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10
Planning for Contingencies

11. Himring: sacrifice
Frodo Baggins, Glorfindel


~~~

Planning for Contingencies


Glorfindel found the Ringbearer, bundled warmly against the icy cold, sitting on a bench overlooking the Bruinen. looks almost transparent, the Elf thought. He is not fully recovered from the effects of the Morgul blade, even though it has been several weeks since Elrond removed the shard from his shoulder. He glanced upwards at a cloudy sky that reminded him of the inner shell of an oyster once it was opened to allow the retrieval of a pearl, then down to meet the thoughtful gaze of the Hobbit. Frodo did not rise, merely giving a brief nod of acknowledgment and indicating that the Elf might sit beside him. Glorfindel smiled inwardly, admiring Frodo’s apparent realization that in the light of the importance of the task he had taken upon himself, considerations of differences in rank between them tended to be superfluous when they were alone together.

Only once Glorfindel was seated did Frodo speak. “I am glad you found me here,” he said. “I had some questions I would ask you.”

Far more direct than is his kinsman Bilbo. “I will be glad to answer that which I can,” Glorfindel responded.

Frodo returned a thoughtful stare toward the river. He considered his first question for a moment. At last: “Did you know Maedhros?” he asked, turning his attention back to his companion.

“Maedhros?” The Elf was taken by surprise. “I knew him when we were young, living in Aman, before the Trees were slain.”

“But did you know him here, in the mortal lands?”

“I saw him during a few of the battles we fought in the earliest days of our arrival. However, I would not speak with any of the sons of Fëanáro, so great was my fury towards them for their betrayal of us by allowing the burning of the ships. So many of those who braved the Helcaraxë failed to survive, and it is difficult to remain in charity with those who have left one to hold the dying in one’s arms as the cold takes another victim.”

“So, you never heard him speak after you arrived here?”

Glorfindel gave a shrug. “Perhaps a time or two when our armies fought side by side. But once we were dwelling in Gondolin and he in Himring there was little chance for conversation.”

Frodo gave a brief smile at the irony of the statement, and again turned his gaze on the silver flow of the Bruinen, his expression once more thoughtful.

“Why the interest in Maedhros?” Glorfindel at last asked.

“I have been thinking of him rather a good deal, I suppose. He is the only one I can think of who directly approached a mountain of fire, is all.”

“If you would wish to know more of him from one who knew him well, you might ask Master Elrond.”

The Hobbit appeared startled as he turned his face up once more to meet the Elf’s eyes. “What?”

Glorfindel smiled down reassuringly. “Elrond and his brother Elros were brought out of the ruins of Sirion by Maedhros and Maglor, after all, and fostered by them through their childhood. Also,” he added as Frodo appeared to be absorbing that intelligence, “the Master of Imladris has also climbed the heights of a volcano, at the end of the War of the Last Alliance. He at least knows Oródruin as it was then, although I doubt me not that it has changed a great deal in the ensuing years.” He contemplated the pale face of the small being at his side. “Are you considering the strategy you might use to rid Arda of your burden?”

Slowly, Frodo nodded, although he didn’t speak.

The Elven warrior continued, “There was an entrance cut, perhaps half to two thirds of the way to the top, that led into the Sammath Naur, Sauron’s own forge, or so Elrond has told me. It was a chamber that encircled the shaft through which, when the mountain erupts, ash and lava escape from the depths of the earth below. It is lit by the fires of the molten stone beneath. It would be the best place, perhaps, to stand over the fire to see the Ring dropped into it.”

Frodo’s face had gone somehow paler, appearing to have no blood coursing beneath his fine skin, and his breathing was now rough. He swallowed deeply as his eyes dropped, and suddenly Glorfindel knew—understood the reference to Fëanor’s eldest son. “So,” the Balrog-slayer ventured in a soft tone, compassion filling him, “you consider that it may come to you needing not to drop the Ring, but to take It into the fire.” As Frodo raised haunted eyes to meet his own, Glorfindel found himself taking the Hobbit into a comforting embrace. “Remember,” he whispered into a gently pointed ear, “I, too, fell to and with fire. The pain passed swiftly, and it was Another who held me after that.”



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