Tainted

by Milly of Isengard

Chapter Seven: Homecoming

Author: 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 7 - Homecoming

Saruman walked Mithrandir forward, shoving him roughly with his Staff. The dark Tower loomed upwards, and it seemed to Mithrandir to almost be waiting for him, waiting to swallow him up.

Saruman smiled faintly.

Home.

He loved this place.

But something was wrong.

Where were the fires? And the smoke? It had not occurred to him until now, but they ought to have been visible from a ways off.

His instincts sharpened, and he felt great apprehension.

"Move!" he shouted at Mithrandir, and as they cleared the tree line - or what remained of it - everything came into focus:

Isengard, all of it, was under dark water -flooded - and there were no more fires, and no more smoke.

Only Orthanc still seemed untouched, rearing up out of the strange new lake in obsidian finality.

Curunír felt as if he were choking - what had happened here?? Curses in Quenyan and the Black Speech burst from his lips, foul and uncouth, words he hated even hearing, and yet they poured forth in a flood of bitter anger.

"What has happened?" he shouted aloud, and stood stock still.

Mithrandir, who was as stunned as Curunír, also stopped, and they stood there for several moments, taking in the bizarre scene.

Curunír turned on him suddenly, in rage: "You! Is this your doing?"

Mithrandir looked at him steadily, and replied carefully:

"Nay, Curumo, I am as shocked as you. Perhaps you ought to see to your dwelling, see what has occurred in your absence!"

Saruman looked at him intently, and realized he was not lying.

He suddenly felt dizzy, as if he were going to pass out, and swayed badly. Mithrandir put out a hand to steady him, expecting a rebuke for his concern, but instead Saruman only leaned into the support.

"What has happened?", he said again, dismay in his voice.

Mithrandir looked at him, with pity and yet caution - something HAD happened, obviously, and all the works of Isengard were now underwater. He knew Curumo was devastated by it, but anything that stopped his madness from any further fruition was good fortune. It was good for Saruman as well, though he would not believe such a thing.

He considered a moment, and then said:

"Saruman, listen to me - proceed with care, here. This may be the work of the Dark Lord. I know not who is responsible- perhaps it was even an accident. But as we go forward, we must take great care."

Saruman straightened himself, and tried to regain his composure- it was very rare for anything to affect him so severely - but this was his greatest work! And now it was gone, all of it.

"Come on, make haste!" he snarled at Mithrandir, and they went forward, to the chaos of Isengard.

"Where are my Uruk-Hai?" Curunír asked no one in particular, looking around in confusion.

The entire place was still, the only sound being the gentle murmur of the water, as it flowed in and out of what had once been the great wheels and machines.

"Are they all dead?" Curunír shouted.

Mithrandir shook his head, and wondered at the scene.

There was a sudden sound from above, and Curunír raised his Staff with admirable swiftness -

It was Grima.

He looked haggard, and terrified, and he looked down at them with wide frightened eyes.

"My Lord!" he gasped, "My Lord Saruman! The Ents. The Ents!"

"Stop babbling, Worm! Have you lost your reason?"

"My Lord: the Ents- the tree-people- the walking trees! They demolished- everything! They slaughtered the Uruks! And then they forced me in here, and here I still am!"

Curunír struggled to make sense of it, but Mithrandir understood very well:

the Ents had taken actions of their own against Isengard.

"Ents? Ents." Curunír stared at Grima in blank anger. He tried to recall - ah yes- the Ents. His mind recoiled on itself, a storm of catastrophic proportions in the making.

We will see, he thought numbly - we will see.

"There is more, my Lord- the halflings- they had halflings with them, perched on the one - the leader!" Grima called down.

"Halflings!" Curunír hissed, hate flooding his senses.

Mithrandir shuddered slightly in dread. Oh no, the little fools! Pippin and Merry, without any doubt.

"Halflings!" Saruman said again, almost panting in anger.

"We are coming up, Grima. Make ready to receive our honored guest!"

He turned to Mithrandir.

"So - your little bastards. Really, Gandalf, did you think I would not find out this was your doing?"

"Saruman - I knew nothing of this. And the halflings- they were most likely swept up in the fray! They are no warriors! They shy away from the actual battle- just as you do!"

Mithrandir said this last comment with a sharp edge of sarcasm that was out before he could stop it.

Saruman struck him brutally across the face.

"Are you saying I am a coward?"

Mithrandir swallowed hard, and replied - "No- no coward - but you do not like to dirty your hands. Is that not the truth, Curunír?"

Curunír clenched his jaw in anger, and answered him:

"If I had time, I would settle this right now, and silence your filthy insolent tongue forever. But I do not have time. Perhaps your halfling-trash will join you in your fate!"

Saruman reached out to push him towards the half-drowned staircase of Orthanc, and Mithrandir suddenly turned upon him and said sternly:

"You have captured me, Saruman, and I will deal with my own fate. But if you harm the hobbits- !"

Curunír gaped at him, speechless.

Mithrandir finished:

"If you harm the hobbits, I fear my caring for you may be clouded by my anger! Think well, before you unleash that which you are not prepared for!"

Curunír flushed a deep red, and then he shoved Mithrandir forward, so angry he was trembling.

I will silence you, Mithrandir, Olorin.

Yes, and that will be the sweetest moment of all.