The Council of Elrond
At the sound of a bell, Gandalf led Frodo and Bilbo back to the house for the Council of Elrond. Sam followed, uninvited and for the moment forgotten.
Elrond was there, as were several members of his household, including Glorfindel and Erestor, along with Galdor, an elf form the Grey Havens. Gloin was there with a younger dwarf, who turned out to be his son Gimli. Strider was once more in his travel-stained clothes. Two new arrivals were also there: Legolas, an elf of Mirkwood clad in green and brown, and a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance.
"This is Boromir," introduced Elrond. "He has just arrived from the South seeking answers to deep riddles."
Many tidings were discussed in Council. The news of the world outside and the growing Shadow in the south were debated.
Gloin told of Balin's return to Moria, the ancient home of the dwarves. "Moria! Moria! Too deep we delved there, and woke the nameless fear." He also told of a dark messenger from Mordor, who came to the Lonely Mountain seeking news of Baggins and of a little ring, the least of rings, a trifle that Sauron fancies.
"The Ring! What shall we do with the Ring? That is the purpose for which you were called here." Elrond recounted the history of the Ring: its forging, the armies of the Last Alliance, the fall of Elendil and Gil-galad, of Isildur taking the Ring, and of the slaughter of the Gladden Fields and the loss of the Ring in the river Aunduin.
Boromir told of Gondor. He and his brother both had a troubling dream:
"Seek for the Sword that was broken: in Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token that Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken, and the Halfling forth shall stand."
Strider pulled out his sword, Narsil, and cast its shards upon the table. "Here is the Sword that was Broken!"
"Who are you, and what have you to do with Minas Tirith?" challenged Boromir.
"He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn," said Elrond, "heir of Isildur and of Elendil."
"Then it belongs to you, and not to me at all!" exclaimed Frodo.
"No, Frodo," said Aragorn. "It belongs to neither of us, but it is your duty to bear it for now."
"Bring out the Ring, Frodo," said Gandalf, "the time has come."
"Behold Isildur's Bane!" declared Elrond.
Bilbo told of finding the Ring.
Frodo told his story. Every step of his journey was questioned and considered.
Gandalf told of his journeys in search of the identity of the Ring, and Aragorn told of the capture of Gollum. "Alas! Alas!" cried Legolas, and he told of the escape of Gollum.
"Well, he is gone," said Gandalf, "but he may yet play a role that neither he nor Sauron have foreseen."
Gandalf told of the reason for his disappearance.
"At the end of June I came upon Radagast the Brown. He told me that the Nazgul were abroad. I rode at once to Isengard to consult with Saruman the White, the greatest of my order."
"I met Saruman at Orthanc. He wore a ring on his finger. When I told him I was seeking his aid he scoffed. 'It has seldom been heard that Gandalf the Grey sought for aid, one so cunning and wise, wandering about the lands, and concerning himself in the business of others.'
"'Yes, I have come,' said I, 'for I have news from Radagast that the Nine have come forth.'
"Saruman laughed, no longer concealing his scorn. 'Radagast the Bird Tamer! Radagst the Simple! He has served his purpose, to bring you into my trap. I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colors!'
"Then I noticed that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours. 'I liked white better,' I said.
"'White!' he sneered. 'White cloth may be dyed. White light can be broken.'
"'In which case it is no longer white,' said I. 'And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.'
"'Enough of this!' Saruman cut me off. 'A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies will not avail us. We must join with this Power, Gandalf.'
"I rebuked him. 'I have heard speeches of that kind before, but only from emissaries of Mordor. You are wasting your time, Saruman.'
"'You have some way of opposing Sauron, then?' he whispered. 'The Ruling Ring? You know of it, don't you? Is that your business in the Shire?' There was a gleam in his eyes.
"'I would never tell you of the Ring!' I defied him. 'You were once head of our Council, but now you are revealed as a traitor!'
"They took me and set me on the pinnacle of Orthanc, until Saruman could find a way to learn of the Ring. I paced back and borth in despair. My only hope was that Butterbur would get the letter I had written to Frodo in time.
"For two months I languished there, but then there was a turn of luck. I had asked Radagast to send news to us at Isengard. He sent news via the Eagles of the Misty Mountains. One night, while I paced my prison atop the tower, Gwaihir Windlord, swiftest of the Great Eagles, came unlooked-for.
"I spoke to him and he bore me away, before Saruman was aware. I was far from Isengard, ere the wolves and orcs issued from the gate to pursue me.
"'I can bear you many leagues,' said Gwaihir, 'but not to the ends of the earth. I was sent to bear tidings not burdens.' So I asked him to bear me to Edoras, where the Lord of Rohan sits in his halls.
"I found that I was not over-welcome in Rohan. King Theoden bade me to take a horse and be gone. I chose the best in the land, a steed named Shadowfax.
"I rode north like the wind, and came to Bree just after Frodo. I was relieved that he had met Strider. I came to Rivendell only three days before the Ring, though I drew off four of the Nazgul so they were not at Weathertop.
"And that, Frodo, is the end of my account. May Elrond and the others forgive the length of it. But an account to the Ring-bearer of so strange an event was required, I think."
The Council long debated what must be done with the Ring. Hiding it was impossible, and using it was unbearable. It must be taken to Mordor to be destroyed.
"Very well, Master Elrond!" said Bilbo, standing. "It is clear enough what you imply. Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair and Bilbo will have to end it. I had hoped for peace and quiet, but I suppose I was wrong."
"No Bilbo," replied Elrond, "I do not doubt your offer, but this duty has passed beyond you."
"Then who will take the Ring?" asked Bilbo.
A silence fell upon the Council. Everyone looked down, as if lost in thought. A great dread fell upon Frodo. At last and with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words.
"I will take the Ring," he said, "though I do not know the way."
Elrond arose. "I think this task is appointed for you, Frodo. This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great."
"But you won't send him off alone, surely?" cried Sam, jumping up from his corner.
"No indeed!" said Elrond with a smile. "You at least shall go with him."
"A nice pickle we have landed ourselves in, Mr. Frodo," muttered Sam to himself, blushing.
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