Steward and the Queen, The: 12. Feast

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12. Feast

The coronation feast was held in Merethrond, the splendid feast hall of Minas Tirith. Two long tables, covered in crimson cloths worked with gold, ran the length of the hall with a third table set crosswise on the dais at the head of the hall, covered with cloth of gold brocaded with crimson, purple and black silk. The table service was of crystal, rimmed and decorated with gold and the plates and goblets at the high table glittered with jewels.
Gold wrought tapestries depicting of Numenor in its glory adorned the walls and the arched ceiling was studded with stars.

Frodo was seated at Aragorn’s right hand, with Sam next to him. Then Eomer and Eowyn and Faramir and Idril and Halladan and Barahir and Lords and Ladies of Gondor beyond them. Arwen had old Queen Morwen on her left hand, with Elrond beside her, then Imrahil and Fauilos, Elladan and Elrohir, Legolas and Gimli, Merry and Pippin and Gandalf and other Lords and Ladies of Gondor. All the company was seated on one side and at the ends of the tables giving all an unobstructed view of the grand procession that bore in the first course on platters of gold to the sound of pipes and drums. As soon as all had been served with their choice of dishes the doors at the end of the hall were thrown open and a great pageant car drawn in by Men in the black and white livery of the Citadel.

An actress portraying Luthien, silver masked her diaphanous robes glittering with golden embroideries, stood poised beneath a great hemlock tree. A Beren, masked in gold and costumed in artful tatters, watched her from hiding. A lone flute began to play in the musicians’ gallery above and Luthien began to dance. Viol, harp and dulcimer joined in and a choir in the opposite gallery sang the verses of the Lay of Leithian concerning the meeting of Beren and Luthien as the two players performed a stylized dance of flight and capture ending in an embrace.

The feasters applauded politely. Beren and Luthien bowed, removed their masks and took the seats reserved for them at the lower tables. The pageant car was drawn out and the great chamber began to buzz with talk. Looking past her husband Arwen was pleased to see Frodo digging into the food with typical Hobbit gusto, and Sam too. Then she turned to Queen Morwen on her other side. “Of your courtesy, my Lady, there are some questions I would put to my father.”

“Of course, my dear.” the old lady said kindly. “You must have much to say to each other.”

“Father,” said Arwen across the Queen, “how do so many of our folk come to be here? I left them on their way to the Havens.”

“After you left they chose to return to Rivendell and joined the Ranger force defending the Valley.” Elrond answered.

“The Rangers were defending the Valley?” Arwen echoed, bewildered.

“Rivendell was to be the center of a defensive line to cover the evacuation of the Angle folk had the war gone against us.” Elrohir explained from his place farther down the table.

“Which no one troubled to tell me!” said his father. “But fortunately it proved unnecessary. We held the power of Angmar and Gundabar well away from our own lands. Rivendell saw some minor raiding by Orc bands - no more.”

Arwen sighed in relief. “But what of Bilbo? Did he go back to the Valley too?”

Elrond‘s eyes twinkled. “From what I hear it was all his idea.”

Arwen laughed. “That I do believe!”

A trumpet fanfare presaged the entrance of a long procession of servitors, garbed in black velvet and silver tissue, to clear away not only the first course but the place settings, the table ornaments and even the cloths covering the tables which, when removed, revealed white cloths embroidered with black and silver beneath; and cloth of silver tissue embroidered with dark blue and black velvet, powdered with jewels of crystal on the high table. Then a second procession brought in a new service of silver richly jeweled with sapphire and amethyst.

“Each course will be served on new plate.” Aragorn explained to the bewildered Ringbearers as the tables were reset.

“Fancy that.” was all Sam could find to say.

“Yes indeed.” Frodo agreed.

Arwen had been astonished herself when the Keeper of the Plate and the Master of Ceremonies had explained the custom to her - then amused. It was a truly admirable way to show off all one’s silver and gold work and she was amazed her Noldorin kin had never thought of it.

A new pageant car followed each course with players performing the scenes of King Thingol setting Luthien’s bride-price; Finrod Felagund’s departure from Nargothrond with Beren and the faithful twelve; Luthien’s escape from the Hirilorn; and Finrod fighting the Wolf to save Beren.

Eowyn couldn’t understand the Quenya verses but Arwen had told her the outline of the story and the costumes were wonderful. She applauded as the players portraying Finrod, Beren and the Wolf bowed before the high table, then turned impulsively to Eomer beside her. “Brother, I am going to marry the Lord Faramir.”

The look of stunned bewilderment on his face made her laugh. “Don’t look so shocked, he is very eligible and of more than suitable rank!”

“I’m not shocked,” he protested, “but amazed. Sister, when last I saw you it was the Lord Aragorn you loved!”

She saw the King’s head turn at the sound of his name and deliberately pitched her answer for his ears as well as Eomer’s. “I am not inconstant, Brother, I still love the Lord Aragorn and always will - as my King, my Captain and my dear friend. But it is Faramir I desire to wed.”

“Don’t look so relieved,” Arwen scolded her husband, also in tones meant to reach beyond his ears. “It’s not at all complimentary to Eowyn!”

She laughed again, but with inner compunction. She had given Aragorn no less than her brother one more care when he needed none and she was sorry for it. “I am not offended.” she said to the Queen, and smiled at Aragorn. “Wish me joy my liege-lord and healer.”

“I have wished you joy ever since I first saw you, Eowyn.” he answered warmly. “It heals my heart to see you happy at last.”

Eowyn reached for Faramir’s hand. “The King of Gondor has given his blessing.” she challenged her brother. “Do you withhold yours Eomer King?”

He sputtered a moment, then laughed. “Of course not! But can you blame me for being surprised?” he kissed his sister, then leaned across her to clasp Faramir’s free hand. “You have put the roses back in Eowyn’s cheeks. If I knew no more of you than that it would be enough!”

The feast continued; more courses, more changes of tableware, and six more pageants ending with Beren and Luthien’s return to life as Thingol, Melian and their attendant Elves wept over their bodies. But that was not the end of the entertainment.

By now night had fallen and servants went around lighting lamps and great waxen torches to illuminate the great hall. The last covers were removed to reveal black cloths sewn with pearls, wine and sweets were served. Then the great doors at the end of the hall were thrown open to admit a bevy of tall maidens masked and richly costumed. The Master of Ceremonies took up his stand before the high table and knocked his staff three times on the marble floor, silence fell over the company.

“Your Grace,” he intoned solemnly, “the fair domain of Pinnath Gelin salutes the King!”

A maiden robed all in shades of green, glittering with gold, her headdress surmounted by a golden hawk, glided down the long hall to make a courtesy before the King.

She moved aside and the Master announced: “Anfalas of the long shores salutes the King!”

This maiden was dressed in sea green and foam white with a diadem of dancing silver porpoises in her hair.

And so it went on; maidens costumed in the colors and devices of the ancient domains of Gondor advanced one by one down the hall to salute the new King. There was a slender girl all in blue embroidered with white swans and crowned by a silver ship representing Belfalas; another in grey and silver with the crescent moon of Isildur floating above her head for Ithilien; and finally a maid in white and scarlet crowned with Anarion’s golden sun for the royal domain of Anorien.

The maidens began to dance a slow and stately measure which was suddenly disrupted by a tall figure masked and armored in black steel. The maidens mimed panic and flight as the dark figure sought to seize them. Then suddenly a Man costumed in grey with a star upon his brow and leading several other grey clad Men, came to their rescue and drove the dark figure away. The allegory was obvious; Aragorn and his Northern Rangers rescuing the lands of Gondor from Sauron.

Men and maidens danced a final measure together. Arwen leaned towards her husband. “We will be expected to dance with the leaders of the masque.”

“I know. I saw similar entertainments when I was in Gondor long years ago.” he answered as softly.

The masked dancers finished their measure and scattered to claim new partners from among the onlookers. The ‘king’ and Anorien offered themselves to Arwen and Aragorn. The flower covered maiden portraying Lossarnach, greatly daring, chose Elrond. And the girl in the blue and swans of Dol Amroth insisted on partnering Eomer for all his warnings he was a poor dancer. Idril danced with one of the ‘Rangers’ and Eowyn with another and ‘Ithilien chose Faramir for her partner.

After the formal pavane the dancing became general, and Eowyn and Faramir went to pay their respects to Queen Morwen.

“So, when is the wedding to be?” she asked.

“No time soon I fear,” Eowyn answered regretfully. “I must return to Rohan and help my brother. And Theoden must be laid beside his fathers before I can think of weddings.”

“And the King will no doubt have many tasks for me as well.” said Faramir. He smiled at his betrothed. “I am willing to wait - but not too long!”

She laughed. “No, nor me either!”

“And I will have to give thought to finding a new mistress for Meduseld,” said the old Queen. “Eomer cannot be left to manage alone.”

“Perhaps you need not look far.” said Faramir significantly. The two Women followed his gaze to where Eomer stood, talking and laughing, with the Maiden Belfalas.

“Is that -?” Morwen began.

“It surely is!” said Faramir.

“Who?” Eowyn demanded.

“Lothiriel of Dol Amroth,” her promised husband explained, “my kinswoman and yours. She is young - “

“Older than I was when I decided to marry Thengel.” said Morwen, eyeing her young cousin speculatively. “If she wants him there will be no gainsaying her. And why not? They may suit very well.”

“They certainly seem to be getting on.” Faramir agreed, and glanced sidelong at Eowyn. “Lothiriel is passionately fond of horses.”

“That’s good.” she said.

It was past midnight before the King and Queen were able to excuse themselves from the festivities. Followed by a train of Lords, Ladies and attendants they went in procession out a side door then into the King’s pillared watching chamber and up the grand staircase to his apartments. Through presence chamber, privy chamber and antechamber they went but when they reached the King’s bedroom Arwen closed the door firmly in the face of their following and bolted it. Then she went to the other doors and bolted them too.

“Arwen! what will our people think?” Aragorn teased as she turned to face him.

“That the Queen wants the King to herself for a while!” she answered and went to him. As they kissed she explored the fastenings of the cuirass with impatient fingers. “How do you get this thing off?”

He laughed again and showed her how. Then she helped him remove the cuirass and other pieces of plate, and the mail beneath. “I don’t think they’ll mind,” she continued, “they want an heir don’t they?”

“Yes.” Aragorn eyed her thoughtfully. “You say you have seen our son?”

“I have. Can you still doubt it?” she asked in surprise.

“Not at all. But it is curious...all I have seen are daughters.”

“Daughters.” she echoed blankly.

He nodded, eyes glinting. “The eldest favors your father and my grandmother; the middle is the image of you,” his voice softened, “and the youngest has silver hair - like your mother and mine.”

“Oh!” Arwen felt an unexpected twinge of longing...daughters, little girls to dress and play with... “Well, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have a son *and* daughters is there?” she demanded.

“None at all.” he agreed, and took her in his arms.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/14/04

Original Post: 10/08/04

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