Gandalf eventually laid Merry down on the bedroll and covered him over with the thin blanket. The little hobbit made no protest but lay curled tightly, hardly even sobbing now, but paralysed with grief.
Gandalf emerged into the cold dawn air and hurried through the early morning risers looking for Aragorn.
Eventually he found the ranger, almost ready to depart. Gandalf explained as briefly as he could what had occurred to Legolas, the confrontation with Sauron and the final loss of Pippin.
"I would not willingly burden you with the happenings of this night." Gandalf felt extremely drained and full of sorrow himself, "But you need to know what has occurred and, if you have time, to come and look at Legolas."
"Poor little Pippin, this is a dreadful turn of events. Of course, I will come and see what may be done for Legolas." Aragorn tied his horse and turned to follow the wizard. "I was expecting him and Gimli to ride with me and had wondered where they were."
"I think now that their road will lie in another direction." Gandalf strode back to where he had left the stricken elf and his companion. "Merry – I don't know what can be done for him."
"How is the little one?" Aragorn asked with concern. "Is there any way that I can help him?"
"He is in a poor way," Gandalf sighed deeply. "It's as if he had half of himself ripped out. I don't know if he can recover from such a.loss. This has been a grim night's work."
"Legolas?" Aragorn knelt down beside the elf and looked up at Gimli. "Has he made any sound or shown any recognition?"
"No, he merely stares." Gimli shook his head. "I cannot even get him to take a drink."
"He is alive, he breathes, he sees." Aragorn gazed hard into the blue eyes. "It is as if he had lost the ability to react to anyone or anything." The ranger turned to Gandalf. "Did you try to speak to his mind?"
"No, I was occupied with other matters after the link was broken." Gandalf bent down beside Aragorn to look into Legolas's eyes. "And I was not linked directly to him, the link was through Meriadoc."
"This is a wound that I have not experienced in field or battle." Aragorn stood up as he spoke. "It is deep in the mind. I have seen men afflicted with the dark shadow before, but this has not that look about it. Perhaps the best cure you could try would be to persuade Merry to link minds with him again to see if there is life within."
"Let us take him then." Gandalf indicated towards the tent where Merry lay. "I am not sure whether the little one will be able to help him now, but perhaps the need will be a cure for them both."
Aragorn and Gimli took Legolas by the hands and gently drew him up to his feet. The elf obediently rose and allowed them to lead him forward, although he still showed no awareness of their presence.
Pippin had been stunned and frightened beyond thought when Great Dark Presence pronounced a death sentence on both Merry and him. Merry had screamed 'Noooo!' and had then pleaded for him to be spared. The Witch King said he would be dead within the hour.
'Dead within the hour' He would never escape and he would never, ever see Merry again. A cold dread seized his heart, numbing all the pain and hurt from him at that stark realisation.
Merry was pleading, then someone, someone big, he could not tell who it was, shouted at Merry and Merry was gone – empty – silent - gone. He was alone with death.
In his panic he had frantically called out to Merry. He did not expect an answer. First Legolas had gone and now Merry – he had not imagined that death would be this cruel – this lonely.
But then the Wraith had started to bear him away and as it did it whispered its malice in his head, telling him how the end would be. Telling him he was less than a piece of carrion, a piece of disgusting gristle that his Master had spat out. It ran sharp cold gauntlet-covered talons over Pip's numb body as it told how the orcs liked to play with their meat.
'THEY WILL RAVAGE YOUR SWEET LITTLE CARCASS IN TWO BEFORE THEY RIP IT APART. THE LECHEROUS ORCS KNOW HOW TO MAKE A BODY SUFFER LONG AND HARD BEFORE THEY FINISH IT.'
The Wraith's sneering laugh cut into Pippin as viciously as the venomous words. 'THEY WILL SATISFY THEIR CARNAL LUST AND THEN THEIR RAVENOUS HUNGER ON A SWEET LITTLE TREAT LIKE YOU.'
Pippin tried to shut out the horrific images, but he knew that soon they would be more than just pictures in his head. He was consumed with fear now and, in his state of mental shock, started to calculate how much it was going to hurt – to be ripped to pieces – to die – and how long it would take before he could no longer feel anything.
And of all these sad and petrifying thoughts, one welled up over all the others. He wanted Merry. Just to hear him again – one time. That finally broke through the paralysis of terror and Pippin wept, hiccuping little sobs, the only noise he could make out loud. His mind cried out again – no not his mind, it was deeper – his soul screamed out across the blackness of his existence.
'Merry! Where You?'
'CALL AWAY! IT WILL NOT COME – NOT TO SAVE YOU. THE BEST IT CAN OFFER IS TO LISTEN TO YOU SUFFER AND DIE. PERHAPS IT WILL ENJOY THAT?'
'merr… pleasssse only for bye'
Silence. Wait. Steps downward, down, down, downward towards horror and death. Silence.
Pippin shivered a deep heart-quaking shiver. He was alone. At the end.
'pip i come'
'merr… got do bye now' Merry was back! Pippin hid the remainder of his sobs. They could say goodbye. That's all he had wished for. That's all he would do. Say goodbye and make Merry go. He couldn't let his Merry suffer with him and it would be too dreadful to think of Merry hearing him die.
'pip feel hand? i touch.'
And he could feel it – Merry's hand in his!
Then the wraith had talked to Merry – his Merry! His tiny private goodbye, he wasn't even allowed that from this evil, malicious stinkheap. Merry had argued with it. His brave Merry. He even tried to make it let him go. But it just shouted at Merry.
Then Pip saw what Merry could not. The orc was there and the Wraith handed him to the big creature. He knew the Wraith told the orc things, but Pippin in his silent world could not tell what the words were – he could guess though, the orders for his torture and death.
He told Merry the Wraith was gone and that the orc was taking him down more stairs.
Merry held his hand, just as he had always done. When he was little and couldn't keep up with the bigger hobbit lads, Merry would come back for him and hold his hand and help him along or carry him tiggy-back. Always making a game of it, never making him feel like a burden.
Merry told him to remember what he looked like. He wanted to say that his face, the look of him, the feel of him, the very essence of him was burned on his soul, now and forever. But in his limited mind-speak all he could manage was 'do always go 'membrer… merr?' It didn't matter, Merry knew.
Then Merry talked of the Shire, Frodo and Sam – all the things they both loved. He couldn't - it was too painful to think of all he was losing, all he would never see again – but maybe his death would at least help those things to survive – maybe he wouldn't die for nothing. But he couldn't think of them right now.
Merry just held him tightly and whispered words of love in his mind. He cried, Merry cried.
The orc had arrived in the great mess hall – the one where he had been before. It was standing at the top of the steps and held him up by the rope around his neck. Pip choked and Merry heard it. It was time for him to go. The orc was saying things and the other snarling and grimacing orcs were gathering below, looking up at him and salivating and laughing.
Merry wouldn't leave – he had to. Pip wanted him to stay, but not to hear him suffer. Not to hear him die.
Suddenly through all of this horror and pain he thought of Legolas – his dear, sweet, kind elf. The last he heard from him was a terrible cry of pain. What had happened to him?
But Merry said he was all right. Pippin wondered if this was how it was supposed to feel before you die. Odd thoughts danced into his mind, as if trying to distract him from what was ahead. Say goodbye to the others. Say sorry for the trouble he caused them all. But most of all tell Merry how much he loved him.
But he was falling, hands tied, couldn't twist, falling into the arms of the filthy, ravening orcs. He screamed for Merry. He hadn't meant to – Merry should go. Merry was hugging him, he felt it over the disgusting clawing, ripping nails of the orcs.
He wanted it – wanted the touch of Merry to help him. But he could not bear that Merry would feel this with him. As the orcs tore at him he babbled, the mind words tumbling over in confusion. He loved Merry, was all he could think – for always.
But he had to go. Pippin pulled at his mind even as it screamed at him to hold on he pushed with all his might – pushing the one he loved out of his head and away forever and ever. 'by-e…go bye merr…love you mer…'
A greasy black orc was holding him down, while another was ripping his clothes off. Pippin closed his eyes and let himself sink into a welcome black abyss. In the distant corner of his mind he heard a faint cry dying – just as he was dying.
'Pip! Pippin! Pleeeeeasse! Pippin!'
He did not answer but let the thought lie within. 'Sorry Merr… please don't cry. I –I love you – love you.'
And it was gone.
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.