#6 Not So Secret Meeting - Hobbits crash Elrond's Party
A sharp look from the other hobbit silenced Pippin, but did nothing to curb his curiosity.
They had been in Rivendell for two weeks now, and, while its peace and beauty had been a welcome change from the troubles they had experienced getting there, Pippin was growing restless. Frankly, he was bored. The pipe weed had run out and, even though elf ale was tasty, it did not inspire one to sing or dance on the table.
"I can't hear anything from here."
"Not if you're jabbering every minute," Merry hissed.
The first three days at Rivendell had been filled with anxiety over Frodo; whether he would live or be consumed by his Nazgul wound held everyone's attention. He had made a full recovery and now spent most of his time with Bilbo. Of course, wherever Frodo went, there was Sam. Even Merry would disappear for hours, pouring over the hundreds of maps at Rivendell's disposal. What this meant for Pippin was he was left to his own devices. He soon found out that, while elves were quite successful in a wide variety of areas, conversation was not one of them. They would usually stare down at him, say something pleasant, (Pippin did not speak elvish, so they could have been questioning his intelligence, but he preferred to think positive), then drift away. Even when he had been at his most charming, the best he could get was what sounded like, "Welcome to Rivendell, Master Took", and then nothing. He soon stopped trying for fear he would begin to talk to himself just for the conversation.
"Well, I can't hear anything from here." Without further ado, Pippin escaped from their hiding place behind the far wall and went in search of a new and better one.
"Pip!" Merry called out as loud as he dared. He had no intention of being discovered, then forcibly escorted back to his room. There was something important happening here and he was determined not to be left out.
Waving from his new hiding spot by 2 columns, Pippin urged his friend to join him. Taking a cue from Pippin's recklessness, Merry dashed across to his friend. When the voices at the meeting became almost understandable, Merry grudgingly had to admit that Pippin had been right.
They had been playing kick the stick, a variation on the hobbit game due to the fact one could not find a spud in all of Rivendell, out in the plaza, (one game inside the main hall had told them quickly that elves are not the forgiving type when it came to their glass ware), when they overheard a conversation above. Nonchalantly, Merry shuffled closer and tried to look like he was not listening when in reality he was. Gandalf was speaking to Frodo about a secret council meeting that Master Elrond had called for later that day, and it would require Frodo's attendance. The old wizard stressed the word secret several more times before leaving the hobbits with his implications hanging in the air. He knew immediately that the meeting had to do with the Ring that Frodo carried, and that he, Meriadoc Brandybuck, had to be a part of it.
One of the Big Folk, from someplace south, was speaking of a dream, Islidur's Bane, Merry thought he said. He had never laid eyes on the man before, but the way he was eyeing the Ring made Merry uneasy.
When Gandalf stood up and began to speak in a strange tongue, everything went dark. Pippin instinctively ducked, for he had been the object of Gandalf's wrath before. But, it passed without the discovery of his snooping, and he began to breath normally again.
Even though Sam had not been summoned to the meeting, Merry knew he would be there, for Sam had been keeping a constant watch on Frodo since their arrival in Rivendell. No, since Bree. Heck, even further back, since leaving the Shire. Sam had been Frodo's shadow, unobtrusively standing in the background, always at the ready if the need arose. Merry knew that the two hobbits were fast friends, what with living so close to each other and Sam working at Bag End. Yet, he saw a new kind of attentiveness in Sam when it came to Frodo, and that's how he knew just where Sam would be when the meeting was called to order.
"I thought Strider was a Ranger," Pippin whispered.
"Apparently not," answered Merry. Strider's real name was Aragorn, son of Arathorn and heir to the throne of Gondor. This bit of news did not sit well with the Big Man from the south.
After beating Pip in three straight sets of kick the stick, Merry went in search of Sam. He wasn't about to divulge his plans to the other hobbit, for Sam would have surely protested and demanded to go alone. Merry only wanted to find Sam, then follow him to Frodo and the secret meeting. True to form, after his pleas to accompany Frodo to the meeting were denied, Sam waited all of a minute before following Frodo. All Merry had to do was fall into step behind him and try not to arouse elven suspicions. The hobbits formed a bizarre parade as they skulked from shadow to shadow: Sam following Frodo, Merry behind Sam and Pippin bringing up the rear.
Something sparkled in the afternoon sun, catching Pippin's attention. Just as one of the dwarves used his axe uselessly against the Ring, Pippin leaned to the left to get a closer look, seriously compromising his hiding place in the process. It was a wind chime that had fascinated him so, hanging from the barest of silver threads. It was so delicate, so intricate, so... elf-like. The soft tinkling sound it produced as the breeze played with its tendrils sang of far away shores and a longing that would never cease. So melancholy was the voice that Pippin was lost to all else, save its music.
Elrond was speaking of the only place the Ring could be destroyed, the fires of Mt. Doom. The Big Man from the south was amused at what he saw as the high elf's folly.
Did he say a great eye? Merry blanched. Always watching.
Sam could really move in spite of his size, and Merry had to work hard at not loosing him. A staircase was traversed on hands and knees, one step at a time. Merry peeked over the top step and found Sam hunkered down in the bushes right behind where Frodo sat.
"Psst!" Pippin called. When Sam glanced around he saw only the tops of two heads sticking out from the stairs. Brandybuck and Took. Narrowing his eyes, he waved them to go back. Pippin's second "Psst!" drew a truly evil stare from Sam, as well as a harsh gesture for them to disappear.
Seeing that Sam would be of no help, Merry and Pippin were now forced to find their own spot from which to eaves drop on the meeting. Crawling back down the stairs, Merry weighed the options. From all his investigations he knew Rivendell fairly well. Elrond's chamber was enclosed by a screen of intricately carved panels. The open sides were either blocked by Sam or Master Elrond himself. Nixing the idea of Elrond's chair, (it was not big enough for the both of them), Merry chose a small partition wall on the opposite side of the chamber from the legitimate Frodo and illegal Sam.
One of the dwarves made a nasty comment to the elf with the blonde hair and everyone began talking at once. Unable to make out individual voices, Merry soon grew completely lost. Only Gandalf heard Frodo's tiny hobbit voice offering to take the Ring to Mordor.
The wall on the far side of the council chamber was their only choice; any closer and they would surely be discovered. But, the only voices they could hear clearly stuck behind that wall were their own complaining that they couldn't hear. When they scrambled closer, all the voices and import of the meeting became clear. At least to Merry.
Strider, no Aragorn, thought Merry, was pledging to go with Frodo. Then the elf was giving the service of his bow. Quickly, as if not to be outdone, the dwarf spoke up, bringing his axe along on the journey south. With Gandalf that made three others who would be going with Frodo. The Big Man, Boromir he was called, agreed to go with the rest. Suddenly, Sam burst out from his bushes and shoved his way to Frodo's side. He would be going with Frodo no matter what, or where.
Merry knew what he had to do. He would not be left behind like a recalcitrant child or useless thing. If Frodo and Sam would be facing the dangers of the journey to Mordor, then Merry would walk with them.
"Pip," Merry called to his friend, claiming back his attention, "Frodo and Sam are taking the Ring south."
Pippin instinctively followed Merry out into the crowd. The last thing he had heard discussed was something about a mission, or was it a quest?, to...somewhere. He figured they would need people of intelligence, therefore it was imperative that he and Merry be included. Despite the dubious looks the hobbits received from all, Merry and Pippin were now members of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Pippin was proud that he had been included, happy that he would not be separated from his friends, excited about the upcoming adventure. He had only one question... "Where are we going?"