The respective prompts: Wink / Raised Eyebrow(s) / Pulling a Face / Deadpan / Smile / Rapture
“Smile” was the first element given in the challenge, but I began with some other idea which I abandoned upon being struck with this one, so “Smile” is stuck in near the end instead.
Craban: (Sindarin) Singular of the more widely-known crebain.
Radagast hopped down as the cart trundled to a stop. “We’ve brought the welcome wagon.”
“You needn’t have,” Saruman grumbled.
“Nonsense.” Gandalf began unloading the cart without further preamble. “Saruman the Wise taking up residence at Angrenost–a momentous event! One that calls for fireworks of many colors.”
Radagast proffered a black bird. “A housewarming gift, Curunír. Fledgling crebain. They are clever, like you, as you’ll see if you raise them patiently.”
“I have no use for birds, nor for many colors,” Saruman pronounced blandly.
Gandalf winked at the faintly crestfallen Radagast and rejoined irrepressibly, “So you say now, Saruman.”
The Istari watched fountains of sundry colors explode slowly over Isengard. “You’ll have to explain the physical and chemical principles of this, Mithrandir,” Saruman remarked with casual indifference.
Radagast, several of the young crebain balanced on arms and shoulders, snickered and nudged Gandalf.
Saruman turned his head just enough to train a measured, arch-browed look perilously upon the others. “Something amuses you, Aiwendil?”
Saruman glared and resumed watching the fireworks, absently holding in both hands the black bird whose presence he had initially protested. The sharp profiles of wizard and bird were both upturned curiously to the sky.
Saruman pulled a contemptuous grimace as Gandalf lit his pipe. “Must you?”
“I’m merely indulging in a reward for my provision of celebratory fireworks.”
Gandalf exhaled a silent haze. “You’re welcome.”
“I never asked you to bring your vile smokes into Isengard, Gandalf.”
“Vile smokes,” echoed the young craban Saruman held, glancing up at him attentively.
Saruman blinked, reflective. Radagast clapped his hands: “Splendid, you’re getting on already!”
“I do not ‘get on’ with birds nor smokes nor any of the other nonsense unfolding here,” Saruman said serenely.
The craban watched the smoke rings disperse into the night.
Saruman indicated four marble trinkets respectively. The craban perched on his desk observed: “Black sphere. White cube. White sphere. Black cube.”
“Mere mimicry, or true analysis?” Saruman murmured. He produced a small, crystalline artefact through which the morning’s rays broke upon the desk.
“Sphere,” said the bird.
“Black sphere? White sphere?”
“And this?” Saruman raised his sleeve.
“White sphere? White cube?”
The door opened. Radagast and Gandalf jostled in. “Have you been up all night talking to your new friend?” the former beamed.
Saruman assumed a deadpan countenance. “I don’t suppose you two have heard of knocking.”
_________________________________Exit Welcome Wagon
Afternoon light rendered the hues of early autumn bright against Orthanc’s gaunt flanks. “Where are you bound?” queried Saruman.
“Pipe weed’s home! Mithrandir does go on about it,” said Radagast upon the cart.
“You might join us, Saruman.”
“Tempting, but I’ve only just moved in,” Saruman, craban on shoulder, said dryly.
“And that’s well. The shadow lengthens over the west. We’ve missed your insight.” Gandalf regarded his colleague seriously. “I’m glad your housewarming party did not inconvenience you overmuch, Curumo.”
Saruman smirked faintly.
Gandalf smiled and climbed onto the cart. It jolted away with a single burst of motley fireworks.
Orthanc’s high pinnacle shone in the slanting light, though all lay shadowed below. Saruman observed the dwindling speck as Gandalf and Radagast departed the valley.
“They’re amusing enough in small doses, Angandil,” he remarked. The young craban hopped about the platform, pausing often to peer across the land.
The cart faded into Rohan’s green, the shadow slid onto the western edge of the platform, and stark silver overbore autumn colors. Left alone with Isengard, Saruman stood unmoving as wind played about the horns of Orthanc. A subtle look of triumph or bliss stole upon him. Stars came over the mountains.