A vey strange experience - A council to remember- Part Two

It was a little while in coming. Apparently Bilbo had never heard of abridged stories, and Caleb was forced to poke his dozing sister several times before they got back to the topic of the Ring.

Colleen was roused by the sound of Gandalf's voice saying, "And that Frodo, is the end of my account. May Elrond forgive the length of it. But such a thing has not happened before, that Gandalf broke tryst and did not come when promised. An account to the Ring-bearer of so strange an event was required, I think.

"Well, the Tale is now told, from first to, last. Here we all are, and here is the Ring. But we have not come any nearer to our purpose. What shall we do with it?"

Colleen thought for a moment, and then decided to try and cut this short before she passed out on the floor and had to be carried to her room. She cleared her throat and then spoke, pulling out her knife and cleaning her now immaculate nails. " Personally I think it's pretty obvious what has to be done. No one with the power to use it can without setting himself up in Souron's place. We can't keep it here, he'll find it sooner or later and take over any how. We can't send it over the Sea, that road will be guarded by Black Riders, and they will almost certainly get the Ring if we go that way. So, why not take the least expected route? Straight to Mordor, up through his lands, up into Mount Doom and toss it in? Then we'll be rid of it for good and at least we'll have more of a chance then if we kept it here."

Everyone stared at the young girl with utter astonishment. They realized she had just summed up their choices and the pro's and con's of each. Elrond realized that his mouth had fallen open and quickly shut it again. "Very well, you are correct, though I cannot say that I would have used precisely those words. It seems our only choice is to destroy the One Ring or to send it over the Sea. I must agree that there is little hope either way."

"Maybe," said Gandalf, "but the only measure know to Souron is desire, desire for power. The thought has not yet occurred to him that any will refuse it, that given the chance we may seek to destroy it, if we seek this we shall put him out of reckoning."

"At least for a little while, " said Elrond. "The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may b attempted by the weak, with as much hope as the strong. Yet it is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world, small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are else where."

"Very well, very well, Master Elrond, it's plain enough what your pointing at. Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair, and Bilbo had better finish it or himself. I was very comfortable here, I was getting on with my book. If you want to know, I am just writing the ending for it. I had thought of putting: and he lived happily ever afterwards to the end of his days. It is a good ending and none the worse for having been used before. Now I shall have to alter that :it does not look like coming true; and anyway there will have to be several more chapters. It is a frightful nuisance. When ought I to start?"

"Of course, my dear Bilbo," said Gandalf, " if you really had started this affair, you might be expected to finish it, but you know by now that starting is too great a claim for any, and only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero." At this Bilbo got up and bowed in Gandalf's direction. "You need not bow! Though the word was meant, and we do not doubt that under the jest you are making a valiant offer, but one beyond your strength. If you need my advice any longer, I would say your part is ended, finish your book, but get ready to write a sequel when they come back,"

Bilbo laughed. "I have never known you to give pleasant advice before, and as all your unpleasant advice is good, I wonder if this advice is not bad. I don't believe I have the strength or luck left to deal with it. It has grown and I have not. But tell me what do you mean by they?"

"The messengers that are to be sent with the Ring."

"Exactly! And who are they to be? That seems to me what this Council has to decide, and all that it has to decide. Elves may thrive on speech, and Dwarves endure great weariness, but I am an old hobbit and I miss my noon meal. Can you give us some names now? Or put it off until after dinner."

Colleen watched as Frodo struggled with saying the words he knew he must, and an overwhelming desire to take the burden from his back came over her. She opened her mouth to speak, at the same time he did. Caleb sensing what his sister was about to say, quickly clapped a hand over her mouth before she said something she would regret later.

"I will take the Ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way." Frodo said, as one in a dream. At that moment Colleen leapt up and said, " And I will go with you as far as I can! " And Frodo looked at her in surprise.

Elrond spoke," If I understand aright all that I have heard," he said," I would say that the task is appointed to you, Frodo. This is the hour of the Shire folk , when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers of the Great. But it is a heavy burden, so heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you, but if you take it freely I will say that your choice is right. And I believe, Colleen that you should at least go with him. You and your brother seem to have a part to play in these doings."

"But you won't send them off alone surely Master? A fourteen year old girl and a hobbit, alone in Mordor?" Sam looked aghast at the idea.

"No indeed!" said Elrond with a smile, you at least shall go with them, indeed it seems hardly possible to separate you and Frodo, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not!"

Sam blushed and looked at his furry toes,"It's a nice pickle we've landed ourselves in Mr. Frodo!"
Colleen lay on her bed, making some attempt to recover from the night before, it had been fun to steal those lines, but she was questioning the wisdom of it. And as for going with Frodo to Mordor, at least she didn't have to go all the way, she was going with Aragorn. Still tramping over Antarctica in a swim suit had a certain appeal in comparison to Moria.

There was a knock at the door and Colleen opened her eyes and dragged her carcass over to the door and opened it. Aragorn was standing there looking down at her. "I wished to speak to you before I left."

"Where are you going?"

"I am going to scout out and see what has become of the Nine."

"They lost their horses in the flood, they lost their cloaks, they are mad, they are going back empty and shapeless to their master. They will be back, but not for a long time."

He stared at her," How do you know that? And how did you know my heritage? Very few people know that and those who do do not speak openly of it, yet you spoke as knowledgeably about me as Elrond."

"Look, I can't tell you how I know what I know, at least not yet. I will tell you when it becomes necessary, not a moment before or after."

Aragorn reached down and tilted her face upwards gently as and stared very hard at her as though he was looking for something. He released her with a strange look.

Colleen sighed with relief as he left. Now, if she could get some sleep and dodge questions from the rest of the Council members she might live to see the return the scouts.

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