When You Are With Me: 14. Freedom to Fall

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14. Freedom to Fall

Gimli stood impatiently a few steps below Gandalf, his axe digging a groove along his shoulder. His arm was beginning to ache, but he welcomed the pain; it heightened his awareness and it sharpened his anger.

Not that his anger needed sharpening. He glanced at the tall figure at his side, at the subtle paleness of his cheek, and he could very much taste the bitter sharp rage at the back of his throat. He began to eye the massive wooden door before him, criss-crossed with iron supports, and caught himself mentally calculating the force it would take to burst it and yank the rat out of his hole. Not much at all. The door was thick, but the hinges were weak. The fortress which had withstood the Ents' wrath was not unassailable, not to one very determined dwarf with an axe. He smiled to himself and ran a hand over his beard, entertaining the thought, but then merely shifted his weight to the opposite leg and kept still.

For a time, there was no answer to Gandalf's challenge. The window above the door stayed dark and empty and for a fleeting, disappointing instant, Gimli wondered if all had been in vain, if the tower had been abandoned and the enemy long since fled.

But a reply did finally come to them, though it came not from Saruman.

A high-pitched nervous trill called from the window, arching through the silence to fall flat upon their ears. "Who is it? What do you wish?"

Gimli frowned, knowing this was not the foe they sought, and then he remembered Pippin's comments regarding Rohan's spy, and an image came to him of the traitorous and treacherous Wormtongue treading water at Treebeard's command. He saw Eomer's eyes flash with recognition and the man spat, "Know you well who it is, and what it is we wish, coward."

Theoden's face also grew cold. "I know that voice, and I curse the day when I first listened to it. The King wishes to speak with Saruman, not with you, Grima. I have nothing to say to you."

"Go and fetch your master, Wormtongue, since you have become his footman," said Gandalf. "Do not waste our time."

The window closed and again they waited. "Here we sit like beggars on his doorstep while he and that sneaking cur conjure something nasty to greet us, no doubt," Gimli growled under his breath. The air was still, and no one moved. He could feel Legolas breathe beside him, but the elf said naught.

Then... suddenly, the window opened once more, and from the dark recesses of the opening above their heads came another voice, and it was not Wormtongue who spoke.

They had prepared themselves for the wiles and craft of Saruman the Great, but could not have fathomed the authority his voice immediately held over them when it first touched their ears. Those who heard its low and melodious canter shuddered even as they were enthralled by it, and few there were who could listen to the words of Saruman and not be moved by them. Once his voice brought counsel and comfort to those who sought his aid, and all he said was wise and reasonable. Now, the wisdom had fled but his power of speech remained, making all that he said seem trustworthy and good; his voice was a fair concealment of the dark ambition and creeping madness which resided behind those black, black eyes.

None there were who could reject his pleas and his commands without an effort of mind and will, and none did so now. They listened to the silky words that flowed from his mouth, and they were enchanted.

"Well?" the voice rolled like gentle thunder above their heads. "Why must you disturb my rest? Will you give me no peace at all by night or day?" His tone was kindly, as one aggrieved by injuries undeserved, and in spite of the malice they bore for him, shame and confusion were forced into the hearts of the company who stood there.

Most of the company. Gimli felt no shame. No confusion dulled his mind. He watched with grim fascination as Saruman emerged onto the balcony, smoothly sliding to the rail to look down upon them. An old man swathed in a great cloak, the colour of which was not easy to tell, for it changed if they moved their eyes or if he stirred. His face was long with a high forehead, he had deep darkling eyes, hard to decipher, though the look they bore now was of graveness and benevolence, and a little weariness. His hair and beard were white, but strands of black touched about his lips and ears.

Exactly as he had expected, yet nothing he could have imagined. The dwarf smiled nonetheless, his eyes glinting, and he tightened his grip on his axe.

Saruman gestured in a conciliatory manner. "Come now," he purred. "Gandalf I know too well to have much hope that he seeks help or counsel here. But you, Theoden son of Thengel, Lord of the Mark of Rohan... long have I desired to speak with you, mightiest king of western lands, to help you and see you through the darkness of the days you have lived, and the days which have yet to come."

Gimli sneered at the blatent flattery that dripped from the old liar's lips and he felt nauseaus. He shook his head in digust, but when he turned to match his disbelieving look with the that of some of the others, he found them all riveted to the sight of the old man above them. The dwarf's eyes flicked to the king, and he watched aghast as Theoden unconsciously straightened with pride in response to Saruman's sycophancy.

"Is it yet too late?" Saruman ventured. "Grievious has been your war against me, though verily I wished not for it. And yet despite the injuries that have been done to me, in which the men of Rohan, alas! have had some part, still I would save you and deliver you from the ruin that draws nigh. It is not chance which brings you before me. I alone can aid you, Theoden," he said, "if you would but ask it of me."

The king stood as one made of stone and did not answer, whether out of uncertainty or disdain, Gimli could not tell, but the handful of Riders below listened and murmured their approval at Saruman's words. They were weary of battle, some still nursing wounds, all still grieving the loss of so many at Helm's Gate and the Crossings. How much could have been avoided, how much pain never stirred if their king had but sought the Master of Orthanc and accepted his help? They had followed Gandalf Stormcrow into darkness and despair, and where had it gotten them? They had won the battle, but the Mark could not stand before the greater might of the enemy in the East. Better would it be to stand with Saruman and swear allegiance to him. He would protect them. He would protect their families. Saruman smiled gently at them, and many who had held clenched spears and swords in their hands upon approaching the tower now found their arms hanging peacefully at their sides, their weapons forgotten on the ground. Many bowed their heads before him and lowered their eyes in reverence. Pippin and Merry, crouched low at the bottom of the great stairway, looked about them fearfully, their own small blades still held tightly in their fists.

Gimli was alarmed now. He had thought the deception of the king due to Theoden's age, some feebleness that yet remained within him, but now the men stared up at Saruman with the same rapt expressions, obeying like strung puppets. Gimli's heart quickened, and he jerked his head to look at Gandalf, but the wizard had not stirred. He stood leaning silently on his staff, as one waiting patiently. As if waiting for some call that has not yet come.

Waiting for a call? What call? What was it that stayed him from acting? Gimli grew angry. What game was this?

At least, Gimli thought, Aragorn was not so affected. The Ranger kept his head held high, his dark eyes grimly amused, as a man who sees through an old juggler's trick while others stand amazed by it. And yet, he also watched Saruman without a sound, without raising a hand in protest.

"What say you, Theoden King? Will you have peace with me, and all the aid that my knowledge, founded in long years, can bring? Shall we make our counsels together against evil days, and repair our injuries with such good will that our estates shall both come to fairer flower than before?"

Saruman's voice purred on, his dulcet tones licking at susceptible ears, whispering platitudes until Gimli wanted to throw himself at the others, to shake them. Is this what Legolas had heard? Echoing endlessly in his mind? That voice, pounding into him, numbing him until he could hear nothing else? But not whispering pleasantries and flattery, no. Whispering death and despair. The voice which was now fair will turn, Gimli knew, and the power behind it shall drive the unwary to madness. The dwarf felt his stomach sink and cursed himself, cursed all of them for climbing those tower stairs without the slightest idea of what awaited them, really. Gandalf should have known. Should never have brought them here.

Why had he allowed Legolas to come! By the Valar, the elf was as stubborn as he, but he would have asked him stay behind, would have made him! He cast a glance at the elf on the step with him, afraid to see that same look of awful emptiness in his fair face that the others now bore.

His brow furrowed. Legolas was beside him, shoulders firm, arms at his side, and his head tilted ever so slightly, a look Gimli recognized as one Legolas bore often during their travels, a look which meant the elf was listening to something the others could not hear. He was not watching the sorcerer but was gazing straight ahead as if he would pierce the black stone of the wall with his green eyes. Legolas was hearing no words of Saruman's, Gimli realized, and the elf was utterly unaware of the spell hovering over them all. The dwarf was not certain whether to be relieved or concerned.

Gimli's patience was rapidly failing. He was a dwarf, and he detested these games of the mind. He would end these tricks, these deceptions, with the crisp clean edge of the blade he held in his hand if need be. They had not come through all they had to succumb to the poisoned words of a craven sorcerer. He would end this, and take Legolas from this place of stone and deceit.

The dwarf disturbed the calm awe of the gathering at Orthanc, his booming shout drowning Saruman's speech.

"The words of this wizard stand on their heads!" he growled loudly, and he gripped the handle of his axe. With satisfaction, he saw the smile slide from the sorcerer's face. "In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain. We do NOT come here to beg!" The dwarf brought his axe down from his shoulder with a sweeping motion, spun it in a flash of bright silver, and hammered the hilt to the stone stair beneath his feet with a bone-jarring ring which echoed from the black heights. He felt Eomer jump upon his right side, and the Riders at the foot of the stair started as sleepers shaken from deep sleep; Gimli heard a low murmur of resentment from the men below.

Saruman lifted his hand. "Peace!" he said, and for a fleeting moment, his voice was less suave, less composed. "I do not speak to you yet, Gimli Gloin's son. Far away is your home and small concern of yours are the troubles of your land."

Gimli seethed with fury. "Small concern?" he snarled. "Aye, far away is my home, and far removed are my people from the men of the Mark and their cares. But how long, Saruman, how long until you tire of feeding upon your neighbours' fears, how long until you tire of subjecting them to your will and stripping them of dignity, of murdering their women and children? How long shall it be before you then turn your greedy eyes further afield? How long until my kin find you, or your Dark Master, upon our doorstep seeking entrance, seeking domination? And if we should fall, where then shall the burning Eye rove? Aye, far away is my home, but here is where I stand. If I turn away from the Rohirrim and their resistance, and ignore your next conquest, and your next... who then shall come to my aid, to the aid of my own people? You are mistaken if you believe us to be such fools. You know not the pain you have caused. You are mistaken if you think I would not gladly relieve your head from your withered shoulders with the greatest of pleasure!"

Saruman snarled, "You would do well, Master Dwarf, to hold your tongue and your place. You speak in haste and ignorance, and cannot perceive the gravity of the matter in which you meddle!" Then the sorcerer's voice shifted once more, becoming once more pleasing and persuasive. "But come, son of Gloin, it was not by design of your own that you became embroiled in this affair, and so I will not blame such part as you have played. You have been deceived by the lies of those who would see me destroyed, and would place blame upon me for incidents which were out of my hands. You have believed all to be true when you see that indeed, I wish merely to offer my help to those who would seek it from me."

Gimli clenched his axe in white-knuckled fists. Eomer moved at last, stirred from dark trance, the ring of Gimli's axe still in his ears, and he loosened his sword in its sheath with a threatening rattle. "Now we feel the peril of which we were warned!" Eomer said. "Have we ridden forth to victory, only to stand at last amazed by an old liar with honey on his forked tongue? For shame!" he shouted down at the men below them. "Would you parley with this dealer in treachery and murder, my Lord, and lap up his putrid lies like sweet cream?" he asked his king. "Remember thy son Theodred, broken and torn at the Fords, and the grave of faithful Hama in Helm's Deep, who was hewn before the gates of the Hornburg after he was dead."

"If we speak of poisoned tongues, what should we say of yours, young serpent!" Saruman hissed and seemed to grow larger. Gimli and Eomer stood defiant, their weapons now in hand and raised into the air, their anger hot. Several of the Riders below followed suit, seeing now beyond the smoke and mirrors, understanding the conjurings of the Master of Orthanc, past his pleasing mask. But still many more were held in his sway, and they now spoke out angrily at the harsh words of Eomer, who seemed to them no more than a headstrong youth picking a battle regardless of their best interests.

The noise of the gathered men swelled and became a clamour, some at the verge of coming to blows down far below in the cold, bleak shadow of the great black tower of Orthanc.

They paused in their strife to listen when at last their king spoke.

"We will have peace," Theoden said, and many of his men fell silent in dismay, but more even cheered. Eomer opened his mouth to speak, but the king held up his hand to stay his protests.

"Yes... we will have peace... We will have peace! We will have peace when you and all your works have perished -- and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us! You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men's hearts. You hold out your hand and I see naught but a finger of the claw of Mordor. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc!"

Chaos erupted below. Shouts and the clash of metal upon metal. Saruman's face twisted suddenly with wrath; they shuddered at the hideous change from the mannered and wise countenance he had put forth before.

"Gibbets and crows!" he snapped. "What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and their brats roll on the floor with the dogs? I need you not! Take this ragtag gathering of misfits and miscreants from my door, Gandalf!" He laughed beneath his breath, a horrendous, deep laugh, and he motioned with his hand over the throng below. "I offered you power, Gandalf. I offered to you a chance to aid me, to right the wrongs of the world and truly make your mark, and you return to me in the company of the violent and the ignorant. See how they wrangle over the drama of their small, meaningless existence. How comes it that you can endure such company! I have naught to say to you but this, Gandalf: We are above such as they. They do not understand, cannot understand that all is not as simple as their simple minds would have it be. You understand, Gandalf...." His voice grew subtle and absorbing. "Reconsider...." he said. "Join with me, and leave these lesser folk to their little lives. You need them not."

The sheer potency of Saruman's voice at these last words smothered them all like a thick blanket, numbing their minds and dulling their thoughts. Those who had kept their heads looked to Gandalf and they were without hope, fearing he too would succumb, knowing he could not resist, knowing he would not. He would go to him, he would betray them, and they would be lost. He would leave them, and they would fall.... darkness and despair. They would fall. They were engulfed by a rushing sound of black voices and whispered warnings and sour threats. They were lost.



"No."



The word was soft-spoken, and after the assault of Saruman's voice in their ears, it was a marvel any could hear, yet that single word penetrated the turmoil and routed their confusion, and all fell silent. Gimli heard, and looked triumphantly to Gandalf, expecting to see the old wizard with his staff held high, his eyes flashing defiance beneath his snowy eyebrows.

But Gandalf had not moved, had not spoken, his expression was inscrutible and impassive, deliberately emotionless; It had not been his voice.

"Nay, Curunir. They do not understand. Nor dost thou."

Gimli turned to the source of the words, and regarded Legolas in astonishment. The elf had stepped forward from the dwarf's side, his gaze no longer unfocused but now resting upon the old man who leaned upon the rail above him.

Legolas Greenleaf looked to Saruman of Many Colours, and their eyes locked upon one another. Legolas did not flinch.

Saruman did.

The elf advanced up the black stairs with measured footsteps, slowly, calmly, until he stood side by side with Gandalf.

They had travelled long with Legolas, he was one of them, he was their companion and friend. They were accustomed to Legolas, and while they had realized, of course, that he was an elf, it meant little more to them than the fact that he could judge a hawk from a crow several leagues away, or could plunge an arrow into the heart of an orc with uncanny accuracy, or could walk beside them with feet which hardly pressed the grass or snow. These were little things that set him apart, novelties that made his comrades smile or express their thankfulness at having the skills of an elf to aid the Fellowship, but small differences, nothing more.

Legolas shed all humbleness, shed all modest trappings, and now stood before them as a son of the Eldar race, Firstborn and eternal, tall as a young tree, dark hair cast back from his noble face, a light was upon his brow and he shone as a star, beyond their comprehension, a fair and fell creature of a time that was now fading, yet great strength was in him yet and he was untouchable.

Gimli and Aragorn looked upon their friend with amazement, knowing him not despite his transformation, for even within his remarkable eyes there was something more, an agelessness which which did not belong unto him, an agelessness beyond even elves or wizards. The nimbus about him grew stronger and brighter than ever it had been; it touched upon the white raiment of Gandalf beside him, causing him to glow as light upon silver, as moonshine upon pure snow, as sun dancing on clear water.

Saruman drew back involuntarily, taken off-guard for an instant, and it seemed to Gimli that the sorcerer looked upon Legolas warily, something like terrified recognition dawning in his eyes. But then it was gone, and he drew himself up haughtily, gazing down at Gandalf and Legolas with studied hatred, keeping a casual grip upon his staff. His lip curled in derision and he made to speak, to scorn them, to dismiss them.

His eyes met the elf's once more, and he faltered.

There was pity in the elf's eyes. Pity! The look thrust through Saruman like a knife. And he felt such sorrow as no mortal or immortal being upon Middle-earth had ever experienced radiating from the elf like a physical force.

"They do not understand what this hour means, Curunir. Nor dost thou," Legolas spoke not with anger or contempt, but in a voice brimming with a sense of inexpressable loss. His voice, and yet not. Hollower... deeper. Saruman the Wise, persuader of men's minds, subtle shifter of thoughts and desires, found himself facing something for which he had not been prepared, and at last he was the one spell-bound and listening against his own will.

"They see thee as thou wouldst appear, a being of power and might, and this meeting to them means no more than an opportunity to face a foe who has wronged them and to punish him for his deeds. They understand not what is at stake, what it is that thou once were... what it is we shall lose. Dost thou knowest, Curunir, what this hour means?" Legolas asked softly. His voice rang with a sterling tone, "Hast thou forgotten wholly thy place and thy purpose? In thy madness, thou hast hurt those who did put their faith in thee, who placed their trust in thee to protect them. And in thy greed and blindness, thou hast brought upon thyself a doom none should be made to bear. Thou art Istari, Curunir, and servant of the West... and beloved still, though thou wouldst not see it."

None stirred. None spoke. Saruman stared at the elf for a long moment, and his expression was of confusion... then disbelief.

The light prodded at his mind, and to him came vague images of... far shores, jewelled mountaintops... .. a single white tree and a green hill . Snatches of impossible, undying beauty, and love and honor which had seemed lost long ago... an unbearable sound rose within him as of the eternal roar of the sea, or the rush of his heart, or both.

He looked upon the elf, and then upon Gandalf with almost hope, with remembrance. He was Saruman the White again, wisest and strongest of the Istari, and those gathered below him caught the briefest glimpse of what he had once been, indeed, what they had all but lost, and they grieved for him.

But in the end, darkness mastered Saruman. His face twisted with obdurate pride and he cried in a strangled voice, "Servant! Servant I was, but no longer! My life to waste upon those who crawl and live and die upon this wretched earth? I will not be made to grovel and obey the beck and call of the pitiful beings about me. I would have more... MORE THAN JUST THIS!"

"More?" Legolas answered with disappointment. "Once thou didst have all, though even one as wise as thee didst not perceive it. There is no shame in serving, if thou dost serve a just cause, and give of thyself in reverence and respect. Thou hast sought base conquest and domination and for these fleeting, hollow triumphs, thou wouldst betray the divine trust given unto thee? Of many colours thou art, and none thou dost believe, yet thou art servant still, Curunir, of the basest kind. It is an unforgiving master thou hast chosen and thou shalt come to know his wrath. And yet, all the suffering thou shalt find at the Black Hand of the Lord of Mordor, all that thou shalt know when the darkness falls, none shall be as grievous to bear as what I say unto thee verily here and now. Never again shalt thou see the light of the Undying Shore, nor hear the blessed Voice of Arda. Hast thou fallen even so far? For thee, the song shall end. Sindanoriello caita mornie. Si vanwa na, Valimar."

Saruman staggered back with faded cheek and fevered eyes, as a man struck a mortal blow. His mouth moved but no sound came forth. The hard, black glass of his eyes cracked, and they saw the tormented soul within, frightened and alone, caught in a trap of his own devising and unable to find escape. He stared in utter horror at Legolas, at Gandalf, at them all. His mind filled with anguish and doubt and the sound of the vast sea, and he was visibly torn. Saruman the Wise, for the first time in his existence, was utterly speechless.

"It is not yet too late." Legolas said to him, his strange eyes sad, and he looked at once to be the young elf he was and the ancient being who spoke. He turned reluctantly from Saruman, seeking the wizard at his side, and at last Gandalf stirred.

"Isengard has proved less strong than your hope and fancy made it, Saruman. So shall other things upon which you now depend. Think well, and consider long the choice given unto thee now. For this is the last. This shall be the last choice given you, and it will not come again."

Saruman's face was ashen and bore the look of a hunted animal, loathing to stay and dreading to leave its refuge. He hesitated, and no one breathed.

He wanted more than anything to accept the forgiveness offered to him.

But when he spoke, his voice was shrill and cold. In his mind loomed red fire and black shadow, stronger now, and pride leapt upon him like a slavering beast, its claws too deeply embedded in his soul to ever be wrenched free. The light hurt his eyes. The roar of the ocean which filled his mind now turned his thought to purest rancor.

"Will I come down? Does an unarmed man come down to speak with robbers out of doors? Begone! I bow before no one! Your innocence, your mercy makes you weak, and shall be your downfall when the dark truth is shown to you. I should remain lord and master of this ruined fortress before I would serve anyone ever again. This is a trick! A trick conjured by you, Gandalf, and I will not be deceived by you and this elven upstart! I will not bow and sue for grace before the likes of you! LEAVE THIS PLACE!"

His outburst came so close upon the heels of his indecision that they were taken by surprise and could not have prepared themselves.

Saruman lifted trembling hands to the air and from his fingertips there streamed blinding white fire, streaking down across the clear sky with the look and sound of solid ice cracking. It struck the tower with a deafening burst as lightening to a rod, and those at the bottom of the stair fell to their knees with their hands over their ears. Those standing just below the sorcerer were thrown to the steps to lie stunned, their flesh tingling as if with frostbite, weapons too cold to touch.

The fire struck once, then again, crackling over the black stone, then flaring with a searing glare at the foot of the balcony, obliterated the two shining figures at the forefront of the top stair.

Gimli pushed himself up and cried out in agony. He watched the familiar white fire surge and swallow the wizard and the elf, so much brighter, so colder than that which he remembered upon the walls of Helm's Gate, and Gimli knew his life had ended. He rose painfully to his feet and stumbled up the steps, and would have hurled himself into the flames, but Eomer and Aragorn grabbed for him and held him back, their own faces grey with horror. The white fire burned intensely, obscuring all within it for a long, heart-stopping moment, consuming, flames licking the air... and then at last it flickered, and went out.

Gimli heard Aragorn draw in a sharp breath, and the dwarf lifted his head, death in his eyes.

And they beheld both elf and wizard there before them still, unmoved, unharmed, small tongues of flame curling about their feet like white mist. Gimli's tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth, and Aragorn's arms tightened around the dwarf's shoulders. Eomer whispered a faint oath.

Legolas stood with his head slightly bowed, unable to look at Saruman. Gandalf's solemn eyes sought the sorcerer's face and when he spoke, it was terrible to hear.

"You are a fool, Saruman," he said. "A virtue untried is indeed fragile and easily broken, but do not confuse such innocence with the might of a virtue which has passed through shadow and has prevailed. It is a strength which the Darkness cannot comprehend, and therefore cannot rival. I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, and I have taken up the mantle you have discarded. My life has been given to protect those in my charge as I may, and no greater purpose could I ever know. Your followers are destroyed and scattered; your neighbours you have made your enemies; you have cheated your new master, or tried to do so, and you spurn a final offer of mercy with shameful conceit and murderous desire. Yes, you are a fool, Saruman, or perhaps so deceived yourself that you cannot understand. Such is the blindness of evil. They see you for what you are now, Saruman. Your power is gone."

Saruman's face turned from disappointed rage to disdain. He turned to leave the balcony, but Gandalf lifted his hand, and Saruman turned as if dragged back against his will, and fell upon the rail with a cry where he leaned heavily, breathing hard.

"I have not finished," he said. "You will leave when you are told. I cast you from the order, and from the Council. You have no colour." Gandalf's spoke clearly and with no remorse. "Saruman, your staff is broken."

There was a sickening crack as of bone breaking and the staff split asunder in Saruman's hand.

"Go!" said Gandalf. With a piercing wail and a last look at them all, Saruman fell back and crawled away like a shadow to melt into the darkness behind him.

All was quiet for the longest time.

Gimli took a shaking step forward, watching always Legolas, who had moved not but stood still with his head bent, eyes cast down. Then the elf sighed, lifted his chin proudly and turned. He met Gimli's concerned gaze and the elf's heart was in the smile he gave to him. The brilliant glow about Legolas had dimmed, leaving him as he was, leaving Gandalf without the ghostly illumination about him. The odd presence in Legolas's eyes had also vanished with the shattering of Saruman's staff, and their two familiar companions stood before them once more.

Merry and Pippin tore rapidly up the steps to them. They hung back a moment with the others, uncertain, then Merry approached Gandalf, apprehensively, a slow wide grin forming on his face, his hands in his pockets, and the old wizard broke into laughter and drew him close for a hug. The youngest hobbit threw himself around Legolas and embraced him until the elf pleaded for air. Then Gimli wrapped Legolas in crushing arms, and what breath Pippin had left him was driven out.

Gandalf's face was weary but satisfied. He murmured, "Come, my ragtag bunch of miscreants. It is the end. Let us go."

"Is that it, then?" Pippin asked as the company made their way back down the long stair. "Will you leave him there?"

"We will leave him in the care of the Ents, Pippin. I doubt we could find a more secure prison that the one which he has cast himself into.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Nimue

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Action

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 05/20/03

Original Post: 07/17/02

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Dwarves and Elves - 44 stories - Owner: Mar'isu
Legolas and Gimli. Acting, reacting, interacting.
Included because: Slash of the hurt/comfort variety. Well written and really sucks you in.

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