Pippin was barely conscious as the big orc carried him to the tiny cell-like room and dropped him on the floor. His hands were no longer tied as the orcs had cut through the cords to tear his clothes off, but the rope was still round his neck and Smagnu tied the lead to the leg of his bed. The big orc then bent over to look at him. The little creature's nose was bleeding and he was badly bruised all over but especially on his buttocks and thighs.
The Uruk poked at it with his boot to see if it would move, but there was no reaction except that it was shivering, so he took a blanket from the other bed, which happened to belong to Grutfley, and wrapped the imp up in it. He frowned, not too sure what to do next.
Smagnu had never looked after anything before, certainly not anything as flimsy as this appeared to be. Admittedly when they had first had it, it had seemed impervious to everything they did to it, but now it had obviously been hurt quite badly.
He went to his ration bag and pulled out some bread and then found a chipped saucer on the shelf. He broke the stale bread into small pieces and soaked them in liquor from his flask and put the saucer on the floor next to Pippin.
He pulled the creature up into a sitting position and shook it until it blearily opened its eyes. Taking a piece of the whisky soaked bread in his big fingers, the Uruk fed it to Pippin, who ate it obediently, too much in shock to protest.
Smagnu fed it most of the bread and a small dose from his precious opium bottle. He left it curled up on the floor in the blanket and went in search of his own dinner.
'PIPPIN! PIPPIN! HEAR ME TALK!'
'merry… oh merr… you back… i here merr…!'
'Pip… where you go be?
'on floor… think am… in room… not big'
'you all right?'
'orcs hurted on me… stop now… most dizzy i…'
'what happed, pip? can you go tell?'
'not know… not go say….oh merr…it too…too…' Pippin stopped – overcome by wrenching sobs, his body and mind pulsating with the agony of his terror, hurt and relief as the numbing shock started to wear off and he realised his death sentence had at least been postponed.
'not cry pip… my poor pip… feel hug…'
'do feel merr…'
Merry did not fire any more questions at the sad, quivering little consciousness, but held him close in his mind, stroking and comforting as if they were physically together.
'…'s'right pip – go cry – i stay you…'
'sorry cry… too scared… orcs too big i… ' more hiccuping sobs.
'… you in room… go safe now?'
'…not know… big orc… one b'fore… taked i way… othrer orcs hurted i… they go be cross… they go… they get i 'gain… not stop!… merr!…not… '
'not think pip… feel hand – feel hug…say me things else you want.'
'please…want go home…'
'oh pip… want go home too'
'take me go home merr…'
'will pip…got find you…'
'promsis try hard… try find you…'
'so lost i …not find you…merr…please help i…'
'think i of way pip, not evrer give up …'
'merr…want you so much…not want die…'
'you stay 'live pip… promsis me not die… i find you…'
'i stay 'live – promsis you merr…promsis…'
'…big orc …keep you safe think?'
'….give bread – give hot orc drink …bit poppy juice give…make i go dizzy more…'
'did eat 'nuff bread? you go hungrery?'
'bit… not think… some bread lefted…'
'you go eat all pip… keep you good..'
'eat now merr…'
'if can – go eat pip…'
Pippin picked the saucer from the floor and ate the rest of the bread with his fingers. Although he didn't much like the taste of the orc liquor, he drank the residue off the saucer and then licked it clean.
'all gone… merr…hic!…scuse …hic!'
'how you get hics in you head pip?'
'not know… s'funny… hic!'
'pip… good you go laugh…'
'merrhhy! hic! big orcsh comesh'
'pip you go drunked?'
's'orc drinksh – big taste – hic!'
'what big orc do?'
'give i watrer s'drink…'
'you drink good pip…'
"Merry! Can you hear me?'
'legolashh! i go – hic! – hearded you!'
'Hello my Pippin, are you high again?'
'no – drunked…'
"Oh sweet Pippin! Are you all right little one?'
'yesshh…hic!… i good…'
'Merry must come away now. He has been with you too long. He can come back later.'
'…sorry legolas, you go good now?'
'Yes Merry, thanks to you. Now say goodbye to Pippin for a while.'
'bye pip, you want i, you shout i…'
'bye merr…hic! i alwaysh wantssh you…'
"Merry?" Legolas was holding his face, but Gandalf was calling him. "What happened? Is Pippin all right?"
"He's all right. A big orc, I think the one that was with him before, took him away from the others." Merry was almost surprised to find his face wet with tears. He felt so happy now that Pippin was alive. "He's keeping him safe. We have to go and find him now."
"Merry, nothing has changed in that respect." Gandalf was reluctant to spoil Merry's happiness but he had to be realistic. "We still can't go into Mordor to get Pippin. Not yet anyway."
"Oh… no, well… I just thought…" Merry remembered he had made a promise, but he could not tell Gandalf that. "If there was a chance… or something…"
"Yes of course." The wizard agreed. "I am as relieved as you that Pippin is alive, we all are, and you did a wonderful thing in bringing Legolas back, truly. Now you had better get some sleep, it's morning already and you have had a very long night. We leave for Minas Tirith soon, so rest while you can."
Merry lay down but he could not sleep, his mind was spinning trying to think of a way he could keep his promise to find Pippin.
Pippin was in Mordor and Gandalf was taking him to Minas Tirith. Perhaps King Théoden's men were riding towards Mordor, but that was no help, he could not go with them. Maybe Legolas would know what he should do – well at the very least he could talk to him about it.
Merry hurriedly dressed himself in his new battle clothes and fastened his sword in place and took his little buckler on his arm. Then he collected together his few meagre possessions so that he would be ready to ride with Gandalf and went to find the elf.
He had only gone a few steps when he realised that it was futile on his own – he couldn't find anyone in the camp, let alone Pippin in Barad-dûr. Merry stood still and called Legolas in his mind.
'legolas? where you?'
'What's wrong Merry?'
'nothing, just want go talk you'
"Well talk to me then." Legolas came up behind him and took him by the hand.
"Where are you going to go when they all leave?"
"I was going to ride with Aragorn, but that was before the confrontation with Sauron." Legolas shuddered a little at the memory. He was still not completely recovered. "Now Gimli and I are to travel to Minas Tirith with you and Gandalf."
"And where is Aragorn going?"
"Elrond has sent him council." Legolas explained, "he is determined to ride the Paths of the Dead."
"What are the Paths of the Dead?" Merry asked in wonder.
"It is said that Dead Men out of the Dark Years guard the way and will suffer no living man to come to their hidden halls; but at whiles they may themselves be seen passing out of the door like shadows. But the Dead seldom come forth and only in times of great unquiet and coming death."
"Then why would Strider go that way? asked Merry. "Do you know anything that would explain it?"
"He says it is his destiny and his heritage and that haste is needed." Legolas said simply.
"Legolas there is something I have to do." Merry began awkwardly, "but I don't know how to do it."
"What is that, little one?" Legolas took Merry's hand and started to walk with him. "Can I help?"
"I don't know." Merry was glad to be outside with the breeze and early morning sun on his face. "I made a promise to Pippin. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I didn't know what else to do."
"What did you promise?" Legolas had a feeling he knew what was coming.
"I promised I would try and find him."
They walked together in silence for a while, passing the mustering men and horses of the Rohirrim and the people gathering to say farewell, to the furthest point the elf thought it safe to go, where they found a small clump of trees. Legolas sat down against one as he guided the little hobbit to sit opposite him. The elf always found a need to be amongst trees in times of anxiety or stress; he found them restorative and healing.
"That was a big promise to make Merry," Legolas finally said. "Although I do understand why you made it."
"Then can you think of a way I can keep it?" Merry asked in desperation. "If I were not blind I would set off on foot right now. But how can I find Pip if I can't see."
"Your heart is most noble Merry and I am touched by your plight." Legolas took his hand in two of his and lifted it up to kiss it lightly. "Your promise was well made and sincere. But I don't think there is anything you can do just now."
"But I have to try… Pip made a promise too." Merry held tightly to Legolas's hands. "He promised me he would stay alive until I came."
"…and I'm sure he will." Legolas agreed. "But you will both have to wait and see where your fortunes guide you for the moment. Be ready to make the most of any opportunity."
"But, Merry the most important thing is that you remain steadfast and true to each other and I know you will both do that." Legolas stood up drawing the little hobbit up with him." Come now, Gandalf will be waiting."
"Legolas, do you think Pippin will…"
A sudden whistling noise of the kind an arrow makes skimmed through the air by Merry's face, followed by a dull thunk.
"Aahhhh!" Legolas cried out and his hand left Merry's.
"Legolas! Legolas! What happ…" Merry's voice was cut short as a large hand went over his mouth. He tried to bite but the hand was rough and callused and he could make no impression on it. He struggled, but large arms held him tightly. The arms pulled his buckler away and he heard it clatter onto some stones and his sword soon joined it. Then he was lifted up off the ground and carried away.
As Merry was dumped back down on the grass again, the hand was replaced by a vicious gag that nearly choked him and his hands were bound tightly before him. Once more he was lifted up, onto a horse this time. He felt a large man climb up behind him. The man kept a tight hold on the little hobbit, as he spurred the horse away.
Merry tried to call to Legolas in his mind, but the elf must be unconscious. Not dead – no he couldn't be dead, Merry felt certain now that he would feel it. Just sleeping – the arrow – he was wounded, he would be all right.
Why would someone kidnap him? What would anyone want with a useless, blind hobbit?
As the horse raced along, Merry had another desperate but hopeful thought "Could he be heading for Mordor?"
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.