The Chronicles of the Fellowship
By Michael Weyer
Houses of Healing and War
The sun was setting upon the darkest day in Gondor's history. Some fires remained as the soldiers were sweeping through the city, looking for those who needed help. Civilians were aiding each other spreading food and medical aid where needed. The dead of Gondor had been cleared from the fields with honor. The orcs, meanwhile, were being left to a bevy of crows and scavenger animals that were clearly enjoying a grand feast.
For the Pensivies, it was no time for a happy reunion. The chaos of the battle had taken its toll majorly and they were all attempting to handle it. An entire floor of the palace had been turned into an infirmary for the wounded. It was a horrid sight for the most part, the floors stained with blood, bandaged people on cots and sounds of moans echoing through the chamber. The smell was enough to make even hardened soldiers gag but the bevy of nursemaids and doctors were doing their best to help those in need.
Some of the special cases were brought to the Houses of Healing, special buildings meant for the best healers in the city. Faramir had been given a spot in one of the beds to tend to his wounds, the healers working on him the best they could. Boromir was sitting at his brother's side. Despite having spent the day overseeing his city, he refused to rest, wanting to be there when Faramir awakened. His face was haggard with the tension of the last day but still hopeful Faramir would recover soon.
Nearby, Eowyn lay on her own cot, as much of her armor removed as could be to leave her comfortable. Her left arm was bent badly as her right hand was covered with a strange black color. Eomer was at his sister's side, his head bowed with concern. Gandalf was gazing at them both solemnly, leaning on his staff.
Susan was bringing a bowl of water to one of the maidens as she gazed at the wizard. "Can't you do anything?"
He shook his head. "Their wounds are greater than any mere magic can heal. Many are my skills but sadly…" He sighed. "My powers have leaned more for offensive than truly aiding others. I cannot help them."
"Someone has to," Susan hissed. Her eyes fell toward Merry on his own cot. "They're barely awake. The healers say it's nothing they can explain."
"I am not surprised," Gandalf said. "It is the Dark Shadow, the true essence of the Nazgul. Few can withstand its dark power."
An elderly woman sighed in agreement. She was in a dark dress with a shawl around her white hair, her features aged but eyes still clear with intellect. Ioreth, Susan recalled her name. "That is true. It is said their power can only be tempered by one that does not exist now."
"What do you mean?" Susan asked.
"It is an old saying," the elder woman noted. "Part of a song….The hands of a king are the hands of a healer. But, sadly, there is no king now."
She turend to see Susan and Gandalf staring at each other with wonder. "Aragorn," she whispered.
"My lady Ioreth," the wizard proclaimed. "Your name shall be well remembered for years to come! Guard!" He called to a nearby soldier. "Send for Aragorn at once!" The guard was startled but quick to obey. It wasn't long before Aragorn was racing into the room, Peter and Edmund behind him. It took only a few moments for Gandalf to explain what we needed but Aragorn was unsure. "I am no king yet."
Gandalf smiled. "You commanded the Army of the Dead. A feat only the true King of Gondor could achieve that. Thus, your hands are what are needed here."
"I am no healer." The man's countenance darkened. "I have far too much blood upon these hands."
"Blood can be washed away," Gandalf gently said. "Their lives can only be saved by you, Aragorn. It is time to accept that."
After a pause, he nodded and pulled up his sleeves as he walked to Ioreth. "Show me what must be done," he began.
For the next hour, he washed the wounds of the three, applying some herbs he had ordered. It was painstakingly slow work which the children attempted to help with as best they could. Peter moved to Boromir, still standing over his brother's body. "You need to rest," he said.
"I can't leave."
"Rest. And the city needs your help."
"I left him alone before and it nearly caused his death," Boromir stated.
"It's not your fault," Peter pressed. He put a hand to the older man's shoulder. "I've been where you are. I've been with Edmund when he's been badly wounded. I know you want to stay with him." He moved to block Boromir's view of the bed. "But you're not doing him any good here. You have to rest. Let Aragorn do his work."
Boromir stared at him before smiling softly. "You share with your brother a wisdom beyond your years." He sighed as he rose, looking to Aragorn. "You will let me know when there is a change?"
"Of course," Peter said. He watched the man leave and looked to Aragorn tending to Eowyn, his voice letting out a soft song as he tended to her wounds. Her eyes fluttered open and she gave a weak smile as he tended to her. Peter sighed as he did his best to help out, mixing herbs and getting cloths at Aragorn's commands and helping him tend to the injured trio. "No word of the others?" he whispered.
"None yet," Aragorn replied. He was by Merry now, Pippin sleeping by his friend's side. "They have passed beyond any of our sight, into the heart of Mordor."
Peter took a deep breath at that. "Three alone against that monster. The chances against them…"
"We must have hope still," Aragorn stated.
Peter sighed. "Hope seems in relatively low supply right now."
"I'm hungry. What time is it?"
Peter and Aragorn both started as they looked down at the hobbit on the bed. Pippin's head snapped up and his eyes flew open so wide it looked as if they were trying to escape from his head. He reached out quickly and grabbed Merry's bandaged hand. "Merry! Yer awake!"
"Well yes Pippin, I am," said Merry with a wryly smile. "But that doesn't quite answer my question."
"Oh! Well its past supper-time now," said Pippin, unable to hold back the wide grin on his face. "Though I daresay I could bring you something, if they will let me."
"They will indeed," said a voice coming from the door, and both hobbits turned to see Gandalf walking in, with a pleased and tired smiled on his own lips. "And anything else that this Rider of Rohan may desire, if it can be found in Minas Tirith, where his name is in honor."
Merry's face blushed a bit as he tried to sit up, but Pippin laid a hand on him to keep him from moving too much. "Good," he said softly. "Then I would like supper first, and after that a pipe…" Pippin's face darkened and he then shook his head firmly. "No not a pipe. I don't think I'll ever smoke again."
"Why not?" asked Pippin.
"Well…" said Merry in a reluctant voice. "Théoden is dead. He had said he was sorry he had never had a chance of talking herb-lore with me. The night before we left… it was one of the last things he ever said to me. I can't ever be bale to smoke again without thinking of him, and that day, Pippin, when he rode up Isengard and was so polite."
"Smoke then, and think of him," said Gandalf softly. "For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning. Though your service to him was brief, it should be a memory glad and honorable to the end of your days."
Merry smiled and nodded. "Aye…that is true." He winced as he laid back. "But perhaps…I'd best wait a bit. Not for me, but them." He nodded to Eowyn and Faramir.
Peter smiled at Aragorn. "Then again…hope does have a way of returning when you least expect it."
The throne room had taken no damage during the battle so it made sense as a place to meet. Gandalf was pacing as Aragorn, Susan, Peter, Edmund, Legolas and Eomer stood watching. Gimli leaned on a nearby chair smoking his pipe. Boromir, with reluctance, had settled onto his father's throne, doing his best not to look too uncomfortable on it. He knew the title of Steward now passed onto him but hated having to actually take it on. But despite that worry and the condition of his brother, he was doing his duty, something the royalty of Narnia had to respect.
"Frodo has passed beyond my sight," Gandalf gravely stated. "The Darkness is deepening."
Aragorn was staring outward. "If Sauron had the Ring, we'd know."
"Pretty sure everyone in this land would," Edmund couldn't help adding.
"It is only a matter of time," Gandalf said. The children were surprised to hear a nearly defeatist tone in his voice. "He has suffered a defeat, yes but behind the walls of Mordor, our enemy is regrouping.
"Let him stay there," Gimli grumbled between puffs of smoke. "Let him rot! Why should we care?"
As much as he respected Gimli as a fighter, Peter was once more reminded why dwarves weren't known for their tactical brilliance. Gandalf answered him as he walked to the dwarf. "Because ten thousand orcs stand between him and Mount Doom!" He sighed, shaking his head. "I've sent him to his death."
"It was his choice," Peter spoke up. "He and Lucy both. You can't blame yourself for all that's happened. All we can do now…is to try and aid them?"
"How?" Faramir asked. "We have not the strength of arms to invade Mordor."
"Our armies are still recovering from the last battle," Boromir proclaimed. "If Mordor launches another assault, we'd be hard-pressed to fight them off."
"Then we draw him out." All eyes turned to Aragorn, who spoke in a strong tone. "We force him to empty his lands. Then we muster our full strength and march on the Black Gates."
"A diversion," Peter realized. "It could work."
Eomer shook his head. "We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms."
"Especially what we have," Boromir added.
"No, not for ourselves," Aragorn agreed. "But we can give Fordo the chance he needs. We keep Sauron's Eye fixed upon us, he won't see Frodo."
"He gets in, throws in the Ring," Edmund went on. "And that should be Sauron's end."
Boromir was nodding as he saw the plan. "Sauron is the only thing holding the orc armies together as a whole. Without him, they'll fall apart, be too disorganized to achieve any damage."
Susan sucked in her breath. "It can work…but if it doesn't, we'll be committing the last stand of humanity to destruction." Her words weighed heavily until a gruff voice broke through.
"Certainty of death. Small chance of success." Gimli grinned as he spat out his pipe. "What are we waiting for?"
"A modicum of good sense?" Susan couldn't help asking. "We're talking about a full-scale attack on a force we're nowhere near ready for."
"Not to mention it'll be nearly impossible to draw Sauron out," Peter added.
The tiniest trace of a smile crossed Aragorn's lips. "Oh…I think I can find a way."
What Aragorn did was in private and the Pensevieves weren't really sure what it involved. However, it seemed to get the job done as he exited a private chamber, shaken but announcing that Sauron knew they were coming. That meant that once more, the children found themselves preparing for war.
"I should be going with you," Boromir stated for the fifth time as he stood in the armory.
Aragorn shook his head as he looked over the available swords. "No. We need someone here to keep order. With your father…gone…you are now the Steward. You must see to the people left behind." He glanced about and leaned in. "And should we fail….you will be needed here. To save what's left."
Boromir saw the seriousness in the other man's eyes and the knowledge this was a battle that seemed impossible. He nodded grimly as he put a hand to Aragorn's shoulder. "You told me to always have faith," he said softly. "You did at Helm's Deep. You did on the Paths of the Dead. You can do it here." He sighed. "I only wish I can go with. We began this journey together. I'd prefer to see it through to the end."
Aragorn smiled softly. "And I would have you with us." He sobered. "But you have your duty here. This city needs its protector."
"Go with all the spirits watching over you," Boromir intoned. He motioned behind him and a waiting steward raced up holding something. "Here. This is for you to wear."
Aragorn gazed at it, a leather top marked with the emblem of the White Tree. He looked up to Boromir's smiling face. "You fight with us. You fight for us. You have earned the right to wear your people's standard. And they will be honored to follow you."
Aragorn nodded to him. "Thank you." He became aware of Peter standing nearby. "You're coming with as well?"
Peter nodded. "All three of us." At Aragorn's look of surprise, Peter made a soft smile. "We've been split up enough on this journey. And if Lucy is in Mordor, we're going there together."
"The chances of coming back…"
"Are as fair as the chances of anything else we've done so far," Peter noted. He studied Aragorn closely. "Are you all right? Whatever you did…"
"I used the Palantir." At Peter's wide-eyed look, Aragorn quickly added. "It was the only way to get to him. To get his attention."
Peter whistled. "Hell of a risk." He kept looking at Aragorn. "Whatever he said…whatever he told you…You know how he lies."
"It felt real…"
"Do you believe it? In your heart?"
Aragorn looked away. "I do not want to."
"Then don't," Peter insisted. "We need you at your best, your head in the game. Whatever he has threatened, however he's warned…We need you now ready to lead us."
Aragorn put a hand to his shoulder. "I will be. And I will be honored to have you with us at the end."
"Don't say the end," Peter quickly added. "At least, not for us." He hoped his confidence was a lot stronger then it felt saying it.
Susan was going over a rack of weapons in the main armory, selecting the best arrows she could find. Her quiver was already full but she was filling a second as she guessed she'd need all the arms she could for this. She had changed into a new jerkin suit, more appropriate for combat than the dresses she'd been wearing. She became aware of Legolas coming to the rack, also choosing his arrows. She slid a pair into her quiver before speaking. "Not going to add a lecture on this being too dangerous, I hope."
"I am aware of how futile that would be," the elf said. He studied her carefully. "I doubted you when we first met. In your story of being a queen. However, I can now see the truth. You are worthy of a crown."
She looked at him with a light smile. "In my world, such a thing would be considered flirting."
He did not smile back. "I have no illusions regarding us. Even should we survive, you are not of this world. And my people are leaving it." He paused to rub her hand. "But I would have enjoyed spending more time with you."
Susan looked at him before smiling. "It's strange. I was always in a hurry to grow up. Living in England pushed me on. In Narnia, I was eager to embrace the Queen life, to keep myself busy, to learn and rule as best as I could." She brushed her hair back. "When we got back….I was almost relieved to be a child again, to have another chance to experience that growth." She paused, looking at her bow. "But somehow…it felt different. I realize now I was going about it wrong, trying to grow up far too fast."
"This land hardens the young," Legolas noted. "We've seen that."
"Perhaps too much," Susan sighed. "Children should be allowed to be children, not adults so soon. It makes me realize now that it's fine to look ahead to the future but not at the risk of living in today." She smiled softly. "I guess it took this trip to realize that growing up fast isn't always the best thing."
Legolas smiled. "A very wise outlook, Susan." He looked at her. "A shame, however. It might have been worth getting to know you more."
She smiled back just before a loud banging sound got their attention. They both turned to see Gimli messing with a helmet easily a size too large for him, trying to pull it off without knocking over another stack of weapons.
Legolas looked to Susan, his lips pursed together. "Of course, age and wisdom are not always hand in hand."
Her laugh was a bright echo in the solemn chamber.
Edmund came up to where Peter was polishing his helmet. Their horses stood ready to ride as other soldiers began to mount their own. A token force of guards were being left behind but almost every able-bodied man in the city was being mustered for this attack. There were few civilians about, most tending to repairs or mourning. Others did not wish to see their loved ones leaving for what seemed to be a futile quest. "Trying to look good for death?" Edmund asked. He was wearing a helmet of his own along with some new armor, his sword at his side.
Peter sighed. "Try not to be depressing, Ed, I can do that on my own."
Edmund moved next to his brother. "Whatever happens, we're together."
"She'll be there. Knowing Lu, right in the thick of it all." Edmund paused as he saw Boromir mingle among the horses, pausing to speak words to a rider here or there, each man looking honored by his presence. Seeing the two boys, he came over, his smile forced but there. "As I told Aragorn, I only wish I could be with you both."
"Your brother is here," Edmund pointed out. "Family comes first. We more than understand that."
"How is he?" Peter asked.
"Recovering," Boromir answered. "Eowyn too, faster than the healers expected. They say it's as if some power is helping her."
Peter smiled. "She is a Knight of Narnia. Aslan takes care of his subjects, however distant."
Boromir seemed unsure of that but decided not to press it. "Nevertheless, I am proud to have fought with you. And know that the prayers and hopes of all in this city go with you."
"We'll take whatever we can get," Peter said as he mounted his horse. Edmund did the same, he and Boromir sharing a long look of respect and understanding. They moved their horses to join the column making their way out of the city. Gandalf was on Shadowfax, the white horse seeming to gleam in the morning light. Legolas and Gimli were sharing a horse as Susan rode hers with Merry riding before her. Pippin was sharing a horse with Eomer, the two hobbits looking afraid but still wanting to see to their friends.
Aragorn was catching their attention. The man wore the emblem of the White Tree proudly with the rest of his armor. His hair was still long and unkempt but somehow, he seemed far more regal than the children had known him before. He rode to the front of the column, pausing to gaze at the soldiers gathered. "The night has been long," he called out. "And many of you wish to stay with your families. But I thank you for seeing your duty, to help end the evil of Sauron once and for all! Whatever we face…We face with the honor of your forbearers and the courage of men!" He turned and began to slowly ride out, the column following. Boromir stod by the gate, watching them go. As soon as the last horse passed through, he gave the order to have the now-repaired gate doors shut. His gaze was fixed on the band as the doors shut, praying deeply to see their return soon.
The children were silent as they rode together, each not wanting to be the first to speak. Edmund, not surprisingly, broke the silence. "Once more into the breach, dear friends…"
"Shut up, Edmund," his siblings snapped as they rode to face what they hoped would not be their final fate.
So finally getting around to setting up the final battle, hope to have it up a lot sooner than this chapter. Thanks again for your patience.