Title: Rounded Up in the Woods
Rating: PG-13 for violence
Theme: "Show Don't Tell" no-dialogue challenge
Elements: held up his/her hand
Author's Notes: Beta by lindelea1
Summary: "The task of hunting out the last remnant of the ruffians was left to Merry and Pippin, and it was soon done. The southern gangs, after hearing the news of the Battle of Bywater, fled out of the land and offered little resistance to the Thain. Before the Year's End the few survivors were rounded up in the woods, and those that surrendered were shown to the borders." (RotK, Book VI, Chapter VIII, "The Scouring of the Shire"
Word Count: 817
Merry lay behind the fallen log, his Elven cloak spread out to cover both him and the drawn sword beside him. In his right hand was the comforting feel of a hefty stone in his palm. He glanced across the clearing to meet Pippin's eyes. His cousin was similarly concealed on the lower branch of a massive elm; but Merry knew what to look for--besides he always knew where Pippin was. Pippin pointed to the ruffian on the east side of the glade, seated in a spot where he might be able to easily escape. Merry nodded and pointed to the Man whose back was against the very tree in which Pippin was hiding. It would be difficult for Pip to deal with him quickly. Pippin returned his nod. The other three Men were seated near the fire they'd built; for though it was still broad daylight, the weather was bitterly cold.
From the woods to the west came a birdcall, the tic-tic of a solitary hawfinch. That was their signal--it meant the others had dealt with the sixth brigand who had been on watch. Now was their time to act. Merry held up his left hand, fingers spread, and began to put one finger down at a time. When he put down his last finger, he let fly with his stone, as he saw a flash from the tree. His own stone found its target, and the Man slumped to the ground, as did the one Pippin had aimed for.
Before the remaining ruffians had the chance to understand what had befallen their comrades, Merry leapt from his spot behind the log, sword in hand. At the same time Pippin sprang from his branch, landing on the shoulders of a third Man. With a swift blow to his temple with the hilt of Trollsbane, Pippin knocked him out and jumped away, rolling to his feet before his prey had hit the ground. Merry smiled to see his cousin had learned his lesson about being pinned by a fallen foe.
But the thought was fleeting, for now each of them faced an opponent. The hobbits had timed their moves so that they stood back-to-back, but not so close as to hamper one another. Merry could hear the movements Pippin made behind him, but had to concentrate on his own enemy.
The one he faced was a brutish looking fellow with a grayish tint to his pale skin. He was somewhat less than twice Merry's height, and was armed with a jagged dagger, shorter than Merry's own sword. Merry aimed a blow at his foe's knife hand, but failed to cut it off. He gasped at the sight of the blood he'd drawn--he knew what the black colour signified. That meant he'd have to finish him, for the half-orc would never allow himself to be meekly shown the Bounds. He darted in, feinting to the left, then skipping a step to the right, drew back with a powerful blow to the back of the creature's leg. His foe went down on his back with a howl. Merry had to close with him, and with his sword hilt in both hands he fell upon him to deal a blow to the heart. He saw the ruffian's knife come up, but though he felt the slice to his upper left shoulder, he did not let that deter him. The blow had been feeble, the last desperate act of the dying. He could tell it was not a serious wound.
He rolled off his dead enemy and turned his full attention to the battle between Pippin and the other Man. Pippin's foe was armed only with a long and heavy branch--but such could be deadly enough if it landed a blow with enough force behind it. Still, Pip was holding his own, and was slicing bits off the limb, hewing it shorter.
Pippin caught Merry's eye only briefly; a feral grin and a glance down at the ground beyond the Man conveyed his message. Merry understood immediately, and in a move the two hobbits had perfected under Boromir's tutelage on the Quest, he flung himself down behind the Man, tripping him and making his makeshift weapon fly out of his hand. Pippin had the point of Trollsbane at the villain's throat at once. All the fight went out of him, and he whimpered a surrender.
Merry placed his silver horn to his lips and blew. In seconds they were surrounded by Tookish archers, who helped to bind the prisoners.
The cousins grinned at one another in mutual triumph, and embraced one another with a laugh. This was the last of them, the Shire was now scoured clean. A few hours to the Bounds to put out the prisoners, and they could turn back.
It looked like they'd return to the Great Smials in plenty of time for the Turning of the Year.