King's Commission, The
6. Rain and Distress
Rain and Distress
The next day Ruvemir woke to the sound of rain pounding on his window, and he groaned, for he knew his hip would ache for the whole day. Finally he rose and dressed, and a tap at the door indicated the arrival of his dawn meal. Only this time the meal was not brought by Elise, but by another, older woman, tall and plump, with a brisk manner and an expression that indicated she honored efficiency.
"Good day to you, Master," she said as she set the tray on the table and, after carefully setting sketch booklet and charcoal sticks neatly aside with no sign of curiosity about them or their purposes, she began setting out plate, bowl, serving dishes, spoon, goblet, pitcher. "My name is Evren, and I'll be caring for this floor this day. If I can do aught to add to the comfort of your stay, you've only to ring."
He felt disappointed, but smiled politely. "Elise does not work today?" he asked.
"It is her day with her family. I understand her mother is poorly, so she is glad to have the day free, I suspect."
"I see. Is there a shop nearby where I can find paper or supplies for drawing? And perhaps a booksellers?"
She looked as if she'd never considered the necessity for either class of goods. "I am sorry, Master, but I've no idea. You might ask Beneldil at the desk, and I'm certain he could direct you."
"Then you do not live on this level?"
"No, Master, on the other side of the third gate I live." She straightened and took her tray. "If there is aught else you desire?"
He shook his head and thanked her, and she smiled and let herself out.
He ate the dried fish, fruit in syrup, and roll provided, poured himself some of the thin milk, and sourly contemplated the view of rain outside his window. He needed more paper for drawings, for the sketch booklet he'd been using was now almost full. But he did not relish going out in the rain in search of the materials he needed, for he disliked rain intensely. Finally finishing his drink, he set the empty dishes on the folding table that had remained by his doorway, went to his wardrobe and took out his cloak. Carrying it over his arm, he headed for the entrance chamber to ask the innkeeper for directions to the nearest sellers of papers and books.
It was easier than he'd thought, for such a shop specializing in both had just reopened on the first level, he learned, just on the other side of the gate to the second level. He found it just opened as he arrived, and spent a pleasant hour going over qualities of papers, drawing sticks, and colored chalks with the proprietor, and having finally satisfied his needs and having chosen a book which looked to be interesting, he headed back for the King's Head with a finely bound sketch booklet in a water-tight wrapping and the promise the rest of his purchases would be delivered at about sunset. He paused as he reentered the Second Circle, and examined the goods shown in a shop's window--fine threads and ribbands of many colors, and small figures of animals formed of carefully wrapped cords. Thinking such clever, he entered in and examined them, and finally chose three such, a horse, a cat, and a dragon. This second, smaller bundle in the pocket of his cloak, he completed his journey, then paused at the entrance to watch a cloaked figure headed down the street through the rain, which had lessened with the day. He recognized the cloak, the silvery grey-green color, the leaf brooch; but the movement of the form inside it was markedly different, lighter, somehow; and the shoulders were narrower than Strider's. He wondered about this, and noted the individual was turning toward the inn, then stopping by him, thrusting back the hood.
It was an Elf, tall and regal, hair golden, the hair at the temples carefully braided and pulled back, apparently fastened together there in some way. His blue eyes examined Ruvemir in a manner that appeared dispassionate and yet inclined toward friendliness at the same time, and then he spoke. "There cannot be two such. Master Ruvemir?"
"Yes, I am he."
"I was asked to bring you these on my way out of the city," and so saying the Elf brought from beneath his cloak a packet contained in a finely woven cloth and presented it, then unfastened a small bag from his belt and handed it to him as well.
"Strider sent these?" Ruvemir inquired.
The Elf examined him for a moment, and a small smile of amusement played on his lips. Finally he responded, "Yes, Strider did indeed send them. And he asked that I carry his greetings. The embassy from Rhun is approaching the city and will enter in within the hour, and he will be about the realm's business most of this day."
"Yes, so I understand. Thank you, Lord Elf, for your courtesy."
Smiling, the Elf returned his bow, then turned and headed down the hill. As he went, Ruvemir could see his braids were held together with finely worked golden beads, and that he wore a quiver and carried a tall bow over his shoulder. As the Elf disappeared through the gate, Ruvemir sighed with regret, and shifting his packages reached for the closed door and let himself into the building. The younger man now on duty at the desk nodded to him, apparently forewarned a mannikin was in residence, and Ruvemir gave a distracted nod in return, and he headed back for his room. It had been straightened while he was out, and the fire was already lit, which pleased him. A small tray with a pitcher of water and two goblets stood on the table along with a second carrying the seed cakes and tea, and today he found he welcomed the idea of something warm to drink. Ruvemir set down his packages and removed his cloak, draping it over the tall chair to dry, then sat down and drew the tray with the tea toward him. Adding a fair amount of cream and sugar to the still hot tea, he found it palatable as he sipped at it, then he unfastened the cords that held closed the packet the Elf had handed him.
Inside were a number of items, with another of the folded and sealed missives from his patron. He recognized the now familiar black wax and seal, and opened it quickly.
A good morning to you, Master Ruvemir. I will be busy this day on the King's business, I fear, for the embassy from Rhun will shortly enter the city, and the epidemic of the pox has spread to more of the children of the city. I trust you have already had the condition, and hope you do not end up under our care from it.
A maid who served the Hobbits during their stay will attempt to visit you this day, although the foul weather may delay her trip down from the sixth level. Also the representative from Rohan who served alongside Meriadoc Brandybuck has agreed to visit you in your chambers in the late afternoon. In the meantime, I thought you would appreciate these--the less than acceptable work of some of the city's artists. It is odd--they are, as you noted the other day, technically mostly good representations of their subjects; but they fail, as you continued, to capture the personalities. And I send you also a letter recently received from Samwise Gamgee, now Master of Bag End in the Shire. Hopefully it will assist you to know that worthy soul.
I have heard word from my lady wife, who tells me the child grows active within her, and who assures me that it will strike out at me for sending it away, even if it was for its mother's protection, once we are reunited. I find I can barely wait for such an event.
I hope you continue well, and that I might meet with you on the morrow's morrow.
Ruvemir smiled at the letter, and looked at the rest of the packet's contents. Several folders held from one to four drawings each, and he examined them with interest. Definitely inexperience with Pheriannath marked the flaws in most of the work, for they tended to try to force the build of Hobbits into the proportions generally seen in men. And, as Strider had noted, poses were static and the faces were formally presented, with little of the character intact. The work, he recognized, of the typical creator of monumental work--heroic in nature but not indicative of the souls of those pictured. Well, he thought, at least he had a better idea of the physical characteristics of his subjects.
Once he'd finished with the pictures he pulled out a folded envelope of paper which had been neatly slit open, and from it he pulled a letter. The envelope had been addressed, The Lord Strider, the Citadel, Minas Anor, Gondor, Middle Earth, in a neat but unadorned hand; and the letter it contained was continued in the same writing.
My dearest Strider,
I am glad the seeds of the kingsfoil plants reached you, and hope they will grow gladly for you. Rosie and me are well, and the bairns fair thriving. Little Elanor sings and talks the day through, while little Frodo-Lad lies solemnly playing with the toy horse you sent him, moving it from here to there and back again with great concentration. And it appears another bairn is due before summer. Rosie teases that if it keeps up I'll have to dig new chambers into the Hill, but she is right pleased to know we will be filling up this old hole with Life. Mr. Frodo would be most glad.
I'm doing well enough. The nightmares continue from time to time, but are mostly of no bother. Thank you for asking.
Mr. Merry does well, and he and Missus Estella seem happy since their marriage last spring. She will make a good Mistress of Brandy Hall when the time comes. As for Mr. Pippin--he and his dad are doing right well, and he's keeping company as well, but will allow him to tell you of it. When I member how he was as a little lad, it's sometimes hard to realize it's the same person--until he pulls some prank like setting the children of the Row to putting turnip lanterns all along the hedge to startle me. But that I need to tell you in person--now and then it is right obvious he is still NOT yet of age.
The Shire schools are beginning to grow now. Here in Hobbiton we're using the old Underhill place, and don't you laugh at the name--I know you will, remembering Bree. Anyway, we've decided to use the old Underhill place, and we've redug some of the rooms to make them larger, and we've had an interesting time finding enough to teach the children. Little Cyclamen Proudfoot is a prize pupil, and says she is glad to know her cousin Frodo would be proud of her if he knew how well she were doing. She's shown a right ear for learning Sindarin, and I think as Lord Elrond would have had no problem in understanding what she says. I think she makes fair to be a good teacher one day, in fact.
The trees do very well, and the Mallorn in the Party Field is so beautiful it would bring tears to your eyes. I wish you were here to see. That so much is coming back is still a marvel to me, and I give thanks for the Lady's Gift each time I pass through the Shire. And I look out the front door where HE died and I grieve for HIM, to think that HE would change so from what he begun as. The Valar must weep for HIM. I know Mr. Frodo had hoped HE would find HISSELF, but then Mr. Frodo always wished to think the best of all. But there's no accounting for choices, I guess.
Yes, I miss him very much still, but am sure it was for the best. Had he stayed for the sixth, it'd have killed him for sure. He were fading so fast.
I think I may have found where old Wormtongue buried Mr. Lotho. It was in the orchard. I talked to Will Whitfoot and the Thain and the Master and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin, and we all agreed to leave him there, but we laid the bones out proper and asked the Valar to forgive him as we have. If his mum were still here she'd be relieved, I think.
We thank you for the books and the wine and the toys for the bairns.
Oh, I have a bone to pick with Mr. Frodo when I meet up with him--one of those he chose to help and has left me saddled with is about to drive me to distraction. I've found myself running my hands through my hair, just the way hisself and his uncle always did. First he makes me Master of Bag End, and it looks like he's turning me into a Baggins as well. Well, old Gollum did call him Tricksy, and at times I agrees with him, I does, Precious.
Give my love to your Lady, please. And I hope that I'll talk Rosie into agreeing to come to visit you. And let old Gimli know that I thank him for his gift when you see him. Tell him it works perfect. He'll know what I'm talking about.
Well, that did give him an idea of what Master Samwise Gamgee was like, he supposed, although much of what had been written meant nothing to him. Interesting person.
The maid from the sixth level arrived shortly thereafter, and she proved to be tall, slender, and well proportioned. It turned out she had been most drawn to Sir Meriadoc, the esquire to the King of Rohan, who often served as honor guard while Théoden King's body remained in Gondor. Once his body had been moved to the Hallows two guards stood on duty at all times outside the building where his remains lay, and Sir Meriadoc had often chosen that duty. She found him personable, caring, full of laughter much of the time, and quite devoted to the others. He was very protective of Sir Peregrin, respectful toward Master Samwise, and obviously watchful toward Master Frodo.
She'd found Master Frodo pleasant but withdrawn and apparently shy; Master Samwise responsible and with a tendency to be solemn; Sir Peregrin to be full of mischief and jokes when off duty and with his friends, but quiet and introspective when found alone, and definitely a Soldier of Gondor when in his uniform and on his way to the service of his King.
She'd been appalled at the way they literally turned the house given to their usage upside down. Master Frodo had made the library his bedchamber, while Master Samwise took the parlor, through which one had to travel to reach Master Frodo's room. Sir Meriadoc and Sir Peregrin had made the second parlor their room, and the Lord Mithrandir had stayed in the upper room that he'd been given on his arrival within the city. Another of the upper chambers had been given over to the use of Lasgon, although she slept there the one night per week when Lasgon was home with his family in the fifth level, while two others were given to the other companions, who were rarely present in the house when she was there. She helped in the straightening of the chambers of Samwise and the two Pheriannath knights, the kitchen and the dining chamber; but Lasgon had chosen to serve Master Frodo in this capacity.
The Pheriannath preferred to do their own cooking, and they ate a good deal per meal, although Master Frodo often ate little compared to his fellows. They mostly kept things in good order, although Sir Peregrin was often slapdash when it was his turn to clean up after a meal. He was more impatient than the rest, she'd found, and full of restless energy. That he could stand so still when on duty had always amazed her. Master Frodo's bed was always neatly made soon after he arose; Master Sam's always looked neat, but often she thought that was due to the fact he was one who rarely turned during the night; Sir Meriadoc's was usually made, but when not due to him having duty or being called to the King's side it was at least presentable; Sir Peregrin's was usually almost torn apart.
All were literate and appeared to be well educated, even Master Sam, which had surprised her, for with his speech she'd expected him to be unlettered. She'd even found him reading a book in Sindarin with apparent understanding, although when she spoke to him about it he'd told her he read it better than he spoke it, if she took his meaning.
All were very focused on the welfare of Master Frodo, and he returned their concern. When they had nightmares he'd always seem to know and would come to soothe them; and when he had his, which she said appeared to be frequent and often severe, often all three would converge on him, and occasionally the Lord Mithrandir as well, when he was present. Once when she'd come in soon after dawn she'd found the two knights in the dining room with their mugs of tea before them, obviously worried, and in going through the parlor she'd found Master Sam wasn't there, being found sitting on his Master's bed with Master Frodo's head in his lap, holding his maimed right hand. He'd looked up warningly when she'd looked in, and nodded his thanks as she whispered she'd return later to see if she could assist him.
She gave him a physical description of Sir Meriadoc that definitely fit with the portraits provided by Lord Strider, and when he showed her four of the pictures she easily identified each. She said these were likely portraits, but she felt they failed to do the Pheriannath justice, and she seemed most unhappy about the one done of Master Frodo, which she said simply failed to capture his nature in spite of being what ought to be a good likeness.
The official from Rohan, who introduced himself as Elfhelm, one of the Marshals of the Rohirrim, spoke of the first time he'd seen the Lord Merry standing before the ruined wall of Isengard, when Elfhelm rode there as one of the King's Guard behind Gandalf Greyhame. He spoke of the courtesy with which the Hobbit had welcomed the King's party, of the surprise of seeing Holbytla alive and walking the grass of Middle Earth, for they'd long been thought creatures of legends told from the days when the Rohirrim still lived in the north. And he'd spoken of the awe all felt when they first saw the Ents of Fangorn Forest, of their great size and their obvious love of the trees that were their subjects and wards. He spoke of the quick love that sprang up between his King and the taller Halfling, and described when Lord Merry offered the King of Rohan his sword, and his riding of Stybba from Helm's Deep to Edoras and then to Dunharrow for the Weaponstake. He described the deep disappointment in the eyes of the Halfling when the King told him he was to remain behind to serve the Lady Éowyn.
He told of his own appointment to lead one of the eoreds, and of the arrival of one calling himself Dernhelm who proved to be the Lady Éowyn in Rider's garb, and of finding she'd brought with her Lord Merry. And he spoke of the valor of the Halfling in the battle, for he and the Lady had fought together from the back of her steed Windfola; and when they were thrown at the coming of the Lord of the Nazgul on his fell beast, how Lord Merry had quietly crept behind the Nazgul and stabbed him in the back of the knee, allowing the Lady to get in her own stroke that destroyed the Ringwraith. He described the finding of his uncle and sister by Éomer King, and the belief both were dead; and of how as they carried the bodies from the battlefield into the city the Halfling had become lost, only to be found on the point of collapse by his kinsman, who'd sought long to find him.
And he told of the lost aspect on the features of the Halfling when he'd been forced to remain behind when the Army of the West marched to the Black Gate, of his realization that the Lord Faramir loved the Lady Éowyn and his labors to bring them together, of his standing on guard before the bier of Théoden King while it lay in state in the Citadel, and his eagerness to join his kin when it was learned the battle had been won and the Lords Frodo and Samwise had been found in the ruins of the Mountain.
Elfhelm had been among those few from Rohan who'd rejoined their king's forces on the Field of Cormallen, and had walked beside the Lord Merry as he went to seek out his kin, and had seen the shock on the face of the great hearted Lord Merry when he saw how desperately ill were the Lords Frodo and Samwise, of his relief at finding Lord Peregrin, whom he'd described as his special favorite when he was a child, was well on the road to recovery from his grievous injuries.
He spoke of the solemnity of the convocation when the Lords Merry and Pippin were made knights of the Mark and of Gondor respectively, and then the great joy and awe when it was learned the Lords Frodo and Samwise had awakened and were to be honored by the Lords and forces gathered there. He recalled the tumult after the Lord Elessar had seated those two on his own throne of turves, and all praised them with great praise, each in his own tongue, of calls in Rohirric, Sindarin, Adunaic, and Westron, all giving honor to the Ringbearers. He described the two at that time, emaciated from long privation, healing wounds still to be seen on their faces and hands, the trembling of the body of the Lord Frodo and the shining of his countenance, the seeming transparency of his skin; the awe and shock on the face of the Lord Samwise and how he appeared to be overwhelmed by it all; and the pride to the point of pain seen in the faces of the Lords Merry and Pippin, who had appeared to speak flippantly to the Lord Frodo, but who obviously were so overcome by their feelings they could not speak their hearts.
Ruvemir thanked the Man at the last, and accompanied him to the door of the inn as he left. The respect he had begun to develop for the four Hobbits had grown much this day, he found, and he had begun to understand why so many here wanted this monument to their courage built. With images of the feast in honor of the Ringbearers forming in his mind, he went to the common room to get his evening meal, and as he observed the Standing Silence he found himself offering a private honor to the four Pheriannath as well.
The morning of the Highday dawned cloudy but dry, and as he expected Lasgon to come in the afternoon, he decided to go out upon the Pelennor to visit the two fenced areas in the morning. He took another look at the sketches he'd done so far of his subjects, including the ones of Meriadoc he'd done during his interviews the preceding day, and felt satisfied. Dressing as warmly as he could, he took his cloak and donned gloves, then walked down to the Gate and asked one of the guards if it would be possible to rent the use of a horse. The guard called over one of those who stood on duty as messengers and had him lead Ruvemir to the stables, where he was offered the services of a fine pony, which surprised and pleased him. He was soon on his way, whistling merrily as he rode.
As he approached the blackened place he found an older boy leading a goat back toward a farmstead, and asked him the history of the two sites that had intrigued him so. On learning the bare area was where the fell beast ridden by the Lord of the Nazgul had been burnt, and that the hillock was where the body of Snowmane, the steed of Théoden, King of Rohan, had been buried with honor, he felt amazed, and thanked the boy and rode on till he came to the first fenced area and dismounted to look on the bare earth where even briars refused to grow. At the hillock he dismounted again and tied the pony to the railing, and went through the gate to the top of the hill to read the memorial stone.
As he made his way back to the pony, he felt the wind change from northwesterly to southwesterly, and suddenly the day began to darken, and he realized a storm was in the making. The pony was now restless and fearful, and as he tried to mount, often a difficult process for him with the shortness of his legs and the inflexibility of his hips, it shied and he fell, again wrenching his left hip. He rose with difficulty, cornered and finally calmed the pony, and managed to finally mount it and started quickly back toward the city.
Then the storm hit, and at a crack of lightning and thunder seemingly right overhead the pony bolted, and once again Ruvemir was thrown, landing in a ditch of standing water left from the previous day's rain. He was now soaked through. It took some time to catch his steed, and he found he could not mount it, and so led it through the downpour until he came upon the ruins of a byre where he was able to finally get up high enough to get into the saddle.
At the stable he had to be lifted down, and one of the stableboys found clean toweling with which they usually wiped down steeds and wrapped him in it, then with a new horseblanket until the worst of the shivering was over. When at last he felt ready to return to his lodgings the rain had let up; but as he reached the midway point of the First Circle it began again, and by the time he reached the King's Head he was again shivering with cold, and it felt like blades were being shoved into the socket of his hip.
It was a relief to reach his room, and he found he was immensely grateful for both the cheerful fire on the hearth and the tray he found of tea and cakes. A moment after he arrived there was a rap at the door by Elise who brought him his daily missive from Strider, which had been left in his absence; and seeing his state she immediately went into the bathing room and lit the fire under the boiler, and came out with towels, aiding him to shed his cloak and to unfasten the outer shirt he wore so he could remove it, then wrapped him in the towels until the water would be hot enough to serve him. Her obvious concern for his welfare touched his heart, and he thanked her repeatedly.
"Oh, but my dear sir, it is only right I should aid you as I can. You stay here by the fire and I'll get more towels for you. And as soon as the water is hot I'll draw a bath for you so you can get warm again and cleanse off the mud." Without thinking to curtsey she hurried off to find more towels, and he smiled. He opened the note from Strider.
My dear Master Sculptor,
I understand you were able to meet with Lord Elfhelm and Mistress Loren, and trust their information has aided you to know the subjects even better. Mistress Loren informed me she was impressed by your courtesy and the quality of the drawing of Merry you made while she was there. And she agrees the ones done before that she was shown by you were inferior to your skill.
Tomorrow evening Lord Gimli and I hope to meet with you again. Do you feel like taking a journey?
A journey? To where, he wondered? Sighing, he fixed himself a cup of the tea again with sugar and milk, and drank it, thrice grateful for the warmth. He put the letter with the other missives he'd received from Strider into a drawer in the desk alongside the small purse he'd received the day before, which had proven to contain seven more gold pieces of the King's coin, the packet he'd received from Strider, his two sketch booklets, and the smaller items of his drawing supplies. On top of the desk lay the larger sheets of paper he'd purchased the day before, and the book he'd purchased and the three cord beasts. Sighing, he looked around, when there was another rap at the door. Elise came in with the clean towels, but she looked apologetic as she led in Lasgon as well. Setting the clean toweling in the bathing room near the tub, she hurried off again to fetch a pitcher of light ale and a pair of tankards, and Lasgon, embarrassed to find the Master Sculptor in such a state, offered to come back later.
"Oh, no," Ruvemir said quickly, "not after coming this way from the upper city. I can wait--I'm warming rapidly enough now."
Reassured, Lasgon pulled out of a heavy, covered canvas bag he carried a folder such as Strider had sent the artwork in, and offered it to the sculptor. Sitting down near the fireplace, Ruvemir opened it--and paused, amazed at what he saw. Artist called to artist, he thought, as he looked at the first picture, a charcoal sketch of a hill into which were built a round door and round windows, on top of which a great and ancient oak stood, and chimney pots, the house level obviously surrounded by flowers. He could identify sunflowers and nasturtiums, what appeared to be stalks of gladioli and snapdragons. A hedge, low wall, and picket gate marked the bounds of the property, and on the level of the door stood a low bench against the hillside that served as the wall of what was obviously a home. At the bottom in a neat and particularly pleasing script was written in Westron Bag End. Bag End. Bag End, the home of Frodo Baggins, now the home of Samwise Gamgee. Now he was seeing the heartplace of the Hobbits.
The next picture, again done in charcoal, was of a Hobbit standing on what appeared to be a barrel, a pipe in one hand, gesticulating with the other, an oak tree lit by lanterns hung in its branches towering over him. This was a hale Hobbit of late middle years, with a face that spoke of humor and mischief, a bit of defiance, and a keen intelligence. He wore trousers which stopped mid-calf over his bare, hairy feet, which nevertheless were refined looking. He wore an open jacket over his shirt and a second garment which was obviously of figured cloth, very rich looking; and a finely rendered kerchief stuck partly out of a pocket on the inner garment. The inscription, again in Westron, read Bilbo at the Party: his Speech.
Ruvemir looked to the youth and asked, "Did he tell you the story of this?"
The young man smiled. "Oh, yes. Frodo was a grand storyteller. It was the day his cousin, whom he spoke of as his uncle, turned one hundred eleven and he himself came of age at thirty-three."
Ruvemir looked at him with shock and disbelief. That Hobbit was turning one hundred eleven? How long did Pheriannath generally live? Were they like Dwarves, who were rumored to live regularly beyond two hundred years? But Lasgon was continuing on with the story he'd been told, of the insults to his kin and guests and the surprise of the firework set off by Gandalf, and the sudden disappearance of Bilbo Baggins.
"How did he work the disappearance?" Ruvemir asked.
"I asked Master Frodo that, and he became solemn. He finally said that his uncle had carried the Ring in his pocket, and he took it out and slipped it onto his finger as he'd been talking, and it made him invisible. Said he went back into the smial--that's what they call their homes dug into the hillsides--and gathered his things, put the Ring into an envelope with his will and other documents, and left it on the mantel in the parlor for Frodo. It appears that Mithrandir, whom they called Gandalf, had convinced him it was time to give up possession of this Ring, for although they did not know at the time what Ring it was, Gandalf had sensed it was beginning to consume the old Pherian and felt it important he give it up while he still could."
The next picture was of Samwise Gamgee--it had to be Samwise; and this was obviously done by an artist who knew him and Hobbits well. He stood, trowel in hand, in the midst of rose bushes, low creeping flowers carpeting the ground and partially obscuring his feet. Again, he wore trousers that stopped mid-calf, a shirt with bloused sleeves with the cuffs rolled up to show his muscular arms, and a garment over it that was open and that covered only his chest and back. Under this garment he appeared to wear a strap from his trousers to his shoulder. Again a kerchief, obviously not as fine as that carried by Bilbo, hung out of one of the pockets.
Elise rapped at the door, and came in with the ale, and stopped to see the picture in Ruvemir's hand. She looked at it in awe, her mouth opening in surprise. She looked at him. "You did not do that of the esquire to the King's Friend."
He shook his head. "No, it was done by the King's Friend himself."
She set down her burden, and, with a look of entreaty reached forward a hand, and he gave the picture to her to examine. "It is just like him, sir. Just like him." Lasgon nodded his agreement. Suddenly as a call went up down the passageway, she looked that way in frustration. "I must go," she said as she hurriedly returned the portrait and fled toward the call.
Lasgon looked after her, looked out of the window as one of the bells that marked the passage of time in the city rang, and said, "I, too, must leave. Will you care well for these for me?"
At Ruvemir's nod, he stood. He left Ruvemir with the ale, but again accepted two of the seed cakes and stowed them into his scrip; and with a bow and the suggestion he bathe and get warm, he left.
Ruvemir did just that, filling the tub and getting into it as quickly as he could divest himself of his clothing. He had just dried himself after a long soak and pulled on a worn robe when Elise returned with a mug of warmed wine mixed with fruit juices. She asked if he would like her to take his soiled garments to have them cleaned, and he agreed. She quickly went through pockets and removed his belt purse, and placed all items she found in the center of the table. And taking his shoes also to be dried and cleaned for him, she left. He gratefully sipped at the wine as he'd sipped earlier at the milky tea, and looked at the rest of the pictures in the folder. Strider, he realized, had not needed the services of the artists of Minas Anor, for apparently unknown to him his master artist was right there before him, the Pherian Frodo himself! Here were both Meriadoc and Peregrin. Here also he found a portrait of one he'd known only through legend, Mithrandir, standing straight and defiantly, sword in one hand, knobbed staff in the other, facing an unseen danger that was hinted at but not shown in the picture. It was identified as Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-dum.
And then there was another picture, and this time Ruvemir recognized the subject, had even tried to render it himself--Strider, hooded and cloaked in his stained green cloak and worn leathers, sprawled in a chair, legs stretched out, his pipe this time in his mouth, his eyes shining in the glow of his pipe. Under it was Strider, the Prancing Pony, Bree. Ruvemir shook his head as he looked at this picture. This was done by a Pherian, a Halfling, a Hobbit, and it was done of a Man, and it was perfectly proportioned. He bowed his head in homage to the superior artist--or at least in regards to drawing. Frodo Baggins, he realized, deserved the title of Master more than he himself did.
There were a few more in the packet--one of the Dwarf Gimli, a helmet decorated with geometric shapes on his round head; his axe, the one that had stood here leaning by the hearth, in his hand; a man even Ruvemir recognized as Boromir son of Denethor, Captain of Gondor; the Elf he'd seen the day before; and a woman whose beauty smote his heart. This one was labeled, The Lady Arwen Undómiel, Queen of Gondor. He looked and saw the gracefully pointed ears of an Elf showing through her dark tresses, the graceful stance, the eyes that saw more than just what was before her. He'd heard the King's Lady was an Elf, and now it was confirmed. And, at the bottom of the stack, a crouching creature, twisted and vile looking, naked save for a loincloth around its starved-looking lower parts, its look sly and fearful as it peered back over its shoulder. This must be the creature Gollum. And he shivered as he looked on it.
With such images in his memory, no wonder Frodo Baggins had suffered from recurring nightmares, he thought. Carefully he slipped the pictures back into his folder and stood up to put them into the drawer of the desk--
--and fell, the folder falling from his hand and sliding under the chest into the obscurity underneath its drawers. His hip had given out, and in an intense pain, he forgot about the folder, worked his way over to the bed, somehow got himself onto it, and passed out.
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.