Eucatastrophe: The Return by Dreamflower

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Author's Chapter Notes:

 (This prologue incorporates material not found in the original posting. It contains the two Prologues found here under "Eucatastrophe: The True Beginning", and a drabble written for B2MeM 2007, "G: Like a Gasping Galadriel" and two brand new drabbles written especially for this Prologue. Those three drabbles explain the foundation of this AU)


Prologue: Part One

What if Quickbeam had been just a little quicker?

(Words in italics are quoted from The Two Towers, Ch. IX, "Flotsam and Jetsam" and from The Return of the King, Ch. VIII, "The Scouring of the Shire"; words not in italics reflect the changes made to canon.)

Flotsam and Jetsam Revisited

Merry and Pippin had provided the bacon and bread, the butter and honey and the pipe-weed, all courtesy of the stores of Isengard. The five friends, joyful in their reunion, after all the danger and turmoil of the last several days, were contentedly listening to Merry’s and Pippin’s account of what had happened to them from the time they had been captured at Parth Galen. True to his talkative nature, Pippin had delivered most of the story. Now he paused in his narrative to take a puff on his pipe.

Legolas sighed, and moved slightly. The breeze was shifting, and the smoke from Aragorn’s and Gimli’s pipes threatened to blow in his direction. Merry and Pippin were still downwind of him.

So far they had learned of the two young hobbits’ escape from captivity, their encounter with Treebeard, and the assault on Isengard.

"When the Ents had reduced a large part of the southern walls to rubbish, and what was left of his people had bolted and deserted him, Saruman fled in a panic. He seems to have been at the gates when we arrived; I expect he came to watch his splendid army march out. When the Ents broke their way in, he left in a hurry. They did not spot him at first. But the night had opened out, and there was a great light of stars, quite enough for Ents to see by, and suddenly Quickbeam gave a cry ‘The tree-killer, the tree-killer!’ Quickbeam is a gentle creature, but he hated Saruman all the more fiercely for that: his people suffered cruelly from the orc-axes. He leapt down the path from the inner gate, and he can move like a wind when he is roused. There was a pale figure hurrying away in and out of the shadows of the pillars, and it had nearly reached the stairs to the tower-door. But it was a near thing; Saruman had almost slipped through the door. But Quickbeam snatched him up at the last instant, and before Treebeard could stop him, he strangled the life out of him…" Pippin shuddered, and his voice faded away. Merry took up the tale again.

"Quickbeam dropped the body; I don’t doubt he felt appalled at what he’d just done. Around the body a grey mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire, a pale shrouded figure loomed over the Tower. For a moment it wavered, looking to the West, but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh, dissolved into nothing.  And then something horrid to watch happened to his body: it seemed to have been dead for many years, it shrank, and the shriveled face became rags of skin upon a hideous skull."  Merry looked at his cousin, who seemed a little pale. "Pippin was sick from the sight of it, and I did not feel any too well myself. Old Treebeard stood there staring down at it for a moment, and then said 'Hoom…hrummm…wizards should know better.' And he lifted a fold of Saruman’s robe and covered him over. Then he turned and announced to all the Ents ‘The wickedness of Saruman is ended. Now let us see to cleansing Isengard." Merry leaned back, and tore off a bite of bread, smearing it with butter, and let Pippin take up the narrative again.

Pippin explained how the Ents had dammed up the River Isen, and then he told of Gandalf’s sudden arrival. The others chuckled at Pippin’s imitation of the Wizard’s gruff tones. ("Tom-fool of a Took, indeed!" laughed Gimli.) "Well, when old Treebeard came up, he said, ‘Hoom…hrummm…Gandalf! I am glad you have come! I must tell you that Saruman is no more!’

Well, I was surprised to see how sad Gandalf looked at this, considering all the trouble Saruman had caused, but he shook his head and said ‘I know; I felt his passing.’ Then he muttered some words in a strange language, and pointed his staff at the body. There was a flash of white flame, and when it cleared, Saruman’s body was gone, with not even any ashes to show where it had been. Then Gandalf turned to Treebeard and said  'Treebeard, I need your help. You have done much, but I need more. I have about ten thousand Orcs to manage.’"

In a thoughtful voice, Pippin continued the tale, explaining how the waters of the Isen had been used to cleanse Isengard. It had been a long and dreary night for the two hobbits.  "It was a misty moisty morning when we climbed down and looked round again and nobody was about. And that is about all there is to tell. It seems almost peaceful now after all the turmoil. And safer too, somehow, since Gandalf came back. I could sleep." 

They all fell silent for a while, Gimli re-filled his pipe. "There’s one thing I wonder about," he said as he lit it with his flint and tinder. "Wormtongue. You told Théoden he was in the Tower. How did he get there?" 

Merry and Pippin exchanged glances, grinning, as Pippin told of Wormtongue’s arrival, supposedly with messages from Théoden. There was laughter among the five friends at Pippin’s comical description of the King of Rohan's erstwhile advisor.

"He thought to lie his way out of the situation, but he was all too clearly a liar, and he went white when he found out Saruman was dead. He wanted to leave then, but Treebeard said ‘Gandalf said you might turn up, and if you did, you were not to be allowed to roam about and cause more mischief. You may wait in the Tower, until he decides what to do with you.’ Well, he wanted none of that, but Treebeard gave him no choice, so he floundered through the dirty water, and managed to get inside the Tower, looking for all the world like a drowned rat. As far as we know, he is the only one in the Tower right now."

The two hobbits finished their story by telling of how Treebeard had set them to finding food for the expected visitors, which had culminated in their finding two barrels of Longbottom Leaf. Aragorn seemed mightily concerned about this, and said  "Wormtongues may be found in other houses than King Théoden’s." 

The two hobbits had not much to say to this, but Merry could not help but wonder, when the name "Lotho" came into his mind.

The picnic ended, and the story told, they gathered themselves up, and went to find Gandalf and the others. They spotted the riders, along with Treebeard, approaching from the north, and went to join them.

"Your Majesty," said Gandalf to the King of Rohan, "we shall need to decide the fate of your former advisor, and then I will lock up the Tower of Orthanc, for there is likely much there which should not be meddled with, I daresay."

From their vantage at the foot of Orthanc, Théoden called out "Wormtongue! Come forth and hear your doom!"

Gríma, his face pale and his hair wild, came to look out the window. But he said nothing. Instead, with an angry cry, he raised both arms high, and in his hands was some large round object which he heaved down upon their heads. His aim was poor, or perhaps he could not tell whether he wished it to land upon the King’s head, or upon Gandalf’s, for it fell down to smite the stair near where they stood. It was Wormtongue’s last action; three arrows suddenly sprouted from his chest, one of them from Legolas, the others from two of the King’s escort.  The stair cracked and splintered in glittering sparks. But the ball was unharmed: it rolled on down the steps, a globe of crystal, dark, but glowing with a heart of fire. As it bounded away towards a pool Pippin ran after it and picked it up.

Prologue: Part Two

The Liberation of the Three

“But what then would happen, if the Ruling Ring were destroyed, as you counsel?” asked Gloin.

“We know not for certain,” answered Elrond sadly. “Some hope that the Three Rings, which Sauron has never touched, would then become free, and their rulers might heal the hurts of the world that he has wrought. But maybe when the One has gone, the Three will fail, and many fair things will fade and be forgotten. That is my belief.”

( The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 2, “The Council of Elrond”)

The night before the Last Battle, as the Host of the West was encamped in the Desolation of the Morannon, Gandalf sat awake, and communed from afar with the other two wielders of the Three.

From Elrond came the thought: Círdan has sent a message; he bade me ask, ‘Whence did we get the idea that the Three would fail, if the One be destroyed?’

And Galadriel thought: This was agreed upon long ago, by the White Council, that it was most likely the outcome.

Then Gandalf gave a laugh, as he sent forth his thought: And from whom in the White Council did we first receive this idea? Saruman, whose feet were already on a path to treachery. And whose Voice had long been accustomed to lies.

And a hope that they had never before dared entered into the hearts of the rulers of the Three Elven Rings.


Standing over her mirror, trying to keep track of all that was occurring, events swirling swiftly there and gone again--a bloody battle before the Black Gates--her granddaughter and an elderly halfling standing on a balcony in Rivendell, weeping--her husband in the thick of the fighting at the edge of Lórien--eagles on the wing speeding south--but the one thing she wished to glimpse most eluded her--where was Frodo? Suddenly, she gasped, as the mirror went black. They were poised on the brink--the world held its breath.

Nenya blazed upon her finger.

Eyes wide in astonishment, Galadriel laughed. Free, free at last!


 Gandalf was at Aragorn's side, Glamdring flashing blue, his staff shooting white light deadly to their foes.  But the Enemy seemed numberless.  For each struck down two more appeared.  Ever his thought was on Frodo and Sam.


One had been captured.  One escaped. Where were they? Then his attention was taken by a large orc. Glamdring parted the foul head from its body…


Suddenly, a chill ran up his arm from Narya. No! Frodo had claimed the Ring!


The world slowed, time ceased between one breath and the next.


Narya blazed to life, hot and victorious! Free, free at last!




In Rivendell Elrond sat upon his horse atop a high cliff wall overlooking the Valley, Glorfindel at his side on Asfaloth.  They would soon be under siege.


"The Enemy comes from two directions," said Glorfindel.  "from the North and the East."


"They will not enter Imladris," Elrond's tone brooked no denial.  


Suddenly there was a feeling of breathlessness; the sky grew dark, though cloudless.  The world stood on the edge of a knife and doom was at hand.  Then, just when he thought all must be lost, the Quest failed, Vilya blossomed blue upon his hand.


Free! Free at last!







Chapter End Notes:

(A/N: I had always been intrigued by that statement at Elrond's Council. Who was it who thought the Rings might be freed if the One was destroyed? And more importantly why were the Bearers of the Three so convinced that would not happen, that the Three would fade and become powerless? There was certainly no way they could test that theory.

I wondered. What if the source of their conviction was Saruman? He was head of the White Council, and he had his Voice, his Power to convince. The other members of the White Council may not have liked him much, but they had no reason to believe him a traitor at first. And if he could convince the bearers of the Three that they would lose their power if the One was destroyed, perhaps they would not search for it. Most importantly, if he was the source of their belief, it might not have been true unless they, by their belief, made it true. What if they realized in time that he might have been wrong? And what if Saruman had died in the siege of Isengard? Would the spell cast by his Voice be broken?

It might make all the difference if Saruman had not lived to go to the Shire, and if the Three Rings were freed to use their full Power for healing.

Thus was born this "Happy AU".)



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