In the second chapter of the second book of The Fellowship of the Ring, the Council of Elrond begins and Gandalf tells a story that rivals John Galt in length. Don’t worry, it’s actually good. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE COUNCIL OF ELROND
Lords and Stuff
[FRODO appears on stage, walking slowly next to the Bruinen River, appreciating the nature around him. He comes upon BILBO and GANDALF]
BILBO: So, are you ready for the council?
FRODO: I’ve heard it’s sixty pages long.
GANDALF: Shhhhhh. You’re not supposed to know that.
FRODO: Oh, sorry! Sorry about that! Well, I guess I don’t have a choice in the matter.
BILBO: It’ll be fun! There will surely be lots of poems and songs and storytelling!
FRODO: Can’t I just go for a walk around here? It’s so pretty.
GANDALF: NO HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST SUCH A THING. DO YOU NOT WANT TO HEAR MY STORIES.
FRODO: All right, all right, I’m coming!
[FRODO follows the others offstage.]
[We open on the Council of ELROND, hobbits, elves, and men seated on the porch of ELROND. GLOIN, GLORFINDEL, ARAGORN, ELROND, SAM, GIMLI, GALDOR, LEGOLAS, BOROMIR, and other counselors of ELROND are seated about for the Council.]
ELROND: Welcome, all. Thank you for coming.
SAM: We’re on page two, right?
GANDALF: Shush, Sam! Just be patient.
ELROND: We are here to discuss matters of great importance, the least of which are the events that brought Frodo to our door. Glóin, would you like to begin?
GLOIN: Yes, of course. Moria Durin Khazad-dûm Thrór and Dáin Mordor and other words that no one else is going to understand and what am I saying.
FRODO: No, seriously, what are you talking about?
GLOIN: Don’t be rude, Frodo! Anyway, the point I’m trying to make: Things were okay in Dáin until a horseman from Mordor arrived and made us an offer: give us information about hobbits, where they dwelt, and other such things, and he would offer us rings.
[The group gasps in horror.]
ELROND: I assume you did not take such an offer!
GLOIN: No! We refused twice, and the horseman was more perturbed each time. Also, we have no idea why he even offered us a second and third chance? Seriously, he could have just wasted the whole city. Hmmm. Apparently Sauron wants to do things “fairly.”
ELROND: I almost thanked Sauron, but then I remembered why we are here. Actually, on that note, I’ll just assume all of you don’t know shit about this little meeting, so let me tell you the entire story of Sauron and the Rings of Power.
ELROND: Yes, Sam Gamgee?
SAM: Gandalf has a forty-page speech coming up. Can your storytelling occur through a whimsical passing of time?
ELROND: Fair enough. Now you all magically know the whole story!
[The group looks perturbed by the newfound information.]
ELROND: Also, I should add that through this story, you’ll learn that I am mysteriously a million times older than I should be, and I won’t provide any rational reason as to how that’s possible.
FRODO: Sounds fine to me.
ELROND: I’ll also use the word “weregild” a lot and you won’t understand what it means.
GANDALF: Really, at this point, should we even care? I daresay we shouldn’t!
FRODO: So, what should we do next, then?
GANDALF: Hold on, my young, adventurous hobbit. I’ve got a lot more lecturing to do. Are you all prepared for a history lesson????
SAM: Oh, great. By the way, where are Pippin and Merry? Are they even mentioned at all? Are they off hiding? These are important questions! WHAT IF THE BLACK RIDERS FOUND MERRY AGAIN???
GANDALF: That’s not as important as EVERYTHING REGARDING ISILDUR. I’m going to continue rattling off information that actually is important, but becomes increasingly hard to keep track of because there isn’t a single narrative break in nearly thirty pages. Are you following me?
FRODO: I have a headache.
BOROMIR: Now, you just hold on one minute. I’ve got some information, too. I know that the Enemy has arisen as well, and I’ve seen smoke rise from Mount Doom. Not only that, but Mordor waged war against us! I have come with news of such things.
SAM: No, seriously, where are Merry and Pippin?
BOROMIR: It took me one hundred ten days to arrive here, all by myself, to seek your advice, Elrond, about this war with the Enemy. I have been guided by a poem I learned in a dream, which is totally a reliable piece of information all of the time.
ARAGORN: It just so happens that by coming here, that poem is fulfilled! Well, isn’t that wonderful?
FRODO: There sure are a lot of poems and songs around.
ELROND: Frodo, let us not forget that why we are all here. It’s time you brought the Ring out.
[Silence falls once again amongst those of the council.]
FRODO: You just gotta put me on the spot, don’t you?
[FRODO reaches into his pocket and slowly withdraws. He opens his hand and the Ring is sitting in the middle of it.]
ELROND: Behold Isildur’s Bane!
SAM: That….that is like the coolest exclamation I’ve ever heard. Can I start using that?
ARAGORN: It’s pretty damn good. I won’t deny that.
BOROMIR: I’m still unsure what we’re all talking about. What do I do about the Enemy? I traveled one hundred ten days to get here! Do you expect the guy who has traveled one hundred and ten days to just turn around with only the explanation of a dream riddle? Come on!
ARAGORN: Look, I’ve been to some weird places and seen some weird shit, man. But this is all coming together. I will reforge the Sword and return with you.
BOROMIR: But wait, how do I know that the ring that Frodo has is the Ring?
BILBO: Allow me to tell you all my side of the story in what amounts to a literary montage!
FRODO: And then allow me to do the same!
SAM: I’m beginning to be disturbed that none of you care about our friends.
FRODO: Gandalf, it’s your turn! You’re the one holding back the most information!
GALDOR: I haven’t said a single thing this whole time, but allow me to speak up now to agree with Frodo. Dude, you’re holding out on us. Spill the beans!
GANDALF: Fine, fine. But I want all to remember that it was Galdor and Frodo who begged this of me.
SAM: Oh, damn it. You two fell for it! Now he’s going to tell us a story!
ARAGORN: Get comfortable, everyone. This one’s a doozy.
BOROMIR: I don’t know what y’all are talking about.
GANDALF: Well, let me start off by saying that, if you recall, I helped send the Necromancer out of the Mirkwood while Bilbo was heading to defeat Smaug.
BILBO: Yeah, you never did tell me what you were doing when you could have been helping me out.
GANDALF: Right, well, the Necromancer was Sauron.
ARAGORN: Son of a motherless bumblebee.
SAM: Behold Isildur’s Bane!
ELROND: That’s….that’s not how that works.
SAM: Oh. Sorry.
GANDALF: Right, well, Sauron knows the Ring still exists, but does not know we have it; the advantage is ours.
FRODO: Great! So what do we do next?
GANDALF: Shush, I still have a lot more story to tell. If you recall, there is another great wizard, Saruman the Wise, that is even greater than I. It turns out that I was betrayed by him.
[GANDALF quiets in shame for a moment before continuing.]
GANDALF: Yes, even great Gandalf the Grey makes mistakes, and I misjudged both Saruman and Gollum, and those mistakes cost us dearly.
SAM: Was one of those mistakes forgetting about Pippin and Merry? That seems like a mistake.
ARAGORN: Pay attention. We are discussing the events that led to me capturing Gollum and Gandalf coming to interrogate him.
SAM: Wouldn’t that be the worst interrogation of all time?
FRODO: Sam, be quiet, Gandalf is….wait. Wait, he’s got a point. How do you interrogate someone who talks like Gollum?
GANDALF [glaring at FRODO and SAM]: Well, I might be able to tell you if you’ll allow me to finish my story.
FRODO and SAM: Sorry!!!
GANDALF: Aragorn assisted me with bringing Gollum, who I captured, back to the Elves in Mirkwood. There, we held him in captivity for a really long time because I’m a good person and it’s totally cool to imprison a creature because….well, because he was friends with someone we don’t like. Well, not so much friends, as Sauron didn’t treat him well either.
LEGOLAS: Oh, right. So the whole reason I’m here is to reveal that Gollum escaped from prison.
GANDALF: BY MY OWN GREY BEARD, WHAT?
LEGOLAS: I probably should have said something earlier.
GANDALF: YES. YOU PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE. How did that happen?
LEGOLAS: We may have been too nice to him.
GANDALF: Well, that’s awkward.
GLOIN: Yeah, y’all were the opposite of nice to me when I was imprisoned by you.
SAM: Now that’s awkward.
GANDALF: WILL EVERYONE BEHAVE? Legolas, what happened?
LEGOLAS: Well, we took Gollum outside, he climbed up into a tree, and he refused to come down. It was at that moment that we were caught off-guard by Orcs.
FRODO: What are Orcs?
GANDALF: Shhh, you’ll find out….sometime. I don’t actually know.
GALDOR: Can we get back to your story? I feel like a whole year has passed and I still have a lot of questions. Like: What is Saruman’s advice? What does he advise we do, since he is a above you?
GANDALF: Well…I think that may be the true definition of awkwardness. Unfortunately, I sought him out for his counsel; along the way, I ran into Radagast the Brown.
SAM: You wizards aren’t really good at the color thing, are you? Brown, white, grey….not very colorful, eh?
[GANDALF ignores this jab and continues.]: Saruman, the greatest of my order, was right where I expected him to be, far south in Isengard. I ascended the stair of Saruman with him to the Orthanc to get his counsel. And….well.
GANDALF: Well, his robe was not white, but woven of many colours.
FRODO: I don’t get it.
SAM: Is that a metaphor for saying he’s gay?
FRODO: I don’t think the rainbow meant “unholy homosexual” at this time.
SAM: I’m confused.
GANDALF: The point is….he changed. He was not the same wizard I once knew. He then lectured me on the changing times, and I knew that he had fallen the way of the Enemy. He was no longer on my side.
SAM: I mean, that literally sounds like an argument against being gay.
FRODO: SHUT UP.
GANDALF: So, if you recall, I was gone for some time. Well, Saruman imprisoned me on the pinnacle of the Orthanc. There was nowhere to go from there, and I despaired for many days, pacing back and forth in the little room I had up there.
FRODO: That’s weird. I had a dream about that.
BOROMIR: And we all know how important those are!
GANDALF: Thankfully, Radagast was not of the Enemy; Saruman had deceived him in order to deceive me, so the Eagles of the Mountains, sent by Radagast, found me and rescued me from that precipice.
SAM: You got to ride a giant eagle? That’s not fair!
FRODO: Sam, he was imprisoned at the top of a mountain. I think that’s worse.
SAM: I’m not going to get anything I want, am I?
FRODO: Aren’t you supposed to be hiding this whole chapter? Why are you talking?
SAM: ……..comic relief?
GANDALF: Ahem. If I may continue….[Pauses, waits for silence from an embarrassed SAM]…Gwaihir the Windlord helped me find a proper steed in Rohan to ride away from that wretched place. I managed to make it to Bree just after dear Frodo left, actually! The very first thing I did was go see BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR to find out if he sent that letter to Frodo as I requested.
FRODO: Oh no.
FRODO: Please tell me you didn’t destroy him.
SAM: Yeah, he was rather nice to us.
FRODO: I mean, to be fair, he didn’t send that letter at all.
SAM: Yeah, and he waited until the last possible moment to share it with us.
FRODO: But I like him! Plus, his name is really fun to say. BARLIMAN. BUTTERBUR.
GANDALF: No, the dude’s fine. In fact I hugged him!
GANDALF: To death.
SAM: HOW DARE YOU DO–
GANDALF: No, I’m just kidding! He’s fine, seriously. Anyway, I made it here to Rivendell before you since you’re impossible to find in this wilderness. And that concludes my story! What would you rate it, Bilbo?
BILBO [who quickly wakes from a nap]: Oh! Oh, it was splendid. Splendid for sure. I loved the part about the dragon the most!
ELROND: Well, it seems we all have a decision to make. We have all the information we might need. What do we do with it?
GLORFINDEL: I suppose we only have two options: throw it in the Sea, or destroy it.
ELROND: We can’t destroy it here.
GANDALF: And it would still exist at the bottom of the Sea. It would come back.
GLORFINDEL: In like a thousand years! That seems like a long enough time.
SAM: There’s a sea? Where the hell is there a sea?
ELROND: Well, there’s nothing we can do here. I suppose there’s really only one option.
FRODO: What’s that?
ELROND: We send the Ring to the Fire. The one in Mordor.
[Everyone but SAM and FRODO gasp.]
SAM: I don’t get it.
ARAGORN: ONE SIMPLY CANNOT WALK INTO MORDOR.
SAM: …….could we fly into it?
EVERYONE but FRODO and SAM: NO!
SAM: Sheesh, y’all are a vicious bunch!
BOROMIR: I have an idea. Why can’t we just use the Ring to destroy Saruman and Sauron?
ELROND: It doesn’t work that way.
BOROMIR: Why not???
ELROND: Um, duh. Rules of a fantasy novel.
ARAGORN: Aren’t we inventing those rules?
LEGOLAS: I suppose so.
GANDALF: Regardless, anyone who uses the Ring for any reason brings themselves one step closer to taking Sauron’s place. That path only leads to evil.
GLOIN: Wait, so what happens if we destroy the Ring?
ELROND: Well, I suppose we don’t know.
GLOIN: What if it makes Sauron super powerful?
ELROND: I suppose that’s a risk we should take.
GLOIN: And throwing it into the ocean where there are no creatures with fingers to even wear rings is still a bad idea?
GANDALF: So we shall destroy it, then.
ELROND: Yes, I think so. And the journey will be perilous, full of despair and danger, and one might not survive it. This is not a battle or a fight; whomever takes the Ring must sneak into Mordor and cast it into the Fire.
BILBO: Oh, all right, I’ll do it.
BILBO: What? I mean, I took it from Gollum. None of this would have happened without me.
GANDALF: My dear Bilbo, you are but a player in this long game.
SAM: This game of thrones?
FRODO: Seriously, Sam, you’re supposed to be spying. Shut up.
GANDALF: Bilbo, you should not be the one to do this. The Ring has passed on from you. Finish your book. Enjoy your life. Let this chapter end.
BILBO: Don’t tell me how to live my life!
GANDALF: Have I ever been wrong?
BILBO [begrudgingly]: No, you big sassy wizard. No, you haven’t.
GANDALF: Then it’s settled. We will need some other volunteer to do this.
FRODO: I suppose it has to be me, doesn’t it?
ELROND: Why do you say such a thing???
FRODO: Because I’m the main character.
[Everyone nods and mumbles in approval.]
FRODO: I wish I could just stay here, but I suppose I have to do this.
ELROND: Then you shall go forth to Mordor to destroy the Ring.
[SAM jumps out from behind a bush in shock.]
SAM: No! He cannot go alone! I must go with him!
[All feign surprise.]
ARAGORN: You’re not good at this hiding thing, are you?
SAM: Sorry, I had a lot to say.
ELROND: Then you shall go with him, too, Sam Gamgee.
SAM: Good. I mean…bad? Is this good or bad? What did I just sign up for?
ARAGORN: Oh, you are not prepared at all, Sam.
To Be Continued….