brother, his foster parents, the friends of his
childhood and youth, and generation after generation
of his kin. Loved, nurtured, advised - then lost,
stolen from him by the Mortality of Men.
It would take his sons too - someday. But not his
daughter, not Arwen! He didn't like what he was doing
to both his daughter and the nephew-foster son who
loved her, but he had no choice.
Arwen belonged with her mother's people, the few
thin drops of Mortal blood she'd inherited from him
couldn't be allowed to change that. Aragorn would
survive, Men were accustomed to living with sorrow. If
he lived at all, which was questionable.
Elrond had done his best to persuade his Elven
peers to honor the ancient alliance with the Men of
the West, but he wasn't surprised that he'd failed.
The two Kindreds had become estranged over this last
Age. The descendants of the Fathers of Men were few
and scattered. Most Mortals in Middle Earth came from
Men who'd had no part in the ancient wars, or even
fought on the other side.
Could it be Aragorn had been right all along? Even
if he were to proclaim his lineage and show the sword
of Elendil reforged would Men follow? Might not even
Gondor turn its back on him as it had on Arvedui? Had
the time of the Dunedain passed even as had the time
of the Elves? Elrond feared it was so. When he cast his
Sight forward he saw only Darkness.
The clatter of hooves in Rivendell's forecourt
roused him from his reverie. Going to the balcony
overlooking the dusk shadowed yard he saw a small
troop of Rangers dismounting. Then he recognized his
nephews and niece and hurried down to them.
Gilvagor's face, so eerily like that of Elros his
distant forefather, was set in grim lines.
"Greymere's fallen." he told Elrond bluntly,
without greeting. "The Line is broken, we can hold
them back no longer."
So it had come at last. If even the stubborn
Isildurioni admitted they were overmatched the end
must be very near. "You have done all that you can,
Gilros." (1) Elrond answered. "Time for you to think of
your own people." with concern; "Aranel and the
"Safe. The household and most of the garrison
escaped through the tunnel beneath the mere." the
Captain pushed a hand through tangled, sweat dampened
hair, glanced at his cousins.
"There is an army massing in the Ettenmoors,
Uncle." Beruthiel said quietly. "Orcs, Wargs and
Trolls. I doubt Rivendell can be held."
"I am sure it cannot." he rejoined grimly. "I am
sending my people to the Havens, there is no refuge
left in Middle Earth." but for Elves there was escape.
"What of the Dunedain?"
"I have ordered the people of the North Wardenships
to regroup at Annuminas." Gilvagor said crisply.
Elrond nodded, feeling a faint trickle of relief.
"A good choice." The Kingdom of the Lake had withstood
the last Dark Tide, perhaps it could ride out this one
as well. It was their only chance. He looked from
nephews to niece and frowned, suddenly troubled.
"Surely the three of you didn't come all this way just
to bring me news any courier might have carried?"
"No indeed." Gilvagor answered briskly. "We have
come for the treasure of Elendil."
"Of course, it will no longer be safe here." Elrond
agreed, but warily sensing something more behind the
request that he didn't like at all.
"We would not willingly allow the Star and the
Scepter to fall into the hands of the Enemy," said his
nephew, "but more importantly we have need of the arms
and banners in the treasury."
"Why?" Elrond stared at his Mortal kin with terror
in his heart. "Gilros, surely you do not mean to
Two Men and a Woman returned his appalled stare
steadily. "What else would you have us do?" Belecthor
"Take refuge in Annuminas! For once in a thousand
years take thought for your own lives!" Elrond cried.
"You said yourself the Line was broken, that the
Dunedain could no longer hold back the Enemy."
"That is so." Belecthor agreed, "and therefore we
go forth to face him in open battle."
"And we mean to hide no longer!" Gilvagor's voice
rang through the yard, drawing other Elves to listen
and watch, and his eyes blazed with a silver flame. "We
will take up again the arms of our fathers and show
the banners and devices of the House of Elendil and
the Dunedain of the North."
"And you will die!" Elrond shouted back,
Gilvagor made an impatient gesture, but Belecthor
answered almost gently: "All Men die, Uncle, it is
just a question of when and how. If this is to be the
end of the Dunedain it will be such an end as to make
the Fathers of Men proud."
"You cannot win." he said in despair. And it was
true, the might of Mordor had grown beyond the power
of Men and Elves to match. This war was lost before it
was even begun and none knew it better than the
Dunedain, long the scouts and spies of the White
All three Mortals nodded, quite calmly. "The true
battle does not lie with us." Beruthiel reminded him
quietly. "We seek but to buy time for the Ringbearer
to complete his quest."
"And if Frodo fails?" her uncle demanded harshly.
"Then Darkness will take all Middle Earth even unto
the End of Days and your blood will have been spent
for nothing! Already the Ringbearer falters and our
last hope with him!"
But Gilvagor shook his head. "Our last hope lies
beyond the Circles of the World." he said softly, but
with a conviction Elrond remembered well. "Our Father
will never abandon his Children to the Shadow. If we
fall he will raise up others to carry on the fight,
and others after them, generation upon generation
until the World is cleansed."
"Despair is the tool of the Enemy, as you of all
Men should know." Belecthor chided, and smiled as
Elrond stared at him, nonplussed. "Yes I said Man. You
were a Man before you were an Elf, Uncle, and part of
you will always belong to us. Don't forget the
teachings of your Mortal Kin, for we have our own
wisdom which is unlike that of the Elves."
The next evening Elrond stood at a window of his
library, watching as the last twinkling Elf lantern
disappeared over the rim of the valley. His people
were on their way to the Havens and safety, and Arwen
with them. Finally, finally she had seen where her
true path lay.
He was relieved beyond measure and yet his heart
was wrung with pity for Aragorn, his beloved
foster-son facing dreadful perils in the south, who
would now come home, if he came home, to a bitter
loss. But Aragorn too had wanted her to go, Elrond
reminded himself, had understood the futility of her
giving up her heritage for something she would
inevitably lose anyway.
Dispite his love Aragorn would have left her in the
end. His nature, the mortality of Men, would give him
no choice. And Arwen would have dragged out who knew
how many long years alone, without the consolation of
her kin, before finally passing into the dark herself.
Truly it was better this way he told himself - and
knew he lied.
But the Blessed Land would heal Arwen's grief. And
Aragorn, even if he somehow survived, would not have
to bear his for long. The Doom of Men would spare him
the endless years of loss.
Elladan and Elrohir were gone as well, but not to
the Havens. They had ridden south some weeks before
with a party of Rangers, joining their fate to that of
the Dunedain as they had decided to do many years
before. His sons and his daughter had chosen their
roads and were gone. It was high time Elrond himself
decided what he was going to do.
Turning away from the balcony he paced along the
gallery until he came face to face with Isildur,
confronting Sauron in the final desperate moments of
that earlier war, and his heart was wrung again by an
old familiar grief for another beloved nephew who had
saved them all and yet failed them in the end.
But Frodo too was failing as the Ring's power over
him grew. His Hobbit innocence and resilience of no
more avail than Isildur's strength and the divine
Maiar strain in his blood. Perhaps the Ring was to
strong for any of them.
"Forgive me, my nephew, if I have judged you to
harshly and blamed unjustly." he said softly. "And
forgive me, Frodo Baggins, for putting you to this
trial but you were our only hope."
He turned to the statue of Elemmire (2) but the
shield she cradled was empty, the blade of Elendil
gone. Elrond stared a moment, nonplussed, then told
himself his Mortal nephews, Elendil's Heirs, must have
taken his sword along with their other heirlooms. Yet
he was filled with a strange uneasiness, a dark
forboding that he shrugged aside with an effort. It
was time he too was leaving, it wouldn't take him long
to catch up with his people on the west road to the
But even as he formulated the thought he knew his
heart had already chosen otherwise. He looked down at
Vilya, gleaming blue on his hand, and smiled crookedly.
Six thousand years and more he had lived as an Elf,
for the last three thousand as King in all but name of
the Eldar west of the mountains. But Belecthor was
right, the choice made so long ago hadn't changed the
blood in his veins. He was, and would always be, but
Half-Elven. And the half that was Man would not, could
not, abandon his kin in their last need - even if all
he could do was die beside them. Whatever the other
Elven lords decided *he* at least would stand by the
ancient alliance between Men and Elves.
He pulled the ring from his finger and holding it
tightly in his closed hand went swiftly, robes
billowing, down the stair from the gallery, across the
terrace and down the steps to the courtyard. Only to
come to an abrupt halt, staring incredulously, at a
forecourt filled with rank upon rank of armoured Elven
warriors, their tall helms and bright spearpoints
catching the starlight.
Glorfindel, eyes glinting laughter, stepped forward
and made him a bow. "We await your orders, my Lord
"I thought I had already given you my orders." he
managed to reply.
Fair brows arched innocently. "Forgive me, my Lord,
but I cannot remember hearing any such."
Elrond tried to look stern, failed utterly and
laughed instead. "You know me well, Glorfindel,
perhaps better than I know myself." he hesitated a
moment, tempted to go after his sons. But no, there
were those nearer at hand who could use his help and
that of a hundred or so Elven knights. "We will ride
north, to join the army of the Dunedain mustering at
Cristhoron (3). Give me a few moments to make ready."
The ranks of knights parted before him as he
crossed the courtyard to climb the steps to his
private chambers. He put Vilya carefully away in its
small casket, then pulled aside a hanging to uncover a
door unopened for many long years. Inside hanging from
pegs on the wall were armour, shield - and a sword.
He took the last down reverently with both hands,
the curved, single edged Elven blade glittered a
chilly blue-white. This was Ringil the sword of
Fingolfin, first High King of the Noldor in Exile, who
had fallen before the very gates of Angband, wounding
Morgoth with his last desperate blow. His sword had
been left lying where it fell from his dying hand, to
be found long years later by the Host of Valinor when
they beseiged the fortress.
And so it had come to Elrond who was, with his
brother Elros, Fingolfin's only living descendant and
heir. For long years it had hung unused in this hidden
closet but now they would go to war together one more
time, the last battle of the last war.
1. 'Gilros' is Elrond's name for Gilvagor, its
meaning, 'Star Foam' is the same as that of Elros who
Gilvagor strongly resembles.
Gilvagor is the son of Arathorn's brother Armegil and
Aragorn's heir. Belecthor and Beruthiel are brother and
sister, children of Ellian, sister to Arathorn and Armegil.
2. Elemmire was the daughter of Elendil. The shards of
his sword were brought to her by her grandson, one of
the three survivors of the Gladden Field.
3. 'Eagle Cleft' is the home and stronghold of the
Wardens of the Angle, a title currently held by
Beruthiel's elder son Ereinion.
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.