"Saruman! My Lord!" The small orc pushed through the heavy doors into the throne room. "My Lord! We are under attack once more."
"That cannot be. The Ents understood my threats, they would not openly attack us again." Saruman remained confident and calm.
"It is not an open attack. They are flooding Isengard." The orc pointed to the north. They have diverted the Isen with great dams and now they have broken the dams so the waters are flooding out. We shall be caught in a trap. The caverns are already flooded and the fires quenched.
An Uruk of Saruman's guard indicated upwards at the Orthanc tower ."What of the halflings?" He queried.
"I shall not bring them down now." Saruman was secretly cursing his haste in leaving his hostages on top of Orthanc. But, he had offered them to the Dark Lord and it would be folly to withdraw his gift. "They must await the Nazgûl – that is their fate."
"But what of the Ents?" The small orc moved nervously from one foot to the other. "What of the water?"
"Orthanc will stand firm." Saruman drew himself up to his full height. "I will not be defeated by a bunch of tree-herders. Soon my victorious Uruk-Hai will return from decimating Rohan and they will rout these walking trees with fire and axe."
Merry shivered with cold as the bitter wind howled around the Orthanc tower and bit into his naked flesh. Although he and Pippin still had their breeches, their other clothes were lost and gone from when Saruman had first searched them for the Ring. But right now it was not his missing clothes that worried him – it was his missing cousin.
Merry knew that Pippin was on the top of the Orthanc tower with him, but he also knew that Pip could not hear or speak so it was no use calling to him. He also suspected that Pip might be unconscious.
The little hobbit felt his way about very carefully, the chain dangling from his iron collar clinking irritatingly in the wind. He was on all fours and terrified of either bumping Pippin over the edge or tumbling off himself, leaving Pippin all alone and prey to the Nazgûl.
The top of the Orthanc tower was not a good place for a blind, hurt hobbit to be, but he had to find his cousin. If Pip were to wake up suddenly in the cold, alone and afraid, anything might happen.
"Pip, where are you?" Merry muttered, more to himself than anything. "I know you're here somewhere." Reaching forward with his manacled hands, he made contact with one of the high stanchions that rose from the tower. Feeling his way around it Merry located the edge of the platform. This at last gave him a sense of where he was. Methodically, he worked his way around the outer edge of the tower and then gradually moved in a little to search a circle inside the outer perimeter. It was a long and laborious process but finally he found the small, still body he had been searching for.
Lifting Pippin's head into his lap Merry felt for a pulse and put his face to his cousin's lips to feel his breath. Relieved that there was life still in the little hobbit, Merry carefully pulled him over to the side of the Orthanc tower to lean against one of the great stanchions. It not only afforded some shelter from the cruel wind, but Merry had decided that before Saruman could touch them again or the Nazgûl take them to the Dark Lord, they would plunge to their deaths.
Book plot interruption (if you need more detail read The Two Towers) - Llinos
Gandalf, in the company of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, convinced Théoden, King of Rohan to join in the forthcoming war. They rode to Helm's Deep and defeated Saruman's army of orcs, with help from Treebeard's Huorns (NB Movieverse may differ – for Huorns read Elves). Now the four members of the fellowship, together with King Théoden and his nephew and heir Éomer, have ridden to Isengard to confront Saruman who is trapped in the Orthanc tower by the floods and the Ents.
My story line will differ in that Grima Wormtongue is not here, but still in Edoras and not exiled and Gandalf takes the keys to Orthanc from Saruman.
The following section is nearly all Tolkien:-
"Come back, Saruman!" said Gandalf in a commanding voice. To the amazement of the others, Saruman turned again, and as if dragged against his will, he came slowly back to the iron rail, leaning on it breathing hard. His face was lined and shrunken. His hand clutched his heavy black staff like a claw.
"I did not give you leave to go," said Gandalf sternly. "I have not finished. You have become a fool, Saruman, and yet pitiable. You might still have turned away from folly and evil, and have been of service. But you choose to stay and gnaw the ends of your old plots. Stay then! But I warn you, you will not easily come out again. Not unless the dark hands of the East stretch out to take you. Saruman!" he cried, and his voice grew in power and authority. "Behold, I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, who has returned from death. You have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and from the Council."
He raised his hand, and spoke slowly in a clear cold voice. "Saruman, your staff is broken." There was a crack, and the staff split asunder in Saruman's hand, and the head of it fell down at Gandalf's feet. "I will take the keys to Orthanc" Gandalf commanded and putting forward his staff the keys left Saruman's belt to tumble down to the ground at Gandalf's feet. "Go!" said Gandalf. With a cry Saruman fell back and crawled away.
Now, back to my story – Llinos
"Where do you suppose the little ones are?" Gimli broke the stunned silence.
"I have been a prisoner of Saruman myself." Gandalf pointed upwards "There, at the top of the Orthanc tower, that is where they will be."
"I am almost afraid to look for them." Legolas gazed up at the high place. "We have sought them long and far, it would be terrible to lose them now."
"Let us not delay further though, my friend." Aragorn picked up the keys at Gandalf's feet and handed them to him. "Are there stairs? Do you know the way?"
"Yes, there are many stairs and I know the way." Gandalf unlocked the door to the tower and the four entered, followed by King Théoden and Éomer. "But I will go alone for now. It would be better if you Aragorn and the others remained here on guard. We do not know what still lurks within Orthanc. I shall summon you at need."
Gandalf emerged at the top of the Orthanc tower and, remembering his own captivity there, he shuddered slightly, wondering how the two small hobbits had fared the ordeal. The sight that greeted him was not encouraging.
Merry was sitting hunched up against one of the tall pillars with Pippin huddled against him, his head cradled in his cousin's lap. They were both naked from the waist up.
Although Gandalf moved to the centre of the tall tower, neither of the hobbits seemed to be aware of him. Pippin was almost certainly unconscious but Merry appeared nervous and alert, although unfocussed. He was also perilously close to the edge and Pippin's feet dangled over the side of the terrifying drop.
Trying not to alarm the hobbit, Gandalf gently called his name. "Merry, Meriadoc? Keep very still."
Merry started at the sound, turning towards Gandalf with a panicked expression. "Stay away from us!" He clasped Pippin tightly. "If you come nearer I'll throw him off and then jump."
"Merry…" Gandalf continued quietly whilst remaining quite still… "It is I, Gandalf. Can you not see?"
"You know I cannot, Saruman. But I am not stupid." Merry moved a little further towards the edge and Gandalf could see now that both the hobbits each had their wrists manacled together and that Merry had looped his arms over Pippin. If one fell, both would certainly fall. "You would use Gandalf's voice to fool me," Merry continued, "to make me tell you what beatings would not. But I know that Gandalf is dead."
"No Meriadoc," Gandalf frowned as he suddenly realised why Merry had not recognised him. The little hobbit was blind. "No Merry, I am not dead. I know you saw me fall with the Balrog, but I have returned." The wizard could tell that Merry was still uncertain. "Ask me a question, something that only Gandalf would know."
"How do I know you won't read my mind?" Merry almost whispered, wanting to believe but too traumatised to expect anything good.
"If I were indeed Saruman, which is what you fear, I could read your mind to discover what you would not tell me with beatings - and you know he could not do that." Gandalf moved a step closer.
"Stay back!" Merry had obviously sensed the movement. "If you are truly Gandalf, tell me, where were Pippin and I when Bilbo vanished at his party?"
In spite of the gravity of the situation Gandalf felt a small smile creep to his lips. "You were washing dishes." He said sternly.
"Why?" persisted Merry.
"You know very well Meriadoc Brandybuck," Gandalf adopted his best schoolmaster's tone. "As a punishment for stealing my fireworks."
"G-Gandalf?" Merry let out a small sob.
"Yes, it's really me." Gandalf strode quickly over to the small hobbits and carefully but firmly pulled them both away from the edge of the Orthanc. Although it was getting dark, he could see the bruising and welts on both small bodies. He felt Pippin's pulse in his neck to assure himself that the little hobbit was still living and then gently lifted Merry's face up in his hands and looked into the unseeing eyes. "Poor little Merry. What has he done to you?"
"It was… a light… something I…I wouldn't…" Merry was suddenly overcome by the kind words and found it hard to articulate.
"Don’t worry now." Gandalf leaned Merry forward a little to look at his bloodied back. "Is anything broken do you think?"
"Don't know, hurts a lot." Merry put his hand on his ribcage. "But Pippin's wrist is badly broken I think. Can you look, Gandalf?"
The wizard raised his staff to give a little more light and lifted Pippin's arm up. The sight made him catch his breath. The little wrist was now so distended and swollen that the iron manacle was cutting into the flesh. It was bleeding profusely and probably accounted for the little hobbit's growing fever. Gandalf took his hand from Pippin's forehead and found himself covered in blood from the cut there. Gandalf realised at once that he had to get help for the smaller hobbit very quickly.
"Merry, I have to take Pippin down now. He is very ill." Gandalf tore a large piece of cloth from his cloak and wrapped it around Merry who was shivering with cold. "You will have to be brave a little longer. I cannot carry you both down the Orthanc stairs together, they are too steep and you will not be able to climb down on your own."
Merry nodded "I understand, Gandalf. Do what you must to save poor Pip. I will wait here."
"I will come back or send one of the others for you." Gandalf patted Merry's head. "We'll be as quick as we can."
"Give me Pippin now." Merry relinquished his cousin to the wizard, who lifted Pip over his shoulder. "Don't worry and don't move." Gandalf started towards the stairs and then turned back. "You will be all right?"
"Yes, I'll be all right." Merry hunched his arms around his knees, already missing the nearness of his cousin. "Just as long as Pippin is all right."
As he started down the long circular staircase with his small burden, Gandalf thought grimly, 'Pippin is far from all right, and so are you, Meriadoc Brandybuck.'
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.