89. Minas Tirith
The hobbit had limped along at the wizard's side, using his little crutch to ease the pressure on his broken foot, until he was too tired to walk any further through the circular streets of the Citadel and sank down exhausted on the pavement. He felt very lost and alone without Merry and now without Legolas. Gandalf just seemed grumpy as usual.
Gandalf was inclined to think that Peregrin would not get so tired if he concentrated more on walking and less on gazing around at the sights and people, but then he realised that it was a little harsh, as the young hobbit had never seen, nor probably imagined, such a place before and the hustle and bustle of the streets, particularly in the current siege conditions, had to be fascinating to him. Gandalf leaned down and helped Pippin back up to his feet again. He had avoided carrying him as the wizard felt Pippin, himself might object to be carted around like a babe, but when the hobbit stumbled and nearly fell, the wizard lifted him up completely and carried him the rest of the way.
Pippin would have preferred to stay with Legolas and Gimli and did not know why he had to go with Gandalf, but the wizard had been most insistent, finally just taking Pippin's hand and leading him firmly out of the room.
In fact there were several reasons for Gandalf taking Pippin with him on his visits. Denethor, Steward of the City of Minas Tirith and father of both Boromir and Faramir had requested a meeting with the halfling. Stories told to him by Gimli the dwarf of how his oldest and most beloved son, Boromir had met his end defending two halflings and that this was one of the twain. More recently he had learned from the men that brought his wounded son to him, that the same halfling had also saved the life of Faramir and that he had been promised a knighthood. After which Faramir had been injured attempting to defend this same halfling.
All this, of course, was a complete mystery to Pippin, who was now enjoying the view of the City from the vantage point of Gandalf's shoulder and was in fact quite happy to be carried. When they were admitted to the tower, Pippin was still in awe of the grand building and gazed around at everything, wishing he could ask Gandalf questions.
Eventually they reached their destination and Gandalf set Pippin down again. They were outside large impressive double doors and there were guards either side. Gandalf spoke with them and they looked at Pippin for a moment, then the doors were opened and Gandalf ushered Pippin to follow him inside.
Within the great chamber Pippin sadly saw that the noble Captain was laid upon a bier, unmoving and unconscious. Beside him sat a much older man, a once mighty warrior by the look of him Pippin thought, not unlike to Boromir himself, but now bowed and tired. He looked up at Gandalf quizzically, but there was no information to be had for the silent halfling. Pippin wished Merry were with him, at least when Merry was there he could rely on him to know what was happening and tell their tale. The feeling of isolation grew even more intense within the hobbit.
The old man rose up and spoke with Gandalf, they seemed to be arguing. Pippin crept unnoticed forward to look at the Captain. He took his large hand in his small one and touched it to his own face. He noticed how hot it was, the Captain must have a fever, Pippin thought. He wondered why he was here and not in the nice smelling house with Legolas, that seemed to be where they took ill people.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and realised the old man had hold of him, turning him inexorably around and lifting his chin so that he could look at his face. Pippin stumbled backwards in confusion, dropping his crutch and bending awkwardly to retrieve it. The old man stayed Pippin's hand and picked the crutch up himself and gave it back to the bemused hobbit.
The man then turned away to speak to a liveried servant standing to one side, who then hurried out, only to return with a small hobbit sized stool for Pippin, which was placed beside a large chair now occupied by Gandalf. Pippin sat, looking from one to the other and beginning to feel rather bored and lonely. He would have liked to see how the Captain was again and Legolas. The ache in his head was growing stronger, which meant either Legolas was still stunned and not keeping his pain to himself as he usually did or he was very badly hurt and this was just a small sample of what the elf was suffering. Pippin hoped it was the first.
When Mithrandir re-entered his Chamber he now had the halfling that he had told Denethor about earlier. The steward was surprised. He had been expecting a small man, perhaps a slightly shorter version of Gimli the dwarf, but he not imagined anything like this!
"This is nothing more than a child that you bring me, surely?" Denethor turned on Mithrandir in anger. "You say that this babe was chosen to be a member of your Fellowship, I believed you to be a fool Mithrandir, now I would proclaim you an idiot. It is no great wonder that my son was lost if he were charged to care for such an innocent."
The small child looked at him for a moment but took no heed of him, looking past him at Faramir, lying fevered and sick on the bier. The Steward turned back to the wizard. "Why does he stare so at my son, but say nothing? Will you not introduce him to me even?"
"Peace my Lord," Gandalf said appeasingly, "I did not explain all to you of this one."
"What more is there to tell? It would seem this child has caused the death of one of my sons and the mortal wounding of the other." Denethor spat back at the wizard.
"He is not a child, he is a halfling and Peregrin did not cause Boromir's death." Gandalf sat wearily in the tall chair beside the throne. "Orcs shot your son with arrows, you cannot blame the halfling for that tragedy. Peregrin, I understand, saved Faramir's life on the mountain in an ambush."
"But then my son was wounded trying to defend him." Denethor's voice rose in anger and frustration. "A high price to repay one deed. But what more have you not explained of this halfling?" The Steward realised his earlier question had still not been answered.
"He is without speech or hearing." Gandalf said simply. "So I regret it will be impossible for you to interrogate him concerning your son's death."
"Then why in pity's name did you bring him on your Quest?" Denethor noticed now that the child-like halfling had gone to his son and was holding his hand and feeling his brow. He felt a sudden and unexpected wave of sympathy for this small and apparently helpless creature. "Perhaps that was what had driven both his sons to help him, to their cost. "How did you expect one so afflicted to manage?"
"He was whole when we set out." Gandalf explained. "He and his companion, Meriadoc, were captured by Saruman at Isengard and he laid a bewitchment on them both."
"So his companion is also stricken without speech and hearing?" Denethor watched Pippin as he held Faramir's hand up to his face, thinking again how naïve and innocent this one looked, to be set in the midst of a war. "And he has gone off to ride with the Rohirrim."
"No, Meriadoc was blinded." Gandalf watched Denethor's close observation of Pippin with interest. "It would seem a foolhardy choice to have made on the face of it, but in my heart I am sure it is for the best."
"Which is why I choose not to allow your heart to guide me Mithrandir." Denethor turned back from watching Pippin to face the wizard. "Your heart it seems makes very unwise choices."
"Even the very wise cannot see all ends." Gandalf said. "I find with hobbits it is better not to underestimate them and allow them to make their own choices."
"Yet your lack of council for this one does not seem to have served him well." Denethor took Pippin by the shoulder and turned him gently around and lifted his chin up to look at his face. "He is bruised and hurt." Pippin stumbled backwards awkwardly and dropped his crutch. Denethor caught his hand as he bent to pick it up and reached down for the piece of wood himself. "And it would seem crippled now as well as deaf and dumb."
"He will recover from his hurts." Gandalf sighed. "At least it is to be hoped."
"Surely if you had used better care he would not have suffered them in the first place." Denethor did not wait for Gandalf to respond but turned quickly to a servant. "Fetch a suitable seat for this little one, he should not stand on his injury. Bring something for him to sup as well, he looks half starved." Denethor looked accusingly at Gandalf at this last comment.
The halfling sat on the small stool when it was brought, looking anxious and uncomfortable. "Do you have no means of communicating with him?" Denethor quizzed the wizard. "I would bestow on him the honour of knighthood that my son promised, but he needs to understand the purpose."
"He can read letters a little," Gandalf smiled inwardly at the thought of Pippin's cavalier approach to literacy. "And there is another method by which he can be reached, but I hesitate to use it."
"What method is that?" Denethor seized on Gandalf's veiled information. "Why would you hesitate if it serves the purpose? We are past the point of prudence now wizard."
"I can reach into his mind." Gandalf held up his hand before Denethor could speak. "But I dislike doing that for his sake. Our minds are not very compatible and it can be quite traumatic for him." Gandalf remembered speaking with Pippin in Isengard when he had first been afflicted and how difficult they both had found it. "Also the elf, Legolas Greenleaf can communicate with him in this way, but he lies injured in your Houses of Healing."
"Then I will see that he receives the best care." Denethor looked at Pippin again. "I would confer the knighthood on this little one for his valour, but I would also dearly like to question him about the last stand of my dear son. He was one who saw him fall. It would ease my sorrow greatly to learn of Boromir's final hour."
At that moment the servant returned with two others and they set a table with wine and sweet white cakes. The servant poured a goblet of wine and spoke to Pippin, who shook his head in bewilderment and touched his ears. The servant looked at Gandalf instead and asked the question again. "Is the little one old enough to drink wine, Sir?"
"Yes, he is." Gandalf smiled at this. Poor Pippin, in this great City everyone seemed to think he was eight years old and he could not even explain that he was nearly an adult. Much to the hobbit's relief and delight he was given the wine and a plate with several of the white cakes to accompany it. For the first time Denethor saw the sad-faced halfling smile.
"How bad do you think the injury is?" Gimli persisted. "He should surely be conscious by now, it was naught but a blow to the head."
"But you say that the Nazgûl brought about this injury." The healer eased Legolas back to the pillow having lifted his head to examine the swollen bruise. "It may not be the blow that causes him not to awaken."
"What then?" Gimli demanded, as if the information of itself could make his friend recover. "What ails him?"
"We think it is the Black Shadow, it comes from the Nazgûl," the healer explained, "and those who are stricken with it fall slowly into an ever deeper dream and then pass to silence and a deadly cold and so die."
"No, that cannot be!" Gimli's voice filled with horror. "Legolas has encountered the Nazgûl before and not been so afflicted. Why should he succumb now?"
"He has the look of the Shadow about him, I am sorry to say." The healer told the dwarf.
"I do not believe that he is held in the thrall of the Nazgûl." Gimli and the healer looked around at the sound of Mithrandir's voice.
"Why do you presume to read the symptoms better than I Master Wizard?" The healer asked. "I have seen much of this affliction of late."
"Because I was present when the elf was struck down." Gandalf explained. "He was not in direct conflict with the Witch-King and from his previous contact he will have some immunity."
"We have called to him long and patiently, Gandalf," Gimli took Legolas's hand and patted the back of it. "He does not stir, and yet the injury should not hold him for so long."
"Maybe the call is of the wrong kind." Gandalf indicated Pippin who had limped in on his crutch and was at the side of the bed looking up at his friend.
"Do you think young Pippin could reach him then?" Gimli asked hopefully, "With the mind touch."
"I think it has a good chance of success." Gandalf took Pippin's crutch and set it against the side of the bed and then lifted the hobbit up to sit on the roomy bed next to Legolas. Pippin looked enquiringly up at Gandalf. He could tell the wizard expected something of him, but he wanted confirmation so that he would not get it wrong.
Gandalf nodded encouragingly and took Pippin's hands and placed them on Legolas's cheeks. Pippin looked at the closed sleeping eyes and thought very hard.
'legolas? you go in there?'
'legolas? come say things at i…'
A whisper of a smile.
'legolas? you go big hurt – i feel he'
'Sorry Pip, did it hurt you?'
'no much… you go come wake now please?'
'Wake now? Why? I was dreaming.'
'you go dream too long now – come go wake now…'
Legolas's eyes fluttered open and he smiled at the face leaning over him. "Pippin!" The hobbit smiled back. Even though he couldn't hear the sound, he could recognise his own name now when it was spoken.
"Well done little hobbit." Gimli patted Pippin on the back with slightly too much gusto, knocking him flat. "I'm sorry!" He quickly picked him up again as he was squashing Legolas.
"How was that accomplished?" The healer looked from Gandalf to Pippin in amazement. "Does the little one have special healing powers?"
"No, really not at all." Gandalf said hurriedly, anxious that this man should not get the wrong impression. "He just has a close affinity with the elf, but no special healing powers at all."
"Hmm…" The healer did not seem convinced but turned his attention back to Legolas. "How are you feeling Master Elf? Does you head pain you much?"
"Yes, I have a very bad headache," Legolas felt around the back of his head to the bruised spot. "But that may be because I slept for so long."
"It's more likely because you fell off your horse and hit your head." Gimli harrumphed.
"Why Master Gimli, how fare you this long time?" Legolas ignored the implied criticism of his horsemanship, "I have missed your company and that of your axe, which would have proved a boon in recent days."
Pippin sat happily on Legolas's bed looking from Gimli to the elf as they bantered and caught up on their news. Legolas kept his arm around Pippin, stroking the hobbit's hair occasionally, while the healer bathed the back of the elf's head gently and then applied some ointment before bandaging the wound. Gandalf drew a chair to the bedside and joined their conversation.
"We must leave for our lodging soon," the wizard told them, "The Lord Denethor, Steward of this City who is Faramir's father, wishes to confer the promised knighthood on Pippin tomorrow and I'm wondering the best way to explain it to him."
"I could tell him in the mind link." Legolas suggested. "It is not something that would give too much information to the wraith."
"I think it would be useful, should you be well enough to be released from here, if you came with him and interpreted anything that is said to him." Gandalf agreed, "but I will write out for him tonight what is to happen and he can read it. I think it will be better that way. Besides we shouldn't overtax your injury tonight."
"I am much recovered, thank you." Legolas patted the back of his head. "Although I am concerned for the safety of Arod."
"Do not worry," Gimli assured him. "Arod found his way to the City gates and is now in the stables," the dwarf added proudly, "by my hand."
"Why Master Dwarf," Legolas teased, "we'll make a horseman of you yet!"
Two servants came in bringing food for Legolas and Gimli who were to dine there. Gandalf took Pippin, who looked disappointed to be leaving just as sustenance was arriving, and set him down again with his crutch, guiding him out of the door.
The hobbit managed to limp some of the way to Gandalf's lodgings, but the wizard became impatient with Pippin's slowness and picking him up onto his shoulder again, carried him the rest of the way.
While Pippin sat at the table and made short work of the supper Gandalf provided, bread, cheese, a little honey and ale to drink, the wizard wrote, as simply as he was able, a description of what was to come. When he had finished writing Gandalf, knowing Pippin's reluctance for bookwork, gave him the parchment to read whilst holding up a delicious looking cake, indicating it would be the hobbit's reward for reading the message.
Pippin, although he found it difficult, was not so reluctant to read the words as Gandalf assumed. He was anxious to know what was going on around him, as he found most of it extremely perplexing. Carefully tracing the words with his finger he settled down to study.
'My Dear Peregrin, You are in the City of Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor. The elderly man you met today is The Steward of Gondor, The Lord Denethor. He is the father of the Captain whose life you saved on the mountain, Captain Faramir, who now lies in his father's chamber stricken with the poisoned dart.
'Captain Faramir asked that, for your bravery, you be given a Knighthood. That is a great honour, and the Lord Denethor wishes to confer that on you tomorrow.
'Lord Denethor is also the father of Boromir and he would like to learn what took place when Boromir fell defending you and Meriadoc from the orcs. Legolas will come too and say out loud anything that you wish to tell him.
'I trust you understand all of this, Peregrin, but if you want to ask a question, write it out for me now.' and he signed it, 'Your friend, Gandalf'
Pippin finished reading and then read it through again, especially the part about Boromir and that Denethor was father to both him and Faramir, his noble Captain. That would mean the two warriors were brothers! So he, Pippin, had saved the life of Boromir's brother. Although he could never repay the debt to his brave friend, somehow he felt as if a small part of what he owed to the warrior was given back.
As Pippin read through for the second time the dyslexic hobbit pointed at some of the words that he had trouble deciphering. Each time Gandalf wrote an alternative word, although he frequently had to think for a few moments.
'Steward' Pippin pointed to, 'Mayor' Gandalf wrote. 'elderly' the hobbit quizzed. Gandalf smiled and wrote 'old'. Then Pippin frowned and pointed to 'Knighthood'.
Gandalf thought for a moment and then wrote 'In the Great Hall, you must kneel before Lord Denethor and he will touch you with a sword on your shoulder and name you Sir Peregrin Took.'
Pippin read this twice and wondered why anyone should make such a fuss of what he had done. He and Merry had been through far worse and been scared most of the time. He had almost become accustomed now to battling and charging headlong into danger. Very different, he thought, from the hobbits that had left the Shire with Frodo and Sam so long ago.
Pippin pointed to the words 'Sir Peregrin Took' then frowned up at Gandalf with a puzzled shrug.
He was also anxious not to go back to the strange old man, the Steward, the one that Gandalf called Denethor in his note. Pippin was not certain why, but the man worried him, made him think of something that really scared him.
No! It was… Pippin suddenly realised what the man made him think of. The glass ball! The one Saruman had made him look into, that he had stolen from Aragorn's bag. The compulsive agony the thing had made him feel, this man, this Steward, he had been there somehow. He too had suffered this compulsion. That was what scared Pippin!
While these thoughts ran through his head, Gandalf had written, 'because you are very brave!'
Pippin thought about this for a moment. He did not feel especially brave, also, although he did not dare write it down, he was a little tired of Gandalf taking him hither and thither without so much as a by-your-leave. Perhaps it was time to assert himself with the wizard, by the only means at his disposal, a well-planned sulk.
Pippin took the quill and wrote 'im not braev im scared so i wont go.'
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.