King's Commission, The
32. Preparations for Rough Cutting
Preparations for Rough Cutting
"The apprentices do most of the work upon the bodies of the effigies," Ririon was telling his guardian as they left. "They prepare general shapes of men or women lying upon their backs, and the more skilled of the apprentices carve the drape of the robe and do a general shape of folded hands and the head. Their master then chooses the form that he feels best suits a particular individual when the request comes in, visits the individual if he or she is still living and draws the face and hands, visits the home of the deceased if the order comes from the family after the death to draw from the appearance of the body, and then he carves the face and hands only, and perhaps some pattern associated with the clothing worn by the subject, or tools associated with his trade or position."
"This is not uncommon among those who do such effigies. If they worked totally from the living individual it could take months and even years to complete the final figure, which can be distressing for families seeking to do a fitting memorial to their dead swiftly so as to focus on living the faster."
"But would that not lead to improper depictions of the dead person's figure?"
Ruvemir gave a wry smile. "Unfortunately, in the final illness all too often the form of the one who has died has become wasted. Such often already fails to take into account what the one was like before. A more general form, then, is often preferable to what was the reality of the form at the time of death, and is more easily accepted by the family commissioning the figure."
Ririon considered this thoughtfully. Finally he asked, "Have you ever done such effigies, Ruvemir?"
"On occasion. I prefer to work with an individual who is preparing such before death. Some take thought of such things while they are well and whole, and wish that they be remembered after their deaths as they were when hale and strong, and will commission an effigy when there is no indication they are ready to pass from this life. One woman who was dying asked that I create the effigy to go on her tomb and make it as she had been rather than as she was now, and I worked with her family to get her form as it had been when she was well. She was able to rest easier knowing that when her children and grandchildren looked on her effigy, they would remember how fair she had once been rather than the wizened thing her body became in its last long illness."
"Will the great block be intended for such an effigy, then?"
For a moment Ruvemir did not speak, and his eyes, focused on their path, became grave. Finally he answered, "Yes, I think so. I think it is to be a stone tomb and cover."
"I'm not yet certain. Perhaps the King himself."
The boy became alarmed. "He is not to leave us now, is he?"
Ruvemir suddenly smiled. "Oh, no. If I find it is for his tomb, it will be done when he is yet alive--if I am the one indeed to carve it, that is. For I am of common stock and none of the Dúnedain. I will die long before he does."
"Would you carve it as he is now, then?"
"Probably as he is at the time I feel moved to carve it."
Dorlin nodded solemnly. "So it is with us. Often one skilled with carving figures will do several such figures of living friends and lords, completed long before any sign of their being ready to die. It can take a long time to complete a full figure, young Ririon."
"How long will it take you to do the four Hobbits for the memorial, Ruvemir?" the boy asked.
"I cannot yet say. It took me four months to do the figure of Prince Adrahil and an equal time to do that of the Lord Captain Thorongil."
"You didn't tell Master Varondil that the Lord Captain Thorongil was the King himself," commented the Dwarf.
The small Man shook his head. "He has not given me leave to let many know this. It amuses our Lord King to hide this fact from most people, I find."
Dorlin smiled behind his beard. "Let him have his secrets, then. He makes for you a fine Lord and King."
They returned to the Court of Gathering just as Gimli was starting the recutting of the base of the statue, and he paused long enough for Ririon to examine the great stone saw he would use and to show him how he prepared the block itself. The cutting went remarkably swiftly. "Marble is far harder than soapstone or alabaster, but still softer than granite or the other stones we typically use in our own works," he explained. "It does not take a great deal of time to work for such a simple operation as cutting a smooth base."
Once the base was cut properly the block was quickly set upright. Ruvemir examined the carving Celebgil had already done, gave him praise for following directions so well, and then he uncapped his pot of paint and marked out the rest of the statue's contours he wished the youth to follow. He now watched the strokes of the apprentice for a time, and smiled to see he was competent and obviously well practiced. He then took up the angled slice removed from the base, cut it in two, and gave a piece each to Pando and Ririon along with light mallet and chisels so they could experiment with the feel of this new stone.
He then went over to the diagrams he'd pinned to the screen and examined them carefully. Now that he had the stone before him he knew that there would be some changes in how lines fell, for often some inner flaws and changes in density would require a slight change in the final shaping of the stone. He had to give thought now to which parts of the figure would accept changes well from the planned statue and where he could not afford to do any variations. He also looked to see where he would set up his workbench and the locked chest where he would keep his finer, more expensive, and less easily replaceable tools and chisels while he worked. He also made a determination as to where he would have the small table and bench where he and Celebgil would rest and take refreshment. It could be tiresome work doing sculptures, particularly in the summer.
He had the impression that the King himself would visit the site when he had free time, for this would be important to him to see unfold, although if they did have the foreseen campaign east of Rhun during the summer most like two or possibly even three of the figures would be completed ere he saw them. He sighed. The King was a warrior because he must be, considering the state of the world he'd faced since he came to manhood. Even with Sauron defeated, there were still many peoples who saw the Free Peoples of the West as their natural enemies; and such was the nature of Mankind that even once Sauron's influence was forgotten envy or privation would still lead to wars from time to time. But he sensed that the desire of this one Lord was for peace, not for domination or fighting for its own sake.
He thought of the great block and the image he had seen in it--the King's own tomb. Most of the Lords of the city had been embalmed, but such was not commonly done, he understood, in the North Kingdom, and would probably be repugnant to Aragorn himself. Well, when the time came he would see to it that a proper sarcophagus and tomb cover and effigy would be prepared. But, he sensed, the time was not yet--not now.
One of those who had worked with those who labored in the restoration came out to speak with him, to learn what amenities he needed and desired at the site. By late afternoon much of what he'd been envisioning had been put in place--table, low workbench, a wooden wall appropriate to pin the drawings to with folding sides to close over the drawings during storms. Much of this had been used by the Dwarves who had labored on the great gates, and so were not of too great a size for his comfort, and yet not so small that Celebgil would be greatly discomforted. A good compromise, he decided.
At midafternoon a pitcher each of water, wine and ale, fruit, bread, and sliced cold meat was sent for the refreshment of those at the site, and Celebgil gladly paused in his labors. Staff from the Citadel's kitchens then came out with word the King and his Lady had determined they would feed them at least a luncheon each day they worked as well as a light meal at midafternoon such as had come today, with requests as to their preferences. Celebgil appeared surprised at such a courtesy, and also that he was given the consideration of being allowed to indicate his own desires. Even Pando and Ririon were taken into account, and Joy, which pleased both.
By sunset all were tired, and they carefully covered the statue of Peregrin Took with a third tarp provided by the Dwarves. After securing the tools for the night they all set off for their own quarters.
By the time Ruvemir, Ririon, Joy, and Pando had reached the King's Head, Ruvemir had realized that this was a journey he would not be able to sustain indefinitely. He was exhausted, and it would be worse when they went up through the levels than it had been coming down. How was he going to handle accommodations once the heat of summer set in? he wondered.
After the five of them had eaten the evening meal together and returned to their rooms, there was a knock at the door that heralded the arrival of Eregiel with a bottle of fine wine. They sat and talked for a while, discussing the progress of the memorial and Eregiel's duties so far, and he told them the news received from Lord Halladan in Arnor. Two of the Men who'd attacked them and the boy identified by Mistress Clothilde as Gartman's nephew had been sent back to Dunland for judgment there, for all three had done much evil among their own folk. The two Men had been hung, and the boy was in the charge of one of the leaders among the folk for what he'd done in assisting in burglaries and thefts before he went north with his uncle. The other two Clothilde had indicated were of no good had been imprisoned, and were being tried for other assaults and murders along the road. It was suspected both would also be hung in the end. The remaining two had been given heavy fines they were to pay off in service to the realm of Arnor, and would be allowed to return to the small settlement and their own people in two years' time.
Of the two taken from among the Dunlendings by the King himself, the Easterner was being held in close imprisonment, and the other would be soon sent to his own people for judgment. Things looked no better for him than the brigands who'd attacked their coach.
Eregiel shook his head. "He still does not realize who it was that took him prisoner and guarded him, bow in hand. My cousin is satisfied that it should remain thus. He does not wish for now that he or the people of Dunland should know his visage to recognize it, lest he need to go again to spy among them and be known. He feels it best that they think of him as the Ranger Strider.
"Now, to more pleasant considerations. Aragorn has been taking thought to what will be needed once you return from Lebennin and the Southlands, and he believes you should have lodging closer to the worksite. Therefore he has decided to offer to you and the Lady Elise the use of apartments on the sixth level that have often been offered to the use of those visiting the Lords of the city. There is already furniture available suitable for your stature there."
Ruvemir was instantly alert. "The house used by the Hobbits while they were here in the capital?" he asked.
"Yes, he did say that the house had been so used. There are rooms upstairs and downstairs, although he said you would probably prefer to sleep in the study as Frodo did."
"And so I would," the mannikin commented. "I have a long dislike of stairs, I fear. Am not certain how I got into the Hall in Edoras, really. My hips are poorly designed for climbing."
"Well, then if Mistress Elise is willing, I will let my Lord cousin know it will be suitable. And I saw that excellent progress had been done on the first statue."
"Yes, Pippin's will be first. And tomorrow morning before I go up into the city I will go down to see the place where the Dwarves have put the other three blocks. The one for Lord Frodo will need to be specially cared for and carefully shaped, for there are many flaws in the surface area that make the stone more vulnerable. But I sense his image resides therein, waiting for me to bring it forth."
"So Aragorn says." He turned to pet Joy, who was impatiently nudging him with her nose for attention. "Come, come, my lady," he said. "Patience is a virtue. Artos remains in the Citadel, lying by Aragorn's chair as he discusses matters with Prince Faramir and Prince Imrahil. He's quite taken with my cousin. Fear I may have lost a good hound."
Ruvemir laughed. "I doubt that, and knowing you, you told him to stay and he did so. The moment you come back he will be up to meet you, tail wagging and yawning as he does."
"They appear to have accepted the presence of the dog here," Eregiel commented, rubbing Joy's exposed belly as she rolled over in pleasure for him.
"Had it been anyone but us, I suspect they'd have said no. But watching the dog walking patiently by Ririon, they accepted her, as long as she is taken out frequently and the area kept clean."
"That is certainly reasonable," the Man smiled. "And you will show them, will you not, my lady, just how wonderful a dog you are?"
Ririon walked out with the Ranger when he was ready to leave, Joy eager for a chance to go outside. For a few moments she ran about the area between the inn and the garden, then after relieving herself she ran back to her master and accepted his praise with obvious pleasure. "Nothing to clean up this time," Eregiel told him. And after watching the youth make his way back into the inn with the aid of dog and stick, he smiled and set off back up the streets of the city.
When Elise brought the dawn meal the next day Ruvemir told her of the offer of the house in the sixth level, and was surprised to see her overwhelmed. "The Sixth Circle?" she asked, shocked. "Do you think they'd accept me in the Sixth Circle?"
"Why would they not?" he asked her. "You are one of the sweetest ladies in the world--"
"But I am no lady--I've been a chambermaid since I came of an age to work, save for the year of the war when none came to the city. I have no breeding."
He looked at her in exasperation. "Elise, you will be my wife, no longer just the chambermaid from the King's Head. It does not matter what you have done before. I am only an artist, after all. You already know that the King and the Queen accept you and offer you all respect and honor. That is all the references any there will care for. And Sam has told me our neighbors are gentle folk--and themselves servants in the Citadel and the Houses of Healing. You will be among your own--you will see."
She finally accepted that this would be far better for his health and said that, if the King himself was suggesting it, perhaps it would be acceptable; but he could tell she was still unsure when she left. He decided to go see the house on the next day she had free, take her to see it, perhaps with the Lady Éowyn, if she was still in the city. That should reassure her, he thought.
He was nearly finished eating when Celebgil knocked at the door to tell him he'd arrived to go down with him to the First Circle to examine the quarters where the blocks were being kept. He invited the apprentice in, and saw the youth was looking around with interest as he sat in the tall chair Ruvemir had once again requested for the use of his taller guests. He examined the two low, short beds and the single long pallet on which Ririon slept, the carefully folded drop cloths over which Ruvemir insisted they always do their shaping, the sketch booklet now open to the portrait of Samwise Gamgee, and the full-size diagrams Ruvemir had just finished of the statue for Sir Merry. This last item Celebgil looked at with interest.
"Is that to be the second statue, then?" he asked finally.
"Yes, Sir Meriadoc Brandybuck, Esquire of Rohan and the Heir to the Master of Brandy Hall."
"Is this an important position?"
Ruvemir smiled. "It is important among his own people. He will one day be the head of his clan and the one in care of the lives of the folk of the districts known as Buckland and the Marish. He is well prepared for that day now, I suspect. A very responsible individual, too. Captain Peregrin, whose statue you are rough cutting, is the Heir to the Thain, whose position is that of the representative of the King before all the folk of the Shire as well as the head of the Took clan."
"What is the position of the one known as the Ringbearer?"
"His position? The Lord Frodo Baggins was Master of Bag End and the chief of the Baggins family, but that is no longer as meaningful as it once was as there are few of the name left in the Shire--in the last few generations, I'm told, most have been female, while the name is passed down through the male line. It had been hoped by his cousin who raised him that the Lord Frodo would perhaps serve his people as Mayor, which is an elected position; he did do this for six months while the rightful Mayor was recovering his health, but the Lord Frodo would not serve so further."
"But is he a lord among his own people?"
"The folk of the Shire acknowledge but one Lord, and that is the King of Arnor, who is our own Lord King Aragorn Elessar. The rank of Lord granted to Lord Frodo and Lord Samwise has no meaning within the Shire."
"My master could not fathom why the one known as Samwise would be in the grouping, as he is a servant and uncouth."
Ruvemir looked at him with a level of amazement. "Was he not advised as to what role the Lord Samwise played in the quest? All would have been in vain had he not accompanied the Ringbearer all the way to Orodruin. Mithrandir once stated that there was more to Hobbits than meets the eye, and this is probably more true of the Lord Samwise Gamgee than anyone else whom I've ever met.
"He has served as gardener for the masters of Bag End since he was a child; he has been Master of Bag End himself for the last two years. His service has ever been more for love of his plants and the Masters of Bag End and the homeplace of Bag End than for any other purpose. His language is that of the folk of his district and of his own family, but I assure you he is well-educated, extraordinarily responsible and capable, industrious, intelligent, highly perceptive, and worthy of all honor."
Celebgil was taken much aback by this, and looked at the serious face of his own temporary master with surprise. "I apologize, Master Ruvemir," he said quickly.
"You should also know that our Lord King, who traveled with these four and came to know them all personally and well, equally reveres the Lord Frodo and the Lord Samwise. Neither could have brought the Enemy's Ring to Orodruin alone--they each needed the other to complete the quest. And both stood at the gates of death ere he called them back. And both were equally acclaimed as Lords of the Realm by all present at the honoring of both on the Fields of Cormallen, by the Men of Gondor, Arnor, and Rohan, by Elves, Dwarves, Pheriannath, and Eagles. I have held their circlets of honor in my own hands, have seen the Lord Samwise wear his, have bowed my knee in honor for what he achieved."
"He speaks truly," Folco Boffin said from the open doorway, where he'd paused before entering on hearing the serious tone of his wife's brother. "I was there at the time, as were my wife and their ward Ririon." He entered. "I take it this is Celebgil, then."
"Yes," Ruvemir said. He turned back to the youth. "This is Master Folco Boffin, the husband of my sister Miriel. He is, as you can possibly tell, a Pherian of the Shire, and is kinsman to Lord Frodo, Sir Peregrin, and Sir Meriadoc, as well as to young Pando. In his own land he was a farmer--and a copyist who is most likely far better read than Master Varondil and myself--as is also true of Master Samwise."
The Hobbit flushed, but looked steadily at the young Man facing him. Celebgil stood, dumbfounded. "Master Folco Boffin," he finally managed, "welcome to Minas Anor."
"Thank you," Folco responded. "Folco Boffin, at your service," he said with an abbreviated bow. The youth bowed back, then straightened again, uncertain of what to do next. At that moment Pando and Ririon returned, and Joy began wriggling happily before Folco, enticing him to rub her belly.
Pando was looking at the picture of Sam, and smiled. "Sam in that picture looks like he did when I used to spy on him and Frodo when I was younger. They'd begin to argue about something to do with the great Elves, and Sam would get one of the books and look it up and read it out to prove his point. Then Frodo would take the book and find something that appeared to prove something else. One time, however, Sam caught him making up what he was pretending to read. I remember he said, 'I know it can't say that--I've read that book too often of a night to of missed it.' And Frodo, who was sitting on the grass, wrapped his arms around his knees like the King did in Edoras, and just laughed. He enjoyed teasing Sam, he did."
"Why did you spy on them?" asked Celebgil.
"Uncle Bilbo had taught them about the Elves, and they had read many books copied from the Lord Elrond's library. I wanted to know about Elves and to meet them, like Frodo had done with Uncle Bilbo."
"And now you have," said Ruvemir, "on our way here."
"Well, really I'd seen Lords Elladan and Elrohir before, when they came to the Free Fair and sang there after the Travelers returned. Many of us saw them then--the first Elves most Hobbits had ever seen. But on our way here we did get to talk with them.
"Frodo would tell us about Lady Galadriel after he came back--about Lothlorien and her Mirror and her husband Lord Celeborn, and I've actually seen him now. It makes it more real, somehow, Frodo's stories." He was quiet for a moment, then said, "I wish he hadn't had to leave, Cousin Frodo. I've missed him so. And Cyclamen misses him more."
"I gathered that, when I met her on Yule."
"Yes, she told me. She said she saw someone sitting on the bench, looking out at the Party Field, at the Mallorn tree, and she thought it was him come back, so she went out. Then she saw your beard and realized who you were. She said she held your hand like she'd do for Cousin Frodo, except you had all your fingers."
Ruvemir nodded. "Lord Samwise told me she used to do that. She should feel very honored. He didn't let many see his scars. None of them let many see their scars. He must have loved her and trusted her very much. He loved you all, you know."
Pando nodded his head. "It's because of him I trusted you, although he never knew you, of course. He gave me courage to leave home--to leave the Shire."
Folco Boffin nodded his own understanding. "I suppose it's the same for me, Pando. Thinking of him gave me courage to ask Miriel to marry me, and then to leave, too. He's changed things for so many of us." He turned to Ruvemir. "I need to get some new clothes before we go south, and was going to ask if you found a tailor here. Miriel is too busy finishing the King's gift for his lady to make me anything right now."
Ruvemir shook his head. "I never needed anything more. But she told me the Weavers Guild and markets are in the lowest circle." He thought for a moment. "Just inside the gate from the First Circle is a shop that sells threads and ribbands and cords and such. They should be able to tell you where to go."
Celebgil found himself offering, "There's a good tailor in the First Circle my family has always used. Marúmir should be able to help you, I think."
The Pherian smiled at him. "I thank you for whatever help you can give me. I suppose if I'm to become a citizen of Gondor I should look the part now."
"We're only waiting now for Dorlin, who's to take us down to the warehouse where they've housed the other blocks. Want to walk down with us?"
"Yes. I'll only go tell Miriel where I'm going, then." With a bright smile and brief nod, the Hobbit went back out.
Dorlin arrived just after, and once Folco had returned they set off. They passed Elise in the halls, and after exchanging smiles of promise, Ruvemir went on, although greatly tempted to stay. He knew this was important to her, to stay on until the wedding. She felt bound to Beneldil Hosteler and his family, having worked for him for so long, and until she was married she intended to continue on here.
The day was warm, and Ruvemir smiled up into a clear blue sky and returning spring. They passed Tharen Thranduilion in the garden, and there the party paused, all bowing together. "I'd not realized the Elves of the great forest had returned, my Lord Tharen," Ruvemir said.
"We returned yesterday, although fewer than before. Our work here is almost finished, and many are considering how long we will continue to linger. I am told you have finished your design, Master Ruvemir."
Ruvemir nodded. "Yes, and so far all have approved it. If you wish, I will gladly show it to you on my return from the First Circle."
The Elf smiled. "I will be greatly honored." And with a bow he dismissed them, turning his interest to the growing things in the garden. A bird perched in the tree that the Elf had been planting in the fall began to sing, its song twice as glorious as it sang to the delight of an Elflord as well as the folk of the King's city.
Celebgil stopped at one point in the First Circle and indicated that Marúmir Tailor had his place of business down this street, at which Dorlin told him where to come after to find the warehouse given to the use of the Dwarves. The youth nodded his understanding, then led the Halfling to his destination as Dorlin led the way to theirs.
The door of the storehouse had been opened, and inside stood a great group of Dwarves and Men, most crowded around a plan of the city hung upon a wall, discussing where the walls of the city needed strengthening and what areas of the First Circle were coming under reconstruction this day. Dorlin went past them to a quieter corner of the place, and there they found the three blocks from Casistir standing alone, Frodo's stone still shrouded in its tarp. Carefully Ruvemir unfastened the rope and removed it, then slipped the tarp from its stone. He looked at it thoughtfully, then bowed to it. "This block is very wise," he commented, and the Dwarf nodded agreement.
"It knows the name and nature of the one whose image it holds," Dorlin replied.
Gimli, who'd left the party at the city map to follow them, grunted his own acknowledgment. "Oh, yes, this stone knows what it is to be. It is grateful, too, but will not accept any mishandling. You'll need to be very careful and respectful when you start shaping it."
Ruvemir nodded, not taking his eyes from the block. "I'll have my own tools for roughcutting brought here today, then, and may begin shaping it in the evenings. It will do better when things are quiet and there are fewer about." He turned to Gimli. "May I be granted a key so I might enter?"
"Certainly," Gimli agreed. "I'll bring you one tonight."
"Thanks. One other thing--once I start shaping it, it will dislike being seen in an unfinished state."
"I suspect you are right. We'll put a screen about it today, and you should put the tarp back over it when you leave it."
Satisfied, Ruvemir turned back to the block and bowed. "We will do our best for your comfort," he told it. "We all honor the Lord Frodo, the Lord Iorhael, you contain. Thank you for your gift of yourself." Again he and Dorlin shrouded it respectfully, just as Legolas joined them.
"This is the block, then, for Frodo?" he asked, to which the others nodded. "You are giving it great respect, I see."
"The stone is proud, but full of flaws in the surface levels. It will take much care and love to shape," his friend explained.
"I see," the Elf replied. "Many trees need the same." He turned to the sculptor. "It is good to see you again, Master Ruvemir. The King hopes to see you later this evening in your quarters, if that is acceptable. If your lady can join you when her duties are over, that would be helpful."
"I will try to be ready, then," Ruvemir replied. "Thank you, Lord Legolas."
They exchanged bows, and Legolas slipped away with a shared smile with his friend.
As they were joined by Celebgil Ruvemir was examining the other blocks. "I have no idea when these will be shaped, but it is not to be as yet. I have seen what this is to be," he said, indicating the larger of the two. "I will work on that in the future, for its need will not come for some time. I will know when it is time to complete it."
Gimli nodded, apparently aware of the shape it would one day take. "If you need some help in the cutting of it, let me know."
"Gladly, Lord Gimli. As for that one--" he sighed as he looked at the tall block "--I am still uncertain what it will be, other than a tall figure of a Man. Not, I think, of the King; but of whom I simply cannot say." He shook his head. "Well, at least I know where and how they are housed, and I thank you for the offer of the screen." He laughed. "First I learn the four of them all hate to have their scars seen, and now I have a stone with similar sentiments." With a final bow to the draped block, he turned to lead the way out of the building. "I will probably come in the evenings to work on the figure of the Ringbearer, and I think it will not be moved to its final place until it is almost finished."
The others nodded.
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.