Chapter 24: The Continuing Debate Is Continued & Concluded, & Our Hero Lord Tallow Meets with Griefous Treachery Most Terrible

And so I did continue speaking.  ‘Verily must we strike against him, lest he destroy the entire world.’


‘I say we go to war!’ cried Prince Imrahil, who was a very tall man and loved to fight, broad and mighty even as an auroch.1  ‘Show that rotten Sauron what’s coming for him!’


‘But King Sauron is incredibly powerful and dangerous and scary,’ replied Mithrandir the White.  ‘He might use his magic to kill us all, and then what will we do?’


‘Then we will have died gloriously,’ cried Éomer aloud.


‘It is no bad thing to die gloriously,’ I commented wisely.  ‘Yet it is far far better to live, and to live gloriously and also win the war.’  And everyone agreed with my wisdom, for it was right.


‘But what should we do?’ asked Imrahil, who was very confused.  ‘Sauron is indeed much bigger and more terrifying than us, and also he has lots of armies and also all the rest of the Rings.  How can we defeat him by force of arms?’


‘We cannot,’ I replied.  ‘Not even I could best King Sauron in a fight, though it would be very close.  No, if we are to triumph over Sauron, we must destroy his power.  We must destroy the Last Ring.’


‘But how will that help?’ asked King Éomer, who was unlearned in lore.


I could have answered him, but Mithrandir the White began to speak and I allowed him to continue.  ‘Well you see, Éomer,’ he said.  ‘All the Rings of Power are circles, are they not?  And the power that they have is likewise a great circle, made of all their little circles.  Thus it is so that Sauron desires the Last Ring, so that he will have all the power of the world gathered unto himself.  Yet, if even one of those circles is destroyed, then the whole circle is broken and all the power will fall out.  So if we are able to destroy the Last Ring, then we can kill Sauron very easily.’2


All turned to me and I confirmed that Mithrandir the White spoke truely.


But Mithrandir himself was still doubtful, for he then did ask, ‘But Lord Tallow, how can we destroy the Last Ring?  For Aruman taught me much concerning magic rings, and if I recall arightly, is it not so that it is so that so can it be so that a magic ring must be destroyed in Mount Doom, which is over in Mordor and guarded by King Sauron.’


I smiled, ‘Yes, you speak truth, Mithrandir.  And here, then, is my plan.  Tell me, friends, know you of the shell game?’


And they did not.  So from my pocket I drew a coin, and three shells, and set them even upon the table before the eyes of all.  And then did I place the middle shell upon the coin, and with swift and cunning skill did I move each shell hither and thither, so that there was a great confusion.  And then did I ask, ‘Whither is the coin, friends?’


‘Under the shell on the right!’ cried Éomer, who had watched the display with great intent.


And lo! I raised the right shell, and revealed that (though he had watched the shell most closely) it was not there.


‘So even shall it be so even as we shall do so,’ I said cleverly.  ‘We shall march upon Mordor with our united host, to challenge King Sauron to battle.  And each of us, and aye, even the diverse captains and chiefs of our host, shall bear a false Last Ring upon his finger, and so shall it be so that the Last Ring of Mr Elessar who is now really King Elessar shall be obfuscated from the view of King Sauron.’3


And everyone agreed that this was a jolly good plan, so we all went off to get the army ready.


While all that was happening, I decided to go even unto verily the Houses of Healing, where the Princess Éowyn who I was betrothed to and who was very beautiful and whose breath smelt not foul and who was also a wicked and treacherous witch.  And lo! I came to the Houses of Healing after climbing many many stairs, so many, as if all the stairs of all the taverns in the entire world had been gathered and placed together, but I was not tired.  And I said to the evil Delion who ruled those Houses with cruelty and nastiness, ‘Hello you wretched fellow, where is Princess Éowyn?  For fain would I farewell her before I go off to do great heroic deeds.’


And the nasty no good sneering conniving weasel of a man replied, ‘O hello there, Lord Tallow, I wasn’t expecting to see thee.’


‘Well here I am,’ I countered brilliantly.  ‘Now where is she?’


‘Princess Éowyn’s out in the gardens I think,’ snivelled the odious creep.  ‘I suggested that Faramir keep her company, in case she became lonely.’


So I went out into the garden and, gentle readers, quail not at what I am about to relate.  For there indeed was Princess Éowyn, and her arms were wrapped embracingly all about the coward Faramir!  And he was embracing her with his arms wrappingly right back!  Truly, hath man ever known greater treachery than the fickle heart of a faithless woman, as indeed such creatures all too often are?


‘What is the meaning of this?!’ cried I, demanding to know what the meaning was of what I saw before my eyes.


Princess Éowyn looked up.  ‘Oh, hello Lord Tallow,’ she said, mockingly, her breasts moving up and down.  ‘Why, I was just getting to know Faramir a little better.’


Faramir grinned feebly, the grin of a cowardly idiot.


‘Why indeed, so I see!’ replied I accusingly.  ‘Well, then, so I see how it is so as it is so!  I wish you luck with your latest conquest, fair Éowyn the evil witch!  And you, Faramir, beware you well the wandering heart of a treacherous maiden such as this!’


And so saying, I left that place, and went off to war and to kill King Sauron, like a hero, and not like a mewling rat cowering in the Houses of Healing lusting after some princess.4  Though truly was my heart sore, for my love for that fair maiden had been true and noble and it was an evil fate that she was so nasty.


So off we went, me and all the Lords and all our armies and ye! each of us did bear a cunningly wrought forgery of the Last Ring, to confuse that rotter Sauron.  And our hearts were high and merry as we marched that long road to Mordor!  All of the Rohirrim and Gondorians and even the dirty Rangers were joyous and cheerful, for well we knew that we were on our way to a grand and glorious fate!5  And as we marched, we sang, and as we sang our hearts rose high, and as our hearts rose our valour became the greater, and as our valour swelled our weapons shone in the sun which was shining, and in the shining sun we travelled even unto Mordor, and as we travelled did all our voices rise in song!


Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!

We’re off to fight a war!

Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

We’ll kill King Sauron today!


Yippe! Yippee! Yippee!

Mordor will soon be free!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Our King is Elessar!


Yoo-hoo! Yoo-hoo! Yoo-hoo!

This day our foes will rue!

Hallo! Hallo! Hallo!

We praise our Lord Tallow!6


And then we got to Mordor.


1 Aurochs.

2 Absolute, unbelievable, flagrant and idiotic nonsense, falsely conceived and formed from beginning to end.  Nick Tallow, presumably, was (when it came to it) unsure why exactly this “Ring” had to be destroyed at all, and so invented this laughably poor explanation.

3 It is extraordinarily telling that Tallow, for all his monumental unlearnedness, was practiced in the execution of this simple swindling game.

4 Here, then, we come at last to the likeliest reason concerning Tallow’s otherwise inexplicable dislike for the Lord Faramir.  For while Tallow’s account itself is near-fully a certain falsehood, it is possible to glean some truth from it.

Following the Battle of Pelennor, Tallow did indeed tarry for some days in the Houses of Healing, and (as has been observed before) does seem to have borne a mutually-felt ill will towards Herb-master Delion.  It can be readily surmised from Delion’s few extant notes concerning Tallow that it was the healer’s (likely accurate) belief that of all the folk in his care, Tallow both needed rather less and demanded rather more care than was strictly necessary for his recovery.  Of especial interest is this entry from Delion’s notes on March 18.

"Late morning rounds completed…have been begged by Warden to obstruct Niggling Nic from speaking with Lady Éowyn, esp. when she is in company of the Steward (but also at all other times).  Warden seems to be of opinion that Nic may be active hindrance to healing of the Lady, and I cannot disagree."

Hence, it cannot be doubted that Tallow came across both the Lady and the Steward during his rest in the Houses.  What is, naturally, rather more dubious is whether Tallow ever had any claim upon the heart (or even attention) of the Lady Éowyn, however fleeting.  In all the texts scribed by or concerning the Lady Éowyn and the Prince Faramir, I find no mention of Tallow (or of anyone who may fit his broad description) whatsoever - and, as Tallow was not removed from the Houses, it is my opinion that whatever meetings he may have had with the Lady were both brief and (for all but him) unmemorable.

This then raises one final question; namely, whether Tallow himself held any desire for the Lady Éowyn, or if he merely cast her in his indescribably asinine tale as a lover for the sake of “drama,” knowing her to have been a significant figure in the true history.  To my eye, at least, the vitriol borne by Tallow towards Prince Faramir for “seducing” his “betrothed” is notable, and not otherwise sensible.  Ultimately, however, it is likely a blend of both.  Tallow’s infatuation was likely a minor and passing thing, if colouring his perspective.

Further, it seems likely to me that Tallow was canny of the tragedy (thus far near-fully absent, his banishment in the opening aside) to be had from the loss of “his” betrothed, and sought to exploit that tragedy in the crafting of his epic.

Tallow was discharged from the Houses of Healing two days later (or, as Delion recorded the event, “Four days too late and not a moment too soon.”).  Given Tallow’s knowledge of certain events following the end of the War, though, he clearly tarried in Minas Tirith at least a few days more.

5 They were not.  For many of those gallant men, the March of the Host of the West was the sorest trial they ever met with.

6 Assuredly a complete fabrication, though such a tawdry and ill-conceived song would not (in form) be overly out of place in certain dubious Northern taverns.