Merry reached out as he woke, surprised not to find Pippin next to him. He felt around the bed on which he was lying finding nothing but the quilt and pillows. He was about to call out but remembered that would be of no use as Pip would not hear him anyway.
'Hear him – we were talking, Pip and me, in Legolas's head!' Merry shook a little at the thought. It had been wonderful, but awful, a cruel but kind torture. They could talk for a short while and then be torn apart again as if it had never happened. He had tried to be strong for Pip but, in that strange mind link, he had not only heard his young cousin's sorrow, but felt it just as keenly. He knew that Pippin had felt his grief too. He had tried not to let it spoil their few moments together but it was hard to conceal feelings like that from someone who meant so much, especially when you are sharing their thought and mind.
Now Pippin was gone physically as well. Why? What had happened? Merry thought back over the past days since he had been rescued from the frightful cage. Pippin had not really left his side and, as far as Merry could remember, they had always been in the same room at least. From the moment when Strider had set him on his feet and made him walk and he had tripped and fallen, from then on Pippin had been his eyes. The younger hobbit had taken it upon himself to make sure he didn't fall or walk into things and Merry now knew when there was a step up or step down, simply from the way Pippin pulled on his hand. He knew that when Pippin touched his nose it meant 'wait' and when he squeezed his hand it meant 'come on'.
Where had he gone? The privy? No, Pippin always woke him if he felt the need and would usually insist that Merry come along too, that would save him having to take his cousin later.
Merry's next thought was that there was something wrong. Pippin had been taken ill and Strider or one of the others had carried him off somewhere. But they wouldn't just leave him there on his own to worry about Pippin, they would know how traumatic it would be for him.
Perhaps it was something really bad. Was Pippin so upset by their talk that he had gone off to do something terrible or dangerous? It made no sense that Merry could think of.
He realised now that he had been awake for quite a long time and no one had come into the room and Pippin was either lying somewhere unconscious, perhaps nearby, and Merry didn't know, or maybe he had gone missing. He had to do something. Try to find someone.
The thought frightened Merry at first. He remembered his first attempt to walk across a room unaided in this place and he had fallen almost at once. But he had become used to manoeuvring his way around with Pippin's help and if his young cousin was in trouble, he should move and move now.
Merry clambered off the high bed, gradually letting himself down backwards until his toes found the floor. The next problem was to find the door. It took him some time, bumping into things and finally reaching the wall and feeling his way around until he located the exit. By the time he was outside the room and in the passageway, the hobbit could feel his heart pounding, he didn’t even know which way to go now. Then he remembered the advice of Gandalf when they were lost in Moria. 'If in doubt, Meriadoc, always follow your nose." He sniffed in both directions. The draft came from the left. Very well, he would go left.
Pippin hurried along the passageway, greedily hugging the glass globe to his chest and looking furtively around to be sure he was not observed. He wanted to find somewhere private so he could look at the thing undisturbed. There was a vague recollection in his brain of seeing it before, but as soon as he tried to hold the thought, it melted like icicles snapped off in your warm hand on a bright winter's morning or floated away like a dandelion clock on a hot summer's afternoon.
But it was all right now. Pippin felt very resolved. He knew what he had to do and there was only one purpose left in his life. He had to take the glass globe to somewhere private, preferably outside and look into it very carefully and there he would find all the answers to every question ever asked and then he would be happy for he would also find his heart's desire. Very vaguely Pippin knew this made no sense, but, with the thing held against his chest, the compulsion had become beyond all reason.
He found his way to the high battlements of the castle, where a brazier was kept burning and he huddled up against the wall in the most inconspicuous corner he could find and, sitting with the globe between his knees, he stared long and hard into its mysterious depths.
The air seemed still and tense about him. At first the globe was dark, black as jet, with the moonlight gleaming on its surface. Then there came a faint glow and stir in the heart of it, and it held his eyes, so that now he could not look away. Soon all the inside seemed on fire, the ball was spinning, or the lights within were revolving. Suddenly the lights went out. He gave a gasp and struggled, but he remained bent, clasping the ball with both hands. Closer and closer he bent, and then became rigid, his lips moved soundlessly for a while. Then he gave a soundless scream and his face contorted with agony as he fell back and lay still.
Legolas wandered beyond the keep of the castle and found a small copse of beech. Dreamily he wandered amongst the tall, slender trunks and gazed up at the soft green petal-like leaves until the sun finally sank and gave way to the silver moonlight.
The elf drew a deep breath, drinking in the woodland and feeling refreshed by it. He had found the telepathic link between the two hobbits deeply emotional and distressing. It was not the words but the feelings and grief at their parting that had disturbed him so much. Hobbits were, Legolas had found, delightful creatures, so full of life and joy. To experience so much anguish in these two charming periain was harrowing to his very soul.
'It is too cruel to bring them together, to let them take a morsel of what they cannot have.' Legolas mused. I will not permit it again. The fleeting pleasure it brings is paid for too heavily in the pain they experience at their parting.'
The elf pondered these thoughts in the serenity of the little green copse, restoring his mind and calming his id back into its accustomed unruffled perspective. Legolas did not like his emotions laid bare. Even when he had thought Gandalf to be dead, he could not bring himself to speak of his grief openly.
He sat against the trunk of a beech and his eyes closed. Although he did not sleep, the world started to flow smoothly past him once more and the memory of Merry and Pippin's anguish began to fade to a dream.
'Eeeiaaghhhh!' His eyes shot open wide as the terrified scream left his lips. He had not cried out but the sound had come from his throat, he had heard it uttered in his voice!
Not his voice – it was Pippin's voice. He had screamed in Legolas's head and the sound had escaped from his lips. It was filled with terror and great fear, greater fear than he had ever felt before in either his mind or the hobbit's. More fear even than they had felt at the Balrog.
What had happened? Where was Pippin? He could not tell from the scream and now there was only silence - a terrified cry for help and then nothing!
Legolas was on his feet and running for the castle, pausing every so often, his head held up high, straining to hear again the little one's voice in his mind, sending out a desperate mental cry for Pippin to answer him. But there was no reply.
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.