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Remembering the Vile Maw

Story Collection: 

This is sort of like a Halloween story to scare the kids with. I wrote it exactly two years ago when we finally killed the watcher ( 2.0 ) for the first time.

 


 

It was late autumn and heavy raindrops were beating against the window. It had just gotten dark and Eiadric was sitting in his favourite armchair next to the fireplace. He was a very old man with thin white hair and tough weather-worn skin.

 

It was Calan Gaeaf, the time when the Rohirrim honoured their dead and this day had a special place in Eiadric’s heart. He spent a good part of it in melancholic reflection, revelling in memories of old friends lost. But he also enjoyed the festive spirit of the day. Just like at Yule, the house was full of life. The smells of all the wonderful food. The noise of pattering little feet and carefree laughter. The clink and clank from the kitchen as his grown daughters made all the preparations. The booming laughter and table slapping as his sons shared stories in the other room.

 

In accordance with Rohirric custom the house was decorated and a big table was set in the main room fully laden with seasonal delicacies. Eiadric was resting while everyone else in the house was busy with the last details before the big meal.

 

All of a sudden his grandchildren burst in to the room. “Aaaaaaahhh!” Came a shrill scream from the eldest little girl as she ran and stood poised behind the big table. She had a big, happy, mischievous grin on her face.

“Waahahahaa!! You can’t run forever.” Howled a boy in hot pursuit, tightly followed by five or six younger grandchildren. They all howled like wolves whilst laughing and elbowing each other to get ahead.

 

For a while the children stood there in a stalemate, the girl on one side of the table and the little mob on the other. But soon their devious little minds started plotting and they began to flank both sides of the table. The girl, in mock horror, squeaked and ran across the room and threw herself into old Eiadric’s lap.

 

“Save me grandpa. The Wargs are gonna get me!”

 

Eiadric affectionately picked her up and set her on his lap. “Wargs!?” he laughed “Wargs you say? They’re nothing to be afraid of. Wargs are cowardly beasts. A punch on the snout and they’re off with their tail between their legs.”

 

“Now come’ere kids. Let me tell you a story of something really scary. That’s it. Sit down here next to the fire.”

 

The kids gathered round and settled down on the floor around old Eiadric. The girl hopped down and joined the others.

 

“Now before you were born. Before even your parents were born we saw some daaaark times. Not as nice and peaceful as now. And you’re old grandfather travelled all over Middle-earth fighting all kinds of fell beasts. Orcs and Wargs especially.”

 

The kids smiled.

 

“But few of the things I fought were as foul and as fearsome as...” Eiadric lowered his voice to a whisper “The Watcher of the Vile Maw.”

 

The childrens' eyes grew wide and they all held their breath.

 

“That’s right. Now the Watcher was a being of aaaancient evil. Nobody knew how old it was. Or from whence it came. It had lurked in and around the Dwarven stronghold of Moria for as long as anyone could remember. And when the city was abandoned it came out from deep within Moria and tormented all who dared to cross its path. It was enormous. Bigger than anything you’ve ever seen and had dozens upon dozens of long slimy tentacles, and a mouth that could fit this entire house.”

 

The kids gave out a low “Ooooooh...”

 

“And you fought him grandpa?” asked a girl

 

“That’s right. I fought him.” said Eiadric. “Well not alone. I was with the Grey Guard. You all remember the Grey Guard right?”

 

“Yeah. They were the best! Right grandpa?”

 

“That’s right. And don’t you forget it.” said old Eiadric

 

“You see. The Watcher had long tormented the Dwarves who came to reclaim Moria. So it fell upon us to slay it once and for all. We all prepared ourselves as well as we could. We were all scared but deep down inside we knew that we could do it.” Eiadric paused a bit. “Alright... Gather closer now. Here comes the best bit”.

 

Wide-eyed the kids all shuffled closer and Eiadric continued.

 

“As we ventured into its dark lair we were struck by a stench so foul it made our stomachs turn. There were dwarf skeletons and heaps of bones everywhere and we were wading knee deep in filthy, poisonous water. But we pressed on.”

 

“Soon we could see ripples here and there on the surface and up rose some slimy tentacles to greet us. They tried to grab us and push us back but they were no match for us. We quickly chopped them down and swam out to the middle of the dark pool where we knew the Watcher lay in hiding.”

 

“But now we were faced with even more and even bigger tentacles. So we sprung into action. The hunters’ bows twanged over and over hitting their mark with deadly accuracy. The Champions swung their heavy swords and axes making deep gashing wounds in the massive tentacles. The minstrels sang to bolster our spirits and the captain shouted words of comfort and command. The three hobbit burglars, no bigger than you rascals, were the bravest of us all. They stabbed and tricked and dodged the Watcher every which way they could. Last but not least was our leader in there, a man wise in the lore of the earth. He spurred us on shouting his commands over the deafening noise of the battle.”

 

The kids were now mesmerised and some were hugging each other for comfort.

 

“And you grandpa? What were you doing?”

 

“Ah yes... I will tell you what I was doing. I was in the middle of the bottomless watery pool. Aaaall alone. Waiting. All the others were standing on a sunken bridge. They had something solid under their feet. I had nothing but water as dark as the blackest night sky. Every moment felt like an hour. The whole time I felt as though my feet were being nudged and tugged by long probing tentacles.”

 

The children gasped.

 

“Aye. It was one of the scariest times of my life. But I kept my calm as best I could. For the sake of my friends.”

 

“But then-- Without warning, the beast’s enormous head SPLASHED out of the deep right underneath me.” At the word “splashed” Eiadric shouted and shot his arms upward. The children screamed and jumped two feet into the air and landed a good deal further back than they were before.

 

“It flung me high into the air and tried to snatch at me with its massive teeth. But I kicked back on its lip and flew up and landed in the water in front of it. It came at me again so I JAMMED my shield in its closing jaw and SLASHED at it with my axe.” With each word old Eiadric was swinging his arms and stabbing the air. The kids were oohing and aahing along.

 

“We went at it for a long time. I was bashing it with my shield and stinging it with my axe to make sure that it stayed away from my friends. All the time frantically avoiding its massive chopping jaws. My friends were behind it, shooting, slashing and stabbing it in the back with all the strength and skill they could muster.”

 

“And then-- just as I thought we were getting the upper hand, the foul beast grabbed hold of my feet with one of its tentacles and hoisted me up in the air. There it dangled me over its gaping mouth like you might dangle a plump cherry”

 

“Oh Nooo.” The kids gasped.

 

“Did he eat you?” Asked one of the younger children

 

“Of course not, stupid. He wouldn’t be here if it ate him.” said another.

 

Eiadric chuckled as he continued. “Well there I was, dangling upside down, sure to be eaten alive. When all of a sudden two of the hobbits appeared out of nowhere. One of them stabbed at the tentacle as the other scrambled up the face of the watcher and kicked him hard in the eye.”

 

“The beast screamed in anger and lurched back for a moment, dropping me head first into the water. I soon managed to recover my bearings and continued the fight. But I tell you. If it wasn’t for them hobbits. I wouldn’t be sitting here today.”

 

“So how did you finally kill him grandpa?” asked one of the boys.

 

“We fought for what felt like an eternity. The fell beast raised tentacle after tentacle to stop us. Our strength began to fade. But so did his. We could see signs of exhaustion in the beast and finally felt that victory was at hand. We summoned our last strengths and smote him with all our might and with one last desperate lunge the foul creature threw himself up out of the water and fell with a hard splash! And so... the great Watcher of The Vile Maw was defeated.” Eiadric trailed off in a low whisper.

 

“Wooooooow...” gaped all the kids.

 

“We were so happy and relieved we could hardly speak. And I was so exhausted I just swam and climbed on to the great floating body of the dead beast. I lay there for a minute gathering my strength”

 

“Eeeeew” exclaimed a couple of kids. Eiadric chuckled.

 

“Well. That’s it little pups. It’ll be supper time soon. Now run along and get cleaned up.”

 

The children jumped up, chattering wildly and recounting their favourite parts of the story they had just heard to each other.

 

“I’m the watcher!” shouted the girl who was previously being chased. She held her arms aloft and made faces as she started chasing the other kids. The other kids started running. But suddenly the smallest boy who had fallen behind stopped and turned around. He put on a stern face, squared his feet and pretended he was holding a shield. “I’m gampa Edic!” he said.

 

At this the other kids stopped as well. “Then we’re The Grey Guard!” they shouted.

 

“I’m a hunter!” said one

 

“I’m a champion” exclaimed two more.

 

“I’m a hobbit!” shouted a fourth.

 

“Oooh! Me too, me too. I’m a hobbit. I’m a hobbit!” shouted the rest of kids in unison, including one of the champions.

 

“Let’s kill the watcher!!!”

 

At that the girl yelped and ran the other way, followed by the newly formed band of little Grey Guards. As they all left the room screaming Eiadric followed them out with his eyes and then stared blankly at the empty doorway. A tear ran down his cheek. And warm grin shone up on his face.

 

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