The Shadow Arisen - Part II
The three companions found Rivendell a pleasant enough place, but little to their liking. They spoke briefly with Lord Elrond, retelling the tale of the dead man on the road, and of the jewel he bore. A full council, it seemed, would be held upon the next day.
There was much lore to be found in Imladris - but lore of the West and of Valinor, tales of the First and Second Age through the eyes of the Firstborn of Illuvatar. There seemed little room for the Children of Aule in these histories. But upon the next day they nonetheless awoke strangely refreshed from their journeys. The darkness of the road seemed almost forgotten already, and as they were summoned by Elrond's household, their minds seemed clearer and less troubled.
They were not alone. Already in the hall, his face hooded but lit on occasion by the light of his pipe, sat a man, of rough appearance but noble stature. Here too was another man, his bearing tall and eyes gleaming. Though Burin did not recognise him, his cloak shone with the heraldry of Gondor.
At last Elrond himself arrived. He introduced each of them in turn.
"Men of the West, these here are three of the dwarves of Erebor. Burin son of Balin, Lord of Khalah-dum; Glóin son of Gróin; and his own son Gimli. Sons of Durin, you stand in the company of Imrahil, herald of Boromir the Steward of Gondor; and of Aragorn, son of Arathorn, commander of the Grey Company and last shield of the men of Eriador from Angmar resurgent - heir to the throne of Gondor."
At this the hooded figure that had seemed rough shone anew in the eyes of both Imrahil and the dwarves. For a fleeting moment as he rose there seemed a glimpse of the glory of Numenor and the line of Elendil; a glimpse of the Sea-Kings that were. But it was, for the moment, quick to pass.
"Fate has brought us, representatives of each of the Free Peoples, together here upon this day. There is much that can be discussed - much that must be discussed. Sauron has returned, and plans war."
What followed was a discussion of each present's knowledge of the Enemy's movements; most prominent was Imrahil's news from Gondor. For in Barad-dur the Enemy was gathering all evil to him; orcs and trolls and dark men. Even once fair Ithilien was now completely subdued, and Lord Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, could do little to stop the rising darkness. Almost all land east of the Anduin was now under his command.
He told then of his own purpose in coming here; he had been sent to call for aid from the free peoples, before Sauron launched his attack on Minas Tirith itself. "For the Lord Boromir is strong but stands alone,
" said he, "but the blood of Numenor is all but spent. We cannot face this unaided."
He had made his way north to Edoras; but no Eothed would ride south to their aid. Saruman the White had cast aside the light and truth, and turned to serving the Darkness. Rumour even whispered of his desiring dominion over Middle Earth for himself. He had invaded Rohan, turning Dunlendings and Uruks to his service, and Edoras would soon fall. The worst of all the rumours, though, was that Saruman had corrupted another of the Istari,
Gandalf the Grey.
So he had made his way north, hoping at least to discover the truth of the rumour of Angmar reborn, in futile hope of it being but rumour. But arriving at Rivendell he had learnt the truth; though his wonder at the survival of the Dunedain of the North did not cease. At this Elrond spoke once more; Angmar was not yet truly arisen again, and remained weak. Carn Dum, the Witch-King's ancient stronghold, was but an orchold, for he had Ithilien also to rule.
Aragorn spoke, "news from our friends from the High Pass has given us thought anew. The Witch-King's arm grows long. I had heard that the Hill-men were again being corrupted as in millenia past; but their king had been a friend to me, and to the Lord Elrond, though of lesser stock. He disappeared, but from Lord Elrond I hear of a discovery made by our dwarven friends."
At this Elrond cast a medallion upon the table.
"A relic of Rhudaur, once worn by the princes of that realm, taken from the body of a man found dead by Burin and his companions only outside the Hidden Valley. A new king sits in the wild hills, and he serves Angmar. The fate of Balodis was unknown to us till today. The Enemy is gathering his forces in the north, and grows bold to leave his mark so close."
He spoke long of his own realm; the sparse strength of the Rangers of the North. They had fortified much of the wild against any assault from the North, hoping to shield Bree, the Shire and the Havens, but if assault came, they had little hope in truth.
It was then that Balin spoke.
"Durin's Folk at least can bring some good tidings. Though news of it doubtless did not reach far south, there was war but some winters past in the north between Gundabad and the Northmen. The Men of Dale and the Beornings managed to repel the orcish invasion, and we too had our wars to fight; the High Pass we cleared of goblins, and hope to make safe for all travellers. But darker questions remain. We know not of the fate of Balin, my own father; nor Ori and Oin and others of noble stock who accompanied him to reclaim Moria. No word of him we have heard in decades, and the East Gate we found closed to us."
Burin turned then to Gloin, who spoke almost in a hushed voice.
"Then about a year ago a messenger came to King Dáin in Erebor, but not from Moria — from Mordor: a horseman in the night, who called Dáin to his gate. The Lord Sauron the Great, so he said, wished for our friendship. Rings he would give for it, such as he gave of old. And he asked urgently concerning hobbits, of what kind they were, and where they dwelt. “For Sauron knows,” said he, “that one of these was known to you on a time.”
‘At this we were greatly troubled, and we gave no answer. And then his fell voice was lowered, and he would have sweetened it if he could. “As a small token only of your friendship Sauron asks this,” he said: “that you should find this thief,” such was his word, “and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever. Find only news of the thief, whether he still lives and where, and you shall have great reward and lasting friendship from the Lord. Refuse, and things will not seem so well. Do you refuse?”
‘At that his breath came like the hiss of snakes, and all who stood by shuddered, but Dáin said: “I say neither yea nor nay. I must consider this message and what it means under its fair cloak.”[/i]
"It is likely,"
Burin continued, "that this messenger was one of the Nine. What his purpose in hunting Bilbo was we cannot guess; nor do we know of this ring he possesses. But he must be warned. And... that he would speak as if our rings of old were in his possession troubles us.
For - and I do not tell this lightly to those not our kin - it's reclamation was a part of that which Balin hoped to achieve in Moria. I must ask if any know of my sire's fate. Beyond our kin only Gandalf knew more of the fate of Durin's Ring - and now we hear he too has fallen into shadow."
a voice from the doorway spoke, "is not entirely true, Burin son of Balin."