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The Siege of Minas Tirith
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Arrival

*Oh good going, Pip. He'd just forgiven you for the
business with the Palantir and now you have to go and
make him angry again!*

Peregrin Took trotted unhappily after Gandalf as
he stalked down the long hall and out the big doors,
shooting uncertain glances back at Boromir's father,
hunched again in his chair cradling the broken horn.

*But he already knew Boromir was dead.* Pippin told
himself defensively as they emerged into the white
sunlight of the Fountain Court. *Doesn't he have a
right to know what happened? He's his father isn't
he?*

The wizard made a sharp right turn, went around the
big building and through an arch into a narrow yard
full of boxes and barrels and baskets of all kinds of
food. Pippin hooked an apple from an open barrel and
bit gratefully into it - after three solid days even
Lembas bread starts to pall - then grabbed a little
round cheese from a basket and hurried on after
Gandalf. The wizard plunged down a sunken flight of
steps, like a rabbit into a hole, and through a small
wooden door.

Pippin caught just a glimpse of a long, arched
passage of white stone, lit by lamps, before following
Gandalf through another door into a plain little room
with small windows set high and maps and plans pinned
to its white walls. A table half buried under a heap
of paper stood in the middle of the room, with a tall
Man dressed in black and white sitting behind it, and
a number of chairs and stools were lined up against
the near wall.

"How long has he been like this?" Gandalf demanded
of the Man.

Who amazingly seemed to know exactly what the
wizard was was talking about. "Ever since word came of
Boromir's death."

"No one sent any word." suddenly Gandalf didn't
look angry any more, just very sad and rather tired.
He leaned on his staff. "I feared he would take it so.
How did he find out?"

"From Faramir." the Man answered quietly. "Thirteen
days ago half the city heard the great horn's call,
faintly on the wind from the North. And three days
later Faramir rode in from Osgiliath with the pieces
of the horn in his scrip and a stange story of seeing
Boromir's body laid out for burial in a small grey
boat sailing down the River to the sea."

Pippin perched himself on a stools that was a little
too high for him, and bit into his cheese. *Thirteen
days, has it really only been thirteen days?It
seems longer, a lifetime almost. Strider said they'd
put Boromir into one of the boats and sent it
over those awful falls. It can't have still been
afloat!*

"It must have been a seeing," Gandalf was saying.
"Boromir's companions did indeed lay him in a boat but
they sent it over the Rauros and nothing survives
those falls. He is safe at the bottom of the Anduin
where no Orc or other filthy creature can trouble
him."

Pippin tasted salt with his cheese from the tears
running down his face. Boromir was gone. Not just far
away like Merry and Strider and Gimli and Legolas and
Sam and Frodo, but gone. Gone forever, they'd never
see him again.(1) So much had happened since that
awful fight in the glade that the finality of it
hadn't had a chance to sink in before. Boromir was
dead, and it was all their fault. His and Merry's.

"Your companion seems in some distress,
Mithrandir." the Man observed.

"What's this?" an arm in a flowing white sleeve
went around him. "There, there Pippin, my lad." the
wizard said kindly. Adding over his shoulder. "He's
exhausted, we've been riding hard for three days. And
grieved. He saw Boromir fall."

"And being a Hobbit no doubt very hungry." the Man
said briskly. "I can do something about that at
least."
***

The Man, whose name it seemed was Hurin and was
somebody important here in Minas Tirith, (2) took them
down the long passage and out a door at the far end
into a narrow alley lined with tall buildings. Then
through an arch and down a flight of steps to a small
house, like a little castle with a dome and turrets,
clinging like a limpet to the side of the mountain.

They sat at a round table under the dome, which was
painted blue with a gold sun and silver stars, and Men
in green and white brought them cold meat, fruit,
cheese and bread to eat and ale to drink. Pippin
practically had the food to himself, his companions
seemed much more interested in talking.

"It's not just Denethor," Hurin told Gandalf, "the
entire city is in shock. Boromir was the hope that
gave us the heart to fight on, without him - " the Man
shook his head.

"There is Faramir!" Gandalf snapped.

Hurin smiled wryly. "No need to bite my head off,
Mithrandir, I haven't forgotten my younger cousin."
then his face went grave. "I know Faramir's worth, but
all his life he has been overshadowed by Boromir. And
though he is as brave and resourceful, and far wiser
in old lore, he is not the born leader of Men his
brother was."

"There are few who are." Gandalf conceeded. Then,
flatly: "Aragorn is in Rohan."

Hurin's face lit up as if somebody had fired a
torch inside it. Pippin stared in awe, meat half
chewed in his mouth. "The Dundadan is here in the
South? That is great news, Mithrandir!"

Gandalf's eyes narrowed. "You did not know?
Denethor did."

Hurin blinked. "No word of Aragorn son of Arathorn
has come to us by Man or bird, or I would have heard
it as well. Denethor must have Seen him. He has the
long sight and percieves more than other Men, even
those of the Ancient Blood."

"Hmmm." said Gandalf.

"The Dunadan must come to Minas Tirith,
Mithrandir." Hurin said urgently. "I know the dangers
but only he can put the heart and the spirit back into
our people."

"Boromir wanted him to come," Pippin said suddenly,
remembering things he'd overheard while the Company
was still together, "but Strider wouldn't." Man and
wizard looked at him in surprise, almost disbelief. "I
heard them arguing about it many times." he finished
defensively.

"So...The Steward's heir desired the return of the
King." Gandalf mused. "But would he have set his will
against his father's?" sighed. "Perhaps it is as well
we shall never know." briskly to Hurin. "Aragorn will
come, but in some way no one, not even Denethor, will
expect." grimly. "Better he had come unheralded, but
it seems that was not meant to be."

"Why?" Pippin asked worriedly, "What's wrong with
old Strider? And why does Lord Denethor hate him when
he doesn't even know him?"

Hurin smiled wryly at that. "Oh he knows him all
right."

"What is the point of eavesdropping, Peregrin Took,
if you pay no attention to what you hear!" Gandalf
demanded. "Have you been walking with eyes and ears
tight shut all these months? Don't you understand,
Aragorn is Isildur's Heir and the rightful King of
Gondor!"

"Oh." Pippin said, rather blankly, then his eyes
opened wide in sudden understanding. "Oh!"

The servants were just clearing away the empty
dishes and cups when a third Man came in and said very
formally to Hurin, "The Lady Idril, my Lord."

The Woman behind him was much taller than a
Hobbit-lass but looked small next to these towering
Men of Gondor. Dressed in a rich, somber gown of peat
brown satin with black embroidery on the high collar
and skirt front, and black fur lining the wide
sleeves. A small, pale, pointed face peeked out from
beneath a dark veil, held in place by a wide circlet
encrusted with tiny leaves and flowers of gold. She
wore a great deal of heavy gold jewelry, much more
than Lady Eowyn had, including a big oval brooch
decorated with an Elven 'B' in rubies.

Hurin and Gandalf had both risen, so Pippin did
too. "I thought I'd find you here, Mithrandir," she
said drily in a surprisingly deep voice, "conspiring
with Hurin as usual."

Pippin looked quickly up at Gandalf, but the
wizard's face showed only bland courtsy. "How may I
serve you, Lady?"

"It is rather my part to serve you, my Lord
Mithrandir." she answered. "My father the Steward begs
you to pardon his hard words as the foolishness of an
old Man in great grief, and to accept the hospitality
of the Citadel as has always been the custom."

"Foolishness?" Gandalf answered as drily. "Denethor
will die long before he sinks into dotage. Even his
grief for his son he uses to further his purposes."

"And why not?" the Lady said lightly, almost
mockingly. "Do you not use every tool that comes to
your hand to further your ends, my Lord Mithrandir?
But for now at least your purposes are the same.
Neither of you wishes to see Minas Tirith destroyed,
is that not so?"

Then she turned her attention to Pippin and he
found himself looking up into a pair of eyes that were
amber colored like a cat's, and almost fever bright.
Yet at the same time cold, like the glittering snows
of Caradhras. "My father spoke also of a Halfling who
offered him service and got no answer. Would that be
you, Little Master, or is there another?"

Pippin cleared his throat. "That would be me, yes,
my Lady. Peregrin Took of the Shire at your service."
and bowed.

She made him a slight curtsey, a brief bending of
head and knee, in return. "Welcome to Minas Tirith
Master Peregrine. My father asks you to forgive his
discourtesy and accepts your service - if you are
still of the same mind?"

Pippin set his jaw, and carefully did not look at
Gandalf. "I am."

"Very well then. For now you may lodge with the
Lord Mithrandir - as long as he chooses to stay with
us. If you will both follow me I will show you to the
house prepared for you."

*Oh dear* Pippin thought unhappily. *What have I
done? Am I going to have to stay here even after
Gandalf goes home, maybe forever? What will Merry say?
and my father! Oh, Pippin, you are a fool aren't you.*
*****

1. That's what *he* thinks. See 'The Return' by this
author. (adv.)

2. Hurin of the Keys, who appears briefly in the Book
and features prominently in this author's 'Rangers of
the North' (adv.)

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