6. What Dreams May Fall
However, when it came to the palantir, he would fall silent, surpressed either by the memories of Sauron or the look on Merry’s face when the subject came up. No words, by Common Speech or Elvish, he decided, could impart the feeling of shattering expansion and constraining focus he experienced here, hunched over the ball once more, every instinct screaming for refusal. He had been here before…
Memory upon memory shifting over each other rapidly layering, sprouting into so many directions, each thought trailing pulling tugging the mind in its direction, each thread so strong, so strong…
Aragorn’s hands held fast and the drift of athelas mingled with the blood pounding in his ears.
The strain of the shadows flickering intensified until Pippin was certain that the ball quivered like a living thing. The itching he had known before in first touching it made his hands numb.
Denethor, by the well, looking down into the black void, grim-faced and morbid, as if considering the depths with much the same curiosity he had felt.
“A storm has come over us!” The Steward said, looking up at Pippin, as if the hobbit had approached him. “Boromir gone…will Faramir not reply? O, Faramir! What chaos has been wrought!”
He advanced on Pippin, his eyes a frightening black, a nothingness hovering over him like mourning shrouds.
“My lord, Faramir lives!” Pippin cried. “I only wanted…I only….” The hobbit faltered, the emotions of all he had done and seen filling his mouth and closing it.
“Of course. There were many reasons why you came,” Denethor soothed, his face drooping with age and long forbearance. Then, momentary softness hardened. “But I see what Gandalf intends! He brings naught but lies. And he will not win. Not by any design of Numenor, not by any halfling spy. Explain to him that he will not win!”
Pippin swallowed. Something was not right. Was this Denethor, who lay in ashes in the Silent Houses, with the pall of a burnished palantir upon his breast?
“Where is Faramir? Why isn’t he come?” Denethor broke into a sob, wandering into the darker shadows of the chamber, away from the well. He seemed to have forgotten that Pippin was there. Pippin sensed him bumping his way through the chamber, an empty chamber, as if the Company had left mere minutes ago.
A hot flash of thought compelled Pippin to wander after him. Does Denethor have the courage to drop the stone into the well?
“Throw the stone in, my lord,” Pippin said, and found himself offering the same pebble he had dropped.
Denethor took the stone and looked at it, as if it were an alien object dropped from the sky. He moved mechanically over to the rim of the well, staring down once more in the same agony of amazement. He looked back at Pippin, frowning.
“What am I to do with this?” He held up the stone, a mild contempt flashing over his face.
“Drop it in, my lord. It …it will save you,” Pippin heard himself explain, although a part of his brain wondered where he derived this logic.
Denethor sneered in derision, but clasped the stone to his breast.
“It is far beyond what we can do, Master Halfling. There is naught but to wait for it,” he scoffed. “Better to burn, for burn we must.”
A rolling Boom…
Denethor wept into the well.
“He calls for me.”
Two patches of cold filled the room and took Denethor by the arms. He did not struggle, only fixed Pippin once more with the nothingsight.
“I will not be your tool. I will rule to my own end.” he said as they carried him away.
“Wait! Wait!” Pippin cried, running after them. “Drop the stone! Throw it down the well!”
He saw Denethor shake his head, outside some entrance into a void Pippin never wanted to see again, words from his lips turning to lies he could not remember.
“Fight! You must!” Pippin begged…and found himself caught, webs in Khazad-Dhum…great clinging threads filling the pillared halls…the thuds of Denethor’s capture disappearing. He struggled to break free, but the threads kept multiplying.
Light, like water from the well, broke them all.
“He’s comin’ around,” the presence at his ear breathed, then shuffled away.
Pippin felt a hand, slender and strong, wrap around his own. The effervescence in his mind filtered into gentle flutters. He tried to chase after it, but there was no tangible way of holding onto it. The pure warmth broke ardent and soft onto his face, then melted like sunshine on the waters.
“His heart is brightening,” said a lilting voice. “He has followed the Star of Earendil and he wonders now where he is.”
Pippin’s eyes flew open to see shadows dancing upon the ceiling, a ceiling that was not the tower…a ceiling strange and low...
He was back in their guest house.
“Master Peregrin,” said the elf, touching his breast and extending his hand to clasp the hobbit’s shoulder. “Pippin, we have awaited your return to the day.”
Pippin sat up, to find not only Legolas staring at him, but Sam and Merry hunched on the edge of the second bed in relieved silence.
Frodo stood next to Legolas, blue eyes ghost ridden with concern. In his Ring-forsaken hand, he clasped the flask Galadriel had gifted him, its clear form gleaming in the dimness of the room. The curtains were drawn, but he could see the full force of the sun straining to break through the woven cloth.
Legolas seemed the least troubled. Glancing around at the other hobbits, he grinned at Pippin and gently coaxed him back onto the pillows.
“Aragorn brought you home after your duties in the Tower, although he may have exercised you quite well enough if I were to judge how you came to be so deep in sleep? But nay,” he added, motioning Frodo to sit. Frodo ignored him. “You had not so much taken one tour.”
“He…took me up…” Pippin faltered, realizing his throat was sore. “I had…audience with a glass ball….” The looks exchanged between Legolas and Merry made his head spin.
Sam and Frodo looked in slight bemusement, Merry muttered something incomprehensible, and Legolas cocked a brow, eyes bright with knowing.
Pippin sat up once more, flooded by a sudden defensiveness of Aragorn and himself.
“He was explaining some things to me, some things that I needed to know. I wanted to know…you see, there were messengers in the Court, and they…”
“Yes, we all know about that,” Merry said, getting up to face Pippin. “Gandalf told me that Strider was going to get to the heart of this." He turned too-bright eyes on his cousin in consternation. "You silly Took! Why didn’t you say something to us, about these dreams? Just because the War is over doesn’t mean…” he faltered, seeing Pippin’s expression of regret. “Are you all right?”
“I think so.” Pippin’s gaze fell on Frodo, still and silent. “You helped.”
“The phial helped. Gandalf said I might have need of it once more,” Frodo replied, handing it to Pippin. A flush of warmth came into Pippin’s palms as he took it.
“Yes,” the hobbit said, admiring the sheer crystalline form. “Yes, it did. Thank you.” He handed it back to his cousin with a sigh.
“Oh, all right!” Pippin grunted, swinging his legs out of bed to get dressed, blushing slightly at the thought that whoever had brought him back had disrobed him enough to put him in simple linen bedclothes. “If you’ll help me locate my uniform, I’ll answer any question you so desire.”
“Does that include how much you actually drank last night?” Legolas queried, trying to lighten the tension in the room.
“No, that’s one question I don’t want to answer,” Pippin admitted.
“If Master Pippin doesn’t mind my asking, I’d like to know if those messengers said anything about the Shire itself and what we might expect to find out when we get home,” Sam interjected. "Strider gave us the news as well," he added, the blush in his cheeks spreading.
"I’m sure that whatever Saruman sent their way was stopped by the contingent Aragorn sent after them. They were stopped before they got to Bree,” Frodo replied. “Sauron’s minions are easily scattered now. And if they did reach the Shire, the Tooks and Brandybucks will have taken care of them,” he added, with a nod to the present title-holders of those names.
“That’s what I said, but Gandalf seemed to still have some worries in that direction,” Pippin said. “And those barrels of Southfarthing are something to think about, right Merry?”
His Brandybuck cousin, however, was still focused on different concerns.
“We’ll likely see more of the Dark Lord’s reach before we ever get back to the Shire,” he said, a bit brusque. “But Aragorn once said it even that small matter may be out of our reach at present. What could we do that isn’t already being done?
What I want to know is this : what took hold of you, Pip? I’ve been afraid for you ever since that…that night. I was worried something might have possessed you.”
All eyes turned toward Pippin.
“It had. But I’m all right, I assure you. Aragorn…showed me.”
“Showed you what?” Merry persisted, unrelenting. Pippin could see there were still some issues there to resolve.
“The ghost that insisted on visiting you,” Frodo said, sensing the Brandybuck's concern. “An echo of what had been. But it can’t reach you anymore, Pippin. It let you go and the Phial of Galadriel helped.”
The image of Denethor over the well flared up in Pippin’s mind, his pleas to drop the stone....
“I dreamed of Denethor," he said, wondering if he had the strength today to speak it yet. "He…Aragorn said his ghost still clung to the palantir, still wished to reach out. The palantir holds memories…many memories, and when I…took it that night, it held a memory of me, a memory that he clutched at as he lay dying. And…and…”
“But what does that have to do with you? It was Sauron who saw you, not Denethor,” Merry asked.
“The palantiri are what connected the men of Numenor, of the Kingdom that was,” Legolas informed, breaking in. “As Pippin and Aragorn found out, it was strong, a strength only the evil of Sauron could swerve to his purpose. It is far reaching in many, many ways. They were made by a power beyond Morgoth, beyond the reach of Middle Earth. Whoever used them could not escape an imprint. Fortuitous, indeed, that you used it, Pippin. But there was something more that Aragorn saw. Am I right?”
Pippin found he could not reply.
Legolas smiled and motioned for Pippin to continue dressing.
“You need not answer directly. Indeed, it will all be answered tomorrow. Aragorn left his regrets this morning when he brought you. He had promised to reveal all, but then realized there was a more effective way of explaining. So he asks that you prepare yourself for a special day. Tomorrow. In the Great Hall.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.