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In the Court of the High King  by Dreamflower

Chapter 21

"29 Halimath, S.R. 1420 Minas Tirith, Gondor

To Paladin Took, Thain of the Shire:

Thain Paladin, this morning King Elessar rendered judgement on the two prisoners we brought with us to Gondor."

Freddy bit the inside of his lip. This was going to be awkward if he kept trying to avoid naming Clodio and Dago. He set the parchment aside for another use, and started over on a clean sheet.

Thain Paladin, this morning King Elessar rendered judgement on the former Clodio Banks and Dago Bracegirdle..." There, that was a good compromise. It acknowledged the Shire custom by referring to them as "former", but showed that such a convention was useless in the outside world. He'd never truly understood before this journey that the Shire custom of pretending the banished had never existed was a silly convention at best and a cruel and foolish lie at the worst. If wrong-doing was never remembered or acknowledged, how was it to be avoided in the future?

"The former Clodio Banks was sentenced to three to five years in the custody of the Archivist of Minas Tirith, an older Man by the name of Amdir son of Amrod. The length of his sentence is dependent on his behaviour. I must say that I think he has begun to show some remorse for what happened in the past (too little, too late, but progress of a sort for him). I think that the Archivist will find work for him that will not strain his heart. Mistress Poppy has turned over his care to the healers of Gondor, but she receives reports from them that he is doing as well as can be expected.

"The former Dago Bracegirdle was sentenced to four to six years in the custody of a Man named Maevor son of Maldir. The extra length of his sentence was due to the attempted bribery of a King's Ranger when he was first apprehended, and to his escape attempt on our journey here, which I previously reported to you. He still is willing to blame everyone but himself for his predicament, though I think he has finally realised the enormity of what he was involved in. Master Maevor, who is Chief Accountant for the King's Household, dwells within the Citadel, so he will be much more closely watched. And it would not surprise me if the King does not expect him to break the terms of his custody. I hope he is not that foolish, but he's yet to understand his past folly. I do not see what will keep him from more foolishness.

"This business having been concluded, I've other news to impart: with plans in the works for the capital of the Northern Kingdom to be rebuilt, the King has assigned a Man to be in charge of that duty, and Mosco Burrows has volunteered to assist with the effort. He is now part of the staff of Master Calembel son of Elmar, who is both a stonemason and an engineer, and is head of the Stonemason's Guild here in the City. They will be working closely with the Northern Steward, Lord Hador son of Halbarad.

"Berilac and I have been working on some of the trade agreements that were discussed before we left. It looks as though we may be able to expand some of our pipeweed trade to the South; there are not many smokers here, but since it is something the King indulges in it is spreading. Gondorian merchants will not pay the kind of coin which the fallen wizard Saruman was. But they will pay an honest and fair price that will bring in a decent profit. Speaking with Lord Hiril, who is Lord Hador's brother and the representative of Arnor in the High King's Court, I would say that there is far more likely profit for us among the Dunedain of the North. The Rangers and the folk of the North already smoke, and Shire leaf is far superior to what comes out of the Breelands. It would be worthwhile, I think, for you to send someone to speak to Lord Hador about expanding that trade. Perhaps Pippin could speak for you.

"King Elessar would very much like to increase the importation of Shire wool and woolen goods, but he is having quite an uphill battle trying to convince the Cloth Merchant's Guild of the benefits of that trade. I think if you could see your way to shipping some samples of our best down here, it might convince them.

"As for things that we might find of use in the Shire, there are fruits and some vegetables here in Gondor that do not grow in the cooler climes of the North, or grow only in glass houses and so are more expensive. We could also increase the flow of spices to the Shire as well; trade with the Southrons and some of the Easterlings has increased with the peace now that the Dark Lord has gone. I'm enclosing a list of such things for your perusal.

"Rest assured that all the members of our delegation are well and are learning much in our stay here."

"Yours in Service to the Shire,

 Fredegar Bolger"

Freddy put the official letter to one side to dry, and took up the discarded parchment. With a penknife, he sliced off the upper part he had written upon before and dipped his quill into the ink.

""29 Halimath, S.R. 1420 Minas Tirith, Gondor

"My Dear Angelica,

"A King's messenger is riding out for Arnor tomorrow, and since I had to send a report to the Thain, I thought to take this chance to write to you as well.

"The prisoners were officially sentenced this morning, and I must say that I was impressed with King Elessar's wisdom and practicality. Both hobbits will have the opportunity to work towards a new life, but they will be closely watched by their custodians. It seems a very fair sentence, considering that they were acting out of ignorance of the real situation, yet it takes into account that they were also acting out of greed and self-interest as well. I am very grateful that part of our duties is now ended and I no longer have to worry over them.

"Our delegation is housed in the very building where Frodo and his friends stayed after the War ended. Even after a couple of weeks it still seems immense to me, and I wonder shall I ever get used to it. Yet it is comfortable enough; they have arranged rooms that have furnishings which are made to suit hobbits, and kept our sleeping rooms downstairs. I share a room with Berilac, who snores, though not too badly! We have two Big Folk, Avor and Tadiel, a married couple, to act as servants. They see to most of the cleaning, and Tadiel is quite a good cook when we hobbits are too busy to see to our own meals.

"We had a family of Big Folk to supper the other evening. Master Calembel will be travelling to Arnor to work on the rebuilding of the capital city at Anuminnas. He brought his wife and two children, a boy and a girl. They seem very nice; I hope you will get the chance to meet them someday.

"By the way, I've not had the opportunity to mention it--I know that I wrote you that Berilac had shown his regard for Mistress Poppy's apprentice Viola, and that it seemed to be mutual--but I've yet to tell you that before we left Edoras Viola was sporting a new yellow ribbon in her hair, a gift from Beri! You've spent enough time among Bucklanders to know what that means!

"I find myself thinking of you often, Angelica, and wishing I could show you all the amazing sights of this place. I am not sure that I will have the words to describe it all when we get home. The world is truly such a vast place, so much more so than any of us in the Shire had any idea. It will be challenging to picture to you the vast plains and mountains and the sheer size of the White City and its strange beauty. It is all built of white stone and gleams from afar. The buildings are so high, but the other striking thing is their angularity: so square and straight and solid. They are massive, and Minas Tirith, though built into a mountain is yet like a mountain itself.

"I hope all is well with you and with your family. I know that you worry about your father. Please give him my regards. I know that if you should care to write back, Merry or Pippin will see that your letter arrives in my hands."

"Fond regards,

Freddy"

He looked at this letter again, his heart was full of things he wished to say, but that would be better kept for his homecoming rather than entrusted to ink. He had one more letter to write.

“Dear Father, Mother and Estella,

Since I have dispatches for the Shire, I thought to take this opportunity to let you know that all is going well. I am feeling better than I ever thought I would after Folco's loss; I still miss him, but my grief is no longer raw, and I am no longer consumed with thoughts of revenge. I know this will be a great relief to you, after having been burdened by my moods in the aftermath of the Troubles.

The King dispatched a fair and equitable justice upon the two older prisoners brought before him. They will be kept on a strict tether, in the custody of trustworthy and honorable Men, and be given a chance to redeem themselves and build a new life. I actually have hopes for one of them being able to do so, though I am very dubious about the other.

I wish that you could see this magnificent City in all its immense majesty! It is far larger than my imagination could have foreseen. But within the next year or so, you may be able to see the beginnings of something similar as the King takes up the task of rebuilding the Northern capital of Arnor.

Knowing that I will not be home for my birthday, I am also sending a parcel along with this letter, with my gifts for each of you. Please open them on my birthday, and drink a toast in my honour.

I miss you all.

Your loving son and brother,

Freddy”

He picked up the parcel and checked it once more to be certain it was safely fastened. The dispatches would go up to the Citadel in the morning.


 

 





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