Many a Slip

 Many a Slip

Disclaimer: These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Aragorn paused for a moment to admire the White Tree. The buds were opening and the first blossoms starting to show. It was almost a year since the King had brought it down from the Mountain. Much to his delight, it had thrived and flourished in the Court of the Fountain.

It seemed fitting to hold a celebration to mark the anniversary of his planting of the sapling and he was making his way to a council meeting to discuss the festivities.

A man in the robes of a healer, was hurrying across the courtyard towards the King. Aragorn recognised him as Tarostar, the Warden of the Houses of Healing.

“My Lord King, I bring a message from Borlad,” said Tarostar. He has fallen from his horse and broken his wrist so cannot attend a meeting he says he was on his way to.”

Aragorn sighed. Borlad was the scribe who took notes when the Council was assembled. “Thank you, Master Tarostar. The Council Meeting will have to be postponed. We cannot proceed without a scribe.”

“I could take notes for you,” Tarostar volunteered. “It is my afternoon off. I was planning to go to the market with my wife and daughter, but she went on ahead without me since I was delayed tending to Borlad. I admit that I would far rather take notes than follow my womenfolk around the stalls for hours! They are seeking fabrics for new gowns.”

Aragorn nodded sympathetically and gratefully accepted the offer. Throughout the meeting, Tarostar sat in Borland’s place and swiftly scribbled down everything that was said. He delivered the parchment to the Master of Ceremonies when the meeting concluded.

The next day, a new scribe was found to take over Borland’s duties until he recovered and Aragorn thought no more of the matter.


When the day to celebrate finding the White Tree dawned, Faramir went early to ensure that all was ready for the ceremony before the King and Queen arrived. The Court of the Fountain was almost deserted, the citizens being kept away while the final preparations were made. Faramir was rather surprised to see several kitchen staff hurrying hither and thither as no one had told him of any plans to serve refreshments. Then he gasped at the  strange sight that met his eyes. A dove in a cage was hung on the branches of the White Tree; the frightened bird fluttered and squawked, beating its wings against the bars. Beneath the cage, twelve tubs of lard were arranged in a circle.

“What is the meaning of this?” the Steward demanded.

“I don’t know, my lord,” said a scared looking kitchen maid. “We are just doing as we were told by the Master of Ceremonies.”

“Fetch the Master of Ceremonies here!” the Steward ordered in a gentler tone.

A few moments later, the man arrived. He had been one of Denethor’s attendants and Faramir suspected the man wished the old Steward still ruled Gondor. The Master bowed low. “You bow the knee only to the Lord Elessar,” Faramir said sharply. “Stand up straight and tell me exactly what is the meaning of this outrageous display?”

“I followed the instructions I was given exactly, my lord,” the Master replied. “Master Tarostar wrote them down at the meeting, I was told.” He pulled a crumpled piece of parchment from within his robe and handed it to Faramir. “See, my lord, it says here,’ Twelve portions of lard to be placed around Gondor’s most scared symbol’. A dove was the best I could think of for the symbol, as they are timid creatures. It isn’t my fault that our new lord has such eccentric ideas, coming from the North as he does!”

Faramir took the parchment and studied the barely intelligible scrawl. Healers were notorious for their bad handwriting and it seemed Tarostar was no exception. “I agree it is somewhat hard to read and maybe you have made an honest mistake," he said. "However, you should have asked when the words appeared to make so little sense. It reads; ‘Twelve powerful lords will stand in place around Gondor’s most sacred symbol!’ Now quickly, remove the lard and bring chairs for the lords!” He had to suppress a chuckle as some of the lords, especially Dervorin of Ringlo Vale, did somewhat resemble lard!

“What about the dove?” asked the Master of Ceremonies, “I could serve it for your supper, my lord, if it please you?”

“No thank you,” said Faramir, snatching up the cage. “I will take care of the bird. Now go with haste and make all ready for the King.”

When the King and Queen arrived a little later, there was no sign of the lard and the lords rose as one from their seats and bowed low. ”People of Gondor,” said the Faramir. “Let us rejoice and celebrate that our White Tree has now thrived here for a year. We are blessed by its blossoming and by the presence of our King and Queen amongst us!” He reached for the cage, which was now on a table beside him and opened it, releasing the dove. It flew thankfully from its prison and perched on the topmost branch of the White Tree.

Aragorn rose to his feet. He smiled first at his Queen and then at Faramir. “Indeed we are blessed!” he said. “A living White Tree, which was believed forever lost, has flourished here for a year now. I should like to thank Lord Faramir who has arranged this occasion so smoothly just as he did my coronation and my marriage to my beloved Queen.”

Faramir bowed low. Little did they know!

A/N As I am prone to making mistakes, I decided to use some of my own typos as inspiration for this ficlet.
The story is set before Aragorn and Faramir become close friends.
Dervorin appears in “Web of Treason” as one of the chief conspirators together with Fosco of Lamedon, who resembles is as thin as Dervorin is stout.

This ficlet was written back in 2007 for a prompt and has languished forgotten on my computer since then.

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