In Middle-Earth, there is no union so sacred as the bond of friendship between a dwarf and an elf. When Legolas died, Elrond assumed his responsibility for Gimli. Yet the two of them could never be friends. To befriend Gimli would dishonor Legolas’ memory; and however much Elrond longed to share an ale and a story with the dwarf, he could not. Separated by the shadow of the dead, the two were doomed to live forever apart.
It came to pass that both of them met an oliphant, or mumak, who possessed great potential. It was forbidden to teach the secret arts of the elves to the mumakil—yet Elrond and Gimli wished to try. They feared if they did not that ambition and lost potential would taint the mumak’s soul and make it a poisoned elephant.
To assert its independence, the mumak stole the mystic howdah called the Green Destiny, filled with the dark riders of Sauron. It carried the howdah away to the distant forest, tall and green, where Elrond confronted it at last.
1 requires familiarity with the Lord of the Rings and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Great green trees rise on every side. Their branches rustle and sway in the wind.
Elrond looks grimly at the mumak. It looks back. It’s a giant elephant. It has four tusks. Its riders serve Sauron.
“Your martial spirit is great,” Elrond says, “but your anger poisons your spirit. Become my apprentice. I will teach you the way of the elves.”
The mumak charges. Like a feather, Elrond drifts upwards into the branches. The mumak snorts and jumps after him. It lands lightly on a branch.
Elrond’s branch sways. Swoosh. Swoosh.
Elrond fires an arrow. Swoosh. Swoosh.
The mumak tosses its head. Then it charges. It tries to trample Elrond. Elrond darts aside. The mumak stands at the end of the branch. The branch sways. Swoosh. Swoosh.
Elrond fires five times. The recoil sends his branch swooping away. The mumak trumpets uneasily as the arrows pepper its flesh. Swoosh. Swoosh.
The mumak charges Elrond and attempts to gore him. He catches hold of its tusk. His eyes closed, he lets it carry him backwards. Then, as the mumak stops, Elrond steps off onto a nearby branch. The wind blows him and the mumak apart. Swoosh. Swoosh.
The mumak wiggles its head. Elrond, who speaks the secret language of giant martial arts elephants, understands its meaning. The mumak is saying: “If you can defeat me in five moves, I will become your apprentice.”
Their branches sway together. The mumak takes a step; Elrond takes another. The mumak gores at him. Elrond steps aside. Then Elrond takes the fifth move, and suddenly the mumak no longer has its howdah. Elrond balances it in his hand. The riders look perturbed.
The mumak trumpets: “You cheated.”
Elrond sighs, and tosses the howdah into a pool deep below.
The mumak hesitates. Then it cries: “My riders! They’ll all die!”
“A true master needs no howdah,” Elrond says. “The desire for excellence is the only monkey on his back.”
The mumak dives off the branch towards the water below.
“I told you that you couldn’t save it,” growls Gimli.
Elrond looks at Gimli. There is a sorrow in his gaze that no words can express.
Uncomfortable, the dwarf looks down. “Well, you can’t,” he grumbles. “Some things can’t be fixed.”
“Ah,” murmurs Elrond. “This is a world of sorrow.”