The leaves fell delicately from the sky, landing with a soft sort of perfection at the Doctor's feet. Everything where they were seemed perfect. Light breeze and sunlight that seemed to flick through the trees in such a way that everyone who walked the city glowed. Even the stone chairs where he and Martha sat were comfortable.
It was almost enough to believe that the TARDIS's randomizer landed them somewhere nice. But after the horrible events that brought them here, he couldn't believe that anymore.
They sat as part of a circle, a council of people come to speak of the terrible things that were happening to their land. Through a series of unfortunate events—as it always was—they became part of this council.
The Doctor was, of course, fiddling with his sonic screwdriver and not nearly paying enough attention to the tall, crowned man with the pointy ears that stood and spoke to them.
"Strangers from distant lands, friends of old." He looked to the Doctor and Martha. "Visitors from other worlds. You have been summoned here to answer the threat of Mordor. Middle-Earth stands upon the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall."
"Do you really think they're going to unite?" Martha whispered to the Doctor. "They don't seem like the friendliest lot here."
The Doctor shook his head. "Can't say. Fear tends to unite people."
"And they're all afraid of that?"
"So it would appear."
"Listen and you'll probably find out."
The pointy-eared man continued. "Each race is bound to this fate--this one doom."
The Doctor rolled his eyes. "And I thought the Master was melodramatic."
"Bring forth the ring, Doctor."
The pointy-eared man---Elrond, unless the Doctor was completely mistaken---turned to look at where the Doctor was lounging in his stone chair. After a brief look that said, who, me? the Doctor hopped to his feet and waved at the council. The ring---acquired through the aforementioned unfortunate events---had been in the Doctor's pockets. He refused to let Martha even look too closely at it, said that the psychic wavelengths surrounding it were far too strong and might pull her in.
He placed it on the book sitting on the podium, perpendicular to the spine. It sat up straight. Funny, for something that was supposed to be so utterly terrifying, it sparkled in the faint sunlight and its shadow looked almost like a heart through the bended pages of the book.
Everyone in the council stared in awe.
A man sitting with those from the south spoke. "In a dream, I saw the eastern sky grow dark. But in the West a pale light lingered. A voice was crying: Your doom is near at hand."
"Oh, really." The Doctor sighed loudly, clearly unimpressed with the man's dramatic words. "It's probably just low-level psychic impressions from the mountain regions. That's what drew the TARDIS in."
Elrond's eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "Yes, Doctor, we have all been drawn in from the evil at Mount Doom."
"Mount Doom?" Martha barked. "Oh, you are kidding me!"
"Apparently not," the Doctor scratched the back of his head and resumed his seat.
"There is no joke," the man known as Gandalf said. "There is only danger."
"There can be joking in danger," the Doctor commented.
The return look from Gandalf was icy.
"It is a gift," the man from the south said, pressing his fingers to his lips in thought. "A gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring?"
Anxiously, possibly set off by the psychic power of the ring, the man began to pace. His strides were long as though he were a man more used to walking long distances than sitting for many hours in debate. "Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe! Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him!"
The Doctor spoke again, "Yeah, I don't think that's such a good---"
An older-looking man, the ranger who saved the Doctor and Martha earlier in their journey, interrupted. "You cannot wield it! None of us can. The One Ring answers to Sauron alone. It has no other master."
The man from Gondor put his hands on his hips and the Doctor believed he looked as though he might burst into a very Jack-like 'oh-no-you-diiin't! Instead he said, "And what would a ranger know of this matter?"
A very tall, very blonde man with pointy ears stood. The Doctor recognized him as the pointy-eared bloke Martha had been flirting with ridiculously earlier. The Doctor couldn't see why. He was so…pointy.
"This is no mere ranger," he said. "He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance."
"Aragorn?" the man from the south said. "This... is Isildur's heir?"
"Who's Isildur?" Martha muttered to the Doctor.
"Very like coming into an episode of Lost halfway, isn't it?" the Doctor agreed.
"You watch Lost?"
"Yes, but not after the second strike finished up. Was getting ridiculous by that point."
The elf continued speaking, "And heir to the throne of Gondor."
"That's where he's from, right?"
"Do you all need proper introductions?" Gandalf all but growled at them.
"Sit down, Legolas," Aragorn said with a sad sigh. Legolas---a pointy name, too!---returned to his seat, but the tension between him and the man from the south didn't vanish.
The man from the south shook his head and muttered, "Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king." He returned to his seat but his hands appeared to be shaking with fury. That worried the Doctor. The last thing they needed now was a riot within the ranks. Such as they were.
Gandalf stood. The man was ridiculously tall and whenever he stood it made the Doctor a little surlier. He hadn't been that short since his seventh incarnation.
"Aragorn is right. We cannot use it."
"You have only one choice," Elrond said.
"I don't like only having one choice," the Doctor muttered. "Not really 'choice', then, is it? It's more like 'responsibility', and I'm not a very responsibility-oriented individual."
Elrond narrowed his eyes at the Doctor but continued, "The Ring must be destroyed."
A very short but very burly man---not unlike a Graske with lots of hair---stood and grabbed his axe. "Then what are we waiting for?!"
The dwarf ran forward with a mighty roar and slammed his axe down on the ring with all of his strength. The full force of the psychic field around the ring propelled the dwarf back into his comrades and shattered his axe.
At the wave of psychic power, the Doctor felt the full psychic energy hit him and the sight of the underlying creature hit his mind. An eye. A lidless eye. Eternals were known to take a form that was terrifying should it need to frighten, and they possessed the psychic energy needed to create the force field. But why would an Eternal be in this part of the universe?
"Did you see that?" Martha hissed. The rest of the council gaped at the destroyed dwarven axe. There was nothing the Doctor had seen that was quite so powerful. Not since the Time War.
Elrond spoke next, his voice calm and unwavering. "The Ring cannot be destroyed, Gimli, son of Glóin, by any craft that we here possess. The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom. Only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came."
The ring seemed to whisper to them. Threaten them in tongues so old the TARDIS didn't even translate. The thought sent a shiver up the Doctor's spine. The council was silent.
"One of you must do this," Elrond stated, firmly.
The Doctor hopped to his feet. "I'll do it."
"Not volunteering again, are you?"
"So it would appear!"
The man from the south spoke. "One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates---"
"Oh, I don't intend on walking into Mordor!" the Doctor replied cheerfully. "I intend to materialize! Eldrond!" He turned to the elfin man. "Do you have exact coordinates to Mount Doom---ridiculous name for a mountain, by the way. Really, you're just asking for trouble."
"Being rude, Doctor." Martha chastised, getting to her feet as well.
Elrond nodded. "You must hold this course west of the Misty Mountains for forty days. If our luck holds, the Gap of Rohan will still be---"
"No, that's all right, we'll just wing it." The Doctor waved off Elrond and scooped up the ring. "Can't imagine it'll be too hard to rewire the TARDIS's trajectory systems to target on the heaviest psychic projections in the area."
"And you will go alone?" Elrond asked.
"No way, I'm going with him," Martha replied, sticking her hands on her hips. "Wha? Just cause I'm a woman I can't go?"
"Don't worry, Martha, I wouldn't dream of leaving you."
Aragorn stood. "You have my sword."
Followed by Legolas, "And my bow."
And the dwarf, "And my axe---"
"No offense, mate, but your axe is in a bunch of pieces, and this is really just going to take a few minutes, you're not going to need all of your weapons." The Doctor sighed and scratched his head.
"We will need confirmation of its destruction," the man from the south said.
"No faith?" the Doctor asked, grinning widely.
"Not in you, sir," the man from the south glared.
"Right-o. At least he's honest, right?" The Doctor hopped out of the council circle. "Come on, Martha! Can drop this off and then go back by that bloke Bilbo's house, shall we? I think he was putting on some tea when we left."
"Timey-wimey, Doctor?" Martha asked, bounding after him.
"Something like that." He waved back at the stunned council. "Don't worry, we'll be back! Bring you…a bit of the mountain or something." Aside, to Martha, he added: "Like every time I had to bring a magnet back to Sarah Jane to prove I went somewhere. Ridiculous, I tell you."
"We are coming back, though?"
The Doctor narrowed his eyes at her. "You just want to flirt with that pointy bloke again."
They headed over to the police box that sat rather majestically underneath a sparkling silver column. Several of the Halflings were crowding around it, poking at the wood and trying to figure out exactly what it was. Worse than children! The Doctor shooed them away and pushed the key into the TARDIS lock.
"Do you really think it'll be that easy?" Martha asked.
"Of course," he said. "What could go wrong?"
Martha glared at him. "After today, Doctor? Please don't ask me that."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who
Word Count: 1,815
With respect to JRR Tolkein…