February of S.R. 1419
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In the dusk of evening, Sam finally gets his wish: to see Elven-magic! He and Frodo are invited to look in the Mirror of Galadriel: a basin of water she pours, across which images pass. But Sam finds the experience bitter, as all three are torn by difficult choices. Sam sees the Shire ravaged, and his father homeless, and only on the verge of tears can he choose to continue following his master. Frodo himself sees the Eye of Sauron searching for him, and perceives the Elven-ring on Galadriel's finger whose power will be ended if his quest succeeds; he responds with the vast gesture of offering her the Ruling Ring. Galadriel refuses to take the Dark Lord's place, and announces that, their choices having been made, the time has come for them to depart.
Later the entire Company are called before the Lord and Lady, and Celeborn offers them boats on which they can ride the Anduin south for many miles before having to choose whether to turn west toward Minas Tirith or east towards Mordor. The Company returns to their pavilion for one last evening of rest, and debate long into the night which direction they should choose.
Gandalf returns to life, now with the color White: the head of the order of Wizards. His body has lain atop Zirak-zigil for almost three weeks since the conclusion of his battle with the Balrog of Moria. Disoriented by his return, he lies in a trance upon the peak.
The Company spends the morning preparing to depart from Lórien and continue their quest, which now enters its final forty days. The Elves provide them with the Elven waybread that will often sustain them, the cloaks and broaches that will clad them to their journey's end, and the rope that will bear Sam and Frodo off the Emyn Muil. Galadriel herself gives them gifts — sheath, bow, box, and phial — and gives Aragorn the Elfstone for which his people will name him. Gimli requests, and receives, a strand of her hair. They hear her singing of the fading years as their boats enter the Great River and are borne south.
Gollum has been hiding along the west bank for a month, waiting for the Ring to emerge from the terrible Wood. He begins to trail the Company down the Anduin upon bank and driftwood.
Having revived yesterday following his death three weeks ago, Gandalf lies for a second day in a trance upon the peak of Zirak-zigil.
The Company wake early in their camp on the west bank of the Anduin — their first morning back in the Wild since reaching the safety of Lórien four weeks ago. They spend both day and evening moving south on the river in their Elven-boats before making camp again.
Gandalf lies for a third day alone upon the peak of Zirak-zigil.
[The Tale of Years incorrectly states
that the Fellowship left Lórien on this date;
but the text clearly states that they departed
the morning after Frodo and Sam looked in the Mirror of Galadriel.
One can also count backward from
The lands through which the Anduin flows as the Company ride its current south begin to change. Since their departure from Lórien two days ago, they have been floating between wooded banks; but as they continue south today the trees become sparse. When in the evening they make camp upon the west bank, the green plains of the north Riddermark are visible to the west and the rough and blasted Brown Lands lie to their east — which continue east toward Rhûn, and south toward Mordor.
The great Eagle Gwaihir the Windlord, who almost exactly five months ago rescued Gandalf from the pinnacle of the fortress of Orthanc, now discovers the wizard stranded upon the peak of Zirak-zigil. He carries the wizard to Lórien where he will rest briefly before returning to the labors interrupted by his struggle with the Balrog and death.
The Company spend another long day on the river, borne south upon the current of the Anduin.
Lórien now lies four days behind the Company. They feel exposed as they float between banks devoid of almost any vegitation. As dusk closes over their boats, Sam glimpses eyes atop a log in the current behind them; and after the company makes camp for the evening — again on the west bank, since Orcs control the eastern shore — he reveals to Frodo his guess that Gollum is following them, and learns that his master had sighted the creature weeks ago when they slept upon the flet after entering Lórien. Fearing that they may be strangled in their sleep, the two agree to keep watch overnight; Sam takes the first shift.
Just after midnight Frodo wakes in the camp the Company have made on the west bank of the Anduin, and takes over from Sam the watch the two of them have set for Gollum, whom Sam believes he saw yesterday evening on the River. Hours before dawn, the creature indeed appears by their boats, but retreats when Frodo brandishes Sting. This confrontation awakes Aragorn, who reveals that he has been aware of Gollum for several days but has failed to capture him. The Ranger sends Frodo to sleep and keeps watch until dawn.
Uneasiness continues to wear upon the Company as they drift south upon the Anduin for a fifth day since leaving Lórien, for the country around them remains bare of cover for their journey; barren hills begin to rise on the east-bank. They begin periodic use of their paddles to speed their journey, and Merry and Pippin note that Boromir seems quietly eager to remain near the boat carrying Aragorn and the Ring-bearer.
The sixth day arrives since the Company woke for the last time beneath the golden mallorn of Lórien and committed themselves to the great river Anduin. As the river carries them southward toward lands held by the Enemy, they now sleep during the day under what cover they can find and move at night.
After paddling their boats until dawn the Company make camp again on the west-bank of Anduin and sleep through most of the day before proceeding south again. They have now been seven days out of Lórien. Overcast skies begin to clear and they see the new moon setting in the west soon after sunset.
The Company have now been on the Anduin for a week since parting from Lórien. The hills about the river become larger and more rocky as they paddle and drift southwards before dawn, and many birds flutter about the cliffs and chimneys as they camp under cover during the day; but far above they descry a hunting-eagle (spying for Saruman, though they will not guess this until his Uruk-hai attack them three days hence).
The take to the water again at dusk and just before midnight reach the deadly rapids of Sarn Gebir — they are miles south of where Aragorn had imagined them. The strong current draws them toward both the rapids and the east-bank, from which Orcs fire arrows from sudden ambush. They gain the west-bank without injury — their boats and grey elven-cloaks apparently present difficult targets even for Orcs in the darkness — and Legolas turns and with an arrow fells the flying carrion-steed of a Nazgûl that flew toward them from the south.
The Company spends the night under cover on the west-bank after the Orc ambush they suffered on the river above the rapids just before midnight. At dawn Boromir advocates abandoning their boats for an overland march through eastern Rohan and so down to Gondor. But Aragorn wishes both to avoid the fens of the lower Entwash and especially to reach the ancient High Seat upon Amon Hen — the Hill of Seeing beside the river where the narrow waters of Nen Hithoel empty over the thundering Rauros — from whence he hopes to exercise his ancestral sight and take counsel before leaving the River.
Aragorn and Legolas set out westward at daybreak and find further inland the old portage-road around the rapids of Sarn Gebin. The Company spends the day moving their gear first to the road, then down to the foot of the rapids, where they lay down exhausted for an uneventful night of sleep.
Brief drizzle before dawn is followed by heavy rains in the morning after the Company leave their camp at the base of the rapids of Sarn Gebin and float down the Anduin between cliffs that rise upon both hands. But the clouds clear and blue sky stands above them when finally they reach and pass the Argonath, where the Anduin runs between the colossi of Isildur and Anárion standing guard upon the border of ancient Gondor; and Frodo perceives the strength of the king, Aragorn son of Arathorn, sitting in the stern behind him as they pass beneath the images.
As their tenth day on the river since leaving Lórien draws to its close, they make camp upon the green slope of Parth Galen, which lies on the western shore of lake Nin Hithoel beside tall Amon Hen and just north of the thundering Rauros where the waters of the Anduin pour down from these hills of the Emyn Muil.
First Battle of the Fords of Isen. Théodred, the son of King Théoden, is slain in battle with the forces of Saruman attempting to defend the Fords of Isen.
Before dawn Aragorn and Frodo observe the edges of Sting gleaming faintly, warning them of distant Orcs; they guess that these are on the east-shore of the lake, but in fact a large force of Orcs of Mordor and of the Misty Mountains, and Uruk-hai of Saruman, are approaching from the north with orders to destroy the Company but take any Hobbits alive.
In the morning comes the hour when the Company must finally decide their course. Frodo wanders the slopes of Amon Hen steeling himself to choose the East; Boromir follows, urges Frodo to bear the Ring to Gondor for use in war, and finally tries to seize it himself; whereupon Frodo dons the Ring and runs invisible toward the summit.
From the Seat of Seeing atop Amon Hen, Frodo perceives strife and preparation for war from Mirkwood to the Sea and from the ring of Isengard to the fires of Mordor — and there his gaze is captured by the Lidless Eye that begins to grope for him and the Ring he wears. But from afar Gandalf challenges the dark thought of Sauron, and in the balance between them Frodo chooses to remove the Ring and escape the searching Eye. His will is thus tempered and he resolves to depart for Mordor alone, neither leading his companions into danger nor tempting them further with the Ring.
Boromir returns and describes their argument; the other Hobbits are immediately suspicious and run off calling for Frodo. Only Sam perceives Frodo's intentions and intercepts him at the boats, and the two set out together across the lake. Behind them on the western shore the Orcs pour through the woods, and the great horn of Boromir is winded for the last time as he is overwhelmed and Merry and Pippin are captured; it is said later that his horn-blasts were heard far away in Minas Tirith. Aragorn arrives in time to receive Boromir's dying confession, and after committing his body to the falls in an elven-boat, the Ranger and Legolas and Gimli set off after their captured companions.
Merry and Pippin awake as prisoners of the Orcs. During a confrontation among his captors, Pippin is able to sever the bonds about his wrist; upon reaching the plain after nightfall he swerves aside and drops his Elven-clasp in the hope that Strider finds it. Then he is forced back into line and the Orcs lope off northwest-wards toward the distant borders of Fangorn.
Éomer, the Third Marshal of the Mark of Rohan, hears from one of his scouts that a great company of Orcs has descended to the plains from the Emyn Muil.
In the afternoon Frodo and Sam reach the east-shore of Nen Hithoel and hide their elven-boat before climbing into the broken hills of the Emyn Muil where they spend a first night. On his watch Frodo is startled to see gleaming eyes in the distance, hint that Gollum has followed the Ring across the river and is following them across the barren ridges.
Merry and Pippin remain another day in the grasp of the Orc-band that captured them yesterday by the Great River. The leaders, large Uruk-hai bred by Saruman, drive forward through the daylight both the mountain-Orcs that came to avenge their losses in Moria and the sinister Orcs of Mordor that already sense treachery in Saruman's bid to acquire these prisoners for himself.
In the dark hours just after midnight, Éomer resolves to disobey King Théoden's order that his force remain available for the last defense of Edoras. Fearing that Saruman has formed some alliance with their enemy the Dark Lord, he leads his éored northward in pursuit of the Orc-company that descended yesterday evening from the Emyn Muil.
Through the hours before dawn Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Orcs that yesterday captured Merry and Pippin on the lower slopes of Amon Hen. By sunrise they reach the crest of the Emyn Muil, and Aragorn sees the White Mountains of Gondor again after many long years; also the light reveals the Orc-band already more than twelve leagues away and moving in a straight march toward the north-west. They spend the day in pursuit, finding the elven-brooch that Pippin cast aside; then at night they rest rather than wear themselves out and miss any further signs.
Frodo and his servant Sam spend their first full day negotiating the difficult and often impassible Emyn Muil as they struggle eastward toward the marshes that lie at their feet.
Merry and Pippin wake as prisoners on the plain beside the narrow Entwash, and can see the Misty Mountains and Fangorn Wood to the northwest. Here the composite Orc-party disintegrates: most of the mountain-Orcs flee for the wood, and the Orcs of Mordor who had fled eastwards return when scouts report that more than a hundred Riders of Rohan are approaching from the south. The Uruk-hai, despite the burden of two Hobbits, outrun both the mountain-Orcs and those of Mordor and are thus in the lead when they reach the borders of Fangorn at dusk — only to be surrounded by the Riders who encircle them upon a knoll at the edge of the grasslands, where they remain through the long night.
The three hunters wake before morning. Legolas fears that the Orc-band has not rested overnight and is now far ahead across the plains; Aragorn listens long to the earth but hears nothing but a rumor of galloping horses, very far away, and moving toward the north. They spend a second full day in pursuit, and cover a second twelve leagues as the Orcs' trail turns north toward high downs. The land is quite silent and empty of horsemen and their herds. As the three again stop overnight they feel heavy weariness and perceive the dark will of Saruman against them.
Frodo and Sam spend another day clambering among the stony slopes of the Emyn Muil, trying to find a path from its sharp edges down to the pungent marshes below.
The early hours find Merry and Pippin amongst the large force of Orcs that the éored lead by Éomer has surrounded upon a knoll some three leagues from Fangorn Wood. Several sorties are attempted before dawn: some Riders approach the Orcs and kill several before being driven away; and another Orc-band attacks from the direction of the forest but are defeated. Amidst this confusion the Orc leader from Mordor attempts to spirit the Hobbits away but is killed, leaving them free upon the plain and unspied in their Elven-cloaks.
The Riders attack with the dawn, riding upon the Orcs from the East with the rising sun behind them. Beneath the blue of the winter morning, every Orc is hunted and destroyed; the toughest prove to be Saruman's Uruk-hai, who almost reach the safety of Fangorn and whose leader is fought on foot by Éomer himself. The Riders spend the balance of the day making a great burning of the Orc-bodies, and raising a mound over their own dead — fifteen of their riders lost to destroy more than two hundred Orcs.
In the afternoon Merry and Pippin pass beneath the canopy of Fangorn and meet Treebeard, the ancient Ent and shepherd of the trees and the forest. After hearing of their adventures, and especially of the treachery of Saruman, he resolves that the White Wizard must be attacked.
The three hunters set off again in the red dawn and before noon come upon the remains of an Orc-camp amongst the downs, which Aragorn guesses was abandoned a full day and a half ago — giving the Orcs time to have reached Fangorn wood by yesterday evening. By nightfall they reach the most northerly of these downs that run beside the swift Entwash, and sleep admist cold winds off the Misty Mountains.
Gandalf in Fangorn wood learns the condition of Merry and Pippin. He bends his thought southward upon Shadowfax who speeds north from his pasture in southern Rohan.
The Lord Faramir, on guard beside the Anduin in Osgiliath, sees the body of his brother borne past him in the elven-boat which Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli cast over the Rauros two days ago.
After another day of hiking east along the south ridge of the Emyn Muil, Frodo and Sam reach a ravine that cuts deeply enough into the southern face that with their elven-rope they reach the plain safely. There they waylay Gollum whom follows them down the wall, grasping the sheer rock with his soft feet and hands, and Frodo tames him by making him swear fealty upon the Ring.
Treebeard carries Merry and Pippin to Derndingle, a hollow deep in Fangorn Forest, where he convenes an Entmoot to argue for immediate action against Saruman. The hobbits spend the night in a rowan-grove with a younger Ent named Quickbeam who had already decided in favor of Treebeard's proposal.
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli wake upon the northernmost of the line of downs they passed yesterday as they followed the Orcs who captured Merry and Pippin four days ago. Sunrise shows that the edge of Fangorn Forest, which they fear the Orc-band reached two evenings ago, still lies ten leagues to their north. They also see horsemen riding from the north, whom they hail, and after a tense negotiation are granted two horses on which to continue their search for the Hobbits — though the leader of the horsemen, Éomer son of Éomund, warns that his life may depend on the three travelers returning the horses safely as they promise.
Riding north, the hunters find where a contingent of Orcs from Mordor joined those fleeing towards the Forest, but upon reaching and searching the site of yesterday's battle find no sign of the Hobbits. They make camp beside the battlefield, and wake when the figure of a wizard appears for a moment at the edge of their firelight. They then discover that their horses have escaped, leaving them stranded on the edge of the wood.
Gollum spent last night leading Frodo and Sam along a ravine away from the frowning cliffs of the Emyn Muil, from which they descended yesterday evening. After sleeping through the day in hiding with Gollum, they march again at nightfall.
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