Merry felt the fresh air on his face and knew they were now outside. Grima kept a tight hold on his arm as he dragged him along over cold damp flagstones then forced him onto his knees. Merry still dare not to cry out, he knew Grima had a knife and did not doubt that he would use it.
As he pushed Merry down, Grima caught hold of Pippin and pulled him up so that he was also on his knees, except Pippin had not the strength to stay there and immediately fell down again onto his side. "Get up, curse you!" The man snarled, pulling the smaller one up once more and holding him there. As Pippin was lifted up, the palantír rolled away and lay unheeded on the ground.
"What do you want?" said Merry. Having just been pushed to his knees, Grima seemed to be ordering him to his feet again. Merry could not tell that he had been speaking to Pippin. "What do you want from me at all?" The hobbit caught hold of the man's wrist and wrenched at his grip, pulling away at the same time.
He had taken Grima by surprise, particularly as he was more concerned with keeping Pippin upright and Merry managed to pull free. He came up on his feet, backing away from the man. "Where is Pippin? What have you done with him?"
"Come back here, you." Grima reached out for Merry again, but as he was keeping hold of the dead weight of Pippin he missed. "I have your friend here." The evil voice changed to one of cajoling. "Come, you can feel him, here he is."
Merry paused. This could be a trick, but what if he did have Pippin? Merry made his decision and slowly edged towards Grima, his hand held out, hoping to find his cousin.
Grima seized the outstretched hand and pulled Merry to him turning him at the same time and lifting the two hobbits' hands to meet in front of him. At the same time he kicked Merry's feet away, forcing him back down on his knees once more.
Merry was shaken up by the manhandling but suddenly realised that the small hand, pressed into his by Grima, had to belong to Pippin. Grima put his hand on Merry's head and wrapped his fist in Pippin's curls, keeping him upright. This was all happening very fast and Merry was beginning to get a terrible sense of foreboding. Then he knew!
Large wings flapped making a terrible stench fill the air, together with a deep feeling of horror and fear. Grima's voice sounded eerily far away, as if the man were a thousand leagues from Merry, rather than standing behind him with his hand on his head. "My Lord, I, Grima Wormtongue, give tribute to the Most Powerful Master Sauron. These are the halflings, promised by the wizard Saruman that he failed to deliver. Take them now in my good faith, that my loyalty be marked and rewarded."
The ghostly voice that Merry remembered spoke. "I will take them and your fealty will be reported to Sauron, you have done well, Wormtongue."
Merry felt Pippin's hand leave his. His heart filled with dread, Merry dragged his eyes up as if compelled. He knew what he would see, but feared to look.
The terrible white king squinted his evil gaze upon the blind hobbit. "Look at me halfling. I know you see me."
Merry looked up and gasped in horror.
Not only could he see the ghostly white features, the high crown and white robes. He could see Pippin! But it was not the pleasant happy sight he had longed for. Pippin was pale and ghostly, almost transparent and his innocent face was contorted in pain and terror.
The long skeletal fingers were curled around the little hobbit's wrists and the ghastly apparition wrapped Pippin tightly into his arms and Merry thought he could see a flicker of dark cloak as it stowed him away beneath it.
But the cloak belonged in the realm of the living and Merry could only look into the world of the undead. Yet still he could see Pippin. His one wish in the entire world had been to gaze upon his cousin once more, but this, to see him in the arms of the Witch King, was worse than never, ever seeing him again. Merry cried out in agony and torment.
"Come halfling, join your kinsman. I will bear you both away now. Resist no longer, you will not prevail." The white king held out his other bony arm to Merry.
The hobbit did not pause. There was no desire in him to fight for his own freedom. If Pippin were taken, he would sooner be with him, even in torment, than be left without him. Knowing that Pippin would suffer, while he was free, would be a far greater torture for him.
As Merry stepped forward to the cold, but welcoming embrace of the Nazgûl, he heard an alarmed shout from behind him. "No Merry! Stay where you are." It was Gandalf's voice. But the hobbit was not even torn to obey the wizard, he knew where he must be. Still he could see Pippin and the little hobbit was reaching out to him now. Even thought he was pale he did not have the pallor of death like the white king, he was still his beloved Pippin, although his eyes seemed far sadder than Merry remembered. His little red, white and blue drum was still slung incongruously over his shoulder. He was crying and mouthing Merry's name.
Although Merry could not see the foul steed, he knew the Witch King must be sitting astride it for the apparition was high up from the ground. He held out his arms to be lifted up. As he did so, Gandalf caught hold of his arms from behind and pulled him back. Merry struggled and surged forwards. Then as the ring wraith reached out to grab him, his long white fingers touched the rag – the rag of Gandalf's cloak that was still about Merry's shoulders, making the creature scream as if burnt.
Gandalf took the opportunity to seize Merry and lifted him bodily, throwing him to Legolas who was closer to the wall. Aragorn, his sword drawn and a flaming torch in the other hand, stood alongside Gimli brandishing his axe. They advanced with Gandalf, making a wall between the Nazgûl and Meriadoc.
"Be gone you foul creature and tell your Lord you have failed once more." Gandalf commanded.
"No!" Merry screamed. "Gandalf he has Pippin. Pippin! No! Please! No!"
The wizard whirled around to the hobbit. "Merry what do you mean? Where is Pippin? How do you know?"
"I see him! Gandalf! He is holding Pippin! Please – get him back or let me go too!"
But as Gandalf turned back to the Nazgûl, its winged beast rose into the sky, making the air foul with its hot stench. Legolas let go of Merry to nock an arrow to his bow, but Gandalf held up his hand to stop him. "No, if he does have Pippin you may strike him or the little one will fall to his death."
Merry sank to the ground in despair. "He does, he's taken him! Noooo, I can't… what can I do? It is too, too dreadful to bear!." Words were inadequate and soon gave way to deep heart-wrenching sobs.
As Gandalf gazed in horrified wonder at the distraught Merry, realising the enormity of what had happened and the others tried to comfort the little hobbit, Grima Wormtongue slipped unnoticed off the battlements and out of the castle.
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.