They moved forward, towards the newly formed lake surrounding the Tower.
Saruman hesitated a moment - if he misjudged the water, and missed a step and fell, there was more at stake than hurt dignity. Gandalf would be on him like lightning.
“You – first! Hurry up! Why are you so slow?”
He motioned impatiently at Mithrandir, who carefully began to negotiate the dark water. It was impossible to see how deep it was, or even where to step.
But using simple instinct and intuition, he was able to cross to the staircase.
Curunír followed exactly the same steps, as best he could, and made it to the steps as well.
They were both drenched up to the waist.
Curunír looked down at his wet, mud stained robes, and cursed viciously. He was getting used to the idea of doing so, now.
Mithrandir looked down, amused, despite the serious situation.
The cold water was causing him great pain in the injuries that Curunír had inflicted on him with the metal Staff. It felt like pitiless daggers across his wounded back. But he said nothing of it.
Grima opened the huge heavy door, and they entered the cold hall.
Saruman shoved Mithrandir into the library, cluttered with books and papers.
Saruman turned to Grima: “Get me something clean and dry.” Grima looked at Mithrandir, who was also soaked to the bone.
“What- what about Stormcrow, my Lord?” he asked hesitantly.
“What about him?” Curunír snapped at him, genuinely not understanding.
“I- he is – ah – wet, as well, my Lord”.
“What of it? Let him die of the cold.”
Curunír looked at Mithrandir to get his reaction. But there was no anger, only a calm expression of resignation.
“It would serve you well enough, after threatening me!”, he said coldly, and now Mithrandir did reply, saying:
“I was not threatening you. I was warning you. There is a difference.”
Saruman began to feel his blood rise in his face again, anger coming to the surface.
“Warning me? Warning me??” he sputtered, losing the ability to even speak.
Calm down, he told himself savagely, you will only make a fool of yourself!
Mithrandir sighed, and said softly:
“I have told you from the beginning- I do not wish to kill you, or hurt you. That is the truth. But - if you would harm those who cannot defend themselves- those who are so much smaller and weaker than you! – I will have no choice, but to do whatever I must!”
Curunír was more than beside himself with fury – the insolence! The unmitigated arrogance!
“I think,” he said, through gritted teeth, “I think you have ‘warned’ me enough. If you ‘warn’ me any further – I will kill you, right here and now. And that IS a threat.”
“Nevertheless, heed my words to you, Curunír, though they anger you greatly. I am striving to avoid – drastic harm. To either of us.”
“Then you had best be silent!”, Curunír screamed at him, his heart hammering with frustration.
Grima returned with a shimmering white cloak and robe, and Saruman took them from him, and then dismissed him curtly.
“Would you like to watch me do this?”, he said slyly, with a mocking smile.
Mithrandir frowned darkly, surprising even Curunír –
“Nay, Curumo, I am hardly in the mood for anything like that. In fact, after finding out just how low you would sink – threatening to harm a tiny hobbit! – I scarcely find you attractive!”
Curunír stared at him, unable to even think of a reply.
Mithrandir continued, unable now to keep from expressing his feelings:
“I did, though, at one point – I found you- most attractive. I had hoped we could, perhaps, put our differences aside, for the sake of it. But you have surprised even me, Saruman, with the depths of your depravity. The magnificent Istar I once – once idolized! - seems to have left forever.”
Saruman snorted with contempt for this last comment, and replied:
“Idolized? Is this how you show such boundless respect for me? By contesting me in this way? I gave you clear direction- you ought to have followed me! – but you rebelled against me! Speak not to me of your respect, if you had any for me at all, you would fall to your knees and beg my pardon!”
Mithrandir looked at him gravely, and said softly:
“You misunderstood me, Curunír- I said I HAD that respect for you. I no longer feel that way- you have slain my loving trust and respect for you on an altar of madness and evil! But - if you would be willing to retrace your steps, and come back to reason, no one would have greater regard and love for you, than I.”
Curunír laughed at that, and it was a cruel laugh.
“I will disrobe in private, then, since I am so appalling to you now.”
He did so, locking the library door behind him as he went out.
There was a sudden commotion at the main door, and Curunír looked at it, alarmed.
Before he could think further on it, the door burst open and in shambled a ragged band of Uruks – they were filthy and stank of blood and mud and who knew what else –
They bowed low before him.
“My Lord Saruman. We have fought hard, and some of us have died hard, as well. Not many of us live to tell any tales, now. But we bring you a little something we found in our travels. I think you will like it, my Lord!”
The huge Uruk captain saluted Curunír, and motioned to his men.
Something was being brought forward.
Curunír felt warm joy arise in his heart, and grinned broadly through perfect white teeth.
“Behold, my Lord! The guilty parties! For your pleasure!”
The Uruk captain grinned as well, and it was hard to say which smile was the most corrupt.
The two small shapes on the ground struggled and finally became recognizable:
The hobbits. Oh, it was the hobbits. The stinking vermin of the Shire.
Saruman opened his arms wide, and made a large gesture of welcome.
“Welcome, my halfling friends, to Isengard! You were here not too long ago, from what I hear, but you have returned! And now I am here to- to give you- a proper welcome!”
Merry and Pippin exchanged terrified looks.
They were in trouble. Very, very big trouble.
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.