The smith was present on the day the survivors of Isildur’s company arrived at last in Imladris with word of what had become of it as it traveled northward along the Anduin.
“They are all dead?” The woman’s face was bloodless as she faced those who’d survived the assault at the Gladden Fields, bringing away from it word of the deaths of her husband and her older three sons. “You are certain that Isildur is dead? Did you see this with your living eyes?”
“I was sent off by Elendur before the enemy orcs closed completely about us,” Ohtar said, his face pale. “He entrusted to me the Rod of Annúminas and the shards of Narsil within its sheath, intending that I should bring them away safely to the keeping of Elrond here in Imladris. But our King bore the Elendilmir upon him, held within his scrip, as well as the Ring, which he wore in Its locket about his neck.”
“And what ring is this?” she demanded. “My son Valandil here wears the Ring of Barahir, that it forget not the feel of the hand of one of the King’s heirs, for such has it known ever since it was worn by Elros Tar-Minyatur. My lord husband left it with me when they marched away to Mordor that it be kept safe, and when he came of an age of responsibility I gave it in trust to Valandil that he guard it against the return of his brother Elendur who should by rights wear it next as his father’s primary heir.”
“It is now Valandil’s own,” Ohtar said, his own face pale. “When the battle was over I returned, and with those who’d come at news of the battle I sought through the victims for any who might have survived. Only this one was left, and as Elendur’s own man he’d been by your son’s side as he insisted that your husband don the One Ring and by Its power become invisible and so escape the ambush laid by renegade orcs. Yea, we followed the trail left by those who’d hounded our Lord Isildur, and we saw Isildur’s body out in the center of the river, caught in a snag. Two of the Men who’d thought to come to our company’s respite sought to bring it back, but it broke loose and the current took it. There was no question he was dead, an orc’s black arrow in his back, most certainly its head in his heart. Those who’d braved the river in hopes of retrieving his remains were sore put to return to us themselves considering how swiftly the current was running that day. Such as we could bring away from the Gladden Fields we bore elsewhere, and we saw your sons and their Men honorably buried above the flood, and the bodies of the orcs burned.”
Only two returned of Isildur’s own party! Only two!
“Elendil’s armor?” she asked at last.
“Your husband left it in the keeping of his nephew Meneldil, who has taken it to his family keep in Minas Anor, where it is displayed with honor. Your husband wore the mail and armor he’d had made for him in your own city of Minas Ithil. From what we could tell, it was lost with him within the river. Either that, or he shed and hid it somewhere in his flight, but we did not find it as we followed the way he and his pursuers went.”
She nodded her understanding. “Now, tell me of this Ring he wore. I need to know from whence it came and how it should render him invisible.”
Once she understood the source of this Ring and how her husband had come into possession of it, only then did she ask, “And where is this foul thing now?”
“We do not know,” Ohtar told her. “It apparently fell from his hand as he entered the water, betraying him to the orc archers that were sent with those who tracked him. I would say that It is lost in the depths of the River Anduin.”
Elrond, who had been listening to the reports with the rest, appeared relieved. “Then It will not be easily recovered by Sauron or his creatures, as none of them can bear the effects of Water easily. Water is antithetical to Sauron’s own nature as one who has ever been associated with Fire, while the Nazgûl cannot bear its touch.
“But,” he added in warning, “If the One Ring is not found and dealt with, It could easily resurface in the future and trouble us once more. Rivers shift their courses, and land rises and falls with time. There is no permanency within Middle Earth. Even if the Ring should be carried into the Sea, I doubt that Lord Ulmo would wish to deal with It long, and would find means to return It once more here to Middle Earth. This is a danger that was crafted here, and must be dealt with here. I fear that we shall dread Its return for as long as this new age shall last.”
The smith found that the words of Elrond rang too true within his heart. And for some reason he found himself regretting that Elendil’s armor should remain within the White City. He should wish to see it worn by the one he’d seen wearing when he entered the Path of Dreams. “I wonder when that day will come?” he asked himself.