For RS, Rhyselle, and Surgical Steel for their birthdays. With thanks to RiverOtter for the beta.
And the very stone once rejected by the builders shall become the cornerstone....
“This stone,” noted the mason to the sculptor, “has been worked before. See how the edges were once sharply defined? And if you look upon this face, you can see the eight-pointed star of Eärendil once was worked into it.”
The sculptor’s eyes gleamed as he ran his clever fingers over the design that still remained on the weathered block. “Oh, yes!” he said. “And the stone is eager to be returned to its former purpose once more.” He looked up. “If you will see to the smoothing of its other sides, I will bring the star again to shine out. But where do you intend to put it to use?”
The mason nodded toward Lake Evendim. “There--the King’s Retreat will rise there near the lake’s shore. A tie between the ancient realm of Arnor and its renewal! I will place it on the central tower, above the King’s own quarters.”
The eyes of the sculptor shone with approval. “Yes, most fitting.” He looked about at the scattering of blocks that littered the ground here, at the center of the ancient site of Annúminas. “Here were the halls of the King when this was the capital of the ancient realm. That our beloved Lord King should have a portion of the ancient citadel worked into his own private dwelling is indeed right and proper. A reminder that all indeed is renewed under him.”
He looked at another great, irregular stone. “This was once part of a statue, and of Elendil the Tall from the beard and the portion of the diadem that can be seen--yes, the Elendilmir.” He sighed as he examined where enemies long ago had shattered it. What remained was not even half the height of the original. “It is too bad, really. There is not enough to conserve, and no way of reworking it to its original image. Yet there is warmth here, and again the stone longs to be returned to its original intent as much as does the star block there.”
“But if it cannot be restored or reworked in some manner...” began the mason consideringly.
For a few more minutes the sculptor ran his forefinger mournfully over the ruins of what had been Elendil’s features. Then he paused, and a smile began to show itself. “Not Elendil now,” he murmured as the plan began to blossom in his imagination. “No--but as great a hero of the northern realm.” He raised his eyes to meet those of his fellow artisan. “I will sculpt the Ringbearer from what remains of the old stone. I doubt Elendil would begrudge his shattered image being reworked to the likeness of Frodo Baggins!”
For a moment the audacity of the plan shocked the mason, but then he, too began to smile. “Oh, yes. Newly cut stone can be brought to carve into fitting images of Elendil and Isildur and others of the northern Kings and Chieftains. A wonderful turnabout, Ruvemir! And if I know our beloved Lord Aragorn, he will so appreciate the irony of it--old stone for a new hero!”
He indicated to his laborers that these two stones should be carefully removed to the shed where the small sculptor come from Gondor would be working on his projects and embellishments for the building of the new Citadel.
Aragorn slowed his steed as they approached the new Citadel of Annúminas, his attention fixed upon the great facade of the building. He smiled. “I am glad you did not attempt to recreate the Citadel of Minas Anor here,” he commented to his cousin Halladan, who’d served as his Steward in Arnor during the long years he’d labored to confirm the rule of Gondor under his sovereignty. “This is by far more appropriate to Arnor!”
“You can thank the many who labored to see it done, my Lord Cousin,” Halladan answered. “So many have spent so many years seeing the building properly planned and raised. Come and see!”
So saying he halted his own great bay gelding and dismounted, and his own son, smiling, hurried to take the reins to lead their horses to the great royal stables. “Your own retreat has recently been finished there along the lake shore; but this is most fitting, we thought, for the King Returned.”
Together they were greeted by masons and architects and other artisans, and many of those who’d labored long to see the new city rise over the ruins of the old. Increasingly delighted to see the how the plans that had traveled so many times between Gondor and Arnor had finally taken shape, the King explored the wonders of his new home.
The Royal Wing had behind it the beginnings of a private garden where already herbs and flowers coexisted in abundance and beauty. He smiled as he examined a topiary tree shaped into a delightful star shape, in memory of lost Númenor. “How wonderful!” he exclaimed, and walked around it----
----And stopped, his attention arrested. There was a seated figure carved of what appeared to be ancient stone, in a warm, flesh-colored granite. It was not tall, and not seated in majesty as were many of the figures he’d seen depicted about the Council’s Court. Nor was the figure seated on any sort of throne. No, this was a comfortable chair such as scribes favored, the back high, the arms at a comfortable height to support the elbows. Indeed, the right hand held a quill pen, while the left hand held a comforting mug. The eyes were alive, full of delight and curiosity, the mouth just opening as if preparing to share a most interesting story.
“Frodo!” he said softly. “Oh, yes--Frodo--in the King’s garden!”
He was not surprised to see his favorite sculptor there, watching his response in pleasure. “Your work, Ruvemir?” he asked.
The mannikin sculptor nodded. “Yes, for I thought you’d love to find him here, sharing the garden with you.”
“But where did you find this stone? It’s not native to the area. I was told that much of the stone used in the original construction of the city was this warm granite brought from the Blue Mountains.”
“Oh, Elendil himself provided the stone for the figure, my Lord King,” the sculptor assured him. “It was here and shattered from its original purpose; but you will find that wherever they could the builders incorporated older remnants into the newer buildings. It is likely that many of the carved cornices were done in stone that originally graced Elendil’s own keep.”
The King wasn’t precisely certain what the sculptor meant by Elendil providing the stone for the figure, but there was no question that within the life-sized statue of Frodo Baggins he found the same feeling of an old soul he’d known in the Hobbit it depicted.
And somehow he found this most reassuring.