King's Commission, The
The King's Commission
It was long since, as Thorongil, a Captain of Gondor under the Lord Steward Ecthelion, he had last visited the home of the Prince of Dol Amroth. Of course, then the Prince had been Adrahil, and Imrahil had been simply his father's heir and brother to the beautiful Finduilas--and a trainee in his father's own forces. In the stress of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields Prince Imrahil had not appeared to recognize in the Heir of Elendil and Isildur the Captain who long ago had devised, with his father, the strategy by which the Corsairs of Umbar had been destroyed in their berths. Now as he rode south with Imrahil's troupes back to Dol Amroth, the King Elessar Telcontar was watching with amusement the Prince's confusion as he found himself dealing with a liege who appeared to know the road very well, and who did not feel it necessary to take two days longer in order to avoid the fording of the Gilrain at Casistir.
"But, my Lord, for those who are unacquainted with the Ford the way can be treacherous."
"And why do you assume I am unacquainted with the Ford, my Prince? Is it not yet maintained by the Lord's Corps of Engineers as it has been for the past three hundred seventy years?"
"Why, yes, of course, Sire."
"Have they changed the design of the Ford treads significantly in the past four decades?"
Imrahil stopped his mount. Aragorn could almost see the unspoken questions forming in the man's mind. "No, the design is much as it has been for the past three centuries."
"If it has not significantly changed, then there is no need for us to avoid it. All of my personal guard accompanying us were chosen because they are familiar with this road, having served alongside your own companies in the past."
"That I realize, Sire. However, it is for your own safety I am concerned."
"Roheryn has experience with far worse crossings in Eriador, and trusts me implicitly. He certainly will not balk at the Ford at Casistir as long as I ride or lead him across it. The Ford has certainly never been as dangerous as the Sarn Ford outside the Shire, or even the Ford of Bruinen in my experience. And, after we have crossed we can break at the Ford's Inn in Casistir, or whatever it might be called now. Is their ale still as good as it ever was? And do they still serve the best roast lamb in the Southlands?"
At the expression on his host's face Aragorn had to stifle his mirth. He decided to add to the man's bewilderment just a bit more. "Certainly the last time I went this way with you we enjoyed a fine meal there, or didn't you remember? I remember how Endeth hovered over our table, uncertain whether to seek to entice your father's heir or the dashing Captain from the North...."
Ah--there the pieces were starting to come together at last! Aragorn watched as the Prince's face reddened slightly and his jaw started to drop--and then closed with a start of new respect and self-deprecatory humor. Shaking his head, Imrahil searched his King's face closely, his mind finally superimposing a long-suppressed memory of a once-familiar visage over that of the man facing him now.
Confused by his master's change in attitude, the Prince's gelding shifted uneasily, and unconsciously its rider reached forward to scratch its ears to calm it as his expression cleared. "But that was--how long ago? Almost fifty years?" He shifted slightly, then started to laugh. "I had forgotten Endeth--and had not thought of the significance of you being one of the Dúnedain until this moment, my Lord.
"And this is how you choose to unveil yourself to me, my Lord Eagle? Do you realize just how much endless speculation was directed your way while you served the Lord Ecthelion, and how many were wagering my sister would find herself your bride one day? Not to mention the rumors that surrounded your sudden removal from the service of Gondor after the triumph in Umbar."
"I indicated that I would return when Gondor needed me and was willing to accept my service again, did I not? And I did receive an urgent summons to the North, where my primary responsibilities lay at the time. My uncle, who had stood as Steward in my name among the Dúnedain of the North as I learned about my people and future allies and enemies in the South, had just been slain alongside several of his closest lieutenants in a battle with orcs which had been coming down the passes toward Imladris and our strongholds to the north of Eriador. Gondor was well served by the stewardship of the Lord Ecthelion, and I knew that if I remained longer I should inevitably come into conflict with the Lord Denethor once he became Steward. As my own folk were now endangered, and as we needed to establish a new chain of command for our Rangers, I had to leave at once."
The Prince of Dol Amroth nodded, many questions being now answered.
"What confrontation did you foresee with Denethor?"
The King sighed. "Denethor felt his father cared more for the advice of the Captain Thorongil than for his own, that Ecthelion wished that I were his son instead of himself. Certainly he saw me as a competitor for his father's love, and for the love of our people--and for the love of your sister. Do you think he was unaware of the wagers over your sister becoming my wife?
"As for the speculations focused on your sister and myself--I very much fear they were unfounded. I will not deny I found Finduilas highly attractive and reminiscent of my beloved bride--but the very fact she favored Arwen so much made it more unlikely I should ever actively pursue her, for each time I saw a detail in Finduilas's visage or stance or actions that brought my beloved to mind--well, it brought Arwen to mind, and it was her person I would see more clearly."
"I see," said Imrahil. "You impressed her mightily, Lord; but I doubt she would have found you an acceptable match, for at the time your lineage was much in question; and as our father's daughter it was necessary she marry well to strengthen the ties of policy and lineage among our own people." To which the King nodded agreement.
With no more questions about their route, they turned to the shorter road south.
Casistir was one of the settlements of Men which cause one to wish that such terms as village and town and city were better defined. It had long been a market town, but at the same time was sufficiently removed from the main trade routes to dictate that its market would be limited in scope and merchandise. There were too many who lived in it for it to be considered just a hamlet; but neither were there enough for it to be considered a city. Even town seemed a pretentious description at the same time village seemed woefully inadequate. But it was now beginning to grow.
Aragorn found it both remarkably familiar and yet markedly changed since he last visited it. There was a new structure where the Ford's Inn had once stood--the old post-and-beam building had been replaced with a new stone inn of three stories with a sign proclaiming it to be The Crossed Keys. It looked to be at one and the same time more structurally sound and less comfortable than its predecessor. He examined it closely and the surrounding buildings, then asked if an investigation had been done of the fire that had destroyed the original building. The prince smiled to see the astuteness of his liege's observations, and explained that it had been found the brother-in-law of the previous owner had been attempting to avenge himself on a slight to his sister by setting fire to the kitchens area, a fire that spread remarkably rapidly. Many of his own troupes who had not been close enough to overhear the earlier conversation between their prince and their king found themselves wondering how their new ruler could have known about the event, while the king's own guard, who'd had the chance to learn about some of his more unusual sources of intelligence as well as his tendency to see details most others would ignore, found themselves spotting the tell-tale traces of scoured soot and cracked stone and new plaster work on adjacent structures while the stones of the new inn were pristine.
Part of the old grazing common was covered with stacks of huge stone blocks. As the king contemplated this supply of both rough and dressed stone, the prince explained: "A new quarry for fine marble has been opened to the north of here, Sire, making Casistir one of the primary sources for the stone in the region. We are finding stone cutters, masons, and sculptors are being drawn here from all around to obtain stone for building and decoration, and right now there are at least five different parties focused on civic improvements in search of stone to assist in repairs of damage imposed by the Corsairs four years past. Casistir is beginning to grow rather suddenly as a result."
Aragorn nodded, acknowledging the need for dressed stone for the area and how that need would fuel unprecedented growth here as a result. He'd held his throne now for four years, and that it would take so long for sufficient prosperity to grow in the region to allow the repairs for the damage inflicted by the war against Sauron to begin in earnest galled him, although he accepted that this was the way of the world. Even in Minas Anor there was serious reconstruction going on still, and it would continue thus for at least the next decade. In Eriador and the Shire the reconstruction was continuing to unfold, he knew, although the latest word from the Thain was that the major part of the rebuilding of homes and civic structures within the Shire, at least, appeared to be mostly finished. But throughout the rest of the Northlands the rebuilding would be the work of several generations.
"How is the major portion of the stone being moved? There isn't sufficient depth of the Gilrain here to support barges. And the Fords would impede its movement eastward." As they moved toward the new inn the discussion of roads and a needed bridge to replace the ancient Fords went on apace.
There was no barracks complex or lesser fortress in Casistir, and always the troupes of Dol Amroth as they passed through when taking the shorter way north or south had taken rooms at the two inns, officers usually at the Fords Inn and common soldiers at the Troll's Foot. The latter inn still stood, large and sprawling, on the far side of the market district. As the major part of their troupes were directed there, the King and Prince and their immediate officers and three guards each headed for the Crossed Keys.
One of the King's habits that had impressed Prince Imrahil was that his Officer of the Privy Purse who accompanied the King's party was the one who entered the inns at times like this to obtain rooms, and he not only obtained a fair rate, but paid fees up front in the King's coin rather than with promissory notes, a practice which stimulated the economy while improving the relationship between the Crown and the people of Gondor. This Imrahil found a marked improvement over his late brother-in-law's policies. As the forces of Dol Amroth and emissaries of the Stewards had regularly used the inns in Casistir for generations, a certain number of secure rooms had been built into the facilities and were always available, although this would be a first time for the King himself to take advantage of them. If the growth continued here, he knew, a garrison would undoubtedly be built with quarters for such notables, and he recognized that would mark the end of an era in which nobles and troupes mixed with commoners in such places as this, a development Imrahil of Dol Amroth looked forward to with regret.
As the King entered the inn in the wake of his officers, he wore no more of his royal paraphernalia than the Ring of Barahir and the Elessar stone holding closed his mantle, Anduril hidden beneath folds of cloth, so he entered unrecognized, only one more of the officers of the new order as far as the worthies of Casistir were concerned. But the Prince was amused to note that the response to the tall form was mixed--at the same time the King went barely noticed people still unconsciously made way for him. And from his experiences in youth with this very man, Imrahil knew that when he wished to go unremarked, Captain Thorongil had shown a unique facility to walk both unnoted and yet physically untouched through throngs that would press in on all others. He now wondered if this was part of the legacy of being the heir of Isildur.
The rooms proved more comfortable than had been anticipated, and both the King and his chief bodyguard approved of the security arrangements, at which time a guard for his chamber was assigned and the King repaired to the common room for the evening meal. Aragorn had insisted that at no time would he allow his position as King of Gondor and Arnor to be used to gain advantage over his people, which led to their party remaining standing for some minutes until a suitable table was made ready for them. But as was his custom, the King used the time, the Prince noted, to study the place and its inhabitants.
The Prince's attention was drawn to a party sitting at a table toward the far side of the room, where a number of men who obviously worked in stone sat together, animatedly discussing the activities of the day. At the center of the crowd, the Prince saw seated a form that drew the attention of all as had not been true of the form of their monarch. Even the attention of the King Elessar himself was drawn there with surprise--the King Elessar who traveled with and accounted himself friend to so many strange folk--Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings. And at first glance it appeared that a Halfling sat at this table--but a second, closer look showed that to be wrong--no Pherian this, but one of those Men born at times in a body which failed to grow normally, the trunk and limbs stunted, head and hands seeming almost grotesquely large in comparison, commonly referred to in Gondor as a mannikin. He wore a short but carefully shaped dark beard, and his dark hair was stylishly dressed; his eyes alert and laughing as he drank from his mug and then set it down. And he was obviously accepted as a leader among his company, for the bulk of the attention at his table was focused on him when he spoke, gesticulating eloquently the whiles.
The innkeeper came to tell them a table was now ready, and led them through the room to the next table beyond that of the artisans, between their table and the far wall. Seeing the focus of their attention, he commented, "The sculptors who work on the new Hall for Casistir, my Lords. The mannikin is Ruvemir son of Mardil of Lebennin, Master Sculptor. And Master he is for all he is but a Halfling in height."
The Prince looked to his liege to see his response to such a pronouncement, and noted the King's face was carefully expressionless. It was said that the Pherian Frodo who had himself braved the darkness of Mordor to destroy the Ring of the Enemy had left Middle Earth (although none said how his end had come), and that the King still mourned him. Imrahil had indeed seen the Lord Aragorn's concern in the wake of the battle before the Black Gates regarding the fate of the Ringbearer and his esquire, and the pain in his new liege's face each day as he left the side of the still-sleeping pair during their recovery when their lives were still in question. The grave and startlingly beautiful Pherian had drawn a great deal of attention and honor in both Ithilien and the capital, and certainly what Imrahil himself had seen of him indicated this was one of the unique of the world who deserved all honor at the same time he sought to defer it to others.
But as he took his place at the table and requested a cup of the inn's finest ale and the house specialty of roast lamb, the King of Gondor's expression was remote and introspective, although his attention was increasingly drawn to the intent face at the next table, the barely contained energy of the dark eyes, the excitement as he described the image he now worked on and where it would stand on the facade of the new Hall. Yes, Imrahil noted, the reports of the King's grief were accurate, and this one had brought it all back to the forefront of his awareness. The rest of the King's party noted his mood and respected it.
The party at the next table was now considering their next projects, once their current joint commission was completed, which appeared to be imminent. "I have a mind to go to the Pelargir myself," said one of the younger sculptors. "It is said that they wish to have done a statue of the King as he released the Army of the Dead, and I think it would be worthy of my talents."
Laughter followed this announcement, and Ruvemir son of Mardil commented, "Then will you depict him on horseback, Bergemon? You have yet to do a successful depiction of a standing figure." And the rest of the party concurred.
Bergemon reddened, but refused to back down. "And what makes you think it would not be appropriate, for it is said he rode there in haste from the Stone of Erech. Do you know he was unhorsed when he freed them?"
One of the others responded, "My brother was one of those who followed after and went up the River in the Black Ships, and he says the release was done from the deck of the largest of them. One does not sit astride a horse on the deck of a ship, no matter how large."
Another commented, "Sounds like a fitting commission for you, Ruvemir."
He shook his head. "No, not challenging enough. I'm tired of sculpting Men--I'd like to do studies of another race for a change."
"Three of the Elfkind are said to have accompanied him, and a Dwarf. Scope for your talents, I think."
"No," Bergemon said, "I think Ruvemir should try for a commission to do a sculpture of one of the mysterious Halflings, seeing he is almost one himself. Could use himself as the model."
Ruvemir's face darkened. "And how do you know I even resemble the Halflings, Bergemon? Have you ever seen a Pherian?"
"They won't look to us in the capital, though," commented one of the others darkly. "Dwarves are doing the reconstruction of Minas Tirith, not Men."
Imrahil noted the look on the King's face at this. Yes, this response to an apparent preference for Dwarf craftsmanship would be important to consider.
Another of the party commented, "One good thing if you were to focus on the Pheriannath, Ruvemir--you could do all your work standing on the ground for a change." All laughed, including Ruvemir.
After the meal the King indicated he wished to walk through Casistir to see what changes had been made, and the party all set out to do a walking survey. The Master of Casistir, having learned Prince Imrahil was staying at the Keys, found them near the Ford and approached to do his Lord honors. He did not recognize the King's presence, and at a sign from the Lord Elessar Imrahil did not bring attention to him. The Master was plainly eager to describe the growth of his small domain, and answered all questions with excruciating detail. The Lord's Engineers were considering the need for a bridge, and had been considering different designs for the past three years, but as yet had failed to make a determination on what would be most appropriate. After an extended period of pointing out how each alternative would be best anchored, at last the Prince interrupted and asked Aragorn, "Would the Lord Gimli's advice be of use here, do you think?"
"I'm not certain his input would be welcomed, considering what was said within."
"Still, the advice of a Dwarf could be useful to break the deadlock."
"The advice of the Lord King's friend? Oh, I would welcome such, my Lords. I know many are certain the King prefers the work of other races and feel such slights the work of Men, but it is said that Aulë's folk know best how to set stone. I, for one, would welcome at least a Dwarf's assessment." All nodded in agreement.
Aragorn himself commented, "I understand a new Hall is almost completed."
"Oh, yes, sir. The old one had been added onto thrice, and its foundations would not accept any more weight. When the north wall started to sag we had to admit it was time to rebuild completely. And we have been lucky to engage the services of some of the best sculptors in the realm in decorating it. Would you like to see it?" And he led the way, talking as they walked.
Patronage for the sculptures to decorate the front of the new Hall was being funded by the Lady Endeth, he told them. Her late husband had opened the marble quarry to the north of Casistir, which had brought them their current prosperity. She had requested a sculpture be done of the triumphant assault on Umbar by Lord Adrahil's fleet, led by the Captain Thorongil. "She used to favor Captain Thorongil, I believe," the Master added, oblivious of the amused glance his Lord was throwing the way of the tall man he thought of as the King's officer. "Of course, in the days he still served Gondor she was no lady as yet, but served in the Ford's Inn."
"She is yet alive, then?"
"Oh, yes, sir. And still a fine figure of a woman for all her years, sir."
The new hall was surprisingly modest, the Prince thought, but certainly adequate. And the sculptures were excellent. He quickly and easily recognized his father's likeness, and smiled in approval. But it was to the form of Captain Thorongil he and his companions turned their attention. And all stopped, amazed. "Remarkable likeness, my Lord," he commented. The King nodded.
The Master looked to his Prince. "That is right--you knew him, did you not, my Lord Prince?" And at the Prince's nod he looked to the one he thought of as the King's officer, then stopped, wonder and confusion filling his features. "But, sir, he looks just like you!" To which he was given a bemused nod. "Are you of his kin?"
He was shocked to hear his Lord Prince begin to laugh uncontrollably, a laughter in which the King's officer joined, while their guards looked on as puzzled as himself, save one who smiled knowingly.
At last Prince Imrahil reined in his mirth, and looked at his companion with an unspoken question that was answered with a helpless nod.
"My Lord Master, I feel I need to introduce you to our Lord King, the Lord Elessar, who many years ago served our land in different guise."
"Our Lord King? Here in Casistir, my Lord Prince?" His face paled. "Sire! But I did not know!" Then the rest of what his Prince had said penetrated. "Wait--" He looked in shock into the King's features. "You were Captain Thorongil, my Lord? You?" He went paler, and his Prince and his King, both suddenly worried for him, each took an arm and supported him back to a bench and helped him sit down. At a quick order from the King one of the guards went in search of water, and the King knelt down before the Master and felt his brow, then the side of his neck.
"Careful, my Lord Master--we do not need a brain storm from you. Take a slow, deep breath and calm yourself."
Once the guard returned with the water from the fountain in the center of the square, the Master finally calmed enough to speak comprehensibly. "But, my Lord--I must not sit before my King!"
"When your heart is beating as rapidly as yours is now, Master, you must sit before anyone or you will fall. Do not worry--it was on my order that my identity was not given, and it was very long ago that I served Gondor as Captain Thorongil."
"But--how--how is this possible?"
The Prince explained gently, "He is of the pure lineage from Númenor, Lord Master. He is older than he appears."
"But--!" Slowly amusement rose in the Master's eyes, and suddenly he chuckled. "I'd wanted to have your visage on the Hall, but the Lady Endeth, who is paying the commission and supplying the stone, insisted on the Captain Thorongil! And, to find we have both, one and the same...." He began to laugh, and the rest began to laugh with him. He looked to the guards and officers who had accompanied King and Prince. "They did not know you once served as the Lord Captain Thorongil?"
"Only Lord Hardorn, my Officer of the Privy Purse here," his King told him. "But now all do know. After looking on this statue, how can they not?"
"Who did this sculpture?" asked the Prince.
"Master Ruvemir of Lebennin, my Lord."
The King asked, "But how did he know what to sculpt?"
"He spent days questioning the Lady Endeth, and then others who had known the Captain when he was among us. Even went to Dol Amroth to question some of the oldest servitors from the castle, my Lords, and drew pictures as he got the descriptions he sought. When all agreed he had caught the image of Captain Thorongil he finally began to do models, and then when his models were acknowledged he finally began to plan the full sculpture. It is his special gift, my Lords, to be able to reconstruct those he has no access to."
Prince Imrahil nodded. "I see that indeed he has managed to do this. It is an amazing gift." He looked to his King, who nodded.
When they finally returned to the Keys, the King asked the Prince to join him for a final glass of wine in his room. When the two faced each other across the table, Imrahil gave his liege a searching look.
"What is it, my Lord?"
"I think I will be able at last to do something I'd thought not possible."
"To do a sculpture of the Pherian Frodo, Sire?"
"Yes. I had wanted to do a sculpture of the four Hobbits together, but none of the studies provided by the artists of Minas Tirith were adequate, particularly those done of Frodo. Only one sketch of him came close to being lifelike, and that I ended up giving to Sam. I am not certain if it was lack of talent in those I approached, or simply due to lack of familiarity with Halflings in general. I greatly desire to make a fitting memorial to Frodo that truly captures him, but that is several times more difficult now as he is no longer with us."
"How did he die, Sire?"
The King was silent for a time, looked off and shook his head.
"I do not believe he is dead, but he is certainly not with us at this time. Nor will he return."
"Where did he go, Lord?"
"To the Undying Lands. To Tol Eressëa."
Prince Imrahil felt a shock run through him. "The Valar allowed a mortal to come to the Undying Lands?"
"They have permitted two to go--the Ringbearer and his kinsman Bilbo who carried the Ring before him."
It took a few moments for Aragorn to answer him. "It was in part in response to the plea made to them by my beloved Arwen--and confirmed by her father. And I am certain that Mithrandir had a hand in it, as well. You cannot believe what bearing the Enemy's Ring did to him, Imrahil. He was so hurt by it, so--emptied." He took a drink of his wine to give himself time to steady himself, then set the goblet precisely on the table, focused on its stem.
"Frodo Baggins, son of Drogo and kinsman to Bilbo, was one of the most unusual beings I have ever dealt with in my ninety years in Middle Earth. As I once told Sam, he drew honor and loyalty to him as a lodestone draws fragments of iron. He brought out the best in almost everyone he ever met." Again he paused. "Including me."
Carefully turning the goblet, he finally continued. "I first heard of him in Imladris from his elderly cousin Bilbo, who found the Ring in a cavern in the Misty Mountains, saving it from discovery from goblins there which assuredly would have sped it on its way to the Enemy had they found it first. Bilbo was devoted to Frodo, and often told me his young adopted heir was the best Hobbit in the Shire. His love for Frodo was deep and pure, and then I learned that Mithrandir felt the same for him. Gandalf told me Frodo inspired loyalty to an amazing degree, that those who came to know him well loved him intensely, and bound themselves to him. And then I actually saw him, saw the Light burning within Frodo Baggins on the road to Bree, outside the Old Forest and the Barrowdowns. And I found myself binding myself to him as well.
"You saw the loyalty shown him by his cousins and by Sam. You saw how anyone seeking to approach him had to get past Legolas and Gimli--and me. You saw how Mithrandir kept watch over him constantly. You saw the constant concern we all felt for him as he was recovering."
The Prince of Dol Amroth nodded.
"I would not be the person I am today if it hadn't been for his Light burning away my habit of disguising myself. Of course, the only way I survived for most of my life was by remaining hidden--first as Estel of Imladris, then as Thorongil of Rohan and Gondor, then as Strider in Eriador. But I couldn't accept the Winged Crown by being any less than what I am--the heir of Elendil and Isildur of the Line of Elros, the Dúnadan, bearer of the Star of Elendil and his sword as well as the Elessar stone. And it was in traveling with Frodo, who always called me by my rightful name, Aragorn, that I began to put aside all the disguises, to proclaim myself as I am.
"I would have gone with him into the fires of Orodruin, but he left us to spare the rest of us the temptation to which Boromir had come so close to succumbing. Always he tried to give himself for others. Always." He took another sip of his wine, and then sat, looking down into the goblet, once again turning it between his fingers.
He finally looked up into his companion's eyes. "Healing someone ties you to him in a unique way. And--I helped heal him in Eriador, in Imladris, between Moria and Lothlorien, and finally after the battle. Except in none of those healings was I--were we--totally successful. For we could not fully counter the effects of the Enemy's weapons. Only the Valar can fully heal him, I fear. He was willing to cast himself into the Cracks of Doom for us all, but we could not relieve him of his pain."
He paused again, looked off. "It's so foolish--he was stabbed by a Morgul blade and came within a hair's breadth of becoming a wraith himself; he was poisoned by the great spider in Cirith Ungol; he was beaten by orcs; he was taken by the Ring itself; he lost Ring and finger; he was overcome on the slopes of Mount Doom by starvation, lack of drink, weakness, and the poison of the air--and he says he cannot imagine what the rest survived!" He closed his eyes and shook his head.
Imrahil looked on his liege with compassion. "I did not know just how deeply he was hurt."
"Merry wrote me that they've learned his heart had begun to fail him, and each anniversary of his woundings he grew steadily worse. He should have been on the ship to Elvenhome during the last anniversary, and Sam was not certain he'd survive even accompanied as he was by the Lord Elrond, the Lady Galadriel, and Mithrandir."
"So, Mithrandir has left Middle Earth indeed?"
"Yes. I begged him to stay and rule us all, but he said to do so would only serve to make him Middle Earth's next tyrant." He looked again into his companion's eyes. "I want to do a proper memorial for Frodo son of Drogo."
"And you think to get it from the mannikin?"
"Those who tried to picture Frodo from life failed. Perhaps by studying Frodo as seen by others as he did with my portrait this Ruvemir can find a way to do a sculpture that feels more real than the portraits so inadequately done by the artists of Minas Tirith."
The Prince considered. "It is at least worth the trying, don't you agree?"
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.