82. It's Magnic!
Beta and Additional Material
Both the hobbits were still very shaken up and they clung tightly to each other for a long time, scarcely daring to believe they had not plunged to their deaths on the rocks below.
Merry knew they would have to continue their journey at some time, but right now he felt reluctant to move and just wanted to stay put on the one solid piece of ground he was on. Descending a winding, narrow stair down a cliff face was daunting enough for a fully sighted person, but for a blind hobbit, who had just almost fallen to his death, the task now seemed impossible.
'pip – pin? my br-brave-sts per – greg – nin t-tooks!'
'mer? you go call i name big?'
'you g-go b- be best hobbts…' Merry was stuttering and sobbing a little.
'mer? what you go sayed at i?'
't-two t-times, one d-day, you goed s-saved i lifes…'
'poor mer you not go see – how you go saves on own you? and i goed bumped at you…'
'we goed bumped botheach othrer…' Merry's spirit lifted a little at Pip's admission.
'we gone go carefluly nows…' Pippin tried to reassure him. Although unspoken he could feel Merry's fear, it matched his own.
'you knowed how pull i up – did it good!'
'think it bit magnic mer!'
'like elf magnic…'
'what you did?'
'pray at get help… voice tell i what do!'
'not he… else… not knowed… rope go be magnic think…'
'it goed shiny at i'
Pippin took the rope in his hand and looked carefully at it. It was still shimmering in the half-light. Suddenly Pippin saw Merry give a gasp and then watched in amazement as his cousin, tentatively, but accurately reached out to touch the rope.
'what is mer?'
'pip' Merry's voice in Pippin's head sounded strangely full of wonder. 'can sees it!'
'rope – is shiny can sees it - i'
Pippin hugged Merry again, tighter than ever. 'Elbereth is thank Elbereth'
Merry hugged hard back, 'thank Elbereth She and thanks my pip!'
'Merry? Pippin? Are you both all right?'
'we go good now legolas…i fallded and pip got i back!''
'Well done Pip – brave hobbit!'
'Elbereth help i legolas – we got magnic rope…'
'That's nice Pip. You both take care now, go slowly.'
Pippin untied the rope from round his waist because it was inside his coat and retied it outside his clothing. Now Merry could see the rope clearly. Pippin was not sure how he knew this but he was as certain of it as he was of his own name. He gave two little pulls on the rope and they started forward again.
Merry was still in wonder at the phenomenon – he could see the rope as it outlined Pippin's back and trailed to him. In places it was obscured by his cousin's body but that aided him further as it let him know where Pippin was. It also filled him with renewed confidence. As long as he followed the rope he would not fall again.
Lurgo stretched his arms in a luxurious yawn. "Thass better," he beckoned to Nograt to come to him. "Wass going on? You seen anythin' yet?"
"Nah, 's all quiet. I'd've woke yer up if'n I'd seen anything." Nograt was pissed off that the Chief had been sleeping in the first place.
"Well looks like thass 'bout to change." Nograt shielded his eyes to see a little further as he peered back down the path they had ascended. Where the ledge twisted and turned about the mountainside he could see Faramir's party approaching. "Make sure this lot keeps out o' sight, don't want these pidgins comin' up to know we's here till it's too late."
"Oo're they then?" Nograt could tell this was not their quarry. "There's 'bout a dozen of 'em an' they ain't half the size of elves."
"What? Don't think yer can take 'em Nograt?" Lurgo's taunt made several of the orcs nearby look round in amusement. "Fancied a cushy number jest huntin' a pair of baby elves!"
"I'll 'ave 'em no trouble," Nograt drew himself up to his full Uruk height. He and Lurgo were the only Uruk-hai in this ambush party and, although Lurgo was the superior, there was a certain amount of posturing between the two. "Why don't we pick 'em off now?" he suggested. "We got enough bows to take 'em."
"Pratdog! 'Cause that way, we'd only get 'alf of 'em." Lurgo motioned with his arm to some of the orcs to take a defensive position by the path that led onto the area they held. "If'n we lie in wait an' surprise 'em, we'll get the lot –no trouble! They won't know wass 'it 'em!"
The elf had been trying not to communicate with the halflings as the company travelled up the path but he could not help eavesdropping as he found it difficult to switch their talk off sometimes. He was very concerned that they were mind speaking too much as the Wraith could well be listening and would be able to trace their progress by the things they said if they made a slip.
Then the slip came! But the slip was not the kind Legolas had been thinking of. He felt Merry fall and his heart lurched in fear. Then he saw Pippin's view of Merry for a split second.
"Merry, it was Merry. He has fallen over the side of the cliff!" Legolas sat down to wait to see what would happen and if he could help the halflings.
Faramir's men had halted with the elf but Éowyn assured them it would be all right and that when Legolas was in touch with the halflings he needed to concentrate and wait where he was.
"You must continue!" Éowyn urged Faramir. "We will follow as soon as Legolas has finished talking with Merry and Pippin."
"But if they have fallen…" Faramir did not finish the sentence.
"He only seemed to think Merry had fallen," Éowyn pointed out. "Which would make it all the more imperative to reach Pippin if he is now alone."
Faramir ordered his men to continue. He turned back to the Lady one more time, "Should I perhaps stay to be your guard?" He offered. "It would be dire if you were overtaken on this path, it is so narrow."
"Which makes it easier for me to defend." Éowyn sighed as she recognised that this captain still though she was a damsel who needed his protection rather than just his assistance. "Your men will need you, we will follow shortly."
The man resigned himself to not being allowed to defend this amazing woman and bowed slightly before following his men up the winding path.
Éowyn sat by Legolas. His eyes were slightly open and he seemed more aware of her than usual. "The perian!" he whispered, "please Elbereth protect him." It seemed more like a prayer than a report. Éowyn watched him with worried eyes.
"Pippin can't…" Legolas gasped a little.
"What is it?" Éowyn could tell it was dire, but had Merry fallen? Was Pippin alone?
"Merry is on the end of a rope, but Pippin has not the strength to pull him back." Legolas looked at Éowyn now.
"Can you help him in any way?" She urged.
"I am afraid to speak as the Wraith may be near." Legolas clasped his hands together and rested his lips upon his knuckles. "I will try to send calming thoughts, Pippin is finding it hard to think, he is still in much pain and Merry is trying not to think about what might happen, he is very disorientated."
Éowyn knelt facing him and clasped her hands in the same manner. Legolas leaned his head forward to touch his forehead against hers, as if to draw extra strength from Éowyn and send their combined thoughts to the periain."
Then as they knelt there in silent prayer they both felt an overwhelming peace flow over them, followed by a sense of great relief. Neither could explain it, but they opened their eyes simultaneously and, pulling back from their head touching position, smiled at each other.
It was impossible to verbalise exactly what had happened, but they both knew that Merry and Pippin were safe and that they would be watched over as they made their perilous decent. Éowyn took Legolas's hands in hers for a last touch to the halflings. She now could feel the throb of their life force too, "Halflings truly are amazing creatures," she breathed.
It would have been hard for the hobbits describe exactly what had happened to change their journey, but since Merry's brush with death and Pippin's epiphany, the pain they were both feeling had diminished, their confidence had increased, their hearts had grown lighter and even the need for poppy had become less urgent.
Merry moved far more easily now that he could see the rope shining ahead of him to light his way and Pippin now managed to limp along in an upright position, where the terrain permitted.
Now they came to the end of the winding stair and moved out onto a wide shelf with the cliff on their right and a chasm to the left. From there they came to a long passage sloping downward with the wall to the left now. As they moved through this passage they shivered at the cold as the wind caught in the narrow way, chilling them thoroughly.
Before long they reached the straight stair. It was nearly as steep as a ladder Pippin thought, looking down at the narrow, unevenly spaced steps. Some were broken he could see from where he was, although it would soon be quite dark in there, Pip could tell. He pulled Merry to sit on the rocks for a moment, he needed to let him know what was ahead, but the description would certainly alert the Wraith to their position.
Pip thought hard, he was getting good at this lately. He untied the rope from his waist and from Merry's middle, placing his finger on Merry's nose to say 'wait'.
Carefully he laid the rope on the ground and twisting it into big looping letters, spelt out the word "steps". He watched Merry carefully, until he saw his face lighten and he smiled and nodded. Then Pippin rearranged the rope into the word "very", again waiting until Merry nodded his understanding. Then he made the magical rope spell "steepe" and watched open-mouthed as the rope itself moved, changing the letters to "steep".
Pippin carried on undaunted, he had two more words to tell Merry. He wrote "lyk" and again the wondrous rope changed it to "like". Merry indicated he had read it and Pippin moved the shape to "larder" and, when the rope did not change straight away, the little hobbit decided he must have spelled it correctly. But Merry shook his head in puzzlement and suddenly the rope moved again and made "ladder". Merry nodded.
Merry thought for a moment and then took the rope and tied it around his waist again, giving Pippin his end to tie. Once they were secured together, Merry touched Pip and indicated that he should go first and mimed that he would pay out the rope and lower Pip down.
Pippin was not sure about this, but his foot was still painful and he might not be able to get a sure footing on these steps. He reached out and put Merry's hand on his head and nodded it so his cousin knew that he agreed and pulled twice on the rope before tentatively lowering himself over the first steep step.
Merry was certain his hands were guided by something outside of himself and he seemed to know how quickly he could lower the rope. Once it was fully extended and Pippin had a firm place to stand, he would give two little pulls on the rope and Merry climbed down, face towards the steps until they were together again.
They carried on like this, Merry lowering Pip and then following him down until they were quite tired out. But Pip could see now the end of the steep stairs. It struck Pippin as odd that he could see the narrow opening in the rock below until he realised that the rope was glowing now and giving off a reasonable amount of light.
Merry could see the increased glow as well and he could hear something. The rope was humming to him, almost like a little warning note, it seemed to say "Beware, beware!" Then another sound came to his ears, this noise was unmistakable – Orcs!
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.