4. A Palantír Is Not A Toy
Beta and additional material: MarigoldG
Saruman stormed up from the depths of his underground foundry, which also served as an Uruk Hai pod-breeding lair. Four large Uruks marched behind him with several lesser orcs scuttling along in their wake. "What in the name of Valar is happening?" An alarm was screeching a dire warning of attack on Isengard. Saruman was more than usually worried by whatever was attempting to break down his doors since most of his army of fighting Uruk Hai had been despatched to attack Rohan.
The wizard and his small entourage climbed up to the balcony in the tower which would give them a view of the assault. What met their eyes was a shock, even for the fearless Uruk Hai.
What appeared to be a vast forest of moving trees was surrounding the Orthanc walls and at the head of the trees, several mighty treelike beings were battering at the gates of Isengard. Several large cracks had already spread across the sturdy doors.
Saruman lifted up his staff and called out to the trees. "Go back! Be still! You have no quarrel with Isengard." The cry was accompanied by a bolt of lightening and a thunderclap.
The largest creature that was pounding against the gates paused to look up at the wizard. "No young Saruman," Treebeard (for it was he) called back. "I, Fangorn have much to debate with you. Tree killer! Warmonger! Kidnapper!"
"Trees I take to warm my house." Saruman retorted. "But I am no warmonger or kidnapper."
"You take more trees than are needed for warmth." Treebeard smashed a great fist at the gate, finally rending it down the centre. He walked through breaking off more as he came. "You make war on Rohan, I have seen your orcs set out, clad in armour." Treebeard now stood directly below the balcony. "And you would do well to return my two friends that you have kidnapped. The hobbits, Merry and Pippin."
Saruman turned from the balcony, no longer prepared to debate his misdeeds with this strange treelike creature. Something stirred in his memory. "Ents! I recall! The damn tree-herders, so they want their little friends back. Maybe we should just toss them over the side of the Orthanc and they can scrape them up off the rocks."
Saruman turned his immediate attention to the gates and walls of Orthanc. He was confident that the Ents could not break them down, but nevertheless he poured forth white fire from his staff that sparkled and crackled about the stonework, strengthening the building with additional charms. Then he turned to the Uruk beside him. "Go and get me those wretched halflings!"
Merry and Pippin both jumped out of their skins when the Uruk burst through the doors of the bed chamber. The hobbits held their breath, and each other, as he unlocked the chains from the bedpost. As soon as he was freed, Pippin scrambled off the big bed and pulled his breeches on and scooped up Merry's to pass to him.
The Uruk growled at him "Come here!"
Pippin meekly looked at the Uruk's kneecaps afraid to raise his eyes. "Promise not to throw me?"
The Uruk snarled and reached out to grab the end of the chain, but by this time Merry had climbed into his breeches and off the bed as well and run round to the other side of the room. His movement distracted the Uruk so that the creature missed Pippin's chain. Ducking under the grasping Uruk with a skill honed from years of escaping irate farmers Pippin ran to join his cousin and the hobbits scampered out of his reach and through the door.
They ran down a corridor, not knowing where they were going, but their progress was abruptly halted as they ran straight into Saruman and the other three Uruks. Turning back they saw they were trapped as the first Uruk was pursuing them along the corridor.
Grabbing hold of their neck chains, the pair were dragged up to the balcony by the Uruks, following behind Saruman. "Hold the little one out," ordered the wizard. And, with one great hand on the iron collar and the other on the seat of his pants, Pippin was dangled over the balcony. Closing his eyes to the 500 foot drop below him, the hobbit kept very still, apart from the fearful trembling over which he had no control. Merry bit his tongue to keep from crying out.
"Would you like this one first?" Saruman called to Treebeard. "Shall we see if he can bounce?"
"Saruman, I knew you had become cruel, but this is beyond reason." Treebeard turned to the company of Ents. "Be still my friends, I will not give this evil monster a reason to kill another innocent creature."
"Very wise, my friend." Saruman indicated to the Uruk to set Pippin safely down. "Beat more upon my doors and you will have both your friends delivered to you sooner than you may wish."
With that the wizard withdrew from the balcony and the hobbits were manhandled by the Uruks after him until at last they reached the throne room of the Orthanc once more.
"So you have befriended the Ents?" Saruman was in his softer mood again, which the hobbits knew now was no less dangerous than his anger. "I suppose next the whole of Rohan will be riding in to save you?"
Pippin looked up at the wizard from the grasp of the great Uruk who held him by the metal collar. He felt very small and vulnerable and his voice sounded tiny in that great hall. "Why don't you just let us go? We are of no importance. We have nothing you want."
"Ahh but you do, my little friend." Saruman beckoned for Pippin to be brought nearer. "There is the small matter of where the Ring has gone and with whom?"
Saruman caught hold of Pippin by his broken wrist, making the little hobbit choke out a sob of pain. "You suddenly have a lot to say for yourself." Saruman twisted the swollen wrist around, this time making Pippin scream. "Tell me something useful or be silent. NOW! The Ring! Where is it?"
Merry could not contain his anger at this. One of the Uruks was holding him by the chain attached to his iron collar. He caught hold of the chain with his manacled hands and jerked it downwards, snatching it from the unwary hand of the great orc. Heedless of the danger to himself he ran at Saruman and fastened his teeth on the hand that was abusing his cousin.
Saruman let go of Pippin and cuffed Merry about the head with his free hand. Merry did not let go but sank his teeth in harder. An Uruk grabbed him by the collar and plunged a great fist into the hobbit's ribcage. Still Merry hung on, blood now running from the wound he had made on the wizard's hand. Hitting him about the head only made him bite harder.
"Give me my staff." Saruman snapped at the Uruk. Wielding the staff with his free left hand he shot a bolt of light at Merry, breaking his hold on the wizard and then slamming him across the room like a leaf in storm. The little hobbit smashed into the wall cracking his head and ribs. He was dazed but still conscious and pulled himself up to his feet.
Pippin was crouched on the floor where he had fallen when Merry attacked. He was sobbing quietly in fear and pain. Merry was so brave, when he himself could scarce keep from trembling in his terror. The agony in his wrist was making him see double.
"You vermin!" Saruman spat. "You bite like a filthy little rat. I will have no more of you."
"Then kill us now and be done!" Merry's legs were unsteady but he endeavoured to stay upright. "Even an evil cat that plays with it's prey, devours it eventually, but your cruelty is beyond that!"
"No, I think not." Saruman regarded the defiant hobbit thoughtfully, letting a sly smile work its way across his face. "I have a better plan for you."
He reached out his hand and the chain on Merry's collar was suddenly yanked towards the wizard, pulling the hobbit with it. Once Saruman had the chain in his grasp he put his foot on it forcing Merry's head to the ground and then kicked him viciously several times.
"You… you…" Pippin in his anguished temper suddenly recalled curses directed at Saruman from the orcs as he and Merry were dragged across the plain of Rohan. "Pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai!"
Saruman rounded on him in a flash of fury and, pointing his staff at the smaller hobbit, sent a bolt of rainbow coloured light searing into the little body. "YOU WILL BE SILENT! HEAR NO MORE AND SAY NO MORE!" Pippin convulsed in agony pulling his hands up to his ears and opening his mouth in a silent scream.
"What did you do to him?" Merry whispered, gazing in horror at his stricken cousin.
"I have silenced him." Saruman smirked. "To throw an oath at a wizard is a foolish thing to do. He can neither speak nor hear and will remain so unless I lift the curse from him.
"Now my little friend," Saruman pulled Merry up from the floor. The hobbit was barely conscious and hung limply in the wizard's grasp. "Here is what I am going to do with you." He dragged Merry to the centre of the room where a plinth stood covered by a silken cloth. Saruman pulled the cloth away to reveal a dark glass ball.
"You are going to look into my palantír and there you will meet the Dark Lord, Sauron. I am going to offer you to him – both of you - as a gift. Once he has seen you in the Stone he will send a winged Nazgûl to fetch you. I will leave you out on the Orthanc tower. The fear you have felt at my hands will be as nothing compared to what you will suffer in Barad-dûr."
Saruman locked his fist in Merry's hair and, lifting him up around his waist, pushed his face towards the palantír. But Merry shut his eyes tightly, refusing to look into the swirling depths of the strange ball. He was very afraid of Saruman, but even more afraid of the Dark Lord. Afraid of what He might learn about Frodo and Sam, and the Ring if given the opportunity to question himself or Pippin."Open your eyes," Saruman commanded. "Look inside the Stone."
Merry shook his head as far as he could and in spite of the pressure of will Saruman applied, steadfastly refused to look.
"Very well!" Saruman threw Merry to the ground. He pointed his staff at the hobbit and, again rainbow-coloured light hit Merry like a thunderbolt. "SHUT YOUR EYES! NEVER SEE AGAIN!"
Merry jerked in pain and covered his eyes with his hands in agony. When the pain subsided and he took his hands away, the world had gone dark. He was blind.
"You have gained nothing, halfling." Saruman spat at him, "I only need one of you to look into the palantír. The Nazgûl will find you both on the tower and will take the pair of you to Sauron. The wizard then lifted the stricken Pippin up by his waist and held his head over the glass sphere.
Pippin had no idea what it was, or what he was supposed to see. The consequences of gazing into the Seeing Stone had been told to Merry after Pippin had been struck deaf and dumb. As he stared into the black depths, his heart was suddenly seized with great fear. Although he could not hear what was going on around him, a great shriek sounded in his head and a terrible presence entered his mind. It saw him and taunted him, laughing at him, the laughter felt like knives stabbing into his soul.
Pippin retched as if he would vomit, but there was nothing in his belly. He tried to cover his eyes but Saruman held his hands and he was now in the thrall of the swirling lights and could not shut them out, even by closing his eyes. He screamed in his head, but could make no sound. A terrible voice intoned in his mind "We shall meet again soon. Tell Saruman that this dainty is not for him. I will send for it at once. Do you understand? Say just that!"
Pippin went limp in Saruman's iron grasp and, falling forward, his head cracked on the palantír and he saw no more.
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.