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Recaptured!: 103. Calon Lân - (A Pure Heart)
"Gandalf! Gandalf! Help he! Please!" Pippin squealed in panic. He was trying to hold Merry's writhing body still, as the wizard frantically gave orders. Legolas quickly added his weight to the little hobbit's and together they managed to pin Merry firmly to the bed. His eyes were stretched wide open, but seemed to be as unseeing as ever, although now they were wild and staring and the iris and pupil were rimmed with a white corona.
"Quickly! Bind him." Gandalf snapped at Dysgwr who was gazing at the scene before him, open-mouthed and frozen to the spot.
Some time earlier, the healer had watched, with scepticism, as the wizard and the elf had stooped to each touch the halfling, Peregrin's, face as he sat on the bed of his patient, obviously engaged in some mystical healing ceremony, foreign to Gondor. All three had fallen into a trance and had stayed that way for some time.
Then Dysgwr had been stunned into disbelief as he clearly saw three ghostly apparitions leave the bodies of the living, although the hosts remained breathing and apparently still hypnotised. The healer had instinctively wanted to run from the room, to call for help and raise the alarm, but something in his will forbade it and he remained rooted to the spot, his eyes fixed upon the unmoving tableau before him. Eventually the three apparitions returned, materialising out of the ether, but this time Mithrandir bore the body of the other halfling, also in a ghostly form.
As the man watched in stunned silence the four spirits coalesced back into their proper bodies and then pandemonium broke loose.
The halfling patient began to screech, a noise that sounded like the black wraiths, only close to, it was even more terrifying. His body writhed and contorted and the other halfling and the elf desperately tried to hold him still. Now Mithrandir was shouting at him, Dysgwr, to do something – what was it?
Dysgwr shook his head to clear it and realised that he needed to tie the patient down, that he was out of control and would hurt himself or someone else if not restrained. Quickly the healer found a roll of bandage and, with the wizard's help, tied Meriadoc's wrists and ankles tightly to the bed. Once, the halfling actually managed to snap the binding on his wrist, so violent were his movements, making Dysgwr gasp at the strength of the tiny creature.
Once his wrists and ankles were secured, Mithrandir pushed a wad of cloth into Merry's mouth and tied a bandage round the gag to keep it in place. "Don't worry, Pippin," Gandalf could see the look of horror on the hobbit's face at this treatment. "If Merry's mind is in there, the screaming is probably frightening him too. Also this will stop him biting his tongue."
"Where we did go?" Pippin panted with the exertion of fighting with Merry. "Where Boromir goned? Legolas?" Returning to his body had not felt like waking from a dream, it was an experience unlike any Pippin had tried before. Added to which, seconds after he regained his corporeal senses, he had realised that Merry was now fighting like a demented wight and was in danger of hurting himself, if not everyone else in the room.
Legolas too was somewhat disorientated and had been a few breaths behind Pippin in realising that Merry had to be held down. Together they had wrestled the fiercely struggling hobbit into submission, until he could be bound tightly to the bed. The elf looked at Pippin and gasped, as he saw with horror that the halfling was covered in blood. He reached out and at once saw that his own hands and then his tunic were similarly drenched. It was then that Pippin and he simultaneously realised that the blood had all originated from Merry.
"Oh! Oh Merry!" Pippin frantically tried to stem the blood from the wound on Merry's chest by pressing down with his hands where the flow seemed most prolific. "Not die Merry, Please not die!"
"Give me a fine blade!" Gandalf ordered the healer, Dysgwr. "I need to probe for the fragment. I know exactly where it is now." He took the proffered instrument. "Then be ready to suture the wound and bind it. He must not lose more blood." The wizard turned back to where the others were trying to restrain Merry, who was ferociously struggling against the bonds. "Pippin! Legolas… hold him as still as you can, I do not want him to move while the blade is in the wound."
Pippin lay on Merry's arm and wrapped himself around his cousin's head, holding his other arm down with both of his hands. Even though the hobbit was bound, he was still writhing desperately. Legolas clamped down on Merry's legs and lower body, stilling him as much as he could. Gandalf held his breath as he narrowed his eyes and eased the blade inside the wound in the spot Boromir had indicated. Almost immediately the wizard felt a resistance against the blade and knew that it was the shard of the Morgul weapon. Gradually he eased the offending piece of black metal from the wound until he could clasp it in a cloth.
Gandalf sighed as he held the glowing fragment. A Morgul blade will wither and char when it strikes a blow against a mortal enemy, but the fragment that succeeds in embedding itself in the wound it has made, will pulse with evil energy until it encompasses its host and turns the victim to a wraith. The wizard waved the healers forward so that they could help to still Merry's heaving body and sew up the wound.
"Gandalf, can't Merry go have a something now?" Pippin asked plaintively. He could see that Merry was in terrible agony. "Now sword bit goned out. I go gived he poppy?"
"Yes," Gandalf addressed Dysgwr, "Can you give him some opium or similar? Anything to ease the hurt and still him. I have removed the fragment, but I fear caused the little one even more pain."
Dysgwr nodded and made to go and fetch some opium, but Pippin was already proffering his own supply. The healer took it with a suspicious look at the perian, then shrugged and measured out a dose of the paste onto a small spoon. Pippin frowned at, what he considered, the paucity of the dosage and nodded that Merry needed more.
Dysgwr gave the perian a disparaging look and resealed the opium before returning it to Pippin. Then, after removing the gag, he grasped Merry's chin and forced the spoon into his mouth and held it there, while Pippin stroked his cousin's hair and whispered softly, "eat paste up Merry, make you bettrer, eat paste up, it all right you go have some."
Merry fought the spoon at first, retching against it, he was obviously in terrible pain from the suturing that was now being performed by another healer. But gradually as the opium seeped into his system his body began to calm more and more. Finally his staring eyes closed and his laboured breathing slowed a little.
The healer completed the suturing fairly quickly now there was less resistance, and Legolas gradually relinquished his hold on Merry's legs, although Pippin continued to stroke the fair curls, as much to calm himself as his cousin. Dysgwr untied the bandage bonds and lifted Merry up to a sitting position as the wound was tightly bound and moved him from side to side as the bloodstained bedding was changed for clean linen. Then the restraints were retied as a precaution, even though the hobbit was much calmer.
Gandalf meanwhile had placed the fragment on the ground, still enfolded in the piece of cloth, and with his staff had shot a spark of flame at the glowing metal that had melted it to nothing. As the shard evaporated, the wizard looked back at Merry and saw that he was much calmer, the opium and the removal of the piece of Morgul blade had obviously helped. He moved back to the bed and looked down at the hobbit, now bandaged and still. "Merry? Merry, can you hear me?"
Merry whimpered a little and pulled against the bonds on his wrists. Gandalf placed a hand on the hobbit's forehead, "Meriadoc?"
The touch was like a bolt of lightening. Merry's eyes shot open and he screeched again, pulling one hand free of its bindings. Pippin fell backwards with shock and Legolas caught him before he fell off the bed. Merry's eyes were wild and stared piercingly at Gandalf. "Foul wizard!" he screamed in a voice that sounded alien and shrill, "take your filthy hand off me!"
"Get thee hence from this body! It is not yours and you have no domain here." Gandalf pressed his hand down on Merry's freed wrist. "Your power is driven out! Leave and hinder this child no longer!" Then in a lower voice the wizard whispered, "Fight it Merry, come on lad, you can do it."
Merry screamed again in the shrill voice, "wizzaard! Foul stinking, corruption upon your bones." Then, as the staring eyes flickered shut, the voice changed to a quiet whimper, "G-gandalf? Help me… I'm frightened."
Pippin, recovered from his shock and near fall, scrambled back to cradle Merry's head. "It's all right, Merry. I here by you. You got do big fight. Not let it nothing win you Merry."
Gandalf retied the hobbit's wrist to the bed as gently as possible. "The Morgul blade is melted Merry, he has nothing to cling to but your fear. Do not let it be the master of you."
"Leave it alone, you fugpig!" Smagnu smashed his great elbow into the face of a slightly smaller Uruk, making him drop the small orc that it was dragging by one arm. "Get your piggin' rations same as the others an' don't come poaching my orcs."
The Uruk snarled and rubbed the black blood from its broken nose, but offered no fight. Smagnu was becoming as respected within the great army as he had been in Barad-dûr, partly because he was straightforward and did not mince words, but mostly because he was extremely big and strong, even for an Uruk.
His battalion had become popular with the smaller breeds because by serving him, they also incurred his protection, not something that happened with most Uruk commanders who generally ruled with a whip and a curse and little else beside.
"I din't come 'ere to pinch none of your scraggy battle fodder," the bloody nosed Uruk retorted. "I come to gives yer a message."
"Then give us the message and stop fugging about." Smagnu picked the small orc up off the ground where the messenger had dropped it and set it back up on its feet again. "Go on Sniggin," he told the small orc, "get over with Bloggin and help him with the grub."
"I come to tell yer that all captains gotta go up on the wall at sunrise." The Uruk frowned at Smagnu's kind tone to the rescued orc. He had, in fact been planning to drag it off to feed to his own battalion, which had run out of meat the day before. Generally the odd soldier could be sacrificed to feed the others – orcs would eat anything, although they preferred human flesh. However, it would be a day or two before they could feast upon the armies of the West and his troops were getting restless – and hungry.
"Well now you told me, yer can get back to your own dungpile and let my troops alone." Smagnu was well aware what the other's intentions had been and he snorted disparagingly as the other Uruk strode off muttering.
"So you going to be all right wi' that then?" Grutfley was at his elbow. "Going up on the wall?"
"Look a bit odd if'n I din't." Smagnu watched as the small orcs in his battalion lined up to get their rations. Sniggin and Bloggin had been put in charge of doling out and the others knew that any cheating or stealing would be dealt with by the big Captain or Corporal Grutfley. "They don't know who's who in any case."
Both Smagnu and Grutfley had assumed that when they had taken over this battalion, by the simple expedient of killing its former commander, no one in charge would actually notice or even care that much. As long as they kept order and made sure the smaller orcs did not run away or die or get killed until the battle, it seemed to matter little.
"Whaddya suppose they're going to tell yer up there?" Grutfley asked. "An' does this battalion have a name or a number or somethin'? You oughta know what it is."
"Hadn't thought 'bout that," Smagnu admitted. "How we going to find that out now?"
"We could ask the ones as was 'ere when we offed their leader." Grutfley suggested.
"Give it a try then." Smagnu beckoned to Sniggin, who handed his ladle to Bloggin and hurried over. "Sniggin, I need you to find somethin' out for me." The little orc frowned with concentration. It made him feel extremely important to get an assignment from the Captain. "I know you was here when me and Corporal Grutfley first came, do you remember what this battalion is called?"
"No sirs, they dursn't tells Bloggin 'r me owt like that."
"Well, can you ask around some of the others and find out?"
"Yessir," Sniggin saluted. "I'll not rest a wink lessen I'se finds out."
"Do it casual like," Smagnu lowered his voice a little, "Don’t want no one to know, we don't know – see?"
"Course, Sir, I understand Sir," Sniggin gave a knowing wink to the Uruk Captain and scurried back off to join Bloggin again.
"I wish there was some way we could get out of this bloody battle altogether." Smagnu grunted. "I've had a bellyful of fightin' and such for no fugging point – there's bugger all in it for us anyway. All we're gonna do is get ourselves hacked to pieces."
"Like we said afore," Grutfley agreed. "Wouldn't be so bad if'n we got summat out of it."
"An' it's like I lost all sense for it – after…" Smagnu trailed off. He was very confused about his feelings, it was only fairly recently that he even realised he had any feelings at all, and he had discovered they were very difficult things to deal with.
"You means once we lost the little Pips?" Grutfley supplied.
"It was that an' when that screech came." Smagnu shook his head as if to clear it. "I had this bad, ugly thing in my head, like Little Pip was broken in two. I dunno what it was – but since then, I jest want ter go and find him and see what's up – you knows what I mean."
"Well all we can do fer now is get on with this 'ere." Grutfley nodded towards their hundred strong battalion, "you'se got other responsibilities now."
"What is happening to him?" Legolas asked quietly. The healers stood silently by also wondering what they were witnessing, but not sure if this was the right time to ask. "Something I don't understand, Gandalf." The elf was whispering now. "What has happened to our link?" Why do Pippin and I not feel Merry's pain?
"I hope you may yet," the wizard warned. "The wraith that is trying to claim him has been diminished with the return of Merry's own consciousness and the removal of the Morgul blade fragment." Gandalf still looked more than a little worried. "But it can still win the battle if Merry is too weak to fight and he has been through much lately. He comes to this fight far more weakened than Frodo was at Weathertop."
"Can we help him?" Legolas ran his fingers lightly over Merry's face, watching with concern as the hobbit flinched at the gentle touch. "There must be something we can do."
Gandalf put his hand on Legolas's shoulder. "If you, or you Pippin," the wizard tapped Pippin to gain his attention. "If you start to feel the pain of the wound, try to absorb as much of it as you can. It may help him to win the fight."
"Merry," Gandalf touched the hobbit's closed eyelids, "Try to open your eyes. You may be able to see now."
"See? I tried, but it takes my eyes," Merry's voice quavered, "It's still dark. I think I'm still blind."
"No Merry," Pippin patted his cheek, "I go can talk and hear again – you hear I - me? So you go see again – you got – you can do that."
"Come on Merry," Gandalf encouraged, "Pippin's right. Try to open your eyes and see."
Merry scrunched his face up with concentration. He gave several gasps and his head thrashed from side to side as he wrestled with the internal demon – the evil thing that was fighting for control of his very being. He forced his eyes to open, but even as they did, the hobbit screamed out in pain as a searing white light scorched into his restored vision. "It hurts! Oh too much light aaahhh!" His eyes screwed shut again and he tried to turn his face into the pillow to avert the glare that pursued him even through his eyelids.
"It's all right Merry," Gandalf breathed a sigh. "That's very good."
"How it good, Gandalf?" Pippin stroked Merry's trembling shoulders. "He make big cry – it not go good!"
"No Pippin, believe me." Gandalf took a wad of bandage and wrapped it around Merry's eyes, speaking softly as he did so. "Merry you are doing well. When Pippin first recovered his hearing, everything was too loud. That the light is too bright for you means that you, and not the wraith, are now looking through your eyes. Do not fear, you will become accustomed to the light eventually."
"Pippin, hold me, don't leave me." Merry gave a small sob. "I'm so tired and it hurts so much. I don't think I can do it."
"Yes you can, my Mer." Pippin gently eased himself around Merry, taking care not to jolt the wound on his chest. "We do togethrer, fight big… not give up. I hold you… no go any way – anywhere!"
"Mr Frodo? I think we'd better get moving again now." Sam reluctantly shook his master's arm, "Time for another start."
The hateful night had passed slowly and such daylight as followed was dim; for here as the Mountain drew near the air was ever mirky, while out from the Dark Tower there crept the veils of Shadow that Sauron wove about himself. Frodo was lying on his back not moving but at Sam's touch roused as if by a sudden bell. He rose quickly and stood up and looked away southwards; but then his eyes beheld the Mountain and the desert he quailed again.
"I can't manage it Sam," he said. "It is such a weight to carry, such a weight."
"Then cast it away Master." Sam said almost lightly, "Throw it down here and let us be off."
"What do you mean, Sam?" Frodo's eyes narrowed and he looked at Sam as if he had gone insane. "How can I do that?"
"How can you do otherwise?" Sam sighed but looked steadfastly into his master's troubled face. "If you can't carry it you must cast it off, or give it to me."
A wild light came into Frodo's eyes. "Stand away! Don't touch me!" he cried. "It is mine, I say. Be off!" His hand strayed to his sword-hilt but then quickly his voice changed. "No, no Sam," he said sadly. "But you understand. It is my burden and no one else can bear it."
"I know," Sam said gently. "It's just that… I know you're upset at the moment Mr Frodo and maybe not thinking as clearly as you might. But I was put in mind of a story you once… oh never mind I'll not trouble you now."
"No Sam," Frodo took his companion's hand, "tell me. What story?"
"I was just trying to get you to see something, that's all." Sam started to collect up his bits and pieces, making ready for the next trek.
"What story Sam?" Frodo asked again. He drew Sam round to face him and then pulled him to sit back down on the cold ground. "Come, we can take another few moments, tell me."
"It was about just before you came to live with Mr Bilbo and you were still living in Brandy Hall." Sam counted on his fingers. "You were about twenty one and Mr Merry was just a lad of seven."
"Meriadoc! Meriadoc Brandybuck, come here at once!"
Merry scrunched himself further into the hay in the stable loft and ignored all entreaties and demands to make his whereabouts known.
"You'll get hungry eventually, my lad and then you'll know all about it!"
"Shan't so!" Merry muttered under his breath. "I'll run away, then you'll all be sorry."
"And where will you run, young Merry?" The voice behind him was quiet so as not to attract the attention of his annoying governess, but it startled Merry all the same. He rolled over in the hay and looked at the rafter above him to trace the owner.
"Frodo – don't tell her where I am." Merry breathed. He and Frodo remained silent until the angry governess had stomped out of the stables.
Frodo jumped lightly down without a sound and scrunched into the hay next to his little cousin. "What did you do this time?"
"Nothing!" Merry said indignantly. "Well, nothing much. It was an accident really. I-I tore a book."
"Oh Merry, that was bad. Do you know how long it takes to copy a book?" Frodo was sympathetic, but stern.
"But I didn't mean to do it Frodo," Merry said defiantly, "and now she'll tell Mamma and she will hate me and tell Papa he'll beat me and… and… everyone will hate me, forever… and I hate them… so I'm going to run away."
"All right," said Frodo, "Have you got your running away things?"
"Yes!" Merry brightened up at Frodo's question. "Here, look." He unwrapped a little bundle that he had brought with him made out of a pillowcase. "I've got my pyjamas, three apples, five pennies," Merry dug a little further into his luggage, "a compass, a bottle of ginger beer, a whole cake and my spinning top."
"Did you bring the whip for the top?" Frodo asked seriously.
"Yes of course I did," Merry held it up triumphantly, it was the last thing in his bundle. "You won't tell them I've run away, will you Frodo?"
"Well I think they might just notice after a while Merry." Frodo pointed out as he helped his cousin repack his possessions. "Would you like me to come with you? I feel like running away today, too."
"Oh Frodo!" Merry giggled. "You can share my things. Would you come?"
"Yes of course." Frodo agreed. "Where are we going?"
"I'm going to run away to the Lonely Mountain, you know where Uncle Bilbo went." Merry started to climb down from the hayloft. "We could find treasure and everything."
"All right," Frodo agreed and climbed down after Merry. "Which way is it?"
"Umm it's east," said Merry looking at his little compass and jiggling it until the arrow pointed the right way. "This way."
The two set off together, out of the stables and along the long path that led to the side gate of Brandy Hall. Once outside the confines of the estate they made for the Hedge. There was a place where Frodo knew a way through, an old badger run where you could crawl underneath. They made camp under the stars, between the roots of an old oak tree.
"Do you think they're looking for me yet?"
"Oh yes," Frodo confirmed. "I should think your mother is wild with anxiety and your father is combing the Shire searching for you."
Merry was not too sure how he felt about this. Running away had seemed like a good revenge on his parents. But revenge for what? They had not actually even scolded him, let alone punished him. They did not even know he had done anything wrong yet.
"Frodo, do you think I was bad to run away?" He asked tentatively.
"Oh no," Frodo said lightly. "I think you were absolutely right to run away before your parents had a chance to forgive you for being careless, don't you?"
"But why did you come with me then?" It suddenly began to dawn on Merry that perhaps he was not misjudged and put upon and that maybe he should have faced up to whatever his parents thought was just treatment for his behaviour.
"Well if I hadn't, would you have still run away?" Frodo sat up and looked at the youngster with that alarming twinkle he always had.
"Yes." Merry admitted shamefacedly.
"And don't you think you be a bit sad and lonely by now," Frodo put his arm round his shoulder. "To say nothing of lost and not too sure what to do and perhaps a little bit frightened in the Old Forest on your own."
"Yes." Merry suddenly felt the tears welling up inside. "Oh Frodo what shall I do? I've been really bad now and I want to go home. I don't want Mamma to worry and I don't want Papa to be angry. What shall I do?"
"What you have to." Frodo said in a kindly voice. "Come on Merry lad. I'll look after you, I promise. You just had to find out for yourself what was right."
Together, hand in hand, they made their way back to Brandy Hall. They were through the Hedge and half way back, when one of the grooms found them and sat the foot weary youngsters up on his pony to lead them back. Merry's mother was waiting at the door, a lantern in her hand and she hugged Merry until he was dizzy.
Frodo and Merry were both ordered to Saradoc's study the following morning and Merry apologised for tearing the book and promised to copy up the ripped pages again and sew them carefully back into the volume and Frodo said he would help.
Merry then apologised to his governess and his parents for running away and promised never to do such a thing again. His father said he would not be punished this time, as he had come back on his own and was obviously truly contrite.
Frodo apologised to the Master and Mistress for running away also. Merry was not sure, but thought, that as his father accepted his cousin's apology, he caught a knowing wink pass between the two.
Later, as they sat together in the Brandy Hall schoolroom and began to repair the precious book, Merry asked his older cousin. "Frodo, how do you know what is the right thing to do? It's seems very hard to work out sometimes."
"Not really, Merry." Frodo patted his little cousin's curls. "Sometime you don't. But when you've been through everything else and you can see they're all wrong – then the only thing left to do is the right thing."
"…and that," said Sam, "is what it put me in mind of. I know the Ring is heavy now Mr Frodo, but you can't throw it away, you can't give it away and you can't keep it."
"I know Sam," Frodo gave a tiny half smile, the first Sam had seen in days, "and I can't run away either. So I just have to face it. Come on then."
So together, hand in hand, the two hobbits trudged on to meet their fate.
"Aaaahhhh! Pippin!" Legolas clutched at his chest as Gandalf reached out to steady the elf. "Do you f-feel it too?"
Pippin was curled into himself on the bed by Merry, rocking to and fro slightly. He lifted pain-filled eyes up to the wizard and the elf. "It good, it, yes Gandalf?" Pippin's breathing was quick, "We get pain of Merry, he go comed back?"
"Yes, Pippin." Gandalf put an arm round the hobbit to comfort him. "That is a good sign and it means you can help Merry, but can you manage? Is it too much?"
"Legolas taked more than I," Pippin looked up at the elf with a half smile. "I feeled he taked big share it."
Merry stirred and pulled at the restraints. His skin still had a frightening translucency and he babbled incoherently as if two people were trying to speak at once, neither able to make themselves understood. "G-go… nooogoo… c-c-cae yn druig… ssswr d-d-diawllll…yslymmm…"
"Merry, keep talking at me. Come on, I know you got hurted in you – in your chest I feeled it too." Pippin wished that he could see Merry's eyes, even when his cousin was blind, he would open or shut his eyes depending on whether or not he was asleep. "Don't go be sleep yet."
Legolas was monitoring Merry from the other side of the bed. He kept his hand on Merry's brow and held his right hand, worried about it's lack of warmth. "Listen to Pippin, my little one, we have to be sure that you are still with us." The elf shut his own eyes, as his breathing increased a little. He was trying to absorb as much of Merry's pain as he could, in order to give the perian as much strength to fight with as possible.
"I-I not… it'ssss issss… not…" Merry's whisper was sibilant and faint. "sss-sinked go un-under d-ddownsss…"
"Merry! What is it?" Gandalf was watching fearfully. The hobbit was far from out of danger yet. His body was still taking on a wraithlike appearance and, even with the wound, the wizard would have hoped for more coherent speech.
"Gandalf," Pippin looked up at the wizard. "Why wraith go wants Merry? He not knowed yet, Merry not tell he anythings."
"As with Frodo, the Witch King tried to pierce Merry's heart with a Morgul blade." Gandalf explained. "If I had not removed the fragment, thanks to Boromir's directions, he would certainly become a wraith only weaker than the wraith lords and under the control of the Dark Lord, who would claim him and torment him for defying Him in the matter of the Ring and concealing it from Him.
"But you go get sword piece out now?" Pippin's eyes widened in horror at Gandalf's predictions, "so he go be good now?"
"He still must fight," Gandalf patted Merry's bound hand. "The fragment took a deep hold upon him. Even though Merry is free of the contamination and his heart is pure and honest, he may yet succumb to the darkness."
"I gone go in talk at Merry in he head – his head." Pippin asserted. "I tell wraith go out, help Merry fight it.
"No Pippin, you're not to do that – I forbid it." The wizard knew it was fraught with danger. "The Dark Lord is holding Merry with His thrall, trying to turn him into a wraith. He might try to take you over too, perhaps try to extract information from you, or at the very least cast your mind down and damage or destroy it."
"But we did good fight at Witch Wraith when we joined we." Pippin argued.
"But Merry is very tired now, Pippin," Gandalf warned, "he may not be much help in such a battle."
"The more reason is I go help he – him!" Pippin declared.
"And I will come too." Legolas assured the wizard. "Pippin and I will do it together."
Gandalf looked at the determined face of the hobbit and the elf. "I don't think either of you understand the dangers and possible outcome."
"Not everso," Pippin admitted. "But whatever they do be, I don't think I can not go do this now if it go helps Merry."
"We cannot just leave him." Legolas agreed. "Not now and especially with all he has endured."
"No Pippin; Legolas." Gandalf held up his hand as Pippin started to interrupt him. "Not this time. I know you love Merry and would fight to the death for him." Gandalf sighed. It was not his role to intervene in such matters always or to fight every battle that troubled those close to him, but he was not without discretion and he knew that Pippin and Legolas were tired too. "You both stay back, I have spent enough time in Meriadoc's mind now to know my way around. I shall go."
"But Gandalf," Legolas knew the danger of the attempt. "Should you risk yourself? You are so desperately needed at the forthcoming battle of the Black Gate? It is the battle that could make all the difference between victory and defeat."
"Who is to say where the most important battle will be? On the plains of Morannon..." Gandalf moved over to the bed and touched Merry's cheek lightly, "or in the consciousness of a small hobbit."
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