1. The Land of Gift
But not when it rained.
And it was raining mightily then. He rested his head against one of the columns where he could still see the courtyard, but the roof kept him from being showered upon. He was used to the fickle nature of the waters and had seen many storms in his time; but when it rained, and he was in Andor, he felt great unease. The howling of the wind and the braying of the storm drowned even the tapping of his footfall against the stone of the corridor, and though he disliked the darkness, some will held him there, outside, where he could see the garden and the water falling, and his grandfather’s fountain overflowing, and the trees and shrubs beaten up whenever thunder shone bright enough to allow it.
It was cold. He folded his arms over his chest to preserve some of his own warmth and resumed his pacing. It rained in Middle-earth, too, though with less fury. This rage was unnatural! How would the shepherds of the Mittalmar cope with the overflowed grasslands and the spoiling of all that pasture? And the quays! If the waves were beating against the quays as fiercely as the rain was beating upon his grandfather’s garden, he would have great work to do once the storm was over. It was not so in Middle-earth… How did the Land of the Star diminish such in its grace? What was this furious wrath that assailed them?
He knew it well. Everyone did. Every day he had to watch some disaster befall them because of the folly and pride of those who ruled them. And those who ruled, oblivious to anything but the vain pursuit of the desires of their hearts, set to more folly and pride, and caused more disasters to fall upon them. Would this spiral of madness ever end? Probably not, but he had to hope against hope that it would, for all their sakes.
Did that mean he was a traitor?
No. He had never been, and he would not become one. But treachery had many guises… He was too young to be bothered by such thoughts. He loved Andor with all his heart. Yet, if he loved it, why did his eyes look eastward, and not westward as they once did? Not even when he ascended to Meneltarma did he feel the peace he longed for, and he wondered what that would portend. Meanwhile, he had to watch Andor decay, powerless to prevent it because he had not the strength, nor the means. All he was was a mariner, and a very young one, at that. He did not lack the desire, however.
After a while, he heard another footfall quietly following his own, and it was then that he realized the storm was finally, or at least momentarily, abating. His grandfather stood a few paces from him holding two candles, one of which was offered to him, and which he did not hesitate to take. The world was so much better when it had light in it!
‘You have been long outside, Armandilya,’ his grandfather said. ‘I began to fear you might drown.’
‘Why, then, did you not come looking for me if you were, indeed, so troubled? Is that all the love you bear to your only grandson?’
‘I know you are a good swimmer.’
Armandil laughed. ‘It is a good thing I learned when I still had time,’ he said, and of a sudden his countenance became grave. ‘The storm is now upon us. If we cannot swim, we’ll sink.’
‘In more ways than one.’ Armandil the old looked out into the night then lifted his candle so that he could better see his grandson’s face. Armandil the young, though making a very conscientious attempt to make light of the exchange, realized the futility of his attempt by the look his grandsire gave him. Ere he had a chance to reply, his sire continued, ‘And I mean it. You know of what I speak, so I scarce need say anything else, though I must add that I agree with you on this, and I trust you will abide by your own counsel.’
‘And what makes you say that, sir? Do you doubt my word or my behavior?
‘I know you to be firm –too firm- when you think something to be rightful,’ he said, and laid a hand on Armandil’s shoulder. ‘That is good, and I hope no less of you, but the times are dark. Prudence must be exercised above all else.’
‘I suppose that makes us politicians?’
‘Not politicians, but statesmen,’ the old man said. ‘ “A politician is a man who understands all the nuances of facing the public and uses them to his advantage, enabling him to sway, convince and persuade in order to gain control or power. A statesman, on the other hand, strives to acquire, and uses that knowledge, not to further his own interests but to promote the public good. Effective statesmanship could be said to equate effective leadership. Therefore, since every man is a leader in his own sphere, effective statesmanship is a trait that should be cultivated, not in a spirit of self-improvement but out of necessity.” ’
‘You have made it too easy this time,’ Armandil said, and for the first time since the storm had begun, he had felt a glimmer of mirth. ‘That comes from the writings of Ciryalan of Ondosto, the second volume of his Observations on Cause and Effect: Government and the Furtherance of Ethics.’ Armandil smiled. ‘That one is bound in black.’
‘Oh, senya, every day you devise new ways to surprise me,’ said his grandfather, who smiled in turn and began to walk along the corridor. ‘A brilliant piece of work, that one; perhaps not in its style, admittedly, but it is in its conception. Too bad the intended hearer magnificently failed to get the point.’
‘Tar-Calmacil,’ Armandil muttered, and walked faster to reach his grandsire. ‘I remember reading of it. ‘Tis a sad account, but it could not have ended any other way. Too much shooting at the sky when all you want is hit the target.’ His grandfather raised a brow. ‘What I mean is, Ciryalan should’ve used a more straightforward mean of carrying his point, rather than produce an ambiguous volume and wait for someone to interpret his meaning.’
Armandil the old looked at him keenly. ‘Perhaps he did. You do remember that he was the King’s scribe, do you not? He risked his head in writing that- I reckon no one could have been such a fool to have missed some of the hints in that treatise. You know what the price for rebellion is, don’t you?’
‘I realize what you mean, sir, but with all his writing Ciryalan did not accomplish anything.’ The grandfather was perplexed; he almost dropped the candle. ‘To be sure, the wisdom in his books has withstood the passing of time and people like us, statesmen, have benefited from it. But it failed in its main objective, which was to make the King repent of his ways before it was too late to redress any evil.’
‘ ‘Tis sad. Sad, indeed,’ was all he said, leaving Armandil to guess whether it was sad that he thought that way, or whether history was sad, or whether it was sad that he had such a narrow vision of things. His grandfather was like that, very cryptic, very clever.
‘Why did you come to get me, Atarinya? If you came to enliven my mood, you are also shooting at the sky.’
The old man laughed. ‘You are spending too much time with me.’
‘Well, you could not have come to talk about Ciryalan.’
‘To be sure, no. I have watched you for a while now and wondered what you were thinking. You almost bear a path in my corridor- I had to know if, at least, the inconvenience of having to repair it was justified.’
Armandil made his best effort to grin, though he did not lift his eyes to his grandfather- he would read there all he needed to know, and Armandil was not sure if he wanted to tell him. That, in itself, made him feel regret. His grandfather had been everything to him, had trusted, believed, helped, encouraged… But he could not return the confidence now, not yet. Not until he was absolutely certain.
‘I never intended,’ Armandil the old began, mustering all the seriousness he could command, ‘to make you pay for it.’ It was enough to make Armandil the young grin widely.
‘Forgive me, I should not have remained silent. I had forgotten you like to be obeyed when you issue an order.’ How silly this duel of words was, and yet it had always been so between them. It had become one of the things he enjoyed the most of his visits when he was off duty. ‘I was thinking about Middle-earth,’ was all he could say without actually lying. His grandfather paused.
‘Ah,’ he said. ‘What about it?’
Armandil saw a chance to score a point. ‘I was thinking that ‘… its coasts are green. Green. Green seems to be the only color around, in many different hues and shades, but green all the same. The wind carries with it a pleasant scent that is, as of yet, unrecognizable, but pleasant nonetheless, like an orchard in spring. Far off one can see dark blue shades against the pale sky-the mountains. Many birds of different sizes and shapes hover over our ships. They remind us of the birds in Andor, making us realize that we have returned, after a very long absence, to the home of our sundered kin, the birth-place of our forefathers.’
A slow smile crept over the older man’s face. ‘Anardil Anarion. Personal Narrative of Voyages to the Far Lands of Middle-earth. Volume I: First Voyage. Chapter, 3?’
‘Impressive. I did not think you were a student of Middle-earth’s geography.’
‘ ‘I am a student of all things, therefore I am never through studying, for how do I know when I’ve seen all things?’ ’
To be continued…
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.