1. Círdan’s Gift
For RS9 and InzilbethLiz for their birthdays. Their favorite characters are not present physically, but are there in spirit!
As Frodo approached the Council Hole from Michel Delving's public stable, he was surprised to see a true horse standing in the Commons, cropping grass. It carried a proper saddle with carriers, but the harness and reins with their myriad silver bells were obviously more for show than for proper service in guiding the steed.
"What is an Elf doing in Michel Delving?" he asked himself aloud.
"Waiting for your arrival," Isumbard Took said as he came from the other side of the horse. "It is a beautiful animal, but it's so tall! How can anyone ride such mountains of beasts?"
"Very well, actually," Frodo said, a small smile lighting his features. "But why should an Elf seek me out?"
Bard shrugged. "He says that he brings a gift from someone he called Círdan."
"He brings a gift to me from Círdan? But I didn't think that Círdan even knew my name!"
"He didn't ask for you by name, Frodo Baggins. He asked for the Cormacolindo."
Frodo's face went pale, although the points of his cheeks were decidedly pink. "Then how do you know that he is waiting for me?"
Bard shook his head. "I did get to read the letters that that King of yours sent to Cousin Paladin, you know. That is one of the titles he called you by, isn't it?"
Reluctantly, Frodo nodded. "Yes," he said with a sigh of resignation. "I see that the story has made it all of the way to the Elves' haven at Mithlond. I suppose I should not be surprised. After all, Gildor Inglorion himself came to Minas Tirith with Elrond and the Lady Arwen, and I would guess that his people's proper halls aren't all that far from Mithlond."
"Who is he, this Círdan?"
Frodo shrugged as he turned to lead the way into the Council Hole. "He is the Lord of Mithlond, and, I believe, the oldest Elf still living in Middle Earth. It is said that he was one of the first Elves to waken by the Waters of Beginning, but that he never finished the journey to the Undying Lands, remaining here at Lord Ulmo's request to build ships for those who do sail upon and across the Sundering Sea. He is known as Círdan the Shipwright."
Tollie awaited them outside the door to the Mayor's Office, his eyes great circles of surprise and wonder. "Cousin Frodo, did you see? There's an Elf's horse out there—the tallest and most beautiful beast I've ever seen! And the Elf himself, well, he's in the banquet room! He's apparently here to talk to you!"
Frodo gave an absent nod, drew back the hood of his cloak, and passed two of his water skins to Tollie and his personal satchel to Bard. "I suppose I must find out what his errand is here in the Shire," he sighed, and so saying, he went into the banquet chamber and approached the Elf, who stood examining the great sideboard that Frodo's father had crafted for the Council Hole back when Frodo was a small lad, Tollie and Bard following. It was a good thing that when the repairs had been made to the Council Hole after the collapse of the roof that had given Will Whitfoot his nickname of Old Flour Dumpling that the floor had been dug somewhat deeper than it had been and the roof raised somewhat, as the tall being who visited them actually was able to stand upright. That was good, Bard thought, as he doubted that the Elf could have sat comfortably on any chair designed to accommodate a Hobbit.
The Elf turned, and seeing Frodo coming toward him he bowed deeply. "My Lord Iorhael!" he said in his markedly musical voice. "It is a joy to see you again."
Frodo was bowing, murmuring what must have been an Elvish greeting, one that the Elf returned with grave courtesy. Straightening, Frodo examined his guest. "I remember you from the Council in Lord Elrond's house," he said. "Your name is Galdor, is it not?"
Again the Elf inclined his head. "You remember rightly, my Prince."
Frodo again paled, even his cheeks this time. "We do not use such titles here in the Shire," he said quietly. "Please, do not address me again in that manner. If you must use a title, please address me rather as Master Baggins."
If anything, the Elf appeared amused. "As you wish, Master Baggins. I have no desire to offend against your customs, particularly as you have demonstrated that you appreciate those common to my own people. I am here on behalf of Lord Círdan, who at the behest of both Elrond of Imladris and Lord Aragorn, now the King Elessar, has sent you gifts."
"A gift requested by Aragorn? And what is that? Why would he think to ask Círdan for a gift intended for me?"
Galdor indicated the gem that Frodo had unconsciously brought out of his shirt and was fingering. "The second gift offered you by the Lady Arwen is known to us, Master Baggins, along with the reasons why she thought to give it to you. Indeed, knowing what your service to Middle Earth must have cost you in hröa and fëa, we would have you know, from Lord Círdan himself to the least dockworker and scullery maiden dwelling within Mithlond, that all of our people seconded her petition on your behalf. Lord Círdan rejoices to tell you that the petition has been granted, and that whenever you should choose to come to him he will see it is brought to be. He believes that it shall be somewhat less than two sunrounds from now that all will be in readiness for such a venture for the first time, and it will be some years later that the next chance shall come.
"But for now—well, as a healer Lord Aragorn holds concern for the stresses that you undoubtedly still suffer in your body as a result of your ordeal. He let it be known that you have ever favored fish, but that your stomach can no longer accept many of the stronger-tasting fish that you once enjoyed. He remembered from his early days sailing to far lands upon the ships of his people that there are some fish to be found far out to sea that are very mild and soothing to the stomach, and he requested that we bring you samples of such things. This I have done—some of such fish, known as tuna and mahi mahi, were recently brought in. We usually preserve their flesh within carefully sealed containers, and I was sent to bring you several of these for your pleasure."
He indicated two leather carriers that lay on the sideboard. "And," he added, reaching within the bag he carried upon his shoulder, "Círdan himself sends you this as a token of your welcome should you choose to accept the Queen's gift." With that, he held out a small box covered with a soft fabric that shimmered in blue, silver, green, and grey as Frodo accepted it.
Frodo opened the box slowly, and gasped at what lay within. Tollie and Isumbard crowded close to see, too. It held what appeared to be a brooch made of a shining silver metal wrought in the shape of a seabird bearing a great silver pearl in its beak and with a sparkling gem upon its breast.
"Wear it once you have made your decision, Master Baggins, and bring it with you to the Havens. And know that you will be welcomed ever in Círdan's halls for what you have accomplished, you and Lord Perhael both."
With that the Elf gave a second low and reverent bow, and on straightening to his full height he left swiftly, disappearing with his great, graceful horse from the Common as if he'd not been there to begin with.
"What was he talking about, Frodo?" Bard asked.
Frodo only shook his head, his bloodless lips pressed into a stubborn line as he closed the box and thrust it into his pocket. Neither Bard nor Tollie ever saw Frodo wear the thing.
But after the news came that Frodo had quitted both the Shire and Middle Earth, Will and Mina Whitfoot, their daughter and granddaughter, and Narcissa Boffin all stated that Frodo was wearing it the last time he travelled from Hobbiton to Michel Delving, only days before Frodo left Bag End for the last time.