Siege of Minas Tirith, The: 18. A Battle Won

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18. A Battle Won

Pippin quickly decided he much prefered doing battle in the openess of the Pelennor fields to twisty City streets with enemies popping unexpectedly out of alleys and from behind walls. The Orcs and other creatures seemed readier to run than fight but the dark Men in their barbaric trappings were another story. Yet at last the moment came when there were no more enemies left, at least not standing. "Is it over?" he asked the Man beside him. He grimaced. "It is indeed, Little Master." Pippin looked at the dead Orcs and Men and horses scatted thickly over the ground, and at the huge grey bodies of the fallen Oliphants, and felt a little sick. "That's good." then "We did win didn't we?" "Oh yes." the Man looked grimly around, added quietly. "The only thing worse than a battle won is a battle lost. And sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference." Pippin could well believe that. "Thank you for looking after me." he said politely. The Man grinned down at him. "Light duty!" he answered. "Captain Hurin and Mithrandir underestimated you sadly, Master Peregrin." Pippin blinked, then caught his drift and blushed. "Boromir taught us how to fight." "You are a credit to him." The Man said warmly. Walking slowly back towards the City they ran across Gandalf, afoot with Shadowfax following, talking earnestly to Lord Hurin, Prince Imrahil and Lord Eomer, also dismounted and leading their tired horses. "Ah, there you are, Peregrin." the wizard greeted him. The Man saluted the Captains and went off but Pippin fell in beside Gandalf. "Have you seen old Strider or any of the others yes?" he asked. The wizard simply pointed ahead and sure enough there was Strider, with Gimli and Legolas and a number of tall, grey cloaked Men around him, facing what looked alarmingly like a crowd of ghosts, all green glowing and skeletal. The tallest of them said; "Release us!" "Bad idea." Gimli put in quickly. Strider and the ghost both looked at him. "Very handy in a tight spot, these lads, despite the fact they're dead." "You gave us your word!" said the ghost to Strider. "I hold your oath fulfilled." he answered gently. "Go, be at peace." The phantom seemed to close his eyes and Pippin could have sworn there was look of almost blissful relief on his face as he and the whole army of dead, rippled and blew away. Strider gave Gimli one of his dark looks. So did Legolas and the Men in grey. The Dwarf shrugged, a little embarrassed. "All right, I'm sorry. But they surely did come in handy." The Ranger sighed, shook his head, turned away and saw Gandalf, Pippin and the rest. The wizard bowed. For a moment Pippin just stared at him in astonishment, then he remembered who Strider really was and bowed too, feeling a little silly. He wasn't sure Strider liked it either. He just looked at them, tired and a little sad, inclined his head slightly in return then smiled a welcome that warmed the Hobbit clear through. "Hello, Pippin, I'm glad to see you safe and whole." his eyes moved past him to the Gondor Men. "Hurin?" The Captain essayed a smile but there were tears in his eyes. "Late is better than never, Dunadan," he choked, "but try not to cut it quite so fine next time!" Strider laughed and moved to embrace him. "I hope there will not be a next time, Hurinya." He released the Captain and turned to Imrahil. "Well met, Prince, it has been many years." Pippin saw the Man swallow hard before he answered. "Too many long years, my Lord and King. You return to us in an dark hour. I would your City were in a state to welcome you as you deserve." Strider shook his head. "The City and the realm has rested in the charge of the Stewards for many long years. I will not enter in, nor make any claim, until it be seen whether we or Mordor shall prevail." Hurin and Eomer both frowned but Imrahil nodded unhappy agreement. "It may be wiser so. I fear Denethor will not welcome you, my Lord." Pippin bit his lip trying to push back the memory the pyre and that last terrible cry. "Denethor is dead," Gandalf said heavily, "by his own hand, and his house lies in ashes." All four Men stared at him in horror and dismay, then Hurin, Imrahil and Eomer looked at Aragorn. "With Faramir sore wounded Gondor is left leaderless," said the Prince. "your City needs you my King." But Strider shook his head again. "I have no mind for strife with any but our common Enemy. For now I will remain but the Captain of the Rangers of Arnor. Hurin, you are next in line -" "Not I!" the Captain said vehemently. "My house has stood between the true King and the throne long enough!" Strider gave him one of his looks but Hurin stood firm, all but glaring back. Finally the Ranger sighed. "Imrahil then." and as the other Man opened his mouth to protest, "The people need a leader, better one they know than a stranger." "You are no stranger, my Lord," said the Prince, "but I will do as you wish." "Thank you." Strider said, and seemed really relieved. Gandalf and Hurin both looked less then pleased and Eomer bewildered. Pippin impatiently dismissed the whole confusing matter as a problem for the Great Folk to deal with and no concern of his. He took the chance to ask about something that was; "Where is Merry, Strider?" "We left him with King Theoden." the Ranger replied and looked at Eomer. The Rohirrim knelt down before the Hobbit, frightening Pippin with his somber face. "Theoden King commanded Master Meriadoc to remain behind in Edoras, but one of my Riders found this lying near my uncle's body." and he held out a blackened piece of metal which it took Pippin some moments to recognize as the hilt of Merry's sword. He took it with trembling hands. "But he wasn't there himself, so he must be all right, musn't he?" he pleaded. Gandalf put a consoling hand on his shoulder. "We will look for him." Eomer led them back to the place where his uncle had fallen. Theoden's white horse lay there dead and near it a fell beast with its head hewn from its long neck. Beside the beast was a tangle of black robes and a few twisted bits of metal. The search party of two kings, a prince, a wizard, a Hobbit squire and a dozen or so Rangers fanned out in all directions. Pippin walked slowly, looking carefully at the many dead, feeling sick and scared. *Merry's all right.* he told himself desperately, "Why shouldn't he be? You're all right and he's got twice your sense.* Then he saw a bare, hairy foot sticking out from beneath the voluminous black robes of a Southron warrior. He rolled the Man's body aside as if it were a feather, heart pounding. There was blood on Merry's pale face, his eyes were closed and his hand cold to the touch. "Merry! Merry, it's me." he sobbed. "It's Pippin." His cousin's eyes opened and he tried to smile. "I knew you'd find me." he whispered. Pippin sobbed again in relief. "Yes." "Are you going to bury me?" Merry asked. "No, Merry." he choked. "I'm going to look after you." he saw his cousin's grey cloak lying nearby and pulled it over him, then raised his voice in a shout. "Gandalf! Strider! I've found him, come quick!" They were there almost at once, the other Men crowding behind. Strider knelt down beside Merry and uncovered him searching for wounds. "He's gone all cold, like Frodo after Weathertop," Pippin told him. "What does it mean?" "That your cousin has done a deed beyond the power of the greatest warrior of Men." Gandalf answered grimly. "It was Eowyn." Merry whispered. "She did it, I just helped a little." the name seemed to rouse him. "Eowyn! the King, they need help, Strider -" "They have been seen to." the Ranger assured him gently, face grave with concern. "Now it's your turn, Merry." he lifted the Hobbit in his arms. "We must get him to the City." And so the King entered Minas Tirith on foot with an injured Hobbit in his arms, and passed unheralded and unrecognized up the six circles to the Houses of Healing. Hurin, Eomer and Imrahil however were recognized and heartily cheered by the people crowding the ruined streets. They made their way through the tumult and mounted to the Citadel where they found only three Fountain guards on duty and the doors of the Hall standing open. The Men exchanged puzzled and slightly apprehensive looks before going inside, slightly fearful of what they might find after all the evil fortunes of the day. Two biers stood before the empty throne. The body of King Theoden lay in state upon that to the left, his bed draped with the green and white colors of Rohan and his body covered to the breast by a magnificent cloth of gold coverlet. His hands were folded on the hilt of his unsheathed sword and his shield was at his feet. Candles burned in many branched holders at the four corners of his bier, and an honor guard of knights of both Rohan and Gondor stood with bowed heads and spears reversed around it. The King's herald held his banner at his head and two Women, tall and darkly beautiful but no longer young, stood quietly at his feet gazing sadly at his peaceful face. They turned as the Men entered and Eomer recognized them. "Aunt Elfflaed, Aunt Flaeda." He embraced Theoden's sisters, fiercely glad there had been kinswomen at hand to do what was needful for him and that he had not been left to the ministrations of strangers, however kind. Elfflaed kissed her nephew then pushed him back to armslength and said solemnly; "Westu Eomer hal! Hail King of the Mark." His eyes filled with tears. "It wasn't meant to be like this." he said almost rebeliously: "My uncle should have lived many more years and Theodred followed him. And I would have gladly served both all the days of my life!" But now not only was he King, but the last of the House of Eorl. He looked at the other bier and saw with surprise that it held the body of a dark Dunedain lord, one of the kinsmen who had come to Aragorn at Dunharrow. "Where is Eowyn?" he demanded of his aunt. "She should be lying here beside our uncle and in no less honor. What have they done with her?" The Lord Aragorn's Elvish lady stood by the Dunadan's bier. "Eowyn isn't dead, Eomer." she told him gently. "She has been taken to the Houses of Healing." He could only stare at her, choked by sudden hope - and renewed fear. She held out her hand to him. "Come, we will go to her."

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Morwen Tindomerel

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/18/04

Original Post: 01/21/04

Go to Siege of Minas Tirith, The overview


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