34. Fare Wells
I sat in the healers' cart and kept my eyes forward. If I looked back, I would be sure to see Faramir, Merry and Bergil upon the escarpment, watching us with broken hearts. To be left behind is a cruel thing, I thought, but to be left behind when all those you love are marching forward to their deaths, is the ultimate cruelty. Yet, I understood Elessar's orders. So did Faramir, for we had talked long into the night. His wounds were the least of his worry; his duty to those left behind stayed any protest he might have. As for the Hobbit, I understood from Pippin that this was the second time Merry had been left behind, to watch as his companion, his friend, his cousin, rode to what must be certain death. I had sat on Merry's lap, last evening, and tried to give him what comfort I could, whilst Faramir and he spoke of their pain. Pippin never once looked fully into his cousin's face. It was a bitter leave taking. I was glad I saw neither this morning when Elessar took the company through the Great Gate.
My own heart was breaking as the cart jostled about - but for a combination of reasons: the escarpment was where Denethor and I would meet before Anor rose, meet to find a moment's peace before the day began; this same battlement was where Boromir would stand, especially when Faramir had been long gone on some campaign or the other, waiting; the same reason that Faramir would stand upon it, watching for his beloved brother to return; and now the escarpment held my Steward and I would never see him again.
In the end, I did look back, compelled, knowing this would mostly likely be the last time I looked upon my City, Minas Tirith. Strange how a City can become enmeshed in the heart. Denethor had always said, 'My City.' So had Boromir. I found I had begun to call it the same. Beloved White City, sparkling in the morning sun, truly beautiful. The Tower stood strong and firm, shining in the light; Mindolluin stood behind it, strong, powerful, protective, as if its great arms would keep any enemy at bay. Peregrin circled above it and gulls called to one another. Far in the distance, I espied a pair of golden eagles soaring as they searched for prey. I kept my eyes lifted; I wanted no part of seeing the destruction that once was the Pelennor, though we crossed right through it. Naught I could do to keep the stench from my nostrils.
A Cat is sometimes thought to be above things of this world. Sadly, that is not how Eru made this Cat. My heart has been so torn, these past few days, so torn that I believed I was immune to further pain. The stench brought my eyes downward. I cringed and sobbed as I watched the green ground dried in cakes with the blood of proud and doughty warriors, blackened with Orcs' blood, filled with blades and armor, severed body parts, covered still with too many dead. It would be weeks, if those left behind had the time ere the Black Lord struck, before all the bodies could be removed for burial. Tens of thousands, Orcs, Easterlings, Haradrim, Men... No Elves this time. Not like the Dagorlad. No Elves but the one who rode next to Elessar in the front of the column.
"Alqualondë." I looked up after the cart's driver nudged me in the ribs. "The King calls you."
I jumped up in surprise. Elessar was riding next to the cart and giving me an odd look.
"Have you ever ridden a horse, my friend?"
I looked at him in amaze, then grinned. 'The horses of Gondor have a tendency to be negligent with their hooves. Many a cat has fallen to a wayward kick. I take care to stay away from them.'
He burst out laughing. When he had contained himself, he stretched out a hand. "I promise you, the horses of Rohan are better behaved. Come. Ride with me."
My heart leapt into my throat, not from fear but for joy. I jumped from the cart, fully trusting that he would catch me. Once I settled myself by the pommel of the saddle, I purred happily.
"Now, tell me, if you will, how you plan to scare a Mûmak?"
A/N - I don't think Gondorian or Rohirric horses had the horn on their saddles, as American saddles have, but just a pommel. http://www.hartcountyhorseclub.com/articles/saddleparts.jpg
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.