Mirkwood's Blade - Chapter Eight - The Council

Little note: I put the movie Council in this - no offense to the one in the book, but the one in the movie goes a lot faster! Mostly for this story, I'll be using the movie more than the book, just so you guys know.

"Seems like the world's here in Rivendell," Novarwen whispered to Legolas as they took their seats for the Council. "Well, maybe not the world," she amended. "Are all the races of Middle-earth represented?"

Her brother nodded. "Men over there, we Elves of course are here..." Legolas scanned the crowd. "Well, the Dwarves are quite easy to spot!" Novarwen glanced briefly at them. "Over there...Eru! It's Mithrandir!"

Novarwen whipped around and stared at the gray-robed wizard sitting two seats away from her. There was no mistaking that beard, that staff. It was Mithrandir, come to Rivendell for the Council. "Who's that sitting next to him?" Novarwen asked softly.

Legolas frowned. "I don't know," he whispered back. "He seems to be a small child."

Novarwen looked hard at the child. There seemed to be more about him than that, but she had no idea who he could be.

Then Elrond came onto the platform where they all sat for the Council, and everyone - even the Dwarves - fell silent. The Lord of Rivendell took his seat and pinned them all with a piercing stare. Novarwen shivered under it, although she had felt worse things than a stare.

Finally Elrond spoke. "Strangers from distant lands, friends of old, you are summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor." A murmur raced around the half-circle of seated people. Novarwen swallowed hard. Elrond turned to the child. "Bring forth the Ring, Frodo."

Novarwen gasped. Theryn and Arwen were right, this was about the Ring! She watched, mesmerized, as the child came to the center of the platform and placed the Ring on a short pedestal in the middle. There was a small thud as the Ring touched it.

Novarwen gazed at the Ring. A voice sang in her head as she stared at its gleaming gold, the perfect simplicity in that shining circle. Novarwen...Novarwen...Princess, warrior maiden, what is it that troubles you? Tell me your secrets and I can help you...I can help you become Captain again...I can help you see whatever you want...Theryn? This Elf, he is present in your mind. I see you are thinking about him, you wonder why he has come back now after he left you in Mirkwood...Novarwen, I can help you understand that puzzle. Only slip me on your finger, claim me as your own, and together we can do anything! I can even help you figure out what happened to Goroth -

Novarwen gasped and wrenched her mind back. Goroth - Sauron - the Ring was his, the Ring was evil! The Ring lay gleaming on the pedestal. So innocent, so beautiful...and so deadly. Novarwen shivered as she thought about how sweet and kind its voice had sounded in her mind. She shook her head violently. No, she thought firmly, hiding the terror in her heart from it. No. You can't have me.

A voice called her fully back to the present - a voice belonging to the most foolish creature, Elf, Man, or Dwarf, that she had ever heard in her life. "It is a gift," the voice said. A Man across the half-circle of seats rose to his feet. "A gift to the foes of Mordor!" Novarwen opened her mouth to yell at him, but Legolas gripped her arm and held her in her seat. His face was as white as chalk, though, and Novarwen wondered if the Ring had spoken to her brother, too. Had it spoken to everyone there? Had it spoken to this Man?

The Man was still talking. "Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the enemies of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe!" Novarwen knew who he was now - the Steward of Gondor was Denethor, and this must be his eldest son, Boromir. He continued, getting more passionate with every word he spoke. "Give Gondor the weapon of the Enemy! Let us use it against him!" No, you fool! Novarwen thought angrily. Can't you see its evil? It's trying to do this to you!

A Man on the far end of the circle called out, "You cannot wield it!" Boromir turned, chagrined, to glare at the man who had made him lose face. "None of us can," the Man continued, oblivious to the fact that Boromir was giving him a glare that would have turned a lesser man to stone. More amazing yet, the Man was looking Boromir straight in the eyes and not flinching! Taurroch-trained though she was, Novarwen was not sure if she could have done the same. There was also an aura about him, power and wisdom and leadership. The Man rose several notches in her opinion. "The One Ring," he added, "answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master!"

"And what," spat Boromir, "would a Ranger know of this?"

Novarwen grinned to herself. Boromir must be blind - only a blind man would not have noticed the authority that the Man seemed to wear, like a pair of boots or a sword. Whoever - whatever - he was, this Man was no Ranger.

Legolas sprang to his feet. Novarwen stared - her brother was not often given to outbursts or displays of temper, but he definitely seemed to be displaying almost palpable hostility toward Boromir. "He is no mere Ranger!" Legolas cried. "He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance!"

Novarwen's eyebrows shot up. Aragorn? If this was Aragorn - and Legolas never lied - she was looking at the heir to Gondor. She took a deep breath, trying to digest the fact.

Boromir also seemed to be doing the same thing. "Aragorn?" he asked almost breathlessly. Shame and anger were plain on his face. "This is Isildur's heir?"

He doubted Legolas' words. How dare he, a mere mortal, presume to challenge the word of a Prince of Mirkwood? Novarwen was on her feet, not realizing that she looked exactly like her brother when he had jumped up. "And heir to the throne of Gondor!" she blazed, furious.

Boromir looked at her. New emotions filled his eyes now, scorn - scorn?! - and fear. "Gondor," he said in a low voice, "has no king." He looked back at Aragorn, then added, "Gondor needs no king." He resumed his seat, and Novarwen and Legolas did the same, both a little ashamed of their outburst.

"You have only one choice," Elrond announced. "The Ring must be destroyed."

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