With One Voice

King Comes Home, The

2. Journey to Annuminas


"What kind of delegation did the Rover have in
mind?" Phil Goatleaf wanted to know.

"That's for us to decide." Beomann answered. "I
thought two from each village, one Big one Little, to
give everybody a say."

The Masters of the Town, heads of Bree's leading
families, seated around the big table in the Pony's
best parlor exchanged looks and nods. That made sense.

"But what are we going to say?" Little Ted Tunnelly
asked almost plaintively. "What exactly *do* we want?"

Barliman had been rather wondering about that
himself.

"A charter guaranteeing the Breeland's traditional
rights and liberties." Beomann said promptly. "We had
one under the Old Kings, and I'm sure Strider won't
mind confirming it. But we might want to change a few
things - customs are different these days." He pulled
a battered packet of papers out of a pocket, unfolded
and shuffled through them. "Take this for example -"

By the time the meeting ended Barliman was feeling
a trifle managed, and was sure his fellow Masters felt
the same. Not that everything Beomann had proposed
hadn't made perfect sense, no question but the boy was
dead right not just about the charter but about the
changes. It was just Breefolk weren't used to settling
important matters so briskly.

Normally the Masters would argue a bit, go home to
mull things over for a week or so, meet again to argue
some more, spend another week thinking it over, and so
forth until a consensus formed and the decision made
itself.

"I know." Beomann said when his father pointed this
out to him. "That's one of the reasons we need a
charter. It's not the way the Dunedain do things."
grimaced apologetically. "I guess I did kind of rush
you all, and I'm sorry for it, but we don't have time
for the usual way. Not if we want our delegation to
make it to Annuminas in time to welcome the King."

And no doubt he was right about that too.
***

Barliman Butterbur wasn't at all surprised when his
fellow Masters named him to represent the Big Folk of
Bree, it was just good sense. He'd travelled more than
any of them, if only to the Shire and the Angle, and
he had a son serving with the Rangers.

But he was more than surprised, indeed absolutely
flabbergasted, when Ishbel announced she would go too.
His Missis had never set foot beyond the Forgotten Inn
in all her life, nor wanted too, but now here she was
intending to go all the way to Annuminas. And she
wanted to bring their entire brood of children with
them as well!

Barliman'd expected his Ranger son to pitch a fit
at the very suggestion but Beomann took it quite
calmly. "Why not? It'll do the kids good to see a bit
of the world, and the Road is safe."

"You're sure of that?"

"Certain sure." Beomann answered confidently. "The
Wild's still a bit chancy, and probably always will
be, but with the Line back in place and the patrols
moving again the family'll be as safe on the Road as
they are in Bree."

Of course the minute they heard Ishbel was going
all the other wives wanted to come too, and their
children began teasing to be brought along as well.
Beomann never turned a hair. "The more the merrier."
he said, and: "It's not like we don't have plenty of
room for guests."

So it was a sizeable party that finally set out for
the ancient capital three days later. The Butterburs
alone had a carriage and a wagon, six horses to pull
them and Bob and Hob from the stables to look after
the horses. Old Nell to ride herd on the boys when
their mother couldn't. And Goodie, one of the upstairs
maids, because she was May's best friend and a good,
hardworking girl who deserved a treat.

Ted Tunnelly represented the Hobbits of Bree, and
he had his wife, his four younger children, two
servants, a wagon and a string of riding ponies with
him. Mr. Gummidge and Little Mr. Underhill from
Staddle, Mr. Cloverleaf and Little Mr. Delver from
Combe, and Mr. Elmwood and little Mr. Mossback from
Archet were similarly encumbered. All in all nearly
eighty men, women and children together with six
carriages, twelve wagons and more than fifty horses
and ponies were on their way to Annuminas.

It all seemed a bit much to Barliman, but Beomann
remained unperturbed so his father shrugged off his
own misgivings and saved his worrying for what would
happen after they got to the city.

As it happened the journey proved every bit as
smooth as Beomann had predicted. Toby and Brandy
claimed to have spotted a wolf once, slipping along
through the brush beside the road, but Barliman caught
his oldest son's smile and put it down to the boys'
active imaginations.

Every so often as they rolled slowly along, or made
camp for the night a Ranger or two or four would
materialize out of the Wild to exchange a quiet word
with Beomann before disappearing again, paying no
attention to the rest of the party beyond a civil nod
if one happened to catch their eye.

Beomann never introduced his fellow Rangers, nor
passed on what they told him. Barliman guessed they
were things he either wouldn't understand or would
rather not know and asked no questions. Nor did any of
the others, probably for the same reason.
****

"Not what I'd call welcoming!" Ishbel said
disapprovingly.

"Downright forbidding if you ask me." her husband
agreed.

The cavalcade from Bree had come to a ragged halt
just under the eaves of the Enchanted Forest with
everybody staring apprehensively up at tall gates of
black iron, wrought in the shape of tangled leafless
trees, looming over them between a pair of dark stone
towers bristling with iron spikes.

Beomann blew a long, mournful note on a horn, then
lowered it to grin almost mischiveiously at his
mother. "They get more cheerful as you go along. This
is called the gate of Winter. It's meant to look
bleak."

"In that case whoever made it did a good job!"
Ishbel snorted.

"You must be sure to tell him so if you meet him."

Ishbel gave him a startled look, then forgot
whatever she'd meant to say as the gates opened
smoothly and silently before them.

The Breelanders' carriages, wagons, horses and
ponies filed reluctantly inside, passing under tall,
bare black trees. Suddenly a Hobbit child on a pony
veered off the road to touch one.

"It's not real!" he exclaimed in surprise. "It's
made of iron."

"Gilpin you come back here this instant!" an angry
Hobbit mother ordered pre-emptorily.

"They're magic!" Toby breathed, round eyed.

"Yes, but not dangerous." Beomann assured him, one
eye on their worried parents. "Just about everything
in Annuminas is more or less magic, but not in a way
that'll hurt us."

The Breelanders found the bronze and copper 'Gate
of Autumn' far more pleasing.

"Why this one's actually pretty!" Peg told her
brother.

"I told you they'd get nicer." he grinned again.
"Wait till you see the Gate of Summer!"

The gates of pure gold adorned with flowers and
fruits of precious stones temporarily silenced the
entire company. They marched along under the
glittering boughs of golden trees for some minutes
before Lusey finally found enough voice to whisper:
"Are those *real* jewels?"

"Absolutely." her brother answered.

Barliman cleared his throat. "Seems a bit
wasteful."

Beomann nodded. "I think so too, but Elves and
Dunedain don't - and it is very pretty to look at."

"Be just as pretty with glass." Barliman said
stubbornly.

"I've said that too." his son answered. "But Dan
claims Dunedain could see the difference."

Barliman blinked. "How?"

Beomann shrugged. "They see better than we do,
almost as well as the Elves. Likely glass wouldn't be
as petty to them."

The silver 'Gate of Spring' while not exactly
anti-climatic did not overwhelm the way the Golden
gate had, but: "There *is* a city at the end of all
this, isn't there?" Barliman asked impatiently as the
Breelanders found themselves on yet another stretch of
road, this time flanked by silver trees glistening
with jeweled leaves and blossoms.

"Nearly there." Beomann answered tranquilly. "Just
one more gate to go."

"Oh my." Ishbel said weakly. Barliman couldn't find
his voice at all and stunned silence reigned behind
them.

The gateposts of the last gate were a pair of
trees, hundreds of feet high, one of silver with
clusters of pearl blossoms; the other of gold dripping
with drooping bunches of glittering topaz flowers.

"This is called the Gate of the Two Trees," Beomann
said helpfully. "There's a long story behind it -"
looked thoughtfully at his parents; "- but I won't
trouble you with it now."

It was questionable whether they heard even that
much for at that moment the silver and golden gates,
adorned with images of sun and moon, swung open
revealing the Golden City of Elendil in all its
splendor.

It was just after sunset and the golden glow behind
the Evendim Hills was echoed by the shimmer of gilded
domes and spires. Below these, in the shadowed streets
and parks, cool blue lights twinkled into being like
early stars, mirrored in the waters of innumerable
channels and pools.

"Welcome to Annuminas." said Beomann.


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.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: Beta

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/07/04

Original Post: 11/25/03

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