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Tales from a Cat's Eye View (PG) Print

Written by Susana

03 September 2011 | 6650 words

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Story: Tales from a Cat’s Eye View
Title: Ecthelion the Cat, or, the Three Ecthelions of Prince Adrahil’s Acquaintance
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours, Prologue to Tales from a Cat’s Eye View
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Rating: PG
Warning: Mention of spanking.
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s

Summary: Prince Adrahil and Steward Ecthelion, discussing military appropriations.

Beta: None, all mistakes are mine.

A/N: This occurs sometime in Thorongil’s sojourn in Gondor, before Denethor and Finduilas are married.


Ecthelion the Cat

“Adrahil, there is no way that I can afford to pay that level of mark-up on chemicals for your new fire weapon. You’ll have to find something less expensive, from somewhere closer than Khand.” Ecthelion the Steward of Gondor explained, incredulous, but firm.

The Prince of Dol Amroth gave his old friend and ally a tireless smile. He knew Ecthelion’s bladder had to be full. Adrahil had purposely had his pretty young daughter Finduilas interrupt them three different times with variations on an iced drink she was planning to serve at the upcoming mid-summer celebration. “Now, Theli,” the old Sea Fox argued persuasively, “Nothing else has quite the same…discouraging effect, on the krackens. You wouldn’t want our brave sailors to die, just to save some money from our pockets?” Adrahil hid a smirk as he saw Ecthelion weakening on this point. His old friend Theli had been an excellent commander in his earlier days, before the old Steward Turgon had passed on. That argument had appealed to him. Adrahil would have to remember to thank Denethor and his young friend Thorongil for suggesting it, the other night at dinner. Thorongil… there was something about Denethor’s new sworn brother…something odd… something that reminded Adrahil of nothing so much as his old friend Elladan the elven Lord, in his quieter, more somber moods.

“Well…” Ecthelion mused. “If its a safety issue, perhaps some arrangement could be reached. We couldn’t pay the amount upfront, but maybe an agreement to buy in bulk, if they would offer a discount?”

Adrahil nodded thoughtfully, as if considering that. It so happened that the Khandian merchant was so grateful for the Prince of Dol Amroth’s business that he had already agreed to provide the first shipment for free, which would get them most of the way to a price Ecthelion could afford. But Ecthelion didn’t know that. “I suppose I could talk to the man.” Adrahil offered. “But if he agrees, to say a 5% discount on double the amount specified, then I have your approval as Steward to sign for the purchase, and Gondor’s word the balance will be paid?”

Ecthelion raised a hand, “Now, Adrahil. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You’re a honey-tongued demon when you want to be, but those men from Khand are strange. I know you could probably talk the Witch-King out of Minas Morgul, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll get the Khandians to agree to what is, essentially, robbery on the high seas.”

Adrahil purposely widened his eyes. It wasn’t entirely a fake reaction; he had once talked the Witch-king out of Minas Morgul, and it was rather strange Ecthelion had picked that example to illustrate his point. The memories from that incident were also rather painful. It was when Adrahil had acquired the ache in his knees that went from painful to near intolerable when he had been sitting for hours, as now. Elladan and the other Ecthelion had told him to avoid anything that gave him that much pain, but Adrahil knew that the best way to get this Ecthelion to agree to these expensive purchases which were for his own military’s good was to keep the Steward in an all-day meeting. Ecthelion’s will to bicker over details was worn down more quickly than Adrahil’s. “Really, Theli, its extortion on the high seas.” Adrahil commented, then tried to make himself look uncertain, but from the look on his friend’s face he was only half-successful. Curse it, Adrahil needed Ecthelion to think it was unlikely he could barter the merchant down 5 percent. If the Steward thought he was likely to actually have to make that expenditure, Ecthelion was sure to disagree. Adrahil needed a distraction, and fast. Unfortunately, it was 15 minutes before Imrahil was scheduled to interrupt next.

Ecthelion, interest engaged, leaned forward. “You really think you can do it, then? I’m not sure if I can commit…agh!” The last comment was directed at a giant black cat, one nearly the size of a medium dog, which had just thumped onto the table in front of the Steward from an open window high in the wall. The cat held in its mouth an impressive catch; a young octopus.

Adrahil, thrilled with this distraction, which he had not planned, greeted the cat “Why, hello there, Ecthelion the II. It looks like you have found a fine baby kraken of your own. Perhaps the Steward shall be inspired by his fierce namesake, and shall be willing to make a little wager on whether or not I can successfully convince the Khandians to give us that discount.”

Ecthelion the Steward looked at the feline curiously, his facial expression a mixture between appalled and amused, and asked “You named your pet cat for me? Really?”

Adrahil smiled, and discreetly poured the octopus into his abandoned coffee glass, while petting and praising the cat he’d spent the last two months trying to get to leave his castle. It was a good thing Adrahil’s persuasiveness did not extend to animals, like his son’s seemed to, otherwise he would have lost out on a distraction. Fortunately, Imrahil seemed to like all animals, and had probably encouraged Adrahil’s timely, furry little interruption to stay. The rooms occupied by Imrahil were a virtual menagerie, but Adrahil had drawn a line at the oliphaunt offered by a visiting bey from Far Harad. “I only had one son, and his mother named him.” Adrahil said quietly. “Ecthelion here is a fine hunter, as you see, and quite popular amongst the ladies, or so the profusion of black furred, abnormally large kittens would suggest.”

“Hunh.” Commented the bemused Steward, thoroughly distracted. “Well, if my little namesake here can take on a kraken, I suppose we should make it so that Gondor’s sailors can, as well. If you can get the discount, Gondor will be good for the amount.”

Adrahil nodded and smiled slightly, still petting the cat, which was purring, and acting like it and Adrahil really were best friends. Adrahil hoped it was a he-cat, or at least that his friend Theli would be unable to tell if it were not. Ecthelion the elven healer would have known in an instant – he had a way with animals that rivaled Imrahil’s. Hmm…the Steward seemed in a very good mood, and a bit off of his game. Perhaps…“Theli, that’s a wager for Gondor and Dol Amroth. How about a wager between you and I? If you’re right, and I can’t convince the Khandian merchants, which even I admit will be a challenge, then I will agree to detach the Lord of Anfalas’ older son from the navy, to serve in the army, for a period of six months.”

Ecthelion grinned, very amenable to that idea. Baranor was an excellent commander, and as politically neutral as they came. He was also a soothing influence on Denethor. “Done. Oh, wait. I had promised to never make a bet with you without knowing the stakes again. What is it you will win, if Khand agrees?”

Adrahil paused, as if thinking about it. “Thorongil.” He said at last. “I like Denethor’s newest man, and I think he’d make a fine sailor.”

Ecthelion shook his head. “Only if Thorongil agrees. He’s a visitor here, and a guest in my home, as well as a captain in my army. I will not ask him to serve in the navy if he is not amenable. He is from the far north, and may even fear the ocean.”

“Done, then. Six months of Thorongil’s service for Baranor’s, but only if Thorngil agrees.” Adrahil smiled, and shook hands with the Steward, sealing the deal. Just on time, Imrahil entered, accompanied by Finduilas, Denethor, and Thorongil.

Imrahil didn’t pause a beat at seeing Adrahil practically cooing over the great black beast instead of throwing things at it and cursing. His boy was quite the diplomat, Adrahil reflected with pride. Ecthelion greeted their young people, with a special word for Thorongil, who had only just recovered from a fever the previous week, then quickly made his exit. Though he paused to bid the other Ecthelion farewell and happy hunting.

His children and future son-in-law took seats around the table, eager for the play by play from the meeting. Thorongil, nursing a sore backside from Ecthelion’s response to his young Captain’s decision to lead his men into battle while seriously ill, elected to stand. Finduilas waited for the Steward to be well out of hearing range before turning to her father with a whimsical smile. “Ecthelion the cat?” She murmured, “Really, Ada. That is not a cat’s name.”

“Distraction” would have probably been better,” Imrahil, ungrateful child that he was, observed with good humor to his sister and friends, “Ada probably overplayed his hand, and Ecthelion, formerly known alternatively as either “Midnight” or “Target,” saved him. Denethor, my brother-to-be, what think you?”

Denethor eyed the cat. He neither liked nor disliked the beasts, though he had to admit they were useful at keeping the rodent population under control. Denethor had some tolerance for any creature, or man, who was useful. “Ecthelion is not a bad name – it must be quite a feat for a creature which dislikes swimming to capture an octopus.” The Steward’s son observed, mindful of his duty to his father, and to his father-by-law.

“Thorongil,” Prince Adrahil asked, curious, “What would you have named the beast?”

Thorongil, who did dislike cats, considered that for a moment. “I would have named him “Diversion,” but calling him Ecthelion probably made for a better one.”

Adrahil smiled slightly, and nodded. Oh yes, Thorongil would do. Thorongil would do well.

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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Minkicat , Minkicat , Aneyrin , TrollCookie

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1 Comment(s)


NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

Thank you for such a lovely story! I love cats (and Faramir, of course) so the combination is terrific.

— Moni    12 September 2011, 10:49    #

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