"We've Come to Minas Tirith to Look at the King" by Pearl Took

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A/N: My idea for this story ended up bigger than just Aragorn’s coronation day, and I quickly realized that if I told the whole tale this would not be ready in time to post for the challenge. I will write and post the back story as soon as I can.

Alsnae and Iscar gapped at the sight before them. The White City rose out of the ground as majestically as the mountain it was built upon. It truly was beautiful. Not that they couldn’t see the damage that had been inflicted on Minas Tirith, they could, yet that just seemed to make the rest all the more noble.

They stayed to the road, which had many hastily done repairs, moving at a steady though slow pace. Their driving horse tossed his head with impatience, seemingly not wearied by the two and a half days that he had been hauling the cart, its occupants, and their few pieces of luggage. He seemed to be excited as the ladies.

They were nearing what would, on the morrow, truly be “The City of the King”.

Over to their right, they could see a vast encampment, flags flying merrily from the tops and edges of most of the tents. Many flew the White Horse on green of the country of Rohan. Many flew the Silver Swan upon a sea of blue, representing the seaside country of Dol Amroth. Others there were as well, but none flew as high as that which bore not only the White Tree and the Seven Stars of Gondor, but the image of the Crown of Elendil as well.

“Oh look, Alsnae!” Isar cried as she pointed a bony finger at the small city of tents.

Her sister looked and sighed. “Did you ever think we would see the coming of a king?”

“Never, sister. Never.”

They were quiet after that as the road was crowded and Alsnae needed to attend to her driving. Eventually, they reached what should have been the strong, proud gates of the city. Instead there were several guards and one very simple barricade blocking the way.
There were also a goodly number of strong looking men and boys loitering about.

“Where are you bound for, mistress?” a tall guard wearing the emblem of the White Tree asked Alsnae as he stepped up to the driver’s side of the light trap.

“Ah . . . um, yes! We are going to the home of Mistress Blodwen who is a laundress living in the fifth circle.”

“I will need to see your invitation, mistress,” he said, holding out an open hand.

Alsnae looked confused for a moment while Isar dug about in her purse, finding a folded piece of paper and handing it quickly to her sister who handed it to the guardsman.

“I hope that is what you need?” Alsnae said hopfully.

The young man opened and read the small note. “It is.” He smiled at her as he handed it back. “We are needing proof everyone we let into the city proper has somewhere to stay. All of the inns quickly filled and with the damage that was done, there are not as many of them as there used to be. The Steward does not wish to have people sleeping in the streets. Although those who have some means of making camp on the fields of Pelennor are welcome to do so.”

“No,” said Isar. “I”m certain the Lord Denethor would not want that as a welcome for the new King.”

“The Lord Faramir, actually, mistress.” The man paused a moment then continued. “It is also ordered that all carts and horses be stabled in temporary facilities outside of the city. That is why,” he added quickly, with a reassuring smile, “there are so many men and youths standing around. They will carry your bags to where you are staying.”

The sisters had been quite taken aback when they heard “no carts”, but had quickly recovered at the guardsman’s reassurance.

“Will they be willing to stop and rest when we need to?” Alsnae asked, a mischievous grin playing upon her lips.

“If they don’t, you just let any man you see wearing livery know about it and we’ll set them straight on the proper care of the King’s subjects,” he replied in kind as he helped the women down from their small cart. “Here!” he called out to two of the men standing nearby. “Ludis and Anaru, take these subjects of the new King up to the home of the laundress Blodwen in the fifth circle.”

“Yes, Tane. It will be our pleasure,” The larger of the two men, Anaru, said as they easily picked up the few bags they sisters had with them. “And don’t you worry, mistress,” he added to Alsnae. “We can carry you too should you be getting faint from the climb.”

Both ladies blushed and tittered as they fell into step with their porters. It took a couple of hours, with needing to stop and rest several times. That and the two visitors from Tuparnach kept stopping to gaze in wonder at the huge city. They had never ventured far from their farms as lasses and young women, and never far from their town in their old age. Minas Tirith was bigger, grander, whiter (at least from the third circle and up) than ever they had imagined it to be. Eventually their patient porters took leave of them and the sisters were knocking upon the door of Blodwen’s home, which had blessedly not suffered damage from the siege.

Iestin opened the door. His eyes went nearly as wide as his smile. Without inviting them in, he turned back into the house yelling “They are here Mum! They are here! Alsnae and Isar are here! They did come!”

The excited boy reappeared with Blodwen and Caris in tow and the children were soon pulling the older women into the house. It was small, smaller than the sister’s home although with the same number of rooms. Space was at more of a premium in the huge city than it was in the town of Tuparnach and only the wealthy and the nobles had large homes with spacious rooms. Iestin and Caris took the bags up stairs to what was usually Caris’ room. She would be sleeping in her brother’s room while they had guests.

Soon, everyone was seated around the table which was rather large for the size of the kitchen.

“Did you see all of the tents, Alsnae? Isar? Did you see all the flags?” Iestin asked between sips of his milk and large bites of the rich pastry his mother had made for their small mid-afternoon meal.

“Yes, yes, my boy,” Isar chuckled. “And how could I not? My eyes are not that old.”

He blushed a little then went on with his previous enthusiasm. “Those are the tents of the Brave and Victorious Army of the West! There are Halflings with them! Like those told about in a few of the old stories. And Elves and Dwarves as well. Or, so I have heard. My friend Bergil says he has met them. Well, not the Ringbearer and his Esquire, but that he has met two of the Halflings. He said they like to be called Hobbits. And he has met an Elf and a Dwarf!”

“My goodness! Is your friend a master story teller?” Alsnae asked.

“No,” Blodwen replied, quieting her son with a small gesture. “He is a lad Iestin’s age. His father is a Guard of the Citadel. Bergil stayed in the city to help the healers. I would have doubted his words if not for the fact that is it all I have heard from everyone who had remained in Minas Tirith. They say one of the Halflings is the Prince of his people; the Ernil i Pheriannath. That he rode up to the Citadel upon a magnificent white horse with Mithrandir, of all people! They say another one of them helped lead the army of the Rohirrim in their charge that helped to save the city, and yet two others went into Mordor itself to do battle with the Enemy.”

Alsnae and Isar looked at each other then back at their friends.

“It seems impossible,” Isar’s astonishment softened her voice.

Blodwen smiled as she shrugged her shoulders. “We will see tomorrow, I suppose.”

The rest of the day was spent with naps (taken by Alsnae and Isar), preparations for the next day (it had been declared a feast day), and talking about how good everything seemed to be now that the Dark One had been destroyed (dinner and after dinner conversation). Finally everyone was eager to help the next day arrive by bringing an end to the current one and they all went to bed.

The next morning before dawn the five friends made their way along the winding side street where Blodwen’s home was to the main road that winds back and forth across the face of the city of Minas Tirith. Already the narrow walks along the sides of the road were crowded. The only businesses that were open were inns and the smell of food wafted from their open doors along with the sounds of merriment.

Blodwen assertively pushed her way to the front of the crowd. “Children! I have children who wish to see the new King! Let us move to the front. You can see right over their heads.”

Eventually they were at the front looking across a narrow remnant of the main road at the equally crowed opposite side of the road. Normally, when there were official processions, men could ride four abreast upon the road, now the new King and his entourage would have to ride in pairs.

“Oh my!” exclaimed Alsnae as she sat down upon one of the folding seats they had brought with them. “The whole of Middle-earth must be here! I didn’t think there were this many people anywhere.”

“Thank goodness we are where we can get some open air!” chimed in Isar.

Blodwen chuckled. “It is nearly this crowded any time there is a grand procession. Though I will admit even I am amazed at the size of the crowds. Yet, word was sent far and wide that the King has at last returned to Gondor, and that all that were able should try to come to Minas Tirith to welcome him.”

At that moment the bells of the city peeled forth, proclaiming the coming of the dawn and of the new King. Banners and flags were run up their poles to wave upon the breezes. Excitement flowed through the crowds like water threw a sluice.

They waited, knowing that it would yet be awhile before the King and his fair company would reach so far up the mountain, when a hush spread from the circles below them, through the fifth circle and upwards toward the citadel.

The city of Minas Tirith held its breath.

From below there came a shout that quickly faded away. A few minutes more of the breathless silence passed.

Trumpets sounded!

From the base of the mighty city to the pinnacles of the Citadel the walls rang with the gladsome sound. Soon the horns were joined with the sounds of many instruments, singing and cheering.

The King had entered his city! The King was come to Minas Tirith!

The wait seemed ever so long. Caris and Iestin bounced, wiggled, squirmed and nearly burst with anticipation. Blodwen, Aslnae and Isar confessed to each other that they were all a-tingle with the joy of the moment.

The cheers of the crowds grew nearer and nearer, and then, just around the bend in the road not a furlong from where the five waited, came the cries . . .

“He is come!”

“Hail King Elessar!”

“Blessings upon the King”

“Praise Him!”

Then he was within their sight, and, for a moment, it took their breaths away. Then they joined in the shouting; cheering and praising and blessing their new King as he came riding upon a mighty steed. King Elessar rode alone, with Lord Farmir and Mithrandir next in the long line behind him.

“Look!” People in the crowds exclaimed and pointed.

“It is the noble Halflings!”

“It is our own Ernil i Pheriannath and his kinsmen.”

“Which one do you think is the Ringbearer?”

“It must be he and his Esquire who are not in livery.”

Iestin was beside himself. He turned to his mother and the sisters as the four Hobbits drew near. “I told you! Bergil was telling the truth!” He turned back to the road and those riding up it. “Hello Hobbits!” he cried out. “Hello Ernil i Pheriannath!”

Pippin, who was riding on the side of the road where Iestin was, turned his head at the word “Hobbits”. He spotted Iestin and gave the lad a nod of his head and a wink. The poor boy nearly swooned from the excitement of it.

Next there came a company of Rangers, though glad somewhat differently than those who served in Ithilien. They bore a star upon their cloaks and riding at their head were another wonder. Before them came first a single horse bearing two riders, a short, stout person with a long flowing beard seated behind a tall, slender fair haired person.

“Look!” Caris tugged on her Mother’s sleeve as she pointed. “The Elf and the Dwarf! Those must be the ones Bergil told of. He said they were dearest friends and fellow travellers with King Elessar and the Half . . . Hobbits.”

And behind them rode two who were obviously also of the Fair Folk, even though their hair was dark as the night skies. Identical they were upon identical horses.

It all was indeed a wondrous sight to behold!

Eventually all the companies passed by and the crowds slowly dispersed.

Blodwen, her children and the their two dear friends made their way home, chattering the whole way, and the rest of the day, about the wonders they had seen and about the blessedness of being alive to see the return of the King.

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