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The Siege of Minas Tirith
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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2
A Cool Welcome

Two more Women, demure in dark dresses and veils
and wearing rather less jewelry than the Lady, waited
quietly in the entrance hall and followed silently as
Gandalf, Pippin and Idril left the house.

They went back up the stairs to the narrow lane
between the massive Hall and a line of tall buildings,
also of white stone, decorated with fretted carvings,
little statues and high windows inset with colored
glass. A guard stood at one of the doors, near the end
of the row, and opened it for them.

It led to quite a grand sitting room with hangings
of dull gold silk and a few pieces of splendid,
over-sized furniture. A wide stair, with intricately
carved balustrades of dark wood, led up to a big room
lit by three open arches of stone looking out onto a
north facing balcony. One Woman was tucking a brocaded
counterpane into place on the big red curtained bed,
and another was watching a Man in black and white
clothes lay a fire in the stone hearth.

"This will be your room, Master Peregrin, my Lord
Mithrandir will have the great chamber above." the
Lady told them.

The Man finished his work and left. Idril glanced
at the Women and they followed, then turned the full
force of that feverish golden stare upon Pippin. "My
father said you saw Boromir die. Tell me, tell me
everything!"

He looked at Gandalf for help but the Wizard was
staring out the windows and wouldn't meet his eye.
There was nothing to do but answer her as well as he
could without giving away Frodo or the quest.

"We were ambushed by Uruk Hai out of Isengard."
Pippin began hesitantly. "My cousin Merry and I were
seperated from the others, we were all scattered
through the woods looking for - for one of our Company
who'd wandered off, when they hit us. Merry and I ran
but wherever we turned there were more Orcs, we
couldn't get away from them." he began to shake at the
memory and sat on the chest at the foot of the bed.
The Lady knelt down beside him, those eyes of hers
fixed on his face.

"We were surrounded, trapped, when Boromir suddenly
burst out of the forest to cut the Orcs down. He told
us to run and we did, but the Uruks were everywhere.
Boromir killed ten, twenty of them, and Merry and I
did what we could to help, but there were always more.
He blew his great horn for help, the others heard and
started to fight their way to us, but they had
hundreds of Orcs in their way. Maybe Boromir could
have held out long enough for them to reach us if one
of the Uruks hadn't had a bow."

The vision of those thick black arrows thumping
into Boromir's body burned before his eyes, more real
than the room around him or the Woman listening so
intently. "The first arrow made him stagger, but he
recovered and cut down more Orcs, they couldn't get
near him. Then the second hit him and he fell to his
knees right in front of us."

Pippin heard his voice quavering and felt tears
streaming down his face. "Boromir *looked* at us,
trying to tell us something - to run maybe - but we
couldn't. I couldn't move, not even to throw the rock
in my hand or draw my sword. Boromir was dying but I
couldn't move! Neither could Merry.

"He got back up - I don't know how - killed another
Orc or maybe two, then the third arrow struck right
between the others and he went down again. I knew, we
both knew, he wouldn't be able to get up again. Merry
screamed and drew his sword, I did too, we tried to
get to Boromir but the Uruks just swept us up and
carried us off - we couldn't stop them, we were too
small - they ran away with us and left him there to
die."

Finally the sob he'd been trying to hold back all
this time burst out of him. "It's all our fault! The
Uruks wanted us, Hobbits that is, they weren't
interested in the others. If we'd let ourselves be
caught Boromir wouldn't have died!"

The Lady Idril put her arms around him and from the
sound of her voice she was crying too. "That's sheer
nonsense, Peregrin Took! You think they would have
risked leaving a warrior like Boromir alive to pursue
them after he had killed so many of their kind? Orcs
are not such fools!" She took his face between her
hands and fixed him with wet golden eyes that were no
longer either feverish or frightening. "Boromir's
death is not your fault. You could not have saved him
by surrendering yourselves. Nor would he have stood by
and let you do any such thing."

Pippin smiled damply at the thought. "That's true."

"Boromir died for you and your Merry because he
thought you were worth it." Idril continued intensely.
"You can repay him by proving he was right." suddenly
she smiled through her tears, and looked much younger
and nicer than she had before. Prettier too. "Most of
all you mustn't torture yourself with needless guilt.
Boromir wouldn't like that at all. He'd want you to be
happy."

"I know you're right." Pippin told her, sobbed
again. "But I miss him so!"

Idril hugged him. "I know, so do I. But he would
want and expect us to go on - and we must not
disappoint him!" and then she began to cry too.

Talking to Lady Idril made Pippin feel much better.
He was still unhappy about Boromir but he no longer
felt like he'd caused his death. Or guilty over
forgetting about him and enjoying the Ent House and
the food at Isengard and the Victory feast.

"It was not that you'd forgotten him, but that you
could not risk thinking about him or your grief until
you were safe." she explained. "As for the rest,
soldiers and adventurers must seize what plesures they
can, when they can. Boromir would understand and
approve."

After she left he looked hesitantly at Gandalf, who
smiled gently at him. "You have had a time haven't
you?"

And Pippin, for all he was trying to pull himself
back together, burst into tears all over again.

Gandalf crossed the room to sit on the chest beside
him and put a comforting arm around him. "My poor
Pippin. I would not have spoken so harshly in Meduseld
had you not frightened me half to death."

"I know," Pippin gulped, "I could have given away
Frodo and the Ring."

"And done yourself irreperable harm as well." the
wizard answered grimly, then smiled reassuringly as
Pippin looked up at him in alarm. "Fortunately the
contact was brief. And Hobbits, especially those of
Took blood, are made of tougher stuff than even the
Wise deem."

"I won't do it again." It was a vow - and not just
about Seeing Stones either. He'd been very foolish
indeed, he saw that now. He hadn't understood before
but he did now. He was a member of the Company of the
Ring, a sworn enemy of the Dark Lord. And while he
wasn't much in himself he was close to some very
powerful and important people; the White Wizard, the
Returned King and the Ringbearer, which meant any
foolish thing he did could have terrible consequences
for all Middle Earth. He had to be careful - and he
would be from now on.

Which reminded him. "You're not angry with me then,
Gandalf? I know you told me to be silent but he
already knew Boromir was dead - and I didn't say
anything about either Frodo or Aragorn."

"No you didn't. Poor, Pippin! I hope it's a long
time before you find yourself in such a tight corner
again, caught between two such terrible old Men."
Gandalf laughed, but sobered quickly. "Offering
Denethor your service was a noble and generous act, I
should not have spoiled it by treating you like a
child." then he sighed. "The Lord Steward and I have
never been friends, but now I distrust the strength of
his will and the temper of his mind. Grief and anger I
expected, and his hatred of Aragorn is no news either,
but this apathy that grips him is most unlike the
Denethor I know. Whatever else he may be he was always
a fighter." looked seriously down at Pippin. "I would
not willingly entrust anyone I love to his care as he
is now."

Warmed clear through by Gandalf's words Pippin cast
his mind back to the hall and to Denethor. The wizard
was right, there was more and worse there than simple
grief, or even the rather frightening hate and anger
he'd shown towards Aragorn. Something was very, very
wrong with Denethor.

"Something's been done to him." Pippin said slowly,
thinking out loud. "He's hurt inside somehow, and he
doesn't want to do anything but huddle in a corner and
nurse his pain."

Gandalf gave him a startled, almost respectful,
look. "That's very perceptive of you, Pippin my lad. I
do believe you've put your finger on it." looked
thoughtful. "But how wounded, and by whom?"

That Pippin couldn't answer. "Can't you help him,
Gandalf."

The wizard shook is head, grimly rueful. "No chance
of it. Denethor would never let me close enough to
help him - assuming I could. At least Idril will
recover now, thanks to you, Pippin. The fever's broken
and she will heal. But then she comes of a stubborn
line that does not give in easily to despair - or let
go of what is theirs. I wish I could say the same of
Denethor."

Pippin blinked. "But he's her father, don't they
have the same family?"

"Foster father." Gandalf corrected, smiled
crookedly. "By blood she's closer kin to Aragorn than
she is to the Stewards.

The Hobbit blinked again. "You mean she's royalty
too? But then why isn't she queen?"

"Because the Gondorim don't have ruling queens -
and her family is no longer accounted royal." the
wizard answered, tone sharpening. "See here, Master
Pippin, I have no time now to instruct you in the
history and laws of Gondor but must be about other
business." he stood. "Chiefly the gathering of news,
Hurin touched but the surface. Where is Faramir?
surely not still on the marches now he is heir!"
Gandalf turned back at the door for a quick smile.
"Get some sleep, Pippin, you've had three long days
and two nights with little rest. But sleeping or
waking stay here and don't go straying about!"

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