IC Date: Late evening, 12th of September, 3042
Real Date: December 5th, 2007
------------------------------------------------------Orthanc: Saruman’s Quarters, Fourth Level
Bright and colourful, a grand map of Middle-earth hangs from the wall just behind a large desk. The map is very detailed and woven by one of rare skill and patience, for the mountains, rivers and forests are so finely done that without too careful an observation they might seem to bear the vibrance of life and reality. Waters ripple and shimmer, mountain peaks glisten in manner of sun-touched snow, forests shiver under breeze..Only two visible exits are at hand. One is a white door, the other stairs leading to darkness.
The lamps burn low in Orthanc this late eve. Even in the Lord's private chambers the shadows are deep. The scratching of his quill upon the parchment are the only sounds that are present in Saruman's rooms, save for when the old man shifts in his squeaky chair. The door is guarded but partially open, and upon a small table there is a pot of fragrant tea and two cups - clearly the Maia is expecting company this night.
There are the sounds of booted feet rising through the hall and towards the door to this chamber. Someone stops outside and says something in a low voice, indicating that the other should enter. After a moment, the door is carefully pushed open and a man comes in cautiously. He lightly pushes the door to, behind himself, and stands quietly looking over the chamber as his eyes adjust to the lighting, or lack thereof. Having just arrived only a matter of hours before, the man is perhaps hesitant, un-expecting to be seen so swiftly. He says nothing, studying this elderly seeming man from across the chamber, and waits patiently for the other's good time to take note of his arrival.
Before you is clearly an old man. His high forehead and sloping nose fit evenly on his long face. Dark, piercing, eyes peer from bushy white brows. His mustache flows into the long beard that matches his long white hair, though there are hints of black in both.
A robe, snowy white, envelops the man so naught may be seen but his face, his hands that peek from the edges of the billowing sleeves, and his white leather booted feet.
A gnarled staff, likely as ancient as he, is clutched easily in his left hand.
For a time Saruman doesn't look up, instead the details of his writing seem to hold all of his attention. At last he motions to the empty chair with the feather part of the quill before he lays it aside and says softly "Please, take a seat and help yourself to some tea."
He blows on the parchment and begins to fold it as he looks up to the man, his eyes scan him from head to toe "So, Rhifaroth is it not?"
Rhifaroth's own attention has eventually drifted over the contents of the room while Saruman completes his current task. Grey eyes alight upon the strange brazier with the likeness of three, all too familiar forms of Mumakil. When the elder figure speaks and indicates welcome, the man draws in a breath and returns his attention to Saruman.
Stepping forward after a moment, the man comes to the chair and rests his hands lightly upon its back, not taking a seat. He nods his head once as Saruman looks him over, "Yes, sir." There is a moment's hesitation, his voice low, as he in turn continues to look Saruman over himself, "I appreciate your agreeing to see me - especially at this hour."Rhifaroth(#27282POXnA+Ncf)
Garbed as is most practical, this man wears a studded jerkin of thick, boiled leather. An off-white cotton shirt is worn beneath, the long sleeves pushed up to bare the man's forearms. Each wrist is scarred with old tissue as though from cuffs of iron, long ago. Grey woolen pants are tucked into high black riding boots which show signs of travel, but once held a fine polish. A long sword of very good make, but of no particular adornment, graces the somber man's left hip for a right handed draw. A knife with a silvery raven's head might be glimpsed peeking out of the top of his right boot, just below the knee.
Wax is melted over the folded parchment and a plain seal of a S is set. A wave of his hand "No thanks are needed. For the hour is late for some, it only heralds that there is more for me to do before my day is at an end." Fingers steeple before his lips as he leans back in his chair, his full attention now squarely on the young man "So, what is it that you seek from me, Rhifaroth of Gondor?" Brows raise questioningly.
Still standing, but not intending rudeness, Rhifaroth looks at Saruman as though trying to piece details of now with many things said in the past about the White Wizard. He refocuses upon the question and a muscle tightens in his jaw before he speaks, "That is a more difficult question than it may seem. But for the moment, I shall say this; Long ago I met an elder man when I was but a boy. His name was Mithrandir. He spoke to me of many things in this world, things beyond Gondor. He spoke briefly of you, whom he admired greatly for your wisdom. I marked in my mind any who might impress him so." The man pauses.
Continuing, his voice still low, "Many years later, my own service seeming to have come to an end, I looked to study in Dol Amroth what I might to improve my own knowledge. In that study there was made reference to you again, as a man who seeks knowledge and has great wisdom." He shifts, glancing at the strange brazier, "And I met a man, by the name of Kylin, who told me more."
Looking once more upon Saruman, Rhifaroth adds, "That you might be interested in men who wish to travel, seeking news of the world, to aid you in that gathering of knowledge. It is my hope that I might be of some service to you in that need. And perhaps in turn I might also find ... something, lost."
The steepled fingers tap against his beard covered lips for a time as he listens then thinks of what has been said. At last Saruman nods "Mithrandir is of my kin. A wise yet..." a shrug "well one that seems to take keen interest in things that do not halt the spread of the Evil one."
"Now Kylin...yes years he has served me and served me well. Now his own sister does the same. She is my Emissary and the head of those that wish to travel and bring me the information that they learn."
"Yet I know little of you Rhifaroth, save the bits here and there that I have been able to learn. Tell me," leaning forward his voice seems to gather in strength yet still it is softly said and those eyes - as if boring right into the man "do you wish to serve me so? To imperil your life upon the road, keeping a keen eye upon all that is about it and above all keeping your tasks strictly to yourself?" Though the words form a question they seem to be more of an order, directions.
Rhifaroth listens gravely but then, almost barks a laugh, "Oh, I am no stranger to service, perils upon the road alone, nor to keeping my business to myself." There is humor in man's grey eyes, but there is also bitterness, "So I have done all my life, in the service of my Lord Boromir - most often in Ithilien, and Harad."
The trace of humor disappears, "But things have changed, that makes my service in that manner no longer needed." and then there is a humorless smile, "Perhaps what I seek now, is someone worthy to serve, a new task to set myself against. I admit bitterness, that more is not done in Gondor. That so many can be so petty, and self focused. There is for a moment quiet years, while Gondor waits. But perhaps I tired of waiting, Saruman."
Rhifaroth shifts his weight and comes around the chair to look at this man, who seemed to inspire awe in his thoughts - but in the flesh seems more an old man than perhaps expected, "I will continue north, and also west, looking for answers and news. If my doing so might be also a boon to you, then you are welcome to share in it - to aid in that fight against Him who rules in the East. And if not, then I shall go… regardless."
His voice gains strength and his eyes more intense "You shall do fine, in my service, if that is what you wish. But know that betrayal means death and the life upon the wilds is much the same. But I can use you and your service. You have but to agree to it now." A smile comes to Saruman, but there seems to be no warmth to it. At least not any that is able to wash away the words that he has spoken.
The hint of anger fading, the man nods, keeping his place, "I know well what price betrayal, and those who do it deserve worse than merely to die." Rhifaroth grimaces, "But I am no traitor to turn and strike those I give Oath to, Saruman, so long as those I would serve are goodly men who are worthy of such. Are you then, in part, what I seek? … I do not know. But I can serve, at least a measure of time, until I do. But I will give my word that I would not betray your trust in me for that time. To the end of my days, if that service is good."
"And what do you think I work on ‘till all hours of the day and night? To find the ways to stop the growing evil that grows in the East. While others," at first Saruman’s voice is strong, almost angry, but turns to disgust "stand by and do little. Even hinder me and those that serve to bring peace to all those that dwell in the lands."
A big deep breath that is let out slowly "But I accept your agreement to my service. I shall hold you to it and be assured that while my wrath is not to be played with, my rewards are even greater to those that serve me well in my tasks."
He takes the parchment that he was earlier writing and sealing and holds it out "Take this to the Academy and give it to the Master at Arms there. He shall see that you get a fit horse and any other supplies that you will need. Including gold for paying your way. Anything you need you have but to ask and it shall be made available to you."
His other hand now clutches something in closed fingers. And slowly the hand turns palm up and there lays a ring of blue "Take this and wear it. Others that serve me shall know it and you shall look for the same in either blue or red. Those that wear the red are your senior, so listen to them and their wisdom. But always know that it is I that you serve."
Rhifaroth listens to this man warily, perhaps vaguely taken aback both by the retort, and by Saruman's preparations already made to accept his service. He draws a breath slowly himself, and nods, "That is more than fair." Accepting the parchment, the Gondorian adds, "I have a horse, m'Lord, though I'll gladly enough have another if it is better."
Tucking the folded parchment into his belt, he smiles thinly as Saruman holds out the ring, "You seem well prepared in advance to accept my service." Nonetheless, Rhifaroth accepts the ring and glances at it, "Are there then instructions as to where you would have me go, whom or what to seek?"
A soft chuckle "If I were not prepared, would I be the head of the White Council, would I have many from lands far a wide come to me seeking aid, would I not be known from the far east to the west as much learned? Come boy, if I had not thought you worthy you would not be in possession of the parchment nor the ring. It is I that saw within you the greatness that you have yet to achieve. Great things I see before you, as long as you keep your wits and more importantly," Saruman smiles "your head. The horses we have are the best that can be had from the Rohir, the food supplies range from the breads of the elves to fresh fruits and meats. Take what you need, and remember, return here to deliver any thing you see that you would deem worthy of my interest. Seek out Mathia in her travels, you will know her by the green ring she wears. She is my voice in my absence."
Legs stretch out "Now, go see the Master at Arms, he shall have better directions for you and shall ensure you have what you need."
The chastisement is perfect. The man smiles a real smile and nods his head once, "Of course, Saruman the White. Indeed, I would expect no less." But he adds as he slips the ring upon the small finger of his left hand, looking at it, "But not for any greatness. I have no taste for it. Whatever I shall accomplish is both duty, and payment enough, Saruman." His eyes flicker back up to this elder, "Or for your name you may keep whatever renown there might be."
To the last, Rhifaroth inclines his head respectfully and turns on the ball of one foot to depart with his orders, born and bred a soldier - at the least.
A smile comes to Saruman "I seek not fame. I only wish to fulfill my duties as well - to defeat the Evil of the East." A nod of his head is his dismissal "Fare you well, Rhifaroth. I look forward to more meetings with you."
You leave the plush office and head out onto the landing.Orthanc: Landing, Fourth Level
You follow the stairs down towards the Marble Hall.Orthanc: Marble Hall, Third Level
The walls here are slightly slanted, the top pointing inward in accord with the outline of this tower. Of black marble, this hall is a cavity in the sharp tooth that is Orthanc. Suffering no false layer, the bare yet smooth and flawless stone of this the heart of the vale is displayed without false guise of wood or tapestries. Taking full advantage of the structure's strengths, skilled and worthy hands have etched a fine script deep onto the cardinal points. The same is repeated in four languages: Quenya, Sindarin, Numenorean, and Westron..
A staircase circles along the wall, rising ever upwards. About half way up the walls, some 20 feet above where you now stand, the staircase pauses at a landing before continuing its climb to the uttermost reaches of the tower.Obvious exits:
You descend the winding stairs.
Orthanc: Landing, Second Level
It is a good idea to pause here for rest since the stairs appear to continue without any signs of ending. The landing itself is not too large and could not afford too comfortable a space if there was ever gathered a large group of individuals yet this should not be a problem since it was not designed to house but to provide a means of entering other chambers, all of which are behind closed doors.
The most spectacular of the doors is white and marked by a single golden rune that catches the light in order to enhance the power of its colour.Obvious exits:
You walk down a wide stairway.
Orthanc: Foyer, First Level
Tall strong walls rise on all sides, the domed ceiling supported by broad pillars of braided black and white stone. The main portal is stoutly made and could withstand the strongest of blows. The foyer itself is mostly empty, a point from which an individual could pass to other sections of this great tower. Part of the wall is worked with semi-precious stones whose hearts are kindled by a fair light reflected from ever-bright torches. These stones form a large map of a five pointed island. The domed ceiling is composed of a black stone pierced by crafted points of mithril made to resemble stars and the moon.
A wide, rail-less stairway starts its way from near an oaken door and winds its way up and along the wall, passed the ceiling and to a higher level. Three doors, oaken, ruby and shaphire, lead to other rooms and passages while the main exit stands to the east.Obvious exits:
Rhifaroth pauses here to study the map set into the wall. After a time, he continues on out into the night.
You walk out of Orthanc.
Vale of Isengard: The Stair of Orthanc
Under the shadow of Orthanc you must suffer the regard of the many down-looking windows and suffer also the overhang of the rare balconies. Here, on the platform immediately before the only door to the Tower, you can look down upon the bleak vale below at the bottom and beyond a long set of smooth stairs. These stairs are riven from the same black matter that has been used to construct Orthanc. True, they are gentle sloping yet the height on which an individual is led to is considerable enough for the plateau to be otherwise defined as a rock-isle.
Note: Look Balcony to examine the lowest one and perhaps hold a conversation with its users.