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Recaptured!: 65. Echoes
Smagnu surreptitiously counted his mithril coins again and then stowed them back in the leather purse he kept next to his skin. He was on duty outside and, although it was daytime for a change, he was still cold, he was even beginning to miss Grutfley a little, although not much.
It was actually better that his partner take on the responsibility of guarding the little Pips now, Smagnu was not too sure of his feelings in that respect. He had only ever experienced anger, greed, jealously and very occasionally lust before. The new emotions that these imps stirred in him were so alien to his being he could not even name them. Instead he tried to put them out of his head.
"Yeah, they want a messenger to go over to t'other tower, Cirith Ungol." Smagnu was eavesdropping on a conversation between his two superiors who happened to be standing close by. "Got some sorta spy there what they caught."
"Won't get no volunteers for that'n – not just now." The Captain from the other battalion was speaking. "Too many orcs not comin' back from messages right now, what with the war an all."
"Reckon they just fuggin' runnin' off that's all." His Captain observed. "Nothin' ain't happenin' to 'em. Not inside o' Mordor."
"Not so sure 'bout that." The other Captain had spent time in Cirith Ungol. "There's her ladyship an' all. I heared tell she's had a few orcs away in her larder."
"Be a fug-head to tangle with her, so I hear." The two captains were coming closer and getting easier to hear. "What'd make a soldier risk that endin'? Dinner for a giant spider."
"Without going through the Black Gate, it's the only direct way to get out o' Mordor without bein' seen, well that I knows of." The Captains were just about level with him now. "Have to be pretty scared of fighting to risk that, an' most orcs I know are only too happy for a fight."
"True enough." His Captain addressed him now. "Like you Corporal, you would rather fight proper than risk being dinner for a giant spider wouldn't you?"
"Yes Captain." Smagnu stood up straight. "But I ain't 'fraid of no spider." Smagnu had been listening carefully to what they were saying about Cirith Ungol being the only way out of Mordor. Would it be a possible escape route for his little Pips?
"Oh you might well be scared of this one." The other Captain laughed. "Even an Uruk like you – she'd have you, no trouble."
"If you say so, Sir." Smagnu decided to ask the question that had occurred to him when he first heard them talking. "Might I ask Captain, who're you going to send to Cirith Ungol?"
"What's it to you then, Corporal?" His Captain looked at the Uruk with interest. "Why? Did you want to volunteer? Fancy having a go at this great spider?"
"Err I ain't 'fraid of it, like I said, Captain." Smagnu gazed just past the Captain's shoulder, he did not trust his face not to give him away. "I just thought I might be good for the job."
"Oh you did?" The Captains seemed to share a private joke. "We been hearing 'bout you and how you're starting to collect these little imps! Only Number One's caught up to you now. He's gonna have 'em so I've heard."
"'T'wern't nothing to do with us." Smagnu had not realised that his Captain had heard about him and Grutfley and the two Pips. "We were just doing what we were meant to. I looked after the imp like the orders you gave me Captain."
"Hmm a bit too well if I understand right." The Captain started to move off. He did not really believe all the rumours he had heard in any case. It was hardly likely that a fighting Uruk-Hai would get emotionally attached to a halfling. "I've already decided though, I'm sending Trugba to Cirith Ungol. You can try and make him swap if you really want to go get that spider, but it'd be up to him."
Smagnu considered for a moment. Trugba was a very large Uruk, bigger than him in fact, it was doubtful that he could intimidate him into letting him go in his stead. But he might be able to bribe him. That way he could take a horse and take the two Pips with him and set them loose at Cirith Ungol. From there they might have half a chance of escaping.
The only problem was, he was not sure how to get them out of Tower of Barad-dûr itself. The entrance was guarded and even a cursory search would reveal them for certain. How was he to smuggle two imps past the guards?
The second problem was how would he explain their disappearance? Magic? Well that might work, although the chances of him getting caught with the pair were very likely. He wondered vaguely how much time he had before the Nazgûl would take them both anyway - not long.
Smagnu decided to put the two Pips out of his head again. It made no sense, he had only been given them to guard and that was all. They shouldn't matter so much. Forget it.
Legolas had pulled up Arod rather sharply and Éowyn was riding back to see what was wrong. The elf was sitting bolt upright on his horse staring into space. Éowyn watched and waited patiently.
'legolas!' The two little hobbit voices had called to him together. He answered them, perplexed and worried that they were mind-speaking now. Merry must have regained his memory. Legolas asked the question and the hobbit confirmed that he had remembered everything.
This did not bode well, especially if they were still prisoners in the Black Tower. Although they both started talking at once, Legolas could make out that that was indeed the case. Then Merry confirmed his worst fear, that the Wraith would soon question them and they were probably not going to be able to hold back the truth of the Quest and the Ring
At least Legolas thought it was his worst fear until he heard what followed. The little pair, his little hobbits, were asking him to say goodbye to everyone for them. What were they about to do? Surely not? But Merry confirmed it - they were going to kill themselves. They were going to drink a deadly quantity of opium.
Legolas called in desperation and horror. 'No! Merry Pippin! Don't!' But the only response he got was Pippin asking if they could have a song to remember them. Then he felt them both push him out of their minds.
The elf refocused on his surroundings and saw the patient Éowyn waiting to see what had happened. "They're going to kill themselves." He whispered in awe. "My little ones are sacrificing their lives to save everyone else, possibly the whole of Middle Earth.
"Do you want to wait here for a moment?" She asked. "Perhaps you can speak to them some more, find out if there is something you can do."
"Yes I will try." They both dismounted and let their horses wander across the grass, as the two travellers sat together, Legolas with his eyes clenched in concentration and Éowyn, ever watchful for danger.
"I cannot get them to listen to me further." Legolas spoke in anguish, not opening his eyes. "They have pushed me from their minds and cannot heed my calls."
"Can you still hear them?" Éowyn asked, concerned at the elf's obvious distress.
"Yes, it - it is most…" Legolas broke off mid-sentence.
"What? What it is that they are saying Legolas?" Éowyn spoke gently but insistently.
"Distressing… I cannot believe they will go through with this." Legolas was so frustrated at being able to hear the pair but not make them listen to him. "I am not able to hear everything they are saying, but… Oh Pippin!" Legolas suddenly experienced the vision of Pippin's reflection as the little one exerted all his effort into showing Merry his face.
"Éowyn, I have to stop them somehow." Legolas opened his eyes now, and took the maid's hands in his. "I do not know what to do. This is not something I can fight with a sword or bow. How can I make them listen?"
"Perhaps you cannot." Éowyn said gently. "Perhaps this is their fate."
"No! It cannot be." Legolas could not abide the thought of his little ones dying in the Black Tower, they were too young and full of life. He had hoped that they would eventually be restored to full health and be able to resume their happy existence back in The Shire.
"But Legolas." Éowyn still held both his hands in hers. "If they have charged you with saying goodbye to everyone, you should listen and stay with them to the end. Their parents I'm sure will want to know they did not suffer."
"Yes, you are right." Legolas agreed and closed his eyes once more. Éowyn listened to his soft murmuring voice as he kept watch over the last moments of his little ones.
"Oh Pip you aren't a bad hobbit… why must you think so…"
"…fibs! Sweet little one, you would not comprehend the mendacity of men!"
"…how can a dear child like you think ill of yourself when you are about to give up your life to save others."
"…noble Merry, most valiant of hobbits. You who would follow your beloved cousin into the jaws of Mordor and beyond the grave, at least little Pippin is safe in your arms."
"Oh Éowyn." Legolas's blue eyes swam with tears as they opened wide. "The love is incredible! My heart can hardly hold so much!"
"Please, please stop, my little ones." The elf's grip on Éowyn's hands grew tighter. "They are taking more of that poison. "Pippin! Merry! No! No!"
"Legolas?" Éowyn shook him gently.
"No! Pippin! He's gone. I can't feel him! I can't feel his life! Éowyn he's gone…gone…"
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