The Road to Isengard
"Forty-two, Master Legolas!" cried Gimli. "How is it with you?"
"You have passed my score by one," answered the elf, "but I do not grudge you the game, so glad am I to see you on your legs!"
Eomer greeted Gandalf. "Strange help you bring. You are mighty in wizardry, Gandalf the White!"
"The trees are not my deed," said Gandalf, "but a thing beyond the counsel of the wise, a power that walked the earth ere elf sang or hammer rang.
"If you seek an answer to this riddle, return with me to Isengard," said Gandalf. "I wish to speak with Saruman. Bring a small force, for we are not going there for a fight. We'll leave in the evening."
Theoden chose Eomer and twenty men of his household. The road towards Isengard, though, took them through the mysterious forest. Gimli was was wary of the trees, but Legolas was enthralled. Gimli told the elf of the beautiful caverns they had been in. Legolas was as wary of caves as Gimli was of the forest.
"You move me, Gimli," said Legolas, "Let us make this bargain--if we both return safe out of the perils that await us. You shall visit Fangorn with me, and then I will come with you to see the caverns of Helm's Deep." To this bargain Gimli gave his reluctant consent.
A day of travel brought the company to Orthanc. As they came into the ring of Isengard, they were amazed. It was filled with steaming water: a bubbling cauldron in which there heaved and floated a wreckage of beams and spars, chests and casks and broken gear. Far off, it seamed, half veiled in cloud, there loomed the tower of Orthanc. The king and his company sat silent, unable to fathom how the power of Saruman had been overthrown.
Nearby they noticed two small figures atop a great rubble-heap. One seemed asleep, and the other leaned against a rock, smoking a pipe.
The smoke-breathing figure sprang to his feet. He was no taller than a child. "Welcome, my lords, to Isengard!" He bowed low. "The Lord Saruman is within, but he is currently occupied. Treebeard, who is now in control of Isengard, has asked me to greet the Lord of Rohan."
"And what of us?" cried Gimli, unable to contain himself longer. "You rascals! We chased for two hundred leagues to rescue you, and we find you here smoking! I am so torn between rage and joy that I could burst!"
Gimli, Legolas, and Strider remained to talk with Merry and Pippin while Gandalf led Theoden and his men around to the other side of the valley to meet with Treebeard.
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