Seeing Stone, The : 1. The Seeing Stone

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1. The Seeing Stone

I am a stone resting in a river, dreaming of bygone days. The waters ripple over me but cannot move me, for I am too heavy. Fishes and other dwellers of the green depths pass me by, for they cannot eat me and I provide no shelter. Sometimes, one of them draws near to stare at me with bulging eyes. But I do not yield my secrets to creatures that could not even name what they saw if they had speech: a smooth, dark orb with a fiery heart, unchanged by the streams of time.

Still, I hold memories. I recall the hands of my maker, with long fingers, slender but strong, a spirit of fire with a touch of passion to kindle my flame. Of an old and deathless race he was, and I remember his face, pale and fair, with eyes like lances and framed by raven-dark hair. It lives on in my burning heart, and whoever sways enough power of mind and spirit to master me can behold it - or could, if I were not lost to eyes that know. One of seven brethren he made me, under the Father Stone, the first of all. And one of seven brethren gazed into me when I was newly wrought, and through me he spoke to the other sons of his father. But they all rebelled and departed, never to return, and I know their deeds and their fates were dark.

If I am moist it is because I am ever touched by running water and not because I weep. Stones do not shed tears.

We were left behind, my brethren and I, but one day we were gathered and carried to a white ship with well-woven sails. On the West wind it sped to a great island in the wild waters of the Sea, a five-pointed star fallen from the skies and moulded into rock and fertile soil by a spirit of the waves. And in the centre rose a pillar of heaven, a steep mountain with a heart of flame like mine, though far more dangerous: untamed and untameable, not made by any creature's hand. The race of Men living on this isle was great, and glorious were their works: tall ships, lofty halls, towers with soaring spires. And many other images of I preserve from the years on that isle, for many gazed into my brethren and me to watch the wide world and its wonders. Far abroad they roamed, and a day came when my heart seemed to hold all there was to see on earth.

But my eye had not yet drunk its fill of Man's pride and folly. This was a race of mortals. They hid their tombs in the deepest of valleys, but they could not hide themselves from death. I am a stone, I fail to grasp such things, but what my brethren and I see we reveal - and seeing stones cannot lie. What we saw was a people greedy for time, clinging to life as if it was a right instead of a grace, and shrinking from death as if it was a doom instead of a gift. Tempted by lies and worthless promises of days prolonged these Men fell from high, building a hollow temple for an old, false spirit and sending up the black vapours of human sacrifice to cloud the weeping heavens. But as the last King of the Fallen Star arose to rip lasting life from those unable to grant it to him, the smoke eagles of the Lord of the Breath of Arda flew about the mountain of fire, and its fiery core exploded.

If I am moist it is because I am ever touched by running water and not because I weep. Stones do not shed tears.

The isle sank into towering waves and many perished, the old and the young alike, yet my brethren and I did not. Beneath a bleeding sky nine storm-blown ships with ragged sails carried us to further shores, and there a king and his sons gave each of us a place of his own. A city they built in their new, great realm, with a mighty bridge across the same river that embraces me now. And beside the bridge they built a dome with a tower, and in the topmost chamber of that tower they put me on a pedestal, chief among my brethren. There, I beheld the King and his sons and their long-lived allies, waging war against the old, false spirit under skies darkened with fumes from an untamed mountain. When the long labours of war at last delivered peace it was at a price, and the pride and folly of Man robbed the new age of its brightness in the hour of its birth.

King followed king in the realm where I rested on my pedestal, and all gazed into me to let my roving eye reveal whence their friends and foes would come. If not all ruled well and if some brought woe it was for lack of wisdom, not for any falsehood in my fiery heart, for a seeing stone does not lie. But many of the kings were great and glorious and their people noble and valiant. And if once more the glory faded and strife and evil crept into the heart of the realm, such was ever the way of the world. I am a stone and cannot grasp such things, but my brethren and I have learned to know that it is.

A king came whose son and heir married the daughter of a lesser people, and she followed him home abandoning her kin and her childhood name. She gazed into me once, and the image she left in my glowing heart was that of a woman, wife and mother, no more, no less. I saw that she loved like other women, wives and mothers, yet she was the daughter of a lesser people and her son the child of a lesser mother. His face I preserved as well, a handsome countenance proud enough to grace a king, with his mother's fearless northern spirit shining from his eye. Whoever would wrest it from my memory would deem him more, not less, for boasting such an ancestry, and deem him well-crowned. Alas, who will behold it, now that I am lost?

In those bygone days, there were men who saw less clearly than did I, who am a stone. I fail to grasp such things, for shorter or longer, to me the life of any mortal is but a ripple in the great river of time. Yet one of these men arose to thrust the son of a lesser mother from his rightful heritage, and the eye of my brother in the Watchtower showed me that many followed his lead. The King opposed them to the end of his strength, but at last they besieged him in his city on the banks of my great river, and food grew less, and children starved for the pride and folly of others, human sacrifices of a different kind.

If I am moist it is because I am ever touched by running water and not because I weep. Stones do not shed tears.

No victory or peace was bought, though, not even at this price. When the minds and the bodies of the besieged grew feeble enough to feed on their fellow men, women and children, the rebels conquered and infested the city. Blood ran in the streets and fire bloomed from the torched buildings, and again the heavens were hung with black vapours. The King's last faithful counsellor standing in the topmost chamber of the Tower of the Dome did not need to gaze into my blazing heart to see the flames leap, and he grabbed me and hurried down the stairs to save himself and me.

Down and down he raced while the fire ate itself a way up, ever further down, but the steps were many and the tower was too tall in its pride. Before he could reach the bottom its base crumbled and it broke and toppled, tumbling into the river with a great hiss. The counsellor never lived to see the clouds of steam billowing from the surface of the stream; the image I hold is of a face no longer stern and wise, but coughing, gasping for breath and suffocated by smoke. And I fell from his clutching hands and plunged into the water and sank, for I am heavy. Down to the bottom I went, a smooth dark orb with a heart of fire. And there I rest, embraced by waters.

What happened to the King I cannot tell; perhaps he fled, perhaps he perished. And if he fled, perhaps he regained his kingdom and perhaps it prospered ever after, but most likely it did not. For the ways of the marred world will not change as long as it lasts, and after each respite new shadows will grow.

But me, these shadows shall cloud no more. Where my brethren are I do not know, nor do I care; though I am a seeing stone, I have seen my last.

If I am moist it is because I am ever touched by running water and not because I weep. Stones do not weep, even if their hearts are not made of stone but of fire. But I am forgotten, lost in the river of time, and in the dim green depths of these waters I am blind, as with tears.

*******

A/N: The text to go with the last part of this tale: "At last he [king Eldacar of Gondor] was besieged in Osgiliath, and held it long, until hunger and the greater forces of the rebels drove him out, leaving the city in flames. In that siege and burning of the Tower of the Dome of Osgiliath was destroyed, and the palantír was lost in the waters." LotR, Appendix A, (iv) Gondor and the heirs of Anárion.




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.

Story Information

Author: finch

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/08/03

Original Post: 06/29/03

Go to Seeing Stone, The overview

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Playlists Featuring the Story

Inspiring Stories - 20 stories - Owner: Elena Tiriel
Elena Tiriel's favorite Tolkien fanfic stories at HASA; a very personal and eclectic list of works that have touched me in some way. See Inspiring Drabbles for a similar list of favorite drabbles.
Included because: A sad tale of Gondor's Kin-strife, told by one who witnessed it up close and whose memory is undimmed by time.

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