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The Wizard And The Painters by Formegil

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Table of Contents

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Chapter notes:
Author's Note: Unlike Tolkien, I do not dislike allegory. That being said, I leave it up to the reader to decide what meaning, if any, this little story has. Lastly, if you readers or mods deem this is in poor taste, just say so and I'll alter or remove the story. I don't want to offend anyone if I can avoid it.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything J.R.R. Tolkien wrote whatsoever. The whole of Middle-Earth and all associated characters are owned by The Tolkien Estates. I own only the original characters created for this particular story and the plot.
Chapter 1: A Promising Letter

It was a rather normal afternoon at the Painters' Club in the second circle of Minas Tirith. The big atelier room of the club was almost filled with members who were happily painting away, each at his or her own canvas stand, beside which were little tables carrying the brushes, paints and other tools the work might require.

Indeed the afternoon was all too normal, since there was an argument going on in one of the corners of the room.

“You go too far, Canwen! This painting of yours is not even radical anymore, it is downright obscene!” said a brown-haired man of about thirty, casting a disapproving look at the canvas beside which he stood.
“Hush, Magor! You know as well as I that Onethiel has said we can paint whatever we want. Don't you remember that the very idea of this place is that we all can show our art to the world? You don't hear the paintings in the gallery bickering with each other so why should we, their creators, to do so?” replied Canwen, a lively young woman whose quick fingers were adding finishing touches to the painting as she spoke.

Magor shook his head.

“I know what you mean, but this makes intolerable mockery of two of the greatest heroes of old,” he said, pointing to the painting which depicted Beren and Finrod in a rather delicate situation.

Canwen waved her brush in a careless arc, replying:

“Shoo to your own corner, you old bear! No one compelled you to come and make yourself offended at my work. I certainly don't complain about your historical panoramas. I guess they are fine, but not spicy enough for me.”
“Not spicy enough!” exclaimed Magor, genuinely offended. “That is rich from someone so devoid of taste. I would rather say that you prefer chili whereas salt and pepper taste better in my mouth.”

Canwen laughed merrily.

“You know what, you may be right for once, excepting the tastelessness of course! But seriously, could you go now? I need to decide if I deepen the shade here or leave it alone.”

Magor cast one more look at the canvas, this time one of scrutiny. He pointed at two spots on the canvas as he spoke:

“Deepen. I think you need a little contrast here if you want to highlight the two – erm, dear friends here.”
“Hm, it may be so. I'll give it a try,” Canwen replied, studying the painting carefully.

Magor turned to go but Canwen called after him:

“By the way, mister Accuracy-Obsessed, I have seen your sketch for the battle of '44. Your Easterlings have only horsemen. I trust you have not forgotten that in reality they had many chariots, too?”

Magor looked at her in astonishment, then slapped his forehead.

“Of course! I knew something was amiss! Fortunately I can still correct that. Thanks, Canwen, I almost made a serious blunder.”

He walked off with a brisk step, his forehead wrinkled in thought as he pondered how to arrange the combatants in an aesthetically pleasing way. Meanwhile, Canwen had already completely forgotten everything but her painting and was carefully applying a darker shade of green to the trees in the background of her painting.


During their argument neither Magor nor Canwen had realized that they were standing near the door leading to the office of the club. The door had accidentally, or perhaps due to the hot weather, been left ajar and the person sitting behind a desk inside had heard everything. Her name was Onethiel, and she also happened to be the founder and the owner of the club. The banter had amused her, but when Magor had walked off and the voices quieted her smile faded. She resumed perusing the pile of parchments on the desk, sighing inwardly.

“Bills upon bills! I can still handle them, but for how long?”

Her heart ached when she thought of the club's future. There were many members, all of whose work delighted Onethiel and to whom she supplied the atelier and a hall where to hang their paintings for anyone to see. All the members needed to bring was their own brushes and paints and, above all, their passion for art and their imagination. The atelier and the gallery hall were perhaps simple and unadorned, but they were spacious enough and the lighting was excellent. At least none of the members had complained. In fact, they seemed to like the premises very much and made good use of them. They were content to paint for free and to let everyone see their art without paying, as a gift.

Still, none of this was really free. Onethiel was the one to whom the rent and other expenses of the house fell, a burden that was growing year for year. Donations were needed but she hadn't the heart to go and pester the club members about it. A solution, however, was needed, or the club would be evicted and the house rented or sold away.

Onethiel pushed her chair back from the desk, standing up and starting to pace to and fro. It all was so frustrating that she could have screamed. But then again, of what use would that be?

She was still deep in thought when a sudden knock on a second door leading to the backyard made her start. She walked to the door and opened it, seeing a young, very slick-looking lad in servant's garb standing on the doorstep.

“Yes? What is it?” Onethiel asked.

The lad made a little bow and extended forward his right hand which was holding a sealed envelope.

“A letter to you, good mistress! My master requested a reply, so may I sit down to wait somewhere here?”
“Of course,” Onethiel said, quite puzzled. “Please follow.”

She showed the lad a chair next to the doorway and sat down behind her desk. After she was seated she tore the envelope open with nervous hands and expecting the worst, even though she did not know what the worst in this case could be. An eviction note or a bill wouldn't have been delivered via a servant but through the normal messenger service of the city. The contents of the letter, however, were quite surprising:

“Honoured Mistress,

you may not know me but I have heard much good of you and your club. After giving the matter serious thought I have decided to make to you an offer that you surely will find very agreeable. I cannot tell you everything in a letter so I propose that we meet as soon as possible in your office. Today evening, at the strike of tenth hour, would be best for me. If this is suitable to you please send me a reply via the boy who carried this message to you.

Respectfully Yours,

Curunir Saruman”

Onethiel folded the note, muttering to herself:

“Interesting. But now who is this Saruman?”

The polite tone of the letter was reassuring, though, and Onethiel decided she could not lose anything by meeting this mysterious man. Besides, she had a free evening and at the proposed hour the club members would already had left, so there would be no interruptions. Consequently, she took a piece of parchment and scribbled some short sentences on it. When she had finished she put the note into an empty envelope and sealed it with the ring she was wearing on her right middle finger. She handed the note to the servant, saying:

“Take this to your master.”

The lad bowed again in a barely respectful manner and scurried away. Onethiel shut the door behind him and sat down on a comfortable chair, waiting for the strike of the tenth hour.
Chapter end notes:
Read and review, please. The battle of '44 refers to the disastrous battle on Dagorlad against Easterlings in 1944 Third Age.