Do I Have Any Volunteers?
1. A Chat with Bilbo
“But I would be perfect for this mission! I am young and strong and my skills with a bow are improving!”
“The last time you said that, Glorfindel was confined to his bed for a week. Speaking of Glorfindel, is he not expecting you on the training field?”
“Yes, my lord. I will be going now, my lord.” With that, the young warrior sullenly walked out of Elrond’s office. The Lord of Imladris rested his forehead on the palms of his hands and groaned. Uruvon was the 10th person to see him about accompanying Frodo since the council had concluded, and that had only been three hours ago! Elrond quickly sat up as he heard a tentative knock on his door.
Elrond’s mood lightened considerably as the Bilbo’s small form quickly slipped through the door and shut it quietly behind him. The old hobbit would be a pleasant distraction from the situation at hand, and even better: a visitor would be a perfect excuse to avoid this “Elfling Parade” as the Elven Lord had taken to calling it. Elrond half wondered if any of them actually knew what they were volunteering for. Although he wouldn’t mention this to anyone, he had concerns about finding enough seasoned warriors to accompany Frodo.
“It isn’t very polite to fall asleep on your guest, Lord Elrond.” Elrond blinked and focused his eyes on Bilbo.
“I was Not sleeping.” Elrond sighed, “I have had much on my mind as of late.”
“Ah, yes, the Ring. Have you found anyone to accompany my nephew? He never was as adventurous as me although, he would have you to believe otherwise. To think: Frodo traveling all the way to Mordor! He will need someone strong… with… him….” Bilbo trailed off at the dark look in Elrond’s eyes. “Urm. Yes, well. I’ve been writing this song, and I seem to be having a bit of trouble with the last part. I was hoping Aragorn could help me, but I can’t find him anywhere.”
“He is spending some time with his brothers before they leave on scouting missions tomorrow morning, but I would be glad to assist you. It would be a welcome distraction from the more mundane and depressing things that have been handed us.”
Elrond picked a piece of paper from a stack and began to read: “’I formally request approval to redesign the layout of the east garden by the pond. To take full advantage of the light, everything must be rotated 3 feet to the left. In order to accomplish this task, I will need the assistance of no less than 3 skilled gardeners as well as…’ and so-on and so-forth. So yes, Bilbo: mundane. I have often thought of giving Elladan, or even Elrohir, the task of taking care of such things as these. It would be good practice for after I decide to set sail, don’t you think?”
Bilbo shifted uncomfortably, “Well, they might be a bit occupied soon, wouldn’t you say?”
“I am well aware they are scouting right now; I was referring to after the fellowship leaves,” Elrond stated a little confused.
“So was I,” the hobbit mumbled.
“I will not send those mischievous miscreants to botch such an important mission! With all the bad luck that has been given to us, the group would have to stop at every body of water to pull Estel out!” Elrond took a deep breath; he had already risen out of his chair. It simply would not do for him to lose his composure in front of Bilbo anymore than he already had, even if the said hobbit was a close friend of the family.
“Calm down. They aren’t THAT bad. Surely they are old enough to know to be serious about an errand like this. Although, I must admit, it’s quite a thing to see you worked into such a stew.” Rivendell’s lord glared darkly. “Speaking of stew, isn’t it about time for an afternoon snack? Eh… hehe….”
Lord Elrond sat wearily down in his chair, and sighed. Opening a cabinet beside him, he pulled out a couple of glasses and a flask of some sort of brew. Elrond reached in again a pulled out a box of baked goods. “You’re in luck, Master Bilbo. I happen to have something here. Estel brought these back with him from Bree; if I didn’t know better, I would think him part hobbit for remembering food in all of the mayhem.”
“I recognize the brew: it’s from Butterbur, but I’ve never thought you’d be one to partake of it.”
“I don’t. I can hardly stand the smell of it, but I do not want to be so rude as to throw it out. You wouldn’t happen to know of a more polite way to, ahem, use it?” Elrond’s eyes glinted mischievously.
“You don’t need ask a hobbit twice about that. Oh, and they get it from you,” Bilbo said as he pulled the flask and a glass towards him.
“The mischievous twins. They get that from you.”
“What in Arda makes you say that?”
Bilbo gave Lord Elrond a stern look, “I may not be as old as you, but I am no fool, my lord.” Bilbo drank from the now full glass. “Now that I have a drink, what are those round things? I’ve been to Bree, but I’ve not seen the likes of those.”
“Those, I like. Estel brings them every time he comes. He calls them cookies. They are sweet, like cakes and pastries, but they store better. Here try one: they’re quite good.” Elrond held out the cookies. Bilbo took one and bit into it. “They are good, a little hard, but good,” Bilbo commented
“It is one of the more appreciated gifts Estel has given me.”
“Speaking of the ranger, does he have any plans to take Gondor’s throne?”
“Plans: no. Intent: yes.”
“Well, he is not getting any younger. If I were him, I would hurry it up a bit.”
“Of course. It is his destiny, and he will find it more difficult the longer he waits.”
“He should do it now. With a side stop in Mordor, of course, and then having just saved Middle Earth, he would be greatly welcomed into Minus Tirith as the rightful king. He might be king within a year. And then….” Bilbo smirked, “you could have grandkids in two.”
Elrond’s eye twitched but ignored the indirect reference to his beloved daughter. “Why do you insist on coming back to the same topic after I have shown distaste for it time and time again?”
“Well, it IS my nephew going. A nephew, may I remind you, that I raised as though my son. Needless to say, I have some interest in his future and well-being. How would you feel if one of your sons was being sent off to Mordor?”
Arching an eyebrow, Elrond replied, “If my memory serves me, you have, at some point during our conversation, suggested that each of my three sons go.”
“Ehem, yes… well, that’s beside the point. I want to know that my nephew is going to be well protected. This is his first adventure, and I don’t want to put him off to the idea.”
Elrond looked at Bilbo with pity. Elrond somehow knew that Frodo would not be the same again, no matter how well protected he was. “Do you not trust me, Bilbo? I no more desire this fate for Frodo than you do. This is not how I desired things to be, but I will use all of my wisdom and knowledge and strength to ease the ring bearer’s burden as much as I can.”
Bilbo directed his gaze towards his lap; his hand picked at his shirt cuff worriedly. “I know, Lord Elrond. I know, but that does not make me worry less. How will you find willing warriors to go to Mordor, when even the most seasoned warriors think this folly?” Bilbo’s head snapped up in surprise as Elrond laughed heartily. “I don’t see what’s so funny. It’s a serious question: who will agree to go to Mordor?”
Elrond wiped his eyes as he replied, “What is so funny, my dear Bilbo, is that 10 warriors have already sought me out to volunteer for just that!”
“They said they’d go to Mordor?”
“Not in so many words, but they offered to go nonetheless. Quite frankly, I, myself, wonder at their sanity.”
“What exactly did they say?”
Now suspicious, he answered slowly, “I do not know or understand why the wording is of importance, but I will tell you. They all said something to the affect of, ‘My lord, I would like to offer my services as a great elven warrior to accompany the young hobbit south.’ They would then proceed to describe in detail their abilities and list the reasons why I should send them.” Elrond paused before continuing, “In fact, their wording was rather vague. I wondered a few times if they truly understood that for which they volunteered. Might you be able to shed some light on this, Master Bilbo?” Bilbo fidgeted nervously under Elrond’s stare.
“Well, I’m not sure, sir. You must forgive me. I’m just a poor, old hobbit who hasn’t the wisdom of such a venerable elf as yourself, my lord.”
“Bilbo…, what did you do?”
“Do? Umm… well… you see….” Both occupants started slightly as someone timidly knocked on the door. Bilbo sighed in relief, and Elrond gave him a look that said he wasn’t finished with the hobbit yet.
“Enter.” Another young, elven warrior cautiously entered the office.
“My lord, if this is a bad time….”
“Unless it is a private matter, you may continue.”
“Of course, my lord. I just wanted to say that I heard of your request and would like to volunteer skills as a warrior to you.”
“My lord? I was told that you were in need of warriors to accompany the young hobbit, Frodo, south. Is something the wrong?”
“I am just wondering what you were told this mission would entail.”
Obviously nervous, the elven warrior continued, “I was told that this mission would be to prepare the way for young Estel to take his rightful place as the king of Gondor.”
“Was that all you were told?”
“No, we were also told there might be a few stops on the way to take care of other business. Was I told incorrectly?” Elrond did not miss the confused glance towards Bilbo.
“Not incorrectly: incompletely. Was Mordor ever mentioned to you?”
“Mordor! Why in Arda would you say that? No elf in their right mind would volunteer for anything even remotely related to Mordor! I do not understand, my lord!”
Standing and walking to the window on the other side of the room, Elrond blandly stated, “Why don’t you explain these things to this fine, young warrior, Master Bilbo.” After a short pause, Elrond looked back to see a white head quickly slip out the office door quietly shutting it behind him.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.