1. The Conversation Begins
The Conversation Begins
Isengard. IIIrd Age, 3018, July 10
"…For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!"
I looked then and saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, and if he moved they shimmered and changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
"I liked white better," I said.
"White!" he sneered. "It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten, and the white light can be broken."
"In which case it is no longer white," said I…
FOTR, The Council of Elrond
* * *
Saruman looked away from his grey-garbed companion, waiting for the inevitable boring aphorism that oft followed such a declaration of the obvious.
'In which case it is no longer white'… and? What of it? The old rules no longer apply. Who else but we can possibly understand what mysteries lie beneath what seems simple, what seems black, and white…
"And so you have always been," the Grey Wizard mused quietly, after a longer than usual pause. "Curious. So deeply inquisitive, about… everything. Something I have ever admired about you, Saruman…"
White robes shimmered as he turned. Keen dark eyes stared back at him.
"You? Admired me?"
Four hours later, the two wizards were still deep in conversation. They stood now upon the balcony that thrust out from the side of the great black Tower of Orthanc. Gandalf leaned upon the balustrade, gazing up into the star-spattered heavens. Saruman was a pace back, his long and elegantly slender fingertips slowly combing through the roots of his sleek white beard. He spoke haltingly, realizing as he did so, that it was the first time in all his long existence that he was not completely, utterly sure what words would emerge from his mouth next. He had never before felt so uncertain—and at the same time, so clear. For layer upon layer have been stripped back, and the core revealed… His silken, melodious baritone had never before sounded hoarse, as if he did not, for the first time, have complete control over his most useful asset: his voice.
"Gandalf, I… I began this evening with another intention entirely… "
"…I thought to convince you…"
"…but something you said… something made me… nay, helped me see things… see… see myself… differently…."
"… I hoped it might be so…"
"...one thing you said, in particular... one word, indeed..."
The word emerged as a whisper.
"Ah. Yes... I asked you how..."
"...how I could... how could I...ally myself... use them as servants... And something suddenly shifted," he said. "I... I saw what that must look like... to you... and... and... "
"...and to others..."
"Yes... Before now, I admit I always thought..."
"...that I was a fool..."
"...yes…but now I suppose… I suppose you are right," the White Wizard sighed.
Gandalf had been holding himself rigidly still as he listened to the muttered, hesitant words. At the last comment, his shoulders stiffened momentarily, and his eyes closed, then he visibly forced himself to relax. He turned his head. His face was in shadow, though Saruman could just discern the gleam of his companion's eyes.
"Ah! I am so grateful that you see it, at last, my friend," the Grey Wizard said, his own voice also now hoarse. "For in my heart I know it is the only way. I have always known it…"
"But...but who can possibly carry out such a thing? Surely you do not intend to attempt this yourself…"
"Me? Ah, no. I am not so vain nor foolish as to think I could withstand the temptation of the thing. Yet, that does not mean I shall play no role in Its destruction… Exactly what role that shall be, I cannot yet say. But there is one who, I believe, is well suited for this task."
"I would rather not say, not yet. For one thing, he knows it not yet himself, for I have not had the chance for a frank conversation with him… Let us lay aside the who for now, and focus upon the what. And in that, Saruman, your innate wisdom and the depth of your knowledge will be invaluable in the planning of this endeavor."
Saruman shivered, then turned toward his companion and smiled. "Then let us go in, for it is late, and this night is grown chill. My voice and my sorely worked brain are both in need of something soothing. I find that a pleasant meal and a flagon or two of fine wine lubricates the throat and enhances the planning of strategy very nicely…"
"An excellent idea…"
* * *
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.