The Blind, the Deaf, the Crippled

King's Commission, The

5. Shaping the Face Unseen

Shaping the Face Unseen

            Ruvemir of Lebennin had always found the game of shaping a face he'd not seen to be a fascinating exercise.  To figure out the proper questions needed to identify the shape of head, face, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and chin; to figure out more to understand what had motivated or frightened the individual, all of which added to the character of the face--this was as interesting to him as reproducing said face in markings on paper or through shaping it of wood, wax, clay, or stone.  He found that by seeking to know the subject's personality, loves and hates, strengths and weaknesses, he could create an image that in the end spoke to the individual depicted even when features were not accurately reproduced.  And obviously Strider and the Dwarf Gimli were impressed with what they'd seen so far.  After the first study was done, he'd carefully cut it from his booklet and settled it between them and asked them to indicate where the shape of the actual face and features differed from what they had already.

            "The second study I do will not display the personality of your friend as well as this one, most like.  It is to teach me the proper shape of his face, so it will appear perhaps technically correct, but without the life of the individual," he explained.  Gimli appeared impressed, Strider surprised. 

            They leaned over the work for at least an hour more and had made excellent progress on the shape of the face of Frodo Baggins before Strider indicated he must return to the upper city.  "I am not certain whether or not I can meet with you tomorrow, for I have several commitments, but I can arrange for you to meet with some of those who also knew Frodo who can give you their impressions of him if you wish.  I will meet with some of these in the morning and send a messenger down to bring you word of what individuals they are and when you may meet with them.  Unfortunately many who might be useful are out of the city while the pox runs through it, however.  And I fear that several will not be able to leave their places in the upper city, so that may necessitate a long climb."

            "Young Pippin made the climb easily enough, often several times a day," the Dwarf commented.

            "Young Pippin was a Hobbit, with proportional limbs and a Hobbit's unusual endurance, Gimli.  He may have had to move his legs faster to keep up with his company, but his hips were better designed for walking and climbing than are those of Master Ruvemir.  I suspect he even envies you your greater ease of movement."

            Ruvemir reddened, but at the Dwarf's questioning look gave a reluctant nod of agreement.  "Steep ways are indeed difficult for me."

            "I will try to spare you as much climbing as possible, but it is still likely you may have to come up to at least the sixth level on occasion during your stay."  He looked around the room.  "Hobbits do not like heights particularly, but it is more due, I think, to having such a deep bond with the soil rather than a physical discomfort.  A discomfort of the spirit, I suppose.  That is why the Inns that have special accommodations for them are mostly in the lower levels of the city, for they feel uncomfortable if they are much above ground level.  Of the four of them, only Pippin appeared to have little discomfort in the upper levels, particularly at night."  Ruvemir considered this new information, which he knew he would eventually bring into his finished design somehow.

            "One last question--you have indicated that the original desire was for a grouping of all four Pheriannath.  Is that still desired, or do you wish only Frodo depicted?"

            The tall Man and the Dwarf exchanged glances.  Finally the Dwarf commented, "It would not be natural to depict Frodo without Sam." 

            After a moment's consideration, Strider slowly nodded agreement.  "And once we introduce Sam, we must also consider the others as well.  Frodo needed all three to keep him grounded."  He turned to the sculptor and suddenly gave an apologetic smile.  "We have not even negotiated a fee for depicting one Hobbit--and what would you desire to do four of them?"

            Ruvemir laughed.  "Shall we discuss that at our next meeting?"  All smiled, and after a time Ruvemir moved to the door to hold it open for his guests as they left.  Strider had again hooded himself and drawn himself within his cloak in a practiced manner that Ruvemir recognized succeeded in making him less notable in some indefinable fashion.  An effective way of making oneself inconspicuous in a forest, he supposed.  The Man and Dwarf, once into the passage, turned and bowed respectfully, a bow Ruvemir returned.  Then they turned and with remarkable swiftness disappeared down the passage.

            Ruvemir returned to the table and neatly gathered the remaining cups and vessels onto the higher table at which Strider had dined, and after a moment's thought took the chair and settled it on the far side of the hearth against the wall in case he again found himself entertaining the tall Man.  Then after securing the door for the night he went into the bathing room and washed face and hands thoroughly, returned to the room and shed his clothing, neatly laid what he had over the empty bed, and disposed himself to sleep.  As he drifted toward his rest the information he'd collected about his patron circled through his mind, and almost he made some more connections--but before he completed them he was asleep and dreaming of sailing again up the Anduin--or was he sailing on the Sea?  He could not tell.

 *******

            He awoke not long after daybreak, rose, and taking the towels went in to bathe, quickly lighting the fire and figuring out how to work the spigots and drains.  Once the water was heated sufficiently and the tub partially filled, he climbed the short steps provided to assist the bather into the tub, and quickly immersed himself.  After bathing himself he dried himself quickly and was mostly dressed when there was a quiet rap at the door.  Fastening the ties for the placket of his shirt he hurried to open, allowing Elise to enter with a pitcher of milk and a second of juice, clean cups, and a plate of bread, cheese, fruit, and boiled eggs. 

            "Welcome, my lady," he told her, and again she colored prettily.  "I thank you for your service, although I was going to come down to the common room for my dawn meal."

            "We usually bring such as this to the rooms of a morning, sir; the boy has just arrived who cleans the common room for the day.  I hope you don't mind."

            Ruvemir was only mildly surprised--he'd seen the practice in one other inn he'd visited, after all.  "No, my lady, that is quite all right.  I was just going by the service in the last inn where I stayed."  As she set out the meal, he had a thought and decided this was as good an opportunity as was likely to be found to learn more about his other possible subjects for the proposed grouping of four Hobbits.

            "You met the Ernil i Pheriannath personally?" he asked.

            She nodded, "Yes, good sir, several times.  He was quite personable, sir."

            "Did you meet with any of the rest of the Pheriannath?" 

            "Only the Master Meriadoc, sir, but not to speak to.  Oh, we all saw the King's Friend, particularly the day of the Coronation, of course--he and his esquire.  But although we often saw him walking with the Lord Elessar or his kinsmen and esquire, he did not stop to talk."

            "Aloof?"

            She paused, having set plate and spoon and knife on the table.  "Aloof, the King's Friend?  Oh, no, sir--not aloof.  Rather shy, I think.  He felt overwhelmed by the attention he received, or so he appeared.  As if he felt it wasn't earned, that's what it looked like.  But he noticed everything--you could see his eyes always watching, eager and interested.  Then there was the time when the cook at the Dragon's Claw was berating their potboy and tried to box his ears--the King's Friend and his esquire and kinsmen had been on their way back up to the Citadel from seeing off King Éomer of Rohan when they were passing and heard the noise, and he moved into the inn yard at the Dragon and demanded the cook leave off.  Was quite white and defiant, for all he barely raised his voice at all.  There he was, small but straight, and you'd have thought Evamir Cook was facing the ire of the King himself.  He not only stopped but apologized, and Evamir Cook has never apologized to anyone in the recollection of all in this circle.

            "Then the King's Friend turned to the boy, and after he had the child soothed he had him tell him what he'd done to raise the cook's ire, and when he realized the boy had deserved reprimand he made him apologize to the cook for his misdeeds, then sent him in to make it right.  When the boy was gone he then told Evamir Cook what he'd ought to have done instead of striking out at the lad.  He looked like a child himself, except he had this--" she stopped, trying to find the right word, "--this deep sense of dignity and authority--that's what he had.  You couldn't help but take him serious, sir." 

            She paused, noting the picture that had been left on the far side of the table, and reached out unconsciously to take it up.  "Oh, you've been trying to draw him!  This isn't him, but it's much like him, much like the King's Friend."  She turned her gaze to search his face.  "Do you like to draw, sir?"

            He shrugged slightly.  "I'm a sculptor and an artist.  And I'm trying to get a feel for the King's Friend and his companions."

            "Oh, as a memorial for what they did to help defeat the Enemy?"  Her eyes were wide with pride.  "How wonderful!  The Pheriannath were so odd, but so worthy.  They'd be laughing and joking as if they had no care for the worries of the world, but there was an air of sadness and seriousness in all of them, and it was as if the laughter was in part only there to keep it at bay."  Again she paused.  "The Ernil i Pheriannath--he had deep scars on his wrists.  Burned himself in the kitchen here showing Mardi Cook how to prepare his seed cakes, and I was bathing the burn with cold water, and saw them.  I asked about them, and his face turned rather grey--for a moment--and then he said he'd had a run-in with an Orc who had invited him, against his will, to tea in Isengard, and turned the talk to his burn was just to show us how not to check the heat of the oven.  Only later did we learn that, yes, he had been taken prisoner by orcs in the service of Curunír.  I am not sure how he escaped--the tales told are not all to be believed.  Some tell of the Eagles of the North saving them, others of the tree giants of Fangorn Forest."  She shrugged, looked again at the picture, and then gently, almost reverently set it back on the table.

            "Please excuse me, sir--I must be about my duties."  She looked back at the picture with respect.  "It would be very fitting to have a memorial statue done of those four."  She smiled at him again, and there was a pleasing gravity in her smile, one that told him she admired his artistic gift as she gathered last night's dishes.

            "Thank you again, my lady Elise," he told her, and bowed her out of the room, reducing her to soft giggles of embarrassment and pleasure.

 *******

            After eating, Ruvemir left the inn with sketch booklet and several sticks of charcoal and his ball of gum.  He passed the same Elf he'd seen the day before, working in another area of the garden, paused to bow to him and received the graceful inclination of the head in return, then went on, heartened by the wordless encounter.  He walked the length of the building, and found a narrow walkway at its end that led to the wall of the Second Level.  There were beds of flowers below the windows all along the way, and between them and the wall lay a path graveled in fine white stone chips. 

            It had been after Midsummer when he'd first encountered Strider in his work shed in Casistir; now it was early September.  He had been able to stop at his home, visit briefly with his father and sister, before he'd taken the ship to Minas Anor, been able to leave a part of his earnings with them.  He loved his family fiercely, and perhaps more so as both he and Miriel were mannikins.  Together the two of them had endured taunts and slights common to those who are unavoidably different.  But where he'd forced himself to face the world and had been driven to develop his talent to the point the world took him seriously, the taunting had driven Miriel inwards, and she would rarely leave their farmstead.  However, she, too, as had been true of both their parents, had an artistic nature, and the figured tapestries, throws and clothing items which she embroidered were much sought after, although none were to know they were completed by a mannikin, for when their father took them to sell them for her she forbade him to mention that fact.  The edges of the kerchief he carried today she'd embroidered for him with tiny beasts, and as he walked he rubbed his fingers over it as it lay in the inner pocket of his cloak.  Unconsciously he smiled as he rubbed it.

            The wall was low here compared to that of the lowest circle--from the inside, at least.  He hitched himself up to settle one hip over it and looked out at the city and lands below and to the east. 

            And there they were--far off, the black mountains that for two ages of Middle Earth had walled the land of Mordor, the fabled and terrible land of the Enemy.  He stared with awe at them, and tried to imagine what it must have been like for those born here within the city, growing up always in sight of the Black Land, knowing those walls failed to contain the evil creatures controlled by the Enemy who had sought always for the destruction and domination of Man--Man, Elf, Dwarf--and Halflings, too, he supposed.  And two of those he would picture had entered into that place while the Enemy still inhabited it--and because they had done so that land was now bleak and empty--no longer the habitation of the greatest evil in Middle Earth.  He squinted his eyes against the morning sun, then raised his hand to shield them against it, and gazed his fill of it, trying to understand how the two who'd made that journey had managed to do so.

            Then he dropped his gaze to the ruins of Osgiliath, although he knew reconstruction was going on there as well as here.  The capital would not be moved from here, he knew--at least, not for many generations if at all; but once again a living city was taking shape on both sides of the River Anduin, and the bridges had been mostly rebuilt already.  There, he had been told, the Dwarves worked alongside Men and even some Elves to clear rubble and to repair the broken bridges and to give shape to the first of the rebuilt buildings and squares.  In time it would undoubtedly come to serve as the primary city of commerce for the realm once again, although he doubted the Dome of the Stars would ever undergo reconstruction.  But the majority of work being done was focused here.

            A window was opened behind him, and he glanced that way.  He was sitting near the center of the inn's structure, near where the innkeeper's own quarters must be.  From within he heard the voices of children, then that of a woman speaking to them, and he smiled, then looked out again, finally slipping from his perch so he could turn to see more to the south and west.  The blackened area intrigued him, as did the fenced green hillock.  He would perhaps walk out that way soon, he thought.  He set his booklet before him, leaned forward on the parapet, and drank in the sights, and then looked down.

            The widest circle of the City was the first, and much of that lay below him.  And there he could see evidence of much work already completed, but more still in progress.  The wall below him had been blackened by fire--it was said the catapults of the Enemy had fired great balls of some stuff that burst into flame when it struck, consuming, some insisted, the stone itself at times.  Well, certainly many structures below him had been destroyed.  In some places the buildings had been reduced to rubble and were fenced off to keep out curious children and scavengers who might be injured if they ventured into the ruins.  But many of the civic buildings had been rebuilt or were nearing completion, and many of the guildhalls and commercial centers that dominated much of the first circle.  Here and there he saw private homes that had also been refurbished, and in the walled yard of one such he saw children pursuing one another gaily.

            He thought of what Elise had told him of the one she'd called the King's Friend, who must be Frodo--that he'd heard raised voices and the cries of a child and had intervened, reportedly a tiny and vulnerable figure himself before whom a Man apparently not given to excusing himself had quailed.  He found himself proud of that small person.

            A Man's voice could now be heard from the room behind him, coming nearer the window.  "...It was the Lord Gimli himself here last night, here at the King's Head, meeting with the mannikin.  And with him had to have been one of the King's own kin from the north--who else would walk so cloaked through the city?"

            "One of the northern Dúnedain, Love?  An honor for us, surely."

            "It is still a wonder to me, to think that there remained the descendants of Númenor in that empty place."

            A child's voice interrupted, "Ada, did one of the Dwarves really visit the inn last night?  Why weren't we allowed to see?"

            Then the voices retreated to a more interior room.

            So, Strider was one of the King's own kin?  Obviously he'd been from the north, with his talk of being in Imladris and of lands and places whose names were unknown within Gondor.  And as he was related to the fabled Captain Thorongil, that meant that the King was undoubtedly related to that legendary individual as well.  Ruvemir smiled.

            At last he turned and completed the circuit around the inn and came back out to the street, then set about exploring the environs nearby the hostelry.  He soon found the Dragon's Claw was almost directly across from the King's Head, toward the inner wall of the circle and slightly uphill of its competitor.  It was surrounded by a low wall, and he noted that those on the upper floor of the King's Head in the inner rooms would have a clear view of whatever happened within its courtyard.  Well, that explained how Elise had come to know of the encounter between Evamir Cook and the King's Friend.

            Many structures facing the outer walls showed the marks of damage and fire, and in many places he saw new trees growing, and gardens being tended preparatory to the coming winter.  He saw small shops here and there, and homes of ancient families.  Finally, fatigued, he turned back to his own lodgings--and was almost felled when a soldier not watching his way ran into him.  The man, clothed in the black and silver of the city, cried out in dismay and hurried to catch hold of him to stop his fall, then seemed startled to find he'd struck not a child but an adult. 

            "Please, good sir," he apologized, "forgive me for not seeing you.  I was hurrying, bearing a message to the upper levels from the gate.  Did I cause you harm, sir?"

            Ruvemir checked himself over, assured himself he retained his sketch booklet and that his charcoal sticks were intact, then looked up.  "I am not sure, but other than a wrench to my hip I seem to be whole."  Finally reassured the stranger to the city was not seriously hurt and was near his lodgings, the man gave him a formal salute and bow and hurried back along his way, and Ruvemir entered the King's Head determined to fill the bath again and soak his hip, which was beginning to ache once more.

            But waiting inside the inn was the young recruit who'd brought him here yesterday, bearing a message for him.  Ruvemir took it and found it bore the same seal as the day before, and opened it to read it.

            I sorrow I cannot meet with you today--an embassy from Rhun has been seen approaching the City, and the Houses of Healing also demand my services.  However, the Captain of the Guard of the Citadel has agreed to come down to you in the early afternoon to speak of Peregrin Took, who swore himself to the service of this city and of Gondor.  And one of the pages who served the Pheriannath during their stay has also agreed to come down, and should arrive shortly before the noon meal.  I regret that this is all I can provide for the day, but hope you understand.

                                                            Strider

            So much for soaking his hip, he thought, and he thanked the young recruit for delivering the message.  The young man smiled shyly, but paused before he left.

            "It is said, sir, that you are a sculptor of some skill."

            Ruvemir nodded, and admitted to the correctness of the report.

            "Are you to work on the memorial to the King's Friend, then?"

            "Yes, I've been asked to accept the commission."

            "That is wonderful, sir.  I mean, sir, he gave so much for all of Middle Earth, not just the people of Gondor.  My brother fought before the Black Gate itself and was grievously wounded, and he told me how the King Elessar himself and his kinsmen tended to him as he lay in the Healer's tents, and how he worked with all the wounded, but how he especially devoted himself to the Pheriannath.  When the Eagles bore Mithrandir and the King's Friend and his esquire out of the ruins of the Black Land all feared the two Pheriannath would be lost, for they were terribly hurt and desperately thin from privation.  The Ernil i Pheriannath was also badly hurt, for he fought among the Guard of the Citadel itself and with the Men of the City, and he struck down a troll who sought to kill Captain Beregond of Prince Faramir's guard, and it fell upon him and crushed him.  Long all three lay in recovery on the Fields of the Cormallen in Ithilien.  The fourth Pherian came at the last from the city, for he'd been injured in the battle against the Lord of the Nazgul himself, and almost died of the Black Breath.  It was our Lord Elfstone's own hand that brought him back from the gates of death, it is said.  He sat by the King's own side as all waited to see whether or not the King's Friend and his esquire would awaken.

            "All four took grievous wounds from their labors against the Enemy, sir.  And now the rumor runs through the city that the King's Friend never fully recovered, and that he is now gone from Middle Earth, and all mourn for him.

            "It is not fitting these four should go without proper honor, sir."  And with a salute and a bow he left to return to his duties.

 *******

            His room had been neatened while he was gone, the hearth cleaned and a new fire laid, the fuel beneath the boiler in the bathing room also renewed, the lamps refilled and set at the ready, his bed remade and a new pitcher of water with clean goblets set upon the table, a pitcher of still warm water on the stand with fresh towels.  And also on the table lay the legacy of the Ernil i Pheriannath, the tea and cakes, cream and sugar, mugs and spoons.  He smiled and took one of the cakes, and after consuming it and refreshing himself somewhat he sat with his sketchbook and began on a study of Strider, sprawled in his chair by the fire the night before, his face full of pride and sorrow as he spoke of Frodo Baggins.

 *******

            The rap at the door heralded the arrival of the innkeeper and the page, a youth of about eighteen with a proud bearing who looked good in the livery of the Citadel.  Ruvemir asked the innkeeper for a pitcher of mild ale and a light luncheon, and with a smile the man agreed and left.

            "Your name?"

            "Lasgon son of Efram, sir."

            "You have served as a page for how long?"

            "Six years, sir, since I was a child yet.  But I will enter the Guard of the Citadel in the spring, for I am approaching manhood."

            "You were assigned to the service of the Pheriannath, I am told?"

            "Yes, sir.  The Lord Mithrandir was given lodgings in a house on the sixth level, and after the battle more rooms were opened to him and the Pheriannath and their companions for their comfort."

            "Do you know what I am to do?"

            "Yes, sir, I'm told you are a master sculptor and will hopefully do a memorial to the four Pheriannath."

            "Good.  Well, since I've not seen them, I must find out what they were like as told me by those who did see them and who came to know them, so I hope you will bear with my questions as I seek to learn more of them through you."

            "Yes, sir.  I've been directed to answer all you ask, sir."

            And turning to a new page in his booklet Ruvemir began to ask questions about the Pherian Frodo and what young Lasgon remembered of him.

            "He was a quiet soul, sir, very quiet.  His eyes were often haunted, but of course they would be, for he saw much of terror, I think, in his journey.  But, when he smiled at you, it would light the room and fill your heart.  And when he laughed, it was very sweet laughter.  His kinsmen vied to see who could make him laugh more often, and each time they brought laughter to his lips they would exchange looks between them, looks of triumph.

            "But he was thin for a Pherian, who are usually plump, I'm told.  His face was pale, and when the dreams disturbed him he would awake with little color on his cheeks or lips, and they would cluster to his comfort.

            "It was usually Master Samwise who attended to him, his dearest friend who went with him the entire way to Orodruin itself.  And on those days when the shadow lay on Samwise, Frodo would do the same for him, bringing him soothing drinks, pressing him to eat, recalling memories of their youth, seeking to make him laugh."

            And so it went.  The gentleness of Frodo Baggins was coming to the fore, the caring for his kin and companions, the retiring nature, the frequent dreams of terror survived.

            "How did he spend his days?"

            "Writing, sir, or reading, or occasionally drawing, when he was not with the Lord Elessar or Mithrandir or coaxed out to explore with Master Samwise or Master Meriadoc or Captain Peregrin.  Some days he would go to watch the weapons practice which Captain Peregrin must attend, and in which Master Meriadoc would also take part from time to time, for he was, after all, a knight of the Mark.  Some days he would go with Master Meriadoc when he stood with the honor guard for King Théoden of Rohan, to offer his respects for the fallen.  Often he would attend upon the King and advise him for the future of the realm's dealings with the land of his people, or offer his insights on what he noted of the embassies to which he was introduced. 

            "But often he would withdraw from others, and would stand alone at the walls, looking out of the city, or walking alone or accompanied only by Master Samwise in the gardens of the Houses of Healing, for the green there seemed to offer him comfort.  Or he would be found with Master Samwise kneeling in one garden or another, assisting in the caring for the flowers.  For Master Samwise was drawn always to the gardens, and when the Elves began to come he was often among them, laboring among them to coax life again into patches of earth."

            "You say he wrote, and drew?"

            "Yes, sir, although wielding quill or drawing stick was difficult for him at first."

            "Why?"

            The youth looked surprised.  "For he'd lost his finger, sir, at the end.  He had to relearn how to hold things after that, for his ring finger was gone now.  Often it would pain him, and Master Samwise would hold it to comfort him, or the King would come to ease his pain."  Pride lit the young man's features.  "But he kept at it and mastered it, and his letters were fair when he wrote, and the pictures he drew were wonderful to see--except for those he drew when the pain was worst, or the memories dark upon him.  Many of those pictures were very dark, and he would seek always to burn them before his kin could see them."

            "How did you come to see them, then?"

            "I was the one who tidied his room, sir.  Sometimes I'd come to tell him the King had come, or called him to come to the citadel, and I'd find him asleep at his desk, his head on his arms, the drawings or writings beside him."  The boy took a jagged breath.  "He'd seen so much that was horrible, sir.  I kept one picture I found that he'd dropped before burning it.  It is of the creature Gollum, who first found the Enemy's Ring in the River, and who took it to the Misty Mountains and held it there for five hundred years.  Captain Peregrin told me of it, for the story of how Master Frodo's kinsman Bilbo found it after the creature lost it is well known among their people."

            Ruvemir considered this.  It had never occurred to him to wonder how the Pherian Frodo had come into possession of the Enemy's Ring, which had been lost so long.  "Would you show me this picture, Lasgon?"

            The youth was reluctant, but finally agreed he would bring it and a few others the Pherian Frodo had given him down to him during the breaks in his duties on the High Day.  And then the luncheon arrived, brought by the innkeeper and a boy.

            The youth sat straight in the chair in which Strider had sprawled the night before, using the same folding table provided then for his meal.  He explained that workers in wood had been employed to shorten the legs of the furniture in the house that the Pheriannath had been given for their use, done in such a manner that they could be restored afterwards.  He agreed that the Pheriannath were often uncomfortable in the dwelling, and had admitted that they never slept on an upper floor if it was available in their own lands.

            And when the meal was over, Lasgon began to describe Frodo as best he could physically, and Ruvemir made his third study.  He'd asked Lasgon to simply remember a situation that stood out among his memories, and how the Pherian Frodo had looked at that moment.  And the youth chose a moment when the Pheriannath were smoking their pipes after a meal, and the cousins were telling the most outrageous stories they could think of, and Frodo had been coaxed into laughter.  He paused to try to remember the shape of brow and nose, the angle of his chin and mouth, how his hair stood out from his face.

            And when he was done Lasgon nodded and said it was a fair start, although the tips of his slightly pointed ears showed here, and his mouth was not so broad, and his chin a bit softer....

            Finally, two seed cakes in his scrip for later, Lasgon took his leave, and Ruvemir felt he was at last coming to grips with Frodo Baggins.

            Shortly after Elise arrived to remove the dishes after the meal, and appeared delighted with the study done of the King's Friend he showed her.  "Oh, yes," she exclaimed, "so like this he looked.  On the day of the Coronation of our King Elessar his face shone so with gladness for his friend."  She took her load and withdrew, smiling as he rose to bow her out the door again as she hurried to finish her duties.

 *******

            Half an hour later she knocked again and brought in a flagon of wine and goblets and a tray of small cakes, and almost behind her the innkeeper arrived with the Captain of the Guard.  Now a third sat in the tall chair and made use of the folding table, drinking from one of the goblets and eating politely of the cakes as he described the young Captain Peregrin.  Nor did he seem the least put out such a one should have been granted such rank, allowing how his sacrifice for a land not his own earned him as much honor as he'd accept and more so.  He spoke with pride of how he'd been found after the battle by the Lord Gimli of the Dwarves, who'd fought with Prince Legolas the Elf at the side of the Lord Elessar himself, and of what those who were found with him had said of his skill and valor.

            "He was young, and although years older than many of our younger recruits I understand that he was not yet considered a man among his own people.  He had a remarkable sense of the absurd and a tendency toward mischief; but once he got his sword in hand he would become totally serious.

            "The sword he bore was wrought by the Dúnedain of the Northern lands long ago in the time of their fights against the might of Angmar, and after the battle he called it Troll's Bane.  It was truly a long knife, but in his hands it was an adequate sword, and he wielded it well, for he was taught along the way how to use it by our own Captain Boromir and by the Lord Elessar himself, I am told.  The Prince Legolas also taught him special moves with it, for when he fights with a blade Lord Legolas wields a white knife wrought by his people. Together they figured out strategies in how he could use his shorter stature and the shorter length of his blade to his advantage, and before he left to accompany the King's Friend back to their homeland we were having him teach some of these strategies to our newer recruits, particularly those who are shorter.  Sometimes it is an advantage to use unusual techniques, we learned.  And certainly he could not use any of the swords intended for the use of our regular troupes, for they were almost longer than he was tall!"

            "What were his regular duties?"

            "To stand guard before the throne of the King, or before his quarters.  And when on duty he was at one with the other guards of the Citadel.  But, when off duty--then we would be reminded he was yet a young one among a merry folk, for his curiosity and his often outrageous tricks were beyond belief.  And his constant hunger was often a matter of amazement among our folk, for it seems Halflings eat a prodigious amount."

            Then he offered a physical description of Peregrin Took, of the auburn curls close about his head, the wide eyes, straight nose with an unexpected upward tilt at the end, the mouth that tended to be slightly open, the slightly large incisors, the high cheekbones, the leaf-shaped ears, the slightly defensive stance, the bare feet with the curling hair upon them--

            Here Ruvemir took pause, for here, as with the ears, was sign these were not just short Men.  No one had mentioned the bare, hairy feet to him before, and he had the Captain describe them again and did a study just of one of them and had him indicate whether or not he had the right of it.  It would have been horrible if he'd started a sculpture of Pheriannath and put them into boots!

            By the end of the session Ruvemir felt he was well on his way to realizing Peregrin Took, the Ernil i Pheriannath.  And he wondered how he'd achieved the title of "Prince of Halflings."  After he'd bowed the Captain out of the room, he went at last to light the boiler in the bathing room, finally free to soak his hip.


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: Larner

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 04/25/08

Original Post: 12/05/04

Back to challenge: The Blind, the Deaf, the Crippled

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