7. November Rain
Regarding Shadowfax: Originally I wasn’t sure if Gandalf had met the horse yet. My research shows that Gandalf “borrowed” him from Theoden on September 20th of 3018. Council took place October 25th, and the Fellowship left Rivendell on December 25th. It’s all good…
“You found no sign of them?”
Elrond banged his fist on the table in frustration and looked up from the map he had been studying. “Nay, Mithrandir. Our only clue is this.” The Elf lord held up three crebain feathers. “The rain washed away all else, and made it impossible to track their flight.”
Gandalf slowly twirled his beard with one finger and began examining the map. “They could be headed anywhere,” sighed the wizard. “Dol Guldur… Isengard… Mordor.”
“The question,” stated Elrond wearily, “is whether or not they are first headed to Saruman and then Sauron, or straight to Sauron. We simply have no way of knowing.”
He pounded the map again and began pacing back and forth along the Study floor. ‘It would be much easier,’ concluded the Elf lord, ‘if I could place the blame for this incident on a single soul. As it is, there are far too many at fault—myself included—and I have no one to direct my anger at.’
“I knew of the crebain,” he growled. “We were uncertain of their number, but I was informed of their gathering on our borders and occasional flights into our lands. Had I but known—”
“You did not,” interrupted Gandalf. “There are too many ‘what if’s’ to dwell on. Let us instead focus on solving the problem.”
Elrond nodded briskly. “Yes, you are right. Unfortunately,” he sighed, “our attempts to solve the problem have only created more of them. The scouts have already left—who are we to send?”
Gandalf sniffed and pulled himself up importantly. When the lord of Rivendell ignored him, he cleared his throat loudly.
“No,” Elrond stated emphatically.
“I believe, my friend, you have little choice,” the wizard pointed out.
“You barely escaped your last encounter with Saruman,” argued Elrond.
“I was unaware of his intentions. I assure you,” countered Gandalf, “he will not ensnare me so easily a second time.”
“You do not know which direction they are headed.” Elrond folded his arms across his chest and glared at the wizard.
“Stop being so thick-headed, you old bat!” Gandalf cried. “I am not some wet-behind-the-ears child. I know perfectly well what we are up against. Shadowfax will bear me, and other creatures of the forest have surely seen which direction the crebain flew off in.”
“Old bat,” muttered Elrond as Gandalf hurried off to the pastures. “Old bat, indeed!”
* * *
The Rangers were a grim and silent bunch, noted Boromir as they headed through the Trollshaws*. It was the type of attitude he could appreciate, for the silence spoke of hard-fought battles and difficultly trodden paths. Perhaps Aragorn wasn’t as strange as he had originally thought, now that the man was not surrounded by Elves.
Boromir’s gaze fell upon the weathered “king.” He had seen Aragorn kissing a particularly beautiful Elf maiden farewell, and wondered exactly what the man had done to capture the lovely creature. ‘It certainly wasn’t on looks,’ he thought. ‘If that were true, then she would have fallen for someone such as the Elf in our Fellowship. Or any Elf, for that matter.’
Boromir allowed himself to imagine what it would be like to have an Elven maiden swooning over him. It was quite a pleasant picture, until he remembered how his shoulder twitched every time an Elf came within ten feet of him. He was reminded of a dog his father had when he and Faramir were children. When rubbed in the right spot, the dog’s leg would begin thumping up and down involuntarily. The faster the dog was petted, the faster his leg thumped. Boromir supposed his shoulder would react similarly if an Elf maiden were to hold his hand or kiss him on the cheek.
* * *
At the exact moment Boromir was considering the downsides of an Elven lover, Glorfindel was trying to figure out who was more unhappy: Gimli or Legolas.
The Dwarf’s displeasure was written plainly across his face, and could be heard in his footsteps as he stomped over the ground. Coupled with the constant mutterings under his breath (which, of course, the Elves could hear quite clearly), Gimli was almost comical.
“Confounded forest, stupid mission, doltish Elves,” he fumed. The Dwarf suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a rain shower as a tree decided to shake its leaves the moment he passed underneath. Gimli glared at the tree and fingered his axe.
Glorfindel felt the corners of his mouth threaten to tug upward. To his left, he heard Orimhedil choke back a snicker.
Legolas, to his credit, did not display his emotions so openly. The only telltale signs of his dark mood were the unusual stiffness at which he held himself, and the smoldering glint that occasionally shone in his eyes. ‘As though something were simmering,’ Glorfindel decided. The archer had barely given the Dwarves a second glance, though Glorfindel knew this would not be the case if Legolas were to discover one of the Dwarves had been his attacker. Elrond had assured the young Elf the culprit had been “apprehended and punished for his actions,” but gave no further information regarding the matter. ‘It was probably for the best,’ thought Glorfindel. ‘I do suppose having to face the anger of Glóin was punishment enough.’
The Elf lord watched Glóin toil through the trees and smiled. He really did like the grumpy old Dwarf, in spite of himself. Glóin struck him as one who remained fiercely loyal to his cause and approached life with steadfast commitment. ‘And that,’ decided the Elf, ‘is not an easy task, especially in trying times such as these.’
The Eastern scouting mission progressed much slower than their counterparts to the west, north and south. The Dwarves, never ones to trust horses, had opted to go on foot. The Elves knew the futility of arguing, and the Dwarves were allowed to travel by foot whilst the Elves slowly walked their mounts.
Thunder rumbled overhead and thick raindrops splattered down from the heavens. “Let us make haste,” called Glorfindel as he squinted up at the cloudy sky. “If we are lucky, we may reach the largest bank of the Bruinen* by nightfall.”
* * *
Cold. It was so very cold.
Sam lay shivering on a frigid slab of rock. He had no idea where the horrible winged beasts had taken them. They were in a large, airy cavern of sorts, this he knew. He also knew that rain was sheeting down in heavy torrents outside. The crebain seemed none-too-pleased by this recent development.
‘Good,’ thought the gardener shakily, ‘It will slow them down.’
He debated on whether or not he should sit up and check the welfare of his companions. His body felt as though it were one giant, throbbing bruise. ‘If I move,’ he wondered, ‘will those nasty monsters start attacking me all over again?’
Sam chanced a look at the birds. They were perched on various ledges and outcroppings that lined the cavern walls. Several of the crebain were flitting back and forth along the ceiling, crying out in calls Sam deemed as ‘angry.’ One of the raven-feathered beasts took note of his quiet observation and flew down to the hobbit’s eye-level. The creature hopped back and forth, spread his wings in a confrontational manner, and hissed.
Sam, despite having never been hissed at by a bird, clearly understood the message. He shut his eyes tightly, feeling the cold stone numb his cheek and the hardness of the floor as it lay unyielding beneath him.
‘Cold. So very cold.’
* * *
¥ Appendix A: The Punishment of Gimli
Gimli watched as the Elf sagged and collapsed as though he were nothing more than a sack of flour. Aragorn cried out in alarm and quickly sank to his knees, cradling the Elf’s head with one arm and gripping his weapon tightly in the other as he scanned the darkened forest.
Gimli held his breath and waited until the Ranger turned his full attention to the Elf. It seemed an eternity passed, but at last Aragorn bent his sole concentration on Legolas. Gimli slowly made his way through the trees, taking extra care not to step on any errant twigs or leaves. Luckily, a second path ran but a short distance from his attack point, and the Dwarf reached it with little difficulty.
He turned and began to walk back to his quarters in a calm and measured pace. He would leave no panicked tracks for those who might look for the Elf’s attacker. He, Barin and Glóin had already traversed the walk several times within the last few days. His footsteps would not appear unusual or out of place.
Though Gimli would fain admit it, he found himself growing more high-strung as he walked along. The trees rustled accusingly, and the moon illuminated him as though it were purposely seeking him out. It was with a great sigh of relief that the Dwarf finally reached his room. Elvish forests made his skin crawl.
* * *
Glóin glanced up from the ancient book he had been reading and watched the doorknob turn. ‘Ah,’ thought the old Dwarf as he gave his beard a stroke, ‘At last my tardy son arrives.’ He sat the book down and rose to meet Gimli as he entered.
“Gimli, my boy,” he rumbled affectionately, “I began to worry you had forgotten about the evening meal. Barin grew impatient and left some time ago.” The old Dwarf paused when he noticed Gimli’s muddy hands. “Great Smiths, what have you been up to? You cannot go to dinner with hands like that.”
Gimli hastily brushed his hands together and mumbled a reply. “Eh?” grunted Glóin, his heavy brows knitting together in curiosity. He stumped over to his son and shot him a questioning look. It did not take a fool to discern Gimli had been up to something. And judging by his son’s reaction, Glóin guessed it had been something of a questionable nature. The last time he received such a response, Gimli had accidentally cracked a wooden support beam, causing an entire mine shaft to collapse. Two months of work had been reduced to rubble in a matter of seconds. As best Glóin knew, there were no mines in Rivendell, but he was concerned nonetheless.
“There is a leaf in your beard.” Glóin’s deep baritone grew in suspicion. “You have been tramping about those forsaken trees?”
Gimli cleared his throat and threw back his shoulders. “I had some business to attend to.” Glóin crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at his son. Gimli suddenly felt as though he were a naughty child, caught with one hand on the precious rock pile. He lifted his bearded chin; he was NOT a child. Glóin continued to look straight through him. Gimli could literally feel the years melting away as he was reduced to a Dwarven youngster under his father’s gaze.
“I dealt with the Elf,” he said gruffly. Curse that look!
Glóin narrowed his eyes. “You did what? How?”
Gimli shrugged nonchalantly and a slight gleam came to his eyes. It did not go unnoticed by his father. “I let him know the consequences of angering a Dwarf,” Gimli chuckled at the fond memory of the Elf’s ungraceful fall. “It was just a little rock, though I suppose it will certainly leave a mark. I wish you could have witnessed it, he fell harder tha—AHH OOH OW!”
Gimli was not exactly sure what occurred after that, for he suddenly found himself being yanked along the hallway by his beard. “You foolish boy!” roared Glóin, marching down the corridor with a yelping Gimli in tow. “No son of mine is a rock-thrower! I cannot believe what my ears have heard! Such shame! What in the name of Mahal went through your head? Did you even bother to think at all?” The ranting Dwarf stressed each word with an even harder tug.
“Argh! No! I—OUCH—where are we—OOH—going?” Gimli winced and his eyes began to water.
Glóin promptly turned to his son and boxed his ear. “To Lord Elrond,” he bellowed. “You shall be lucky if he does not throw a rock—nay, a tree—at you!”
* * *
Elrond propped his elbows on the table and laced his fingers together. He rested his chin upon them and sighed. What a dreadful night had unfolded. Imladris was considered by many to be among the safest of Elven realms, save perhaps Lothlórien and Mithlond. And yet, on this very night an attack had occurred, and the perpetrator all but vanished into the night.
He had spent the last hour or so attending Legolas, who had received a rather painful head wound, and found himself strangely wearied. He sighed again. If the safety of Imladris was no longer within his abilities, then perhaps…
‘Then perhaps I too must bow to the inevitable. Perhaps this signals the end of my reign as well.’ A vision of Celebrían, as she had been before her capture and ruin, floated before him. He shook his head to dispel it. ‘Nay, my dearest wife, I cannot join you yet, for there is still much to do. Soon, though. Soon.’
He lifted his head as he heard footsteps approaching the study. While he had been aiding Legolas, a servant informed him that Glóin wished to speak with him. Elrond had been unable to see the Dwarf at the exact moment, and therefore suggested they meet in the Elven lord’s study. Glóin agreed, and Elrond had been patiently awaiting his arrival.
The wide oaken door swung open as Glóin strode in. An extremely guilty-looking Gimli was not far behind him. Elrond felt his curiosity piqued. “Glóin, Gimli.” He nodded to each and gestured for the two to sit in one of the many cushioned chairs about the room. He watched as Gimli made for an old over-stuffed green one, which sat neglected in the corner, and then as Glóin grabbed the younger Dwarf by his sleeve and yanked him to the center of the room.
“Tell him, boy.” Elrond raised a brow at the tone of Glóin’s voice. The older Dwarf sounded… threatening.
Gimli grunted a reply, which even Elrond’s keen ears could not translate, and was promptly whacked in the back of the head by the heavy hand of his father. “It was I,” grumbled the sullen Dwarf.
“Pardon?” Elrond furrowed his brow and leaned forward. “You whom what?”
Gimli shot a guilty look at Glóin and sighed. “It was I who attacked the Elf.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably. “I threw a rock at him.”
Elrond remained motionless for several moments. Gimli tried to stand a little taller as he waited for the Elf lord to speak. “I see,” Elrond began slowly as he digested the confession. “Gimli, you are aware what the consequences of your actions may be?”
Glóin grunted as Gimli nodded miserably. “Not only did you attack an Elf, and on the soil of my realm no less, but you also attacked an Elf of royal blood.” He sent Gimli a piercing gaze. “You could be tried for assault, Master Dwarf.”
“I am well aware of this,” Gimli stated gruffly. He wished he had not thrown the rock. Nay, he wished he had not told his father he had thrown the rock.
Elrond sighed. Gimli and Legolas already faced the standard prejudices regarding each other, not to mention the rather touchy history between their fathers. The son of Glóin had managed to throw another log on the fire, and a large one at that. “Do what you will with him, Lord Elrond,” said Glóin. “He is certainly deserving of it.”
Elrond rose gracefully from his seat and came to stand next to Gimli. He looked down at the Dwarf with a severe eye. Gimli valiantly attempted to meet the looming Elf’s gaze, but found himself unable to do so. He had never before realized how tall and… frightening… Elves could be. He had always viewed them as a flighty, childish bunch—good for singing or coddling trees, and little else.
Elrond stared down the Dwarf a few moments more, until Gimli began to show signs of extreme discomfort. “Due to difficult complications, which may arise from a public avowing of your guilt Gimli son of Glóin, I shall pass the duty of judgment over to your father.”
* * *
“And when you are done sharpening our blades, do be so kind as to fetch me a cup of tea. The Elves make a wonderful brew, would you not agree, Barin?”
Gimli, muttering furiously under his breath, took to whetting the axe blades with greater fervor as flashes of rage shot through his body. Glóin and Barin were seated comfortably within their overstuffed chairs, while he was forced to run at their every call and beckon. Glóin had even taken the liberty of shooing off Lord Elrond’s servants, claiming Gimli was “more than willing” to perform the cleaning duties.
Still muttering, he roughly dropped the axes to the ground and wiped his hands on a grimy towel (which of course, he must wash). “Eh? What was that, boy?” Glóin peered at his son from over the large book his was reading.
“Nothing!” snapped Gimli. He threw the dirty towel into a large linen bag, swearing as he noticed the other Dwarves’ dirty tunics lying in a messy heap in the corner. ‘Would it be asking too much if they would just place their rags into the bag as I requested?’ fumed the Dwarf, storming over to shove the pile into the linen sack. ‘One would think an army of orcs inhabits this room!’
“Gimliii,” drawled Barin, a little too sweetly.
“What now?” he spat, throwing the linen bag against the wall in a huff. “I have already lit your pipe, fluffed your pillow, rotated your chair so it faces the sunlight, AND TURNED THE PAGE OF YOUR BOOK THRICE!”
Barin sighed deeply. “Yes, but I have an itch.”
Gimli narrowed his eyes. “I must go fetch a cup of tea.”
Glóin and Barin watched in whole-hearted amusement as Gimli stalked out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him. “Well, strike the hot iron,” exclaimed Barin as they listened to the fuming Dwarf walk down the hallway, “do these boots look a bit scuffed to you?”
Glóin pulled the pipe from his lips and leaned over to examine the other’s boots. “I believe they do,” he replied, and brought the pipe back to his mouth.
Barin chuckled. “Perhaps Gimli would be so kind as to polish them for me. . .”
*The Trollshaws: A little forest on the left of the East-West Road. It’s past the Ford and to the west of Rivendell.
**Bruinen (Loudwater) River. Borders Rivendell and runs slightly northeast. Heads towards the High Pass.
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.