lg2.htmlTEXTStMl>˚or What Lies Behind the Stare?

What Lies Behind the Stare?

by Jacynthe Demorae


We arrived late at Rivendell, crossing the bridge just as the last light faded from the sky. I left my companions to tend to the horses while I sought out Erestor, steward of Lord Elrond's household. I was not entirely surprised when he met me halfway.

"Well met, Legolas, son of Thranduil," he greeted me.

"I bring news from Mirkwood," I said without preamble.

"Your errand is known, Legolas," the steward, as calmly as if answering a question about the day's menu. "My lord bids you to keep your message close, until the Council meets on the morrow."

"I...am to speak at the Council?" Relations between Mirkwood and Rivendell have been strained this past Age. Mirkwood' s view had never been sought in these halls--though, in fairness, my father did not trouble himself to formally offer it. More than distance divided the Elven enclaves in this Age.

"Has Mithrandir come?" I asked. *He,* at least, would want my news as soon as possible.

"Yes. And Estel is here as well. Now, if you will pardon me, young prince, I must see to the other guests." Erestor gave me a faint smile and continued on his way. Nothing ever seemed to ruffle his serenity, as if the troubles and passions that plagued others passed him by. It made me wonder if he had Silvan blood.

Puzzled, I went back to my companions. Why would news of the creature, Gollum, be of interest to the Council? Mithrandir, and Estel here as well? What could have called them in from the wild?

"There are *Dwarves* here," Seilinde said as soon as I'd rejoined them.

I winced. The last time Dwarves had sought counsel from Rivendell, it had ended in a bloody three-way battle between Mirkwood, the Men of Lake-town, and the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain.

"They have their affairs, we have ours," I said, forestalling the bitter argument before it could begin, keeping to the Silvan tongue of Mirkwood. "They likely have as little desire to see us as we have to see them."

They made some discontented grumblings, but mercifully let the matter drop. Later that night, we went walking in the gardens of Imladris. In the midst of all the rich, flowering green, one part of the gardens displayed sculpted stone and water. It was there we found the Dwarves. Their rough voices carried on the evening wind, and the light of their lanterns glared harsh in our eyes that needed only the light of stars or Moon.

Seilinde spoke just loudly enough to be heard. "Trust Dwarves to splinter the peace of a quiet night."

Several of the Dwarves gave us surly glances, muttering in their strange language that sounded like rocks tumbling in a barrel. Except for one Dwarf, who raised his head and looked directly at me. He looked like a younger version of his father--who had warmed a cell in my father's dungeons, sixty years ago. I had no part in warding those prisoners--but the same could not be said of all of my companions.

He did not know me, *could not* know me. His father I'd seen but once, in my father's hall. Had he even been *born* then? Most likely not. Why, then, did I read a promise of a reckoning in the Dwarf's eyes? I looked away, silently urging my companions on. The back of my neck prickled, and I knew his eyes remained on me until the night's shadows hid me from his sight.

Tomorrow was the Council, I reminded myself. I could deliver my ill news and go home, and never have to deal with a grudge-bearing Dwarf. Tomorrow...


The Council dissolved into chaos. As one, the Dwarves leapt to their feet, all of them a-bristle with furious determination. My fellows stood to trade harsh words with Gloin's folk across from us. Gimli stood stolid and silent, hands curled into fists at his sides.

*This* was the moment, the meeting I'd divined the night before. He wished to take the measure of Thranduil's son? Let him look his fill! I lacked the grace of those privileged to have dwelt in Aman, or the refinement of the lords of lost Doriath, Lindon, or Gondorin, but I had walked this earth longer than all of Gimli's living kin together.

Inwe moved to challenge Gimli directly--and I flung out my arm to hold him back. I did not even spare him a glance, all of my focus centered on Gimli.  I could sense my companions' bewildered anger, but my action served its purpose, turning them to other targets. Inwe focused his ire on the other Dwarves, leaving Gimli to me.

All around us faded to droning noise, like the roar of fast-flowing water. I saw none of the others, all the world had narrowed down to the stout, bearded Dwarf before me. His eyes shone like the garnets that adorned my father's torch sconces, reflecting an even fiercer fire. He spoke no word to me, but met me glare for glare.

He...*dared* me! All unspoken, he challenged me to take but one step towards the Ring, to give it but one covetous glance. As if I did not know its danger, as if I were as great a fool as a Dwarf, to believe brute force could dismiss all manner of troubles. Trust a Dwarf to see only the power of gold and not the Power it hid.

A familiar heat skirled through me, the sharp bite of challenge and unmeasured risk. He stood unyielding as a granite cliff-face. He would surrender nothing, all comers must pit their strength against his. A mis-step would be fatal, a long plunge to shatter the body against even more stone. Yet I was a true child of the forest. I knew the shyest vine could pull down stone. /Keep your stony pride, Master Dwarf,/ I thought, /and I will bring you down./

And then...I would quench the fire that he had unwittingly roused.  2lR  { /R 242PMwp