Chapter 32

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Miyuki [whisper]: "Olórin."

The group stare at the wizard before them in stunned silence. Legolas then drops into a bow, Gimli following him.

Aragorn: "It cannot be!"

Legolas: "Forgive me. I mistook you for Saruman."

The wizard smiles serenely.

Gandalf: "I am Saruman. Or rather Saruman as he should have been."

So that was why the voice had sounded familiar. The man before them was Gandalf & yet not Gandalf at the same time. He was the grey wizard no longer but rather, the white wizard that Saruman did not become.

Aragorn: "You fell!"

Gandalf: "Through fire. And water."

The wizard looks distant as he relives the memories.

Gandalf: "From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak, I fought him, the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last, I threw down my enemy & smote his ruin upon the mountainside. Darkness took me. And I strayed out of thought & time. Stars wheeled overhead & every day was as long as the life age of the earth. But it was not the end. I felt light in me again. I've been sent back until my task is done."

Aragorn [smiles]: "Gandalf!"

The wizard looks confused.

Gandalf: "Gandalf? Oh yes. That's what they used to call me. Gandalf the Grey. That was my name."

Gimli [happy]: "Gandalf!"

Gandalf [smiles]: "I am Gandalf the White. And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide."

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They walk briskly through the forest.

Gandalf: "One stage of your journey is over, another begins. War has come to Rohan. We must ride to Edoras with all speed."

Gimli: "Edoras? That is no short distance!"

Aragorn: "We hear of trouble in Rohan. It goes ill with the king."

Gandalf: "Yes & it will not be easily cured."

Gimli: "Then we have run all this way for nothing? Are we to leave those poor hobbits here in this horrid, dark, dank tree-infested..."

The trees rumble. Gimli looks scared & quickly corrects himself.

Gimli: "I mean charming, quite charming forest."

Gandalf: "It was more than mere chance that brought Merry & Pippin to Fangorn. A great power has been sleeping here for many long years. The coming of Merry & Pippin will be like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains."

Aragorn: "In one thing you have not changed, dear friend."

Gandalf: "Hmm?"

Aragorn: "You still speak in riddles."

The two laugh.

Gandalf: "A thing is about to happen here that has not happened since the Elder Days. The Ents are going to wake up & find that they are strong."

Gimli: "Strong? Oh, that's good."

Gandalf: "So stop your fretting Master Dwarf. Merry & Pippin are quite safe. In fact, they are far safer than you are about to be."

Gimli [grumbles]: "This new Gandalf's more grumpy than the old one."

Outside the forest, Gandalf whistles piercingly. An answering neigh is heard & a white horse appears from the plain. Legolas stares at the horse in wonder.

Legolas: "That is one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell."

The horse stops in front of Gandalf.

Gandalf: "Shadowfax. He's the lord of all horses & has been my friend through many dangers."

The wizard mounts the white horse. Aragorn mounts Hasufel & Legolas mounts Arod, Gimli behind him. Gandalf looks to Miyuki & Raiden.

Gandalf: "We must make haste. I'm afraid you'll have to approach the city in your true form, Lord Raiden."

The dragon dips his head to the wizard in understanding. Changing form, the Hasufel & Arod are spooked by Raiden & Aragorn & Legolas have to struggle to calm their mounts. Leaping onto Raiden's back the dragon master & her dragon take to the sky. Below them, Gandalf, Legolas, Aragorn & Gimli ride across the plains.

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