Pippin lay quietly on the floor without moving anything except his eyes. His guards were eating and he did not want to draw their attention in any way. He watched carefully for any sudden moves on their part, hoping that he could ready himself for whatever they would do.
He hadn't spoken to Legolas since he had woken up although he knew that if he called out he could easily reach him. But Pippin felt guilty about the elf and the way he had drawn the pain away from him. The little hobbit had known that as the agony from the cruel lashes had lessened for him, Legolas would have felt it instead. He had heard the elf's screams in his head, echoing his own silent cries.
The big orc – an Uruk, Pippin realised – looked at him quizzically and then dunked a small piece of bread in his cup and held it out to him. His belly was empty but he still felt sick and didn't want the morsel. The Uruk ate the bread himself then pulled on the noose around Pippin's neck, dragging him forward and making the little hobbit grab the rope with his hands to prevent being choked as he was reeled in.
The Uruk dipped another piece of bread in his cup and fed it to Pippin. It tasted of the fiery draught he had been given by the orcs before, on the Plain of Rohan. Then he pulled Pippin up by his arm, turning him around so that his back was towards him and his companion. He was running his fingers across the welts making the hobbit flinch and as Pippin turned his head he could see the Uruk and the other orc were talking. Discussing him. Planning his next punishment perhaps.
Pippin shut his eyes and concentrated on ignoring the pleading voice in his head. Since the beating a curious calm had come over him. He had made up his mind about something. No one was coming for him this time, no one could save him. It would be better if he made no resistance, just let these orcs kill him, he was no use to anyone, anyway. Always causing trouble, always getting into trouble, better for everyone to end his useless existence now. Why make his friends suffer further on his account and why should Legolas bear the pain intended for him.
No, he might be small and helpless, but he had one weapon that the enemy could not take from him. He could choose to die.
The Uruk turned him round again and looked at him critically, still talking to his companion. The other one grinned at him and pinched his cheek. It hurt.
The voice continued to plead in his head, searching, calling for him to answer. It was so persistent that ignoring it – ignoring the sweet, kind elf – brought tears to his eyes. Finally he could resist it no longer and had to say something.
'go 'way legolas – not want you more – go out i head!'
By the first shades of evening Théoden and his entourage arrived at Dunharrow. Éomer set to directing the encampment of the Rohirrim and Éowyn acted as steward for the people who were to remain behind.
Aragorn arrived shortly after and with him came Halbarad and the men of the Dứnedain, as well as Elrohir and Elladan the sons of Elrond.
Aragorn came to look at Legolas's wounds, but by the evening there was little left to be seen, just a few red marks across his back. "I have shared pain before," the elf told him. "But never so that I was physically wounded. The effects obviously heal far quicker than a normal injury."
"It is to be hoped that Pippin's injury was lessened by your sharing." Aragorn helped the elf back into his doublet. "Have you managed to reach him again?"
"No," Legolas looked warily at Merry who was listening to every word. Ever since he had learned the truth of what had happened to the elf, he had stayed stubbornly and resolutely at his side. "I have tried, but he will not speak to me."
"Why? Can he not hear you?" Aragorn asked.
"He can hear I am sure, but I think he is concerned for me." Legolas shook his head sadly. "I believe he feels he is not worthy of my suffering and that he should bear his pain alone. I am greatly concerned though for his state of mind."
"Can you not persuade him to talk to you?" Aragorn nodded towards Merry, meaningfully, "or perhaps he would talk to someone else."
"I am not sure if that would be the best path for either of them." Legolas had considered joining minds with Merry so that he could talk to Pippin. But he was anxious that it could be devastating for both the hobbits. He lowered his voice to a whisper that he hoped Merry would not hear. "He knows no one is coming to rescue him and he has all but given up."
"So what will you do?" Aragorn realised he could offer no advice in this situation. "What does Gandalf think?"
"Gandalf say’s that I must decide." Legolas knew that only he could choose whether to pursue Pippin's mind and how best the hobbit would be helped, although, he suddenly thought, Merry's opinion mattered in this too. Perhaps he had been a little too protective of Merry, forgetting maybe how much Merry could help. He knew how important Pippin was to his cousin, how important they were to each other. He had touched both their minds and could hardly fail to feel the deep love they had for each other.
"And did you reach a decision yet?" Aragorn asked.
"Yes, Merry you must decide how we can best aid Pippin." Legolas took Merry's hand and bent to kiss him lightly on his fair curls. "But first you must consider what may happen. Come we will ask Gimli and Gandalf to join our council. If you agree to this Master Meriadoc, we may have a long night ahead."
Smagnu and Grutfley were not regular partners, in fact this was the first time they had ever been put together. They ate their rations eyeing each other suspiciously, until Smagnu turned to look at the prisoner to see if it was conscious yet. It was not moving, but its eyes were open.
"Look at that thing." Smagnu pointed with his cup, before raising it to his lips. "It's awake already. Don’t say much for yer skill, Grutfley."
"Whadda yer mean?" Grutfley muttered with his mouth full of bread. "I gave it a good beating and that's just for starters."
"You didn't make much impression on it." Smagnu pointed out. "It's a real odd little thing. Look at it watching us. Hardly seems hurt or frightened at all."
"Oh it's frightened all right." Grutfley sneered. "Betcha can't make it come to you. Go on try."
Smagnu dipped a piece of his bread in the orc whisky he was drinking and held it out. "Come 'ere… come on …want this?"
"See!" Grutfley smirked in triumph. "It's frightened all right. Won't come less’n you get it."
"Dunno," The Uruk ate the piece of bread himself. "It never made a sound when you was whipping it. Doncha think that's odd? I don't reckon it could, don't reckon it can hear neither, probably one of them mutes. Mebbe all their kind's like that."
"Well just 'cause it can't make no noise," Grutfley reasoned, "don't mean it ain't scared out of its wits."
"Don't think it's frightened, it just don't care." Smagnu took hold of the rope and dragged the captive towards him.
"Nah! See it's pulling back." Grutfley crowed in triumph. "Wouldn't do that if it weren't frightened."
The Uruk dragged the little creature towards him "Somethin' else, though." He dunked another piece of bread and fed it to the halfling. "It's hardly marked." He pulled Pippin up by the arm and turned him around. "See," Smagnu ran his fingers over the angrier welts. "There's about 3 or 4 cuts here and all the rest is just red marks."
"You implying I ain't doing my job proper?" Grutfley growled reaching for his whip. "'cause if you are…"
"I'd say you did a fair job, watching you." Smagnu agreed, "but look, it's like you weren't trying after the first few lashes."
Grutfley realised the Uruk was speaking the truth. "Hmm, funniest thing I ever saw. But then I ain't never had one of these to do before, pr'aps they're different and don't mark easy."
"So what you gonna do?" Smagnu turned the hobbit back round to face them. "It looks like such a delicate little thing, like you could blow it over. But it obviously ain't that dainty. How're you gonna hurt it without killing it?"
"Oh my speciality is with sweet things like this." Grutfley grinned and pinched Pippin's bruised cheek. "It's as pretty as a maid and I know how to make them behave and without killing 'em."
"Look!" Smagnu laughed seeing the tears in Pippin's eyes. "You gone and made it cry."
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.