The Council of Elrond.
The following morning the Council of Elrond convened in the same location where the gathering had been held the night before. Gandalf and Frodo along with a select group of Men, Elves and Dwarves sat in a semi-circle around a stone pedestal. Everyone was quiet pondering why the meeting had been called. Elrond realized that there was one member of the group was absent.
“Forgive my lateness, Lord Elrond.” spoke Solaris, as she entered the room wearing the pale green and beige male style tunic.
“It is forgiven, Solaris. Please sit,” Elrond replied, gently, as he waved his hand where the elves were congregated.
Only two moved to give her room to sit – Legolas and his Mirkwood traveling companion. She nodded her thanks to them both as she sat down.
“There are already far too many elves at this council for my liking,” shouted a surly-looking dwarf, glancing over at the lone female in the council. “We now add a female! Why include such weakness?” he growled.
“Weak!” Solaris snapped back at him. “I say not me! Cast off your bigoted beliefs that the females of any race…whether it be dwarf, Man or elves are weaklings! We have to bear more than you could ever stand in your life! I am more than worthy of being here! I am no mere elf-maiden!”
The dwarf to his right tried to calm him down but he would not calm down.
“Females should remain where you would do best at home in the kitchen with children by your side!” spat the dwarf.
Elrond tried to calm the rising fury, “Stop this arguing! We have more important things to discuss than which is the stronger or weaker gender!”
He turned to look towards the Lord of the Dwarves to help him put a stop this arguing but then he saw that Gimli, the dwarf who tried to quiet his companion reaching for his axe. He groaned for he knew this could only result in greater hatred between the elves and the dwarves.
A pair of daggers landed between the legs of the dwarf who held the axe, close enough to touch his thighs. The sound of his axe was heard as it hit to the ground.
“I am an Assassin and a Ranger! I am more deadly than any male in this room. And I have a further right to be here I was kidnapped from my own lands by the Nazgul!” snapped Solaris, striding towards the dwarf.
As she went to claim her daggers from beneath the dwarf’s chair, the council was quiet, having heard what she was. Solaris sheathed her daggers, and turned from the dwarves to resume her place next to Legolas and his travel companion. He was not happy sitting next to female Ranger and an assassin to boot!
Solaris glared at the other members of the meeting, cold fury burning in her eyes. Finally she regained her equilibrium and turned to Elrond, saying, “Forgive the display of anger, Lord Elrond. Usually, I am more controlled of my temper.”
“You are forgiven, Solaris, for you were defending the honor of your gender.” replied Elrond. “But we would hear all that you can tell us of this kidnapping?”
“I think it was not premeditated, Lord Elrond. I was the first of my people to take up the bow against the riders when they came charging into our lands, and so they abducted me to deter further attack against themselves. Later I thought they would kill me, but the prince of Mirkwood arrived in time to thwart that plan.”
Attention was turned to Legolas as he described what he had seen in the forest and confirmed that it was indeed a Black Rider he had seen fleeing the area. At this Elrond, looking concerned, ordered the guard patrols to be doubled on the borders of his realm. He did not wish for the Nazgul to be within the bounds of Rivendell.
“Now,” said Gandalf. “We need to discuss that which has brought us all here together.”
Elrond gazed at the assembly for a moment before speaking, “Strangers from distant lands, friends of old. You have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle-earth stands upon the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this fate – this one doom.” Gesturing to the column in front of him, he continued, “Bring forth the Ring, Frodo.”
Frodo rose from his seat and laid the Ring on the pedestal. As he returned to his seat by the wizard, the air was filled with whispers.
Boromir spoke calmly and yet his voice was excited. “So it is true…”
A man from Laketown, sitting to Boromir’s left murmured, “The Doom of Men.”
Boromir shook his head as he continued. “It is a gift, a gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring? Long has my father, the steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay, by the blood of our people – all your lands kept safe! Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him!”
Solaris had held her tongue since she let loose her daggers but she snapped now, her voice cold and sharp, “Be silent! You do not know what you are facing here, Boromir. The One Ring cannot be wielded by mere men, dwarves or elves without becoming corrupted and evil. It has only one master, Sauron.”
Elrond sighed. He had known that some of the council would argue to use the ring. “You have only one choice. The Ring must be destroyed.”
Gimli stood up with his axe in hand, saying, “What are we waiting for?”
He struck the Ring with all his strength, only to be thrown back against the hard, cold stone floor. The Ring remained intact. As the Ring was thus assaulted, Frodo saw the Eye of Sauron in his mind and winced in pain.
Elrond spoke, “The Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Gloin by any craft that we here possess. The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.”
Gandalf looked around at all those assembled, his gaze lingering longest on Frodo and Solaris. As Elrond continued, “One of you must do this.”
There was a lengthy silence, then Boromir stood and, in a voice redolent of a teacher lecturing a particularly stupid group of students said, “One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. And the great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland. It is riddled with fire and ash and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly!”
Legolas stood up sharply, “Have you heard nothing Lord Elrond has said? The Ring must be destroyed!”
Gimli leapt to his feet, glaring at the elf, “And I suppose you think you’re the one to do it?!”
Boromir turned towards them. “And what if we fail…what then?! What happens when Sauron takes back what is his?”
Gimli spat, “I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an elf!”
The Mirkwood elves at the council rose as at this insult to their prince, moving menacingly towards the dwarves; the remaining council members also stood and began to shout at each other. As Legolas held his kinsmen back, even Gandalf and Elrond joined the argument. Only Frodo remained sitting as he heard the ring clearly in his head.
“Ash nazg durbatuluk! Ash nazg gimbatul! Ash nazg gimbatul! Ash nazg gimbatul!”
Gimli snarled, “Never trust an elf – I would never trust an elf I couldn’t throw!” “You couldn’t throw a hobbit child, let alone an elf!” retorted one of Legolas’ companions.
Gandalf yelled loudly at them all, “Do you not understand that while we bicker amongst ourselves, Sauron’s power grows?! None can escape it!”
Frodo remained seated, watching the Ring uneasily, the angry figures of the council reflected on its surface. The ring’s voice grew louder inside his head, and suddenly flames engulfed its surface.
The argument continued unabated. Slowly, a look of determination grew on Frodo’s face. He stood, taking a few steps toward the angry assembly, and tried to make his voice heard above the din.
The argument died down immediately. Gandalf closed his eyes as he heard this and the members of the council slowly turned towards the hobbit, astonished.
Frodo took another breath and said, “I will take the Ring to Mordor, though I know not the way.”
Gandalf walked over to his dear friend. “I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins, so long as it is yours to bear.” He placed his hands reassuringly on Frodo’s shoulders.
Aragorn rose from his place and knelt before Frodo, “If by my life or death, I can protect you, I will. You have my sword.”
Legolas joined Aragorn and the wizard, “And you have my bow.”
“I would also pledge myself to you and this undertaking.” Solaris spoke. Frodo smiled faintly and nodded towards her. Solaris knelt before him. “You have my bow and all the skills that I possess.”
Gimli scowled at the two elves, and then turned to Frodo as he said, striding towards them. “And my axe!”
Boromir moved towards the group. “You carry the fates of us all little one. If this is indeed the will of the council, then Gondor will see it done.”
There was a loud rustling from one of the bushes surrounding the circle, as Sam sprung out from his hiding place. He rushed towards his master, saying, “Mr. Frodo is not goin’ anywhere without me!”
Elrond looked as if he was trying to suppress a laugh. He smiled as he spoke, “No indeed, it is hardly possible to separate you even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not.”
At this moment, Pippin and Merry emerged where they had been concealed, to join their friends. “Wait! We are coming too!”
Merry said, as he looked up at the Lord of Rivendell, “You’d have to send us home tied up in a sack to stop us from going with them!”
Elrond smiled and said, “Ten companions. So be it! You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring!”
Before they all left the ring, Elrond and Solaris whispered quietly but it seemed that Elrond didn’t approve that she was going. He relented as he nodded. Solaris bowed her head to him and walked away from him.
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