King's Commission, The
70. Tutelage in Honor
Tutelage in Honor
Ruvemir, Gilfileg, Eregiel, Orin, and Armanthol finally crossed the lane to the house of the sculptor and went in to the day room. Two others now played at draughts, while Meredin, Celebgil, and Gorondir were experimenting with clay on a table set aside for that purpose at one end of the room. Gilmirion was reading a history of Gondor to the party, and Angara was delightedly receiving attention from one of the younger boys, who was making string figures for her.
"Celebgil, Gilmirion, come here, please," directed Ruvemir. "You can give the history to Marvilion, Gilmirion. Please continue, Marvilion."
Celebgil wiped his hands with one of the towels provided for that purpose and came forward. "Yes, Master Ruvemir?"
"We are having one more joined to our group. This is Armanthol. His father has recently died most tragically, and he is to study under Lord Gilfileg and myself for a time. I wish the two of you to take him and show him where he will sleep, there in the large room."
Gilmirion looked at him, interested. They appeared much of an age. "The north alcove is empty--he can have that." He examined Armanthol. "Do you have any experience with sculpting or carving?"
Armanthol looked affronted. "Of course not," he snapped.
Gilfileg looked at him with reproof. "Here you are but one of many, and as you are but starting in your indenture you are the junior of all here, most of whom have studied sculpture for several years now. Do not start with anger or pride in your heart, lest others be moved to seek to strike it down. Go and see your place, then come down to bathe. I will see to providing you with clothing for the next few days until we can obtain suitable garb of your own."
Ruvemir drew Elise apart and explained the situation, and she sighed. "His father is the one who ordered the murder attacks on Ifram and Shefti? How horrible!"
"He also apparently suggested that the two he met find a way to assassinate the King Elessar."
She started to giggle in spite of her horror. "Imagine how he must have felt when he realized this was the King Elessar, and he'd tried to commission him to kill himself!"
Even Ruvemir found himself laughing at the idea. "The King must have been enjoying himself thoroughly in a dark way. But he doesn't appear to have had any compunction this time about leaving the end of this fellow to Lord Marcipor."
Her laughter fled, and she reached down to embrace him. "I wonder what he must feel some times, torn between the worlds of war and peace."
He shook his head. "I cannot imagine."
The following morning he took Celebgil, Gorondir, and Armanthol down to check out the small workshop. The first key proved to be the one to the door, and they quickly went in. The windows were dark with several years of grime, and the floor thick with dust, with stone shards swept to one wall as if no one had bothered finding anything to remove them in the last time the space had been used. Other than that the main room was empty, and would be a good space to work Lord Frodo's stone.
The second key proved to be to a back storage room. Off of it was a privy that fed into the sewers that ran down through the city. There were a few stacked blocks of stone, both marble and granite, he noted, suitable for grave markers; and there was one larger block of marble which had once been marked for rough cutting but had only had a small amount of work done on it, then was abandoned. Behind the block they found a bedstead with a stained mattress on it.
Ruvemir wrinkled his nose in distaste. "I hope this is all we find," he said. "Apparently he used at least one apprentice here, then. The foul creature."
Gorondir nodded agreement, Celebgil looked almost sick with disgust, and Armanthol had but a little idea of what was being discussed.
"What use will be this space?" he asked.
"Master Orin has indicated he will have his fellows have the stone for Lord Frodo brought here so I can work it again. It is in the lower city now, in the Dwarves' warehouse. However, I cannot easily move through the city, so steep are its streets." He examined the blocks in the storage area, and smiled. "Several of these are suitable for use in the surround for the base of the memorial. I will have to tell the King when he returns."
"Is the one who stays in your house truly the King's kinsman?" Armanthol asked.
"Yes, he is. He is of the Northern Dúnedain, and they have told me several times that most of those are the Lord King Elessar's own kindred. The Lord King himself is of the direct line of Kings of the Northern lineage, descended directly from Elendil and Isildur father to son; and is descended from Anárion as well through the daughter of King Ondoher, the princess Fíriel, who married the last King of Arnor, Arvedui. Lord Gilfileg, I am told, is three removes from the Line of Kings, the Lord Hardorn and his brothers five on the side of their father. Lord Hardorn and his brothers are the King's first cousins through the King's mother; Lord Gilfileg is a second or third cousin." He smiled. "I fear it would take a Hobbit to explain the full relationship."
"What are Hobbits?"
"Their own name for the Pheriannath, or Periannath as the Northern Dúnedain call them, or the Halflings as they are called in Westron. Hobbits are much given to the study of genealogy."
"Who is this Lord Frodo Baggins I am to learn of?"
Celebgil looked at him pityingly. "Do you know nothing of the downfall of Sauron, then?"
"He was a great spirit who claimed lordship over the world, and he fell at the last, after which your Lord Elessar became King of Gondor. He is supposed to have defeated Sauron in some manner. I do not understand it."
Celebgil shook his head. "No works of Man could defeat Sauron this time. He was destroyed through the destruction of his own artifice."
Armanthol shrugged. "It means nothing to me."
Gorondir snorted. "It means nothing to you? We are the ones who had to look daily abroad from our own walls to see the smoke of Mordor and the fumes of Orodruin reaching out to overwhelm us. Always he hated Gondor, the descendants of the survivors of Númenor."
Ruvemir nodded his agreement. "The three northern lines of the Kings were also threatened by Sauron and his creatures, and two of them were destroyed. He'd thought the third destroyed as well, but he was wrong, it turned out. Our Lord King's family sent him to Imladris to be fostered from early childhood, hidden under another name, the word given that the son of Arathorn and Gilraen had died of a fever. Once he came to manhood he was told his identity and returned to the Dúnedain to learn leadership among Men. Long he labored against the Enemy, in the North, here in Gondor, and in Rohan. He also traveled in secret among the folk of Rhun and Harad, even, I believe, in Umbar.
"But it was not the might of the King returned that destroyed the armies and lord of Mordor. What do you know of the Rings of Power?"
"Only that Sauron wrought them and supposedly gave them to Men, Dwarves, and Elves to entrap and enslave them."
"Sauron made but one of his own, the great Ring, the Ruling Ring. The rest were made by Celebrimbor of Eregion, greatest of Elvensmiths of Middle Earth. He was taught the way of creating Rings of Power by Sauron in the guise of the Lord of Gifts, and was assisted in the forging of the Rings for Men and Dwarves by Sauron; but Sauron had no part in the forging of the three Elven Rings, which have now passed over the Sea, to the Undying Lands."
"The Undying Lands are but a place of tales and stories."
Ruvemir looked at him and shook his head. "The Elves whom you will see here tell a different tale."
"I don't believe in Elves. I've never seen one."
"You saw the Queen last night. She is the daughter of Elrond Peredhel, Elrond Half-Elven. She gave up her own right to travel to the Undying Lands to remain here in Middle Earth, to marry her beloved, who is a mortal. The King himself, as is true of all the true Dúnedain, has Elvish blood. He is the descendent of Elros Tar-Minyatur, brother to Elrond. When the Lord Elrond chose the life of the Eldar, the Lord Elros chose mortality and the life and death of Mankind."
"What does this have to do with the destruction of Mordor?"
"When he created the Ruling Ring, keyed to reveal the works wrought by the wearers of the other great Rings and to govern them, when It was worn by one of sufficient power of his or her own, Sauron put the greater part of his own essence and power into it. Only if the Ring itself was destroyed could he be brought down also. But only in one place could that be done--within Mordor itself, in the Sammath Naur of Orodruin, in Sauron's own Place within the depths of Mount Doom."
"Did your King Elessar carry it there, then?"
"No, he did not. A Hobbit carried it there, one who was not a warrior, but was a scholar and writer--and artist as well."
Gorondir looked up in interest. "The Lord Frodo was an artist?"
Celebgil nodded. "Master Ruvemir holds a book the Lord Frodo copied for his kinsman when he was a child, and the Lord Frodo also illustrated it and bound it. It is a thing of beauty. He didn't carve, though."
Ruvemir shook his head as he smiled. "He did try his hand at carving once that we are aware of. The walking stick Ririon carries--we found his signature sign on it."
"He did the carving of the dragon on it?" Celebgil smiled in delight. "How wonderful! When did you learn this?"
"Not long after we came to Bag End in the Shire, the home of which the Lord Frodo was Master after his beloved cousin Bilbo tired of the Shire and the effects of the Ring he'd carried for over sixty years. A box built and carved by the Lord Frodo's father Drogo Baggins lies in the study there, a lovely thing decorated with the image of a Hobbit leading a pony through trees. On it we found the signature sign, and Ririon found it on a box he was gifted by the Tooks, who are also kin to the Lord Frodo. Then when Pando came to me with his box with the image of a Dwarf carved on it, I saw the signature sign there as well. After we found the signature sign of Drogo Baggins on Ririon's box he looked to see if Drogo had carved the dragon on the walking stick as well, and instead we found the signature sign of the Lord Frodo himself."
"Ririon said the Lord Frodo's signature sign is a dragonfly, didn't he?"
"Yes, it is."
"Will you work it into the sculpture of the Lord Frodo, do you think?"
Ruvemir paused, having never thought of such a thing, then smiled. "Yes, I just might do that. It would be a private joke, I suppose. I don't know if I will tell the Lord Sam of it, though--let him find for himself. He will be mightily amused, I am certain."
They came out into the outer room again, and Ruvemir decided where the figure must go while he worked upon it. There was a knock at the double door, and it opened to admit three Dwarves, Orin, Borin, and Dorin. Orin grunted with satisfaction. "You were able to open it, then."
"Yes, we were. I think to put the figure of the Lord Frodo there, don't you agree?"
The Dwarf looked, nodded, took a piece of soft red brick out of his pocket and marked the spot upon the floor. "What of the others?"
"The large block there, and the tall one there." Again the Dwarf marked the spaces.
"Anything else you wish moved once we are here?"
Celebgil looked down on Ruvemir. "The bedstead?" he asked.
The mannikin nodded. "Yes, we will have that out, at least, and the mattress burnt. There is a bedstead in the inner room, behind the large block. It appears Varondil--entertained--himself here from time to time. I wish it out."
The Dwarf's expression hardened. "I understand, Ruvemir."
Ruvemir turned to the other Dwarves and bowed deeply. "It is an honor to see you again, Masters Dorin and Borin."
Dorin smiled his small smile. "I'd thought to take your apprentices tomorrow and teach them somewhat of the working of clay."
"Oh," Celebgil said, delighted. "May I ask my father and brothers to come, too? They are potters."
"Very good," Dorin said, smiling. "It will be an honor to have them there, and your father can teach them somewhat of his work also, which is likely to be different than mine. Master Ruvemir, may I borrow this one for a time, then? If he will introduce me to his father, we can perhaps devise an even more elaborate lesson for your apprentices."
"Gladly, then. And I thank you."
"It will give you the chance to work the Lord Frodo's stone, or that of Samwise Gamgee. Perhaps both. We will keep the rest of your young Men involved and entertained."
Ruvemir smiled. "You cannot know how much this means to me."
Celebgil took Dorin and Borin off to meet his father, and Ruvemir carefully worked the elaborate key off the ring for Orin. "I'll have a new copy made for you in case one should go lost," the Dwarf promised. "We will have the blocks moved here by the time you come down in the morning. Shall I bring up your tools as well?"
"I would be most grateful, Orin. What do you hear from Lord Gimli and Dorlin?"
"From the Lord Gimli that he is entertained by seeing our devices we wrought for the Lord Aragorn in use--they cause much confusion among the Wainriders, he tells me, when the wheels of their wains are caught and their spokes destroyed. And they are so cunningly deployed that those driving the wains cannot see them until their wheels are damaged. Others of our devices block roads for carriages and force the Wainriders to have to dismount to fight. This puts them at a disadvantage for they do not practice to fight so.
"Dorlin has already started on his journey with his family to Erebor. He was able to travel to the North much faster on his own."
"I can imagine. The coach is rather slow when pulled by teams of ponies which must be rested or changed frequently."
"He has said that traveling with you in the winter was a good experience, and he does not regret it. He is proud to have assisted you. Well, I must be off to arrange for the use of the cart."
"Thank you again for all you have done, Orin."
The Dwarf gave a great smile and headed back down through the city, while Ruvemir led the two still with him into the other workshop, to look on the figure taking shape there.
"This will be the figure of the Lord Samwise Gamgee. Of course, in his own land Sam is not a Lord at all--he is a gardener...." And so Ruvemir began telling the story of Frodo Baggins and how the Ring of Power came into his possession.
Gorondir was fascinated, while Armanthol listened skeptically. Yet, as the story unfolded the young Man from Umbar became increasingly involved in it, certainly more so than he'd thought to. As Ruvemir described Bag End and the two Masters Sam had served there, the way that Bilbo Baggins had not appeared to age since he made his unexpected journey to the Lonely Mountain with thirteen Dwarves and a Wizard, the growing disquiet he felt, the description of feeling stretched like butter scraped over too much bread--as Ruvemir spoke, Armanthol was listening, his imagination beginning to fill in the images. Gorondir had sat on his stool at the table where he worked and was listening also, but he was also beginning to sketch. Ruvemir told the story from the time Frodo came to Bag End to the fateful Party when Bilbo left Bag End and the Shire to go back out into the Wilds, leaving behind his bereft adopted heir and a certain gold Ring. Then he left off, and both youths gave protests, Armanthol surprising himself as he realized he was sorry to hear the story end for the time.
Gorondir looked at his Master with fascination. "And you have truly been there, in the Shire, into their homes dug into the hillsides?"
Ruvemir nodded, smiling. "I've been inside four smials--Brandy Hall where Sir Merry will one day follow his father as Master of the Hall and chief of the Brandybuck family and of the districts known as Buckland and the Marish; the Great Smial where the Thain lives, he who is father of Captain Pippin, Thain of the Shire, and chieftain of the Took clan wherever they may live within the Shire; Bag End; and the home of Hamfast Gamgee in Hobbiton. Each is different from the rest, and all are warm, comfortable, and welcoming, even the relatively small smial in which the Lord Samwise was born and raised beneath the larger smial of Bag End further up the Hill. Most Men could not stand within them comfortably. As mannikins, Miriel and I could do so easily. It felt odd to come out again into Bree where the rooms are taller, proportioned again for most Men.
"I do regret not being there when the gardens begin to bloom and the crops begin to spring up in the fields. You can see in the faces of the Hobbits as they speak of such things that they love the land and growing things. My brother-in-law waxes quite poetic, although he appears quite happy on our father's farm in Lebennin."
Armanthol stood straighter. "Your brother-in-law?" he asked, shocked.
"Yes, my brother-in-law, Folco Boffin, who is a cousin to the Lord Frodo. While we visited the Great Smial we met him as he visited the Thain, and he became interested in my sister. He drove our coach to Hobbiton and Bag End, and was invited to stay by Lord Samwise and Mistress Rose. They married three weeks after Yule."
"And happy they are," said the voice of one who'd entered quietly as Ruvemir had told his story. The other three were all startled.
"Master Faragil?" asked Ruvemir.
The older sculptor smiled. "Yes, I've returned to Minas Anor. I found I could not live happily without pursuing the courtship of a certain small woman, as your friend Mistress Narieth would have called her. It is long and long I've lived alone since Carien died and left me."
"Have you seen Mistress Idril yet, then?"
"No--I have taken rooms again at the King's Head, but came up first to bring you letters from home. Elise told me you would most like be here." He examined the figure of Samwise Gamgee. "It progresses more slowly."
"I am much distracted."
Faragil laughed. "Do you think Master Dorion would allow me to share your duties? It would give you more time with your figures."
"You would do this, and for me? Oh, Master Faragil, I would be so grateful!"
The next day the apprentices of Master Varondil began their proper education in the working of clay, Master Faragil had a long interview with Guild Master Dorion and the Steward, and Ruvemir took Celebgil, Gorondir, Gilfileg, and Armanthol to the smaller workshop where he gently undraped the figure of Frodo Baggins, bowed to it respectfully, examined it thoroughly to see it had taken no harm, and began the further shaping of it, carefully describing to the others what he was doing and why. The sweep of the Elven cloak was becoming clearer, the shape of the head more that of the Hobbit, the right arm more definitely the arm and hand of Frodo Baggins. Orin had lingered, and listened with interest, smiled and nodded with approval.
At noon they left it, went to a nearby inn for lunch, and then went up two levels to the work site. "Three days a week I will work here, then," Ruvemir decided. He undraped the two figures, smiled into the features of Peregrin Took, began to describe him to those with him, told of the dropped stone in Moria.
The servitors from the Citadel came out, delighted to hear he would again begin working here three days a week, asked what types of meals he would like served. "We will miss the young Halfling who served you," they told him. "The cooks accepted his appetite as a challenge." All laughed.
"I am certain he is proving a challenge to Mistress Andúrien's cook," Ruvemir smiled. "But the Mistress herself is full of praise for his talent."
The five of them went back down to the house in the Sixth Circle, and together carried the box of tools back up to the work site, and prepared for work there the next day.
And so the pattern of the days for the remainder of the summer was set, one day at the work site, the next in the workshop with the apprentices, the High Day spent about the city, Starsday and evenings with Frodo Baggins's figure. Always at his side was Armanthol, and usually Celebgil and Gilfileg as well. And always the talk centered upon the subject of honor and how it was embodied in these four strange individuals from the Shire.
Armanthol began to learn the names and uses of the sculptor's tools, and soon had two practice pieces of his own, one in the workshop and one at the site. He met his first Elf in the small garden that grew beside the house in which he now lived. He watched the small sculptor to whom he was now bound and his obvious love for his wife, the growing respect shown to him by the rest of the apprentices, the delight shown in him by the housekeeper's daughter with her absurdly short arms, the honor shown him by the Rhunim who dwelt in the embassy house opposite.
At Midsummer a youth arrived from the south, a tall young Man who carried a carved staff and walked by the side of a dog and who wore a wide-brimmed hat. Ririon was welcomed with joy, stayed two weeks, then went back to Passaurin on one of the boats that plied the River and the coasts of Gondor.
The third week of July the word passed like wildfire throughout the city--the war in Rhun was won, and the King was returning. Five days later the wagons carrying the wounded began to arrive, and three days after that those carrying the sealed coffins of those of the dead whom it was possible to bring back to Gondor. The next day the main body of the army could be seen, and late in the day the King arrived with a large party. His face was glad but tired, and he wore his left arm in a sling. By his side rode Éomer of Rohan, Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, his heir Elphir, a Dwarf and golden-haired Elf, the Sons of Elrond, Moritum, Shkatha of Rhun, and his retinue, and a small Man on an equally small horse, one whose beard was small and sparse but whose mustache was full, his hair pulled back into a tight braid down his back, whose silk garments were colorful. All looked on him with interest.
The King was met at the Gate by the Steward and his wife, and by the Lady Arwen carrying their daughter. The King gravely saluted them all, then dismounted, giving his horse leave to enter the city and find its stall, then approached his wife and took her in his sound arm and kissed her with great love and tenderness, finally taking his daughter and carrying her as together husband and wife, King and Queen, walked up the ways of the city of Minas Anor to the Citadel. Armanthol looked at the smiling face of Master Ruvemir as he sat his pony, and followed the rest of the populace back in through the great gates as all rejoiced at the King's return.
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.