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Recaptured!: 9. Gandalf
Gandalf hitched up the "filthy wizard cloth"
of the remains of his cloak as he raced up the Orthanc steps, with the other
hand firmly grasping his staff. "Should never have left him!" he
muttered as he reached the entrance to the platform.
As he flung open the door, the sight he had most dreaded met
him. Merry and King Théoden were both overshadowed by the terrible steed of the
Nazgûl, which spat venom and bile, while the wraith itself was reaching forward
to clasp the little hobbit.
As it touched Merry, Gandalf heard the wraith's scream
before he saw it draw back as though burned. The wizard raised his staff above
his head and, as he moved between the deadly creature and the hobbit, his
raiment began to glow with fierce white light. He roared at the threatening
shape. "Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Fall into the nothingness
that awaits you and your Master. Go!"
"Foolish old wizard!" The wraith spat back,
"I will take what is mine, stand aside before I cleave thee to reach
"There is naught here for you!" Gandalf brought
his staff down on the flags causing a flash of brilliance to light the Orthanc
tower. "Be gone while you may!"
"Saruman, gave tribute to the Dark Lord." The
Nazgûl snarled, retreating to remount his vile steed. "He will have what
is His. The wraith pointed his apparently empty sleeve at Merry, although the
terrified hobbit alone saw a long, white, bony finger. "This one already
dwells in the Shadow. He is mine. He shall be borne away beyond all darkness,
where his flesh shall be devoured and his shrivelled mind be left naked to the
"Be silent and be gone!" Gandalf roared as finally
his power prevailed.
The foul creature rose up on its winged steed and,
screeching into the night, flew off, momentarily blocking out the stars.
Théoden had regained his feet and gone to Merry's side.
"Meriadoc? Take my hand. Meriadoc? Merry?"
The small figure put his hand into that of the King's but
still stood transfixed as if turned to stone. Gandalf knelt in front of him and
took hold of his face. "Merry? Can you hear me?"
"C-can he do that Gandalf?" Merry eventually
stuttered, "all those terrible things?"
"They were just threats to make you afraid." Gandalf
stroked Merry's hair off his face. "Just because Saruman offered you and
Pippin to Sauron doesn't mean you are His."
"B-but I could s-see him, Gandalf." Merry was
trembling now. "He was all white, an ancient king – like Frodo saw at
Weathertop when he wore…" he trailed off remembering that he was not
supposed to talk about the Ring.
Gandalf took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly before
speaking. "We must take you far away from here, as quickly as possible.
Tonight! Just in case the creature returns to seek you. You should not be in
"But where should I go?" Merry clasped Théoden's
hand a little tighter, a slight note of panic creeping into his voice.
"And Gandalf, what about Pippin? Where is he? Is he all right? Will he
"Do not fear, Merry, we will look after you both."
The wizard could see that the little warrior was exhausted and on the point of
collapse. "Come, let me carry you down the stairs."
"Can't I walk? I think I'll be all right." As
Merry took a step, his legs suddenly betrayed him and he slumped forward.
Gandalf scooped him up gently and rested the small weight on his shoulder.
Théoden held back the half open door for the wizard to pass
through. "What's to be done?" He asked looking at the unconscious
hobbit with concern.
"I fear greatly for him." Gandalf shook his head
wearily. "I ask so much of these little ones and yet they seem to cope
with all manner of horrors. Perhaps I underestimate them."
"You said he must leave here tonight." Théoden
walked in front of Gandalf and his small burden. "I could send him to
Rohan. He would be well cared for."
"That may be the best plan." Gandalf sighed.
"His cousin, young Peregrin is too ill to travel and needs more healing.
It will distress them both to be apart at a time like this." Gandalf
lifted Merry a little higher on his shoulder. "But I fear there is no help
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