The winter solstice had come
and gone, days filled with long twilight and lingering dusk. Into this
most elven of hours, he had sent them, nine companions; not one of them,
to his mind, really prepared for the task they undertook.
The Lord of Imladris sighed, weary with the weight of all his years tonight,
and tried to shake off his gloomy reverie as he prepared for bed. Unbuttoning
his dark green robe, he lay it carefully over a chair.
It was equally true that no finer, more prepared group of companions could
be found; certainly not with the willingness of heart, the strength of
spirit to volunteer to go. Where they had come by it, he did not know.
They were strangers, of different ages and races, even their hopes for
the journey and how best to accomplish their goal were at odds. Yet they
unhesitatingly stood up for each other - uncomfortably at first, but fervent
and if none of them seemed sure how they could serve the quest,
each believed he might be able to aid the others.
He slid his long hair inside his grey inner robe and raised it over his
head, placed it to lie carefully with the heavier fabric of the green.
He would let his mind focus there, on the already flourishing bonds that
formed between them. They had all looked proud as they stood gathered
to say goodbye at the gate proud of each other, proud of the invisible
steel that let the little ring-bearer stand straight and firm. When the
stewards son had let out that horn blast, the valley walls had taken
up the call, sang back their praise. He had looked stern, and cautioned
them not to be so foolishly blatant again, but the nine had nodded together
in agreement when the big warrior had said they would not go forth like
thieves in the night. They had needed their moment, their battle call,
the chance to feel their blood stir and answer the summons. They were
going to war, perhaps the deadliest war of all. They must battle not only
the Shadow, but the desire to run home and abide in safety and joy
perilous, deceptive joy and let someone else be visible, be vulnerable,
carry the flag.
He turned down the coverlet of his bed and sighed. Nine standard-bearers,
each knowing he might be asked to pay the ultimate price. Each had nodded,
touched his heart to show his steadfastness, and gone through the gates
of the valley toward the unknown. He might have wished they had more warriors
to rally to them, but their longed-for victory might be better served
by their quiet determination. Sometimes a man was strongest stripped back
to his feä and his face.
He stood in only his silken shirt, looked down his long body at the ring
that gleamed on his softly glowing hand, and placed it in the gesture
of farewell over his own heart, where he wore, as he did every hour of
every day, an embroidered field of stars on deepest blue. Once you have
accepted a standard, there is no way you can surrender it and keep yourself.
He turned and blew out his candles, and stood a moment in the darkened
room. He himself was now stripped back to his basic hope for their quest;
his desire to see the feä of Arda continue to burn bright.
|This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author
has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings,
places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien
Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain
original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author
will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work
on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author,
is available solely for private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed
by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.