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In Empty Lands
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On Plans for Weapons

On Plans for

Apparently the same Elf who’d led him from his chamber this morning entered the room where Boromir sat with Aragorn son of Arathorn, although he appeared to have changed clothing from earlier. “Estel, Adar asks that you come to him in his study as soon as possible, and that you bring with you the shards of Narsil. Lord Glóin desires to consult on how the sword might be best reforged, seeing as Narsil was originally forged by his own people, and he has offered the services of his son to aid the smiths who will do the work.”

The northern Chieftain rose. “We have not a good deal of time, if we are to go out in search of the spoor of the Ring-wraiths,” he commented.

“Indeed not, which is why he would prefer to see you now.”

“Thank you, Elrohir,” the Man said. “You may tell him I am on my way to fetch the shards now.” He gave Boromir a questioning look. “Would you like to accompany me, Boromir?” he asked.

“If you will have me do so,” the Gondorian answered, rising also and feeling flattered.

“I will see to it your goods and supplies are taken to the stable then.” So saying, the Elf withdrew, and Aragorn led Boromir out of the room in his wake.

“Do all within this house have more than one name or designation?” Boromir asked as he followed the Dúnadan toward one of the residential wings of the place.

Aragorn looked at him in question.

“Well, so far I have heard a number of names applied to you,” Boromir explained.

His companion gave a short laugh. “Oh, I have more names and titles than perhaps is good for me. I was born Aragorn son of Arathorn, but was named Estel by Lord Elrond when brought here as a child to keep me safe from the agents of the Enemy. The folk of Bree gave me the name Strider, as we seldom use our own names within the Breelands. They’ve been granting us their own descriptive names for more generations than we can count. I am told they called my father the Horseman, when they weren’t using another, less polite name for him.”

“Well, that one introduced himself to me as Elladan earlier----”

Again Aragorn laughed. “Welcome to the home of Elrond Half-elven, sir, and of his children, including his twin sons.” They turned as Aragorn continued, “I can tell them apart immediately, as can a few others. But most cannot do so easily, I will admit.” He led Boromir further, as they exited briefly to go through a courtyard to reenter the building further on, and turned left down yet another corridor until they came to a door to which a green stone was affixed. Aragorn signed for his guest to remain in the hallway as he entered, returning in a moment with a worn black sheath from which protruded the pommel of a great, two-handed sword. He then led the way back much the way they’d come to a more private wing that had a distinct Elvish feeling to it, approached a door and knocked upon it.

The tall warrior Glorfindel opened the door to admit them, and seated about a low table were Lord Elrond and several others, including apparently the Elf who’d led him from his room that morning and two of the Dwarves as well a well-muscled Elf who must be a smith for the place. He recognized the white-haired Lord Glóin and his russet-headed son in the two Dwarves, and saw that they rose as the two Men entered, although he sensed they were doing so more out of eagerness to see the sword carried by his companion than out of courtesy.

“To see, with my own eyes, a relic of Telchar himself!” murmured the younger Dwarf, his eyes alight with anticipation as Aragorn son of Arathorn carefully removed the haft of the sword and laid it upon the table, then carefully shook the sheath to release the rest. In a moment the shards were laid in alignment, and together the two Dwarves and the Elven smith were leaning over it together, the Dwarves almost devouring the blade with their eyes, now and then reaching a single clever finger to trace a rune or device, commenting upon it in their own tongue.

There was another soft knock upon the door, and the son of Elrond went to admit Mithrandir, who joined the party at the table.

“You have Bilbo comfortably settled?” asked Elrond of the Wizard in soft Sindarin, in an accent that struck Boromir as being somehow more pure than that of his own people.

“He appears to be happy with the rest of Glóin’s party,” Mithrandir answered, “and is asking about his friends who remained in Erebor.”

“And no word has come to them of Balin son of Fundin and those who went with him?”

“Not for some years. Dáin is most concerned.”

“To seek to return there before ascertaining the full nature of Dúrin’s Bane was not, perhaps, wise.”

“I warned Balin of that, and of the evil presence I sensed there,” the Wizard was saying, but he paused to listen to the Dwarves.

“There--Telchar’s mark,” Glóin was saying reverently and he pointed to certain runes worked into the blade near the hilts.

The younger Dwarf’s eyes were shining. “Yes!” he grunted. “Oh--yes--it is an honor to even see such a thing!”

The Elven smith asked, “And can you tell me what these runes mean, if it is not sacred knowledge among your folk?”

“Protection to the one who bears the blade, and this one is to strengthen his awareness of what goes on about him.”

The Elf nodded his understanding. “A proper blessing for such a blade.”

“It is said he was the best of all our folk in the use of such runes,” Lord Glóin commented as he continued his examination of the broken blade.

“Father! Here!” Gimli said, indicating a partial sign near the break. “Is this a heart-sign?”

Carefully the adjacent shard was shifted slightly so the completed rune could be better discerned, Boromir found himself bending close to see as eagerly as were the Dwarves and the Elven smith. It was a longer sword than the one he carried himself, and rather narrower as well. There was an impression of marked mass to it, but also of fine balance.

“Yes--to guard the heart of its bearer at the same time it seeks that of the foe,” Glóin was saying. “And each of these runes was inlaid in mithril--do you see?”

“The forge and hammer are subtly different from how they are done now....” Gimli was saying, touching these symbols lightly and respectfully. Suddenly a smile of appreciation broke out on his face. “Wait--they don’t symbolize merely that the weapons smith was a Dwarf, but put the enemy under the hammer symbolized by the sword itself! I would never have thought to....”

But again Lord Elrond was speaking softly with the Wizard in Sindarin. “Bilbo will be terrified for his kinsman while Frodo son of Drogo is upon his quest.”

There was but the slightest nod of agreement from Mithrandir. “Indeed,” he murmured. “Although he will do all in his power to hide that from Frodo so as not to weaken him or his resolve. I thought my heart would stop when he offered himself.”

“The Ring has passed on--it is not his quest to take. Nay, he has done his part in seeing things as they should be. Now it is the work of those younger than we to see it properly done.”

“I know.” A troubled shadow fell on the greybeard’s eyes. “He offered it to me, Frodo did--there in the parlor of Bag End. It was a sore trial to say no.”

Was there the slightest look of alarm in the Elf’s expression? “Did the Ring Itself spark that offer?”

Again but the slightest of shakes of the head. “Oh, no. But he was properly named, just as Bilbo has held for decades. He realizes It is far beyond him, for all his current innocence.” The Wizard took a deep breath. “I fear for what It will do to him. He is so dear a one....”

“And one you care deeply for?”

“Yes.” A simple statement, that one. After a moment Mithrandir continued in a near-whisper, “There is something about him. All Hobbits tend to draw others to protect them, as you know. But for Frodo--it’s more than just the Elvish air to him, but you already see how his companions and Bilbo feel about him.”

“Not to mention Estel,” added the Elf. “He has pledged himself to the service and protection of this Perian. That is not something I could ever have imagined for him as Isildur’s heir, to place another above himself in this way.”

The Wizard gave a soft snort, to which Aragorn responded by sending a quick glance his way. “You never saw him as I did in the days he served others besides you.”

“But this is no great lord--he is merely a Perian of the Shire!”

The Wizard shrugged, and turned his attention back to the conversation now going between the Elven smith and the two Dwarves. “Then in what would it be best to temper the blade, think you?” the Elf was asking.

So many questions--whether to make of the mithril inlay separated signs of protection or to make of it a ribbon running through the entire blade, from which the symbols would spring; whether it would be better to fold the steel thrice or seven times; the size of the anvil and the weight and balance of the hammer, and the makeup of its mass; how the inlay would be worked into the blade.

The dimensions of the blade were noted, as well as current placement of all signs and runes on both sides. At last the grip was unwound, and the pommel sprung so that the nature and dimensions of the tang could be evaluated and measured. Then the discussion turned to the nature of those symbols to be worked into the blade and how they should be placed. Boromir listened avidly, and examined with the others the signs by which the ancient nature of the sword were noted.

The other Man present was growing more still as the discussion ground on. At last he straightened. “I can no longer put off our departure, friends. If we do not leave within the hour it will be no good leaving at all today; but we must make certain that no signs remain of the Nazgûl anywhere near at hand, and then that they have not set others as spies outside the valley. It will do us no good if the Ringbearer leaves Rivendell to walk immediately into a trap.”

He sighed, then looked to Lord Elrond. “You and Mithrandir, I believe, know best what kinds of protections would be best to work into the reforging of the blade, and I trust Lord Glóin and Master Gimli here to know the secrets to kindle it anew.”

“You can trust Gimli to see to it that this blade will answer as well to your hand as it has any of its former bearers,” Glóin assured him. “Although if you would give him a few strands of your hair, or even three drops of blood, it would help the more, as we could bind the blade more firmly to your bloodline.”

Aragorn paused uncertainly, sharing a long look first with the Elf Elladan and then with Lord Elrond, and finally with Lord Glorfindel. At last he said to the room at large, “I do not usually hold with blood magic.”

“I know,” Elrond said, “but if that was how the sword was crafted to begin with....”

Glorfindel went to a cabinet against the wall and came back with a chalice of fine crystal. The northern Chieftain started to bring out a knife from his belt, but Lord Elrond stayed him with a gesture. Instead he lifted the lower portion of the sword itself, and touched its blade to the heel of the Man’s left hand. There was a fine line of blood immediately. Glóin took the chalice and the hand, and shook three drops of blood into it. The Man then took the lower blade and with it cut off three hairs, giving them into the hand of the younger Dwarf. “If these will be of use?”

“That they will. I will see it is all done right, between myself and Lord Elrond and his smith--and Gandalf. You need not worry. Before the Ringbearer leaves this house it will be done.”

“Then I leave it to you all,” he said as he replaced the blade on the table, accepting a white cloth from Elrond and holding it to his hand. He bowed to the group, and led Elladan and Glorfindel out of the room.

Once the door closed behind the three, Gandalf, watching after, commented softly as before to their host, “And he was the second to whom Frodo offered the Ring--and he, too, refused it. He would not follow in his ancestor’s error.”

“There will be a third, then, to whom he will offer it. I only pray that the third is as wise as you and Estel.”

Once the smith and the Dwarves finished their plans and made to leave also, Elrond himself carefully lifted the shards of the blade and saw them again into their sheath. The Elven smith took the pieces of the pommel with him.

“This will not need to be made anew,” he declared. “If you will, I would test it to assure it has not grown brittle as did the blade.”

As he finally left the chamber to return to his own room, Boromir found himself dwelling on what had been said by the Elf. “There will be a third, then, to whom he will offer it.” Once to the Wizard, and once to the Man. If the third offer foreseen by Lord Elrond should be to Boromir himself--what could he do with such a weapon? He found he did not covet the sword destined to be reforged for Aragorn son of Arathorn. It was a far different weapon he imagined himself--perhaps--wielding.


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