and agreement.

The glow being emitted by each of them intensified to the point they were no longer visible through the haze of six multi-colored balls of light, each of them bright enough to rival the sun itself. A loud thromming-noise quickly filled the air as six beams of bright light erupted forth from each one of them, before coalescing together in a right-handed spiral, before slamming full force into the balrog's chest, bringing forth a mighty roar as it was pummeled, before its burning chest was ripped through by the beam, as it traveling through and through, punching a hole right out of the demon's back, and continuing on unopposed.

The balrog spasmed upon being impaled. And as it did its body slowly began to solidify, radiating outward from the point of impact, and reaching each and every one of its limbs, its fire dying out as its structure took on the appearance of dull granite.

"By Valar," Gandalf breathed in disbelief as the light faded, leaving his eyes to readjust to the relative darkness of Moria, and allowing him to witness what was before them.

The balrog, a demon of the ancient world, an unstoppable terror, had just been vanquished, its body turned to solid stone.

Author's Note:

Annnndddd I'm going to leave you guys with a nasty cliffhanger. :raritywink:

Find out what happens next in the next chapter! :pinkiehappy: