Conversations with Faramir

by Lilywillow

Conversations with Faramir: I Was Never the Same Again

Pippin struggled for the words. He closed his eyes and began, his voice taking on a sing song, dreamlike quality, quite unlike his usual way of speaking. In my dreams I keep finding myself in the woods. Even when awake, and I close my eyes and think back to all that happened, somehow it is the wooded hillside near Parth Galen that I see first. I still hear the terrifying shouts of orc voices, the pounding of many feet down through the trees on that hill side, the rattle of steel swords and armour. My heart still pauses when I see, so clearly in my mind, Frodo behind the tree hiding from those orcs and shaking his head at us slightly, so slightly. That little shake still brings a lump to my throat, and the memory of his eyes still burns in my soul. I can see them yet - full of sorrow and fear, and pleading for us to understand, and a knowledge too deep for me to comprehend. I wish I could say that I immediately knew I must save him, but the impulse to lead the orcs away from Frodo came second only to my instinct to stop him. In my heart I was screaming: no, no, you cannot do this, you cannot leave us! I believe I called out to him, but I have dreamed that moment so often that I can no longer separate what I felt, what I dream and what is real. Pippin dashed his hand across his eyes. That moment was the making of me. I was never the same again.

Conversations with Faramir: The Black Riders

‘Tell me about the Black Riders, Daddy.’

Pippin settled Faramir more comfortably on his lap. Faramir lay back against his father’s arm. He liked to watch Pippin’s expressive face when he was telling one of his stories. He never knew quite which way Pippin would go- sometimes he was quite reflective, sometimes he exaggerated , but always he told a good tale.

‘Let’s see. What day was that?’ he said, teasing his son

‘You know, the day you went into Farmer Maggot’s crop!’

‘Oh, I remember. The one time Merry convinced me to pick a few mushrooms from Farmer Maggot. He grew the best mushrooms, you know.’ Pippin looked sideways at his son’s sceptical face. ‘The best. We couldn’t resist. Since we were already there, we decided to get a few carrots and a cabbage, too. But we found we weren’t very good at sneaking, because one of Farmer Maggot’s dogs sniffed us out and started up a grand howling! It was no time at all before old Maggot himself came running up, looking mighty put out, I must say. Over a few mushrooms! He had a big scythe with him, so naturally Merry took to his heels. I would have faced up to it, but...’

"C’mon, Dad,’ interrupted Faramir. ‘stick to the story, (and the truth,)’ he muttered under his breath.

Pretending not to hear, Pippin continued. ‘It was while we were running away from Farmer Maggot that we bumped into Frodo and Sam. Literally! We were running as fast as we could, considering we still carried some carrots and cabbages. And they were walking along between the rows. I ran straight out and smack into Frodo. Well, what a surprise! Merry and I had just been thinking of going up to Hobbiton to visit him, which is why we were hoping to take him some mushrooms, you see - he used to borrow them as well, you know, until one time Farmer Maggot’s dog chased him and gave him quite a scare! You can imagine how surprised we were to see him, and Sam with him.

‘Of course, we didn’t really have time to explain what we were doing at that moment, so next thing there were four of us running away! I can still see it in my mind’s eye. I was leading, but somehow the field of corn came to a sudden end. I found myself standing at the top of a steep bank, so naturally I stopped, like a sensible young hobbit. But the others weren’t quite as observant. Frodo ran right into me, and Merry into him. But it was Sam that tipped us over. He smacked into Merry so hard that we all tumbled over the edge and tail over top down the hill to the road below - thump, thump, thump, thump! I was on the bottom, so all three landed on me, and I almost landed on a pile of - but then I spotted some more mushrooms. Naturally, as soon as I said the word, Merry and Sam stomped all over me to get to the first!’

Pippin’s face was alive with the memory; a smile touched his lips. ‘We never did get to eat those mushrooms.’

‘Black Riders,’ prompted Faramir.

Pippin’s smile faded. He took a deep breath and tightened his arm a bit, which had relaxed with the memory of that sunny day.

‘That’s when things got a bit unusual. In fact, a lot unusual. We were gathering the mushrooms into a bag when Frodo suddenly called out in a very strange voice, quite unlike himself, to get off the road. We could tell right away he was serious, so we all jumped over the roots of the big tree at the side and hid out of sight under it. I didn’t really think Frodo knew what he was talking about, after all we were in the Shire! so I was still counting the mushrooms when we heard a slow clopping along the road, like a very big horse. But it was odd - it wasn’t the normal sound of a pony heading somewhere, nor even the sound of a big person riding through the Shire. It was sort of threatening, and the horse was making a deep snorting sound. We sat as still as fieldmice. Frodo looked up to see what it was, but he sat so still and worried that we all followed suit. But it was very hard to stay still because next centipedes and worms started to crawl out of all the spaced and holes nearby; it was quite horrid. That’s when the snuffling started’

Faramir stayed very still as Pippin’s voice took on a faraway sound, as if he were reliving the day it all began for him.

‘The snuffling is what upset me. Frodo behaving oddly - well he has always had his own way, going off by himself for days on end. The horse - that could be explained, and even the worms are normal creatures. But the snuffling wasn’t like any noise I ever heard before or since. It was like something was sniffing us out - quite a nasty feeling. Merry threw the bag of mushrooms (a pity, but there you are) up onto the road, and that attracted the thing’s attention. At that point I hadn’t seen anything, but when we got up as quick as quick to run away, I caught a glimpse.

‘I know what it was now, so it is a bit hard to remember my thoughts back then. I saw a very large black horse - blacker than black, and shiny, almost slimy looking, I would say. The rider was all black, too, cloaked, hooded, no face to be seen. It had a threatening feel to it, somehow, so we all took to our heels, running as quickly as the trees would allow. Frodo ran like someone being chased by a demon, and I suppose he was. When he finally stopped for breath, we could get nothing out of him "What was that?" asked Merry. Frodo just stood and looked at his hand as if horrified by it. He was far away in his own mind. Then he just said, "Sam and I have to get to Bree." Leave the Shire! I was starting to really be afraid, now, and confused. What was going on?

‘Bless Merry’s quick thinking. He knew the quickest way was to take the Buckleberry Ferry. We started off toward the ferry through the woods, going as fast but quietly as we could, but by the time evening fell, we could feel there was more than one rider looking for us. We heard the snorting of the horse and the clatter of armour on our left, and hid deep in the undergrowth; then we heard another sound, a kind of scream that sent shivers down to my toes. We slipped between the trees - I was very frightened by then, I don’t mind admitting - but suddenly a Black Rider burst out of a space between the trees.’

Pippins voice was now tight and his face showed the play of emotions as he remembered them. Faramir hugged him, to keep him from going too far away. ‘He went straight for Frodo, paying no mind to any of us. We ran fast as we could to the ferry, even Sam leapt the fence before it, but the Rider kept cutting Frodo off. We were all screaming for him, "Frodo, Frodo," as if that would make any difference, but he had to weave and dodge and took a step to the left which tricked the horse. He turned and pelted toward the ferry. We had already pushed off when he finally made it, and took a leap to get on board. The Rider was so close behind him that the horse had trouble stopping on the dock.

Pippin shuddered and, to Faramir, his hand felt cold. ‘The screaming that came next. Well, it wasn’t human. And we could see there were three riders, riding fast toward the Brandywine Bridge. We were safe for now. But I still remember thinking, well that’s a long way from lifting cabbages!’

Conversations with Faramir: Moria

You want to know what I most regret? It was when we were in Moria. Ah, what a place that was.’ Pippin closed his eyes. ‘When we went into Moria, I still did not really understand the danger we were in. When we came out, well, all I can say is I had lost something very dear to me then.

‘Getting into Moria was an adventure in itself. We got there alright, feeling chuffed that we were out of the dreadful cold of Caradhras, but the door was tight shut. A beautiful door it was, too. Stone carved in lines of light by the elves of old. We could only see the outline of the door when the moon shone. We figured Gandalf would get it open quick smart, but no matter how he tried he couldna come up with the right word to let us in. It was only when Frodo realized the words were a riddle: Speak, Friend and Enter - Elvish for friend was the trick - that he got the grand doors to open.

‘You know what Merry and I were like when we were young - often getting up to a bit of mischief without always thinking things through. While we were waiting for Gandalf to get the door open we started throwing stones into the dark pool that came right up to the door. I don’t think anyone realized what was in the pool, though Strider told us not to disturb the water. So we didn’t know we had upset the creature there till after we got inside. Once the doors swung open we were excited to see what was inside. Gimli had been getting very pleased that we were getting close to his cousin Balin’s city, as he kept calling it. We could tell Gandalf wasn’t any too sure about that, but we were hoping for a warm fire and a hot meal.

‘When we went in, though, and Gandalf lit his staff, we got quite a shock. There were bodies everywhere, full of arrows. I could still hear Gimli promising "red meat off the bone" when I looked down and saw an orc with an arrow through its back. It was a terrible thing for all of us, though more for poor Gimli who was very distressed. I canna even remember who said to run back out, but it was no good going back because we had roused that creature in the water. No sooner had Frodo popped out the door than it grabbed him.

‘How horrible that was! It was huge and black with big thick tentacles all over the place. The funny thing was it slapped me and Merry away and went straight for Frodo. It lifted him high in the air with one of its long legs and kept tossing him every which way because Legolas was shooting arrows into it. You should have seen Sam! He chopped off one of its legs, and Boromir and Strider chopped off some of the others. It nearly had poor Frodo, too - opened its big mouth wide and just about had him in it, but the men managed to rescue him. I didn’t really see the end of that because we were all pelting inside as fast as we could go.

‘But that’s not really what I want to talk about. Regrets, you say. Well, I regret throwing those stones, and that did really start the horrors of Moria because we had no other choice then. We had to go through Moria. It was a long journey, and I was hungry all the time, but that’s a story in itself. It was after the fight with the orcs at Balin’s tomb that I did something I will forever regret. I don’t know why I just couldn’t keep my hands still. But while Gandalf was reading from the old book he found, my mind wandered. I found I was standing beside an old well of some kind, and there was a body sitting on the edge, covered with cobwebs. It was very odd that it had sat there for year after year - so long that it didn’t really smell dead, just musty. It had an arrow sticking up and for some reason, impulse, I reached over and touched it. Just barely touched it.

Pippin sighed. ‘I watched the arrow move, and then the head toppled off! It fell like it was moving extra, extra slow, but I couldna do anything about it. Oh, no, I said to myself. You’ve gone and done it this time, Pip. Sure enough, the head fell with a clatter and a bang down the well, and then the body followed. I closed my eyes and screwed up my face, hoping it was a bad dream - or at least that it would end quickly. But the sound just kept echoing down, down into what seemed like forever. And as if enough damage hadn’t been done, it turned out the body was chained to a big chest, and that followed right after, hitting the wall over and over, banging all the way down to the roots of the mountain.

Pippin’s face looked grey as he shuddered at the memory. ‘This is too hard, Fam. I canna talk about it any more tonight.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pippin settled himself in his favourite chair with a half-pint beside him. ‘Where had I got to?’ he asked, more to gather his thoughts than because he didn’t remember. How could he ever forget that day?

‘"Fool of a Took" Gandalf called me. Fool I called myself. But that was only the beginning. There were orcs still there, in Moria. Thousands of them. Of course we didn’t know it at the time, but The Dark Lord had been building his forces there, creating an army. None of us, not even Gandalf, realized then how close ahead of us war was.

‘So when the body went racketing down into the depths, that made them realize we were there. They soon sent a dozen or so orcs and a cave troll. I’ve told you all about that fight before, but more like it was a great adventure. Really, though, it was very frightening. Boromir had taught us, or more like tried to teach us, how to use our swords, but it’s a different thing with great ugly orcs baring their yellow fangs and screaming as they run at you. Even though we won that fight, or rather the big people did, we didn’t have much hope of getting away after that.

‘Gandalf led us toward the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, but the orcs soon followed. We had to run across a great hall with many pillars in it, and the orcs came out of holes in the ceiling, the walls, even the floor, scuttling like cockroaches promised a great feast. They were screaming in fury and delight and had us surrounded before we got half way across the hall. There we were, thousands of orcs all around us, every one of them screeching and baring its fangs in the anticipation of whatever they had planned for us. I didn’t think we were going to get out of there, though I still hoped Gandalf would throw some magic at them.

He paused and took a long pull at his glass, his eyes dark with a faraway look of sorrow. ‘What do I regret? That dratted skeleton that I touched was the cause of all of this. It burns still in my heart, that moment of thoughtless action - just a touch, it was. For what was to come next is hard to tell. At the far end of the hall we became aware of a sound as of rushing wind and roaring flame, and we could see a glow, as if fire could walk and was coming toward us. The orcs themselves seemed afraid of this new devilry, as Boromir called it. As it came closer, the orcs scattered and fled back to their filthy holes, screeching now with fear. As Bilbo once said, we were out of the frying pan and into the fire. Gandalf and Legolas knew what it was. A Balrog, a demon of the ancient world.’ Pippin shuddered at the unwelcome memory. ‘ "This is beyond your strength," says Gandalf. "Run!" he tells us.

‘We ran with our hearts in our mouths. My legs never felt shorter than on that run. We little ones had a hard time keeping up, but the fire roaring behind us spurred us on. We reached long winding stone stairs, stairs leading down several levels toward the bridge and the East Door. Strider led the way, then Legolas leaped in front of him. Gandalf stayed at the back. My heart was in my mouth but I had no time to think. Not then, anyway. We came to a great gap and had trouble getting us all across.’ Pippin looked at Faramir, who was searching his face with shadowed eyes, feeling his father’s pain. He raised his glass to his lips but lowered it again, forgetting to drink.

‘Somehow we all got across.’ He brushed his hand wearily across his eyes. ‘No matter how we ran, that fiery creature followed. The flames grew larger and we could feel the heat as it came closer behind. The whole of Moria was filled with a sound like thunder, rain and wind altogether, and the incessant booming of the drums, and I could not hear if any spoke. I could not hear myself crying, but I knew I was. When we reached the bridge at last, the creature - I wish not to say its name - was so close behind us that not one of us hesitated to run full speed across the narrow causeway of stone. I reached the other side, finally beginning to have hope we might get to the door, but when we all gathered on that side, the creature was on the bridge and Gandalf had stopped to face it.

‘My heart stopped, I am sure, while I watched Gandalf battle this demon. Everything happened so quickly I do not remember all, though Merry and I did later talk about it. I know that Gandalf wrapped himself in a white light that stayed the Balrog’s sword and he called words that caused the bridge to break.

‘For a moment we rejoiced, but even as Gandalf turned away from the abyss into which the evil was falling, its whip lashed upward and twisted around his legs.’ Faramir leaned forward and took the glass from Pippin’s hand as his grip loosened. He put his hand on his knee.

‘Gandalf fell. He looked at us once. "Fly, you fools," he cried at us before the whip pulled him down.’ Pippin closed his eyes and seemed not ready to continue for several minutes. ‘Fly you fools. Even then he thought first of us and still managed to be rude!’ Pippin smiled for the first time. Then his smile faded. ‘That was the worst moment of all. The very worst moment.

‘I could hear Frodo screaming over the Doom, Doom, Doom of the drums that were still beating as we all ran up the last stairs into the blinding white of daylight. We stumbled outside safe but destroyed. I know not how long we wept, each in his own way, until at last Aragorn stirred us to move on toward the shelter of Lothlorien.

‘Yes, that is of all things the one I most regret. I lost more than Gandalf that day. I lost my assurance that all would end well, my innocence, you might say. But not one member of the Fellowship from that day until this ever uttered a word of blame to me. I’ve had to do that for myself.

Conversations with Faramir: Weathertop

Sam’s place in the group? Ah, Sam had always intended to take good care of his Mr. Frodo. He was with Frodo from the beginning, you see, the only one of us who was. Even when we bumped into him at Farmer Maggot’s field, right at the beginning, he was looking out for Frodo’s safety. When I ran out of the corn and ran smack into Frodo, Sam hauled me off him so quick it made my head spin! Merry and I didn’t think of Sam as anybody but Frodo’s gardener in the early days, but we gained respect for him very quickly, I can tell you. It was at Weathertop, however, that I really understood Sam’s determination and courage, and how far he would go to keep Frodo safe.

You have heard often enough about the Black Riders. I canna ever fully describe the horror they cast in our souls - like the freezing of our blood it was to see them. Their presence created a smothering sensation of menace - even of hopelessness. Just having them gliding toward us was a silent threat that stifled the will to action. I felt as if I could barely move my limbs. So when we stood on the cliff at Weathertop in the deep night and saw five of them drifting smoothly toward us below, our hearts stopped. It was Frodo that yelled ‘Go’ to us, spurring us to run up the dark stairs to the top where we stood amid the ruins, as if that was any more protection. That was one of the longest moments of my life, standing back to back with the others, circling around to watch for them coming over the edge, hoping that Aragorn would return from wherever he had disappeared to.

I had never seen being a hobbit as a liability before that night, until swords were put in our hands and we had to use them. Aragorn just tossed them at us, casually, as if he just assumed we would know what to do with them. My first reaction was to be impressed with my blade - a real sword! I thought to myself, though of course I knew it was short as swords go. It wasn’t but a short time later that we had to use them. Almost as if the getting of them caused the needing of them. And then facing those Riders, huge, towering over us - I felt so small, so unprepared. Such a little person in the world.

Frodo was weary at the end of a long day and had already rolled himself up in his blanket, Strider had gone off on his own, so we didn’t really consider the risks of lighting a fire that night. We hadna seen any sign of the Riders since leaving Bree, so I suppose we were somewhat lulled into a sense of security that wasna there. I suppose also that having Strider leading us made us feel safe, and if he felt it was alright to wander around, surely it must be! We had not had a good meal all day, so we set about cooking some sausages, bacon, and tomatoes for supper. The sizzling of the bacon is what wakened Frodo, or I suppose things would have turned out even worse. Even when he called out, What are you doing? in a horrified voice, not one of us realized what he meant. But before he had managed to stamp out the fire (with me, as usual, not catching on!)

we heard the chilling scream they make.

We stood together, our backs to the cliff, looking down at them - five wraiths, illumined it seemed by a blue light, approaching. Time was suspended, I swear. We ran to the top, waiting for them to come, hoping for Strider, little hobbits with swords we had no inkling how to use held fiercely in our hands. Most fiercely in Sam’s. When they finally came over the top, we all stood in front of Frodo, protectively, but Sam took the front. He leaped forward! Toward them, flashing his sword! He challenged them: Back, you devils, he cried, and lunged for one of them! He was knocked right out of the way, as if he were just an annoyance. But I will always remember that he was willing to take on the Nazgul for Frodo. Sam was truly one of us after that: in fact, the best of us!


Conversations With Faramir: Bree

"Tell about the first time you went to Bree, Dad. The time you went with Frodo."

Pippin settled back with his pipe, and patted the seat beside him, relieved that Fam had requested a story that was easier to tell than some. Faramir climbed into the big, soft chair beside his dad.

"It was after nightfall, when we arrived at Bree and raining heavily, so we had our cloaks on, but we were getting very wet all the same. My hood kept slipping back, and I found it hard to see through the rain in my face. The town gate was closed by the time we got there; we had to knock quite loud to raise the gatekeeper. He was a rough looking character and peered over the fence at us suspiciously, like he was expecting something he didn’t want to see. Later we heard the black riders, or black men, as the Bree folk called them, had already been there looking for ‘Baggins’ Lucky we didn’t know that at the time or we would have been scared silly after escaping from them earlier.

"He made us stand out there in the wet while he asked silly questions. ‘Hobbits!’ he said. ‘Four hobbits!’

"‘Well, he can count, anyway,’ I muttered to Merry, who just told me to be quiet. ‘Pippin!’he said in that way he has of putting exactly what he means into that one word!

"That gatekeeper kept us there waiting while he worked out whether it was safe to let us in. I ask you - do hobbits look like evil men or black riders?" Pippin snorted and took another pull on his pipe.

"Finally Frodo told him to mind his own business, so he opened the gate for us, rather grudgingly I might add. That was the first time I had been to Bree, where both hobbits and men live. So you can understand that it was quite different looking than our little towns here in the Shire. We made our way past a number of pens that held sheep and pigs and found ourselves going along a narrow street that was lined with tall houses, two and three stories high, the likes of which we had never seen before. You should have seen Sam’s face! He stared up at the tops of the houses and at the tall men who were on the road as if it was all too much for him. ‘It makes me queasy just thinkin’ of lookin’ out a second storey window,’ I heard him say to himself.

"The road was all muddy and we had to keep dodging the men and the carts that were heading home, I suppose, at that time of day. I thought the men were rough looking and crude - there was even one surly looking bloke that belched right in my face as we walked by. It wasn’t long, though, before we saw the sign of the Prancing Pony, much to Frodo’s relief I am sure. He didn’t seem himself, dear Frodo. In fact, after the black riders chasing him, he didn’t ever quite seem himself again." Pippin lifted his toes toward the fire crackling in the hearth and seemed to lose himself in thought. Faramir nudged his side with his elbow.

"Where was I? The Prancing Pony? It was a merry hostelry. Frodo opened the door and we were hit right away with the sounds of laughter and singing and the smell of good Shire leaf and a whiff of good ale. The landlord was a jolly round fellow, Barliman Butterbur, who bustled around busily looking after everyone at once, it seemed. When he spotted Frodo, ‘Good evening, little master,’ he said.

"That’s when things started to go awry, I’m afraid. Because what we were there for, it turned out, was to meet Gandalf, and Gandalf was nowhere to be found. That rascal Butterbur didn’t even seem to remember who he was, at first. Gandalf had left a letter for Frodo that he didn’t think of until after the ring incident, when it was too late.

"Butterbur offered us a parlour to sit in, but Frodo wanted to sit with the company in the main room, hoping that Gandalf would arrive. ‘He’ll get here,’ he kept reassuring us, though he didn’t sound any too sure of that himself. I have to admit that I was more interested in food and drink than in finding Gandalf. We were served a fine feast of soup, bread and cheese and a marvelous blackberry tart. When you’ve been without regular hot meals for a while, you appreciate that kind of fare! And then I discovered that men serve ale in pints! Pints! ‘I’m getting one of those,’ I said.

So I headed off to the bar, never thinking what I might be starting. There were a few hobbits talking to the barman, and naturally they were friendly and interested in finding out about us and where we fitted into the scheme of things. I told them I was a Took and Merry a Brandybuck, and they seemed interested to see if we were related at all. Then some one asked if I knew any Bagginses. Now I look back on it, it must have been one of the rough looking men that asked that. But I forget all about Frodo being an Underhill instead of a Baggins, and out it popped!" Pippin stopped and shook his head at the memory. "I was so young," he sighed. "So young."

"‘Sure I know a Baggins,’ says I, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I pointed out Frodo and started telling them all about how we are connected." Pippin put his hands on his head and shook it in comical disbelief. "The next thing I know, Frodo has run across the room and grabbed my shoulder yelling ‘Pippin!’ It took me off balance and I turned and that put Frodo off balance. Down he went onto his back, and up into the air went the ring which, for some reason, he had in his hand! That night I didn’t really see the ring fly up. Later I found out all about it, but all I knew then was that Frodo fell over backward -- and disappeared!

"It caused quite a stir I can tell you! Everyone around, men and hobbits, gasped with the shock of it. It quite broke up the evening. I ran back to where we were sitting to find Sam and Merry had leapt to their feet, but there was no sign of Frodo. We looked all around, as did everyone else in the place. I heard some dark muttering and a few of the men slipped unpleasantly out the door. Then Sam let out a cry and pointed at the stairs. A tall man in a forest green cloak and muddy boots was pushing Frodo up the stairs, rather roughly I might add. I had not noticed him until that point, though Sam seemed to recognize him.

"Sam was galvanized into action. He yelled, "Frodo, no!" and ran toward the stairs. He grabbed a candle holder as he went by it and raced up the stairs like a madman, with us following. I don’t even know how he knew which room to go to! Perhaps he heard the snick of the door shutting, but he raced up to it and threw it open. The man was towering over Frodo, but Sam raced right in and yelled something like, "I’ll have you, Longshanks!" I was amazed at how brave Sam was, but the man drew a wicked looking sword. When he saw it was us, though, he just put the sword away, as if we couldn’t touch him. Of course, once we got to know him we realized that was more than true! You know the story well enough to know that was Strider, King Aragorn he is now! But that was the first time we saw him, and anything but king-like he looked.

"That was one of the strangest nights. Strider was trying to tell us that he was there to help us, and after awhile Butterbur came in to apologize and explain about the letter. It turned out that Strider and Gandalf were good friends. ‘All that is gold does not glitter,’ he said of Strider in his letter. Frodo came to trust him fairly quickly, but Sam remained suspicious for quite some time. Strider insisted we sleep in his room. Frodo agreed without hesitation, though I didn’t quite see the point, until later, that is. We set up the beds in our room to look as if we were sleeping there, and then cuddled up together in the big human bed in Strider’s room. Huge, it was!

"Soon after midnight I awoke to hear galloping horses coming up the road toward the tavern. I felt a sense of cold horror, the same stifling feeling as when the Riders attacked us later at Weathertop." Pippin paused again, his face darkening at the memory. He shook his head and continued. "Strider sat in the window looking out and Frodo was sitting up as well. Then we heard the Black Riders it was, come right into the Pony and go to the room we were to be in!

The noise was terrifying. Smashing sounds, crashing furniture, and then those terrible inhuman screams. We all sat up then, sitting as still and silent as we could with our hearts in our mouths until they rode away.

"‘What are they?’ asked Frodo. Strider told us they were the Nazgul, Ringwraiths, servants of the Dark Lord and bound to his will. It sounded horrifying and was really beyond my understanding then. But that is when I decided I liked a strong man with a long sword helping us out! I never doubted Strider after that.

Pippin sighed. "Bedtime, young Fam," he said.

Fam looked up at his father with eyes wide. "Can I sleep with you tonight, Dad?"