Cage Match 2013 Round 3: IT vs. Gandalf


The Contestants



A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
Age: Unknown
Race: Unknown
Weapons / Artifacts: All the defenses of the planet Camazotz; intrusive telepathic powers
Erosion of the will and dominance of the spirit.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Age: At least 20,000 years
Race: Maiar (wizard)
Weapons / Artifacts: Glamdring, a staff, and fireworks
Arriving precisely when he means to

The Breakdown


  • Heavily guarded fortress
  • Vast intelligence

  • Seemingly immortal
  • Has beaten a Balrog
  • Good at shifting big responsibilities to small hobbits

  • Physically vulnerable
  • Mental powers can be overcome by emotions like love
  • Not used to being challenged

  • Love of the halfling’s weed


How we think the fight will go

A deathly cold wave of darkness was extending through the universe, reaching its oppressive tendrils through every corner of space, growing each day ever stronger, ever dominant. Camazotz, at the heart of the corruption, could not save itself. Even the mere thought of liberation would be quickly extinguished, and resistance to the the tyrant who would not stop until every world was on their knees would result in dominance to all but the cleverest opponents. The Ainur, divine architects of countless worlds, had been leading the battle against the influence of The Dark Thing and all of the evil it brings for thousands of years, empowering lesser beings — no matter how small or seemingly insignificant — to fight back against the dystopian plague.

Ever stalwart in their insistence not to defeat power by granting even greater power, the Ainur saw it fit to win their battles in a very lateral manner and had been known to send their heralds to guide halflings and children alike, whose unassuming natures were often met with underestimation. After all, not even a being that could manipulate matter and minds as though they were clay would suspect to be challenged by a child, and the folly of arrogance would decide the battles.

But then, of course, there was the war.

The side of good had been losing for too long, and the divine overseers of righteousness, whose light could not shine in the web surrounding the Dark planets, were becoming desperate to stem the flood waters. With Gallifrey and its people lost to time and Earth lacking in warriors, the Ainur turned to Arda.

When a higher being appeared before Gandalf the White in the Undying Lands, he answered the call dutifully. As a re-ascended Maiar, Gandalf could not refuse his duty to defend the light — even if the herald was a little more whimsical than one might expect, clad in a mess of colorful rags and calling herself “Mrs. Whatsit.” Gandalf abided.

She teleported him through time and space in a chilling instant, but he had been warned of the feeling of death reaching out to grip his heart and spread through his every atom. He remained steely, even as relative warmth poured back into him at the end of the tesser, as he emerged onto Camazotz where IT sat atop its throne in the clouds.

Unable to bear the darkness of this planet, the sun-spirit immediately left Gandalf to face this challenge alone. The wizened figure tenderly readjusted his pointy hat atop his bushy head and fixed his eyes on the tower ahead. He gave himself a knowing hum as he couldn’t help but liken the monolithic tower to that of Sarumon’s. Using his long, gnarled staff to make his steps more sure, Gandalf began walking toward the tower, cognizant of his surroundings and of the baffled and terrified expressions fixed on him but focused on his purpose.

It was made clear to him that he was not brought to Camazotz to empower the enslaved humans of this world, as was usually the wish of the Ainur, but rather to act as its sole liberator. There was too much at stake, and too many good fighters lost, for the forces of Good to delay any further with usual methods. Finally, before all was lost, they had sent the best warrior in the universe to finish the fight — a warrior who, however powerful, was still technically mortal and still fit in with the divine plan.

To be sure, mortality didn’t take away from the fact that Gandalf had regained nearly all of his power as a Maiar. Ever since completing his quest to dispel the Dark Lord on Arda, Gandalf’s powers had grown stronger by the day in The Undying Lands.

So when he arrived at the base of the tower, thus far as unassuming as any little child or hobbit may be, he immediately attracted the attention of the local authorities after he tapped the ground with the bottom of his staff and caused the earthy foundation beneath the tower to spike suddenly into the earth in a perfectly square radius, driving the tower downward as though it had been struck with a gargantuan hammer.

Gandalf shielded his face with a baggy sleeve from the displaced earth particles. When the debris settled, there were two older gentlemen standing at either side of him, both well out of staff reach. Their eyes glowed red and yet their expressions were paternal. Gandalf knew that these figures were the muscle of the creature ruling from up in its tower, the top of which was now on the ground level.

“I think you’ll find that you’re making a great mistake, my friend,” said both suit-clad men in perfect unison. “You do not want to make an enemy of the savior of the universe, who wants nothing but happiness and peace.”

Gandalf gruffly guffawed and nodded to himself, musing, “I have seen the sort of ‘peace’ afforded by brute force and oppression before, and I think you’ll find that I am no friend of it.” He unsheathed his sword, Glamdring, to express his intent without further words.

The two men with their glowing red eyes understood his message loud and clear. They said, again in harmony, “Very well. We just want you to know that we offered you the chance for peace and to eliminate all of your suffering. We are gracious, and we must insist that you accept our offer.” Both men began to raise their hands for the incantation that Gandalf had been warned about, and the wise wizard chose that moment to conjure his shield of Istari, an ability that rendered him impervious for a time. The puppets’ attempt to rip Gandalf’s atoms apart were completely ineffectual, but they quickly readjusted and tried another approach, manipulating the pavement with hand waves to attempt squashing the Wizard in walls of concrete.

Gandalf dove fast just out of the animated jaws of material, pointing his staff while in midair at the man to his right. From the end of his staff, a massive lightning bolt snaked forward and struck the man directly in his sternum, instantly setting him completely ablaze. The man let loose a shrill scream of rage with a voice not his own, flailing and falling to his knees in defeat.

The remaining adversary continued his assault unfettered, trying to entangle Gandalf’s legs by animating the very ground he stood on. Gandalf leapt nimbly over these tendrils, but struggled to find his aim while bounding through the air. When he pointed his staff again, the red-eyed man waved his hand in the air in a slicing motion and cut the staff in half from afar, which had not been protected by the shield conjuration.

Gandalf barreled forward, still impervious for at least a few seconds more, and brought his sword around in a wide arc that connected with the arm of his opponent, cleaving through it cleanly. The man rolled, picking up his arm in the process, and manipulated the molecules of the severed limb so that it condensed into an impossibly sharp dagger. He thrust it at Gandalf, and the wizard, though still shielded, parried with his sword, not certain if his shield could withstand a blade made so fine with such a conjuration. In fact, the blade made chips in his otherwise hearty sword. Gandalf had to find an opening, and fast.

Though it was more difficult to execute a spell without his wand, Gandalf had to try. As he backed quickly away and parried from the precise swipes of the knife, he focused his energies on a blinding flash of light, effectual enough to stun his opponent as he moved around him to slash at his vitals uncontested, defeating him with certainty.

All the while during this battle with the two red-eyed men, several underlings of IT were forming a perimeter around Gandalf, wielding some sort of metallic projectile weapon, and more began pouring in from all around. But before they could get a chance to fire on the wizard, Gandalf focused his energies and swept his hand in a wide arc, shooting great pillars of unscalable earth upward to shield him from any more oncomers. He could now focus on his primary objective: defeating IT.

Winded and a little weary but nevertheless determined, Gandalf gathered his energy and focused his mind straight ahead to the metal wall of the building directly in front of him. He reached out his hand and nodded his head in an effort to find concentration. After a laborious moment, he sharply tapped the metal with his fingertips. Immediately, a giant hole large enough for him to step through blasted inward. Unafraid, Gandalf the White stepped into the throne room of IT.

What few lights hadn’t been destroyed in the fall of the tower flickered in the distance. Shadows animated the area as though the twisted metal panels were alive. But the room appeared to be free of IT’s minions, free of an opposition other than the dark, pulsating blob that sat atop a pedestal in the room’s center, its backside illuminated intermittently by the failing lights. IT.

You would bring death and strife to a happy world? A reproachful voice spoke directly into Gandalf’s mind. One as wise and as benevolent as you, Gandalf the White of the Istari, ought to know better than most what sure and harmonious peace I offer to this universe. There was something in the way IT said harmonious that formed a drumbeat in Gandalf’s heart, a drumbeat just barely out of sync with Gandalf’s own heartbeat.

“I know that you think that in order to defeat chaos, you must control it, but that is no one’s choice to make.” Murky thoughts began to seep into Gandalf’s head, but he pressed on, taking a step toward the enlarged brain atop the pedestal. “This power you wield to take away what you would call ‘chaotic thoughts’ should belong to no one, least of all a tyrant. Least of all,” Gandalf’s steps faltered, and he found it increasingly difficult to move to the beat of his own heart, “least of all a creature with no ability to love.”

This seemed to enrage the creature, and the ensuing shriek sent a shudder through Gandalf, who was inching ever closer to IT, pulling his sword up through the air to strike — but with such great difficulty, as though it weighed a hundred times more. Do not speak to me of love, Istari. Love is chaos! Love has no place in my universe.

Gandalf regained a bit of his focus, and his leaden footsteps dragged slightly less at this. “By the love of Ilúvatar, all of creation exists to be free and to love freely. To be free of such cold and twisted logic as yours.” Finally within striking distance, Gandalf’s arm was fully raised and his will had become enough of his own to fulfill his destiny.

What of pity, friend? IT pleaded with eerie calmness. You speak of love, but do you know the consequence of my demise? Gandalf’s heart pounding, he paused a moment. The Ainur didn’t tell you, did she? You ought to know what’s at stake. You ought to know that, if I am defeated, then every mind who I have liberated on this planet will collapse without my control. If you kill me, then you are also the murderer of eleven billion happy, useful humans. Can you live with yourself, knowing these consequences?

Though Gandalf had not known this — and could not know if IT was bluffing — this was a scenario he had contemplated countless times while philosophising on the halfling’s weed. He answered, “If indeed these minds are already lost, then I am powerless to change their fates. No, pity will not stay my hand from a corrupt ruler when every other man’s life in all of creation is at stake.” And with that, the defender of the light brought down Glamdring in a fatal arc, cleaving the brain spectacularly in two.

Predicted Winner: Gandalf

NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON Friday, March 22th, 2013, AT 5 PM, EST

Check out all the Cage Match 2013 posts!

Check out the round 1 recap and Cage Match 2013 Bracket!

Check out the round 2 recap and Cage Match 2013 Bracket!

IT is a character from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time; Gandalf is a character from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

IT image courtesy of ShutterStock. Gandalf image courtesy of MGM/Warner Bros.

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”