The Sign of Sauron

by Milly of Isengard

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Saruman/ Gandalf/ Grima/ Legolas

Warnings: Angst / Sexual Situations / Slash / Trauma / Drama / Hurt / Comfort

Summary: Sauron has unleashed a deadly plague upon his enemies. Saruman- his betrayal of the Dark Lord now exposed- is now dying of .."the Sign of Sauron" Will Gandalf save him?

Disclaimer: no $$$ made, needless to say - all Characters belong to Tolkien


The War of the Ring is raging on. Gandalf has already visited Saruman and Grima, and having been unsuccessful in talking Saruman down from Orthanc, has broken his staff, and left the two of them locked in the Tower.

A mysterious plague of epic proportions has begun to ravage Middle Earth, striking all who have directly opposed Sauron. It is believed to be of magical origin, coming from Mordor. Men of Gondor and Rohan are dying in droves- Gandalf, Legolas and all the Elves, as well as Grima, have remained unscathed, however Saruman is beginning to show signs of the fatal infection.

The disease in unique in its horror: in the early stages it resembles severe flu with a very high fever- then it progresses to racking spasms ( similar to that produced by tetanus ) that are so agonizing that even strong men, it is said, plead for death. Truly, a gift from Sauron to his enemies.

Nothing like it has ever been seen in Middle Earth before.


So ill, I think to myself, so very ill he is. My master is sitting at his study, aimlessly pouring over the scores of documents and manuscripts, that fairly litter this room in a cascade on every table and desk. His eyes are glazed tonight with a strange, fevered look to them, the darkness no longer shining with malice or cruelty, but subdued, restrained, ill. His hair hangs down around his face, framing it with silver adornment.

I have never seen him look like this. I have heard the rumours, rumours of a deadly and evil illness, said to be coming from Mordor itself. It is also whispered that this plague- "The Sign" as they have begun to call it- is afflicting those who are in the Dark Lord's way directly, or who have betrayed or opposed him significantly.

Saruman is, of course, aware of this. I see the troubled look he wears these days, although he does not speak of it. He knows something is wrong, very wrong, for him to be contracting this.

And of course, he knows what is wrong, as do I. But we do not speak of it. My master's ambitions grew unchecked and unrestrained, and eventually there was no hiding it from Sauron. And it is too late now, anyway. Saruman will most likely not profit from the Ring now, even if it were to be laid at his feet.

"Grima!" he calls to me, in a voice that still has the deep booming resonance, that notorious sound; "More wine, Grima." But his voice is different now, and I hear the illness in it. He has been drinking wine all evening, and it is now very late indeed. He drinks a great deal these days, and then smokes that horrid pipeweed afterwards. But tonight, he only wants the wine. I pour it for him ( how many goblets is this now, my lord? Twenty? Thirty? It does not matter )-I am terrified he is dying. And I am terrified of him, as well; I have been the victim first and foremost of his unreasoning anger too many times. I have finally learned to hold my tongue.

But it is so difficult to see him like this, as I am, very unfortunately, in love with him. Oh, don't laugh, my friend, don't laugh! Try to restrain your mirth at my pitiful declaration! Yes, I know he would not consider me worthy enough to wipe a filthy boot upon. But I love him, there is nothing I can do to change that. All his abuse over the years has not changed it, and nothing will. It was Saruman, and Saruman alone, who was there for me when Eowyn, in her exquisite frigidity, informed me I was, and always would be, less than vermin in her eyes. It was he, and he alone, who took me in, and gave me a home, and fed me, and clothed me. Yes, he wanted something in return. And I gladly gave it; I had no hope of love in Rohan, so what matter then?

And gradually, over time, I began to realize how I felt; oh, to be sure, I still felt something for cruel-hearted Eowyn. I did not want her to be harmed. I wonder if she survived the siege of Helms Deep.

When Gandalf and Theoden paid us their unpleasant visit a few weeks ago, nothing was said of it, one way or another. Gandalf was too occupied with trying to talk my master down to surrender. I had laughed as I listened to his urgent, passionate pleas. Saruman would not have known that such a word as surrender even existed, if it had not been written in books. He would never, ever have surrendered. I would have thought Gandalf would have known better. I wondered at the intensity of his urging; he seemed unwilling to give up.

And Theoden! He had thought it a good ploy to threaten Saruman- always a mistake! I was amazed at the difference between Gandalf and Theoden; I did not like Gandalf, but he at least had some real honor. Theoden stooping to threats to a broken opponent only made him appear like a cheap thug in a king's robes. And my master had stood in true nobility, facing them, cautious but unafraid. And then, finally giving up on him, Gandalf had broken his staff, and in some grievous, unspeakable way, his spirit as well.

I am startled out of my musings by Saruman's voice, snapping at me angrily: "Grima! Did you not hear me?" And of course I did not hear him, I had been very distracted. "Yes, my lord?" I ask meekly; he frowns at me, and repeats the demand: open the windows in the upper rooms, ALL of them, it is miserably hot up here, he says. His hair is matted with sweat, and I am again very concerned. But I am afraid to ask him if he is feeling ill, in any event, I can see he is not well.


I wonder why I ever brought him here, I fume to myself wearily. It is late, I feel so ill, and he is not even listening to me. I will not let him know I barely have the strength to repeat myself. Weakness is death, and death is failure, I think, reminding myself of something the Dark Lord hissed at me through the Seeing Stone. Yes, yes, of course, but weakness AND death feel as if they are biting at my heels tonight. Please, Grima, please, just do as I tell you. Don't force me to lose my temper tonight. I have not the energy to waste on such things.

I know all about the plague: the Sign, as the fools call it- but I do not truly believe that is what is afflicting me, although for the life of me I cannot figure out why I feel so -so ill. Never have I been in this condition, with sweat drenching me, and some strange heat raging inside me. FEVER, yes, that is what they call it. But I have never had one before. I must control my mind, and not let this growing alarm take me over. I have a sudden, inexplicable mental vision of Stormcrow in my uneasy mind, trying to reach me- what can he want?? He is trying to tell me something, pleading with me to listen; I am so weary of his entreaties. I use all my Will to block him out, cursing him for good measure.


He has it, alright, I was not certain at first, but I am now.

Saruman has been given an unfortunate gift by his new Lord, and it is the price for his betrayal. The devastating, horrific infection that is killing off so many brave men in Rohan and Gondor, is working its way through his bloodstream, and he does not even realize it. His stubborn mind refuses to believe it, and he has rebuffed utterly all my attempts to mentally communicate with him. If he does not get healing, he will die, and this I truly believe. I agonize, and have no real answer. Return to Isengard, and simply break down the door with magic? I am beginning to strongly consider this.


It is near dawn now, and Saruman's breathing is so labored I can hear it from my adjoining room. I arise from my bed, and quietly make my way to his room; in the near-total darkness- for I dare not light a candle- I slip inside, and try to surmise the situation. I have only heard breathing like this once before: a man dying of a stab wound in a rogue's battle in a tavern, his life spilling out on the cold floor, and his breathing ragged and thick.

My master is dying, or so it sounds. I must have light; I relent and go back to my room, and return with a small candle. Carefully, I approach his bed- I still fear his anger if I awaken him- in the dim flickering light I see his face, and in that moment I make my decision, for his look is of someone who will not live till nightfall.

I swiftly throw on my cloak, and race down stairs to the stable. I have brought with me a large white piece of cloth I have torn from my bedding, white for truce, for surrender. I only pray they will see the white of the cloth before they let arrows loose upon me. For I am returning to Rohan- to try to get help- somehow, from someone. Perhaps Gandalf will be there-I do not know.

Heaven only knows how this will go.


In the despair of the hour, I know Grima rides for Rohan. I also know he is trying to find me there. I am not in the Kingdom, but I ride for Rohan myself, at once. I am all too aware why he is placing himself in harm's way, and I will not let a noble act go unanswered, to end in ruin and death. My old friend Curumo is far more ill than he will allow himself to believe, and there is so little time now. Would it be kinder, perhaps, to allow him to pass out of Middle Earth? To leave his dying body, and finally face the judgment of the Valar? For in some ways that would the greatest mercy: there will certainly be some penance required of him at this very late date, after all his many crimes. But it will not be the torment he seems to believe it will be. He has utterly forgotten - and now only dreads and fears- the way of the Light-that does not seek to harm but only to redeem, and to heal.

No, I will not leave him in this extremity- and Grima's valor- so unexpected!- must be allowed to mean something. Urging Shadowfax on, I ride into Rohan, and await my troubled visitor.


Adrift in a dream of sickness, my unhappy thoughts have become quite disjointed; I slip in and out of awareness, now, and I feel as I never have before, in all my long life. I cannot delude myself any longer: I know that I have the plague of the Dark Lord, and by all reckoning, it will finish me. Where is Grima, I wonder foggily, as the morning sun begins to shine in through my open window. I know the air outside is cold- it is midwinter- but I am immersed in flames inside. Driven by misery, I try to get up, and I am alarmed to find I cannot do so. I feel in my lungs the most peculiar sensation, and I cough lightly, carefully. I can feel the deep, heavy congestion. The cough only brings me a searing pain, and a taste of blood in my mouth. Ah, very bad, very bad indeed, it has gone for you now, Saruman, I think, frustrated and despondent.

I lie back weakly against the large pillow, and wait for death to take me to my true doom.


I arrive in Rohan, after what seems an eternity of riding. Exhausted, and extremely nervous, I slowly ride towards the Keep of Theoden. I have the white banner unfurled as obviously as I can, and I find hope in the fact that I have not been shot at yet.

I walk quickly up the long stairs, and approach the guard: "Gandalf the Gr-uh- White, has sent for me!", I lie, hoping he will at least check my story, instead of killing me outright. He looks at me in confusion and doubt, and then nods, and allows me to enter. They have learned nothing! I think to myself.

Out of nowhere, Gandalf appears before me; shocked by his sudden materialization, I stumble over my words. By the Gods, I am still afraid of him! But there is no time, no time; "Have mercy!" I fall to my knees in total subservience, and blurt out foolishly, "Take pity, and come to Isengard. You once counted my lord as a friend, and I beg you, come to Isengard with me, for he lies dying of - of the Sign of Sauron!" And the great White Wizard frowns down at me, and my mind reels with fear of him. But when he speaks, his words are kind; "Arise Grima! I will go with you, and I will do what I can!"

I follow him mutely, muttering my stunned thanks-he calls to someone in the great hall-"Legolas! Come, I will need your help!", and the young prince of Mirkwood accompanies us, as we ride for Isengard, as swiftly as if the Nazgul themselves were upon us.


I float and then sink in the Ocean of my dying, and strange dream-like visions come to me; now, someone draws close, and I see it is Gandalf, in his new ill-gotten bestowment of white; "Gandalf! What are you doing here, in my private time of death?" I speak nonsensically to him, not caring.

He looks at me with grave concern- how amusing, he cares about me!, I think - "Curumo, Curumo- we are on the way to you! Hold on, you must hold on!" I laugh at him, at his caring, his weakness! I feel my mind slipping and stumbling like a drunkard in the dark.

Oh, by the Gods, I am losing my reason.

I cannot even raise myself up now, and the heat inside me is fearful, causing me to writhe in sheer torment. I am burning up, and I nearly expect to actually ignite in flames any moment. I, who have sent many Orcs and Men to their bitter deaths, now taste the mortal anguish myself. And it is not to my liking. No, indeed not.


We arrive at Orthanc Tower by early evening, and Grima leads the way up the winding staircase. But I was not prepared for what I behold now, in the half light of the inner sanctum: I see Saruman on his bed, and I can scarcely recognize him at first: his hair is drenched in the sweat of the grave illness, and I hear his loud, congested breathing- it sounds as if he is breathing through some sort of liquid. I realize that is actually exactly the case: his lungs are deeply congested, and he is nearly drowning in it. And the fever! As a fellow Istar, I can feel his fever myself, and he is being roasted alive in it.

I go to his side quickly, and kneel down, and Legolas does likewise; Grima hovers near us, a pained look on his face. "Can you save him?" he asks finally, and I tell him the truth: "I do not know- I will try to do so- I will do what I can do."

I put my hand to his forehead, and the heat is intense. A fever like this would have killed a mortal man by now. Without words, Legolas and I both place our hands on his chest, and begin to softly chant in the ancient tongue; words designed to bring down the killing fever, first of all.

For the next two hours, we chant, and hold the Light over him, over his desperately ill body. Finally, the fever begins to relent, and to withdraw and diminish. We sit back now, and wait; I must replenish my own energy, before I can do anymore. He must come back to consciousness on his own, and then the battle must be fought to clear the congestion. Legolas has prepared a brew of powerful healing herbs, but Saruman must be awake enough to swallow them. He is in a near comatose state, by this point, and I am moved to great pity to see him in this sad condition. But pity will not help him now, only a miracle.

I enter a deep meditation, again.


My death-dreaming has taken a strange turn: Gandalf comes and goes in this Void I am now in, and his actions are growing ever stranger: Now he approaches me, and reaches out a hand to me, smiling.

Instinctively, I draw back, alarmed, mistrustful. He smiles still, but more sadly now; well, I cannot help that, he may feel whatever he wishes. Again he approaches me, and I back away from him, only to find my back against a wall, literally.

Now cornered, I have nowhere to go, except to him. I remember my staff, yes, that will do nicely! I think, I will destroy my tormenter! but there is no staff now, only a ruined shaft of metal in my hand.

I am trapped, and he approaches me, yet again; he reaches for me, and I nearly collapse for the horror of it. I close my eyes, dimly aware of a burning heat from somewhere, and feel his touch upon my face. I shudder, appalled, and yet somehow, perversely, I wish to feel it again. I feel he is very close to me now, and I open my eyes ( so dizzy ); he whispers to me in a voice from somewhere very far away :

"Curumo- I know you can perceive me now- you must take courage, you must fight for your life!" His arms are around me before I know what has happened, and I have a powerful feeling of need rise up in me from the depths of my soul, and I allow him to embrace me, and I feel the energy coming from him as he does so.

I close my eyes again, no longer sickened by the touch of him, but instead desiring it, needing it. He is so close to me, pressing into me, his energy entering me and giving me strength. "You know this is real, Curumo, I am here with you in this not-world."

I am not so sure about the reality, but I hunger for what he is doing. Only a moment( a century? )ago, I loathed his touch, and now I ache for it, and he presses me harder, and I return it, and I open my dreaming eyes again and see him looking straight into them, and I lose the remainder of my Will as he does so, succumbing utterly.

His touch is maddening, and yet it is giving me strength- my old friend and erstwhile opponent is radiant with the White Light now, and what once repelled me, now holds me fast, yearning for it. It was painful at first, I could scarcely bear the intensity of the Light; his hand slips inside my robes and caresses my hurting back, and I am grateful, everything is so very painful. He whispers to me in the ancient tongue that only the Istar know of, and I listen to him, I, the enchanter of thousands with my Voice, now held in spellbound seduction.


As I go into the deep meditation, I enter the realm where Saruman's spirit is drifting between life and death. I see him, and his aura is permeated with the traces of not only his physical illness, but even more so, his mental and psychic corruption. Deep colors of red and black trace their way through his spirit form, which should have been a glimmering silver-white. The corruption runs so deep, it is an illness every bit as deadly as the plague that ravages his body. It takes several attempts before I can safely approach him; he is extremely suspicious, and nervous, and I am rebuffed time after time. Finally, I give the illusion of a barrier behind him, and he cannot back away from me anymore.

And now he is in my embrace, and I transfer energy from myself to him directly, and he shies away again at first, and then there is a change, and he does not resist now, but instead draws me closer to him. I can feel the pain he is in, in the physical form, and moved by simple compassion, I place my hand inside his cloak to ease the pain if I can. I begin to feel something else, as well, there is an emotion or desire, I know not what, arising in me as I touch him, and it is growing in intensity.

Unwittingly, and unintentionally, I have unlocked something in us both; he is looking into my unwavering gaze with equal determination, and then he leans in towards me slightly, and our lips meet in an exquisite kiss; on the astral world here, all senses are heightened, and the excitement I feel is like a living flame now, and I return his attentions most enthusiastically, thrusting my tongue into his mouth; I have all but forgotten my task at hand, and as we float weightless in the Void of the astral, our souls wrap around one another, blissfully exploring each other in a haze of colored light.

We merge with each other in ways that would not be possible in the physical.

We are Light, we are Free, and Maia together again, and he seeks me as I do him, living rainbows of prismatic colors. I realize I love him, and I have always loved him, though he showed no such feeling towards me, until now. I have both my hands inside his robes now, and I feel him as solidly as we ever have been in the physical, only with thousand-fold more intensity. He is looking into my soul with those piercing obsidian fires that are his eyes, black and glimmering like Orthanc itself.

He frowns darkly, and then pulls me to him fiercely, with that unpredictable suddenness of motion that always takes me off-guard. I remember how stunned I was by his lightning-like reflexes of the mind and body, when he slammed shut all the doors out of Orthanc, in the wink of an eye. And now he has again surprised me, but not in nearly so negative a fashion: we are now pressing together closely, I can feel him aroused and hard against me, and I certainly return the sentiment, and with a soft sigh, he pushes against me, urgently, urgently.

Our robes are open, so that there is nothing between us but the heat of the moment, and irresistible excitement. With an erotic sweetness fueling the desire, all other thoughts and cares are absent now, and there is only one need, and I feel my aura glowing brilliant white in arousal and mounting passion, as we slowly move against each other, rocking together in an ecstatic determination. His tongue is in my mouth again, and the taste of him, so overwhelming and intoxicating in this spirit world environment, fills my senses with pleasure; he murmurs to me in Quenyan - our ancient tongue, the tongue of the Eldar -with that powerful, enchanter's voice of his :

"Miruvoore, oro, ORO!" ( Drink of the Gods, rise, RISE! )-and I whisper in return: " Ilfirin melindo, alkarinqua ar melda! Fainu ar valina!"( Immortal lover, radiant and beloved! Release, rejoice! )-

And the magnificent release does come, at last, and our spirit forms resonate and illuminate in cascades of blinding colored light; my lover's passionate thrusting against my aching and swollen staff comes to a thunderous conclusion, and we swim simultaneously in orgasmic oblivion-

And then, and very much against my will, I am suddenly pulled back, back to the physical world again, and back to Isengard.


Jealous, I admit it, I am seething with a spurned simpleton's jealousy, as I watch Gandalf working desperately to save my dying master. That Stormcrow: look at how he touches him, as he touches- caresses-Saruman's weary-looking face! So gentle, so gentle, as one would cradle a newborn bird fallen out of a nest. Perhaps that is how he sees him. Fragile, and fallen, needing love, and great care to survive. I can feel it, there is something Gandalf is not saying, or perhaps he does not even understand it himself.

But I see the look in his eyes as he touches Saruman's face, even as my master lies there unconscious, on the very edge of death. I see the love- yes, it is love- in his eyes. The grief, and the burden he carries, all alone now.

Once there were five of them, I believe the story goes. Then only the two, and now- well- soon he may be alone.

Legolas, what of Legolas? He wears a look of caring and grief, but I do not see on his face what I see from Gandalf. Something has happened, something has changed, but I do not know what.


After Gandalf's spirit has left me, I drift aimlessly for a time- then I find myself back, very much awake, in my bed at Orthanc. I see in front of me, Gandalf, with a ridiculous smile, and Legolas, also smiling, though not nearly so broadly, and then Grima, ah, my faithful little Worm, ever hovering. He looks excessively sad, and I wonder what could be the matter. I can breathe now, without nearly choking. It is a tremendous relief, and I take several deep breaths- my lungs are still very sore, but the thick congestion has gone. What they did to accomplish this, I do not know.

I am about to speak, I don't even know what I was going to say, exactly, but it seems I need to say something, and suddenly a terrible sword of sheer agony slices through my abdomen. I cannot even make a sound, so fierce is the pain. "Gandalf!" I whisper, in what I am very much afraid is terror-( I have not felt that before, either- this is truly a time of new feelings for me ) "This pain, just now-" -it comes again, choking off my words, and I lunge forward, against my own will, and grasp Legolas, as he is the closest. I clutch his arm in mindless misery, and then the pain passes, again. I fall back on the bed, drained utterly.

Gandalf no longer looks relieved, but there is a look now that I do not like, and it tells me the worst is about to come.

"Saruman! Listen to me: this is the final stage of the illness- these spasms- they will pass, but you must brace yourself for the onslaught!" Stormcrow speaks to me in his ever-weary tone, and he and Legolas exchange significant glances. "What are you talking ab-" I try to finish my words, but I am again cut off by the horrific muscle spasm. I again rear up on the bed like a mad stallion straining against his tether, and arch my back in the utmost suffering. And then it ceases, and I collapse, wondering if living is really a desirable ambition after all.

"I- I cannot bear it -" I hear myself say weakly, in a voice that I do not recognize; is that truly my voice? I am desperate to avoid a return of the pain, and I quickly turn to Gandalf before it hits me again: " Your sword, Gandalf, get your sword; you must help me, I cannot endure this!" He looks at me blankly, as if he does not understand, but I know he does. "The sword! Put it through my heart, quickly, quickly! If you would be merciful -" and again I am ripped apart, and my voice is silenced, and my mind torn to shreds. After I swim back from the agony, I try again, this time with Legolas:

"Young prince, spare me this- I see you have your bow, and your arrows, that bring the swift death. Spare me this, will you not?"

Legolas looks at Gandalf, and the latter shakes his head slowly, frowning, and in that moment I hate him again, with all my heart. How dare he deny me release from this? Legolas speaks softly, as if he were addressing a young fawn: "Curunir, I do not wish to see you suffer so terribly, and neither does Mithrandir, but we will not end your life! You must hold on, it will not go on too much longer!" He is lying, and I know it. This could go on for a long while yet, it has only barely begun.

"Then give me something for this pain!", I rage at them, and in an absurdly calm voice, Gandalf tells me: "I can put you back under again, but you need to retain consciousness! It is your only chance!" "Why?" I am nearly screaming at him now, "This is your revenge upon me, is it not?? Are you enjoying my suffering? How I hate you! How I curse you!" The expression of pain on his face tells me I have hit the bone with what I have said, and I take sick, miserable joy in hurting him. "Curumo! Calm down!" Gandalf again, and how I hate the sound of him now, and I can only think he is the one keeping me in such torture.

Legolas suddenly looks as if he will be in tears any moment, and I turn my fury on him: "What of you, young Elf? No herb, no anything, that will ease this??" He looks at me helplessly, and says, "You are still too weak for any other medicines of any kind, Curunir! Do you truly think we want you to be hurt in this way?" His answer enrages me beyond reason, and I lunge at him viciously, only to be stopped- of course!- by Gandalf, who gently but insistently shoves me back against the bed. The spasms are farther apart now, but they are growing in intensity.

"Grima!" Where IS he?? I have not even seen him since the killing pains started. Has he left me to the tender mercies of these two fools?


I am in the corner of the room, fighting the nausea that is overwhelming me; I have let him down, yet I only wanted to save his life. If I had known he would go through this, I would have let him slip away in the grip of the fever. It would have been far kinder to have done so, as he had already slipped into a coma-like state, and death would have been mercifully swift. Why, he was nearly there. And now my master, thanks to my intervention, is writhing on his bed in abject agony.

I hear him calling me, in a voice that does not sound like the proud and fearless Istar that I know and respect; I must answer him, it is enough that I have inadvertently betrayed him by summoning Gandalf.

"Yes, my lord Saruman?" I go to him, on weak and shaking legs; I kneel by the bedside, and he suddenly seizes my collar and grasps me in a deadly grip, his strong fingers wrapping around my throat- I see the look in his eyes, he is far beyond reason from the pain, and I realize he will probably kill me. Ah well, it is no less than I deserve, I think sadly, and I do not struggle against him; but Gandalf pulls him off me, and I fall to the floor gasping.

"Saruman! What must I do to control your furies??" Gandalf is beginning to lose his temper, and he is glaring furiously at my master. A moment later, another spasm strikes, and all the anger in Gandalf's eyes is gone; Saruman snarls like a tortured animal as the muscles tighten and finally release, and I watch in horror and sorrow, unable to do anything to ease his suffering.

Or am I truly unable? I see an Uruk sword, abandoned in the corner of the room, its owner no doubt long slaughtered.

I move carefully towards it, hoping I will not be noticed.


This has gone very badly, but I knew that when the muscle spasms began, it would be severe- Grima - poor creature! - is beside himself with exhaustion and grief. I never understood how much he cared for Saruman, I never knew. But I can see it on his face, and in the sorrow in his eyes. And now, cat-like, he is moving towards a sword in the corner of the room, thinking he is not noticed.

I get up from my long repose at Saruman's side, and go over to him quietly; "No , Grima, that is not the way to handle this." He looks up at me in confused despair, and I can see the question, unspoken: Why are you letting him suffer like this? I shake my head , and tell him sadly: "It will not go on forever- trust me. You must trust me, Grima." And he looks back at the sword, somewhat longingly, and then gives in, and returns to the bedside.

The excruciating pains are coming much farther and fewer apart now, at long last, and Curumo lies back on the pillows after each one, and tries to recover himself.

Such a terrible, terrible price to pay for standing against the Dark Lord! And yet, good men, far more blameless than my old mentor, who have done no evil whatsoever, are also suffering with this illness, and dying by the score now, every day.

And then, finally : the last seizure comes, and passes. He has survived, against all reckoning.


I have never known such fatigue, in my entire life. My whole being longs for rest. My master has finally found peace, of some sort anyway, and without dying. He has slipped into a deep- but not abnormal - sleep, and Gandalf and Legolas have sat back from the bed now, obviously very weary as well.

Gandalf watches my lord Saruman sleep, and I feel again the morbid jealousy- so irrational- because I know that the two of them are as one, even when they were asunder, because they are Istari, and I am only a mere Man. I can never aspire to such as this. I am utterly without hope, and his love will never be meant for me.

But at least, he lives, and I have not failed him, after all.

I can take a shred of happiness in this, and this alone.