1. Elrond's Choice
The three Shire hobbits had left and everyone else was on the ship, somehow he'd ended up last in line. Yet the Elf-lord hesitated.
Suddenly a tingling came over his body, the present fading away into foresight;
Him standing in the great hall of Minas Anor, or as they now called it; Minas Tirith, with Arwen and Aragorn watching from their thrones on the dais. And then, tottering, came the boy Arwen had seen when she turned back from the Grey Havens. He was younger than in that vision, perhaps three, but clearly the same person. The child opened his mouth....
Círdan touched his arm, jolting him out to the present "We must leave now" the shipwright's eyes were gentle "Tides are favourable and when they change the journey will only grow longer"
The half-elf shook his head and gestured, suddenly certain about what he must do "Their journey, but not mine ... not yet." He looked up at the ship, scanning the deck for a trustworthy face ... there.
"Haldir" he called the name, the elf turned and looked down "I beg one more favour of you; take this ring into your keeping and see that my wife Celebrían is given it" in one swift move he freed the final one of the Elven Three from his finger and tossed it up onto the deck.
"But you're coming with us?" Galadriel's voice was clear through the cloaking mist.
"Nay, lady" he turned and strode back to his horse, leaping on. "For now at least I go to Minas Anor, there is still a life for me to make there" he wheeled the mare in a full circle and let her dance under him. He raised his voice as he had when a leader in the war
"Navaer, Galu, No vain in gwaeweg"
Even as the words fell from his lips the ship was vanishing out of sight. With a final raise of his hand Elrond turned his horse onto the road he had ridden just this morning. Bending low he spoke to the horse "Now Suldal shall we show those mearh a thing or two about fast riding?" He sat up and let her long striding canter eat up the road.
The rain was doing its best to drown travellers when Elrond finally pulled the mare up in the shelter of trees, thanks to good roads he'd already covered many miles, but a wish to stay away from anywhere connected to the fellowship had forced him to forsake the chance of spending a night in an inn. Instead of riding over the Baranduin Bridge and on to Bree he'd taken the road to Sarn Ford.
Loosening the straps of Suldal's tack he pulled out a bundle from his pocket and unwrapped it.
What on earth possessed me to pack a bag of lembas for the journey to Valinor I do not know, but I am grateful.
The thought ran through his head and as he laughed aloud at his own confusion, his mare raised her head, shook it once and began to graze again.
"Oh Suldal, melloneg, I wish that I had the horse sense you possess"
Finishing the wafer he stretched out on his cloak, rolled the edges around him and dropped into the light sleep so common of Elves who had fought in armies at some point of their long lives.
It was only when he woke that Elrond realised quite how far the mare had brought him. On an ordinary horse it would have taken perhaps a week to get here, yet they'd left Grey Havens only three days ago.
Still a long way to ride yet before all is said and gone stated a more sensible section of his mind, while the rest startled at the achievement. He retightened the tack and vaulted on again, Suldal setting off on the road without a word.
As they traversed the empty land between the ford and abandoned city of Tharbad Elrond had time to muse on his decisions. The more he thought about it the more foolish he felt, thrice ways foolish. Once; for abandoning Celebrían on the basis of a flash of foresight, which might not actually come true, Secondly; attempting to prevent Arwen from following her heart once she'd seen the child in his first vision, and thirdly: for being a hypocrite and doing exactly what she'd done, turning back from the Grey Havens into Arda. Yet somehow he knew that what he'd chosen to do was the right thing, and such certainty had not come for many decades.
Before he knew it the dark forbidding shadows of Tharbad were looming over him. The Elf-lord felt a tiny shiver run down his spine but ignored it
Pe-channas! If you had paid attention you would have seen the ruins on the horizon hours ago, even a man or hobbit would have spotted them
For some reason insulting himself made Elrond feel better, he sat up to his full height, lifting the hand that held Suldal's reins slightly clear of the pommel while letting the other idly rest on his sword hilt. Tharbad had too many nasty stories told about it for even the bravest of thieves to stand living there. But it would do no harm just to let any watching eyes know they were dealing with a warrior.
Looking around at the ruins he found it hard to realise that he had known, albeit distantly, this city at its height. Now it was a ruin, and no living man had anything but the faintest of fireside tales to remember it by. How different the lives of the Edain and Eldar truly were...
Suldal snorted, deliberately stumbling, jerking her rider so he lurched sharply sideways. With muttered curses unfit for his rank Elrond pulled himself straight and kicked her into canter. That wretched mare was far too smart, though it was probably his fault for breeding his previous mount with a Meara stallion and keeping the foal for a replacement. It seemed a good idea at the time. Now? He didn't quite know what to think. Suldal was a good horse in her way and those wits would have come in useful with a war horse when he was younger... He quickly woke up to avoid being shaken off her back once more.
No, stated the sensible part of his brain It was not a good idea
Novaer = Farewell
Galu = Good luck
No vain in gwaew lîn = May your winds be fair
melloneg= My Friend
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.