Greeting the Dawn


B2MeM Challenge: “And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, reckoning nothing on wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.”—The Siege of Gondor. 
But the cock also must have had mundane origins, since it was a real, physical being. My question is, where did the cock come from? And why was it still in the city, since all the other cocks have apparently disappeared
Format: Ficlet
Genre: Character study
Rating: PG
Warnings: none
Characters: OFC
Summary: An old woman remains in the City during the siege of Gondor.
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
A/n Some words are taken directly from Tolkien.

Idril had refused to leave the City when the other women were evacuated to Lossarnach. At her age what did it matter? She’d die soon enough in any case and much preferred to depart in her own bed, the bed in which she was born.

And who would look after her cat and her chickens if she left? The wily Beren might be able to fend for himself, but Fëanor and her poor hens would end up on some soldier’s dinner plate most likely. She wasn’t having that, not if she could help it! Her chickens must be the last left in the city, come to think of it. Fëanor reigned supreme in her small courtyard, strutting around his domain , protecting her and his hens.

If only this dreadful darkness would lift. It wasn’t natural, it wasn’t. It was putting the hens off laying, and since it had started Fëanor hadn’t crowed to greet the morning like he usually did. The mornings felt all wrong when Fëanor didn't herald the dawn. She’d slept late today without his crowing to rouse her at daybreak and was all behind with everything. He hadn’t even chased Beren, as was his wont, when the old tom had strolled across the yard. It always made her laugh to see her chickens, led by Fëanor chase the usually confident cat up on to the sanctuary of the wall, but even that diversion was no more.

Idril wondered if any of them would live to see the end of this day. The enemy had assailed the City all night and those terrible black riders were abroad. She had glimpsed one the other day, given her quite a turn it had. She’d never been so scared in her life and that was saying something. She doubted the City could stand much longer without reinforcements and where would they get some from? She could only hope her death might be swift and painless and her poor creatures would not not suffer.

Master Maeglin the baker brought her what scraps of news he could gather in the streets. None of it was good. It was said that Lord Boromir had been slain in some faraway land. What had he been doing in foreign parts anyway? They had needed him here to command the men. He’d been a bit too full of himself for her liking, but he knew how to raise folk’s spirits and that was just what they needed right now.

Then Maeglin had heard that Lord Faramir had been struck down by some enemy weapon and now lay close to death. That was grim news indeed. She liked Lord Faramir. He had a nice way about him and always had a smile and a kindly word for the old folk like herself. If she’d had a son or a grandson, she’d have been proud to have one like him. Yet, it was said that Lord Denethor paid little heed to him, much preferring his brother. Well, he’d have to now, wouldn’t he with Lord Boromir gone? But wasn’t Lord Faramir at death’s doorstep ? Oh, it was all too much for an old lady to take in.

And what was Lord Denethor doing? Maeglin said he’d not been seen in days. Surely, he should be abroad overseeing the troops and encouraging his people during these dark days. Maeglin thought that Mithrandir had taken over the City defences. Whatever was Lord Denethor thinking of? She didn’t hold with wizards herself. There was something unnatural about them. She didn’t much hold with Lord Denethor either. He always looked fit to turn the milk sour. It was sad that he’d lost that lovely wife of his all those years ago, but lesser folk had their sorrows too and managed to bear them with a cheerful countenance, at least in front of their neighbours.

If only Captain Thorongil were still here! Now he was indeed a great captain. He’d lift their spirits and drive those murdering devils away, he would! Idril thought wistfully of the one time she had met him. How long ago must it be since that day? At least forty years. No doubt Thorongil was long since dead. alas. He had been behind her at market one day and had picked up her gloves, which she had dropped without knowing in the crush of people surrounding the fish stall. He had handed them to her and smiled. Oh such a smile! She’d never seen such a one as he before, so tall and handsome! Maybe Lord Faramir was a little like him, if an old woman such as she were still permitted to notice if a young man were good looking or not.

Well, it was no use lying here in bed, brooding, Idril thought. It must be around dawn, though it was hard to tell without Fëanor crowing.

She sat up, causing Beren to leap from his place on the bed by her feet with an indignant yowl. She lit a candle and dressed by its flickering light. Going into her kitchen, she went to the bin that contained the dwindling supply of grain for her hens. She’d give them a good meal today, as it was likely to be their last.

And in that very moment, Fëanor broke his silence. Shrill and clear he crowed, reckoning nothing on wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.

spirits lifted. If Fëanor could welcome this day so bravely, so would she.

It was then that she heard the horn calls in the distance. They were not the horns of the Enemy, but others, loud and clear. Help was coming! Maybe she and her brood would live to see another day.

Fëanor crowed again and Idril was filled with a sudden wild joy. She laughed. The darkness would not endure.

 Of Cats and Kings


B2MeM Challenge: Picture Prompt – Thieving Cat
Format: Short story
Genre: Character study, humour
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Characters: OFC, Aragorn, Faramir
Pairings: none
Summary: A cat steals a chop and an old woman reluctantly attends a coronation. 
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
A/n Some words are taken directly from Tolkien.

Fëanor‘s crowing woke Idril from a deep slumber. She yawned as she tried to recall what was supposed to be happening that day. Ah yes, they were going to crown that new king, Elessar, or whatever his name was. The standard of the Stewards would fly over Gondor for the last time today. She was not pleased by this turn of events at all. Who was this Elessar fellow to think he could just help himself to Gondor’s crown? What did he know about the land and her people? She hadn’t liked Lord Denethor, but Lord Faramir was different. He would have made a good Steward, but this Elessar was usurping his birth- right and all because he claimed descent from someone who died thousands of years ago!

At least Lord Faramir had recovered, thanks to this Elessar,or so folk said; well maybe poor Lord Faramir felt so obliged to him that he offered him the crown. Well, she didn’t intend to traipse all the way down to where the main gate had stood to see Elessar crowned. She had a nice chop for her noonday meal and once she had been to the fishmonger to get Beren a treat, she would stay at home for the rest of the day.

Beren mewed and sat up from where he had been curled beside her on the bed. She stroked his soft ginger head for a few moments until he began his morning ablutions, which Idril always took as a sign to begin her own.

She washed and dressed as quickly as her old bones would allow then went outside to feed Fëanor and the hens before collecting the eggs. Fëanor strutted around, condescending only to take the best grains from her. It seemed the rooster had already forgotten the hardship of the siege. It was a beautiful spring morning and Idril decided to brush the courtyard when she returned from the fishmonger. That would be a far more productive way to spend the day than watching some king strutting around like her old cockerel!

Idril went back inside and checked her larder. The chop looked succulent and delicious and her mouth watered at the thought of the meal she would have later. She had better get moving, for the merchants would close early today.

She put on her cloak, made her way to the fishmonger, and bought a large fish for Beren. The big ginger tom was a good companion and deserved the best. She would cook the fish in milk just the way he liked it. She bumped into several acquaintances on the way home and paused to talk to them. It seemed they were all going to the coronation. A small flicker of doubt started to attack Idril’s resolve. Maybe she was missing something. Her resolve strengthened again. No, she wasn’t going to watch poor Lord Faramir have his rights taken from him. Why she might say something that could get her into trouble and then where would her poor creatures be? She would enjoy her chop and spend a pleasant day with Beren and the chickens.

As she entered her courtyard, she caught sight of a flash of ginger fur. Beren raced past her out into the street, clutching her chop in his mouth! Idril stood there clutching the fish. “Bad cat, come back!” she cried. Beren ignored her. He leapt up on to a nearby wall and began to eat his prize.

Her neighbour, Maeglin was looking out of his window and laughing his head off. Idril glared at him. “What is so funny?” she demanded. “Beren has stolen my noonday meal!”

Maeglin laughed. “Well you did name your cat after the one who stole a jewel from the Evil One’s crown,” he said. “But why are you cooking today? There will be food aplenty at the coronation feast.”

Idril snorted and went inside. She realised at once that she had left the larder door unfastened and the wily Beren had been swift to take advantage of her carelessness. There was nothing for it but to cook the fish for her own noonday meal. She picked it up and looked at it doubtfully. It seemed to glare at her balefully with its dead eyes. Idril decided she didn’t fancy fish today. She sighed. Maybe she should go to the coronation after all, not that she held with this Northern nobody supplanting Lord Faramir.

She washed the smell of fish from her hands and changed her gown. Not for Elessar, but in case any of her neighbours saw her. She didn’t want them thinking her shabby. She went out through the courtyard, bidding Fëanor guard the house. Beren still sat on the wall, carefully washing his whiskers. She glared him. He ignored her.

Idril slowly made her way down to where the main gate used to be before those murdering devils destroyed it. Her spirits lifted as she walked. The weather was perfect for a stroll and the City was decorated with flowers. Despite the damage from the war, it looked fairer than she had ever seen it.

She could hear music playing as she approached the wide space in front of the walls and could see musicians playing harps and viols to entertain the crowd. She was still quite early and was able to find a good vantage point.

After a while, the music stopped and a procession approached. First came a bunch of Elessar’s Northern cronies, trust them to be given pride of place, then a tall man who was clad in black mail girt with silver, over which he wore a white mantle. There was something oddly familiar about him. With him were that meddling wizard and one of those fair-haired horse lords and Prince Imrahil. Shame on him for taking part in this spectacle to replace his nephew! Then came four richly garbed small figures. Idril thought at first they were children, but their faces were too old to be. Then she realised they must be Perian! Such tales she had heard about these little folk! People were saying two of them went to the Black Country and set fire to the Dark Lord’s tower! Surely, that couldn’t be true. They looked such harmless little creatures.

A single trumpet then sounded and Lord Faramir appeared together with Húrin of the keys. They were followed by four Citadel Guards bearing a large casket.

To Idril’s disgust, Faramir knelt before the tall man in black and offered him a white rod. He took the rod and immediately gave it back, saying: ‘That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs’ as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!”

Idril’s opinion of the stranger softened. He was not dismissing Lord Faramir after all. He was smiling at the Steward. It was then that she recognised him. It was Captain Thorongil! Well she never did, coming back after all these years and still as handsome as ever!

Then Faramir stood up and faced the crowd. Idril had never seen him look so radiantly happy before. He spoke in a clear voice: “People of Gondor , hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold! one has come to claim the kingship again at last. Here is Aragorn son of Arathorn, chieftain of the Dúnedain of Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, the Elfstone, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur’s son, Elendil’s son of Númenor. Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell there?”

The people all cried “Yea” and Idril added her voice to the shouts. If ever a man was right kingly and deserved a crown, it was Captain Thorongil! To think that she had almost missed all this. The Valar be praised that Beren had stolen her chop. She would cook him that fish as soon as she got home. Such an excellent cat he was!

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