The autumn colors filled Rivendell with beauty. Samwise had spent the past several days lodging with the elves, admiring the architecture and the grand waterfall as he prepared for his award presentation.
But now the time had come, and Sam stood before the growing crowd upon Rivendell’s widest terrace, overlooking the waterfall. The calm sound of rushing water soothed his anxious nerves, while Hobbits, Elves, Humans and some Dwarfs found seats, eager to see for themselves who the winner of this year’s Most Faithful Friend Silmaril would be.
He spotted friendly faces among the crowd: Frodo, Merry and Pippin. (He really hopped Pippin wouldn’t make any trouble this year). There were unfamiliar faces too, like those of the nominees.
Sam coughed to clear his throat and made his way to center stage.
“Welcome, fellow citizens of Middle Earth,” Sam began (he’d been trying different versions of that opening all week, and it still didn’t sound right. But oh well). “And welcome those from neighboring worlds, who’ve come such a very long way to be here. Namely, our nominees.”
He nodded to each of them as the crowd clapped. “Miss Iko, Walter Foley, Miss Rosie, Carthage and Huxley. Thank you for traveling such a long way. I surely hope Middle Earth has been to your liking, so far!”
The nominees gave smiles and bowed their heads. Though one of them, Carthage, had a metal bird on his shoulder and a strange creature resembling an oliphant by his side.
“An oliphant!” Legolas pointed out.
“Oh no. There’d better not be a repeat of last year,” Aragorn groaned, palm to his face.
“My dear sir, this is an elephant. Not a…whatever you just said,” spoke Carthage, looking almost offended.
Aragorn raised an eyebrow, unable to see the difference. “Just keep a tight reign on the beast, will you?”
Carthage sniffed, but did put a firm hand to the beast’s trunk. The creature seemed bored and restless, shifting its large feet about.
“The competition for Most Faithful Friend was somethin’ fierce this year,” Sam continued. “The winner came out ahead of the rest by only four mere votes!” He cleared his throat again. “And now the time has come to announce which such person is the winner.”
Sam lifted his chin, letting his voice carry over the terrace and around decorative columns.
“Fifth place goes to Huxley!”
Huxley started, then made a frustrated sound. “Drat. I thought for sure I had this in the bag.”
“Fourth place is Carthage!”
Carthage turned a grin to his friend, Huxley, who pouted back in return. “I guess we know who is better than who, now. I told you, I’m a creative genius and the most faithful friend you could ever have.”
Huxley rolled his eyes. “Make that bird stop pecking my ear.”
“Third place is Rosie!”
Rosie nodded, pleased to not be the last.
“And second place is…” Sam paused for dramatic effect, scanning his eyes over the crowd. “Walter Foley! Which means Miss Iko is our winner!”
Applause resounded, almost outmatching the rumbling waterfall.
“Me? It’s really me?” Iko stammered. She rolled forward on her android wheels, metal arms shaking.
“I say, whoever made that was a genius! I’d like to learn from him,” mused Carthage, eyeing the android’s model and joints as she went to Sam on the stage.
Sam blinked, never having seen such a metal contraption before, let alone one that was alive.
“Here you are, Miss. The Most Faithful Friend Silmaril.” Sam took the medal from the box Frodo held for him, and he placed it around Iko’s short, metal neck.
“Ooh…so shiny…!” Iko admired the green gemstone.
A bird croaked, and suddenly the medallion lifted off of Iko’s chest.
Everyone gasped and started, as a strange mechanical bird had grabbed the silmaril in its beak and now flew away from the terrace.
“I told you not to bring that wretched bird!” Huxley berated his friend.
“Wait! Come back here!” Carthage chased after the bird. “Do what I order you to do, for once, will you?”
But the bird sailed over the terrace balustrade, hovering just above the waterfall drop, the silmaril dangling precariously from its beak.
“Come back, my little friend. Come back over here,” Carthage motioned and coaxed. But the bird didn’t even look at him.
Instead, it was Cinder who jumped onto the balustrade, reached out quickly, and snatched the silmaril away.
“I got it! I–”
Cinder lost her balance. And fell. Plunging down toward the depths of the waterfall.
People shrieked and cried out.
Iko’s gears hummed, and the little android leaped into the air. A pair of whirring propellers sprouted from her metal back, and she flew down with all the speed her programming could muster.
She approached Cinder’s falling form. Cinder reached out her hand. Iko’s metal fingers grasped hers.
And Cinder’s fall came to a halt.
“Most faithful friend, indeed. You’ve always been the best of the best, dear Iko,” said Cinder.
“Likewise!” Iko said, a smile in her voice.
She gripped Cinder under the arms and hoisted her up, flying back to the wide Rivendell terrace.
The crowd applauded, much relieved. And Carthage finally grabbed his bird, stuffing it away in his coat.
“First an oliphant. And now a bird?” said Aragorn. “Can we never have an ordinary ceremony?”
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the ceremony. 🙂 Be sure and see the official website for the full schedule and links to the other silmaril awards hosts at www.silmarilawards.com.
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