Revised and Re-posted: January 1, 2015
Disclaimer: I do not own any of Tolkien's works.
A/N: I will slowly be revising the story as I continue writing. Please bear with me. Each chapter at the very beginning, if it has been revised, will note the day it was re-posted.
Birdsong filled the air, its melody flowing harmoniously with the sounds of water falling and tree branches swaying in the wind. The sun overhead brightly watched over the peaceful scene of the valley of Imladris. The breeze passed through the trees into the hallways of the Last Homely House East of the Sea, following the open and towering passage until at last it reached a balcony and once again joined the stronger winds outside. As the breeze passed off the balcony, it gently caressed the golden-haired elf lying haphazardly on a bench near the balcony, with a hand laying over his eyes, motionless except for the slight rise and fall of his chest.
And then, just for a brief moment, the elf's body stilled as a cloud passed over the sun, covering the valley in darkness. Just as quickly as it came, the darkness left and the valley continued its peaceful melody. All returned to normal except all traces of peace left the body of the golden-haired elf. In that brief moment, he had felt a sense of malice at the edge of his senses. It was something old and familiar, the presence of a doom he had not encountered for over an age, if not two. Not the elf's doom, but certainly some ancient evil that had ended the life of a comrade in battle long ago.
Whatever it was, the sense of malice was much too far away to properly analyze and assess it existence and ability to threaten the hidden valley of Rivendell. At the moment, as far as the elf was concerned, it could be ignored until another day where its presence posed a greater threat. In recent years, it was not uncommon for the elves of Imladris to feel the evil in the east growing and passing its energies over the lands of Middle Earth. For now this elf chose to merely lay down and allow the sense of peace pervading the valley to flood his senses.
Of course, the very moment he had dismissed his concern, a messenger appeared, walking swiftly with a sense of purpose down the long passageway towards the balcony. The messenger stopped a respectable distance away and bowed lowly. "My Lord, Lord Elrond summons you. He is in need of your counsel."
The elf's eyes slowly opened, revealing piercing light blue-grey eyes. When he stood from the bench, he towered slightly over the messenger, wearing simple white robes over a tunic and breeches. His face was sharp and distinguished, his golden hair held back by warrior braids. "Thank you. Is there anything else?"
"No, Lord Glorfindel. He has summoned his sons and Lord Erestor as well."
Glorfindel nodded once at the messenger before promptly making his way to the meeting. His mind strayed back to the sense of malice, and he felt it was connected to the summons. He sighed as the image of Eärnur's smiling visage momentarily echoed in his mind. A brief flash of sorrow passed over the golden-haired elf's face before vanishing; he quickened his pace, his hand drifting to where he usually wore his sword.
[Break House of the Golden Flower Break]
"My Lord Elrond," Glorfindel stated respectfully, bowing slightly before taking a seat in front of Elrond's desk. He would have loved to crack a joke at the deepening wrinkles on the stern elf's face, but the tension in the room was literally thick enough to slice through with a sword.
He glanced at the faces of the other elves in the room, including Elrond's twin sons, Elladan and Elrohir. Their grim countenances mirrored their father's face, promising the news was indeed serious and of a dark nature. When his eyes drifted to his fellow advisor, Erestor, Erestor gave him a slight nod before turning back to Elrond. Erestor's finger was idling tapping against his side, which was usually a sign that the elf was greatly distressed. Glorfindel was finally getting the feeling that his relatively peaceful day was about to take a turn for the worse. He turned his attention back to Elrond, who had been watching his silent observations patiently.
With a nod from Elrond, Erestor outlined a brief summary of the situation. "We were holding a minor meeting over the growing orc presence in the east, when a messenger from the elves traveling through the Baranduin brought grave tidings. Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod has come to know of dark events in the West and sought to ready us for the arrival of distressed travelers. A hobbit, Frodo Baggins, is carrying a burden of severe importance. However the enemy seeks him and that which he carries. He is without the guidance of his advisor, Gandalf the Grey, and is in desperate need of aid."
Glorfindel frowned, lines appearing on his otherwise smooth face. "The Enemy? In what manner is he seeking the hobbit?" He did not like the growing tension lining Elrond's body, nor the darkening atmosphere within the room.
Elrond's face hardened, his voice soft. "The Nine. The Nine are abroad."
Glorfindel felt himself freeze, as if his body has been encased in ice. He took a few moments to collect himself, once more a flash of Eärnur's face crossing his mind, this time envisioning a tortured and dying king. He wrenched his mind away from the image and whispered, "The Nine? What could this little hobbit possess that the Nine hound his very footsteps?"
Elrond met his gaze apologetically, as if he could read the heartache growing in Glorfindel's chest. "Gandalf asked me to keep this information to myself. When last he was here, he confided his suspicions that Master Baggins could be in possession of a great ring. And not just any, but the one. The one ring that Sauron longs the most to see in his control once more so that he can bring another era of darkness over these lands."
The other elves in the room were as startled as Glorfindel. The Ring? The one coveted by Sauron that bound the fates of the other great rings into itself? Glorfindel's gaze lowered to look at Elrond's hand before tearing itself back to look at Elrond's face.
"So, then, it has revealed itself. Sauron has gained considerable strength if his creation can hear its master's call." Glorfindel did not want to dwell on that thought. Whatever time the elves had believed they still had to strengthen their defenses was gone, and their doom was near at hand. The power of the three rings would not be enough to overpower Sauron's ring of power.
Elrond shook his head in disagreement. "No, that is now how Sauron discovered its' whereabouts. The tale of the ring and how it came into Master Baggins' possession is long and arduous, and we do not have the time to share such information. Suffice to say, we must help Master Baggins reach Rivendell before he is overtaken."
Glorfindel couldn't help but gape as a tinge of hope echoed in Elrond's voice and eyes. "What hope does a hobbit have to ride against the Nine?"
"Hope?" Elrond gave the first smile to be seen during the course of the conversation. "My friend, hope travels with the young hobbit and his companions."
"Estel." Glorfindel breathed the name, letting the true meaning fill him with hope and joy. "If Estel is with them…"
"Yes, from other messengers I have learned he was keeping a watch over the Shire, probably on Gandalf's request. With Estel guiding them, they have a chance, small as it is, to reach the Ford. However they will need more than luck against the Nine." Elrond stood with both strength and grace shining through him, a strong elven lord that ruled Rivendell and protected its borders fiercely with a secret power only a few knew of. "Glorfindel, Elladan, Elrohir. Each of you pick a direction, north, south, and west, and look for them. Find them quickly and swiftly gain them passage across the Ford. Elrohir and Elladan, if you encounter the Nine, do not engage them. They are beyond your capabilities. As such, I ask you, Glorfindel, to take the road west. You will have the greater chance there not only to find Estel but any of the Nine. Think wisely before engaging."
"You need not warn my, my Lord Elrond. Though I may be enough to give them chase, if I stand between the Witch King and the ring, I could spell my own doom. However," the golden-haired elf allowed a smile to color his face," I'm not really interested in visiting the Halls of Mandos again, so I will use caution against them. Do not fear for me."
Elrond reached out and clasped his hand tightly. "I would be hard pressed to lose one of my closest advisors when the greatest decisions of our time must be made. Or to lost two precious sons for that matter." He looked at his two sons sternly. "You will not engage them. Are we clear?"
Elrohir rolled his eyes while Elladan replied, "Of course Ada. We're well aware of the danger. We will return quickly. With Estel if we can find him. Though I feel it will be Glorfindel who finds and brings them back." Despite their slight irritation at their father's blatant over protectiveness, they each embraced their father tightly before withdrawing.
Glorfindel waited patiently for the twins to leave before turning to Elrond and Erestor. "I suspect Estel will lead me on a merry chase on the wild, so do not look for my coming in the next two weeks. I fear some time will pass ere we reach the Ford."
Elrond sighed deeply and sat down, gesturing for his two close advisors to join him. Grabbing three empty wine glasses, he placed them on his desk. Erestor popped open an old vintage wine and filled each glass before resealing the bottle. Clinking the glasses, they each exchanged a look before taking a sip. Setting down his glass, Elrond said, "More so I fear the actions of the enemy. They will not allow the ring to travel here unhindered. Glorfindel, again I ask you to carefully consider any engagements with your enemy. I remember Eärnur's disappearance with grief as much as you do, and I very much doubt the Witch King has forgotten you."
Glorfindel stared at his glass of wine, swirled the dark liquid around in his glass before smiled sadly, "No matter how much I would desire to seek revenge against Eärnur's bane, I would not risk Estel or the hobbit. As it were, Eärnur would not have asked that of me either. Fear not, my friend. I will lock my grief away until such a time when, if it comes, I can face him on my own terms. And even then." Here, Glorfindel sighed. "I know the Witch King will not find his end at my hands. If I were to face him, it would end in his victory, not mine. So no, my Lord. I will only do all I can to aid the hobbit in his plight, nothing more beyond that."
Erestor snorted, causing both Elrond and Glorfindel to look up. "I do not doubt you will help the hobbit, but do not think you have me fooled. You'll give everything and more, maybe even too much of yourself, to save the people most important for you. All we ask…" Erestor paused and looked into Glorfindel's eyes, piercing into Glorfindel's very mind. "All we ask is that you find your way back home, with your companions, safe." Whatever else Erestor had thought to say, he buckled down and looked back at his own glass of wine.
Glorfindel sighed, this time though in jest. "This is what happens when I end up with you stuffy old elves. You two just sap the fun out of the room with your very words."
Elrond suddenly groaned, causing the other two elves to smile. "I don't suppose you can drop my wayward son in the Ford for a couple of hours to wash off the grime he calls camouflage?"
"Considering that the last time I did so, he teamed up with the twins against me, I would say no. If you want him to wash off, you're going to have to wait at the Ford for us and dunk him yourself." Glorfindel laughed. "You may be my Lord in many ways, but I have learned to not step in between your son and his beloved ranger appearance. I'll just watch from afar, preferably upwind, thank you very much."
"And I will resume my duties in the library, if that is all. Goodness gracious, at least the one thing Estel learned was to never step in the library fresh from the wild." Erestor's eyes twinkled. "You two are too soft with him." Elrond and Glorfindel shared deep, sorrowful looks behind Erestor's back as he took his leave. None of them truly stood a chance against Erestor. Not even Estel, no matter how old he was, 10 years or 87 years, it made no difference.
As Glorfindel rose from his chair and made his way out of the room, he paused in the doorway. "I know as well as you and Erestor how easily I succumb to old memories, but please trust that I would pick the right time and place, not when Estel or any other is in danger." With that parting shot, he walked out. From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of the worried elf and could only hope he would not add to his chosen Lord's sorrows.
[Break House of the Golden Flower Break]
Glorfindel found Elladan and Elrohir lounging in the foyer and gently clasped their shoulders in recognition of the fact they had been waiting for him. Gesturing for them to follow, he led them to the kitchens. "It will take them some time to reach Rivendell from the Shire. With our luck, we may be on the roads for only a couple of weeks before we find them. Do not linger for long in a single location. Continue to sweep the areas assigned to you. I agree with your father in that I will find them on my path westwards, so stay close to Rivendell. The Nine would not dare to cross the borders, so you will be able to escape if they happen upon you."
Elladan threw an arm over the elf lord's shoulder, Elrohir doing the same around his waist. "Don't worry about us, Glorfindel. We'll use caution when moving through the wilds. As it is, there are patrols currently north and south of the valley, so we may join up with them from time to time while searching for Estel. It is for him that we should worry. If the Nine were to discover his identity…"
Glorfindel observed their worried expressions with love in his eyes. Estel could not have hoped for better and more caring brothers then these. He gave them a gentle thwack to the head and laughed. "Under all that dirt and grime, even I have a hard time ascertaining who he is. They will judge him to be a mere ranger, not the heir of their leader's great enemy." He hugged them close and continued, "Do not fear much for Estel; he has carried this burden long and knows to keep his identity a secret, even from his charge who follows him. No, his greatest danger comes in protecting the little hobbit who carries the evil item that the enemy has long since been searching for." He felt them hold on tighter and simply returned their embrace.
After placing orders for rations, the twins returned to their quarters to prepare their packs while Glorfindel headed for the stables. As he entered, his eyes focused on the white horse neighing at the back of the stable. He slowly approached, bowing with respect before placing a hand to fondly stroke the horse's head. "Asfaloth, we have work to do." The horse neighed again before nuzzling his head against Glorfindel's golden hair. "Yes, I am greatly worried, but we have hope and the Lord Elrond on our side. May the Valar protect us all." He brushed Asfaloth down, checking all his hooves, before leading the horse out of the stable. Outside he found the twins waiting, an extra pack in Elrohir's hands which he deftly tossed to Glorfindel.
"We took the time to stop by your quarters," Elladan said in response to Glorfindel's questioning look. "The sooner we go, the sooner we can find Estel and return."
"Those are positive words, young one, but take heed not to leave in haste. I for one shall not return until Estel is found." He checked his pack and smiled at the thoughtful act. "Thank you for picking up everything I need. My sword…"
"Right here," Elladan withdrew a sword that had been tilting against the wall next to the twins' packs. He gently handed the great sword over to its owner.
Glorfindel gave the sword a gentle caress before tying the scabbard to his belt. Returning his attention to the twins, Glorfindel advised, "Eat lunch with your Ada before departing. The patrols will pass information to the sentries mid-afternoon, so that will be the best time to join them." Mounting Asfaloth, he bade them farewell. "Be safe, and may the Valar protect you. Noro lim, Asfaloth." Without looking back, he left Rivendell. And this time, he intentionally moved towards the malice he had sensed earlier, for better or worse.
[Break House of the Golden Flower Break]
After Glorfindel passed the outer boundaries of Rivendell, he stopped at a small clearing of grass for Asfaloth to graze and gracefully took a seat against an old strong oak, leaning against the tree. He still didn't feel close to the shadowed malice he was following. He slowly relaxed the muscles in his body one by one, taking several deep, calming breaths. He felt the barriers around his mind fall away, and suddenly he out of his body, traveling westward on the wind. He followed the darkness and soon realized he felt two distinct groups; the Nine must have divided into two groups in their hunt for the ring. The closer group, he determined after a moment, was intended to hold the Ford against Estel's group if Estel successfully bypassed the other ring wraiths. The one close to him was the smaller group, constantly moving as if their master was at their heels. It would be almost unavoidable that he would meet with a few ring wraiths before finding Estel.
The best, course of action, he meditating on the enemy's movements, would be to take the Road and cross the Bridge of Mitheithel. Estel would have to cross it, especially if there was a need for haste. If he left an elven token there, Estel could at least have the hope that there would be riders looking for him.
After that, it would depend on luck. It would be impossible to wait for Estel at the bridge. In fact, it would be almost guaranteed the enemy would keep a watch there. Glorfindel closed his eyes, stretching his senses once more. Of the four riders closest to his location… none of them were the Witch King! He would know Angmar's presence, of that Glorfindel had no doubt. But these riders did not have the same darkness, the same depth of malice as the Witch King. If that was the case, Glorfindel had every bit of confidence that he could chase them away from the bridge. Estel would avoid traveling on the road, and as a master ranger, he wouldn't be found lest he wanted to be.
Well, that was that. Glorfindel whistled a high pitch, and Asfaloth rushed to his side. He would keep the enemy away from the bridge to leave that path open to Estel. Once he'd chased them far enough away, he would return along the road. After the bridge, Estel would be forced to cross the road to reach the path leading to the Ford of Bruinen. Hopefully, somewhere in between, Glorfindel would find them and help guide them to safety.
[Break House of the Golden Flower Break]
When Glorfindel reached the Bridge of Mitheithel days later, it was as he had thought. Three were waiting, silent and deadly. If he had been any other elf, he would have withdrawn and found a way around. These were the Ring wraiths, three of the Nine sent out by the Dark Lord Sauron to find a trinket most precious to him. They stood their ground, their horses not moving an inch. For they could not understand the danger they faced. They would not understand who their foe was until Glorfindel revealed his true self to their sight.
They gave a screech, almost like a laugh as best as Glorfindel could tell. It was a dark sound, an ugly sound, and if Glorfindel had the luxury, he would have covered his ears. However elven dignity required that he stare at them impassively. Elrond would have been so proud. Glorfindel hadn't even cracked about the grating screech. Maybe this was, as Elrond would say, Glorfindel finally becoming mature. Or not.
"Elf, you've wandered far from your pitiful home," a voice whispered from the cloaked figure on the left. "The Lord Sauron, however, is merciful. If you give us the information we desire, you may escape with your pathetic life until darkness reigns free upon these lands once more. Your world is coming to its end, little Elf."
If this was any regular orc or goblin, Glorfindel would have laughed at their arrogance. However these were three of the Nine, he didn't have the luxury of underestimating them. Too bad for these wraiths, he was no ordinary elf. And he wasn't feeling particularly merciful today. In fact, they had ruined what would have been a pleasant day; the sky was sunny and the air had been filled with a light, peaceful breeze. Now their black presences were a nuisance, darkening the day and making the air colder.
As a great lord who had seen the Blessed Realm in its glory, he was not afraid of these wraiths. He could not be the one to defeat them, but he could let his power shine brightly. If there was anything that these dark beings would fear, it would be a light so bright that it could shine through them.
"You speak unwisely, wraith. Crawl back to your master's feet. You will find no victory here." The power that he so carefully shielded within himself, he let loose. Like a dam that suddenly burst, his light shot up powerful and pure. It was good as shouting that he, Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower, was here. However for them mission to succeed, he would have to pull all the stops. As he descended upon them, he remembered for a brief moment the splendor of Gondolin and its subsequent fall, and his wrath was thus unleashed.
The wraiths screamed, or screeched (he couldn't tell), before directing their horses in the opposite direction. For a moment, Glorfindel allowed himself to ponder his ability to shine them away. If only he could shine Sauron away…
As he gave chase, he dropped a token upon the bridge. It twinkled brightly at the edge of his vision before it disappeared from view.
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