Sarah looked around. She was seated between Aragorn and another tall, stern looking Dunadan. Across from her, at the other end of the semi circle, Maggie sat between Frodo and Gandalf. It had been quite the surprise when they had been invited to the council. Sarah had figured that sense they were girls, if they wanted to listen, they would have had to hid out with Merry, Pippin, and Sam. Then Gandalf had found them, and invited her and Maggie, Maggie because she had been stabbed by the wraith and Sarah because of what she had told Aragorn in Bree. They had considered Grace, but had decided against her on account of her age. Sarah and Maggie had tried to sit together, but Gandalf had told them to sit here they did for the sake of the rest of the council.
Over the past half hour the patio had gradually filled up. Now they were only waiting for Lord Elrond and his sons, who had insisted on the girls calling them Dan and Ro.
Three more minutes of restless waiting later, they came in and sat down. Frodo looked very relived. (Maggie had been conducting an experiment to pass the time: How Many Times Can You Poke a Hobbit and Blame it on Gandalf before He Gets Annoyed)
After surveying the council, checking to make sure that all were present, Lord Elrond rose. Sarah held her breath, waiting for the words which she had memorized through countless viewings of the Fellowship of the Ring, Extended Edition.
"Strangers from distant lands, friends of old. You have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle -earth stands on the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall. Each race is bound to this Fate - this one doom." Lord Elrond looked around the faces turned towards him, his eye brows almost meeting above his nose, so deep was his frown. His eyes fell last on Frodo, who looked like he would very much like to be somewhere else.
"Bring forth the Ring, Frodo."
Frodo looked at Gandalf, and then slowly got up, He walked to the stone column in front of Lord Elrond, and carefully set the Ring in the exact center. He walked back and sank into his chair with a sigh. Maggie gave his arm an encouraging squeeze. Quiet whispers came from where the men of Gondor where seated. Suddenly, one sprang up.
"Boromir!" thought Sarah.
The man began pacing back and forth. "In a dream," he told them, "I saw the Eastern sky grow dark, but in the west a pale light lingered. A voice was crying: 'Your doom is near at hand. Isildur's bane is found.' Isildur's bane." He repeated the last two words in a whisper.
As if in a trance, Boromir reached a trembling hand towards the Ring. He was snapped out of it by Lord Elrond.
"Boromir!" he shouted, at the same time as Gandalf began to recite the chilling words. Words that had no place in the beauty of Imladris.
"Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul!"
A shadow seemed to pass over the sun, and all the elves present stopped their ears with a look of pain on their faces. Lord Elrond looked extraordinarily angry.
"Never before has any voice uttered the words of that tongue here in Imladris," he said, giving Gandalf the full benefit of what Maggie termed 'The Evil Eyebrow Glare'.
Boromir sat down in his seat, shocked.
Gandalf glared right back at Lord Elrond. "I do not ask your pardon, Master Elrond, for the Black Speech of Mordor may yet be heard in every corner of the West!" Here he switched his glare from Lord Elrond to Boromir. "The Ring is altogether evil!"
Boromir was nothing if not persistent. He was already shaking his head and getting to his feet. "But it is a gift!" he insisted. "A gift to the foes of Mordor! Why not use this Ring?" he began pacing back and forth. "Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of evil at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe!" Despite herself, Sarah could not help feel chills go up and down her spine. It was quickly quashed a second later. "Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy, let us use it against him!"
Aragorn shook his head. "You cannot wild it! None of us can. The One Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master."
Boromir gave him a doubtful look. "And what," he asked. "Would a ranger know of this matter?"
A blond elf, most likely Legolas, leapt to his feet. "This is no mere Ranger," he deafened hotly. "He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance."
Now open disbelief was clear on Boromir's face as he turned towards Aragorn. "Aragorn? This…is Isildur's heir?"
Legolas opened his mouth to confirm, but Sarah beat him to it."
Even though she know it was going to happen, and even though Boromir was her second favorite character of all time, she did not take kindly to someone insulting her friends, especially when said friend was her first favorite character of all time.
She jumped up as well, and almost tripped on the hem of her dress. As soon as she had recovered her balance, she began to recite a well loved poem.
"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
Aragorn reached up and grabbed Sarah's arm, pulling her down into her seat. He then looked up and caught Legolas's eye.
"Havo dad, Legolas," he told him. "Sit down, Legolas."
Boromir looked scornfully at Sarah and Aragorn. "Gondor has no king." He sat down heavily, switching his gaze to the elf. "Gondor needs no king."
After a last glance at Boromir, Gandalf attempted to bring the conversation back to the topic at hand. "Aragorn is right. We cannot use it."
"You have only one choice," Lord Elrond said grimly. "The Ring must be destroyed."
There was silence for a minute, as everyone looked at their neighbor. Then a gruff dwarf, undoubtedly Gimli, sprang out of his seat.
"What are we waiting for?" he demanded, rushing the Ring, his axe at the ready.
The dwarf struck at the Ring. There was a flash of light, and he was flung backwards, shards of what had once been his axe flying in every which direction.
Lord Elrond looked like he could barely keep from laughing.
'The Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli son of Gloin by any craft that we here posses." The elf now reverted to his former state: deadly seriousness. "The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came." He glared sternly around the council. "One of you must do this."
Boromir visibly restrained himself from rolling his eyes. He leaned forward in his chair, but for once he did not get up. Sarah mouthed his first sentence with him, and across the patio she could see Maggie doing the same. "One does not simply walk into Mordor," he said. Aragorn gave Sarah an odd look as she muffled snickers. Boromir continued. "Its Black Gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is an evil there that does not sleep. The great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren waste land, riddled with fire, ash and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly."
Legolas had no qualms about standing. He leapt to his feet. "Have you heard nothing Lord Elrond has said?" demanded he. That elf really must not like Boromir. "The Ring must be destroyed.
It was then Gimli's turn to spring up. (He had recovered from trying to destroy the One Ring. He poor axe, however…) "And I suppose you think you're the one to do it?!"
Now Boromir rose. "And if we fail, what then?!" he asked. "What happens when Sauron takes back what is his?"
"I will be dead before I see the Ring in the hands of an elf!" Gimli's comment had all the elves up in arms. His kinsmen rose to support him.
Suddenly, it seemed as if the whole council was on its' feet yelling. When the bodies shifted, Sarah could see Maggie's face. She frowned. The only other time that Maggie had that look was when she was having an argument with herself. Then Maggie suddenly stood up and gave a loud yell.
"Shut up!" she shouted. Everyone spun around to stare at her. "Thank you," she continued in a quieter tone. "I will take the Ring to Mordor." One of the unnamed men sat down heavily. He spoke as the rest of the council followed his lead. "You are a woman," he pointed out, "And a young one at that." He somehow managed to make the words kind, but not patronizing.
"I know," Maggie told him, "but I am also a Hobbit. And as some of you have noticed, hobbits are a bit more resilient to its power than men. I do not know why, but we are. Also, I am a girl, and in my experience we tend to be a bit more stubborn than men in some ways." Maggie looked around at every ones unconvinced faces. "Look. I'm not from around here. I know that most of you are not, but I can guaranty you that I am from farther than that. I am still not sure how I got here. But that doesn't matter. In my world, where I am from, we have a book that tells the entire history of Middle-earth. I know what the Ring is, what it does, and how it does it, along with multiple pieces of useless information, like Drúedain folk tales. I also know what it does to Frodo, and I do not want that to happen to him. Also, I haven't touched the Ring before now, where as Frodo has had it for years, and used it twice. I'm not saying that he is untrustworthy, he is very trustworthy, it's just that the Ring has much less of a hold over me then it does over him at this point."
Frodo looked at her in wonder and not a little relief.
"I will come with you and help," he promised, his voice clearly daring someone to say no to either of them.
Sarah stared at her friend. This was a side of Maggie that she had seen only once before, a couple of years ago. She hopped up and walked quickly to her friend's side. "Some kind of friend I'd be, if I let you go off into danger all by yourself, with only another hobbit for company." She bent down to hiss in Maggie's ear. "What the heck are you thinking?!"
Gandalf rose from his seat and joined the mall group, putting a hand on Maggie's shoulder. I will help you bear this burden, Maggie Rivers," he told her, "so long as it is yours to bear." He went to sand behind Maggie.
Aragorn then came over and pledged himself and Anduril. "If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword."
Legolas rose from his seat and stood next to Sarah. "And you have my bow."
Gimli came next. "And my axe!" He and Legolas glared daggers at one another.
Boromir came towards them slowly. He smiled a little at Maggie. "You carry the fates of us all, little one," he told her. "If this is indeed the will of the Council, then Gondor will see it done."
There was a pause. "Wait for it…wait for it," Sarah muttered under her breath. "There!" The bushes behind Frodo, Maggie and Gandalf's chairs rustled and parted.
"Heh!" shouted Sam. "Mr. Frodo's not going anywhere without me!"
This time Lord Elrond made no attempted to hide his amusement. "No indeed," he said, "it is hardly possible to separate you, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not."
Sam blushed. Both Sarah and Maggie looked towards the pillars. Right on time two more hobbits emerged, shouting as they ran. Lord Elrond whipped around, no linger smiling.
"Wait! We're coming to!" they crashed into the almost formed Fellowship and then stood flanking Maggie, arms crossed.
Lord Elrond opened his mouth to protest, but Merry beat him to it. "You would have to send us home tied up in a sack to stop us."
"Yeah!" Pippin agreed. "Anyway, you need people of intelligence on this sort of mission, quest…thing."
Merry leaned behind Maggie in order to see Pippin better. "Well that rules you out, Pip."
Eleven companions," said Lord Elrond, looking them up and down. "So be it! You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring!"
Pippin grinned. "Great! Where are we going?" As everyone tuned to stare at him, Sarah face palmed.
"We are so doomed," she groaned.