I saw the destruction of Middle Earth. Why did I do nothing? Elrond, Isildur, a fateful day in retrospect.

Sometimes when I tell the tale of the fall of Sauron, and the failing of Isildur, I see it: an almost imperceptible exchange between my sons. The question - the accusation - flits across their faces for the briefest of seconds. Why Ada? Why did you not take it from him? Why did you not push the man into the burning inferno? Why did you not end this? You could have ada, you could have.

When I first told the tale to Estel I saw the disgust and the clenched fists. The familiar if only, if only, if only! Then his quick silver eyes softened in contemplation and he was silent for the rest of the day. Through the long hours of the night I saw his candle alight and when I peeked in the door I saw him sitting on his bed, his knees pulled up against his chest and the covers strewn around, simply staring into the emptiness, listening to the silence of the night. When he saw me a smile danced across his face before departing and he inclined his head slightly.

"Ada," he said. "I think I understand." Then he scrambled beneath the covers and gave me an expectant look, so I let out a soft gust of air, extinguishing the candle. I wondered then, watching the sleeping boy, the he understand? Did he understand when I still did not?

The vision has kept me up my share of nights, reliving the shimmering air, the molten lava, the fury and cruelty embedded in the crude lines of the black rock. I still hear my shout- my yell- frantic, desperate. I was begging, with the core of my being, cast it away, cast it away Isildur! I remember the glint in his eye as a smirk crept up upon his noble face and I knew. I knew he was under its power.

I am gifted and cursed, blessed with foresight and I saw.

The darkness spreading, seeping back into Middle earth, infecting the woods, corrupting pure hearts. I saw vile creatures being born, no created, for born speaks of the gift of life but these creature were made for death. I saw the wraiths, fell and yet majestic, fallen lords, as they awoke, bringing fear upon all the lands. I saw the shadow stretching and reaching. I saw with time none would escape it's grasp. I saw men, legions marching to war, swords notched, with young boys in too big helms. I saw elves singing sorrowful songs, forsaking these shores, sailing, ah sailing the sea, and for the first time the blessing of the eldar seemed terrible. I saw the dwarves, their precious hoards diminishing, creatures of depth and darkness overwhelming them. I saw the destruction of middle earth.

Why did I let him by me? Why did I let him walk away, and leave the mountain? Why did I hesitate? Why did I not seize the man, the weaponless, fatigued man, why did I not cast him into the fiery depths, end him with the ring he would not bare to parted from? What is one death in exchange for so many? Who of the wise could hold it against me when I told of what I had seen?

I sit on the edge of Estel's bed with a sigh. Hope. Hope. For death was not all I saw. I saw men and woman, courageous, taking up steel and sword, battle cries to move a mountain of stone. Fighting, for home and heart. I saw them, like the flowers that bloom only on the graves of the Riddermark, valiant from their desperate need, strong and hardened by their toil, true in the face of darkness. Life that arises from death.

Sauron should have perished but he did not, Isildur should have destroyed him but he could not, and fair Gil-Galad should not have fallen but alas, alas that he did. Should, I wonder, for who am I to say what should be? Some live that deserve death and some die that deserve life. Who are the wise to give it to them? To judge them, who am I?

I know now, what made me stay my hand.

By the valor are these tales set and written, by their will the way is wrought and judgment given.

I, Elrond half-elven, could have changed the course of destiny, but I did not.

I did not.

Don't you see?