A Magic Deeper Still|
Though the Witch knew the Deep
Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know – CS Lewis
– The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Disclaimer: The Tolkien estate
owns the familiar characters, only the OCs are mine. No money is being
made from this story.
Summary - When Aragorn and Faramir
visit Harad they find that magic flourishes there.
“At last, a few hours to ourselves!” Aragorn
exclaimed in a low voice to the Steward at his side. “The Sultan is
most welcoming, but his hospitality can be somewhat overwhelming.”
“I am simply thankful that he did not insist on
us taking a troop of his palace guards with us on our outing,” said
Faramir, glancing at the two trusted guards of their own who followed
at a discreet distance.
“At least we look less conspicuous in these
robes the Sultan presented us with on our arrival,” said Aragorn.
“They feel cool to wear too.”
“I still feel strange wearing what resembles a
woman’s gown,” said Faramir. “I know all the menfolk wear them
here, but few have so much embroidery!”
“I want to experience the marketplace here as it
is,” said Aragorn. “Being dressed as one of the Haradrim will help.”
“I thought you lived here for some months many
years ago?” Faramir questioned. “Did you not visit the market then?”
“I did, but it was very different from what it
is today. The Dark Lord demanded heavy tributes and there were shortages
of almost everything. Most of the stalls sold weaponry or cloth for
making military uniforms. Sometimes, I found it hard to breathe; the
air was rank from the stench of the human sacrifices being offered up.”
Faramir shuddered. “My blood freezes at the thought!”
“That is all the more reason to enjoy the silks
and spices that the merchants of Harad now sell,” Aragorn replied.
“I have heard haggling with the merchants nowadays is quite an experience,
which we would miss out on if they knew who we were.”
“If they are anything like the merchants at home,
they would give us more of their wares than we could carry. Then we
would need to purchase a camel to carry everything home to Gondor!”
Aragorn laughed. A stall selling silks as delicate
as gossamer then caught his eye and he paused to buy a length in a deep,
rich shade of scarlet that he was certain would show off Arwen’s raven
hair to perfection. Rather to his disappointment, the merchant was too
eager to make a sale to haggle with any vigour.
“Éowyn would look fair beyond measure in the green,”
Faramir commented. “Sadly, she has little interest in gowns that are
not practical as well as pleasing to the eye.” The two men then caught
sight of some very finely woven cream silk. “Maybe Éowyn would like
a silk nightgown?” he mused. “I will take a roll of the cream silk,”
Faramir told the delighted merchant.
Aragorn beckoned to one of the guards to carry their
purchases. “I need to find a gift for Eldarion,” he told his friend.
“My son would not thank me for dressing him in silks, though!”
“There are some interesting looking smaller stalls
over there,” said Faramir.
“I need to find him a gift today,” said Aragorn.
“I doubt that we will escape so easily again. There is the state banquet
tonight and then negotiations over the border dispute the day after.
I hope they will conclude in good time so we can return home.”
“Maybe I can find something for Elboron too,”
said Faramir. “I wonder if they sell model horses in this market?”
“Maybe that stall can conjure one out of the desert
sand for you?” Aragorn jested, with a nod towards the smallest of
the displays, set a little way apart from the others. Above it hung
a sign, which in the tongue of Harad read ‘Everything you need to
perform powerful magic’.
“Hardly,” said Faramir. “Remember how Mithrandir
could create smoke horses? Sadly, they vanished within the twinkling
of an eye. Elboron would prefer something more substantial.”
The two men cast a curious eye over the stall, wondering
what passed for magic in Harad now that the Dark Lord was no more. An
assortment of jars contained what looked like dried body parts of various
reptiles, there were bunches of feathers hanging up from various exotic
birds and more jars filled with brightly coloured powders.
“I wonder if those pink feathers would make good
quills?” Faramir mused. “They might amuse Éowyn or Elboron. I will
buy two of the pink feathers,” he told the stall holder.
“Very powerful love magic you have there, noble
sir,” said the man, as Faramir handed over the coins. “If you touch
the object of your affections with one on the night of the new moon,
she will be yours forever!”
Faramir flushed slightly and stuffed the feathers
into the folds of his robes.
“How about some mermaids’ tears, honoured sirs? Any maid you
give one to will burn with fervent desire for you.” The merchant held
out a tray of poor quality seed pearls.
“No thank you.” Aragorn and Faramir both looked
highly uncomfortable at the turn the conversation was taking. They turned
their attention to the other wares on the stall. Of more interest to
the King and Steward, were a selection of finely cut crystals which
split the sun’s rays into all the colours of the rainbow.
“Eldarion might like one of those,” said Aragorn.
“Master Elrond explained to me how a prism works, but to a child it
indeed seems like magic.”
“These most rare stones make powerful healing magic,
o illustrious sirs,” said the merchant. “To keep their virtue you
must wash them when the moon is full then dry them by the rays of the
sun while reciting words of power.”
Aragorn struggled to repress his mirth as he haggled
with the merchant over the price. If the man but knew of the virtue
of the stone he wore concealed beneath his outer robe! At least, he
had found a worthy opponent to haggle with. When the deal was concluded,
the stone was carefully wrapped in a square of black silk before being
handed to the King.
By now, the two were thirsty in the heat of the afternoon
and wandered over to another stall, which sold refreshments. They ordered
glasses of refreshing sherbet tea, which they sipped slowly. The magic
stall was in a shady corner of the marketplace so the two friends wandered
back there to enjoy their drinks.
“Maybe I will buy one of those crystals for Elboron
too?” said Faramir. “We could hang it in the nursery to catch the
The merchant was now engaged in an animated discussion
with a woman and paid little heed to the King and Steward.
“You need three peacock feathers, scales of a sand
viper and a crystal forged in the fire of the holy mountain for the
spell to work,” said the merchant.
“I have only enough gold for one feather,” said
the woman. “Let me take what I need and I will pay you back as soon
as I can, illustrious sir.”
“Do you take me for a fool, woman? I give you only
what you can pay for!”
“My son will die if the spell is not cast. Have
mercy, I beg of you!”
“It not my fault your son is ailing.”
Aragorn could listen in silence no longer. “Would
it not be better to take your son to a healer, mistress?”
The woman looked at him impatiently. “I paid the
healer to examine my son and he took all the coin I have. He could not
help my son as he is under a curse. Only magic can save him.”
“Maybe, I could be of some assistance, mistress?
I am a healer of some experience.”
The woman laughed harshly. “I tell you my son has
been cursed! I see from your pale skin and grey eyes that you are a
tark. What do tarks know of magic? Only your terrible king, who commands
the dead to obey his every whim with his enspelled sword is said to
have magic amongst the tarks!” She turned back to the merchant, pulling
a ring from her finger. “Take this, it is all I own, in exchange for
the magic ingredients!” she begged.
“It is not enough,” said the merchant. “Now
be off with you. I have other customers waiting who have good coin.”
“I beg you, sir have mercy!” The woman flung
herself to her knees.
The merchant emerged from behind his stall and towered
menacingly above her. “Be gone, you miserable hag!” he shouted.
“You are upsetting my other customers. I will call for the Sultan’s
guards to arrest you for causing a disturbance!”
The woman got up and stumbled away. Aragorn hurried
after her while Faramir gestured to the guards to keep their distance.
“Please, mistress, let me help you,” said the King.
“You would give me the money to buy what I need
for the spell? I will do anything, anything in return!” A gleam of
hope flickered in her eyes.
“I have no intention of paying that merchant’s
extortionate prices for his dubious remedies,” said Aragorn. “I
will gladly visit your son and see if I can be of assistance, though.”
“Did you not hear me?” said the woman despairingly.
“My son is under a curse! Only the most powerful magic might save
“What manner of a curse?” asked Aragorn.
“Jawhar was out playing with the other lads,”
the woman said wearily as if she considered Aragorn to be slow witted.
“I’ve told him not to play in what is left of the temple, but he
would not listen. An old man lives amongst the ruins; they say he was
once a priest who offered sacrifices to the Lord of Gifts. The boys
ran when they saw him, but my Jawhar tripped and fell and the old man
cursed him. He managed to stumble home and tell me what had happened,
then he fell into a stupor from which I cannot wake him. He is lost
to me in some dark dream. My boy, my only son is dying!” The woman
burst into tears.
“Dry your eyes, mistress, and take me to the boy,”
said Aragorn. “I do not know if my magic will be powerful enough,
but I can try.”
“You have magic?” the woman asked between sobs.
“Why did you not say so before? What will your magic cost?”
“Nothing,” said Aragorn. “I just need to speak
to my assistant, then we will come and visit your son.”
Aragorn returned to where
Faramir was standing a little way off by the refreshments stall, to
which he had just returned their glasses. Speaking in Sindarin, he swiftly
informed the Steward of his plans and bade him tell their
guards to follow, but keep their distance.
“You made out that we were wizards?” Faramir
“It was the only way she would agree to let me
see her son so we must act the part.”
“You have spent your life under various guises,
I have not.”
“You simply need to follow my instructions, something
you always do well. I believe your father called you a wizard’s pupil for following
Mithrandir’s teaching, so I am certain you can play your part.”
“Very well. I only hope you can help the poor woman
and her son.”
“So do I.”
Aragorn strode off after the woman, who led the way
to the poorest quarter of the town.
“I like this not at all,” muttered one of the
guards. “We should be at the King’s side with our swords drawn.”
“The King was defending himself against far mightier
enemies than a lone woman and a sick child since before you weaned,”
said Faramir. “Now wait here, we will call if we have need of you.”
The woman led the way inside a shabby hovel, its
walls made from dried mud as was customary in these parts. The single
room was dimly lit by an oil lamp. At the far side of the room was a
low pallet, on which a boy of about nine or ten years lay motionless.
Beside him, crouched an old woman. She rose at the entry of the newcomers.
“Jawhar has neither moved nor spoken since you left, Maisha,” she
said. “But who are these men?” She drew her shabby cloak more closely
around her thin body.
“A tark healer and his assistant who claim to have
knowledge of magic,” said Maisha.
The old woman snorted. “Shame on you for letting
a tark cross your threshold after they slew your husband. His spirit
even now is thrall to the dread King of the West! Maybe these tarks
steal souls too?”
Faramir could endure it no longer. “The King of
the West holds no man in thrall, neither dead nor living. Neither does
any Man of the West steal souls.”
“The tales say they do,” said the old woman.
“The tales speak falsely,” said Aragorn who was
already casting a keen healer’s eye over the motionless boy. “Tell
me exactly what happened, Mistress Maisha,” he said in a commanding
“I’m not staying here with tark magicians,”
said the old woman. “I’m off before they put a curse on me too.”
With that, she hobbled out into the street.
“She is a good woman, my neighbour, but she lets
her tongue run away with her,” said Maisha.
“It matters not,” said Aragorn. “Just tell
me exactly what your son said when he came home.” Seeing her hesitate;
he added. “It will help me prepare a spell.”
“Jawhar stumbled through the door crying, ‘The
old priest cursed me. He said I would die ere the moon rose for desecrating
the holy shrine with my presence.’”
“And you replied?” Aragorn pressed.
“Alas, my son, today you will die!”
“Then what did the healer you summoned say?”
“He charged me three gold pieces for telling me
what I already knew that my boy was dying and that powerful magic alone
might save him.”
“Thank you,” said Aragorn. “Now I must thoroughly
examine your boy.” He pulled back the shabby covers that covered the
ailing child. The boy’s skin was cold to his touch, but apart from
a few minor scrapes and bruises, Aragorn could discover no injury to
account for his condition.
“I need you to heat some water for me to perform
my spell,” he told Maisha.
“Can you undo the curse?”
“I know not, mistress, but I shall try my utmost,”
“What truly ails the boy?” Faramir asked in a
low voice in Sindarin as soon as Maisha was engaged in placing a pot
upon the fire.
“I believe it is something
akin to the Black Breath,” said Aragorn.
“But how so? Sauron is no more.”
“I believe some residual evil might linger in the
place where so many innocents were sacrificed,” said Aragorn. “Also,
words have a power of their own. Master Elrond told me that fëa and
hröa are closely entwined. If the fëa believes that death is approaching
the hröa can expire.” He reached inside his robes for the Elessar
brooch that he always wore, which he had kept concealed in the marketplace,
and pinned it on the breast of his outer robe, where the gem gleamed
like green fire. A sudden inspiration struck him and he unwrapped the
prism and placed it on top of the unconscious boy over his heart, where
it reflected the rays of the Elessar stone. “These stones work powerful
magic,” he told Maisha in a loud clear voice. “My assistant has
feathers even more powerful than those of the peacock.”
Faramir rummaged inside his robe and brought out
the pink feathers. At a sweeping gesture from Aragorn, he began to stroke
the child’s feet with them.
“The hot water, masters,” said Maisha, appearing
at the bedside with a steaming bowl.
“Thank you, mistress, I shall now speak a powerful
incantation, then I will call your son. I want you to call him too.
He knows your voice and will follow you back into the light.”
Aragorn raised his hands heavenwards and said in
Quenya, “Hear me, Estë, healer of hurts and weariness. Look with
favour of this child and restore him. Let my hands be the instrument
of his healing!” He then rummaged within his robes and took out the
pouch of healing herbs that he always carried and took out two dried
athelas leaves and cast them into the bowl of steaming water. At once,
a living freshness filled the miserable hovel.
Aragorn handed the bowl to Faramir who held it in
front of the boy’s face. Aragorn knelt on the dusty floor and took
the child’s hand in one of his own. The other hand he placed on the
boy’s brow. “Jawhar!” he called. “Awake, the power of the curse
Jawhar stirred slightly but did not open his eyes.
“Awake!” cried Aragorn. “With my might, I banish
the dark magic. You are freed from the evil spell. Jawhar, Jawhar, come
to me, open your eyes!”
Still Jawhar’s eyes remained closed, though he
was now breathing much more deeply and his skin no longer felt deathly
cold beneath Aragorn’s touch .
“Mistress Maisha, call your son’s name and tell
him the curse is banished,” said Faramir urgently. He put down the
bowl for a moment and waved the feathers with a sweeping gesture for
an added effect.
“Jawhar, my son, wake up. This powerful wizard
has freed you from the curse,” said Maisha in a somewhat tremulous
voice. Aragorn nodded his approval and Maisha repeated her words this
time more strongly. Meanwhile, Aragorn continued to call the boy. “Wake
up, Jawhar, no one is angry with you, the curse is broken, awake!”
Jawhar’s eyes finally flickered open and he regarded
the strangers curiously. His eyes then fixed on his mother who had begun
to weep. “Mother, I’m hungry!” he said. “Why are you crying
and who are these strangers?”
Maisha hugged the boy tightly.
“Give him something to eat,” said Aragorn. “He
will suffer no lasting ill effects, but should not go near the ruined
temple again. It is not a wholesome place.”
“I will get you some bread, my son,” said Maisha.
“It is all we have.”
“You were widowed during the war, mistress?”
Faramir asked. “Times have been hard for you.”
“My husband was a wealthy silk merchant and we
lived in a fine house once, little though you may believe it.” Maisha
laughed bitterly. “Then the war came and my man, together with the
rest was forced to fight in the army of the Lord of Gifts. He fell and
I lost everything. Jawhar was still in my womb when his father was slain.”
“I am sorry,” said Faramir. “Alas, many good
men lost their lives. Maybe we could help you?”
“I am no beggar,” said Maisha. “I accept no
charity. It is bad enough that I cannot pay you for your magic.”
“Before we leave, I will cast a spell for protection
and prosperity around your house,” said Aragorn. “We will do it
while you fetch food and drink for your boy.”
Aragorn beckoned to Faramir and the two went outside.
“The Valar be praised you could save the child!”
“There was very little I needed to do,” said
the King. “It was his own mind that healed him, once I freed his thoughts.
He believed the curse would kill him and his mother’s belief he would
die convinced him that he would all the more. That was why I needed
her to call him back too. Now quickly, help me move these pebbles. We
had better sing as if we were performing some ritual.”
Faramir began to sing the hymn to Elbereth and Aragorn
joined in as the two scooped aside the stones around a stunted bush
in the courtyard behind the hovel. Aragorn then reached inside his robes
for his purse and scattered the gold coins on the rocky soil. Faramir
did likewise. Still singing, the two replaced the pebbles, then concluded
“We must hurry back,” said Faramir. “The moon
will rise soon and the feast will be starting. The Sultan will send
his guards to look for us.”
“We have finished our work here just in time,”
said Aragorn. He went back inside and found Jawhar eagerly devouring
an unappetising looking crust and a mug of water. “We will take our
leave now, Mistress Maisha,” he said gravely as he gathered up the
prism and the feathers. “My assistant and I have performed ritual
for blessing and good fortune for this house. When the moon has risen
tonight, gather some pebbles from beneath the bush in your courtyard
and you will not want for many days.”
Maisha prostrated herself at his feet in the fashion
of her people. “You saved my son’s life, o powerful magician!”
she said. “How might I ever thank you?”
“I require no reward save
in seeing Jawhar restored to health,” he said. He lightly laid a hand
upon her brow in a gesture of blessing and then slipped from the house, followed by
Faramir. The two guards emerged from their hiding places and the small
party made their way back towards the Sultan’s palace.
“This will be a fine tale to relate to Arwen when
we return home,” Aragorn said thoughtfully.” I have been many things
before in my life, but never a magician.”
“You may not call yourself a magician, but you
have always had magic,” said Faramir. “You are a child of Lúthien
and her power is in you too. I perceived it from the moment I first
beheld you; you are more than just a man with Melian and Lúthien as
your foremothers. While you and your line endure, there will always
be magic in Middle-earth.”
A/n In some parts of the world
beliefs persist that curses can cause real damage and even kill.