Tales of the Innkeeper: 5. Closer Than We Think

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5. Closer Than We Think

It's a wise man who knows his foe. Havin' the King under my roof had me thinkin' just how often he and those brave souls who fought the Shadow must've found themselves tryin' to read the mind of Sauron and his foul lot. I'd hear their tales: "We thought if we could just lure the eye of Sauron away from Frodo . . . ." Takes a brave man to be willin' to go far enough into darkness that he comes to know the mind of evil itself. Can't help but wonder just how many never made it out.

Now, from what I'd seen since the royal party first came knockin' on my door, Elessar is given to patience. Never seen a hint of violent temper out of him once, not even when that old fool Arrad grabbed at Silima. But one eve when the King was havin' words with that one hotheaded, red-haired boy in his company, he suddenly stood up and stormed from the room. I thought maybe one of my serving girls had done something to irk him—they're not all as sensible as Silima—so I reckoned I'd best go check on him myself. It's not good for business havin' the King take an unkindly view of the inn, you understand.

So I asked the King—politely as I could, mind you—whether anything was amiss. "Is there anything I can do, Sire? A bit of pipeweed, perhaps?"

The King looked straight at me, and I saw that the sparkle usually present in his eyes had turned into a flash. It wasn't my first time realizin' that Elessar is no man to be trifled with.

"Nay, you and your staff have never failed to be anything but courteous and generous. I am well pleased with all of you. I only wish I could say the same for young Carandol." So that was the boy's name.

"Irks you, does he, Sire?" I could've kicked my fool self as soon as the words were out! What right had I to be so brazen with our King, especially when he was already upset?

But the King actually chuckled. "Irked would be a tame word, I fear. At times, I have the urge to slap that insolent sneer from his freckled face. But I have learned to manage my darker impulses: when languor seizes me, I think of my industrious friend, Gimli, and his dwarven kin; when despair besets me, I seek the company of those who remind me that Hope remains; and when anger explodes within me, I retreat to solitude."

There I stood reelin' once again, not knowin' which seemed stranger—that this King could ever feel lazy or that in addition to his proclivity for Elves, he also keeps company with Dwarves. When I'd gathered my wits, I sputtered out the first coherent words that came to mind: "It's a wise man who knows how to handle his darker side, Sire."

The King nodded before saying, "And it takes an even wiser man to recognize the truth of that statement. Well said, Master Innkeeper."

Is it my imagination, or d'you reckon that the King was actually callin' a simple fool like me wise? Surely I misunderstood!

Before leavin' the room, the King closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and announced, "Now back to deal with young Carandol."

"Best of luck to you there, Sire."

As I watched the King go, it occurred to me: now that Sauron's been defeated, we tend to believe there's no adversary left to know. But the way I see it, the enemy is always lurkin' closer than we think.

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: Allee

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 4th Age

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/01/07

Original Post: 09/13/06

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