coughed and choked, trying to clear the dust out of his throat. It was
all over, stifling him and getting in his eyes and mouth. He spit in
distaste. A slightly odd smell reached his nose, and he looked up. A
great, looming grey mass lay heaped on the battlefield, close to where
he had landed after falling from the horse he and Eowyn had ridden. He
realized it was an Oliphaunt, like the one he and Eowyn had disabled
just minutes ago. But he couldn’t quite remember if it was the same one
or not – everything was so clouded and unclear and ugly in this battle.
So different from at home, where things were simple and clear, green and fresh and beautiful.
the thought of home away, though reluctantly. It wouldn’t do to dream
of something far away right now, especially in the middle of the
battle. “Eowyn?” he called. “Eowyn!”
There was no
answer but for the shouts and clashes and cries of battle all around
him. Worried, he got to his feet and groped for his sword, remembering
briefly as he did so King Théoden’s words as he’d pledged him
his service. The King had smiled down at him, looking both kingly and
He gripped the
sword determinedly, and lunged out from under the fallen Oliphaunt’s
hulking mass. What he saw made him stop short in horror.
Théoden’s white horse lay crumpled and dying on the battlefield,
and the King himself was crushed underneath him. Merry bit back a cry
of anguish. And standing over the fallen King was Eowyn, Dernhelm, as
Merry knew her. A bright sword was in her hand. Her eyes shone with
both tears and defiance. But what made Merry freeze in terror was the
black shape looming above her, rising from the ruined, collapsed shape
of a great black beast on the ground.
cloaked menace; a chilly black presence that Merry remembered only too
well. His mind flashed back to Weathertop and a cold, windy night... He
remembered five of the black shapes, pressing down upon them, and his
own utter terror and desperation as he tried to protect Frodo but was
thrown aside like so much chaff on the wind... Then everything had been
unclear and terribly cold until he heard Frodo’s cry... a cry that rent
the air and went through his own heart like a knife. He had scrambled
madly to his feet and run towards Frodo, who he could see lying under a
fallen statue, his cloak and jacket soaked with blood. Pure terror had
filled his heart as he had knelt at his dear friend’s side, seen the
pain in his face and felt the icy cold of his left hand. Frodo was so
dreadfully pale... he looked like he was dying... he was dying. It was
something Merry had not even considered possible. But at that moment he
had believed it would happen, though his heart pleaded desperately
against it. Not Frodo!
came back to the presence with a jerk as he heard Eowyn cry out in
pain. He saw her stumble and fall as her shield fell in splinters to
the ground. The Witch-king stood above her, his horrible mace in his
hand. Merry gave a soundless cry of fear and horror. Eowyn... his
lady... no! Not Eowyn! he cried to himself. He wanted desperately to
run to her, to drive his sword through the horrible wraith’s shape and
protect Eowyn, as he had been unable to do for Frodo on Weathertop. He
wanted to kill this horror who had so badly wounded his dear friend,
and now slain the King he loved. But he was frozen in place, his throat
constricted with the terror the Wraith awoke in him.
The Wraith took
a step nearer to her, and took her by the throat. His awful,
gauntlented hand gripped her white throat, and Merry could see the
terror in her blue eyes. The blue eyes that had smiled so lovingly to
him as she’d helped him put on his armor.
Suddenly he had
control of his body again, and he came to life, lurching forward. A
flash of desperate courage surged through him. He tore through the
battlefield, stumbled, and fell, not far from the Wraith’s back. It
hadn’t seen him yet. He heard its hissing, icy voice but did not catch
the words. All that mattered was Eowyn. Pulling himself up, he threw
himself forward and lunged with his sword, plunging it deep into the
back of the Wraith-King’s leg.
searing pain shot through his arm and he dropped his sword, vaguely
hearing himself scream in anguish. The pain blinded him, and he fell
backwards. His body hit the ground, and for just a moment he could see
had fallen to his knees and let go his hold on Eowyn. She had risen to
her feet, gripping her sword. Reaching up, she tore off her helmet and
cast it to the ground as her golden hair streamed out in the sunlight.
Her eyes were glimmering with tears. She gazed at the black terror
before her, and with four words, drove her sword through the wraith.
“I am no man!”
convulsed, writhing and twisting as a foul wind consumed him. His sword
and mace clattered to the ground, and his helmet and armor were
crumpling. His black cloak ripped and tore away. Merry shivered in
agony as the cold wind blew over him, striking to his heart, and then
it was gone. The wraith was destroyed.
Moaning softly in pain, he crumpled up and was lost in blackness.
Much later, he
felt familiar, gentle hands turning him over. Strong, careful arms
gathered him up, and a voice he knew called his name. “Merry... Merry!”
He opened his
eyes. Pippin... dear Pippin... was gazing down at him, worry and love
mingled in his eyes. “It’s me! It’s Pippin!” he cried, struggling
Merry tried to
smile, but in a moment it turned into a moan of agony. So much pain...
“I knew you’d find me...” he whispered hoarsely.
A tear slid down Pippin’s cheek and splashed onto Merry’s. “Yes,” he said gently.
was failing... everything was so grey. Pippin was fading... “Are you
going to leave me?” he asked weakly, clutching at Pippin’s arm.
came Pippin’s voice. Merry felt something warm and comforting being
drawn over him. His elven cloak... “No. I’m going to look after you.”
Take care of
you... Merry wanted to say something, but the pain and the mist in his
eyes drained him of strength. Instead he let himself collapse in
Pippin’s arms and took comfort in their strength and warmth.
about him, and he drifted away. But this time, it was with the
knowledge that he had done his part. He had stricken the Witch-king...
he had avenged Frodo, and protected Eowyn.... and Pippin was going to
look after him.
He closed his eyes, and his head fell limply back against Pippin’s arm.