"Legolas! Legolas! Wake now… come back, you have slept enough." Aragorn's voice seemed a long way away, but the elf felt compelled to answer.
"The pain is diminished, I will return." Legolas then realised that he had to stir as well and open his eyes.
"Welcome back, Master Elf." Gimli was by his side. "You have not slept for so very long, but Gandalf is anxious for news."
"Where is he?" Legolas looked around and saw that he had been taken into a small tent. "Where is Merry? Is he all right?"
"How are you, first?" Aragorn looked sternly at the elf. "Whatever happened must have been very traumatic or very painful, or perhaps both, to make you lose your senses."
"I am not sure." Legolas drew a deep breath and rose to his feet, flexing his body to check for any signs of weakness or damage. "It was certainly traumatic, especially for the periain, but I feel no ill effects now. How fares young Merry though? I tried to protect him and Pippin, but I could not keep them both shielded, the strain was too great."
"What happened?" Gimli asked. "Gandalf has taken Merry to another tent, he fell unconscious at the same time as you did."
"Is he awake yet?" Legolas frowned. "I should like to see him right away."
"Perhaps if you told us what occurred…" Aragorn suggested.
"I would rather not speak of it, for the sake of the little ones," Legolas took a sip from a cup of water that Gimli handed to him. "It was bad for them both, but I think I saved Pippin from lasting physical harm. Merry may have been hurt in the process, if not physically, then in other ways. I need to see him."
Aragorn and Gimli obviously understood then what had happened, it did not need to be put into words and they did not pursue it further. "Come, Merry was still sleeping, when I last looked in upon him." Aragorn held back the flap of the tent, "we will go and see if he is awake yet."
"One moment." Legolas put his hand to his head as if just remembering something important. "I have to speak with Pippin. He will be very frightened that we left him so suddenly. Legolas closed his eyes and made his silent call.
'Pippin, Pippin! Can you hear me? It's Legolas.'
'legolas - where you go at?
'I was – I had to have a sleep – a rest – but I'm all right now.'
'you good? merry good? not go hurted?'
'I'm not hurt and I'm sure Merry will be all right too. I'm just going to see him now. Are you all right?'
"i – not hurt – just – legolas? don't tell what did – it do…'
'It wasn't your fault Pippin, but no, I won't tell the others. There is no need for them to know. Try to put it out of your mind. It was a bad thing and you mustn't let it make you feel bad. When you think about it, remember Merry being there with you and only that.
'i try… i try verery hard… will!'
'That's very good, Pippin. You're a valiant hobbit. I'll go and see Merry now and talk to you in a moment.'
'yes… i hear-ing you, legolas'
'merry! i hear-ing at you! you go good?'
'i go good – pip – sorry legolas – not mean be in your head'
'It's all right Merry. You can't help it. I think it's because we stayed together for so long in such an emotional situation. You've become embedded, just like Pippin. I don't need to be next to you now. But tell me, are you all right?'
'am -i not too much bad – pippin not go hurt? please you feel bettrer now, pip?
'i go be betrter merr… i hear you! i think you all time… merr!
'legolas? do you go hear all my think-nings?'
'what 'bout i, legolas? i go hear merr all times?
'I don't know, it's never happened to me quite like this before.'
Legolas looked up finally at the worried faces of Aragorn and Gimli now together with Gandalf who had just arrived from Merry's tent. "I'm sorry to take a moment." Legolas frowned at the querying looks. "Three way conversations take a little longer."
"You don't mean…" Gandalf shook his head with an 'I-told-you-so' expression on his face.
"Yes." Legolas could not repress the little sigh of resignation. "I now have two hobbits in my head.'
As Legolas and Merry left his thoughts, promising to come back if he called, Pippin lay on the bed shivering a little with the cold. He closed his eyes and thought about snuggling up to Merry and just the dream images made him feel a little warmer. He opened his eyes, it would not do to be too off-guard. The dreadful orc had just come into the room again and was looking down at him.
"You ain't had that done to ya afore. " Grutfley snarled at the trussed up halfling. "I can tell. Yet yer don't cry, yer don't squirm, yer don't even fugging-well bleed!"
Pippin lay on his belly trying to breathe evenly, wondering what the orc was saying and hoping it was not important for him to know. His wrists were tethered to the bedpost and the cords were cruelly tight, especially on his left wrist, which still ached from the mending break. He watched the orc carefully, trying to make out from his lip movements what he might be saying.
"What are ya? Some kinda magic imp?" Grutfley was very suspicious of wizards and elves or anything that smacked of enchantment. He had seen others turned into unnatural things in his time. "Why're ya lookin’ at me? Stop it – ya devil's spawn. Doncha put no spells on me!"
Pippin thought the orc was about to attack him again as it grabbed hold of his hair. But all it did was to turn his face into the pillow and move away again. Pippin could not breathe very well in that position and the pillow stank of orc and was filthy dirty, so after a moment he dared to turn his head again and found he was staring straight into the orc's eyes once more.
"All right! I'll untie yer, just don't try and run off though." Grutfley drew his long bladed knife. "I know ya got some magic stopping me from hurtin' ya. I'll let youse be and youse let me be."
Pippin's eyes grew wider. He was very afraid now. The knife could easily split him from top to toe and he was lying vulnerably tethered to the bed with no clothes on. He could not tear his gaze away from the orc as it came closer.
"Stop that! I'll let ya up." Grutfley was feeling very unnerved now, first by the silence of this strange little being that seemed to be impervious to all his best ministrations and secondly by the wide, staring, big eyes that seemed to be stabbing him, accusing him. "I'm only obeying orders. You understand that, it ain't my say-so, what ever gets done by me – is just what I'm told."
The orc leaned over Pippin with the knife poised. The hobbit's eyes narrowed now, waiting for the attack. He would not call Legolas or Merry, they could not save him from the orc's knife, and he would not ask it of them. But the attack did not come. Instead the orc leaned further over and cut the cords binding him to the bed. As soon as he was free, Pippin got to his hands and knees, looking wildly around him for an escape route.
Grutfley could have sworn that as he leaned over to set the odd creature free, it was trying to cast a spell on him. Now it was crouched, ready to spring like some little demon conjured up to torment him. "Here, have yer things back." Grutfley flung the halfling's clothes at it and stood back, watching cautiously as it quickly pulled its shirt and britches on, glad that it had at least stopped staring at him.
Pippin wondered what the orc had in store for him next. It had untied him and given him back his clothes so it was probably going to take him somewhere. Pippin decided it would be best to wait and see what happened, so he sat down cross-legged in the middle of the big bed and watched warily to see what the orc would do.
Smagnu banged on the door and entered at the same time. "Ain’t yer done yet?" He was bored and more than a little suspicious with waiting and felt that Grutfley had had quite long enough to do what he wanted privacy for. "We need to report back before too long. They’ll wanna see some progress."
"I ain't gonna be responsible." Grutfley complained. "That thing ain't natural – it's some kinda demon or imp. I think it's tryin' to put a spell on me."
"Don't be stupid." Smagnu snorted. "Yer just making excuses because youse ain't done yer job, this thing ain’t ready yet, is it?"
"…'Tain't my fault." Grutfley jerked a thumb at Pippin. "It's been tormenting me with its spells. Don't matter how much I does to it, it don't hurt it and it keeps staring at me all the time, trying to witch me."
"Ha! So the great tormentor has become the tormented." Smagnu gave a sneering laugh. He was not afraid of the little creature in spite of Grutfley's reservations. "That's priceless that is! The meanest, most cruel orc in the tower is scared of a tiny, harmless little insect!"
Pippin looked from one to the other as the orcs carried on their discussion. He had no doubt that he was the subject again, but the big Uruk seemed to be very amused about something and the other was behaving in an erratic and rather nervous fashion. He felt his skin prickle all over and his heart race with fear waiting for something to happen. ‘Sure enough the big Uruk suddenly marched over and picked him up by the scruff of his shirt and braces. Pippin kept very still. He had learned over the past weeks not to move in that situation.
"Here catch! Heads or tails?" Smagnu laughed and lifted Pippin up higher, catching hold of the seat of his britches with his other hand. "Or are you afraid that it’ll leap up and devour you?"
"Don't you throw that thing at me!" Grutfley backed away with his hand held up. "Yer’ll drop it anyway and that'll break it, then we'll both be for it."
"I thought you said it wouldn't break, no matter what you did to it." Smagnu was enjoying the other's obvious discomfort and embarrassment. "Anyway, if it breaks, it's down to you. Here catch!"
He hurled Pippin high up in the air, aiming to lob him at Grutfley, who, backing away in panic, tripped and landed on his backside on the floor. Pippin tumbled through the air, twisting in natural hobbit fashion and landed lightly on all fours in front of Grutfley. He stayed crouched down looking at the smaller orc, unsure what to do next.
Both the orcs looked open mouthed at the hobbit. "See!" said Grutfley eventually, "I told you it's some sort of fugging little demon. Not a mark on it! I ain't touching it no more!"
"It's all very suspicious!" agreed Smagnu, picking Pippin up again and holding him at arm's length. "That should've broke its neck, It's probably some kind of trap. Something Himself dreamed up to test us out mebbe. Let's get shot of it soon as possible. We'll take it back and say it's finished."
"But they'll know it ain't!" Grutfley protested.
"Mebbe, but once He gets it back, it won't be our problem any more." Smagnu inclined his head up at the ceiling. "Them up top'll take credit and when He finds out it ain't done, it'll be too late to bring it back on us."
"Yeah!" Grutfley began to see the logic of the plan. "He'll just squeeze them as takes it back. Then squash the little bastard demon and that'll be an end of it! Suits me!"
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.