Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chapter II

Read the needful - the prologue and the first chapter before turning to this. If you want to, that is.

The White Council had adjourned by the evening of the first day. After a light meal all had retired, weary and exhausted after all the debate. Now all had gathered again for the second day of discussions. There was still much to be done, for the council had not yet even agreed to go ahead with anything. Saruman did not seem as hostile as he did on the first day. But neither did he seem weak of thought and mind, Gandalf mused.

It was he who began the day’s proceedings, starting off from exactly where he left off, “The threat of Dol Guldur is two fold – if we have to think of launching an offensive on it, we have to consider not one but two things. First, we must be capable of gaining an entry into Dol Guldur and be able to fight or drive out those of his minions he chooses to send against us.” Saruman made to say something but Gandalf quickly continued. “Secondly, we should be able to challenge the Dark lord himself, and overpower him. At the least we should be able to drive him out.”

“The leaf of the Halflings has dulled your wit, Gandalf. Did you wholly forget what all was said yesterday, or did you not even bother to hear any but yourself?” said Saruman dangerously. “It is fine for you to say ‘we need an army’. Whom will you go beg, the dwarves?”

“I suggest you ask the others here.” Gandalf said, with a rather patient expression on his face, pointing to the Eldar seated all around them. Saruman rounded on Elrond first, and then on Galadriel, but both seemed to be hesitant to say anything. However, a light in their eyes told him that they were quite serious. He quite unexpectedly caught the lady’s eyes, could not endure it for too long, and quickly did he shift his gaze.

“So does lord Mithrandir here speak the truth?” He had recovered quite well from the initial shock, diplomacy quickly replacing the incredulity and the surprise in his voice. “Are you my good lord and lady, changing your wise policy of blocking out all evil from this closeted realm of the elves?” He had never expected the elves to actually agree to come forth from their realms, especially not the ones of Lothlorien, who seemed so hesitant to go even to Rivendell. “I am certain that you all have not forgotten the sorrow of the previous ages, my lords. Death, suffering, loss – there was not an elf who did not despair from all this. Then my lords, you established fine havens – Lindon, Lorien, and Rivendell, worthy of more than just residence.” Saruman was not called an awe-inspiring speaker for nothing, even the great could he inspire, the powerful he could make humble and the wise he could convince. “It is within these realms that safety has reigned, even whilst the outer world is in sorrow. Yet, I see that the elves despair, seeking yonder shores while losing all love for the lands they are staying in. In spite of these havens of safety, their hearts sicken, and the call of the west overpowers their life.” He said, now looking straight at Elrond, who all of a sudden did not feel comfortable. “Yea, verily they find that healing in the west, but they leave those of us still bound to the east. But tell me, lords and lady, who are those who seek the west? Are they not those who left these havens? Are they not those who wandered in the treacherous ways of Middle Earth? There are none who sickened in the safety of these realms , and became lost to us.”

“Yet now I am told that the elves are again ready to go forth and battle – is it not folly? An elf, who might still sing fairly and dance merrily for many a thousand summers, is it right for us to send him to be needlessly butchered by orcs?”

A fire was smouldering in Gandalf's eyes, but he did not speak, for this was something for the Eldar to decide. Saruman continued, “Is it not enough that the elves have shed their blood for two ages of the sun? My lords and lady, if you had a duty to this world, you have done thrice as much. Should not this matter be left to the mortals, who are no short in number, and seem to be ever the happier in the taking of lives?”

Celeborn stirred. He usually did not have the patience to either give or receive long sermons, yet this once he endured it. He saw through all of Saruman’s intentions and was angered by the way he had singled out Elrond, by the way he had used Elrond's sorrow to sway his will. Celebrian’s passing was not something that Celeborn had accepted lightly. When he spoke, he was surprised that his voice was not at all harsh. When he spoke, he spoke as much to his wife and his son-in-law, as to the wizard. “Why do we live here, O Curunir, when the Valar have permitted all elves to go seek refuge in the west? Why do we linger, in darkness and in despair, when we are offered a place among the great ones? It is because we love middle earth, we love the stars and the sky and the land. This is home, Curunir, our home. We would do all in our power to protect that which we love.”

“But No! We elves have formed these self-same havens and started living in what we think is bliss. We think that we have walled out all evil, but Nay! All we have done is walled ourselves in.”
“No more! No more can I rest when the shadow spreads. No more can I stay calm when the night under stars is no longer safe, when the dark is no longer clean.”

Saruman was running out of persuasions by which he could stop what was happening. To begin with, he was unhappy that Celeborn had come for the Council meet. Elrond he found pliable, the once-herald of Gil-Galad was now a lore master and mainly desired peace. Though he had no power whatsoever over the lady, oh how he hated her, still he could have control as even she was usually reluctant to do anything outside her own realm. But Celeborn! He was too stubborn, too straight forward in thought to thwart. What frustrated him the most, was that what Celeborn had just said made sense even to him. He might have readily agreed with the idea of an offensive had it but come a few decades, or even a few year later, for he would then be in a much more powerful position by then. Now was too soon for him. He stayed silent, head bowed and pondering over some thought.

It was Gandalf who broke the uncertain quiet that followed Celeborn’s words. Galadriel and Elrond did have some misgivings that Saruman had kindled. He spoke not with ease but with pain. “There are some tidings that I bear, that none here know about.” Now that he had started speaking, he found it a trifle easier to continue. “In my journey from the edge of Mirkwood, I had to cross the Gladden River. It was when I descended to the water from the northern bank that I noticed it. There was an evil there, amidst the marshes – a presence I could not fully recognize, yet hauntingly familiar. Never had I felt this power since I last ventured into Dol Guldur. Here my passage was not going to go unnoticed, for here I was the one who had stumbled in. All I could do was to feign ignorance and move forward for naught else could I even attempt to do.”

“One can but see what this means. Sauron is looking for the One Ring. Yes, yes, every year you comfort us Saruman, by saying that the ring has passed down to the sea from the Anduin, and I will agree, if only for now. What should be of immediate concern to all of us is that Sauron’s might has certainly grown, if it has to reach the eastern edge of the Misty Mountains. He can no longer be taken for granted. We have to act now.”

All in the room were taken aback, disturbed by these tidings, not even Saruman could remain aloof. Nay, he still did not yield, nor did he speak. Finally Galadriel spoke, softly yet firm of mind. She had finally chosen. “Prudence is no longer a choice for us. Even now Sauron has the power to reach across the Anduin. We should look to our own borders. Is there not wisdom in the offensive?”

Elrond was the only one who had not spoken. At that moment he seemed too fidgety for so noble an elf. He kept fingering something in his hands, but stopped when the others started looking in his direction. With no small delay he made up his mind. “Yes, we shall come out. Rivendell will not stand aside, we will aid this endeavor as best as we may. We will do our duty.”

Saruman knew that he had lost. He sighed, weary of speech, aware that the offensive would serve him too. “Very well. I will yield to the Council’s wishes. We may yet be right in our actions. I will not hinder anything.”

“No, Saruman – indeed your refusal to hinder is not enough,” said Gandalf. “It is with your help that we can hope to achieve anything.”

“I am no warrior Gandalf, though you may fancy yourself to be one. I cannot fight!” said Saruman in alarm.

Gandalf laughed merrily. “No! We do not need you to fight. Hopefully, there are enough for that. We need your craft Saruman. We need your power to enter Dol Guldur. Let me elaborate.”

Elaborate he did, for the greater part of the day. Gandalf had not prevailed over him in the council for many score years now. As significant as Saruman's agreement for action was, Gandalf did not have a very easy time explaining his strategies to the other Istar. He faced sharp questions from Elrond and Galadriel, the elves had pledged support and were making sure that every risk being taken was a worthwhile one. Celeborn had a glint in his eye, yet he posed no question. He thanked the lord of Lothlorien in his thoughts.

As the council made to depart the chamber, Celeborn gave Gandalf a meaningful glance, and Gandalf tarried as the others moved past him. His words were softly spoken. "Dangerous is the path you tread, my lord, tread softly. A glimpse of the truth here, a flash of it there, you seem to have perfected the art of saying nothing but the truth yet pointing somewhere else."

Gandalf allowed himself a small chuckle. "Not so perfect then, if you saw through it. We shall speak in length, Lord Celeborn, and not just because you ask."

Celeborn nodded, and the twain followed the rest to climb down from the talan.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Dragon is no more.

"Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time."
Robert Jordan
October 17, 1948 – September 16, 2007

We will miss you.
May you shelter in the palm of the Creator's hand, and may the last embrace of the mother welcome you home.

Taishar Manetheren!

Friday, September 21, 2007


Hypocrisy is probably the most butchered word in the English language.
Pretentious the adjective most readily bandied,
and per se the most misused.

Hippocracy, hypocracy, hippocrisy, hipocrasy. And it has nothing to do with Hippocrates or the practice of medicine! A "hippocrate" is probably a follower of Hippocrates, no more.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Chapter I

Please read the Prologue and the other post before coming to this.

The White Council was assembling in a talan atop the Cerin Amroth. It was not Amroth’s talan of old – the highest in the realm, for that was never used, this was a larger and lower one. It seemed an apt place, for all assembled in the flet could see the foul stronghold of Dol Guldur, unless they turned their backs to it. The morning was a nice one even for Lothlorien; sunny with a cool breeze blowing from the south. It was a sight which was a feast for even immortal eyes, if only they never looked east. For in the east the dark tower rose above the forest, with plumes of ever-present foul smoke above it.

Cirdan had not come to attend the council. He had, however, sent word, pledging support should an offensive be mounted, assuring that he would send out as many elves as he could out into Eriador, to help Rivendell and the rangers keep safe the borders. The leagues were long in Eriador, and the offer of help was no meager gesture on the part of the Lord of the Grey Havens.

Radagast the Brown had failed to come to the Council for the second time in succession. Rhosgobel was in Southern Mirkwood and close enough to feel the glooms of Dol Guldur, and Gandalf had been hopeful of his coming. This was far from the first time he had failed.

As Gandalf climbed up the numerous small steps to the flet, he mused about how much preparation had begun, hidden from Saruman. There had been preparations even the last time the council had met; when he had not been able to move Saruman, but not on this scale. This time, he felt, he had to succeed.

When he reached the top, he saw that the lord and lady of the Golden Wood were present before him, seated next to each other in the circle of chairs. Gandalf bowed and allowed himself a smile before taking a seat near them.

He was very glad that Celeborn had agreed to attend the council this year, for the elf had refused a seat on the council when it was formed, many centuries earlier. He had merely said that his lady wife was on the council to speak for the two of them, and that he was not overly fond of week-long discussions and debates.

Gandalf himself had not thought much of the silver-haired lord when they had met for the first time, but soon he had altered his opinion. He remembered the first time he had come to Lothlorien, Laurelindorenan as it was called then. He had come with an escort from Rivendell, and had found only the lady Galadriel in Caras Galadhon. There he had spoken long with her, and had told her as much as he had to Cirdan and Elrond, his true nature and purpose, and what he hoped to do in Middle Earth. He had given her the Elessar that day, the stone that Idril had borne to the Undying lands, as a final token of proof.

Celeborn had been visiting the northern marches then, and had returned late. He had greeted Gandalf warmly then, thinking him some lord of men. The next day however, he had been confronted by the elf. “So,” the silver-haired lord had remarked, icy in his tone and his look. “The mighty Valar wish to look beyond their mountains once more. First they burn Beleriand, and then they drown the land. After that they raise up Numenor, only to push it back down, breaking the world in the course of it. What doom do you bring for us now, my lord?”

Celeborn’s opinion of the Valar was a rather bleak one, and spending three ages of the sun (and much of the age of stars) in Middle Earth had but helped strengthen it. While the Noldo begrudged the Valar in the first age, most had realized their follies and had fallen back to their reverence for the lords of the west. The Sindar never had much love for the Valar, save for Varda Star-kindler and Orome, lord of the forests.

Gandalf had learnt much about the Noldor and the Sindar in Middle Earth, but Galadriel had not seen fit to warn him then of the intensity of Celeborn’s disposition, and Gandalf had found that he could scarce defend himself.

Many summers had passed, in which time Gandalf had picked up the name Mithrandir from the elves. During a brief visit of his to the woodland realm, Celeborn had sought him out and surprised him. He had said, “I might have been hasty in saying some words to you, Lord Mithrandir. I think that the Valar could have done much worse than sending you to Middle Earth. You have certainly done more yourself these past few years than what entire elvish races have been able to do in this age. You have my respect, and my gratitude.”

“Do I have your friendship, my lord?”

“If I could have yours.”

Gandalf woke from his reverie as others in the council started arriving. Seven chairs there were in the flet, the seventh had been added for Celeborn. They were all positioned around a great table of oak, which was piled with maps and scrolls. The chairs of those who had not come were left empty, as always. Elrond Halfelven was the one who entered, and Saruman soon followed.

The first day was spent in discussing minor matters, and tidings from scouts. They talked of uprisings in Harad and raids by the Corsairs; of wild Easterlings and gatherings in Rhun; of Dunlendings in Rohan and woodmen in Anorien. It was late in the afternoon that the council ventured into matters more immediate.

“So yet again you start your private attack on prudence, Gandalf,” Saruman commented, scorn thinly veiled in his voice. He expected Gandalf to take offense; in fact he wanted him to. Gandalf however, did not take anything of the sort. He just wanly smiled. “It is not prudence that I am prejudiced against, Saruman, but inaction. Year after year, this noble council has done but nothing, justifying inaction with prudence. After a while, nothing is justified, old friend.”

Gandalf made to reach for his pipe, but stopped, knowing that it would not help his cause. Saruman had only disdain for the Leaf, and testing Lord Curunir’s temper was the last thing Gandalf wished to do.

Elrond said, “Sauron is amassing his forces - he is filling the Hithaelgir with orcs. Yea, the dwarves had nearly halved their numbers, but now there are at least four times the number there once were.”

Gandalf continued, “He plans to attack either Lorien or Rivendell. How can we be sure that either can with stand such an attack? You may feel secure in Orthanc, Saruman, but the rest of us sleep less soundly, knowing that Sauron is back. The south has many friendly realms but the north is too open, orcs can easily pass north of the Misty Mountains and can enter Eriador through Angmar. Rivendell and what is left of the Dunedain cannot hold back this black tide. His power nearly reaches the Old Ford. All who tread east of the Anduin are besieged by an unnamed fear. Soon the shadow of the dark wood will stretch even west of the Anduin.”

A short silence followed. Celeborn sighed, “There is no place in Ennor which is perfectly safe. When Doriath could fall, when Gondolin could fall, what sureties can we claim, what strength can we rest on, to say that we can weather all evil?”

Saruman was not someone who gave up so easily, “All that you speak of may be true. But whom are we fighting? We know but naught of the enemy. It is folly to rashly attack someone about whom we know nothing of.”

“We know enough,” said Gandalf gruffly, his patience wearing thin. “I have seen him, though I believe that he did not realize who I was when he caught a glimpse of me. It is but Sauron returned, albeit a weaker and a ring less one. Had we acted ten years back, the matter might have been a trifle. He must have never been allowed to return to the lesser of his dwellings.”

Saruman made as if to stand up, but thought better of it. He was the head of the White Council and he had to maintain some decorum himself. When he spoke he spoke with a false restraint, “It is all fine for the White Council to assemble, to give thought to great and important matters, to move judgments against the greatest of evils and in spite of my being the head of this most fine council, I have to accept that ere long, words without action fade into oblivion.”
“So we want to destroy, or at least drive out the enemy – Very well, who will do it?”

Gandalf had a hint of a smile on his face, hearing Saruman speaking of action and inaction. He gently replied, “It would take all our strength Saruman, for our mission is still very difficult.”

Scorn crept into Saruman’s voice, “Typical of your Gandalf, to call on our unity in action, and hoping that the concerned matter is settled. My question remains unanswered – Who?”

“The Istari? Only two of us are left in an order originally consisting of just five, a suspicious three if you are so willing as to consider even Radagast the Brown.”

“The Eldar? Only Rivendell was bold enough to send help to Earnur against Angmar. Lorien and the people of the good Lady and the Lord have only the power to contain, to resist, but not to attack. The might of the likes of Glorfindel are of no help here, if not for a valiant and wasted death.”

“The Heirs of Isildur? Their pride and dignity forgotten, roaming the wild like dark men of twilight bereft of property or lordship.”

“The Houses of Men? Men are weak; their strength is all but imaginary. If the enemy attacks on both the western and the eastern flanks of men, Rohan and Gondor will get cornered and ere it is long they will fall. Whom else can you name who can fight a battle none of us here can even conceive?”

“Saruman, Saruman.” Said Gandalf with a laugh, “No one has ever accused you of being hasty, but I think that this time you did get quite carried away. Even if we are going to make war on Dol Guldur, we would hardly go with banners flying and armour gleaming! I have some ideas as to how we can attack the enemy.”

“What do you propose, a foolish prank, perhaps?” Saruman was really caught off guard by the good humour of Gandalf, so he asked a rather unwise question, when he should have just kept quiet and waited.

“Well, No one has ever accused you of having patience either. Listen to what I have to say.”
PS. Every single time I read this, I find some new error to correct. When will it end? When?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The fan fic.

For those who care.

The prologue is from a Tolkien fan fiction story that I started writing... *thinks* more than three years ago. It's not yet complete, I'm afraid. I finally decided to release it in public. (Har Har, as public as my blog can be.) It is tentatively titled 'Flight of the Shadow'.

The story is a companion piece to The Hobbit, in fact the first paragraph in the prologue is from it. It is an attempt to explain the whereabouts and the activities of Gandalf, between when he separates himself from the Fourteen, and when he meets up with Bilbo again among the Silvan folk.

From what I was able to piece together from the Unfinished Tales, the appendices to the Lord of the Rings and whatever else I could lay my hands on, Gandalf took leave of the dwarves and their treasure-hunter and went to a meeting of the White Council. Once there, he was finally able to move the rest, including Saruman, into action and drove out the elusive figure of the Necromancer from Dol Guldur. The knowledge of how this was done has gone undocumented.

Until now. :)

My portrayal of the characters of this story, the Elven lords and the Istari, is heavily influenced by fan fics. For those who might feel that the way the Elven lords speak to each other is unreal - note that there are no true sources for it. The Silmarillion is more of a history book rather than a story, the others even more so, and in the LoTR apart from the formal setting of the Council of Elrond (which my vision of the White Council is heavily influenced by,) few are the insights that can be gained into elven conversations. The LoTR is filled with samples of elvish interactions with hobbits and men, who look on the immortals with a great deal of reverence or at least wariness, which can really change the manner of conversations.

This is still a work in progress, and I don't really know how everything is going to end. I haven't figured it all out yet. Patience, my good reader, is a virtue when someone else needs to possess it. In this case, that someone else is you.

To all who think that I'm definitely off my rocker, obsessed with Tolkien and everything - I have no comeback. You may all be right.

Recommended prerequisites - The LoTR, The Hobbit.


“Good-bye then, and really good-bye!” he said, and turned his horse and rode down into the west. But he could not resist the temptation of having the last word. Before he had passed quite out of hearing he turned and put his hands to his mouth and called to them: “Good-bye! Be good; take care of yourselves – and DON’T LEAVE THE PATH!”

He could almost hear them grunting miserably, getting angry because he was leaving them when their journey was getting really dangerous. Little did they know that it was he who would be in peril now. But not right away, for it was a safe three-day journey to his destination, and he was glad that it was still morning. His horse – well, not really his horse but the one he had borrowed, was young and strong, and being well trained was able to bear him across till the river at half-gallop. There both the rider and the horse rested, to help the horse regain her strength and for the rider to think of what lay ahead of him.

He knew that his objective now was different, and by far the deadlier compared to the one he was previously assisting, and he knew that it was up to him to give thought to everything. He would have to convince others, and quickly too – for in his heart he knew that it was already too late.

An hour later, he got up, mounted his horse and continued riding like the wind. He passed the Carrock early in the evening and continued till dusk.

The first half of the next day was quite uneventful; he crossed the Old Ford with ease. As the evening drew closer, he turned west. South, far ahead of him lay the gladden river. There was a small ford, the only passage across the river in these troubled days, just ere the river came out of the Misty Mountains, and that was what he was making for.

Before long he realized that he should have turned from the banks of the Anduin quite some time before, for all paths that lay before him were serpentine, and he was able to just manage to find a way through the marsh and briar. He knew that he wouldn’t make it to the ford before nightfall. He took shelter in a small grove for the night.

The sun dawned for the third time since he had left the company of those who were going eastward, and he knew that the journey would end today. Such was the life of our rider, very precise was he in his time-keeping, and so he was all the more furious for being late. For late he was, at least by five days, his only hope was that the others would have been delayed too.
With an hour's ride, he approached the ford. The descent was quite tricky, but our rider being who he was, coaxed the beast down with ease. Only after he had reached the water did he realize that something there was not altogether right.

For the past quarter of an hour, he had been fully and justly occupied with the matter at hand – guiding the horse down. Now that his thoughts were not so burdened with something so laborious, he felt that peculiar prickly feeling at the back of his head. He was being watched. Where from? The very air seemed to be spying on him, oh why hadn’t he noticed this before, but he could not see a single face, not a single eye gleaming in the shadows. Orcs? He did not think so, for it was after dawn now, the sun was in the sky, even if still quite low. He felt something else, something more powerful, and something more…evil.

To assume that fear clouded his judgment would be a very foolish thing to do, for he did not fear easily. Yes, caution and prudence did creep into his action, for he knew that he had to move on quickly, flee rather than fight. He knew that he would be strong enough to defeat whatever evil that lurked here, if it did show itself, but in doing so he would first give himself away. More importantly, he would be delayed – and our wanderer had wandered enough.

He crossed the river, looking straight ahead and with the air of someone who did not know that anything was amiss. He did not risk a look back till he reached the southern bank. He felt contempt for doing things this way, for no coward was he, but he accepted the situation the way it was. The ascent here was by far the easier. His spurred the beast on and the horse sprang out of the gully and started racing past the Gladden Fields. The evil he lost behind him.

The day grew older, and finally he could see the first trees of the realm he was seeking. A low mist loomed in front of him – the enchanted veil over the realm of Dwimordene drew closer to him by the minute. He did not fear it, for fear of this he thought, was absurd.

The horse was apprehensive of it, there was some sorcery there that it did not comprehend, and hence could not like. The rider patted its neck and spoke a few soft words in a strange, sonorous tongue and the beast relaxed. The rider changed the pace to a quick trot, and the distance to the woods was covered in no time. As they reached the wood, they could see a pale figure climbing down one of the boughs, cloaked in white and grey.

“Mithrandir! Welcome. You are long expected. Her ladyship was not worried but the lord was quite so,” said the figure, who could now be discerned as an elf, with a bow slung on his shoulder.

“Greetings, Emeldil! And well met. A wizard is never late, though I confess that I had the care of many other matters in my hand. I have come as fast as I possibly could in haste, and will tarry no more. Come! Let us be off to the city.”

And so the wizard and the elf set out on foot, the horse led by the elf on the path heading for Caras Galadhon, the City of Trees.
Disclaimer: Tolkien is Eru, Iluvatar, owner-of-all. I am not doing this to make any money. Like anyone will pay me for this. All characters belong to him except for the ones I have taken the liberty of creating.

Friday, September 7, 2007

A month, a year, a moment in time.

A new post is in order, I think. At least so as to push down that ghastly poem of mine.

Another month, gone. September seems to have crept in, catching most of us napping. Big plans I had. For August. And for life in general. I almost never make resolutions, but I had so many aims that were nearly those.

To start the laborious process of applying to graduate schools. To start off with my thesis project. To do some justice to the ones I have left incomplete. To try and do some of the extra work I had the gall to take on. To go cycling to Mahabs. To go out into the city, and not just to the railway station when I'm heading home. To blog at least once a week. To read more, to write more and to sleep a little less. To be happy. To be content. (Hah!) To dream more. Literally, at that. (I don't get dreams everyday, and I feel well rested and content with sleep only when I do.) To write poetry again. Preferably in class. To at least finish a novel when I am there. To learn to draw again. To eat healthy food. Even when I'm not at Subway. And eat a little less. To exercise everyday. To be more aware of what goes on around me. To go home more often. To do more when I am there. To live life in every breath. To complain a little less. To not worry as much. To be nicer to people. To sing, to dance, to run amok. To be carefree, even if only for a while.

Grand plans I seem to have. And ambitious dreams. But I end up doing not all that much.