Gandalf held his breath as the two figures slowly approached him through the mud- he saw a distinct look of distaste on Saruman’s face as he slogged through the thick bog that now surrounded Isengard.
Merry and Pippin cringed at the sight of the great wizard's approach.
Saruman stood directly in front of Gandalf, and after a tense moment, finally spoke:
“Well? We are here, now what? Is it not time to call out the tree-demons, so they may murder us?”
Gandalf furrowed his brows sternly, and replied:
“Do not be so foolish, Curumo. You have shown you still have great capacity for wisdom. You will accompany us back to Edoras.”
Saruman gave a strange look, and said:
“So that is your plan- take us to where others may do your dirty work for you! For what could await us in Edoras than our own doom?”
Gandalf sighed, and said softly:
“You ought to know better. If I wished your death, Saruman- you would be dead! Now, we shall return to Edoras, if you are willing- or you may go elsewhere, if you wish. If you do so, you must know the tremendous danger you are in. The Dark Lord is not the fool you take him to be, and he is fully aware of your double-dealings.”
Saruman said nothing, and merely scowled. Grima looked at him, shocked, and not understanding.
“Have further wisdom, Saruman: come back with me, you will be safe, both of you. Do not flee into the forest, for you will be easy prey for Sauron’s fiends!”
Saruman looked away, to the great Fangorn Forest. He shivered slightly- he had no real desire to go there.
He looked at Théoden, behind Gandalf, some distance.
“And what of him- the – ‘king’? I would never turn my back on someone who has threatened me directly! Does he not even now plot my execution?”
Gandalf turned back to face Théoden- “Théoden, King- I would have your answer- will these two be untouched in your Hall? Will you show mercy?”
Théoden grimaced, and looked back at Saruman, the hatred plainly visible. For his part, Saruman returned his glare, with equal fire and dislike.
Gandalf knit his brows, frustrated- this was no time or place for vengeance, these two were defeated, and broken. Now was the time for restraint, and not bitterness.
Finally, Théoden spoke:
“Gandalf, you would have me show mercy to – this murderer? This black hearted traitor? And then, what of justice? For Grima -” –he looked at Wormtongue, bruised and pale, and his heart relented.
“For Grima, I will show leniency. He may come back to my Hall, and if he is willing, be redeemed. For Saruman- I see no way around- some sort of justice for him. Such evil cannot go unpaid for!”
“Idiot! Old imbecile!” Saruman hissed.
Gandalf whirled back to him “Be silent, Curumo! Do you not see I bargain for your life today?”
Saruman curled his lip under his beard. “You need not!”
Gandalf glared at him, and merely replied: “Once again, we disagree. Think of it as a selfish move, on my part, if you are more at ease with that idea, then mere concern for your well-being.”
He turned once again to Théoden –
“Théoden, I have fought at your side, and stood by you in all things. But I will not allow any more death, if it can be avoided. I have no authority to insist that you pardon Saruman- but I would ask- again- that you will give me a promise of his safety in Edoras. I ask you to give him sanctuary- will you not do this, at least in deference to me?”
Théoden’s face grew very dark, and at length, he replied:
“Gandalf Greyhame, you truly ask a very great deal. But I will assent. However- you must keep a watch on this snake, so that Rohan is not further injured by him!”
Gandalf exhaled slowly, in deep relief. He went back to Saruman, and received the Keys of Orthanc from him.
Horses were brought, and, with their new companions, the company set out for Edoras.
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.