Was it possible to kill an Istari with anything less than another Maia? Could Khamul even hurt Saruman?
Doesn't matter, she thought. I hate that scumbag even more than Sauron. Maybe even a little more than Morgoth, though that's close. I'll serve Sauron, with gritted teeth and clenched fists, but I won't serve a traitor Istari.
And what happened if Morgoth got his hands on the Ring before either of the other two? Well then, Khamul might just have to take a permanent vacation in the east. The very, very far east. Might have to do that anyway, but definitely if Morgoth came to power.
Three choices, and none of them in Khamul's best interests. Not that Gandalf had been either, but at least he hadn't had world domination on the mind. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Khamul wouldn't mind living in a world where Sauron ruled. Just not supremely. It was the supremacy of the Ring that bothered her. An empire that encompassed all Middle-Earth, fine. An empire that encompassed all Middle-Earth and where Sauron could watch and control everyone, not fine.
Might even rather have Gandalf win, Khamul admitted grudgingly. Of course, what would that entail? The Ring being lost forever? Fine, but Sauron would still smolder away in Mordor. The Ring destroyed? Then Khamul would die. But with Morion dead and her Age passed, was there anything really left living for?
Everyone Khamul had ever known was dead, as were their descendants. Morion and the other ringbearers were her last anchor to the past. Now Morion was dead, and the others had turned against her. What was there left?
"Absolutely nothing," Khamul muttered, which was precisely why she was doing something as stupid as challenging Saruman himself to a fight.
Her horse was galloping along the edge of a forest. Khamul's eyes were fixed straight ahead, to the end of the Misty Mountains. Somewhere in there was Isengard.
A flash of white caught her eye and Khamul jerked the reins. The horse reared but Khamul held on, searching the forest for the source of the white.
Saruman was the White Wizard. Rohan was his land now. Might he be watching her?
"All right," Khamul snarled, drawing her sword. "I know you're in there. Show yourself, you bastard! I'm not afraid of you! In fact, you ought to be afraid of me!"
"I'm afraid that's never going to happen, Khamul."
Khamul hissed. Saruman's voice was slightly different…somehow. She couldn't place it, but it wasn't the same. "Show yourself!" she demanded.
An old man stepped out of the forest. He was dressed all in white, but he wasn't Saruman. For one thing, his staff was different. For another, his face was…was…it looked just like…
"Gandalf?" Khamul gasped.
The White Wizard smiled. "I knew I would be recognized, but I never thought it would be by you. What brings you here?"
"What…what… You're dead!"
"The news travels fast."
"I saw you die myself! Caradhras made me watch Durin's Tower! You killed the balrog! And you died!"
"Indeed I did."
"Then what are you doing here?"
"You of all people should know, Khamul. The Valar sent me back. My business in this world is not finished."
"So they just sent you back?"
Gandalf nodded. "I am Gandalf the White now," he said. "So, in a way, I did die. Gandalf the Grey is no more."
Khamul shook her head. "I can't believe it," she muttered. For some strange, inexplicable reason, she was glad. "At least it isn't just between Sauron and Saruman now," she said. And Morgoth. Mustn't forget Morgoth.
"Indeed not," Gandalf said. "There is power left in the West." His eye twinkled. "I take it that you may be thinking of switching sides?"
Khamul snorted. "Of course not. I hate Saruman more than Sauron though. And Sauron won't be too pleased with all that's been going on here."
"Indeed? What has been happening?"
Khamul shrugged. "Saw some orcs with Saruman's hand on them. Big damn orcs."
Gandalf frowned. "He has perfected his Uruk-hai. This is very serious. Very serious indeed. His blow against Rohan will come soon."
"Saruman means to destroy Rohan and all its inhabitants. I have recently conversed with the Lady Galadriel, who has been watching this land, albeit from a distance. Saruman is making preparations for a war of immense proportions upon Rohan."
Khamul's heart started pounding. There was something in Rohan that Morgoth feared above all else. If Rohan was destroyed, nothing would be able to touch him. A world ruled by Sauron was undesirable, a world ruled by Saruman would be despicable, but even Khamul could see that a world ruled by Morgoth was the worst of all. The fallen Vala might just tire of it and annihilate everything.
Khamul needed an ace up her sleeve. Just in case.
"You seem worried," Gandalf commented. "Do you, perhaps, fear for Rohan and her people?"
"If Saruman were to be defeated..." Khamul began.
"An unlikely scenario. The raiding parties seen in Rohan are quite large, and by no means even a fraction of Saruman's strength."
"If he were though, what would Rohan do?"
Gandalf watched her warily. "If Gondor needed aid, Rohan would come, as dictated by the Oath of Eorl."
Eorl strikes again. Was that what Morgoth was trying to prevent long ago? A union between Gondor and Rohan? For this very purpose, perhaps? For this war? But what did the Vala have to fear? The only thing that had ever touched him was the elf king's sword. There were no more elf kings. Wait…
"Are there any magic swords in Rohan?" Khamul asked. She remembered Morgoth getting wounded on Weathertop. A slight, insignificant wound, but a wound nonetheless.
"I believe not," Gandalf said. "Why do you ask?"
"I don't know… I'll stick around, you can be sure of that. But I'm not joining your army." Khamul nudged her horse and started off again, but not in the direction of Isengard. Hope was back in the world, much as Khamul was loath to admit it.
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.