Men called to them as the gates rolled open. "Mithrandir! Now we know that the storm is indeed nigh!"
"It is upon you," said Gandalf. "I have ridden on its wings. Let me pass, I must come to your Lord Denethor."
The guards let them enter, and Gandalf and Pippin rode through the streets of the city, ascending in a winding path.
People came out to watch them as they passed, gazing in wonder at the Hobbit.
The city of Minas Tirith was built in seven levels, and about each was set a wall, and to reach the center they had to pass through seven gates. Upon the summit was the Citadel, where the White Tower was built a thousand feet above the plain.
Finally Gandalf and Pippin reached the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower. Gandalf strode across the courtyard, past a dead tree standing over a fountain.
Pippin hurried after the wizard, following him through the doors of the great hall and down a dark passage.
"Be careful of your words, Master Peregrin!" advised Gandalf. "Denethor is proud and subtle. Do not tell him of Frodo's errand, or of Aragorn, either."
At the far end of the hall was an empty throne upon a dais. Upon the lowest step, an old man sat on a simple chair, gazing at his lap. "Hail, Lord and Steward of Minas Tirith, Denethor son of Ecthelion!" greeted Gandalf.
"Dark is the hour," replied Denethor. "I am told you bring one who has news of my son's death." He held up the pieces of Boromir's horn. "I heard this blowing dim upon the northern marchesd, and the River brought it to me."
"I stood beside him as he blew the horn," said Pippin, "but no help came. Only more orcs. He died to save my kinsman and myself. I honour his memory."
"Little service, no doubt, will so great a lord of mend think it," said Pippin, "yet such as it is, I offer my sword in payment of my debt."
Kneeling, Pippin laid his sword at Denethor's feet. "I accept your service," said Denethor. "We shall have need of all fold of courtesy, be they great or small, in days to come."
Putting his hand on the hilt, Pippin repeated after Denethor, "Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth.
After an hour of questions from Denethor about Boromir and their journey, Pippin was released. In the courtyard he was greeted by a soldier. "You are Peregrin the Halfling? I am told that you have been sworn to the service of the Lord and of the City. I am named Beregond son of Baranor."
Beregond led Pippin to find some food, and they took it to a seat on the battlements, where they could look out on the morning over the world.
As they ate Bergond told Pippin about the city. Looking out over the Pelannor Fields they could see lines of wains moving to and from the city--arriving with supplies and leaving with the last of the young and the aged who were going away to refuges in the mountains.
Eventuallyd Beregond had to return to his duties. At his suggestion Pippin made his way down to the main gate of the city. There he met Bergil, Beregond's son.
"The Captains of the Outlands are expected up the South Road ere sundown," said Bergil. "Come with us and you will see. Pippin went with Bergil and his friends outside the gates to watch the arriving armies.
The remaining men of Gondor cheered as the different forces arrived: Forlong and the men of Lossarnach, Dervorin leading the men of Ringlo Vale, bowmen from Morthond, hunters and herdsmen from the Anfalas, and many others. Last and proudest came Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, at the head of a company of knights, and seven hundred men at arms.
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