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Elrond's version of the tale of Isildur's Bane is particularly striking, as (in the movies) he is depicted as standing by the fires of Mount Doom watching in horror as Isildur refuses to destroy the Ring, and puts it on and disappears.

It seems rather odd that only two people went to destroy the Ring. Granted, they were two of the most powerful beings at the time, but, as Isildur's death would prove, there are some cases where even the strongest of Men (and Elves, one would think) can fall easy prey.

Why weren't more people sent, possibly as a guard?

My one hypothesis is that the whole thing took place on the spur of the moment - I have yet to find an accurate immediately-post-battle timeline - and that nobody else was available, or the two suddenly decided to go straight to Mount Doom. Granted, more people might not have stopped Isildur, but they would have been of use to fend off a surprise attack en route.

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    Because if they would have succeeded, The Hobbit and LOTR would have been a hell of a lot shorter. :-) – user46271 Jun 4 '15 at 22:59
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    @TheHonorableNedStark Is right. It would be like giving the Ring to the Eagles- sure, it would work, but who would want to read that story? – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '15 at 23:20
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    They took 2 eagles to get there, obviously. – Oldcat Jun 4 '15 at 23:30
  • @WadCheber They could still have failed - at least I would think. – HDE 226868 Jun 4 '15 at 23:48
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Canon

This doesn't happen quite the way Jackson described it1. When Elrond tells his story to the Council, the moment is described as more like a group discussion, rather than Elrond literally dragging Isildur up to Sammath Naur (emphasis mine):

'Isildur took [the Ring], as should not have been. It should have been cast then into Orodruin's fire nigh at hand where it was made. But few marked what Isildur did. He alone stood by his father in that last mortal contest; and by Gil-galad only Círdan stood, and I. But Isildur would not listen to our counsel.

'"This I will have as weregild for my father, and my brother," he said; and therefore whether we would or no, he took it to treasure it.

Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"

So there was somebody else present: poor old Círdan, but that was it. As suggested by the question, Isildur claiming the One Ring happened very quickly and quietly, and there was just nobody else near him at the time.

Jacksonverse

The above also seems like a reasonable explanation here. Consider Elrond's tale:

It seems clear that Elrond ran up to Isildur within moments of Isildur picking up the Ring; the poor guy hasn't even had the chance to stand up yet. Unfortunately, we don't have a confirmed reason why Elrond didn't bother to grab a couple of Elf-soldiers on his way to reach Isildur. However, there are some possibilities:

  • If Elrond knew of the corruptive effects of the Ring at the time (admittedly a question that we can't definitively answer), he probably hoped that if he could just get Isildur to Sammath Naur fast enough, Isildur would be able to destroy the Ring before it grabbed hold of his mind. He probably didn't have time (or didn't think he had time) to grab another Elf or two, give them an order, and then have them follow him all the way up Mount Doom

  • The other Elves may not have been recovered yet. In the prologue, we see that Sauron's defeat causes a massive shockwave that levels all of the forces (including the Elves) in the area. We don't see this to be sure, but it's possible that there weren't any Elves around Elrond who had gotten up yet and, related to the above point, he may not have felt like there was time to wait for them

  • We don't know if the battle was still going on. This is admittedly a shakier idea, considering the orcs stop fighting pretty much immediately when Sauron is destroyed in Return of the King, but it's possible that the rest of the Elvish army was still working on killing (or chasing) what was left of Sauron's army. Knowing the orcs, the ones who were left were probably running as fast as they could away from the fighting


1 I seem to say that a lot when answering questions based on the movies. It's almost as if movies and books are different mediums, which require different storytelling techniques...

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    +1. Brilliant as always. You are indeed the new Darth Melkor. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '15 at 23:25
  • I concur with @WadCheber. Excellent answer; thank you. – HDE 226868 Jun 4 '15 at 23:31
  • +1. Great answer, especially your first bullet point in the Jacksonverse section. I'd never noticed, but during that first shot inside Mt Doom (2:35 in the attached video), Elrond does seem to be rushing. Having read this answer, it seems obvious that Elrond knew what was happening, and was trying to outrun the Ring's growing influence over Isildur. – Nerrolken Jun 4 '15 at 23:42
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    Re your footnote, I don't think that movies, or at least movies made from LOTR, REQUIRE different techniques. Rather, it's that Jackson has a lot in common with Heinlein's classic description of an editor: "“You have to give an editor something to change, or he gets frustrated. After he pees in it himself, he likes the flavor much better..." – jamesqf Jun 5 '15 at 19:10
  • +1 just for that footnote. But I have to say I rather disagree with the stress of 'doesn't happen quite': it's quite a lot different (though I suppose you might argue that you were referring to that point of the battle). Even with the war (not to mention many other examples of unfaithfulness to the books) they take out the Battle of Dagorlad and shorten the war by seven years hence when Gandalf reads Isildur's scroll he reads the year 3434 when in fact it was 3441 (as I know you know from what I've seen of your other answers). – Pryftan Aug 18 '17 at 21:40
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'Alas! yes,’ said Elrond. 'Isildur took it, as should not have been. It should have been cast then into Orodruin’s fire nigh at hand where it was made. But few marked what Isildur did. He alone stood by his father in that last mortal contest; and by Gil-galad only Círdan stood, and I. But Isildur would not listen to our counsel.

No one else was there because the three of them were the only witnesses of the fight between Sauron, Gil-galad and Elendil.

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Besides, the Ring is a powerful artifact that pulls on the strings of your deepest desires... so it wouldn't been wise to include more people into dealing with the Ring. Besides, Isildur, who took the Ring, was the King, the ruler of that land. Elrond and Cirdan were there and offred him their councel, but it was really up to him what to do. He probably didn't even go to the Cracks of Doom, as it doesn't say so in the book.

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