The Blind, the Deaf, the Crippled

King's Commission, The

65. Healing through Teaching

Healing through Teaching

            The following day Ruvemir went up to the work site again, this time ready to do work.  He was relieved when, a half hour after his own coming, Celebgil arrived with his box of tools, set it where it had been before.  Ruvemir himself had brought only the paint pot and a few chisels at first, chisels to do rough cutting.  Together they worked that day on Sam's stone. 

            At noon Faramir came out and watched them for a time with relief in his eyes, relief and, when Ruvemir looked to him, reassurance.  An hour later the six apprentices who had indicated to the Prince they wished to remain in sculpting had all been brought to the site by ones and twos by guards sent out earlier in the day to gather them.  Celebgil stopped, embarrassed.  Ruvemir smiled at him.  He, too, stopped, and looked at them, the parents who had accompanied their sons to the site, with reassurance.  He set down his tools and wiped his hands on the kerchief he carried, one that Miriel had embroidered for him.  He turned to them all.

            "I am Ruvemir son of Mardil of Lebennin, Master Sculptor.  Unlike your sons' former Master, I have had but one personal apprentice in the past, and his indenture was transferred to another--not because of my appetites, but due to my preference to move about to take commissions.  I have worked in many places, and largely alone, borrowing apprentices from others from time to time to assist in the rough cutting, as my own ability to do such is impaired by my condition as a mannikin.  However, each apprentice I have worked with, no matter how temporarily, has learned from me, and three are already Master Sculptors in their own right.

            "I am told that these youths have learned largely from one another rather than from their Master.  This is not what is expected of us as masters.  It is not what I do or will do, or what any legitimate master will do.  Do you understand?"

            All, youths and families, indicated understanding.

            "Very good.  We will start with the names of the tools.  I will have Celebgil tell these not because he should work as the teacher, although senior apprentices do assist in the instruction of junior apprentices, but to show you that he has learned this."

            Celebgil stood proudly.  "I did learn this, not from--him, but from Master Ruvemir, as he began to instruct the other apprentices with whom he has worked here.  They were not intended to be primarily sculptors of stone, but work with other materials.  However, while they remained here, waiting to be taken to their primary masters, they learned what he would teach, and it was more than I'd learned before.

            "Now attend.  This particular mallet is...."

            Ruvemir watched with approval, watched as automatically the others began to gather near, to handle the tools as Celebgil named each and described its primary purpose, and demonstrated on one of the stones brought from Varondil's sources for use in practice pieces how it was used.  Soon all were repeating the names, examining them, and a few taking the chance to experiment with them, although most were familiar with the tools and how they were used.

            Celebgil's parents arrived not long after with Gabon and their children, and these, too, began to gather near as they listened to their brother explaining the use of the tools.  Finally Celebgil had described all the tools that they had at the site that day, and he stopped and looked at Ruvemir.  Ruvemir nodded approvingly.  "There are many more that we use, and chisels of all sorts and sizes for different sizes and cuts and effects.  Those will have to wait until we have the chance to bring more back to the site.

            "We are working here on a memorial commissioned by the King himself in honor of the Pheriannath who assisted in the War of the Ring.  I had the honor to meet with three of the four and many in their families and many also of their friends in their own land of the Shire, far to the west and north in Eriador of Arnor.  The fourth, the Ringbearer himself, the Lord Frodo Baggins, has left Middle Earth, having been granted the grace to go to the West into the Undying Lands to find the healing he could not receive here.  The cost to him for what he accomplished was too great for his mortal frame and nature to continue to bear here in Middle Earth.  Believe me when I tell you that there has been far worse evil than what you have known for many to face in this world.

            "Many have looked at the small stature of the figures and have been amazed.  However, I was made to promise I would depict them as they are, not as great heroes who are larger than life.  Pheriannath are small, a bit more than half the size of most Men.  They do not grow beards, and their ears are gently leaf-shaped with slightly pointed tips.  They mature more slowly than we Men, coming of age in their early thirties, usually; and they typically live to be around a hundred years in age.  They are, however, subject to the same maladies as Men, the same fevers and typical illnesses.  They are primarily farmers, and most work at gardening if not at farming, even when their primary employment is something else entirely.  They must eat more frequently than we Men, and most of the menfolk take pleasure in a strange pastime called smoking as well, a skill they have taught to the Dwarves and Men who live near or pass through their homes in the Shire and in the nearby Breelands.

            "These figures are only slightly larger than the Hobbits themselves--Hobbits being the name they give their own race.  The figure with the completed face is that of Captain Peregrin Took, who while he was in the city took the oath as a Guard of the Citadel.  This will be the figure of Sir Meriadoc Brandybuck, who swore allegiance to the King of Rohan and who is seen as a Knight of the Riddermark.  The third is that of the Lord Samwise Gamgee, the Esquire, the Faithful, who accompanied his friend and Master, Frodo Baggins, all the way to the Crack of Doom and back again.  The fourth figure has been worked upon, and is in storage down lower in the city for safekeeping.  It will be brought to the site only when it is almost finished.

            "Who can tell me what stone they are being wrought from?"

            The teaching went on for another hour and a half, and then the Lord Prince Steward came forth to call all into the Citadel.

            He took his seat on the black Steward's chair, and today the Lady Queen sat on the grey seat provided for the Steward of Arnor, again with her daughter in her lap.  The child was growing, and her eyes were becoming clearly blue-grey with the same intensity seen in those of her mother and father.  Her hair was also lighter than it had been at her birth, becoming a dark gold.  She sat up now in her mother's lap, watching the coming of the apprentices and their families with interest.  Chairs had been provided, and most now sat, somewhat nervous.  Faramir examined them all for a time, his mild yet discerning eyes seeking out and noting discomfort.  At last he spoke.

            "I have received word that more apprentices have been found in the small community that works the quarry from which Varondil's family has garnered its wealth as a source of the marble which they have supplied to the city for many generations.  Exactly how many illegal and illicit apprentices the Man has had over the years we have no idea, although it appears to have numbered somewhere close to thirty. 

            "I assure you that Guild Master Dorion has had no idea what was happening in this workshop, for Varondil was able to suborn one of the Guild's secretaries to help in hiding his perfidy from scrutiny.  The secretary involved was taken out of the city some time ago and held from communication with Varondil that we might more easily learn the nature of those activities the sculptor had been involved in--it was becoming plain there was major ill here, but of what sort we had no idea.  Most thought it the more common crimes of tax evasion, substitution of poor quality stone for monument quality, or such.  All were shocked when we finally learned, just the other day, just what was involved in this situation.

            "Celebgil here was lent to Master Ruvemir by Varondil to assist in rough cutting the stones for the memorial to the Hobbits.  He was granted this in return for his silence regarding what was happening among Varondil's apprentices, although he was also threatened with harm to befall a personal friend among the apprentices if he spoke.  I suppose similar threats were used on the others who were approached by Varondil for immoral purposes?"

            The two boys who had been subject to the advances of Varondil nodded.  The Prince sighed.

            "Celebgil's friend has been found, largely unhurt, sent to be held outside the city.  He says this happened after he sought to run away, to return to his kinfolk in Lossarnach to tell them what was befalling him here."  Ruvemir noted the look of relief on Celebgil's face, the relaxation of his shoulders.  "He will soon join us, for he, also, wishes to continue to learn the work of sculpting, but from a proper master.

            "I wished for you all to see what a proper master is like, which is why I had you all brought to this level today to meet with Master Ruvemir.  He works outside, largely, and so his teaching has been seen by many of the city as he has offered it to those who work with him.  However, as I believe he has told you, he is one who travels from one place to another to accept commissions, and so has not kept an apprentice full term as yet.  His next commissions are to be completed in Eriador of Arnor, and so when he is finished here he will travel to the Northern Kingdom.  He will not be able to take with him more than two apprentices, and he hopes one of these will be Celebgil, with whom he has learned to work well.

            "Master Dorion has instituted reviews of all apprenticeships examined under the auspices of the corrupt secretary, who will be disciplined when he returns from his current employment in a few months.  Lord Ifram of Rhun is working now on contacting the families of the boys taken from his land to facilitate their return to their own people, and we have sent word to Lord Rustovrid of Harad regarding those taken from his land.

            "Is the youth Gabon here?"

            Celebgil's parents urged him forward.  He stepped forward to stand before the Steward.  "We found this in Varondil's home, in a secret place.  Can you indicate what we must do to release you from the curse of silence?"  Faramir held out a small, dark doll.  The boy's eyes grew very large but hopeful.  He looked at the face of the Steward as if to ascertain this was not further torment, but apparently reassured he stepped forward, examined the thing but would not touch it, then pointed to its face, then to his own tongue, miming pulling something forth.  Faramir watched him closely, then examined the doll, finally noting something.  Carefully he reached down as if trying to remove something, but stopped when he realized Gabon was acting as if physically distressed.

            "Let me try," the Queen directed, and he rose to bring the doll to her, pointed to the face.  "I see--a thorn in the mouth to still the tongue, and in the throat to still the voice.  Crude, but effective."  She took the thing and held it, sang softly over it, finally reached down and delicately removed two thorns, setting them carefully on the arm of her chair.  She asked for a dish, and it was brought.  Gently she set the two thorns on it and directed they be taken and immediately burnt.  She then summoned the boy to her, placed her hand on his mouth, gently touched his tongue, then his throat, singing again softly.  Ruvemir could see the youth start to tremble, then to straighten as the Queen again brought her hand to hold her child.  She gave the doll to the boy, and directed, "Take care of this that no other enemy might gain such power over you."

            "I will, Lady Queen," the boy whispered, still loudly enough to be heard by all.

She smiled and indicated the Prince should continue.

            Faramir straightened.  "What do you wish to do with your life, Gabon?  Do you think your parents are living?"

            The youth shook his head.  "I am from Far Harad, where slavers are numerous.  My whole village was emptied when I was but twelve circles of the Sun.  I was sent to Umbar, where I was made to serve a Lord Landrion until he sent me here to Varondil's workshop.  I have no home to return to, little hope of finding my family alive, if at all."

            "What then is your wish for your future?"

            "I have had joy with the family of Hirdon, if they will agree to keep me now."

            Prince looked to Queen, who nodded.  "So be it, then.  Master Hirdon, do you and your wife wish to continue with this one as an apprentice in your shop?"

            "We are full willing," Hirdon affirmed, his arms about his wife and oldest son, his younger children crowded before them, their mother grasping a shoulder of the two elder, the youngest boy, Curion, standing protected between them.

            The Prince smiled.  Finally he continued, "Once Master Dorion has qualified all masters of record within his guild, he will find proper placements for those of you who have indicated you still wish to continue in sculpting.  Until then, you will be subject to the instruction of Master Ruvemir, if he is willing.  He is now offered the use of Varondil's workshop, and is asked to see that those commissions it has taken are completed.  It will lengthen the amount of time it will take to complete his own work, but perhaps we can arrange for at least one of the figures to be moved to that place so he can work on it as he teaches.  Is this acceptable to all?"

            Ruvemir was not particularly pleased to find he'd be working primarily inside, but agreed to allow the figure of Master Samwise brought to that place for the time being, as long as the Steward should find one to instruct in record keeping and figuring volumes and weights.  Faramir laughed as he indicated he knew exactly the one to offer such instruction.


            The next day the cart on which the blocks had been transported was brought to carry Sam's stone down to the workshop in the Fifth Circle, and a group of Dwarves led by Orin saw to its transport.  Orin then set himself as the secondary instructor under Ruvemir.  The majority of Ruvemir's tools were brought out from the house on the way, and soon all were settled in the workshop.  He and Ruvemir had the apprentices set out their tools and inspected their condition, then examined the youths one by one on their knowledge of the names and uses of each.  They also had some of the older ones who had done maintenance and sharpening display their knowledge and use of the tools and devices maintained for this purpose. 

            Again the Dwarves supplied the group with many samples of waste stone for practice pieces, and all were invited, from youngest to eldest, to choose pieces on which to work when they were not otherwise involved.  All were also informed they must do at least two drawings a week, and subjects was given for those who could not find one of their own. 

            Then the effigies currently underway were examined and all were questioned as to who had done what part of the work.  Three of the eldest had done the greater part of the shaping, one of whom had decided to leave sculpting altogether.  Now the remaining two agreed to oversee much of the shaping of the remaining commissions, although each was to practice sculpting figures and faces, hands, and feet for at least an hour a day.

            Not certain how to handle things otherwise, Ruvemir had discussed with Elise the possibility of bringing the apprentices into their home in the upper rooms for their new quarters, and she'd agreed.  Gilfileg was amused with the situation and agreed to oversee their behavior in the evenings. 

            Seeing that now Elise was starting her new duties as the Princess Melian's nurse, Ruvemir decided it was time to hire a housekeeper and cook, and on catching Mistress Loren come down to prepare one of the guest houses on the Sixth Level for an expected party arriving from the Dunlendings, he asked her how he would go about finding such a person.  She laughed and told him whom to contact in the Guild of Carers, and he made plans to set off for that Guild Hall in the Fourth Circle on the next afternoon, once he was certain the apprentices would be engaged in their work and he could trust Orin and Celebgil to keep them on task and out of mischief.  Given permission by the Queen to take Melian with her as long as they were accompanied by a guard already approved by Lord Hardorn, Elise arranged to meet him at the workshop and accompany him.


            Mistress Mirieth looked up surprised when her secretary led into her rooms the mannikin, small woman, infant, and accompanying guard.  She had been examining the papers of a woman who had applied to the guild for membership but who had not yet fulfilled the requirements for acceptance, and was troubled, for she wished to see this one helped.  She'd not been advised of any appointments to seek a housekeeper, maid, or nurse.  However, she set aside the papers before her and smiled politely as she asked how she might be of assistance.

            "I am Master Sculptor Ruvemir, and this is my wife Elise, who has been a member of your guild, she told me last night, for five years.  I work on the memorial to the Pheriannath the King has commissioned.  We are newly married, just over a month so." 

            Mirieth looked at the child with a question in her eyes.  Elise colored.

            "I am employed in the Citadel now, Mistress.  This child is my charge.  The Guard is here on her behalf."

            "I see.  Please forgive me, Mistress Elise."

            The mannikin continued.  "I have been asked to take over instruction of the apprentices of another master who has left us, and we will need to house them and arrange for their upkeep.  As both Elise and I are employed, I with my work and she with the care of the babe, we require a housekeeper and a cook to assist in the keeping of the house and the preparation of food for us all.  Elise and I and our other guest will be kept full busy overseeing the apprentices when we are home.

            "So, how many will there be to care for altogether?"

            "The two of us, Gilfileg, eight apprentices all told, although a few may wish to remain in the homes of their parents, and during visits, my ward and possibly my father.  They, however, will come probably only two or three times in a year.  Normally eleven and up to thirteen, most likely."

            "Most likely," she said dryly.  She shook her head.  "This is quite a household for two newly married to manage.  I agree, you will need help."

            She looked to the papers before her, then smiled.  "I have one who is not yet qualified for membership who needs employment desperately.  This position will assist her in qualifying for membership.  She is accustomed to cleaning after a large family--we could see if she will accept the position of housekeeper.  And as for the cook--I know the perfect person.  One thing--the one I suggest as housekeeper has a small child, and one who is crippled."

            The mannikin shrugged.  "I am to worry if a child is crippled, Mistress?  We will consider her."


            Liana looked at the message sent down to her from the Guild of Carers with shock and hope.  She was not yet qualified under their rules for membership, but needed something to support herself and her child.  Angara sat on the floor, clasping her cup to her chest between her hands.  Angara had been born with arms exceptionally short, and no one could say why this had happened.  Liana's husband had seen this the result of evil will and had turned her out.  After five years of marriage to that one and after caring for her father-in-law's family all those years, she was surprised and bewildered by this turn of events.  Not able to find acceptance in her own land, she had gone west, finally reaching the borders of Gondor, where compassionate border guards had assisted her to make her way to the White City.  For two years she had had employment in a smaller inn in the First Circle, until Angara was old enough to walk about and follow her mother, at which time the keeper of the inn became afraid the girl's appearance, with her abnormally short arms, would scare away custom, and he'd let her go.

            Could she truly have found a place now?  She certainly hoped so, for her funds were running out.  She carefully prepared herself for the walk up to the sixth level to see this Ruvemir son of Mardil and his wife.

            She arrived shortly before sunset and was let into the house by a tall Man, a handsome man who wore a glove on his right hand.  "Master Ruvemir?" she asked in her heavily accented Westron.

            "No, I am Gilfileg son of Gilthor, Mistress.  Master Ruvemir should be home any time now, and Mistress Elise will be kept busy this night as the child's mother must meet with an embassy from the Dunlendings.  I am not certain what hour she will be here."

            "The child's mother?"

            "Mistress Elise is employed caring for the Lady Arwen's daughter, Mistress.  You are Mistress Liana?"


            He smiled down at the child she carried in her arms.  "And this is whom?"

            "My daughter, Angara."

            "Angara?  Welcome, Angara.  How old are you?"

            The girl looked up at him silently, and her mother sighed ruefully.  "Until she knows you better she will most likely not talk.  She is two years."

            "Where are you from, Mistress Liana?"

            She'd been dreading this question.  "From the East."

            "From Rhun?"  She noted he was not the least concerned, which surprised her.


            "You were married there?"

            "The marriage is no more."

            His face grew solemn.  "Why did he cast you out?  You do not have the look of one who would be unfaithful."

            The anger still filled her.  "Because of the child--it was a girl and not a boy, and--and----"  She set the girl on the ground, and then Gilfileg could see.

            "Ah, he accused you of evil will, then."

            She looked at him, shocked.  "You know of our beliefs?"

            His own face was grim.  "I spent eight years among your people as a slave."  He removed his glove and she could see his hand.  "Yes, I know somewhat of your beliefs."

            The door behind them opened and she looked to it, then down as she saw the person entering was a child--no, not a child at all.  He looked tired, but smiled to see her.  "You are Mistress Liana?  Well and good.  I am Ruvemir son of Mardil.  Shall we go into the day room then?"

            She felt hope, hope that here she and her child would find acceptance.  The first unforced smile before others in two years graced her face.

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

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