A HUNTER'S OATH BY ASHA DREAMWEAVER

Summary: When necessity dictates that an alliance must be formed between Mirkwood & Rivendell, the White Council arranges a union between Elrond & Legolas. When Saruman plots to cause a war, & a prince determined to wreak one of his own, can peace survive?

Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognise.

A/N: hi, this fic will be Elrond/Legolas as suggested in the summary. Please READ and REVIEW!

CHAPTER ONE: BARGAINING

Even as Glorfindel escorted his somewhat dazed person from the council chambers, Elrond Half-Elven still did not know when things had gone so dreadfully wrong…

He only knew that he just felt as if he had sold his life away…

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Lothlórien. 2851, Third Age.

The Lady of the Golden Wood greeted all the new arrivals to Lórien with the deepest air of perfect serenity. On the outside at least. Her chief Marchwarden, Haldir, was all bit ready to jump put of his skin and even Celeborn's stoniest glares were not putting a stop to his infantile behaviour. Then again, he had had the great pleasure of escorting the parties from Rivendell and Mirkwood and according to the mutters Haldir thought she could not hear, he was waiting for Elrond and Thranduil to start a massacre.

Calmly waiting until all were gathered at the base of the great tree in which she and her husband resided, she gracefully descended the steps.

"Welcome to the latest gathering of the White Council, my friends," she greeted. "May we make a better future for Middle Earth."

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The story so far:

As the darkness spreads over Middle Earth and the Shadow's sway grows, Thranduil realises that he is in a very precarious position. His realm is having increasing trouble driving back the shadow that threatens their borders and if Mirkwood is to survive, drastic measures will have to be taken.

The bearers of the Three Elven rings feel their danger growing as well; what has protected Lothlórien and Imladris for over an Age is being put at risk by the discovery of the One Ring, though none knows where or who its bearer is. If the One is found, the Three are in danger and so their bearers must be careful in their use of them. Because if Sauron regains the One, the protection the Three give will fail and will be used against them. Galadriel and Elrond know they must prepare their realms for war, a war without the benefit of Vilya or Nenya if they wish to have any chance of surviving it.

In Orthanc, Saruman sends out his servants seeking the One, and at the request of Sauron, sends more to spy and test the borders of the three great Elven realms: Lothlórien, Imladris and Mirkwood.

At the last gathering of the White Council, their troubles are brought up for discussion. Galadriel can no longer keep the servants of Sauron from walking under the eaves of Lórien, she now must rely on the Marchwardens to drive them out. Elrond admits that the land surrounding his valley is becoming increasingly dangerous and that the orcs are becoming bolder in their attempts to raid Imladris and the surrounding areas. Thranduil says that the Elves of Mirkwood are being driven back and that his second and youngest son, Legolas, a Captain of the Southern forces, reports that they can no longer hold the orcs back without aid and that the Nine ride again. Two having been seen in Mirkwood.

It is Celeborn who comes up with the suggestion that may save them. Remembering the defences of Doriath, he wants to wean off the use of the rings to guard Lórien and Rivendell and supplement the fading and failing protection with that of the Wood Elves of old, by layering enchantments through the fauna to confuse, bewilder and make sure that any enemies of the realm stay helplessly lost and away from the cities. Thranduil is incensed, saying that he has already tried that but Dol Guldur has too strong a hold. Celeborn says that little can be done for Mirkwood now, save to preserve the lands Thranduil holds now. He says that Thranduil's enchantments work only to protect his citadel, but that an alliance with Imladris and Lórien would give him the backing needed to keep his realm safe and by doing so, denying the Dark Lord so great a stronghold.

Thranduil demands to know exactly what Celeborn has in mind but the Lord remains silent…

"What exactly are you proposing Celeborn?" Thranduil growled, his eyes shooting daggers at the other Sindarin Lord, who just smirked at him of all blasted things!

The King of Mirkwood was not the only one staring at the Lord of the Wood. Two of the Istari, and the assorted Elf Lords and Ladies were all wondering what the normally sombre Lord was smirking about.

Gandalf shifted in his seat, weathered hands toying with the staff beside his chair, "I think I know what Celeborn means," he said, willingly drawing Thranduil's wrath on his own head. "As we all know Lothlórien and Imladris have a longstanding alliance since Elrond wed the Lady Celebrían. Mirkwood has the benefit of no such alliance. For too long have you kept your realm sequestered Oropherion."

His temper giving way to suspicion, the fiery look in the Elvenking's green eyes changed to cold stone in an instant. "My realm has been…. sequestered, as you so cheerfully put it Mithrandir because of what happened the last time Greenwood took part in an alliance. I will not have another third of my army slaughtered for the Noldor's folly!"

Galadriel's eerie blue stare tried to slice him into ribbons, "The events of the Last Alliance have no bearing on this council Thranduil Oropherion," she said, calmly adjusting her voluminous white skirts, "Your realm was not the only one to suffer losses and this council shall not suffer your grudge standing in the way of safeguarding our realms against Sauron's inevitable strike."

"Sauron wouldn't be alive if the Peredhel had forced Isildur to throw the ring into the mountain!" Calverin snapped in defence of his father.

Saruman's sharp voice cut through the grove before the more hot-headed Wood Elves could start a fight. He most certainly did not want this meeting to descend into other vulgar shouting match like Thranduil and his son had started many times before. "We are not here to debate the results of the Last Alliance," he said coldly, sounding resentful at having to chastise Elves, as one would do to children. "Gandalf, just say what you wish to say and stop trying to incite yet another repeat of the end of the Second Age."

Gandalf inclined his head to the other wizard and proceeded to share his idea, "As I said, Lórien and Rivendell are bound together come what may. It is time Mirkwood followed their lead. And as I'm sure you're all aware, the usual treaties will not suffice to make sure you hold together," A stern look silenced all of the respective Elven rulers' indignant remarks as he continued, "My suggestion is that Mirkwood and either Lórien or Rivendell should be bound together in a marriage alliance." While his words sunk in, he sat back, produced his pipe from his pocket and waited for the fireworks.

To his surprise though, Galadriel did not give the others a chance to voice any protest at all, "An excellent idea, Mithrandir but it would require some thought. Thranduil's eldest son is already bound, Lórien has no children to offer, and as for the children of Elrond, Arwen is prophesied to be bound to none but one of her choosing and so is unavailable. Elladan and Elrohir have yet to make their choice. They cannot be bound to an Elven mate unless they do and it is not yet their time."

Gandalf was not deterred, "Ah yes, but that leaves Thranduil's youngest son. Legolas isn't it?"

"And who do you propose he be bound to?" Saruman questioned, "All of the royalty of Lórien and Rivendell have been accounted for."

"No, it hasn't," Galadriel answered, "My daughter renounced her vows ere she went West. Elrond is not bound to her any longer."

"So," Gandalf said, puffing contentedly on his pipe, "Elrond could wed Prince Legolas and the alliance between Rivendell and Mirkwood secured, with Lórien joined as it is bound to Rivendell. I think it is quite a splendid idea if I may say so."

Elrond's mouth fell open in utter shock as he shot a look of utter betrayal at his kinswoman. At his side, Glorfindel was experiencing a feeling of dread as he took in the implications his Lord was yet too stunned to understand fully. Thranduil was about to have a fit but Calverin stood up and bowed swiftly, "Excuse us please, my father will need time to think on this. As will Lord Elrond I am sure." Grabbing his father's arm, he led a near sputtering Thranduil out to a more secluded area.

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Calverin could not believe his luck as he led a fuming Thranduil away from the rest of the council. His younger brother was the bane of his existence. He could not even think of an Elf he could hate more. Legolas had been their mother's pet whilst she was alive and had effortlessly won the hearts of the people who had the gall to say their Crown Prince was too arrogant. Legolas had even inherited Thranduil's golden hair while he, by far his brother's superior in everything, had only the brown hair of the commoners. He had tried and failed to bring Legolas to heel before, even sending one of his retainers to arrange a little accident for him, and yet the blasted son-of-an-orc had danced away from everything unscathed. It made his blood boil. And here the esteemed White Council had dropped the perfect revenge in his lap! What better revenge on the brat than having his command stripped from him and being sent off to marry the Lord of Rivendell, Mirkwood's longstanding enemy. It was just too perfect. Now all he had to do was persuade his father to sign Legolas's death warrant.

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He stopped in a secluded knot of trees well out of hearing range even for an Istar, "Adar," he began, "We need this alliance. You cannot falter now. It must be done."

Thranduil jerked his elbow out of Calverin's grasp, "I cannot stand the idea of giving anything but the sharp end of my sword to that half-breed!" he growled, "The last thing Mirkwood needs is for him to have a hold on the throne!"

Calverin smiled persuasively, "But don't you understand Adar? 'Tis the perfect way of getting rid of two problems with one pen stroke. Legolas is the most insubordinate Elf in Mirkwood. Getting rid of him would restore you control over the southern patrols and get a nuisance out of your hair. Eru knows no maiden would take such a husband, so this is likely to be your only chance to foist him off on some poor unsuspecting soul. And if you must, think of it this way, dear old Elrond will have to be the one to deal with all of Legolas's strange moods, his inability to follow orders and should make the Peredhel absolutely miserable until the end of Eä."

Thranduil paused in his pacing and a slow smile spread across his face, "How to make Legolas go though, even if the Peredhel agrees to take him? It wouldn't surprise me if Legolas ran off to live with the Dwarves at the very thought of it."

"An appropriate escort should carry him to Elrond safely enough and a harsh reminder of his responsibility to Mirkwood should be enough to wrangle an oath out of him. He does keep his word at least."

"There's always a first time for everything," Thranduil muttered and then shuddered as another thought came to him, "Bad enough to be kin by marriage to the half-breed. Worse still if the bride tries to run away."

"So, you'll do it?" Calverin asked excitedly.

"Have I much choice, my son?" the King replied. "What we do is for the good of Mirkwood. And if Legolas causes the Peredhel to flee oversea, all the better. The alliance will go ahead."

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As soon as the Mirkwood royals were out of sight, Elrond turned to the others, "You cannot be serious! You would condemn me to a loveless marriage once more!"

Galadriel's gaze was unwavering, "We doom you to nothing Elrond. You know none of us can stand alone and Thranduil will not believe in a lesser treaty. You married for politics once before. You will do so again. You had some measure of happiness with my daughter. She renounced her vows. You are the only one capable of marrying the Prince."

"You would bind me to a princeling who despises me, as do all of the House of Oropher?" Elrond demanded, his voice rising with his temper, "'Twould be a life of misery! I would not be surprised if we ended up killing each other. Eru knows that Thranduil and I can't be in the same room with each other for any length of time without a fight of some sort!"

"I do not see misery in your future Elrond," Galadriel answered softly, "And I would not blame the Prince for what he is not here to answer for. You know what we risk by holding what we do. You knew it when you accepted the burden from Gil-galad. It is the price we must pay. You know what will happen if we do not."

Elrond's temper deflated with her words, "I know," he said wearily, sinking back into his seat, "By the Valar, I know. There is no other way?"

Celeborn shook his head, "No other that would not lead to disaster. This is the only way written in the song."

Saruman decided he had had enough of being ignored, "Does this mean you agree to this plan Peredhel?"

"I will do as I have always done and do as I must to ensure the safety of Rivendell and the downfall of Sauron." Elrond said, drawing himself up regally. "If the Prince agrees to the bond, so shall I. Now you shall please excuse me. I need some time to think. You have my answer if Thranduil seeks it."

He did not get a chance to make a serene departure as Glorfindel grabbed Elrond and hauled him off, uncaring for decorum or formalities. "Are you mad?" he hissed. "This princeling will most likely try to order around everyone in Rivendell! And are you so eager to lose any chance of finding love in the future by tying yourself to Thranduil's child!"

"I do as I must, my friend," Elrond said firmly, in a tone that brooked no arguments, "I do as I must and hope it shall be enough. I shall not discuss this matter now Glorfindel. I need time to think alone."

"As you wish Elrond, but know that my door is always open if you need to talk."

"Thank you, my friend," Elrond said softly and then left for a spot deeper into the wood where he would find the solitude to hopefully deal with this mess the Valar had dropped him into.

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Glorfindel, however much he despised the Council's plan, sought out Thranduil. "Aran Thranduil," he called as he approached the Mirkwood royals, "May I speak with you?" Thranduil nodded his assent and shooed Calverin away as the Balrog Slayer approached.

"So tell me, Glorfindel, does the Peredhel agree to this match?"

Glorfindel bristled at the King's tone, "My Lord agrees for the sake of all the realms. But answer me this, Thranduil and know that I shall not repeat your answer. Why are you so eager to be rid of Prince Legolas, as you obviously are if you have calmed down this quickly."

Thranduil smiled smugly, knowing that not even Glorfindel would make Elrond go back on his word. Whatever else he may say about the half-breed, he was reassuringly predictable. "My youngest son is a capable commander to deal with the mongrels of the south, but he is… unruly at best. He would be most… unfitting for a Lord's consort. He has dodged all court training and even to his people he is an outsider with little import. He is a peculiar Elf. I doubted I would be lucky enough to be able to dump him on Elrond. The blasted Peredhel would probably send him back within a week. If he could." he finished with a smirk.

Glorfindel nodded, "'Tis as I thought then. You will try and have your revenge to the last, won't you Oropherion."

"He deserves all he gets," Thranduil snapped.

"And you deserve to be fed to the wargs," Glorfindel said in disgust, "Though I doubt they would eat one as foul as you."

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"I cannot sit there and stand Thranduil gloating in my face," Elrond said, "I trust that you shall negotiate a suitable alliance. It may get done sometime this century if Thranduil and I are not in the same talan."

"You do not have to let this council dictate your life, mellon nín," Glorfindel said in concern, "I and all those who love you can scarcely bear to see you take yet more pain and torment down upon yourself. At least Celebrían bore you three beautiful children. This Thranduilion will only try to destroy your life."

"I cannot put my own happiness before that of Rivendell's," Elrond said softly, turning away from his friend and gazing out at the view from their talan, "'Twas a burden I acknowledged in the last age. I cannot ignore it now."

"'Twas a burden Gil-galad should never have placed on you," the Balrog-slayer snapped, "Are you to pay for Celebrimbor's mistakes forever?"

"I will not fight with you over this Glorfindel!" Elrond stated firmly, "It is folly to fight what fate will force upon you anyway. Just go to the negotiations with Thranduil and try to keep him from emptying Rivendell's coffers."

"As you command, my Lord," the Elda replied coolly, until his parting rejoinder as he left, "Though I shall not hesitate to inform your children, and Udûn hath no fury than those three in a rage."

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"'Tis done," Glorfindel said may hours later, having wearily trudged, if an Elf can trudge, into Elrond's apartments. "Rivendell is pledged to offer assistance to Mirkwood if it requires, in the way of foodstuffs, weapons and healing herbs and poultices, in addition to the more military alliances which are to be worked out after the wedding. Apparently, the Elves of Mirkwood attract the Nazgûl like flies to a dung heap. The Prince's dowry, is in typically Thranduil fashion, the prince himself, the prince's wardrobe and horse, and some collection of jewels and coins. It seemed overly generous of Oropherion until I realised that someone clever had cursed them against him. I think it may have been Dwarves, but he was too busy fuming to clarify matters."

Elrond chuckled dryly, "Typical Thranduil indeed. How soon is the blushing bride to come to me? Or does he have to gather his entourage first?"

"Your consort-to-be will arrive no later than three months hence." The Elda's face creased with concern, "Are you truly alright Elrond? You look less than your usual self."

"Of course I'm fine Glorfindel. I am only betrothed to someone who is probably one of the most vain, vapid, immoral and greedy creatures in Arda. Why shouldn't I be delirious with happiness?"

Glorfindel placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, "I will not lie and say 'tis probably not true. But think of it this way if it will bring comfort to you, once you are wed, you can either send him over sea or send him to reside in Lórien and let him torment Galadriel and Celeborn for putting you into this position."

Elrond looked at him strangely for a moment, before laughing, and shaking his head, "The Balrog never stood a chance my friend. Not with the way that convoluted mind of yours works."

Glorfindel smirked, happy to have cheered him up for the moment at least, "Why, thank you."

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The youngest Prince of Mirkwood had just arrived back from his latest stint as Captain of the southern patrol. His father's summons had been so urgent that he had not yet found time to change into attire more formal and therefore more appropriate for the strict court of Thranduil Oropherion. Clad in the black, grey and brown breeches and tunic that he favoured when prowling the shadows of Dol Guldur, blonde braids askew from the ride and silver-blue eyes narrowed in a combination of wariness and annoyance.

"You summoned me, nín Aran?"

"Yes, come hither, I have much news to impart to you," Thranduil said impatiently, dismissing everyone save himself and Calverin, which made him feel even more uneasy.

"We have just arrived back from the latest gathering of the White Council," Calverin said with his usual haughty attitude, "And with us we bring news that concerns you greatly, as well as the future security of the wood."

"'Tis news of great import," Thranduil broke in gleefully, devilment dancing in his cold eyes, "I have found you a husband, bratling."

"WHAT!" Legolas exclaimed, his composure fleeing him in his shock, "Nay!" he denied vehemently, "'Tis not possible! 'Tis a cruel trick that you play nín Aran!"

"There is no trick," Thranduil stated, rising from his throne, "To secure a treaty of succour between the Elven realms, Mirkwood and Imladris are to be joined in marriage. You, bratling, are to marry that half-breed Elrond and so secure the realm's future safety."

Legolas could not believe what he was hearing, "Nay! That I will not do!" he exclaimed heatedly, "I shall be bound to no one, least of all someone I know not! I am not some pawn to give away to the highest bidder, nín Adar, I refuse to do this!"

"You refuse to be the reason why Mirkwood survives?" Thranduil said silkily, "You refuse to be of service to your realm and your king in favour of being the bane of my existence? You refuse to acquire the aid our people so badly need? 'Tis behaviour unbecoming a prince, bratling."

"To you, nín Aran, I have been a prince in name only. All my life you have said so, am I to believe your opinion of me changed so swiftly from one of hate?"

"I am ordering you to this Legolas!" Thranduil snarled, "You will marry Elrond, you will go to him in Rivendell and after that I do not care if you flee to Mandos Halls or Barad-dûr!"

"I will not, and you cannot force me." Legolas said, quietly but full of conviction.

The Elvenking stalked over to him in his wrath. Thranduil loomed over the smaller figure of his son, Calverin sneering dangerously in the background, "Let me make this clear, my servant," he hissed, "You will either marry Elrond or you will face the hangman's noose!"

Legolas's eyes widened, "You would be a Kinslayer?"

"Hardly," Thranduil scoffed, "For you may come from my loins but in my heart, you are no kin of mine. And from one who slew the Noldorin hordes when they sacked Doriath, to kill another Edhil, especially one so worthless, would hardly be the work of a moment."

"Perhaps death would be better than what you would force me into!" Legolas said, "For all you scorn me because I have not a heart of stone, to force me against my will would swiftly bear me to Mandos Halls anyway. What does it matter if it be at the hand of my king or by the hand of Elrond? Either way, the result is the same."

Thranduil gripped his wayward son by the neck hard enough to leave bruises on the pale skin, "It matters because to die by Elrond's hand is for your death to be his fault not mine and the treaty I desire is still upheld. Now Ernil o Lasgalen, you will do your duty or it will not only be you that is slain but every one of those traitors you hold dear. What is it to be?"

Legolas could only look at his stone cold sire in dismay and despair. To be the cause of his own death he could accept. To be the cause of others, he could not, he could not bear for them to die because of his wilfulness. Choking out the words, he spoke, "I will do it."

Thranduil's smile was cruelly victorious, "You shall not escape me that easily, bratling. With those words, you would hare off to Aman if it would bring you respite from your fate. I want your oath that you will marry Elrond as I have decreed."

The youngest prince of Mirkwood felt the iron shackles of his fate close around him with suffocating tightness, but he still spoke the words, "I, Legolas Thranduilion, do hereby swear to pledge myself in troth to Lord Elrond of Rivendell. Does that satisfy you nín Aran?"

"For now, bratling, now leave." Thranduil said dismissively, caring nothing for his son's burdened soul.

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After Legolas had all but fled the throne room, Calverin's most trusted guard, Baelion, was called forth. The situation was then explained to him, and his orders given.

He was to make sure Legolas got to Rivendell and into Elrond's keeping. Through any means possible.

"I do not care what you have to do to the whore get him there, as long as it does not leave marks for the Peredhel to see."

"As you command, my King," Baelion said with a cruel smile.

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Legolas had hurriedly scribbled a note to his patrol in Southern Mirkwood, informing them of his plight and subsequent departure. Systematically, he packed his things, taking only what he needed or held dear to him.

He would keep his oath, but by Eru, he would not go as his father's prisoner. - No, he would not call Thranduil father any more. And due to his troth, he would not call him his King either.

Stealthily mounting his horse, he cantered out of Mirkwood through the lesser known paths without escort.

He may be going to be shackled with chains stronger than mithril, but he would travel there as a free Elf.

Let Thranduil be damned.

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Some weeks later. The Misty Mountains. The River Gladden.

The brethren Elladan and Elrohir, twin Lords of Imladris, were heading for the Gap of Rohan, returning home to Rivendell after a stay in their mother's home of Lothlórien.

For all intents and purposes their trip had been relatively uneventful. Having been escorted to Lórien's borders at the command of their grandsire, Celeborn, they had encountered no foul beings to plague their travels.

But 'twas when they were crossing the Gladden River that they encountered trouble of a different kind.

Elladan, having taken the lead at the ford crossing, spotted a glimmer of gold in the water. His attention caught, he looked closer and let out a cry of dismay, swiftly crossing the ford, rapidly dismounting his horse and heading towards the shallow water on the other bank.

Elrohir, curiosity piqued, swiftly espied the cause of his brother's concern.

A golden-haired body was washed up in the shallows, their back to the twins. Rushing to aid his brother, the twins made light work of turning the unfortunate soul over. 'Twas an Elf, dirty, badly bruised and battered, bleeding from some wound and of a pallid colour tinged with blue. And his eyes were closed. Elrohir moved closer, "Does he live?"

Elladan nodded, his ear pressed to the unknown Elf's chest, "Aye, he yet breathes. But it is laboured and his pulse is weak and thready. I fear that he is beyond our skill to heal him as I fear he has swallowed some river water and it is trapped in his lungs. Only Adar has a chance of healing him fully."

Elrohir looked at the near dead blonde Elf that had half-drowned in the river, and nodded his acquiescence. "We ride hard so to get him to Adar as soon as possible. And pray that he survives the journey."

He helped Elladan boost the unconscious Elf onto his horse, and held him steady while his brother climbed up behind him.

Setting off at a hurried pace, the twins fervently hoped that Mandos Halls would not claim their charge ere they delivered him into their Adar's healing arms.

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A/N: Well? What do you think? Should I continue this or not? Please READ and REVIEW!

Elvish:

nín Aran - my King (Sindarin)

Mellon nín - my friend (Sindarin)

nín Adar - my father

Edhil - Elf

Ernil o Lasgalen - Prince of the Greenwood

Adar - father

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Arwen - is heir to Galadriel after her mother's departure to the West.

Calverin - Eldest son of Thranduil. Crown Prince of Mirkwood.

Doriath - An Elvish Kingdom in the First Age. Ruled by King Thingol Greycloak, husband to the Maia, Melian and father to Lúthien Tinúviel. Melian wove a series of enchantments to form an impenetrable border to the realm called Melian's Girdle. Celeborn and Thranduil lived there in the First Age. Galadriel visited there.

Imladris - Rivendell in Elvish.

Istari - Wizards in Elvish.

Nenya - The Elven ring of Water. Galadriel is its Keeper.

Oropherion - son of Oropher in Sindarin.

Vilya - The Elven ring of Air. Elrond is its keeper.

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