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Section L-Council Beginnings

Walking with Gandalf, I feel a bit nervous this morning. He promises all my questions will be answered in due time. A secret council will convene quite soon, and I am required to attend. The sounding of a bell summons us.

Gandalf assures me the matter of the Ring is to be decided. My mind wanders to my conversation with Sam. This burden will no longer be mine to bear. Its weight seems a bit heavier. I feel both relief and uncertainty at the thought of relinquishing it. I understand the relief, but do not desire to pursue my feeling of uncertainty. Instead, I push it aside for the moment.

Knowing Sam as I do, he surely is quite miffed to learn he is not invited, although he showed no sign of it this morning. Admittedly, I could not tell him, but undoubtedly Gandalf informed him. I hesitate to imagine the dark look sent the wizard's way. In truth, Sam would just as soon sit on the floor behind my chair, or in a quiet corner, as to be left out of the proceedings, but there you have it.

Entering the place of meeting, I feel many eyes scrutinizing me with care; is it mostly out of curiosity? I endeavor to take no notice. For the briefest of moments, I cannot help but wonder, am I found wanting by all these noble and learned big folk? Do they question why I am here? I note that even the Dwarves are larger in stature than hobbits and certainly look fiercer, what with axe in hand.

My chair is next to Gandalf. What a pair we must look, the tall imposing wizard in his peculiar garb and the hobbit that tops out at the wizard's waist. Once seated, I am wholly unable to resist studying the faces of those present, quite probably not unlike they studied me.

As at the feast last night, I feel small and out of place. I met then a few of those present here. Still others, in actuality almost all of the others, I have yet to make their acquaintance. Truly, quite an array is gathered, Men, Dwarves, and Elves. One Elf is a little different from the others I have seen here in Rivendell, his garments all in browns and greens. I wonder who he is? He carries himself with quiet self-assurance. Gloin, I know from Bilbo's stories and sharing dinner conversation with him the night before, as he was seated on my right at table. He seemed quite pleasant enough. There is Strider; Bilbo called him the Dúnadan. He looked more as one of the Elves last night. Today, he again appears in the role of a Ranger. The Dúnadan, I smile to myself remembering Bilbo getting after me for not knowing my Elvish better. Not a one of the other folk present are familiar, though one or two I may have seen at the feast, but I cannot remember. I fear my attention wandered when I turned my ear to the music woven by the Elves. In truth, I became quite lost in the vision it painted through my mind. I understand more deeply Bilbo's love for this wondrous place.

Lord Elrond begins to speak, interrupting my musings, his voice clear, solemn, and commanding. There is so much to take in, the strangers about me, the beauty all round me, and Elrond's words... What's that? He spoke my name. He wants me to bring forth the Ring. So soon?

Slipping down from my chair, I cross the vast expanse of floor. The distance seems nearly endless, with every eye on me. The Ring weighs heavy in my hand as I reach out and deliberately place it on the carved stone table. Fortunately, it is low enough; I do not need any help with the simple task given me. The once silent council fills now with hushed murmurs. Odd, I am reluctant to move away, but I must.

Returning to my place next to Gandalf, I settle into my seat once again. Relief floods over me; my part is done, at last. I find myself allowing the arrival of the merest of smiles. My eyes close, and my shoulders drop away from my ears. I breathe a sigh of peace. Peace at last...