King's Commission, The
67. Letters from the Sixth Circle
Letters from the Sixth Circle
Dearest friends within the Shire,
I send you greetings from Gondor. I did start to write while in Lebennin, but was unable to complete the letter--not that I could have sent it from my father's home after all. We were accompanied south by those who live across from us, people, we have learned, who have powerful enemies. My father's house was assaulted, and there was one death. More than that I cannot say now, but hope to tell you at length some time in the future.
The handfasting was done in the garden before the King's Head, and it was attended by many. The King, fearing there would not be enough food to please Folco and Pando, brought even more with them from the kitchens of the Citadel, more than enough to please any family of Hobbits, I think. I know that I am now well and truly married, and rejoice to be so each morning I awaken to find Elise beside me.
It is a grief to have Ririon, Pando, Miriel, and Folco so far from us, and for my father to be returned home as well. He and my own former master from when I was an apprentice came for the handfasting, and I have found that Master Faragil is enchanted by Mistress Idril, Elise's grandmother, while my father is attracted to Elise's mother Lisbet. Now that Master Faragil and Adar are returned to their own homes I am uncertain what will come of the attraction.
Elise and I both thank you for your extraordinarily kind and thoughtful gifts for our wedding. They are all well appreciated. The stone tumblers are wonderfully suited for use by Ririon in especial; Elise has already put the cloths for the table into use; while we were gone one of those who care for the guest houses of the Citadel set the windowbox on the ledge of the window here in the day room, and planted the strawberries in it. We will use the book on the history of the Shire in teaching both our apprentices and Pando when he comes to visit us. The vase is even now sitting on the table filled with flowers. And the book sent by Sir Merry is well loved and read frequently. I hope our own gifts to you will reach you before Midsummer.
Folco and Miriel are now happily on the farm of my father, and Folco has already earned the respect of those who work it. They are now fostering two children rescued from a fire upon the Pelennor, two children saved from that fire by the King. The girl was badly burned and spent some weeks in the Houses of Healing under the care of the King and his brothers. Miriel often visited them and came to love them during the time of their recovery. They are very happy now with their new home, and the Lady Ioreth is gladdened to know they will always be surrounded by the love of good people.
We live now in the house in which once dwelt four Hobbits, a Wizard, an Elf and a Dwarf for a time. I have met the Healer Eldamir's wife next door, and she is one who is joyful. Her young son whom you saw as a babe, as is true of Ririon as well, is determined to grow as tall as the King himself.
I miss you all very much, and hope fully we can come north quickly. However, when that will be is still a question, for I will not be able to focus on the King's commission properly for some weeks yet--possibly some months. I had become concerned about the distrust the apprentice lent for assistance in the project has shown to his own master. The day we returned was the day on which the Guild Master for the Guild of Carvers came to examine the other apprentices, and learned that Master Varondil had been misusing his apprentices. Many, many problems were found, problems which one who had worked as a secretary for the Guild had assisted in covering from view. The Lord Prince Faramir has given me the oversight of Master Varondil's workshop and remaining apprentices for the time, and I anticipate it will be a worrying situation for a time.
Master Samwise and Mistress Rosie, I am enclosing a gift in honor of the birth of your daughter. The King tells me she was born apparently at the same time as the small Princess Melian, and he says also she is darker than Elanor but is also very beautiful. Certainly the Princess Melian is surpassing fair, which I suspect you will agree once you see her. How the King came to know so much of the birth of your daughter he would not say, although, having read the Red Book, I believe I can guess how it was done, with the use of somewhat brought from Isengard.
All is quiet in the city now that the King has gone to the war in Rhun. We have heard but little so far; how long it will last and what the outcome will be we do not know. Evidence has been found of treachery among the Rhunim, although what has been proven we do not yet know.
I send this first to Master Saradoc, and ask that he forward it to each in turn as was done before.
Elise and I are very happy; and although in the last day before the handfasting the anxiety did catch up with me, I got through it all very well. Miriel made part of the clothing and embroidered almost all of it for all to wear. I wore Prince Faramir's mantle, and Ririon wore the surcoat gifted to the Lord Frodo; and our Lord King and Lady Queen wore the garments made and embroidered by Miriel. And it is my considered opinion that mine was the most beautiful bride in the history of Middle Earth.
All send their greetings, and we look forward to seeing you when we come North at last--whenever that may prove to be.
Your servant and friend,
Ruvemir son of Mardil
I understand you and Frodo-Lad now have a baby sister who was born at the same time as the Lady Queen's new daughter. The Lady Evenstar's daughter is named Melian. What is your sister's name? The King says she is very beautiful also, as you and Melian are.
I miss you very much, and wish I could come to see you and your family now. However, I must finish my work here first, and it grows more complicated.
Hug your father and mother for me, please. And when they hug you, know I am glad every day that I have been granted the grace to know you and your family and your people. Your people's faithfulness strengthens me to face the world of Men, which is too often far more complicated than it ought to be. And as you stroke your sister's hair, know that Elise and I think of the two of you and Frodo-Lad, and hope to see you soon.
Did you realize just how determined and resourceful and brave your brother can be? He has faced down the jeers of foolish Men and the threats of brigands, and done it with grace and efficiency. I am so proud to have had him by my side.
He has now come to the house of Mistress Andúrien, and she is very pleased with his skills and talent, and had promised to teach him all she can, and to have other sculptors of clay open themselves to him as well. He did not wish to leave us, but will learn so much. And already he has a friend among the other apprentices in Mistress Andúrien's home, a girl named Raineth who has dark hair as is yours, and who loves to tell small jests which are so wonderfully told you must think a few moments to realize just what it is that you just heard.
I married my Elise on the last High Day of April, and then we went south to Lossarnach, Belfalas, and Lebennin. The King himself wedded us, and the Queen Arwen sat across from us with their new daughter Melian, who was born much the same time as Master Sam and Mistress Rosie's new daughter. I love my Elise, and am so grateful to have found her; and Miriel and Folco remain joyful in one another.
Be glad you live in your peaceful land. If I could, I think I would come to live nearby. Perhaps one day, after I have finished the King's commission, Elise and I will do that.
Ruvemir son of Mardil
These letters were followed by more, to Sancho and Angelica Proudfoot, to his father, to Ririon, to Master Faragil, to Miriel and Folco, to Pando. Finally, as he went to put the rest of the writing paper back into the desk where he'd found it, Ruvemir decided to write one last letter he'd not intended at first to do.
Oh, my dearest and beloved Master Samwise,
You cannot know how much right now I miss your companionship, your gentle wisdom and humor and good sense. All has become so complicated around us lately, I wish we could retreat to the Shire and hide from the world of Men for a time.
I cannot tell you all that has occurred at this time--let it suffice to say we have found ourselves facing danger, humiliation, betrayal, and uncertainty since the day on which your new daughter and the daughter of our Lord King and Lady Queen were born. It has not proven as dire as what you and your beloved Master faced on your own journey, but it has been discomforting enough, believe me. As a result we were unable to send any word from our family's estate, and I cannot write all I would wish at this time.
Hope is growing once more, however. The authors of the worst we faced have been identified, and I am told the two most capable of the Northern Rangers are to see the end of the business.
We have met one more Ranger from Eriador, and he has proven to be known to those who have become our neighbors. He is close kin to the Ranger you know best, apparently the closest in kinship to his father after our mutual friend himself. He now stays with us for a time, until the King returns to Gondor, we believe.
The worst situation we have come to face, however, has proven to be that involving the former master of the apprentice Celebgil who was lent to my service in pursuing the King's commission. Master Varondil was found to be abusing many of his apprentices in the most foul manner possible. He is now in prison, and so much disgust has he raised none will approach him. He is being held for judgment by the King himself. Until all other master sculptors within the city have been requalified (I will have to describe all the complications presented by the case when we see one another in person, I fear), it appears I will be required to accept authority over those of Varondil's apprentices who will agree to remain in training as sculptors of stone. I will also be required to see to it those commissions and orders for grave markers Varondil had accepted for the workshop will be completed and delivered, which, unfortunately will undoubtedly lead to others seeking to offer their own commissions. I will be unable to focus properly on the figures for the King's commission for some weeks--possibly even months, I fear. I am very frustrated by this turn of affairs.
To turn to more pleasant subjects, the wedding was the most profound experience I have ever known. The King came early with his Lady wife and the small Princess Melian to speak to me before the ceremony. Three of my fellows who worked alongside of me on the commission in Casistir had arrived to attend the wedding--Bergemon is nephew to the Master of the Guild of Carvers, and was advised by his uncle that I was to wed and when, so he brought with him Ferion and Damrod. All three were amazed to recognize him, and he and I both garnered much amusement from the situation.
But as the King prepared to leave the room, he recognized the surcoat that Ririon was wearing, and called Ririon to him. While he spoke to him, he laid his hand on Ririon's head; when he at last pulled his hand away Ririon began to blink and speak of something being suddenly in each eye. Afterwards he was shocked to find his vision had cleared somewhat. The King drew the matter out of each eye, and realized it was part of the scar tissue from the front of both eyes being sloughed away. He had already told us that it was unlikely that such a situation should occur; the Lady Arwen believes that the King's healing gift was manifested without conscious thought. Ririon's vision is still mostly unclear, but even the small amount of improvement he has known has eased his ability to travel and see some details in what is directly before him.
After the King gave the marriage document into our hands as is done in accordance with our customs, he laid a hand upon Elise's left shoulder and the other on my right shoulder as he spoke quietly to us alone on that which faces us as husband and wife. Both Elise and I felt a thrill pass through us at this. I know that we are, somehow, very deeply married to one another from the inside out, if I can express it in that manner.
I know that the King of Nùmenor stood before the Valar and the Creator himself for his people, and before the people of the island for the Valar and the Creator, much as does the Thain between the folk of the Shire and the King. In this manner the King served both parties as emissary and representative for the other. Apparently in our Lord King this ancient form of representation has been renewed; he himself expressed to Ririon that he believes the One desired for his vision to be somewhat improved on that day.
If through the offices of the King's touch this small amount of the mercy of Iluvatar was granted to he who is now as my son, how much more must the Lord Frodo be receiving, granted the grace to dwell for the remainder of his time on Tol Eressëa? I find myself rejoicing he was given that great gift, and am certain his healing in body and spirit is giving him much ease and comfort as he awaits your coming to join him.
I think of you and yours constantly, and rejoice so in the birth of your daughter. At the last moment the King asked me to be one of the witnesses for the birth of the Princess Melian. I was shocked at this honor and responsibility; but I believe that I was asked to perform this office as a surrogate for representation from the Shire. If you, Captain Peregrin, or Sir Meriadoc had been here, I am certain whichever one would have been there instead of me, and from the first. If Folco had been closer up to the level of the Citadel, I suspect he would have been there either instead of or alongside me.
By the way, both the King and Prince Faramir are fully approving of the disposition of those gifts they had made to the Lord Frodo, and both believe that Frodo would also approve and would have liked Ririon and me, seeing in us friends and others who share his own love of beauty and skill.
Please give Mistress Rosie and the rest of your family our greetings, and I pray your midsummer is a time of much happiness and ease. And bestow upon Elanor a kiss from me. I so hope to see you and all I have come to honor within the Shire soon, and to introduce you to Elise and Celebgil.
With much love and regard,
Ruvemir of Lebennin
Once this was finished he smiled, carefully folding it about the letter written to Elanor.
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