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Recaptured!: 32. Aftermath
"Merry! Listen to me!" Gandalf shook the sobbing
little form, the only result being to intersperse the sobs with hiccups.
"Meriadoc! Stop that at once!"
The sobs reduced slightly to sniffs and hiccups. "I-I'm
s-s-s-sor…" Merry could not get the words out yet.
"It's all right," Gandalf let go of Merry's
shoulders and pulled him into a comforting embrace. "But you have to tell
me what happened."
"Gandalf, Let's take him inside at least." Aragorn
understood the wizard's anxiety, but Merry was too distressed at the moment to
make any sense." Without waiting for an answer, the ranger took the blind
hobbit from Gandalf's arms and lifted him over his shoulder. Merry made no
protest but let himself be carried back into the castle. The rest followed
They took Merry to the great hall where Théoden and Éowyn
were anxiously awaiting news. Éomer was about other business, the men were
still preparing to ride the following morning.
Gradually, Aragorn and Éowyn coaxed Merry's story from him.
Gandalf sat listening, not too sure of his patience at the moment. Of course
Merry did not know all that had happened, but the ranger pieced together
Pippin's role in the misadventure. He rightly guessed that the little hobbit
had been searching his bag for poppy paste and had accidentally touched the
"We must not blame Peregrin then." Gandalf put in,
"He was already enthralled by it, after his exposure to it forced by
Saruman. Once he touched it again, he would have been quite powerless to resist
"Where is it now I wonder?" Legolas asked.
"Do you think Pippin still has it?"
"No, it was lying on the battlements." Aragorn
told him. He had found the glass globe as soon as the wraith had left and
wrapped and secreted it back in the bag slung at his side. "I may have to
use it now sooner than I had anticipated."
"Have a care." Gandalf warned. "Do not be
forced into making a move by this turn of events. It may be part of Sauron's
"I am a cautious person Gandalf, you know me well
enough to know that." Aragorn gave a guilty half smile to the wizard.
"Certainly in matters of strategy, although I seem to have made mistakes
with regard to hobbits of late." He then turned back to Merry, prompting
him gently to finish his tale.
All of course were horrified, although not totally
surprised, to learn of Grima's treachery. "I will have that man's
blood." Théoden swore. "Éowyn, sister-daughter, I leave it to your
charge to send out word for his immediate arrest."
"I suspect he is long away from here, My Lord,"
she sighed. Éowyn had her own reasons to be glad of the man's fall from favour.
He had long desired her and would have wed her if he could have devised some
means to find grace in the eyes of the King.
"But how can you be sure the wraith took Pippin?"
Gimli asked. "I did not see him. Perhaps he is still hiding in the castle
"No." Merry gulped his tears back. "I saw
"I know, but wh-when he, the wr-raith, h-held P-pip, I
c-could see him. I-I think h-his cloak was over Pip, but I couldn't see the
c-cloak, j-just a shadow of it. I could s-s-see Pippin clear as clear.
Honestly, honest… it w-was…all my w-wishes come true in th-the m-most t-terrible…"
Merry stopped as his tears started to fall again.
The Fellowship were lost for words, stunned by the
revelation of the horror both hobbits had suffered.
"But what is to be done now? What if the wraith should
return for him? Where will Merry go?" Éowyn broke the silence.
"That is indeed a difficult choice." Gandalf shook
his head with indecision. "If he were to ride with me to Gondor, at least
I can protect him from the Nazgûl."
"But I-I don't want p-protecting!" Merry
stammered. "I w-wish I-I could've b-been
taken with P-Pip. I-if he c-comes back I-I'll j-just stand th-there and…"
"Which is precisely why you do need protecting!"
Gandalf drew a deep breath and checked his anger. He pulled himself down to
Merry's face level and took his hand. "Understand Merry, it is not just
for you and Pippin I fear. The whole of the war, and the Quest in particular,
could be endangered by you two being in Sauron's hands. Why do you think he
wants you both so badly?"
Merry shook his head, "I d-don't know, I never really
thought. F-for information I s-suppose."
"Yes, that's exactly it." Gandalf noticed Merry's
emotional stammer was lessening. "It is dire that he has taken Pippin, but
then again Pippin cannot actually speak or hear and we know from Legolas's mind
conversations and yours and mine, that Pip is a very muddled thinker
telepathically, he will prove difficult for Sauron to make any sense of – or it
is to be hoped."
"But won't he k-kill him or t-torture him when he
f-finds n-nothing out?" Merry was still sobbing slightly.
"I don't know Meriadoc, but you have to be brave for
him." Gandalf stood up and patted Merry on the shoulder.
Aragorn moved over to Gandalf to whisper urgently.
"Should he not leave here tonight? It is imperative that he not stay in
the vicinity or else the wraith may return for him."
"Yes." Gandalf agreed. "I will take him with
me and ride ahead to Dunharrow. I will meet with you there before we take
"Wait." Éowyn put her hand on Merry's arm.
"The little one needs to be better clad to ride into the night. Give me a
short while and I will find him a more fitting array." She bent down and
whispered in Merry's ear. "One fit for the warrior I know you are."
"Is it truly wise to make the little one ride off into
the night again?" Théoden was concerned for all Merry had been through
lately. "It would seem dangerous for him and for you Gandalf."
"No Gandalf you must take him tonight." Aragorn
said. "It is too dangerous for him to remain here."
"But this is too much for any hobbit to tolerate."
Gimli added his voice to the discussion.
"I don't w-want…" Merry began.
Everyone suddenly seemed to be talking at once, arguing,
voices and tempers rising.
"Stop! Quiet…" Legolas, having shouted above the
noise, put his hands to his ears. Everyone became silent, so rare was it for
the elf to raise his voice. "…I hear something. It's very faint, a tiny
whisper of sound."
"Is it…?" Merry hardly dared ask. He did and yet
did not want to know the answer.
"Yes. He's very…" Legolas broke off looking at
Merry's anxious face.
"Wh-what?" Merry wrung his hands together.
Legolas did not want to repeat the exact words. 'legolas!
i too 'fraid – hurted – please go help i – sorry i bad, legolas where you?
please where merry, please, please, sorry, no hurt i 'gain! nooo! aiiieeeee!'
Then it stopped.
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