31. The Council of Elrond (II)
Legolas cringed inwardly and shook his head to ward off further contrition, “It is I who should be apologizing, Aragorn. I failed you when you needed my service most--”
“--I speak not of Gollum any longer, Legolas, but of concern for your folk. I remembered when your father first received him, you Lady niece…was she…” he watched his friend’s face anxiously.
Legolas shook his head hastily. “Nay. She lives. But she was injured when we first attempted to pull Gollum from the tree. I took her home, and left the other two novices…” he found he could not continue and looked away again, cursing his own weakness. Laughing bitterly, he murmured, “I certainly proved my worth as a commander, or lack thereof.”
A hand rested upon his shoulder. “I would not have you speak so, my friend, you know that. And Gollum is only--”
“Aragorn!” Legolas shot him a sharp look. “Don’t. I know full well what my failure may have cost us all, and the quest you’ve yet to begin. Allow me at least the honesty of the truth, rather than attempting to make light of a heavy price for my incompetence.”
The hand gripped his arm tighter and Aragorn chuckled humorlessly. “Then I shall speak no more on the subject, for you carry enough guilt for ten Gollums. Be easy now, Legolas, for it is true at least as Gandalf said; he is gone, and we cannot be troubled to search for him now. Let it go. There is much to be done; I am to depart with the scouts for the Rangers with Elladan and Elrohir this evening. Lord Elrond speaks of asking Thranduil’s folk for aid as well.”
Legolas shook himself free of black thoughts and nodded. “I shall be happy to deliver a message for him. My father will gladly aid in any quest to rid the world of the One Ring, though…” he stifled a slightly hysterical laugh, “you will forgive me if I neglect to mention that it shall be borne from here to Mordor by a hobbit!”
Aragorn blinked at him, then gazed at nothing as though returning his mind to all he knew of Thranduil. His brow furrowed thoughtfully for a moment, and then…with a great, long snort, the heir of Isildur burst into a roar of laughter, joined immediately by Legolas. “Oh, Valar, I can only imagine his face!” gasped the elf, wiping tears from his eyes.
“Do you suppose he would even believe it?”
“‘I always said that Elrond was slightly mad!’” mimicked Legolas, dropping his voice into Thranduil’s deeper timbre. That set Aragorn howling again, and so they carried on for several minutes until the sounds of another approaching made them shush each other hastily.
It was Lord Elrond and Glorfindel, walking on the terrace just above them. “I think I am not the one to go,” Glorfindel was saying.
“You would be a wise counsel to them, my friend,” mused Elrond, his voice thoughtful. “And your strength would be an asset. You possess great power.”
“And wonder already if that might be my downfall,” Glorfindel’s deeply troubled voice startled both inadvertent eavesdroppers. “Lord Elrond…even as Frodo Baggins entered Rivendell…I felt it, and feel it still. And it…it seems to…nay, my lord. For counsel they shall have Mithrandir, and there are many others with strength who might be of greater service than I. I fear power must yet lead to a greater temptation, and would be foolhardy indeed to suppose that an elf is immune. I am not to go.”
Lord Elrond sighed. To the greater surprise of Legolas and Aragorn, the Lord of Imladris did not argue overmuch. “Nay, as you will. I think…something tells me…I shall find one among the elves who shall possess the strength and wisdom to join this quest and represent all our people…yet he shall not be one of past great deeds. Nor shall he be one who seeks power. Nay, a powerful elven lord would not be an asset to this quest. I must search elsewhere for one who shall stand for all the Eldar in the darkest of all hours.”
“You are right, my lord, and I suspect you knew I was not to go even when you asked,” there was mirth again in Glorfindel’s voice. “Besides, I could not go even if I wish, for I know not when my horse will vanish again!”
“Really, Glorfindel, you make too much of it,” now Elrond was laughing. “She was a great service to Asfaloth once--”
“And ever I shall be grateful to her, for with that injury I feared he might have been permanently lame. Yet that does not mean she can go scampering off with him any time she chooses!”
“Well…she did become rather attached to him…”
“You told ME to go and meet Aragorn and the hobbits--”
“I said Asfaloth might aid them. It was not my fault she overheard, and took it to mean that any rider would do. After all, Asfaloth does not seem to mind--”
“Fah! That horse is as enamored with her as she is with him. Your daughter makes a spectacle of herself wherever she goes!”
“Of that I am all too aware.”
Their voices at last trailed off to where it was safe for Aragorn and Legolas to talk again. Looking incredulous, Legolas demanded, “THAT is what he has been out of sorts over? She stole his HORSE?!”
Aragorn looked equally baffled, then began to laugh, “I had wondered what she was doing wandering about the wild on Asfaloth. She said she was looking for us, but how she knew we were near I had not the chance to find out!”
“Does not Arwen have a horse of her own?” demanded the elf, stifling his own laughter.
Aragorn broke off and shook his head sadly. “Nay, he died last year. For a time, she did not ride at all, but then Asfaloth caught his foot in a hunter’s trap and we feared he was lost,” Legolas sucked in his breath in dismay, “but she was able to treat the infection, and now he rides as fast as ever.” Aragorn shook his head and laughed again. “It must be as Elrond said, that she grew attached to him.”
“Poor Glorfindel. Were I Asfaloth, I might favor Arwen too,” laughed Legolas, missing the startled look Aragorn gave him.
The Ranger’s next words silenced the elf’s mirth. “That is a fine mount you ride now.”
Legolas sobered and looked away, “She is.”
Aragorn smiled, all too aware of what the prince was thinking. “Still not Lanthir, though.”
“Never like Lanthir. There was no such horse in all the world.”
The company of Mirkwood had nearly two months in the House of Elrond, when they were not joining the scouts searching for news of the Enemy. Legolas left with them twice, and each time returned empty-handed, but not especially encouraged by the lack of news. To him, that merely meant that the Dark Lord and his servants were hiding their secrets well. There was also dearth of news of Gollum. There was no trace of the Enemy seen by any of the other scouting parties either.
Legolas and his company were to remain in Rivendell for at least another ten months, for Faron and Galithil were to be wed the following autumn, and Legolas hoped to be there with them. Of course, it was expected that Galithil’s father would stay, so by mutual consent, the company of Mirkwood accepted Lord Elrond’s hospitality for three seasons. Legolas was more than willing to spend an extended period of time in Imladris, though he was greatly disappointed to learn that Aragorn would likely be leaving with Frodo Baggins on the quest of the Ring, with the rest of the companions. Still, it did not terribly surprise him.
*Aragorn has a destiny to fulfill. I have known that from the beginning. Whether he wishes it or not,* the elf smiled to himself, *I fear it is the times that have chosen who will rise to greatness. And Aragorn was born to it.*
The son of Thranduil was wandering alone on one of the terraces, lost in thought, when he heard someone else approaching who was definitely neither man nor elf. Nor a hobbit, Legolas realized, for although they had very large feet, even they did not stomp so. From one of the outer rooms of the Last Homely House swaggered the two dwarves, Glóin and his son…whatever his name was. Both stopped and drew themselves up when they saw Legolas.
“What do you do here, Master Elf?” grunted the younger. “Lying in wait for someone?”
Legolas narrowed his eyes, determined not to let this blustery, stunted creature drive him to distraction. It was not even worth the irritation. “As I am an elf, a messenger of another realm to this House, and a guest permitted to wander free in these lands, I think I should find no need to lie in wait for anything, Master Dwarf,” he said coolly. “And if a child of Aule may ask such a thing of an elf in the House of his kindred, then I would ask you what you do here?”
The dwarf puffed his chest out, making his beard look even bigger. Legolas would have liked to laugh scornfully, so unthreatening did he look. “Lord Elrond has asked me to join the Ringbearer on his quest.”
All scorn and laughter aside, it was all Legolas could do not to gape. “What?!” A DWARF accompanying the One Ring? Was Elrond MAD?!
Glóin puffed out his chest in turn. “It is so, Master Elf,” he said smugly. “As his father accompanied the elder Baggins on a grand quest against a dragon’s wrath, so Gimli Glóin’s son shall face the wrath of Mordor and the Enemy with the younger Baggins. A most fitting legacy, you will agree!”
Legolas pursed his lips into a thin line. “Quite,” he ground out, disgusted at their posturing. “If you will excuse me, then.” Moving smoothly past them, he added to their backs, “Though I would caution you to soften your steps. With such racket, the guards might think orcs had invaded.”
The dwarf Gimli sounded about to retort, but Legolas kept walking, grinning to himself, as Glóin grunted in annoyance and pulled his son away. Whatever elf wound up unlucky enough to join the quest and spent Valar-knew-how-long in the company of that creature, Legolas hoped he would grant Glóin’s son plenty of consternation before the quest was done. *Compared to hobbits, they may be useful fighters, but among elves and Aragorn, he shall find little worth and even less fame.*
The sun was setting, and so Legolas did the same thing he had come into the habit of doing every night. He climbed the stairs to the roof of the highest room in Rivendell, and quietly made his way out onto a smooth ledge, settling upon the boards to stare up at the clear sky, and the stars. The canyon was wide enough that he could see stars for leagues without the obstruction of the trees, something he could seldom do at home in Mirkwood. Thranduil’s halls had become so crowded lately, it was difficult to get out alone. Smiling contentedly up at the stars against the black sky, Legolas softly began to sing.
Glóin would not permit his son to pursue an argument with that Mirkwood elf, or else Gimli would surely have had some choice words for Thranduil’s son. But Glóin pulled him away before he could deliver a scathing retort to the “orc” comment. All in all, Gimli had been pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the Rivendell elves, though from what his father had said of them, he should not have been. Still, Gimli had heard much of the elves since his father’s visit to the Last Homely House, and little of it made him look at the Eldar race with a friendly eye.
“Come, Gimli, it is not worth brawling over.” Glóin firmly hauled him back to their rooms. “We are guests here, and so is he.”
“And that excuses that upstart elfling from insulting us?” grumbled Gimli, but he did as his father bid.
“You need not bother with the likes of him,” said Glóin with a grin. “You are a companion of the Ringbearer now, my boy, and proud I am to say it! Thranduil’s pampered little brat shall have to content himself with shooting errant trolls to help with the effort against the Dark Lord, while my son shall see his name legend among Dwarves, Eldar, and men alike!”
Gimli grinned back, “And glad I am to hear you say it!”
Glóin put a serious hand upon his shoulder. “Know this, Gimli. Lord Elrond exaggerated not of the burdens you shall face. But I know well why he chose you, and one of our people, to be a part of this quest. The Lord of Imladris is wise--do not laugh, Gimli, it is true--and I place much faith in him. He was a good one to us when we last came through the Misty Mountains. He is fair, choosing folk from each free race to accompany the Ringbearer. He chose you for your many good parts, and forget them not on this quest. You have your loyalty. Carry it well in the service of young Baggins; he’ll need you, Gimli, mark my words. He’ll need protecting more than anyone else, so keep your axe ready. And, much as you’re tempted, don’t use your axe on whatever elf Elrond picks.” They both guffawed. “Elves are terribly trying at times, but when it comes to it, we’re all enemies of the same Enemy, so keep your axe aimed in the right direction. Stand well for our people.”
“I shall, Father. You have my word.”
“And you have my faith.” Glóin squeezed his son’s shoulders. “Here,” he reached to his left hand, and removed the heavy silver ring that sat there, adorned with a single, lustrous black pearl.
Gimli’s eyes widened; he knew that pearl had been a gift from Dáin himself in gratitude for Glóin’s own loyalty to the King Under the Mountain. Glóin had labored for months fashioning the mithril ring on which to mount it in proper homage to his King. When his father held it up and beckoned, Gimli rather sheepishly extended his own hand, and allowed the ornament to be laid upon his own finger. “Remember who you are, my son. Remember who you represent. Your strength and the strength of our people will be your greatest virtues, and you will bring great fame to all of us on this quest. Of that I have no doubt.”
“Thank you, Father. I shall prove myself worth of such a great honor.” Gimli clasped his hand, and the silver ring, to his heart, and the black pearl gleamed upon it, its dark luster speaking of many oaths, past and future, that would all be proven on the coming quest.
Lord Elrond leaned against the railing of an upper balcony, staring into the silver mist of the waterfalls in the darkness. As he had many times these two past months, with each passing report from the scouts, he was counting in his head. *Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Mithrandir, Aragorn and Boromir at least for a time, and now Gimli son of Glóin…there remain three more to be found, and I promised to give some word to the hobbits tomorrow. Of my household I may find several who seem good to send, and yet…one in particular must represent the Eldar.*
It was as he had feared: a powerful elven lord of the Elder Days would not avail the Ringbearer. Nay, it was other qualities of the Eldar that must be represented in this quest. But who? Darkness had touched even the younger of the immortal race, but it was the light of the elves--and light that came with neither power nor ambition--that must be found. Who to send…
Elrond mulled silently, running countless names through his head. All at once, the soft sound of singing seemed to drift through a lull in the noise of the waterfalls, and the Lord of Imladris looked up.
There, just visible upon one of the highest roofs, rested young Legolas, son of Thranduil of Mirkwood, as motionless as a statue, yet as relaxed as a cat, singing softly to the stars. The words were too quiet to reach Elrond’s ears, but he suspected the young warrior also sang of the stars. He shook his head and smiled to himself. *Young ones. So light of heart. So curious and courageous, so eager to face the world and all its mysteries, light and dark. Would that I could be so young and innocent agai--*
It was as though he had dragged his feet and touched the metal rail, it rippled through him so sharply. A premonition as powerful as the one that had sent him racing after the very same elven prince nearly half a century before to deliver a message from his father. As powerful as the one that had led him to send Asfaloth--and whatever rider could get to him first--to meet the hobbits and Aragorn in the wild. *Of course. Of course! Why did I not see it before? All his youth, we the Ringbearers have known the youngest child of Thranduil was meant for something…this!* As swiftly as his feet could carry him, he rushed for the stairs. Having borne Vilya for so long, his intuition was seldom wrong. Perhaps that was why he had been so choosy with the elves in Rivendell. He had been waiting for just such a message.
*And now at last it comes, just as I had begun to despair. He is the only one who will serve Frodo’s purpose. I know now who shall be for the Elves.*
Legolas was still singing when a voice cleared its throat not a few feet behind him. Startled, he jumped up and found himself face-to-face with Lord Elrond. He blushed. “Forgive me, my lord.”
Elrond smiled, “I used to do just such a thing on this very roof when I had leisure, young Legolas. These days I fear I no longer have the time.”
The thought saddened the younger elf, all too aware of the darkness approaching that made Elrond’s life so frantic of late. “For that I am sorry.”
“It is so throughout the world.” The elven lord came and seated himself where Legolas had been, and after hesitating a moment, Legolas sat beside him. Gazing thoughtfully into the dark canyon, Lord Elrond remarked, “Our Faron has asked you to remain in Imladris until his wedding, I understand.”
“He has, my lord.” Legolas smiled to himself.
Elrond smiled as well. “It is a good match, Faron and young Galithil, both our realms agree. It pleases me to see such joy at a time of such uncertainty.”
“And me, my lord. I thank you for your hospitality. Always we find joy in visiting fair Rivendell.” Legolas was gazing appreciatively at the quiet buildings and graceful trees beneath the stars, and thus did not see the rather calculating stare Elrond was giving him.
“You have heard, I suppose, that Aragorn is to depart with the Fellowship?” Elrond asked.
Legolas nodded, tensing slightly. “I have. Though I fear for the fate of all free people while the Ring is abroad, Aragorn’s presence among Frodo’s companions shall ease my mind. I do not think the Ring would easily find corruption in him.”
“As I reared him, I am glad to hear that,” said Elrond, with a touch of mirth. Legolas grinned slightly. “And I understand you have already met the person I chose to represent the race of dwarves.” He raised his eyebrows at the very faint sound of a hastily-suppressed snicker. “You disapprove of my choice, son of Thranduil?” he asked delicately.
“Ahem, not at all, my lord!” Legolas answered.
“I felt that all the free races of Middle Earth must be represented as companions to the Ringbearer. That includes the dwarves, after all,” Elrond did not lose his smile.
“Of course,” replied the prince, allowing playful dubiousness to creep into his voice. “As you say.”
A soft chuckle told him that Elrond was not offended. “Aragorn and Boromir, of course, shall represent the race of men, and Frodo’s young servant Samwise shall also be for the hobbits. But I fear I am at a loss for elves to send with them.”
Legolas raised his eyebrows, “I would not have thought Rivendell in any way lacking in elves to choose from.”
“Even among so many candidates, I seek one in particular who is best suited to represent the Eldar race,” Elrond rose with a shake of his head and walked along the roof; Legolas followed him.
“But there are many great elven lords among your people here, my lord,” Legolas protested.
“Very true,” the Lord of Imladris agreed. “However, I have begun to see that past greatness in deeds and might may be a hindrance to any who would spend long weeks in close proximity to the Ring. Already, Glorfindel has refused--as you and my foster-son undoubtedly overheard some time ago.” Legolas blushed; he might have known Elrond would sense they were there. “Nay, it is something else I seek.” He glanced at Legolas and seemed rather amused by the puzzlement on the Mirkwood warrior’s face. “There are other qualities in our people that would avail the Ringbearer far more than power, young one. Frodo Baggins shall carry a great burden, both upon his body and on his spirit. I must find one of our kindred whose own spirit is strong enough to ease the Ringbearer’s struggle as well, who can face darkness without losing heart. And perhaps offer some comfort in the darkest times. One who can survive hardship without being tainted. That is the Eldar who will be best suited to travel close to the Ring.”
Legolas nodded thoughtfully, stepping further down the roof. He smiled knowingly, “Perhaps Elladan and Elrohir then? They can keep their spirit in the darkest of times, for each other and others, as I know all too well.”
“Perhaps. But my inner sense tells me nay.”
Legolas gazed down at the terrace below the roof ledge, wondering whether it was safe (not to mention couth) to jump down instead of climbing. It would certainly be faster. He turned back to Elrond, at a loss. “I can think of few in Rivendell who possess the attributes you desire as much as they.”
Elrond smiled. “I seek those attributes found in youth, son of Mirkwood. Elvish youth. A rare commodity in these fading days. I seek compassion and generosity. I seek patience and curiosity. I seek what cannot be found in any elven lord in Rivendell.”
“Then perhaps you might turn your search beyond Rivendell?” offered Legolas. “Surely you may find what you seek in Lothlórien or Mirkwood, if you have been unsuccessful in Imladris.”
“Would you aid me in that, Legolas?” Elrond asked casually.
“Of course, my lord,” Legolas answered in surprise. “Say only where you would send me in your service, and I shall go where you bid.”
Elrond smiled rather smugly. “In that case, Legolas of Mirkwood, son of Thranduil, I bid you go to Mordor, as companion to Frodo Baggins, and as representative of all our kindred. I bid you become a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.” Then he watched with an even broader grin as the son of Thranduil’s eyes widened, his mouth opened, and he took a reflexive step backward--into thin air and promptly fell off the roof with a thud. To himself, he murmured, “I knew you were the right choice.”
Legolas hit the ground with a force that drove all the air from his lungs and left him gasping and flat on his back. Though otherwise uninjured, he lay for several moments completely unable to move, due to the impact and to shock. He barely noticed the pain in his back. *He wants…he wants me to…WHAT?!*
The soft thump of a more graceful descent penetrated his ringing ears, and a perfectly level voice asked, “Are you all right, Legolas?”
Bereft of air, his voice did not work on the first try, but he finally managed to rasp out, “My lord…”
Soft laughter reached him, and strong hands lightly took his shoulders and pulled him into a sitting position. “Spare yourself a moment, young prince. Catch your breath and hold your tongue while I say my piece.” Legolas sat there, open-mouthed, dusty, and bruised, but too stupefied by the elven lord’s suggestion to even lament his wounded pride. “I have seen many fine qualities in you, Legolas, qualities rare even in a warrior of Mirkwood. I know you hunger to see more of the world, and that duty to the defense of your people against the shadow keeps you home. None can doubt your courage, nor your skill as a warrior. But most of all, I have seen that when you set yourself to a task, naught can turn you from it. Frodo needs a companion such as you, a guardian such as you. And against the Ring, I can think of none more suited to represent all Eldar--now do not deny me, Legolas,” he urged sharply as the young elf began to protest, a hint of panic in his eyes.
Legolas dropped his head, suddenly seeming a century younger. *And now I see before me that very same elf princeling who stole quietly into the Great Gathering Trial, barely of qualifying age, only to outrun, outride, and outshoot every other novice warrior in Middle Earth. Yes, Legolas, you are the one. Galadriel always said you had a great destiny.* Elrond held out a hand and gently lifted the younger elf’s chin, forcing Legolas to meet his eyes. “I know you have doubt in yourself, Legolas. I would not have chosen you if you did not. The Ring is altogether evil, but facing it, we may turn our perceived weaknesses to strengths. You will not let it tempt you as other, more seasoned and celebrated warriors might. You have the pride of the Eldar, but you will not let it blind you. You must hold true to yourself and your heart.”
Wide-eyed and stunned into silence, Legolas slowly nodded. Elrond smiled. “I have great faith in you, Legolas. In the Fellowship, you shall stand for us all, son of the Eldar. You shall soon see your purpose.” He squeezed the prince’s shoulders, rose, and walked off into the darkened House.
Legolas had no idea how long he sat there stupidly on the paving stones outside the House of Elrond. *Did he truly ask such a thing? Does he believe I could be strong enough to represent all the Eldar? That I could resist the corruption of the Enemy’s Ring? Am I worthy of such a task? Could he truly believe this?* Closing his eyes and swallowing, Legolas shook his head, trying to clear the fog in it. Then his eyes flew open and his stomach dropped out. “And did I truly say YES?!”
The next day…
Aragorn and Boromir were summoned by Gandalf and Lord Elrond to meet with them. “I shall summon the hobbits momentarily. Aragorn, before you depart, I shall order the Sword of Elendil forged anew. You go into your own now, son of Arathorn. You shall carry the blade of your fathers.”
Aragorn felt an unexpected tightness in his throat as he gazed at his foster-father, and Gandalf cleared his throat. “Lord Elrond selected two more for the Fellowship of the Ring last night.”
“Indeed?” asked Aragorn. “Who?”
“Gimli, Glóin’s son, to stand for the dwarves, and for the elves…” Gandalf suddenly cast a broad grin at Aragorn, “For the Eldar race shall stand Legolas, son of Thranduil.”
Aragorn blinked. “Legolas?” he looked incredulously at Elrond.
“You think such a choice is erroneous, Estel?” asked the Lord of Imladris, with a twinkle in his eye.
“I…” Aragorn trailed off, taken by his own thoughts of Legolas and what he knew of the elf. Looking back at Elrond, he smiled. “Nay, my lord. In fact, now that Legolas as a possibility has finally entered my mind, I can think of none better, and marvel at how I could have overlooked him.”
“Legolas rather prefers being overlooked,” remarked Gandalf, causing them all to chuckle, “but I fear the Valar were determined that he not be, in this. I am with you, son of Arathorn, there are none better to stand for the elves. Legolas may not realize it, but I believe it was this purpose that he was born to.”
Aragorn laughed, shaking his head. “How did he respond?”
Elrond’s snicker confirmed the heir of Isildur’s mental image of Legolas being rendered speechless with shock. “I expect he would have gaped at me like a mad thing for some time--had he not fallen off the southeast roof.” The room erupted into laughter, even joined by Boromir, though the son of Denethor looked a tad confused.
“You shall soon know much of the son of Thranduil, Boromir,” said Aragorn. “Legolas shall be a worthy member of the Company of the Ring.”
Wiping tears from his eyes, Elrond nodded. “He possesses all the heart and merriment of the Eldar, but more than enough skill and strength for one so young.”
“A young Eldar?” asked Boromir, apparently considering the idea a contradiction in terms.
“By elven standards, yes, Legolas is young,” said Gandalf. “But he shall serve the company well, I’ve no doubt. But come, let us summon him, the son of Glóin, and the hobbits, and tell them of our plans, for the time draws near when the Fellowship must depart.”
When Legolas, Gimli, and the four hobbits had arrived, Elrond spoke to them. “The time has come,” he said. “If the Ring is to set out, it must go soon. But those who go with it must not count on their errand being aided by war or force. They must pass into the domain of the Enemy far from aid. Do you still hold to your word, Frodo, that you will be the Ringbearer?”
“I do,” said Frodo. “I will go with Sam.”
“Then I cannot help you much; not even with counsel,” said Elrond. “And I will choose you companions to go with you, as far as they will or fortune allows. The number must be few, since your hope is in speed and secrecy. Had I a host of elves in armour of the Elder Days, it would avail little, save to arouse the power of Mordor.” Legolas caught the Lord of Imladris glancing meaningfully at him. To his own surprise, he had not suffered from a crisis of nerves when the servant of the Last Homely House said that Lord Elrond wished to see him--and all those who would be accompanying the Ringbearer. A strange aura of calm had settled over him--*rather like one who walks willingly to his own execution,* he thought whimsically.
Elrond was speaking to Frodo. “The Company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil. With you and your faithful servant, Gandalf will go, for this shall be his great task, and maybe the end of his labours. For the rest, they shall represent the other Free Peoples of the World: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Legolas shall be for the elves,” the hobbits looked curiously at Legolas, “and Gimli son of Glóin for the dwarves. They are willing to go at least to the passes of the Mountains, and maybe beyond. For men you shall have Aragorn son of Arathorn, for the Ring of Isildur concerns him closely.”
“Strider!” cried Frodo.
“Yes,” he said with a smile. “I ask leave once again to be your companion, Frodo.”
“I would have begged you to come,” said Frodo. Legolas smiled, feeling himself relax. He admired the hobbit’s taste. “Only I thought you were going to Minas Tirith with Boromir.”
“I am,” said Aragorn. “And the Sword that was broken shall be reforged ere I set out to war. But your road and our road lie together for many hundreds of miles. Therefore Boromir will also be in the Company. He is a valiant man.” The gazes of all fell then upon Boromir, who looked slightly self-conscious, and gave a little bow of acknowledgment.
“There remain two more to be found,” said Elrond. “These I will consider. Of my own household I may find some that it seems good to me to send.”
“But that will leave no place for us!” cried Pippin in dismay. “We don’t want to be left behind. We want to go with Frodo.”
“That is because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead,” said Elrond, like a patient parent to an
overeager child. The youngest hobbit looked so desperate at the thought of being unable to join the company that Legolas felt an unexpected and powerful surge of sympathy, almost kinship. He did not realize until later from whence the thoughts came, but he nearly spoke up in the young Took’s defense, except that Gandalf broke in first.
“Neither does Frodo,” said the wizard, unexpectedly supporting Pippin. “Nor do any of us see clearly. It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy. I think, Elrond, that in this matter it would be well to trust rather to their friendship than to great wisdom. Even if you chose for us an elf-lord, such as Glorfindel, he could not storm the Dark Tower, nor open the road to the Fire by the power that is in him.”
“You speak gravely,” said Elrond. “But I am in doubt. The Shire, I forebode, is not free now from peril, and these two I had thought to send back there as messengers, to do what they could, according to the fashion of their country, to warn the people of their danger. In any case, I judge that the younger of these two, Peregrin Took, should remain. My heart is against his going.”
“Then, Master Elrond, you will have to lock me in prison, or send me home tied in a sack,” said Pippin, lifting his chin and folding his arms. “For otherwise I shall follow the Company.” He looked so small, yet so fiercely determined, with his chest rather puffed out like a dwarf, that Legolas felt the urge to laugh and saw Aragorn biting his lip.
The Lord of Imladris gave in. “Let it be so then. You shall go,” said Elrond, and he sighed. “Now the tale of Nine is filled. In seven days the Company must depart.”
He looked around the group one last time, clearly offering the opportunity for any last hesitations or changes of heart. Legolas’s mind raced. *I did not truly agree to this! Elrond maneuvered me into it, a fact which he well knows. I only came here as my father’s messenger, not to embark on this…this…quest! I am not great enough for such a vital task to all Middle Earth! How can I…* Elrond’s eyes, and Aragorn’s, had come to rest on him. *But could I ever live with myself if I refused Lord Elrond’s quest? I failed Aragorn once already.* He sighed mentally. *Nay, I shall not shame my father and my people again. Lord Elrond has chosen me; that is cause enough to make the decision even if he were not my lord and host.* He pulled his mind out of its reverie and met Elrond’s gaze, giving the Lord of Imladris a barely-perceptible nod. Lord Elrond’s eyes brightened, and he responded in kind.
*Whether I expected it or not, it seems I am to be one of the Nine Walkers. One of the Fellowship of the Ring.*
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.