King's Folk, The
5. The City of Elendil
into the blue distance left of the road. Half the
wagoneers, including Beomann, watched the forest
like they expected a three headed Oliphant to charge
from the verges at any minute. The other half
resolutely refused to look at it at all.
The Enchanted Forest had an evil name in the
Breeland and Gil's reassurances had been somewhat
less than successful. According to him there was indeed
a King and Queen of the Lake - but no need to worry
about them as they were friendly to the Rangers.
Better still, the forest really was packed solid
with spells and enchantments trapping all kinds of
nasty things inside it, but not to worry; the road
and the city had special protections placed on them.
Needless to say the Breelanders didn't find this the
least bit comforting.
Beomann's heart was in his mouth as the road turned
directly towards the forest. They passed under the
shadows of the first trees and found themselves faced
with a tall gate, intricately wrought in black iron in
the form of bare and tangled trees, between two grim
towers of dark stone crowned with iron spikes.
Treebole blew a long mournful call on a horn. A
moment's silence then the great gates swung smoothly
open before them revealing a spotless white road
running between tall, bare black trees. It wasn't
until they were actually passing beneath them that
Beomann realized the trees weren't real but, like the
gate, wrought of iron.
"The Gate of Iron." said Gil suddenly. "Also known
as the Gate of Winter."
There didn't seem to be much to say to that.
Looking back Beomann saw the gate had closed silently
behind the last wagon. There was no going back now.
Two miles or so on they came to a second gate
between towers of reddish stone topped by brazen
spikes. The Gate was bronze too, made to look like
tangled trees just like the iron one but covered with
bright copper leaves. And Beomann wasn't surprised to
see the trees beyond this gate were also bronze with
large leaves of beaten copper.
"And this is the Gate of Autumn." said Gil.
"Very pretty." Dick managed huskily.
"Thank you. They were made for Elendil long years
ago by the greatest Elven craftsman yet living in
Elendil, Beomann remembered, was the name of the
First King. The one who'd escaped from Westerness
before it was drowned. So these gates must be
thousands of years old - and not a spot of rust or
tarnish on them. "Are they magic?"
"I suppose you could call them so." the Ranger
The first and second gates had been strange and
beautiful but the third took the breath away. It was
of gold, and so were the glittering parapets of the
honey colored stone towers that flanked it. And the
trees that formed the gate and lined the road beyond
it were covered with leaves and fruits of jewels,
sparkling green, gold, red, pink and orange in the
"This is the Golden Gate of Summer." said Gil.
Beomann had to swallow twice before he could get
the words out. "Are we there yet."
The Ranger laughed. "Not quite. Still two more
gates to go."
Beomann exchanged a bemused look with Dick. It was
hard to see how they'd top that last gate but the Bree
Men braced themselves for further wonders.
Shining white towers with silver parapets flanked
silver gates wrought in the shape of new budding trees
covered with young leaves and blossoms. And the tall
silver trees lining the road on the other side also
glittered with pale green gems, the exact color of new
leaves, and many colored jeweled flowers.
"Don't tell me, the Gate of Summer." Dick blurted
and Gil laughed and nodded.
"And now you've run out of seasons," said Beomann,
"so what's your last gate called?"
"The Gate of the Two Trees." both Breelanders
looked at him blankly and he smiled. "I take it you
don't know that tale?"
Dick shrugged. "Beomann here's the expert on the
The younger Man flushed a little but admitted. "I
can't say I've ever heard that one."
"Long ago, before the Sun and the Moon were made,
when Elves and Men still slept in the mind of Eru,"
Gil began, just as Bree storytellers always started
with 'Once upon a time when the King still ruled,'
"the only light in Middle Earth came from the stars of
Varda. But in the far West, in Aman the Undying, there
grew two Trees and from them light fell as rain and
"Telperion was the elder, the Tree of Silver, and
its light was purer and stronger than that of the new
moon. The Tree of Gold was known as Laurelin and a
firery rain, hotter and brighter than sunlight, fell
from its boughs. For long ages the Valar and the Maiar
dwelt in the light of the Trees, and when the Elves
awoke in Middle Earth they were called to Aman that
they might share in the light as well.
"But Morgoth, the Great Enemy, hated all light that
was not his own and he poisoned the Two Trees,
thinking thereby to plunge the world into darkness
unending. But before dying Telperion put forth one
last silver flower; and Laurelin a final fruit of gold.
"And the Valar took them and placed them in vessels
imperishable and set them in the heavens that they
might give light to all Middle Earth. Thus the final
flower of Telperion became the Moon, and the last
fruit of Laurelin the Sun.
"And it is said that the Second Children, our race,
the race of Men, awoke to the first dawn of the first
day of the Sun. And so the Elves call us the Children
of the Sun and the dawn will ever bring new hope to
"But the High Elves remember and mourn for the
Light of the Trees, which lives now only in the
Silmarils - and they are lost."
Beomann shivered, suddenly catching a vertiginous
glimpse of the vast, dark gulf of time underlying his
small familiar world, like a fallen leaf floating on
the surface of a deep well. "Silmarils?"
Gil smiled. "That's an even longer story, we'll
save it for another time I think." pointed ahead.
"There it stands, the Gate of the Trees."
A high, grassy green bank reared up before them and
in its middle stood tall, shining gates of gold and
silver intermingled, adorned with figures of the sun
and moon. And the gateposts were two gigantic trees,
one of silver and one of gold, more than a hundred
feet high. And the leaves of the silver tree were dark
green above and silver below and it was covered with
glistening flowers of pearl. And the tree of gold had
light green leaves, gilt edged, and firery clusters of
topaz blossoms dripping from its boughs.
"Is that - is that what they looked like? Telperion
and Laurelin." Beomann stammered.
"As close as craft can come to it." Gil answered.
"Enerdhil made them, who saw the Two Trees in their
glory before the coming of the Dark Lord."
The Breelander thought he'd never seen anything so
wonderful and beautiful, until the gates opened and he
had his first sight of Annuminas the Golden, City of
The road became a broad avenue lined with fragrant
evergreen trees, unlike any he'd seen before,
descending into a shining city of white stone, its
many domes and the pinacles of its soaring towers
overlaid with gold that glowed in the sunlight filling
the air with a warm radiance.
The Breelanders' wagons rattled past tall houses
with balconies of fretted stone and wide windows set
with colored glass like jewels. Pillared arcades
shading rows of empty shops, and grand public
buildings adorned with statues of Kings and Queens,
armored knights and fair ladies. There were green
parks and gardens full of unfamiliar but very
beautiful flowers. And everywhere the glitter of water
in pools and channels and hundreds of splashing
And the people matched the city. More of them than
the Breelanders had imagined, tall and dark haired
with light, piercing eyes in proud, stern faces. Many
of the Men were dressed in the familiar Ranger
leathers but others wore long tunics and surcoats in
dark, rich colors under swirling cloaks fastened at
throat or shoulder by glittering pins. The Women were
nearly as tall as the Men and every bit as stern and
grim. But they were beautiful too, like queens and
princesses of old with their long hair hanging down
their backs and flowing, jewel colored gowns under fur
And, unbelievably, there were children. Small,
bright eyed and noisy, running wild in packs. Chasing
each other through the columns of the arcades; barely
dodging, or failing to dodge, their elders; laughing
and calling to each other in the strange musical
language Gil had used for his spells.
Beomann could imagine what his mother would have
had say to his brothers and sisters if they'd behaved
so but the adult Rangers didn't seem to mind at all.
They just got out of the way, or failed to, and
exchanged smiles over the children's heads. (1)
Finally the avenue came to an end in a great plaza.
Golden fountains cascaded down terraces of colored
marbles under the benign gaze of numerous statues and
above it all rose the turreted and golden domed palace
glittering with jewel-toned window casements, its
great tower soaring high into the blue sky. Clearly
they couldn't take the wagons up there!
They turned left instead, skirting the terraces,
until they came to lacy gates of silver and steel
between doorposts carved in the forms of tall knights
armed and helmed. These stood open and they rolled
right into a large stableyard, distinctly grander than
the Pony's but still comfortingly familiar to the eye
Rangers dressed in grey and white came to take the
horses. "I see your mission was successful, Captain."
one said to Gil.
"Thanks to our friends in Bree." he answered with a
smile for the wagoners, huddled uncomfortably together
unsure of what to do next. "Where is my Grandmother?"
"In the Hall tending to business." the Man answered
and shook his head. "There seems no end to it."
Gil nodded, grimly. "I never thought victory could
be so troublesome." he agreed then turned to his
companions. "Arallas, find quarters and refreshments
for our friends. Masters Heathertoes, Master Butterbur
come with me if you will."
Treebole herded the rest of the Breelanders off in
one direction while Geoff and Dick and Beomann
followed Gil and Silverlock in another. They passed
under an archway and through a pair of tall ivory
doors carved with trees and stars into a broad hallway
with colored marbles set in intricate golden
arabesques on floor and high vaulted ceiling, the
walls hung with paintings and lined with carved
pillars and statues.
It made Beomann feel very small and grubby and
badly out of place. He looked enviously at Gil.
Somehow, dispite being every bit as dirty as the
Breelanders and the worn green leathers he wore the
Ranger fit right in, his fine features echoing the
sculpted faces of the statues and the regal bearing of
a king come home.
A second pair of doors, of gold inlaid with trees
and stars in silver and white stones, opened onto a
vast round hall. The high domed ceiling was dark blue
and patterned with stars that glittered with their own
light just like the real ones. A glimmering silver
tree grew out of the dais in the middle of the room,
its leaves chiming softly against each other as they
moved. A Woman sat in a silver chair beneath its
boughs surrounded by Rangers, all talking in quiet,
They made way for Gil and he led the three Bree Men
to the foot of the dais. The Woman rose to greet them.
"Master Heathertoes, Master Richard, Master Butterbur,
welcome to Annuminas."
Beomann felt his jaw drop, and he didn't have to
look at the Heathertoe brothers to know their
expressions would be equally sandbagged.
"N-Nightcrow?" Geoff quavered.
"Ellemir," she corrected, deep grey eyes like Gil's
glinting amusement, "Lady of the Dunedain."
She looked a lot like Gil, but then she would,
being his grandmother. Then Beomann remembered
how old Gil really was and gulped. Nightcrow - Ellemir -
must be nearly as old as Treebole! (2) But she looked
younger than Beomann's own mother. The long black hair
held back by a silver circlet hadn't a thread of grey
in it and her elegant, high boned face showed a few
lines but no wrinkles.
"We are grateful for your help, Master Heathertoes.
What foodstuffs in what amounts have you brought and
what was the agreed price?"
The prosaic business talk struck Beomann as being
badly out of place in this setting, but nobody else
seemed to think so. The Rangers listened with their
usual grave attention as Ellemir and Gil and Geoff
talked about grain and vegetables and the going rates
for cartage and delivery.
Beomann's own mind wandered, he looked instead at
the people around him. A very beautiful woman all in
dark grey with a long veil over her hair stood on the
steps of the dais next to a sleander, tired looking
girl also in grey.
A bearded Man in shades of green with a golden
chain around his neck sat on a stool on the step below
them, one leg thick with bandages and a short silver
topped staff leaning against his good knee. Gil too,
had mounted the dais to stand on the step just below
Some of the people gathered at the foot of the dais
were dressed in Ranger leathers, others in dark grey a
few in brighter colors. And they weren't all Men, (and
Women) Beomann saw a trio of Dwarves, two red bearded
and one with a black beard braided with gold. And a
tall, slim, silver haired person who could only be an Elf.
Something about those delicate features struck
Beomann as familiar. Jarred he looked at Silverlock
standing next to him, then back at the Elf. There was
a definite resemblance. Some said the King's People
were part Elf, apparently they were right.
Then Geoff and Dick were bowing, rather awkwardly,
and Beomann realized their audience was over. As
Silverlock herded them back towards the door he heard
Gil begin to talk in the musical Ranger language,
sounding both grim and sad.
For all their magical city these people were
clearly in trouble and Beomann wondered if there was
anything else Bree might do help. A shipment of food
seemed a small repayment for the Rangers' thousand
unthanked years defending the Breeland.
1. Annuminas is a tremendously exciting place for the
young Dunedain, even more exciting is the opportunity
to meet and play with a great many other children.
Something their usual lifestyle on scattered holdings
Though nowhere near as permissive as Elves the
Dunedain do tend to go easy on the discipline for the
first ten or twelve years of their children's lives.
Knowing only too well how grim their adult lives are
likely to be. Strangers are often painfully struck by
the contrast between the lively, high spirited
youngsters and their silent, watchful elders.
2. Actually she's much older. Ellemir is one hundred
and seventy five, a venerable age even for a member of
the Royal House.
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