King's Commission, The
76. Resuming Work
The Healer Eldamir completed the examination of his patient and smiled. "Well, Master Ruvemir, you are well enough to return home today."
The small sculptor sighed with relief. The last three days had been not quite as boring as the King had predicted, but had been bad enough. He'd spent much of it drawing, and prowling the halls of the Houses as often as he could escape the fumes and vapors. He'd been shocked when he'd begun coughing up bloody matter out of his lungs, and relieved that by the second day what little he brought up was clear once more. His side was healing quite quickly, but he was being reminded on all sides that the new tissue was still somewhat fragile and he must not tax it too much.
"It's well past time," Ruvemir said, thinking of the work he could now resume.
"Perhaps," the Healer said. "Ioreth will be bringing you the masks. You will remember you are to change them at least once an hour when you work?"
This was one of the conditions laid on him--that he must wear masks when he worked the stone or had anything to do with dust or smoke, that he not breathe anything into a lung possibly still vulnerable to irritation. "I have promised," the mannikin sighed. "For the next two weeks."
"And if the Dwarves or the King seek to smoke around you, make them go out of doors to do so, and you are to stay upwind of them."
"If you have any congestion in the lungs in the next month, you will at the very least send one of your apprentices to fetch me--or have them bring you back to the Houses."
"Again, I have promised."
"Good enough, then. Well, you may finish your dressing, and I grieve that we had to damage your shirt as we removed it, although it was already badly torn by the dart."
"It could not be helped. And, if I know my sister, she will have another to me before I realize this one is quite well and truly gone."
Eldamir smiled. Then he looked at the sculptor thoughtfully. "There is one other thing I would ask of you. It is at the suggestion of the King, by the way, who says he has found you have helped in the healing of hearts from time to time. There is one here I would wish you to meet with ere you leave us today."
"Yes. Will you allow me to bring you to her?"
The woman in the cheerful room on the upper floor of the second House had once been a great beauty--this was plain. Her bone structure was still beautiful, but the skin was still too pale and fragile in appearance, the eyes now deeply shadowed. She was sewing a small shirt, but looked up as Eldamir knocked upon her door.
"Master Eldamir? How wonderful for you to see me today. And who is this?"
"A friend, one the King thought you might wish to meet."
"Welcome, then. I am sorry this is not my home where I might show you proper hospitality, but I welcome you nonetheless."
"Mistress," Ruvemir said respectfully, "it is an honor. I am Ruvemir son of Mardil of Lebennin."
"Mirieth daughter of Lindeth and Mablung of the city, Master Ruvemir. Have you been in Minas Tirith long?"
Ruvemir gave a quick glance at the healer, who shook his head. "I arrived last fall, so it has almost been a full year now I've spent in the White City."
"And what work do you do?"
"I am a sculptor."
"I see. My late husband was a sculptor."
He knew now who she was.
"They found him, you know, my son. Varondil told me he'd run away, but he was only trying to spare me. But I can't go to him yet."
"No, my lady, you can't--not yet."
"You are the mannikin sculptor, then. They tell me you have met the Pheriannath."
"Yes, Mistress, I have, save for the Lord Frodo."
"Why not him, then?"
"He has gone to receive healing, my lady. He cannot return."
"His esquire, he doted on the Lord Frodo."
"Yes, the Lord Samwise loves him very deeply. They were like brothers."
"He did not go with him?"
"No, for he had to remain to care for his wife and child."
"Does he grieve?"
"He certainly has grieved, and does at times still. But he knows they will meet again when the time is right."
"When the time is right...."
"Yes, when his current commitments have been met, he will go to be with the Lord Frodo again."
"When his commitments are met...."
"He was meant to be whole for a time, and to do that which the Lord Frodo could not any more, and this the Lord Frodo told to him, laid it upon him to live the more, for the both of them."
She smiled, a dazzling smile. "Live for both of them?"
"Yes, live for both of them. The Lord Frodo will live in the Undying Lands and learn the ways of beauty to share with the Lord Samwise, and the Lord Samwise will raise his family for both of them, and bring that experience to share with his friend when they are reunited."
She nodded. "Yes, for when they are reunited." She looked down at the small shirt she worked upon. "A little boy is here, one whose parents are no more. His mother died a year past, and his father in the war. His cousins have left the city and could not take him. I sew this for him." She sighed. "I started it for Varonion, but then he left us. Young Borogil will wear it well enough, I trust." She looked on him. "He is not my son--cannot ever be my son. But if I can explain to him how important it might be to do as Lord Samwise does, to live the more for the both of them--it will be well, will it not?"
"Yes, my lady, I think that would be very well. Are you willing to do the same for his mother?"
"Do you think she would like that?"
"Oh, I am certain she would like that. If you are willing to bring her word of how it was to watch her son grow for her--it would fill her heart with joy, I think."
She smiled again that brilliant smile, and he saw fully how beautiful she had been, and was still. "Then I will do it. And she can care for my Varonion for me."
"That would bring you joy?"
"Oh, but yes."
"It is a good bargain, then."
As they left the woman's room, Eldamir murmured, "It is the first she has admitted Varonion is no more. But that she is now willing to live and to aid young Borogil to do the same--it will be well, I think."
On the evening of his return home, Ruvemir noted that Liana was working in the small garden of flowers that grew under the front windows of the house. Opposite Shefti sat upon the porch of the embassy, one leg elegantly resting against a support column for the roof, as he worked on a poem.
By the third day, the two of them were beginning to take breaks from their work and ambling to the wall at the end of the lane, looking out at the road to the north and the northern reaches of the Ephel Dúath. There they would inexplicably meet.
By the fifth day they were giving up pretense of working, and were simply meeting at the wall and talking. On the seventh day, Angara accompanied her mother out the front, and Ruvemir noted the gentleness with which Shefti lifted her to sit on his shoulders as he spoke with the child's mother.
Master Iorhael's shop had been closed for three weeks, and today, the first after his return, it was still closed. He walked on by it to the workshop.
He looked on Gilmirion's practice piece of the face of a woman and smiled. He'd used the face of his own mother as the model, and had done a superb job of doing it in stone. "Excellent!" he told the young Man. "It is very good. Now, for the next one try the face of one you do not know as well.
He went along. Young Lindorn had done a cat, and had done a creditable job. Not excellent, but creditable; yet, as he was youngest among the apprentices, that was good enough. Meredin, on the other hand had perfectly caught a hunting dog, yet he was not happy. "Yes, it is a hunting dog, and is representative of the breed. But it is not the particular dog I wanted to do. It is not Fetcher."
He was just finishing up his evaluations when he saw a client had entered the room, carrying several packages in his hands. Gorondir went to greet him, and after a moment came over to where Ruvemir was doing his last evaluations and explained, "It is you he particularly wishes to see, he says, Master Ruvemir."
"Explain that I must finish here and will be with him in a minute," he answered, and completed his discussion with Marvilion before turning to the newcomer.
He was not someone Ruvemir recognized, yet he appeared familiar somehow. "How may I assist you this day?" he asked the Man.
"I am Firvidion son of Iorhael," came the answer. "He held the artists' shop here in the Fifth Circle." Ruvemir nodded his recognition, and the Man, heartened, went on: "My father spoke well of you and the work you do, and wished to be remembered to you. You see, he had a brainstorm about three weeks ago, and died two days past. It is sad to have him gone, yet at the same time it was not unexpected. He asked if you might be patronized to do his effigy for his tomb, for he said he believed you would do an excellent job of capturing his seeming. I have brought some studies I have done over the years of him. He also asked that I bring you certain things, which he felt you particularly would appreciate." He gave the packages into Ruvemir's hands. Ruvemir carried them to an empty worktable and set them down, and began to open them. The first contained folders of pictures of Iorhael as he'd been at various stages of his life. "You did all of these? You are an artist of note, sir," he commented. There was one in the packet, however, which made him stop, and then he smiled. "Ah, here you have one done by the King's Friend," he said, "when he visited your father's shop. The Lord Frodo was, as I think you've noted, a superb artist."
The Man smiled. "Yes, he was, and he and my father, he told me, spent some hours together, doing pictures, discussing art and books, discussing his home of the Shire, discussing the nature of the King. Adar did one picture of the King's Friend for the King, who ended by giving it to his friend's Esquire, who had expressed appreciation for it, saying it was the only one done within the city that caught his Master's nature."
Ruvemir nodded, the memories of Bag End filling him. "Yes, I am aware. It hangs now in the Lord Samwise's study and is greatly honored by him. It is an excellent piece of work." He looked at the picture a moment longer, and found the signature sign. "Ah, there it is, the dragonfly." It was done as if it were a brooch in the artist's cap.
"Oh, you know the significance of it?" asked Firvidion. "The actual brooch was of a fisher bird, and I did not understand the changing of it."
"It is his signature sign," the sculptor explained. "He came to make a game of working it into the pictures he did."
Firvidion smiled. "Oh, so that is it, then. Very clever, I must say."
"He did one picture of your father found among his possessions in his room, of your father drowsing in his shop. I saw it when I was visiting in Bag End, and Lord Samwise and I examined it together. I recognized your father in it, the first day I came to his shop."
They went through the other pictures, and Firvidion indicated the ones he favored, which included the one done by Frodo Baggins. At last they were done with that folder, and Ruvemir began to open a second packet, whose contents he recognized immediately. "The book of verse he wrote out and bound," he whispered. "Your father let me read out of it to my son--my ward, actually. Ririon and I were both moved by it."
"That and this one Adar wanted you to have. He said that you truly loved the King's Friend."
"Yes, I have come to do so. I cannot tell you how much this means to me."
"He said as much, and of this one as well."
Ruvemir did not have to open this one to know what it was. "The picture of the old White Tree and the Citadel?"
"Yes. He said you were the one who saw the Queen's image in it, caught in the branches of the Tree, when no one else did, although once you'd shown it to him he could ever see it after that."
Ruvemir nodded, tears gathering in his throat. "This is greatly generous of you, sir."
"I will tell you a secret--I copied it for my own home. It is a marvelous piece of artistry. However, my Alna prefers to hang my own work on the walls."
The two artists smiled at one another.
The last packet contained another, larger folder, filled with several pictures, most of them done by Iorhael, but a few done by other artists who had given him samples of their work. One more picture he found done by Frodo Baggins, this time again of Bag End, and a rare piece in color. "He gave my father two pictures of his home. I kept the charcoal drawing," Firvidion said, "and it will hang in my studio. I will have to look to find the dragonfly now. It took me several hours to decide which of the two I would keep. There are a few others he did I will keep as well. To have work done by such a one who did so marvelous an act--it is of deep meaning to me."
Ruvemir nodded. "I understand," he said quietly. "And for me as well." He carefully placed the cover sheet over the painting Frodo had done of Bag End. "I will frame this and it will hang in my room, where I can always look at it. I have been into it, into Bag End, have slept there in what was the Lord Frodo's own bedroom, have seen his circlet of honor and that of the Lord Samwise. I hope that I might visit it again, and in the spring or summer to see the flowers blooming in the garden the Lord Samwise has grown for Lord Frodo's delight for so many, many years." He looked up at the taller artist. "There will be no fee for the making of your father's memorial," he said. "It will be the tribute I will offer in memory of such an artist as your father. He gave to Elise and me at our marriage the picture he'd done of the Elves facing the Dragon, and it hangs in the day room."
"He told me he'd given it to you. I am glad my father's work has found such a home."
An hour later a new block of marble lay on the worktable where Ruvemir had most of the effigies done now. He set the plans paper on the floor and did a study of what he wished done, of the artist lying with a smile on his face, that gentle smile he had even when drowsing as caught by Frodo Baggins. The apprentices looked on it with approval, and the next morning they started the rough cutting.
Several days later a couple and their son came to the workshop. Ruvemir recognized the boy as one who had come frequently to the work site in the months he'd been working on the King's Commission.
"Our son wishes to be apprenticed as a carver," the father explained. "He has become enamored of the figures you do on the level of the Citadel, and desires to learn to do such work."
Young Owain was yet but ten years, which was young to become an apprentice. "Are you certain?" asked Ruvemir, tugging at the mask he'd pulled down to his throat. He'd been interrupted in the midst of work being done on the figure of Master Iorhael.
"Oh, sir, please allow me to at least try," begged the boy. "I've watched you at work for so long now, and it is the most marvelous thing I can imagine doing."
"As he is not yet fourteen I may not have him full time," Ruvemir explained to the boy's parents. "However, I can begin to school him, if he is truly interested. He might not show much talent now, yet that will often come in time to those as young as he is. But I can offer only a limited apprenticeship until he comes of age for full indenture."
His mother smiled. "It will be well enough. I don't wish him to leave us fully as yet."
"His name is unusual."
"I am from the north, from Dale. It is not as unusual a name there."
"Ah--then perhaps that is where his draw to stone comes from, then. Many from that area seem to have the gift of artistry. My own father's mother's family is from there as well."
And so there joined the group yet one more apprentice.
On the High Day Ruvemir took one of the ponies now housed in the upper stables and rode alongside Elise to the Second Circle where they joined her family for dinner. He was not surprised to find Celebgil already there in Dorieth's company, that Master Faragil joined them for the meal and stayed after he and Elise must leave, or that he saw a letter written in a familiar hand lying on the writing desk belonging to Mistress Lisbet.
On the twelfth day after the last riding forth of the King came word that the King was returning, that he paused with his party in Osgiliath for the night. Early in the morning of the next day the apprentices of the workshop, accompanied by Ruvemir and Elise riding on ponies, went down again in the train of the Queen to the great Gates of the city to be among those greeting the King's return.
Two hours ere noon the King's party could be seen. First came the King's guard of mixed mounted soldiers and Rangers from both realms, including Gilfileg; then the King with the Lord Prince Faramir on his right and Captain Beregond in the white and silver of the Steward's livery to his right; with Éomer King of Rohan and his guard to his left, Elrohir, Legolas and Gimli following behind.
Moritum and the others he'd brought from Rhun had gone with the King when he rode East with Ghan Peveset. Now behind the King rode a party of Rhunim to fill out the staff of the embassy, both men and women with wagons of furniture and supplies common to the folk of Rhun. Last came the single light supply wagon used by the King, driven, Ruvemir noted with amusement, by Lord Hardorn.
Again the King dismounted before they reached the gate, and the horse was sent in ahead of them. He embraced and kissed wife and daughter, greeted many come forth to meet him, took daughter in one arm, put the other around his wife, and together they walked up through the city, the populace of Minas Anor delighting to have their King home once more.
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.