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Recaptured!: 35. Stigmata
Riding through the night, the four reached Dunharrow by the
first light of morning. Merry had slept most of the way, although he was a
little apprehensive at first, remembering his last ride with Drâmym.
Gandalf woke him as they came to a halt and Merry held
tightly to Shadowfax's mane until the wizard had dismounted and could lift the
hobbit down. Then they made a small camp within the fortress walls and Gimli
and Gandalf took some rest while Legolas, who slept little, and Merry, who had
had his fill of sleep, sat guard.
Of course, Merry knew that he was not much of a watchman,
but his hearing was growing quite keen and he could at least keep the elf
company. He kept his hand on the hilt of his newly acquired sword, as it gave
him a sense of security. Legolas noticed that since the hobbit had donned the
leather jerkin given to him by Éowyn, he no longer wore the scrap of cloth from
Gandalf's cloak. Legolas asked him why he had suddenly discarded it.
"I know this will sound like madness," Merry
explained. "It's in my pack, because if the wraith comes again, I really
would rather he took me. That way I stand a chance of finding Pippin
again." Merry lowered his voice to a whisper. "But don't tell Gandalf
that, I think he would not approve."
"I am sure he would not," Legolas wondered if he
should tell the wizard Merry's plan, but it would seem like the most awful
betrayal. He changed the subject instead. "Play a tune on your flute,
Merry – something cheerful."
"I have not the heart, Legolas," Merry looked glum
again. "It just makes me think of Pip."
"Very well, then play something mournful," the elf
suggested. "There is music to suit every purpose."
Merry reached into his jerkin for the instrument and played
a sad little song about a lost and grieving love. It suited his mood very well.
As he played the sweet but sorrowful tune, he gradually
became aware of Legolas breathing in an unusual and irregular way. He broke off
playing. "What is it? Legolas – what's wrong?"
The orc chief dropped his little prisoner on the floor of a
large, but dark room that was crowded with orcs of different shapes and sizes.
Pippin immediately tried to get up but the large orc casually put his foot in
the middle of the hobbit's back, pushing him face down on the stone flags.
"You two, Smagnu, Grutfley get over here.
I've a job for you."
One large Uruk and a smaller but thickset orc singled
themselves out from the throng and stood before their captain looking down at
the little creature under his foot. "What's that, Captain?" asked the
shorter one, "dinner?"
"No, Grutfley, and it better not end up as fodder
either." The captain lifted his foot and casually kicked Pippin towards
the two. "This 'ere belongs to the Master Himself."
"What're we to do with it then?" Smagnu picked
Pippin up from where he had landed at his feet and held him by the shoulders at
arm's length. "It don't seem like much."
"It ain’t, but He wants it trained," the captain
said. "It don't know nuthin’, give it a taste of reality wot’s wot, bring
it to heel, His heel!"
"So yer wants us to just hurt and torment it a
bit." Grutfley smirked in anticipation of some fun. "Turn it nasty,
like a mad dog."
"That's the idea," the captain watched with
satisfaction as Grutfley took a piece of rope from his bag and, as Smagnu put
Pippin on the ground, the orc tied it around the little thing's neck. "But
no maiming, mind you. You keep it alive as well. He'll be wanting it back,
beaten down, but in one piece."
"That won’t be easy," Smagnu complained. "A
maggot like this is too easy to crush. Summat’s already took a swipe at it. The
Uruk caught Pippin by his hair, lifting his face up to look at the purple
bruise that had spread across his cheek where the wraith had knocked him
senseless. "Wonder that didn't kill it."
"Well, they did that," the captain indicated with
his finger upwards. "I daresay they know what they're about. And you,
Smagnu, you leave that sorta work to Grutfley, he knows his business. The orc
captain leered at Pippin. You just keep an eye on it and make sure none of the
others gets it and takes it to pieces."
"What the fug is it anyway? Grutfley asked. "Looks
like a small elf."
"It's a halfling, so I'm told." The captain smirked
a little. "Have fun!" He left the two orcs with their new charge.
"So yer a halfling, are ya?" Grutfley squatted down in front of
Pippin and wound the end of the rope several times around his hand, drawing the
little creature closer to him, until there was no more slack left. "Well
now, what shall we do to ya?"
Merry felt his way over to where the elf was sitting.
"Legolas, Legolas! what's wrong? Is it Pippin?" He felt for the elf's
hand and found it was clenched into a tight fist. "Are you in pain? Are
they hurting…" Merry stopped, not wanting it to be so.
Legolas drew a few deep breaths and gradually his hand
relaxed. "Yes, Pippin's a little distressed right now, but Merry please
stay calm and let me talk to him. Just sit by me and if I am silent for too
long, or anything untoward happens, then you must wake Gandalf." The elf
took the hobbit's small hand and focussed his mind once more.
'Yes Pippin, I'm here. Did the big orc put you down now?'
''did – down now – took drum'
'Don't be sad, you can have another drum.'
'got rope on i – pull i make hurt'
'I know, little one, be brave.'
'not brave – merry brave'
'Yes he is and so are you Pippin.'
'take shirt 'way… legolas… legolas! not move… can't go
move… hold i floor'
'I'm with you, Pippin. Take a deep breath and think of
'got whip legolas – 'fraid i sorry – i not go be brave…'
'Pippin, don't be frightened. It's only pain and I will
share it with you. Let me come further into your thoughts.'
'no you go hurt too legolas – tell merry i love –
'Pippin, let me in NOW!'
'legolas – i not – aaaaiiieee! too hurting now –
'Pippin, I shall come in without your permission.'
'not – aaaaiiieee! legolas? you go here?'
"Yes, little one, it's all right – relax now. Share
it with me it will hurt you less.'
"Aiiiiieeee!" Legolas's first scream made Merry
fall over backwards letting go of the elf's hand.
The hobbit quickly gathered himself up and, floundering
about, found Gimli first and shook him urgently. "Gimli! Gimli quick! Get
Gandalf, please quickly! I think it's Pippin! and Legolas is in pain."
The dwarf had spluttered awake at Legolas's first cry and
both he and Gandalf, also startled into wakefulness by the noise, rushed to the
elf's side. "Merry," the wizard took Legolas's shaking hand in his.
"Is it Pippin? Did Legolas say anything?"
Legolas screamed again and again. The cries were coming at
regular intervals now.
"Y-yes," Merry bit his lip at the accursed stammer
that came unbidden in moments of stress. "H-he said Pippin was
dis-distressed and that he was going to t-talk to him. H-he was quiet for a
b-bit and then he s- started s-screaming."
The screams stopped as suddenly as they had started and Legolas
slumped forward into Gimli's arms. Gandalf gently lifted Legolas's head up to
look into his pain-filled blue eyes. "What happened? Legolas?'
"My back," the elf groaned. "I don't think
Pippin is too badly hurt, I tried to absorb a lot of it for him and they have
stopped now. At least, the little one has gone quiet, he may have lost
"Let me see your back." Gandalf removed the green
doublet and loosened the elf's shirt, pulling it down from the shoulders. Both
Gandalf and Gimli gasped in horror.
"What is it? What h-happened?" Merry turned his
head from the wizard to the dwarf, waiting for one of them to tell him. Neither
Legolas's back was criss-crossed with angry welts and
bleeding with the stigmata of many lashes.
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