Disclaimer: I don't own Calvin and Hobbes or the Lord of the Rings.
Chapter 20: Mayhem in Minas Tirith
Gandalf opened the giant iron doors and walked confidently down the lone hall. The room, like the rest of the city, was made entirely out of marble, except for the dark carpet that stretched out to a giant throne. Seated in a chair next to it was a hunched over figure. Gandalf called out to him, "Hail Denethor, son of Ecthelion, lord and steward of Gondor! I come with tidings at this hour, and with counsel."
At first, Denethor didn't move. When he did sit up, they could see that his eyes were red, and he was clutching a broken war horn. "Perhaps you have come to explain this?" he choked out, holding up the horn for Gandalf to see. "Perhaps you have come to tell me why my son is dead?" He was holding the same horn Boromir had used until the day the Uruks had attacked the Fellowship.
Gandalf winced. He'd hoped that because the Fellowship's mission was secret, no news about Boromir had gotten out. But it had. He quickly thought of what to say next, when someone else did it for him.
"See? I told you not to hide it from him!" Calvin piped up, "You shouldn't leave people in the dark, because we're going to find out anyway!"
"Calvin? What…did I say…about being…quiet?" snarled Gandalf through gritted teeth.
"So? I didn't say anything bad!"
But Calvin was interrupted by Denethor's angry voice. "You knew?" he cried, "You knew about my son and you weren't going to tell me?!"
"Yeah," said Calvin, before Gandalf could intervene, "He said you'd be too upset to fight if you knew, so he told me not to say anything. That reminds me, we found out that Sauron wants to invade your city, and burn down your tree. If I were you, I'd get my army together and start planning your defense strategy, because if he wins, there will be blood and guts everywhere, complete chaos in the streets, and monsters running amok!" After a dramatic pause, he said, "I know it all sounds cool, but trust me, it's a lot scarier when it happens in real life. After we save this place, we can rent some good movies that show blood and guts without any risks on our part! I recommend any horror film!"
Denethor didn't reply for a minute. He just sat there looking completely confused. Gandalf took this opportunity to speak up. "Don't mind him, Denethor," he said, "Concentrate on the real problem at hand. The enemy is at your doorstep!"
"No, they're not!" said Calvin.
Gandalf glared at him. "I told you to let me do the talking!" he snarled. Turning back to Denethor, he said, "As I was saying…"
"But they're not," replied Calvin, "We traveled all day and I never saw a single orc, even though they're supposed to be after me. I hate to say it, but I don't think you guys are in any danger!"
Gandalf turned around very slowly. "Would you like to wait outside?" he asked in a dangerous voice.
"Um…no." Calvin eyed the large staff that was slightly pointed in his direction. "Sorry." Then he turned his attention back to Denethor. "I was just kidding," he said quickly.
But Denethor wasn't listening any more. "So tell me, what other things have you been hiding from me, Gandalf?" he asked angrily.
"Not much else," replied Calvin, "I think you've got the important stuff."
"I'll be the judge of that!" Denethor snarled.
"Well, the good news is, we have that ring of Sauron's, and he hasn't gotten it back yet."
"You have it? Where?! Is it here?" gasped Denethor.
"No, Frodo's got-OW!" he yelped as Gandalf grabbed him by the arm, hard.
"Excuse me for a moment," said Gandalf quickly, as he dragged Calvin out of the room, to protests of, "Hey! Let me go! He asked me, what was I supposed to say? C'mon, let go!"
Calvin was placed next to Shadowfax, told that they would be having a nice long talk later, and was then left outside while Gandalf returned to repair the damage. After a few minutes, he got bored and walked over to the very edge of the courtyard, where the volcanic mountains of Mordor could be seen. "Cool scenery!" he muttered.
"It's not exactly comforting to live under the shadow of Mordor," replied one of the guards. Calvin jumped. They'd all been standing at their stations, without moving an inch. He'd forgotten they were even there.
"If you don't like it, then why the heck did you build an entire city next to it?"
"This is an ancient city, and it was originally built into the mountain for protection. Sauron didn't move in until afterwards."
"Man, I hate it when that happens!" groaned Calvin, "If I were you, I'd kick him out!"
The guard paused, and then he muttered, "We aren't strong enough to do that." This was common sense of course, but not something anyone wanted to admit out loud.
"So what? Brains can beat brawn any day! You just need the right strategy! It's the only way I've managed to survive living with a real live tiger in my house!"
"What's your name?" asked the guard curiously.
"Calvin, Boy of Destiny. I came here with Gandalf. He's that really powerful wizard, you know." As far as Calvin was concerned, Gandalf was good for only two things: protecting him from bad guys, and heightening his reputation.
"Oh, Mithrandir? Really? He hasn't been here for a year at least!"
"Nope, wrong guy. I'm talking about Gandalf."
"They're the same person."
"He has two names?"
"A great person like the Mithrandir has many different names, because of all the different cultures and people he's affected."
"Good idea. I should come up with more names for myself. I've always liked 'Joe', what do you think?"
"Er…" The guard was spared having to answer this bizarre question when Gandalf came storming out. He grabbed Calvin and led him up to their room, muttering furiously under his breath.
"I guess things didn't go well in there?" asked Calvin finally.
"No thanks to you!" snapped the wizard, as he paced the room.
"Hey, it wasn't completely my fault! I just answered his questions!"
"I told you to stay quiet!" said Gandalf. But as the minutes passed, he began to cool down. "You're right," he said slowly, "You weren't entirely to blame. Any ruler should know better than to listen to a six-year-old child rambling…"
"Rambling?! Excuse me, I knew exactly what I was talking about!"
"…but Denethor only listens to what he wants to hear. He wants to think he's doesn't need to organize his troops, and that I care more about reinstating Aragorn than actually protecting Gondor. So he follows your words instead."
"And there's nothing wrong with that! I'm a Dictator-for-Life, you know! I know how their type thinks!"
"Wonderful," replied Gandalf dryly, "What's even more astounding is how you managed to tell, or hint, to Denethor every single thing I told you not to mention to him!"
"I didn't mention Aragorn! Didn't you tell me not to mention Aragorn?"
"Yes, but he already knows about him, so that did us no good."
"Well, I can't help it if the guy's smarter than he looks," grumbled Calvin, "So, what do we do now?"
"Unfortunately, there isn't much to do except wait for Sauron to make his next move, and hope that Gondor's army is trained well enough to face him."
"Can I send a message to Hobbes?"
"No…wait…" Gandalf froze. "Yes…of course…that might work…" he muttered. "Calvin?" he asked suddenly.
"Are you afraid of heights?"
Early the next morning, Gandalf led Calvin to a rocky ledge by the back of the city. "You know what to do," he said, "Are you sure you can handle this?"
"Piece of cake," replied Calvin immediately.
Calvin was already good at climbing due to all the wild terrain that made up the forest in his backyard. Slowly, but surely, he began to climb up what was actually a massive tower. At the top, there was a giant pile of wood, that, when lit, became a beacon of fire that could easily be seen for miles. It was also an old-fashioned "SOS" signal. Gandalf had explained that there was an entire chain of these beacons throughout the mountains, all the way to Edoras, where Hobbes, Merry, Pippin, and everyone else was. When someone lit the flame in Minas Tirith, the guards of the next beacon would light theirs, and so on and so forth until it reached Edoras. It was the quickest way to alert the people of Rohan that Gondor needed their help. It was also the only way they could start organizing an army without Denethor knowing. Calvin found it all very cool.
Secret Agent Calvin scales the wall of the enemy's headquarters! His heat sensors indicate that there are guards at the top, but they have not yet detected his presence! Our hero wonders why these "top-notch, hi-tech security systems" are always so easy to get past.
Once he reached the top, he carefully glanced around, but the two guards weren't paying any attention to the beacon. It was, without a doubt, the most boring job anyone could ever be assigned, because no one had needed to summon Rohan for centuries. Why should today be any different? Calvin smirked and started his next climb: up the enormous square stack of wood.
Upon reaching his destination, Calvin retrieves the data needed to foil Dr. Dastardly's plans! He then sends a signal to the president, letting him know the mission was a success!
"I DID IT!" shouted Calvin ecstatically he dropped a torch on the top of the wood pile. It ignited, and the flames quickly began to spread. "IN YOUR FACE, SUCKERS!"
The guards stared up at him in shock. Even they couldn't ignore an enormous burning pile of wood. Before they could recover, Calvin scrambled down the tower to avoid getting burnt.
"You mean, after all these years of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, someone else did the job for us?!" demanded one of them finally.
"It certainly looks like it," replied the other.
"That's it. I quit."
Hobbes was enjoying one of his favorite activities: sleeping on the thatched roof of one of the houses in Edoras, while the warm sun beat down on him. It had been a long time since he had been able to do this in peace, and it made a nice change not to have Calvin come up and recite some weird poem that sprang into his head. He was so comfortable that he barely moved at all, not even when the sound of crowds of people preparing to leave woke him up. Finally, Hobbes got irritated from all the noise and poked his head down. It looked like most of the men were in armor and mounting horses. "Oh great. A battle. Just what I need right now," he grumbled. Still, he couldn't help but wonder why no one had asked him to help.
"Hobbes! Look Merry, I found him!" called Pippin's voice. The two of them climbed up a ladder that led to the roof.
"There you are!" cried Merry, "Guess what? King Théoden has made us each esquires of Rohan!"
"What's an esquire?" asked Hobbes.
"It means we must protect the king from any danger in battle," replied Pippin proudly.
"He won't last five seconds," said Hobbes with a laugh.
"Oh really?" asked Merry, "He didn't make you an esquire!"
"That's because he knows he doesn't need to give me a rank! I'm a tiger; you can't get any higher than that!"
"Ok," said Pippin, "You can prove it in a couple of days! We got a message from Gondor, and they want us to come and help them!"
Hobbes sat up. "How's Calvin doing?"
"We don't know, they only sent us a message through a beacon," replied Merry, explaining how the system worked to Hobbes.
"I must say, humans have some pathetic forms of communication, but at least they work," said Hobbes, "When are we leaving?"
"Now?! But I haven't packed any tuna!" Hobbes was off and running before either of them could say "fish".
Things were finally starting to get interesting in Minas Tirith. Calvin watched in awe as an entire army came galloping to the city, while being pursued by giant, flying beasts that threw riders off their horses with ease! But before the damage could get any worse, Gandalf rode out and drove them away with the light from his staff.
As soon as Gandalf and the captain of the army reached the top of the city, Calvin ran up and started firing questions, "Who are these guys? What were those dragon things? Why did they go away? Did Sauron send them? Are they going to come after me? Can you show me that cool thing you did with your staff?"
"Calvin, we're rather busy at the moment…"
"Are more coming? Is the battle going to start soon? Does Denethor know what happened? Is he going to help? By the way, did they ever get the message back in Rohan…"
"Shh!" whispered Gandalf. Although it was fairly obvious who had sounded the alarm, they didn't need Denethor to overhear any confessions.
"It's all right," said the captain. He was a kind-looking man with light brown hair and a scruffy beard, and a small smile on his face. "I used to ask many questions too, when I was your age."
"Yes, but not ones that were liable to get you in trouble," muttered Gandalf.
"Who's this?" asked Calvin.
"This is Faramir. He's Denethor's son."
"I thought Boromir was his son!"
"Faramir, this is Calvin. He's been helping us fight Sauron, and he's staying here for a few days."
"Well, we're certainly glad to have the help!" said Faramir, "It's nice to meet you!"
Calvin sized him up. "I think I like you better than your dad," he said finally, "Keep up the good work!"
"Thank you. I'll do my best."
"Calvin, if you'll wait out here, we'll only be a minute," said Gandalf, and he and Faramir headed inside to see Denethor.
"A minute, yeah right," said Calvin when the door slammed shut. "I've heard that one way too many times from him lately!" He was nowhere near done exploring the city yet. With any luck, he'd go on a little excursion and be back before they realized he was gone!
A/N: Uh oh…