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Old 06-25-2006, 10:26 AM   #13
Desultory Dwimmerlaik
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Hilde Bracegirdle's post - Carl

It had been two weeks now since Carl had hand delivered a rather bulky packet of papers to the Citadel at the top of the city. As it turned out Sam Gamgee’s carefully folded message to King Elessar had also included a letter of introduction for Carl and, as the hobbit also saw, a note addressed to the king and queen in his niece Elanor’s fine script. Carl was surprised when the King had bid him stay as he took his time over their contents, and after exchanging a few words with the hobbit, to ask Carl questions regarding The Thain for the most part, he smiled his gratitude, telling a tall fellow who stood nearby to make arrangements for this special messenger. He was to be made comfortable and stay as long as he wished before returning home.

Perhaps it was the easiest victory that Elessar had ever had, having won the hobbit over unknowingly within minutes, the monarch’s good-natured ways and Sam’s high regard largely contributing. And so Carl was happy to stay, though he asked if it might be on the Pelennor rather than in the city, for the grandeur of Minas Tirith, with its high white walls of cut stone, had nearly taken his breath away when his pony Stumps emerged from the fields to plod up the causeway. And the hobbit had waxed wide-eyed and apprehensive, upon approaching the tall gates.

After having had those two weeks among the farms in the shadow of Mount Mindolluin, Carl had grown somewhat accustomed to his surroundings, settling in nicely. Truly he enjoyed walking through the fields spending his days learning about new crops and the methods used to propagate them. And his host seemed to enjoy showing the newcomer around, slowly loading the hobbit’s baggage down with hardy and exotic seeds to try once he had returned to the Shire.

But at the end of two weeks Carl naturally began wondering just how much longer he should stay. He had half expected that he might be given some message to take back to the Shire, though the King’s response to Sam’s had been quite clear without it. He knew Elessar would be only too happy to have The Mayor and his family make the long journey south to Gondor. And so Carl sat on a stone outside the farmer’s house, figuring, after his large breakfast, just what he should do, when a fine young man in a heavily embroidered uniform appeared, walking briskly up the road. Heading straight for the hobbit, he stopped with his polished boots just within the shadow of Carl's seat. “Master Nibs?” he inquired.

Carl looked up from the boots, amused that the stranger knew the name, one which Sam no doubt had used in his letter of introduction, he replied, “Yes, that would be me,” as he slid off the large stone. He had noted a scroll in the fellow’s hand from a distance, and was feeling rather more cheerful now. The decision over his departure evidently had been made for him. “Is that for me?” he nodded in the direction of the man’s right hand.

The Gondorian handed Carl the scroll. “A message from the King.”

“Ah, I have been waiting for this!” the hobbit announced, taking the missive and placing it in his trouser pocket.

The man’s expression quickly clouded. “You knew of it? But how could you?”

“I’ve eyes and ears you know. It wasn’t hard to put two and two together,” the hobbit remarked. “To be honest, I thought it might have arrived a bit sooner than this.” At that the man looked puzzled.

“But it is still early,” he murmured.

“Never mind,” Carl said hurriedly. “You may assure the King that I will leave just as soon as I gather what I need for the trip.”

“You needn’t trouble yourself, all preparations have already been made,” the messenger informed him, brightening. “I don’t know the full details, only that you will be traveling with a group the King has himself hand picked.”

“Is that right?” Carl said slowly. He hadn’t planned on being in a group, but it did sound like quite an honor, and he didn’t want to make himself look ungrateful by refusing such gracious hospitality. “Where and when am I to meet this group?”

The messenger hesitated. “We have been instructed that the travelers are to gather outside the royal palace shortly before sunrise tomorrow."

“Then I will be there,” Carl said. "Before first light."

“You might want to look over the message, before you set out,” the Gondorian advised in parting. “To see if you have any concerns.”

The hobbit’s face quickly soured. “Don’t you worry about me,” Carl said gruffly, wondering if it was standard Gondorian practice for messengers to read the letters they carried. He withdrew the scroll from its place in his pocket, turning it over in his hands before carrying it inside and placing it gingerly in his pack, unopened.

His host came over wiping his hands on a rag as he looked out the doorway at the straight back and black uniform of the retreating messenger. “I haven’t gotten you in trouble with the king’s men, now have I?” he whispered.

“Oh, no. He'd come here to deliver this,” the hobbit said, reaching back and withdrawing the scroll again to show to his host.

“Aren’t you going to read it then? It looks important.”

“Read it!" Carl was suddenly fiercely indignant. “Does everyone here always read what is placed in their care? I will take it back to The Mayor, and he can read it!”

The Gondorian farmer reached out and lightly tapped his index finger on the black ink of the document saying meekly, ”But that's your name there Carl, and not your Mayor's.”

"It is?" Carl looked at the parchment, his anger dissolving, “For me? But I never learned to...,” The hobbit didn't finish his thought, in truth he was feeling a bit lost, realizing that he would be leaving soon and empty handed. “Here then, would you be kind enough to read it for me? I can’t for myself you see.”

The farmer willingly obliged, and speaking slowly and haltingly his face registered with emotion as the letter went on.

“Mordor? Mordor!” Carl said weakly when the farmer had fallen silent again. “And here I told the man that I’d go, thinking it only back to the Shire.”

“But it is a noble task you are called to do,” his host said. “Those slaves could have been any one of us, or of our kin.”

“Aye,” Carl breathed. “I am honored to be called upon, but just hope I’m up to such important business.”

“You are, and you must be!” the man said. “The King has called you to be.”

Carl nodded, lapsing into thought.

Last edited by piosenniel; 06-30-2006 at 08:26 PM.
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