14. Discussion of the Wise
The autumn sun made the red-gold trees all the brighter, and cast its soft light on a young boy and his father, sitting amongst the leaves, talking and laughing.
Watching it all was a tall elf lord and an old man dressed in gray.
"You seem troubled, Master Elrond," Gandalf said.
"And why wouldn't I be?" Elrond asked. "The evil in Dol Guldur has returned, the Watchful Peace is at an end, darkness stirs in every corner of the land. It will not be long now."
Gandalf nodded. "Sauron will return, if he has not already."
"You think he is the power in Dol Guldur. I do not doubt you, but I find it hard to believe."
"I believe it with every fiber of my being. You are wise, Master Elrond, but you have not been in the uncloaked presence of a Maia. The power that emanates from Mirkwood is not the twisted, warped power of a Man, but the strength of a being that saw the very beginning of this world."
"You speak the truth, I know," Elrond said. "I simply do not want to admit it. None in the Council of the Wise do. The evidence is there, before our eyes, but we deny it out of fear when the wisest course would be to make preparations."
"I will speak with Saruman," Gandalf said. "He will see reason."
"I do not know if any of us can see reason where Sauron is concerned. He is a threat of the Second Age, they say. His power is naught without the Ring."
"And speaking of the Ring, it has not been destroyed, has it?"
Elrond's eyes flashed with fury and he cast a vicious glare at the man and his son. "No."
"Do not blame them for their ancestor's faults," Gandalf said quietly but sternly. "Isildur fell prey to a power that can seduce all but the strongest. Perhaps his descendants shall make amends for his folly."
"They are nothing," Elrond said. "The blood of Numenor – of my brother – runs so thin I cannot see it in them. They are more akin to the Northmen, perhaps even the Dunlendings, than those of Gondor. Chieftains of the Dunedain? Ha! They are not worthy of such a title."
Gandalf raised a bushy eyebrow at the diatribe. "Has news come to you?" he asked. "Something I have not heard?"
"There is little you have not heard. You know of Brego of Rohan, yes?"
"An unfortunate man."
"Not as unfortunate as his son. He walked into the Paths of the Dead. Naturally, he did not return."
Gandalf bowed his head. "Unfortunate men," he said.
"Brego died soon after. What prompted this idiocy was apparently a mad old man appearing amidst the feast celebrating the completion of their hall," Elrond sneered the word. No construction of Men could even come close to rivaling that of the elves. "Do you know what he said, Gandalf?"
"The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead. And the Dead keep it. Until the time comes. The way is shut."
"A prophecy," Gandalf said.
"Like the one Malbeth made nearly a thousand years ago. The Paths await the Heir of Isildur."
Both men looked at the Chieftain of the Dunedain and his son.
"It's not either one of them," Elrond said. "Aravorn concerns himself with nothing beyond his borders."
"Borders that need his complete concentration and focus."
"His son looks no better," Elrond said.
Gandalf examined his friend closely. Never had he known Elrond to be anything less than polite about the Chieftains. Had something happened?
Elrond heaved a sigh. "When he was younger, I often caught Aravorn and my daughter speaking with one another. I…Gandalf, you cannot imagine how such a thing affects me. My own great-grandmother was Luthien Tinuviel herself. She chose to wed a Man and forsake her immortality! Never more will the beauty of Luthien grace the world! And what do they name my daughter? Undomiel! Evenstar! They claim she is the image of Luthien!"
"She does not need to share her fate," Gandalf said.
Elrond shook his head. "They say she is Luthien reincarnated," he whispered.
"Only slain elves may be reincarnated," Gandalf said. "She is her own person."
"You do not know that. She could be Luthien of the Third Age. And where is her Beren? Perhaps he is Aravorn. Perhaps he is Arahad the second. Perhaps he is a Chieftain yet to come!"
"She will make a choice that is pleasing to her," Gandalf said. "As all your people have done. And if she is pleased with it, what more could you hope for?"
"A man who will not steal her life's grace!" Elrond shouted. Aravorn and Arahad glanced up, but then Arahad stood and wandered into the trees and his father followed him.
"Calm yourself, Master Elrond," Gandalf said. "Your daughter is perfectly safe. And even if she were to follow in Luthien's footsteps, what would be the harm? She is the most renowned elf in all history. None share her high honor."
"But she is dead," Elrond said quietly, brokenly. "She is dead, Gandalf. I cannot let that happen to my daughter."
"The future is dark," Gandalf said. "What lies ahead is veiled to me."
"Not so veiled," Elrond said. "I have heard whispers of prophecies…" His face twisted with anguish. "Arwen…" he whispered. "I cannot lose her. I do not care if her suitor, her Beren, succeeds at whatever task – whatever Silmaril I send him to find. I do not care if he reunites the kingdoms! I do not care who or what he is. He will not have my daughter!"
Gandalf studiously ignored the latter half of Elrond's words and focused his attention on the earlier part. "Prophecies?" he asked. "Of what sort."
"They say you have been making prophecies, as has the Necromancer."
"Who is 'they'?"
Elrond waved a hand. "Saruman, Galadriel, other lords of great power."
"I have made no prophecies."
"You told a Nazgul she had a high destiny!"
"Ah," Gandalf said, remembering this. "Yes, I did."
"What did you mean by that?"
"You mentioned that there were two making prophecies? Myself and the Necromancer?"
"There is a third, from whom I wager both of us have been getting our information."
Elrond frowned. "A third? Who? Galadriel? Another Istari? Who?"
"You have heard what the dwarves say of Caradhras? That it is sentient? That it speaks, that it acts, that it strikes at those it takes offense to?"
"According to them, that's quite a lot," Elrond said with a snort. "What does it have to do with anything?"
"I spoke with the mountain," Gandalf said. "You will have noticed, Master Elrond, that foresight is of no more use anymore. The paths are veiled by the malice of Mordor. Yes, Mordor. Sauron will return there soon."
"And yet you can claim to see some future. Or is it the mountain that sees it for you?"
"Caradhras is the last in Arda who can see the path. What path it is and what it leads to, I do not know. The mountain works for itself only. Not for Gondor, Mordor, Dol Guldur, Imladris, Lorien, nor lost Arnor. Wherever this path leads, it will benefit Caradhras first and foremost. Yet I feel that it will benefit us as well. I have felt the hand of Manwe in this."
"The Vala has spoken to you?" Elrond gasped.
"No, but I feel his will. Caradhras is trying to manipulate fate, but that it is difficult to do when you are bound in stone."
"So it has chosen you and the Necromancer as its envoys. What did it tell you?"
"That the Black Easterling – a rather intelligent Haradrim woman, actually – has a high destiny. It did not specify as to what exactly. Though I think it may have already come to pass." Gandalf chuckled.
"What do you mean?"
"She spared the life of Eorl the Young. That is a decision all the foes of evil can cheer for."
"He is nothing but a Man," Elrond said. "He and all his kind. Men have done nothing to this world but cause havoc in it. Turin brought about the ruin of Nargothrond, Numenor became proud and corrupt, and Isildur failed to destroy the Ring!"
"Yet Turin slew Glaurung, Numenor's descendants drove off Sauron, and Isildur has left behind heirs to aid Arda as they may."
"And what of my people?" Elrond asked. "It was Gil-galad with Elendil who defeated Sauron. It was Finrod who aided Beren; without him, the Man would never have survived. Long have my people have been the guardians of knowledge, storehouses of forgotten lore and power."
"You claim them as your people then," Gandalf said. "No thought for Earendil?"
"There will never be another like him," Elrond said. "Besides, I claimed the Eldar as my people just as Elros chose Men."
"The bitterness in your voice suggests you cannot understand him."
"I cannot! Why would he choose to live among them? They have brief moments of valor, courage, strength. But they are so weak! There is a reason the Nazgul are Men: they are weak."
Gandalf could sense a losing argument and he had no desire to continue to provoke Elrond, perhaps even lose his friendship, a friendship that the Istari highly valued.
"Bear with the Heirs of Isildur a while longer," the Grey Wizard said. "Perhaps Caradhras has a fate for them."
"Only if it involves the bottom of a ravine," Elrond muttered under his breath.
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.