"Lord Elrond. To what do we owe this visit?" the leader of the Istari welcomed the high Lord of Imladris.
Elrond bowed low. He had deep respect for Curunír the White, a man of great wisdom, and a powerful ally. Present events concerned him enough to be forced to consult with the Istari. The person he sought however, was not the head of their order.
"I need to speak to Mithrandir." Elrond dispensed with all formalities and was straight to the point.
Saruman frowned. It bothered him that the Elf decide to seek council with Gandalf the Grey, who held a lower position. He brushed aside the feeling of annoyance quickly ere it become obvious. Gandalf was always closer to the other races. He did not have as big a following among Men compared to Saruman.
"Gandalf has been gone for a few days. He did not say to where he was heading. He would be back, however, ere Midsummer's Eve. He has to be around in order we conclude the Amon-thrul," Saruman kept the tone of his voice neutral, the smile on his face, plastered.
The high Elf frowned, visibly upset.
"Has something cropped up that requires the urgent attention of the Istari? For it is not often that we find the Lord of Rivendell wandering the wastelands of the South on his own."
"When will Mithrandir return?"
Saruman the White shrugged. He was getting annoyed by Elrond's insistence on seeing Gandalf. Surely he could handle whatever matter the high Elf needed to discuss with Gandalf, for the head of the Istari had greater powers and knowledge that surpassed the rest of the wizards by far.
The Lord of Imladris sensed the latter's annoyance, and hesitated. He could not afford to offend Curunír. With all that was going on in the world, powerful allies were needed about them in order to keep the dark forces at bay.
He nodded politely. "I will wait then for his return. Pray let him know I sought him out."
Elrond took leave of Saruman. He could sense an resentment towards Mithrandir in him. He found it strange. If not for the other's high position, he would put it to jealousy and fear. He quickly shrugged the feeling off. Curunír was the greatest of the Istari. His allegiance was out of the question. Elrond chided himself for even thinking along that line. He was over-reacting. A result of having seen many things since the First Age that greatly hardened him.
He left the tower of Orthanc. The Istari had gathered for the Amon-thrul, a formal council. Held only when important matters were at hand, Elrond had been alerted to its commencement by Mithrandir himself. It was strange then that Mithrandir leave halfway in the middle of their council.
As he reached the perimeters of Isengard, his eyes lit up, as he saw a grey figure on a horse not five leagues away, riding hard towards the domain of Curunír. His keen eyes saw the old man pushing his horse to go faster.
Doubling his speed, he rushed towards the wizard and waited at the crossroads. As the rider drew near, he let out a shout.
"Mithrandir! Mithrandir! My heart soars with the eagles as I see you!" His clear voice carried over the distance as he cried with joy and relief.
The Grey Rider dug his heels in and reigned in the horse, drawing up to the Elf. A look of great happiness across his face. He leapt off the horse before it came to a standstill, displaying great dexterity for his apparent years.
"What would the Lord of Imladris be doing here in the wilderness?"
The two embraced as old friends. The old man was clad in robes of grey, hair floating gently with the light breeze. In his arm he held a long staff. The weapon of the Istari. There was a long sword strapped to his side. A sheen of perspiration covered his brow.
The Lord Elrond smiled. His immortal face was filled with happiness and relief to see him again.
"Pray, tell me, old friend, what is the reason for your leaving the beautiful realm of Imladris?"
"Mithrandir, evil is beginning to stir yet again in Middle-Earth. I seek your counsel. Your wisdom and powers would be much needed in the times to come."
"None that the Lord Elrond does not have," Gandalf said. There was worry in his voice despite the benign look upon his face. "Come, it is late in the day, and I have travelled over great distance. Let us take up residence in Isengard before anything be discussed. The Istari would be eager to hear what you have to say."
Elrond frowned. He did not feel comfortable discussing the matter openly in front of the others that made up the council. It was a delicate issue. One that could ill-afford to be mishandled. He only trusted the Grey Pilgrim to deal with it appropriately.
"Mithrandir, I would much prefer we discussed the matter in private. The fate of Middle-Earth may rest in our hands. If we do not act quickly, it would destroy all that we have fought so hard for. More innocent lives will be lost."
Gandalf nodded heavily, understanding what the other spoke off, and led his horse away from the dwelling of Isengard. Elrond followed suit.
The weight in the Elf's heart increased. Distracted by it, he did not scan the surroundings. Had he been more aware, he would have noted a pair of eyes watching from the tower of Orthanc, boring into the two as they wound their way through the surrounding forest.
It was nearing dusk, and the woods around them were alive with the sounds of its inhabitants readying themselves for the darker half of the day.
The two old friends walked leisurely, searching for a spot to spend the night. They moved silently, each caught up in their own thoughts.
They found a shallow cave, and took refuge in it, settling in for the night.
As the sun set, they sat in front of the burning ambers and talked at length. Elrond started with an update on the affairs of Imladris, of his people and their goings-on. Gandalf listened with great interest, for it had been years since he had visited the beautiful dwelling of the High-Elves. He smiled and encouraged the half-Elf, listening and absorbing all he could.
It was not long before the topic drifted to the matter at hand.
"Mithrandir, it has come to my notice, that an evil presence is making itself felt in Middle-Earth once more. I do not yet know the full nature of it, but its encroachment grows deeper with every passing day. Its source is elusive, but it has concerned me enough to send messengers to my kindred. I have even sent Glorfindel to the realm of Eryn Galen to warn King Thranduil, although I have a feeling that it would have been known to him earlier.
"Indeed, there is something foul creeping back into the world. It is for this reason that I have been away from Isengard. I have just held council the Lady Galadriel, for I knew she would have much knowledge in this.
"What I managed to find out is scarce, however. The Lady did not reveal much, and instead called for a meeting of the leaders of the respective leaders of the first-born. She was adamant that we include the Silvan Elves. Clearly it is a matter of grave importance. It is to be held on September the first, and will take place in Rivendell."
"I am glad the Lady is aware of such a disturbance. It lifts some of the weight from my heart. All we can do is to wait for the meeting. I fear I have kept you for too long already. The night is starting to fade, and you must return to the Amon-thrul, for your presence is surely needed."
Gandalf smiled kindly. "Nay, do not mind that. I have been gone for three days. Another night will not make a difference. They can do without me. Saruman is a wise leader. I do not think that my presence is of such importance that they will falter without it."
Elrond thanked the wizard appreciatively. Further discussion of the threat was made, and presently, all talk died down.
A long silence passed between the two old friends. The fire had started to fade and the ambers glowed red, lighting up the cave periodically. Gandalf sat and sucked on his pipe, eyes staring, but not seeing, worry etched in every line of his wizened face.
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.