Author's notes: This story is an AU explanation for why Tolkien tells us that only Merry's sword could have helped to destroy the Witch-king. It draws on many elements of the books that are not mentioned in the movies, and in later chapters it will contain significant spoilers for The Return of the King.
Although Eowyn will be a significant character in later chapters, please note that she does not appear in this one. This chapter has two protagonists: Merry and a character that Tolkien mentions in the Appendix. More about this character, and my assumptions about Tolkien canon, can be found in notes at the end of the chapter.
Many, many thanks as always to The Usual Suspect for her extensive comments and discussion, and thanks as well to Kate Fairfax for the beta.
No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will. -- Tolkien, The Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields."
Chapter 1: Blade of Westernesse
Like diamonds, thought the last king of Cardolan. Diamonds scattered on a velvet sky. I never saw them truly, never noticed what they looked like before. And now it was too late. He stared up at the cold stars and knew they were the last he would ever see. The noise of battle carried on around him, but it faded to a rushing in his ears.
Ah, the spear in my heart.
The stars were obscured by something looming above him. It was the woman of the North; she had joined the fighting at the side of the menfolk, after the fashion of her people. Her long yellow hair brushed his face as she spoke, but her words were as words heard in dreams, sound with no meaning, although the sound was sweet and he was glad of it. To give her courage -- though he knew she needed none -- he tried to smile, but his body obeyed him no longer, not even for this.
Rough hands seized her by the hair and she disappeared, and for the first and last time in his young life he felt despair.
She was gone. The stars returned.
He saw his father, his mother, his brothers: all of them dead and gone long ago. He saw his kingdom, now dwindled to nothing in petty wars, a shrunken and desperate people hiding among the tombs of ancestors whose greatness they could scarcely remember. Fewer of them remained after each attack. Would any be left, he wondered, to lay him to rest in the barrows where his forefathers slept?
No, he thought, as he felt his heart's blood gushing away, I will not die, not like this, I will not abandon my people. He thought of his sword, wrenched from his hand in the first assault by the men of Carn Dûm. It lay hard by, but now in these last few seconds of his life, when his world had shrunk to a tiny circle of blood and pain, it was beyond his reach. Ah, the knife, though. The knife was at his belt; no enemy had despoiled it yet. With his last remaining strength he twitched his fingers around it. It had been forged with a craft that could foil the spells of the Witch-King, or so the old men said. The secrets of this craft his people had lost long ago. But the knife was his all the same.
With an effort of will that would have moved the earth itself had his body been whole again, he closed his hand around the blade. It cut into his flesh, and as the tiny trickle of blood joined the river that flowed from his heart, he swore that he would not sleep until his people were avenged.
Blood oozed over the knife, and sizzled, and burned black, and vanished into the blade.
A wet rattling came from the very centre of his pain. The stars shone beautiful and impassive in the velvet sky.
And then the pain vanished and the stars faded. But there was a light beyond the stars, and that light bore him to a place beyond thought, beyond time. Dimly he knew that the wheel of years still spun beneath him like a child's toy, a hundred, two hundred times. His oath bound him to it, but slightly: and this bond grew less as the light grew great, and he began to hear fragments of some great melody that thrilled him to the core, a song strange and yet well known, and dearly loved. He came to regret his oath, to long for the light, to crave the great music it contained.
Until something dragged him back. It spoke to him, and never before had he heard a sound that so filled him with dread. In centuries to come men would call this thing a Barrow-wight, in tales they dared whisper only by the safety of their firesides. The king knew nothing of this, but with the instinct of one who had fought all his life against evil things in the dark, he knew that this hard dead voice belonged to a creature of the Enemy. Like the men who had taken his life, it was some loathsome slave of the Witch-king, but now it sought his soul as well. It pulled him back, not to life, not to death, but to some frozen state between the two, and it bound him there with chains of stone.
Cold be heart and hand and stone . . .
No, he said, I will not do this thing. But the incantation was more powerful than he. For although in life the blood of Númenor had run in his veins, his life was done, and he had been but a lesser son of a great people.
In black wind the stars shall die,
And still on gold here let you lie,
till the dark lord lifts his hand
over dead sea and withered land.
Slowly turned the wheel of years: slow as stillness, slow as silence, slow as death itself. But turn it did: a hundred times, a thousand times and more. He lay bound in a close place, waiting, the light denied to him.
"Like diamonds," said Pippin, yawning. "Look, Merry." He pointed to the wet springy grass, where dew glittered dully in the hazy light. "Do you suppose this is the treasure of the Barrow-downs? We should pack some of it away before Frodo and Sam take it all for themselves."
"Hush, Pip, and let me a think a bit," Merry said, looking about him in dismay. The four hobbits had unaccountably slept the afternoon away, and the sun would set in a few minutes. How were they to make their way through the Barrow-downs and back to the Road in the dark?
"Here's a fine fix, and no mistake," Sam muttered as he adjusted the pack on his pony. "Reckon it won't be too easy going forward, but I dursn't stay here. That stone gives me the shivers."
Merry glanced at the standing stone that loomed above them. It had seemed harmless enough when they'd stopped for lunch in the bright light of the noonday sun. Now, in the last fitful rays of sunset, the stone looked considerably more ominous, like the fang of some giant dead creature rearing toward the sky. As a child Merry had loved to hear tales of the Barrows and their treasures -- and of the wights that guarded them, waiting to lure unwary travellers into cold prisons deep within the earth. But it was one thing to hear such tales by the fireside in Brandy Hall, and quite another to wander over the Downs themselves at night, with only three other hobbits for company and protection -- one of them Pippin.
He looked over at Frodo, who stared down into the dense grey sea of fog that was gathering beneath the hill where they stood. "Well?" said Merry. "Shall we go, do you think, or camp here until morning?"
Frodo turned toward him, and Merry could see him frown as he focused on the standing stone. "No, not here," he said. He shuddered. "I hate this place." His hand drifted to his chest, and he clutched at something that lay there beneath his cloak. Merry knew perfectly well what the something was, and that it troubled Frodo greatly. The Ring. But there seemed nothing to be done about it except what Merry was already doing: help Frodo flee the Shire, with the Ring in tow.
How, Merry wondered, had it ever happened in all the evil chances of the world that this burden had fallen upon his favourite cousin, one who seemed so little suited to bear it? For so Merry sometimes thought of Frodo in his heart of hearts, though all the trolls and dragons in Bilbo's old tales combined could never have brought him to say it. Frodo should be in Bag End, puttering in his garden and working on Elvish translations in the evening. Was there no great Man or Elf-lord or Hero to be found in all of Middle-earth who could carry out this task?
But it was no use crying after boats that the River had already taken, as they said in Buckland. The way to help Frodo now was to get him away as quickly as possible from at least one of the evils that threatened him. "Well, then," said Merry, "it seems we're in agreement." And with no more words, the hobbits packed up their things and led their ponies down the hill and into the fog, in what they felt sure -- reasonably sure -- was the right direction.
"They do say," said Pippin, nearly falling off his pony as he turned to face Merry, "that my great-uncle Hildifons found treasure enough in the Barrows to buy the Shire twenty times over."
"Will you stop going on about treasure, Pip?" Merry said, gritting his teeth. He could barely see Pippin even though they were no more than ten feet apart in the fog. Indeed he couldn't see much of anything at all as they rode in single file through the fog's grey world of shadows and nothingness. But his younger cousin's voice floated back high and clear, perfectly audible not only to Merry, but to anyone else who might be listening for at least a quarter-mile around them. Anyone, or any thing.
"Dear old Merry," that high voice complained, "where's your sense of adventure?"
"And where's your great-uncle Hildifons?" Merry said.
There was a short silence. "He went on a journey," Pippin admitted sheepishly, "and never returned."
"Well," Merry said, "let's not be too quick to follow his example, then. Fond as I am of journeys, I most definitely shall want to return. And do wait up, Pip; I can barely see you. We don't want to lose each other in the dark."
"Why don't you keep up? I can't slow down; I can hardly see Sam ahead of me as it is."
There was another silence, broken only by the gentle thud of the ponies' hooves on the turf. Then Pippin's voice floated toward him. "Merry?"
"What is it now, Pip?"
"I can't see Sam at all. Or hear him either."
"Then call out to him, for mercy's sake!"
"Here? Now?" Pippin's voice was barely a hiss. "What if someone hears us?"
"That's the point of shouting, you silly hobbit!" Merry hissed back. But despite this advice Pippin didn't shout, and Merry didn't either. Some nameless fear seemed to weigh on Merry's chest, urging quiet and caution. But that was foolish, Merry decided. If anything waited out there in the dark, they surely should face it together. He took a deep breath. "Sam!" he cried. "Hoy! Sam!"
There was no answer. Merry heard nothing but the muffled echo of his own voice. And the silence that descended immediately afterwards seemed almost -- hungry. As if it wanted him to speak again, as if it had waited through long years for his words to feed some ceaseless craving.
Merry gagged a little. He wanted never to open his lips in the Downs again, if possible, for doing so made him feel -- unclean. But he couldn't find his friends without speaking. The fog had suddenly thickened and he realized that he now could not see Pippin. "Pip," he said carefully. He tried to ignore the feeling that some watchful thing was sucking his words from his mouth. "Don't move. We need to find each other so we can stay together, and find Frodo and Sam."
No reply. The fog hung dense and cold about him, and with every breath he took Merry drew it deeper into his lungs. It twisted within him and froze him from the inside out. "Pip," he said, struggling to breathe. His voice sounded weak and insubstantial. His pony came to a dead stop, her ears flicking back and forth nervously. Merry could feel her trembling.
"Hush, shh," Merry said, leaning forward to stroke her mane. The pony would have none it; she snorted and tossed her head as Merry tried to calm her. Merry dismounted and eventually the pony suffered herself to be led, with Merry holding the reins with one hand and reaching forward cautiously with the other. They were climbing, now, up a steep slope, and Merry hoped the climb might bring them to a place where the fog was not quite so thick. It was so dark that he could see neither his hand before him nor the pony behind him.
A sound came from the darkness, a hoarse sighing, deep and regular and slow. Breathing. Something was breathing in the dark.
The reins were wrenched from his hand and Merry heard rapid hoof beats that faded almost at once; the pony had bolted.
Merry stood alone, shivering. "What are you?" he whispered. He could see nothing at all.
A tiny, quavering voice came to him from somewhere far away: "Sam! Sam! Merry! Pippin!" It was Frodo.
"Hoy!" cried Merry, his fear for Frodo overcoming all else. "Frodo! Hoy!"
He could hear other cries, but they were drowned out by the breathing. Merry could feel it now, great cold exhalations that blew his damp hair back from his face. Merry trembled and twisted helplessly where he stood, but he could not run. He felt frozen to the spot. The breathing came closer, and Merry knew with a horrible certainty that something was going to touch him.
"No," he gasped.
Cold, wet fingers, each larger than his own hand, closed slowly around his head, and a dank giant palm pressed into his face, smothering him.
Then all was darkness. He lay in a close place, waiting.
A high thin song slithered around Merry's spine.
Cold be heart and hand and stone . . .
It was an old song that had long been sung in these evil hills, one that imprisoned both the living and the dead. The song of the Barrow-wight; it trapped its victims and bound them to the barrow, bound them to cursed treasure, bound them to each other in a sleeping fellowship of darkness. Still and silent they lay, sharing unquiet dreams of their former lives.
And so it would have been for years uncounted. But this time something was different: the Barrow-wight's song broke off abruptly in a shriek and a snarl. A great, warm voice, strong as the earth itself, filled the hearts of the sleepers:
Wake now my merry lads! Wake and hear me calling!
Warm now be heart and limb! The cold stone is fallen!
The sleepers' bonds were broken; they parted from the barrow and went their separate ways, some to life, most to the death they should have been granted long ago. But there remained one who belonged neither in life nor in death. For while death should have been his, an oath spoken long ago constrained him. He alone remained bound: not to the barrow any more, but to one of his fellow prisoners. For them the fellowship of darkness had not yet ended. Not quite.
The last king of Cardolan opened his eyes for the first time in sixteen hundred years, and he blinked in the light of a sun he had never thought to see again. Rolling green hills stretched into the misty distance under a sky so blue and bright that it seemed almost to laugh at darkness. What place is this? thought the king. For while the outline of the hills seemed familiar, much else was not so: stone walls and habitations of men were gone from the places where they should have been.
He looked about him, bewildered. Close by stood three men, two of them strangely clad in white rags like shrouds, with gold and jewels adorning them as if they had been laid out in a tomb.
But no, they were not dead, nor were they men: their ears were pointed, like those of the Elves, and their feet . . . Periannath? thought the king. But the men were too large for that. The periannath were a little people like half-starved children, miserable refugees from the east who hid in holes near the dwellings of such as would agree to protect them from the Enemy. But these men -- if men they were -- stood tall, as tall as the king himself.
One of was looking at him with tears in his eyes. "Merry," he said, "are you all right?"
Dazed, the king looked down at his body and saw that he, too, wore white rags and jewels and other trinkets. And his feet -- his feet were like those of the others.
This was not his body.
Something blocked his vision; he raised his hand to his forehead -- for his forehead it must surely be -- and felt that some metal circlet too large for him had fallen down around his face. "What in the name of wonder?" said the king.
And then he remembered. He closed his eyes and knew it all again: the blood, the fire, the pain of death. The men of Carn Dûm had come upon them in the night, and his people had been worsted.
Ah, the spear in my heart.
The king clutched at his breast and turned from the evil memory. He did not belong here. The bond to his fellow-prisoner attenuated to almost nothing as he let himself slip into darkness. No, he had no wish to see the sun.
"No, no," said Merry, opening his eyes. "What am I saying? I have been dreaming. Where did you get to, Frodo?"
Frodo flung his arms around him, almost crying with relief. When they released each other at last, they both laughed for pure joy. As Merry dashed tears from his eyes, he looked at the bright sunlit world and breathed the clean air of morning. He almost forgot the dark dreams that had taken hold of him as he lay under the Barrow-wight's spell.
Oh, but it was good to feel the sun, to run in the grass. Merry even was reunited with his beloved pony, who had fully recovered from her fright and was ready to be friends with Merry again, though she would now answer only to the strange name -- Wise-nose -- given to him by their rescuer, Tom Bombadil. It was fortunate, Merry thought, that they had been befriended by this mysterious Man -- if Man he was, which Merry strongly doubted -- before they had crossed the Barrow-downs. For it was Tom whose deep voice had shattered the Barrow-wight's spell, or so Merry assumed at first.
But then Merry pried the true tale from his reluctant cousin, bit by bit. Frodo had not wanted to discuss it, but the dear hobbit never did allow for the inquisitiveness of friends. Merry soon deduced that an important part in their rescue had been played by Frodo himself. As Merry and Sam and Pippin had lain helpless, Frodo -- Frodo! -- had taken a knife to the thing that held them captive and hewed off its great hand at the wrist.
Now, as the hobbits sat in the grass beside the barrow and peacefully ate their breakfast -- for hobbits can eat under the most trying of circumstances -- Merry glanced at his cousin every now and then with a new respect. Perhaps there was more to Frodo Baggins than met the eye.
A bright flash of colour nearby distracted him from these strange thoughts. "Look, Pippin," Merry said with his mouth full, "treasure. You were right, we did find some." He pointed to the grass-covered hill of the Barrow, on top of which, sure enough, Tom Bombadil was spreading out treasures in the open air as carelessly as a he might scatter corn to feed his chickens. Only thus could the spell of the Barrow be broken forever.
But Pippin did not seem interested. He glanced up at the treasure and looked away. "Oh, I don't want any of it," he said. His normally cheerful young face was sombre and pale. Merry had noticed this soon after their rescue, but he had assumed Pip would soon spring back to normal. But that had not happened; if anything, Pippin seemed to draw further into himself as the morning wore on. He was now pulling his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, curling into a hobbit-shaped ball. " No," he said quietly. "I don't even want to think about it, Merry. Not any more."
Oh, Pip, Merry thought with a pang. He knew what Pippin meant, of course. Jewels worth all of Buckland sparkled in the sun, and Merry would no more have touched them than he would have walked into Mordor and knocked on the door of the Dark Lord. But for Pip to become incurious and withdrawn -- Pip, who had always been so anxious to prove he could keep up with the others -- what change had the Barrow wrought in him? Merry wondered what dark dreams had tormented his young cousin as he lay pent in the tomb. For the first time in their disastrous journey through the Downs, Merry felt angry, angry at an evil that would take as its victim Pippin of all people. Pippin had never harmed a living soul in his life, or even imagined doing such a thing -- and yet he might very well have been trapped in that barrow forever.
The anger of hobbits is slow to kindle, but once it does, it burns long, and deep, and quiet within them.
Merry stifled the anger for now, thinking it more important to reassure his cousin. But before Merry could speak any words of comfort, Tom came dancing down the Barrow, bearing treasures for them, for they too, he said, must help scatter the treasures they had disturbed. He carried not just any treasures, though; not gold or jewels, but swords. At least they looked like swords to Merry as Tom held them in his chubby hands; to the tall Men who made them they would doubtlessly have been mere knives. Whether they were swords or knives, they were strangely beautiful, though their elaborate carvings did nothing to dispel their air of deadly menace. Merry knew little of weaponry, but he knew a well-crafted thing when he saw it, and he had the uneasy feeling that these gifts were more precious and more dangerous than anything the Shire contained.
Tom gave Pippin his first. Pippin tried to refuse it, but Tom insisted. "Sharp blades are good to have, if Shire-folk go walking, east, south, or far away into dark and danger."
"It's all right, Pip," Merry said. "It can't hurt you." Pippin took it without a word. He did not even look at the glittering thing, but stowed it in his pack as if he never wished to touch it again.
As Merry watched this his heart almost broke within him, and his anger burned the brighter. He had known, of course, that the Barrow-wights were evil, but always before these evils had seemed far away. Now they had taken one of his own, and hurt him. And Pippin was not the first hobbit they had hurt, these loathsome slaves of the long-vanished Witch-king, nor would he be the last. These creatures, Merry thought, have crawled at our border for far too long, waiting for us, preying on us should we stray too far from our firesides.
And if the old gaffers' tales were true, these evils and the one that plagued Frodo were one and the same. For the Witch-king had himself been but the servant of the Dark Lord whose cursed Ring Frodo bore. Merry thought of the mysterious Black Riders they had seen in the Shire. Were they, too, servants of the Dark Lord? Now that Merry had encountered the Barrow-wight, he had few doubts on this score. They had the same evil feel about them, as recognizable as a signature. They had driven Frodo from his home; they would seek him out in some dark lonely place; they would kill him if they could.
Tom gave another sword to Frodo, and one to Sam, though when Tom's back was turned Sam muttered that he would have preferred something more practical, like a good solid brooch to fasten his cloak. But no, Merry said to himself, with a ruthless determination that would have startled him only the day before. A sword is practical. It is the most practical thing of all.
Then Tom approached Merry, holding forth the last remaining sword. "Men of the Westernesse crafted it carefully," he said, with a peculiar glint in his eye. "Foes of the Dark Lord, asleep now in barrows. Their battling kingdoms have dwindled to nothing!" He smiled strangely as he offered his gift. "Few now remember them," he murmured, "yet some still go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness."
Merry looked at the gleaming blade and for a moment his courage faltered. Was it for him, a hobbit from a small, peaceful country, to take such a thing? A part of him wanted to run back to Brandy Hall and hide in its deepest cellar. Then he thought of Frodo's desperate flight, of the pain on Pippin's face, of the joy and laughter that the Barrow-wight had quenched.
No, Merry thought. I will not live like this. I will not abandon my kin. He extended his hand and closed his fingers around the blade. It was still sharp, and it cut into his flesh. As the tiny trickle of blood dripped into the wet grass at his feet, Merry closed his eyes against the pain and swore in his heart that he would not rest until the Shire had been avenged.
Blood oozed over the sword, and sizzled, and burned black, and vanished into the blade.
The king of Cardolan stood blinking in the sun. His knife lay in his hand; it had cut him.
No, he did not belong here. But although the Barrow-spell was broken, he was still bound by his oath, first to the knife and then to the one who bore it, this other who had sworn the same oath as he and whose blood had mingled with his own. He could feel that other consciousness now, closer to him than a brother, closer than a lover, closer than the beating of his own heart.
Merry stood blinking in the sun. The sword lay in his hand; it had cut him.
"Merry, you idiot!" Pippin said. "You're supposed to hold it by the other end!"
With a single practiced motion Merry flipped the blade easily and thrust it in his belt.
"Oh," said Pippin. "Where did you learn to do that?"
And then Merry felt a voice deep within him. He heard nothing but the whistling of the wind over the downs, but the voice spoke all the same. That is how you handle a blade of Westernesse, perian, mere dagger though it be.
Merry almost screamed in shock. "What was that?" he said.
"What was what?" said Pippin.
Frodo frowned. "Merry?" he said, his pale face troubled. Once again his hand drifted to his chest, to the thing that rested cold against his heart. And Merry instantly decided that whatever strange fate had befallen him would be his to face alone. Frodo had his own griefs to bear, and the others could not be told without telling Frodo as well.
Merry smiled and made some joke about his own clumsiness, and he let Pippin bind up his hand in a makeshift bandage before they set out for the Road at last. But Merry knew what he had heard, never doubting for a moment that it was real as the grass and the sky and the ponies they rode on. The voice was silent now, but he knew that it was still there, inside him, waiting.
Sweet Lady, thought Merry. What have I done? But it was too late.
To be continued, I hope
All LOTR references include both chapter references and page references. Page references are to the American Ballantine edition -- that's the one with the wacky emus on it that Tolkien hated. Sources for individual lines are listed in a separate section at the end of the notes.
The last king of Cardolan. While several quite wonderful Tolkien-inspired games have assumed that the royal line of Cardolan continued at least until the plague of TA 1636 -- it always livens up a game world to have a potential royal around somewhere -- Tolkien tells us this in Appendix A: "Some say that the mound in which the Ring-bearer was imprisoned had been the grave of the last prince of Cardolan, who fell in the war of 1409" (ROTK Appendix A, 398). Little solid information can be gleaned about this prince. He would have been a Dúnedain, but not an heir of Isildur, for that line had died out in Cardolan soon after it split from the North-kingdom of Arnor. His relationship to Aragorn, if any, would thus have been very distant. I have called him a "king" throughout (rather than a prince, as Tolkien does) because that may very well have been what he called himself. His claim to such a title would have been contested by the heirs of Isildur in the neighbouring and far more powerful kingdom of Arthedain.
"his kingdom, now dwindled to nothing in petty wars, a shrunken and desperate people hiding among the tombs of ancestors whose greatness they could scarcely remember." This is my rather free interpretation of what Tolkien says about Cardolan in the aftermath of the1409 war: "A remnant of the faithful among the Dúnedain of Cardolan also held out in Tyrn Gorthad (the Barrow-downs) or took refuge in the Forest beyond." (ROTK 398)
"The periannath were a little people, miserable refugees from the east who hid in holes near the dwellings of such as would agree to protect them from the Enemy." The king speaks of hobbits as he would have known of them in TA 1409. Hobbits began to settle around Bree around TA 1300 (Appendix B, 457); they did not migrate to the Shire until TA 1601; (Appendix B, 457; FOTR, "Prologue," 23). Tolkien tells us that they frequently lived in a symbiotic relationship with men: "Bilbo's statement that the cohabitation of Big Folk and Little Folk in one settlement at Bree was peculiar and nowhere else to be found was probably true in his time (the end of the Third Age); but it would seem that actually Hobbits had liked to live with or near to Big Folk of friendly kind, who with their greater strength protected them from many dangers and enemies and other hostile Men, and received in exchange many services" (The Peoples of Middle Earth, 311). I do not think that hobbits ever "hid in holes"; this is the king's view, not mine.
Frodo flung his arms around him, almost crying with relief. When Frodo wrote of his part in this episode in the Red Book, he was simply too reticent to mention this demonstration of affection for a close relation and dear friend who had just nearly died. Of course we know better. ;) I have made one or two other educated guesses of this kind throughout the story. Hey, I'm an American; the only way we get a stiff upper lip is with a Botox injection.
Sources for individual lines:
If you're interested enough in Tolkien to want to read this fic in the first place, you've probably already realized that some lines are taken directly from LOTR. My purpose here is not to use Tolkien as a crutch, but to tell an AU version of Merry's story. I've only taken lines directly when I've wanted to show how they might mean something different in light of the story's AU premise.
Ah, the spear in my heart.
FOTR, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," 198.
Cold be hand and heart and stone (and the rest of the incantation that follows)
FOTR, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," 195. I have trimmed this slightly and changed "they" to "you."
"What in the name of wonder" through "Where did you get to, Frodo?"
All the spoken lines here are from FOTR, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," 198. In Tolkien of course they are all spoken by Merry; here I've divided them between Merry and the King. It was this episode of "possession" that first got me interested in the Barrow-downs scene.
Wake now my merry lads! Wake and hear me calling!
Warm now be heart and limb! The cold stone is fallen!
FOTR, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," 197.
"Sharp blades are good to have, if Shire-folk go walking, east, south, or far away into dark and danger."
FOTR, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," 201.
"Few now remember them," he murmured, "yet some still go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness."
FOTR, "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," 201. (In Tolkien's text, Tom is referring to Aragorn and the other Rangers; I'm trying to add another implication in this new context. Tom's lines immediately above this ("Men of the Westernesse crafted it carefully," he said, with a peculiar glint in his eye. "Foes of the Dark Lord, asleep now in barrows. Their battling kingdoms have dwindled to nothing!") are, er, mine; any metrical gaffes here are mine, not Tolkien's.