"Merry what's Pip doing? Is he speaking?"
"No – just b-breathing hard."
"You will have to try and protect Pip and keep him quiet, as Legolas was doing, while I use your voice again." Gandalf held the little arms tightly and Merry knew the importance of what he was being asked. "Can you do it?"
"Can try – will try m-my b-b- BEST!" Merry's stammer was getting worse as he became more stressed.
Quickly the wizard knelt down in front of the blind hobbit and, taking his face in his hands, made mental contact once more.
'quietly now, let me in sssshhh…'
A beat – listen. Pip breathing. Wait.
'PICK IT UP!'
Gandalf and Merry felt Pippin lifted once more. He was barely conscious, but the link was quite strong even so.
‘WHY DID YOU BRING A SPY INTO MY DOMAIN? ANSWER!’
‘not knowed did’ Gandalf spoke in Merry’s voice while the blind hobbit looked desperately for any signs of life in his cousin, finding the merest flicker.
‘YOU KNEW THE ELF SCUM WAS THERE – WHAT ELSE ARE YOU HARBOURING IN YOUR ATTEMPTS TO DECEIVE ME? ANSWER!’
‘not do – too ‘fraid – not lied!’
‘SARUMAN HAS DONE THIS – DID HE PLANT THAT FILTHY SPY IN YOUR MIND TO TRICK ME? HE IS A WEAK FOOL! WAS IT HE OR WAS IT THE OTHER TRAITOROUS WIZARD? ANSWER!’
‘not do – not wizrard – please I not knowed!’
‘PLEASE? FOR WHAT DO YOU PLEAD? YOUR WORTHLESS LIFE? YOU ARE NOTHING! A PIECE OF DUNG – SOON I WILL HAVE YOU THROWN TO THE MIS-BRED RAVENOUS ORCS.’
‘MY LORD – I SEARCH STILL FOR THE OTHER – PERHAPS THIS ONE KNOWS WHERE IT IS?’
‘SARUMAN OFFERED THIS AS A PRIZE – A POOR TRIBUTE HE SENDS. BUT THE LORD OF THE NAZGÛL SPEAKS THE TRUTH – WHERE IS THE OTHER – YOU MUST KNOW! ANSWER!’
‘go dead – orc killded.'
'I DO NOT HEAR THE LIE – BUT YET I SENSE THERE IS DECEPTION.'
'THE OTHER IS NOT DEAD – IT IS QUITE NEAR – I FEEL IT – I FEEL ITS PRESENCE…'
"Merry come out!" Gandalf spoke out loud, shaking the hobbit violently.
"No, please… Pippin!" Merry hung on to the link as he felt the wizard trying to break it.
"Merry, you're putting Pippin in more danger – come out!" Gandalf slapped Merry to jolt him out of the connection. He left.
"Gandalf! What happened?" Merry grasped frantically at the wizard's hand. "They're going to do something dreadful to Pip, I'm sure!"
"He is not really conscious at the moment." Gandalf soothed his hand against Merry's face where he had just slapped him. "When you left they will think he passed out. If you had stayed the Witch King would have recognised you."
"But we can't just leave Pip alone there! We can't!" Merry wailed in anguish.
"No! But wait for a while until they have stopped looking for you. Pip will sleep, it will be all right." Gandalf knew it was not much reassurance, but it was all he had at the moment.
Pippin lay face down on the cold stone flags of the Tower of Barad-dûr before the throne of the Dark Lord. His hands were bound behind his back and there was a noose of cord about his neck, his nose was bleeding. He did not move. He was all alone.
'IT IS DIFFERENT' Sauron touched the little mind once more with a probing curiosity. There was a certain mystery about this odd creature. He sensed a deception, a trap. He knew He was not dealing with just a halfling, there was more to it than that. But it was proving elusive. 'IT IS THE SAME AS BEFORE NOW – BEFORE THE ORCS HAD IT. CHAOTIC, CONFUSED, SOMETHING JUST LEFT IT.'
'DO YOU BELIEVE IT LIED MASTER?'
'IT SLEEPS – WAKE IT UP. QUESTION IT AGAIN.'
"Legolas! Legolas! Can you hear me?" Gandalf had been trying for some time to waken the elf and now glanced up at Gimli who was hovering anxiously by. "How long has he been like this?"
"All the time you were in the link with Merry. I could not rouse him." Gimli shook his head. "His eyes stare, but he looks at nothing and he does not speak."
"It was a difficult task that we attempted." Gandalf felt very old and tired all at once, "and it is still not resolved. I am fearful for Pippin and Merry and they in turn could endanger Frodo and Sam, to say nothing of the Quest itself. Now I have injured Legolas for good measure."
"Do not blame yourself, Gandalf." Gimli knelt down by the elf once more and tried to offer him a drink of water. "You are trying to do what is best for the many."
"But then I have to risk those close to me and that is a sore trial, Gimli." The wizard looked about him, peering into the darkness. "Where is Merry? Did you take him back to his tent?" Gandalf had seen the hobbit talking to Gimli while he was trying to rouse Legolas earlier.
"Yes, he said he was very tired and wanted to sleep." Gimli said not looking up from his ministrations. "I hope that was all right."
"Hmm… I'm not sure, it sounds very unlikely." Gandalf stroked his beard thoughtfully. "I think we should let Legolas rest for a while. I doubt he is going to deteriorate any further and he may just recover with time. I need to find out what Merry is up to."
"I'll stay with Legolas in case he comes to his senses and needs help." Gimli settled down to wait by his companion.
Gandalf hurried to Merry's tent and found him pacing a little piece of ground that he had mapped out, obviously moving to stop himself from brooding and doing anything impetuous.
"Meriadoc?" Gandalf made the blind hobbit startle "You haven't…?"
"No, of c-course n-not." Merry stopped pacing and turned towards the wizard's voice. "How is L-Legolas?"
"He is the same, we cannot rouse him." Gandalf knelt and took Merry's hand. "Forgive me, I thought perhaps you had sought solitude so that you could contact Pippin."
"N-no, although I have been tempted." Merry admitted. "I just f-felt in the w-way. W-will Legolas be all right? Is there anything I c-can do to help?"
"I don't know, Merry." Gandalf said gently. "I think we must let him rest for now and wait and see."
"Oh…" Merry felt lost for words. Too many terrible things happening, he felt so overwhelmed by it all.
"Has Pippin called to you at all?" Gandalf asked still holding the little hobbit's hand in both of his large hands. "Do you think you can still reach him?"
"I don't know, it w-was always with L-Legolas before." Merry was very confused. "Hobbits can't r-read minds, c-can they Gandalf?"
"Perhaps they can, but have lost the ability through disuse, or become unaware of it." Gandalf reasoned. "You and Pippin are very close and maybe Legolas linking you in the first place just gave you a little nudge to find an ability you always had."
"Oh do you really think so?" Merry actually perked up a little at this idea and the stammer suddenly vanished. "I just thought we were still linking through Legolas, not completely on our own."
"Well, let's put it to the test shall we?" Gandalf suggested. "I want you to very quietly call to Pippin on your own. I will not join with you, but if he is being questioned come out of the link at once and tell me. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Gandalf," Merry kept his hand in the large protective grasp. "I'm sure I know what to do."
'IT IS QUIET – IT DOES NOT HEAR'
'NO MASTER – IT HAS NO SENSE OF THE LIVING WORLD.'
'IT SLEEPS IN BOTH WORLDS NOW.'
'IT DOES MASTER.'
YES MASTER – IT WILL BE AWAKE SOON.'
The Witch King lifted Pippin off the floor and clutched the little one close to its ice white bosom and breathed frosted mist upon the closed eyes. Pippin stirred in the icy cold grip and blearily opened his eyes. The sight that met his waking was like a continuation of his never-ending nightmare and he struggled, trying to cry out, although of course no sound came. Instead his mind cried out with a sob of agony.
'merrry! hhhelp pleasssse!'
'pip? i here'
'WHAT DOES IT SAY?'
'THE OTHER IS THERE – THE SECOND HALFLING THAT SARUMAN PLEDGED – IT IS IN THE MIND OF THIS ONE!'
'SO IT IS SOME KIND OF WIZARD'S SPY – ONE OF THE WIZARD'S IS USING IT TO SEND US ON A FALSE TRAIL, AS I HAD THOUGHT!'
'SHOULD I DESTROY IT NOW MASTER?'
'YES – UNLESS THE OTHER WISHES TO SAVE IT?'
'TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW OF THE RING BEFORE I DESTROY THIS ONE! ANSWER!
'n-n-noth-nothing – aiiieee!'
"Gandalf!" Merry forced his mind away from Pippin as abruptly as he could. "He asked m-me about the Ring. Said he w-would d-des-destroy Pip if… if… I didn't answer."
"Give me your mind, quickly Merry." Gandalf took Merry's face in his hands.
'CALL PIPPIN, THEN STAY QUIET, NO MATTER WHAT!'
'yes… pippin! can hear me?'
'THE RING! – THIS ONE'S LIFE CAN BE TAKEN IN AN INSTANT – THE RING! ANSWER!'
'not know – we not know.' Gandalf had slipped back into Merry's persona again. The wizard found it a great mental struggle to remain hidden behind the hobbit's personality and to speak through him, just as it took a tremendous effort for him to shield the innermost thoughts of them both – and to lie. But at all costs, Sauron must not learn of Frodo and Sam or the Quest.
'IT IS WRONG! THERE IS A DECEPTION! I STILL DO NOT HEAR THE LIE – YET IT IS THERE - I ASK THE QUESTION ONE LAST TIME - WHERE IS THE RING?'
'don't have – not know – is true… is true…'
'ENOUGH! SILENCE – THERE IS WIZARDRY AND TRICKERY IN THIS – I WILL HAVE IT NO MORE. THROW THIS LITTLE RAT TO THE ORCS AND HUNT THE OTHER DOWN AND BRING IT HERE – OR KILL IT!'
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.