Disclaimer: I do not own 'The Patriot' or 'Lord of the Rings'.
4. The Otherworld
Gandalf peered at his odd surroundings as he walked along the crowded main street of Charles Town. He had left his horse by a tree to graze just outside the borders of the city so that he could walk on foot without the hassle of leading his mount around. He found very interesting the pistols the men fired in the air, which caused him to jump with surprise. He had seen many extraordinary things in his long lifetime, but the objects and manner of their celebration drew him in like a moth to a lamplight.
As Gandalf walked through the street nodding politely at the people staring at him with suspicion and curiosity, he couldn't help but notice a stout man standing before him on a platform, giving a fervent speech for all to hear. Gandalf stopped and listened behind two women who were chatting away to each other.
"I am Peter Howard," the stout man on the platform announced. "I've lost most of my hearing and my left leg fighting for the King's Army in the French and Indian War. And how does King George reward me? He cuts off my other leg with his taxes!" Peter pointed to his left leg – which happened to be but a wooden peg.
Gandalf grunted with surprise as Peter continued his speech, but became distracted as a young man approached one of the women in front of him.
"Miss Howard, isn't it?" he said to her.
"You know very well who I am, Gabriel Martin," Miss Howard replied icily without looking at him. "The last time you saw me I was eleven and you put ink in my tea."
Gandalf at first was surprised, then he managed to stifle a chuckle as Gabriel managed to come up with excuses.
"I believe that was one of my younger brothers...perhaps Samuel or Nathan..." he replied, shifting his feet nervously.
Miss Howard looked right at him and retorted: "It was you. And it turned my teeth black for a month!"
Gandalf raised his bushy white eyebrows at the image of a little girl with black teeth in his mind. I wonder what all happened after she had noticed? He wondered, swallowing another chuckle.
"I didn't...." Gabriel attempted to reply, but he was certain that he could lose the argument.
Gandalf sighed when the speech ended, and walked away to what looked like an inn. He felt in the mood for a good smoke and something to drink. Hopefully his money would be accepted in the Otherworld.
Once inside and away from the noise outside, Gandalf approached the counter. The room went completely silent as all eyes were upon him. He looked at them, and they began to avert from his piercing gaze. Then he turned to the innkeeper, who was looking at him as if he had two heads.
"W...What can I get for ye, sir?" he asked nervously as he slowly dried his hands with a cloth.
"An ale if you please," Gandalf replied, sliding a few coins across the counter to the innkeeper. The innkeeper picked up the money and inspected it.
"Are you from over there?" he asked Gandalf, nodding his head in the direction of Middle Earth.
"Indeed I am," he answered with pride. "Out of simple curiosity, I decided to drop in for a visit. What surprises me the most is how similar 'here' is to 'over there'." He chuckled as he pulled out his pipe. The innkeeper relaxed. This strange-looking old man is not as frightening at all as he looks! In fact, he sort of reminded him of his own father...
"Thank you, sir," he nodded at Gandalf. "Just let me know if you need anything else."
"Very well," Gandalf said as he picked up his mug of ale, and headed over to a table in the corner. This place is a direct reminder of the Prancing Pony in Bree! How incredible! He settled down, removed his hat, lit up his pipe, and began smoking away as he observed the noisy customers of the inn. He there decided to stay a few days here at least, at least before heading back to Middle Earth.
He closed his eyes for a moment in relaxation as the smoke of his pipe filled his lungs for a moment...
"Excuse me, do I mind if I sit here for a moment?" a man's deep voice questioned from above Gandalf's hat brim. He snapped his eyes open and looked up to see a middle-aged man standing over him, wearing one of those odd-looking three-cornered hats that the old wizard concluded was the men's fashion of the Otherworld. The man had a pair of piercing but kindly blue eyes, his clean-shaven face lined with approaching age, his well-tailored suit brown and plain, yet attractive to his frame.
"Of course you may," Gandalf replied at length. "I wouldn't mind the company."
The man quickly pulled back a chair and seated himself, placing his mug of spirits on his end of the table. Gandalf watched as he scooted up to the table in his chair and removed his hat, revealing a full head of chestnut-colored hair that was tied back in a pony-tail with a black ribbon.
"So where are you from?" the man asked after getting settled, which didn't take long according to Gandalf's observations. Gandalf took another draw from his pipe before answering.
"Over there," he said, unable to keep the tone of a chuckle from his voice. "From Middle Earth."
A look of shock appeared on the man's face. "Really? You didn't waste much time coming over did you?" he added with a chuckle of his own, which was more energetic and slightly nervous compared with Gandalf's.
Gandalf simply nodded, keeping the mouthpiece of his pipe between his teeth.
The man nodded in contemplation for a moment before piping up for a moment. "By the way, my name is Benjamin Martin. What's your name, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Gandalf," Gandalf answered, removing his great hat and setting it on the table. "Or more formerly known as Gandalf they Gray."
Benjamin slowly nodded as he kept his eyes on him. "Gandalf..." he repeated thoughtfully. "Interesting name."
"So is yours, Ben-ja-min," Gandalf replied with his usual humor. Benjamin understood his jest, and laughed.
"Just call me Ben," he said.
"Very well," Gandalf nodded, setting his pipe aside. "So...do you live in this town, Ben?"
"No, I live about a full day's ride North of here," Ben answered, leaning back in his chair, getting comfortable. "On a farm, actually, with my children."
"Children? How wonderful!" Gandalf grinned. "How many?"
"Seven," Ben laughed. "My oldest is seventeen, and a handsome lad he is, too. My youngest is two, but she isn't talking, yet."
"How incredible!" Gandalf exclaimed with true enthusiasm.
As the night wore on, Ben and Gandalf sat and chatted about each other's lives – or more about Ben's life, and Gandalf's input about it. To Ben, Gandalf reminded him of the father he had always wanted; someone who was kind, interesting, and good-humored. His own father had been the indifferent and sullen type, which made Ben wonder if his father had even cared about him. This man seemed to care, he seemed to be very interested in him and his life.
Perhaps Ben could prolong his stay...
A/N: Sorry it's so short, but I got to get this chapter out of the way before I can move on to the fun stuff!! Enjoy!!