All there is to know...
Five in number were the wizards, Istari, and the elves named them; Curunír the white, he who had the knowledge of the rings of power, and was said to be foremost. Radagast, he, who loved all the animals and birds in Middle Earth, and the wise Mithrandir, he who comes with advise and decrees. Those acted in Middle Earth until the end of the third age, to unite and to preserve, or to destroy; for those Istari were in the shape of men, left to the needs of eating and resting as were the mortals, and also were they left to the weakness of men, such as greed, and also the weakness to allow themselves into temptations, and to listen to promises of power...
Five in number were Istari... three whom acted in Middle Earth, two who left for Rhûn, and yet farther, to the east, and all knowledge of them was to be forgotten...
An exhausted rider, on a horse, also exhausted and foundering, was searching his way through the wide landscape. He was, in fact, in a great hurry, but now his head hung deep, and as tiredness became superior, he let his hand, instead of lashing his steed and make it proceed a little bit further, drop to his side. Instead, he got of the horse, with a great exertion, intending to lead the animal, to save it.
Of course the beast was tired, and there was no possibility to get a new one out here, now, so what good would it do to have this horse dropping dead at his feet?
Well, of course the horse was tired... yet, could any creature be as tired as he was, right now? He, who had seen all his efforts get frustrated, was now tired into the bone, into his very soul. Years of careful work, swept away like would a childs weir be swept away by a furious river... and a river it truly was, that had swept him away, thrown him out... at that he snapped his thought. This surely wasn’t a the place for such pondering.
He kept on dragging himself forward, slow and yet slower, until he sank down on his knees, drawn to the ground as had he been pressed by the heaviest hand. No hope left... desperation, was that not the worst? It would be wisest to just lie down on the ground, allow oneself to be brought away by unconsciousness, disappear...
With a mental effort, he shook himself back to reality.
-Wise? He snorted. Foolhardy, I’d call it.
No time for such dreams, he exerted himself and struggled to his feet, and with an impatient movement he grabbed the reins and led the horse on, towards west, towards Isengard.
Strange were the tidings which had come to Imaén’s ear in Gondor, stranger yet were the things she herself had seen and heard in Rohan, but nothing had been as strange as this course of events that she had now seen around Isengard. She, who had travelled wide and far, and despite her humble age possessed a lot of knowledge, had found herself standing, mouth wide open in surprise, and she almost had to slap herself, not to clap her hands and laugh out loud enthusiasticaly.
A saga, a legend... well, she had seen other things, known to be nothing but legends, turn out to be indeed very real, but this... Mightier than a story knows to tell were the Ents in their wrath, as they attacked Isengard and let the river in, that swept away and drowned all that filthy trade of the orcs.
After a while, when she had put herself together, Imaén retired into the rocks around Isengard, to be able to watch the destruction more safely. She did not need to be caught and accused for being a spy at this point...
-A spy? That thought did put a smile on her face. Had she not been exactly that? Well, only because the accusations would be false, it might not be help enough if one were to assure oneself to be innocent, as this country was to full of Sarumans spies. And she doubted that few, if any at all, strangers would be allowed to run of without suspicions, if caught. And however, having attention drawn to her was not a part of her plans.
Surprisingly enough, that she for such a long time had avoided discovery, thinking of how long she had been spying... well, she herself would prefer the phrase observing, Saruman’s doings.
Already in Minas Tirith, capital of the proud Gondorians, she had been told that the wisest scholar she could find would be Saruman, the white wizard of Isengard. She had come to Gondor, searching for their wisdom and blind for the fact that they would hardly give a stranger, especially not a woman, access to their large and extensive liberary. In there, and this she knew for sure, there were real treasures, invaluable, in wisdom, history, knowledge more or less forgotten... she clenched her fists bitterly, thinking of all the knowledge they’d refused to give her, she, who’ve had the naive idea that knowledge would belong to whomever claimed it!
Now, not all knowledge, of course not... no, but those scrolls in Minas Tirith, what was to be read in them except from historical events? Perhaps they hadn’t taken her request seriously... at least they wouldn’t let her speak to the rulers of the city. She could no longer remember all their excuses. The only thing thet had stuck on her memory was a comment from one guardsman to another, they had probapbly thought she was out of earshot;
-We have had enough of ferreting about in our books and scrolls by now.
And the other guard had answered;
-Indeed we have. Saruman and Gandalf, both of them have been here poking, and as they both ran of in such a hurry, with neither ‘thanks’ nor ‘goodbye’ to our generous lord Denethor, you’d think he’d be tired of letting out his libary to anyone’s services.
Imaén had listen carefully to all of this, but since nothing of further interest was said, she’d left Minas Tirith rather rapidly. Saruman the white, or as the elves named him, Curunír, perhaps he would be more generous with his wisdom? At least she knew where to find him, he was well known, and well spoken of, among elves as well as humans. Many times had she heard the tales about his great wisdom.
Now, Imaén was drawn back into the present.
-Wisdom? She thought, not wise enough to resist greed... Oh no, hardly wise enough to cover his eyes and his ears from the dark lord and his promises...
For when she’d arrived to Isengard, Orcs were all over the place, and she would not dear to make herself known. Instead she’d been hiding, watching, anxious to find out what was going on. Many were the messengers who rode to and from Isengard in these days, and once she’d spotted Nazgûls on the road. She knew about them, another tale brought to life, but she’d have prefered if this tale had remained dormant.
But now, her attention was drawn to something new down there. What was it? A rider? Yes, a rider it was, dressed in white, and surrounded with a strange light. He rode towards the gates of Isengard, and was greeted by the Ent who was on guard. It was now getting harder to see, as the light was decreasing, so Imaén decided to climb down, a little bit closer, and if possible try to hear what was discussed. Fortune was with her, as she’d reached a safe spot behind a fallen rock the Ent and the figure in white walked towards her, and she was able to hear their conversation properly. The white character was now talking fast and intensivley;
-Helms Deep is now being attacked by Saruman’s orcs, and they will need your aid. Brave men they are, but few, and thinking of which great deed you’ve done here, I now must ask you for yet another, to relieve them!
Imaén thoughtfully bit her lip. So that was what it was for, that giant army of Saruman’s? She had never seen this Helms Deep, but which castle could possibly resist such an ...one must use the word superior, enemy? But now the Ent spoke;
-Hrrrmm... well, I, hm, I would think that we could spare a few around here... with... let me see... myself lest on guard, an maybe a few others, we could spare some, sure we could.
-Very well then, but there is yet another thing for you to know; a deserter, a spy from Theoden’s very court, has been promised safe-conduct to his rightfull master, or else to wheresoever it pleases him, but it is my belif that he chooses to come here. In that case, let him into Orthanc.
-Hrrmmm, said the Ent, doubtfully, but that had no effect upon the white one.
-Wormtongue is he called, but his right name, Gríma, is the name he will give to you if you ask him.
-Ho, ehrm, given such a name, I can understand if he names himself differently. I’ll keep a look-out for that one, then, said the Ent.
With this, the man in the white robe seemed pleased, and now turned to those little companions that had followed the Ents, and came running towards him now.
-But Gandalf, where have you been, cried one of them.
Imaén stiffened up and listened sharply.
-Gandalf? That Gandalf?
So he was a wizard, that one, another Istari... one to share with her knowledge about times past? Or another traitor, like Saruman? Imaén did not know whether to feel hope or distrust, for could one Istari degenerate like had Saruman, why, then could the others.
And why would he want Curunír to sit safely in his little tower, despite the fact that he still had a Palantír in there?
This was well known, that one of Palantíri, the seeing stones, had been in Saruman’s care, and he could call out to his master for aid, could he not, through this mighty stone?
-Care? Imaén snorted. Mismanagement I’d call it, and to tempt such a powerful man you would indeed need to be the dark lord himself... I guess there weren’t anyone there to stop Curunír on that very day when he decided to look into the Palantír?
Imaén felt unsure, indeed, she did not know whether to trust this Gandalf, nor his motives. She tried to get a good look upon him as he got into the saddle to leave, but there wasn’t much to see, the sun was almost gone, and his shining white robes were confusing her eyes.
White was the rider, white was the horse... but hadn’t Saruman himself worn white, also? Curunír, foremost, had he not been that? What did it mean when this newcomer came in the same color?
But she had no time consider these things, as the wizard now left, with an incredible speed, shining like a falling star, down the road and out of sight. And now the Ent spoke again, to those little ones;
-The Hourns will help them.
For a moment Imaén felt completley lost. She scolled herself for not paying enough attention, but then her subconsiousness started up, puzzeling it all out for her. It usually did that, anyway.
-The Hourns? Help them? Ah, at Helms Deep of course, but who are... the forest! Yes, naturally! Could make any army drop dead in fear... wise you are, my dear wizard...
Another piece from the conversation she’d just overheard tried to get to her attention. Make anyone drop dead... anyone on their way towards Isengard? Wait, a deserter, had he not said so, the Istari? One who should be allowed to enter Orthanc! And, once in Orthanc... at this point in her thoughts, Imaén stared to sneak back the way she came. Creeping and hiding at first, then almost running, back to a den, safe in comparishment, where her horse and what luggage she had was hidden. An idea, simpel but possibly genious, had started to take shape in her mind.
There was no reason to belive that Fangorn would want to hurt her, if she was minding her own business and keeping out of the way. Trees and their powers she knew about, and that knowledge could not be found in old scrolls. No, if only she kept herself in the fringes of the forest, there would be no reason for fear.
On the other hand, a fleeing deserter, a traitor, who would run into the lap of this marching forest... most likley, he would turn, and flee the way he came. Imaéns intention was to prevent this. Are you not allowed to pass through that forest, then you cannot pass it alive... and Imaén wanted him alive, that little deserter, alive and safe in Orthanc, where he might actually be quite helpful...
A vaguely and sly smile was on Imaéns face, as she got onto her steed and followed the trail of the white wizard.
If only he’d be there soon, if he could only have a moments
-But, he reminded himself, there probably won’t be a time for resting. If Saruman has not yet heard the message I’m bringing him, then the more bustling he’ll take action...
He hadn’t been able to get into the saddle again, and most likley he would fail if he tried, for he could now barely force his feet to move. Instead, he leant himself on his horse, like would a wounded man lean onto his comrade.
And wounded he was, if so not with material weapons; but mentally, and this tiredness and despair thad gnawed on him was of that kind that menace never to give in, not even when the soul gets to rest.
And so he dragged himself onwards, deeper and deeper his head hung, and he was almost unconscious when he realized that the horse was no longer moving.
Gríma felt it as had he been wandering for an endless time through a bank of mist. He therefor did not know whether he was in a fevered imagination or if he was awake, for as he looked up he could se nothing but mist in this world either. Even if there hadn’t been this fog, he wouldn’t have been able to see much, for it was now getting dark. In fact, he could barely see anything at all.
All of this scared him, yet he found this fact to be rather surprising; that he was still sane enough to get frightned, to concern about his own safety.
He straightned his back and tried to orientate himself, but found this vain; the mist and the dark was more or less impenetrable. The only thing he could discern was indistinct shadows in the fog... And in Rohan, the country of those barren and wide open spaces, the weather was hardly ever misty like this. The more reason then for him to fear this odd darkness...
How far could he have got by now? He tried to get himself together. Despite the darkness, it was not very likley that he should get lost on his way to Isengard, he had been on this way quite often. Far too often.
Surley he would soon come to a place he’d recognize, pehaphs he had even made it to the Passage of Rohan? In fact, he should be about there by now, could he only manage to move a little bit further... maybe he could even afford to rest there, being so close to the frontier? If he had made it this far, he probably wouldn’t have to fear for pursuers. They usually kept their promises, Roharrim. Yes, surely he could rest there for a while.
Somewhat encourraged by the thought of a coming recess he carried on, a few more steps, only to make a new stop. Something right in front of him was very... wrong.
-Trees? A unreasonable fear came over him, the hand which held the reins started to tremble, he could not make it stop. The horse seemed to notice it too, it was snorting and pawing the ground.
-Trees, nothing but trees, nothing to get excited about at all, he said loud, but he wasn’t sure whether he tried to calm down the horse, or himself. It didn’t help much, either, the sound of his own voice in this heavy silence frightned him even more, it was as if the mist would take any sound and choke it.
And in this darkness, in this sultry silence, there was a sound, that should have calmed him, that would have been an undoubtedly comfort to him wheresoever he would have heard it, but which now almost scared him from his senses, in this horrible forest which...
-Forest? Since when is this a whole forest?
... Which souldn’t even be here.
A laughter it was, a human sound, so completly out of place in
this cursed spot that it was enough to scare anybody. Which was
partly the purpose, Imaén was familiar with surprise-tactics,
the ability to take advantage of your opponent by frightening them.
She had watched him for a while, this deserter, and had seen him
doing most of the job by scaring himself.
More or less without cause as well, for surley this mist deserved a certain respect, but as Imaén knew, one might see through it without too much of an effort, would one simply avoid struggeling, but relax, gaze smoothly... it was simply a matter of technique.
But then, when he let go of the horse to grope for...
-A sword, she supposed, how foolish, does he actually plan to chop his way through the mist?
At this somehow amusing sight she could not help herself; she just had to laugh at him.
She hadn’t really thought of which effect this would have on the terrified man in front of her, but as she saw how he got even more frightned, she felt quite pleased by the situation.
Fear could be quite advantageous.
Gríma was shocked by this unexpected sound, he turned and
tried to find the source, but he was to confused, to desoriented,
he could not find it.
-What is this, Witchcraft? What do you want from me? What do you want, he called out as he turned, desperatly peering through the fog around him. But the answer came from behind. A soft voice, veiled;
-Witchcraft? I doubt it, neither do I think that you are the one they’re searching for... this time.
Gríma whirled, a hand on the sword, and dropped his jaw
in pure surprise, for the person now standing in front of him seemed
harmless enough. It was a woman, but only at her voice could he
tell, the mist was hiding any features this character might have.
She came closer, and he noticed that she had grabbed his horse by
the rein, now holding it beside another, her own, as far as he could
-What? Who –who are you, he gasped. He couldn’t think of anything better to ask, despite the fact that his curiousity got started now, once he’d recovered from the worst shock.
-Before I can tell you my name, I must demand that you tell me yours, Imaén said.
Even if she knew, she still wanted to hear how he would answer. Every single breath has got a lot to tell, to one who knows how to listen.
-Is that so? Gríma considered his answer, but made the conclusion that telling your name to this woman, though she might be an enemy, wasn’t to much of a risk. Perhaps she was even sent here by Saruman, to meet him? This very forest might actually be the work of Saruman, surely this was the case! Supposing so, he finally said;
-Then, Gríma is my name, son of Galmod.
He waited for her answere with an anxiety, somehow bothering him; even if she was an enemy, what harm could she possibly do?
-Then you are the one called Wormtongue, Imaén said, stepping closer.
But now he backed of, spitting;
-Fools are they who call me that, my true name is the one I gave you! Perhaps you’d be so kind to tell me yours now?
Imaén gave him a smirk;
-I do not ask for what fools may say, what I wish to know is whether you’re the one I’m looking for. As for me, you can call me Imaén.
-Then you have been sent out to meet me, Gríma said, relifed, and came towards her once again. Which tidings do you bring from Isengard? What is this forest, this mist?
Imaén thought quickly. This was truly favourable! He assumed that she was sent from his master, it would probably be a rather easy task to manipulate him, to make him serve her purpuses. Instead of answering his questions, she turned, and exhorted him to come along.
-Travelling through this forest would not be very wise. We should instead go arund it, and be careful, not to disturb it.
Gríma did not answer to this, after a glance over his shoulder he shuddered, and followed her without objections.
Imaén led her companion back the way she herself had arrived,
which led them further towards north than the original road would
have done. The air was clearing as they got to the fringes of the
forest, and she could now contemplate the man who walked beside
her. She had thought of him simply as ‘the deserter’,
but the more she saw of him, the more she had to associate him with
the name he himself had mentioned. He was not as tall as were most
of the men she had met here, those fair-haired, proud Roharrim.
No, this man was clearly different.
Imaén found herself pondering over him, over his extraction, could he possibly be Gondorian? But no, he did not really look like them either. Slender he was, with dark hair and a pale skin... he did not remind her of any of the people she had met. Could he derive his origin from the people of the mountains?
But here she discontinued her thought, the purpouse of this mission was not to ascertain this mans extraction, was it? A quick glance at him told her that if she wanted to have any use of him at all they’d better have a rest now, he sure looked like he could need some.
Gríma made no objections, a rest was something he’d
desired for quite some time now. He collapsed, more or less, in
front of the woman who had called herself Imaén, on the spot
she did assign. They were now at the edge of the forest, where the
fog had yield and given way for more ordinary darkness, much to
He watched Imaén as she searched her saddle-bags for something to eat; he did not carry anything himself, except from his clothes, more or less. He hadn’t even had the time to get his books, which grieved him badly. For what use were they in Edoras, who would ever read them? His only hope was that they’d still be there, once the war was over.
-If Saruman wins, that is. This treacherous thought came, unbidden, and it was not for the first time either. He tried to get rid of it, instead focusing on Imaén and her doings.
Where could Saruman have found this girl? She was certainly not from Edoras, but he could not remember ever seing her in Isengard either.
She was rather short, and unlike most Roharrim, riders as they were, she moved with smooth grace. And silently; he had especially noticed the smoothness with which she had moved through the forest. Quiet, soft, but also somehow ...with the force of habit?
Rohan were a kingdom of open spaces, and Gríma was pretty sure that this... this Imaén, was not really from Rohan at all.
He could se her rather clear now, as midnight had come and gone, a slight touch of gray in the east now portended dawning.
At ease in this forest? As far as Gríma knew, only Elves lived in the woods these days. All humans in Middle Earth had built themselves cities and castles. And Elves were tall and fair, those shimmering people of the light... whomever this Imaén might be, an Elf she was not. She was dressed in a dark cloak, reaching all the way down to her feet. It had a cowl, which mostly put her face in shadow. It reminded of the sort of clothing usually worn in Gondor. But then again, he thought, the clothes weren’t necessarily saying anything about her origin.
Imaén felt his investigating gaze upon her. She sat down,
with the saddle-bag in her knee, picked up some bread and a skin-sack
filled with water, which she offered him. It was obvious to her
that he was very hungry, but he covered his eagerness most politly.
And most unecessarily, as Imaén reflected, she had already
noticed that he carried neither food nor any kind of luggage. Still,
she found herself somehow delighted by his manners; she had thought
that he would hardly have any dignity at all, and courtesy was surely
the last thing she would have expected from a traitor.
Gríma drank deeply from the water-sack, and then he felt Imaéns eyes upon him. She was seemingly... amused? But it was hard to see her facial expressions properly under the cowl.
-It is seldom wise to leave whitout water, not even when one’s in a hurry, she commented.
-True enough, but one who rides with urgent announcements learns how to... make prioritys, Gríma dryly replied.
-Maybe so, but the harbinger who rides of whitout any water at all, is a harbinger who cannot count on an arrivial with his tongue safe and sound, Imaén continued. One must wonder what kind of message that might be so important that the harbinger chooses to leave such a... fundamental detail behind?
Gríma glared at her.
-The harbinger who chooses not to bring water is a man who rides for his life, bringing his message to his masters ear, and nowhere else. That harbinger would not let his dry tongue slip and his word fly to the ears of a guide, they are far to valuable for that.
Imaén was impressed. He could retort, this one, and was obviously used to slip away by rhetorical means. It seemed like she had underestimated him.
-Now, pray tell me, which are the news you bring from Isengard, Gríma continued, whith which message were you sent by Saruman?
Imaén glimpsed at him, evaluating, and then answered;
-No message came from his mouth to my ear. My task here, as you so correctly pointed out, is to guide, for ancient forces are acting this night, marching towards Helms Deep.
At those words Gríma twitched, and stared at her in distrust, but nothing in her look were indicating that she was telling him anything but the truth. Imaén saw and read his expression, and she could hardly repress a smile, for she had indeed told him nothing but the truth, though the words were cleverly angled, to suit the mind of her listener.
Gríma hesitated, but then asked her, anxiously;
-Then, which are these forces?
She looked him straight in the eye as she replied;
-That is not for me to tell you. Like your message are for your masters ears only, so is this knowledge not for yours.
Distrust still remained in Gríma’s eyes. Imaén smiled at him, intending to calm him, and changed the subject.
-We should remain her for a while, the night is not yet over.
Gríma snorted at her.
-Darkness hardly scares me, and my message is urgent. I should be on my way as soon as possible.
-Of course, Imaén sweetly purred, But if the harbinger wants to get his message safely to its receiver, he should indeed wait until dawn. For even though darkness does not frighten him –and now Imaén smiled ironicly- nevertheless, there are forces which he should not challenge.
Gríma hesitated, but then he seemed to accept her words. Honestly, he weren’t very eager to get into that mist again, and all this speech of ancient powers scared him far more than he was willing to admit, even to himself. He looked at Imaén, and again he wondered whom she might be. He decided to carefully gratify his curiousity, for he was now certain about her being one of Saruman’s servants. This gave him no reason to trust her, but his instincts told him that a prudent questioning wouldn’t do any harm.
-You have not yet told me who you are, or how you came to be a servant of the white wizard, he said frankly, but I can easily tell that your’e not from Rohan, nor are you from Gondor, if I might guess.
-Guess if you like, Imaén said, that is no concern of mine. You are right, though, it would be foolish of me to pretend that I was from Rohan. And I have been to Gondor, that’s for sure, but I am not Gondorian either. Tell me, what would be your next guess?
-I do appreciate riddles, but this seems not to be a time for such entertainments, Gríma said, annoyed. Well, my next guess would be that you’ve resided with the elves in the woods, though I see clearly that you aren’t one of them.
Imaén looked at him, amused. Attentive he was, and clever at stinging with his words... very well, but so was she.
-So, you can see that? Well, one can see a lot if one has got two eyes, is not blind and if the sun is shining, she answered, teasingly.
-One sure could, Gríma quickly retorted, but considering there is no sun shining over us, I venture to say I can see good enough. Now tell me where you come from.
Imaén was now mostly delighted. She seldom got this much pleasure out of a conversation, she was even convinced that this man wasn’t just a simple little traitor. Surely he was a scholar, probably one whom with those rethorical skills had been an esteemed member of Edoras’ court. The thought struck her;
-They named him Wormtongue... most likely because of this talent with words... How typical of these... unsophisticated Roharrim to name one so clever such a vulgar name.
-From what I can tell of your speech, I’d almost guess that your origin isn’t Roharrim either, so trust not only what your eyes can tell. However, in this case you’re right, for I have indeed resided in the woods. But not only in those you might know about; In fair Clairion am I born, the forest located at lake Claivón, the one your people call lake Rhûn.
Sometimes, truth is the best lie available. Imaén knew this better than most, but she didn’t want him to take her words for plain fairy-tales. By telling him about herself she hoped to win his reliance, and once she’d got that, it wouldn’t be to hard to make him expose a weak spot...
A leak, as you might put it, where her mind could easily sneak in... Yes, reliance would be a good way into Orthanc.
And if he didn’t trust her... well, she did have acces to other means as well.
-Lake Rhûn? Pure amazement was what Gríma felt as
he anew contemplated the woman before him. Could that really be
where she came from? As far away as that was, then what on earth
was she doing here? But, then again, it would explain her... accustomednes
with this forest. That is, if she was telling the truth.
-So, you’re coming all the way from Rhûn? That is truly a far-away land... I did not know that Isengard had connections in Rhûn.
-There are most certanly other things, of which you know nothing, said Imaén dryly, but from Rhûn I am.
She decided to steer the conversation away from the somewhat risky question that might appear, about her actual errand in Rohan:
-But even though I come from afar, you were right in your second assumption as well, I have indeed met with Elves. Not very far from here either. Though it’s now a long time ago, she added. She had just recalled Saruman’s doings with Orcs, most certainly were neither Elves a safe subject.
But Gríma did not seem to be bothered by her words, his mind appered to have wandered of on a different path.
-You said that you were born in a forest, he said thoughtfully.
-That I said, in fair Clairion. Deep and wide is that forest, a good land is it to live in, she replied.
-Then a country such as this must seem barren to you, and severe, he continued, inquiring.
Imaén glanced at him. Did he allude to anything specificly? As a matter of fact she had felt very relaxed in the presence of the trees, had he noticed that her guard was down?
But no, he seemed to be lost in thoughts, he didn’t even look at her. Instead, he gazed out in the dark, over the wide landscape.
-A harsh land it is... a cold land, a land for cold people to dwell in, he continued, but Imaén understood that he was now speaking mostly to himself. He sighed, and she felt a sting of pity for him, for such words often alludes to the speaker. But no, this was not a time to let emotions speak, she must concentrate; perhaps this would be a chance for her to influence on him? She carefully moved herself closer, and said, softly;
-Indeed, this land seems cold. But pray tell me, all of the people who lives here couldn’t let themselves be mould by the same winds that moulds this very landscape?
Gríma twitched at first, when perceiving her so close, but then replied, stifled;
-Wild is the wind, that blows trough their hearts, hard are the men... and cold the women.
-Ah, Imaén thought, So that’s it? With a statement like that, he practicly told her himself how to best pull her wiles upon him. if she’d known that it would be as easy as this... She had to strain not to smile triumphant as she softly laid a hand on his arm.
-Truly, she purred, I am glad to have lived protected from such winds; In Clairion the wind is mild. There, the people are formed by the tree’s singing and by the clear reflections from Claivón... a peaceful land.
Gríma stiffened, tenderness was not a thing lavishly spent on him, and for a moment this gesture made him suspicious. But it seemed to be harmless enough, this hand resting on his arm... so pale, it stod out in bold relief against his darker robes, white and fragile... For a moment he thought he saw another hand, in another place... In another time, as it seemed to him. White was that hand, too, and fragile it appered to be. But that hand was hard, knew well how to wield a sword. And never had that hand reposed tenderly upon him...
Imaén watched as a number of emotions flew over his face.
He was obviously not sure of her intentions... But on the other
hand, he did no attempt to shake her hand of. Very well, a conquest...
-Yes, she continued quietly, Indeed a peaceful land, moss grows there, to ease the wanderers path, birds sing the tired ones to sleep.
With her free hand, Imaén pulled down the cowl from her head and looked at Gríma.
-A... a fair country indeed, it seems, he mumbled. Her look made
him feel unsure, he couldn’t see properly... it seemed tender
enough, but deep down in her eyes... were there not... something
harsh? He hesitaded, but when she spoke again, he could trace nothing
but affection in her voice. It was so smooth, almost veiled;
-A fair country it is... one where even the fleeing pray finds shelter and rest...
Imaén leaned even closer, and spoke quietly, into his ear. He seemed to make a small attempt to pull away, but then he relaxed. She stroke his shoulder gently.
Gríma suddenly felt rather worried, that soft voice, surely
it reminded him of something? He shouldn’t listen, he mustn’t...
Yet, when she mumbled in his ear, and he felt her warm breath on
his cheek, all his apprehensions slipped away to some vague part
of his mind.
Imaén lifted a hand and stroke a dark lock away from his forehead. She let her fingers glide down his cheek and over his lips, lightly, softly... she felt his lip tremble. Close now, oh, so close...
With a gentle grip of his jaw, she turned his head towards her, careful... he didn’t look aside. For a moment, Imaén hesitated... was it pity that threatened to take advantage of her? But she pushed that feeling away.
And she did not allow herself the slightest smile of exultation as she lifted her eyes, and gazed deep into Gríma’s eyes.
Gríma took a deep breath. Her eyes... so... Green they
were, as would they reflect the trees in that forest she’d
spoken of, but in their center, there was a ring of yellow, a ring
of fire, shining and subjugating... Afterwards, he couldn’t
tell how he’d been able to see the color of her eyes. He supposed
that the moon must have reflected in them and lightened them up.
-But there was no moon on this night... he objected. But that thought disappered as abruptly as it came. He suddenly felt light, unconcerned... and when the woman leaned towards him, he anticipated her, and kissed her with a heat, an ardour that would have amazed him... would he only have been able to think clearly.
Imaén closed her eyes and graciously allowed herself to
be kissed. Combine business with pleasure... well, of course. And
by the way he touched her, by the way his eyes glowed, now whitout
any trace of questions or fears, she could tell that she’d
fulfilled her task well; she could tie him round her finger if it’d
Yes, the spell was truly well fulfilled, she reflected with a smile. A smile which she addressed to Gríma as she let herself sink down to the ground beneath him.
The last thing Gríma could recall from that night was hardly even a thought, but more of a sensation of long, soft hair... this had awaked diffuse memories of something else, of blond locks... he was confused by the fact that these memories didn’t cause him pain, but he knew no longer why that would surprise him, or whom he’d remember... the heat he felt inside was now covering everything else, and he kissed her again, and again, this woman, driven by this hunger he did not even understand.
Slowly crept the morning light over the flat land, again a new day was dawning. Imaén adjusted her cloak tighter and stifled a shiver; in the world that now grew lighter, the raw air of the night seemed to remain clinged even though the night was over.
The wide landscape was empty now; the Hourns had past by during the night, not disturbing those who’d searched shelter in the edge of the forest. Imaén felt a sting of loss, after all, they were trees, and finding a forest out here, even one that was wandering... that was enough to awake a homesickness, slightly aching.
Now, there were no tracks of any forest, quiet and empty lay the land around her. Imaén sighed at herself. This was certainly not a time to bury oneself in such sentimental emotions. The sun would be up soon enough, she had matters to take care of.
Imaén looked at the man who lay beside her, he had probably neither seen nor heard the forest move. Well, she had indeed taken an effort though, to make him pay his attention to other things.
Vulnerable he seemed to her where he lay; even in sleep had he a tensed expression, eyebrows frowned. He was trembeling slightly in the chilly morning breeze. Imaén resisted a sudden impulse to wrap her cloak around him, to warm him. She shook her head, had she not decided to put away her homesickness just a moment ago? Well, same could apply on every irrelevant emotion, he would wake up soon anyway, would he not? And however, she still needed her cloak.
Gríma woke up with a feeling of emptiness, it was as if he had lost something during the night. He wringed, why was he lying on such a hard bed? And it was cold, he hadn’t been this cold when he fell asleep... nor had he been alone when he fell asleep? A pleasant feeling came to him, but disappered as he anew was taken over by that other feeling, a feeling that he had lost something important... he hastingly sat up and looked around him.
Imaén met his hunted eyes, and saw how he was calmed immediatly by her presence. Good, those emotions found and awaken inside of him would make a way into Orthanc through his mind, a way for her to use as it pleased her. Now, she would only have to make sure that every trace was well hidden, so that her carefully made footprints wouldn’t be discovered, would Curunír wish to press his little messenger...
Gríma felt how his breath fastened at the sight of her.
The first rays of the rising sun fell on her the very moment she
turned towards him, and so he was now able to see her clearly for
the first time. And what he saw amazed him. The first thing that
cought his eye was what he had not been able to see in the night;
her hair. It had the color of fire, that of the embers in a fire
place... heavingy it fell over her shoulders, beautifully bringing
out a face with high cheek-bones, pointy chin and with large eyes
which were, were... he swallowed hard.
But, he realized, bothered in his contemplation, he had forgotten her name? He scanned his mind, he could not have forgotten it already? She, who had, well, the two of them who had... and she had said that, that... Gríma hesitated. What had she said? The events of night suddenly seemed diffuse. Instead, a feeling of bustle started to make itself known, a feeling that he should be on his way to someplace, somewhere else...
Imaén rose, seemingly not aware of the expressions and
questions she saw in Gríma’s face. She went after his
horse, and in an assail of... pity, tenderness, she assumed; a part
of her was laughing at the part that untied her own water-sack and
instead tied it onto his saddle. The other part of her hissed at
the first to shut it’s mouth.
-He is supposed to get safe and sound into Orthanc, is he not? And besides, I am used with fast and watching. He most certainly is not.
She could make no objections to this argument of hers, he had fallen asleep almost immediatly last night, obviously exhausted. Imaén shook her head, but let the water-sack remain tied to his saddle. She led the horse towards him.
Gríma rose. For a moment, he was over-powered by that strange
feeling he experienced just by looking at her, and he thought he
wanted to drop every other task, wishing for nothing but to sink
to the ground again, at her side... but a look at her face told
him to avoid that, she seemed so... repudiant now. He hesitated,
and then the moment was lost. Without a word she handed him the
reins, and he stepped forward.
He looked at her once more, tried to catch her gaze... And there it was, then, there was those glowing circles in her eyes, inciting him;
With sudden haste, he got onto his horse and urged it onwards. He spurred his steed into gallop and then he rode, with no glance back.
Imaén watched him disappear, and she felt so strangely...
divided. On one hand, she wished to dance and claps her hands; here
rode her link straightly into Orthanc, here was the chance to put
her apprehansions to peace, and hopefully, she’d be able to
break the powers of the white wizard...
On the other hand, she almost felt like she’d want to cry, it was as if she’d sent a dear friend into death... or worse.
-Dear friend? She snorted. Nonsense. She mustn’t allow herself to to get seduced by such unimportant things as emotions now, when she was so close to this goal, to actually accomplish something! And when it came to that, she thought, what was he, anyway, but a traitor, a simple deserter?
-No, thought Imaén, a chance to get into Curunír’s nest, that is all he is, this... this Wormtongue.
Gríma rode with great haste, all the exhaustion he had
felt the night before was now gone. For some reason he’d got
further north than he had calculated, but the lost time was easy
to make up for with a rested horse. Rohan’s horses was well
known for their rapidity.
Dizzy, turbid pictures came unbidden to his mind, the night past seemed filled with impressions which wanted to make themselves known, but for some reason, they all escaped as he tried to get a better glimpse of them. All he could make out was that he must have dreamt, and that this dream must have been about Éowyn, this proud, fair maiden who’d caught his desires and his heart... but whenever he tried to get hold of it, this memory slipped, untrustworthy, in a haze.
With a sudden despair he pushed these fragments of reminiscences away. Of more importance now was to prepare for the meeting with Saruman, prepare to tell that he had failed, and to prepare himself for the wizards wrath, which was most likely to come. He had to think methodically of what to say, and how to put things; he had to convince his master that everything was not yet lost, that there was still the possibility to win this war through tactical means. And after all, tatactics was something Gríma mastered.
Northwards now, closer and closer to the gates of Isengard. Gríma
felt how the pressure grew lighter the closer he got, surely would
Saruman welcome him in spite of his failiures, after all, Gríma
knew the mind of Théoden king. Yes, whitout a doubt, he could
still be of assistance to Saruman... there was no reason for anxiety.
Not so far now, to the safety... well, at least security, inside
the gates of Isengard.
The morning, which had come with a promise of sunshine, seemed to have changed it’s mind, for after the first rays of light, the sun had wrapt itself up in haze and mists, and the day was now gray. Gríma let his horse trot up at the way to the gates, momentarily pondering about that mist. Was there not something he should remember, something that had to do with mist?
Consequently, he was not at all prepared for the sight he met, where the secure, impregnable Isengard should have been; destruction, sheds and scaffolds had been demolited, and all over the place were there pools of water and mud, as had a violent downpour ravaged here.
Gríma dropped his jaw, all blod vanished from his face, and he felt how his legs started to tremble, he simply couldn’t help it. A number of thoughts went through his head, though they weren’t sane, none of them could clear out this situation... In panic, Gríma turned his horse, wishing for nothing but to escape. As he did this, he became aware of some figures beside him, some small and one tall, high... treelike? Tree? Gríma felt how panic increased;
-Not trees, oh, no, no, not trees, not now... he fought desperatly to turn his horse the other way, to get away...
And then he felt, oh, horror, how something grabbed him, lifted
him from the horse, and high... it wasn’t exactly painfull,
the grip was rather careful, though that was no consolation to Gríma,
who now hung high above the ground. And like this was not enough,
the creature now spoke, demanding answers... Gríma tried
desperatly to get himself together.
-Gríma is my name, advisor of the king of Rohan, urgent tidings am I bringing from Théoden to the master of Isengard, he rattled on, intensively hoping that this creature would understand him, let go of him...
Let go of him it did, actually, he found himself crawling on the ground, panting. Supposing that his words were accepted, he continued;
-No one else could be spared for such dangerous journy, I was sent, but my way has led me further than I thought, a long detour to the north I had to take, and wolves and orcs were following my tracks.
-Wolves? Why did I say that? And north? Though, I came from north, did I not? And all this cursed mist...
To all of this, the creature remained silent, making Gríma hesitant. He risked a quick glance around him, for one of his fundamental instincts were to always assure himself that he had a way to escape. But nothing like that seemed to be available here, and this creature... thing... it gazed at him... Gríma twisted, uncomfortable. Didn’t it belive in him?
Apperantly not so, for now the tree-creature spoke;
-Ho, hrrrmmmm... well, I expected you to come, Wormtongue.
Gríma stiffened and made a face. Damned.
-Gandalf made it here first –so I know what I need to know about you, and what will be done with you. Place all the rats in the same trap, said Gandalf –and so shall it be. I am now the master of Isengard, and Saruman is locked up in his tower. You might aswell go there and bring him all the messages you can think of.
Gríma couldn’t help the feeling of relife which came over him.
-Yes, let me go there, I know the way, so let me go, he prayed, thinking;
-Fools are they, beliving they could keep such a mighty man capture in a tower... surely has he got a plan, a... well, anything, once I get in there I could, well...
-You knew the way, I sure belive you did, the Ent interrupted his thoughts, but things has changed a bit. Come see for yourself.
Gríma hastingly got onto his feet, eager to get away from this horrible creature. He made a wry face of pain, the Ent had not been too gentle, after all, when he lifted Gríma from his horse. Limbing, he made his way to the gates. But once he got there, he turned abrubtly towards the ones who had followed him, pure anxiety in his face, for between him and Orthanc lay water, a river, filled with mud and single pieces of wood from the broken sheds. Was this all that remained of the proud Isengard? When he had seen it, it had been powerful, mighty and invincible had it seemed to him then, but now...
-Let me go again, let me leave, he whimpered, my errand is useless now!
-It probably is, the Ent replied sternly, but there is but two choises for you now: to stay here under my supervision untill Gandalf returns with your true master, or, I suppose I should say you former master... or else, you’ll have to wade through the water. Now, which is it?
Gríma shivered. So that wizard should come here? With Théoden? It would probably be to much to ask for, that Rohan would show him mercy once more... they most certainly wouldn’t if they found him here... he put one foot in the water, but as the chill of it penetrated his boot, he gasped and pulled back. Roharrim’s footwear were not made to be used in water.
For the last time, Gríma turned to face the one who’d named himself master of Isengard;
-I cannot swim, he said, still in vain praying for an allowance to leave, anywhere... But no.
-This water isn’t very deep, only dirty, scoffed the creature, I do belive that dirt is your true elementh, is it not, master Wormtongue? Now, get out there, hurry up!
Gríma swalloved what self-esteem he had left and went into the water. Cold it was, and truly dirty, the creature had been right on that point. He didn’t bother about the hint which had followed that comment, just managing to cross all this water seemed too much to him. The water made him heavy, pulling his clothes, chilling him... it was now so deep that he could barely keep his head over the surface of it, and he toyed with the thought that he might just allow himself to sink, stop breathing, just fall down in a cold, eternal darkness... but then he hit something hard; a plank, hidden in the mud, but still floating. The survival instinct became superior again, and Gríma clinged onto the plank, desperatly paddeling with his feet.
When he finally hit the stairs of Orthanc, he was to tired to realize that he had made it; that he was really there. Exhausted, he crept a few steps up, just out of reach for the water, that was enough.
And he had probably remained lying there, had it not been for the fact that someone inside of Orthanc had been on guard, watching his hardships; someone who cared so much for the message the delivery-boy might bring Isengard that he reached out...
And so, Saruman dragged the exhausted Gríma into Orthanc.
Imaén reached her hiding-place among the rocks shortly after
Gríma’s entrance into Orthanc. She had left more or
less at the same time as had he, but she had been forced to make
a detour to get to her den unseen; the sneaker’s, the spy’s
way up through the cliffs.
After she’d taken care of her horse, Imaén pulled her cloak tighter and climbed down towards the gates of Isengard. Now, she would have to wait and watch, await an opportunity... she hid in the shadow behind a rock, which made an excellent look-out; a place from which she was able to see the gate; watch without being seen.
She noticed the little ones, who had arrived with the Ents, seemingly, they had found supplies which had made it through the ravage, and Imaén contempled them and their doings. She felt now that she was hungry, and thirsty aswell; damned this pity which made her spare her water-sack! She had quenched her thirst earlier in Isen, but now, while watching those small creatures eat, this was no consolation to her. However, this hunger-feeling was somehow replaced by surprise, as she saw one of the small creatues down at the gates pick up a small object, put something in it, and then produce smoke from his mouth! She had never seen anything quite like it, but the little ones seemed to appreciate it. Imaén had to choke a small laughter at the sight of their pleased faces, it was obvious that they considered this smoking to be a great pleassure.
When she’d assured herself that everything seemed to be at peace around Isengard, Imaén decided that it was time to find out whether or not Gríma really had made it into Orthanc. Though she was rather certain that this was the case, she’d like to ferret about a bit in there, to get a conception of what could be done... Maybe, there was mighty things, which could be... made unserviceable? Wizards, as Imaén had learn, has got a certain predilection for transferring their powers to a various number of objects. And though these magical objects could indeed increase the wizard’s powers, Imaén thought this kind of magic to be perilous. By dividing power like that, a magican would sustain heavy losses if this magical thing would fail him, or would it be destroyed. Imaén preferred not to rely on such aid, whole an within herself she was very much aware of wherein her powers lay.
The magic of mind, this, which would now allow her an insight into the sealed Orthanc...
Imaén smiled, pleased, made sure she was sitting comfortable, and closed her eyes.
This is Orthanc. High rooms and halls, black stone and gray, mighty, magnificent vaults... Imaén perceived Gríma’s mind vaguley, and searched her way towards it. Her impression of the tower was not that of one who can see it, but more that of a blind, who’s fingertips are gently touching a face; an appreciation of the room, but also the room as it had appered to the ones who had dwelled there. Imaén felt a wisdom, ancient and almost pompous, which made an odd contrast to the feelings Imaén recieved of small-minded gread... and of pain. These impressions were clearer, if yet smaller; humans had suffered in here, recently. Not only humans, perhaps, Imaén could trace strange elements aswell, but she paid them no attention. She reached her searching mind towards the fresh pain which had caught her attention, which had led her way in.
Gríma sat shrunken by a pillar in one of the many halls
of Orthanc. He was faint and discouraged after Saruman’s cross-examination,
the white wizard had shaken him roughly and refused to listen to
any of his excuses. Late, but bitterly, had Gríma learnt
that Saruman’s nature was but little forgiving, and he had
not even tried to bring up any of those half-shaped plans he’d
nourished on his way here, the shock at his arrival had chased any
hope of victory; Isengard was defeated. Shivering in his wet clothes,
he’d eventually retired from the furious wizard, and, as had
he so many times before, he searched for shelter among the shadows.
Heavy drops of water fell from his hair down to his face, they glistened
on his cheeks like tears. With an impatient movement he swept them
-So this was all that became of it, years and years of work, he thought bitterly. He should have known better...
-But no, he objected, how could I possibly have acted differently? With such a prize, how could I resist?
And, also as many times before, his thought went to the fair, but oh, so cold woman, for whom he would have done anything... had she only looked at him. Saruman had not taken long before utilizing this, but, at least it was for a high prize Gríma had finally sold himself.
He wrenched, uneasily. Though this thought had deafened his conscience before, it didn’t seem that much of a consolation now. Gríma suddenly realized that he wasn’t sitting very comfortable, something was poking his hip. Annoyed, he gropsed for that bothering something, but his irritation changed into wonder as his hand gripped something soft, and he pulled out the water-sack.
It was wet and dirty now, naturally, as was he himself, but he knew that it had been made of an light kind of leather, smooth and soft. He had moved it from his saddle and tied it onto his belt because that had been more comfortable, that was right... but where had he got it? He hadn’t carried water, nor anything else for the matter, when he left Edoras, and by the way, this wasn’t Roharrian craft.
The sight of it made him somehow alarmed and reliefed at the same time, but he found no resonable explenation to any of those feelings. Feelings were in fact something that seemed rather strange to him most of the time; people who, without any logical reason, ran around and did things simply because they felt like doing them had always filled him with wonder, and sometimes they had bothered him. Therefore, he was mostly disturbed by the fact that he could not explain his sudden emotions towards this strange object.
He contempled the water-sack carefully, but as it naturally had no answears for him, he sighed and tied it back onto his belt. When it came to that, to find oneself without water is seldom wise. He might aswell keep it.
Imaén let her mind gently touch with Gríma’s,
she could feel his pain, and then the sudden surprise as he found
the water-sack. But what was most present was the fear and that
hopeless despair, which surrounded the man like a shadow. Imaén
hesitated once more, was it really her right to put more pressure
But again, she pushed her doubts away.
-And have made all these efforts for nothing? She scolded herself. Well, everything would not exactly have to be considered as an effort... Imaén mentally slapped herself.
-Concentration! She extended her mind, let it float out and surround Gríma until she could see what he saw, through his eyes. She now felt more distinctly, because it affected him so forcefully, how the Istari’s frustration and fury pulsated through Orthanc. She realized that Gríma must be rather deep down in the tower, for very little light had found it’s way into this hall. Curunír was obviously some floors up, she’d have to be careful not to come to close upon him; surely he would be aware of such an intrusion immediatly. Imaén decided to examinate Orthanc fully through Gríma, well hidden behind his mind. But before she had time to put hs plan to an action, she became aware of a sudden anxiety; someone or something approached Isengard from outside...
With a jerk, Imaén returned to her carnal reality. Once she’d opened her eyes she could feel how the ground quake as with thunder, and shortly after that she could hear the confirming hoof beats; riders approached towards the gates.
A whole troop were coming out of the mist, twenty or more. Imaén
moved deeper into the shadow, waiting. They were Roharrim, most
of them, and she saw the other Istari, Gandalf, next to an old man
with a majestic look. There was also in the crowd an elf, as Imaén
noticed with a certain interest, and a creature which must be a
dwarf. Imaén had never before met with any dwarf, nor had
she heard the elves speak well of them. The bigger the surprise
then, seing these two, the elf and the dwarf, together; sharing
the same horse. Imaén was most curious, and listened eagerly
as the company went towards the little ones at the gates. Maybe
she would get to know who they were aswell?
A sudden thought struck her; Gandalf, being here now, with these comrades, surely this must mean that they, with help from the hourns, had been gained a victory against Curunír’s giant army! Her respect for them, and for the ents, increased.
But, they had marshed on the bidding of Gandalf, this new white Istari, who was here now, once more... what could all of this mean? Imaén was suspicious, still, she felt less aggressive towards the wizard now; after all, he was a friend of Fangorn.
And, travelling in the company of an elf surely spoke for his sake in the eyes if Imaén.
Imaén listened up again as the little ones intruduced themeselves
as hobbits, and hailed the older man as king. The situation became
all clear to her and confirmed what she had already guessed; Théoden,
king of Rohan, surely this ment that the orcs had been defeated
at Helms Deep. She woke up from her ponderings as the party at the
gates split up; Gandalf and king Théoden with his men went
to speak with the ents, whilst the two hobbits remained at the gates
with the elf, the dwarf and one of the men, who appearantly didn’t
belong to Roharrim.
Imaén overheard them talking about food, and smiled again at the little ones, as they seemed to her to be a funny and cheerful people. But as they left the gates, headed for one of the remaining buildings –one which contained food, she guessed- she left her pondering about them and returned to matters of her own.
Was it likely to think that Gandalf would fight Curunír? Imaén doubted this, but surely, they would come to some kind of meating... probably outside Orthanc, she thought. Imaén glanced around, quickly, and then quietly hurried away to a new spot, just a little bit closer, from which she could be sure to see Orthanc. Once she’d assured that her hiding was safe enough, she planned to enter Gríma’s mind again. However, she got interrupted as the hobbits and their fellows came out from the building and had a seat not far from her.
She felt a bit bothered by this, silence was not necessarily for her skill, but it sure made it easier, especially in a situation as precarious as this. And yes, their conversation was rather bothersome for that matter. As far as Imaén could tell, they seemed to be excanging stories, they spoke of the ents and of Saruman.
Imaén was practically born curious, but right now, she wished for nothing but silence; could they not have kept those stories for another time? Were there no matters of greater importance than comrades doings since last seen? But appearantly not so, they smoked now, whilst the hobbits entertained the others with a comprehensive account of the assault of Isengard.
Imaén, who had been there, found it not to be as interesting as did the hobbits’ audience, she was absent-minded wondering when they were planning to take a leave. But then, her attention was caught as the conversation took a new start. She thought she had heard... she listened sharply as one of the hobbits spoke:
-...From the mist came a man on an exhausted horse, he seemed to be tired and distorded himself, too. Completly on his own. When he came out of the mist and suddenly saw all the devastation he just sat there, mouth wide open, and didn’t seem to notice us at all. And then, when he finally did, he screamed and tried to ride of again. But Treabeard lifted him right out of the saddle, and the horse ran off, terrified.
Imaén thoughtfully bit her lip. Hobbits were vivid storytellers, no doubt about it. But for some reason, she wasn’t really amused... she, who had scared him in the forest, surely could she find it funny that an ent had literally lifted him from his horse? And yet...
-He said that his name was Gríma, and he claimed to be friend and counsellor to Théoden, the hobbit continued. But he gave Treabeard such a sidelong glance, and me, I thought he was lying. And Treabeard must have thought the same, he called the man Wormtongue, and he wasn’t to happy about that, the man.
-Shouldn’t think he was, thought Imaén with a certain indignation. She felt strangely divided.
-Well, like a worm he crawled at the ground and whimpered, and Treabeard said, that Gandalf had said, that the man should be allowed to enter Orthanc. And he seemed to be glad about that, until he saw what it looked like behind the walls, but Treabeard didn’t give in, the man had to wade through the water, and he got in at last like a wet rat!
-I suppouse you would speak differently about it, were you to wade there yourself, midget, she thought.
This midget, however, continued;
-I’d like to know, though, whether it was true, what he said, whether he had served the king?
-He did, the dark-haired man replied. But he was also a spy for Saruman. The mere sight of this, which he considered so mighty, torn to pieces... it must almost have been enough of a punishment to him. I fear, though, that events far worse than this awaits him.
At these words, Imaén felt a chill run down her spine,
so cold that it made her gasp. For a moment, she lay, heart beating
hard, convinced that they must have heard her, but they just kept
on talking. Imaén watched the man closely, there was something
about him... the more she saw of him, the taller and brighter he
seemed to her, majestic. Imaén felt, much to her own surprise,
thet her hands were trembeling.
Careful, tentative, she let her mind float towards this man, an attempt to find out whom he might be; only to find that she couldn’t. There was no way through. She should have been able to sense his mind, he was close enough, but a powerful aura surrounded him like a shield, almost blinding to Imaéns inner sight. Hastingly, she pulled back.
He was no common warrior, this one... his powers somehow reminded
her of magic, yet, they were clearly different...
Suddenly, Imaén felt more unsure and hesitating than she’d felt in her entire life; what he had last spoke had scared her. And somehere, in her trained mind, she knew this to be not just words, but more of an prediction...
A ringing voice clang from the gate, through the empty halls of Orthanc. A subjugative voice, mighty and high it clang, and woke up the man who’d been sitting, lost in
Gríma jerked. When such a voice call, you must obey. Few, if any, can resist the biddings of a voice like this. Gríma rose, shivering, and stumbled towards the gate. Once he’d reached it, he hesitated, for the one the voice had called for, Saruman, was nowhere to be seen.
-Well, he won’t get rid of them with less than to respond to their summoning, Gríma thought listlessely.
Since Saruman chose not to appear, Gríma finally pulled the shutter from the look-out window above the gate. He moved to the side as he did this, true to his habit of seeing whitout being seen. But this window was placed too high; he would not be able to see whom had called, were he not to lean forward and look. Which was not his intention, the hardships of this day had been enough, he thought. It would favour neither him nor Saruman, were he to get an elvish arrow through his neck now. Or why not an orcish. Anyhow, whomever had called did not do so again, he would have to answer.
-Who is this? He asked, And what do you want?
At the sound of his own voice he stopped, for it seemed so strange to him, thin and unacquainted. Was this the very voice that so cunningly had brewed the sweetest lies and poured them into Théoden’s ear? And Théoden, this decrepit lord, whom had allowed himself to be led astray and get weakened, was he the very man who had straightened up so forcefully and thrown Gríma out of his court? Thrown Gríma, son of Gálmod, out, forced the powerful one to become an exile, an...
-Go fetch us Saruman, since you’ve now become his lackey, Gríma Wormtongue! And spill no more of our time!
-Lackey? Gríma was drawn back to the now. Yes, maybe that was a word that suited him. Gríma the lackey, Gríma the harbinger, a new message to your masters ear. He shut the window and went towards the graceful stairs which led upwards, to Saruman’s chambers.
As he entered the stairs, he suddenly felt strangely distant, as were he watching himself from the outside. He could see his feet move on, step after step, but it was as would he have seen them from afar. The watersack hit his leg, and whithout giving it any thought, he reached out for it and grasped it. Strange as it might seem, it felt more stable to him than did the handrail. Gríma shook his head. Most likely, he was going mad. Anyone could loose their sense in Orhanc. The question was what he was doing here at all.
-To bring your message to your masters ear, came the answer, and to his ear only.
However, Saruman seemed to know the contents of this message already,
he payed Gríma no more attention than an abstracted nodd
as the man entered the study.
-Gandalf wish to speak... said Gríma, but Saruman snapped;
-Gandalf Gray wishes for many things, and right you were to name him Láthspell, for he is indeed ill news. But you tongue has served me enough for now, I will not hear more from you. Go to your chambers and stay away, I wish to speak to Gandalf Stormcrow alone.
Gríma lowered his head as Saruman turned his back at him, and left the room. As he looked back into it, he saw the wizard disappear out to the balcony.
Slowly, Gríma continued to walk up the stairs, on, and on.
-Were time itself meassured in steps, I am assured that the two stairs from here and to my chamber would be the eternity, he muttered.
At the last step of the first stair, he sat down, exhausted. It was not the physical effort, but more the exhaustion of the mind, or at least, so he thought.
He was right outside Saruman’s libary, where invaluable
scrolls were to be found. History, runic words of magic, half forgotten
tales and legends... compared to these collections, the books he
had left behind in Edoras seemed simple. He hadn’t yet had
the opportunity to look more closely into the wizards books, partly
because of the lack of time, but mostly because things of greatest
value and power were kept in here. Saruman did not want the Wormtongue
sneaking in here without being seen to, which was probably a wise
But now, Gríma felt a sudden attraction towards the door. While part of him anxiously glanced down the stairs, an other part of him reached out for the handle, the hand still hesitating. Entering the libary other than in the company of Saruman was forbidden. Strictly forbidden. But this temptation over-powered him, he simply could not resist. Gríma took a deep breath, pressed the handle and pushed the door open.
He had thought it would have given a disclosing screech, but the door slid up soundlessly. The room smelled of dust. Gríma inhaled it; it smelled of books. He was vaguley aware of the fact that the door had been unlocked, but this did not bother him. Anyway, he didn’t seem to have much of a choise now, this was, after all, a libary... and Gríma worshipped books. Quickly, he slunk into the libary and shut the door behind him. It closed as soundlessly as it had opened.
This is the libary of Orthanc. Here, Curunír the wise has had plenty of time to collect sripts from near and afar. Descriptions of faraway lands is here to be found, for Curunír has wandered far and wide. Scripts of magic, scrolls of both truth and myth... Many books of the mythical rings, of Gwaith-i-Midan, the elven smiths, and of Sauron himself... But history is not Curunír’s speciality, in such matters has he often searched his way to Gondor, to the archives of Lord Denethor.
-Lord Denethor knows not that the one he welcomes as a friend might be his worst enemy, and yet he despise the one he thinks to be of no importance... one who’s now clandestinely acting in Orthanc.
Gríma stood, heart pounding, in the libary. It was darkish,
the shutters were partly closed, but he deared not to open them
for the risk of discovey; this window was placed just above the
balkony where Saruman at this very moment did his best to entice
his visitors. No, he’d better not disturb. Only look around
up here, silent and unnoticed.
Gríma walked, silent steps, among the bookhelfs. The room was large, formed as half a circle. The walls were made of the same kind of black stone as were the rest of Orthanc, only, here silvery ornaments were insterted in the wall, truly exquisite decorations. Gríma wondered briefly whether this room had served as a throne-hall in the past, or if it might have been the chambers of someone of great importance; for he had seen nothing like this in the other parts of the tower. He could see the ornaments clearly even though the room was filled with shadows, shimmering silversnakes, coiling over the walls.
Gríma resisted the temptation to reach out and touch them, to let his fingers follow their complicated pattern over the cold stone.
-Later, he told himself, there will be plenty of time for this later on...
He turned back into the room. Saruman’s books... One can carry along no treasure more precious than a great lot of knowledge,.. and standing before the scrolls in here, and the tales they knew to tell, Gríma felt great reverence. He was a man who thought few things worth to respect, or even less worship; he actually quite despised people who so tenderly preserved inherited gems such as old swors. This was something that Roharrim were true masters of, worshiping rusty old weapons, thought Gríma contemptously. Whilst books... ah, now, that was something completly different.
His heart was still pounding, and he could feel his cheeks heatening. All this knowledge!
He took a few steps further into the room, to get a survey...
At a pillar in the libary of Orthanc lies it’s greatest treasure. Truly, a mighty thing. A thing, but not a thing only, for magical things has a tendensy to develope a... consciousness, if one so wishes. The treasure of Orthanc lies there... not asleep. Defenitly not dead. Nor is it waiting, for waiting implies expectation. This thing expects nothing. It lies... dormant.
Gríma’s eyes were drawn to the pillar, and to the
black stone which lay upon it. The Palantír, the seeing stone.
Certainty run down his spine as would cold water, and he knew that
he was here for it’s sake, for the Palantír.
Gríma shuddered. He tried to get himself together, he would have naught to do with that, Saruman would be furious, would he as much as graze against it.
-The wizard would be furious, would he as much as find you here, came the thought.
-I’ll... He’ll never know, I’m not touching anything... Gríma mumbled, but even as he spoke, he found himself taking several steps forwards, closer to the Palantír. He gazed into it, and he felt somehow divided; scared, yes, but at the same time fascinated, curious... he lifted his hand towards the black stone, this stone, so mighty and yet so impassive about everything surrounding it...
-What would happen if I were to touch it? He whispered, eyes fixed upon the stone. He thought he could see a twinkle of light in it, but he was not sure.
-It is a tool, it obeys anyone who knows how to control it, he thought.
Did he? He had not planned to think such, nor had he even known it until now...
-Who knows how to control it.
Gríma shook his head, and, to his own surprise, found that he had now raised both his hands towards the orb, that he stood there, prepared to lift the Palantír from it’s pillar...
He looked at his hands, and again, it was as were he watching them from a great distance... his eyes went back to the Palantír.
-I could... I could gain power with this. I could rule...he mumbled, dreamingly. He felt... elated.
-Punishments towards my enemies... gain influence... I could... I could even bind Éowyn to me!
-Bind, and be bound...
The palantír seemed to glow softly from inside, but he still wasn’t certain whether this light was real, or if he was imagining it.
-I could build a new powerful dominion, with fair Éowyn
as a queen at my side! I could conquer new domains, new lands...
I could crush Rohan under my heel!
-Crush those who deceived you, punish you enemies...
-Crush them and punish them, punishment to Théoden! And... and to Éomer, that snotty whelp!
Yes, the stone was glowing, no doubt about it. Like a ring of fire in all that black... glowed brighter now, brighter...
-Théoden, yes... and...
-And all of that cursed Rohan!
-...Saruman? Gríma hesitaded. For a moment, he felt it as was he about to wake up from a dream...
-Crush those who failed you... punishments towards you enemies...
Gríma watched as his own hands seemed to be floating of, closer and closer to the Palantír. He blinked, and tried to clear his mind.
-Those who has taken advantage of you... as did Saruman...
-Taken advantage... Gríma blinked once again, uncertainly.
-Saruman’s lackey, Saruman’s delivery-boy, with the power in your hands, what would you do? Would the dog not bite the master who beats it? What will the utilized messenger do, when the stone of power lies in his hands?
Gríma bit his lip, furious all the sudden, and grasped the Palantír. He lifted the orb, which now pulsated, glowing as from a fire within. Even so, it was cool in his hands, cool and heavy. The light from the center of the stone was reflected in his wild gaze.
-Crush his enemies, punish the one who dared to abuse, he said
with conviction, and turned towards the window. Carrying the stone
carefully under his arm, he stepped forward and opened the shutters.
At this, he stopped, peering, as light flowed into the libary. He felt doubt now, how exactly were this punishment suppoused to be arranged? But he had felt so strong, so certain... he had the seeing stone of power, what could possibly go wrong? And yet...
Gríma opened the window and looked out, only to see a sight which filled him with even more doubt; for beneath him stood not one, but several enemies, and he wasn’t sure at all whether Saruman was the one he should claim revenge of first.
For down at the ground stood Gandalf, who had unmasked him in Edoras and overthrown all of his grandious plans, there stood Théoden, that drooling fool –well, that is, he should have been that by now- ...and Saruman at his balcony...
Gríma hesitated. Saruman’s promises had been generous, after all, and the reward he had been promised...
-Fair promises, indeed, but did he ever plan to fulfil them? And in the end, which reward did he give his faithful servant? None but punching and lashing, lackey, punching and lashing...
Gríma rose the Palantír, the seeing stone, over his head, his arms seemed to have a will of their own. It was still cool, the Palantír, an odd contrast to the glow inside it, the power that had been revealed... the stone was awake.
From the ground, Gríma heard nothing but fragments of what was spoken, his blood roared in his ears, and he felt dizzy, as were he adrunk. He thought he heard some words;
-...black hands are reaching out to get you, Saruman!
-Black hands, thought Gríma, well, that at least was true. He had digged into too many foul matters to be able to claim otherwise. His eyes turned back to the Palantír. It glowed at him, waiting. Yes, it did glow, with that power that had belonged to Saruman...
-The power that now is mine, he hissed, maniacally. He was breathing short and hard, panting. The glow was reflected in his eyes. He looked down at Saruman, the stone ready to be thrown.
In that very moment, a scream was heard from below, and a bright
white light, blindening in it’s strenght, shone and turned
the window into a rectangle of white glow. Gríma lost his
breath, lost his grip of the Palantír, and also lost his
foothold. Blinded, he throw an arm up to protect his eyes and tumbled
back into the room. He fell and landed in a heap beside the pillar
which the Palantír had rested upon.
There, he remained for an eternity. At least, this was as far as he could tell, he was completley exhausted and rather shocked. He felt it as had something left him, it might have been hope. It might have been courage. It might have been... something else.
He came to his senses again the moment before Saruman stumbeled into the room. Gríma had time to get a confirming, terrified glimps of the empty pillar before Saruman saw it.
And then the wizard looked at Gríma. Gríma hesitated. And the Istarí’s gaze drilled itself into his mind.
-You,... you little worm! Saruman hissed.
Imaén pulled the horse’s rains impatiently. She was
mostly annoyed, she felt that all her plans had failed. And, as
she contemplated them again, they seemed paltry to her, childish,
whom, indeed, did she think she was? To crush Curunír, physically,
was that not just too naïve? She was vaguely aware of what
Gandalf had managed to do, but her mind had been busy, at work with
Gríma’s. The whole matter had not at all turned out
as smooth and easy as she had whished it to.
Besides, she had qualms of remorse, which was even more annoying.
Well, she told herself, maybe it was all for the best, he could not have hold it for longer, or else Sauron would have noticed him and made him his own. And that was not a mind Imaén wished to argue with. Not in any way.
She risked a quick glance over her shoulder as she got onto her horse. Around Orthanc, things seemed to be under Gandalf’s control, and no pursuers were in sight.
Imaén shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind, she had an undefined feeling that she was fleeing from something. And this she found bothering, undefined feelings weren’t exactly encouraging. Fleeing? What from?
Imaén took a deep breath, and decided that this was simply stress, nothing else. She should get back to Gondor as fast as possible. When it came to that, there was no doubt that Sauron would soon hear tidings of these events in Isengard, and without this support in west, it was most likely that he woldn’t waste more time but attack as soon as he could. Minas Tirith would be the logical target for such a strike, the stronghold which were to protect Middle Earth from Mordor... Surely, this was where Sauron’s army would choose to attack first. And if they didn’t... Gondor’s fortress was strong, and would probably be sealed as a precautionary measure. No matter what Mordor would come up with, Gondor would make a place of refuge.
It was all perfectly logical.
Thought Imaén. And yet, she wondered vagualy what exactly this castle would make a place of refuge from. Somehow, this reasoning didn’t feel very satisfactoring. None of the explenations she had come up with really did. But this one was the best so far.
Imaén shrugged. Somewhere deep inside, she was fully aware that she was guilty of denying emotions. But the rest of her made it’s best to cover these facts. She sighed.
She was about to ride of, when suddenly a shriek reached her ear.
A shrill cry from Orthanc, cut of as suddenly as it had begun.
Imaén shivered. For her, it was as had her consciense slapped her, hard. This cry, this cosciense... Imaén bit her lip and cut the thought. There would be wounded in Minas Tirith. There would be matters to take care of in this... place of refuge.
-One must learn how to... make prioritys, Imaén mumbeled. Abruptly, she turned away from Orthanc and urged he horse into gallop. Her eyes were hard, and through her mind came the echo of a cry, a shrill cry that was suddenly cut of, again and again... Imaén closed her eyes. She bit her lip harder. The taste of blood in her mouth was metallic, but the pain trifling, compared to the one that echoed inside her.
There is no fortress, ever so strong and mighty, there is no wall, even though high and steep, that is able to remain closed to consciense.
A/N: There is more to come! Chapter 8 is on it’s way, lots of Gríma and some of Saruman. Coming soon to a computer near you... ^_~