King Comes Home, The
4. A Busy Morning In Annuminas
Lusey Butterbur awoke to warm, cedarwood scented darkness. She lay for a moment in sleepy bewilderment, unable to remember where she was or how she'd come to be there, then the whole long journey to the magical city of the Kings came back in a rush and she sat up, pulling open the bedcurtains.
There it was, the princess's room she'd chosen last night, with its oaken panelling and heavy, richly carved chairs and tables brightened by blue velvet cushions and silver fringed covers. *1
The bedcurtains were so thickly embroidered with spring flowers in all the colors of the rainbow that you could barely see the thick blue silk beneath, and lined with soft felt so light wouldn't shine through them.
She was looking straight at a large needlework tapestry almost covering the far wall. The girls in green dancing hand in hand under the trees were nearly lifesized and looked astonishingly real. Some were tall and beautiful with long dark hair that fell straight down their backs or at most waved a little. But there were other, shorter girls with curly brown or fair hair and rosy cheeks. And one, the third from the end, could almost have been Lusey herself.
The window nearest the bed had half its curtain looped back and the lattice with its inlays of colored glass pushed open to let in the air. It was also letting in birdsong, the soft plash of water and a warm golden light that made Lusey wonder just how late she'd slept and scramble hastily out of bed.
She pulled back the other half of the curtain, pushed the window lattices all the way open - and gasped. Gilded domes and spires glowed under the morning sun filling the air with a lambent golden light. The blue waters of the canal below her window sparkled with sunlit reflections, like chips of gold leaf. The grass bordering it was a richer, more brilliant green than any grass Lusey'd seen before, and the stone of steps and quay shone like sunlit snow, golden white.
The plashing was being made by the oars of a large, heavily laden barge rowing slowly up the canal to moor at their landing. Several Men clad in long clothes of white and grey or white and yellow climbed out and began unloading small sized furniture. One was Beomann, another was a Hobbit.
If she'd been at home she'd have grabbed a shawl and rushed right downstairs to see what they were about. But she wasn't at home. Instead she threw up the lid of her leather travelling trunk and dug out her best walking out dress. Determined to at least try to live up to her surroundings. *** It felt like they were being assailed from all sides. Just as Beomann and the young Men with him started carrying Hobbit furniture in the back way a bevy of young Women, carrying baskets of flowers, came in the front. Breelanders, many of them half dressed, came down the big staircase to gawk and Little Folk popped out of the downstairs doors to inspect the new furniture. The whole lot of them milled about the big center hall, all talking at once and getting in each others' way.
Barliman Butterbur was accustomed to bustle and confusion - but now he felt overwhelmed. Probably, he decided, because unlike the Pony he wasn't quite sure what should be done about any of it.
Fortunately Beomann was sure and began briskly sorting them all out. "Dad, you remember Dan. And of course you know Trotter here."
Barliman blinked rather blankly down at the Hobbit. He was dressed in the same odd sort of clothes as Beomann, but white and yellow rather than white and grey, and of course he was wearing boots - the only Hobbit he'd ever seen go shod. "Yes, indeed. How'd ye do, Mr. Boffin." There'd always been whispers that the Boffins out on Combe Edge were thick as thieves with the Rangers - but nobody'd really believed it. Not a fine old family like that. Granted Shirefolk were peculiar but not that peculiar! Only it seemed they were.
Trotter's mouth quirked a little, as if he was reading Barliman's mind, (or more likely his face). "Very well thank you, Mr. Butterbur." he said civilly enough. "Sorry for all this confusion, we'll get out of your way as soon as we can." his glance fell to his own eye level. "And who is going to tell us where to put the things?"
"I will." all four Hobbit Matrons chorused, then glared at each other. Trotter rolled his eyes and headed for the door to the Little Folk's wing.
"And this," Beomann resumed, unperturbed, "is Emelin, Luithlin, Moredhel, Sorcha and Keina."
Three of the young Women were tall, sleander Rangers, one with golden hair. She and a dark haired girl were dressed in shades of green, a silver brooch incised with four curious looking letters pinned at their throat.*2 The other girls wore pewter- and silver-grey and their brooches were shaped like a bird with a star on its breast. Two of them looked different from both Rangers and Bree folk; tall but fuller of figure, with honey colored skins and dark brown hair and eyes.
"Maybe some of our girls could help with the flowers." Beomann suggested pointedly.
The three Butterbur daughers; Peg, May and Lusey, Goodie their maid, the two Cloverleaf girls; Blossom and Bird, and Tibby Gromwell, (Old Elmwood's granddaughter) had been standing in a bunch, listening and staring at the strangers. Now they blushed and hastily came forward to relieve the other girls of part of their burden. *** The downstairs part of the house had a huge dining hall and several parlors, big and small, all furnished with flower bowls of glass or gilt or painted china that needed filling. The girls seperated into twos and threes and set to work.
Lusey found herself partnered with one of the strange dark girls. Her name was Sorcha. "You're not a Ranger?" she ventured cautiously as they entered a small parlor with wide windows looking out on the canal and painted walls.
"Well I don't ride on errantry of course -" the other girl began, then "Oh! you mean I am not Dunedain. That is so, my people come from the highlands of the far north in the shadow of the Great Mountains."
"But-but that's where the Witch folk live!" Lusey blushed as the other girl looked at her. "Or so our stories say." she finished lamely.
"Your stories are right." Sorcha answered, a little grimly. "The Witch folk of Angmar are close kin to mine. But *my* ancestors fought on the side of the Elves and the Edain in the ancient wars, while *theirs* served Morgoth - the first Dark Lord.
"When the Kings returned to Middle Earth we remembered our old alliance and befriended them - and the Men of Angmar remembered their old enmity and assailed us both."
"So you're Kings' Folk too." Lusey said, very much relieved.
"Just like you." Sorcha agreed.
Lusey finished arranging the flowers in a china bowl and put it back on the deep window sill. "Do you live here?"
"Oh no, we are just visiting - like you." Sorcha added a few snowdrops to a gold figured bowl and considered the effect a moment before explaining: "Emelin and Luithlin are in the service of the Lady Ellian. Moredhel, my sister Keina and I serve the Lady Aranel."
"I know Aranel, but who's this Lady Ellian? No offense meant," she added hastily, "I'm just a little confused." Sorcha gave her a kind, if slightly patronizing, smile. "Lady Ellian is the King's aunt and guards the Evendim hills in the absence of her mother, the Lady Ellemir."
"I know her too, we used to call her Nightcrow -" the other girl's eyebrows lifted. "Well she wouldn't tell us her real name." Lusey said defensively. Then, trying to sort it all out: "she's the King's grandmother and Gil and Aranel's too...so Lady Ellian is their mother?"
Sorcha shook her head. "Aunt." hesitated a moment, saw the Bree girl's eyes were fixed attentively upon her and continued: "The Lady Ellemir and Arador Dunadan had three children. Their elder son was Arathorn, the King's father, but he is dead and so is his wife, the Lady Gilraen."
Lusey nodded, rapt. Genealogical lore was bread and butter to her and she was well accustomed to tracing out the complex rammifications of the Butterburs and other Breelanders.
"Captain Gilvagor and our Lady Aranel are the children of Ellemir and Arador's younger son, Armegil, who was slain many years ago along with his wife and many other folk when Arnost was burned."
"So Nightcrow lost both her sons," Lusey said slowly. "That's sad."
"It is." Sorcha agreed. "The Lady Ellian is now her only living child."
"Where does Longbow, I mean Belegon, fit in?" Lusey wanted to know. "I remember Beomann saying he was related to the King too."
"Captain Belegon is Lady Ellian's grandson."
"Grandson!" Lusey's eyes opened wide. "Why she must be terribly old then! And Nightcrow - I mean Lady Ellemir - even older!"
Sorcha smiled wryly over. "Ellian is one hundred and thirty-eight, and my Lady her mother one hundred and eighty-eight. Old even by the measure of the Dunedain."
"Oh my!" Lusey got her breath back. "Why they must have dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren between them!"
"Not dozens." Sorcha said, rather sadly. "The Dunedain have fewer children than your kind or mine, and marry very late by our measure."
"Ellian had but two children before her husband was slain by Trolls. The elder, her son Belecthor, was Belegon's father but he fell in the War of the Ring.
"He had also a daughter, Angwen, who is Warden of the South Downs since her husband also fell and her son is not yet of age. She has four children, and Captain Belegon three - so far."
"And then there is the Lady Beruthiel, Ellian's daughter. Her husband died many years ago but she also has three children; twin sons and a daughter recently wed."
"So many widows!" Lusey said, hushed.
"Yes," Sorcha agreed soberly, "many widows, and many orphans." then put back her shoulders and smiled determinedly. "But no more. We have a king again and there will be peace in the realm once more." her smile took on a wry cast. "Eventually. **********
1. Lusey has in fact chosen the chief state bedroom of their suite, her parents and the others prefering the smaller, less ornate chambers meant for junior family members and attendants.
2. Green is Ellian's color, and the brooch is engraved with her cipher as a badge.
3. Grey is Aranel's color, and the bird bearing a star her device, a reference to her foremother Elwing
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.