Ankhrabi, son of the Farozi An'Sohrabi, stood upon the pier at Risenmouthe dressed in a formal kilt and a pectoral of a great golden falcon clutching an ankh in each talon, an arm ring decorated with other Sun symbols above his left elbow, the dagger recently given him by his father tucked in his belt. By him stood his twin sons, Amon'osiri and Ma'osiri, the two nine-year-old boys solemn as they watched the great ship from the North near the dock where they stood.
"Is that the ship of the great King An'Ellessar of Gondor, Babari?" asked Amon'osiri.
Looking at the black banner decorated with White Tree, Winged Crown, and Seven Stars which depended from the main mast, the Prince of Harad gave a single nod of his proud head. "Yes, my son," he answered.
Ma'osiri peered up at his father. "Does king mean that he is farozi for his people, Baba?"
"Much the same, Ma'osiri."
"Does he have a son?"
"I believe he does, but that his son is but a babe in arms. He has a daughter who is older."
They watched the ship come closer in and the sailors tossing and catching the great cables to be used in fastening it to the quay, watched great fenders be dropped over the side to lie along the pier. Amon'osiri asked, "Will there be many with him?"
"Twenty-five altogether, Rustovrid has written."
"Are they all of Gondor, Babari?"
"No, not all of Gondor--they reportedly represent several of the Northern lands and peoples." He looked to both boys, who'd managed to maintain their neat appearance for quite some time now. Each wore a fine linen kilt, waist belt, fine leather sandals, and a pectoral collar, Ma'osiri's depicting the Feather of Truth and Amon'Osiri's the Solar Disk with the Eye of Amon overlaid on it. Their hair was long and pulled over to the right side of their head in the boys' style, held in place with a special clip. Yes, they looked well enough. He glanced about them at their attendants--personal guard, the steward of his house as Prince of Harad, fan-bearers, his personal scribe, the Priest of Amon, four of the nobles of Thetos, three of the granddaughters of An'Horubi with great trays carrying decanters of date wine and small cups from which to drink, the ambassador from Gondor and his wife. Yes, there was enough for the honor needed to meet the King of the Northlands and those who attended him. He hoped that he would be understood by the Man.
Sailors on the ship were coming forward and setting into place the gangplank, and all in the greeting party straightened to attention. Now they would begin to see.... The deck of the ship seemed crowded with folk who began to drift apart into parties. Finally the first five disembarking stepped on the gangplank, crossed to the dock, bowed as they stepped off followed by one of their guards. "My Lord Ankhrabi," said Rustovrid. "I greet you with gladness."
"It is good to see you return, again, Lord Rustovrid, Lady Ghansaret, you and your daughters." All gave the ambassador to the court of Gondor and Arnor respectful bows.
"I am to introduce the rest as they step from the ship, Lord."
Ankhrabi nodded his satisfaction. "That is a good plan."
"The Lord Gimli son of Gloin, Lord of the Glittering Caves, a Dwarf of the Iron Hills and the realm of Erebor beneath the Lonely Mountains. The Lord Legolas Greenleaf of Eryn Lasgolen, Prince of the great Woodland Realm and one of those who has been seeing to the recovery of the lands of Ithilien. Both are friends and long-time companions to the Lord An'Elessar Telcontar of Gondor and Arnor, and assisted in the battles against the forces of Mordor."
Dwarf and Elf moved across the gangplank and onto the dock, then bowed low to the party on the dock, giving their deepest reverence to Ankhrabi and his sons before moving to the side. The Elf was dressed in a long, loose tunic of soft silver silk over trousers of the same color, a long robe of soft green and silver over it, dark grey shoes of soft leather, a woven silver coronet set about his brow, his golden hair caught back from his face in two carefully wrought braids hanging free down the side of his face, a delicately wrought silver bead finishing each plait. The Dwarf's thick, red-brown hair was caught in a single great braid at the back wrapped in golden ribbons, and his forked beard and moustache were also braided, held with golden beads. He wore a shirt of bloused green silk under a harness of worked leather; he wore finely worked leather boots, carried a throwing axe at his belt, and leaned on a great war axe as if it were a walking stick. He was examining those on the dock with alert brown eyes, although he leaned now on his axe indicative of the fact he did not intend to use it. The sons of Ankhrabi examined these guests with interest, and at a sign from their father, bowed toward them.
"Isumbard Took of the Shire, cousin to the Thain of the Shire and husband to the Thain's daughter Pearl."
A small figure now crossed the gangplank, his face showing relief to leave the ship. He was dressed in dark silk trousers that ended mid-calf, a loosely bloused shirt of cream-colored raw silk finely embroidered, and a long vest of green. His red-brown hair capped his head with short, close curls. Although he was no taller than Ankhrabi's two sons, there was no question of him being a boy himself, with his mature face, pointed ears, his large bare feet with the carefully brushed hair on top, the intelligent grey-green eyes, and responsible stance. He approached Ankhrabi with dignity, bowed low and announced in a pleasant voice, "Isumbard Took, at your service my Lord," said carefully in Haradri. After the bow was returned he moved back to the side of the Dwarf, who set a hand on his shoulder.
"Faramir, Prince of Ithilien and Steward of Gondor. His wife Éowyn, sister to An'Éomer of Rohan, the White Lady of the Shieldarm, once Shield Maiden of her people. Their son Elboron."
A Man robed in silver, his long ebon hair caught back from his face with a circlet of mithril, crossed the gangplank carrying a small boy in his arms, his wife tall and slender at his side, dressed in shining white with a dark green girdle from which hung her own sword to match that carried by her husband. Her long golden hair was pulled back from her face, and a circlet of golden flowers, each with a garnet in its center, circled her brow. They gave their reverences together, husband and wife, while their small son examined Ankhrabi and those attending him with eyes as piercingly grey as those of his father. They moved smoothly to stand beside Elf and Dwarf and the small individual identified as Isumbard Took. Two guards in white and silver crossed to stand on either side the couple. "Captains Beregond and Damrod of the White Company as guards to their lord and lady."
A tall figure in brown and green in an embossed leather gambeson, a rich green mantle hanging from his shoulders, crossed and bowed, a helmet crested with a black horse tail under his arm, a great sword with pommel decorated with horseheads hanging from his belt. "Lord Elfhelm, Envoy of Rohan to the Court of Gondor, and kinsman of the King of Rohan. An'Éomer King, Lord of Rohan, his Lady Lothiriel of Dol Amroth, Queen of Rohan, and their son Elfwine." The royal couple from Rohan were dressed in greens and golds, the golden-haired King wearing a golden circlet adorned with emeralds, double horsehead over his brow; his wife with a circlet of golden leaves also set with emeralds over her dark auburn hair. The small boy carried in his mother's arms had hair as dark as his mothers, but eyes as blue as those of his father, and was dressed also in dark green.
"Haleth son of Háma, as guard to his lord and lady."
The tall young guardsman slipped behind the royal family of Rohan.
"Peregrin Took, heir to the Thain of the Shire and a captain of the Guard of the Citadel for Gondor and Arnor."
Another of the small beings, feet bare, hair a bright auburn, eyes green, black and silver tabard worked with White Tree, Seven Stars in a circle, and Winged Crown over a shirt of silver-grey silk, a belt of linked leaves enameled with green from which hung a sword appropriate to his stature, trousers of black silk again stopping mid-calf over his bare feet, crossed the gangplank. He bowed to Ankhrabi and his sons, then stood aside.
"Ruvemir son of Mardil, Master Sculptor, and his apprentice Owain of Minas Anor."
Another small figure crossed the gangplank accompanied by a young Man who was much taller. This small figure was dressed in light blue tunic over darker blue trousers, and was shod in dark grey; his hair was dark, as was his short beard. The youth was yet slight, his hair a rich brown, his eyes the color of his hair. He carried a satchel filled, apparently, with books of some sort. They bowed deeply, but the smaller figure straightened, his dark eyes examining them with interest. He held out his hand to the youth who accompanied him, and he was quickly given one of the booklets and a tube. The smaller figure took from the tube a drawing stick, opened the book, folded back its pages, and was already beginning to draw as he stood there.
"The Lady Avrieth of Eriador, nurse to the children of the King of Gondor and Arnor. The Lady Melian, daughter of the Lord An'Elessar and Lady Arwen."
A tall woman accompanied a slender girl child over the gangplank. The girl was dressed in a soft gold, her hair pulled back into a single braid of dark gold.
"The Lord Aragorn An'Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar and Lady Arwen Undomiel of Gondor and Arnor, and their son Eldarion. The Lord Hardorn of Arnor, Lord Hildigor of Arnor, and Lord Mablung of Gondor, as the King's guard of honor. Lord Berevrion of Arnor to represent the court of Arnor." And so the party was complete. Lord Berevrion had dark hair, a shaven face, eyes again a clear grey, similar to the Lords Hardorn and Hildigor. Hildigor was a young Man, yet appeared competent and watchful. Hardorn was apparently much of an age with the King himself, although what age that might be was not clear--middle years, strong and skilled and wary, his dark hair silver at the temples, his beard also shot with silver. Mablung's hair was lighter and also touched with grey, and his eyes a blue to match those of the King of Rohan. Those identified as guards were dressed similarly to the small one identified as Peregrin Took, but their hair was longer and they wore boots where the small one was unshod. The Lord Berevrion, on the other hand, wore trousers of a dark grey, and shirt and robes of silver and white.
As for King and Queen--how could one tell how old they might be? Their hair was sleek and very dark brown, although there was again silver at the temples of the King and in his neatly trimmed beard; their faces were full of majesty; their grey eyes shone with wisdom and long experience. The face of the King was lined with years of care, but with no sign of it having ever known despair. Humor and competence were both to be seen, an ability to know austerity along with a feeling of great contentment. There was a hint of the griefs he'd known there, but they were griefs accepted and acknowledged, nothing to be used to distract him from the joy of the present. As for the Queen---- Ankhrabi looked into her eyes and was lost with awe as he saw reflected there the light of stars, the wisdom of at least an age of the world. He bowed deeply.
As Rustovrid now identified the notables of Harad who stood on the dock, Sa'Amonri, the priest who attended on Ankhrabi, found himself feeling he recognized the one who stood as King of Gondor and Arnor--something in the stance and the eyes. But, no, surely not? Could this be a son of that one who'd come here so long ago, who'd removed the growth from the side of An'Horubi?
Sailors were now bringing trunks and caskets and satchels off the ship and setting them in a careful set of piles on the quay. One of the guards for the King reached down and lifted up a red satchel and handed it to the Lord Elessar, who accepted it and slipped it in a familiar manner over his head and under one arm, a red satchel tied with a remarkably complex knot....
Then the King was moving forward, catching the arms of Sa'Amonri before he quite tottered, was looking into his eyes with the look of a competent healer, the look he'd used in examining An'Horubi so long ago. "Are you ill?" he asked in only lightly accented Haradri, the voice and tone identical to fifty years past. Then his eyes widened with recognition and a degree of humor. "I am sorry, my lord priest," he said quietly. "I'd certainly not thought any I knew from that time would be here to welcome me. An'Sohrabi did not warn you? No, obviously not."
"I would certainly expect so. Rustovrid has told me that certain information was relayed to the Farozi that he would recognize and so know who I was and am."
The small bearded one was moving forward. "Is there ought I can do, beloved Lord?" he asked in Westron.
"No, no illness," the King answered in the same tongue, "but you have another tale of recognition to add to your count, Ruvemir."
The small one gave a chuckle of amusement. "Even here, then?" he commented. At a look from his King he moved back to his place, but did not look chastened.
The Lord Elessar turned back to the priest, and spoke again in Haradri. "I will explain in a moment how it is." He helped the priest to straighten, gave a low bow, and stepped back. Seeing the three maidens carrying the trays of goblets, he asked, "Is this intended for us, Lord Ankhrabi?"
"You speak our language? I had no idea you were so fluent, Lord An'Elessar," Ankhrabi answered. "Yes, it is intended for the refreshment of all on your arrival."
"Thank you." He addressed the nearest of the maidens, "If I may?" and at her nod took one of the pitchers and lifted the lid, gave a sniff to it, smiled, and poured some into one of the cups, set down decanter and capped it again, and finally lifted the cup and formally presented it to the priest. "If you will drink this, I believe it will assist you in your recovery." The Man accepted it with a word of thanks and drank, then returned it with a smile and shallow bow. Assured all was well with the priest, the King turned again to his host. "You will forgive me, I pray. However, as a healer my first concern is ever to see to those who might need my services. How will we be going upriver to Thetos?"
"There is a barge waiting closer to the shore. If any of your people would wish to refresh yourselves----" He indicated the waiting women with their trays. The King translated for those with him.
At a quiet question from the one called Isumbard the King smiled and turned to their host. "He asks if we shall we carry our own trunks?"
Ankhrabi looked shocked at the idea. "There are porters there," he said, indicating where a group of Men waited orders, "to carry your goods to the barge."
Several of those who had traveled with the King of Gondor were stepping forward to catch up personal satchels, packs, or saddle bags from the pile and slinging them over shoulders. The two boys watched with great interest to see that elsewhere even great lords and ladies might carry at least some of their own goods. Others were approaching the maidens with the trays of drink, and with words of thanks were filling cups with the date wine and drinking from them. The King offered a filled cup to his wife, who accepted it with pleasure, the King reaching out now to take his infant son into his arms, his daughter leaving her nurse's side to come to that of her parents, looking with curiosity at Ankhrabi's sons. Finally all finished their drinks, and with more words of thanks to the servers set their cups back on the trays the maidens still carried, and all stood waiting. The one identified as Prince Faramir turned to their host and said in heavily accented, careful Haradri, "We thank you for your welcome, Lord Ankhrabi, and for your courtesy toward us."
Ankhrabi nodded. "If you are all ready, then...." and he turned to lead the way down the pier to the steps down to the barge.
Most of the guests appeared to appreciate the shade of the canopy which had been set over the deck and found seats on the benches gratefully. The King was watching his own folk with obvious concern, and once he was certain all were well he turned to their host. "I am afraid that some may become ill with the heat, for the climate here is quite different from that to which they are accustomed. We have tried to make certain that their clothing is appropriate, but it is still likely one or more may find themselves overcome."
"You said that you are a healer?"
"Yes. My family line has ever proven apt to healing, and I was trained to it from early childhood."
"Yet you are also a warrior."
The tall Northerner smiled. "I was trained to that also from childhood. I remember comparing with Rustovrid when we received our first practice swords, and we both began training when we were five or six years old."
The Ambassador from Harad laughed. "Ah, yes, we did discuss that, did we not? I'd forgotten. The day you first sang to me the song of the frog who would marry the mouse."
The small warrior who stood guard by the King looked over his shoulder to meet the King's eyes with curiosity. The Lord Elessar smiled and translated, then added, "Yes, I sang it to him. He was but six years at the time, if I recall correctly."
Ankhrabi looked at the King with even more interest. "How is it, my Lord, that you were able to know Rustovrid when he was a child?" he asked in careful Westron.
The Northern Lord looked at him with consideration. Finally he asked in Haradri, "How much do you know of the history of the Northern lands of Middle Earth, my Lord?"
"You have heard of Númenor?"
"That is the fabled island nation that once was far to the West across the great Sea?"
The King nodded. "Elendil the Tall, the first High King of Gondor and Arnor from whom I am descended, was born on the Star Isle. Those from whom he was descended commonly lived for three hundred years or more. The Northern Dúnedain have intermarried seldom with those not of Númenorian ancestry, and so although none have reached three hundred years for most of the last Age of Middle Earth, yet we still may approach two hundred years, if we are not slain otherwise. I was almost fifty years of age when I visited Harad before, over fifty years ago now. I am now almost a hundred years, and if I do not die in battle or at the hands of an assassin, I will very likely reach two hundred years of age.
"I served in Rohan and in Gondor when I was younger, and then I traveled into Rhun and Harad. I was here as a trader, and took a caravan far to the South to near Ephir. I returned ahead of the rest of the caravan, and met your father, at least two of his brothers, and your grandfather, as well as Lord Rustovrid when he was a boy and his father, and Sa'Amonri here as well."
"Your wife is the same?"
The Lord Elessar smiled as he shook his head. "Oh, my wife is older than I--far older than I. She is daughter to Elrond Peredhil and was granted the life of the Eldar until she chose to cleave to me." And when he looked to her there was still a look of wonder in his face as if even after this time he could not believe that such a woman would come to love him.
"And your son?"
"He and his sister will possibly live longer than I, for in them flows more clearly the blood of the Peredhil and the Eldar."
Lord Hardorn had overseen the loading of the chests from the ship, and now that all was at last loaded he gave thanks to the porters and boarded the barge, sitting not far from his King.
The King looked at the small figure of the one called Isumbard, then turned and addressed the other. "Pippin, do you think he can stand this additional trip by barge?"
The small one looked at his kinsman, then replied, "I should think so. He's been much better about things the last two days, and this is very similar to the Buckleberry Ferry, although much larger. I think it's the heat more than the fact we are on water that is bothering him now."
"How are you holding up?"
"It's not as bad as standing before the Black Gate was. And what I'm wearing is much more suited to the climate than the mail and helm I wore then."
The King examined the small one's eyes, then smiled. "Yes, you will do well." He turned to their host. "Is there cool water which can be offered to Master Isumbard?" he asked.
"Of course." the Farozi's son indicated, and he turned to one of the attendants and ordered that a drink of water be offered to the other beardless small one. The drink was accepted with relief, and the recipient drank deeply of it, then pulled a square of cloth out of a pocket and wiped his brow with it.
Ankhrabi turned with interest to the Lord Elessar. "I have not heard of the lands spoken of by Lord Rustovrid," he said. "These two--" he indicated Pippin and Isumbard,"--are from one called the Shire?"
"Yes," the King said, and smiled down at his companion, then looked back to meet Ankhrabi's eyes. "The Shire is a small land far to the North and West in Arnor, not far from the coast of the Sundering Sea. The folk call themselves Hobbits, and as you can see they are both similar to Men and quite different at the same time. Captain Peregrin and his cousin Meriadoc are the two largest Hobbits now living, owing to their friendship with the Ents of Fangorn Forest. The three most influential individuals within the Shire are the Thain, the Master of Buckland, and the Mayor, all three of whom I have come to know, and in the case of the Mayor I know him well indeed. They are a great hearted people, and are remarkably hardy and resilient. And it is to two of their own that Middle Earth owes gratitude as those who brought down the might of Mordor."
"And is one of these....?" began the Haradri.
The one the King had called Pippin answered. "No, the two who were responsible are not here. One was my kinsman Frodo Baggins, who has left Middle Earth, almost destroyed himself by what he suffered in his quest to destroy Sauron's Ring of Power. The other is Samwise Gamgee, who was his servant and friend and who was made his heir, and is now Mayor of the Shire."
"I see," Ahkhrabi said.
The King added, "It is to Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee that I owe the rule of Gondor and Arnor restored, and due to their sacrifice that I was able to at last marry the woman I've loved since I came of age." The King had straightened, and placed his free hand about his wife's shoulders.
Sa'Amonri listened to this. He'd learned Westron in the years since the coming of the one he'd called Horubi'ninarin as he had studied the healing texts from the Northern Lands he'd asked traders to find for him. He didn't understand every word he heard, but enough to catch the gist of the conversation. He looked again at the small figure who sat by the King, saw the mutual respect and love that was openly between them, saw the shared look of grief at the mention of the name of Frodo Baggins. He wondered what kind of person this Frodo Baggins had been. Well, he would undoubtedly learn.
The daughters of Rustovrid and Ghansaret ranged in age from ten to seventeen, slender girls with the dark skin of their tribe, the wide nose and lips, the shining white teeth, their black hair long and tightly curled, drawn tightly back from their faces and then allowed to fall past their shoulders. The eldest was smiling broadly as she looked again on the land of her birth; the others seemed somewhat uncomfortable. Each wore a white dress of Haradri design and a collar of golden beads enameled in blue, scarlet, and white. The middle girl, who appeared to be about fourteen, asked her mother in Westron, "Why does it seem so much hotter, Mamani?"
"It is only," her mother answered in Haradri, "that you have been so long in a cooler climate. You will become accustomed to it again, beloved."
Ma'osiri appeared at last to have overcome his initial uncertainties and began to allow his curiosity to be expressed. "What language is it you speak?"
The Lord Elessar smiled down on the boy. "We are speaking among ourselves in Westron. We speak primarily Westron in Gondor and Arnor, although we also speak two different forms of Sindarin. I have learned many languages over the many years of my life, however. My people of the Northern Dúnedain speak Adunaic and Sindarin amongst themselves. I grew up in the Elven haven of Imladris where I was raised to speak Adunaic, Sindarin, Quenya, and Westron. I served amongst the Riders of Rohan as a young Man and learned Rohirric from them. I traveled through Rhun where I learned Rhunish, and then here to Harad where I learned both Haradri and the Trader's Tongue. I've also been in Angmar where they speak a different tongue that is similar both to Westron and Adunaic, but is different from both. With my friend Legolas I primarily speak Sindarin, but also the Sylvan tongue used amongst his people. I know only enough Khazad to translate some place names and some of their more common curses and blessings." The Dwarf gave him a meaningful look, and he laughed.
Amon'osiri looked impressed. "That is a great number of languages to know," he said.
"Once you know two tongues well, it becomes easier to learn more, for you begin to find similarities and appreciate how the usages apply."
The two boys considered this and looked at one another. The idea that learning more than two tongues could be easy was a new one to both of them.
Ankhrabi turned again to the Hobbit. "What is your land like?" he asked in Westron. With the King's and occasionally the Queen's assistance as well, he was able to learn much about first the Shire, then the land of Rohan, and eventually of Ithilien.
Eventually the King addressed Lord Amrahil and Lady Anidril who served as ambassadors from Gondor to Harad. "Your cousin sends his love. He'd hoped perhaps his youngest, Amrothos, might accompany me, but he was just accepted to serve with the Rangers of Ithilien and did not wish to come. Elphir and his bride are very happy, and are serving in Dol Amroth while his father serves in Minas Anor."
"He rides now in Rohan amongst the Rohirrim, learning to appreciate the life his sister has chosen and the ways of the people of his brother-in-law."
"At least I represent the family, cousins," smiled the Lady Lothiriel.
"Well, since your father is busy and your brothers likewise, at least we have one representative of Dol Amroth here in you," Lady Anidril said. "I hope that you and Lord Éomer will enjoy your visit."
Food was set out for a meal, and Ankhrabi saw relief in the eyes of the Hobbit Pippin, although his cousin did not seem to eat much. The King was watching this with concern. "Something disturbs you about the small one?" the Haradri prince asked.
"When a Hobbit does not begin filling a plate as soon as food is presented, I grow worried. They eat considerably more per meal than does the average Man under normal circumstances, and more meals per day than we as well. Their need for nourishment is far greater than ours."
"The other small one is not a--Hobbit?"
"In Gondor they refer to those similar to Ruvemir and his sister as mannikins. Here I believe they are called 'dwarflings'."
"Then they are not a different people from yourselves?"
The King laughed again. "Well, as I and my kindred are a different people from most Men, I must suppose he is at least some different from myself. But he is indeed of the normal race of Men, as you and your people and most of those of Rohan and Gondor and Arnor are--those who are not Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, trolls, orcs, giants or Ents, at least."
"You say that he is a sculptor?"
"Yes, that is his profession--and he is quite a good one. We have known one another for six years now, and he has done a variety of statues in Gondor and Arnor and even one for the Ghan of Mundolië. His sister is one of our Master embroiderers, as is my beloved wife as well."
The Queen, who was nursing her son under the cover of a light blanket, gave a small laugh, which the King returned. He looked back at the Hobbit, his brow creasing slightly, and said quietly, "If you will excuse me for a moment." He rose, gave a slight bow, and went to Isumbard's side, went gracefully to one knee to speak to him, set his hand on the small one's shoulder.
"He is ever the healer first," commented the Lady Arwen Undomiel.
"You are one who embroiders cloth?"
"Yes, I am, and one who prepares clothing as well. I have sewn and embroidered much of what those who came with us wear, for we sought to prepare clothing comfortable to the wearers but also fitting both for the climate and to do honor to the court of your father. Ruvemir's sister and his wife, who has also taken up sewing and embroidery, worked also in the project."
"Is his wife also a dwarfling?"
"No, she is not tall, but she is not a dwarfling or mannikin. There is much love between the two of them."
"The--Hobbits--are they wed?"
"Yes, to women among their own people. They came south with a party of their own people to attend the celebrations of the tenth New Year since the fall of Mordor and my husband's acclamation as King of Gondor and Arnor, and all stayed to see the birth of our second child. The invitation from your father arrived during their stay, and when Captain Peregrin decided to accompany us, Master Isumbard and his wife decided that he should accompany his cousin as well that Pippin not be the only Perian in the company. The love of the Periannath for one another is very strong."
"That is the Sindarin name for the race of Hobbits, my Lord."
"How did two of them bring down the might of Mordor?"
"That is a long tale, Lord, and is best told once--and well. Let you wait until it is told unto the full court of your people. It is enough for the moment simply to know that they did, and that we all grieve for the passing of Frodo Baggins into the West with my father and grandmother."
"Then he has died."
"It is not believed he has died, my Lord, only that he has gone to the Undying Lands with my father and grandmother and others of my Elven kindred who have chosen at last to abandon the mortal lands of Middle Earth. There he is offered the healing he cannot know here, for the Ring almost destroyed both his body and spirit. He will in time die as is proper for all mortals, but at least it will not be primarily due to the scouring of his very soul by the Enemy's works."
"If the love of the Periannath for one anothers is as great as you have said, then how is it he was convinced to leave?"
"His elderly cousin Bilbo accompanied him, and we hope that when the time is right Samwise will join him that he not be alone at the end. Yet now he must at times feel very lonely, for all the beauty of Aman that surrounds him and the honor given him by Eldar, Maiar, and Valar, for he is most like but the one mortal in all that land at this time."
The Hobbit Peregrin looked at her. "Then, you also believe Cousin Bilbo has already died?"
"You have heard the reports of Estel and your cousin Ferdibrand, Pippin. Yes, I suspect he has finished his time as is right for your people. He was very old, after all."
"Stubborn old Baggins," Captain Peregrin said softly and with a level of reverence, a sad smile on his face. "I pray for comfort for Frodo."
The Queen Arwen nodded solemnly, and laid her hand on the shoulder of the Hobbit as a single tear ran down his face. Yet he remained at attention and watchful as was right for his office.
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.