By Kielle (kielle@subreality.com)

DISCLAIMER: All characters and settings herein belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. It's as simple as that.

DEDICATION: This is for Ahli -- she knows why. *smooch* And, oddly, for Harry Sinclair.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I try not to write vignettes but I have a small soft spot for Isildur. When I found that he had no stories listed on Henneth Annun (http://www.henneth-annun.net) I decided it would be fair to let the big lug have his say.

PS: It's entirely possible that somebody else has already done this, but with FF.net down I had no good way of finding out, and regardless it really wanted to be written. When my muse sinks her teeth into my arm, I know better than to resist. :)

We fought to win it.

No, perhaps that's not true. We fought to defeat its master.

No, that's not true either. We fought because we had to fight, because we could not simply lie down and let him win. However, we had no illusions that he would, in the end, win anyhow.

Neither elf nor man nor dark lord could have foreseen that the tide would be turned by blind chance.

Will the histories say that I struck the Ring from his hand with one valiant blow? It would be the truth, but it would not be the entire truth. It was not a heroic assault -- only a small desperate final defiance. I did not believe that a simple blade, no matter how well forged, could even scratch his black armor.

Why did I lash out at a god with the stump of my father's shattered sword? Because my father lay dead and the darkness was falling and because I had to. I had to. For the same reason we were fighting in the first place: because it was the right thing to do, the only thing to do. No matter how futile, no matter how hopeless...we would go down fighting.

I would go down fighting.

I did not expect my blade to find purchase. I did not expect to strike his power from his very hand. Like a snared fox snapping its jaws at the hunter's grasp, I only wished to delay that awful hand from descending. I only hoped to buy a last breath, a last heartbeat, a last moment of life. Instead...


And instead I find this golden shining thing in my own hand, my own whole hand, and it is as beautiful as its master was hideous.

Elrond believes I was seduced by its beauty; I could see the accusation burning in his eyes when we last met, and I fear we shall never meet again. Elves -- even half-elves, it seems -- have never thought highly of Man, and so they find it predictable that I, a prince of my people, should childishly fall prey to a sparkling trinket.

Elves assume many things. And they would be surprised to find how often they are wrong. Beauty had nothing to do with it.

How can you not understand? We did not go to war with any illusions of victory. We fought only to say that we'd fought; to provide a tale for our surviving children, a secret talisman of hope for our enslaved descendents. Hope that someday a king might rise again to defeat the enemy we could not.

Instead, impossibly, we won.

Instead, impossibly, I won.

This ring is neither an ornament nor a symbol of power. It is rightful compensation for my father's blood and the blood of many, many brave men who fell believing they'd died for naught. Such a thing cannot be lightly tossed aside.

Elrond is wrong. Whatever dark purpose this simple golden bauble was meant to serve was banished with its master; now it is merely a trophy on a chain. Nay, more than that -- it is a reminder of how a small desperate chance, at the right time in the right place, can destroy the even greatest evil.

Such a thing must never be forgotten.

I shall never forget.

And I shall never let it come to harm.

.-= FINIS =-.