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The Siege of Minas Tirith
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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8
Preparations For War

Pippin woke the next morning to find Gandalf still
hadn't come in. According to the clock it was half
past the first hour of the day, (or seven-thirty as
they'd say in the Shire) and remembering he was to
report to Denethor at the third hour he got up,
washed, downed the small loaf and mug of milk the
Gondorim called breakfast and struggled into his new
trappings. The mail hauberk weighed on his body as
loneliness and apprehension weighed on his spirit.
Surely Gandalf wouldn't have gone off without even
saying good-bye?

Leaving his empty lodging he went up the narrow
alley and through the archway between Hall and Tower
into the Court of the Fountain, and found it full of
Men in sparkling armour with a few clad in worn brown
leathers scattered through the crowd. All somber and
silent with their eyes on Lord Faramir, standing with
a knot of officers under a black banner of the Tree at
the foot of the Hall steps.

The Steward was nowhere to be seen but Lady Idril
was standing alone in front of the great doors, a
large golden cup held in both hands. Her collar set
with jewels of adamant and pearl and her mantle of
silver cloth blazed like the new sun in the pale
morning light. Underneath the mantle Pippin saw a sort
of apron embroidered with the familiar device of the
White Tree under a black sun with golden rays. And on
her black veiled head she wore a crown of silver
leaves with smaller leaves strung on fine chains and
falling to her shoulders.

She came down the steps and offered the cup to her
brother. Faramir drank and returned it to her, and she
moved on to the next Man who did the same. It seemed
to be some sort of ritual farwell.

The last Man handed the cup back to the Lady and
she said something formal in a language Pippin didn't
understand. Then they all bowed to her and Faramir
turned away, heading for the stair to the lower
circles his Men forming a column behind him as they
followed.

His eye chanced to fall upon Pippin as he passed
and he smiled at him. Pippin tried to smile back, not
very successfully, and felt his heart moved in way
he'd never known before. He'd been a bit afraid of
Strider at first, though he'd liked Boromir from the
begining, but he'd soon learned to love and trust both
of them. What he was feeling now for Faramir was not
quite the same.

He wanted to go with him, even if it was to certain
death. He wanted to stand by this Man, to protect and
guard him - which was ridiculous of course, what use
would a little Hobbit be?

Slowly the Court emptied as the Men followed their
captain down the stair. "They go to their deaths."
said a sad voice at Pippin's shoulder. He looked up to
see Beregond, in his black cloak and silvered armor,
standing beside him.

The Man's grey eyes went from the soldiers filing
slowly down the steps to the Woman standing,
glittering, on the Hall steps watching them. "And
Idril opposes it and is angered with her brother for
going."

Pippin looked at the Lady too. Her pale, pointed
face seemed quite expressionless to him. "How can you
tell?"

Beregond smiled a faint, brief smile. "By her garb.
Those are the colors and devices of the Kings of Old.
To flaunt them is a taunt to the House of the
Stewards. I have seen her show her displeasure with
father and brothers thus before."

The last of the Men disappeared down the stair and
Idril turned and went into the Hall. Beregond sighed.
"The third hour approaches and the begining of my
watch - and of yours too I think, Peregrin?"

"Yes indeed!" said Pippin. It wouldn't do to be
late. "See you later, I hope." and hurried across the
court to the Hall.

Inside he found Denethor seated on his throne in
the chill white and black starkness, almost as if he
hadn't moved since the day before. His six gentlemen
in waiting were also there - standing quietly between
the great columns upholding the vault.

The Steward greeted him with a smile as he made his
bow. "Good morrow, my liege, I trust you slept well?"

"Very well thank you, my Lord," Pippin answered
politely.

Denethor gestured for him to sit on the steps of
the throne and continued. "One of your duties as my
esquire, Peregrin Took, is to beguile my moments of
leisure with songs or talk." he smiled again at the
suddenly alarm in Pippin's face. "I have heard you
sing - now I would hear your traveller's tales. Tell
me of my son! Not of his death but of the months you
journeyed together."

"Well," Pippin began, "we met at Rivendell. Boromir
was good enough to take special notice of us from the
very begining - though I'm afraid Merry and I led him
quite a life!"

He was careful to say nothing about the purpose of
their journey - and Denethor didn't ask. Pippin was
even more careful to mention Strider as little as
possible, but it proved surprisingly pleasant to talk
about Boromir and relive the early, happy days of
their friendship.

His tales were interupted several times by Men come
to confer with the Lord Steward and again in early
afternoon when the gentlemen in waiting brought back
the table and laid it for lunch, but this time with
two chairs.

The second was meant for Lady Idril now dressed,
plainly for her, in dark green velvet and smelling
faintly of horse. The minute he laid eyes on her
Pippin saw Beregond was right; Idril was angry, very
angry, with her father as well as her brother. But
Denethor didn't seem angry with her in return. There
was certainly nothing apologetic in his manner but he
clearly didn't want a fight - though Idril showed
herself very ready to pick one.

She had, it seemed, spent the morning riding round
the townlands outside the City; collecting provisions
and having them brought within the walls, and finding
quartering for the people and their animals in the
lower circles.

"It would be better for the Women and children,
inside the City as well as without, to take refuge in
Lossarnach and so spare us the need to feed and
shelter them." said the Lord Denethor.

"I have proposed it." his daughter answered. "And
recieved a firm refusal almost every time."

"If you were to set the example and lead them - "
he began, and was interupted.

"I will do no such thing." she answered roundly,
with blazing look. "If Minas Tirith falls then neither
Lossarnach nor the mountain fastnesses will be any
refuge and I will not be dug from my burrow like a fox
or badger! I am a daughter of Anarion, though on the
left-hand side, and I will die in my father's City, if
die I must."

That seemed to settle that. Denethor turned the
subject to the rationing of food.
****

The afternoon passed much as the morning had. But
when Pippin was dismissed, at the same hour as
yesterday, he was instructed to return that evening,
the second hour after sundown, for further duty.

As he'd hoped Beregond had lingered, waiting for
him. "My wife plans an early dinner today, I hoped you
might share it with us, Peregrin."

"I'd love to." Pippin said with genuine fervor.
He'd like nothing better than to get out of this grim
fortress with its troubled cross currents for a while!

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