The Silmarillion - Page 282
Now by fortune and his vigilance Mithrandir first learned of the Ring, ere Sauron had news of it; yet he was dismayed and in doubt. For too great was the evil power of this thing for any of the Wise to wield, unless like Curunir he wished himself to become a tyrant and a dark lord in his turn; but neither could it be concealed from Sauron for ever, nor could it be unmade by the craft of the Elves. Therefore with the help of the Dunedain of the North Mithrandir set a watch upon the land of the Periannath and bided his time. But Sauron had many ears, and soon he heard rumour of the One Ring, which above all things he desired, and he sent forth the Nazgul to take it. Then war was kindled, and in battle with Sauron the Third Age ended even as it had begun.
But those who saw the things that were done in that time, deeds of valour and wonder, have elsewhere told the tale of the War of the Ring, and how it ended both in victory unlocked for and in sorrow long foreseen. Here let it be said that in those days the Heir of Isildur arose in the North, and he took the shards of the sword of Elendil, and in Imladris they were reforged; and he went then to war, a great captain of Men. He was Aragorn son of Arathorn, the nine and thirtieth heir in the right line from Isildur, and yet more like to Elendil than any before him. Battle there was in Rohan, and Curunir the traitor was thrown down and Isengard broken; and before the City of Gondor a great field was fought, and the Lord of Morgul, Captain of Sauron, there passed into darkness; and the Heir of Isildur led the host of the West to the Black Gates of Mordor.
In that last battle were Mithrandir, and the sons of Elrond, and the King of Rohan, and lords of Gondor, and the Heir of Isildur with the Dunedain of the North. There at the last they looked upon death and defeat, and all their valour was in vain; for Sauron was too strong. Yet in that hour was put to the proof that which Mithrandir had spoken, and help came from the hands of the weak when the Wise faltered. For, as many songs have since sung, it was the Periannath, the Little People, dwellers in hillsides and meadows, that brought them deliverance.
For Frodo the Halfling, it is said, at the bidding of Mithrandir took on himself the burden, and alone with his servant he passed through peril and darkness and came at last in Sauron’s despite even to Mount Doom; and there into the Fire where it was wrought he cast the Great Ring of Power, and so at last it was unmade and its evil consumed.
Then Sauron failed, and he was utterly vanquished and passed away like a shadow of malice; and the towers of Barad-dur crumbled in ruin, and at the rumour of their fall many lands trembled. Thus peace came again, and a new Spring opened on earth; and the Heir of Isildur was crowned King of Gondor and Arnor, and the might of the Dunedain was lifted up and their glory renewed. In the courts of Minas Anor the White Tree flowered again, for a seedling was found by Mithrandir in the snows of Mindolluin that rose tall and white above the City of Gondor; and while it still grew there the Elder Days were not wholly forgotten in the hearts of the Kings.
Now all these things were achieved for the most part by the counsel and vigilance of Mithrandir, and in the last few days he was revealed as a lord of great reverence, and clad in white he rode into battle; but not until the time came for him to depart was it known that he had long guarded the Red Ring of Fire. At the first that Ring had been entrusted to Cirdan, Lord of the Havens; but he had surrendered it to Mithrandir, for he knew whence he came and whither at last he would return.
‘Take now this Ring,’ he said; ‘for thy labours and thy cares will be heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness. For this is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the valour of old in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores, guarding the Havens until the last ship sails. Then I shall await thee.’
White was that ship and long was it a-building, and long it awaited the end of which Cirdan had spoken. But when all these things were done, and the Heir of Isildur had taken up the lordship of Men, and the dominion of the West had passed to him, then it was made plain that the power of the Three Rings also was ended, and to the Firstborn the world grew old and grey. In that time the last of the Noldor set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth for ever. And latest of all the Keepers of the Three Rings rode to the Sea, and Master Elrond took there the ship that Cirdan had made ready. In the twilight of autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.