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The Palantír

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“Enough!” A commanding voice cut through the air, and it seemed to Pippin that the fair words Saruman had spoken suddenly had a false ring to them. Turning to his left he saw a strange elf, dark-haired and proud, striding through the rubble of Isengard. Tall and kingly he seemed, like a hero out of the old stories, yet he reminded Pippin of Elrond and, though he could not say why, of Strider.

“A palantír is a dangerous tool, Curumo. Or is it Saruman you prefer nowadays?” The name was pronounced with a faint lisp and a strange lilt that made the elf’s disdain for the wizard evident.

Gandalf had been watching the newcomer with keen interest, and at the elf’s last words, his expression had changed from worry to something that looked suspiciously like amusement.

Saruman, looking bent and weary, was leaning heavily on his staff. “What do you want? How? Mandos would never- ”

“You presume too much if you think to understand the will of the Valar, Saruman. As for why I am here, I have come to take back what belongs to me. Too long have my enemies coveted what is mine, unmatched by any of their pitiful creations. Even Tyelperinquar made better rings than that thrice-damned trickster you now serve. So blinded by power is he, that he will never understand the beauty of true craftmanship.”

Saruman seemed to have regained his composure somewhat.

“You will never have my palantír!”

The elf grinned, baring his teeth.

“That is where you are mistaken, wizard. As the oak remembers the acorn from which it grew, so my palantíri recall the hands that gave them life, the mind that taught them to see. And this very moment, the palantír is remembering some very particular memories of mine. No matter how much you try to bend it to your will, it will show you nought but fire and death. It will drive you mad, Saruman. In the end you will beg me to take it from you.”

“I fear not your words, Fëanáro. Ever was your power less in deed than in speech.” And Saruman took from a servant that had appeared, an orb of dark glass. The very instant he touched the glass, he let out a blood-curdling scream. His body shook as it swayed to and fro on the pinnacle of Orthanc. For a moment he was about to topple over the edge, but he managed to fall towards safety instead. The glass orb, presumably having rolled from his hands and over the edge, landed with a massive thud in the murky water. Before anyone could say anything, the elf - Fëanáro - calmly walked over to where it had landed, picked it up, dried it off on his cloak and stashed it in his bag. He then turned to Gandalf.

“Olórin. We have much to discuss. But not here. Gondor needs your aid, and I have other matters to attend to in the meantime. We will meet again in Minas Tirith; I hope to arrive there before the storm.”

“I shall look forward to our next meeting, my lord.” Pippin had never before heard Gandalf speak to someone with such respect.

Whistling a merry tune, the stranger strode off the same way he had come and soon vanished in the distance.

“Who was that?” said Pippin.

Gandalf laughed.

“Let’s just say that the Enemy is in for a nasty surprise.”