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Twice Twenty  by Dreamflower

SET TWO: The Fellowship

Title: Who Best Will Serve?

Theme: Set 2, Theme 1, “Doomed”

Genre (s): Drama
Pairing (s): N/A

Rating: G
Notes:

Summary: The Ring goes South, and begins to probe for weaknesses…

WHO BEST WILL SERVE?

Many others of Elrond’s household stood in the shadows and watched them go, bidding them farewell with soft voices. There was no laughter, and no song or music. At last they turned away and faded silently into the dusk. 

They crossed the bridge and wound slowly up the long steep paths that led out of the cloven vale of Rivendell; and they came at length to the high moor where the wind hissed through the heather. Then with one glance at the Last Homely House twinkling below them they strode away far into the night.*

As they forded the Bruinen and crossed the Road, Frodo felt it starting up once more--the relentless whisper of the Ring…

It was useless. The halfling had steeled his mind, and would not allow the whispers to be aimed at the other halflings. When they had left the Shire it had tried. One of them was intelligent and ambitious and proud. But that pride was too bound up in kinship, and was not usable against one of his own. One of them had the fears and insecurities of youth--but too much faith in his kindred to allow the Ring to discourage him. One of them was no kin at all, and it seemed if only he could be convinced that he was a poor down-trodden servant--but he simply did not even listen. All his attention was focused on his Master, and he would not even *hear* the whispers. And all of them were intent on protecting the bearer, no matter the cost to themselves. Try as it might, it had gained no quick hold on any of them, and was beginning to simply count on persistence to wear one of them down.

But as soon as the bearer had realized what was going on, he steeled his will and with a firm “No more!” put an end to the attempt. It took all the strength he had, and then some, but his will placed a wall around the other three.

Then there was the Ranger, that Dúnadan. It recognized the heir of Isildur, and perhaps there were some of the same weaknesses--but alas, his will was also too strong. He heard the whispers,no doubt of it, but he paid them no heed, and instead fixed his mind on the half-Elven maid whom he loved. The Ring could find no purchase there--that tie bound him too firmly. Even promises to make gaining her hand less difficult were rebuffed as empty.

It had resumed its efforts on the bearer, trying to get him to betray them to the pursuing Ringwraiths, and finally, at Amon Sul, had succeeded. When the Morgul blade had pierced him, the Ring had exulted, and given over its own attempts, for surely he would soon succumb, and carry it straight to its Master. But he had not, through days and days, until they entered the vale of the Elf-lord, and the influence of one of the Three. Without being on its Master’s hand, it could not challenge one of the Three, and so it slept for a while….

But now…

The Elven prince, perhaps. He was proud and stiff-necked. He had a good deal of resentment towards those of Dwarven-kind. But the whispers were quickly recognized for what they were, and ran up against a deep hatred for Sauron and all he represented--the ruin of the Greenwood. Promises that he could master the Ring and somehow heal all those ills met with a stubborn and inflexible skepticism…

The Dwarf? Dwarves were nearly impossible to master. The Seven had never worked properly on them, but perhaps a promise of wealth and gold? This Dwarf however, seemed to be all but deaf to the whispers…

The Maia could hear the whispers, all too easily. The promise of healing the ills of Arda, of throwing Sauron down, of saving the small ones from the suffering they were likely to endure. He heard them all right. He had heard them before. And paid them no more heed now than he had then. It intensified its efforts. Did he not know that he was one of the few who could actually *master* the Ring? Did he not know that he could accomplish all his task in an instant with its help?

“Enough!” came a mental shout from the Wizard, and a wall slammed down.

The other Man…

Ah, yes, the other Man. He could hear the whispers, loud and clear, and he did not seem to understand what they were. Pride was there, and despair, and anger…

Ah, yes. Yes, indeed.

______________________________________________

*From The Fellowship of the Ring” Book II, Chapter III, “The Ring Goes South”





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