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Recaptured!: 63. Planning and Scheming
The Wraith dropped the hobbits on the cold flagstones with a screech of triumph. 'LOCK THEM IN AND KEEP THEM IN SIGHT.' He indicated to Smagnu and Grutfley. 'IDIOT ORCS –GUARD THEM CONSTANTLY.'
"Yes Master." Smagnu was relieved that the Nazgûl Lord had brought them back, which at least meant they were not yet dead, although they looked it. "When will you return for them?"
'WHEN THEY REGAIN THEIR SENSES' He sneered. 'I WILL SEND FOR THEM.'
"Of course Master." Grutfley made it his business to turn the key in the lock. "Any other instructions Master?"
"AN ORC NEEDS TO ASK?' The Wraith was leaving but the last comment caught his attention. 'BEAT THEM – BUT DO NOT KILL – THAT IS MY PLEASURE.'
Then the Wraith was gone. Smagnu and Grutfley looked at each other and the jailer looked at both of them. "All right, open up," Smagnu eventually said, "let's take a look at them."
Smagnu's heart dropped as he lifted little Pip up off the floor and laid him on the cot. He was breathing but limp and unresponsive. New little Pip stirred as he was picked up and, as he felt the movement, whimpered and buried his head under his arm. "It's all right," Smagnu reassured him "You're safe now, don't fret."
"Don’t go telling 'em that." Grutfley snorted. "They ain't safe at all. The Wraith's coming back for 'em and is gonna kill 'em both.'
"I know." Smagnu said quietly.
"The sooner you gets used to the idea the better." Grutfley was always inclined to be practical. "Don't you go doing nothing soft an' get us both in trouble."
"No." Smagnu agreed. "But I'm not gonna beat 'em." He turned on his partner and the open-mouthed jailer, "and neither are you!"
Smagnu took the little tin cup and suddenly realised that they hadn't brought the pair anything special to drink and, looking round for the water jug, saw it spilled and empty on the floor. "They need some more water." He nodded to the jailer and then at the jug.
"And you need to get off on duty." Grutfley pointed out. "I'll look out for 'em as one of us has to stay."
Smagnu scowled at his partner.
"It's 'bout time you stopped being so caught up with your little pets," the smaller orc pointed out. "They ain't gonna last much longer."
Smagnu snatched the replenished jug from the jailer and poured a cupful. He sat new little Pip up on the cot and put the cup to his lips, Merry's hands coming up to hold the tin beaker as he drank frantically, his throat parched from fear and sickness.
"Please Mr Smagnu." Merry finished his drink and could hear his benefactor lifting Pip up beside him. "Is little Pip all right?"
Smagnu shook the quiet little one a couple of times and the scared eyes open and relaxed a little when he saw the big Uruk. "He's awake now." Smagnu confirmed. "Just got to give him a drink."
"Mr Smagnu," Merry touched the orc lightly on his arm. "When are Pip and I going to die?"
"I have to go on duty now." Smagnu could not answer Merry's direct question. "I'll be back later." He finished giving Pippin his drink and stomped out of the cell.
Grutfley and the jailer left the pair on the cot together and locked the door on them, although Grutfley remained outside as instructed by the Wraith.
The two hobbits lay down on the cot again trembling and shaking, still in shock. Merry tentatively moved a hand to Pippin and caught hold of his fingers.
Merry pulled himself up to a sitting position and followed Pippin's arm until he could hug his cousin tightly.
'pip? i 'membered'
'ssshhh merr… not meant talk'
'case you go 'membrer…'
'pip i do 'membrer… sill hobb't…'
'how? what happed?'
'i-i seened you face pip – when wraith holden you – i …'
Merry broke off, too upset by the recollection to let it linger in his memory.
'…then you 'membrered?…'
'…did!… membrered i miss you so much…''
'…oh… ohhh! merr i miss you so much…'
'…my poor pip… you with i and miss i…'
'…miss you (hic)… miss you too badly…(hic)'
'…poor my pip… sorr-y… why you not go talk at i?'
'…legolas sayed best you not 'membrer… can't tell things then…'
'…ohh… pip… we go big trubb now…'
'…we go tell things you think?'
'…gandalf stop you one time…'
'…did… and legolas and merr…'
'…then i not 'membrer things …'
'…and so you not sayed…'
'…but pip we got no gandalf and i 'membrer all the things…'
'…what we do now merr?'
'…not know…head hurted…'
'…i got hurted head well…'
'…think my head hurted… or your head?'
The two sat on the cot in each other's arms, not moving. There was a creeping realisation of horror on both of them that although they had withstood the torture of Saruman there would be little they could keep from the Nazgûl Lord himself. His power over them had grown, they both felt it and with every encounter he was gaining more control of their minds. It seemed that as their telepathic abilities grew so the vulnerability of their minds increased.
And yet, there was a counter feeling of happiness to have found each other again. Merry, hugged his cousin tightly, savouring every moment and memory and feel of him as in his mind he sadly went through the options of what they could do to protect Frodo and Sam and the others. There seemed to be only two possibilities. He wondered if Pippin had reached the same conclusion.
'… we got go 'scape…'
'…how merr?…we in dunge…'
'…i knowded a way go out…but…not get there'
'…and we do go out…then go we where?'
'…they go kill us…'
'…not know…soon… when we tolded…think…'
'…merr…i go big 'fraid…'
'and i go 'fraid pip'
'…merr…i wet self'
'…poor pip… not do that - long time!'
'…i sicked too…'
'…do that lots…you go too much ale…'
'…do stink i?'
'…do… stink good… stink like pip!'
Pippin gave Merry a half-hearted punch at this, making them both smile watery smiles. Then they were both quiet for a time, although their minds were moving in the same direction.
'…two 'scapes… i think…'
'…what 'scapes, merr?'
'…go out door… or go dead…'
'…we got go dead then merr?…'
'… if go out tunnlel i got…where we go? orcs catched us… wraith catched us… then we sayed things…'
'…not do then… if we go dead… not sayed nothings…evrer… evrer 'gain!'
'…how we do dead us merr?'
'…think it hurted?'
'…you got poppy paste? strider sayed too much that make us dead'
'…not hurted much… nice feel… not too 'fraid…'
'…you got some then pip?'
'…but i know where is some…and i know how get…'
"Mr Smagnu, excuse me." Merry had found his feet and Pippin had led him over to the cell door. Unfortunately Smagnu was out on duty but Grutfley shuffled over to the grille.
"What is it? What do you want?" Grutfley grumbled, he always knew trouble would come from these imps. "I ain't got no more food."
"Could we talk to you a minute." Merry batted Pippin away as he was tugging on his arm. Although he was trying to tell Pippin what he was saying simultaneously, he couldn't quite manage it.
"What? I ain't letting you out." Grutfley started to back away from the grille. "'S'more than my life's worth."
"No we just have something you might like – a present." Merry grabbed hold of Pippin's arm and turned his mind as fast as he could to mind speak.
'think it small one – big urk not he'
'that bettrrer… no bettes …that good…' Pippin finally managed.
'what name is?'
'how can tell i?'
'sorr pip forgets you not heared'
The door creaked open and the hobbits stood back as Grutfley slouched in and stood looking down at them with his hands on his hips. "Well what is it?"
"M-my friend – little Pip," Merry pulled Pip forward to stand next to him. "Has had a good idea. He wants to go and get you some more whiskey and…and…" Merry couldn't quite remember what he was supposed to offer. "a-and some cheese."
Pippin watched Grutfley's face carefully. 'he not look 'cited…merr… say i get mith him…'
'mith – mith pennies…'
"…and – and some mith pennies? He said…"
Grutfley took hold of Merry's arm and twisted it making it hurt. Pippin tried to catch hold of his hand but the orc took hold of his scruff with his other hand holding him away. He pushed his face close to Merry's so that the hobbit could smell his horrible orc's breath, "What do you mean? He said. Little Pip don't talk."
"Oh well, umm." Merry had not thought of this "He talks to me, see. That is, we have a special hobbit language that you can't hear."
"Show me!" Grutfley suspected he was being tricked but could not work out how. "Tell him to… err… let's see… tell him to clap his hands three times."
"All right." Merry was relieved to be given a relatively easy message to relay.
'clap hands pip 1-2-3…'
Pippin clapped his hands at least ten times until Merry yelled 'stop' at him. 'meaned do it 3 goes!'
'sorr merr thinked mean 1-2-3 go!'
"That was more than 3 times." Grutfley narrowed his eyes at Pippin.
"Well little Pip's not very good at counting." Merry shrugged. "but I made him clap hands."
"Hmm. So what's he want to do? Grutfley let go of Pippin and relaxed the twist on Merry's arm, "and ask him how much mithril?'
'how much mith?
'say five… thinks'
"He thinks he can get you five."
"In in... Err he thought…" Merry realised he didn't know what to say.
'where the mith!'
'say store… it in pock i… but not say that!'
"Yes he says there is some in the storeroom and lots of whiskey and cheese too." Merry concluded.
"All right." Grutfley's greed won out over his fear of discovery. "But he'd better be right about the mithril."
Grutfley let go of Merry and slouched to the door. "I'll be back for him in a moment and clean him up a bit – he stinks."
'he back min…pip'
'merr take rest i mith!'
Pippin started scrabbling around in his clothes and pulled out all the mithril coins he could find, giving them to Merry. He had suddenly realised that the smaller orc might search him after his raid and he would rather give the little hoard to his big orc. Merry caught on and started to stash the coins in his pockets and put a few under the mattress of the cot as well. Pippin kept five back to give in payment for the raid.
'got wash you…'
'he say you stinks too'
Pippin went to the jug and pulled out the tail of his shirt and dipped it in the water and scrubbed at the front of his shirt as best he could.
'…i just gone stink… too bad!'
Grutfley returned at that moment and picked Pippin up, hiding him under his cloak as Smagnu always did. "I might have to dunk you on the way back." He snorted, "you smell rotten.
The raid on the store passed smoothly. Pippin managed three bottles of whiskey, which Grutfley stowed in his voluminous jerkin and another whole cheese, some sugar. The hobbit was then relieved to find the poppy juice, just where it had been before. He helped himself to ten bottles and packed them carefully in his breeches. Grutfley was so pleased with the haul, especially when Pippin handed over the five mithril coins that he did not bother to search the little thief, nor did he bother dunking him.
As soon as they were alone again Merry and Pippin hid the poppy juice under the mattress. They had plenty for their purpose now, they just had to choose their moment.
Both the cousins had been so caught up in the planning and scheming that they had not given so much thought to what it was they had decided to do. Now it came to it, the enormity of what they were planning suddenly hit them both.
They were going to kill themselves.
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