Exhausted beyond belief, he stumbled to his knees in the waist-high snow. Caradhras was not being very friendly to them; it seemed that the mountain had a will of its own, and that will was to stop them from accomplishing their mission.
His hand crept to the chain around his neck, and he grasped the Ring, gaining comfort from the feel of cold metal against his palm. Somehow his mind quieted, and a temporary respite from his thoughts descended. He was grateful for any relief he could get.
He glanced at his younger cousin, and gave a weak grin. Even Pippin's youthful spirit had been dampened by the cold, snowy weather, and he felt that it was his responsibility to keep an upbeat mood alive in their youngest member. Up ahead, their oldest member, Gandalf, was forging a path through the snow. Pretty soon, the men would have to start carrying the hobbits due to the depths of the snow that lay upon the mountain.
Sighing, he once again contemplated their situation. Never had he thought that it would come to this...that he would be the one to continue on with the Ring. He thought that others would have stepped in back in Rivendell, but nobody else wanted such a fool's errand. Even his companions shied away from even looking at the Ring, let alone touching it or having it touch any part of their bodies. No one had decided what they were to do beyond reaching the great river Anduin, what direction their paths would take them, or who would travel with whom if they decided to go in different directions.
Boromir kept stealing glances at him, eyes hooded and his thoughts hidden. He knew, from conversations overheard with Aragorn, that Boromir wanted the Ring to head to Minas Tirith, and be used against the Enemy there, to win by force of arms. Aragorn and Gandalf kept insisting that what they had decided in Rivendell must be accomplished; the Ring must be destroyed in the fires from whence it came. Only then would the Dark Lord be defeated, and peace return to Middle Earth.
He wished it could be done some other way. He hated for his friends to have to follow him into this madness, but he knew that without them, he would be lost. What could one hobbit hope to accomplish against the minions of evil? He knew it was an ultimately hopeless quest in the end, but the only thing he could do was go on. He would not abandon this errand, not when it was their last, best hope, however doomed it may seem. He was not a hobbit to shirk responsibility, and since this deed had fallen to him, he would see it through to the last. He just hoped his companions wouldn't have to pay the ultimate price for aiding him.
He wished his older cousin were here with him now. If only he hadn't succumbed after Lord Elrond's removal of the shard, Frodo would still be here, and who knows what direction events would have taken?
Stifling back a sob, Merry stood up straighter, took a deep breath, and continued on up the mountainside, one hobbit determined to put an end to Sauronís reign once and for all.