In the morning, Mandy woke. She had slept peacefully and had rested. The first thing she saw was a white bird, singing. She smiled, stretching. Then she noticed the haggard faces of Gandalf and Aragorn.
“Who is that old man?” she thought, “Oh, Aragorn. Where am I? Aragorn…wake up.” She called softly, pulling his shirt.
Aragorn was startled, then he looked down at her.
She smiled weakly, “Hi.”
“Mandy!” he said in relief, “Gandalf. Wake up.”
“Huh…what?” Gandalf grunted sleepily, then noticed Mandy, “Well, well, well. You are awake, my child. And how do you feel?”
“Tired.” Mandy said weakly.
“Let’s take a look at your wound.” Gandalf slowly peeled away the bandage. Aragorn gazed in wonder. It had disappeared completely except for a small scar.
“Gandalf?” Aragorn questioned in awe.
“I don’t know. It has fully healed in a few hours. Even scarred.” Gandalf replaced the bandage, “It has gone completely. It is as if…” He left the statement unsaid, and gazed thoughtfully at Mandy from under his grey eyebrows.
“Aragorn? Help me sit up, please.” Mandy grasped his arm and sat up, “Thanks. This feels good. I’m kinda hungry…”
“Of course. Excuse the manners of an old man. Here you go.” Gandalf handed her some kind of fruit. It was in the shape of an apple, but tasted very tangy and sweet.
He took Aragorn aside, “Keep an eye on her, but I believe she has been healed completely and instantly.”
He whistled a call, and soon two horses came pounding up. One was pure white, built like the king of all horses, Shadowfax. The other was smaller, a light brown with a white mane and tail. He had a white blaze and one white stocking.
Gandalf mounted Shadowfax, “I will go back to Gondor. I will let them know of your coming. Do not worry…the orcs have gone from this land.” He galloped swiftly away.
Aragorn lifted Mandy onto the horse, and jumped up after her. The horse gently galloped back to the camp, as if knowing he carried a precious cargo.
Legolas and Gimli were angry with Aragorn.
“Just like him to run off without telling us!” Gimli growled, “Last time, he nearly got himself killed.”
Legolas was staring intently ahead, “Someone’s approaching fast. It’s Aragorn with Mandy!”
Gimli was startled when the horse stopped right in front of him. Aragorn slid off, and turned to help Mandy down.
“Get out of the way.” Gimli came up to her, “M’lady, if you would slide down, I will catch you.”
Mandy glared at Aragorn, who was chuckling. She pulled one leg over and took a deep breath. She was still very weak. Then, she slid down the side of the horse. Gimli caught her gently and took her back to the bed.
“Why, you weigh no more than a dwarf-child, M’lady.” he said, setting her down.
“Thank you, I think.” Mandy smiled wearily.
“Are you truly feeling better, M’lady?” Legolas asked concerned.
“Yes, much better.” Mandy answered.
“You…you…MAN!” Gimli roared at Aragorn, “You run off to help her and don’t even think about having us with you?!!”
Aragorn bit back his laughter, “Truly, I am sorry, Gimli. Gandalf came suddenly and I just went with him. Next time, I’ll be sure to wake you…from a distance.”
Mandy started giggling, then it boiled into laughter, “Oh…oh… stop. I can’t take it anymore!” tears were streaming down her face, “Hey. It doesn’t hurt to laugh.” She smiled even broader, “I guess I am really better.”
Aragorn glanced at Legolas, who was standing near the tree. Their eyes met and said the same thing, “It’s good to hear true laughter again.”
“Do you feel up to riding, Mandy?” Aragorn asked, lifting her easily into the saddle.
“Yeah. I feel up to it.” Mandy closed her eyes for a couple of seconds and took a deep breath, “Though I don’t think I’ll be able to stay up here on my own.”
She was feeling a little dizzy, and she couldn’t have controlled a horse if she wanted to. Legolas gave a haunting call and a grey horse appeared out of the mist.
“Come, Gimli. You will ride behind me again.” Legolas reached down with a long arm, and pulled him up.
“Aye….let’s hope I don’t fall off this time.” he grumbled to himself.
Legolas gave a ringing laugh. Aragorn got up behind Mandy and urged the horse forward. They were soon galloping steadily back towards Gondor and out of the forest. Mandy, still weak from the poison, leaned against Aragorn and fell fast asleep. Aragorn glanced down at Mandy, who was sleeping peacefully.
“If I have a daughter, I would want her like you.” he thought quietly to himself, “You are my kinswoman. I vow to protect you as my daughter.” He promised quietly.
As they approached the White City, Minas Tirith, he pulled his horse to a stop.
“We’ll rest here for a little while.” Aragorn called to Legolas and Gimli. He lifted Mandy down off the horse. She suddenly woke up.
“Oh.” she said softly, looking around, “It’s beautiful.”
“Thank you. We are now in Gondor.” Aragorn set her onto a blanket. Legolas came over.
“Aragorn. Are you going to check her wound?” he asked in Elvish.
“Yes.” Aragorn answered in kind.
He leaned down to Mandy, “I am going to check your wound.”
Mandy nodded, and braced herself. The bandage came off easily and there was the small scar. Legolas looked at it, then at her.
“How did it heal so quickly? Most men would have died from that type of wound.” Gimli voiced his thoughts.
“I am not sure. But I think there is more to this than meets the eye.” Aragorn answered, shaking his head.
Mandy glanced down at her wound, then did a double take. “It’s a dove.” she said in wonder, “Wow.”
“What does the form have to do with it?” Legolas had seen the look of awe flash over her face.
“No…nothing. Just something I dreamed about.” Mandy answered softly.
Legolas raised an eyebrow, “Elves believe that dreams have meanings. What was this dream about?”
“If my dream had a meaning, then it would probably be that my God is watching over me…even here in Middle Earth.” she smiled at the memory. She could vaguely hear a lingering melody of untold beauty.
“Who is your God, M’lady?” Legolas asked, interested.
“Well…He is the one true God. My people believe that He created everyone and everything.” she said thoughtfully, “Also…my people are His chosen. We have many promises not yet fulfilled by Him.” Her eyes took on a faraway look.
“Mandy?” Legolas prompted.
Mandy blinked, “Wha…oh. Sorry.” Mandy blushed, adding color to her pale cheeks, “Why do you ask?”
“Because there were once a race of men called the Erusen. They were said to be most loved by Eru.” Aragorn entered the conversation, “Their symbol is the same as your necklace.”
“Really?” Mandy raised an eyebrow, “That’s interesting.”
“Come. We must get going.” Aragorn helped her up.
“Really, Aragorn. I can walk for myself. I feel fine.” Mandy scolded as he carried her.
“Alright, M’lady.” Aragorn winked at Legolas.
He set her down, and moved away. Mandy stood very still, then hesitantly took a step. She grew bolder and started to walk over to the horse, when she looked down. The earth was twirling in circles. She swayed unsteadily, her eyes closed. Suddenly, she felt herself being swooped up. Automatically, her hands went around the neck. Then she looked up into the face of Legolas. He carried her over to his horse.
“You’ll ride with me this time, M’lady, if it is alright?” his voice had a musical tone to it.
“Do I have a choice?” she laughed at his look, “Yes. It is fine.”
He smiled and lifted her up. He rode with no saddle, and the horse looked over its shoulder as if to make sure Legolas was getting on too. He leaped up behind her and took the reins.
“Are you comfortable?” Legolas asked.
“Yes…I am comfortable.” she answered. “Who wouldn’t be?” she thought to herself.
As they rode, Legolas pointed out many different things, most of which had to do with the battle that had ended only a month past. Legolas fell silent as he saw that she was dozing off. They came in sight of the city.
“M’lady? Wake up.” Legolas gently nudged her awake.
“What…” she said sleepily.
Aragorn brought his horse over, “Behold. Minas Tirith.” His voice had pride in it. Her eyes opened wide as she gazed at the beautiful White City.
“Whoa…what a sight!” she exclaimed.
They rode closer. Suddenly, loud trumpets blared, the gates were opened. People cheered, “Hail, Aragorn! King of Gondor!” Then, Gandalf appeared beside Legolas.
“Hello, Child. How are you?” he asked.
“Hi, Gandalf. I’m fine.” she answered, and gave Legolas a glare, “Don’t believe a word he says!” Legolas laughed.
“About as fine as Merry was the first time he came out of the Healing House.” he said, ducking slightly out of reach of Mandy’s arm.
“Speaking of that…take her there, Legolas.” Aragorn had come up.
“Yes, I will.” Legolas started to answer when Gandalf interrupted, “I will take her there. I’m sure she would love to see some of the city. And that she is tired of sitting on horses.”
Legolas lifted her down into Gandalf’s arms, “I will come see you soon.” He smiled at her.
“Well, here I am again. Getting carried like a little girl.” Mandy grumbled half in earnest and half jokingly.
Gandalf merely laughed, “I’m sure you’ll find that you won’t hate it that much.”
As they walked through the city, people parted for them. Some stared at the foreign girl, while others greeted Gandalf like a hero. Then someone came running up to Gandalf. At first glance, she thought it was a little boy, but then he started talking to Gandalf like a man.
“Hello Gandalf! Frodo’s feeling better. Tho’ I do feel sorry about his hand. Hey! Who’s the girl?” Merry asked, looking curiously at Mandy.
“Ah…if you would allow me to get in a word, you would have known long ago, Master Brandybuck.” Gandalf said sternly, but with a twinkle in his eye, “This is Mandy. I am taking her to the Healing House because she got hurt by orcs a few nights past. Mandy, this is Merry Brandybuck. He is a Hobbit or Half-ling.”
“How do you do.” Merry made a little bow to her.
She chuckled, “Pleased to meet you, Merry.”
“Now then, what’s this about Frodo?” Gandalf questioned as they continued walking.
“Oh, well. He’s doing much better. He’s eaten some food and is finally sleeping peacefully. Poor Sam won’t leave his bedside. You’ll have to talk to him, Gandalf. Else it will be another patient for the Healing House.” Merry rambled on. They soon came to the house.
“Gandalf…I don’t need to be here. I feel fine, really!” Mandy said, all the while feeling the fatigue from the last few days and nights come upon her.
She vaguely remembered being handed over to one of the nurses and getting bathed. She was fed some broth and then was tucked into a warm bed.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.