1. Estel's Guardian
He stood at the edge of the ring, watching, waiting. Already so many tales had been told, things he didn't know, things he didn't want to know. Already he had shaken in anger, cried in grief, and simply screamed. How could it have come down to this? All the elves and mortals and Maiar who made up Vairë's tapestries, all could have altered things, prevented this. Yet now he watched, as his last direct heir was challenged for his throne, a throne he was not greedy for. Listened helpless as the men began to argue, ignoring sane advice
"I will take it..."
Silence fell, as though a mantle had just been dropped over the mouths of all speaking.
"I will take the ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way"
The hobbit, an adult to his adan mind but a child to his elven one, had stepped forward. Gradually reactions shifted across the faces of those gathered. The Maia stepped forward, still holding his guise of an old man. Eyes flicked from side to side in the council, each wondering who would be next to assign themselves to this quest of almost certain death.
Somehow, he knew.
The dark-haired man pushed himself off the chair and stepped forward, his grey clothes glinting slightly in the sun. As he walked across the circle and fluidly knelt before Frodo the watcher saw the nobility in him, the pride, the strength, the pure blood of a true-born son. Fittingly the oath he made was much the same as men had sworn at his feet in Númenor, signing themselves as servants to a liege lord.
He nodded to himself and stepped forward, coming up on Aragorn's left, unguarded, shoulder and making his stand there. Olórin must have heard him, for the old man glanced over and winked slightly. His eyes moved to the other side, meeting his brother's for a split second. Half a minuscule nod was all he got, but it was all he needed.
Moria was cold, and black, and dank and ark, almost as miserable as Angband itself. Ten had run in from the watcher, nine straggled out the other side. He shut his eyes, longing to beat his head against the rocks. Olórin was gone, spirited back to Námo and Irmo, spirited back to safety. He was the only guardian of the fellowship now, the only one to protect them from the darkness. He turned back to the gaping mouth of the Dwarven city, straining his eyes. They told him nothing, but something moved there, he could sense it. Silent as ever he moved to where Aragorn sat wiping his sword, like all of his line this Dunadan used practicality to block out emotions when they would hinder him. Reaching out with hand, mind and fëa, he brusheed against his newest son's consciousness, imparting what he could tell. Aragorn lifted his head, finished the final rub of his sword and took command.
As the Fellowship fled across the Nimrodel towards Lothlórien , he waited. He waited as he had waited during sword practice as a child, before the charge in the War of Wrath, using all his senses to judge the movements of those beasts that charged towards him. Once perhaps, their fore-kin had been Eldar, now they were worse than beasts. No honour, no mercy, no understanding of fellowship. They banded together by expediency, or were forced to by a master. But each orc hunted for itself, for the joy of killing. He forced his brain to stop regaling him with horror stories and concentrated, throwing half a glance over his shoulder at the right moment.
The beasts charged, sensing his distraction, as they thought it to be, and using it to their advantage. But he was quicker. Up sprang the blade, forged by Mahtan in Valinor. It rang against the crude iron of the orcs' knives, singing a song of light, beauty and freedom. Some orcs cowered, covering their ears, but more roared in defiance and closed on him. No longer would there be easy parries, now he would have to use every bit of skill he had learnt at Maedhros' knee and Ereinion's side. He couldn't strictly be killed, and the orcs didn't really see him, for there was nothing to see, they just felt the presence of his fëa. But they could use that as a guide for their strikes, and one in exactly the wrong place would send him straight back to the halls of men, his brief time on Ennor at an end, his son left unguarded against all the terrors that he still had to face in his destiny to become king.
Water trickled over where his feet would have been and he breathed out, grateful for the relief that the stream of Nimrodel gave him. Shaking his head he bared his teeth and set his feet steady on the far bank, determined to buy the Fellowship enough time to take shelter with the March-Wardens, to be sealed under the magic that Galadriel wove over her land...
And still the orcs came at him, snarling, biting, wild things trying to tear him to ghostly pieces. Skill was gone, he fought on instinct, as they did. The thought would have been laughable had he had true lungs and breath to laugh with, or enough spirit to do so in this form. But he was nothing now, a semi-reincarnated Peredhel, relying on power that waned and waxed almost as it pleased, power and strength that trickled away from him now. Slowly, wobbly, he backed. Step by step he diminished the distance between himself and the outer trees of the golden wood, step by step, he shimmered and faded, while the orcs dodged past him in pursuit of their true goals.
The sounds of flying arrows barely registered in his ears as he crumpled to the ground, strength and will power spent, and when they did, it sounded more like Námo calling to him.
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.