He was not certain how long it would be before the beginning of this council, but decided he would fill in what time was granted him after breakfast by exploring this so-called “Last Homely House.”
A house? Nay, no more so than was the Citadel of Minas Tirith a proper house! Indeed, it was proved in the light of day to be a complicated yet surprisingly graceful complex of buildings built harmoniously amidst the great vale of Rivendell, or Imladris to use its ancient name. Some of the buildings were built against the walls of the valley themselves, tied together with gracefully arched bridges, enduring covered walkways and stairways that yet appeared deceptively delicate, and enclosed passages and hallways that still managed to feel open and airy. It was not surprising to find a room that was open to the sky with a tree growing in the midst of it, around which the residents of the place worked and met, themselves shaded from the glare of day or protected from the wet, rejoicing equally to see sunlight or rain fall to the nurturing of the elm or beech or birch. There were frequent fountains and pools, some within a room and others in carefully protected courtyards. And the entire place was filled with the life-affirming sound of moving water and rustling foliage from the number of waterfalls that fed the rushing Bruinen and the forests and groves and orchards that surrounded the place.
He feared he would grow helplessly lost and not be found in time for the council, but this fear proved illusory. There appeared to be Elves everywhere throughout the complex, even when they were not in sight. Here he would hear the strum of harpstrings; there a clear voice raised in song. Indeed, that was what had roused him this morning as it appeared many of the denizens of Lord Elrond’s house raised their voices to greet the rising of the Sun. Even with the lateness of the hour of his arrival and the restlessness he’d known, the scant sleep he’d enjoyed had nevertheless seemed remarkably restorative in spite of probably numbering less than two hours, particularly as he woke to such a glory of song!
He found libraries and the scriptorium, where already a woman among Elves leaned over her work, swiftly and gracefully drawing the letters she copied from a separate tome. He peered into the kitchens and what appeared to be a practice salle. He found the infirmary of which he’d been advised on his arrival. He walked out into gardens that still glowed with golds and reds of chrysanthemums and goldenrod, where the berries on the hollies were reddening, and birds feasted on the fruits of the rowan trees.
And then he spotted the sturdy--Hobbling? No, Hobbit! Yes, he saw the sturdy Hobbit from the dining room leading a taller, far more slender Hobbit about the rose garden, pointing out the last of the blooms clinging yet to the thorny bushes. Had he not seen the others first, he suspected he would have taken this one indeed for an Elf-child, the face finely featured and beautifully sculpted, the dark curls bouncing about the pale visage, the expressive eyes.... But there were those feet with the brown hair protecting what would be delicate skin on other races, and a certain shadowing of the brow and eyes indicating this one had undoubtedly been very ill, and recently. There had been talk of someone having been wounded....
Then it hit him--Strider--or was it Estel?--had led his charges here to Rivendell. What was so important about these that the Chieftain of the Northern Dúnedain left all else to bring such beings as these Hobbits here to Imladris at this time?
The two Hobbits turned to climb up onto a great railed porch, and there they were joined by the other two, who were hurrying forward to embrace the taller one. “Oh, Frodo--you are well!” he heard one of them cry before he retreated into the building through a lower door, suddenly feeling as if he were spying upon them. Yes, there it was again--the indication that the tallest Hobbit had been sorely hurt and badly ill. There had been talk among the Rangers he’d met near the Hill of the Winds of athelas being culled and used, and that this indicated a grave wound. And it was there, apparently, that this party led by this Estel or Strider had been waylaid by the Nazgûl. Boromir shivered, suddenly feeling cold as the snows that lay upon Mindolluin.
There was a half-familiar voice overhead, barely heard through the intervening floor; then he heard the clear chiming of a bell.
A moment later an Elf appeared--the one who’d led him to his chamber the previous evening. “My Lord Boromir? That was the bell to call us to the council. If you will follow me? Please to come that your errand may be made clear to all.”
In moments he was being led up stairways and down hallways and across courtyards, until he was brought at last to the wide pavement where all were to meet. A grave-faced Glorfindel met them, and led Boromir to a seat obviously prepared for him.
“This way, Frodo, Bilbo!” said a familiar voice, and Mithrandir appeared, leading the taller, slender Hobbit onto the porch by another way, along with what was plainly a much older Hobbit whose eyes were yet clear and discerning, already sweeping the place and noting Boromir’s own presence with a hint of curiosity and pleasure. Behind them, barely to be noticed, was the broad one, the one said to be a gardener. He, too, was looking about, but warily, and when the two Hobbits were led to chairs together by the Wizard he settled himself on the ground near the seat of the taller Hobbit. As he went still, Boromir seemed to forget all about him, as he looked to see the rest who were filling the circle of chairs. There seemed to be many, and he found himself wondering just how long this council should last.