Merry and Pippin clung to each other, in trembling anticipation –
Saruman regarded them with dark cruel eyes, savoring the moment.
Then he turned to the Uruk captain, and said, “Well done! Well done, indeed! Now take our- guests- to the chambers below, so that I may prepare a more fitting welcome!”
The Uruk grinned through savage teeth, and again bowed low.
He turned to the badly frightened hobbits, and motioned to his men, and they roughly shoved the two small halflings out of the room.
Curunír stood for a long while, staring at the empty place where they had been.
Oh, this had been exquisite!
I must share this with Gandalf, he thought blissfully, I know he will enjoy it!
With perverse joy, he returned to the library, and slowly- carefully- he did not trust Gandalf – cautiously went in.
Mithrandir was sitting in sad disarray on one of the stone chairs, looking very chilled and tired.
For the briefest of moments, Curunír felt a slight tug at his heart, and considered getting Gandalf something warm and dry to wear.
Well, perhaps I will do so, but only after I tell him the good tidings.
This really cannot wait.
“Well?” - Mithrandir sounded cross, and that annoyed Curunír. Who is he to be in a foul mood- this is his own fault, all of it!
“I have wonderful news. We have – unexpected- but very welcome – company! Some friends of yours, I believe. Two very small friends!”
Mithrandir felt a bolt of horror go through him. Oh no.
“What- what – do you mean?”
Saruman smiled slightly. “Yes, my old friend, we are going to have two more for tea, I think!” And then he laughed, a strange disjointed laugh.
Mithrandir looked at him in horror and dismay.
“Leave them out of this, Curumo! They have nothing to do with it! Your anger is for me, remember? Pray, let them go- and I - I will do whatever you ask of me!”
Curunir raised a dark eyebrow, amused-
“Oh, truly, you will, indeed, Gandalf. But they are not going anywhere. They are not leaving here – at least not by their own power – when they leave, it will be in a very different condition than when they arrived! Perhaps, they shall be missing a few parts- ”
Mithrandir felt his hand move before he could stop himself, and he struck Curunír hard on the face, backhanding him, but pulling back slightly at the last second.
Even so, Curunír was knocked nearly to the wall by the blow, and he seemed to glow with rage, gasping in shocked fury.
“If you harm the hobbits – listen to me, this is your last warning, Curumo –if you harm them – I will take actions which I have never dreamt of taking with you! If you force me to my last resort, then I will have no choice – but to use it!”
Mithrandir kept his voice steady, although he was shaking inside with anger and fear – anger at Saruman, fear for Merry and Pippin, and fear for what he was going to be forced to do to stop Saruman.
But for himself, he felt no fear at all.
Curunir slowly gathered himself together, and in a voice that was deadly low and soft, he addressed Mithrandir in a tone of great threat:
“Gandalf, you have not only signed your own death warrant, but that of the halfling-filth as well. And their deaths will be far slower, and far worse, than anything I had even considered, prior to this! You – and they- shall pay for your insolent violence!”
And before Mithrandir could even reply, Saruman had raised the black Staff, and lashed him viciously across the face with it.
He staggered backwards, and collapsed to his knees- and Saruman struck him again, this time on the back.
Then, moving like lightning itself, he kicked Mithrandir in the face and sent him sprawling to the ground.
Curunír forced himself to regain control of his anger – he wanted this to last – if he continued, he would only kill Gandalf.
Not yet, he thought wildly, not yet. Make it last, like good wine.
“Get up!” he said, “Get up, Gandalf, ere I decide to kill you now and have done with it! I know you wish to die together with your little friends!”
He poked Mithrandir cruelly in the side with the end of the Staff, and as Mithrandir slowly rose to his feet, he motioned to the open door-
“Move. Now. Start walking!”
Mithrandir walked, and Saruman snarled orders to him, directing him down a long staircase. He had not even known it was here. Orthanc had not had a lower chamber before.
Of course, Curunír had ordered this created. A dungeon- or worse.
Suddenly, a keening wail broke the tense air, and then another.
Mithrandir stopped walking, trying to listen, and Curunír stuck the end of the Staff in his back and shoved him forward.
The unmistakable sound of torture.
It was a young voice, young and terrified, enduring sensations that were a shock to the unprepared and immature creature suffering them.
Mithrandir shuddered with pity and sorrow.
They reached the bottom of the staircase, and Curunír took out a large key- it was relatively new, and still shone, in sharp contrast to the others of the Tower, which were ancient and dull.
He opened the large iron door they stood in front of, and ordered Mithrandir to go in.
He did so, and beheld a strange and appalling scene:
The room was dark, lit only by blazing fires and a large torch.
There were Uruks and Orcs – some had survived the siege of Isengard by the Ents, it seemed- not many, perhaps ten or fifteen. They stood at various implements of torture – ready to do their master’s will.
Mithrandir’s eyes quickly scanned the room, and he saw there were many instruments of horror:
There was a rack, for stretching a body, and then breaking it - there was a strappado device, for pitiless hoisting, and the torment of limbs dislocating – there were all kinds of frightening implements held by the Orcs, all ready to inflict severe punishment, at Curunir’s command.
Mithrandir looked back at Curunir, and saw that his face had lit up like a small child with a beautiful and rare toy.
How you have fallen!, Mithrandir thought silently, in deep sadness.
There was another wail, more piteous than even before, and now the true horror revealed itself:
Merry and Pippin were hanging by their wrists in the far corner of the room, and a large Orc was holding a lit torch, bringing it close to their faces, and then taking it away.
They were merely being terrified, at this point. The real festivities had not even begun.
Mithrandir looked again at Curunír, who wore a look of obscene pleasure at what was happening.
“Perhaps, Saruman, such things as torture would not bring you such pleasure, if you really understood the nature of pain! You always keep yourself far from harm, and danger, and you have never truly tasted suffering yourself!”
Saruman looked back at him, with a very strange, glazed expression, and murmured dreamily:
“The nature of pain – yes – pain, sweet pain – soon you shall be able to enlighten me, Gandalf!”
What, is he – aroused - by this? - and if so, by the giving of the pain- or the receiving?, Mithrandir thought, shocked – he had seen the shadow of sadistic desires looming in Curunír, and yet, this look he had - almost a yearning, somehow.
But for what? Vengeance? Or something else? Something he did not dream of, even himself?
The way he had said, You shall be able to enlighten me – there had been more in his voice, more than just a cruel observation.
Something else, anyone else would never notice, but Mithrandir was very, very astute.
Certainly, he has a dreadful death-wish, at the very least!, Mithrandir concluded, and I pray I am not forced to indulge it!
Mithrandir’s troubled thoughts were broken by a scream, a true scream of pain, this time, and with sickening clarity of vision, he watched as the Orc lashed Merry with a small black whip- the whip was studded with iron spikes, and when it came down again, Merry cried out in agony.
In the dim red light, Mithrandir could see blood dripping from his whipped back. Pippin was in tears, and he suddenly saw Mithrandir, and cried out to him:
“Gandalf! Oh Gandalf! Help us! Help!”
Mithrandir turned on Saruman, his blue eyes blazing with a dangerous anger –
“Stop this! Stop at once, Saruman!” He seemed to have increased in size by several times over, and the Orc dropped the whip, alarmed. The others retreated backwards, away from the two Istar.
But Saruman only laughed softly, and turned back to the grisly scene in the corner.
“Continue! Now! Or you shall be next!” he snarled to the frightened Orc, who seemed to have lost all interest in his task. He was young, and despite his size, looked very bewildered and unhappy now.
He picked up the black whip, and lashed Pippin this time.
Pippin screamed, and then wept loudly.
Mithrandir was approaching the breaking point – but his Staff was gone – Glamdring was gone- he would have to rely on his own Istar powers.
Beside him, Saruman laughed softly, in maniacal strange laughter that was nearly sobbing.
He turned to Mithrandir, “Don’t worry, my old friend, your turn is coming! Soon, soon!”
In the red lit hell, the hobbits screamed, and the two White Istar beheld the horror, one in grief, and one in insane excitement.
Silently, Mithrandir said a prayer to the Valar.
This could not go on.
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.