The Mystery of the Eagles

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The Mystery of the Eagles

Postby whitelighter » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:07 pm

Based on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

setting: after the Council of Elrond, the hobbits hold a council of their own in Bilbo's room. It's anyone's guess what they discussed...

bold = borrowed from The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Ch. 3: 'The Ring Goes South'

Chapter 1

Bilbo sat at his desk, looking thoughtfully out his bedroom window. It was a cool, clear autumn evening. Perfect weather to go exploring, he thought. He wished that he was the one going on the adventure, and that Frodo could stay right here in the House of Elrond, where it was nice and safe. But the Council had decided otherwise. "Books ought to have good endings," he said. "How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after'?

'It will do well, if it ever comes to that,' said Frodo.

'Ah!' said Sam. 'And where will they live? That's what I often wonder.'
He was quiet for a moment. “Mr. Frodo,” he said presently, "there’s somethin’ that’s been puzzlin’ me. Ever since the Council. Wish I’d thought to ask old Gandalf just now.”

“What is it, Sam?” asked Frodo.

“Well, in the Council, Mr. Gandalf was telling us--I mean you--how the Eagle rescued him and all. Well, I've been thinking. Why couldn’t this lord of the Eagles - Gwahir, isn't that his name?"

"Yes, Gwahir the Windlord, " answered Frodo.

"Well, why couldn't Gwahir, or one of his Eagle warriors, just fly you to Mt. Doom? Seems like it'd save us quite a step.”

The others looked at Sam. The thought hadn’t occurred to any of them. For a moment, Frodo’s heart leapt at the thought that the journey that lay ahead might not be so dismal. But only for a moment. “Sam,” he said, his voice sinking back to reality, “give the Wise a little credit. I am sure they thought of that. If it were possible, don’t you think they would’ve discussed it in the Council?

”Well, I reckon’ so,” said Sam. “But it’s gonna to keep buggin' me till I figure it out.” There was a brief silence. Then Sam slapped his forehead. “Samwise, you fool!” he said. “The orcs would shoot the Eagle down in a minute. That’d leave us in a pickle, to say the least.”

“Sam, my lad,” said Bilbo. “Don’t you remember the tale I told you about me and the Dwarves being saved from the Wargs by the Eagles? Surely you remember how high Eagles can fly?” He cringed at the memory of clinging to the Eagle’s back watching the land pass by him far below. “No orc can shoot that high.”

“Oh, right," said Sam, feeling foolish. "I ought to have remembered that. Begging your pardon, Mr. Bilbo."

“In any event, Eagles don’t like to be told what to do,” Bilbo said. “They care little about what goes on down here with us land dwellers.. They only help when they see fit.”

“But if they were willing to do as Radagast asked,” said Merry, chiming in, “and do Gandalf a favor or two, it seems they'd be glad to help us if with this one task if Gandalf deemed it so important, regardless of whose side they're on. It don't see what harm it would do to ask.”

”And how do you propose to do that?” asked Pippin, piping up for the first time. “Their eyries are high up on the other side of the mountains and they seldom come down save for food. If one should happen to fly above, us are we to hail it down somehow?"

“Well..." said Merry. “I hadn't thought of that." Now Merry was the one who felt foolish. "Maybe Gandalf could shoot up some flares with his wand. One of the Eagles is certain to notice."

"Merry, my dear lad," said Bilbo, "You're forgetting what Pippin just said. We're on the wrong side of the mountains. The Eagles’ eyries are on the east side. The Dwarves and I were just lucky that the glade where we got chased into the trees by the Wargs happened to be right below one." Bilbo shook his head and sighed. "You two really should listen more closely next time I tell a tale," he said, frowning at Sam and Merry. "You might learn a thing or two."

To be continued....
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Postby whitelighter » Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:00 pm

Chapter 2

“Perhaps Gandalf or Elrond can summon the Eagles,” Merry suggested.

“I know Gandalf cannot,” said Frodo. “If he could, he would have summoned one when Saruman first took him captive.”

“Saruman took Gandalf captive??” asked Pippin.

"When was this?" Merry quickly added.

“Never mind about that right now,” said Frodo. “But, no, I’m afraid Gandalf cannot summon the Eagles. I am not certain about Elrond, but if Gandalf cannot, I doubt Elrond can either. Radagast the Brown is the only one I know for certain has that power. He’s one of Gandalf’s order, and has some sort of bond with animals and birds. But at any rate, I don’t think anyone knows where he is--somewhere back east, I expect.”

“Well,” said Sam, “that there’s your answer, I guess. We wouldn’t have no way of getting word to them, nohow.”

"No,” said Bilbo. “Surely Gandalf and Elrond could send someone to look for Radagast. And the Beornings can talk to birds and animals... we could ask them to send a bird with a message for the Eagles. Or how about the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain? They talk to the Ravens (or they used to), who could likewise be trusty messengers.”

“Of course, even if an Eagle cannot be shot down by orcs," Pippin said thoughtfully, "in the sky it is sure to attract attention, giant as it is. No doubt Sauron would spot it in the length of time it would take the Eagle to fly Frodo from Rivendell to Mordor. A giant Eagle heading straight toward Mordor might even give away the plan to destroy the Ring.”

There was a heavy silence in the air.“That is a good point, Pippin" Merry said, "And yet, I don't see why we couldn’t meet the Eagles just outside the mountains that surround Mordor. One of them could fly Frodo to Mt. Doom from there. I doubt Sauron looks over his own land often if it’s protected by mountains. Sam's idea might not be so crazy, after all."

"And he would have far less time to spot us if an Eagle flew me to Mt. Doom than if I walked,” Frodo agreed.

“Exactly how long would it take the Eagle to fly that distance?” asked Pippin.

“Well, let me see now,” said Merry. “There are two different mountain chains: the Ered Lithui, or Ash Mountains, to the north, and the Ephel Duath, or Mountains of Shadow, to the west.” He had been reading up on geography during his stay at Rivendell. “The Dark Tower stands between the Ered Lithui and Mt. Doom, so I doubt we’d want to use that route. We’d do best to start out from the Ephel Duath. They lie about a hundred miles west of Mt. Doom, I’d judge.”

“Why, I should think an Eagle could make that journey in just over an hour,” said Bilbo.

“And how long would it take travel the same distance on foot?” Sam asked.

“Well, the Gorgoroth Plateau lies between the Ephel Duath and Mt. Doom,” said Merry. “The land is probably very rugged, which would make travelling slow. It would take several days to walk across, I fear. And on the ground, there would be no escape from orcs, whereas an Eagle could most likely carry Frodo to Mt. Doom unhindered. ”

"This notion of walking that whole distance is starting to seem plain silly if you ask me," muttered Sam.

To be continued...
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Postby whitelighter » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:13 pm

Chapter 3

“Of course," said Pippin, "even as swiftly as they can fly, an Eagle in the sky would still be quite more visible than a four hobbits travelling by land.” For some reason, he felt certain that enlisting the Eagles' aid would be disastrous. "On land, we could at least sneak from cover to cover, and quickly hide ourselves if spotted. An Eagle, on the other hand, would have nowhere to hide"

“But why should Sauron even care about an Eagle, especially if a war were going on?” asked Frodo. “And unless he were looking closely, he likley wouldn’t notice someone riding it.”

“Maybe he’d sense the Ring somehow,” said Pippin.

“Yes, I feared that as well,” Frodo admitted. "But this was not brought up in the Council. Gandalf has chiefly warned me against using the Ring. But even if he did sense it, what could he do about it in such little time?”

“He’d send orcs to Mt. Doom to stop you, no doubt, or some other vile creature of his,” Pippin replied.

“How would he get his troops to Mt. Doom before the Eagles, even if he spotted us right away?” replied Frodo.

"Well, maybe he has orcs stationed along the road that leads to the Cracks of Doom," answered Pippin.

"Even if he does," said Frodo, "I doubt they'd be armed. Most likely those orcs would be there to work--to keep the road passable--not to fight."

“Well then...maybe he has orcs stationed atop the encircling mountains,” said Pippin, undaunted. "Eagles passing above would almost certainly be within shooting range from such a high spot."

“Why would Sauron have orcs stationed on top of the mountains?” Frodo asked. “The mountains themselves act as protection. I think that was one of the reasons Sauron chose the land as his stronghold to begin with.”

To that, Pippin had no reply.

“Maybe…” Merry began slowly, an idea forming, “it’s as simple as this: as we have seen, the Eagles are willing to do Gandalf and a few others a favor two, but they may not like to intervene too directly in the affairs of Middle-Earth. Maybe they are even forbidden to do so. It is said by some in the Shire that the Eagles are actually divine servants. Perhaps their mission is simply to watch over Middle-Earth and guide its inhabitants, not to be guardians."

“My stories didn't make much impression on you at all, did they?" asked Bilbo, exasperated. "I’d say the Eagles intervened quite directly in the Battle of Five Armies, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh yes, of course,” said Merry apologetically. “I had forgotten about that, too.”

“Well, suppose,” said Pippin after much pondering, "the Eagle decided to keep the Ring for himself."

"And just where would an Eagle wear it?" asked Merry, determined to keep some dignity. "On his talon?”

Pippin thought for a moment. Though not entirely persuaded, he saw how ridiculous this notion was. “Just maybe," he began again slowly, "the Eagle would fall under the spell of the Ring, and instead of taking Frodo to Mt. Doom, would fly him straight to the Dark Tower."

They all shuddered at the thought. But Bilbo quickly chimed in. “No," he said. "I very much doubt that, Pippin. The Ring has power over its bearer, that’s for certain, but I’ve never heard it said that it has power over itse bearer’s bearer. And even if it does, look how long it took before it started to take hold of me. Why, I had the thing with me for over sixty years. Much of the time I even had it in my pocket. I doubt very much the Ring would affect an Eagle in little more than an hour.”

For a spell, the hobbits were silent. “I’ll ask Gandalf about it tonight,” Frodo said finally. “I am still weary from the Council.”

“You know, Frodo,” said Bilbo, “maybe you oughtn’t to ask him. Say this plan of yours works and you get the task done just like that. Then you’d only have a few chapters to add to the book.”

“Very funny, Uncle Bilbo,” said Frodo. He wasn't laughing. “If the Eagles can’t help us, then I shall be lucky to live to write about any of it.”

“I was only teasing, Frodo my lad,” said Bilbo. He didn’t show it, but the old hobbit was desperately worried for Frodo. He loved his nephew dearly, and thought some humor might cheer him up. But it didn’t seem to work.

To be continued...
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Postby whitelighter » Tue Nov 22, 2011 4:23 pm

Chapter 4 coming soon!
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Re: The Mystery of the Eagles

Postby whitelighter » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:35 pm

Chapter 4 coming soon!
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Re: The Mystery of the Eagles

Postby whitelighter » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:43 pm

Chapter 4

It was late in the evening, and the others had already gone upstairs, when Frodo found Gandalf sitting on the porch above the River Bruinen. He was smoking his pipe and appeared deep in thought. “Frodo,” he said when he saw the hobbit. “You should be in bed resting. You are not fully healed yet, you know.”

“I know,” replied Frodo, “And I shall go to bed shortly, but there is something that has been troubling me all evening that I wanted to speak to you about.”

“Well sit down and tell me what it is,” said Gandalf.

Frodo sat down beside the Wizard. “This afternoon in the Council,” he began “you told us about how Gwahir the Windlord rescued you from Orthanc.”

“Yes,” replied Gandalf, his expression unreadable.

“Well, the other hobbits and I were wondering why Gwahir—or one of his Eagle warriors—couldn’t just fly me from Rivendell to Mt. Doom. Or if that is too far, why they couldn’t fly me to Mt. Doom from just oustide the mountains that encircle the Black Land.”

Gandalf did not answer immediately. He took a puff from his pipe and blew the smoke out in tiny rings. “And did you come up with an answer?” he asked after a moment.

“Well, no,” answered Frodo. “We talked about it all afternoon and couldn’t think of a single reason why this plan wouldn’t work.”

Again, the Wizard was silent. “And you may be right,” he said after another moment.

This was not the answer Frodo expected. “Then,” he said, “I am afraid I don’t understand.”

“You may be right,” repeated Gandalf. “There may be no reason to think the plan wouldn’t work. But there is a more important question, Frodo: Can we be certain that it would work?"

Frodo looked puzzled. “Well,” he answered, “I should think that an Eagle could fly me to Mt. Doom without being noticed. Sauron probably doesn’t look over his own land often, as it is protected by mountains. He would most likely be looking toward the Black Gate, particularly if there is a war is going on.”

“We don’t know where he would be looking,” explained Gandalf. “That is what we hope.”

“But he would have a good deal less time to spot us if an Eagle flew me to Mt. Doom than if we walked the distance,” Frodo protested .

“Our goal is to never be spotted, not give him less time to spot us,” Gandalf replied.

“But what could Sauron do in so little time, even if he did spot us?” asked Frodo, determined not to understand. “Eagles can fly so swiftly—both you and Bilbo said so. He would have scarce time to act.”

“I would not be too certain of that,” answered Gandalf. “In Gondor, it is said that Sauron has the power to govern storms along the mountains that border his land.* Some say this is an old wives’ tale and they may be right, but then again, they may not. On the ground, one could seek shelter from a thuderstorm, but in the air, an Eagle would be no protection at all. One lightning bolt could strike you both down and that would be the end of the Quest. I would not put you, or the Quest, at such a risk unless I saw no other choice, and I am not certain the Eagles would risk it, either.”

Frodo thought about this for a moment. “But why would Sauron even care if he saw an Eagle flying over his land,” he asked eventually, “especially now that he will likely be at war soon? It seems to me an Eagle would be the least of his worries.”

“Have you ever heard the tale of the War of Wrath?” asked Gandalf.

Frodo shook his head.

“Well, it is a long tale, and it is getting late,” said Gandalf, “but I will tell you just this: at the end of the First Age, the Elves and the Elder Gods (who are called the Valar) were at war with Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, of whom Sauron was but a servant. They were trying to free Morgoth’s slaves, both Elves and men. They drove him into his mighty fortress of Angband. In a final attempt to remain in power, Morgoth took refuge in the tower’s innermost recesses, and set forth his armies.”

“The Eagles helped the Elves and the Valar to defeat Morgoth’s armies. When Angband was destroyed, Morgoth was found hiding deep within. The Valar captured him and cast him out into the Void, and that is where he remains. Sauron was forced to surrender to the Valar, and it was not until many years later, when the Rings of Power were created, that he began to regain much of his strength”**

“So I would not be so certain that an Eagle would be the least of his worries, even if he did not realize what the Eagle bore. One Eagle, of course, would likely not seem a threat, but we must not assume that he would discount it.”

Frodo found it difficult to absorb all of this, but he knew he was running out of arguments.“What if there is no way into Mordor on foot?” he asked finally.

Gandalf set his pipe down and lay his hand on the hobbit’s shoulder. “Frodo,” he assured the hobbit, “you mustn’t question the words of a Wizard. If I tell you something is possible then it is possible.” Gandalf looked Frodo in the eye. Just then, something in the Wizard’s face conveyed a new thought to Frodo: perhaps Gandalf had, in fact, spoken to the Eagles, and was planning to seek their aid, but only as a last resort if the ground approach proved too perilous. If his guess was right, Frodo knew that Gandalf would not speak of it, even to him; he also knew that he likely would never find out. It was impossible to read the Wizard’s mind. He did know better than to ask Gandalf about it aloud, so he said nothing. The two sat quietly, listening to the sound of the Bruinen far below.

“Do you see, now, Frodo,” Gandalf asked after a brief spell, “why we cannot be too hasty in seeking the Eagles’ aid?”

“I think so,” said Frodo slowly. A bit of unspoken communication passed between the hobbit and the Wizard.

“I admit, I was tempted,” said Gandalf. “Should such a plan succeed, it would certainly make our journey much easier and speedier. But Sauron has many powers, some of which we are not aware. Don’t you understand?”

“Yes, I do now,” Frodo answered.

“I thought you would,” said Gandalf. “You are wiser than you appear, Frodo. Not everyone would, you know. Some would still say it is folly not to go straight to the Eagles when the chances of being spotted are so slim and the perils of land travel are so great. But they are forgetting how important secrecy is to the Quest.”

Could an Eagle fly you to Mt. Doom safely? Possibly. But we only have one chance at this and we must not fail. Thus, we must put secrecy above all else."

The music of the Bruinen continued to echo in Frodo’s ears. He thought he saw a gleam in the Wizard’s eye.

“And secrecy,” Gandalf concluded, almost in a whisper, “means no Eagles.”


*The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter 3: ‘The Ring Goes South’
**The Silmarillian
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