“Come now.” Legolas said after some tome, as he sat up and Silvren leaned her head against his chest. “Time is passing by and you have yet to tell us your story. Will you not do so?” he asked as he absently stroked Silvren’s hair.
“Well, let me see.” Pippin muttered thoughtfully. Then he and Merry plunged into their story, recalling most of the events that happened to them and Silvren.
Silvren shuddered as she remembered some of the painful lashings and felt tingles spread throughout the faint pink scars that lined her back. She wondered if they would ever go away completely. She curled her toes and stretched her legs as she recalled the burning sensation that consumed her legs as she was forced to run beyond her limit. Legolas felt her edginess and wrapped his arms around her, reminding her that she was safe and he was there to protect her.
“Now that your tale is done, we should go find Gandalf.” Aragorn said as he hopped down from the rocks.
Carefully, they climbed down and made their way across the wasted land, following the cracked flag-stone road towards Gandalf.
“I must pay Saruman a visit.” Gandalf turned around as the companions approached him. “It will be dangerous and most likely useless. Those who wish to come with me, may, but beware of his voice! It attracts people like flies to honey.” Gandalf warned them as they walked to the foot of Orthanc. The black, jagged rock shone like obsidian, sharp and lethal like the blade of an obsidian knife. It was this foreboding tower that Gandalf led the four companions, king and Éomer. They marched up the black stairs, their minds alert to the ever-present danger that surrounded them.
A tall black door stood before them at the top of the stairs. Gandalf knocked on the door with his white staff, a hollow sound vibrated from it, reflecting the hollow heart of Saruman.
“Saruman.” Gandalf called out.
“Show yourself.” Aragorn muttered, gazing up at the ominous door.
“Be careful.” Gandalf replied, slightly turning is head in the ranger’s direction. “Even in defeat Saruman is dangerous.”
“Well let’s have his head and be done with it.” Gimli said impatiently.
“No.” Gandalf crowed. “We need him alive. We need to talk to him.”
“Who’s there? What do you want?” a voice from a window above inquired.
“I know that voice.” Théoden inhaled a sharp breath through clenched teeth. “And I curse the day I first listened to it.” he seethed.
“Go and fetch Saruman, since you have become his footman, Gríma Wormtongue.” Gandalf commanded. “And do not waste our time.”
Silence penetrated the air around them as they waited, unsure of what to expect.
“You have fought many wars and slain many men, Théoden King, and made peace afterwards.” A gentle voice spoke in a melodious tone as the doors opened and they proceeded into a large, ominous chamber. “Can we not take counsel together as we once did, friend? Can we not have peace, you and I?”
Above them on a balcony stood an old man in a cloak of numerous colors that changed as he moved. His hair was long and white with several strands of black around his lips and ears and his eyes were deep and dark.
Silvren shuddered at his voice as she stood beside Legolas; it sounded too much like Gandalf’s.
“Like, yet unlike.” Gimli muttered in a grave voice from the other side of Legolas.
“We shall have peace.” Théoden said as he began to look up at the wizard.
Silvren turned to face him with a startled expression on her face, wanting to cry out and stop him.
“We shall have peaces when you answer for the burning of the Westfold and the children who lie dead there. When the lives of the soldiers whose bodies were hewn even as they lay dead against the gates of the Hornburg are avenged. When you and all your evil works have perished and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. When you hang from the gibbet for the sport of your own crows, we shall have peace.” he said angrily.
Silvren gazed at the king in amazement, a kind old king yet fearful to argue with.
“Gibbets and crows!” Saruman hissed. “Dotard! What is the house of Erol but a thatched barn where brigands drink in their reek and their brats roll on the floor among the dogs? Go back to your huts, I care not.” Saruman said and turned to face Gandalf.
“What do you want, Gandalf Greyham?” he asked bitterly. “Let me guess. The Key of Orthanc or perhaps the Keys of Barad-dûr itself, along with the crowns of the seven kings and the rods of the five wizards!” he shouted.
“Your treachery has already cost the lives of many. Thousands more are now at risk. But you can save them, Saruman. You were deep in the enemy’s counsel.” Gandalf said, ignoring Saruman’s previous comments.
“So you have come here for information.” Saruman smiled. “I have some for you.” he brought out the palantir with a wicked smile. “Something festers in the heart of Middle-Earth. Something you have failed to see, but the Great eye has seen it. Even now he presses his advantage. His attack will come soon.” Saruman said while gazing into the black orb that swirled with orange clouds and then quickly hid it back in his robes. “You’re all going to die. But you already knew this, didn’t you, Gandalf? You cannot think that this, mere Ranger will sit upon the throne of Gondor. This exile who emerged from the shadows will never be king, but Gandalf does not hesitate to sacrifice those closest to him, those he professes to love.”
Silvren shook her head to clear the jumble of words that echoed in her ears. She knew Gandalf would never put them in harms way. He was like a grandfather to her and Aragorn, how could he betray them like that? She blinked back the tears of rage that clouded her eyes, she wanted nothing more than to silence Saruman forever, before he ruined everything she knew and held dear.
“But you, my darling Silvren.” the words took her by surprise as she glanced fearfully up at Saruman, the one who had spoken them. “You are such a wonderful, sweet but poor maiden and do not belong here.” he said as she shuddered at the chills that spiraled up her spine caused by his unusually sweet voice. “You deserve so much more than this. You shouldn’t have to worry about pleasing your father or living up to Legolas’ expectations.”
“Sil, don’t listen to him.” Legolas whispered in a worried voice as he gently shook his head. His brow was creased with concern as his eyes pierced hers.
“I would give you a life of freedom without the restrictions of being Lord Elrond’s daughter. You wouldn’t have to worry about what everyone else thought of you or getting into trouble.”
Silvren couldn’t move as she listened to the melodic tones of his voice. She didn’t want to listen to him, knowing that everything he said was lies, but it sounded so good and so tempting.
“Come up here with me, my child. I can give you much more than Legolas or your father. They are not your true friends; I will be your true friend.” Saruman said sweetly as Silvren began to emotionally shut down. “Think of all the times Legolas has hurt or disappointed you. Will you not come up here? Will you not allow me to treat you like the queen you are?”
“Stop it!” Legolas shouted at Saruman, his rage well past boiling. “Please don’t listen to him.” he quickly turned back to Silvren as he and Aragorn gazed at her with concern, ready to restrain her if she tried to leave them.
“Let her be, Saruman.” Gandalf finally had enough.
“Why should I? I have come so close to acquiring her presence before.” He said and noticed the look of horror that drained the remaining color from Legolas and Aragorn’s face. “Yes,” Saruman smiled evilly. “Your brother Telden. He has been in my charge for many and just recently betrayed me when he kidnapped her and planned on keeping her and the ring for himself.” Saruman said as two Orcs walked up behind Silvren and grabbed her by the arms. One held the back of her neck still while holding a knife to her throat, preventing her from struggling against them.
Legolas quickly turned around when he heard a small gasp slip past Silvren’s lips but froze when he heard Saruman’s poisonous voice, “They will slice her throat if you or any of the others try to save her. Besides, you don’t need her. She’ll do nothing but cause you trouble and lose you the respect of your people when you become king.”
“You lie!” Legolas swung around to face Saruman as the orcs led Silvren up the stairs to the balcony. “I rather deal with her trouble and lose the respect of my father’s kingdom than not have her at all.”
“I’ve heard enough!” Gimli growled. “Shoot him, stick him in the gob.”
“No.” Gandalf said as Legolas quickly reached back for an arrow, more than willing to do as Gimli suggested.
“Come down, Saruman.”
“Save your piety and your mercy for those who need it. I have no use for it.” Saruman said and shot a ball of fire from the bottom of his staff towards the company.
In an instant, Gandalf raised his staff and a blue flash of lightning dissolved the ball of fire in its tracks. “Saruman, your staff is broken.” said Gandalf.
Saruman’s staff shook within his hand then exploded as Gríma walked up behind him.
“Go!” Gandalf demanded.
Saruman cried out and crawled away from the railing and at the same time, a heavy shiny object came falling down towards them. Sparks of different colors flew off the steps as the crystal ball rolled down the stairs and into the pool of water at the bottom.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.