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Recaptured!: 52. Lost and Found
I wish I'd never started this whole telepathy thing sometimes. I should have just given them all cell-phones and be done with it.
In case anyone is confused it actually works the same way. Legolas started the whole mess with a simple telephone exchange with one subscriber – Pippin. Then Gandalf hooks in but he's not really prepared to pay the full roaming rate, so he just has a local landline and can only talk to people he's near (but really loudly). If he wants to call long distance he has to go through another exchange, which originally was just Legolas.
Legolas expanded his network a little and gave Pippin full roaming coverage at no extra cost, which was a pretty good deal. He also offered an 'introduce a friend to the network' scheme and took Merry on as well, although initially that was just on a one-2-one local basis and also experimented a little with vid-phone.
However in a separate business venture Merry and Pippin set up their own network and cut out the middleman. And even started offering long-distance connection to occasional users like Gandalf.
Legolas still has dial-in privileges but no longer owns the monopoly (those anti-trust suits can be hell).
Now that's as far as it goes for this particular network BUT, The Dark Lord has His own network, and both the other networks can interface with it. However they tend not to have dial-in rights and at the moment can only receive in-coming calls. So when the DL talks to Pippin he can hear and to some extent answer and the others can join him on a party-line, and the same is true of the Witch King.
However, it has to be said that they get pretty pissed off when they catch others listening in and tend to disconnect them without serving notice or just cast them into a black abyss – pretty much like phone companies the world over.
Has everyone got that now? If not, do please ask again – ahem.
Lost and Found
Grima Wormtongue shook Merry yet again and this time he sat him up and roughly patted his cheeks as well. The sleepy hobbit eventually stirred and opened his sightless eyes. He tried to reach out to stop the hand that was slapping him and found that his wrists were tightly bound and that someone was holding them down. He remembered the kidnapping.
In his semi-awake state, his mind sent out an automatic distress call.
'Merry, Merry you're awake. What's happening, little one?'
'merr… what you go do?'
'not know… hit face… wakeded up…'
'You hit your face and woke up?'
'no… worm-thing hitted face… i woked up'
Merry could still feel a dull ache in his upper chest.
'…you go hurt now legolas?'
'I slept too and I feel better now. The wound hardly hurts much.'
'i good too… get beer in break-fast…'
'Did you Pippin? That was nice. Did you drink a lot?'
'no spill lot…'
'That's probably for the best.'
"Pay attention! Wake up!" Wormtongue slapped Merry's face again, pulling him from the mind link. "Get on your feet!" Merry was dragged up and stood a little shakily, "You have to get up on my horse now." Wormtongue pulled him over to where the horse was tied up. "Climb up on that rock." He pushed Merry forward so that he could feel the rock in front of him.
"Wait!" Merry turned to face Wormtongue. "Can I have a drink? I'm terribly thirsty."
"I suppose so." Wormtongue reached for his leather water bottle and handed it to the hobbit. "Wouldn't want you to die of thirst."
Merry was genuinely thirsty and unstoppered the vessel and took a good long swig. He was also desperately thinking of ways to leave a sign for Legolas.
Wormtongue decided the hobbit had had enough and snatched the bottle back. "Now climb up onto that rock." He snarled.
"I – I can't…" Merry stammered trying frantically to think of another delaying tactic. A genuine one arrived unbidden. "I need to pee."
"Go ahead then," Wormtongue realised he could hardly deny that request. "But be quick."
Merry turned away from where he could tell Wormtongue was standing and felt in front, taking a few tentative paces, until he found a tree. He quickly took his pee and then moving away from his captor, as if by mistake, stumbled forward, finding a clump of grasses with his hands. Before Wormtongue had noticed, Merry tied several clumps of grass into knots then quickly stood and turned around with his tied hands out in front of him, feeling his way forward.
"Over here!" Wormtongue was growing very impatient now. "Get here."
"Where are you?" Merry feigned not knowing which way to go.
Wormtongue came over and seized the little hobbit tightly by his upper arm and almost dragged him back to the rock and pushed him up onto it. The man then mounted his horse and pulled Merry up in front of him.
"Where are we going?" Merry thought there was no harm in asking, after all as far as Wormtongue was concerned, there was no one he could tell?
"I am going to deliver you to Sauron myself," Wormtongue kicked his horse forward. "We are going to Barad-dûr."
'Merry are you listening?'
'where go merr?'
'I don't know Pip, someone is probably talking to him. What are you doing, little one?'
'out… big orc taked i… cold… i get poppy!'
'I know I can feel it. You must try to stop having that poison Pippin. It's not good for you.'
'not pois… good…make go warm…'
'Legolas? made knot i…'
'Merry? What did you do?'
'made knot – in grass and grass – you go find i… make more…'
'You tied knots in the grass so I can find you?'
'Where are you now?'
'on horse… ridering worm-thing…'
Merry tell me all you can. Éowyn and I are going to try and follow you now.'
'not go'ed much yet… i sleeped long… not go'ed much first went big man…'
'Wait. When the first big man took you, you didn't go far. Then you slept a lot. Now you still haven't gone far.'
'i sayed that!'
'merr… you go come get i?'
'i-i try go find you pip… not got stay worm-thing…legolas sayed.'
'legolas you go find merr and go find i both?'
'I don't know yet, Pip. Merry remember what we said about finding Pippin?'
'…do 'membrer…but worm-thing take i there…'
'He's taking you to Barad-dûr?'
"Éowyn are you ready to leave?" Legolas opened his eyes and tried to spring to his feet but was caught by a stab of pain to his recent wound.
"I'm ready, it's you who concerns me." Éowyn sheathed her sword and looked up at the elf. She was dressed ready for battle and looked like one of the knights who had ridden off that morning, except for her much slighter frame and long blonde tresses. "It is nightfall now, is this a good time to start a search?"
"I will be able to ride I am sure." Legolas climbed to his feet more slowly this time. "We have to hurry, we cannot wait for dawn. Wormtongue is taking Merry to Barad-dûr."
"This is dire news indeed." Éowyn offered Legolas a hand, which was gratefully accepted. "Where should we begin?"
"At the place Merry and I were first attacked."
Legolas and Éowyn gathered what little supplies they needed, he his bow and quiver and she her helm to hide her flowing hair and they bade farewell to Gandalf and Gimli. Legolas mounted upon Arod and Éowyn riding Windfola, they made their way from the camp to the spot where Legolas had been hit by the arrow.
Dismounting, the elf cast around looking for an indication of the direction in which Merry may have been taken. It was not long before he found the discarded sword and buckler and passed these to Éowyn for safe keeping.
"Here is a sign!" Legolas could clearly see, even in the pale moonlight, fairly recent hoof prints on the dry earth. "This was the first direction they took."
"Have you spoken with Merry again?" Éowyn strapped the little sword and buckler to her saddle. "Are they still travelling?"
"Yes and I do not believe Wormtongue will stop for darkness." Legolas leapt back up onto Arod, wincing his face in discomfort at the movement. "So neither may we."
The two rode off side by side into the night, hoping to stay on the right trail.
"It can't hear you, yer knows." Grutfley sat in the small, shared room watching with bored half amusement. "Either that or it's really stupid."
"It's not stupid," Smagnu was getting quite defensive over his protégé. "It'll learn in a minute, you'll see."
He placed the whisky bottle on the other side of the room again making sure that Pip saw where he put it. Then he took Pippin over to the other side of the room and pointing at the liquor removed the leash from round his neck and said "Fetch Pip – go on – go and get it."
Pippin looked at the Uruk and then at the bottle, his face pulled into a concentrated frown, trying to work out what was required of him. He knew they wanted him to do something, stay by the orc? Go somewhere? Look at something? What?
Smagnu gave him a little push towards the bottle, nodding in its direction. Pippin decided that maybe he wanted him to play some kind of tag and backed away tentatively, but in the wrong direction.
"No!" Smagnu fetched him back again and nearly cuffed him, but decided to try patience once more. He took Pip by the hand and led him over to the bottle and pointed at it. Pippin looked up at him – mystified. What did that mean? Leave his bottle alone?
"Fetch!" Smagnu tried again.
Pippin tried the opposite approach this time and reached up and touched the bottle and looked back to see if that was right. Smagnu was nodding encouragingly so the confused hobbit picked it up.
"Give!" Smagnu held out his hand for the bottle and Pip placed it carefully in his big palm. This earned him a pat on the head, making him realise he had at last done something right.
Smagnu once more placed the bottle in another part of the room, took Pippin away from it and then pointed to the bottle with the mysterious command. But the hobbit had finally got the idea and he scampered over to the bottle, picked it up and brought it back to Smagnu.
"Good little Pip," Smagnu this time gave him a little taste of poppy juice on his finger.
Pippin was relieved to have finally worked out what the Uruk wanted although he was not too sure that being a pet dog to an orc was a suitable occupation for the son of the Thain. But at least it got him some poppy juice.
They repeated the exercise several times and, with each retrieval, Pippin was given a little more poppy.
"So it works in here," Grutfley grunted begrudgingly, "How about trying it out on the real thing, before you get it totally stoned on that juice?"
"All right, let's go before the rest of the night lot come back off duty." Smagnu picked Pippin up under his arm and put the leash back round his neck. "Are you coming?" He hitched his head towards Grutfley.
"Yeah worth a fugging laugh if it does it." Grutfley climbed off the bed to follow his partner. "It can get me some an all."
They made their way down to the storeroom, which was only opened at certain times. The orcs were doled out rations through a small hatch about a foot square. It was bolted shut from the inside whilst unmanned.
However, Grutfley knew, from having worked there at one time, that the bolt could be undone from the outside by reaching through a very small opening above the hatch. He also knew that his fingers were too big to fit through the opening.
"Lift it up and push its hand through the gap at the top." Grutfley said. "If its clever like you say, it should work out what you want."
Smagnu did as told and Pippin found the bolt immediately and pulled it back. The hatch swung open. The hobbit turned to Smagnu enquiringly and he was pushed headfirst through the tiny space, nearly strangling as he fell through the other side as the Uruk still had hold of the leash.
Smagnu dropped the cord and pointed towards the whisky supplies that he could see on the far shelf. Pippin now knew exactly what was wanted and scampered over to fetch a bottle or two. He felt a little more comfortable knowing he was being trained as a burglar rather than a dog. "Just like Uncle Bilbo with the dwarves," he thought.
He managed two bottles at once and, bringing them back to Smagnu, placed them carefully in his hands. The Uruk stored the bottles in his pockets and then reached his arm down to pick the hobbit up but Pippin was already off again to see what else this room had to offer.
He found a barrel of apples and put four in his pockets and then discovered some small bags of sugar and ran back to Smagnu with these. Before the Uruk could grab him he was back investigating once more.
This foray yielded a whole cheese wrapped in waxed paper and a pot of honey and then Pip spotted a store of small bottles that was very familiar and dear to his heart. He discarded the honey and put six of the little bottles into his bulging pockets instead.
He ran back to the hatch again planning to give the cheese to Smagnu, although not the little bottles, and go back for the honey, but the Uruk was too quick for him and after taking the cheese managed to grab the little hobbit by the hair.
He got a firmer grip on Pippin by his scruff and hauled him back through the opening, and held him up in front of his face wagging a finger at him and obviously scolding him. They pushed the hatch closed and held Pippin up again, putting his hand through the opening at the top so he could reset the bolt. With their ill-gotten gains the three burglars made their way back to the small room.
"Not a bad haul." Grutfley surveyed the two bottles of whisky, the apples, three bags of sugar and a large cheese. "P'raps that little imp ain't so bad after all."
"See I told you little Pip was clever." Smagnu picked the hobbit up and then noticed something still in its pocket. "What you got there, Pip?"
Pippin put his hand over his pocket trying to protect his personal trove, but Smagnu was having none of it. He held Pippin's wrists together and fished in his pocket pulling out the six little bottles of poppy juice.
"It's clever all right," Grutfley agreed. "Make a fugging good little thief, if it don't kill itself with that stuff first!"
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