In Fangorn

by Magic Dreamer

From Peregrin's point of view

‘I can’t believe how long this moot, gathering, whatever is taking,’ Pippin thought to himself. ‘I haven’t been this bored since listening to all those high and mighty people at Lord Elrond’s Council. Merry’s no help; I do wish he’d stop that pacing though.’

“Merry!” he called aloud. Treebeard was coming over.

Treebeard leaned over a bit to see the hobbits better and said, “We have just agreed.” He stopped. Merry and Pippin waited to see if he would finish his thought. ‘Did he just fall asleep?’ Pippin didn’t want to say anything as it seemed that ever since Rivendell he’d done nothing but put his hobbity foot in his mouth so to speak and cause trouble. He was determined not to do it again. Oops; Treebeard was speaking again, “...agreed, you are not orcs.”

Pippin was so relieved to hear that these other walking, talking trees weren’t going to squash him as Treebeard did Grishnakh, he couldn’t help but blurt out, “Well that’s good news!”

But Merry was concerned with other, weightier thoughts. This was not what he wanted to hear. “What about Saruman? Have you come to a decision about him?” Pippin felt very ashamed that he was thinking about himself and not his friends who were out there somewhere with perhaps every orc in Isengard about to find them.

“Now don’t be hasty Master Meriadoc.” The Ent waved at him as if that would keep his temper from flaring even more.

“Hasty!” Merry spat and then pointed in a southward direction. “Our friends are out there; they need our help. They cannot fight this war on their own.”

Pippin listened closely to the Ent’s answer about helping their friends and the other big people who were going to be fighting. “War. Yes it affects us all, but you must understand, young hobbit. It takes a long time to say anything in old Entish, and we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.” He stood there trying to figure out what the tree’s answer was to Merry question as Merry bowed his head in despair as the Ent straightened and returned to the other trees.

What was a hobbit to do? Talking trees were not something a normal Hobbit dealt with and it was still a bit overwhelming to be standing here conversing with one. Merry walked back under the shading branches of a normal stationary tree, leaving Pippin alone with his thoughts. Pippin stood and thought about his missing friends. Where were Frodo and Sam? Obviously they escaped the orc at Parth Galen. Were they across the lake on the eastern shore, were they still safe? And Strider, Legolas and Gimli; where were they? Dead alongside Boromir, unburied; injured or were they with their kinsmen heading into the heart of Mordor.

The Ents continued to ignore them as they swayed their branches and conversed in their slow language that sounded more like wind and creaking branches. Merry was stomping about kicking dead branches and little rocks. Pippin’s eyes strayed to his cousin more than once but remained quiet, not wanting his ire and frustration turned on himself. Eventually he sank to the ground in sorrow thinking about his lost friends. Yes, Gandalf had returned - sort of. He didn’t really explain it all that well, saying shortly after Treebeard was convinced they were not a new breed of orc, ‘I was gone, now I am back. I am also pressed for time and cannot stay longer.’

A great help he turned out to be: giving away Frodo’s name in Bree, convincing Sam to build the fire that gave them away on their trip to Rivendell, nothing but baggage on Caradhas and let’s not remember Moria. Tears pricked at his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. Why were he and Merry here? Frodo was the chosen one, the ring bearer, and Sam would follow him anywhere, even into the stronghold of the enemy. I should have listened to Lord Elrond and returned to The Shire. Pippin sighed a sigh from the bottom of his hairy feet as he thought of his family. They had no idea where he was. He had to laugh at himself a bit. Here he was, a troublemaking hobbit of The Shire, not even of age, gone out for the afternoon with his best friend and cousin and is now a veteran warrior sitting in a glade far from home talking to trees that talked back. He sighed again and frowned. Did they miss him as much as he missed them? His thoughts spiraled around and around and with each new thought he became more and more sure that Merry and more importantly he himself did not belong on this quest.

With each Hobbit lost in his own thoughts it took Treebeard calling them quite a few times before they came to stand side-by-side within the circle of trees that made up the Entmoot. Once there Pippin was astonished to hear the old Tree say, “We Ents cannot hold back this storm. We must weather such things as we have always done.” While he was trying to figure out exactly what Treebeard was saying his quick witted cousin spoke up. “How can that be your decision!” he said angrily. The pleading Pippin heard in Merry’s voice as he said, “You must help, please. You must do something,” nearly broke his cheerful hobbit heart.

A short time later as they were gathering the cloaks and jackets they had discarded earlier Pippin tried to comfort him his friend who was still quite upset at being sent home like a erring child. “Maybe Treebeard’s right. We don’t belong here, Merry. It’s too big for us. What can we do in the end? We’ve got The Shire; maybe we should go home.” Pippin was smiling at the thought of going home, he missed his sisters and his parents and other cousins something fierce. His happy grin faded quickly though as Merry’s resignation at being forced home and his depression at losing the ability to help his lost friends and more than a little bit of despair with his thoughts of the future were spoken aloud. “The fires of Isengard will spread, and the woods of Tuckburough and Buckland will burn, and all that was once green and good in this world will be gone.” He put his hand on Pippin’s shoulder. “There won’t be a Shire, Pippin.”

As Merry left him to go meet Treebeard in the glade Pippin tried to breathe again. It felt like someone had punched him in the gut. He thought of his sisters and parents - how would they cope with life at the hands of the orcs and Saruman. He didn’t know much about these Men of the southlands, but from what Boromir had told them during their journey about the valiant, stalwart men of his home and their allies to the north they were much fewer than there had been during the last battle with their enemy in the East. And that was an enormous number of orcs marching south towards the lands of Men. What if they defeated the men and headed north as Merry had said? ‘Beautiful Tuckburough!’ he cried silently remembering the damage the Uruk-hai caused to the forest edge in the brief hours they had before the horse-riders showed up.

The other trees had left and Treebeard was returning to start them on their way home. As the Ent and the hobbits marched along, the younger hobbit noticed the depression that surrounded Merry like a cloud, but didn’t know what more he could do.

“Wait! Stop. Stop!” Pippin cried aloud. He’d been working on an idea ever since he’d climbing into Treebeard’s branches. “Turn around. Take us south,” he demanded.

Treebeard was uncertain of this course. “South? But that would lead you past Isengard.”

“Yes. Exactly. If we go south we can slip past Saruman unnoticed. The closer we are to danger, the further we are from harm.” Pippin smiled at this part of his plan - it was what cousin Frodo was doing. “Its the last thing he’ll expect.” Mordor was the last place Sauron would think to look for his ring and likewise anyone escaping from Saruman’s orcs would run as far away from his fortress as possible, not toward it. And with his army gone there would be relatively few of the evil creatures to spot them.

When the Ent agreed to take them south and turned about Pippin found it hard not to cheer out loud. Now if the rest of what he thought about only could be true. Merry turned about and looked at his young cousin in disbelief, “Are you mad? We‘ll be caught!”

“No we won’t. Not this time.” He didn’t know why, but he was sure of it and it showed on his face. The young hobbit did find pleasure in that he’d managed to shake Merry from his resigned depression.

They reached the edge of the trees. The hobbits noticed it was a new border to the forest edge even before the Ent had stepped into the sunlight. Treebeard had taken a stride or two before he stopped speaking and noticed the destruction about him. “Many of these trees were my friends, creatures I had know from nut and acorn,” the old tree shepherd said stunned.

Pippin felt again his own sadness when he thought about his home, should Saruman’s reach extend that far. “I’m sorry Treebeard,” he said, then added silently, ‘I truly am.’ All the way south through the forest he had hoped he was wrong, but after what the orcs did at the Eastern Border and hearing Merry’s words at the Entmoot he was pretty sure of what they would find, but he didn’t think it would be this bad.

Pippin covered his ears as Treebeard’s yell reverberated through the forests and the foothills of the mountains. The hobbits grabbed at the branches as Treebeard was shaking so fiercely in his wrath they feared to be shaken loose from their perches. A short time later all the Ents from the moot and more were exiting the woods and joining them in the devastated area.

“Rarum-rum! Come my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.” Treebeard’s voice was thick with barely controlled rage.

Pippin swallowed hard against his newly dry throat. He hoped that if some of the trees, some part of his home, were damaged Treebeard would reconsider his words about staying out of the battles to come, but he never expected this. He never expected the large number of trees cut down, nor the anger he felt in the being beneath his feet. It frightened him. He glanced down at Merry who looked eager to get to Isengard and fight. Pippin wanted to help and do his part, but he was not looking forward to going into the stronghold of the enemy. Nor did he look forward to after the battle. Unable to do anything else Pippin held on tight to the Ent’s branches and hoped that they would not think he’d tricked them into battling their traitorous neighbor.