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Recaptured!: 31. Betrayal
Merry felt the fresh air on his face and knew they were now outside.
Grima kept a tight hold on his arm as he dragged him along over cold damp
flagstones then forced him onto his knees. Merry still dare not to cry out, he
knew Grima had a knife and did not doubt that he would use it.
As he pushed Merry down, Grima caught hold of Pippin and
pulled him up so that he was also on his knees, except Pippin had not the
strength to stay there and immediately fell down again onto his side. "Get
up, curse you!" The man snarled, pulling the smaller one up once more and
holding him there. As Pippin was lifted up, the palantír rolled away and lay
unheeded on the ground.
"What do you want?" said Merry. Having just been
pushed to his knees, Grima seemed to be ordering him to his feet again. Merry
could not tell that he had been speaking to Pippin. "What do you want from
me at all?" The hobbit caught hold of the man's wrist and wrenched at his
grip, pulling away at the same time.
He had taken Grima by surprise, particularly as he was more
concerned with keeping Pippin upright and Merry managed to pull free. He came
up on his feet, backing away from the man. "Where is Pippin? What have you
done with him?"
"Come back here, you." Grima reached out for Merry
again, but as he was keeping hold of the dead weight of Pippin he missed.
"I have your friend here." The evil voice changed to one of cajoling.
"Come, you can feel him, here he is."
Merry paused. This could be a trick, but what if he did have
Pippin? Merry made his decision and slowly edged towards Grima, his hand held
out, hoping to find his cousin.
Grima seized the outstretched hand and pulled Merry to him
turning him at the same time and lifting the two hobbits' hands to meet in
front of him. At the same time he kicked Merry's feet away, forcing him back
down on his knees once more.
Merry was shaken up by the manhandling but suddenly realised
that the small hand, pressed into his by Grima, had to belong to Pippin. Grima
put his hand on Merry's head and wrapped his fist in Pippin's curls, keeping
him upright. This was all happening very fast and Merry was beginning to get a
terrible sense of foreboding. Then he knew!
Large wings flapped making a terrible stench fill the air,
together with a deep feeling of horror and fear. Grima's voice sounded eerily
far away, as if the man were a thousand leagues from Merry, rather than
standing behind him with his hand on his head. "My Lord, I, Grima Wormtongue,
give tribute to the Most Powerful Master Sauron. These are the halflings, promised
by the wizard Saruman that he failed to deliver. Take them now in my good
faith, that my loyalty be marked and rewarded."
The ghostly voice that Merry remembered spoke. "I will
take them and your fealty will be reported to Sauron, you have done well,
Merry felt Pippin's hand leave his. His heart filled with
dread, Merry dragged his eyes up as if compelled. He knew what he would see,
but feared to look.
The terrible white king squinted his evil gaze upon the
blind hobbit. "Look at me halfling. I know you see me."
Merry looked up and gasped in horror.
Not only could he see the ghostly white features, the high
crown and white robes. He could see Pippin! But it was not the pleasant happy
sight he had longed for. Pippin was pale and ghostly, almost transparent and
his innocent face was contorted in pain and terror.
The long skeletal fingers were curled around the little
hobbit's wrists and the ghastly apparition wrapped Pippin tightly into his arms
and Merry thought he could see a flicker of dark cloak as it stowed him away
But the cloak belonged in the realm of the living and Merry
could only look into the world of the undead. Yet still he could see Pippin.
His one wish in the entire world had been to gaze upon his cousin once more,
but this, to see him in the arms of the Witch King, was worse than never, ever
seeing him again. Merry cried out in agony and torment.
"Come halfling, join your kinsman. I will bear you both
away now. Resist no longer, you will not prevail." The white king held out
his other bony arm to Merry.
The hobbit did not pause. There was no desire in him to
fight for his own freedom. If Pippin were taken, he would sooner be with him,
even in torment, than be left without him. Knowing that Pippin would suffer,
while he was free, would be a far greater torture for him.
As Merry stepped forward to the cold, but welcoming embrace
of the Nazgûl, he heard an alarmed shout from behind him. "No Merry! Stay
where you are." It was Gandalf's voice. But the hobbit was not even torn
to obey the wizard, he knew where he must be. Still he could see Pippin and the
little hobbit was reaching out to him now. Even thought he was pale he did not
have the pallor of death like the white king, he was still his beloved Pippin,
although his eyes seemed far sadder than Merry remembered. His little red,
white and blue drum was still slung incongruously over his shoulder. He was
crying and mouthing Merry's name.
Although Merry could not see the foul steed, he knew the Witch
King must be sitting astride it for the apparition was high up from the ground.
He held out his arms to be lifted up. As he did so, Gandalf caught hold of his
arms from behind and pulled him back. Merry struggled and surged forwards. Then
as the ring wraith reached out to grab him, his long white fingers touched the
rag – the rag of Gandalf's cloak that was still about Merry's shoulders, making
the creature scream as if burnt.
Gandalf took the opportunity to seize Merry and lifted him
bodily, throwing him to Legolas who was closer to the wall. Aragorn, his sword
drawn and a flaming torch in the other hand, stood alongside Gimli brandishing
his axe. They advanced with Gandalf, making a wall between the Nazgûl and Meriadoc.
"Be gone you foul creature and tell your Lord you have
failed once more." Gandalf commanded.
"No!" Merry screamed. "Gandalf he has Pippin.
Pippin! No! Please! No!"
The wizard whirled around to the hobbit. "Merry what do
you mean? Where is Pippin? How do you know?"
"I see him! Gandalf! He is holding Pippin! Please – get
him back or let me go too!"
But as Gandalf turned back to the Nazgûl, its winged beast
rose into the sky, making the air foul with its hot stench. Legolas let go of
Merry to nock an arrow to his bow, but Gandalf held up his hand to stop him.
"No, if he does have Pippin you may strike him or the little one will fall
to his death."
Merry sank to the ground in despair. "He does, he's
taken him! Noooo, I can't… what can I do? It is too, too dreadful to bear!."
Words were inadequate and soon gave way to deep heart-wrenching sobs.
As Gandalf gazed in horrified wonder at the distraught
Merry, realising the enormity of what had happened and the others tried to comfort
the little hobbit, Grima Wormtongue slipped unnoticed off the battlements and
out of the castle.
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