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In the year S.R. 1418
The news has reached Elrond from the wandering company of Gildor that Frodo the Hobbit is moving east from the Shire and is carrying some great burden, without the guidance of Gandalf. Elrond dispatches those of his household able to contest the Nine; the Elf-lord Glorfindel is sent west along the great road.
Following the attack upon the party last night in which the Lord of the Nazgûl wounded Frodo, Strider leads the Hobbits into the empty lands south of the Road through which they continue to press east toward Rivendell. Though they hear the distant cry and answer of two Nazgûl as they pass across the Road itself, there is no further indication that they are being pursued; they hope to again escape ambush by avoiding the East-West Road, and they thread amongst the shelter of thickets and small stands of trees — and at night they light a campfire both to discourage another attack and to keep Frodo warm. Though he hides the fact from his friends, the pain in his shoulder starts growing by the end of the day.
Strider leads the Hobbits south along the old fort-path that hugs the west side of the Weather Hills. From the summit of Weathertop, Frodo and Merry for the first time see the Misty Mountains. Strider finds a G-rune left by Gandalf, and correctly deduces that the flashes he and Frodo saw in the eastern sky three nights ago were a battle atop this hill between the wizard and the Nine Riders. They see five Riders on the road below them, which attack them at night in a dell north of the summit. During the attack Frodo succumbs to the temptation to wear the Ring, which while hiding him from mortal eyes makes him visible to the Ring-wraiths in whose minds the living are otherwise vague shadows. The Witch-lord charges him and stabs his shoulder with a Morgul-knife whose tip will remain in the wound, working its way inward.
Morning frost and pale blue sky refresh the four Hobbits, who with Strider begin another day of travel that brings them to the feet of the Weather hills where they camp.
Another day of Gandalf's fourteen-day trek from Weathertop to Rivendell, by way of the Ettenmoors one hundred miles to the north. Once the four Riders break off their pursuit a few days into the journey, Shadowfax departs for Rohan since he cannot assist Gandalf in the rocky troll-fells.
The land across which Strider and the Hobbits travel begins to rise, leaving behind the Midge-water Marshes and raising the Weather Hills into sight to the east. They are again approaching the Road, which had turned south in a wide loop to avoid the marshes. For the first time they set a watch overnight, in addition to Strider's usual watchfulness.
From their camp in the Midge-water Marshes, Strider and Frodo see flashes of lightning to the east: distant beacons of the battle Gandalf wages on Weathertop against all nine of the Nazgûl. The wizard survives the night and flees to the northeast, successfully drawing four Riders after him and away from the road.
Another day of travel through the Midge-water Marshes brings Strider and the four Hobbits to another uncomfortable and insect-tormented night of camping
Gandalf reaches the summit of Weathertop in the afternoon; the Nine Riders withdraw until sunset, then attack the wizard amidst the foundations of the ancient watch-tower.
Strider and the Hobbits travelling east come out of the Chetwood and enter the Midgewater marshes. While walking during the day they are tormented by flies and midges, and their sleep in camp is distrubed by the drone of loud insects.
Gandalf continues riding east from Bree in pursuit of the Black Riders.
Gandalf leaves Bree before dawn upon Shadowfax, riding east in pursuit of the five Riders who passed through during the night.
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In the year S.R. 1419
On their second day of travel from Rivendell, Gandalf and the Hobbits cross Ford of Bruinen. Frodo experiences the first of many periodic bouts with darkness and pain that he will experience over the coming years, on anniversaries of the woundings he received on his journey; it was one year ago today that he was attacked by the Nagzul upon Weathertop and received the Morgul-knife wound in his shoulder.
After a visit of slightly less than two weeks, Gandalf and the Hobbits leave Rivendell to return to the Shire. While their journey east along the Road last year was on foot, they now ride west on stout ponies, and Gandalf upon Shadowfax.
Bilbo Baggins turns one hundred and twenty-nine, and his birthday is celebrated by Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin who have all returned just yesterday to Rivendell after leaving Rivendell with the Ring nine months ago.
The wizard Saruman reaches the Shire, having left his ruined fortress of Isengard more than a month ago. While for many years he deployed only spies into the Shire, he recently has been employing wealth and, finally, open violence in order to impose his own rule on the district. They have cut off access to the Tookland, since its Thain is opposing them and his Hobbits are shooting Men on sight; but the Tookland itself is alone in still remaining out of Saruman's power.
After eight final days of riding north, Gandalf and the Hobbits return to Rivendell accompanied by Elrond, his sons, and many Elves of his household. It has been more than four and a half months since Elrond and his advisors rode from Rivendell with Arwen, bringing her south to her wedding in Minas Tirith; at least seven months since the sons of Elrond departed Rivendell to ride south with the Dúnedain to fight alongside Aragorn; and only four days shy of nine months since the Hobbits and Gandalf left Rivendell on a cold night of late December bearing the Ring southward toward its destruction.
After a week of rest in Eregion among the ruins of the ancient Elven city, the time comes for the Elves to part. Celeborn and Galadriel head east with their companions over the Redhorn pass toward their forest of Lórien on the other side of the Misty Mountains, while Elrond, the Elves of his household, and Gandalf and the Hobbits continue north along the west side of the mountains toward Rivendell and the House of Elrond which lie slightly more than a week's ride to the north. It took the Hobbits a full two weeks to cross the same distance on foot when they marched south from Rivendell with the Company of the Ring, more than nine months ago.
The Hobbits and Elves riding north with Gandalf toward their homes reach Hollin and the trace ruins of the ancient Elven city of Eregion. They linger among the stones for a week, the Elves communing together one last time; for Celeborn will remain in Middle-earth, while his wife and Elrond and most of the other High-elves will soon take ship and pass into the West.
The Hobbits and Elves who ride north with Gandalf toward their homes come upon the wizard Saruman, who is also passing north. After a vicious exchange of words on the part of the ruined wizard, they continue north while he moves off to the northwest.
Legolas and Gimli bid the other riders farewell, and accept the invitation of Treebeard to ride north through Fangorn forest as they ride toward their homes in the northern Mirkwood (now named the Wood of Greenleaves following the victories of the Elves against Dol Guldur, as they will learn upon their return) — Legolas toward the city of the Wood-elves where the father reigns, and Gimli toward the great caves under the Lonely Mountain where he will find the old King Dáin Ironfoot has fallen in battle and his distant cousin Thorin III Stonehelm now reigning.
At sunset they approach the Gap of Rohan, the westernmost border of ancient Gondor, where Aragorn bids them farewell so that he may ride back to his Queen who waits in Edoras for both of them to return to Minas Tirith and being in earnest their reign. Aragorn and his knights do not turn immediately, but sit awhile upon their horses to watch the travellers disappear into the sunset, who in return see behind them the sunlight gleaming upon the harnesses and a final flash of green from the Elfstone.