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Recaptured!: 107. Hey Ho To the Battle I Go!
As Pippin had walked with Gandalf and Legolas to the sixth circle, outside the walls of the citadel, to the stables of Minas Tirith, the hobbit's eyes had grown wider and wider. There were crowds of people gathering in the streets, mostly refugees, seeking shelter inside the City walls, elderly men, women and children and a few of the City Guard who were to remain under the command of Malwyn, who in turn would report to King Théoden. They all stared at the Ernil i Pheriannath, as Pippin had become known, some whispering to each other, while others cheered.
Many people had heard of the halfling who had arrived at the City in such a dramatic fashion, pursued by a wraith, the Witch King, and rescued by Lord Faramir and then Mithrandir. They had heard the stories of his companion perian who had battled and defeated the chief Nazgûl, miraculously being brought back to life. The word on the streets was that halflings had some magical power, equal perhaps even to that of a wizard or the Dark Lord himself. They said at the Houses of Healing that he had even roused the elven prince, to whom the Lord Denethor had entrusted the City, from near death.
As they walked Pippin tried to stay between the wizard and the elf, sheltering from the curious and inquisitive eyes of the local citizens. Gandalf several times got the hobbit caught up in his cloak as Pippin shyly tried to hide in the flowing robes.
Pippin was glad to reach the sanctuary of the stables and gain a little respite from the prying eyes and pointing fingers. Gandalf led him through the corridor until they reached the unfenced stall where Shadowfax stood, waiting patiently, but with an air that he tolerated the lodgings provided out of necessity.
"May I give he a sugar now?" Pippin asked Gandalf anxiously. The hobbit had carefully garnered several sugar lumps, saved from his own ration, in order to have something to offer the great steed.
"Yes of course." Gandalf smiled at Pippin's thoughtfulness. "Even a stallion so great as Shadowfax appreciates a kind thought and a treat."
Pippin had to reach up on tiptoe to offer the morsels, but they were graciously accepted and Shadowfax whickered softly to Gandalf as the wizard patted the horse's proud nose.
"All right Pippin, I shall lift you up now." Gandalf bent to take hold of the halfling. "Shadowfax has agreed to bear you forth and he will not let you fall."
"Could I just go walk until we are get at where the army is being?" Pippin suddenly felt even more anxious, not simply about sitting up on the high horse, but more at the thought of so many people looking at him. It would be difficult to be inconspicuous in such a prominent position. "Everybodies are go be look at me, I think Gandalf."
"I know Pippin," Gandalf drew back his hands but remained stooped to the hobbit's eye level. "That is part of the plan you know."
"For Nazgûl and for Sauron Dark Lord," Pippin whispered back conspiratorially, "but not at all other peoples in the village."
"All right," Gandalf agreed, standing up and urging Shadowfax forwards. "You can walk a bit for now, if you can keep up." In spite of his harsh words, the wizard offered his hand to the hobbit. "Oh and don't let the people of Minas Tirith hear you call their great white city, a village!"
Merry stirred in his sleep again and turned restlessly over onto his front, trapping his right arm beneath him. Éowyn gently tried to ease the hobbit around so that he was not putting too much pressure on the damaged limb or his wounded chest. She managed to roll him off his stomach and placed a pillow at his side to prevent him from rolling that way again.
Suddenly the lady's hand was clasped tightly making her start with surprise. "Pippin!" Merry gasped coming abruptly awake. Éowyn could not see his eyes as they were still bound with the protective bandages, so she had had no indication that Merry was almost conscious. She wondered if she should send someone to run after Pippin and fetch him back, but it was at least ten minutes since he had left.
"Pip? Pippin!" Merry gasped again clutching Éowyn's small fingers with his good left hand. "Where are we?"
"It's all right Merry," Éowyn whispered softly, "don't worry, you just rest. Pippin is… is with Gandalf," she hesitated to say 'safe', as this seemed rather presumptuous. "Here is the healer come to look at you."
"Wh-what?" Merry tried to sit but was too weak and flopped back down on the bed. "What is Pip… what is he d-doing with Gandalf?"
"Never mind about that at the moment, young master perian." Dysgwr felt Merry's skin to see if he had any fever and felt some heat there. "Your cousin is about his affairs at the moment and you must be about yours, which is to get well."
"I don't remember very much," Merry felt someone lift him and put a cup to his lips and he sipped the water gratefully, letting go of Éowyn's fingers to try and hold the cup there longer.
"Not too much yet," Dysgwr took the water away. "Do you think you can sit up now?" When Merry nodded, he gently lifted him forward, while Éowyn slid the pillow behind him and soothed his hair from his brow. "How about your eyes?" Dysgwr glanced at Éowyn apprehensively. "Mithrandir said I could try again to unbind them. Do you feel any pain in your head?"
"N-no," Merry considered. "I don't think so. I-I'm not sure if…" he trailed off, unsure what it was he felt nervous about. The last time he had tried to see Pip had been there, but the light had been blinding and painful but now Pippin was gone and Merry had desperately wanted him to be there if and when he recovered his sight. "I need to talk to Pip, in my head first." The hobbit decided that if he could not be with Pip physically, at least he could be with him in his mind.
"No Merry," The stern voice rang out across the bedchamber making not only the hobbit startle, but Éowyn and Dysgwr as well. "You must not do that!"
"My Lord I did not see you there." Dysgwr bowed and stepped a little away from Merry. "I beg you pardon."
"No I beg yours." Théoden nodded to the healer. "I did not mean to interrupt your ministrations and I'm sorry if I frightened you Merry." The King came over to the hobbit's bedside and sat on the chair, taking Merry's uninjured hand in his. "I have a message for you from Gandalf. He says you must not talk to Pippin in your head, not for the time being."
"But why My Lord." Merry turned his face automatically towards Théoden. He had become accustomed to positioning people without being able to see. "I really need to talk to Pip, please."
"He is undertaking an important mission for Gandalf." Théoden patted Merry's hand to reassure him. "Pippin agreed to do it as it will help Frodo and his companion. But it is important that you play your part too." Merry opened his mouth to speak but the King continued before he could utter a sound. "You must not speak to Pippin! You may hear him talking to Legolas and much of what he says might not make sense, but it is important you do not respond. Do you understand that Merry?"
"Y-yes, I suppose so." Merry agreed reluctantly. "But he will be all right, won't he? Gandalf wouldn't let anything bad happen to him, would he?"
"I don't know Merry." Théoden told him gently. "This is a time of war, there are no guarantees, you are a warrior now, you know that."
"Yes," Merry agreed sadly, "I know – it's just that…"
"You've been through so much, both of you." Théoden supplied, "and you had hoped to be with Pip for a while, that perhaps you had finished your part in this conflict. Well I think your part may have finished, Merry, but Pippin still has more to do."
Pippin trotted along beside Legolas, the bandages on his feet now quite black with dirt, but affording some protection for the injured hobbit. The elf held Pippin's arm, supporting him a little on the side of his broken foot and shielding him from prying eyes as much as possible, whilst Gimli walked on the other side, carrying the hobbit's winged helmet and acting as a second barrier to hide behind.
Windfola and Arod had been taken by Unomer and Drâmym to join the Rohirrim so the two horses might be properly armoured and supplied for battle and Gandalf had ridden ahead on Shadowfax, so that he could speak with Aragorn.
"You're not afraid are you, young Pippin?" Gimli asked him quietly, "I thought you were keen to ride upon the great horse."
"Ride on Shadowfax I gone go look forward at." Pippin agreed. "I not used so many peopling, peoples…
"…people…" supplied Gimli.
"What I sayed… people looking at I when I go along." Pippin peeped nervously at the large crowd by the broken City Gates. "Hobbits don't not like get looked at so much. It not just me, not used to be looked at so much – no hobbits like it. That's why we hide usual when big people come at we."
"Hmm, bit like dwarf women I suppose." Gimli chortled. "They don't like to be looked at either."
"Why is they little, like hobbits?" Pippin asked, distracted for the moment. "Do they go be nervous too?"
"Not really," Gimli considered, stroking his long beard thoughtfully. "They're about the same height as dwarf men and in fact, they even look quite similar to dwarf men, including the beards."
"Do they?" Pip said in wonder his eyes growing wide. "How do you go know which is which if you all go be the sames?"
"Well we know all right." Gimli frowned as he deciphered Pip's muddled words. "But other folk can't always tell and so the dwarven women tend to not to travel abroad very much."
"But if they does, how can we knows which be which of they?" Pippin persisted.
"You can't as far as I know." Gimli asserted, "That's what makes them shy."
"You're not go be too shy are you Gimli?" Pippin looked at the dwarf carefully with a critical expression. "I too think you are some little bit – are you?"
"What are you saying you cheeky young scoundrel?" Gimli snorted.
"Oh my dear Gimli," Legolas held a hand up to his face to hide his smile. "I had never thought of that until Pip mentioned it."
"How dare you suggest…" Gimli spluttered in growing fury as he realised the implications of what the hobbit and the elf were saying.
His indignation was cut short by Pippin's sudden yelp and he scurried back behind Legolas and pulled the elf's cloak over his head.
They had crossed the broken City gates and journeyed on towards the fields of the Pelennor and suddenly, as they rounded the City walls, there before them was the army – a host of more than 7,000 men, some mounted, some on foot, but their ranks stretching far away into the distance. "Legolas… I – I c-can't do!" Pippin's voice quavered in terror. "Not ride on Shadowfax and all these many people go look at I. Please I too scared now!"
Legolas dropped to one knee as Pippin attempted to hide himself in the elf's cloak. "Pippin, look at me!" Legolas demanded. The hobbit lifted his head up slowly, his bottom lip trembling in consternation. "Think of all the things you have done."
"I not do no things, I, Legolas," Pippin whispered fearfully. "What you mean?"
"You have been captured by orcs and survived. Tortured and handicapped by Saruman and imprisoned on Orthanc. Looked into the palantír, taken to Barad-dûr by the Witch-King. Escaped from not only the Dark Tower but from Mordor itself. You killed the giant spider. You saved Merry's life several times. You saved Faramir. You were nearly burnt alive by Denethor. You helped Merry to mentally defeat the Chief Nazgûl and now you tell me you can't ride on a big horse for a few days?"
"I knowed I do things, Legolas," Pippin agreed. "I not scared at do things tell Sauron I got Ring and not afraid ride on Shadowfax. I said I do all those and I not won't do."
"What then little one?" Legolas took his hand and looked at Pippin anxiously. "What is wrong?"
"It's too many big peoples looking at I."
"Do not worry Pippin." Legolas laughed a little at his apprehension. "You will have to get used to that. It is just a small part of being a hero."
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