Esendri fidgeted, looking around at the important guests slowly filtering into the great hall. A few case curious glances where thrown in his direction. Elrohir murmured brief explanations into Esendri's ear. Gallenon and Allanor, seated beside their interpreters, were even more so out of their element.
He took in a deep breath as the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood entered. Galadriel nodded kindly at the twins, before both took their seats. Esendri had barely time to recover before Glorfindel entered with a somewhat expressionless Legolas. The Eldar did not glance at nor speak to his charge, and instead sat down near the head of the room, while Legolas joined his friends, flashing a rueful smile for his disappearance and late entry.
"I will explain later," he muttered as he sat down between Esendri and Elrohir, who had moved to make space for him.
The brief murmurings died down as Elrond made his entrance together with the Grey Pilgrim.
Mithrandir took a seat, while Elrond remained standing, his powerful gaze sweeping through the audience. His commanding voice easily taken in by the twenty or so who had gathered before him.
"Middle-Earth stands upon the brink of chaos once more, a thousand years after the fall of the dark lord. This new threat we are facing has been gaining. It is thus that Lady Galadriel has called for a council We might be the only chance left against this darkness."
"Lord Elrond speaks the truth. A shadow has been growing in Eryn Galen; dark forces have awakened from their uneasy slumber. A creature of Morgoth, one of his servants, like Sauron himself, has been unleashed onto our lands. It hails from the long-vanquished land of the Dyrian, a sole survivor."
Hushed whispers spread through the room, and worried murmurs were exchanged. Only the four young Elves and the mortals seemed to be unaware of the effect of the Lady's words. Elrohir exchanged puzzled glances with his brother, while Legolas frowned at his servant. The mortals, on the other hand, just looked increasingly bewildered.
"How is it that one from the Dyrian lands have escaped its destruction, only to surface now?" a tall Elf said in Quenya, an emissary from the Grey Havens.
"We can only postulate, Lord Eilwar. It must have been badly injured and biding its time, through the First and Second Ages, only to sense its opportunity has finally come," Elrond rose and spoke again, his immortal face stern.
"The Dyrian are nothing but trouble. What is the creature planning?" asked Thaingol.
"Perhaps a first-hand account from a Silvan Elf would be apt, since the trouble arose in their great kingdom?" Elrond said. All eyes turned to Legolas and Esendri, who causing them to squirm.
"It has not been unknown to us that a shadow was making its presence felt in the South of my father's kingdom. For more than a year, we tracked it loosely, keeping watch, growing increasingly alarmed at its increase in strength and evil. Yet, we waited and watched. My people were kept in the dark, for my father felt that rumour and panic might fuel a frantic migration to the West Havens. Elves are still crucial to Middle-Earth's survival, and we have a hand to play in her affairs. My father felt it would be in the best interests of the people to keep the shadow a secret until we attempted to glean more information."
"Nice it is to hear how Thranduil thinks of his kin over the sea as cowards, Prince Dethronir," Eilwar said, contempt in his voice.
"The Prince my Lord speaks of is my recently departed brother," the Sindarin prince said courteously, although there was no mistaking the glint in his eye. A rustle ran through the council, and Elrond shot a warning look at the young one. Esendri immediately leaned over and whispered a brief warning in his master's ear, for he could sense the other's temper beginning to rise.
"The Orcs are linked in some way to the dark creature. A month ago, the first Orc attack was launched against Eryn Galen," Legolas said after he had calmed down, his voice too loud. "They mercilessly slaughtered the trees, in an area southwest of our main dwellings. I was out on a mission to gather information when I came across the track of the foul creature, and pursued it for three days and three nights, before it led me to the clearing. It was clearly ready to reveal itself to the world."
"Orcs? They do not have the courage to start such a direct attack on one of the Elven kingdoms!" cried Ceridain of the Landolin Elves.
At his words, Gallenon jumped up, as if stung.
"My lords, let me interrupt your discussion for I believe I have important news!" he said in Westron. His interpreter, seated beside him, looked distressed at his sudden outburst, seeming to feel personally responsible for his wayward charge.
"I hail from the kingdom of Umstraag, and used to serve as a Captain in Marnor's Guard. My brother and I fled his tyranny less than a week ago, deciding to forge a new life for ourselves. While in his army, I had access to numerous spies. We learnt that a dark creature has been subduing the Orc armies to the East of the Misty Mountains, bringing the fearsome commanders under his control, one at a time. Even those on this side of the mountain will not be spared. This creature calls itself Inath Sirieus, and introduced itself as one of the Dyrian."
Allanor nodded, dark eyes ever watchful.
"It is clear the only purpose the Dyrian would have is to cover the lands of Middle-Earth with its hatred and dominance," said Gandalf, speaking for the first time. "The Istari is still unaware of the threat, and it is such that Saruman rides out to seek counsel with the rest of us."
More rumblings spread through the crowd, and distrust was clearly written across the faces of some, but none spoke up, out of respect for the old wizard. Mithrandir was well-liked and trusted among the Elvish people, but the same could not be said for the rest of the Istari, many of which did not accord the Elder Race with the respect they felt they deserved.
"How then, does the Dyrian intend to achieve his end, for surely even he does not have the power to threaten the free peoples?" another Elf asked.
"We believe his plan is to use the power of the jewel of Makleni," Elrond replied. "The gem's origins are shrouded in mystery. Some say it was created by Morgoth himself, while others claim its creator was one of the Valar, an experiment gone horribly awry. What all accounts do not disagree about is the power the gem possesses. It is said to be at least ten times greater than what Sauron yielded at the height of his reign of terror."
The room fell into a tense silence when Elrond stopped speaking. Many had fought in the last great war, and the horrors they had seen was enough to chill their souls forever.
"If this creature succeeds, Middle-Earth will be thrown into far greater peril than before, and our kindred would be powerless to stop it, even if we were to use all the magic we possess. Armies will scarcely make a dent in the armour of the newly arisen Dark Lord. Once activated, the power cannot be destroyed, and it will fuel its wielder for all eternity, leaving nothing in its wake of destruction."
At this point, Galdor of Aman finally spoke, his words echoing the sentiments of all gathered.
"What good is knowing this if we are defenceless against the might of this gem?"
Galadriel was the one who answered this time.
"There is one thread of hope amidst all this gloom. The gem must be activated by a chosen one for its evil to be unleashed, and is vulnerable before that. If a group were to be sent in pursuit of it, there is a chance yet of destroying it before the enemy lays hands upon the gem."
"What is to say the creature has not started in pursuit of the gem?" cried Eilwar. "You believe that the Elves have the power and responsibility to stop it?"
"Reaching it requires an arduous journey fraught with danger that involves the better part of a year. The gem's last known location is in the wastelands of the far North, an area where no known race inhabits. It is said that only one can activate or destroy the gem. Furthermore, the jewel is said to be well-guarded by strong and ancient magic that even the Dyrian would have difficulty overcoming. He has yet to gather a party that is up to the exacting demands of this quest, although we fear in time he will. It is such that we must journey out without further ado."
"You believe we have the responsibility to stop it?" Eilwar asked again.
"If we do not unite, what is to become of Middle-Earth? To whom would we turn to? Dwarves? Just a week ago the Orcs of the Dyrian launched an attack on an Eagle colony on the skirts of Eryn Galen, slaying them all. It took place in the sly of the night, while they rested. They did not spare the young, and few survived!" cried Legolas, "Such hatred knows no end!"
"Words of a child. What would one such as you know? This is not the same as playing in your father's garden!" said Eilwar derisively.
It was Esendri's turn to be restrained as he leapt up, unable to take the insult on his master.
Elrond rose and shot a withering look at the young Elf, which was sufficient for Esendri to hold his tongue.
"This pointless squabbling will not get us anywhere. What remains to be done now is to decide our next course of action. Our people's time may be drawing to an end, but this power must be quelled, one way or another, for this shadow would sweep over the whole world as we know it, not even sparing Aman. It remains for us to decide whether we should risk the lives of a few of our best to seek the gem's destruction, or simply wait it out, taking our chances that the gem never be found or activated."
"Why target the jewel when we can more easily destroy this Dyrian lord?" Eilwar asked, "The idea of a quest to destroy this gem does not comfort my heart in any way. Who is to say we do not fail and instead lead the enemy straight to it? Could we say for certain we will be able to resist the lure of power once we hold it in our hands? It is pure naivety to think it simply an issue of breaking the gem to pieces if we manage to lay hands on it!"
Silence greeted his words.
Gandalf rose amidst the uncertainty, a twinkle in his eye. "Well spoken, Lord Eilwar. What do we gain by a quest that would surely destroy all the company when it is simply a matter of destroying the Dyrian? Nothing. What are we to lose should another far stronger adversary arise and set out to take the gem on the stealth, and we do not realise it till too late? Everything. The existence of the gem was unknown to us ere a few months ago. It is so old that knowledge of it has been lost with the passing of time. Only precious few ancient texts remain of it, and they are often conflicting and incomplete. Who knows if we may be chasing our tails in the dark?
"Yet, we must seize whatever small chance we have."
"This is pure folly!" Eilwar exclaimed. "The wastelands of the North at their most welcoming are twice as hostile as Mordor; our kind will languish there. I do not wish to see my comrades fall in a hopeless quest doomed to fail! We should concentrate instead on eliminating the Dyrian!"
"Come, good Eilwar," Glorfindel said. "This quest is to be undertaken by those fully aware of its dangers, yet willing to give it the chance it deserves. Do not consign its fate so casually, for we may yet be surprised. We must have faith in the ability of our people. I myself am to lead the search for the stone."
As a gesture of respect, Eilwar fell silent and nodded grimly.
"He sure is quarrelsome. One wonders if he was sent to the Havens by weary listeners?" muttered Esendri in Nandorin, drawing an amused chortle from Legolas, as well as Elrohir, who had caught the gist of it. Eilwar immediately threw them scathing looks.
"The time has now come for a decision, and Lord Eilwar's suggestion may yet bear fruit," said Elrond. "We will set out as soon as time permits."
"So it shall be that a company led by Glorfindel will set out from Imladris, the members of which shall be decided at a later date."
He paused, waiting for any objections. Seeing none, he smiled before looking to Galadriel.
"If this is the will of the Elven people, so be it," Galadriel concluded, "Your time and efforts are much appreciated."
So it was that a decision made. Elrond threw a glance at the young ones before departing, while Glorfindel ushered their guests out.
"I guess ada wants a word." Elrohir voiced his father's intention. "Prepare thyselves, for we are quite used to what the implications are from that look upon his face. Come, let us make our way to his chambers."
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.