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Recaptured!: 34. Lessons
"Just remember Merry, he is still alive." Legolas
had admitted that Pippin had sounded very afraid, "But if he had not, I don't
think it would have truly been him calling to me. It would be frightening for
Pippin." The elf was looking for something positive in the sad and
desperate little cry for help.
"Also Meriadoc," Gandalf steered him along the
passageway following Éowyn, "it must have taken an enormous effort and a
lot of bravery for Pippin to make contact with Legolas at all."
"Do you think so?" Merry was finding it difficult
to find anything positive in the situation. It felt to him as if Pippin had
died – no worse than died – and he had let it happen. "But can we ever
find him again?"
"I don't know," Gandalf drew him to a halt and
turned him round to speak directly to the anxious hobbit. "That is what
happens in a war, Merry – no one can see the outcome and sometimes things turn
out ill. But you have to keep striving and do your best and be as brave as you
are able. That is all you can do."
"I know Gandalf." Merry sighed; he was drained by
the emotion and grief that had spilled from him, "and I will now – it's
just I think – well hobbits feel things differently – show things
differently…" he trailed off, feeling awkward.
"You do and you are none the worse for that."
Gandalf said kindly. "All wizards should have a hobbit or two in their
care – to teach them the meaning of the word." He stood again and led
Merry on to the armoury where Éowyn was waiting. The wizard and Legolas then
went to make their own preparations for the ride ahead.
"Come Merry," she took him by the hand. "I
have prepared some things for you. I feel you should be armed for battle, my
heart tells me that you will need such gear ere the end."
She put his hands upon the helm that was small enough for a
hobbit, then showed him how to hold the buckler on his arm. "No mail have
we to fit you," Éowyn said, "nor any time for the forging of such a
hauberk; but here is a stout jerkin of leather, also a belt and a knife."
"I used to have a sword." Merry said quietly,
"but I don't know if I could manage to wield it now."
"You may try, if you are willing." Éowyn smiled as
she drew the little sword she had laid aside for Merry. "This is a tidy
sword that may suit you that comes from your part of Middle Earth, it was
forged by the Westernesse and a great age is upon it."
"But I cannot take this if it is an heirloom of your
house." Merry touched the blade and found it to have a similar feel to his
little sword that was lost to the orcs.
"It is a sword for fighting, Master Meriadoc."
Éowyn began to buckle the scabbard about him. "Better it serve its purpose
than to lie on a dusty shelf for evermore."
Merry carefully placed the light sword in the scabbard at
his side and, with his buckler poised in front, took a battle stance as Boromir
had taught him with his hand upon the hilt.
"Are you ready, Master Holbytla?"
Merry nodded and Éowyn drew a sword. Merry listening
carefully drew his at the same time and managed to parry Éowyn's first thrust
with his sword and the second with the buckler. They made several more passes
before they stopped, each holding their own to good account until Éowyn stood
down. "Very good Merry. You may surprise everyone yet."
"I don't think I will go looking for a fight,"
Merry gave a wan smile and replaced the sword in its scabbard. "But it is
comforting to have some means of defending myself." He reached out and
found Éowyn's hand and touched the back of it to his lips with a slight bow.
"Thank you, my Lady. You are most kind."
"And you are most welcome, Master Meriadoc Brandybuck
of the Shire."
"Have you sensed any sign of Pippin yet?" Gandalf
watched Legolas anxiously. "I would reach out myself, but I think you have
made the deeper connection with Peregrin."
"It was apparent even before he was taken away."
Legolas agreed. "It was starting to worry me that we were becoming too
"I had wondered at that as well." Gandalf had
decided that the elf should accompany Merry and him that night. They were to
ride urgently to Dunharrow, mostly to throw the Nazgûl off the scent of their
whereabouts. Gimli would come too, since he always rode with Legolas and the
others would follow the next morning. Now the three were waiting for Merry to
be ready and they would be off. "But perhaps this link is to our
advantage." Gandalf continued.
"Although it may prove to be a sore trial for you, my
friend," put in Gimli.
"This is true," Gandalf agreed. "But I see no
other way. One thing I will offer though. Should you feel the presence of
Sauron in Pippin's mind, I will join you in protecting the little one."
"Not the least to be sure he does not reveal too
much." Legolas said. "Although I think his own innocence will help
him to survive."
"Did you feel any other presence in his mind, when he
cried out to you?" Gandalf asked.
"No, but the link was brief, although I sense that Pippin
had heard someone else in his mind." Legolas shook his head, trying to
recall. "But I think he was too distressed to focus clearly."
Merry arrived then and they stopped talking about Pippin. Aragorn
lifted the hobbit up onto Shadowfax and bade them all farewell before the four
sped off into the night.
Pippin came round slowly from a black nightmare to a waking
horror. The wraith had gone but now he was being carried, by the scruff of his collar,
along a dark passageway. His face felt swollen and sore and his head hurt. He
vaguely remembered the terrifying flight, the hideous pain and the final
stunning blow across his face that must have knocked him senseless.
But more than the ache in his head, there was a vague
feeling in his memory. It was like an itch that he could not scratch as if
someone had been there, trampling on his thoughts. Pippin gulped and wriggled a
little as he tried to pinpoint what it was. At the slight noise and movement
the large orc that was carrying him stood still and lifted him up to eye level
to look at him. The enormous creature poked the hobbit in the middle with his
other hand. Pippin kept very still, he had had experience with orcs before.
The orc grunted and tucked Pippin under his arm and carried
What Pippin could not remember was his arrival in the Dark
Tower. The wraith had carried the small
tribute to his Master and the hobbit was placed before him.
'WHERE ARE THE TWAIN? WHY DO YOU BRING ME JUST ONE?'
'THE WIZARD PREVENTED THE OTHER'S CAPTURE.' The
wraith replied stepping back.
Sauron examined the tiny unconscious creature with interest.
'IT IS PASSING PRETTY, SUCH THINGS AS THIS ARE MADE FOR PLEASURE – NOT TOIL'
Sauron touched the corner of Pippin's mind. 'IT IS A POOR
LITTLE THING. IT KNOWS NOTHING. IT HAS NO BURN FOR POWER – IT DOES NOT EVEN
UNDERSTAND THE NEED FOR CONTROL.'
The Dark Lord stroked the edges of the hobbit's unconscious
thoughts. 'IT KNOWS NOTHING OF MALICE AND HATE IS ALIEN TO IT. AH! IT HAS
SEEN EVIL BUT FAILED TO COMPREHEND THE PURPOSE.'
'AND WHAT OF THE RING, MASTER – KNOWS IT AUGHT?' The
wraith was intent on this single purpose.
"I CANNOT READ IT – THERE IS TOO MUCH REFUSE AND
TURMOIL – THE MIND IS UNDISCIPLINED, IF I TAKE IT NOW, I WILL CRUSH IT.'
Sauron left the mind touch, and spoke directly to the wraith.
'IT MUST BE TAUGHT OBEDIENCE – IT HAS NONE.'
'YES MASTER, I WILL TEACH IT.' The wraith took Pippin
up again in its icy grasp.
'I HAVE OTHER TASKS FOR YOU – I WILL QUESTION IT LATER,
WHEN IT HAS LEARNED.' The Dark Lord snarled his commands, he was displeased
with the wraith. 'GO AND FETCH ME THE OTHER. I WOULD HAVE BOTH PLEDGES FROM
Sauron turned his attention back to Pippin. 'GIVE THIS
ONE TO THE ORCS. TELL THEM TO SHOW IT PAIN!' He paused, remembering
something from the little mind touch, 'FEAR! – IT ALREADY KNOWS FEAR, BUT IT
MUST FEEL MORE TO TEACH IT MALICE AND HATE.'
The wraith backed from the presence, with his small captive
'THE ORCS WERE BRED FROM ELVES – LET US SEE WHAT KIND OF
CREATURE WE MAY TURN THIS INTO?'
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