Chapter 2: Parting Ways

-×.×-

Arwen sat weakly. "So he is going?" she said weakly. "Does he know nothing of what awaits him?"

"He knows," Lúthiel spoke resignedly. "Yet he will still ride to his doom."

Arwen looked at Lúthiel desperately. "Is there no hope?"

She sighed. "Nothing is certain."

Arwen sat down on her bed. "I gifted him the Evenstar," she spoke in a voice shy of a whisper.

"My lady!" Lúthiel dropped to one knee, clasping one of Arwen's white hands in her own. "My presence here does not account for nothing. Surely you did not think I would remain here in Rivendell while Estel and the others risk their lives on their journey?"

Arwen met Lúthiel's eyes.

"Do not forget who I am, Lady Undómiel," Lúthiel continued. "If I cannot have Estel stay here in Rivendell, I will not remain here idly."

"Lúthiel…"

She shook her head. "I do not know what is written in my fate, nor what unseen force drives me to do this. But rest assured, I will let him come to no harm."

She stood up, before Arwen's voice stopped her.

"Lúthiel," she said, her voice sad, "I know you will keep him safe but…you will return, will you not?"

Lúthiel's blue-green eyes met Arwen's blue ones. "I do not know so much, Undómiel, but I shall try."

Saying so, she left, her silvery cloak rustling in her wake.

-×.×-

"My old sword, Sting… Here, take it, take it!"

Bilbo handed Frodo a sword, perfectly sized for a Hobbit. Frodo held it gently.

"It's so light!" he wondered out loud.

"Yes, yes, made by the Elves you know. The blade glows blue when Orcs are close. And it's times like that, my lad, that you have to be extra careful…"

Bilbo rummaged through his belongings, before pausing to hold up a silvery shirt.

"Here's a pretty thing. Mithril!" He held it up to Frodo, his face beaming. "As light as a feather and as hard as dragon scales. Let me see you put it on. Come on..."

Frodo obliged, and started to unbutton his shirt. Before he had undone his second button, Bilbo caught sight of something hanging on a silver chain. A circlet of gold…

"Oh, my old Ring," Bilbo smiled somewhat nervously.

Frodo watched as a strange convulsing manner lit upon his uncle.

"I should…very much like to hold it again, one last time…" Bilbo asked somewhat tentatively, his eyes fixed upon the Ring.

Frodo buttoned up his shirt, somewhat wary of Bilbo's actions.

A strange fit seemed to come over Bilbo. For a moment so brief, his face contorted in the lustful manner so common of those who had been consumed by the Ring.

And then it was gone, leaving behind an aging Hobbit who looked positively frightened.

"I'm sorry I brought this upon you, my boy," he said mournfully. "I'm sorry that you must carry this burden…I'm sorry for everything..."

-×.×-

The Fellowship gathered in front of the House of Elrond, as to bid what would seem like a last farewell. The Elves were gathered there, as was Bilbo. Arwen there was not present.

"You set out upon this journey with the hopes of Middle-Earth upon your shoulders," Elrond spoke in a commanding voice. "With hope you will prove successful."

And then the nine companions set off for Mordor. With Gandalf the Grey in their lead, they left RIvendell, and made for the Misty Mountains. They however, had not taken one pace further when –

"Surely you did not think you could go away without a last word, Estel."

Aragorn paused. There, behind him, stood Lúthiel, her white garb hidden beneath a cloak of Elven grey. Somehow, she looked whiter than before, her long dark hair plaited. Her ears were pointed. Behind her, in the distance, a great white horse waited.

"She's an Elf!" Sam muttered to Frodo.

"She can't be," Frodo murmured back. "She is one of the Dúnedain. Lord Elrond said so himself, and so did she."

"Lúthiel," Aragorn said. "What are you doing here?"

Lúthiel met his gaze. "Surely I could say my farewells?"

To Legolas she bid farewell first.

"It is not farewell for you yet, Prince of Mirkwood," she told him in Elven. "Your skill with the bow will prove useful yet. And you will be a faithful companion to Estel, and befriend those whom you would not expect."

"Nor for you, son of Gloin," she said, turning to Gimli. "Indeed, you have a brave heart, and you too, will aid Estel greatly, when the time comes. Be prepared, however, to lose a great deal close to you, very soon."

She then turned to Merry and Pippin.

"Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took," she said, a slight smile coming to her face. "Your part in this tale will come. Your loyalty will set you apart from the rest, and perhaps even from each other. Your greatest hope is to remain true to yourselves."

She looked to Sam.

"Samwise Gamgee," she said, shaking her head. "Where can I start? I can only tell you what Mithrandir has said. Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. You will be cast aside, left behind, misunderstood…the victim of many injustices. But I can only tell you that your loyalty is your greatest virtue."

Turning to Frodo, she looked grave. "My words to you, Ringbearer, are not many. Be vigilant. There are those who wish you naught but ill."

Frodo looked slightly bewildered. Lúthiel next met the eyes of Boromir.

"Son of Gondor," she began. "I can only understand what must be going through your mind. But you will make the right decision in the end, this I know."

"Mithrandir," she next turned to Gandalf. "You know much, being wisest of the Maia. You will choose a great many things, many choices in which the very wise cannot see all ends. But you will emerge victor, know this."

Finally she turned to Aragorn.

"What I will tell you, you already know," she said wearily. "Tread cautiously about those who would wish you harm. You will land in many a great problem, and you will conquer it all, Estel…Elessar…"

She turned back, before Aragorn's voice halted her.

"Stay in Rivendell, Lúthiel," he said softly in Elven.

She turned to face him. "You know I won't," she replied in a stronger voice.

"If I return, the first place I will come to is Rivendell," Aragorn said softly. "Wait for me there."

She shook her head. "If you return, you will not stray from the land of your ancestors," she said wisely. "As for waiting in Rivendell at the end…I cannot say that you will not see me before the end."

"They will need you, in Rivendell," said Aragorn. "Arwen will need you."

"Arwen is strong," Lúthiel replied. "She will not need me."

"You will not endanger yourself," Aragorn firmly said. "Nor will you accompany us. Even you are not as rash as that."

Lúthiel smiled strangely. "The time has come for us to part ways."

She turned back, to where a great white horse awaited the Dúnedain maiden.

She mounted the horse, its coat as white as her garb. Both had a silver aura about them.

"The way south is being watched," she told Gandalf. "You now have two options, Mithrandir: Caradhras or Moria. If you would chance the mountain, beware a foul voice on the air. If you would brave Moria, remember that even the wise cannot see all ends…" She paused, before meeting Gandalf's eyes. "Whatever choice you should make, remember that it should be best for all of Middle-Earth."

"Farewell, Lúthiel," Gandalf said.

Lúthiel's eyes met Aragorn's.

"Uich gwennen na 'wanath ah na dhin.

An uich gwennen na ringyrn ambar hen.

Boe naid bain gwannathar.

Boe cuil ban firitha.

Boe naer gwannathach…"

She turned away.

"Noro lim, Eärendil," she murmured to her horse. The horse galloped off into the distance.

"Farewell, Lúthiel," Aragorn said softly.

-×.×-

"Aaah!"

Frodo gasped as he slipped on a snowdrift. The world spun around cruelly as he tumbled head over heels, landing at Aragorn's feet. As Aragorn helped him up, he felt around his neck for the reassuring touch of the Ring.

It was not there…

"Boromir!"

Frodo looked up at the Gondor lord. He held a chain…with a Ring hanging off of it.

It must have fallen off, Frodo realized. He shifted. He did not like the look in Boromir's eyes as he surveyed the Ring.

"It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing..." he murmured, tantalized by the innocent-looking Ring.

"Boromir!" Aragorn barked sharply. "Give the Ring to Frodo!"

Boromir shifted his gaze to the Hobbit, who watched him nervously. Slowly, Boromir made his way to Frodo, holding out the Ring.

"As you wish," he said, attempting a forced smile. "I care not."

Frodo quickly took the Ring from Boromir's outstretched hand. Boromir ruffled his unruly hair and turned away from them, Aragorn watching him closely.

-×.×-

Lúthiel paused, observing a fleet of birds travelling through the sky.

"Crebain, from Dunland!" she murmured to herself, twining her fingers in Eärendil's white mane. "Spies of Saruman!"

She observed their progress in the air.

"They are flying to Isengard," she said thoughtfully. "They have seen Mithrandir and the rest, and they seek to tell Saruman, their master."

The last bird flew by.

"So, Mithrandir," Lúthiel murmured to herself. "You try to lead them over Caradhras. And if that fails, where then will you go?"

She brought Eärendil to a canter. "If the mountain defeats you, will you risk the more dangerous road?"

"I will need a watchman," she told Eärendil. "Noro lim!"

-×.×-

"There is a foul voice on the air…" Legolas said faintly.

"It's Saruman!" Gandalf spluttered.

In the howling of the wind, a faint voice could be heard.

"Cuiva nwalca Carnirassë!

"He's trying to bring down the mountain!" Aragorn shouted. "Gandalf, we must turn back!"

"No!" Gandalf said forcefully. He looked up at the raging winds, and attempted a counter-spell.

"Losto Caradharas, sedho, hodo, nuitho I 'ruith!" he tried, trying to overpower the voice of Saruman.

But his voice came yet again.

"Nai yarvaxëa rasselya taltuva ñotto-carinnar!"

A flash of lightning struck the mountain. The Fellowship watched, horrified, as piles of snow began to fall from the peaks of the mountain.

"We must get off the mountain," Boromir said. "Make for the Gap of Rohan, or take the West Road to my city..."

"The Gap of Rohan takes us too close to Isengard!" Aragorn argued.

"If we cannot pass over the mountain, let us go under it," Gimli suggested. "Let us go through the Mines of Moria!"

They froze, in disagreement. Finally, Gandalf straightened.

"Let the Ringbearer decide," he said, turning to Frodo. "Frodo?"

The little Hobbit thought, before answering. "We will go through the mines..."

Gandalf heaved a sigh.

"So be it."

-×.×-

"Moria," Lúthiel thought out loud. "You fear to go into those mines. The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-Dûm…"

The great white horse shone like the star it was named after, passing through the shadows of a golden forest. As she reached a clearing, Lúthiel slowed her horse and dismounted, patting the lithe horse.

"Shadow and flame…" she murmured. She turned slightly, her eyes meeting the points of several arrows, all aimed for her neck.

-×.×-

"The Walls of Moria!" Gimli cried in awe.

Gandalf strode up to the walls, as he ran a hand over the weathered stone face. A knowing look came to his visage.

"Ithildin," he nodded. "It mirrors only starlight and moonlight…"

All eyes turned to the sky, where the moon peeked through a gap in the clouds. The runes on the door began to glow.

"It reads: The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak, Friend, and enter."

Merry looked puzzled. "What do you suppose that means?"

Gandalf smiled. "It's quite simple. If you are a friend, you speak the password and the doors will open."

He cleared his throat. "Annon Edhellen, edro hi ammen!"

The doors remained shut. Gimli grunted sceptically.

"Ando Eldarinwa a lasta quettanya, Fenda Casarinwa!" Gandalf tried again.

Nothing happened. The doors still remained shut.

Frodo looked at Gandalf questioningly, as he sat down to think.

-×.×-

Lúthiel smiled disarmingly at the Elves of Lórien.

"You came so silently, I almost did not hear you," she said lightly to the Elf at their head. "Haldir o Lórien."

"Lúthiel Aragóra," the Elf bowed his head. "Your coming here was uncalled for."

"Many things are uncalled for in this world," Lúthiel said cryptically. "For the first time since the Dark Days, a Dwarf will enter the realm of Lothlórien. Is that called for?"

"Nay," Haldir said. "It shall not come to pass. But what brings you here?"

"I wish to speak with some of your Elves," Lúthiel said. "Aníron and Saurà, the twin maidens."

Haldir nodded. "Follow me, half-Elven."

-×.×-

Disclaimer: I own Lúthiel, and that's it for now. Oh, and I own her horse, too…hear that? The horse is mine!