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Recaptured!: 5. Rescue
"Saruman! My Lord!" The small orc pushed through
the heavy doors into the throne room. "My Lord! We are under attack once
"That cannot be. The Ents understood my threats, they
would not openly attack us again." Saruman remained confident and calm.
"It is not an open attack. They are flooding
Isengard." The orc pointed to the north. They have diverted the Isen with
great dams and now they have broken the dams so the waters are flooding out. We
shall be caught in a trap. The caverns are already flooded and the fires
An Uruk of Saruman's guard indicated upwards at the Orthanc
tower ."What of the halflings?" He queried.
"I shall not bring them down now." Saruman was
secretly cursing his haste in leaving his hostages on top of Orthanc. But, he
had offered them to the Dark Lord and it would be folly to withdraw his gift.
"They must await the Nazgûl – that is their fate."
"But what of the Ents?" The small orc moved
nervously from one foot to the other. "What of the water?"
"Orthanc will stand firm." Saruman drew himself up
to his full height. "I will not be defeated by a bunch of tree-herders.
Soon my victorious Uruk-Hai will return from decimating Rohan and they will
rout these walking trees with fire and axe."
Merry shivered with cold as the bitter wind howled around
the Orthanc tower and bit into his naked flesh. Although he and Pippin still
had their breeches, their other clothes were lost and gone from when Saruman
had first searched them for the Ring. But right now it was not his missing
clothes that worried him – it was his missing cousin.
Merry knew that Pippin was on the top of the Orthanc tower
with him, but he also knew that Pip could not hear or speak so it was no use
calling to him. He also suspected that Pip might be unconscious.
The little hobbit felt his way about very carefully, the
chain dangling from his iron collar clinking irritatingly in the wind. He was
on all fours and terrified of either bumping Pippin over the edge or tumbling
off himself, leaving Pippin all alone and prey to the Nazgûl.
The top of the
Orthanc tower was not a good place for a blind, hurt hobbit to be, but he had
to find his cousin. If Pip were to wake up suddenly in the cold, alone and
afraid, anything might happen.
"Pip, where are you?" Merry muttered, more to
himself than anything. "I know you're here somewhere." Reaching
forward with his manacled hands, he made contact with one of the high
stanchions that rose from the tower. Feeling his way around it Merry located
the edge of the platform. This at last gave him a sense of where he was.
Methodically, he worked his way around the outer edge of the tower and then
gradually moved in a little to search a circle inside the outer perimeter. It
was a long and laborious process but finally he found the small, still body he
had been searching for.
Lifting Pippin's head into his lap Merry felt for a pulse
and put his face to his cousin's lips to feel his breath. Relieved that there
was life still in the little hobbit, Merry carefully pulled him over to the
side of the Orthanc tower to lean against one of the great stanchions. It not
only afforded some shelter from the cruel wind, but Merry had decided that
before Saruman could touch them again or the Nazgûl take them to the Dark Lord,
they would plunge to their deaths.
Book plot interruption (if you need more detail read
The Two Towers) - Llinos
Gandalf, in the company of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli,
convinced Théoden, King of Rohan to join in the forthcoming war. They rode to
Helm's Deep and defeated Saruman's army of orcs, with help from Treebeard's
Huorns (NB Movieverse may differ – for Huorns read Elves). Now the four members
of the fellowship, together with King Théoden and his nephew and heir Éomer,
have ridden to Isengard to confront Saruman who is trapped in the Orthanc tower
by the floods and the Ents.
My story line will differ in that Grima Wormtongue is
not here, but still in Edoras and not exiled and Gandalf takes the keys to
Orthanc from Saruman.
The following section is nearly all Tolkien:-
"Come back, Saruman!" said Gandalf in a commanding
voice. To the amazement of the others, Saruman turned again, and as if dragged
against his will, he came slowly back to the iron rail, leaning on it breathing
hard. His face was lined and shrunken. His hand clutched his heavy black staff
like a claw.
"I did not give you leave to go," said Gandalf
sternly. "I have not finished. You have become a fool, Saruman, and yet
pitiable. You might still have turned away from folly and evil, and have been
of service. But you choose to stay and gnaw the ends of your old plots. Stay
then! But I warn you, you will not easily come out again. Not unless the dark
hands of the East stretch out to take you. Saruman!" he cried, and his
voice grew in power and authority. "Behold, I am not Gandalf the Grey,
whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, who has returned from death. You
have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and from the Council."
He raised his hand, and spoke slowly in a clear cold voice.
"Saruman, your staff is broken." There was a crack, and the staff
split asunder in Saruman's hand, and the head of it fell down at Gandalf's
feet. "I will take the keys to Orthanc" Gandalf commanded and putting
forward his staff the keys left Saruman's belt to tumble down to the ground at
Gandalf's feet. "Go!" said Gandalf. With a cry Saruman fell back and
Now, back to my story – Llinos
"Where do you suppose the little ones are?" Gimli
broke the stunned silence.
"I have been a prisoner of Saruman myself."
Gandalf pointed upwards "There, at the top of the Orthanc tower, that is
where they will be."
"I am almost afraid to look for them." Legolas
gazed up at the high place. "We have sought them long and far, it would be
terrible to lose them now."
"Let us not delay further though, my friend."
Aragorn picked up the keys at Gandalf's feet and handed them to him. "Are
there stairs? Do you know the way?"
"Yes, there are many stairs and I know the way."
Gandalf unlocked the door to the tower and the four entered, followed by King
Théoden and Éomer. "But I will go alone for now. It would be better if you
Aragorn and the others remained here on guard. We do not know what still lurks
within Orthanc. I shall summon you at need."
Gandalf emerged at the top of the Orthanc tower and,
remembering his own captivity there, he shuddered slightly, wondering how the
two small hobbits had fared the ordeal. The sight that greeted him was not
Merry was sitting hunched up against one of the tall pillars
with Pippin huddled against him, his head cradled in his cousin's lap. They
were both naked from the waist up.
Although Gandalf moved to the centre of the tall tower,
neither of the hobbits seemed to be aware of him. Pippin was almost certainly
unconscious but Merry appeared nervous and alert, although unfocussed. He was
also perilously close to the edge and Pippin's feet dangled over the side of
the terrifying drop.
Trying not to alarm the hobbit, Gandalf gently called his
name. "Merry, Meriadoc? Keep very still."
Merry started at the sound, turning towards Gandalf with a
panicked expression. "Stay away from us!" He clasped Pippin tightly.
"If you come nearer I'll throw him off and then jump."
"Merry…" Gandalf continued quietly whilst
remaining quite still… "It is I, Gandalf. Can you not see?"
"You know I cannot, Saruman. But I am not stupid."
Merry moved a little further towards the edge and Gandalf could see now that
both the hobbits each had their wrists manacled together and that Merry had
looped his arms over Pippin. If one fell, both would certainly fall. "You
would use Gandalf's voice to fool me," Merry continued, "to make me
tell you what beatings would not. But I know that Gandalf is dead."
"No Meriadoc," Gandalf frowned as he suddenly
realised why Merry had not recognised him. The little hobbit was blind.
"No Merry, I am not dead. I know you saw me fall with the Balrog, but I
have returned." The wizard could tell that Merry was still uncertain.
"Ask me a question, something that only Gandalf would know."
"How do I know you won't read my mind?" Merry
almost whispered, wanting to believe but too traumatised to expect anything
"If I were indeed Saruman, which is what you fear, I
could read your mind to discover what you would not tell me with beatings - and
you know he could not do that." Gandalf moved a step closer.
"Stay back!" Merry had obviously sensed the
movement. "If you are truly Gandalf, tell me, where were Pippin and I when
Bilbo vanished at his party?"
In spite of the gravity of the situation Gandalf felt a
small smile creep to his lips. "You were washing dishes." He said
"Why?" persisted Merry.
"You know very well Meriadoc Brandybuck," Gandalf
adopted his best schoolmaster's tone. "As a punishment for stealing my
"G-Gandalf?" Merry let out a small sob.
"Yes, it's really me." Gandalf strode quickly over
to the small hobbits and carefully but firmly pulled them both away from the
edge of the Orthanc. Although it was getting dark, he could see the bruising
and welts on both small bodies. He felt Pippin's pulse in his neck to assure
himself that the little hobbit was still living and then gently lifted Merry's
face up in his hands and looked into the unseeing eyes. "Poor little
Merry. What has he done to you?"
"It was… a light… something I…I wouldn't…" Merry
was suddenly overcome by the kind words and found it hard to articulate.
"Don’t worry now." Gandalf leaned Merry forward a
little to look at his bloodied back. "Is anything broken do you
"Don't know, hurts a lot." Merry put his hand on
his ribcage. "But Pippin's wrist is badly broken I think. Can you look,
The wizard raised his staff to give a little more light and
lifted Pippin's arm up. The sight made him catch his breath. The little wrist
was now so distended and swollen that the iron manacle was cutting into the
flesh. It was bleeding profusely and probably accounted for the little hobbit's
growing fever. Gandalf took his hand from Pippin's forehead and found himself
covered in blood from the cut there. Gandalf realised at once that he had to
get help for the smaller hobbit very quickly.
"Merry, I have to take Pippin down now. He is very
ill." Gandalf tore a large piece of cloth from his cloak and wrapped it
around Merry who was shivering with cold. "You will have to be brave a
little longer. I cannot carry you both down the Orthanc stairs together, they
are too steep and you will not be able to climb down on your own."
Merry nodded "I understand, Gandalf. Do what you must
to save poor Pip. I will wait here."
"I will come back or send one of the others for
you." Gandalf patted Merry's head. "We'll be as quick as we
"Give me Pippin now." Merry relinquished his
cousin to the wizard, who lifted Pip over his shoulder. "Don't worry and
don't move." Gandalf started towards the stairs and then turned back.
"You will be all right?"
"Yes, I'll be all right." Merry hunched his arms
around his knees, already missing the nearness of his cousin. "Just as
long as Pippin is all right."
As he started down the long circular staircase with his
small burden, Gandalf thought grimly, 'Pippin is far from all right, and so
are you, Meriadoc Brandybuck.'
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