Child of Mordor - Five
I took a few liberties in the dialogue of the Council, because everybody knows how it goes, and I don't want to bore you.
Legolas yawned and stretched as crawled off his sleeping couch. They didn't have beds in Rivendell; they had `sleeping couches.' Legolas thought it was silly, but they were comfortable, so he didn't obsess on it.
Yet, he awoke with a sick feeling in his stomach. It took his tired mind a moment to recall why. Then it came to him. Neoresh.
He had seen her again yesterday, on the balcony. Later, he had talked with the three girls who had been there, but they were silly and foolish and he left them as quickly as he could. He was more afraid of that girl than he was of any living creature.
But when he looked out of his window at the sun, he realized that there was no time for dreams, however important they might be. He had to go the Council, and if he didn't hurry, he would be later than he already was.
When he arrived, Elrond was in the middle of his address. "-stands upon the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall." He put such power into those last three words that none in all the room could keep back a shiver, not even the Elves.
To himself, Legolas thought that that was not much of a welcome, but he knew he was being foolish. If Elrond had stopped there, his words would have lost all their power. But he was a prince, and a much admired one, so something about being overlooked made him snappish. Made him want to slap someone. Made him want-
But Elrond had just said something as Legolas angrily took his seat. He had said, "Bring forth the Ring, Frodo Baggins."
That was it then. It was not Legolas' own feelings that made him so vexed and unhappy, but the evil power of the One Ring. He had not even noticed, and yet had fallen under its spell.
Though he refused to show to all those assembled, Legolas's fear rose up in like a well of poison. This thing was so evil, and yet so powerful and it lay here right in front of him. He was not strong enough to wield it. But he wanted it so much...Why shouldn't it be his? How did a foolish hobbit get his dirty little hands on it!
And then he caught himself again. His thoughts had been escalating furiously, and they got angrier and angrier. They were all centered on the Ring.
Then a man spoke. "It is a gift," he said, looking dazed. "A gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring?"
He spoke with such passion that Legolas shivered. If he, an Elf prince, was vulnerable to the Ring, then of course this weak man would be. Legolas opened his mouth to speak, but Aragorn, seated across from him, spoke first.
"You cannot wield it," he said. "None of us can. The One Ring answers to Sauron alone." There was finality in his tone.
But the man seemed to hear none of it. "And what," he said haltingly, "would a Ranger know of these things?"
That was too much! Did this fool not know who he spoke to? Legolas leaped to his feet, outraged.
"That is no mere Ranger," he exclaimed hotly. "He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. If you are a man of Gondor, you owe him your allegiance." His voice was made crisp and sharp with anger.
Aragorn did not look pleased. He dropped his head in his hands and motioned for Legolas to take his seat.
"Havo dad, Legolas," he said softly.
Legolas obeyed the request to sit. He appreciated Aragorn speaking in Elvish so that this stupid mortal would not understand the rebuke, but if Aragorn would not defend himself, Legolas would.
The man sat down, muttering something Legolas couldn't understand.
Elrond continued. "You have only one choice. The Ring must be destroyed. It must be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came. In the fires of Mount Doom, in the heart of Mordor. One of you must do this."
There was a heavy silence for a moment that seemed like forever. Legolas battled with his conscience. He heard the man talking, but ignored him for the moment. He stared at the Ring, fighting the dark whirlpool of its will. It called his name in the dark whispers of the speech of Mordor, and told him that he was the only one worthy of carrying it, that of course he'd be safe, and he'd be powerful too...
Legolas pulled himself out of its spell, shaking, just as he had been the last time. Its words were like honey covering the stench of something foul.
"-folly. Not with ten thousand men could you think to do this." The man was still talking. "But we can use the Ring, no matter what is said by others." His last remark was spoken with a glare at Legolas.
Legolas bristled furiously at this insult and leaped out of his chair. "Have heard nothing Lord Elrond has said? The Ring must be destroyed!" Legolas spoke partly with the voice of reason, but mostly out of his own fear.
A dwarf who Legolas had not noticed stood. "And I suppose you think you're the one to do it!" It was not a question, but an angry insult.
Then the man spoke again, heat rising in his voice. "And what happens when Sauron takes back what is his? What then?"
The dwarf spoke again, this time in a loud growl. "I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an ELF!"
Then chaos broke loose. Gandalf, the wizard, began to cry out in his deep voice, the Elves to Legolas's right and left went after the dwarf to return his insults, and even Aragorn joined in. Through it all, Legolas had a horrible feeling that the Ring was laughing at them all.
But a voice cut through the bleak fighting. The voice was pure, innocent, and untainted by the greed they all felt. It was the hobbit, Frodo.
Gandalf backed down, fighting back tears. Everyone else quieted to hear the hobbit repeat his words.
"I will take the Ring to Mordor," he said hesitantly. "Though...though I do not know the way."
Legolas stared. This small, frightened, hobbit, of a race that hardly had anything to with the rest of the world, was willingly volunteering to do what not one in a host of Men, Elves, and Dwarves would dare. And he had resisted the pull of the Ring for all the long time he had it before he reached Rivendell. So, was it indeed the truth that this young hobbit was the greatest of all present?
But then Gandalf distracted Legolas's attention. He stepped up to Frodo and put his hand on his shoulder.
"I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, for as long as it is yours to bear."
None present missed the expression of overwhelming gratitude that crossed Frodo's face when Gandalf spoke those simple words.
Then Aragorn stood. HE looked hard at Frodo. "If by my life or death I can protect you," he said firmly. "I will."
Then he strode over to the surprised but gratified hobbit and knelt. "You have my sword," he said softly.
And then something came over Legolas. Some desire to defeat the Ring, to prove he was stronger. And some want to help this hobbit, a person braver and stronger than all assembled. He felt his feet pushing him towards the spot where Frodo stood. Then he spoke.
"And you have my bow."
Legolas thought they were the bravest words he had ever spoken in all his thousands of years.
But his proud mood was spoiled by the dwarf who had insulted him earlier walking over. "And my axe," he said in a loud growl.
He glared up at Legolas just as ferociously as Legolas glared at him.
But both their worry was directed at another when the man walked over to the group.
"You carry the fate of us all, little one." His voce was soft and low, but his eyes were hot and looked angrily into Elrond's. "But if this is indeed the will of the Council, then Gondor will see it done."
Aragorn shifted nervously, but he too had noticed something else. Another hobbit came running out from behind a bush. He called Frodo `Mr. Frodo' and demanded to go along. Legolas was doubtful, but when the hobbit looked up at him, his eyes were so gentle and his face so set that Legolas didn't have the heart to say nay.
But his sentimentality was put to the test when two more hobbits burst out from behind a statue. Did they think this was going to be fun? But these two were just as determined to go along, stating that "you'd have tie us up in a sack to stop us" and other such gems of loyalty to Frodo. Legolas grinned wryly at the shocked expression on Elrond's face. But it only lasted a minute. Then he looked at the group almost proudly.
"Nine Companions," he said slowly. "So be it. You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring."
Legolas shivered at his new title, not wanting to be so closely associated with something so evil, but the name seemed to fit.
Then one of the hobbits spoke, interrupting the profound silence. "Great. Where are we going?"
And all of Legolas's few doubts that this trip wouldn't be a wild ride were washed away.
And in the chamber of the Palantir in Isengard, a young woman dressed all in black laughed until she cried.