Merry was still curled up on the bedroll but by now was sobbing with deep grief when they brought Legolas into his tent. Gandalf took him by the shoulders and lifted him to a sitting position. He held him close for a moment then moved him away and shook him a little. It made no difference; the little hobbit seemed oblivious to everything.
"Merry you have to stop now." Gandalf said firmly. "We need your help."
"Come now, Merry." Aragorn knelt down to his level. "A solider does not give up the battle for the loss of a comrade, hard though that may be."
"I-I know." Merry managed. "S-s-sorry t-t-to…"
"That's all right." Aragorn put his hand on the little hobbit's shoulder. "It does not mean he may not grieve."
"We all know how much Pippin meant to you." Gandalf poured some water on a cloth and gently wiped Merry's red swollen eyes. "We all loved him, too. Any one of us would have sacrificed themselves to save Peregrin, but it was not to be."
"I know words don't lessen the pain, Merry." Aragorn took the little hand in both of his. "And we do understand what you are suffering. But we need you to help Legolas and for that you must stop crying and put all your thought to it."
"M-me? How c-can I help?" Merry sniffed through his tears, still falling unbidden, although his voice was calmer.
"We want you to try and speak to Legolas's mind." Gandalf explained gently. "When Sauron threw him from the link he did something to his memory and now Legolas does not react to anything around him."
"So what d-do I do?" Merry stood up shakily, feeling in front for something to hold on to.
"I will put his hands on your face, the way he always did before you became permanently linked." Gandalf led Merry over to the elf who was sitting on a bedroll with Gimli beside him, "and I want you to concentrate very hard, look for the connection that you had with Legolas before this happened."
"But what if… what if I m-meet… ohh!" Merry broke off unable to articulate his fear.
"I don't think you will Merry and if you meet anyone you don't want to, come away at once – you know how to do that I think." Gandalf frowned not sure that he had guessed Merry's anxiety right.
"What if Pip …" Merry stopped, on the verge of breaking down once more. Best not to think about it, just focus on the job in hand, that was all. Nothing else mattered. "No, it doesn't matter. I will try my best."
"Good lad." Gandalf took the Merry's hands and placed them on Legolas's face and Gimli held Legolas's hands in position on Merry's, the elf's now vacant eyes directed towards the hobbit's equally unseeing gaze.
'legolas? you go in here?'
'legolas? please say things at i – say i merry – can go hear i?'
'you go 'membrer we talk? i go miss you. pip – pip go… no not say bad … too bad'
'legolas? you go say pip? you go talk me 'bout pip…i-i n-not tell wh-what…'
'yes legolas – i here.'
'You are too sad.'
'That's why I heard you call – your grief - it cried out in the darkness.'
'I see only darkness – it is all around.'
'where you are legolas?'
'It is black – a deep abyss. Someone, something cast me here. I cannot find the way out.'
'c-can find i?'
'I don't know little one. I heard your grief. You are very distressed, Merry. I never heard you stammer in my mind before. Why are you sad?'
'Pippin? Where is he? Is he lost?'
'think he g-go… d-die'
'No – he is very afraid – but I feel him still.'
'can? but h-he – pip – he g-go die s-soon'
'No he's frightened – but safe.'
Wait. A beat. A pulse. True? Can't be! Must be! Yes!
'LEGOLAS! You Go Say True? How Know You? How?'
'Hushhh, little one. I hear him. He was lost, but he came back. Something large holds him, keeps him near. Pippin is frightened but he is alive and not being hurt.'
'PIPPIN! PIPPIN! HEAR ME TALK!'
"Ohh! What? What happened?" Legolas let go of the hobbit's face and clutched frantically at nothing as his body buckled. Aragorn and Gimli held him up and then gently lowered him to the ground.
"We don't know." Aragorn looked into the now slowly focussing eyes. "What happened to you and Merry?"
Merry was stock still in the centre of the tent his fists balled tightly with an ecstatic smile on his tear-stained face.
"I was in a dark evil place." Legolas was still gasping for breath. "I could see nothing and hear nothing. Then Merry came calling to me and I could hear him – no I heard his grief, it was immense. It was more intense than the blackness that surrounded me and it broke through.
"Then I heard Pippin." Legolas looked up at the astonished faces of the other three. "He was frightened but not in danger, I think. Merry heard him too."
Legolas paused as if to gather his thoughts and recapture the sensation. "That was when an enormous wave of something, emotion, love – very intense – very Pheriannath – took me. It washed over me as if it cleansed the blackness – and overwhelmed the darkness from my soul. Then I awoke and was here."
Smagnu was extremely pissed off. He was cold, having been out on patrol all night and tired, having been on his feet all night and hungry, having not eaten all night. Uruks were not supposed to feel any of these things, but in spite of the fact that they could endure far more than most orcs, they still eventually became cold, tired and hungry.
He was also pissed off about the fact that he seemed to have been landed with Grutfley as his permanent partner. They had only been teamed for the first time when they were ordered to take charge of the imp – halfling, whatever it was, and now they had been saddled with each other full time. Grutfley worried him a little as he was an evil bastard, but probably better to keep him near than get a knife in his back.
As he lumbered back into the orcs' quarters a ruckus was taking place at the far end by the stairs – the stairs that led down from the Captain's quarters. Well he was not about to let that pass without his say so. He was the biggest, toughest orc in this section of the tower and nothing went on without his approval. Those above liked the orcs to have their own pecking order and did not interfere, it kept things running smoothly. He also had some rank, he was a Corporal.
"Come on you." He growled at Grutfley. "Need to find out what those pus-heads are up to."
"Looks like they're just fightin’ each other." Grutfley was cold and tired too. "Let ‘em get on with it."
"No, I say who gets to kill what round here." Smagnu pushed his way through the crowd, with Grutfley cursing at his heels. "What you fugging pigs doing?"
"They got the imp!" Grutfley was a bit apprehensive about getting involved with that creature again. "Leave 'em to it."
"No. Gerroff you fugbags!" Smagnu caught hold of the orc that was pushing itself into Pippin and tossed it in the air to land heavily on another orc. Then he picked up the orc that was holding the tiny frightened hobbit down and chucked it in the other direction. "Give it here." He lifted Pippin up and tucked him under his arm.
"What you doing? Shithead!" The orc who was next in line shouted angrily at the large Uruk. "That was gived to us by your Captain. Said we could have it."
"Well if there's anything to be had for free round here, it's mine." Smagnu explained, smashing his elbow up into the complainer's chin. "My captain told me to look after this thing and make sure you heap of dung didn't get it. He didn't tell me no different yet, so I'm taking it. All right?"
"I dursn't get near it anyhow." Grutfley muttered. "You best leave it be too, if you got any sense, which you ain't."
"Why what'd it do?" Several of the larger orcs who had been watching the fun laughed at Grutfley and pointed. "Tough ol' Grutfley scared shitless of a little spider!"
"You'd laugh other side of your gobs if you seen what I see'd." Grutfley snarled back. "It's fugging bewitched that thing. You mark my words – you leave it be."
"Looks like we ain't got no choice." An orc pointed to where Smagnu had picked up the creature's clothes and was striding down the hall with it firmly tucked under his arm. "The Corporal's got hisself a little pet rat. Ha!"
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.