|The Two Towers chapters|
As Gandalf and Théoden retreat from Isengard, the wizard carries Merry with him on Shadowfax, while Aragorn carries Pippin. Merry and Gandalf chat. They ride late into the night and then stop to camp. Pippin asks Merry whether Gandalf seems different now that he has come back from the dead, and Merry replies that the wizard seems both happier and more serious.
Merry is sleepy and tired of Pippin’s questioning, and he soon falls asleep. But Pippin, unable to sleep, is tormented by curiosity about the spherical stone that Wormtongue threw out of Orthanc. Pippin sneaks over to the sleeping Gandalf and snatches the stone. Pippin looks into it, unable to avert his gaze as the stone shows him Sauron, who questions Pippin. Gandalf awakens, angered at Pippin for taking the stone. After questioning him, Gandalf learns that the stone cast from Orthanc is one of the seven palantíri. This allowed Saruman to communicate with Sauron. During Pippin's interaction with Sauron through the palantír, he manages not to reveal any important information about his company's quest. Sauron thinks that Pippin is the hobbit with the One Ring imprisoned at Isengard, so he orders Pippin to tell Saruman that the Ring will soon be retrieved, and Saruman cannot have it. Expecting Sauron's messengers to come to Isengard soon, the host makes plans to quickly leave. While discussing this, a winged Nazgûl flies overhead to Orthanc, the first time that any of the Nine have been allowed to go west of the Anduin after the loss of their horses and shapes at the Ford of Bruinen. This prompts Gandalf to immediate action: he commands everyone to leave the area as rapidly as possible, and then he mounts Shadowfax with Pippin and starts riding to Minas Tirith in Gondor.