With One Voice

King Comes Home, The

3. The City and The King


Lusey leaned dangerously far out of the carriage
window to catch at her brother's cloak as he rode
alongside. "Beomann, are those *Elves*?"

He glanced over at the circle of sleander, dark
haired folk sitting in the park they were passing,
singing under the new stars, and smiled. "They
certainly are. High Elves out of Lindon or Rivendell
by the look of them."

"Oh!" Lusey subsided, overwhelmed.

Windows of colored glass glowed like jewels in the
tall white buildings. Silver-blue globes shone like
little moons in the trees lining the road illuminating
the many different kinds of folk below: Dark High
Elves and fair haired Wood Elves, Dwarves glittering
with golden ornaments, and tall Rangers dressed like
lords and ladies of Old but with the familiar grim
closed faces.

The Elves and Dwarves scarcely spared the
Breelanders a glance but the Rangers invariably fixed
those pale, piercing eyes of theirs upon the caravan
until it'd passed.

"What are they *staring* at?" Ishbel finally
demanded of her son.

"They don't mean to be rude, Mum," Beomann
answered, "it's just their way. You remember how
Strider and Gil and the rest used to sit in their
corner and watch the Common Room."

"I didn't like that either." his mother grumbled.

"You have to watch every minute in the Wild."
Beomann explained. "It becomes a habit. Like I said;
they don't mean anything by it, they can't help
themselves."

The palace appeared at the end of the avenue,
golden light pouring from open doors to mingle with
the silvery illumination of the Elf lamps, shimmering
over the statues and fountains and colored pavements
of the great square.

Barliman swallowed. "Is that where we're going?"

Beomann shook his head. "No, I found a place you'll
like much better."
***

From the outside it looked just like the other
grand houses they'd passed. Tall and white with lacy
galleries of fretted stone overhanging the street and
windows inlaid with designs in colored glass. But once
inside -

"Oh! this *is* nice." Ishbel beamed, her husband
smiled and the rest of the Breelanders relaxed
visibly.

The hall was large and grand but it was a grandeur
not unlike their own best parlors, or the big houses
of the Breeland gentry. The walls were panelled with
squares of oak, some carved with clusters of serrated
leaves and acorns, and hung with landscapes of woods
and fields and a few portraits of people not unlike
themselves though more grandly dressed.

There was a long, heavy table in the center of the
black and white checked floor, and straight backed
chairs and sideboards against the walls, all lit by
honest yellow lamplight with good green velvet
curtains shutting out the eerie magical city outside.

"I thought you'd like it." Beomann smiled. "Lady
Ellian says this house was especially decorated for
visitors from Cardolan in the days of the King." he
turned to Mrs. Tunnelly. "And there's a wing with
Hobbit sized rooms facing the garden."

The house was at least as big as the Pony, if not
bigger, and their numerous company just filled it
comfortably. The Hobbits' wing wasn't quite big enough
to accomodate all the Little Folk but Beomann said the
overflow'd only have to make do with Big Folk
furniture for that one night, as more Hobbit sized
furniture would be found for them in the morning.

The house had clearly been designed to accomodate
several seperate households with big common rooms for
dining and the like on the ground floor and the rest
of the building divided into suites that included a
parlor or two, several bedrooms, closets, storerooms,
and a pantry. There was a big kitchen on the ground
floor and a half dozen smaller ones on the upper
floors and in the Hobbits' wing.

The house had a stableyard large enough to hold all
their animals, carriages and wagons on one side. And a
garden fenced by fancifully wrought ironwork on the
other. A strip of grass behind sloped down to a wide
channel of clear water, with white stone steps
descending to a lamplit quay. The front galleries
overlooked a broad avenue lined with other grand
looking houses, the great tower of the Palace rising
above their gilded domes.

"Now I see why you weren't bothered when half the
Breeland decided to make the trip." Barliman told his
son as the bustle of settling in subsided.

Beomann shrugged. "I guessed Mum'd want to come,
and of course if she did -"

"All the other wives would too." Barliman finished.
"Just as well they did. The eight of us would have
rattled round this great place like pips in a dried
apple."
****

Three strange ships materialized out of the
gathering dusk gliding from the Gwathlo mouth to
intercept the King's flotilla. The crew of the royal
galley and the Men of the King's guard tensed at the
sight of them.

"Beat to quarters." the Shipmaster ordered. "And
send a Man to the masthead to identify their colors."

"They are warships out of Mithlond." a low-pitched
voice said gently. The Master started, turned to find
the King had somehow appeared at his elbow. "Sent as
additional escort, we are entering dangerous waters."

The Shipmaster looked uncertainly at the oncoming
ships. Sleek, low to the water, grey as mist. "Elves?"
he asked uncertainly.

Elessar shook his head. "Dunedain. As the Elves
dwindled my people took on the task of defending the
northern coasts from the black fleet out of Tol Fuin."

At that moment the oncoming ships unfurled their
sails and they belled out in the fresh evening breeze,
grey as twilight and ensigned with the rising moon of
Isildur.

The three strange ships took up stations in an
arrowhead formation ahead of the flotilla. The King
stood watching them, breathing the smoke of sweet
galenas - a curious habit he shared with the Wizard
Mithrandir and the Halflings - while everybody else on
deck stared covertly at him.

Even after three years the Gondorim had not quite
accustomed themselves to having a King again. Or maybe
it was *this* King with his elusive ways and habitual
silence, that disturbing air of sheathed power and his
curious combination of reserve and familiarity that
they could not get used to. He was intimidating - and
fascinating. An enigma to be revered, even worshipped,
but not understood.

Aragorn knew he was being watched of course,
however discreet his people tried to be about it, but
stayed on deck a few more moments anyway. Perhaps if
he let them look their fill eventually the stares
would stop. Though after three years he was begining
to give up hope of it.

When he could stand it no longer he turned and went
into the stern house, sensing without seeing or
hearing the sudden relaxation of those he left on
deck. Sighed in frustration.

*What am I doing wrong?*

Instead of going back to the great cabin, where his
wife, daughter and attendants awaited him, he lingered
in the gallery, refilling his pipe. He felt the need
for a little privacy, to think.

He wasn't at all happy about the continuing
distance between himself and his Southern subjects.
He'd expected awe, knowing the Gondorim's near worship
of the memory of their Kings, and a certain amount of
apprehension. But he'd also expected time and
familiarity would ease both - only they hadn't. And he
couldn't think why. Certainly his people in the North
had never been either awed or frightened of him.

He grimaced. His Dunedain were going to be very
unhappy with him, and he had no doubt they would let
him know it in no uncertain terms. It would be
interesting to see what his Gondorim made of the
manners of the North.


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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