10. Journey in Late Fall
Journey in Late Fall
Elise aided in the final packing, and Ruvemir arranged with Beneldil for the storage of the two chests and carefully rolled large sheets of papers in tubes they would not be taking on the journey. A large chest had been purchased for the clothing for all three of them, and into the top were carefully folded the fabrics and other materials for Miriel's commissions. The flat boxes containing the few stonecutting tools Ruvemir would carry, Ririon's woodcarving tools, an assortment of chalks, an assortment of graphite and charcoal drawing sticks, the sketch booklets, and the books for reading were packed into the second on top of the greater part of the block of clay, wrapped in an air-tight wrapping, and most of the blocks of soapstone.
Each was to carry a personal satchel containing a change of clothing and such items as each was likely to need during the day. Ririon's carried his small folding knife he'd used for his carving to date, and a small sharpening stone and tube of oil that had been a gift from Benril, a few small, light blocks of wood, and a small block of clay in an oilcloth bag, carefully sealed. Miriel's held a linen bag in which she carried the one piece of material she'd cut out as yet, the yoke of the shirt she was preparing for the King, already with the backing in place, now ready to receive the embroidery before she put all together, as well as a needlecase full of appropriately sized needles, a cushion full of pins, thread shears, embroidery frame, a folder of embroidery thread wound around card, and the book on embroidery she'd been gifted by her brother, as well as her own smaller sketch booklet in which she kept many of the designs she favored and hints on how to determine thread counts. Ruvemir took his current sketch booklet and the tube of his drawing supplies and the ball of gum, a small rolled cloth in which he kept some of his very finest carving tools, the book of Rohirric tales, and the wooden figure of a mouse that he'd found that day on the tray carrying the seed cakes and tea. He'd taken it up with gladness and looked up to see the smile on Elise's face, and a second one on the face of Ririon as Elise's hand tightened on his shoulder, who apparently had had his own commission.
The three travel desks and a few of the stone blocks were to ride within the carriage, along with a smaller chest which was to carry extra cloaks and blankets and warm boots and gloves in case the weather became cold enough to warrant them, and the extra funds for all. In a separate chest would be packed enough food and utensils to feed them for three days at least, along with Evamir's gift to Ririon. Each carried a belt purse and eating knife, and it looked as if all were at last in readiness.
That last night was one of the nights on which Elise was free, and they went to the Dragon's Claw to eat there so Ririon could say goodbye to those he'd known since childhood, Benril with them (Livril had been furious to be left out). All seemed to come out to the common room to see the boy and to wish him well, and at last Evamir Cook and his wife came in, and she carried a hat she'd made for Ririon, thinking his head might grow cold if they found snow on the way north. It was quilted of soft cloth and had a brim which could be fastened down over the boy's ears, and he thanked her for it, then surprised all, including himself, by embracing and kissing both of them. And when they returned they found not only was the fire lit, but once again reclining before it were the King and his Lady accompanied by Legolas, a white knife at his belt and his bow and quiver resting by the fire. And so they took their goodbyes of their patrons, and one last time the King oversaw Ruvemir's exercises, now teaching them to Ririon, who was pleased to know there was a way in which he could assist his guardian. Having watched both Miriel and Ruvemir in their new shoes and the use of Ruvemir's cane, the King nodded with satisfaction that both would find their walking more comfortable and the ease on Ruvemir's hip would help ensure against reinjury. When they saw the necklace worn by Elise and the mouse sitting by Ruvemir they smiled.
The carriage provided had originally been made for a wealthy elderly family that had owned a great deal of property in the fields of the Pelennor. After the battle was over, it had been given to the use of the city to assist in the transport of the wounded to the Houses of Healing, and finally had been made a gift to the new King. It was not exceptionally large, yet would comfortably hold the three passengers and Dorlin, who would drive the team, as well as their luggage. When it arrived at the King's Head it didn't seem to take particularly long to get all loaded on it and fastened down successfully alongside the tent and bedding materials in waterproof wrappings, and finally Ruvemir, Miriel, and Ririon found themselves taking leave of their hosts, and receiving warm embraces from all. Their courtesy and relative sobriety and generosity to staff had made them popular, and the fact they were completing a commission so popular within the city added to the warmth they were shown. And when at last Ruvemir took leave of Elise with a kiss, all cheered as she blushed with pride and delight.
Ruvemir and Dorlin together stowed the lap desks and other goods within the carriage along with the letters from the Lord King Elessar of Gondor and Arnor. The carriage proved to have comfortable new cushions of a warm wine color as well as several pillows and warm blankets; and once all was in place Ruvemir handed in his sister, assisted Ririon into the carriage, and then carefully climbed in himself, at which Dorlin folded the steps and secured them and the door, climbed into the driver's seat, and spoke to the team of two large ponies that pulled the coach and the two which followed behind which would take their places in a few hours' time, and drove them out of the courtyard and down through the city. As they approached the open gates the guard saluted as they passed, and outside a file of riders, led by the King himself on his grey steed Olórin, rode as an honor guard to the rebuilt line of the Rammas Echor, then saluted as they began the ride west and north for earnest.
The first night found them in a village in Anorien where they were welcomed to a small inn and given comfortable rooms and a good meal, then were seen off with good wishes on the following morning as they turned west toward the Gap of Rohan. One of the border guardians rode along with them until they came to the edges of the realm, and spoke with them through the open windows and with Dorlin and Ririon on the box about the history of the area, and of the mysterious Druadan Forest to the south of them at the feet of the mountains. Ririon would have loved to have been allowed to visit it and meet with the Wild Men and perhaps Ghân buri Ghân himself, but the soldier refused. "No," he said, "that is their land, and it would not be polite to enter it only in curiosity. Nor does the King's will allow such. If you wish to enter the Druadan, you'd best get the permission of the Wild Men first."
In the Eastfold of Rohan they found a village where they were welcomed and granted hospitality by the Captain of the local éored, who would accept no payment for their welcome. Throughout the day Ruvemir had been amusing himself by carving a small statue of a horse from one of the pieces of soapstone they'd been given, and this he gifted their host with the following morning as they readied to resume their journey. It was an exquisite piece, and the Captain accepted it with great pleasure, admiring both the subject and its execution. Ririon had chosen the block for his guardian that morning, and had been excited to see it nearly done when they reached the Eastfold; and he chose to remain in the coach the next day to receive some instruction as to how to carve the stone himself.
As they passed through Rohan they were frequently greeted by Riders, who often would ride alongside and give them directions, and who twice invited them to stop in their villages for their next rest and accept a meal before going onwards. Twice they camped for the night, but more often they would be hosted in a village and then given gifts of food for their continued journey. The tall Rohirrim seemed to find the carriage with its small passengers endlessly fascinating, and when they learned of the intentions of the expedition they became solemnly respectful. Many remembered the Holbytla with great honor, and all the land had been filled with the stories of their courage and sacrifice.
On the fifth day in Rohan they were joined by a large riding led by Éomer King himself, who'd been tracking down rumors of wolves from the Misty Mountains to the North. That night they camped with Éomer's troupes and shared their meal, and heard the proud singing of the Eorlingas. Éomer listened to the story of their commission with quiet consideration, then sighed. "Always does the Lord Aragorn seem to bring worthy souls of unusual nature through my lands," he commented, although his eyes shone with controlled respect and humor. "And so why should this time be any different?" And together with his guests he laughed ere he bade them a good rest.
Three Riders accompanied the carriage onward to the Gap of Rohan, and Ririon was thrilled when on the second day from the camping with the Rohirrim one took him behind him on his tall steed for an hour, and he came back excited and looking forward to having a horse himself one day. They camped on the banks of the Isen, and were advised to use only wood found on the ground for their fires until they were far north on the New South Road, and to use no axes as long as they traveled through the lands watched over by the Ents. They finally saw the tall tower of Orthanc to the south of them and the mountains to the north. Miriel was watching out the window when she suddenly gave a cry of surprise, and when Ruvemir looked he saw that what had appeared to be a dead tree was instead a tall figure moving steadily toward the forest to the north, and the Rider closest to them quietly explained this was one of the Ents who now watched over Orthanc for the King Aragorn Elessar Telcontar of Mundberg.
Once they reached the Gap of Rohan and the last outpost held in concert by the forces of Gondor and Rohan, their guides bade them a good journey and turned back to their own lands, and they broke their journey for two nights, replenished their supplies, had their clothing laundered, and prepared for the next stage of their journey through the lands of the Dunlendings.
Much of the journey north was marked by rains, and twice they had to stop for two nights to allow streams swollen from the torrents to go down sufficiently to allow them to be forded. Then they had three days of cold accompanied by brilliant low sunlight, and Ririon began to wear his hat, and one day commented that he felt he saw better with it on, as it broke the glare which often obscured his vision. After that he wore it constantly during the daylight hours whenever he was outside, which was often as he liked to sit on the box beside Dorlin, now usually with either a block of wood or soapstone in his hands and a couple of tools in the breast pocket of his surcoat. There were new villages being built along the road, and raw farms cut out of the wilderness, and they were able to find shelter most nights.
They were overtaken the ninth day of their northward journey by a party of Elves on horseback who greeted them courteously and rode with them for a time. They, too, had been tracking packs of the great wolves, although as the packs had turned into the forests at the feet of the mountains they were inclined to follow them no more, as long as they offered no harm to those who lived in the lands. They seemed to be aware of the purpose of their journey, and promised to carry word to the folk remaining in Rivendell that there were those on the Greenway on a mission for the Lord Elessar and his Lady. When Dorlin turned the carriage into a small village of Men for the night, the Elves gave them farewell and melted into the twilight.
The next day the rains resumed, and remained fairly constant for several days. They finally took shelter in Tharbad for three days, resting the ponies, caring for the carriage, and simply getting warm before they went on.
Some days later they finally reached Bree as the first snows fell, and turned in through the east gate with gladness.
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.