by Milly of Isengard

Pairing: Gandalf/Saruman

Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: no bread made, of course. Saru belongs to me (I wish) everybody else JRR's.

Warnings: strong slash / angst / violence / torture (halfling and otherwise)

Summary: Gandalf goes alone to Isengard in an attempt to parlay Saruman into surrendering - or failing that, to at least bring him back alive. It goes badly, and Gandalf falls prey to his former friend. To make it even worse, the halflings Merry and Pippin are captured and brought to Orthanc.

Chapter 4 - One Ill Turn

A few days journeying took them to the edge of the Kingdom of Rohan - or what remained of it.

Everywhere, there were ruins, smoking with an acrid, somehow sweet smell, and Mithrandir was well aware that it was the scent of burning bodies.

Whole families- men, women, children - Curunír made no sign he was even aware of it, but he was, of course. But it did not move him, and he was not touched by any pity for the victims.

He had begun to nourish a very deep anger towards Mithrandir- as they neared return to Mithrandir's compatriots (something he dreaded to the point of terror now) - his mind became more alarmed and nervous. Mithrandir would take him back, and he would stand before all of them, Galadriel, Elrond, perhaps even the filthy halfings.

They would solemnly hear the charges against him, and then pass sentence- sentence! - on him. And then they would drag him away, and there would be no staff, no Uruks, no anyone or anything to help him then.

For he would be in their possession, and under their power.

He shuddered, thinking on this.

Intellectually, he knew Mithrandir would never torture him, or be brutal-

But what of the others?

He believed that Galadriel had always hated him, and he certainly returned the sentiment. Filthy elf-witch.

And Theoden! Theoden was a coarse, ill bred excuse for a King- King, indeed! He snorted with scorn, and Mithrandir looked over at him sharply.

But Curunír did not even see this.

His mind continued to sing out silently, threats and omens spinning madly, coming from everywhere at once.

You must escape!, a familiar voice whispered gently, sly as any viper:

If you do not do it soon, it will be too late. And they will punish you, and they will kill you, and as Theoden dreams of in his nightmares, they will string your bloody corpse up, and the crebain- your own crebain- will come and devour your pitiful, rotting remains!

A soft cry escaped him then, before he could stop it.

Mithrandir stopped then, and climbed off of Shadowfax.

He faced Saruman, and looked at him intently-"What is wrong? What ails you, Curumo? I can see something is terribly wrong, I can feel the turmoil in your mind!"

Curunír looked back at Mithrandir, with a face paler than it had ever been, and eyes wide with fear and dread.

"And what should I be feeling, Mithrandir? You are dragging me back to your hellish company of ruffians, and what do you think I will feel? When you have all already judged me guilty, and prepared my doom!"

Mithrandir looked at him in dismay, and replied gently:

"You need not feel such appalling dread, Curunír - it is true- you are in serious - well, it is a serious situation - but no one is going to do anything drastic or wicked to you!"

Curunír laughed at his words, a harsh, terrified laugh, and turned away.

Mithrandir stared at him in pity and confusion-he did not want to lie to him, he was in trouble, obviously, very deep trouble.

But there would be no one at the Council who would not deal with him in fairness and with great compassion.

Except - perhaps - Theoden.

Theoden truly loathed Saruman now, and he had his reasons, certainly- Curunír had given him more than enough reason.

But one voice among the others would be overshadowed.

Good sense and wisdom, coupled with mercy and compassion, was what awaited Saruman, although he believed it not.

His own guilty mind- and perhaps some evil urging from the Dark Lord - were tormenting him, making him frantic.

"Curumo - I don't want you to be so afra- ", he began, but Curunír cut him off - "No more, Mithrandir! No more lies! Save your deceit and trickery for the mockery of a trial I shall soon have! Or will you even have one? Shall I simply be taken away, and silenced forever, in whatever hideous way you all have planned? Then shall your hearts all be filled with joy, and you will all take your pleasure in - in my punishment!"

His last few words were nearly shrieks, and Mithrandir saw that speaking on the matter was not helping.

Clearly, he would simply have to be shown that what lay ahead was not the nightmare he had conjured.

"You are in error, my old friend, but you will see. We have nothing horrible in mind for you." He mounted Shadowfax again, and they resumed their slow march forwards.

And Curunír's mind continued to seethe, and squirm, and he knew he had to escape - and if he could do it, if he could only manage it, he would take Mithrandir back to Isengard, and he would have a little tribunal for him!

Abduction, yes, I think you are guilty of abduction, and of gross idiocy, as well, what do you say, my Uruk Hai? And they would all roar their ugly laughter, and then it would be Mithrandir who was strung up, but not until- not until he had had his punishment!


His dizzying and disjointed thoughts rose in a crescendo of cackling and maniacal laughter, threaded with despair and hysteria.

After all, his mind gibbered crazily, as I told him before, one ill turn deserves another!

They passed through the ruins of Rohan, and headed for Rivendell.

soon the voice in his head purred, very soon

show him no mercy

Have no fear of THAT, Curunír thought blackly.

I have forgotten the meaning of that word, I think.