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I loved the challenge—to go through the original art on Many Paths to Tread and find a picture that inspired me to write a story. Delightful! So, off I went in search of a picture with a story behind it, and I found it in the very first picture I looked at, of Aragorn and Arwen serving in a soup kitchen. Immediately the story leapt upon me, of a woman newly come to the White City who went to such an institution only to find herself being served by the King and Queen of Gondor themselves! Only this proved to be another Nuzgul with ears on, masquerading as a simple plotbunny, promising a simple story when it had something far more complex and dark in store for me to write.
So the story went on, and in each succeeding chapter I found myself incorporating the next month’s challenge, until it finally wrote itself out and I’d managed to meet at least four different challenges, but all markedly tardy.
As I wrote I found that the family members of my newcomer to Minas Anor and her new friend from the Pelennor were less than they ought to be. As the parent of an addict and relative of more, I’ve seen far too up-close and personally just how such situations can develop, and so Indrahil and Tiressë worked their individual ways into the story. In the case of the latter, I admit that I was inspired by a book I recently finished about the first professional medical examiner to serve in New York City, and the tale of a woman his office investigated who used arsenic to poison various family members, getting away with it when she did it the first time, and being found guilty when she tried it yet again years later.
The story incorporates themes and characters from my other works. The King’s mannikin sculptor, Ruvemir son of Mardil, we see first in The King’s Commission, and returns in other tales, both long and short. Lord Halladan, Aragorn’s kinsman and Steward in Arnor, sits on the Grey Seat that now rests on the dais at the foot of the steps to the Throne, opposite the Black one on which the Steward of Gondor has sat for centuries. Anorgil, who first appeared in Murder Most Foul, is a part of this story, as is the small lawyer Alvric from The Tenant from Staddle. In my other stories Halargil is the Guardsman whose torch Denethor used to set the fire in the Stewards’ tomb, and after the death of his Steward he suffered a major stroke, dying months later after the Coronation of the King Returned. The memorial seen sculpted in The King’s Commission to the Pheriannath who came out from their isolated little land in the north to the aid of all of the Free Peoples of Middle Earth returns, and it ends with all who knew and loved Frodo joining the King beneath the White Tree as it blooms for the first time that year on Sam’s birthday, able to offer greetings of sorts through the offices of the Elven trees that now bloom in the King’s city as well as within the Shire and upon the Lonely Isle where Frodo now dwells. And among those come to Gondor this year are individuals introduced in The Ties of Family.
We see the kind of rulers Aragorn and Arwen have become, and how they deal with those who come before them who have done well as well as those who have done ill. It is a new experience for so many who dwell within Gondor, finding that other races willingly visit the capital and are friends with the King and Queen, and as they realize that the rule of this pair is of a far different nature from that they knew particularly under Denethor son of Ecthelion. I doubt that all is perfect within Minas Tirith, which in the intervening years has retaken its original name of Minas Anor. Still, the city has been renewed in more than its name, as more people seek to reflect the joy of the King Returned and his Elven Queen, and the city is no longer sterile white, but is filled with colorful flowers, upright trees, and the songs of those who dwell within it.
I do hope that this has entertained you. I know that it has thoroughly distracted me for months, as I find I can no longer write as rapidly as I did a decade past.
Thanks to all who have been patient with me and who have encouraged me to finish this.
And, Tari—this is particularly for you!
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