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Elsewhere, Pippin wakes up from a dark dream. He realizes that he is tied up, with Merry lying tied next to him, and remembers what has happened:
He and Merry were surprised by orcs in the forest, back when they were still with the Company. The orcs didn't even try to kill them. They just wanted to catch them. Luckily, Boromir came jumping out of the forest to engage the orcs.
Pippin remembers that he heard Boromir sounding his horn, and after that, he thinks he was knocked on his head.
Back in the present, an orc nearby warns him not to struggle. If it weren't for these Isengarders, the orc tells Pippin, he would have killed him by now.
Seems like there is a fight going on between the orcs. The ones from the Mines of Moria want to kill the hobbits for revenge. But the orcs who come from Isengard have been told, "Kill all but NOT the Halflings; they are to be brought back ALIVE as quickly as possible" (3.3.12). The orcs in service to Sauron have gotten the same orders.
But then, the leader of the Isengarders (Uglúk) starts to squabble with a Mordor orc (Grishnákh) about where they should take the hobbits.
The fight comes to blows, and Uglúk swipes the heads off two orcs and Grishnákh disappears into the forest. Yuck.
Pippin uses the orcs' distraction to cut the cord around his wrist with one of the dead orcs' knives.
Then he lies still and pretends nothing is going on.
Two orcs grab Merry and Pippin and continue running. Pippin passes out until he is awakened roughly.
Tired of carrying them, the orcs want Merry and Pippin to keep up on their own two legs.
If Aragorn is tracking them, Pippin, who has managed to keep his wits about him, wants Aragorn to be able to find traces of where they have gone.
At a halt called by Uglúk, Pippin lets his Lothlórien brooch fall, and then an orc cruelly whips Pippin around the leg to keep him running.
Uglúk intervenes, to stop Pippin from getting injured too badly—for now.
Another fight breaks out between the Isengarders and the Northerners. Ugh. Will this ever end?
Uglúk tells them to run off and good riddance, if they are so afraid of humans. The Isengarders will just have to run on by themselves.
More than a hundred orcs from the Mines of Moria run off, but several of them return, all long-armed short orcs with a red eye painted on their shields. Still with us?
Grishnákh insists that he will see orders carried out, so the orcs set off running at a hard pace.
Uglúk and Grishnákh keep their people racing, but they are not fast enough to outrun the Riders of Rohan, who slowly circle the whole orc company.
Things are not looking good for these pesky orcs.
Pippin worries that the Riders will confuse them for orcs, and they will be killed in the fray.
The Riders pick off a few orcs, but they mainly refrain from attacking full out. They're probably planning on not attacking until dawn.
Uglúk sets three orcs to guard Merry and Pippin, with instructions absolutely not to harm them.
The orcs are surprised when several Riders slip off their horses and kill some orcs in hand-to-hand combat.
Uglúk and the hobbits' guards run off to fight, leaving Merry and Pippin alone.
Or so they thought. The hobbits suddenly find two arms around their shoulders: it's Grishnákh, the pro-Mordor orc.
Pippin realizes in a flash of intuition that Grishnákh knows about the Ring. This is so not good.
Pippin says he won't find it, so Grishnákh asks what Pippin means.
Pippin makes a noise in his throat, gollum, gollum, and adds, "Nothing, my precious" (3.3.108).
Grishnákh freezes. It's pretty clear that he recognizes what Pippin means.
Merry tells Grishnákh that, if they reach Isengard, Grishnákh won't get any of the reward, which riles Grishnákh up right quick.
He asks point blank if either Merry or Pippin have it.
Furious, he grabs the two of them, and drags them dozens of yards into the Forest to search them.
Then, just in the nick of time, a Rider appears in front of them, his horse rearing.
Grishnákh throws the hobbits to the ground and draws his sword, intending to kill his captives.
But the flash of his sword in the night gives the Riders something to aim at with their arrows, one of which pierces Grishnákh's right hand.
When Grishnákh tries to run, a Rider spears him.
The hobbits, meanwhile, are lying flat on the ground covered in their cloaks from Lothlórien.
Pippin reaches over and unties Merry, and the two of them crawl off to the edge of the river.
They look back, realizing that the Riders have mostly finished off the orcs. Sweet.
Dawn is coming, and in the growing light, Merry shows Pippin that they are walking along the Entwash River. In front of them is the end of the Misty Mountains and Fangorn Forest.
Lead on, Merry, says Pip.
The two cousins have missed the tail end of the fight between the orcs and the Riders of Rohan, so they don't know that Éomer has killed Uglúk (good on you, Éomer), nor do they see that the Riders have made a giant bonfire out of all the dead orcs. Gross.
Oh, and news of this orc raid doesn't make it back either to Isengard or to Mordor.