Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings and all characters and places belong to Tolkien. I make no claim to them whatsoever, and merely borrow his own brilliant ideas for my own enjoyment. No money was made from the writing of this, and none shall be.
Time frame: Post Return of the King; Post the Ringbearer's journey to Valinor
A/N: Wow, this is my first Lord of the Rings fic. Well, my second, but the first was a crossover (with Monsters Inc. Strange? Yeah a little bit, but I'm proud of it. If you like fluffy(ish) little Estel stories, check it out!), so I'm not sure it really counts. I've been sitting on a number of oneshots and ideas lately, and finally have decided to begin posting a few of them. I'm not entirely sure when the others will come out...sometime this summer though, most likely. Originally, this was also intended to be a oneshot. However, it turned out to be nearly 9,000 words long which, in my opinion, is a little too long for a oneshot. So, I've broken it down into 4 chapters of varying length. I dunno when I'll post the second chapter, but it'll probably be around a week. If I get a lot of good feedback, I might go ahead and post sooner (hint hint). In any case, please enjoy this! It was most definitely fun to write!
A Little Bit of Background: (If you've read the Silmarillion and are familiar with the tale of the three elven rings of power, feel free to skip this section)
The rings of power (save the One Ring) were created by an elf by the name of Celebrimbor. Sauron (who was then known as Annatar), aided him in the forging of the Nine, and the Seven (man and dwarf). However, Celebrimbor made the three elvish rings in secret, unknown to Annatar at the time. He named them Vilya (the sapphire ring), Nenya (the adamant ring), and Narya (the ruby ring), and they were the rings of the major elements: air, water, and fire respectively. Celebrimbor entrusted Vilya to Gil-Galad, who later passed it on to Elrond; Nenya, he gave to Galadriel to watch for; Narya he gave to Cirdan the shipwright, who later entrusted it with Gandalf. Celebrimbor was soon taken by Sauron and tortured for the information of the whereabouts of the rings of power. He told Sauron of the Nine and the Seven, but he took the secret of where the Three were hidden with him to Mandos's Halls.
Upon the One Ring's destruction, the power of the other rings of power faded as well. They then sailed to Valinor with their Keepers.
It is then my interpretation that they would then have been returned to Celebrimbor, their maker, seeing as he had simply given the rings to others to safeguard.
It seemed as if the One Ring had a personality of its own, its own will. I therefore have come to the conclusion that the other Rings of Power had similar personalities as well. That is the basic premise of this tale.
The world was beautiful and perfect. A light mist hovered just above the empty city streets, cool and sweet as it drifted lethargically by, pushed by the faintly blowing sea breeze. Droplets of dew clung to the tree leaves and dripped off of the budding wildflowers that grew interspersed with the verdant grass, giving the world a splash of color even in the predawn gloom.
The world, although perfect, was silent. As of yet, no birds trilled their morning tunes, and none wandered the streets, raising their lilting, laughing voices is song and merriment. None, that is, but he and I, and we were silent.
I could sense the shadow, the sorrow weighing on his heart. Once more I stretched out, attempting to appease his pain, to brush his heart with the healing and peace that he always seemed to withhold from himself. This time when I brushed the darkness, however, it was different; sharper, more poignant. He brushed me away brusquely and without a word. I withdrew, confused as to why my presence had been rejected.
An owl hooted its final farewell to the night, and I felt the first warm caress of Anor as she lifted her fiery head above the rim of the world. It felt as if the world came alive. Colors burst to life, ripping free of the shadowy veil of the night, and the songs of the winged ones filled the air as they heralded the coming of the day.
Pure, unbridled joy filled me, and I could not hold back the song that seemed to consume me. This morning, I felt new-made, as if all the cares and woes that had matured and worn me had suddenly vanished.
Do you not see this beautiful morning? Can you not feel the perfection of the world? I asked, attempting to draw his attention away from his dark thoughts and to the light. He either did not hear me, or he ignored me.
Once again, I was left feeling confused and a little alone. He very rarely ignored me in such a way, and it troubled me. I tentatively brushed his consciousness, questioning, searching for what troubled him so greatly. He shut me out.
"Enough," he told me.
You are mine and I am yours, I chided gently, refusing to back down this time. We share a bond.
"That was never true," he replied, nearly inaudibly. There was a great sorrow buried within his words. "You were never mine; I have merely been your keeper. It is time for you to return to your rightful master. Now be silent."
I was shocked. Not since the beginning – those first, frantic, tragic days – had he ever said such a thing to me. If ever I had felt betrayed, I did in that moment.
I withdrew, growing cold and silent as he continued on his way, no longer able to sense the birds trilling or Anor shining. In fact, for a time, one would have thought me no more than a simple band of gold studded with a simple sapphire – a common ring on the hand of a common elf.
I did not stir again until I felt another presence whisper in my thoughts.
Brother, a voice whispered to me, the voice a flickering, brightly burning flame. I would not have even acknowledged my sister, but I sensed a sorrow, a darkness hovering about her fire that I had never sensed in her before. Vaguely, as if from a great distance, I heard the familiar voice of the Istar greeting my Keeper. My Keeper replied in kind, although his words were short and distracted. The Istar laid a comforting hand on my Keeper's shoulder, and then together the two moved on, continuing through the streets and descending toward the outskirts of the city in silent companionship.
Narya, I whispered, and was surprised to hear the same sorrow in my own voice as had been in hers. What troubles you so?
His mind is hidden from me, my sister replied, and I knew that she was speaking of her Keeper. Never before has he done so, not as he does now. It is as if there is a grief that blocks me, and yet he will not allow me to comfort him.
With a sudden spark of understanding, I knew exactly what Narya meant.
My own Keeper has done the same, although he has hidden it well, I replied, and I felt my sorrow deepen.
Our journey continued in silence broken only by our Keepers' footfalls and the sounds of birds and beasts. I found that I no longer felt any joy at their song making.
When we halted, it was outside of an ornately carved door set into a beautifully constructed building. Narya's Keeper reached up and knocked thrice upon the door, the sound of his knuckles smacking the wood sounding hollow and concussive. After a long moment of silence, the door was opened, and our Keepers were ushered inside.
Brother, sister! a new voice exclaimed, accompanied by the sense of water tumbling over rocks. You are here as well. This statement sounded wistful, sad, and sorrowful. I wished to ask if Nenya knew what was happening, but then the voice of someone other than one of our Keepers spoke, and I honed my attention outward, so as to hear what he was saying.
"I am glad that you have come," the elf said, and it was evident that he was smiling.
"It is time that what is yours be returned to you," my Keeper replied. He was not smiling.
"I will be but a moment," the other elf said, and with that, he departed our company.
His voice...Nenya said.
I have heard it before…Narya said.
Celebrimbor, I said, our Maker.
Celebrimbor returned, and he was holding a small, yet intricately carved wooden box. He placed it on a small table, and lifted the lid to reveal a fancily embroidered, satin-covered cushion. Three small hollows were situated in a perfect triangle, each the same size, although the embroidery around each circle varied. The back left was a ring of blazing orange and gold fire, while the back right was a deep blue fashioned to resemble waves. The foremost circle, the tip of the triangle, was embroidered with pure silver that twisted and twined and twirled.
Three hollows – fire, water, and air; one for each of us.
Nenya cried out as she was slipped off of her Keeper's dainty finger. I could feel her anguish as her Keeper dropped her into Celebrimbor's palm, and could hear her keening as she was gently placed into her silk-lined prison.
Narya was next. Her Keeper hesitated for a second, and hope welled within my sister. But then she too was grasped, and was yanked away. She tried to hang on, clutched desperately at her Keeper, even as she was handed over to our Maker, and placed in her own hollow.
I knew now what our Keepers had kept hidden from us, and I now knew why. We were being abandoned, returned to our Maker, despite the fact that all three of us had found our One, and they had known that we would fight them. And fight him I would.
I held on as tightly as I could, wrapping my consciousness around my Keeper's and binding it to mine. I fought him, even as he pulled against me, and howled as our wills strove against each other. Never before had I done such a thing, and to refuse my Keeper, my One, tore at me like a Balrog's whip. But I would not let go. I would not leave him.
"Vilya, enough," my Keeper snapped. "Let go." I could feel his embarrassment, and his anger, and I eased my battle. It was only then that I could also feel his pain.
With one final cry, I released my Keeper, and slipped from his finger, falling to the floor. I hit the polished boards with the sound of metal striking wood, and I lay where I had struck the ground, my sorrow weighing me down.
A new hand closed around me, and Celebrimbor lifted me high into the air. Reverently, almost lovingly, he placed me in the forefront of the triangle. But I could not sense his feelings – I would not. I cared only for the fact that he had taken me and my sisters from our Keepers. I knew that I would never completely forgive him for doing such a thing.
I looked over the rim of the box and out into the room. Our Keepers were standing a few feet away, facing the table on which we sat. Celebrimbor was speaking to them, his back to us, but I cared little for him. My attention was fixated on our Keepers.
With a pang of sudden sorrow, I realized that I could no longer feel, or even read, my Keeper's emotions, let alone my sisters Keepers'. For the first time in many a thousand years, I felt empty, and cold.
Celebrimbor turned, and lowered the lid to our box, shutting out the light and enveloping us in cloying darkness. With a click, the lid latched, sealing us in our prison.
And for the first time since I had been formed, I felt alone.