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A Different Kind of Quest  by Dreamflower


They came to a small building of white stone, like nearly every other building in the City. Unlike most of the shops, this one had no windows on the street level floor. There was a discrete sign by the door reading “Girion son of Gerolt: Clocks, Watches, Fine Mechanisms”.

Inside the shop were shelves holding clocks of every description, as well as marvelous toys and other gadgets. Along one wall were several tall cabinets, held closed by sturdy locks.

In the center of the room was a long work table lit from above by a large hanging lamp. A stocky, clean-shaven Man with a shock of unruly white hair sat on a stool behind the table, using a lens and a pair of tweezers on some work he was doing. He did not look up at first, saying “Just one moment while I finish this.” He made some sort of adjustment with the tweezers and then looked up. His face broke into a wide smile.

“Master Gimli! How are you?”

“I’m doing well, Master Girion. Allow me to introduce my companions, Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood, and Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, Hobbits of the Shire.”

The Man bowed. “Your Highness,” he said to Legolas,” and “Sir Meriadoc and Sir Peregrin.”

The four looked a bit put out. Girion chuckled. “You did not need to tell me. I am a Man of Dale; of course I know of Prince Legolas Thranduilion. And there are only four pheriannath in the City, and you two are in livery.”

They laughed a bit ruefully. Sometimes it would be nice *not* to be recognized. Merry and Pippin looked at one another. They were off-duty today; they probably should not have worn their livery. But then they might have been mistaken for Frodo and Sam.

“Did you come to visit, or is this a business call?” asked the Man.

“Oh, it is business, all right,” said Gimli. “Young Meriadoc here is looking for a spyglass.”

Girion’s face lit up. “Why, you *have* come to the right place! I happen to have three of them on hand. One of them is my own work, the other two taken in trade.” he walked over to one of the shelves and took down a tray on which lay three of them. The first looked very much like the long-lost gift of Isengar, and made Merry’s eyes sting; the other two had wood casings, one of light wood, the other of dark.

Gimli looked over Merry’s shoulder, and Girion moved away, knowing that Gimli could advise his friend as to the best choice.

The craftsman turned to look at the other two, who were examining some of the items on the shelves. Legolas looked a bit bemused. Elves were not much for mechanical things, but he was trying to understand their appeal to the others. Pippin was craning his neck back, trying to see something on the upper shelves.

“Master Girion, might I see the oliphaunt more clearly, please?”

“Certainly, Sir Peregrin.” Girion reached up and lifted it down. It was a foot high, and was obviously supposed to be a baby animal, for it had had no tusks and it had impossibly large eyes with long lashes, and improbably large ears as well. There was a key in its back, which he turned. Placing it on the floor the creature began to walk, also bobbing its head and opening and closing its eyes. Pippin laughed delightedly.

“Look, Legolas!”

The Elf glanced down and smiled. It was an attractive toy, and more appealing, certainly, than the full-sized műmakil he had seen on the battlefield.

Pippin’s grin faded. “I was thinking about getting it for my niece Flora. She’ll soon be a faunt--that is, three years old and beginning to talk and walk. I think she would like it except--”

“Except what, Pippin” asked Legolas.

“Well, it’s so large. It is nearly as large as she will be, if not larger. It might frighten her.”

“Ah,” said Master Girion He moved down the room, and reached up to another shelf where a similar toy resided. He took it down. It was about half the size of the first one, and had a blanket painted on its back in a pattern of bright pink and purple stripes.

“Oh!” exclaimed Pippin, green eyes shining. “It’s perfect! Flora will love it!” He picked up the toy and held it possessively. He could just imagine Flora’s delight. Alyssum, now, her baby sister--he’d better find something soft and cuddly for her. She was still just an infant.

Girion glanced over to where Merry and Gimli were discussing the spyglass.

“But Gimli, this one looks just like the one I broke!” Merry softly rubbed the brass with one finger.

“Aye, lad,” said the Dwarf patiently, “but the lenses have not nearly the quality of this one,” and he took up the one with the dark wood casing.

“Here, look through the brass one.”

Merry picked it up, and obediently placed it to his eye, looking through the open door of the shop to across the street. “Goodness! I had forgot how strange it seems to have something far away suddenly seem so near!”

Gimli chuckled. Then he handed him the one he had chosen. “Now look through this one.”

“Oh, Gimli, you are right! This one *is* far better! Why, it’s as clear as if there were no glass at all, and everything seems much closer!”

“You see, Meriadoc,” said the Dwarf “the first one very likely is just like the one your father had before. It is a seaman’s spyglass, such as are very common on ships. It would explain how your great-uncle--”

“Great-great,” corrected Merry absently.

Gimli just shook his head. “It would explain how he came by it. But I would venture to guess that *this* spyglass is the work of our Master Girion, here, and it is of very high quality.”

Merry grinned. “Very well, Gimli. I’d not even have known I could find one without your help. I shall certainly take your advice.” He looked over to where Pippin and Legolas were playing with the oliphaunt. “What have you got there, Pip?” he asked.

Pippin looked up at him, eyes shining. “A homecoming gift for little Flora, don’t you think?”

“Are you going to let *her* play with it?” Merry teased, thankful that he was across the room from any swats.

Master Girion looked pleased. If others knew that the pheriannath had patronized his shop, he would be overwhelmed with custom. “Is there anything else I can help you with, small sirs?”

Pippin nodded. “I think I would also like to find a pocketwatch for my father. He loves clocks and watches.”

Girion went over to the tall cabinets, and unlocked one. He took out a case with several watches, and brought them to Pippin for viewing. The young Took looked briefly, and pointed: “That one,” he said decisively. The chosen one was gold, inlaid with silver vines and leaves, with a space in the center for the engraving of an initial or monogram. “I’d like the Tookish monogram engraved on it, please.” Girion offered Pippin a quill and parchment, and he drew the monogram, a “T” and a “K” joined, in the form of script used in the Western tongue.*

“Very well, Sir Peregrin. It should be ready for you in about three days.”

Merry looked at Girion. He still had to find a gift for his mother, and Pippin’s stipend was about twice what his was. “How much do I owe you for the spyglass, Master Girion?”

“Oh, Sir Meriadoc! I would not dream of charging you! You are one of the Heroes of the War! Please, I would wish that you and Sir Peregrin accept these from me without charge!” After all, thought Girion, once word got out that they had patronized him, it would more than pay the cost of the items.

Merry and Pippin looked at one another in dismay. Aragorn had told them to allow the people of the City to show their gratitude for all the hobbits had done, and so they had taken their share of free ale, and of food, and the occasional trinket from a grateful wife or mother, glad that her loved one had come home in one piece. But this was another matter altogether.

“But these are to be gifts!” cried Pippin, distressed.

“Please, Master Girion, we really should pay for these!” added Merry.

Girion was taken aback. Truly these pheriannath were strange ones! One would think they would be glad to get such wonderful items for free! He did not understand. But he could charge them a token price. “Perhaps two silver pence apiece?”

Unfortunately, this resulted in both his potential customers looking offended. Now he was dismayed, unsure what he had done wrong, and fearful of their leaving without their purchases. A hint of panic showed on his kindly face.

Gimli sighed. “Meriadoc, Peregrin, perhaps you would allow me to help you negotiate a fair price?”

The two hobbits nodded in relief. While they wanted to pay a fair price for the gifts they were buying, they were unsure of the value of things in this strange land.

Gimli knew what Girion had in mind, and didn’t blame him as a merchant, but he knew his hobbit friends would not understand, and they truly wished to pay for the gifts they were giving to their loved ones. He also understood that the value of these things would be high, but not nearly as high as they would have been before the War, when they would have been in more demand. In the end, he negotiated a price of twelve silver pennies for Merry’s spyglass, and thirty for Pippin’s choices, for both the toy and the pocketwatch.

Master Girion took out his handkerchief and mopped his brow in relief as they gave him a partial payment, agreeing to the rest when they picked up their purchases in three days. Merry wished to have an inscription on his father’s spyglass, but Gimli offered to do that for him. However, he did not wish to carry it about the City as they finished their shopping, lest this one also get broken.

“Is there aught else I can do for you?” asked the craftsman.

“I don’t think so,” said Merry. “I hoped to find a gift for my mother, but you don’t seem to have any jewelry here.”

Pippin nodded. He had his mother and three sisters to find gifts for, as well as two brothers-in-law, and his other niece.

“Ah,” smiled Girion, “in that case, may I recommend the shop of my friend, Master Valdacar? It is two shops down, to the left. He is a well-respected jeweler, and his wares are quite popular with the ladies.”

When they entered the shop, which was much like that of the clockmaker, save that it had fewer open shelves, and more locked cabinets, they saw the proprietor was speaking with a customer. In the corner of the room, a little girl was playing with a doll. She was a cute child with long dark curls.

Merry and Pippin glanced in her direction. “How old do you suppose she is, Pip?” asked Merry. He was sometimes confused about the ages of Man-children, finding them to often be much younger than he supposed.

Pippin looked at her. “I would think about six or seven years old,” he said. “After all, Bergil is ten, and he looks much older than she.”

Legolas was glancing at the open shelves, and the pieces displayed there. He did not think his friends would find what they were looking for here.

“Very well, milady,” the shop owner was saying. “I shall have the clasp of your bracelet repaired by the end of this week, as well as the new charm.”

“Thank you, Master Valdacar. I will return then.” She turned to leave, giving a curious look to the others as she did so. Suddenly her eyes widened as she realized who they were--why that was the Ernil i Pheriannath and one of his kin, and the Elf and Dwarf who were close friends to King Elessar. Wait till she told her friends that she had seen them!

Master Valdacar noticed her reaction and smiled to himself.

Again, it was Gimli who made the introductions. He presented his friends, and then said, “Master Valdacar, you were recommended to us by Master Girion. My friends Meriadoc and Peregrin are looking to find gifts.”

“Ah,” he smiled. “And have you sweethearts at home, then?”

They shook their heads. “I am looking to find something for my mother,” said Merry. “I would very much like to find something with an emerald. Her name, you see, is ’Esmeralda’, and she has green eyes.”

“And I would like something special for my mother, as well, and for my three older sisters,” put in Pippin.

“I have some things with emeralds, Sir Meriadoc.” He went to one of the locked cabinets, and unlocking it drew forth a tray. He bent down to show it to Merry.

Merry gave a deep sigh of disappointment. None of these pieces were right for his mother. For one thing, they were all far too large. He said so.

“Describe your mother for me,” said the jeweler.

Merry glanced over at the lass in the corner, singing to her doll. “Who is the child?” he asked.

“That is my grand-daughter, Niriel,” he said, puzzled at the change of subject. “She is seven years old.”

Merry nodded. Pip had been right. “My mother is about the same size as your grand-daughter, Master Valdacar. She’s a very beautiful hobbitess; she looks a lot like my cousin here--” Pip glanced up at this. He had been studying the bracelet that lay upon the work table. “--only prettier. I had hoped to maybe get her a necklace or something.” He looked again at the tray. There was a very nice emerald pendant there, but it was sized for a Woman. It would have fit around his mother’s waist, he supposed.

Valdacar’s face fell. It looked as though he might lose the halfling’s custom. He had no jewelry sized for children, and even had he done so, anything designed for a child that small would be inappropriate for a matron.

Legolas stepped forward. “Excuse me, but I wonder, Master Valdacar, if you happen to do custom work?”

“Why yes, Master Legolas, I do indeed!” Not being from Dale, he had not recognized Legolas’s rank, and no one wished to inform him. Legolas never had really understood the emphasis mortals placed on his princely status, but it often made him uncomfortable.

The Elf looked at Merry. “There is your solution, Merry. You can get exactly what you want for your mother that way!”

“But I’m no jewelry designer!”

Legolas turned to the jeweler. “If you could bring me implements for drawing, then perhaps the two of us could come up with something satisfactory?”

Valdacar nodded, and turned to fetch parchment and drawing tools.

Pippin turned to him. “I think I’d like that as well. Could you tell me about this bracelet?”

Valdacar looked at it. “Those are very popular with mothers and grandmothers. Each gem represents a child or grandchild. The gems are for their birth month, and hang like charms from the bracelet.” Pippin nodded; he had thought so. He’d overheard Ioreth and some of the other women at the Houses of Healing talk about these bracelets, how the women who had gone south out of the City had brought back this fashion.

Merry looked at Pippin. He could see his cousin’s mind was working, so he left it to him and went over to where Legolas had seated himself at the work table, with a bit of parchment in front of him. “First, Merry, what kind of a chain do you wish?”

The two were soon deep in discussion, as the silver tipped stylus Legolas was using flew over the parchment. Valdacar came near and glanced over the Elf’s shoulder at the sketch. Why that would be lovely! And he could easily make it to the size of his grand-daughter’s neck. This could work!

When Legolas had finished the sketch, Merry, Gimli and Master Valdacar went to look at some unset emeralds for the pendant, while Pippin took his place by Legolas. “My sisters are easy enough,” he said. “I think earrings--Pearl is the easiest, and then if we could make some like flowers, for Pimpernel and Pervinca. And then have matching charms for the bracelet for Mother. I’d like a charm to be me, also. But I’m not quite sure what--”

Merry had been listening. “That’s easy, Pip. Your name, just like for theirs.”

“An apple?” He looked at Merry incredulously.

“No, you silly goose, not your nickname. Your *name*: Peregrin--a falcon.”

Legolas smiled widely. His fingers flew over the page, and he turned it to Pippin to see.

“Oh,” said Pippin in a small voice. “That’s perfect!” he whispered.

Merry turned to Gimli. “Have we narrowed it down, yet, Gimli?”

The Dwarf held out three nice emeralds for Merry’s inspection. “All of these are flawless, Meriadoc, and you could not go wrong with any of them. The choice is yours.”

Merry looked at them. One of them was square, one round, and the third was oval. He placed his finger on it. “That one, I think,” he said. “Yes, the oval.”

After a bit more discussion with the jeweler, the subject of price came up. As with Girion, Valdacar also wanted to give the items to the hobbits.

“Truly, young sirs, simply your presence in my shop will increase my custom many-fold, and it would mean a lot to me to do such a thing for two such valiant heroes.”

Merry and Pippin sighed. How many times were they going to have to go through this? Once more, Gimli began to negotiate, trying to make sure that at least the craftsman would not be taking a loss on the gems and precious metals he used, as well as to have something for his labor. He was much harder to convince than Master Girion had been. Finally, he agreed to take the cost of the materials, and to charge for his labor when the pieces were completed, and he knew how much time they had taken. It was agreed that they would return in two weeks to receive the finished jewelry.

“If I should finish with them sooner, I will send a messenger to you,” he said. He looked at the sketches. He would not charge them much for the labor, whatever it took. These lovely Elven designs were worth it, just for the chance to make them. And the ladies of Minas Tirith would be so impressed.

Gimli was grumbling as they left the shop. “This is absurd. Having to force people to take pay for their goods. No Dwarf should have to be so humiliated by haggling backwards like that!”

His companions all burst into laughter. They decided to make a brief stop at one of the taverns for some refreshment, before returning to the guesthouse.


* My assumption is that the letters would be tinco and calma in a somewhat modified form of the Tengwar, as all letters in Middle-earth derive from Elven. However, it’s possible they might have been letters of Daeron’s Runes.

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