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Recaptured!: 29. Searching
Merry reached out as he woke, surprised not to find Pippin
next to him. He felt around the bed on which he was lying finding nothing but
the quilt and pillows. He was about to call out but remembered that would be of
no use as Pip would not hear him anyway.
'Hear him – we were talking, Pip and me, in Legolas's head!'
Merry shook a little at the thought. It had been wonderful, but awful, a cruel
but kind torture. They could talk for a short while and then be torn apart
again as if it had never happened. He had tried to be strong for Pip but, in
that strange mind link, he had not only heard his young cousin's sorrow, but
felt it just as keenly. He knew that Pippin had felt his grief too. He had
tried not to let it spoil their few moments together but it was hard to conceal
feelings like that from someone who meant so much, especially when you are
sharing their thought and mind.
Now Pippin was gone physically as well. Why? What had
happened? Merry thought back over the past days since he had been rescued from
the frightful cage. Pippin had not really left his side and, as far as Merry
could remember, they had always been in the same room at least. From the moment
when Strider had set him on his feet and made him walk and he had tripped and
fallen, from then on Pippin had been his eyes. The younger hobbit had taken it
upon himself to make sure he didn't fall or walk into things and Merry now knew
when there was a step up or step down, simply from the way Pippin pulled on his
hand. He knew that when Pippin touched his nose it meant 'wait' and when he
squeezed his hand it meant 'come on'.
Where had he gone? The privy? No, Pippin always woke him if
he felt the need and would usually insist that Merry come along too, that would
save him having to take his cousin later.
Merry's next thought was that there was something wrong.
Pippin had been taken ill and Strider or one of the others had carried him off
somewhere. But they wouldn't just leave him there on his own to worry about
Pippin, they would know how traumatic it would be for him.
Perhaps it was something really bad. Was Pippin so upset by
their talk that he had gone off to do something terrible or dangerous? It made
no sense that Merry could think of.
He realised now that he had been awake for quite a long time
and no one had come into the room and Pippin was either lying somewhere
unconscious, perhaps nearby, and Merry didn't know, or maybe he had gone
missing. He had to do something. Try to find someone.
The thought frightened Merry at first. He remembered his
first attempt to walk across a room unaided in this place and he had fallen
almost at once. But he had become used to manoeuvring his way around with
Pippin's help and if his young cousin was in trouble, he should move and move
Merry clambered off the high bed, gradually letting himself
down backwards until his toes found the floor. The next problem was to find the
door. It took him some time, bumping into things and finally reaching the wall
and feeling his way around until he located the exit. By the time he was
outside the room and in the passageway, the hobbit could feel his heart
pounding, he didn’t even know which way to go now. Then he remembered the
advice of Gandalf when they were lost in Moria. 'If in doubt, Meriadoc, always
follow your nose." He sniffed in both directions. The draft came from the
left. Very well, he would go left.
Pippin hurried along the passageway, greedily hugging the
glass globe to his chest and looking furtively around to be sure he was not
observed. He wanted to find somewhere private so he could look at the thing
undisturbed. There was a vague recollection in his brain of seeing it before,
but as soon as he tried to hold the thought, it melted like icicles snapped off
in your warm hand on a bright winter's morning or floated away like a dandelion
clock on a hot summer's afternoon.
But it was all right now. Pippin felt very resolved. He knew
what he had to do and there was only one purpose left in his life. He had to
take the glass globe to somewhere private, preferably outside and look into it
very carefully and there he would find all the answers to every question ever
asked and then he would be happy for he would also find his heart's desire.
Very vaguely Pippin knew this made no sense, but, with the thing held against
his chest, the compulsion had become beyond all reason.
He found his way to the high battlements of the castle,
where a brazier was kept burning and he huddled up against the wall in the most
inconspicuous corner he could find and, sitting with the globe between his
knees, he stared long and hard into its mysterious depths.
The air seemed still and tense about him. At first the globe
was dark, black as jet, with the moonlight gleaming on its surface. Then there
came a faint glow and stir in the heart of it, and it held his eyes, so that
now he could not look away. Soon all the inside seemed on fire, the ball was
spinning, or the lights within were revolving. Suddenly the lights went out. He
gave a gasp and struggled, but he remained bent, clasping the ball with both
hands. Closer and closer he bent, and then became rigid, his lips moved
soundlessly for a while. Then he gave a soundless scream and his face contorted
with agony as he fell back and lay still.
Legolas wandered beyond the keep of the castle and found a
small copse of beech. Dreamily he wandered amongst the tall, slender trunks and
gazed up at the soft green petal-like leaves until the sun finally sank and
gave way to the silver moonlight.
The elf drew a deep breath, drinking in the woodland and
feeling refreshed by it. He had found the telepathic link between the two
hobbits deeply emotional and distressing. It was not the words but the feelings
and grief at their parting that had disturbed him so much. Hobbits were,
Legolas had found, delightful creatures, so full of life and joy. To experience
so much anguish in these two charming periain was harrowing to his very soul.
'It is too cruel to bring them together, to let them take a
morsel of what they cannot have.' Legolas mused. I will not permit it again.
The fleeting pleasure it brings is paid for too heavily in the pain they
experience at their parting.'
The elf pondered these thoughts in the serenity of the
little green copse, restoring his mind and calming his id back into its
accustomed unruffled perspective. Legolas did not like his emotions laid bare.
Even when he had thought Gandalf to be dead, he could not bring himself to speak
of his grief openly.
He sat against the trunk of a beech and his eyes closed.
Although he did not sleep, the world started to flow smoothly past him once
more and the memory of Merry and Pippin's anguish began to fade to a dream.
'Eeeiaaghhhh!' His eyes shot open wide as the terrified
scream left his lips. He had not cried out but the sound had come from his
throat, he had heard it uttered in his voice!
Not his voice – it was Pippin's voice. He had screamed in
Legolas's head and the sound had escaped from his lips. It was filled with
terror and great fear, greater fear than he had ever felt before in either his
mind or the hobbit's. More fear even than they had felt at the Balrog.
What had happened? Where was Pippin? He could not tell from
the scream and now there was only silence - a terrified cry for help and then
Legolas was on his feet and running for the castle, pausing
every so often, his head held up high, straining to hear again the little one's
voice in his mind, sending out a desperate mental cry for Pippin to answer him.
But there was no reply.
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