PartIV Chapter 2
The Dark, Quest Day10
So those of The Dark in their Tower planned
To ensnare dwarf and maiden of The Light
The visions of Light’s lives and deaths they scanned
And from these the two Wizards gained insight
Yet The Dark’s mighty ascendancy laid
Not with their findings or capturing foes
But as prophecy told with rings deployed
As the shadows of the darkmoon conveyed
The vowed fusion of the Dark Lords arose
To bring forth Dark’s goal of The Light destroyed
There was a stillness, solemn and sullen, as the sigh before a scowling storm. The Dark was stygian and seething; a sense of sinister struggle suffused the sheer substance of its stronghold; The Dark was assailing those of the Light, not all were safe.
In the outer world, the dawn of the Quest’s tenth day brought the suppression of Dark’s domain, as the night gasped in its greyness holding reign against the silvery streaks of the sun’s spirited rays, glimmering the triumph of its awakening across the last bastion of the night’s glowering grey horizon.
The two Wizards had watched the images throughout the night-time, through daybreak and to the early morn. They had witnessed sixty visions: of the famous of their Ages and ones unknown to them; of a time beyond, of lives and deaths of the revered and the unnotable; of extraordinary scenes of beauty and ugliness. However, they had not encountered the depictions previously displayed in Sauron’s chamber.
It was mid-morn, Saruman, exhausted, and having to prepare for the upcoming audience with Sauron, sought a halt to their viewing for the present. Pallando, visibly perturbed by the visions, agreed to the short recess, insisting that they should resume upon Saruman’s returning.
Pallando withdrew and Saruman was left to ponder on the import of the visions, conscious that only by considering the whole would the true meaning become apparent.
The Wizard fell into a quandary not of the visions making, but whether to wear the ring in Sauron’s presence; Sauron would obviously now be aware of it existence.
The Dark Lord
Sauron was in a fury, the Ancient One had released the maiden from Dark’s clutches, even so on reflection, the Dark Lord snickered to himself; let Light’s prophet have a petty victory, for that would be short-lived. For by the shadows of the darkmoon, he would be fused with his liege, Melkor, and in this union, amassing incomparable supremacy, exceeding everything ever known or imagined. He would be invincible henceforth; nothing even from the worlds-to-come could rival or defy him. And of the concession granted to The Light, this he needed not fear, for the Sindar prophecies attested that The Light could not attain anything that had been wittingly or otherwise corrupted or touched by The Dark, and on the list of the Ent, naught remained of any consequence. He eagerly contemplated his final confrontation with The Light.
The Dark Lord and Wizard of Isengard
As Saruman approached the Dark Lord, Sauron stared at the Wizard’s ring, and in a mocking tone commented:
‘Wizard, you don your Ring of Power.’
Saruman replied as rehearsed:
‘Yes My Lord, it provides heightened acumen to discern the purposes of the Quest.’
‘Superior perception and added sway, I have observed these,’ retorted Sauron then casually as if there was no more of worth to be said on the subject of the ring:
‘The Blue Wizard has provided invaluable insights, do you not agree?’
‘Yes the Blue Wizard’s connection with the other of The Light accessed astonishing sights.’
‘Which you will need to interpret, and more successfully now you bear the ring,’ Sauron added, his sarcasm emitted like a cobra’s hiss.
Saruman, undaunted, gaining strength of confidence from the ring’s energy, responded in heedfully:
‘My Lord, our defeat of The Light is reliant on our prevailing power from every availing source.’
Fleetingly, Sauron’s pupils constricted, his mouth became taut and his skin sallowed; the Wizard was correct, but it irked him intensely that this was, and this underling could answer him, so.
Saruman was pierced by Sauron’s ire just as though it was a savage sword thrust, and realising the overstep of the mark, broke out in a sweat of fear; the Wizard anticipated the onslaught.
Sauron discerned the Wizard’s trepidation, and gleaning satisfaction from this, determined to leave dealing with the affront, at least until later. He stood up without further comment and took from the bookcase a hide and silver bound manuscript. He flicked through the pages, his leathered gloves making a rasping sound, and then began to read. Saruman waited.
He closed the manuscript with a thud. He faced Saruman, declaring in a low menacing voice.
‘The Blue Wizard and you will provide me with your assessment on the visions at fall of night. Of the vial and the ritual that is to be performed in the night of the dark moon and the hour of the deep-dream. I wish the Captain to be present and will be joining us presently.’
As the Dark Lord spoke, the Captain entered the chamber, and bowed respectfully to the Dark Lord, thereafter, turning to sneer at the Wizard; the Captain neither trusted nor respected Saruman, and jealousy begrudged the Wizard’s close involvement with the Dark Lord.
Sauron smirked, for he encouraged this undercurrent of rivalry, though now he had little patience for it, urgent undertakings demanded attention. He addressed Saruman in a staccatic dictate:
‘I have studied the sacred texts. In the main I agree with your transcription. I have prepared myself in terms of the revelations. At the hour of the deep dream on the night of the dark moon you will perform the rite under my direction. If you are confident of your part Wizard, then we need talk no longer of it now.’
Saruman would have wanted to review those areas where Sauron did not concur with the transcription however it was very clear that Sauron was in no mood to discuss the issues, so instead the Wizard simply nodded in agreement.
‘At nightfall return with the Blue Wizard – do not fail me,’ Sauron commanded.
Saruman took leave thankful that no mention was made of the dwarf.
The Captain rose and mute escorted Saruman from the chamber.
As Saruman reached the door, Sauron exclaimed:
‘Wizard you have not told me of your failure with the dwarf.’
As Saruman was about to respond, Sauron continued:
‘You need not give me your explanation for I have seen the dwarf’s escape. We will talk of the consequence when we meet next.’
Saruman reeled from the scorn and venom of the lash of his utterance and discharge of his displeasure.
The two Wizards sat opposite the Captain and their Lord; they had given their record of visions to Sauron, who was scrutinizing the list, then looked up. In silence, the eyes of the three servants were fixed on their Master; they awaited his response.
He did not look at them; he stood and strode to the bookcase, and withdrew and examined a hide and silver manuscript.
In a deep hollow questioning intonation, he posed:
‘I am curious concerning the choice of lives and deaths to depict, for I have looked into the future’s realms, and examined the elven presages, and have beheld many others of equal worthiness and significance.’
Pallando started to speak, but with the glare of the Captain, realised that their Master was still speaking.
‘Nonetheless the context has changed in contemplating the entire picture. It is fortunate for your wise counsel in this regard Blue Wizard,’ Sauron commended connivingly.
Saruman suffered the sting of this praise of another, and the envy swell.
‘Wizard of Isengard, what is your wisdom on their purpose here and their search of future discoveries and events,’ uttered Sauron, testing Saruman’s self-possession.
Saruman was steadied by the potency of the ring, and Sauron sensed and resented this.
Saruman answered calmly and confidently, and the Dark Lord listened intently.
Pallando gestured assent, annoyed that Saruman had been anointed with this acclaim.
‘I will consider both your counsels,’ proclaimed Sauron rising from the table, the three jumping to their feet as he did. Sauron walked passed the Captain, whispering an instruction, then proceeded to his private chamber.
The Captain turned to Saruman announcing:
‘Our Lord demands the palantir in your charge. I will accompany you to your apartment and collect it.’
Saruman and Pallando glanced at each other, but said nothing.
Sauron perceived their anxiety and concerns; it was as he had planned.
Saruman uncovered the palantir and was horrified at what he saw; the glass globe was opaque as a blinded eye.
Quivering with agitation, the Wizard commenced to chant, trying to breathe life into the seeing-stone.
The Captain assumed the Wizard was stalling, resisting relinquishing the precious stone, but quickly it was clear that this was no feigned act.
Saruman desperately persisted in chanting, but no vision appeared. Saruman recalled Pallando and the Lieutenant.
The Captain stood back, frothing in fury, as they tried to recover the sight of the palantir.
After their attempts by various means, the Captain becoming increasingly impatient and threatening, Saruman recognised that the opaqueness was created by an external force which was masking their vision, clouding this with a dense ashen mist.
Losing tolerance, and in a furor knowing Sauron was waiting for the palantir, the Captain ordered Saruman to cease and convey the palantir as it was to the Dark Lord. They hastened to the Great Hall.
Saruman was directed to wait outside. Alone, Saruman took stock of the situation; he called upon the ring for fortitude to withstand the Dark Lord’s wrath.
The Captain reappeared within minutes, ushered Saruman brusquely through the hall. As they paced the black stone floor, their footsteps echoed deafening and spawned a smoldering mood of menace, the few flickering candles, spluttered in death throes, propelling writhing shadowy forms and choking acrid fumes at the intruders.
The private chamber
Sauron was standing his face contorted with flaring frustration. He could barely contain his outrage, and bristling with vexation:
‘The Captain has informed me the palantir entrusted to you has lost its perceptions...’ he paused in raging resentment, and as Saruman was to confirm this catastrophic circumstance, Sauron resumed in a rant:
‘It is the working of the Ancient One; stepping into and bolstering The Light.’
Sauron did not tell Saruman of the titanic tussle over the maiden, for he detested his failing, and its sign of weakness, he would not tolerate this, and instead focussed on his triumph:
‘I have managed to foil the Ancient One’s defensive strategy of concealing the happenings in The Light, for my palantir has penetrated the brume and revealed that all members of the Quest have returned, and are to depart...’
‘Departing, to where?!’ Saruman snorted, recognising that while they had been engrossed with the visions from Alatar, a momentous thing had occurred with the Quest.
‘We need not seek the Quest. Those that matter come to me,’ Sauron announced in a base baleful tenor, ‘They come to challenge me, with the powers and authority of the Ancient One fortifying Light’s disciples, nevertheless, by the edict of the Valar the Ancient One cannot directly challenge me in the matters of mortals.’
‘But it seems that Ben-adar is acting contrary to the Valar’s decree?’ Saruman vexed, blurted out.
‘Not as yet, but should such eventuate, by then I will have absorbed the essence and dominion of Melkor, and with the Rings of Power reforged, I will be more than the equal of any and all of The Light. I will call upon The Light to challenge me - and be destroyed forever,’ Sauron’s irises glowed red with hate and lust.
For the first time within Saruman’s hearing Sauron had confirmed that the Rings were to be reforged. The Wizard’s mind wandered for a fraction of a minute, and then felt the grasp of Sauron’s being there:
‘The Ring – your Ring, Wizard,’ Sauron’s words reverberating inwardly.
‘You mishandled the retrieval of the ring from the dwarf. Your ring must be relinquished to complete the set for the reforging.’
Saruman was shaken from immersion in thought.
Sauron was glaring down at the Wizard, drops of spittle spraying as he shrieked:
‘Wizard, did you not hear me?!’
The Captain’s gloved hand was outstretched ominously in front of Saruman, demanding the ring.
Saruman had heard the command, and with the might of his ring he hesitated in responding, but accepted it was futile to resist, it could not stand the mastery of Sauron. Saruman took off the ring and placed it the Captain’s glove, bowing in submission to the Dark Lord.
There would be no peace or reprieve for the Wizard from now.
Sauron gloated at the Wizard’s capitulation, exclaiming crowingly:
‘I have no further need of you for now. You will be summoned on the morrow at the time of deep-dream; your continuing value to The Dark will depend on your performance of the rite.’
Saruman had no misapprehension of the consequences no matter the outcome of the rite, and did not press the position with Sauron, but in a bold move to regain a modicum of control, ventured to ask:
‘It is of no value to me right now,’ countered Sauron, ‘take it. It must be restored to this chamber for the rite.’
As Saruman picked up the covered palantir and was leaving, Sauron offered a parting tiding:
‘The Blue Wizard has departed.’
Saruman, desperate to track Pallando on the mission, attempted unsuccessfully for hours to restore the full image of the palantir, however, despite whatever incantation used, a blur clouded the portal. Saruman achieved a tracer on Pallando traversing towards The Light, together with a monstrous bane of blackness, that Saruman could not make out; it seemed not to travelling with, but internal to, the Blue Wizard. Saruman had never come across such a thing. Its unfettered ferocity made Saruman shudder in foreboding of what had been unleashed.
The nighttide grew grave and grim, there was no movement or sounds in the tower, and the form in the palantir of Pallando had faded into nothingness; as it were if life’s cycle had been truncated by Dark’s scythe.
In this emptiness, a pall of dread invaded the very filament of subsistence, Saruman wheezed to draw breath, something of unimaginable terror was about to happen.
Then came the shrill shriek of rage, a screech storming with spite and vengeance:
‘Zon-uwuk, Zon-uwuk! I yakjo cea!’
The scream resonated throughout the tower, and lingered as a screeching message: Pallando had failed, and end of the Wizard of Isengard, was near.