13. The Seeing Stones
In the City of the Fortress of Stars, there lived a King's Daughter. Of course, she was beautiful, with dark eyes and black hair flowing to her feet.
As King, her father was Master of the Seeing Stones. Every day, he looked in the large dark crystal to survey the other stones both within his Land of Stone and in the northern Royal Country. As she grew from childhood, the King's Daughter often accompanied him into the Chamber of the Stars, and gazed into the Seeing Stone there.
"You were born to rule," said the King. "Though your brother will be King after me, I shall marry you to a King, as well. Watch all that I do and learn."
One time, while the King conferred with ministers and generals from afar, she spied the face of a young man in the Seeing Stone. As she watched him, it seemed he returned her gaze. She did not know where or who he was, only that her heart was given in that moment, and so, she thought, was his. Whenever she returned with her father to the Stone, she sought his face. As soon as he spied her, his eyes never left hers.
Daily she would watch him in the Stone, but then came the day when he did not appear. She looked for him again in vain.
By now, the King's Daughter had grown to womanhood, and the time came for her to seek a husband. The King announced that he had contracted a betrothal for her with the prince of a distant land. She thought of her love, seen only in the Stone. "How can I marry any but him?" she wondered. She told her maidservant all her hopes and fears.
"The Elder People have come to the City," said the maid. "If you visit them, perhaps they can help you." She accompanied her mistress into the streets, and guided her to the place where they stayed.
The King's Daughter came to a large house. On either side of the entry stood a man of the Elder People, still as door-trees, with pale faces, black hair and gray eyes. She passed between them into the house.
When she reached the inner chamber, she found there three women of the Elder People, all, by seeming, as young as herself. They stood behind a table; one had black hair and gray eyes, as like to the door-wardens as a sister; one had silver hair and eyes pale as cloud; the third's hair rippled like sunlight down her back, and her eyes were as blue as summer sky.
Before them on the table lay a wide silver basin.
"Oh, Queens of the Elder People," said the King's Daughter, "how may I find my love, he whom I have seen in my father's Seeing Stone, but no longer?"
The dark-haired woman said, "As we are kin from afar, we will help you."
The woman with moon-pale hair poured water from a silver pitcher into the basin.
The golden-haired woman beckoned her forward. "Do not touch the water," she warned as all four women gathered about the basin and stared into it.
As she gazed into the water, the King's Daughter saw first a night sky. It paled as if the sun rose, and against the sky she saw a succession of towers. The first she knew as those of her island home, the City of Stars, but soon there came towers she knew not. The last tower stood over a mighty city beside a vast lake. Then she saw the face of her love, but his eyes were closed. He opened them and gazed into her own, but knew her not, it seemed. Finally her own face appeared, but somehow not her own. Then the night sky returned and faded into clear water again.
"You have far to travel," said she of the golden hair, " and obstacles to overcome."
And so they gave her gifts. The dark one gave her a silver mirror. The maiden of the pale hair gave her a golden comb, and the golden-haired one dipped a little crystal flask in the basin of the Water of Vision. She filled it, stoppered it and sealed it.
"With our gifts you may succeed, but you must start today," she said.
The King's Daughter thanked the women many times for their help. When she returned to the palace with her maid, the King summoned her immediately.
"Let me travel first to visit my Aunt and Uncle," she begged. "Then I will bow to your wishes."
Her father sent a troop of guardsmen and several ladies-in-waiting with her. She went first to the City of the Tower of the Moon, where her uncle was Lord. He led her to the topmost tower, which overlooked the Black Land, but the Seeing Stone there showed no sign of her love.
She visited next her aunt, the Lady of the City of the Tower of the Sun. Again, she climbed to the high tower of the Stone, but saw nothing of him.
Then in secret, she stole away with but her maid and one guardsman. She traveled many days across the plains and beneath the mountains until she reached the Tower of Clever Thought, in its valley bowl. The Warden of the Tower shouted to her from the window high above the door and refused to admit her.
"None but myself has been within this tower for many years. King's Daughter or no, you shall not enter either," he cried.
She turned away from the Tower of Clever Thought. With her companions, she traveled by secret paths through the mountains to the Sea. They came to the City of the Sea-ward Tower, ruled over by her uncle, the Prince of that land. With his help, she gained passage on a ship of the Elder People, and sailed with them to their Haven far away.
There she met the Guardian of the Haven, an ancient man of the Elder People. With him, she climbed the Watchtower of the Stars and saw its cunning star-gazing device. In the tower she found the Seeing Stone of the Elder People, which shows only the far-off home of the gods, but found not her love.
"There are but two more Stones," said the Guardian, "and both are still far from here. I will teach you the way to the nearest."
So she traveled for yet many more days until she came to the Tower of the Wind.
"Though there are many young men under my command," said the Captain of the Tower, "none may look into the Stone but I." Nevertheless, she reviewed the troops stationed at The tower and went to the Chamber of the Stone at its top, but once again in vain.
Now the Tower of the Wind stood within the Royal Country, and its Captain was in the army of that country.
"Our king is ill and near death," he said. "His second wife is ruling in his name. She is a witch, and has ensorcelled the King's Son. She hopes to marry him to her daughter from her first marriage, and thus control the kingdom."
At these words, the King's Daughter felt her heart beat faster. Surely this was her love!
"I must rescue him from his wicked step-mother," she said. "Will you help me?"
"I will," said the Captain, and he taught her the way to City of the Tower of the West, capital of the Royal Country, where the last Stone lay, and taught her also somewhat of the City and the wicked Regent. Her constant companions the guardsman and handmaid traveled with her to the City.
When they arrived, they found the City decked for a festival. "In three days time, our King's Son will marry the daughter of the Regent," proclaimed the heralds. "Let all the people rejoice."
"I am still in time," said the King's Daughter, and she went straightaway to the palace with the Tower of the Stone. "I am the Daughter of the King of the Land of Stone," she announced to the doorwarden, "come to gaze into the Seeing Stone of the King."
The doorwarden sent word to the Regent of the visitor, who laughed and said, "No one as shabby and ill-attended as that could be a King's Daughter! Send her out."
The King's Daughter went sadly out of the palace. Then she bethought her of the gifts of the three women. She sat beside the wall of the palace, and drawing out the golden comb, began to comb her hair.
At that time, the daughter of the Regent was walking along the top of the wall. She looked out and saw the King's Daughter playing with the golden comb. "I must have that comb," she said, and called down to the King's Daughter.
"Give me your comb," she said.
The King's Daughter looked up in astonishment, for the face of the Regent's daughter looked like her own. Now the Regent had ensorcelled the King's Son to believe that her daughter was his love, and had likewise enchanted her daughter to look like the woman he loved.
"It's neither for sale nor for giving," replied the King's Daughter, "but I will trade it for one look at the Seeing Stone."
The Regent's daughter led her to the Tower of the Stone, and she entered, but found no-one. She gave the golden comb to the Regent's daughter, and returned downcast to her lodgings with the guardsman and the maid.
Meanwhile, the witch's daughter took the comb and went to sit with the King's Son. She began to comb her hair while he watched.
When she drew the comb through her hair, the spell on it weakened, and the glossy black turned to light brown. She hastened away to her mother before the King's Son could notice.
The next day, there were but two days until the wedding. The King's Daughter sat by the palace and played with the silver mirror, turning it to and fro, and looking at her reflection in the shiny metal.
The daughter of the Regent walked again upon the wall, and saw the mirror.
"Give me the mirror," she said.
"It's neither for sale nor for giving," said the King's Daughter, "but I will trade it for one look at the King's Son."
"Follow me, but mind you stop at the door!" replied the Regent's daughter.
So she followed the Regent's daughter to the chamber where the King's Son sat. It was he! There was her love, but he looked only at the other woman, who shut the door firmly upon the King's Daughter. Away she went again, with both more hope and more fear.
The Regent's daughter showed the mirror to the King's Son. He looked into it, and beheld his own face, but when he turned it to look at his betrothed, he saw the face not the face of his love, but that of the daughter of the Regent.
"What witchery is this?" he cried, but the Regent's daughter dashed the mirror from his hand.
It broke upon the floor as she said, "Mind it not, my love. It is but foreign sorcery."
Nevertheless, the King's Son thought upon what he had seen, and could not put from his mind the vision of the mirror.
On the third morning, there was only one more day before the wedding was to take place. The King's Daughter again went to the palace wall. She took out the crystal flask and played with it, tossing it sparkling into the air or looking through it at the City.
"Give me the crystal flask," said the Regent's daughter.
"It's neither for sale nor for giving," replied the King's Daughter, "but I will trade it for one moment with the King's Son."
"What harm can one moment do?" thought the Regent's daughter, and she guided the King's Daughter to the chamber of the King's Son. At last, the King's Daughter stood near her love, and he beheld two women who looked alike. He could not tell one from the other.
"Now give me the flask," said the daughter of the witch. The King's Daughter drew forth the flask, but gave it instead to the King's Son.
"Let the King's Son give you the Water of Vision in the way he thinks best," she said.
The King's Son broke the seal on the flask and pulled out the stopper. He bathed his eyes in the Water of Vision, then dashed the rest of it on the King's Daughter and the daughter of the Regent.
With his vision now free of the spells of the Regent, he saw the true form of each woman. The Water of Vision drove also the enchantments from the head and heart of the King's Son. He called upon his father's ministers and generals. They arrested his stepmother the wicked Regent and her daughter, and threw them into the dungeon. He went to his father and found him so improved, with the removal of the Regent's spells, that he was able once again to take up ruling.
And after all, there was a wedding the next day, for the King's Son of the North Kingdom and the King's Daughter of the South Kingdom were joined finally in marriage.
The City of the Fortress of Stars: Osgiliath
The Tower of the Moon: Minas Ithil (Minal Morgul)
The Tower of the Sun: Minas Anor (Minas Tirith)
The Tower of Clever Thought: Orthanc
The Watchtower of the Stars: Elostirion
The Tower of the Wind: Amon Sûl
The Tower of the West: Annúminas
The City of the Sea-ward Tower: Tirith Aear in Belfalas (to be Dol Amroth in the future)
The Guardian of the Haven: Cirdan
The Land of Stone, the South Kingdom: Gondor
The Royal Country, the North Kingdom: Arnor
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.