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A Gate Opens by pandemonium_213

Author: pandemonium_213
Title: A Gate Opens

Rating: G
Theme: Harvest
Elements: seed, dig, gate

Author's Notes:  Given at the end of the story.  Many thanks to Dreamflower, expert in Things Hobbitish, for her pre-read and reassurances concerning this off-the-beaten-trail fic with its East of Middle-earth meets West of Middle-earth theme.  No beta here, so I'll likely tweak this in perpetuity. 

Summary: The grape harvest at Old Winyards is a festive tradition, and one that Thain Peregrin Took enjoys immensely. However, not all of the hobbits in attendance are at ease. The Thain is called upon to counsel the winemaker's apprentice, a young fellow who is described as "a fish out of water," and who has been witnessed engaging in unseemly behavior.

Word Count: 4775

No warnings for the G-rated fic, other than a head's up that this is solidly set in the alternative history of the Pandë!verse. Please see the author's notes for more background and acknowledgments.

This story kind of burgeoned out of control, so I beg the reader's indulgence.

Southfarthing, Fourth Age, 27; Shire Reckoning, 1449

Thirty golden autumns had passed since the King had returned, and peace settled within and about the lands of the Shire. It was a harvest season that was no more nor less bountiful than any before, but the Thain of the Shire was feeling particularly appreciative of the fine afternoon.

Pippin considered his good mood, which he might have attributed to the sunlight filtering through the grapevines that twined through the bower overhead. On second thought, perhaps it was the vivid colors of the crimson maples and yellow ash on the hills of Southfarthing that warmed his heart. Or maybe it was the gentle air, scented with the heavy fragrance of ripe grapes and newly cut corn, that worked its magic on him. Yes, it could be any one of those things, he supposed, but most likely, his contentment was due to his full belly and the '20 Old Winyards that Wilibald Chubb poured so generously into his and Diamond's goblets.

Pippin leaned back in his chair in hopes of relieving the strain against his waistcoat. True, he really did not need that second slice of apple pie and two thick slabs of sharp yellow cheese, but oh, how could he resist? He stole a lingering look out of the corner of his eyes at Diamond. A few strands had worked loose from her chestnut hair, shot with silver, that was bound up in a braid and decorated with a golden pin in the shape of a corn sheaf. Her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes sleepy as she smiled indulgently at their son. Faramir laughed with the other young folk around the table situated at the far end of the arbor. Pippin felt his own eyes droop a little.

"I say, Peregrin, would you care to take a bit of sweet wine with Gerda and me?" Pippin's head jerked at Wilibald's exuberant query. "It's a vintage from late harvest grapes." The proprietor of Old Winyards did not bother to let Pippin answer. "Here, Poppy, fetch a bottle of Honeyvines '42 for the Thain and Mistress Diamond." The young hobbitess practically hopped, her skirts and braids bouncing as she went straight into the tunnel that led to the cellars beneath Bush Bank Hill.

"Thank you, Wilibald, but I couldn't possibly..."

"It is a most excellent digestive. It will do you good."

"I'm sure it would do the Thain a world of good, but I shall have to pass, dear Wilibald," said Diamond. "I wonder, Gerda, if you would show me your flower garden. We can then leave the gentlemen to their sweet wine and pipeweed."

"It would be my pleasure!" Their hostess pushed her chair back from the table and stood up beside Master Chubb. "The last blooms are on the roses, so you ought to see them now before winter takes them." Gerda Chubb took great pride in her gardens, whether flowers or vegetables, and was never one to miss an opportunity to show them off.

Diamond also rose from her chair and straightened her skirts. "I shall see you later, Peregrin. Do keep one eye on your son."

At that moment, the teens and tweens, including Faramir, his feet blackened from trampling the grapes as were the feet of the rest of his friends, erupted from their table to run out onto the green lawn. How could they move so quickly after such a large meal? Well, they were young. Pippin remembered a time when he could run right after a significant repast. But now? He was more than happy to laze about beneath the arbor in the late afternoon and enjoy the respite from his many duties as Thain.

Diamond, her hands on her hips, pursed her mouth and watched Faramir dash across the grass, but then she grinned with resignation. "Keep half-an-eye on him then." Off she went with Gerda.

He had no good reason to turn down the wine now. He drew out his burled walnut pipe and the leather pouch of pipeweed, and tapped a measure of the herb into the bowl of the pipe.

"Thank you! I shall partake. You and Mistress Gerda are too kind."

"And you and Mistress Diamond are kind to come to the grape harvest."

"We wouldn't miss it!"

That was the truth. The yearly grape harvest was an event of significance in Southfarthing. When Scudamor Gaukrogers — the winemaster of Old Winyards — deemed it time, Master Chubb called upon hobbits from nearby hamlets and farmsteads to pick the grapes from his arbors. The harvest always took place early in the morning on a day that would not be too hot, but not too chilly either. Master Gaukrogers was most particular about this.

Hobbit-men and women, lads and lasses, even little children pitched in to pick the grapes and carried them in buckets, wheelbarrows, and small wagons to the to the great wine press to be crushed, but by tradition, a measure was dumped into the wide troughs set upon the expanse of lawn before the cellars. There, the lads and lasses would trample the grapes, crushing juice and the skin of the fruits together while they sang and their feet turned black, and the hems of their trousers and skirts were stained purple.

Then, late in the afternoon of the harvest day, Master Chubb hosted a feast for all those who had helped bring in the grapes. That and a few bottles of Old Winyards were given to those who had labored in the arbors. As a result, Wilibald rarely lacked for workers. Bottles of Old Winyards were a lavish payment, and Mistress Gerda was known to set a bountiful table.

Pippin lit his pipe, took a few puffs and blew two decent smoke rings. He gazed out toward the emerald-green lawn where the lads and lasses played a game of kick-the-ball. However, not all the younger hobbits had vacated the arbor. A few youths and maids, who had recently come of age and considered themselves too mature to gad about with the youngsters, gathered together not far from the head table to chatter and laugh, but one young man sat alone and apart from the others.

Rowan Maggot rubbed his forefinger over the edge of his almost empty goblet, and, with a thoughtful expression, stared toward the West where the Sun slowly descended. He must have felt Pippin's eyes on him, for he turned to look back at him, and his cheeks flushed. Rowan smiled when he pushed back from the table and rose from his chair. He made his way to the head table where he stood before the elder hobbits. The Thain took note the skillful tailoring of his jacket and the deep wine-red color of his waistcoat, embroidered with gold thread in designs of vines and tendrils. Very appropriate attire for the day, thought Pippin, and judging by fine weave of the fabric, no doubt made in Rivendell. The young hobbit bowed to them.

"My thanks for your generosity. That was a splendid feast! Now if I may take my leave, Master Chubb, Thain Took?"

"Of course, Rowan," Wilibald said. "We will see you later for whist though?"

"I...well, I must attend to the wine press to be sure it is in good order. Then the cider press. Master Gaukrogers will have my hide if I do not."

"Yes, yes, of course. But all work and no play..."

"...will make me a dull lad. Point taken, Master Chubb. I will see what I can do." Then he left the arbor, making his way out and around the hill, no doubt toward these very important presses.

Pippin watched the lad's easy gait. From the Maggot side of the family, Rowan had inherited his broad shoulders and sturdy build, but his hazel eyes and the luxuriant dark brown curls that tumbled well past his shoulders were from his mother.

A pang of sadness shot through with anger dampened Pippin's good mood when he thought of the fate of the young man's parents at the hands of Sharkey's ruffians. If only he, Merry, Frodo, and Sam could have returned to the Shire earlier, they might have stopped...No! He must not second-guess himself, he knew that, but he still did, after all these years. Mentha Brandybuck had been such a beautiful girl, and so clever! No wonder Nick Maggot, Farmer Maggot's heir, became besotted with her. What a stir there had been amongst the Brandybuck and Took gentry when Nick courted her!

Their son inherited the best from both of them, but Rowan witnessed a horror that no child should: the murder of his mother and father. It had affected the wee lad badly, sending him into a state in which he would talk to no one, let alone smile and laugh, and he retreated further and further into a black pit of anger and despair until he became uncontrollable, a feral child whose only way of communicating was by biting and kicking. For all their good intentions and their love, Rowan's aunts and uncles were at a loss to reach him. The decision to send the child to Rivendell for elvish healing had been wrenching, for hobbits always took care of their own. Yet here he was, back again among his own kind, healed and whole, and apprenticed to the master winemaker of Old Winyards.

Pippin stared out over the lawn, only half-listening to Wilibald as he expounded upon the promising vintage this year.

"How is he faring?" Pippin asked.

"Rowan? Quite well," Wilibald answered quickly. Too quickly, Pippin thought.


Wilibald raised his glass to his lips and drained it of sweet wine before he replied. "Truth be told, young Maggot is a fish out of water. I wish he'd cut that hair, for one thing."

"Long hair is a tradition in his family."

"Among them, perhaps, but not among hobbit-men. His own kind."

"I don't think it's just his hair, is it?"

"No. He and Gaukrogers do not get on."

"Ah. That's difficult, given that he is Gaukroger's apprentice."

"Indeed it is. Gaukrogers complains that the lad wants to experiment...varying the time that the skins and the juice stay together for some of our whites and to blend the red wines. Lawks a-mighty! Blending wines! Can you imagine? I must say that I agree with Gaukrogers there. Why fool about with what has served us well for years?"

"Why indeed? Why play whist when knucklebones will do?"

Wilibald sputtered. "That is different. We're talking about Old Winyards here!"

Good! thought Pippin. That made him think. Upon returning from Abroad, he and Merry introduced the card games the had learned in Minas Tirith to the Shirefolk. The games, considered suspiciously foreign at first, caught on quickly amongst the hobbit gentry and then the working folk.

"I see. He has different ideas then." Pippin said. "Anything else that troubles you about young Maggot?"

"Er, yes, there is. A few of the hands have noticed him going off into yonder woods." Wilibald nodded in the direction of Longhill Coppice where the oaks glowed russet in the soft sunlight.

"Nothing wrong with a walk among the trees."

"No, if that is all one is doing, but according to the servants, he engages in the unseemly."

Unseemly? Now that was alarming. Pippin took another drag off his pipe to compose himself.

"How so? And furthermore, how did you come to know this?"

"Young Gloriana Burrows stumbled upon Rowan in a glade there in the woods about a month ago. She says Mister Maggot sang to what she described as a little oliphaunt, that is to say, a small statue. Placed a bit of honeycake and marigolds in front of it, too, like some sort of offering." Wilibald thrust his hand into the pocket of his waistcoat and puffed on his pipe, speaking out of the corner of his mouth. "Outlandish, I say. The Master of Buckland should never have allowed Rowan to remain with the Elves for so long."

"Paying homage to an oliphaunt is something no Elf would do," Pippin replied defensively, but caught himself: No Elf of the West, that is. But he did not voice his qualification, instead taking the opportunity to chastise Wilibald just a little.

"Do not forget that elvish healing brought Rowan back to the waking world. He was in a very bad way when he was a faunt. As wild as a fox kit."

"Yes, yes. You are right. But it would have been better if he had been returned to the Shire sooner than he was."

Pippin repressed a snort. Any attempt to take the young hobbit away from his adoptive mother's arms would have been no less dangerous than taking a cub from a bear. As difficult as it had been for Merry and Pippin to convince Rowan's kin to relinquish the child to Rivendell for healing, even worse was when Merry returned to Buckland without the child.

"I just couldn't take him from her," Merry had told Pippin. "If you had seen them together, you could not have either. You know, we do not think of the Elves as vulnerable, and especially the Istyanis, but she was in a bad way from her own loss. She needs Rowan as much as he needs her."

With the promise made that Rowan would one day return to the Shire, he had remained in Rivendell, adopted by a pair of Elves with lifetimes of unfathomable memories and experiences, who not only gave the boy their love, but also a brood of brothers and sisters, all as mortal as he was.

Pippin turned to Wilibald. "He'll adjust. Would you like me to have a word with him?"

"If you would. You know about outlandish things...ah, what I mean to say is that you have seen more of the Wide World than most of us. That, and young Maggot does have a streak of Took in him so he might connect with you better than he does with us."

"I will talk to him then. In the meantime, I could do with a spot more of that sweet wine. It is delicious!"

Later, after the plates and the cutlery had been cleared, and the Sun was brushing the tops of the woods in the West, Pippin sought out Rowan. He had promised Merry that he'd keep an eye on him, and after all, Rowan was his distant kinsman, too. Kinship aside, Pippin had another reason to speak with Rowan: his curiosity was ignited, and when he was in such a state, as Diamond said, he'd stop at nothing to quench his burning questions. This time, the questions concerned oliphaunts.

Oliphaunts! What in the world would Rowan Maggot know of these great beasts? Pippin remembered their dead bodies on the fields of the Pelennor and the stench that rose as they rotted. Frodo and Sam had seen a live oliphaunt, and so had Merry, closer than he ever would have liked. But Rowan had never traveled East of the Misty Mountains, let alone to the far lands where oliphaunts roamed. There was much more behind this second-hand tale from Wilibald. It had the whiff of distant, exotic lands, of tales for which Pippin hungered, and he wanted to know just what it was that Rowan was up to.

He found Rowan making the last adjustments on the cider press, now scrubbed clean and ready for the coming apple harvest. Old Winyards not only produced wine, but also supplied the neighboring inns with a potent cider.

The younger hobbit had removed his jacket and waistcoat; these were folded carefully and laid upon a flat stone near the press. His shirtsleeves were rolled up, exposing strong forearms, and his long hair was tied back, although tendrils had escaped to stick to his forehead and neck. He glanced up and saw Pippin.

"Hullo, Thain Took! Has Master Chubb sent for me? I'll need to clean up if we're to play whist."

"No, I came to see if you'd fancy a stroll. It's a lovely evening for a walk, and we have not had much of a chance to talk since you arrived at Old Winyards."

"No, we have not," Rowan replied, picking an apple seed from the front of his shirt. "Yes, I would be happy to take a walk with you."

Just a few steps led them to a narrow path that ran through the lawn, joining a wider one that wound along the foot of Bush Bank hill and then out through the arbors and beyond into the fields. The setting Sun burnished the sheaves of ripe wheat and maize. Soon, the western sky was ablaze with gold, copper, and violet, while behind them, in the East, the first stars glittered. As the Sun dropped, the evening air became crisp. Pippin was glad of his cloak, the very same that had been given to him in Lothlórien.

The breadth of the path allowed Pippin and Rowan to walk side by side, and they did so at an easy pace, not speaking for a while, just enjoying the evening. The last light faded, and thousands stars filled the vault of the sky. Rowan began to sing a familiar song, one Pippin had heard over thirty years ago when he, Frodo, and Samwise huddled off the lane on its way to the Woody End, some forty miles north of here. Perhaps Rowan's voice did not weave the spell of elvish song, but his timbre was rich with a quality that spoke to his upbringing in Rivendell. The last verse curled out into the night, and for a while, they walked in silence.

"You sang to Elbereth," Pippin said.

"Yes. Father often took us out to look at the stars and taught this song to us. It seemed fitting."

Pippin looked up at the stars. "It was." They walked on a little ways further. "Do you miss your family?"

Rowan did not answer immediately. They followed the path to the rise of a hill where they stopped at its crest. From their vantage point, they could see the lights of Longbottom village twinkling in the distance. Pippin caught the faint odor of wood smoke.

"Of course, I miss them. How could I not?"

"Have you heard from them?"

"Oh, yes! Just two weeks ago, a packet arrived from Mother and Father with their letters and notes and drawings from my sisters and my little brother. Culunáro posted a note from Annúminas that was delivered to me last week. I haven't heard from Arator, but he only just arrived in Edoras last month so I expect it will be a while before I receive a letter from him. And Fëaril..." Rowan's voice trailed off. "I have no letter from him, but he is so far away that he may as well be on the Moon."

"Well, Gondor is far, but not that..."

"No, Fëaril is now posted in Umbar. He has been named Lord Halbarad's assistant and travels in Near Harad. That's what Mother writes."

Umbar! That certainly was far away. A letter from Rowan's oldest brother might take many months to arrive.

"I expect this is a bit of an adjustment, to be back in the Shire."

"To tell you the truth, I do not remember much of it, but that is why Mother and Father thought it best if I came here to learn more about the Shire and what it is to be a hobbit."

"How are you faring with that, learning what it is like to be a hobbit?"

Rowan laughed. "Well, I have been and always will be a hobbit by birth. It's just learning the ways of the Shire that prove challenging."

"How so?"

"Many folk here seem to be very set in their ways, and not terribly accommodating of new ideas."

"That is true, but I will add, not all are like that."

"Yes, of course! I know you are not, nor is Master Brandybuck. But others? Master Chubb is kind and treats me well, but I do not think he's keen on some of my notions. Certainly, Master Gaukrogers finds my approaches upsetting."

"Tell me of your strange ideas."

"I'd like to blend the grapes, like the winemakers of Dorwinion do. Each kind of grape has distinctive characteristics, and certain types marry well to make a splendid bottle. I believe the Rose Honey grapes from South Banks combined with the Black Briar varietal of Longbottom Hills might yield an interesting wine."

"Rose Honey? Those grapes are used for jams and jellies!"

"But treated the right way, they would lighten the Black Briar, making it brighter and quaffable sooner. Such a blend would not need as much aging as the Black Briar that is the foundation of your venerable Old Winyards."

The young man's ideas impressed Pippin, and spoke to Rowan's knowledge in the arts of brewing and distilling, learned under the tutelage of the brewmaster of Rivendell.

"It sounds like an interesting experiment! I don't see any reason you shouldn't try it. I think Master Chubb would come around easily enough, but Gaukrogers? Now with him, you'd need to prove it. Could you produce a small batch? If it was good, that might convince him."

"Indeed it might, and in fact, I am in the process of preparing such an experiment to bottle!"

"Very good! There's nothing like evidence for a convincing argument. Now there's something else that Master Chubb mentioned..."

"I think I know what that is. The incident when Miss Burrows found me in the glade, right?"

"That would be it. What, if may I ask, were you doing?"

"I was honoring Ganesha. It was his birthday last month."


"Yes, he is the god of Bharat who has the head of an oliphaunt. I have a small image of him, carved from sandalwood."

There! We come to the heart of the matter. "I would expect that you learned of this Ganesha from the Istyanis?"

Rowan chuckled. "Who else? Ever since I was a child, I have loved oliphaunts. Or the idea of them I should say, since I have never actually seen one. But, thanks to Mother, I have experienced them. She told the tales of oliphaunts to me by singing. You know what elvish song can do? Takes you into a dream?"

"Yes, I am familiar with that." Pippin would always remember the night when the elven-smith had led him, along with Merry, to the pond in the glade where they lit candles and let them float upon the water. The song she sang carried him to a far land where he saw a stone temple rising high above a forest and a nighttime lake where white lotuses bloomed, like stars drifting on the dark waters.

"When she sang," Rowan continued, "I was there with her, riding upon an oliphaunt during a great festival, high up above everyone. Whenever I feel small and helpless, the dreams of riding the oliphaunt have always made me see myself as big and strong. Then she sang to me of Ganesha, who embodies wisdom and helps those who begin new endeavors."

"Like blending wines?"

"Yes, like blending wines!" They came to a stop before a gate in a fence that crossed the path. "He is also the god of obstacles."

"A god of obstacles? What do you mean?"

"Like this gate." Rowan unhooked the latch and opened it. "Ganesha removes obstacles." Then he shut the gate, the latch clicking into place. "But he also places them in front of those that need to be checked."

"And Master Gaukrogers is such an obstacle?"

"Oh, not Master Gaukrogers himself. Maybe his resistance to new ideas is an obstacle. But the greater obstacle is my own: to see hobbits of the Shire as my own people, and not as strangers. I'm afraid the stir I caused has not helped me. Here..."

Rowan halted on the path and Pippin along with him. The young fellow reached down into his shirt and pulled out a chain that gleamed silver in the starlight. His palm cradled a pendant that he held so that Pippin could get as good a look as he might in the starlight, but the object itself had a faint glow: it was a pale carving of a human body, the belly round as any well-fed hobbit, but with an oliphaunt's head.

"That is...so unusual to see something like this here in the Shire. Where did you get it?"

"Mother gave it to me. She brought it all the way from Bharat when she returned to the West. She says it is carved from the thighbone of a wise old oliphaunt who was much revered in Bharat, and who died of old age long before she arrived in that land. So it is very ancient. She gave it to me because Ganesha is my guardian. Father does not entirely approve of my devotion to a god of the Easterlings. He says that only the Valar may pray directly to the One, and that it would be more appropriate if I prayed to Yavanna who would then beseech the One on my behalf, but Mother, of course, disagrees." Rowan grinned and tucked the pendant back into his shirt.

Pippin puzzled on that for a while as they resumed their stroll along the starlit path that now entered a small coppice of oak and maple. The leaves whispered among themselves in the night breeze. He found himself bothered. How could the plump god with the head of an oliphaunt be remotely related to the One praised by the Valar? It just didn't seem right, but it couldn't hurt to ask, as long as he asked politely and perhaps in an indirect way.

"Is Ganesha the only god of Bharat? Or are there others?"

"There are many, but there is only the One."

"With an answer like that, I can tell you've lived among the Elves!"

Rowan laughed. "It would seem so, but that is how it is in Bharat among both Men and Firstborn: the people there believe that the One manifests in many different forms, and yet remains the One." Rowan was silent while they followed the path out of the woods and into a wide meadow. "What do you believe, Thain Took?"

Pippin's tongue became stuck. Such a bold question! But then he had questioned Rowan about his beliefs. He remembered Faramir and the Men of Gondor, who rose before supper and faced the West, honoring Númenor-That-Was, Elvenhome, and the Blessed Lands beyond. At first, he thought that nearly as odd as an oliphaunt-headed god, but then had come to admire the practice.

"What do I believe? Well, I believe in my family and friends, the good King of the Reunited Kingdom, my cousins, my own dear wife and my beloved son. I believe in the kind-heartedness of folk, large and small." Pippin looked out over the fields, silvered by the starlight, at the dark woods in the valley and on the hills, and at the lights of farmsteads that twinkled in the night. "I believe in the ploughed earth of springtime that we dig to plant the seeds of promise. I believe in the lusty heat of summer, the fruits of the harvest and the somber peace of winter. I believe in the Sea and the Sun, the Moon and the Stars! And I believe in the Greater Good that made them all."

"As do I." Rowan patted his chest where the pendant lay hidden. "Ganesha is just one representation — an avatar — of all that. So really, what we believe is not so different."

"No. No, it is not so different. Still..."


"Best to be discreet about your prayers to Ganesha."

"I will. At least here in the Shire. Some day, though, I will dwell where I can honor Ganesha openly."

Which means he does not intend to settle in the Shire. Wonderful. Now I have yet more questions to ask! Pippin thought. Perhaps these are best left to another time though. Instead, he posed another question: "This prayer to Ganesha...will you recite it to me?"

"Recite it? I'll do better than that. I'll sing it."

For a brief moment, Pippin imagined himself sitting on something that moved with a rolling but solid gait, something far larger than a pony, and he looked out over a throng of people dressed in bright colors and bedecked with flowers, beating on drums, dancing and singing. Then the vision faded as he and Rowan turned back toward Old Winyards while the song to the oliphaunt-headed god of Bharat rose up into night and entwined with the hymn to Elbereth.

Many thanks to Dreamflower for a pre-read and her guidance on the fine art of hobbitry and hobbit-naming traditions

I have referenced the following in this short story:

Card-playing hobbits are from Chapter 9 of Dreamflower's It Takes a Took.

Halbarad as the Reunited Kingdom's ambassador in Umbar comes from Surgical Steel's Happy AU (see surgsteelfic, in particular The Chronology)

Pippin's recollection of a Deepavali celebration is a nod to Inner Light, another one of my East-Meets-West fics.

As for Rowan, his conceptualization came from the notion that a hobbit was the Master of the Guild of the Vine in (New) Ost-in-Edhil of the Fourth Age (my overly ambitious ficcish response to Tolkien's wary view of progress). He became the adoptive son of Mélamírë and Laurefin (Pandë!verse Glorfindel's Quenya name). Rowan has previously appeared in Birdsong and Conjure-women, the latter co-written with surgicalsteel.

On Laurefin's remarks that only the Valar may pray directly to the One. This notion is extrapolated from comments in two of Tolkien's letters:

Letter 156: "The High Elves were exiles from the Blessed Realm of the Gods (after their own particular Elvish fall) and they had no 'religion' (or religious practices, rather) for those had been in the hands of the gods, praising and adoring Eru 'the One', Ilúvatar the Father of All on the Mt. of Aman."

Letter 297: When speaking of the Third Age, Tolkien wrote: "We are in a time when the One God, Eru, is known to exist by the wise, but is not approachable save by or through the Valar, though He is still remembered in (unspoken) prayer by those of Númenórean descent."

Frodo and Samwise witnessed the latter when Faramir and his men stood and faced the West prior to breaking bread. Presumably, Pippin saw the same during his time in Minas Tirith.

Rowan's "unseemly behavior" was likely his small celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi, which falls after the new moon in August/September in our primary world, and so presumably also in the late summer/early autumn of mythic Bharat.

Finally, there are many mantras and slokas to Ganesha that Rowan might have sung, but here is one in a style that is a fusion of East and West.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 28th, 2012 05:19 pm (UTC)
*grin* I am so glad I had a sneak peek at this, and I love the tweaks and changes you made!

Pippin is perfectly in character, his curiosity intact after all these years! And Rowan is an absolutely delightful OC!

I'm so glad you took part in this challenge! (((hugs)))

ETA: Love the vid, too! What a catchy tune! And the art is amazing.

Edited at 2012-10-28 05:26 pm (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
Pippin is perfectly in character, his curiosity intact after all these years! And Rowan is an absolutely delightful OC!

Oh, now that's a relief on all counts! I think this is the very first time I have visited the Shire (and naturally, the DM is agog).

Thanks so much for everything!
Nov. 1st, 2012 03:38 am (UTC)
I'd love to know his thoughts on this land that runs so smoothly most of the time without a strong ruler over it. (Pippin would howl with laughter at the idea of a Thain being a "ruler"!)

And I think your visit there went very smoothly, and hope you return now and again.
Nov. 1st, 2012 11:47 am (UTC)
I'd love to know his thoughts on this land that runs so smoothly most of the time without a strong ruler over it.

I don't think he can wrap his head around the concept at all! :^D
Oct. 28th, 2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
I love this story. I have to come back and read it again more slowly. It is truly beautiful and really reaches me on a lot of levels. Very layered and I like the more developed insight into your own story verse within which it is set.

A great success on so many levels. Have to run now. We have NO food and soon the shelves in the stores will be empty!

Yay! Everyone will be home tomorrow! (We are not sure about Gabriel. If they want him to work tomorrow, they will have to get him a hotel room. The subway is closing in a few hours and the bus lines shortly thereafter.

Now I know why you have been so wrapped up in all of these lovely mantras.
Nov. 1st, 2012 12:27 am (UTC)
Wow! Thanks a million! I'm treading in unfamiliar territory here, i.e., hobbitry and the Shire, so I appreciate the boost.

Yep, although I often listen to mantras and slokas, these have been on an uptick lately.
Oct. 28th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
It's a lovely story, perfectly in sync with hobbit values and mannerisms. I loved the video.

One of the things I miss the most from you are your music recommendations and video pass-ons. I had been thinking about that all day, and here you are, posting something that has one. I may not be as close as I was, but at least I can enjoy this.

- Erulisse (one L)
Oct. 31st, 2012 11:11 am (UTC)
Thanks, One-L! The Shire is very unfamiliar territory for me.

Here's another fusion piece from the So What? Project:

Oct. 31st, 2012 12:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, marvelous. You made my 7:30 am very happy.

I'm relieved that both you and Oshun came through the winds and rain of Hurricane Sandy OK.

Miss you...

- Erulisse (one L)
Oct. 28th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
Truly a lovely blending of East and West, Hobbits and Elves. Rowan is already wise, and knows he doesn't belong even here within the Shire. Like Frodo, his is a sacrifice of finding his proper place elsewhere. And Pippin is--well, Pippin! Thanks!
Nov. 1st, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, larner! These blendings are irresistible to me. Glad to hear Pippin was in character! :^D

Like Frodo, his is a sacrifice of finding his proper place elsewhere.

Oh, I don't know if Rowan considers living elsewhere a sacrifice. I think he sees it as a destiny. Here's an excerpt for a draft that has been lingering on my hard drive, like, forever:

Fourth Age, Eregion

Osric Brandybuck poked at the warm red dirt with his big toe. The earth was hot from the noontide sun, and a rivulet of sweat dripped down his neck. Guffaws rebounded off the hillside from the veranda above where his relatives, sitting around the massive table shaded by the vine-covered bower, dove into the food and slurped potent red wine from goblets. Thirty-six hobbits had gathered in celebration of his Uncle Rowan Maggot’s seventy-sixth birthday. It was not a birthday of momentous significance, just an excellent excuse for the more adventurous Maggots, Tooks and Brandybucks to travel from the Shire to enjoy his uncle’s renowned hospitality. He heard his cousins laughing, the same cousins who teased him for being so pensive and solemn, unheard of for a young hobbit of twenty-two years who should be laughing merrily and taking nothing seriously.

The patriarchs of the families — the Thain and the Master of Buckland — offered their toasts to Uncle Rowan. Despite their age, their clear voices rang down to the terraces of the garden. That Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took were honored guests and gave toasts spoke volumes to his kinsman’s status, for Rowan Maggot was a Very Important Hobbit.

Twenty-five years ago, Uncle Rowan led the first colony of Hobbits to Eregion, or Hollin as the Men of Bree called it, where they settled in the hills above the Glanduin River. Under his uncle’s leadership, the colony became the thriving village of Hollyhill. More Hobbits had since relocated to southwestern territories of Eregion, and there were now six villages in total. Uncle Rowan was the Guild Master of the House of the Vine in the great city that lay east of the village. There he sat as the representative of the Eregion hobbits on the Prince’s Council. Everyone in the Shire was proud of Uncle Rowan.

To be continued...something about a magic ring.

Oct. 29th, 2012 03:37 am (UTC)
Ganesha! One of the most appealing gods of the East. I had not realized he was provider as well as remover of obstacles!

Really like this expansion of your 'verse, developing the characters of Mel and Laurefin's children. Liked Rowan's slight ability to make the song live for Pippin. I really liked the Ganesha mantra, as well.

Also, winemaker? Ahahaha!

Found one little typo:
Ever since I was a child, I have loved oilphaunts.

Nov. 1st, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
Yep, Ganesha is probably the Hindu avatar who is most familiar to us Westerners. Even Homer Simpson knows who Ganesha is!

Oh! No greasy elephants here. Thanks! Also picked over a bunch of other things.

Heh. Yes, winemaker. It's accurate, although I was mightily tempted to use vigneron just to hear the spinning noise from JRRT's grave. ;^)
Oct. 29th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this very much and guessed that Rowan was honouring Ganesha.
Nov. 1st, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
Thanks, Linda! Yes, Ganesha is probably one of the more familiar Hindu deities for us Westerners.
Oct. 30th, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC)
*crossing fingers that this posts this time - fourth try*

I really enjoyed this! I like the sense that there are many other things going on out there in your 'verse (the mention of Fearil in Umbar!) and the young hobbit as a complete fish out of water with 'his own kind.' I also really liked the mention of the religious differences in Mel and Laurefin's family.

A really good read!
Nov. 1st, 2012 12:46 am (UTC)
LJ was a bugger with comments for a few days.

Thank you very much, and I'm glad you liked it! I'm hoping to explore those differences of belief a bit more. I have a feeling that Sakalthôr is down there with Fëaril, too. ;^)
Nov. 2nd, 2012 11:21 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this very much (yay, wine!), and would love to see more of Rowan's life beside the snippet you posted above.
Nov. 6th, 2012 02:03 am (UTC)
Thanks a million, Nath! Really glad you enjoyed this (and my apologies for the late reply). Despite having a gazillion WIPs I ought to attend to, I had an idea for a Yule fic with Merry and Rowan that would take place maybe a year or two after "A Gate Opens." We'll see. Work is thrashing my Dark Muse such that all he wants to do in the evening is drink cognac and watch bad TV.

Btw, I loved A Bitter Harvest. Shall review on MPTT in the very near future.
Nov. 7th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Nothing wrong with cognac and bad TV;-)
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