The Prince

"You are a fool. Only your own idiocy has protected you from harm."

"My lord Saruman, it is not so, truly. I have made great progress in Théoden's hall, and I feel now that my position is most secure."

The Istar looked at the cringing man before him, and wondered yet again why he had chosen such a weak instrument to do his will. He held his staff and wondered briefly whether to teach the man a lesson, but dismissed the thought. He must use the tools at hand – even if they were weak and barely capable. He fixed Grima, Gálmód's son, with his gaze and spoke softly, "You are lying to me. Théodred and Éomer already suspect you. Éomund's son despises the very ground you walk upon, and the folk of Meduseld hold you in contempt. And the girl... Need I speak of the girl?"

Grima bowed his head as Saruman continued softly, "You attacked the girl. To what purpose was this?"

"I thought, my master, that things were set for a betrothal between Éomund's daughter and the eldest son of the Steward of Gondor – such an event would destroy our plans and I wished to avoid it..."

"Our plans? Tell me Grima, when did you first begin to flatter yourself that you know the meaning of my policies? How dared you act without my approval?"

"Forgive me my master, forgive me, I should not have presumed. I am your most humble servant."

"In any case Grima you were mistaken. Boromir of Gondor is an honourable man, and would not wish to take an unwilling wife. You could learn much from him."

"Yes my master."

Saruman resisted the urge to injure the man who now knelt before him, and sat comfortably, twining his staff between his fingers. "It may be," he mused aloud, "That this shall prove fortunate. You have terrified the girl, and perhaps she may now be wary of you. That would be to the good, for she would be a most dangerous opponent; her voice carries weight with Théoden, and with her brother."

Grima dared to look up then, and Saruman, for a moment granted him a glimpse of benevolence, before he said, "Still it was an unforgiveable error on your part. Your sloppiness could have cost me much. I do not like when my slaves forget their duty."

"No my master. I did not forget my duty."

"You did not? So tell me when you thought to attack the Lady Éowyn you did so entirely through loyalty to me. It was not because you have spent nights dreaming of her soft skin and her golden hair?"

Grima whimpered, but Saruman continued without mercy. "You have pictured her soft and yielding beneath you, have you not? You wish to mark her white skin with you hands, and plough her again and again. It is all you can think about. Did you think you could hide this from me?"

"No my master."

"That is good. I can percieve your every thought – you do well not to forget it. The Lady Éowyn is too far above you Grima – she will never come to you willingly. You have decieved yourself in thinking such a thing."

"Yes my master."

"And you have betrayed me."

"Never, my lord Saruman. Such a thought would never..."

"You have placed your prize above your duty to me, your master. You have spent more thought on the Lady Éowyn then on fulfilling the task I set you."

"It shall never occur again my master."

Saruman felt his lips curve in a cruel smile "Indeed it shall not, Grima. I shall not allow it."

The thin man seemed daunted, and only walked forward slowly when Saruman beckoned him closer. Finally Grima was within reach, and the wizard pulled his arm forward and set a ring upon his finger. As soon as it touched the skin Saruman could feel a closer connection to Grima's mind – he could the loathsome man's desires and thoughts, he could even control them. For a moment he gloried in this new power, tasting it, and then he said, "I do not permit my slaves to fall into error more than once. Now there shall be no danger that your thoughts shall stray beyond your duty."

"My master, please, it... it hurts."

"You do not like the feeling of my mind in yours? No matter... soon you shall become used to the pain."

"Please my master. Please, I shall never betray you again, but please..."

"Silence. You are a fool Grima, and you nearly ruined everything. Only the girl's own fear has saved you. I will hear no more from you. Had you paid more attention to your duty you would not have made such a mistake – but you let yourself become distracted by the prize. You have disappointed me. Do not disapoint me again. Go now, and find out what you can – the woman Elfara is held below."

"Yes master; I will please you master."

Author's Note

The title "The Prince" comes from Machiavelli's treatise on how a ruler should keep himself in power. In "The Lord of the Rings" Saruman describes himself as "Saruman Ringmaker" and Grima Wormtongue, his servant, is described as wearing a ring... this is my explanation as to how and why he got it.