2. … and 12 ticklish Urukh-hai
Yet a little later this evening, none of them was too sure about that anymore.
They had, with Sam, indulged in old stories and fond memories of grim days over a bottle of wine of Old Master Bilbo’s supplies, and now were heading for their guest rooms in Bag End, for their beds, expecting a peaceful night.
Pippin awoke, in the middle of the night, covered with sweat. For a moment, he was overwhelmed by the nauseating feeling of not knowing where he was, until he remembered that he was visiting Sam and Rosie. And then, he heard it again. A sniffing sound at the door. For a moment he lay still and battled the irrational fear that it was Uglúk coming after him again, Uglúk or any of his sort. - This was ridiculous, he told himself. This was Bag End.
The sniffing continued and something - someone, seemed to scratch at the door. The door… Pippin got up and, calling himself a hundred names, among which “fool of a took” recurred several times, and carefully manoeuvred himself towards it in the unfamiliar guest room.
When he opened it with a rush, he heard a muffled cry and almost tripped over a small bundle that was cowering on his doorstep. In the dim light of the night-light further down the hall, he felt it more than he saw it, and when he picked it up, it started to bawl.
Belatedly, Pippin realised that the squirming, hot and soggy bundle he held in his arms was Sam’s and Rosie’s youngest, little Tolman. Who in fact seemed to be a little out of place and terrified by the fact that he was picked up like that in the middle of the night.
“Sshshsh, it’s me, Uncle Peregrin”, Pippin had to repeat several times - to no noticeable avail. He was indeed more than grateful when, finally, the opposite door opened and a sleepy Merry appeared. “What’s all that noise about?” he asked.
Pippin waved him desperately, and eventually, he donned his gown, lit a candle and came over and took the crying child from Pippin.
And, being a father himself for some years already, while Pippin was still in the stage of trying to become one, albeit most eagerly, he managed quickly what Pippin had not - to soothe the desperate child to an extent that, between sniffles and sobs, they got an impression of what the problem was.
“He’ll eat me. He’ll eat me. He comes and eats Ma. He ate B…Bilbo. And D…daisy. And G..g..goldi. And now he’s waiting for me!”
“Who, dear?” Merry asked carefully, giving Pippin a meaningful glance.
“Rosie will kill us,” Pippin muttered.
The boy was still too small and obviously shaken from the really bad dream he had had to be convinced that it had just been that. A dream.
Pippin cast a helpless glance to Merry, who just shrugged his shoulders. “You made up this story, now get us out of it again,” this meant.
Not that Pippin did not want to. He had always been an imaginative mind himself - if one asked his parents or his teachers (or a certain wizard), maybe a little too imaginative, but there were two sides to everything. And thus, he felt really sorry for having given little Tolman such a bad experience. He looked around the room furtively, and had an idea.
“I am sure no Urukh ate your brothers or sisters” he started firmly but casually. “I am quite sure they are fine.”
The little boy gave him a cautious look. On the edge, but far from being consoled too easily.
“You must know,” Pippin continued, giving Merry a sign to continue to rock the child soothingly, “that there is an easy means to keep Uruks away.”
A little brow furrowed.
“It’s easy, but hardly anyone knows. But it works. ‘twas pure chance that we found out about it. It saved our very lives, it did. Because there is one thing you must know about Urukhs…”
A thumb was fixed in a mouth while a little head dropped near Merrys shoulder. “Go on”, Merry voiced soundlessly.
“ - and this one thing is that they are ticklish. Terribly ticklish. They won’t dare to attack anyone who carries a” - his glance found the ink-and -quill-set on the desk - “feather. They can’t stand that. It as good as kills them. You want to know how we escaped the Urukhs? Merry and me?”
The boy nodded, silently.
“Your uncle Merry had an inkpot and quills in his backpack. And when the whole group of them went ascouting, leaving only twelve of them behind to guard us, I managed to get a hand lose from my ties, and got the feather out of his backpack. And before they knew what had got to them, we had tickled them so hard that they fell to the ground, unconscious. And those who were not, did not dare to touch us anymore. So we just…” - “headed for the woods” Merry continued hastily. “And they did not dare to follow us.” Pippin concluded.
“Just imagine what their leader told them when he came back. Twelve large Urukhs, laying on the ground out of breath from laughing so hard. When he found them, we already had run for quite a while, I can tell you. And we still could hear him yell! Like - well - like your mother when she is really angry. But even he did not dare to follow us when he heard what had happened!”
Eventually, a tiny smile crept over the boy’s face even though his thumb did not leave his mouth.
“So”, Pippin reached out for the inkset, “I have it on good record that no Urukh will attack anyone carrying a feather.” He picked the largest one, a beautiful pheasant feather, and handed it over to the now sleepy child. “If you take this with you, you will be safe.”
Little Tolman did not say anything, but he clutched the feather and did not let go.
It was Merry who took over the task to deliver the boy back to his room. When he put him in his bed, the child was already half asleep, but he still clutched the - already somewhat tattered-looking - feather.
“They say that the quill is mightier than the sword” Merry said the next morning to Pippin in appreciative mockery when they were watching the youngest scions of the Gamgee family trampling along merrily through the gardens of Bag End. “But I would never have thought that it had been meant that way.” Tolman was eagerly trying to keep their pace even if his legs were by far the shortest. He still was clutching the quill Pippin had given him the night ago.
Pippin shrugged and grinned. “Natural talent!” he said.
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.