Trestlebridge was busy as the hot sun of midday shone down from above, warming its residents while they busied themselves with gathering supplies. Near the stables, several shopkeepers loaded wagons with final items before the journey south to Bree. Nellie Boskins, the leader of the soon to be refugees from Trestlebridge, gave orders to the small handful of remaining soldiers. Her voice was clear and crisp as she directed a house by house search to ensure no one was left behind, accidental or purposeful. Hope faded with the people of Trestlebridge; even though the Orcs had fled, there would be no rebuilding. The town was ruined by fire and death, the Orcs and Goblins raids’ having taken their toll. Fully half of the town was dead, buried on a hill overlooking the valley and the vast Trestlespan.
In one particular house, a small group of warriors began to pack, their mood morose as with unspoken words, they knew that they would be going separate ways. The revelation brought by Grimrahl that Angmar’s Steward Mordirith was dead and the vast forces of Angmar had scattered to the winds. Despite these new tidings, several of the Rangers of the West were preparing a journey north to travel the ruins. Hersery and Thorsul had agreed to accompany Grimrahl to Gath Forthnir, the camp of Free People to the east of Carn Dum. Leandir and Gilthiras would be heading to Meluinen to warn the elven settlement there of the events of the past few days. Mordroskerk had declared he would head back to Bree with the refugees from Trestlebridge and from there would be going east to the Misty Mountains.
Rathbairn sat on the small cot in the room he shared with Mordroskerk, watching the dwarf cram provisions and supplies into his saddlebags, preparing for his journey. The Beorning had no idea what he would do or where he would go. Angmar did not appeal to him, nor did the Elves. Despite his fondness for his new friends, he felt the need to be alone. His actions at Trestlebridge had led the remaining citizens to brand him a hero. He had scoffed at this idea, rejecting claims that he had single-handedly routed the orcs. Rathbairn wanted to continue to bring help to the lands of Eriador, but something restless had awoken within him. He couldn’t explain it, but somewhere within him a desire to journey east had awoken. Mordro, seeing his friend’s expression, laid his hand on the massive man’s should and gave it a solid squeeze.
“What’s wrong with you lad, it’s like you’ve been burying friends all day. We’re all off to our own adventures yes, but we’re Rangers of the West. We are always together even when we’re apart. We’re everywhere!” the stocky dwarf giggled at his own joke.
Rathbairn stood and looked out the window towards the east. “I have no path now my friend” he said sullenly. “I’m not sure where I can go to bring the most help. Radagast and my father sent me here to help Strider, but he is gone.” Rathbairn shook his head, his pale hair shaking across his shoulders.
“Why not travel with me for a time to help the folk of Trestlebridge? They’ll need folk such as us to help them and once we reach Bree, perhaps something will happen there” the dwarf smiled encouragingly.
Rathbairn frowned, his brow creased in thought, “Perhaps I will, for in Bree is where all this began.” He grinned down at Mordroskerk. “I can at least return to the Prancing Pony and make a choice from there.”
Rathbairn grabbed his saddlebags from the end of his cot and began to pack his things, his mind wandering while he rolled up a crude map of Eriador and placed in into its leather tube. The map had been a gift from Leandir, the elf having traveled to most corners of the lands itself. “Take this my friend” he said in his quiet voice when he handed it to the Beorning, “You will need it for your travels and I no longer require it.” Rathbairn put the map into the bag along with a rolled blanket, some extra clothing and the last few honey cakes. He had distributed many of the cakes he had baked at the end of the battle to the remaining townsfolk and the rest to the Rangers. When asked for the recipe, he had remained silent. His Grandfather’s recipe was a family secret. The cakes were wrapped in a thin film used by some of the cooks from Trestlebridge and would stay fresh for many days while in the wrappings.
Some few minutes later, his saddlebags full, Rathbairn descended the stairs of the house the Rangers had borrowed and exited, glancing at the main common room one more time before leaving. At the end of the battle of Trestlebridge, the Rangers of the West had gathered there for some food and some much needed merriment. Rathbairn smiled as he turned and closed the door to the house, descending the stairs and moving towards the stables to where Calista waited. The grey steed nickered and neighed loudly upon seeing her master. She showed signs of being well cared for during her masters absence, he coat gleamed and he muscular body well-fed. Rathbairn snorted and chuffed at her, trying to communicate and hoping to draw a response. She shook her head and pawed at the ground, unable to communicate still with her master. Rathbairn grinned and shook his head, promising himself and the horse silently that they would break through the walls of communication one day.
He began to saddle Calista and attach the saddlebags when a throat cleared behind him. He turned and say Gilthiras standing behind him, her soft blue robes flowing like water and her dark hair concealed beneath a hood. Her voice flowed musically as she crossed the stable and moved to stand before the Beorning.
“Where will you go my new friend?” she asked, her sky blue eyes glittering like diamonds.
“I will accompany the townsfolk to Bree with Mordro and from there, I do not know. Why do you ask?” he replied gruffly.
Gil sighed softly and looking into his brown eyes and her hand rested on his elbow. “I wished to speak with you before we parted and was unsure of when we would have a chance if you left before Leandir and I. During the battle, I touched your mind when you changed into the beast…forgive me, the bear. I felt the rage and fury of the bear, but inside, I felt that you were in pain Rathbairn. How is this so? Are you always thus when in your other form” She leaned forward slightly, her grip tightening momentarily with concern.
Rathbairn sighed and looked into the distance, his eyes vacant. “I cannot explain something that has been a part of me since my birth, Gilthiras.” He spoke of the fox he met before the battle and its murder at the hands of the Orc. He spoke of the feeling of remorse at the creature’s death and of Leandir’s burial of it when he returned to find the fox again. “My people can speak with the creatures of our lands just as I can speak with you now. Because of this, we do not consume flesh of animals, it feels wrong to us. We do not hunt them for their hides or their flesh. We do not begrudge those who do, but simply avoid it altogether. The pain I felt was my guilt of the death of an innocent creature at the hands of that Orc for nothing more than sport.”
Gilthiras was not convinced, “I felt more than guilt Rathbairn. There was more than the sharp pangs of guilt I felt raging inside you. The art of music, the ability to use my voice to heal or to hurt has sharpened my ears to the music inside those around me. I feel their joy, their sadness, their anger and their hurt, everything around me. I only want to help you Rathbairn.” She took his large hands in hers and looked deep into his eyes. “I see that you crave to be home, but long for the adventure of the open road. You cannot always be conflicted thus.”
Rathbairn pulled his hands away gently and placed them on her slim shoulders. “I thank you for your words of concern Gilthiras, but I am of the line of Beorn and the son of Grimbeorn. My people have survived terrible plights and I will be fine.” He smiled and removed his hands, turning back to his preparing his saddlebags for the journey south, no longer wishing to speak of the shape change of his people.
“Then before we part I have a gift for you, my friend” She reached within her robe and produced a small wooden harp, inlaid with runes. “When our company met last night, you mentioned you played the harp a little in your youth. The world needs more music and I would wish you to play again. One day, perhaps, we can play together.” She handed the harp to him and embraced him quickly, the hug surprising him, yet he returned it warmly. Before she released him, she whispered softly into his ear. “If you ever need my help, I will come Rathbairn, for we are family now, as Rangers of the West should be. Safe travels and may your roads one day lead you home.” She turned quickly and left the stables, crossing the courtyard to her horse.
Rathbairn, leading Calista out of the stables, moved towards the front gates of Trestlebridge, the townsfolk bustling with haste. The wagons had been loaded and prepared, the supplies packed and children gathered. A procession had already begun with Nellie Boskins in the lead, her wagon slowly creaking out the North gate. She did not look back, but called to her people to follow her on the road to Bree. The wagons and horses began to move out, some residents looking around with tears in their eyes as they left Trestlebridge. Soon, the six Rangers of the West were the only ones left, their horses clustered in the small town square.
“So now it’s only us left” said Thorsul, looking about the abandoned town.
“Great find Lord of the obvious” Hersery said tartly, giving him an annoyed look.
“Easy there killer” Thorsul chuckled, “You must still be mad about that gift I left for you this morning then?” His huge grin split his wide face.
“You dumped a bucket of cold water right on me while I was asleep you oaf!” she growled.
“Cool off Hers… oh wait, you already got to do that I see!” he laughed openly now, holding his sides.
“Shut it you smelly pile of Orc dung!”
Mordroskerk, laughing so hard he couldn’t speak, fell down to his rear, sitting in the dirt as he began to kick his legs. Hersery gave him an evil glance and stormed off towards the stables, the remaining Rangers laughing heartily.
“Good prank Thor” Leandir said grinning.
Grimrahl, sitting aside a huge war-steed shook his head. “You’d better watch it though, she’ll get you back you know and it won’t be pleasant.”
Thorsul, laughing with tears streaming down his face could barely reply. “It’ll be worth it though. She’ll plan something and I’ll still be one up.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve and chuckled once more. Then, with a more serious tone he looked around. “Are we all ready to go?”
Leandir looked at Gilthiras, astride her grey palfrey beside him, and asked her. “Do you have everything you need?” She nodded wordlessly, “we are simply waiting for Hersery now”.
They didn’t wait long as Hersery rode out from the stables astride a large brown stallion. “Everyone ready?” she asked. Nods all around as the Rangers of the West prepared to split up. “Thor, Grim, let’s go then. We want to be in Angmar by the end of this week.” Thorsul pulled himself into his saddle and turned his steed towards the Trestlespan. He turned in the saddle and called out. “Safe travels Rangers! Keep your weapons handy and your ale cold!” Hersery waved and called back as her horse trotted after Thor. “Rath, good fighting with you, but watch out for Mord, he snores!” Grimrahl waved but said nothing. Soon the three were crossing the bridge and out of sight.
Mordroskerk, sitting aside a dark brown pony, looked at Rathbairn and snorted. “Come on then lad; let’s catch up with those refugees. Without us they’ll wind up in Evendim or worse, the Shire!” He turned towards the north gate and nudged his pony with his heels. Leandir and Gilthiras rode with them, the two planning to turn east outside the gates of Trestlebridge and approach Meluinen by southern paths Leandir had found. As the foursome exited the gates, the two elves turned east and Leandir raised a hand in farewell. “Safe paths my friends, may the Valar watch over you.” Gilthiras also bade the twosome farewell with her own blessing in the elven tongue, which Rathbairn did not understand. Soon, the two elves were out of sight over the hills.
Mordroskerk let out an explosive breath and shook his head. “Finally they’re gone! They babble like birds, going on and on and on and on!” He looked at Rathbairn who rode beside him, a grin barely concealed on his face. “What are you grinning about? What’s so funny?” he sputtered.
Rathbairn look at the dwarf “You miss them” he said simply.
Mordroskerk’s eyes widened as he began to sputter even more. “What in Durin’s name are you talking about? Miss them? Them!? Those chattering, nattering bunch of misfits? Not on your life boy!” He raised a gauntleted fist toward Rathbairn who held up his hands in mock surrender.
“Very well then, you don’t miss them!” he said with a perfectly straight face.
“Then if we’re done yammering, let’s move on!” the dwarf said gruffly, shaking the reins and moving his pony towards the trail of dust left by Trestlebridge’s refugees. Rathbairn shook his head and grinned to himself, then touched his heels to Calista’ flanks, catching up with his Dwarven friend.
By mid morning the next day, the refugees had made a makeshift camp outside the eastern gate of Bree, tents popping up and wagons circling. They had been welcomed by the Bree-Town mayor, but not within Bree itself. Mordroskerk and Rathbairn helped them unpack and setup camp and had then bid the refugees farewell and now sat entrenched within the Prancing Pony’s common room. Mord had a plate full of gravy-laden roast beef, potatoes and bread nearly wolfed down and a tall mug of ale near his hand. Rathbairn had declined the beef, but instead scarfed down a plate full of potatoes, vegetables and a double helping of cheese and bread. He now sat munching on a bowl of berries and a jug of fresh, chilled cream sat at his elbow. The two ate in silence, listening to a badly tuned harp play an unrecognizable tune from a poorly dressed bard who was not enduring himself to the few patrons who did pay him any attention. Finally, with a disgusted huff, he closed his harp in its case and stormed out to a small pattering of applause. Both Dwarf and Beorning finished their meal and were about to stand to leave when the Door to the common room opened and weary-looking figure entered. The stranger’s slim form was hooded in green and a longbow rested in its left hand. A quiver of arrows strapped to its back and the hilt of a slim sword rested on its left hip. The hooded figure’s head turned across the room until its gaze rested on the two Rangers seated at the table. Long legs crossed the floor and the figure approached the table. Mordroskerk’s hand dropped to the hilt of his axe as he tensed openly. The hooded stranger, noticing the movement, raised a hand to ward off hostility.
“You won’t need your weapons Dwarf, I mean you no harm” The voice was deep and rich and he spoke in measured tones. “I seek one called Rathbairn of the Vales of Anduin. Be you whom I search for stranger?” he asked as he stood in front of Rathbairn.
The Beorning looked the stranger up and down carefully before answering. “I don’t know you; lower your hood unless you want me to throw you out of here.”
Laughing softly, the stranger raised his gloved hands and lowered the hood. A shaggy mane of brown hair fell to shoulder length, framing a bearded face. Green eyes held Rathbairn’s and strayed to the red tattoos on the Beornings right cheek. The stranger seemed to nod slightly as if to himself and spoke softly again. “My name is Emmetal and I have come from Rivendell. I bear a message from one named Sterkist who has described you right down to your boots and bade me to bring this to you on my way through to the shire.” He reached inside his cloak and produced a battered letter then handed it to Rathbairn. The Beorning ripped open the letter and immediately recognized his brothers scrawling writing on the parchment. He read the letter silently to himself, his brother’s light-hearted voice sounding in his mind.
Greetings my brother! I hope you are well! Father has finally relented and has let me leave the Vale to travel to Rivendell! Yet this adventure is nothing like the adventures we dreamed of as children. I long to return to the Vale and give up dreams of adventuring as this journey has been awful! Nevertheless, I bring tidings from our Father and a request from him also, so please meet me in Rivendell. Come as quickly as you can Rathbairn!
Oh and Lord Elrond wants to see you too, I guess. About what, I’m not sure. I’m not a fan of elves; they always confuse me when I speak to them. Come quickly then!
Rathbairn sighed deeply and re-read the letter again. ‘It is as I said’ he thought to himself. ‘Once I come to Bree, something will come up’. He chuckled softly and folded the letter into his tunic. Mordroskerk had been patient while his friend read the letter, but after waiting a few minutes, his patience was gone. “What’s going on? What is that letter say? Is it from Lily?” Tell me something you silent giant!”
Rathbairn glanced at the dwarf raised a hand. “Patience, first let’s take care of a few things, then I’ll tell you all.” He looked at the messenger and extended his hand. “My thanks to you for the message, traveller. Do you need anything else from me?” Emmetal shook his head and extended his hand to Rathbairn, who shook it firmly “I have been on the road for some weeks on my way to the Shire on business for a Ranger named Halbarad, who asked me to check on the Halflings. Perhaps a mug of ale could help me rest my weary feet?”
Rathbairn nodded and handed the man a few silver coins. “Get yourself a meal and some ale for your trouble before you leave.” Emmetal accepted the coins and nodded his thanks before turning away to the bar. Rathbairn laid down a few more coins and jerked his head towards the door of the common room.
“Come Mordro, let’s talk outside.” He strode towards the door, the dwarf in tow. They exited the Pony and descended the steps, turning towards the rear stables, neither speaking. Night was almost upon them in full and a few stars twinkled in the evening sky. When they had checked to ensure no one else was around, Rathbairn turned to the dwarf and spoke in hushed tones.
“The letter is from my brother. He wishes to meet me to bring tidings and a request from my father. If it’s a meeting in person, then it must be serious. I have to leave now.”
“Where are we heading then?” the dwarf asked shifting his saddlebags to his right hand.
“Rivendell” Rathbairn replied.
Mordroskerk’s eyes narrowed his brows crimping. “Well, fare you well then. Have a safe trip and enjoy your time among the elves.”
“You aren’t coming?” Rathbairn asked, surprised at the dwarf’s sudden change.
“Nope, not a fan of that place one bit. Think maybe I’ll head south to Dunland. I’ve got some kin down there I haven’t seen in ages.” The dwarf walked to his horse and began to saddle him briskly, as if embarrassed by the Beorning’s attention.
Rathbairn silently understood the dwarf’s briskness. Embarrassed by outward signs of affection, he would never admit to anything of the like. Rathbairn decided to try a different approach.
“Well then, fare you well and don’t get lost on your way.”
Mordroskerk turned so quickly that his horse shied nervously and he had to calm her with a soothing touch. “DWARVES DON’T GET LOST!” he bellowed. “What did that halfwit elf tell you?” he snarled, his rage taking Rathbairn by surprise.
“Nothing at all, nothing!” Rathbairn laughed, seeing the dwarf’s irate rage in his eyes.
“Well then, be sure to watch your tongue boy. Else I’ll make a bear skin rug out of your hide.”
“The only rug will be the one I braid from your beard when I shave it off your stinking carcass” Rathbairn replied straight-faced.”
Mordro paused, and then let loose a bellowing laugh that echoed off the walls of the stable. “By Durin’s beard I like your style Rathbairn! Good luck and if you travel south, look for me in Dunland.” He extended a gauntleted hand. Rathbairn took it and shook it warmly.
“Farewell Mordroskerk, safe travels to you.” The dwarf pulled himself on his pony and rode away without a backwards glance.
Alone at last, Rathbairn saddled Calista and left the courtyard of the Prancing Pony.
He rode through Bree towards the eastern gate and by the time night fell, he had left Bree behind.
. . . .
The journey east was quiet and uneventful as Rathbairn made good time. He reached the Lone Lands a day after he left Bree. He passed by the Forsaken Inn, not willing to stop and listen to the patrons pleading and whining. He also regretfully passed by Ost Guruth a day later. He wished he had time to visit the Eglain, but the unspoken urgency in Sterkist’s letter pushed him on. Two days after passing Ost Guruth, he reached the Last Bridge itself, the elegant stone giving it a formal look. Two elves stood at the far side near the side of the road. They did not speak to Rathbairn as he passed, only gave him a thorough look as he rode east. He camped that night in a thicket just south of the path through the Trollshaws. The hours in the forest had been filled with the song of birds and the sounds of life. He had seen a few Trolls but had let them be, his journey to Rivendell more important than a few wayward trolls. He reached Thorenhad the next day, however the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir were not there. An elven scout told him in halting common that the twins had returned to Imladris weeks ago at the request of their father. Rathbairn rested in the outpost and departed the next morning after a meal of dry bread and a honey cake. He continued towards the east until he reached the Bruinen and the fords that shared its name. Something tugged at his senses as he crossed the ford. A dark sense of forbidding and a cold chill filled his heart. He looked around but saw nothing and continued across the ford towards the steep path ahead that led up the hills that would eventually lead him to Rivendell. As he reached the foot of the path, the chill vanished. Confused, he reminded himself to mention this to the elves guarding the entrance to the hidden valley.
As he wound his way through the encircling hills, Rathbairn’s eyes constantly shifted, watching for signs of danger. Yet it seemed the higher in the hills he traveled, the less oppressive he felt. A sense of calm began to infuse itself into his entire being. Soon, after winding through the hills for several hours, Rathbairn came to a sharp bend in the path that seemed to vanish behind a set of pines. He nudged Calista through the narrow gap and followed the path north. A sudden sharp call made him rein in Calista as two elven archers appeared without warning, bows drawn. Rathbairn sat in his saddle and made no move towards the elves as they approached. The lead elf, his brown hair tied back with a strip of leather cord, spoke to him in the common tongue.
“Mae Govannen traveler, what brings you to this place?” The elf regarded Rathbairn with questioning blue eyes.
“I am Rathbairn, Beorning of the Vales of Anduin and I have been summoned here by my brother Sterkist, who waits for me inside. Also, your Lord Elrond has requested me also.”
“Very well then, enter and welcome to Imladris, may your cares be washed away while you remain here.” He beckoned Rathbairn forward and waved him on through the gap of the two large rock pillars ahead.
Rathbairn nodded wordlessly and nudged Calista into a walk forward, his eyes on the trail ahead. As he passed through the gap in the walls, a curious feeling came over him, as if he suddenly passed through an unseen wall. Once he reached the far side of the gap, he stood on an overlook as the valley of Imladris opened below. A vast waterfall fed a swift river that divided the valley’s lush green carpet. Trees of many kinds spotted thickly over the valley. In the distance, he saw the Last Homely House, set on a shelf of rock next to the waterfall itself at the head of the valley. Calista moved forward on the trail ahead without encouragement, seeming to enjoy the peace of the valley. Rathbairn smiled and patted her on the neck “You like this place too girl? I agree, this place is peaceful, it reminds me of home”. Moving down the trail, they wound through the twisting path that led them down the side of the valley. They saw elves wandering through the various paths and roads that led around Rivendell. Some read scrolls, other sang or danced and some conversed quietly.
At the bottom of the path, Rathbairn crossed the Bridge that spanned the rushing river that divided the valley. At the far side, a path led right towards the gently sloping hill and then to the House of Elrond. A smaller path led downward towards the foot of the falls. To his right, a tall structure, The Spire of Meeting as it was called rose as a sentinel of the hidden valley. At the base of the spire, a dark-haired young man dropped bundle he carried and sprinted towards Rathbairn with a shout.
Rathbairn dismounted and caught Sterkist in a heavy hug, the two brothers pounding each other on the back as they were reunited. The elves passing by said nothing, but smiled at the joyous reunion of the two Beorning brothers.
“How long have you been here Sterkist?” Rathbairn asked his brother as the younger man picked up the bundle he had dropped.
“As far as I can tell, two weeks, yet it feels like I’ve been here longer. Is this some Elvish trick?”
“Perhaps it is, let us go to the stables where I can let this girl rest. She’s had a long journey.”
The two brothers climbed the sloping trail towards the stables on the far side of the valley, Rathbairn describing his adventures in Bree and Trestlebridge, Sterkist sharing stories of life in the Vale.
“Langhar, how is she?” Rathbairn asked.
“She’s fine, even meaner than before I would think!” Sterkist said ruefully. “We fought each other just before I left and she nearly tore my ear off! What did you tell her when you met last?”
“That, my brother, you have already found out” Rathbairn teased, shoving his brother sideways.
As they reached the stables, Rathbairn removed his saddlebags and handed Calista’s reins to a waiting groom. The brothers then left the stable and crossed a second bridge towards a small glade halfway up the side of the valley overlooking Rivendell.
“Let’s sit here and I’ll give you the messages from Father.” Sterkist suggested
They climbed onto the grass an moved back amongst the glade near a small pool. Rathbairn, curious to hear his Father’s words, dropped to the ground with a thud, removing his boots.
“So what is it that Father needs me to come here?” Rathbairn asked.
Sterkist grinned, “Why don’t you ask him yourself”
Rathbairn started, stunned as a deeper voice spoke from the behind a large tree. “Welcome my son, it is good to see you.”
“Father!” Rathbairn exclaimed as he leapt to his feet. From behind a huge Oak tree emerged the patriarch of the Beorning clan. Grimbeorn’s hair was white as new snow and it fell down his back like the mane of a great beast. His tree trunk-like arms and legs were bare, like his eldest son’s, yet scars criss-crossed them like road maps. His hazel eyes were warm as he pulled his still startled son into an embrace.
“It is good to see you Rathbairn, my son. This life of adventure seems to suit you. You haven’t grown soft like I suspected.”
“Father, what are you doing here so far from home?” Rathbairn asked bluntly, his shock robbing him of manners.
Grimbeorn frowned deeply, an expression Rathbairn knew all too well. He was about to apologize when yet another voice broke the silence.
“Your Father came here unexpectedly, but is always welcome, as are you Rathbairn of the Vales of Anduin.” the new voice said. From a path on the far side of the glade emerged a dark haired elf in a star silver robe. His face held the fire of youth, but his blue eyes were deep pools sparkling with wisdom of three ages. Elrond Halfelven strode calmly towards the group.
“Lord Elrond” Rathbairn said, bowing respectfully.
The elf Lord bowed in return and the four stood together, the three Beornings towering over the ageless elf. Yet Elrond seemed to shimmer with a hidden power that seemed to diminish the size difference.
“We must look to a new danger Rathbairn, and with your Father’s counsel, I would reveal it to you, but not here. Let us return to my library where we can speak in private. What I would say is for the ears of you alone.”
“Go” Grimbeorn said shortly. “Your brother and I will see you when you return. Come to the top of the Northern pass from the edge of this valley on the borders of the Misty Mountains.” Grimbeorn and Sterkist turned away and strode off, their long limbs taking them out of sight quickly.
Rathbairn and Elrond strode towards the large main house, speaking of the weather and Rathbairn’s journey. Suddenly, something from his adventures with the Rangers of the West jogged his memory.
“Lord Elrond, do you know of the elf Leandir? What is it that darkens his thoughts so?”
“That, my young friend is a tale I can share with you after we have spoken of the task I have for you. However, I can share that Leandir was raised here in Rivendell by one named Glorfindel, one of the Elf Lords that dwell here. Perhaps I will request him to tell you that instead.”
They reached the steps to Elrond’s home and entered. Inside a vast main hall filled with statues of elves and warriors. Doors led off each side and elves crossed the floor. Near the back, a set of stairs led upwards to a second floor. Elrond led the Beorning up the stairs and through a small side door.
Inside was a sight that took Rathbairn’s breath away. Three floors high, the Library of Elrond was nothing short of majestic. Books and scrolls on shelves as far as he could see took Rathbairn’s breath away. The elf Lord led him to a small alcove on the first floor where a crude map on a table lay. Before he could look at it, Elrond began to speak.
“Rathbairn I have asked you to come here for a purpose that is suited to you and you alone. But I must ask that what I am about to tell you, you do not share with anyone besides myself, those involved that I will name and your father.”
Rathbairn nodded and gestured Elrond to continue.
“Some short time ago, a company of nine left here in secret, bearing with them a dark task. Four Halflings, a dwarf, an elf and two men, one of whom you know accompanied by the wizard Gandalf make up this company. Their task is to destroy a ring. The One Ring that was forged by Sauron himself. That ring must reach Mount Doom in Mordor and must be destroyed. It is the task of the Halfling Frodo Baggins to do this.”
Recognition dawned on Rathbairn’s face at the name Baggins. As he was about to ask, Elrond nodded.
“He is the nephew of Bilbo Baggins, who your grandfather met. Bilbo is here in Rivendell and you can meet him before you leave.”
“Leave for where? Where are you sending me?”
“To the Mines of Moria” Elrond replied, and a chill washed over Rathbairn.