28. Reaching Rohan
Two days before they reached Tharbad they cracked a wheel, and they limped into that village. It took five days to get it and an unexpectedly cracked axle as well replaced, but the wheelwright that did the work offered them excellent hospitality in return for travelers' tales as he worked, and seemed well pleased with the fee they paid him. Ruvemir managed to see one of the King's messengers heading north, so was able to send messages back to the Shire appraising Lord Samwise and the two knights of his next two commissions and their place in such depictions; and catching a second messenger headed south sent word on informing the King and Elise and his father of their current situation. Miriel managed to get their clothing cleaned for them, and Eregiel's shoulder was evaluated by a healer who seemed pleased by his recovery so far and who suggested exercises to strengthen the muscles. Ruvemir smiled as he helped someone else for a change with such.
The pup was growing apace and had become dear to her young master. She would often run about and play rambunctiously when the party rested, but the moment Ririon began to walk about on his own she would drop all other interests and move to his side, where he found he could rest his hand on her shoulder as he walked. With the young dog on his left and his walking stick on his right he soon found he was moving about unfamiliar areas with a great deal more freedom. By the time they reached Rohan she was well practiced in her role as Ririon's guardian and guide.
As soon as they reached the Gap of Rohan Ruvemir indicated he wished to speak to one of the Ents to bear them Merry and Pippin's greetings, and so they headed south toward Orthanc, finally finding one of their quarry not far north of the remains of the circle that once fenced the vale. Ruvemir came out of the coach and approached the great figure, accompanied by Ririon, Pando, and Folco, Dorlin having suggested the rest would be seen as less threatening if they stayed put, and together the four of them bowed respectfully. The Ent appeared amused and bowed in return, but did not appear to speak their language, instead making a deeply musical call across the landscape. Soon they were joined by a second Ent who resembled a beech tree somewhat, and he was bending and swaying before them, introducing himself as Quickbeam in their language and asking them their business. His eyes lighted on Folco and Pando with recognition, and looked on Ruvemir with open curiosity.
"I am a sort of Man called by my own people a mannikin, as I am stunted in my growth," Ruvemir explained, "and the boy here by my side is my ward Ririon, who has been apprenticed to me to learn carving. As I think you can tell, Pando and Folco are Hobbits."
"Yes, Hobbits are now a part of the Long Lists," Quickbeam said, his eyes focused on the two Halflings. "'Hungry as hunters, the Hobbit children, the laughing folk, the little people.' So have these new folk been made a part of our lore and memories. You came to speak to us for a purpose?"
Folco explained. "I am a cousin to Frodo Baggins, and also to Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck. They cannot leave our own land at this time, and they asked that as we passed through the Gap of Rohan we should bear their greetings to the Ents of Fangorn Forest, and particularly to Treebeard and yourself, whom they remember with great honor and love."
Quickbeam seemed very pleased by this message, and he turned and gave one of the musical calls toward the west. After a time an ancient Ent joined them, and Ruvemir realized that this must be Treebeard himself. The old Ent peered at them with much the same curiosity shown by the other two, and seemed amused when those of the party who'd left the coach bowed deeply to him.
"Two of the Shirefolk?" he asked. "Hoom, hom; you we recognize easily enough. But do we have another new folk to add to the lists?" And at this he focused his attention on Ruvemir.
"No, sir, I am not a new race or people. I am but an oddity among the race of Men. Now and then a child will be born with stunted limbs and misshapen body, and I am such a one, as is my sister who remains in the coach."
Treebeard nodded his head with understanding. "Liked a crabbed tree, then," he suggested.
"Even so. I am Ruvemir son of Mardil, and my sister is named Miriel. The two Hobbits with us are Folco Boffin and Pando Proudfoot--" each bowing as named "--and this is my ward Ririon son of Embril and Damsen."
"And the others in your party?"
"Dorlin son of Dwalin, a Dwarf who is cousin to Gimli Orc-slayer, and Eregiel of the Dúnedain of the North Kingdom who is kinsman to the King Aragorn Elessar. Folco and Pando are kin to Merry and Pippin and to Frodo Baggins. We were asked by Merry, Pippin, and Samwise Gamgee to bring you greetings as we return to Gondor."
"And what of the Ringbearer? Has he sent no word of greeting?"
"If he were still in Middle Earth I am certain he would have joined his greetings to those of the other three you have met. However, he left with the Lady Galadriel and the Lord Elrond and Mithrandir to find healing."
"So it is true, that the Valar have allowed this one to enter the Undying Lands. Many exceptions appear to have occurred and been allowed at the turn of the age. Hoom, hoom. I'd wondered to what he would come, for he was like a fair young tree caught by a sudden sleet storm, encased in ice--whether he would die of the frost or thaw to continue growing was at question."
"Had he remained, all appear to agree he would soon have died."
"I see." He examined the two Hobbits more closely. "And what has drawn the two of you out of your far land?"
"Master Ruvemir is a sculptor, one who carves statues out of stone," explained Folco. "Pando seeks to learn the making of figures from him and the ones Ruvemir can introduce him to. Pando is best working with clay. And I fell in love with Mistress Miriel, who is one who makes and decorates clothing, and we have married."
Here Treebeard seemed both surprised and highly amused. "Is she of a similar size and build to her brother?"
"Yes, similar, but a touch taller, I think."
"It should be an interesting family to watch over time," the Ent commented. "Hoom, it is something to think of, at least. Men and Elves have, after all, been able to join in marriage and blend their natures. Men and Hobbits are both, after all, mortals, and so should be more easily joined." He smiled, then looked more closely at Ruvemir. "And how do things go in the mortal lands?"
"Well enough for now, although it is possible that in the next year we may find ourselves fighting armies from east of Rhun. The people of Rhun sent an embassy to Minas Anor a little more than a month before we left to head north. They are being assailed by their eastern neighbors, and they do not have the resources to hold them off for long. They have begged the King Elessar to come to their relief."
Treebeard and Quickbeam's expressions became serious. The old Ent straightened. "Always, it seems, the world of Men is fighting with one another. We do well to have little to do with them, I think, although your King Aragorn Elessar is a worthy enough fellow. The blood of the Eldar is strong within him, and he is given to great responsibility. Well, let us meet the rest of your party, and we will let you go on your way. And when you speak with young Merry and Pippin again, give them our greetings as well."
At Ruvemir's gesture Miriel came out of the coach, Eregiel dismounted from Rohel, and Dorlin came from where he'd been holding the heads of the team. Accompanied by the two dogs they came forward and bowed deeply. Ruvemir saw that Miriel had brought with her the model for the memorial.
"Welcome, young folk," Treebeard said. "And what do you bring with you, my Lady?"
"This is the model of the memorial my brother is to sculpt in Minas Anor, sir," she said, and held it out.
He took it gently from her with his great fingers, and examined it with great care. Finally he looked thoughtfully at Ruvemir, a hint of a smile on his grave face. "Your King would have a memorial done of the Hobbits, eh? Wiser Man, even, than I'd thought before. If more were like unto these--" with a gesture to Pando and Folco "--there would be fewer wars and ills in the world. Although, I must admit, that when others come with axes to the eaves of your own woods you'd best be ready to defend yourself." He returned the model to Ruvemir. "We have little to do with the world of Men, although the Rohirrim are a worthy folk. They give our trees a wide berth, and treat their own woods with great consideration, knowing that if they do not do so they will soon have none left. The Men sent by the King to the garrison there--" with a nod toward the garrison to the northwest at the start of the Old Road "--are always respectful toward us, and when either the King Elessar or Éomer King comes our way they stop and give us respectful greetings, although I feel Aragorn Elessar is more accepting of us. Well, we greet you all, and for the sake of Gimli Orc-slayer we greet even you, Dorlin son of Dwalin. And what do you do in the city of the King?"
"I hew mostly stone, marble and granite. As with Ruvemir I sculpt figures, and I assisted in the restoration of the great Gates of the City."
Treebeard gave another nod, this one of respect. "Knowing you are of Aulë's folk, I know that when you cut your stone you do so with full respect. Then I welcome you indeed. And bear my greetings to Gimli Orc-slayer and his friend Legolas Greenleaf."
Dorlin gave a deep bow. "Full gladly will I do so, Master Treebeard. Gimli has spoken of your great courtesy to him, an axe-bearer, and I am glad to see his honor is again well given."
Treebeard and Quickbeam accompanied them back to their coach, and watched as the pup walked close to Ririon, then at a word leapt back into the coach while Artos stood by Rohel, who watched the approach of the great Ents with curiosity but no fear. Treebeard watched as the ponies behind the coach nudged hopefully at Folco while those in harness did the same to Ruvemir and Dorlin. He nodded in approval. "I see your beasts serve you not in fear, but in acceptance and cooperation. Who taught the dog to work with the boy?"
Ririon shrugged. "She's still a puppy, but has been with me this month past, and just began walking by me, as if she can tell I can't see well." He smiled. "I named her Joy."
Treebeard gave Ruvemir a considering look. "We look at those who live north of here in the land of the Dunlendings and we begin to distrust Men. And then, here come such as you, sent to the land of the Hobbits to do a memorial for these four--" he indicated the model of the memorial which the sculptor carried still "--and we see that these and you are the ones the King Aragorn Elessar wishes to honor, and our trust is restored." He gave a nod. "Carry our respects to him as you return to his city. And thank you for bringing the regards of these." He gently caressed the model with one finger. "And send our greetings back to them." He stepped back and watched as his guests prepared to leave. Together they bowed deeply to the three Ents, and soon they were once again on the road east through Rohan.
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.