A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter Twenty-One - The Fellowship of the Ring
Following Frodo's recovery, a Council was brought forth where the wise of many nations met to discuss the fate of the One Ring. After hours of deliberation, and finding no other option available to them, the decision was reached that the Ring must be destroyed. The charge to do so was valiantly volunteered by Frodo; however, he would not have to face this task alone. Eight companions would share this burden, in purpose to guide and protect him as they may. Many knew it to be a perilous journey, while others deemed it hopeless. The duty of choosing Frodo's companions fell to the wisest in Rivendell, Elrond, Gandalf, Glorfindel, and Aragorn, who met in Elrond's private chambers to deliberate the matter at some length.
Wind blew into the open windows with ease, causing the draperies to sway with delight. Sunlight, too, invaded the room by means of high, stained glass windows, which cast its ray's upon the floor in a vision of rainbows. The wise were seated round a circular table, as white as ivory, and highly carved with interlaced Elvish motifs.
Gandalf breathed a heavy sigh and said, "I wish to go. With Saruman now our enemy, there is much that I must do. He will contrive with all his ferocious will to counter our every move, and seize the Ring for his own."
"Surely he would not be so bold as to attempt that!" Glorfindel said, somewhat dismayed.
"Trust it. There is no end to Saruman's scheming," Elrond rebutted. "Though a puppet he may be for Sauron, he has a grasping desire of his own where the Ring is concerned. Go you must, Gandalf the Grey, and aid where you can."
"It is my wish to go as well," Aragorn said, steadfastly. "You know I must."
Elrond peered into Aragorn's deep eyes, and nodded his head. "For what you desire, indeed you must. However, is this what you truly wish? For none who go must do so if their will is not surrendered to the probability of death. You may never return. Are you certain you wish to do this?"
"I have made my choice," Aragorn replied, unfaltering. His decision, in fact, had been made as soon as he had learned what price he must pay to marry where his heart beckoned.
"Very well then, Aragorn, son of Arathorn," Elrond said, surrendering. "You, too, shall go on this quest. The matter now stands for your other six companions. I had promised Frodo's friend, Samwise Gamgee, that he may go as well. I hope that was not an error in judgement. What think you, Gandalf?"
"No indeed, Elrond! Samwise is strong in spirit, and as sturdy a Hobbit as one can hope for. He would never lead Frodo astray, and would be a fierce protector of his beloved master. In fact, I concur heartily with your decision."
"You feel so strongly for the little creature?" Glorfindel asked. "Though I have spent insufficient time with Hobbits, they appear as mere children to me. I find it disheartening to send children into the horrors of war, which surely must be their future whether they are to succeed, or fail."
"Righteous wars must be waged, of course, Noble Glorfindel," Aragorn said, gently, "but do not imagine the halflings to be as ignorant and innocent as children, for they are not so. Perhaps only, as you say, of the horrors of war, but knowing Hobbits as I do, I find that to be a blessing. Nay, I put my trust in what I had witnessed daily in bringing them to Rivendell. For them to have faced five Nazgûl, and yet try to aid their friend . . . why, I have seen men do less for their own kindred under less circumstance."
"So it is decided," Elrond said. "Samwise will accompany his master if it is his wish to do so."
"And what of Peregrin Took and Merridoc Brandybuck?" Gandalf asked, a small grin upon his mischievous, old face.
"You would wish them to come upon this precarious journey as well?" Glorfindel asked, now quite amazed.
"I would," the wizard replied. "It is my belief that they shall be much needed in the future."
"Gandalf, you have much wisdom, but on this I cannot agree! We would then have three weak Hobbits, in whose stead there could be three of our own mighty warriors! Pray, how would they protect Frodo?" Glorfindel implored.
"As most Hobbits would, by means of their wits. You would not think it to look upon them, but Hobbits are curiously clever."
Aragorn, who during the discussion had taken Gandalf's defense, proclaimed, "They can be taught the basics in sword fighting, depend upon it. I am agreed with Gandalf Greyhelm. Merry and Pippin should come."
All eyes turned to Elrond to see what the verdict would be. He took a moment of deliberation before saying, "I am disinclined to agree with you, Gandalf. The time may come when they will be most essential to a cause of their own. The Shire, though unknown to Sauron, is by no means free from his wrath, and it is not unheard of to Saruman, we must not forget. From what I have seen, Pippin more than any other is not ready for the brutality of war. I do not think it kind to subject him to that."
"There is, of course, truth in what you say, Elrond," Gandalf said, wisely, "but Pippin, I know, shall be broken hearted if he were the only one to remain in Rivendell."
"Gandalf, it would be for his own good that I would choose to do so," Elrond replied, gently.
"And I think you would find him soon gone, and we would have a stowaway," the old wizard said with laughter in his eyes.
Elrond, however, was by no means convinced. "Well, I shall give it more thought. Having said thus much, let us move on. Our number now increases to five, and we have but three spaces left. Does anyone have any suggestions on this matter?"
"Dwarves attended the meeting," Gandalf said, "and honorably felt the need to confer with us, therefore, they must not be forgotten."
"I agree," Glorfindel said. "Betrayed us they could have, but instead sought out our council, perhaps at great risk to themselves. A Dwarven representative there should be in our Fellowship."
"It is my knowledge," Elrond said, "that Gimli, son of Gloin, comes from a noble family, and, I am told by Bilbo, is a very gallant warrior with his axe."
"It is true," Gandalf agreed. "Gimli is greatly skilled in the arts of battle. I feel he would do much to benefit our mission."
"Is it all agreed, then," Elrond asked, "that Gimli, son of Gloin, shall be asked to partake of this endeavor?"
Gandalf, Aragorn, and Glorfindel all nodded in agreement.
"I have another candidate to name, Elrond," Gandalf proclaimed. "Boromir, son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor."
Aragorn shifted slightly in his seat but remained silent. All had misgivings concerning Boromir, who solely believed that the Ring might be used to defeat their common enemies. This, thought the wise, was very dangerous indeed. However, Gondor had sought the Elves council, as in days of old, and this was not to be forgotten.
"I ask one thing, Gandalf," Elrond said, uneasily. "Can Boromir be trusted? Men, as you know, are weak. Their thirst for power and wealth clouds their judgement. Is Boromir any different? You should know more than any other how the Ring can manipulate and seduce."
"If we are to place our hopes for Middle Earth in men," Gandalf replied, "then, surely we must have a representative from its country."
Elrond sighed, but was not convinced. "What think you, Aragorn?"
Aragorn thought a moment in silence before giving his answer. "Boromir should be given the option of coming. Misgivings or no, his presence will speak volumes of where his people stand in this, the last fight."
"Glorfindel?" Elrond enquired. Glorfindel nodded his head in agreement. "Then it is settled," Elrond continued. "Boromir, too, shall be offered this opportunity. We now have but one space remaining. I believe that space should be reserved for an Elf, do you not agree?"
"It is my wish to go," Glorfindel said, modestly. All eyes turned to him, surprised.
Elrond's eyes were gentle in their understanding. "It is to be understood that you would, good Glorfindel. However, it would not do. Being such a noble Lord of my House, there is no possibility that you could invade Mordor unnoticed. Though valiant warrior you are, it would be the Fellowship's undoing."
Glorfindel nodded in agreement, and did not appear the least humbled for having thus been rejected. "Whom should go, then? Elladan? Elrohir?"
"I fear my sons as well," Elrond replied, "would serve no better for our cause."
"What of Legolas, son of Thranduil?" Aragorn enquired. "Surely the honorable Prince, quite unknown to Sauron, would serve better stealth. I can vouch for his skills in combat. There are none in Mirkwood who can rival his bow."
"Aragorn is right," Gandalf agreed. "Legolas would be a fine choice to represent the Elves. Do you have any objection, Glorfindel?"
"Nay, Legolas will serve considerably, I believe," Glorfindel replied. "Elrond, what is your opinion?"
Elrond sat for a moment in contemplative thought before rising from the round table, and striding toward a smaller table, laden with scrolls of parchment. All eyes followed him curiously as he searched the pile for one particular letter. Upon finding the one desired, he uncurled it, and once more read its contents. A particular passage interested him greatly.
"Therefore, Elrond, it is my understanding that a quest of supreme importance shall be on the horizon soon. If this is so, do not hesitate to include my son, Legolas, amongst its protectors. Fear not that I am oblivious to the dangers of such a request. However, I feel that this is not for me to decide. Pray do not let any know that I have such information, least of all my son.
Yours, as ever,
Elrond replaced the letter on the table, and saw all eyes clasped upon him, held in bewilderment. "I think you make an excellent suggestion, Aragorn. Legolas, too, shall be offered a place in our Fellowship."
* * *
Legolas knocked on the door softly, and when a voice bid him enter, he did so, opening the door quietly. Elrond stood on the open terrace, and Legolas was instantly struck by how noble and wise the great Lord appeared. Sunlight washed down upon him, illuminating his dark hair, and set his silver circlet upon his head sparkling in the evening light. Elrond's long, jade, velvet robes made him appear very elegant, and with a smooth white hand, he motioned Legolas to join him. Legolas did as much, and took his place beside the highborn Elf.
"How have you enjoyed your stay with us, Legolas?" Elrond enquired, pouring his guest some scarlet wine in a long, crystal flute.
"Very much," Legolas said, accepting the refreshment. "Thank you, Lord Elrond. Indeed, I cannot recollect the last time I saw Rivendell so busy with such a variety of peoples. Not since the old days, at least. It has been long since we were so unified."
"You are very perceptive, young Legolas. This is the last stand of all the free peoples. You bore witness to the great Council, and are now to return to Mirkwood, and relate the whole to your father. Pray give him this for me," Elrond said, handing him a roll of parchment, sealed with the emblem of Elrond.
Taking the letter, Legolas thanked the Lord. "I shall do as you ask, Lord Elrond."
"I fear I must ask more of you before you depart. As you are well aware, a Fellowship of Middle Earth is being made to destroy the One Ring. It is my choice, and those here of whom I hold in great esteem, that you should join this company. It would be you who represents our race."
Legolas was beyond surprise. He stared at Elrond, unable to make any reply. Elrond, seeing his dismay, continued. "Understand it is only with your free will that we can allow you to embark on this quest. Feel no need of right or wrong, or of duty. You must want to go."
Nodding, Legolas signaled his understanding, but beyond that, he said nothing.
"It will be very dangerous. You may very likely never return. Pray give it some thought and discuss it with your family. I need no answer today."
"I shall join the Fellowship," Legolas said quietly but firmly and full of feeling.
"Would you not like to confer with your wife?"
"It is because of my wife that I shall go. Because of her, my brothers, and my family. The trees, streams and valleys, mountains and rivers, and all that I hold dear to this world which will soon be no more to us. They have housed us, and been our lifelong friends. If I do not go, I shall feel forever guilty of whatever outcome there shall be. Nay, Lord Elrond; my mind is made. It is my wish to go."
"Then I shall not attempt to discourage you. Pray give my sincerest regards to your wife and father."
"Thank you, Lord Elrond. I shall depart within the hour. When am I to return?"
"I have great hope that we shall discover yet where Gollum hides. Stay at your house no longer than a fortnight. I believe December is the month when the Fellowship will depart. Frodo should be fully recovered by then."
"Thank you, Lord Elrond. I shall return in December."
"I therefore make my farewell to you, Legolas, son of Thranduil. May you return to us safely."
Legolas bowed deeply before departing from Elrond's chamber. Hastily he bade his goodbyes to Gandalf and Aragorn, and received even more letters to deliver to his father. He and his kinsmen now prepared, they stood as an elf brought them four horses laden with provisions and gifts to be brought back with them. Lómeril stepped out of the shadows, mischievous grin adorning his face.
"Our competition will have to wait, it seems. You do not run away? Though I would not be surprised if you were. I am very skilled with my bow. No doubt it has caused you trepidation."
An amused smile spread over Legolas' face. "I was sent home by Lord Elrond."
"He dislikes you so much?" Lómeril asked, eyes dancing. "Nay, I cannot tease you! Though I find it amusing sport. Did I not say that you would be returning to your wife soon enough? Now you see there was no need for melancholy."
"I am returning to her, but not for long. December shall carry me back here, and beyond," Legolas replied, amused at his friend's impertinence.
"It seems your heart again shall have reason for sorrow. Ah, poor Legolas! Are you never to be happy?" Lómeril asked, teasingly. "I shall come with you to the boarders, my friend. Your journey shall be shorter with our horses bearing you to the foot of the mountain."
"Thank you, Lómeril," Legolas said, gazing one last time at the luminous city, full of music and starlight song. "Your company I graciously accept."
"Then come! Your loving wife is waiting." The four climbed onto their elven mounts, and once again rode off beneath the dark veil of the forest, leaving the fair, elven city behind them.
End of Chapter Twenty-One