Recaptured!: 97. Coup de gras

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97. Coup de gras

Author: Llinos
Beta and additional material: MarigoldG

Pippin moved his arms from the tearing pain in his chest to cover his ears. The agonising pain that had swept across his upper body had terrified him, he was sure it came from Merry rather than Legolas and the skull shaking mental shout that followed confirmed it.


Pippin was vaguely aware of being picked up and carried somewhere. Across a room? Being put on a table? It did not seem to make much sense, but Pippin could not focus. All he was aware of was Merry's crippling pain and his iron determination not to yield.


Legolas watched Gandalf race off towards the tower, hoping he would be in time. The elf was not sure at the moment what the problem was with Pippin, but he knew the little hobbit was in some sort of peril, more than he could physically handle perhaps and he was glad that the wizard had heeded his warning.

"Legolas, we must rally the men once more," Gimli's voice brought the elf back to reality, "and the City guard needs to be deployed more strategically around the gate."

Legolas pulled his attention back to the matters around him. Three of the Captains were near enough to hear him and at their head was Malwyn.

"Captain Malwyn," Legolas went over to him. "I trust that we still have twenty two captains. Are the men in fair spirit?"

"Those that have survived the onslaught will stand true, Commander," Malwyn confirmed. "What are your orders?"

"I promote you, Malwyn to Lieutenant Commander and please let it be known that General Gimli will be my deputy should I be incapacitated. You will obey his orders or those of Mithrandir should I be unable to continue."

"Yes Sir," Malwyn stood to attention. "I will spread the word. In the meantime, Sir should we bring more men to hold the gate?"

"Yes Lieutenant, I see you are a well trained soldier." Legolas nodded reassuringly "Please continue."

The three officers moved amongst the men, reorganising their positions and checking that all were still able to perform their duties.

"Why did you appoint me your deputy?" Gimli hissed. "I am sure a dwarf can command as well as an elf, but not so certain these men will follow me!

"It was necessary friend Gimli," Legolas whispered back. "I have a bad feeling that the hobbits will need me soon." The elf shuddered as if with cold as a strange shiver ran down his spine.


Gandalf strode as fast as the steep streets and his flowing robes would allow towards the Great Hall. Just before he reached the door he heard a voice call his name as footsteps hurried up from behind. "Mithrandir, Mithrandir! I beg pardon."

"What is it?" The wizard turned to see one of the guards, a man he remembered from before, "Beregond?"

"My Lord Denethor, Mithrandir." Beregond said in a voice filled with urgency. "He has taken leave of his senses I am certain."

"Why?" Gandalf was not surprised, but even more anxious now. "What has occurred? Peregrin? Faramir?"

"I took Lord Faramir to the Houses of Healing" Beregond reported. "It was done without my Lord's leave, I confess."

"Do not be ashamed," Gandalf reassured him, "It was well done, but what of the Lord Denethor?"

"He is gone to Rath Dínen," Beregond pointed in the direction. "He says he will burn and will not wait. He has had a pyre set to do the deed."

Gandalf swore a Istari curse under his breath. "Went he alone?"

"No, he took the small one, the perian with him." Beregond watched the wizard's face grow livid with anger. "That's why I looked for you, I think he means to burn him too."

"He shall not!" Gandalf turned on his heel and, with Beregond in tow, set off for the domed building at an even greater speed than before.


Denethor was so surprised at the reaction from the halfling that it slowed his resolve for several moments. The little one must have seen the pyre and been aware of the destiny that he planned for them both, but as he approached, Peregrin had suddenly doubled over as if in terrible agony and now crouched on the floor, his body hunched up and seemingly unaware of his surroundings.

Nevertheless, the Steward knew that he could not suffer the little one to live in the torment and agony that the Dark Lord had threatened. He carefully picked Peregrin up from the floor and carried him toward the readied deathbed. Although the halfling struggled and squirmed in his arms, it was not to fight him, but rather he appeared to be engaged in some other battle within himself.

This increased the Steward's resolve. He realised now, beyond doubt that he must destroy the physical body of this little one. The Dark Lord must be claiming him even now.



The Witch King could hardly bring his spectral eyes to rest on the tiny entity that stood before him in defiance. He was torn between a desire to break it in half with one blow and to pick it up and squeeze the spirit out of it until it finally understood how inconsequential it was, compared to his strength and the power of his Master the Dark Lord. He had struck a simple slicing blow across its chest, cutting it and meaning to end it finally. But it had climbed to its feet once more. The Witch King had waited, watching it, expecting it to fall.

Yet still it stood firm. What could it possibly hope to achieve? Then it had challenged him! It was impossible! A mere insect was standing in the midst of ruin, upon a great battlefield of puny men who were yet twice its size and it held its sliver of a sword aloft like a dressmaker's pin and waved it at him. The Black Captain was about to step on it and end it once and for all.

But with the challenge had come something else, something unexpected. A wave of power, a strength of mind that was driven by a force outside of the evil apparition's knowledge. He had tasted this one's feelings before and been abhorred by them. The naivety, the simplicity, the innocent love, the fierce loyalty, the honesty, the devoted passion that he felt, that he would die for, that he would give his very soul for.

The Witch King paused and felt himself shudder. It was only for a moment though and he drew his being up once more and started to move towards the stricken King. He would destroy the monarch and leader of these foul horse riders and then set fear and dread among them until they fled before his black troops. Once more he was stopped by a great mental cry.


'NO PASS I! GET IT BACK… YOU… WRAITH AT I!' Merry was breathing hard with the effort of shouting in his head at the wraith. He found it difficult to focus in the shadow world and was buffeted from all sides by an ethereal wind that distorted images and senses. Although his stand had held the Witch King back it drained his strength terribly. Just as he thought his mental barrier was starting to slip another voice pounded into the fray with a new and terrible strength he had not heard before.



Although the Wraith Lord spoke with power, both the hobbits could feel a slight mental quaver at their combined onslaught. Where their new found strength was coming from was hard to define, but they had learned much during their trials and this could be their ultimate test.

'Stand fast little ones!' Legolas was drawn in now. Merry no longer had the strength or desire to keep him out. 'Merry you have too much pain, let it flow out, I will hold it for you.'

Merry almost quailed as he was reminded of the agony in his chest, but then he felt the elf kindly lift it off him, almost as if he were taking a heavy stone from his body and hanging it on his own. At first Merry thought to stop him, but then he knew that he had to accept the help being offered. 'thank legolas, sorry it go hurt you…'

'Think not of the pain, Merry.'
Legolas was absorbing more and more of the wound and now he could also feel Pippin firmly embedded next to his cousin helping him to form a wall against the onslaught of their enemy. 'Don't take the hurt Pippin.' Legolas warned him, 'Leave it to me, you help Merry.'


Gimli looked down in horror at the elf who was scrunched down beside the City wall, sheltered by fallen masonry from prying eyes. The dwarf saw a livid red streak of blood staining his friend's tunic and he suspected it was not his own. This made Gimli wonder which of the two hobbits had been so badly injured, but he knew there was nothing he could do to help now except watch over the elf and carry out his duties as General as best he could.

Gimil, son of Gloin, drew himself up to his full height and stood proudly in front of Legolas, his axe held firmly before him, ready for any eventuality.


Gandalf pounded once on the solid doors of Rath Dínen with his white staff and they gave way before the Istari's power. He and Beregond saw at once the assembled death pyre that Denethor had ordered built and the Steward was now standing upon the high table, the fuel around giving off the stench of lamp oil, a flaming brand in one hand and Peregrin held firmly around the waist with his other.

"Stay your hand, my Lord!" Gandalf commanded. "You are not yourself! Think better of this foul deed."

"Enough wizard!" Denethor shouted. "We all shall burn, but this one first, I will not allow him to suffer at the hands of the Dark Lord, and I will follow him to this fiery grave."

Gandalf moved forward tentatively. Pippin looked dazed and far away, he appeared to be unaware of his surroundings but in deep concentration, his face scrunched up in effort. His thoughts raced to Merry and he wondered with horror what terrors Pippin might be sharing with his cousin at that moment.

"Why do you want to take Peregrin's life? He has served Gondor with valour and you have rewarded him so, why would you treat him in this way?" The wizard was anxious not to force Denethor's hand as the brand was threatening to drop at any moment and the fire would certainly take both Steward and hobbit. Even a little wizardly levitation would not guarantee to prevent such an outcome.

"Fool of a sorcerer!" Denethor clamped Pippin tightly to him. "I must burn him to save him, of course."


Pippin was vaguely aware that something interesting, possibly even dangerous, was going on around him. Flickering his eyelashes slightly, he seemed to see Gandalf looking rather agitated about something. Someone else, the elderly Steward maybe, had a tight hold on him, squeezing him firmly against his own body. But whatever was happening Pippin knew that he could give it no attention, he was firmly focussed on Merry!

Merry's whole world at the moment consisted of one thing, a force that was trying to grow inside his head, increasing in volume and stature with every second. It was a mountainous white being that was determined to overwhelm him and drag him into a deep, dark abyss of death and lamentation. But Merry would not go and Pippin was determined not to let him, but if he slipped, if Merry should fall, he would not go alone, he Pip, would go too.

As the being multiplied in volume, both Merry and Pippin could feel the venom and malevolent evil that gave it strength, gave it the power to pull them down and suffocate them with it's cold white presence. It exerted a strength bought with many years of suffering, not it's own, but the terrible suffering and pain of others. It had taken men's own evil and greed and turned it against them, using their ambitions to taint the souls it bought so cheaply, always desiring more – more corruption, more degradation of its enemies, more all consuming power.

Merry gasped with effort and staggered a little as he stood resolutely before the monstrous white being with the crown. Then he wavered in his mind momentarily as he realised that the mental image was now twenty times larger than the reality. So this was where the battle would be fought!

The little hobbit summoned all his inner strength and reached out for Pippin's hand. They began to melt into one body and gradually, as their conscious thought joined so totally that it would have been impossible to distinguish one from the other, so their physical presence within the one mind merged together.

Each of the hobbits had grown in their ability to control what went on in their heads since they had learned to mindspeak, but now they surprised even themselves. Legolas was watching them, still absorbing and suffering Merry's pain, but aware enough to witness their incredible transformation.

The combined mental being of MerryPippin towered up to meet the Witch king. A tall powerful warrior they stood, the hair shimmering from golden to auburn, eyes flashing with a bright fire that changed colour from blue to green to turquoise. The pointed ears were sharper and the pert features were clearly defined, neither Took nor Brandybuck, but a handsome blending of both. The strong arm wielded a sword mightier than Anduril and struck across the Black Captain's arm, cleaving it from his body.

Furious at the assault, the Wraith struck back, but his blow passed harmlessly through the ethereal body of the great hobbit soldier. His blow now ineffectual as the sum of the hobbits' strength outweighed his own will. Then, as he wheeled on them once more, a great fiery mace now held in his remaining hand he saw in a blinding flash the source of their strength. It was driven by their lack of greed, their peace filled way of life, but chiefly by their glowing, shining love for each other.

In that second the realisation struck that there was nothing in the shadow world to pervert or corrupt the hobbit innocence and in frustrated anger the Witch king cried out – a searing screech that fell from the ethereal world to the real world and Merry the hobbit was once more aware of standing on a great battlefield, holding a tiny sword, in front of his direst enemy.


Denethor could see that Gandalf was getting ready to spring and possibly snatch the halfling from him. He would be ready. He kept a tight hold on Peregrin and moved into a position in the centre of the table so that he could set flames all about in a great circle before the interfering wizard could intervene.

Gandalf moved closer and held his hand up to try and stay the Lord Steward's intent, but it was too late, the torch was spinning around in a great arc as it caught the oil, instantaneously bursting into flames and igniting the fuel soaked wood in turn. Pippin was now slumped lifelessly in Denethor's arms and remained unaware of his fate.


Although he and Pippin had held him back in the netherworld, Merry knew he could not defeat this terrible enemy in the physical world as well. Éowyn was behind him somewhere, he thought she had been hurt, but perhaps she was able to still fight. He called out desperately to the warrior maiden. "Éowyn! Éowyn! Look in my mind – I can show you. Like we did before, can you try?"

Éowyn heard Merry calling to her and, ignoring the horrendous pain in her broken arm, still thrust into the shield straps, she pushed herself upright and saw Merry standing, blood pouring from his chest and holding his little sword aloft as if to strike at a much taller enemy. But there was no enemy there – that she could see. Théoden was lying prone just behind her and in front of Merry was the wreck of the great beast they had slain together.

She knew it was the Witch King that Merry faced and she knew he would not stand against him alone, not while she had breath in her body. Éowyn staggered to her feet and opened her eyes wide and then her mind, concentrating on the little hobbit before her with all her might, replaying the sensation she had experienced with Legolas when she had helped Merry to set Pippin's broken foot. Now, at need, she floated naturally back into the mind link with the two hobbits and the elf.

'Éowyn, you see we in the mind now!'

'… know you well… yet you are both strange changed.'

'We most of belonged togethrer and be so strong.'

'They have joined Éowyn.'
Legolas's mindvoice was filled with wonder at the hobbit's transformation. 'They have melded their minds together to become stronger.'

'Look now Éowyn! See he now!"

MerryPippin, with the eyes that were blind to everything else, showed Éowyn, and Legolas their view of the Witch King. They were also aware that they showed the same image to the Witch King himself and he realised that his invisibility would no longer protect him as the woman before him lifted up her sword ready to strike her greatest blow.

The Witch King saw the raised sword and stepped back from the onslaught, but as he did so a sudden great pain in his thigh made him lurch forward in agony. Merry the hobbit had stabbed him with his sword. The tiny creature had dared to strike a physical blow on his presence in this world as well as the other.

Éowyn, still seeing the apparition's movements in MerryPippin's head, followed through with a tremendous blow and smote the head from the deathly being. The white crown rolled on the ground and a terrible scream went up and echoed across the battlefield.

MerryPippin, Éowyn and Legolas knew they had to pursue the being to the end. His physical form vanished and there was naught left beneath Éowyn's sword, but in the shadow world the terrible king swung round on the 'three' of them to give fight once more.

The abyss loomed and between them they tried to push the being, now incandescent with rage, into the black void, but all were weakened and the fight was hard. Legolas fell back, Merry's pain still pulling his body apart and his strength all but spent. Éowyn, unused to fighting in such an arena and sorely hurt now, both by her broken arm and the act of striking the killing blow itself taking so much from her, all she could do was watch as MerryPippin, the great hobbit warrior, battled for victory against their mightiest foe.

The two wrestled on the edge of blackness, neither one yielding or gaining ground. It seemed as if the two forces could remain locked in turmoil until the end of Middle Earth, or until time itself stopped. There was only one solution. The hobbit warrior saw it clearly, both adversaries must go into the abyss together, or both must survive. MerryPippin knew the Witch king must not live – could not be allowed to live – so they would sacrifice their existence too.

The Witch King felt the hobbit warrior's decision almost the second they had made it. There was no time left to negotiate, it was immediate, there was no resistance left, he could not hold onto life in either world now, the end was inevitable.

The abyss opened into a crater beneath them and tumbling in horror, fear and dread, the Witch King and MerryPippin were swallowed up by the blackness, a silence as terrifying as the cacophony of the living world, enveloping them in living death.

But then there was a jolt, Merry pulled his consciousness out of Pippin's and threw his unsuspecting cousin out of the link with a resolve that was almost brutal. Merry had made the decision, Pippin could not die, he loved him too much. His own sacrifice would be bearable if he at least believed that his darling, darling Pip could be spared. With a rent that tore at his soul, he sent Pippin away, away from death, away from destruction and away from him. Forever! One last sad little echo reverberated in Pippin's now isolated mind. 'love you my pip, al-way loved at you, al-way do love you – evrer and evrer and evrer…'


Gandalf's robes were singed at the hem as he tried to wrest the hobbit from the grasp of the Steward. He lost his grip on the little one as Denethor pulled Pippin back into the depths of the furnace and his foot hair caught light burning his feet. Gandalf leaned forward to make one last mad attempt, hoping if he shouted loudly enough the Steward might drop the hobbit.

There was suddenly a terrible and unexpected scream that filled the chamber and to Gandalf's immense relief Denethor, in shock, did let go of Pippin and the wizard snatched him up in his enveloping arms, extinguishing the flames that had started to burn the hobbit's foot fur.

Gandalf held Pippin close for a moment and then realised that the little one was clasping his ears in agony and that he was sobbing as if he would die of grief. It was in that moment that the wizard realised what the shout had been that had caused the Steward to lose his grip on the hobbit. Pippin had screamed – he had used his voice! He had screamed out loud, his rediscovered voice filled with panic and anguish, "MERRY NOOOOO!"


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.

Story Information

Author: Llinos

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 03/23/07

Original Post: 06/26/02

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