“At last!” Novarwen gasped when Legolas told her that he saw Rivendell nearby. “No more of these mountains!” Her brother chuckled as Novarwen raced to the edge of the mountain they were on and peered eagerly over the edge. She was apparently very satisfied with what she saw, because she whooped for joy and ran back to hug Brethil, Legolas, and Theryn. “Come on,” she urged the rest of her companions, “hurry up so we can get off these – “
“Novarwen, none of that stables talk now,” Legolas teased. “You’re going to be in decent company now.”
” `Going to be’ is right,” she teased back, earning herself a laugh from the two Arfaroth. Legolas hid a smile behind his hand and did some urging-on of his own. He was eager to get to Rivendell himself.
Soon they were crossing the bridge that led into the Last Homely House. Novarwen, who had never been far out of Mirkwood in her life, and those times on Taurroch business, was awed by the beauty of Rivendell. She gazed about her with wide-eyed amazement, drinking in the sights of this beautiful place. Legolas had to shake her by the shoulder to get her to realize that, mesmerized and goggling, she had walked right past the rest of them, who were being welcomed by dark-haired Elves and led into Lord Elrond’s house. Annoyed at herself, Novarwen followed them.
Once they were in the house, Lord Elrond himself came to greet them. “Friends from distant Mirkwood, welcome,” he said warmly, clasping Legolas’ hand. “Prince Legolas, would you introduce me to your companions?”
Legolas brought forth the two Arfaroth, and Elrond’s eyes widened as he met Theryn. “Theryn son of Mirthyn, am I not right?” he asked, and when Theryn nodded, Elrond looked to Novarwen as though he needed to sit down. “We have heard in Imladris about your exploits, Theryn, before and after you became leader of the Arfaroth.” Novarwen took a sly delight in seeing the usually cool Theryn go red.
“And this is my sister, Princess Novarwen of Mirkwood,” Legolas added, pulling Novarwen forward. She managed a curtsy, but almost fell over. “My sister has served as Captain of our riders, the Taurroch, for four hundred years, and has not had time to learn courtly skills,” Legolas said quickly, both he and his sister worried that Novarwen’s lack of those skills would not endear her to Elrond.
But the Lord of Rivendell smiled. “We have also heard of Princess Novarwen’s deeds with the Taurroch. I at least am honored that you have come here.” Novarwen was sure that Elrond was a very good flatterer, but all his words sounded completely honest. She smiled back, glad that Lord Elrond had accepted her without question.
An unspeakably beautiful Elf-maiden came into the room. “Father, the Dwarves are here – ” She stopped when she saw Elrond’s visitors and curtseyed. Novarwen watched her perfect curtsy and rolled her eyes, thinking of her own performance.
“My daughter. Arwen Undomiel,” Elrond said proudly, taking Arwen’s hand. Novarwen stared. Elves who saw Arwen often said that she looked like Luthien, the fairest Elf of all. Seeing Arwen’s exquisite beauty, Novarwen could believe it.
“Arwen, would you take Princess Novarwen to a room she can stay?” Elrond asked. “She’s come for the Council.”
Arwen smiled and took Novarwen’s hand. Novarwen followed her into a spacious room with a little terrace and large windows. “This is beautiful!” Novarwen gasped as she entered the room. “Then again, I’m used to sleeping in a barracks.” Arwen laughed. Novarwen dropped her bag on the bed. “Now where should I put my things?” she asked Arwen.
By the time the two of them got Novarwen settled, they were fast friends. Novarwen even asked Arwen what she thought the Council was about. Arwen’s face darkened instantly.
“I think – I’m certain – that it’s about the Ring,” she whispered. “I saw the Nazgul a few weeks ago, and they would not be in Middle-earth unless the Ring was awake. I’m sure that the hobbits have brought it to Rivendell, and that is why this Council is being called – to decide what to do with it.”
“And what do you think should be done?” Novarwen asked.
“It should be destroyed,” Arwen replied quickly. “Isildur saved it, and it betrayed him. It should not exist at this moment.”
Novarwen nodded emphatically. She completely agreed with what Arwen was saying, but she was worried that some – Men, especially – would not feel the same. The Council can’t be too soon, if it is about the Ring, she thought, but I can’t help being a little worried about what will happen when it is held.