With thanks to shybob for beta-reading
It's all owned by someone else
Takes place after the end of the main quest in Fable II, assuming a virtues female hero,
and that they chose The Sacrifice
Very early in Fellowship of the Ring, film not book
(never read the books)
Prologue: Instrument Of Fate
The Cow and Corset was full almost to capacity, but few of the customers dared venture upstairs. A recently arrived traveller from a distant town asked loudly who she was, only to be hushed by the landlord and offered a free drink if he'd only keep his voice down. Some may have assumed this was because of the large, razor-sharp katana that lay amid a sea of empty bottles on the table before the figure who sat deep in the shadows, alone at the corner table, or the large, ornate crossbow that lay across their lap. But the truth was that it was a sign of respect. There wasn't a family in all of Bowerstone that hadn't been touched in some way by the choice made in the distant Spire not a year before, who didn't know of the sacrifice made for their happiness.
A blast of cold air heralded the opening of the door, and the barmaid looked round to see a tall, slender woman dressed in a red, hooded cloak enter the tavern from the dark street outside. The newcomer's face was in shadow, but there were two faint points of light indicating where her eyes were. She passed through the crowed without a word, even the drunkest of them knew instinctively to step out of her way, and made her way up the stair to the landing above.
"I said I didn't want to be disturbed." A hoarse voice came from the corner table, carrying the malevolence of distant thunder, "When I want another drink, I'll ask for it."
"This is not your destiny, Little Sparrow." The stranger strode purposefully across to the table and sat on an empty stool before adding, "Fate still has plans for you."
"I have no interest in destiny or fate." The figure at the table looked up, a pair of red eyes, cried-out eyes staring accusingly at their unwelcome companion, "And I am sick and tired of your games, Theresa, and I have repaid my debt to you in full."
"There is a new threat, coming from far to the west, beyond even the ruined cities and great deserts of Aurora." The Seer of the Spire spoke in hushed tones, "I have received word of a great evil, long dormant, reawakening and preparing for war once again. And while it may be distant, its reach is far, and if it succeeds, it will spread until all the lands of men have been ground beneath its feet."
"You have The Spire." Sparrow suggested as she reached for a tankard of ale, "You deal with it."
"Would you use a hammer to start a fire?" Theresa countered, wishing that she still had the unconditional trust of her former ward, "Or a sword to darn a sock?"
"I'm pretty sure I have." Sparrow giggled into her drink, "You learn lots of tricks, out on the road."
"There are some times when it is best to use subtlety over strength, guile over power," Theresa warned, "A meeting has been called to discuss the growing danger and the best way of dealing with it. I have been invited to attend, and would like for you to come with me." She paused. "Attend the meeting, and if you still feel the same, I will bring you home and we will not talk of it again."
"I know you; you love your little games." Sparrow put her drink down, her face blank and unreadable to anyone but the woman who had raised her as a daughter, "Your words are like honey, dripping into the ear, tempting you along until all of a sudden you find yourself dancing like a puppet." She lent across the table, "Was it in your power to save them... my family?"
"Yes..." Theresa admitted sorrowfully.
"Then why didn't you?" A fist slammed down on the table with enough force to splinter the wood. The entire tavern went suddenly quiet, with some of the more nervous patrons making for the door.
"Because doing so would have tipped my hand to Lord Lucien." Theresa did her best to retain her composure, even if her inaction that fateful night was one of the deepest regrets of her long life, "He needed to think he was in control, right up until the very end, otherwise it would have all been for nothing."
"The blood of my husband and daughter are on your hands, remember that." Sparrow stood slowly, bracing herself against the table to ward off the effects the alcohol she had consumed, "I'll go with you to your meeting, but if I do, I want your word that you will never call on me, ever again."
"If that is still your wish when we return, then so be it." Theresa pulled a small, glowing bottle from somewhere within her long robes and placed it on the table, "Drink this first; it will undo some of the ravages of time, giving you the strength you once had. Consider it payment for accompanying me on my travails."
"What have I to lose?" Sparrow grabbed the bottle and pulled the stopper out with her teeth, "To your health."
With that she upended the bottle down her throat, and everything turned black.
In the house of Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, there where were many rooms with views out over the river and gardens that surrounded it. However, of these only one was locked away, neither used or spoken of for almost a thousand years. For in its centre sat a Cullis Gate, before witch stood, for the first time in centuries, Elrond and Gandalf the Grey.
"I agree that we need allies to fight Sauron, but The Archon is long gone from his lands, his line spent and his kingdom in ruins." Elrond spoke softly, despite the edge to his voice, "What strength can there be in a land beset on all sides by darkness?"
"There is still a light in the darkness." Gandalf assured his host, "The Old Kingdom may ave fallen, but there are still those who stand against the darkness."
"Like the mysterious woman you have been in contact with?" The Elven lord asked, unconvinced, "I am still uneasy at the thought of inviting one neither of us have ever met, and know so little about, into my home."
"Sometimes it is necessary to act on faith." Gandalf nodded towards where the ancient blue and silver stones had started to glow softly, "No, let's get ready to greet our final guests."
Motes of light seemed to dance in the air above the Cullis Gate, swirling around faster and faster, until a blaze of golden light appeared, heralding the arrival of two women. The first was tall and slender, dressed in a hooded red and gold robe that showed off her natural beauty without looking cheap or scandalous. There was just enough light to show that under the hood she wore a red scarf over her eyes, her dark red hair hanging down to her shoulders.
Behind her stood a younger woman of around the same height, but of a more athletic build. She was dressed in a pair of thigh-high red leather boots, brown leather trousers and a white blouse with a blue, short-sleeved jacket on top. From her belt hung a long rapier with an ornate golden birds head on the hilt, while over her back was slung a large, powerful looking crossbow with the head and horns of a ram carved into the bodywork. Both weapons radiated magical power on their own, but they were almost lost behind the aura of power that radiated from the lady in red.
"Gandalf the Grey, I assume." The woman stepped forward, offering a hand in friendship, "And this must be Lord Elrond of Rivendell." She bowed before the Elf, "I thank you for welcoming us into your home at this darkest of times." She gestured for her companion to step forward, "This is Sparrow, my ward and most trusted aid."
"My Lords." The Hero of Bowerstone managed a polite nod to the two strangers, keeping her face as emotionless as she could.
The effects of the potion Theresa had given her had stripped away the passages of time, and her body felt as young and full of energy as it had when she had first set out to seek revenge against Lucien. Gone were the scars that she had received fighting bandits and balverines, as were the grey streaks in her normally dark brown hair and the lines on her face that she had born since her run in with the Shadow Court. Yet her eyes remained that of someone who had seen and done more than her fair share over the years, and this did not go unnoticed by her hosts.
"I welcome all who would take a stand against Sauron." Elrond bowed and gestured towards the door, "Come; the others are waiting."
The assembled members of the Council of Elrond sat talking amongst themselves as they waited for their host to arrive with their last member. Eyes darted to the vacant seat, wondering who would fill it. Of all the free lands of Middle Earth, only Rohan was unrepresented, yet few expected King Théoden to send an envoy so far from home. They fell silent as the Lord of Rivendell entered, followed by Gandalf and two human women, the elder of whom took up the empty seat. Her companion stood behind her with her arms crossed, a somewhat pained expression on her face.
"My apologies for the unexpected delay." Elrond stood before them, and quickly introduced the newcomers to the the assembled crowed before the debate started in earnest.
Sparrow let the conversation wash over her. It was of little interest to her beyond the fact that each second brought her one step closer to being free of Theresa for good. Instead she examined the others; the Elves were distant and aloof, ridged and inflexible, in many ways reminding her of Garth. In comparison the two dwarfs were an open book, wearing their emotions on their sleeves for all to see. Of the two Hobbits, Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, she did not know what to make; their stature was that of children, but their features where that of full grown men. Yet despite this they stood apart from the dwarfs in that they at first seemed timid, yet there was a sense of great strength within them.
But it was the two human men in attendance that held the most interest, and two more differing men could hardly be found. Both had the look of seasoned fighters, Aragorn was more composed and thoughtful, while Boromir was assertive to the point of arrogance. Yet despite this Sparrow felt a certain degree of kinship with them as fellow travellers along the same road. While neither had the unmistakable aura of a Hero as they were known in Albion, they were certainly heroic, which was in many ways all the more commendable. It was all too easy to be brave when one had the power of Will, Skill or Strength to call on, and quite another when you had no such advantages.
Then the Ring of Power that had brought them all so far was brought forward, and Sparrow felt a chill run through her veins. The light seemed to dim around it, and a hushed voice spoke in a strange tongue that seemed to hang in the air like storm clouds. She shivered involuntarily, and the voice vanished, the world returning to normal. Aside, that was, from the feeling in the very pit of her stomach that told her the Ring was pure, irredeemable evil. There was a momentary distraction as Gimli the Dwarf attempted to cleave the ring in half with an axe, only for the blade to shatter like a cheap plate. Then Elrond explained that the only way to destroy the ring was to take it back to where it had been forged, and a near riot broke out over who should take it.
Throughout all this, Theresa had remained silent, allowing the others to hurl accusations and insults at one another, until finally Frodo stood up and announced that he would carrying the Ring. Sparrow had been looking over towards Gandalf at the time, and there was an unmistakable look of relief on his face at the young Hobbit's words, almost as if he had been holding his breath in wait of them. Aragorn stood and pledged his sword to the defence of Frodo, followed quickly by Legolas the Elf, which prompted Gimli to demand a place on the expedition. Boromir stepped forward, insisting that if such a fool's errand was to be undertaken, he would go along to ensure it had the greatest chance of succeeding. Cries of protest heralded the arrival of three new Hobbits who pledged to stand by their friend.
Theresa turned her head slightly, and Sparrow suddenly realised that she had yet again walked into one of the blind seers traps. With a deep breath, stepped forward.
"I know little of these lands, but I know evil when it is in my presence, and that Ring holds a dark power." She did her best to sound and look confident, "I will join your quest, for the good of all our peoples."
"I hardly think there is a place on this quest for a woman." Boromir chuckled, amused at the very idea. "It's going to be hard enough slipping into Mordor as it is, without you slowing us down."
"Really?" Sparrow cocked her head to one side, then took another step forward, "Maybe you'd like to prove your point?"
"I hardly think..." Aragorn started, but Gandalf bade him to remain silent.
"Well?" Sparrow asked, flexing her fingers in anticipation.
"If you insist..." Boromir shook his head as he started towards her, only to be flung through the air by some unseen force and sent rolling across the courtyard. Sparrow was upon him before he could recover, the tip of her sword at his throat.
"This sword is known as the Daichi." Her words were spoken through gritted teeth, "It has shed the blood of a thousand men before it came into my possession, and many more since."
"Sparrow is a descendent of William Black." Theresa stood slowly, "The blood of Kings and Heroes flows through her."
"A descendent of The Archon?" Elrond spoke with hushed, reverent tones, "I was always lead to believe that his line had died out hundreds of years ago."
"This world has not seen his like since, nor will it likely ever again, but Sparrow is a true Hero in her own right, a champion against the darkness." Theresa smiled in pride of what her young charge had become, "I will not speak of how; that is her story to tell if she so wishes, but be assured that she has proven herself in word and deed."
"These are strange time; maybe they call for strange answers." Sparrow stood and offered her free hand to Boromir, "I offer you my friendship."
"I take it gladly: God knows, I would not want you as my enemy." He took it and pulled himself back to his feet, "And if that's how you treat those you would call friend, I can't wait to see what you'll do to the forces of Sauron."
"And so our party is complete." Elrond stood and addressed the ten members of the party, "You shall be known as the Fellowship of The Ring."
"Take care, Little Sparrow." Theresa place a hard softly on her wards arm, "And remember I am always there, always watching."
To Be Continued...