Boromir slumped down in his seat on hearing Elrond’s words. Novarwen, however, felt relieved. She stole a glance at Mithrandir, and he looked as though a hundred years had been lifted off him.
A red-bearded Dwarf stood up. “Then what are we waiting for?” he growled. He lifted his axe and made for the Ring’s pedestal. With a crash, he brought it down on the Ring.
For a fraction of a second, Novarwen allowed herself to believe that that was all it took to destroy it; the fraction of a second before a blindingly white flash seared her vision, and the image of a fiery Eye sprang before her own eyes. Then it was gone, but her heart was beating fast, and she was not the only one in the half-circle breathing hard.
“The Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Gloin,” Elrond said sharply to the Dwarf, “by any craft that we here possess. He directed his words now to them all. “The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can it be unmade.” Elrond paused for a moment, then continued talking. “It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.” He looked at them all steadily. “One of you must do this.”
Novarwen bit back a gasp. That was a new development! Mordor was on the other side of Middle-earth from Rivendell, and the journey there was by no means easy. She opened her mouth to ask Elrond if there was absolutely no other way to destroy it, but Boromir murmured, “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” Novarwen rolled her eyes – she was getting sick of Boromir and his protests. She got steadily angry as he enumerated the many reasons why the destruction of the Ring was impossible. “It is folly!” he declared.
Novarwen leaped to her feet again. “Have you heard nothing Lord Elrond has said?” she demanded furiously. “The Ring must be destroyed!”
A red-bearded Dwarf looked at her. “And I suppose you think you’re the one to do it!”
Legolas stood beside his sister. “Mind your tongue when you speak to the royal house of Mirkwood!” he snapped at the Dwarf.
“And if we fail,” Boromir added, “what then? What happens when Sauron takes back what is his?”
The Dwarf stood up and planted his axe hilt on the ground. “I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an Elf!” he shouted, and pandemonium reined supreme. Everyone got to their feet and shouted at each other. Novarwen and Legolas both had to be restrained from attacking Boromir and the Dwarf, but Legolas gave the Dwarf a baleful glare, and Novarwen yelled oaths at Boromir that would have made the toughest of the Taurroch blush. She couldn’t hear her own voice over the roar of the rest, but she kept yelling what she wanted to be heard.
Suddenly she could hear a voice, and she shut up when she heard what it said. “I will take it!” She turned around. The child, Frodo, was on his feet and facing them all. “I will take the Ring to Mordor,” he said again, his voice quivering a little now under so many stares, “although,” he added,” I…do not know the way.”
Mithrandir stepped forward and clasped Frodo’s shoulder. “I will help you bear this burden, Frodo Baggins,” he promised, “as long as it is yours to bear.”
Across the circle, Aragorn stood up – Had he stayed sitting during the fight? Novarwen wondered – and walked over to kneel at Frodo’s feet. “If by my life or death, I can protect you, I will.” He took Frodo’s tiny hand in his. “You have my sword.”
“And you have my bow!” Legolas added. Novarwen whipped her head around and stared at her brother as he took a place behind Frodo. Had he gone crazy?
“And my axe.” The Dwarf came to join too, though he stood as far away from Legolas as he could.
That did it. No Dwarf was going to get the better of a Princess of Mirkwood. Novarwen walked forward. “And my knives,” she pledged. Legolas shot her a look of astonishment and worry, but she shrugged it off.
No! Novarwen thought as Boromir too walked over to Frodo. Don’t tell me he still thinks he can change our minds! she thought.
“You carry the fate of us all, little one,” he said to Frodo. Did she see resentment in his eyes? “If this is indeed the will of the Council,” the Steward’s son added, “Gondor will see it done.”
Novarwen bit her lip, feeling worried. The resentment was fading out, but she did not believe that Frodo would be safe with Boromir around. However, instinct told her that it would not be a good idea to mention her feelings right now, so she stayed silent.
Then something – someone – darted out of the bushes and ran to stand beside Frodo. It was another child, taller, with a look of stubbornness on his face that rivaled Novarwen’s best stubborn glare. “Mr. Frodo’s not going anywhere without me!” he declared. By now, Novarwen had decided that they were not children. No child could offer to bear the One Ring, and no child had ever looked that stubborn. Stubbornness of that sort belonged only to adults.
Elrond smiled. “Indeed, it is hardly possible to separate you two, even when he is invited to a secret council and you are not.” Novarwen hid a grin as the second person – she had to find out what sort of people they were! – blushed red to the roots of his hair.
“Oy! We’re coming too!” yelled a voice not far off, and two more of the small people raced onto the platform. Novarwen raised an eyebrow – while Frodo seemed somehow fitting to be the bearer of the Ring, and the second one was stubborn and devoted enough to last, these two new ones looked extremely young to be willing to set off to Mordor.
One of them was speaking. “Besides, you need people of intelligence on this sort of…mission. Quest. Thing.”
The other looked at him. “Well, that rules you out, Pip.” The one who had just spoken went red.
“Ten companions,” Elrond murmured. His eyes fixed on them unblinkingly. Then he smiled. “So be it! You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring!”
Novarwen couldn’t help the smile that broke onto her face. What would Irithion think if he saw this? I, the “disgrace to the family,” am helping to destroy the Ring! She grinned as she pictured the councilor’s face when he heard about it.