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Recaptured!: 102. Boromir The Brave
"Should I put on armour me you think, Legolas?" Pippin looked at the chain mail with mixed feelings. It was very smart and important looking when it was altogether, but on the other hand the metal was uncomfortable and unwieldy for everyday use.
"Beregond found your old things Pippin," Gimli arrived for a brief visit. "Would you rather have these for now?" The dwarf had brought not only the breeches and shirt and coat that Pippin had been wearing, but had somehow also managed to procure his winged helm that went with his armour. The thought crossed Pippin's mind that next time he would hide it a lot better. "You can keep the armour for best."
"Thank you Gimli," Pippin smiled for a change. "I not go good in armours not think. Not for be in here now."
"What are you saying Pippin?" Gimli looked a trifle perplexed and banged the side of his head. "Is it my hearing? I seem to be having trouble understanding you."
"No, Gimli," Legolas put his hand on the dwarf's shoulder to stop his ear beating. "Pippin is having a little trouble adjusting." As the hobbit started to don the everyday clothes, Legolas added quietly, so as not to offend Pippin, "Hobbit mind speak is a language in its own right and might sound a bit muddled to you. Pip got used to talking that way. Although his speech is back, his language is somewhere between normal and mind speak. I expect it will sort itself out in good time."
"But… but how do you understand him?" Gimli spluttered. Then stopped abruptly as Legolas surreptitiously put a finger to his lips.
"Shhh… don't be too noisy either," Legolas whispered. "His ears are still sore and his hearing sensitive." The elf gave an encouraging smile. "If you listen carefully you can work out what he means – and it's an improvement on before."
"How I go look at?" Pippin finished smartening himself up and turned around for approval.
"Er, fine young hobbit." Gimli lowered his voice as much as he could. "Quite presentable."
"Now go I get see at Merry, please." Pippin looked at Legolas who was enforcing Gandalf's decree that he had to wash and eat before he could be of any help to his cousin. The wizard knew what a difficult task lay ahead for both the hobbit and the elf and wanted them to feel their best.
"Of course." Legolas too was anxious to get back to Meriadoc as he knew how urgent his situation was. The healers had reported some slight movement of his hands and head, but no signs of awareness yet. "Come along Pip, we will see how Merry fares and what's to be done."
Gimli bade farewell to return to duty commanding the City guard while the other two went to Merry's quiet bedchamber. The healer, Dysgwr was beside the pale hobbit, patting his hand and his cheek alternately, trying to see if he could elicit a response of any kind. But Merry lay still, the only movements were those caused by the healer's ministrations.
"Is good I for get go up at bed?" Pippin asked Dysgwr politely as, without waiting for permission, he climbed up anyway, assisted by Legolas, "Did Merry get go move he did?"
"No, not recently," Dysgwr shook his head. "He moved his hands and head a little when we washed him and did not seem to like the water. But he has not moved since."
Pippin stroked Merry's head and brushed the curls, still damp from his wash, to one side. "Merry? Come please wake now. I talk at you. It me, it Pip you now hear at I loud please Mer." Pippin looked longingly at the still form and noticed how Merry's usually healthy looking face was becoming more translucent, bluish veins were now visible through the pale skin.
Legolas frowned at Dysgwr with a question. "Why did you wash him again? Was he feverish?"
"No," Dysgwr explained. "He was sick I think, my back was turned for a moment but there was green vomit on his face."
"Green you say?" Legolas and Pippin both turned to see Gandalf come through the door. "It is worse than I had feared." The wizard came over to the bed and put his hand behind Merry's head to lift him up a little and pulled his eyelid open. No pupil was visible and the iris appeared to be rolled up beyond view showing only the white. "I think it best that he is not conscious at the moment," Gandalf laid Merry back down. "I will try again to find the Morgul blade fragment but I fear he is becoming more wraithlike."
Pippin looked at the wizard in horror, "Merry not go wake? Not be wraith! What happens Gandalf? What can we go do? Please!"
Gandalf, with Dysgwr's help started to unwrap the bandages from Merry's wound, "Pippin I'm not sure, but if I cannot find the piece of blade in the wound you must bring Merry back to his body somehow so that he can fight." The healer sat Merry up and held him so that the wizard could remove the bandages. They laid him back down and Gandalf started to probe at the cut, pressing down with his fingers, trying to find the fragment of blade. "I know it is here," he muttered, "but I dare not cut back into this wound unless I know exactly where it is, that alone could kill him."
"But you said it is best he is not conscious Gandalf," Legolas was confused by the situation. "So why must we bring him back to his body?"
"Whatever inhabits this body now, it is not Merry. I fear that if he were to wake we would find naught but a wraith. That is why it is imperative to find Meriadoc's consciousness and persuade him to come back."
"But where he go?" Pippin whispered in awe, "Where go Merry be?"
"Pippin," Gandalf stooped down to the hobbit's eye level. "Merry is truly dead. He died when he fought the Witch King into the abyss. I do not know what brought him back to us but what now keeps this body of Merry alive is a different power. It is the evil of Mordor – the power of the Witch King himself lives on in the blow he struck."
"But how we go find Merry then?" Pippin's voice became urgent. "I not understanded anythings you sayed!"
"We have to persuade Merry's consciousness to return to his body so that he can fight against the possession of this creature and then die in peace." Gandalf spoke softly, his dreadful words seeping into Pippin's unwilling comprehension.
"No Gandalf! Can't he go be 'live again and we bring Merry's mind back inside he?"
"I don't know Pippin, perhaps if I can find the fragment of blade," Gandalf sighed, "but it is almost impossible to do without causing so much damage it will kill him."
"But you could try?" Legolas offered. He knew Pippin needed some ray of hope if they were to succeed. "There is a small chance?"
"Yes," Gandalf agreed. "But it is small. You must search for him again Pippin but this time as well as Legolas I will come with you. We three will go together and perhaps that way we shall have more success."
"Merry, Merry?" The warm voice soothed his heart and mind and made him feel safe. But he also knew that it wanted him to respond. To answer and let his protector know he was all right.
"Boromir?" Merry's voice sounded tiny in his own head, overwhelmed with all that had happened. He felt weak and ill, as if he were just getting over a long and wearisome illness. "Why are you with me? Are we both dead now? Where are we Boromir – I think I'm scared."
"It's all right Merry," Boromir hugged him closely and kissed his brow. "There is no need to be afraid. I know it is strange for you to see me again, for you to see anything again. But it really is me. I was allowed to come and take care of you. I am dead, or so I am told, but I was not able to go to my ancestors, my soul was too restless and unsettled."
"Oh poor Boromir," Merry snuggled in even more closely to the large warm body and looked up into the handsome, sorrow filled face. "Why are you so sad? You deserve to be happy, you took such care of Pip and me and we missed you so much after… after…"
"I know you did Merry. I have been watching you both." Boromir's face lit up with that smile that Merry remembered so well, when he and Pippin used to tease the great man. He remembered the times they had wrestled him to the ground between them and how he had laughed good-naturedly and pretended to be in fear of his life. "You have managed very well on your own, both you and Pippin have travelled an arduous road and learned with each step you took."
"We cried a lot when you died, Boromir." Merry hiccupped a little at the memory, "even though the orcs had taken us, we were more sad at losing you. It was the most terrible thing and it was all our fault."
"No Merry," Boromir stroked the hobbit's pale face with the back of his fingers. "You were not to blame, it was I who failed you."
"But Boromir, we were…"
"No Merry," Boromir insisted. "That is why I have been unable to move on to the Overheaven, my soul could not rest for I knew I had let you down. I loved you both, you were my little ones and I let them carry you off, I could not save you. My heart was broken long before the arrow pierced it. They took you and Pippin and you suffered so much, it was my job to defend you and I could not. That is why I was allowed to stay, because I still had so much to do."
"What Boromir?" Merry whispered in awe, "what did you have to do?"
"Watch over you both," Boromir smiled again, "I could not intervene, but I was told that it would help to heal my soul to see how you and Pippin managed. That you would survive in spite of my failing, that you were stronger than you appeared and that eventually you would both grow to become great warriors. And so you have."
"Boromir!" Merry laughed now, he was sure his friend was teasing him so that he would feel better. "Pip and me aren't warriors – we're too small!"
"Oh Merry, believe me, bravery has nothing to do with physical stature." Boromir chuckled a little too. "Do you remember what I taught you about being a good soldier?"
"Errm," Merry ticked off on his fingers as he recited the little poem Boromir had taught him and Pippin.
"Eat when it's there, sleep when you dare,
Keep your bags light and your belt tight,
Your eyes always peeled and your lips firmly sealed,
Try not to let, your feet ever get wet,
When it comes to the test, give of your best,
And if you have a friend, stay true to the end."
Merry paused for breath, "Did I get it all right Boromir?"
"Yes Merry, every single thing." Boromir said sincerely, "not only did you remember it all correctly, you did it all, you and Pippin, all of it especially the last part. That's what makes you good warriors – that and your tenacious bravery."
"But… but I didn't Boromir," Merry stuttered a little at the thought, "I l-left Pippin, I d-died and left h-him behind. You felt as if you had f-failed us, but it wasn't y-your fault, Boromir, but I chose to d-die. I had to or the W-Witch King might have won. But it means I abandoned P-Pippin, I didn't stay tr-true to the end, d-did I Boromir?"
"Yes you did Merry," Boromir brushed the hobbit's tears from his face. "You chose not to let the Witch King prevail and in order to do that you had to die with him. That was very brave and you did it to save Pippin and everyone."
'PIPPIN? YOU CALL MERRY IS THAT WHAT YOU DO?'
'Gandalf? You're a little loud for Pip.'
'not i so bad at hear at Gandalf now. it not go scare at i now Legolas!'
THERE'S A GOOD LAD, MY BUT YOU HAVE GROWN UP! THE LAST TIME I SPOKE WITH YOU LIKE THIS YOU WERE SO…NEW?'
'i go get lot pracsis Gandalf, Merry and i go much talk at we heads and do fights too.'
'NOT WITH EACH OTHER?'
'not course we not fight othrer each! fight at wraith and things…'
'I KNOW PIPPIN I'M JUST TEASING – NOW CALL TO MERRY QUICKLY.'
'not teaser i Gandalf…'
'Pippin just call to Merry.'
'Merry! Merry! come back at i – please are you go be here now. MERRY! i need you soon quick! please say things at i…'
'Merry dear heart, are you sleeping? You have to wake and come back now. Pippin needs you and I miss you sorely too. Please come back to us. Merry!'
Merry, Merry, Merry, please, please, please! you got go heared we… you go come back… it got you go be here now! Merry!'
MERIADOC BRANDYBUCK! DO YOU HEAR ME? COME HERE AT ONCE!'
'think you go scare at he Gandalf… not so much big shout… i go bit scare…'
'NO YOU'RE NOT! PIPPIN CALL HIM AGAIN – KEEP CALLING HE MUST HEAR YOU!'
'Merry! please come back at we! i go too sad at not you be here…MERRRRYY!'
"Merry you do hear that? Don't you?" Boromir sat the hobbit down under a beech tree in a sunny glade. The storm had abated and, with Merry held safely in his strong arms, Boromir had climbed down the mountainside to a sheltered copse. "They are calling to you – I can hear them."
"I know, Boromir," Merry smiled sadly, "I think it is only echoes, they are not real any more. Only this is real now."
"I'm not sure." Boromir sat next to Merry and unfastened his pack. He drew out a fresh hunk of bread and large piece of yellow cheese, which he cut and shared between them. Then he filled two cups with ale and they made a picnic. "I've heard you and Pippin and Legolas talk before. They are calling you and I think it is real."
"Oh Boromir, I thought perhaps I could go back, but I know now it cannot be." Merry ate hungrily on the bread and cheese, "I cannot go back now – I am dead and that is forever, is it not? If I answer Pip he will be too sad and I do not want him to follow me – I don't want him to die too."
"Are you certain that your body was destroyed." Boromir quaffed his ale the way Merry remembered. He would tease the hobbits by lustily drinking his cup of water and pretend to them it was beer. "If your body still lives then you are not dead but merely wandering."
"But if I am not dead, how did I meet you Boromir?" Merry looked around him suddenly wondering if any of this was real. "Are we not on the way to Overheaven? Is this not just a resting place?"
"No Merry," Boromir drew two pipes filled with weed from his miraculous pack and handed one to Merry. It was already lit and the hobbit puffed on it contentedly. "I think this is a waiting place for those who are in between."
"Then what must I do?" Merry stopped puffing as he heard the voices once more. "Should I answer do you think?"
"Do what you must Merry." Boromir smiled at him as he saw a small spark of hope light in the hobbit's eyes.
'…i go too sad at not you be here…MERRRRYY!'
'MERRY! IT GO BE I! come back at we now –you bad gone hobbt!
'oh Pip i not knowed if i can go come back…'
'MERIADOC – YOU HAVE TO RETURN – IT IS IMPERATIVE!'
'Gandalf? it go be you at come here?'
'YES – MERRY CAN YOU FIND YOUR WAY BACK? WE WILL TRY TO HELP YOU IF YOU ARE LOST.'
'Think hard Merry, remember how you found me in the abyss and brought me back. You have to return now. Your body still lives, but your incarnate being needs help.'
'LEGOLAS IS RIGHT, MERIADOC. YOU HAVE A LONG FIGHT AHEAD OF YOU, BUT YOU MUST NOT GIVE UP.'
'what is i got go fight at i? not go back be dead 'gain …think i must stay dead here…'
'THE WITCH KING HOLDS YOUR BODY IN THRALL, MERRY, HE WOUNDED YOU WITH A MORGUL BLADE AND NOW YOUR BODY MAY BECOME INHABITED BY A WRAITH.'
'Your mortal body still breathes, Merry – you are not yet dead. You must come and reclaim it.'
'come back Merry… give littlel trys.'
'aiieee!… is hurt at i ohh pip… makes hurt at i now…aiieee!'
"What is it Merry?" Boromir caught the hobbit as he collapsed back into his arms. A red gash suddenly blossomed across his chest. "You are bleeding, little one. Do you remember what happened now?"
"It was the Morgul blade Boromir." Merry gasped in agony, the memory of his wound had been prompted by Legolas and Gandalf telling him how he had been hurt. "The Witch King cut me with his sword and that's why they… they" Merry was growing faint from the pain.
"I heard what Gandalf and Legolas said." Boromir told him urgently. "Answer them Merry! Tell them that you will fight!"
"Too hurt Boromir, help me, please." Merry whimpered with exhaustion and agony. "I can't do it, I want to fight, help me Boromir, it hurts so!"
Merry slipped into unconsciousness as Boromir cradled him in his arms. Never before had he succeeded in reaching the living, but never before had he felt such extreme need. He stood and drew a deep breath, sent a silent prayer and plea to the Valar and walked forward into a mist that was slowly forming about him with the little hobbit held securely against his broad chest. He called out into the fog, "Mithrandir! Mithrandir! I am come! Can you find me?"
From the opposite direction, seemingly walking across smooth white clouds came a white apparition. Boromir gasped as he recognised Gandalf – not the wizard he remembered from life, but a white bearded, taller, straighter man with white staff and robes, no longer grey. Legolas walked lightly beside him, his eyes brilliant blue and his long golden hair flowing behind him as if caught by a light breeze.
Then Boromir smiled as he caught sight of Pippin holding tightly to Gandalf's robes and peering nervously out from behind him. As soon as the hobbit spotted Boromir's burden though, all caution was lost and he rushed eagerly forward, only to put a large hobbit foot straight through the mist on which they stood and fall off the cloud. Legolas caught him by the collar as he fell and pulled him up again.
'Pippin you have to concentrate hard to walk on what is not there.'
'sorry i Legolas – but it Boromir – got he Merry!'
'Mithrandir! You have the grace of the Valar – it is good that you returned.' Boromir had last seen the wizard when he fell to the Balrog in Moria, although he knew from observing the hobbits that he was now Gandalf the White. 'I have been allowed also by Their grace to return the little one to you.'
'BOROMIR I HOPE THIS ACT WILL BRING YOU PEACE AT LAST – I KNOW HOW YOU HAVE WATCHED OVER THESE TWO SINCE YOU LEFT US.'
'Will Merry live? Do you know?' Boromir asked anxiously as he transferred the hobbit's limp form to the wizard's arms.
'I CANNOT TELL, HE HAS A PIECE OF MORGUL BLADE SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE WOUND – IF I AM UNABLE TO LOCATE IT HE WILL BECOME A WRAITH. IF I PROBE TOO DEEPLY HE WILL DIE – IT IS A SORE CHOICE.'
'I can see it!' Boromir looked with startled eyes up at the wizard. 'The fragment is just here.' The soldier reached out and touched Merry's wound at a point near to the waist.
"ARE YOU CERTAIN?'
'Yes I can see it clearly,' Boromir touched Merry's wound once more as if to make sure. 'It is half the length of my thumb and is a thumbnail deep – just here.'
'THEN BOROMIR I THINK HE WILL LIVE! COME WE MUST BRING HIM BACK TO HIS BODY AS SOON AS WE MAY!'
'Boromir, you go come back too at we?'
'No Pippin, I cannot, but take Merry and be sure and look after him well. You've done a good job so far.'
'will Boromir – i take best care at my Mer.' Pippin, holding tightly to Legolas's hand stepped carefully forward to reach out a hand to Boromir who was beginning to fade. They touched fingers just as the image began to dissolve.
'Fare you well brave Boromir.'
'bye Boromir, love at you, thank and thank at you for my Mer.'
'GO IN PEACE, SON OF GONDOR, YOU HAVE EARNED YOUR REST.'
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