Ŭnomer and Drâmym rode on through the dark night. They had never intended to take more than a short rest by the fire, although the incessant chattering and bargaining of Grando Spandif had driven them away earlier than might otherwise have been the case.
The moon was bright and clear as they rode along the edge of some trees and undergrowth. Merry felt rather than heard the sickening 'whump' as an orc arrow struck Drâmym between the shoulder blades. He slumped forward on to his horse, crushing Merry against the animal's neck. Ŭnomer wheeled his steed around, trying to locate the marksman. He ducked low in the saddle to make a smaller target.
Two shadows leapt from the trees, one landing on the back of Ŭnomer's horse. The animal reared up and man and orc fell struggling to the ground.
Drâmym's steed plunged on into the darkness, bearing its unconscious rider and the terrified hobbit away from the attack. Merry, of course, could not tell what had became of Ŭnomer, but Drâmym was sorely wounded and lying underneath his weight, the hobbit could not even attempt to halt the galloping horse.
Eventually, the animal slowed and finally, exhausted, came to a complete standstill. Merry tried jabbing Drâmym with his elbow, but his manacled wrists made such movement difficult. He wriggled as much as he could trying to elicit a response, petrified that the man might be dead. He tried calling his name and was rewarded with a pained groan.
"Drâmym! Are you all right?" Merry's voice was muffled as he was still being squashed, but the rider heard him now and was able to pull himself up to a sitting position once more.
Stiffly he managed to dismount and Merry managed to wriggle down from the horse as the man fell to the ground and lay silent and still.
With trepidation, Merry felt the fallen man's body, checking first for a breath and then discovered the arrow protruding from Drâmym's back. He did not know whether to pull it out or leave it alone, so decided to wait until Drâmym might be conscious again and then ask him.
Merry took off the fleece that Gandalf had wrapped him in and covered Drâmym with it as he seemed to be cold and shivering. He then hunched up with just the scrap of the wizard's cloak to cover him but nestled close to the injured man for warmth and a sense of security.
It was several hours until Drâmym awoke and by that time, Merry had fallen asleep still snuggled up to the wounded man, but shivering in the cold grey dawn. The rider touched the hobbit on the arm and found he was freezing, then realized it was because he was wrapped in the little one's own blanket.
"Merry," He shook him gently. "Merry wake up, I need you to help me."
Merry opened his eyes from force of habit and was glad to find Drâmym awake. "What should I do?" He asked keeping his speech as simple as possible so Drâmym would understand him. "You have an arrow in your back. I left it there."
"You did right to leave it," Drâmym grunted. "But now you need to take it out for me." He whistled through his teeth and his horse trotted obediently over to where they were. "Take my bag from the horse."
Merry reached up and found the bag and managed to tug it free. He gave it to Drâmym who reached in and found some bandaging material, which he gave to Merry.
"Find where the arrow is and try to pull it out as quickly and as straight up as possible." The rider instructed. "Then once it is clear push that wad into the hole and bind it tightly, if you can."
Merry was very nervous at the thought of the damage he might cause, but he knew he had to help the injured man. So tentatively he felt out the arrow again and placing his knee in Drâmym's back he took a deep breath and pulled sharply up. The arrow came out faster than Merry had thought it would and he fell backwards with it in his hands. This made relocating the wound difficult for the blind hobbit, but he eventually ascertained from Drâmym's grunt of agony that he had the right spot. He pressed the wad down and held it for a while. It was difficult for Merry to bind the wad with the manacles on his wrists, but, with Drâmym's help he completed the task reasonably well.
Merry then managed to find the water bag, which was slung over the horse and gave Drâmym a drink before taking one himself. He then settled down beside the now sleeping man to wait.
He was hoping that Ŭnomer might eventually catch up with them, if he had managed to escape the orcs, although there did not seem to be much chance of that. Merry sincerely hoped the next passers by would not be the orcs. However, they were discovered before the sun was high in the sky by a someone he had not considered.
Grando Spandif halted his little caravan of mixed wagons, riders and walkers. "What have we here?" He climbed down from his old sturdy horse with some difficulty as he was not in the prime of life and inclined to be fat. "What happened to you?" He poked the unconscious Drâmym with his foot.
"Please sir," Merry was a little apprehensive when he recognised the voice. "We need assistance, we were attacked by orcs. My companion is badly injured."
"Hmm!" Spandif considered. "It does talk, but I'd be blowed if I know what it's saying." He turned Drâmym around to look at the wound and shook his head. Then called to a young lad, who was in fact his son. "Leave this one some food and water. I daresay he'll get better in time." He pointed to Merry. "Take that ha'fin' thing and put it in the spare cage at the end. Would be cruel to leave it out here on its own." He was obviously making a thin attempt to justify stealing Merry to the rest of the company and in his own mind.
"But Da'" his son protested. "That'd be stealing. That man said we'd get chucked out of Rohan if we did anything amiss."
"Well, it's not really stealing…" Spandif's mind filled with the thought of all the money he could make back in DeHarad exhibiting this strange little creature. "It's lost and finders keepers they say. After all, no one seems to want it."
"All right Da.'" The boy jumped off the wagon he was riding and took Merry by the chain on his metal collar.
The hobbit pulled back in surprise and fright. "No, please leave me alone." He grabbed at the chain and tried to pull it away, but the lad was big and strong and easily dragged Merry to a wagon that carried several cages containing different exotic animals. Although Merry could not see the strange beasts the sound and smell of them was unfamiliar and frightening. The lad opened a small empty cage at the back and, picking Merry up, shoved him in and locked the door.
It took the hobbit a few moments to realize what had happened to him but as he felt around the interior of his prison he found that he could not stand up or even kneel. Neither could he stretch out as the cage was only big enough for a small four-legged animal. Merry caught hold of the bars and rattled them in anger, "Let me out!" He shouted. "How dare you put me in a cage!"
Spandif, his son and many of the travelling band gathered round and watched the little creature's funny antics. Merry's temper made them hoot with laughter. When he finally settled down, realizing they were not going to let him out, Spandif poked him with a vicious prod.
"Ow!" The prod was very sharp and drew blood. It also made Merry jump up and hit his head on the bars, which caused more mirth amongst the audience.
"Make it growl Da'." The lad urged, "and show its teeth, like it did before."
Spandif jabbed Merry again making him cry out in pain. He hiccupped a little sob, then put his hands over his head and curled into a foetal position.
The prod was stabbed into Merry several more times and, although he jumped involuntarily, he refused to growl or snarl, but kept his face hidden and bit his lip against the pain and the indignity.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.