Opaline pulled herself to her weary feet, nearly staggering into the prone body of the ugly cave troll. Her shining red head was aching and she felt something wet when she put her shaking hand to it. Yet she would not complain, she reminded herself fiercely – not in such brave and unique company.
She heard Gandalf’s solemn words and saw the fellowship begin to break into a panicked run. The orcs were assembling for another violent attack somewhere beyond the stony cold walls of the chamber of death. None of the group had thought to see if she was all right, she thought bitterly, and began to move reluctantly after them, her head pounding with each step.
She had spoken very little to any of the fellowship, unwilling to explain her presence among them. She knew they had been talking about her, but she just couldn’t begin to try to explain. A sense of intense loneliness washed over her, and she fought back tears.
Then Opaline felt a warm hand on her arm and looked down slightly into the concerned face of the young hobbit Merry. “Can you run? We have to get out!” he yelled urgently over the racket the orcs were making.
Without answering, she quickened her reluctant pace, Merry running alongside her. An orc cry came suddenly much too close for comfort behind, and Opaline felt real fear and urgency again, and the blinding pain left her as she quickly sprinted after the moving group.
They had crossed only half of the vast stone hall when Opaline saw Delphaen, who was just in front of her by this time, glance quickly to the side. Further ahead, Aragorn had looked up with a curse, and Pippin, lagging behind, gave a cry. And then Opaline realised the horrible truth – they were surrounded, and the circle was tightening. Orcs were running at them from all directions, even crawling down from the ceiling far above. The shrieking and yells on all sides were deafening, and drawing nearer.
Finally the group had to stop, as the thousands of orcs closed in around them. Legolas and Renyarwen had arrows to their bows, although Renyarwen seemed troubled by something other than the orcs and her attention was divided. Opaline saw Delphaen push Frodo and Sam behind her. Namariarwen seemed near collapse. Jéowyn and Boromir were facing the orcs with their swords raised.
Opaline’s breath was coming in quick gasps; she had never felt so lost and out of her depth. She had come all this way trusting that she had some purpose among these people but it seemed that all she could do was die desperately alongside them, without ever having known their trust or friendship.
Something brushed her trembling shoulder, and she glanced to her right to see Merry standing facing the orcs with a wide-eyed fear, but determination as well. He sensed Opaline’s gaze and looked to her, and they shared the moment of uncertainty and fear before Merry turned his attention back to the orcs still jeering threats at them.
A feeling of great hope swelled up within Opaline, and she knew she had the trust and friendship of one member of the Fellowship at least. And that hope bubbled up into words, whispered words which nevertheless were heard by each member of the company.
“Hey, it’s all good!” she said encouragingly. “Look, they’re not coming anywhere near us. They know we can kick their butts.”
She saw several members of the Fellowship relax slightly, and even smile. However, there was one who did not seem to have even heard her – Renyarwen, who was gazing past the orcs, down the high stone room with arches, although she did not seem to see her surroundings, but was rather looking inward.
A second later, a deep resonating pounding sound made all the orcs jump in fright. A second noise of the same sort made them squeal and start to run away. The dwarf laughed foolishly, shaking his fist after them, but Opaline’s attention was focussed on Renyarwen. Her eyes were now closed, and she seemed to be in the throes of an internal struggle.
“What is this new devilry?” murmured Opaline in wonder.