Forum: Dwim's Stories (was Lie Down...)

Discussing: Star and Stone

Star and Stone

Is there new stuff here, Dwim, or are you just tormenting us?

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Mostly tormenting. When the brain shut off last night, I remembered that I'd never bothered to upload the chapters to beta.

However, I did do a rewrite of the first third of "Patterns," where it concerns the situation between Denethor and Ithrin. So there is *some* new stuff, and I'm working on the next chapter based on that rewrite.

Given that it's been so long since I've updated that story, though, I don't think most people will remember what was there in the first place, so I didn't feel it was really worthwhile to post questions about it.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Dwim! Glad to see you back!

Actually you are right--it was a long time since I'd read it, and I enjoyed re-reading the last chapter--particularly Aragorn's inner dialogue about how he did things to pass as a native in different places, and Denethor's frustration with the way things were going in Poros--though it seemed to me he was being rather hard on himself.
The slashy bits, if you can really call them that, are extremely subtle as yet--two men who at this point are attracted to each other for qualities of mind.

Good physical descriptions too, particularly as to the wretched weather (I hate the heat of summer), and the somewhat demoralized condition of the Poros garrison. Glad to hear you've got the time at last to update it.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Dwim! Glad to see you back!

Thanks! I owe you lots of feedback. Must get to that in a sec.

Denethor's frustration with the way things were going in Poros--though it seemed to me he was being rather hard on himself.

Didst mine ears deceive me, or did "Argh! Denethor!" Isabeau express sympathy for him just then? ;-)

BTW, I also want a copy of the Imri/Denethor smackdown piece you're working on. Please?

The slashy bits, if you can really call them that, are extremely subtle as yet--two men who at this point are attracted to each other for qualities of mind.

Yes, they are. It's going to be subtle for awhile--no wet caves in sight, and no nights like Halbarad's, either. We'll see whether I make it to the end alive, or whether frustrated readers reach through the screen to throttle me.

Good physical descriptions too, particularly as to the wretched weather (I hate the heat of summer), and the somewhat demoralized condition of the Poros garrison.

Yes, I also hate the heat of summer--more specifically, the humidity of the heat of summer. Dry heat I can manage, but this goopy Midwest air? Yech.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Gahh! I swore I would not start another story of Dwim's while it was still a WIP. I swore I would not start another story of Dwim's while it was still a WIP. I swore I would not start another story of Dwim's while ...

I only wanted to peek to see what was in store for me, and I was immediately hooked.

The slashy bits, if you can really call them that, are extremely subtle as yet--two men who at this point are attracted to each other for qualities of mind.

Yes, they are. It's going to be subtle for awhile


Which, of course, is what makes it so good. I loved the delicate fencing. I loved the subtle hints. I loved the pride and confusion of emotion.

Now finish the blasted thing, or I'll nag you forever.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Gahh! I swore I would not start another story of Dwim's while it was still a WIP.

Funny, I keep telling myself not to start another WiP...



Pleased to have eaten into your free time.

I loved the delicate fencing. I loved the subtle hints. I loved the pride and confusion of emotion.

Then hopefully you'll continue to enjoy. I really don't see Denethor and Aragorn having a "traditional" romance, as it were. They're rivals from the start, so they can't ever relent and just be open about things. Horrid, catty teases...

Now finish the blasted thing, or I'll nag you forever.

Yes, ma'am. [goes off to type more]

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Didst mine ears deceive me, or did "Argh! Denethor!" Isabeau express sympathy for him just then? ;-)

What can I say? Even I have a weak moment every now and again.

BTW, I also want a copy of the Imri/Denethor smackdown piece you're working on. Please?

Let me get the argument finished, and I'll send it on to you. Don't know that you'll like it much, but I'd be curious to see what you say.

And I too hate the goopy Midwest air, though at least every once in a while we get a respite with air from Canada. Where I grew up, it was nineties every day, and humidity way up there, from May through September.


 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Yes, Hope rides Faith. Go figure.

Eala! Wa me!

Dwim, this time you've really gone and done it! *Nessime muttering under her breath*

I had been searching list after list of Old English for the word for "faith" because I wanted to use it for the name of a character that shows up at the end of my WIP (a very small but very important character to the denouement of said story) and I had it filed away in my notes. Now here you've gone and used it for a horse. A horse! Agggggh!

Back to the drawing board...

~Nessime

BTW in all other respects I agree with what others have said before me here - you've hooked us all once again, darn it!

PS added - the visual metaphor of Hope riding Faith is rather appropriate, although in The Arthrabeth we're told that Estel is more properly translated as "trust" or even "faith." That's a whole different conversation though. ~N.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I had been searching list after list of Old English for the word for "faith" because I wanted to use it for the name of a character that shows up at the end of my WIP (a very small but very inportant character to the denouement of said story) and I had it filed away in my notes. Now here you've gone and used it for a horse. A horse! Agggggh!



Oh, that's priceless! I'm sorry, I didn't realize I would cause such trauma by innocently (ok, not really innocently) selecting "Geleafa" as the name of Aragorn's horse.

You might look for something like "steadfast" or "loyal" as a substitute. Or "hope." Trying to help out here...

the visual metaphor of Hope riding Faith is rather appropriate, although in The Arthrabeth we're told that Estel is more properly translated as "trust" or even "faith." That's a whole different conversation though. ~N.

Indeed, it is, but I stick with "Hope" and capitalize the "h" both because it's a proper name and because it isn't mere, worldly hope, with its roots in the rational and reciprocal. That sort of hope leads you to Boromir's end and Denethor's as well. Estel is what (duh) Estel and Sam have, I think, down to the very end.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

You might look for something like "steadfast" or "loyal" as a substitute. Or "hope." Trying to help out here...

Have you checked out the OE for hope? It's hopian.
Doesn't quite roll of the tongue. I'm really thinking now of using the word for comfort or consolation, so don't even think of naming another horse that!

Anywho, Geleafa will always be a horse in my mind now. All I can say is that Estel had better take darned good care of him!

And I can't wait to see how this whole thing between Denethor and Aragorn resolves itself.

~Nessime

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Have you checked out the OE for hope? It's hopian.

Good point, and no, I hadn't looked.

Anywho, Geleafa will always be a horse in my mind now. All I can say is that Estel had better take darned good care of him!

Hey, is Ælric Rohirrim? Of course he takes good care of Geleafa. That horse has him wrapped around his...er... hoof.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Oooooo....more....please!

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Okay, here's my comments:

Star and Stone - feedback on the revised edition

Okay Dwim, you've been tantalising me with this one for ages. When's a new chapter going to show up?

Chapter 2: Tete-a-tete

I like the description of Denethor's bedroom:

That was the first thing that struck Aragorn, after the overwhelming air of... enclosure. Dark blue predominated, drowning out the touches of red or green, and in places it faded into black, reminding the Ranger of shades of nightfall.

This, combined with what I remember of later chapters, gives me the impression that Denethor might be just a touch agrophobic: it's something which would fit in very nicely with that highly guarded, highly defensive personality. Too much open space means too many angles to be attacked from. Your version of Denethor would be deadly with his back to a wall, but in an open field, or any other space where he couldn't control where his enemies came from, it strikes me that he would find himself feeling edgy. No actual terror - I can't believe he'd allow himself that - but certainly his stress levels would be elevated.

Chapter 3: Heart to Heart

During their one brief pause, men made close-ringed groups and spoke quietly amongst themselves, allowing Denethor his space and stillness by habit. None so much as cast a curious glance at him over their shoulders, for they were accustomed to his particular ways and would have been more disconcerted had he joined them.

I get the sense that the isolation is deliberate, but that it would also be somewhat stifling. This sort of total isolation, combined with the situation regarding the very slight agrophobia would be enough to put Denethor in a somewhat vulnerable position psychologically. Combine this with the stress that comes from having to solve a difficult problem in a limited time, as well as the puzzle that "Aelric" poses, and you've set up a psychologically believable situation. As usual, Dwim, your characterisation is brilliant.

"Nay, they are accustomed to Rohirrim in Gondor," Denethor corrected mildly, and glanced at Ælric to see what impression that remark made. Ælric did not blink, only smiled slightly - a demure smile that yet spoke of mischief contained - ere he replied:

"Then doubtless I am naught new to them!"


Now, this is intriguing. In any other man, that would be flirting. In "Aelric", it could still be flirtatious, but is it *conscious* flirtation? An interesting conundrum.

(Oh, and nice work pairing up "Faith" and "Hope". Now, how are you going to work in "Charity"?)

Indeed, Falthir seemed to ignore the Rohirrim entirely, reminding him of something that his mother, Gilraen, was fond of saying: Mark well the silences where men hide their secrets! Certainly, she had oft demonstrated that attention to the unspoken could be an effective weapon, which demonstrations he had sometimes rued as a child.

Now, why do I get this image of a rather dirty ten-year-old being told off for running into one of Lord Elrond's guests? Or of a toddler trying very, very hard to keep secret the destruction of something breakable? The image of Gilraen struggling to hide a smile is also drifting through my head.

I suppose that the difference between Denethor and Aragorn is fairly deep-seated. I can see Denethor as being a fairly sober, serious child, while Aragorn has always struck me as being something of a young ratbag, into everything and forever being patched up (the hands of the King in all likelihood learned their healing skill patching up his own knees). They probably would have got along well had they grown up together, although I get the impression that Denethor would have started out a little *too* respectful of Aragorn... well, right up to the point where he got them both into trouble for the fourth or fifth time. At about that point, I think all possible respect would have worn off.

"What are your expectations, my lord?" the Ranger demanded bluntly, abandoning his customary obliqueness for the second time that day. "You asked me not to speak until given the opportunity, and I listened to you lay out your views on justice in Gondor. Is it your intention that I use them to threaten Falthir?"

"Would you do so if I told you to do it?"

"How does this answer my question?"

"I believe it answers it quite well," Denethor replied, and Aragorn frowned in the darkness, uncertain how to interpret the somewhat condescending tone of voice. "You dislike the notion of using such threats, therefore I would be exceptionally foolish to expect you to deal in them." A pause. "I expect, Ælric, that you shall use that judgment of yours. The judgment you assured me you would not leave in a saddlebag!"


Or in other words: I've done "bad cop". You can do "good cop" if you like, or you're free to take "worse cop". Very neat. It must be interesting having the two of them discussing things, Dwim. Oh, the Denethor in my head is currently very impressed with yours. He reckons you've got the picture right.

Chapter 4: Scratch the Surface

So long as they were undisturbed, Denethor could watch the darkness of the forest with less mistrust and (if he were honest) fear.

See, I *told* you he was agrophobic *grin*.

Chapter 6: Patterns

"Since you have served in Poros before, tell me something of the lands here. How do they speak to you?"

"How do they speak to me?" Denethor frowned, felt his brow furrow as he gazed skeptically at his aide.

"Aye. A man must love the land he was born to, and you were born to Gondor, even this far-off patch of it. What does it tell you?"

"'Tis a dry land for all that it lies along a river, being closest to the deserts, and long a place of strife," Denethor answered, eyeing the other, uncertain what the other sought from him.

"There must surely be some redeeming quality to it, if you speak of it with that tone."

"What tone?"

"A fierce one that says, with a fine ring of steel, 'mine!'" Ælric replied. Denethor had the awful feeling that he was blushing, and found himself looking away quickly.

"It is Gondor," he said simply, uncomfortably.

"Mm." Denethor shot the other an irritated look, irked by that too-knowing noise and the gleam in his aide's eyes, for all that Ælric maintained an admirably bland expression.

"I see now why they call you 'Ælfric.' Do you wax poetical often?" Denethor demanded, with something of a growl in his voice.

"When the impulse strikes, and if my audience does not," Ælric answered, even as thunder rattled the hall.


He's flirting again, Dwim. Your view of Aragorn at that age is very much of a flirtatious man, and I get the feeling that he's enjoying tweaking Denethor. Of course this...

"Will you never cease, my lord?" Ælric's voice put a halt to speculation, and if his expression was ironically bemused, there was that in his voice that was serious. Denethor regarded him a moment, surprised by that sudden, unprecedented frankness in acknowledging their habitual contest. For suddenly, they were back in that strange place that that poem had woven for them, and it seemed almost that there was an odd note in his voice, a note of....

... does tend to give the impression that neither of them really know where the whole business is going.

I've got a couple of questions:

1) Is this still going to be the same vague "universe" as FtORB? If so, I can see this being an incident that Denethor blows out of all proportion (and thus thinks of himself as being "marked" for life) while it's one which Aragorn would basically be regarding as "stuff happens". Again, two very similar men in a lot of ways, but there are profound differences in the way that they regard the seriousness of events. So what are your thoughts on that one?

2) Is there any real way of making Denethor less intense? I think this may be his main problem with interacting with people (and it's a problem I can understand myself): he tends to take everything far too seriously, push far too hard, and risk far too much when he does risk. Then, having been hurt, he'll use that as an excuse to push the world further away, set up another layer of ice between himself and the rest of the world. So, given that, is there any way of taking him, making him less intense, making him capable of taking any "incident" between himself and Ælric a little less seriously? Or would that shatter a whole heap of other continuities?

I have to confess, my "sad slash-fan" side would like to see the two of them have something good between them: even a rather physical friendship. Of course, given the two of them, the location that they're in, and the cultures that the pair of them are purportedly from, it would be interesting to see whether that alteration would be enough to actually push things into the whole AU profile...

But then, I digress.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

[whoops - it wanted to post that twice]

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Say hi to your Denethor from mine. Nice analysis Meg--I think we do have very similar Denethors. And yes, Aragorn was the kid who nearly set Bilbo's coat on fire in the Dwimverse. You can imagine that he got into plenty of trouble, deliberately or otherwise. I am chortling over the fact that you characterize Aragorn as flirtatious--I suppose he is, but no less so than Denethor. Bait, bait, bait. He's just a bit nicer about it all. And no, they're not always sure what game they're playing; and even when they are sure, they might be wrong--I like to think this is part of the story's appeal.

But to answer your three questions:

1. Is this going to be the same "vague" universe as FtORB? If I say "maybe" will you kill me? I do see some misinterpretation on both sides, but whether or not the reader will see that as an event blown out of all proportion by Denethor or as legitimate is something I can't answer. I'm hoping also to make the turning point serve double duty for another aspect of Denethor's development, so what the reader sees as the predominant motivation for Denethor may vary.

2. Is there a way of making Denethor believably less intense? Hopefully, you'll see a bit of that in his relationship with Aragorn. It's still nothingl ike relaxed. I don't think Denethor has ever been "turned off" as it were. He's perpetually wired, just sometimes more so than others. Aragorn's goal is obviously to try to loosen him up a little before he blows a gasket and hurts someone. And of course, Aragorn also likes a challenge and is in a position to appreciate Denethor's good qualities, which others admire at a distance but otherwise fear.

3. When am I going to give you the next chapter? I was talking with Ainae last night, and we both had hit snags in our stories. I have the problem that plotwise, certain actions are dictated that are prettty grim; but characterization-wise, what comes out of "Patterns" is a break down of tension in some parts, and so what's coming most naturally is that banter that almost admits they're friends and enjoying each other's company. Almost. But it doesn't fit the plot elements--I'm not trying to make them blasé about what's going on in Poros--that'd be way OOC for both. On the other hand, going down into the murk that is Poros yields a clunky angstfest that doesn't work well at all. Blech. Balance is a problem I haven't solved, though Ainae and I managed to talk out some possible ways of getting past it. Am now working on partial draft 6. Unfortunately, I"m also trying to start writing the damnable Aristotle paper that is this semester's leftover paper, so time is not on my side.

Sorry about the long wait! I don't want it to be less than worth it, though.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Dwim,

I probably don’t have to remind you that I’m still desperate to see the next chapter whenever it finally materialises.

I can’t remember the previous version of “Patterns” that well. It’s my impression that you’ve revised it to put a bit more emphasis on the lengths to which Denethor is going to have to go to screw the necessary information out of Ithrin and his underlings. That and his need to understand the motivation of a fellow Captain turned traitor. Pretty distasteful all round, I should think and makes me think a bit of the Aragorn, Gandalf, Gollum scenes in “Roots”.

Anyway greatly looking forward to whatever you come up with to get the balance right.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

All right, Meg, Aralanthiriel, and all others who have been wondering if I would *ever* get this written:

There ya go. Chapter 6 is available. It is actually rather short. Believe me when I say that if I had included all the material I churned out in an effort to get this one written, you'd be reading til the heat death of the universe. ;-)

If you need a summary to refresh your memory:

Aragorn has joined Denethor in Poros. There are now three prisoners, Ithrin (Denethor's particular focus), Ingar (the guy who can't keep his accounting straight enough for Denethor not to notice the discrepancies), and Halthar (who doesn't lie well when confronted with evidence of his complicity). One of them needs to talk to confirm that Denethor's guesses as to what has happened in Poros are right; it'd also be nice to know when the next trade with the Haradrim was going to happen, so as possibly to take advantage of it. Denethor believes, based on all the evidence he can find, that there's a company of Haradrim somewhere near the foothills of the Ephel Dúath that's preying on Ithilien Ranger patrols, and is already planning to deal with this threat next. Chapter 5 basically is the laying out of all these things for Aragorn's (and the reader's) benefit. Aragorn also gives the reader a flashback resolution of the Cair Andros situation and ponders whether he can somehow get Denethor to stop behaving like the lone wolf he is. This leads to Questionable Poetry over coffee in the dining hall that has Denethor somewhat wary and suspicious.

Got all that? Does it sound like a soap opera yet? Don't answer that.

Anyhow... we move from Questionable Poetry to Questionable Reading Material, period. Short chapter, and it's all Denethor, all the time this time. It's a weird chapter... but hopefully it works. Let me know what you think.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

He really can't get Ælric out of his head, can he? Thanks, very much enjoyed it! Something to ponder for awhile...

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Elemmire wrote:

He really can't get Ælric out of his head, can he?

Have I mentioned that I read Denethor as anal-retentive about things?

I'm glad you liked it. Did the M. de Sade plot device work or was it too highly contrived? How much of a punt do you consider this chapter?

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Have I mentioned that I read Denethor as anal-retentive about things?

Possessive about Poros, possessive about his interrogation, driven by his need to know ....

Did the M. de Sade plot device work or was it too highly contrived?

Well, I thought it worked brilliantly - though I hasten to say I don't know much about the M. de Sade - one of those books you know

This chapter was mightily impressive. I really felt we were getting under Denethor's skin.

I'll probably have more to say when it's sunk in a bit and I've got more time.

How much of a punt do you consider this chapter?

What's a punt? Somehow I don't think it means quite the same thing as it does here in Cambridge


 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Well, I thought it worked brilliantly - though I hasten to say I don't know much about the M. de Sade - one of those books you know

I have "Justine" in my apartment, waiting for me to read it. The bit that I've read is a standard "Awwww poor little orphans... except not." Two sisters in a convent-school thing (both of glowing beauty) are left with nothing when disaster strikes, landing them on the streets. One girl goes off to become a high class courtesan after mum and dad die since she's one of the worldly sorts who's prepared to take up enlightened egoism, the other, thing of innocence, is betrayed at every turn and will doubtless end up in a brothel learning to love to resist (while succumbing of necessity) her degradation by... oh, chapter 2, I'm guessing. Heck, the parish priest already made a pass at her. How much more will she take?

Anyhow, though, it's more the sinister name of de Sade that's at work than any reference to or knowlege of his actual books. So um... yeah, I'm not, to my knowledge, really drawing on him. I'm just giving M-e a pseudo-equivalent. I figure it makes a nice addition to the Kama Sutra that Isabeau has supplied us with.

This chapter was mightily impressive. I really felt we were getting under Denethor's skin.

Oh good. That's two who seem to feel this worked. I was worried this might tip over into total navel gazing or the ridiculous and that neither would suit Denethor. A lot of it was also that I needed to make a good-sized data dump, but couldn't do it easily, given the need to develop Denethor and Aragorn's relationship (which is in a weird place anyway, and so hard to write) and the information about what's possibly motivating Ithrin, while not actually having Ithrin talk. And without burning the chapter out by having Denethor actually torture Ithrin on screen. The books gave me a way out of that, but carried their own risks.

For example, you have no idea how hard it was to resist having him consider suggesting Ælric read Amandil for a lark.

What's a punt? Somehow I don't think it means quite the same thing as it does here in Cambridge

It's not a boat. It comes from games like football. If you drop the ball, as if to make a drop-kick (which is illegal anyhow in football, I think... I don't watch American football), but you kick it before it hits the ground, that's a punt.

Somehow, this became a way of saying that someone is equivocating or delaying, according to Webster's. I'd also say that in every context I've heard it used, it carries the connotation of faking out the audience by seeming to go one way, and then somehow managing to avoid going that way by going somewhere else, figuratively.

So, with this chapter, people were probably expecting some sort of straight up interrogation scene with much unpleasantness, which didn't happen. Thus, it could be considered a punt. Usually, the key is to avoid people noticing what you've done; if they notice, it's not going to be as successful a move. Some people, though will use it to ease tension: "I'm going to punt on that question, and defer it to my learned colleague..." occasionally is heard, or similar.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Dwim,

Thanks for writing it, thanks for posting it. I've just had a preliminary skim at the moment (I've got a head cold, which means that when it comes to things like thinking, I'm currently undersupplied with resources) so you're just going to get my preliminary feedback.

Firstly - I can see Denethor as being the sort of person who *would* be tempted by "forbidden" reading material by the M-E deSade equivalent. Denethor is very much the type of person who seeks *knowledge*, and who doesn't quite believe in the notion that knowledge is something that can ever be "forbidden".

Secondly - I can see where the impulse toward "punishment" would come from in the torturing of Ithrin - this was the man that Denethor trusted on a personal level as well as a political level to take care of the Poros posting. He's betrayed Denethor on two levels, and worse than that, he's stepped outside the definition of who he was that Denethor established. Both of these are crimes against the son of the Steward, even though only one of those is actually punishable by law.

Thirdly - I'd be interested in seeing Aragorn's (Aelric's) perspective on all of this. In a lot of ways, what Aragorn is learning from Denethor is how to be King. How to lead a diverse group of men, how to make sense of the politics, how to read the undercurrents of human interactions, and various ways of looking at things. He's learned some of it from the lord of Rohan, Thengel, but he's also learning more from Ecthelion, and more again from Denethor. I'd be interested whether the whole issue of "how do I handle being in charge" is something that a younger Aragorn raised with Gandalf, prior to being recommended to head south. This latest episode is something that Aragorn would have to learn to cope with, as betrayal is a part of human life, misjudgement is part of kingship, and treachery is something that cannot be ignored by any leader. How he interprets this particular "lesson" and incorporates it into his particular style is something that would be interesting to see.

Fourthly... when's chapter seven going to be along?

(Meg grins, ducks, and starts running like all the Orcs of Mordor were after her)

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Meg,

Thanks for writing it, thanks for posting it. I've just had a preliminary skim at the moment (I've got a head cold, which means that when it comes to things like thinking, I'm currently undersupplied with resources) so you're just going to get my preliminary feedback.

Sorry to hear about the headcold. Sudafed makes life better though.

Denethor is very much the type of person who seeks *knowledge*, and who doesn't quite believe in the notion that knowledge is something that can ever be "forbidden".

Actually, I'd qualify this: there is material that ought to be forbidden... for everyone else. The constant in Denethor's life, other than Gondor and loyalty to his father is his confidence in his own abilities and incorruptibility. Granted, after Ithrin, a part of him has been forced to admit the possibility that someone seemingly unable to betray Gondor could still do it... which terrifies him, because on some level, he's been made to realize that he could be Ithrin someday. But his confidence remains essentially intact, save for that kernel of doubt. So while he has no real difficulty reading Middle-earth's new-minted de Sade, nor would probably have any difficulty reading other material found only in the closed codex of the library vaults in my Ecoesque filing system, he'd not necessarily trust that another ought to read such things. Let's face it: Denethor is an elitist, he's an aristocrat's aristocrat, and the really insufferable thing is, he has the brains and devotion to duty to deserve to be taken seriously on that score.

Both of these are crimes against the son of the Steward, even though only one of those is actually punishable by law.

Yup. Which is why Æleric has been worried, although his concern has been somewhat allayed by the fact that Denethor did keep to the exact letter of the law and didn't try again to get information out of Ithrin after Halthar had confessed and explained pretty much all they needed to know or have confirmed. I think that that bit of misunderstanding is something they'll both be chewing on for a bit. It was a tough bit to write because I need Aragorn to have some inkling that Denethor can go to the extremes, yet I need him just ignorant enough of what's really going on in Denethor (not a hard task, since it *is* Denethor, master of self-deception and not someone to play poker with) that he's able to trust that rationality will win the day. Trying to do this from Aragorn's POV proved to be absolutely unreadable, even if I did manage more drafts of Aragorn's POV for this chapter than I want to think about.

This latest episode is something that Aragorn would have to learn to cope with, as betrayal is a part of human life, misjudgement is part of kingship, and treachery is something that cannot be ignored by any leader. How he interprets this particular "lesson" and incorporates it into his particular style is something that would be interesting to see.

I'm not sure I'll quite be able to show you that in S&S, if you want the full-blown effects and an opportunity to exercise what's he's learned. We know now that he can and will turn up the physical pressure when he needs to--I think that comes from Rangering. Not a lot of options if you need information and the person/being who has it won't give it to you. There are no comfy cells to throw the enemy into, thereby allowing languishing; nor are there necessarily others to whom you can pass the buck re: torture and interrogation. He'd be aware of that, though he may have some issues coping with having to do it himself for the first time. But anyhow, come Yuletide, he ought to get a nice lesson in How To Put Someone In His Place from Denethor based on this incident.

Fourthly... when's chapter seven going to be along?

Universe, heat death thereof, see. ;-)

(Meg grins, ducks, and starts running like all the Orcs of Mordor were after her)

No worries, Halabard will bring you back. Here boy, good mini. See her? Fetch!

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I reread this chapter a few times before commenting. It has that shivery dark feel when you are getting involved in something not-quite-right, and know better, but go ahead and do it anyway. But I expectt this will be much more so.

Yes, the de Sade device works, although it makes me apprehensive where this is going. Since the imagined is more powerful than the described, I'd say this is a much better choice than describing the interrogation, unless you simply gave Denethor's reaction to the interrogation.

I read this as a foretaste, and shuddered a bit:
After all, anyone who would treat bedtime sport as if it were war, knowing full well it was not, and so demean the honor of those who lived the difference between the two and never mistreated a weapon by handling it lightly—such a person, to Denethor's way of thinking, was capable of the tangled, perverse logic of such a betrayal, for the line between fantasy and fact was clearly already cut and crossed for such a one.

Won't that describe any relationship Denethor could have with Aragorn?

Do we have to wait another month? I hope not!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

It has that shivery dark feel when you are getting involved in something not-quite-right, and know better, but go ahead and do it anyway. But I expect this will be much more so.

Shivery is good. Denethor did go a bit further than he ought to have with Ithrin, in intention if not according to the letter of the law, which he has very carefully kept to. It is a rather unusual situation in Poros, but one gets the basic idea of Denethor's particular mettle, and also of his particular views on certain subjects. He isn't one to shrink from the unpleasant and can actually court it if he feels it will lead to a solution without taking him beyond the bounds of stated law.

Won't that describe any relationship Denethor could have with Aragorn?

It certainly describes one possible relationship he could have with Aragorn. Remember, though, that Aragorn isn't exactly to be walked on--he's in this, too, however the plot twists, and Aragorn's goal at the moment is a) to avoid being safely dismissible so that b) Denethor knows he isn't someone to be treated either as a simple tool or as a plaything (insofar as Denethor and he are playing through their word games).

Do we have to wait another month? I hope not!

Dynasty is up next (yes, Isabeau, I caved. You still owe me a scene, though). Then LDID. Then Star and Stone, unless something strikes that absolutely has to be written right then. We'll see how I do. Thanks for your comments. Writing this story is a real balancing act, more so than the other two, more so even than writing FtORB. It's tough, and Denethor's head isn't exactly a calm place to occupy for any length of time, so I'm glad readers feel that this chapter works. The next two should be somewhat less dark, since they deal with more straightforward solutions to problems: find the Haradrim, deal with them, then deal with Celenar. And somewhere in there or in the third chapter after this, depending on what elements want to form a coherent chapter, Aragorn and Denethor will have a chance to face off in a sparring match with actual weapons. And Aragorn should be getting a new name...

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I’ve finally had time to read this through again and I think that the way you’ve handled things does work very well. Denethor’s thoughts run on completely naturally and I think you’ve been very clever in the way you’ve integrated all the various elements – the new political background (now I’m wondering how much of a political match his marriage to Finduilas was), his past with Ithrin and how it could effect his dealings with Ælric, the book bits, his dislike of “inelegant stylistic hybrids” of northern origin – loved that phrase (“That way leads East” is another really excellent turn of phrase) – in fact there is so much stuff packed into this chapter it’s impossible to list it - yet it never feels like information overload.

One thing I thought was effective was that although we are inside Denethor’s thoughts we get his strong physical reaction to his frustration and to the words of Amandil “the Lesser” (another great little detail that). It seems to me that that is much more telling and in keeping for Denethor, than if you’d given us his direct full on reaction to the torturing, for example. I didn’t think there was any punting, by the way. I can’t quite remember but I don’t think I was in any way particularly expecting a graphic account of the interrogations – just the effect they might have on Denethor or Ælric and their relationship.

I also think there is some great Denethor character building in this chapter. More about his attitude to certain sexual practises. There was a nice moment of sympathy for him when he remembers the boyhood friends he had lost. No wonder he is happier playing the lone wolf these days and so affected by the treachery. It was also telling that he emphasises the intellectual so much in his friendships.

I couldn’t help wondering whether there was a copy of On Pain and Pleasure in the library at Imladris – I’m sure that if there was Estel would have got his hands on it at some point

Great chapter – I can’t wait for more, but I guess I’ll just have to be patient.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Denethor’s thoughts run on completely naturally and I think you’ve been very clever in the way you’ve integrated all the various elements – the new political background...it never feels like information overload.

Managing the infodump so that it would flow naturally was one of the real challenges of writing this chapter, so I'm happily striking a mark on my fanfictional bedpost that it cohered so well for you and others. Re: the new political background, I would like to build a hint of that in earlier, I think, so that it isn't just sprung upon the reader unannounced as it is here, but it'd have to go back either in chapter 4 or somewhere in chapter 2, I think. Maybe I could give Aragorn and Denethor a slightly longer Moment Alone in the Bedroom than before. Something to think about.

I didn’t think there was any punting, by the way. I can’t quite remember but I don’t think I was in any way particularly expecting a graphic account of the interrogations – just the effect they might have on Denethor or Ælric and their relationship.

I'm actually a bit surprised, then. Part of the problem with the various earlier partial drafts was that I couldn't get the tone of the set up to meld with the fact that I had to deal with Ithrin et al in this chapter, and that it wasn't going to be pleasant. They also would've played havoc with the relationship progressing between Aragorn and Denethor at this point, pushing them possibly violently away from each other too early in the game.

There was a nice moment of sympathy for him when he remembers the boyhood friends he had lost. No wonder he is happier playing the lone wolf these days and so affected by the treachery. It was also telling that he emphasises the intellectual so much in his friendships.


As I haven't provided Denethor with many continuing relationships beyond family, I figured I needed to address what might've happened to his friends. I fear it was very convenient to kill them, because in terms of plot development, the intellectual had to take precedence, as you note.

Question: did you miss Aragorn's pov in this at all? There's no way I can imagine (and I've tried!) to fit him in, but I'm curious to know whether readers think he needed to be there.

I couldn’t help wondering whether there was a copy of On Pain and Pleasure in the library at Imladris – I’m sure that if there was Estel would have got his hands on it at some point

It's possible some copies made their way north, but I'm banking on Aragorn not having read it. He probably does know Carandir, that being more immediately applicable to the art of statescraft, since it's not just a book on torture but all sorts of persuasive techniques and probably has translations into Westron that he could plausibly cite if Denethor called him on that. In my private fanon, that's sort of the treatise on rhetoric in Gondor, so it makes sense that if anything got published in more northerly places, it'd be On the Art of Persuasion. Amandil's work, however, probably wouldn't be all that interesting to Elrond et al, even if it did end up in libraries (now long lost) in Arnor at some point.

Thanks for your comments, Andria! I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone


Dynasty is up next (yes, Isabeau, I caved. You still owe me a scene, though).

Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. OK, fair enough. You'll get it.
(Running from all the outraged S & S'rs)

 

 

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

*Grooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowl*
You are so going to pay for this, Isabeau. I demand Andrahar/Boromir, in a whole different capacity, to make amends ;)


Can I help it if I'm irresistably charming and persuasive?

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Partly because I have been wanting to do it for awhile, but certainly hastened along by my dissatisfaction with Movie!Denethor, I've gone back and done a good-sized revision on everything except the prologue. "Tête à Tête", "Scratch the Surface", "Dealings", and "Intersessions" underwent the most revision, almost all of it relating to the smuggling/treachery plot in Poros. That just wasn't very clearly done, and subsequent thinking has worked out a clearer situation. However, it's pretty expository, so it may feel rather like a large data dump. Let me know if it's not readable, please.

The other thing that underwent revision were some of the problems with the Rohirrim--mostly it's just a little more detailed, particularly in "Scratch the Surface" and "Dealings", but also in "Heart to Heart".

Will be working on the next chapter now.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Will be working on the next chapter now.

Yea!

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I've reread it. It reads more smoothly, but I can't recall the old S&S well enough to pinpoint the changes. One spot that I had a question about last time and this time... When Aragorn invents the verse that describes his feelings about Gondor, Denethor later thinks that it was "barely decent". I'm sure my modern sensibilities are interfering, but I didn't see it. Help?

Lyllyn, eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Thanks Lyllyn. I think they really are a lot clearer—actually, I know they are. It's just stylistic concerns at the moment—adding length forced me to juggle things a bit, and may have in some cases decreased the tension. Ah well. I can worry over that later. If you want to see the old versions, they're still up at my homepage: www.dwimordenespage.org

One spot that I had a question about last time and this time... When Aragorn invents the verse that describes his feelings about Gondor, Denethor later thinks that it was "barely decent". I'm sure my modern sensibilities are interfering, but I didn't see it. Help?

Denethor's fixated on that weird substitution of he/she that Aragorn makes. I tried to make that a bit clearer in the revised version, so that Denethor explicitly wonders if he should understand "he pays me court of kings" in a more than merely metaphorical sense. Of course, he's also thinking that if he should, it has to be some kind of joke, though a pretty daring one for Aragorn in his Ælric guise to make, especially with Denethor. Given that he analyzes everything Aragorn does to death, he also wonders what it would mean that Aragorn would crack such a joke ... assuming he's supposed to take it as a barely decent joke in the first place. And on and on, etc.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Ah, I think I see it now. One could scarcely say "court of stewards". The political/power byplay in that was all that I saw initially. I suppose that in Denethor's position the political implications in that would be "barely decent" but that would have a different effect, I'd imagine.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I've just re-read this and I think it reads very well.

Can't wait for that next chapter

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Having had some recent luck poking another WiP with sticks, I thought I'd try my prodding skills here -- any chance of any more, Dwim?

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi EA,

Sorry, no luck here. I'm taking a one-at-a-time approach and focusing on getting LDID done first. Then I'll make a decision about what to do next, S&S or reworking "Dynasty."

Wish I could oblige, though!

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Consider this a vote for S&S -- good luck with LDID, I think you may be right that concentrating on one is the way to go, even if I die of anticipation...

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Consider this a vote for S&S

*makes another check by S&S* Will do.

good luck with LDID

Thanks. The upside of this is: I actually have a complete outline of that story and so know exactly what has to happen between chapter 32 and the epilogue. It's just the *writing* part...

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Sometimes I think nothing kills good writing faster than good outlining.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

*makes another check by S&S* Will do.

Make that two checks.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Add another poke with a not-too-sharp stick. Definite vote for Star and Stone!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Sigh. Don't get used to this, it was a nuzgûl in the night that jump-started this sucker and freed up the argument. I personally blame Lyllyn because she inspired me to look at a *totally different fic* and somehow that roused the blighted vampire bunny. A lot of the first quarter was written over a year ago, so I'm really just finishing out what I had now that it's been unblocked.

In any case, click on the link to find Low Places.

I went and back-filled the end of Intersessions for this chapter, and did a few other things to it and all the other chapters as well. However, it's been so long since an update appeared, I'm sure no one remembers what the original draft looked like and it certainly is not necessary to go back and read all however many tens of thousands of words there were previously.

Basic summary: now that Denethor has dealt with the officers of Poros and on the whole gotten a lot less sleep than he needs, it's time to deal with the Haradrim. He has given orders for the garrison to stand ready to depart. Where and when are less clear, but an order is an order. This chapter tells us where they're going, what they're going to be doing, and why. Also featuring a frank and not-quite-fair exchange of opinions between Aragorn and Denethor.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Wheeeeeee! But didn't that get a little nasty! Not quite what I was expecting...their sparring took a rather brutal turn. But I think you've kept true to their characters, and the relationship with the quotes at the beginning is good.

Can we please get used to it? ;) If a hundred stories were updated tomorrow, and this was one of them, I'd read it first.


Elemmíre

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

But didn't that get a little nasty!

It did. War realism is pretty nasty; then again, so is war, whether one cloaks it under just warism or not.

As for the sparring, I felt Denethor and Aragorn needed to get physical at some point, and this struck me as the logical resolution to a disagreement they really can't resolve in a truly peaceable fashion. It's just the argument continued by other means until they can talk meaningfully again. And it is brutal, but so is their training. I remember very vividly something that Soulhunter said, who had military experience and was commenting on the likely mentality of a warrior trained the way Denethor and Aragorn would've been: these guys wouldn't express anger or self-pity or depression the way a civilian of modern times (or even of their own times) would. Whatever their refinement otherwise, if they're dealing with those emotions and they want to get hurt or lash out to relieve stress, all they have to do is walk onto the practice ground and get ten kinds of crap kicked out of them, or beat the snot out of someone else. And strangely enough, they'll feel better for it.

But I think you've kept true to their characters, and the relationship with the quotes at the beginning is good.

Glad you think so; and that quote from the "Siege of Gondor" was priceless. Denethor is a good one for disillusioning one about the nature and uses of power, the moreso because he himself has no illusions about it.

Can we please get used to it?

I kind of doubt it. I'm about to start a new semester, so I'll be hibernating. And I do want LDID done!

But thank you for the vote of confidence, and I'm flattered you like this story so much.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Nicely done! I am half hoping for a grand showdown at Khassid.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I am half hoping for a grand showdown at Khassid.

Getting the smackdown laid on Aragorn in a practice round wasn't enough, eh? You want actual blood between him and Denethor?

Does this mean I'm off the hook for still having not written an Eldacar bio? ::bats eyes::

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Only just seen this, Dwim; I should visit HASA more often! I really like the way you're taking this. Both Denethor's solution & Aragorn's what-amounts-to treason seem strongly in character, and the sparring was believable & tensely written. Can't wait for the showdown.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi EA!

<i>I really like the way you're taking this. Both Denethor's solution & Aragorn's what-amounts-to treason seem strongly in character, and the sparring was believable & tensely written.</i>

Thanks for your feedback on both the characterization and the sparring. Both were a somewhat nerve-wracking to write, so it's good to know both seemed to work for readers.

<i>Can't wait for the showdown.</i>

Neither can I! ;-) 

Back to my mid-weekly salt mine...

Dwim

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Will you be writing more of this very intricate and intriguing story? Hopefully soon?

I am not a believer in LOTR slash; but it occurs to me that if any of Tolkien's male characters slashed, Denethor and Aragorn are plausible candidates...


RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi, Dwim. You do tension better than anyone and tension can be far more erotic than release. Also, dueling. After the delicious swordplay in The Other Side of the River, I was hoping for something similar here and this last chapter really delivered. I'd love to steal this trick but I don't know enough about weapon techniques to write it.

Anyway, just another voice hoping you will continue to work on this story.

-Raihon

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi again, Raksha!


Will you be writing more of this very intricate and intriguing story? Hopefully soon?

I will be continuing it, but "soon" depends on LDID. I'm trying to finish that one first. Now that I've officially exhausted the half-written material I had on S&S, I think it'll stay as it is for awhile.


if any of Tolkien's male characters slashed, Denethor and Aragorn are plausible candidates... I don't ask for more than that, unless it's a good story to exploit the plausibility.

Dwim

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Laura,

You do tension better than anyone and tension can be far more erotic than release.

Thank you! I'm quite flattered, though I fear eventually it all reduces to angst.

Also, dueling. After the delicious swordplay in The Other Side of the River, I was hoping for something similar here and this last chapter really delivered. I'd love to steal this trick but I don't know enough about weapon techniques to write it.

*whispers* I don't know anything about it, either. I just fake it by watching bad Hollywood videos and toning them down about ten degrees. I'm an absolute physical coward.

Anyhow, as I said, I probably won't be updating this soon as I'm committed to finishing another WiP that's been hanging on for five years now.

But thanks for the encouragement! I'll put two more hash marks on the slate for moving to S&S after "Lie Down in the Darkness" is finished.

Dwim

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

You know, Dwim, I re-read this (and the new chapter! hurray!) after more than a year, and it seemed like a new story. You've made some significant changes, from what I recall of the original.

The Poros problem seems much better defined now, and the conflict between Denethor and Aragorn is much more focused. I'm sorry you won't be updating this for a bit, but then LDITD is one of my favourites, too.

cheers,
Maya

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

A new chapter? I'm way behind on several stories I was following, but this goes on the list!

Yippee!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi Maya,

Nice to see you again! Thanks for commenting, and I'm glad you've enjoyed the reworked version.

The Poros problem seems much better defined now, and the conflict between Denethor and Aragorn is much more focused.

That's what I was aiming for. Plotting is really my weakest skill when it comes to sustained, multi-chapter conflict, and I think it showed in the Poros stuff. It's still not as clear as I'd like it, but it also seems to be my curse that I only think of what needs to be done only several months (or more than that) after I've written the thing.

Lyllyn, I think you've already read "Low Places." That's the chapter Maya is referring to.

Dwim

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

I know it's been a long time this was updated *looks beseechingly at Dwim*, but on the risk of dragging everyone back to reading Stars and Stone...

Denethor says: '"I see now why they call you 'Ælfric.' Do you wax poetical often?" Denethor demanded, with something of a growl in his voice.

And that immediately made me ask: what does 'Ælfric' or 'Ælric' mean? My Old English translator is not working.

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

sorry! posted twice!

 

 

Re: Star and Stone

Hi illereyn,

what does 'Ælfric' or 'Ælric' mean?

Continuing in the fine tradition of Tolkien names, i.e., they are so very convenient and thinly disguised descriptions of the obvious half the time, like "Arwen"...

"Ælric" has two parts, "Æl" and "ric": "Æl" means "noble" and "ric" means "power." The name sometimes translates as "noble ruler." Personally, I prefer to translate it backwards: power for nobility or a power of nobility.

"Ælfric" has Ælf" and "ric", and the former bit means "Elf."

Sorry to say I have nothing new brewing yet for this story. Still working my way through Mordor, which, strangely enough, is not a pleasant place to write...

TTFN,

Dwim

 

 

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