Dwarves had never shared the wonder Elves held for the stars that adorned the sky, but to this dwarf, on this morning, they were truly magical. Having dragged himself over the dome that covered the vent, Gimli now lay on his back on the rocky ground and stared at the pale sky, the stars dim in the pre-dawn. He breathed deeply the clean cool air and smiled languidly. Soon enough, however, his smile faded as he thought of Legolas. The elf would have reveled in these first drops of new air. His heart bled anew, knowing he had left his friend alone with their tormentors. Despite his oath to return, Gimli felt his betrayal of Legolas deeply.
In time, Gimli turned to their barren surroundings. They were still within Isengard, where bushes and brambles dotted the field and the distant air was hazy as if from fire. In the grey light, he could barely distinguish the forest beyond the walls, and even the hobbit beside him, who had led him from their prison, was hardly more than a shadow.
"We did it! I knew we could do it. We made it, Gimli!" Merry had lain in similar fashion on the ground, but now sat up and grinned at him.
Gimli had yet to be overcome with the joy of freedom. He weakly returned the hobbit's smile, reluctant to break his mood but unable to share his delight. "Good for you, lad. I only hope when we return, we are not too late."
The comment quieted Merry, and he paused to lay a hand on Gimli's shoulder. "I hate to leave Isengard without them as well. But we would never have gotten them out with us. We'd have all ended up dead - or worse."
Gimli nodded and forced himself to look to the coming day. "We must still get beyond the wall! Sitting here will only get us returned below."
"Yes, good plan. I think we ought to head for that gateway. It is still dark enough that we needn't worry about being seen, as long as we move in silence. I hope you're good at being hobbit-quiet, Gimli. Follow me."
Despite their fatigue, they made their way through the confines of Isengard without a sound. As Merry and Gimli neared the large portal leading out of their prison, they could discern a wide black streak cut into the ground, leading to the gate. They recognized the line as the steps of many shoes making their way out of Isengard. It seemed most of the Orcs had left the Tower, but there remained sentries to avoid. They needed to watch the patrol upon the wall for only a short time before they discovered that the Orcs focused nearly all their attention outward, clearly more concerned for trespassers attempting to enter Isengard than for anyone leaving. Timing their approach to when the sentries' attention lay beyond the wall, they neared the wall in bursts of movement towards the next vent dome or tree stump that shielded them while an Orc peered over the barren field. It took longer than Gimli expected, but dawn had yet to arrive by the time they reached the gates. Fortunately, the two found that the last Orc to leave had not shut the door behind him, and escaping the last yards of Isengard proved as simple as walking through the streets of Dale.
With the sun cresting the horizon, leaving the gates was more difficult than gaining them, for now they could be easily sighted. But the sentries were Orcs, and so not the most vigilant of sentinels. Their escape merely required careful timing and a close watch on all the sentries upon the wall.
Before the sun had fully risen they found themselves amid fields of long grass where hiding was much easier, as they entered the Wizard's Vale, if Gimli remembered Aragorn's words. Finding a small knoll that blocked their view of the Tower rising black against the brightening sky, they took a moment to rest.
"I must say, I had hardly dared to hope this plan would work. We are truly out of Isengard!" Gimli shook his bewildered head.
"That we are. As much as it looks like the Orcs have begun their march to Edoras, someone may still be at home, even Saruman, with a few Orcs left behind for company. If they haven't yet discovered we're gone, they will soon enough, and the hunt will start. We want to be long gone by then. No rest for the weary," the hobbit said, as he stood once more.
Gimli considered rising as well, but his aching feet made him think better of such a move. He knew he would regret sitting soon enough, as it had reminded his body of its weariness and of all its aches and pains. "And so, Master Meriadoc, we turn our feet to Rohan? Is that our plan?"
"As best as I've figured. Pippin thought Saruman meant to march to Edoras soon. Those Orcs have set out in the same direction. That is why we had to leave when we did. Pippin was certainly the sneaky hobbit, informing me of Saruman's plans, as well as supplying me with bits of food, bless him." Gimli half-smiled, wondering what was now to be Pippin's fate and whether the hobbit's cleverness might do aught to change that. For a moment, Gimli missed the younger hobbit greatly. "Pippin made it sound as if Saruman intended to fight against Sauron," Merry continued, "but I smell a rat there. Saruman wants to take control of Rohan himself, if you ask me. So, you see, Gimli, we are in a race to arrive at Edoras before Saruman does, to warn the people of Rohan. If we can find our way to the king and tell him what we've learned, they'll have a chance. I don't know if we can win this race, but it's worth a try. And then, seeing as we've warned them of the attack, I'm thinking maybe they wouldn't mind helping us get our friends out of Isengard."
Gimli shook his head, letting Merry's words settle. "Saruman! His desire for power knows no bounds! I agree with you, Merry. He likely seeks to control Rohan. What then? Gondor? Will he march on Minas Tirith, using Aragorn as a deception?" Gimli frowned. "And Pippin said Aragorn was under his spell?"
"Well, Pippin wasn't quite clear on that. I think he did not tell me everything. Can you imagine, Pippin trying to protect me? But I believe that was what he was doing, dear hobbit. And from what he said and did not say, I gathered that yes, Strider is under Saruman's spell or something like it." Merry shook his head, and they silently pondered the admission. "Pippin wanted us to escape for Rohan's sake, but as I said, I'm hoping that it will benefit us as well. I expect we will need more than a hobbit and a dwarf to free Pippin, Legolas, and Aragorn. Especially as Aragorn is held under Saruman's watchful eye, while the Orcs always seem to have hold of Legolas. We need help, Gimli. Help of Big Folk. Big Folk with weapons, preferably."
As Gimli leaned against the hill behind him, the eastern sky growing bright and warm on his face, he indulged himself for a moment in fond thoughts of his lost weapon. He would miss that great axe, which had accompanied him in battle for many years. But the Orcs had taken it from him when he was captured, and an Orc had kept it for his own. He would not now take it back if it were handed to him freely.
Setting aside those useless thoughts, Gimli considered their plans. He was impressed with the hobbit's ideas, despite the problem he saw. He cleared his throat. "Your plan has merit. I applaud you for your courage as well, my dear hobbit. But I fear that the Rohirrim will question the word of a hobbit - if they know of your people at all - and certainly the word of a dwarf."
"Well," Merry offered hesitantly, "you offer more than words, Gimli. You certainly appear to have been held captive."
Gimli frowned. "Oh." He had forgotten his appearance. Did he look as badly as he felt? The bruises and other injuries he wore might speak louder than words, it was true. "We still cannot be sure they will help us. Why would they offer aid for a man, an elf, and a hobbit?"
"They must! Aragorn's not just any man, he's heir to the throne of Gondor! Surely-"
"I am afraid not everyone will greet such news with welcome, Merry. In fact, I suggest you do not reveal to anyone Aragorn's heritage unless you must. The knowledge can be used against him, as you have seen."
"Yes, all right," Merry said. "But surely they should grant us such a favor in exchange for alerting them of the upcoming battle. Without our warning, they will be ambushed."
"True, they may do so. And it is likely the only option open to us. It grieves me to leave our friends in the hands of Saruman and his Orcs, but with a favor from fate, they will survive until we return."
Gimli watched as Merry climbed the hill and looked about, sharp and alert. As sure of himself as Merry seemed, Gimli was glad to have the hobbit at his side. The dwarf's weariness was beginning to overtake him. He stood, fearing if he remained seated he would never rise again.
Returning after some time, Merry pointed out the dark swath cut into the ground that continued beyond the walls. "The Orcs have indeed left through the front door while we were struggling to leave through the back. I would guess that is the direction to go."
"Yes, we should begin. And we must consider how to accomplish this task before us. We need food and water, Merry, and we are without even a waterskin. We have not a blanket against the cold of night. In this condition, we need not wonder which way will take us to our destination, but whether we will arrive at all."
Merry nodded. "You are right, of course. I have been thinking of the same. As far as water is concerned, we must reach the River Isen and follow it as long as we can. I think we're both resourceful enough to find food in the wild. If we're lucky, I'll find something I can fashion into a sling shot. We won't want for meat long, then."
"That would be quite a boon."
"Yes, and as for sleeping, I'm looking forward to a bed of grass myself, with only the stars overhead and only the sound of crickets to be heard."
Merry quieted suddenly, and Gimli wondered at the sudden turn of his mood. But there was no time for such contemplation. "We will see how you feel about grass in the chill of tonight. I forget I travel with a hobbit. Hobbits truly believe it will all be all right in the end." He sighed. Despite his words, the hobbit's way of thinking was a comfort in his growing despair. "Well, let us get on with it then. The Orcs are on their way but they will move slowly on the march. We must travel faster and stay out of sight. Besides, our friends will survive for a time, but not forever," Gimli said quietly.
And the two began a march of their own.
"We will camp here for the night," Saruman declared, easing their horse back and eyeing Strider carefully as he did the same. Pippin drew a sigh of relief and loosened his desperate grip on Saruman. The three had ridden since hours before dawn with few stops. But what had put Pippin most on edge was Strider. He rode beside them freely, his hands neither bound together nor tethered to the horse. Saruman had thought the bindings would slow rider and horse, so the wizard kept Strider to him with a simple threat: If he tried to escape, Saruman would kill Pippin. Strider's face had not registered a word, and so Pippin was left with the hope that Strider did not see his escape more vital than Pippin's life.
Pippin slid slowly off the horse, bracing himself for the long drop. In the dark, Strider was a shadow as he tended to the horses as Saruman had ordered, while the wizard started a small fire. Pippin welcomed the reprieve from his seat on the horse, but not so much as that of the doom he had faced in that wretched Tower. How he had longed for release, yet never had he imagined his departure like this. He was still with Strider, and that was good, for the man needed looking after more than ever. But Pippin remained the servant of Saruman and so was still a prisoner.
He had never thought he would leave Merry behind in the Tower. In the end, he had not been able to pay his cousin another visit, and he could only hope Merry would find a way to care for himself. Perhaps he would be taken on the march with Uglúk, and they would meet in Edoras. Somehow, he must see Merry again.
Pippin wandered over to the wizard, carrying the last of his master's bags as he expected Saruman wanted, and wondered if his true purpose on this journey was as a servant or as leverage over Strider. Or was there some other purpose? "Is there something you would like me to do?"
"Put that bag with the others over there. Then find what food there is and make a meal," Saruman said curtly and turned from him.
After a miserably light repast, Saruman called to Pippin. "Halfling, bring my bag - the heavy one." Strider looked up at the command, and behind the flat look that had infused his eyes since leaving Isengard, there seemed to be a flash of alarm. But Pippin's only choice was to obey the order.
The bags were piled at the border of their camp by leafy hazel bushes that offered the only cover on the open plains. Pippin picked up one sack, but it weighed too little to be the right one. The one beside it was quite heavy and he tried to hoist it over his shoulder. After a failed second attempt, Pippin opened the bag to see what was so heavy. At the sight of the Seeing Stone, he jumped back. Now he understood Strider's unease. He looked at the rock again. It wasn't as dark as it had looked the other day. There were colors floating inside. It looked quite fascinating, he thought, even as he remembered Strider's command to never touch it. Part of him knew he should not, but another part knew he would put his hands upon it.
Before he could think on it overmuch, he grasped the Stone, and the colors sprung to life, flaring in a vivid fire. Horrified by the flames suddenly surrounding him, he tried to release himself but was held to the Stone. He gasped, falling to the ground. The flames made way for something beyond them, and despite his fear he strove to make out the scene. The black fire took the shape of high forbidding mountains. Then there was an old man in luxurious robes, stern of face, twisted in concentration or perhaps anger. The man seemed suddenly to see Pippin and he heard a silent question as to his identity. Pippin, he thought, before he could stop himself.
His burning world went dark all of a sudden, and the questions left with the flames. There was grass below him once more, and the distant sound of crickets, a sound he'd found he'd missed, a sound he'd used to call his cousin. Poor Merry, still at Isengard... The hobbit breathed deeply, suddenly profoundly weary.
"Peregrin Took!" Pippin jolted at once, thinking Gandalf had somehow returned, if only for the chance to reprimand him. But it was Strider who had spoken. "What were you doing?"
Saruman stood beside the man, and Pippin feared his silence more than Strider's reprimands. The hobbit looked down, hoping to look small and helpless enough that they might not be too angry with him. He hated to anger or disappoint Strider - and Strider had said to never touch the Stone! Then why did he? Why couldn't he have left it be? And he feared what Saruman might do to him. Might he leave him here in the wild, all alone? Might he leave him for the Orcs that were marching to Edoras? He thought suddenly that the second option was rather likely, since he would still end up where Saruman wanted him. Saruman had said he wanted a servant, but now Pippin had proved untrustworthy.
"Pippin!" Strider asked more urgently, shaking him. "Can you hear me?"
After taking another deep breath, Pippin sat up and looked at Strider. "Eh, yes, Strider, I can hear you. I'm - I'm all right," he said softly, though he wasn't entirely certain. His thoughts seemed to be turning by their own will. Just then he felt a hand clamp on his shoulder and he reluctantly faced Saruman.
Dark grey eyes pierced into him. "What did you see?" Saruman said in a tone Pippin would not try to defy.
"Eh, I -" Pippin frowned as he tried to sort out the images. "I saw... great, dark mountains. They were far off... And a window - I saw the mountains through a window. Then I saw a man. He wore something... oh, a cloak. I think it had fur on the inside. And he had grey hair. He - he looked directly at me, as if he saw me. He was... I got the sense he wasn't happy to see me."
"Did you say aught to him?"
"Em, well, he asked me who I was, and... I said, Pippin. I told him my name." Pippin closed his eyes, certain this was not what Saruman wanted to hear. He tried to slump down, but Saruman would not release his hold on him.
"Was there anyone else there?" He asked, as stern as ever.
Pippin thought carefully, knowing he must give the right answers, but not knowing what they were. "No, not anyone that I could see."
Saruman sat back on his heels, considering the hobbit. Pippin dared a look at Strider. The Ranger was looking at him with what Pippin thought might be worry mixed with a bit of disappointment or anger. Another stolen glance confirmed that he also saw fear in the man's face. "I - I'm sorry, Strider," he whispered. "I know you told me not to, but - I don't know why I did it!"
"You looked into the Stone because it called to you," said the firm voice of Saruman. "It called to you, and you answered."
There was a small smile on Saruman's lips that sent a bolt of fear straight into Pippin's stomach. The expression seemed worse than his frown and couldn't mean anything good for the hobbit. He considered the wizard's words. The Stone had called to him? Why him? Why not Strider? Or maybe it did call to Strider - was that what Strider feared? That he would need to touch the Stone as Pippin had? Would it call to Pippin again? "I won't do it again, Strider. Promise." Strider stared back, his expression unreadable.
Saruman stood up suddenly and walked away a few paces. Pippin risked asking Strider, "Who was he? The man I saw. And where was he? Those mountains looked higher than Caradhras. I don't understand anything I saw, except that I've made someone I've never met angry with me. I've never managed to do that before."
Strider still held that inscrutable expression. The man's eyes had regained their wooden look and told Pippin nothing. And neither did Strider.
Pippin searched for words to fill the silence. "How is your leg faring?" He had not been able to tend to Strider's wound the entire day.
After a moment more of staring at Pippin, Strider answered. "It does not pain me overmuch. The movement has served it well."
"I'm glad," Pippin said, forcing cheer into his voice. "I don't know what we would have done if the hot water didn't work."
"You need not have done aught but bury me."
Pippin's heart sank at Strider's frank response and abandoned his conversation attempt. He knew the man was not tangled in the web of visions that often lingered after time with the palantír. But with each visit with the Stone, Strider had become increasingly withdrawn. When he was inclined to speak, he was despondent to a degree Pippin had never seen him. Pippin blamed the Stone and Saruman's subsequent speeches that had ground down the man's hope and fortitude, so that he was plunged into despair.
Strider's eyes flicked to Pippin briefly, and the grief the hobbit saw there pained him. Already Strider mourned for him and for the others, perhaps even for Rohan and Gondor. Saruman's voice had worked its power on him. After weakening the man's mind with pain and confusion through the Stone, Saruman had bent Strider's will toward his own with his voice and his words. All Pippin could do was remain at the man's side and try to remind him of the Ranger he was.
"Come," Saruman said suddenly, already preparing to mount his horse. "We must continue to move. We may have gained time by overtaking the marching uruk-hai, but other forces will have felt your intrusion into the palantír. We would do best to avoid them."
And they were on the move once more.
"I believe the River is near," said Merry, as they neared the outcropping that formed an arm of the Wizards' Vale and offered the first true cover of the day.
"Those are welcome words," said Gimli. "I fear my strength wanes and I am in need of a moment's rest. When we reach the river, I would beg one indulgence, if you will, Master Merry." He hesitated, as they walked with the aid of the full moon's light. "I desire a simple bath. Forgive me for making the suggestion. I know we must make haste, and I will not take much time."
"Not to worry, Gimli. We must reach the River Isen regardless as we need more water. We have not crossed a stream in hours. And our injuries need washing again."
"You are right, but had neither been the case, my need for a river would be just as great. For I fear I smell like an Orc."
Merry gave him a small smile. "We will spare the few moments to wash the stench of Orc from you."
Passing through a small grove, they found a suitable clearing close to the banks of the Isen and made their first full stop since leaving the Tower. Merry was glad for the rest, though he fought a strong drive to continue. "Do you think we could risk a fire, Gimli?"
"Are you able to make a smokeless one?"
"Very well. I think we can risk it. I will return shortly."
After a time far longer than shortly, Merry became concerned that Gimli had not returned. The clearing was suitable to camp for the night if Gimli was too tired to go on, but he hadn't mentioned such a plan. Too insecure in their new-found freedom, Merry went in search of Gimli.
With the moon nearly full, Merry found his way easily, following the sound of gurgling water to the shore of the river. Many large rocks were scattered about in the shallows, and Merry looked among them for his friend. But despite the light of the moon, he could not see him. In fact, it seemed nothing about him moved, save for a branch or two swaying in the breeze.
Merry's throat tightened and he chose silence rather than calling out the dwarf's name. Taking a few steps along the beach, Merry soon spied a rock that looked strange - its edges were too soft and round.
Drawing closer, he saw he'd found what he sought. Poor Gimli, exhausted yet ever continuing. But when he had finally stopped moving - he'd fallen asleep! The dwarf snored softly against the rock, fully clothed yet half submerged in the river.
"Gimli," Merry called softly. He called again when Gimli did not rouse.
The dwarf woke suddenly with much splashing and thrashing. "What? Where?" He looked about for a moment, then everything seemed to come back to him. "Merry."
"Yes, Gimli. It seems your bath has turned into a nap."
Gimli looked at the river flowing about him and chuckled. "Indeed. I sunk into the water, and then..."
"It's all right. I had only gotten worried when so much time had passed."
"Worried?" Gimli sounded indignant. "Merry, I have been a prisoner of Saruman, a plaything of Orcs, and then climbed out of Orthanc. What could possibly stop me now?"
Merry smiled. "You are right. We are out of Orthanc. I needn't expect danger to walk up to us on the riverbank. I suppose that while I'm here I will wash my hands and feet. I have some cuts that should be cleaned."
As Gimli gave himself a dunking, Merry rinsed his hands. "How long do you think it will take us to reach Edoras, Gimli? If I remember the maps in Rivendell well enough, we aren't nearby, are we?"
After a moment of silence, Gimli answered, "No, we are not. I truly do not know how long it will take, Merry. My own memory of the maps tells me we are not close. Nevertheless, we will walk until we reach our destination or we can walk no more."
They decided to make camp for the night. The clearing was well hidden among trees but close to water, and they were too exhausted to go on. They dried off by the fire and laid themselves down for the first true respite in days. Grass was far more comfortable than stone as they prepared for a sound rest.
But despite his exhaustion, Merry slept fitfully. Hours after bedding down, he rolled over once again, wondering that after all their hiding, running, and climbing, he could now lay awake. But he could not release his mind from thoughts of what Pippin might be doing, what Saruman planned for them all, and where the end might find them. When his mind paused from those thoughts, they turned to Aragorn and considered if he were truly bespelled by Saruman. Then he'd wonder if he might ever see Legolas again and if that were a wise wish.
There were also their surroundings to distract him. As accustomed as he'd become to living out in the wild, it was strange to be there once again after days - which seemed like years - in the depths of Orthanc. The usual sounds of the night were suddenly unfamiliar, and he had forgotten how pebbles pinched into your back when you slept on rough ground. Merry welcomed even that discomfort, however, reminding himself that each rock meant outside and freedom. He'd accept the rough bed in which he now attempted to sleep over the pallet among Orcs that had been his bed while at Isengard.
And now something else nagged at him, something insistent, seeking to override his other thoughts. It worried at his mind and sent a shiver into his stomach. He almost recognized it, but instead rolled over, much preferring sleep.
He heard Gimli turn in his bed of grass and knew the dwarf was having difficulty finding sleep as well. Perhaps he could ask Gimli if he felt odd. Merry shivered now, though he was not cold, and that too felt familiar. Perhaps Gimli would know. He would probably accuse Merry of hunger, and the hobbit realized he hoped for such assurance from the dwarf.
"Gimli," he whispered, as the odd feeling turned into something more terrible. Instead of a response, a horrible shriek froze his bones and twisted his stomach into knots. Gimli sat up at once. Merry didn't ask him what had made the noise. He knew that scream. Only one thing sounded like that.
"I have heard that sound only once before. But I need no reminder to know it is a cursed Nazgûl!" Gimli said fiercely. "It seems we have leapt from the roasting spit into the fire."
"Is it looking for us? How could it find us here? Does it think Frodo is still with us?" Rather than wait for answers, Merry scurried behind a nearby bush as the Nazgûl's beast circled somewhere above and then began to descend toward them. The moon had set, and it was impossible to see its black figure. But the sound of the beast's wings was clear. "It's coming! Gimli, it's found us!"
Gimli grunted with a calm that shocked Merry. "Well, there is nothing to be done. We will have to see what it wants." He stood, and Merry gazed at him as if he had announced he would cut off his beard. "Remain where you are, Merry. The Black Rider will discern you are a hobbit and may deem one hobbit as good as the next." Merry had no argument with Gimli. He would gladly watch the proceedings from behind the bush, especially as his legs refused to move and allow an alternative. Merry stared as the Nazgûl alit some yards away and slowly approached them, black robes blending with the night. Merry realized the creature knew precisely where they were - could they see in the dark, he wondered? He trembled now as he remembered Weathertop and the Morgul blade that pierced Frodo's shoulder. Most likely this Nazgûl still searched for the Ring. What would he do when he learned they didn't have it? Would he kill them? Stab them with his blade and leave them to a slow and tortuous death?
Merry thought of the slow torturous death they had escaped hours ago and suddenly grew angry. All that effort would not go to waste! He peered out a bit further from his hiding spot as the Nazgûl drew up before them.
The creature that was once a man was taller than Merry remembered. And the depths beneath his cloak were as dark as ever. The ghostly figure looked at the dwarf. "You are not a Man." Gimli frowned in confusion. "Aragorn, son of Arathorn, a Man," he said slowly, the voice chilling Merry further. "Where is he?"
"Aragorn?" Gimli answered, defiance mixed with his confusion.
"The descendant of Isildur. He is to be delivered to Sauron. Where is he?"
Merry's eyes widened as his stomach dropped to his feet. His breathing was suddenly short. Saruman truly intended to hand over Aragorn to Sauron! Their journey was all the more urgent now, but would they take another step?
Gimli's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Aragorn is a captive of Saruman. I suppose you know this. Perhaps you should inquire of Saruman for your answers. He is yet in Orthanc, to my knowledge."
The Nazgûl stared at Gimli for a long moment - at least it seemed so to Merry, though he could see no eyes. Merry dared not breathe. Would the Nazgûl now decide what he would do with them, as they had nothing for him?
Then, the Nazgûl snapped his head about, towards the southeast, the direction in which they traveled. The Nazgûl released another ear-splitting shriek and ran back to his beast, the interrogation apparently forgotten. Merry watched him fly off as he held onto his ears.
When silence returned and the night appeared as any other night once more, he emerged from the bush and looked at Gimli. "What just happened?"
"I do not know," Gimli said with a deep frown. "I suppose whatever it was, we should be grateful for it. I do not know that the Nazgûl would have let us live otherwise."
Merry shuddered. "Whatever it was, it must be more important than Aragorn. The only thing I can think of that important would be the ...what my cousin carries."
Gimli looked at him with worry etched into his face. Merry thought of Frodo and Sam, out there somewhere, all alone. What else pursued them besides the Nazgûl? What trials and tortures had they endured? Merry was suddenly overcome with gratitude for the company of Gimli. His own suffering seemed easier to manage.
"So Saruman plans to pass off Aragorn to Sauron, then take over Rohan, it seems, from what Pippin has told you. I doubt the wizard will end his ambitions there. We must make haste to Rohan if we are ever to stop him!"
"Well, I'm certainly not going to sleep again this night. We'll see signs of the sun in the next hour or two. Shall we start our journey a bit early?"
"A fine idea, Master Merry, if you feel you are up for it. I could not find rest now, either. And the Nazgûl knows where we are, so we are not safe here in any case. We must move."
And so they dusted themselves off and began another march.
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.