Feature Challenges by Linda Hoyland

1. Chapter 1 by Linda Hoyland

2. Keeping Cool by Linda Hoyland

3. Hidden Paths by Linda Hoyland

4. Fare You Well by Linda Hoyland

5. Shadows by Linda Hoyland

6. Looking Back by Linda Hoyland

7. Motherhood by Linda Hoyland

Chapter 1 by Linda Hoyland

Title:A Sign of Hope
Author's Notes: none
Summary: Faramir encounters Gandalf in his father's garden.
Word Count:200

In the sunny seclusion of the Steward's gardens, the old Wizard thoughtfully sat watching the birds searching for unwary insects.

"Am I disturbing you?" asked the young man.

"Not at all, my dear boy, I was thinking how people resemble birds," said Gandalf. "Your father now, reminds me of a hawk, for nothing escapes his attention."

"An apt observation." Faramir seated himself beside his friend. "Which bird do you associate with Boromir?"

"The jay; a colourful and sociable fellow."

Faramir smiled as he watched the handsome bird strut across the lawn. "And what am I, Mithrandir?" he enquired.

"I see you as a swallow, my boy," said the Wizard.

Faramir looked slightly disappointed. The Swallow was a pretty and graceful little bird, but it seemed somewhat insignificant compared with the keen eyed hawk and handsome jay. Still, it was fitting enough for a younger son.

"Why so downcast?" asked Gandalf. "The swallow comes with the springtime as a sign of hope, so what bird could be finer? However long and dark the winter the swallows will always return. Now I must return to the archives." With those enigmatic words, the Wizard rose from the bench leaving Faramir lost in thought.

A/n. Winner MEFA 2009 – Races - Cross Cultural Gondorians

Author: Linda Hoyland
Title: Day of the Dove
Rating: G
Theme: Birds
Elements: Dove
Beta: Raksha
Author's Notes: none
Summary: Imrahil muses on how times have changed
Word Count: 200

"Your father, Eldarion, is the greatest warrior Gondor has seen in this age," Imrahil remarked thoughtfully. The Prince of Dol Amroth and the child were watching Aragorn lead his troops in a victory procession through the City streets after a battle against renegade Easterlings. "Thorongil, he called himself, and never was an eagle more fierce. Now, even mighty Thorongil's valour is surpassed by King Elessar's."

Eldarion glowed with pride. He tried to cheer louder than anyone else as his father rode by on his mighty warhorse.

That evening Imrahil went to take leave of the King and Queen. He found Aragorn telling his son a bedtime story, while cradling his infant daughter in his arms. Beside him sat his Queen. The King's eyes often met hers and he smiled at her tenderly.

Had the fierce eagle now become a nesting dove? The Prince mused. Thorongil had always been more than a soldier, with his knowledge of lore and healing, but it was as a warrior he had won renown and how Imrahil remembered him. How times have changed for the better!" Imrahil smiled contentedly. These were the days of the King when the doves could build their nests in peace.

Author: Linda Hoyland
Title: The Sweetest Song
Rating: G
Written for LOTR GFIC January Potluck Challenge, Nightingale
Summary: Arwen ponders her future.
Dedicated to Princess of Gondor

The moon shone brightly illuminating Arwen’s path as she strolled through the gardens. In a nearby tree a nightingale sang sweetly.

Arwen felt a sudden pang. Would there be songbirds in her new home, or even trees? Tomorrow she would leave Imladris, perhaps never to return. How she would miss the beloved places she had dwelled throughout her long life.

Yet, soon she would have a new home, one with the man who had won her heart. Together they would raise a family. Her new life was just beginning. The song of love was sweeter even than the nightingale’s melody.

Author: Linda Hoyland

Title: Summer Memories
Rating: G
Theme: Fixed Length Ficlets
Elements: Some Like It Hot
Word Count: 100

Summary: In the midst of a heat wave, Aragorn remembers the past.

Much as Aragorn loved Gondor, the balmier climes of the South often oppressed him.

In the North it was rarely as hot as this. He recalled fondly those rare days when it was warm enough to swim in the river, icily refreshing even at the height of summer.

A king, though, could hardly doff his royal robes and plunge into the Anduin as the fancy took him.

Now he had servants to fan his brow, bring him cool bathing water, and exotic juices to quench his thirst.
Yet sometimes Aragorn yearned only to splash gleefully in the Bruinen’s chill waters.

Author: Linda Hoyland
Title: Blue Skies
Rating: G
Theme: Summertime Blues
Elements: 101
Beta: Raksha
Author's Notes:
Summary: Aragorn reflects on what makes a perfect day
Word Count:100

The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate

Blue Skies

Aragorn looked out of the window. It promised another warm summer's day with a cloudless blue sky.

"It's a perfect day, sire,' the serving maid said cheerily as she brought his drink.

Aragorn was not so certain. In the North, days such as this were a rarity to be cherished. Sometimes he missed the fierce storm clouds that galloped across the sky like wild horses; the grey rain clouds with their shining silver linings, or the white wisps that scurried across the sky on a windy day.

Clear blue skies were fair but tasted like food without salt to him.

Title: Fire and Ice
Rating: PG
Theme: Hearts and Flowers, January Potluck
Elements: old love, heart of stone, hollyhock (ambition)
Beta: Raksha
Author's Notes:
Summary: Denethor is haunted by memories.
Word Count: 200

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

She had been his old love and his new; his lady, the mother of his children, his beloved. If Denethor closed his eyes, he could see her still, walking amongst the hollyhocks, wearing the cloak he had bought her in the same vivid blue.

Then his ambition had been to make her happy, to delight in their sons and to make her forget her yearning for the sea in the joy of their life together.

It was not to be. Finduilas had withered and died like a flower too long in the sun.

His heart turned then to stone.

All that was left now was to defend Gondor, to use every means that he had to discern the Enemy's purposes, and to raise his sons to become mighty warriors worthy of their House.

Sometimes Faramir looks at him with her eyes. He looks away, determined that the frozen love and pain shall not be rekindled. Boromir has Ecthelion's eyes; he can look his firstborn in the face.

Often when Denethor stares into the seeing stone, he fancies she is there, hidden amidst the tall hollyhocks, just out of sight. Then the vision changes and he sees only fire and destruction.

Author: Linda Hoyland
The White City
Rating: PG
Theme: Eye of the Beholder
Author's Notes: Written as a belated birthday gift forellynn_ithilwen and to illustrate her lovely artwork
Summary: Boromir is haunted by visions of Minas Tirith
Word Count:300

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

The White City. Boromir thought of it almost every waking moment now. He had seen many wonders on his travels, but nothing compared to its beauty. The sight of the sunlight glistening on the Tower of Ecthelion never failed to stir his heart.

Over the centuries, so much of the splendour of Númenor had crumbled to dust or been despoiled by their enemies, but Minas Tirith remained, as unbowed as the valiant men who defended her; men willing to shed their last drop of blood for this proud Queen of cities.

Boromir closed his eyes and imagined his return home. The silver trumpets would sound and the banners flutter in the breeze as he rode through the City gates. His father would hail him as Gondor's saviour, the lines of care forever banished from his face, when he learned that he had brought the mighty weapon that would save them all. His brother would embrace him with love and pride. Minas Tirith would blossom and flourish as in the days of old. Maybe they would even make him king!

"You shall have an hour in which to decide, Frodo."

Aragorn's voice broke his reverie. Frodo looked troubled as he wandered away from the group.

A sudden fear seized Boromir. What if the Ringbearer chose wrongly? He was but a simple Halfling. What if he chose to take the Ring to Mordor instead? Such folly would be the ruin of them all! What chance of success would he have? The Dark Lord would most surely capture Frodo, and with him, all hopes of saving Boromir's beautiful City from being laid waste by Sauron's foul minions.

He must make Frodo see reason. He must! Visions of Minas Tirith in ruins swam before his eyes.
Boromir rose and went in search of Frodo.

Title: Gilded Cage
Author: Linda Hoyland
Characters/Pairing: Aragorn, Arwen
Rating: G
Warnings: none
Book/Source: LOTR book-verse
Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
With thanks to Raksha for the idea.

The procession traversed the streets of Dol Amroth. Eager citizens craned their necks to catch a glimpse of their King and Queen as their ornately decorated carriage went slowly by, drawn by four splendid grey horses.

Aragorn gritted his teeth and forced himself to smile. It was kind of Prince Imrahil to send his carriage, but how he hated this bumpy, stuffy, uncomfortable means of transport. Little did the admiring crowds know that to Aragorn, a carriage was akin to a gilded cage. Better by far to be astride his faithful steed feeling the wind and sun caress his face.


Author: Linda Hoyland
The Steward's Task:
Written for the Short and Sweet challenge and slightly altered to create a true drabble
100 words:
With thanks to Raksha.
Dedicated to Raksha.

Aragorn stifled a yawn. He forced himself to assume an alert expression as the poet recited a seemingly endless, and joyless, saga in praise of his own great deeds. He thought enviously of Arwen, excused the ordeal because of her pregnancy.

Beside him, Faramir listened with a rapt expression. Even so, Aragorn was puzzled as to why Arwen had been insistent that the Steward attend.

The room was unpleasantly warm. Perhaps later he could..

A sharp dig in his ribs jolted Aragorn back to full wakefulness.

"The Queen warned me that I might have to wake you," Faramir grinned.

To the King,a daughter:

Written for the Short and Sweet challenge, amended to 100 words.:
100 words:
With thanks to Curious Wombat and Raksha:
Dedicated to Curious Wombat

"You have a daughter, my lord," the midwife tells me, her expression suggesting that I will be less than happy at the news. She could not be more mistaken.

I love Eldarion dearly and am proud of my son and heir, but a daughter is sheer delight. She will never want for her father's love.

My daughter will grow up almost as fair as her mother and bear her mother's gentle grace. She will dance like a butterfly and sing like a nightingale.

Author: Linda Hoyland
Title: Just as Good
Rating: G
Theme: Pairs
Elements: Cats and dogs
Beta: Raksha
Author's Notes:
Summary: Which is better, cats or dogs?
Word Count:100
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain

Farawyn sat on the hearthrug playing with her cat, a handsome ginger tom who purred contentedly.

Eldarion raced into the room, his dog at his heels. The spaniel playfully chased the cat. Hackles raised, it growled at the intruder before fleeing.

"Your stupid dog's upset my cat!" cried Farawyn.

"Your silly cat is cowardly!" Eldarion retorted.

"Cats are best!"

"Dogs are best!"

"Peace," said Aragorn, entering unobserved. "Why must one choose either cats or dogs? I could never choose between you, my children. Cats and dogs each have their own worth, as do boys and girls while being very different!"

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Keeping Cool by Linda Hoyland

"Where might the King be found?" Aragorn's secretary enquired. He mopped his profusely sweating brow with a large handkerchief.

"Is he not with Lord Faramir?" Arwen replied. She sat fanning herself beside an open window. It was hot indeed for one of her kind to feel it.

"The Steward's study is empty too, my lady."

"Is the business urgent?"

"Not really, my lady, but these trade reports need the King's signature."

"I will tell him when I see him, Bergon."

Arwen wandered out into the private gardens. She had a good idea where her husband and his Steward might be.

She espied them lounging in a shady spot on the grass beside an ornamental fountain. Boots and stockings discarded, their bare feet dangled in the cool water. Their tunics too, were cast aside, and their shirts unlaced.

Arwen had not seen her husband so contented since the hot weather had started several days before. His heart yearned for the cooler northern climes during Gondor's balmy summers.

Arwen smiled. Surely even the King and his Steward could sometimes enjoy a lazy summer afternoon? Loth to disturb the two men, she crept silently away. The reports could wait for another, cooler day.

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Hidden Paths by Linda Hoyland

It was almost time to depart. Aragorn sat down heavily upon the doorstep and looked around him at the assembled company, his keen eyes only just making out their shapes in the darkness.

Frodo and Bilbo stood beside one another in silent companionship, making the most of what might be their last moments together. The two youngest Hobbits huddled together for warmth and mutual companionship, while Sam stood glumly beside the patiently waiting pony. Boromir fingered the great horn he wore at his side, while Gimli clutched his axe with fierce determination. Legolas stood a little apart, his head tilted upwards for a glimpse of any stars brave enough to pierce the thick cloud.

This little company had already come so far, Aragorn mused. What diverse paths they had trodden to reach Rivendell! The Hobbits were already far from the gentle green paths of the Shire. Yet they now stood on the threshold of a journey even longer and more perilous than the wilderlands that stretched between the Shire and Imladris. Their hearts were staunch, but were their small bodies strong enough to face what lay ahead?

The Elf, Legolas, had journeyed from the depths of Mirkwood, while the Dwarf, Gimli had his father had travelled from Erebor. Boromir's journey had been even longer and harder. From the way he paced, he was the most impatient to set out. The Man of Gondor was a mighty warrior, but strength of arms would avail little in destroying the Enemy's weapon.

A strong arm and a sword would not suffice against Sauron's dark magic.

Only Gandalf was not yet with them. What paths unknown to Men, or even Elves, had the wizard travelled? Aragorn wondered. Aragorn had known him for a mortal lifespan and yet felt he could not know and perceive all about his friend had he a hundred lifespans to do so.

Then what of his own journey? The way ahead was still unclear to him. Aragorn knew only that his path would lead either to the crown of his forefathers and Arwen's hand in marriage, or to his death and the end of a once great line. He had travelled so many different roads over many years and seen more wonders than most men could dream of. This journey might well be his last. Would he ever behold Arwen again? Suddenly overwhelmed, he bowed his head to his knees. The dream he had yearned for since he came to manhood was about to be realised or forever shattered.

Elrond's voice roused him from his reverie and he rose to his feet and went to stand beside Gandalf who had come outside with the Master of Rivendell. Frodo followed him.

If my heart quails tonight, how much harder it must be for Frodo, the Ranger mused. Frodo had the hardest path ahead, but Aragorn would give his all to see that he reached his destination. His heart resolved, he took his place beside Gandalf and strode forth into the night.

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Fare You Well by Linda Hoyland

"The time has come for us to part and take our separate ways," said Aragorn.

The Hobbits had known this day must come, but they were much saddened by the parting.

"Do not grieve," said Aragorn. "We have trodden many paths together and forged a fellowship that can never be broken. For a little while, our paths must diverge, but always they will come together again. We will wander through the woods and across the fields again. Remember, dear friends, that we will always carry a portion of each other within our hearts, however many miles might be between us."

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Shadows by Linda Hoyland

Shadows had never troubled Faramir before. They provided welcome respite from the summer's heat or cover from the enemy's watchful eye.

These shadows, though, were different. No mere figments of light and shade were they, but creatures filled with a malevolence that assailed his senses and filled the very air he breathed. They seeped into the every essence of his being and drained his strength, his joy, and his hope.

There was neither sun nor moon nor stars in this place, only creeping, all enshrouding shadows. They clung to him like cobwebs, leeching away his life force. The more he struggled, the more tightly they held him, their tendrils burning and freezing, cutting and pinching at his flesh.

His strength failed. He prepared to welcome death's cold embrace.


A man's voice, clear as a bell, rang in his ears.

"Come, my friend! Walk no more in darkness!"

He held out his hand to Faramir. He grasped it. It was warm.

Light shone from a jewel upon the stranger's brow and he appeared shining like the sun in springtime glory

Filled with love and awe, Faramir cried out, "My King!"

Then the shadows dissolved like mist before the resplendent sun.

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Looking Back by Linda Hoyland

Author: Linda Hoyland
Title: Looking Back
Theme: A river runs through it
Elements: Mering Stream
Author's Notes: I fear I was stumped by this prompt and about to give up until a sudden idea came to me.I fear it is not very inspired, but I didn't want to concede defeat!
Summary: Faramir ponders his ancestor's decision.
Word Count:200

Deep in thought, the two men crossed the Mering Stream to return to their own land.

“Alas, that Gondor’s bounds have so shrunk since the days of Elendil!” said Faramir. “Visiting the mound where once he lay has made me think of how vast our realm once was, before the days of Cirion. Should my longfathers have better held fast your realm, my lord?”

Aragorn shook his head. “Master Elrond told me that Cirion granted the Rohirrim an empty land, which availed no man. Look at it now! Behold the fields of wheat and the pastures where the fine horses roam. And where would Gondor be without Rohan and the aid they have sent in times of war? My southern realm would have fallen long ago, had the Riders not come to our aid! Then what of you, my friend? Let not your wife hear you speak thus! Had not Cirion ceded Calenardhon to Eorl, you would still be a lonely bachelor, my friend!”

Faramir laughed. “T’was but a moment of foolishness. Our bonds with Rohan benefit us greatly. I was looking backward to the past when instead I should look to our future, which now is filled with hope.”

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Motherhood by Linda Hoyland

Rating G
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Never had she felt so weary and yet so blissful. Every emotion she had felt before today, seemed but a pale shadow of what she was experiencing now

The babe in her arms was the most perfect being she had ever beheld. Every fibre of her being was filled with love for her daughter, a love that welled inside her with almost painful intensity.

She would now live for this child, gladly die for her, or even kill for her.
Galadriel caressed the infant’s silver hair. The child whimpered fretfully.“Hush, Celebrian, no harm shall ever befall you,” she murmured.

A/n. I don't usually write Silmarillion stories ,but felt inspired to create this for the SWG 10th birthday with a little help from the prompt generator.

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

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