Fandom: The Magnificent Seven - a Fantasy AU
Pairing: Ezra Standish/Vin Tanner
Rating: R (to be on the safe side, probably just PG)
Disclaimer: Tolkien wrote the book. Jackson made the movie. And I rewrote the movie so it would fit 7 magnificent guys. 'The Magnificent Seven' are based on 'The Seven Samurai', their characters' names belong to Mirisch and Trilogy, the faces to the actors, and I'm haunted by muses looking like them. I don't make money, ... :-(
Notes: I use and mix up names and places from both LotR and M7 very freely. Also I mix up American and British spelling.
Thank you A.J., Valentine and AJ for beta-reading - any mistakes still there are mine. And to Steel for encouragement.
Summary: There is that evil thingy that seven men (and Elves!) - sigh, okay - that seven 'males' are elected to throw into a volcano. ;-)
Challenge: the September 2002 AU Challenge; Myths and Legends Come to Life - Move your characters into a world populated by myths.
Orrin Travis, Lord of Fourcorners took a deep breath. Finally the council had assembled. It wasn't a large council, Orrin had hoped that more would heed his call, yet not one Dwarf had shown his face. Still among those assembled were fierce warriors and magicians and Orrin felt the power that lay among them. He knew what had to be done, and he knew also that a small group of determined Men - and Elves - could do it... as far as it was possible at all.
But how to choose and whom to choose, he had no way of knowing. He hoped that this council would bring an answer. Though it seemed doubtful right now.
Orrin looked over to where a group of Elves stood, aloof as always, not mixing with mere Men. Only one Elf sat apart, actually he was the only one already seated. His auburn hair - worn in the short fashion of Men, unlike the floating manes of his kinsmen emphasized his slightly pointed ears. A set of pale green eyes met Orrin's gaze briefly before its owner, too, went back to studying the rest of the council. Next to the unusual Elf stood a Ranger, his long wavy hair hinting at his mixed heritage, which his ears would not betray. Those two were loners, close only to each other, neither truly fitting anywhere. The Ranger because of who he was and the Elf because of who he chose to be.
Sapphire eyes flashed a greeting and the Lord of Fourcorners nodded, surpressing a smile. There was little that escaped those two.
Resuming the scrutiny of his visitors Orrin frowned inwardly when he realized that not only the Elves stood apart, there was no mingling among the Humans, either. Those who had come together stood together; their banners proudly presented for anyone to see.
There were the Woses, their dark skin singling them out much more than their colourful feather and leaf accented clothes. Opposite to them stood the Reynchers, their dislike of Elves and Woses plainly shown on their faces.
There were other groups as well, but Orrin knew instinctively that they would not be of importance in the great scheme of things. They never had been before, probably never would be. He knew that, just as he knew that the ones being able to influence the future would be the men standing alone amidst the council.
His gaze fell on Captain Crystan Larabee, firstborn of the Lord of Gondor. He had come alone, set out to find help, allies - for his people were the first on the frontline against Sauron and his army of Orcs. He was dressed entirely in black, including his sheath. Only the silver tree of Gondor on his sleeves and his shield broke this pattern, though the silver did nothing to lessen the menace he was radiating.
Not far from the captain stood a bear of a man, the well-known Wizard, Josiah the Grey. A hermit most of the time, often enough he was suddenly found in the middle of things. Some were as important as this meeting, while others were simple situations like a tavern brawl. It was said that he spoke with crows and that they were his spies, but when asked he would simply smile and remain silent.
And then there was Jeidy, fifth son of Count Dunne, burdened with an artefact so powerful and evil that no one in their right minds would want to possess it. Unfortunately most people tended to lose their mind when confronted with this piece of jewelry.
It had been in the Dunne family for generations. Once found it had never been carried for long by any family members, for everyone knew of its ability to render a person invisible, and wanting it was deemed improper. To wear it, and as such to use it, was dishonourable and the Dunnes had always been most noble. So it had been put aside, almost forgotten.
But when the Evil of Mordor awoke again and the legends of the Rings of Power suddenly became crucial knowledge, the search for the One Ring began.
It was due to Orrin's own research that they had found it, and he had told Johndan Dunne what kind of threat was in his possession as soon as possible. Unwilling to be drawn into a battle of any kind the count had just sent one of his bastard sons to bring the Ring to Fourcorners.
A grin spreading over Jeidy's face drew Orrin's attention to the man talking to the young one. Bucklin Wilmington, guardian and mentor of the boy, a mighty warrior whose axe had yet to fail.
"Maybe we should all come to an end with our private conversations and change this assembly of royalty, sorcerers and worthy people into the council it is supposed to be." The smooth Elven voice rang out over the place stopping the murmurs.
More than one Lord and Lady looked aghast at the short-haired Elf, but Orrin also noted supporting nods from Larabee, Josiah and - to his surprise - from Wilmington.
"Ezra is right. I have called you here for a reason and our time is running out," Orrin said before anyone could give the Elf a word or two about his place among this group.
Not that Ezra would have cared for such things anyway; he had made his own place - just beside the Ranger.
One by one the group leaders and the loners sat down in the inner circle that Orrin had provided. Then silence fell and everyone looked at the Lord of Fourcorners expectantly.
"Jeidy, bring forth the Ring." With a wink he guided the young man to a stony table that stood before him where Jeidy obediently placed the Ring.
A gasp went through the assembled group as one by one they realized what this small piece of jewelry must be.
"This is the Ring of Power, the One Ring. It must never fall into the hands of Sauron or all shall be lost. Yet it cannot stay here for my powers are not enough to withhold it from Sauron should he send his army against us. We must now decide what to do with it." Having said his part Orrin leaned back to watch the proceedings.
For a moment nobody seemed inclined to speak up, but then one voice started and soon the air was buzzing from suggestions, questions and counter-questions. While some ideas were foolish - like hiding it in a temple or burying it in the Forest-of-Doom - others were not, since they wanted the Ring destroyed, and this was the only real option they had as far as Orrin was concerned.
"The question should be asked why we don't use the Ring and its power against Sauron." Though Ezra hadn't spoken overly loud his words had everyone turn silent and looking inquiringly at the Lord of Fourcorners.
It was that sudden silence and the looks that told Orrin that almost everyone had wondered about that, and he understood why Ezra had spoken. The question had to be answered and the idea to use the Ring had to be destroyed before it could fester in somebody's soul.
"That is a good question," Bucklin muttered.
And Crystan nodded his approval, adding: "I was about to ask that myself. If the Ring has so much power, why not use it? Surely there are enough sorcerers among you who would know how to use that power?"
Orrin shook his head, but it was Josiah who spoke.
"The Ring is of great evil. There might be some among us who would be able to tap into its power, but after a while it would not be us using the Ring but the Ring using us. Everyone who ever wore it for more than a short time became a follower of Sauron. The ringbearer must not even use its magic, just to carry it has changed more than one great warrior. The Ring is Sauron's and his alone, as Sauron is bound to the Ring the Ring is bound to him."
"You cannot believe I would side with Sauron, no matter what power hides within that thing!" Waves of anger poured from Larabee as he stood and walked towards the table. Everyone knew that he remembered his wife and son dying in the first surprise attack of Sauron's army.
"Not willingly, no," Orrin said soothingly, but the fire in the warrior's eyes didn't bank down.
"Nor unwillingly, never!"
"Maybe not. But the ire and pain in you would be like a feast for the Ring." The Elf's calm voice caught Larabee's attention, he whirled around, hand on the hilt of his sword.
"The Ring would strengthen your hate until it consumed you. You might still be fighting Sauron, but with means not fitting for a Captain of Gondor. You would become a Dark Lord yourself, driving your men without mercy, not caring if they were killed. There would only be your revenge, everything else reduced to a dim memory lost in the shadows of your mind."
A chill went over the place, the image standing frighteningly clear between the assembled men.
"You sound sure," Crystan said quietly, the fury controled but still there.
"I am certain that this piece of jewelry is too dangerous to be used by anyone, might he be sorcerer or warrior, noble or not. It has to be destroyed."
"I thought you were on our side?" Wilmington asked. "You wanted to use it, too."
"I never said that," Ezra retorted. "It was just my opinion that everyone should know 'why' we cannot use it."
"There is another point to consider," the Ranger said. "If it were decided to use the Ring, who should take it?"
The sudden quiet was almost deafening, as everyone waited for somebody to speak up. But the Ranger hadn't finished. "It would divide our forces, for everyone would want the power the Ring holds and would not accept any other Lord to get it. It has to be taken away from the hands of Men and Elves as well as Sauron's."
"And why do you care, Tanner?" Buck asked - though the Ranger had helped him and Jeidy to get here, he still wasn't sure he trusted him. "Your kind doesn't concern itself with the battles of Men, you hide in your forests and mountains. And it's unlikely that anyone would consider you, only one of noble blood could be chosen for such a task."
"And that he is," Ezra said sharply, pale green eyes staring coldly at the warrior. "In his veins flows the blood of kings. He's as noble as anyone here, nobler than some."
"So?" Wilmington didn't believe it. "And who would he be, the Prince of the Wood?" he asked sarcastically.
"No, that would be me," the Elf replied with a shallow grin. "He's Vinterrin, son of Aragorn."
At that Crystan Larabee gasped in shock. His green-blue gaze bore into the Ranger's eyes, seeking the truth, seeking confirmation for this statement.
Vinterrin only nodded, it was Ezra who answered the silent question aloud. "Yes, he is the heir to the throne of Gondor."
At that Buck retreated several steps, mumbling an apology.
Captain Larabee did no such thing. Instead he straightened and glared at the Elf. "Gondor doesn't need a king!" Crystan told Ezra and everyone. "Gondor needs an army!" With that he returned to his seat but didn't sit down.
Silence ruled the place once again.
Until Orrin decided to return to the main topic. "It should have become clear that the Ring must be destroyed. I'm sure you all agree with me."
Everyone nodded, but it was obvious that many did it only reluctantly, especially the Reynchers didn't look convinced.
Wilmington shook his head, his blunder with the Ranger already pushed from his memory. "You mean to say the boy and I went through all that shit, like Black Riders hunting us, nearly drowning in a river, Jeidy nearly getting killed and so on, just so that now you can destroy that thing? I can't believe that!"
"Haven't you heard what Josiah and Ezra said? The Ring is evil," Jeidy put in.
"I heard that. I just don't understand why Lord Travis didn't just say so to your father and have it done?" the guardian replied. "Why not just hack it into pieces?" And with that Buck grabbed his axe and walked towards the table.
"I hope you have a second axe with you," Ezra commented, but Wilmington ignored him.
Swiftly he lifted the axe and let it fall. There was something like lightning before his eyes and then the warrior knew nothing more.
When Buck returned to consciousness he found himself several feet away from the table on the ground, his axe broken. The Ring still on the table - unscathed.
"I cannot believe it! My axe!" he whined.
"I warned you," Ezra said, as Vin helped Buck to his feet.
"As you all have seen the Ring cannot be destroyed by weapons made by Men or Elves or Dwarves. It can only be destroyed where it was created. In the fires of Mount Doom."
"That is within Mordor. It's near Sauron's stronghold." Larabee shook his head. "You couldn't get there with ten thousand men."
Orrin nodded. "No, an army would never get there. But a small band of men might. Sauron will not expect that. What we need is someone to take this quest upon him."
"Or her." It was the first time that Orrin's daughter had spoken and everyone looked at her surprised. She stepped in front of her father and said calmly: "I will do it, father. I know it has to be done and I can fight as good as the next man."
"I know you can." Orrin took Marie's hand and sighed. "But your son needs you. He has already lost his father, he shall not lose his mother, too. Not when there is another way. Is there not someone among you brave enough to dare that task?"
"I will," Jeidy's voice carried easily over the murmurs of the Lords and Ladies.
Orrin looked at him. "You will?"
"No, he will not!" Buck grabbed his protégé and shook him. "Are you out of your mind?"
The young man freed himself and stood proudly before the council. "My father told me to take the Ring to a safe place. I promised to do that. We thought it would be Fourcorners, but since it is not, it is my task to take it wherever it needs to be taken." He turned to Orrin.
"I will go to Mordor. But I don't know the way." The last was said with a small, embarrassed grin.
"So be it." Orrin accepted the young man's offer graciously, certain that now others would step forward to accompany him.
"I'll go with you, son," Josiah said promptly, "you won't have to bear that burden on your own."
"He isn't alone," Wilmington stated, "he's with me. Someone has to keep an eye on him."
"Thank you, Buck." Jeidy smiled gratefully up at his friend and guardian.
To everyone's surprise a Wose separated from his group and came over, the green feathers around his neck qualifying him as a healer. "I'm Naithan. My people live close to where your path will lead you, so I know the area well. And you might need a healer, the roads are dangerous."
"Not to mention that you'd like to see for yourself that the Ring was destroyed and not taken by someone who's not a friend." Ezra's comment had the Wose glaring at him, but the Elf wasn't intimidated.
Crystan Larabee shared a long look with Vinterrin, wondering where his duty lay. As captain of the army of Gondor he should be with his kinsmen, but if Sauron's power stood and fell with the Ring, then to destroy it might be his true duty. Then the Ranger nodded towards the Ring, and Crys knew what he had to do. He stepped forward and unsheathed his sword.
"With my sword and my life I will protect you on this quest," he said to Jeidy, bowing slightly, one noble man to another.
"Thank you." Jeidy blushed. Then the young man looked at the Ranger who had also come closer.
"My bow and sword are yours."
Behind him Ezra left his seat and wandered over to his friend. "I believe this will become a magnificent tale of which the grandchildren of our grandchildren may still speak, it wouldn't seem right if the heroes were only Humans. An Elf should be there to tell the tale properly when it is fullfilled."
When it was obvious that no one else would step forward Orrin rose from his seat and smiled at the group that had assembled around the table.
"Seven is a good number, a magical number. May it protect you. You have an enormous and dangerous task before you, but while it may seem impossible to some, I know it can be done. It can be done by a small, yet magnificent band of men, and that is what you are. You are the Fellowship of the Ring."
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