4. The Goldsmith
There I was, safe and sound in Linhir with my gold buried in the yard and a fair number of miles between the War of the Ring and my small store of wealth. The next thing I know, Mardilin appears on my doorstep, weaving gauzy fables of the money to be made at the capital’s spring fair, and how I ought to travel here with the caravan he was putting together to brave the road. Lured by a desire to increase my profits and add to my hoard, I capitulated at the last moment and joined the motley group Mardilin had assembled. I was careful to keep to myself, since I never like displaying my goods too openly. We arrived intact yesterday, dodging numerous alarms, and scrambled to set up our booths and prepare for the merrymakers that hopefully were anxious to spend their coin.
So that it how I came to be sitting here, watching people drift by and only occasionally buying one of my pieces, despite the craftsmanship I lavish on each. I am careful to smile at my potential customers and appear more approachable than I normally do. This task is made easier as I look appreciatively at the many beautiful women in attendance today. They are far more elegant than those of Linhir, with richly textured clothes and a prideful aura that piques my curiosity. I allow myself to imagine what one of them would be like in my bed, for it has been far too long since I shared it with a woman. Warm? Wild? Soft and yielding? I ponder if any women in the city are of sufficiently loose virtue to consider keeping me company tonight in exchange for a gold brooch . . .
I blink as the blond woman stops before me, as though my impure thoughts had conjured her up. She is ravishingly lovely, with thickly lashed blue-gray eyes and a splendid figure that is slim but ripe. Her fair coloring and direct gaze are very different from the other ladies here, and make me suspect she is an outlander of some sort. All I am certain of is that she incarnates every fleshy fantasy I have cultivated over the years. I must swallow slightly before I trust myself to speak.
“May I help you, my lady? Is there something in particular you are searching for?”
“No, thank you, I am merely looking everything over.”
She begins picking up different jewelry as I revert to cataloging her numerous and admirable beauties, for that is all I can do; she is clearly far above me. As she runs a fine chain through her fingers, the links flashing in the sun, a man joins her. He lays a proprietary hand on her waist briefly, and I recognize he is highborn, even without knowing his name. His whole bearing, lordly and confident, proclaims his standing; I can see she must be his wife, for his attitude towards her is a mingling of love and respect that only a husband would project. His glance rakes my table, and he unerringly reaches for my best piece, an intricately decorated brooch in the shape of a running horse.
“This is the right one for you, horse lady,” he says, his voice warm and full of affection. “I shall buy it for you, as a token of my high regard for both you and your country.” She shakes her head vigorously as I realize she is indeed foreign.
“No, no, you have already been more than generous today, my lord, with both time and money—I cannot accept anything else.”
“Too late—my mind is made up.” He grins and she stares back, disconcerted but unable to protest further. He asks casually, “How much, my good smith?”
The price I blurt out is far higher than what I originally planned to charge; I suppose I see a good opportunity for a quick profit, or maybe I think any man claiming this woman should pay well for the privilege. I wait for him to haggle, but he extends payment without a quibble. I take the brooch, feeling pleased it will enjoy such a fine showcase of its quality with this dream woman. “Shall I wrap it for you, my lady, or would you prefer to wear it immediately?” I ask.
She thinks for a second, and a slow smile spreads over her mouth, heating my blood. “I shall wear it, if you have no objections, my lord . . .” She arches an eyebrow in question.
“I have none.” They smile at each other. Does he know what a fortunate man he is?
“If you will allow me, my lady, I will pin it on your dress.”
She leans forward cautiously; I undo the brooch’s clasp and slide it into the fabric with equal care. For one dizzying, intoxicating moment, I sense her silky soft skin through the cloth as I fasten the clasp, and then the moment is gone, never to return. She straightens up just as a boy comes racing up to us. I guess this is their son, for his manner is utterly familiar and his coloring rather similar to the man’s.
“There’s a fruitseller over here you should see, with a good choice—” His voice and expression are oddly mature for a lad.
The woman slips a motherly arm about his shoulders. “We’re coming directly, Merry.” She bows her head to me. “Many thanks, kind sir.”
The man’s arm joins hers around the boy’s shoulders as the three of them walk together to the neighboring fruitseller. I find myself grinning at their retreating backs like an idiot, feeling only a tiny touch of jealousy amidst the warmth this little family group engenders in me. Will I even be lucky enough to have that level of love, I wonder?
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.