Until the very End


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34. The Return of the King

 

Gandalf was leading us through Fangorn Forest, followed behind Theoden, than Eomer, Aragorn, me and lastly Legolas and Gimli. We look around warily, as the low sounds of lumbering trees are heard around us. We ride out of Fangorn to see a crumbled gate that once circled around Isengard, and two Hobbits sitting on top of a storeroom, feasting. "Welcome, my lords and lady...to Isengard" Merry greets us, "You young rascals! A merry chase you've led us on, and now we find you feasting and..and smoking!" Gimli grumbles. "We are sitting on the field of victory, enjoying a few well-earned comforts. The salted pork is particularly good" Pippin tells us, "Salted pork!" Gimli says and smiles, "Hobbits" I whisper impatiently. "We're under orders from Treebeard, who's taken over management of Isengard" Merry informs us. Aragorn and Eomer ride forward, Aragorn helps Pippin onto the back of Brego and Eomer helps Merry onto the back of Firefoot.

We ride through the water, as it comes up to our horse's knees, towards Orthanc, the tower of Isengard. "Young master Gandalf, I'm glad you've come. Wood and water, stock and stone I can master, but there's a wizard to manage here, locked in his tower" Treebeard says as the group looks around, uncomfortable. "Show yourself" I whisper, "Be careful, even in defeat Saruman is dangerous" Gandalf informs us, "Then let's just have is head and be down with it" Gimli says, No. We need him alive. We need him to talk" Gandalf says.
"You have fought many wars and slain many men Theoden king, and made peace afterwards" a voice calls out from above, and Saruman comes into view, standing on the top of the tower. "Can we not take council together, as we once did, my old friend! Can we not have peace, you and I?" Saruman asks Theoden, "We shall have peace..when you answer for the burning of the Westfold, and the children that lie dead there. We shall have peace, when the lives of the soldiers, whose bodies were hewn even as they lay dead against the gates of the Hornburg, are avenged! When you hang from a gibbet for the sport f your own crows..we shall have peace" Theoden shouts up to Saruman. "Gibbets and crows? Dotard!" Saruman says, he then turns his attention to Gandalf. "What do you want Gandalf Greyhame? Let me guess: the key of Orthanc, or perhaps the key of Barad-dur itself, along with the crowns of the seven kings and the rods of the five wizards!" Saruman asks him, "Your treachary has already cost many lives. Thousands more are now at risk, but you could save them Saruman. You were deep in the enemy's council" Gandalf says. "So you have come here for information. I have some for you" Saruman says and pulls out a glowing Palantir from his robes, and stares at it raptly. "Something festers in the heart of Middle-Earth. Something that you have failed to see. But the Great Eye has seen it. Even now he presses his advantage. His attack will come soon" Saruman informs us, Gandalf nudges Shadowfax forward, "You're all going to die. But you know this don't you, Gandalf" Saruman says. "You cannot think that this Ranger will ever sit upon the throne of Gondor. This exile, crept from the shadows, will never be crowed king" Saruman says as he sneers at Aragorn, "Gandalf does not hesitate to sacrifice those closest to him, those he professes to love. Tell me..what words of comfort did you give the halfling before you sent him to his doom? The path that you have set him on can only lead to death" Saruman says.
"I've heard enough. Shoot him. Stick an arrow in his gob" Gimli tells Legolas and I, we both reach for our quiver but Aragorn grabs my arm, stopping me. "No. Come down Saruman, and your life will be spared" Gandalf tells the wizard, "Save your pity and your mercy; I have no use for it!" Saruman says and shoots a fireball from his staff. I grab an arrow and notch it in my bow as I watch the flames engulf Gandalf and Shadowfax, the flames die out and they are both unscathed. "Saruman, your staff is broken" Gandalf points out and the staff shatters in Saruman's hand.

A hunched figure approaches from behind Saruman, Grima Wormtongue. "Grima, you need not follow him. You were not always as you are now. You were once a man of Rohan! Come down" Theoden tells Grima, "A man of Rohan? What is the house of Rohan but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and rats roll on the floor with the dogs? Victory at Helm's Deep does not belong to you, Theoden, horsemaster! You are a lesser son of greater sires" Saruman hisses at Theoden. "Grima, come down. Be free of him" I tell him and he bows to me, "Free? He will never be free" Saruman says. I couldn't quite make out what Grima said but it earned a slap from Saruman, "Saruman, you were deep in the enemy's council. Tell us what you know" Gandalf says. "You withdraw your guard, and I will tell you where your doom will be decided. I will not be held here prisoner" Saruman says, Grima stands up and stabs Saruman in the back twice. Legolas and I both let our arrows fly, they landed in Grima's chest, and he falls down, dead. Saruman falls off the tower and is impaled by the spoke of a large wheel.
"Send word to all out allies, and to every corner of Middle-Earth that still stands free. The enemy moves against us. We need to know where he will strike" Gandalf tells Theoden, "The filth of Saruman is washing away. Trees will come back to live here. Young trees, wild trees" Treebeard tells us.
"Pippin!" Aragorn calls the hobbit's name as he gets off the back of Brego and walks through the water, Pippin bends down and picks up the Palantir. I nudge Nuala to his side, "Peregin Took, I'll take that, my dear. Quickly now!" I say as I hold out my hand for it. Pippin reluctantly hands me the Palantir,  I cover it up and with a sidelong glance at the Hobbit I ride over to Gandalf, who I give the Palantir too. We turn away from Isengard and ride all the way back to Edoras. 

 

 

 

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