Nefiramonrani did not later remember what she ate in that meal. The Lady Arwen had told her she was almost three thousand years old, but she’d not believed it. How could one live so long? But her uncle, her father’s brother, had died almost six thousand years ago, while her father had only recently left Middle Earth, and sailed to the Undying Lands?
She looked at the King and Queen of Gondor again, thinking hard. The King was of middle years and no more--yet he said he was near a hundred years of age. And the Lady Arwen....
Standing near the King and Queen was the small figure of the Hobbit guard. How could someone so small serve to protect his lord and lady? It must be a position of honor alone.
Finally she turned to the dwarfling again, interrupting the discussion going on between his apprentice and her daughter. “How long has the Hobbit Peregrin been a guard for the King?”
Once the question had been translated, the dwarfling answered, “For the last ten years, but only in those times he has actually been in the same place as the King. He is his father’s heir, after all, and his father is Thain of the Shire, the hereditary agent standing for the authority of the King of Arnor before their people; and Captain Peregrin must prepare for the day when he himself will become Thain and the Took. He has responsibilities, therefore, to his family and to the folk of the Shire in general. He served as one of the King’s Guard after our Lord Elessar was crowned King until the time came for the Lords Frodo and Samwise to return to their homeland, and he was granted leave to serve as their guard of honor--or so it is noted officially. His cousin Merry is also a warrior, and he is sworn to King Éomer of Rohan. He, too, officially is supposed to be only on leave, although he, too, has preparation to make for the time his father dies and he succeeds him as Master of Buckland and Brandy Hall. In actuality they dwell in their homeland. They’ve traveled twice to Minas Anor to attend on the King, and when the King went north four years past to a conference of the leaders of the lands of Arnor they both attended the conference with their fathers, and Captain Peregrin took his place amongst the King’s Guard during that time. He’s a highly capable guard, by the way.”
“And how old is Prince Legolas?”
“I’m not certain, but I suspect he was born sometime in the Second Age. Well over three thousand years. He remembered the search by the Ents for the Entwives.”
“How old are you?”
He appeared taken very aback by this. “I am thirty-nine years, my lady. And Owain here is fifteen. As for Captain Peregrin, he is thirty-eight, which is still considered young for his people. I am not certain about Master Isumbard--he was older, I believe, than Lord Frodo, so that would make him somewhere in his sixties, I suppose. And the King is nearly one hundred years.” He smiled. “If you are trying to understand how long a life different folk might know, where Men typically live to be seventy years if they live to old age, and a very few will reach near a hundred, the King’s kindred typically approach two hundred years if not slain else, the Dúnedain of the Southern Kingdom live to be around a hundred ten to perhaps a hundred thirty, Hobbits usually live to be about a hundred years, and Dwarves live to be about two hundred fifty. Elves, once they are born, if they do not know critical injury in battle or great grief or strain, will live to the end of Arda; and even if they know physical death will remain at least in the Halls of Waiting or perhaps be reborn so as to live within Arda until the End of Days. I have known one Elven Lord who was reborn so, the Lord Glorfindel, who physically died during the war against Morgoth and who dwells yet a time now in Imladris. He was one of those who schooled the Lord King in weapons and the history of the world.”
“How do you know all this?”
“First, my lady, I have had to study the history of the Ages of Middle Earth and of the lands and peoples of Númenor, Gondor, Arnor, Umbar, and Rohan in my studies to become a sculptor, and about the races which I might depict. I’d not heard of Hobbits save as legendary folk until the War of the Ring, at which time it became known they were a real people who dwelt in near isolation in Eriador. As my first commission for the Lord Elessar was to do a memorial for the four Hobbits who aided in the war against Sauron, I made shift to learn as much as I could about them, traveling to their lands and meeting there with Captain Peregrin and Sir Meriadoc and Lord Samwise, their families, and their friends. A distant cousin of Captain Peregrin has married my sister Miriel, the first union between Men and Pheriannath that we are aware of.”
“Oh,” she responded, and then leaned back, thinking. Then she asked, “The hawk upon the King’s robe----”
“That is not a hawk, my Lady--it is a depiction of one of the great Eagles, which by tradition are considered by our people to be the messengers of the Valar, particularly the Lord Manwë, chief of them within Arda. It was made for him by the Queen, I understand, last year, and was made in memory of the time he served Rohan and Gondor as the Lord Captain Thorongil, which means the Eagle of the Star.”
“The Farozi calls him Horubi’ninarin, the Falcon of Stars.”
“It must have been as close as he could come to the name he bore in Gondor at the time. In Rhun they called him Star Eagle. The gem in the great green brooch he wears is the Elessar stone, an Elven-forged jewel of healing and renewal. It is from that the people of Gondor gave him his throne name of Elessar.”
“Thank you,” she said absently as she contemplated this information. The differences between their guests and the folk of Harad were becoming more evident. She looked at King and Queen with their small guard behind them, and shook her head, wondering if she’d ever take it all in.