Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.


ROTK: Bk 5, Ch 5

The Ride Of The Rohirrim
"'Now is the hour come, Riders of the Mark, sons of Eorl! Foes and fire are before you, and your homes far behind. Yet, though you fight upon an alien field, the glory that you reap shall be your own for ever. Oaths ye have taken: now fulfil them all, to lord and land and league of friendship!'"

Flashback to March 14th as the Orcs began lobbing flaming projectiles from their newly constructed battlements. The Riders of Rohan have made camp after riding for four days on end. Merry could hear the distant sound of drums coming from the Druadan Forest and he was frightened. Some scouts had reported back that the Great West Road that led to Minas Tirith was being guarded by a host of the Enemy. They were less than a day's ride from the outer wall of the City but they couldn't risk an encounter with the thousands of Orcs that stood in their way.

Merry asks one of the men, Elfhelm, about the drums. Elfhelm was aware that the hobbit was traveling with them without the King's permission. He tells Merry that the drumbeats are being made by the inhabitants of the forest, the Woses. These were the Wild Men who lived in these lands since before the founding of Rohan and even before the coming of the Numenoreans. They were meeting with Theoden because they feared the darkness out of the east and the coming of the Orcs.

He decided to go and have a look see and he came upon an open space just inside the edge of the woods. He saw the King under the light of a large lantern.

"There sat Theoden and Eomer, and before them on the ground sat a strange squat shape of a man, gnarled as on old stone, and the hairs of his scanty beard straggled on his lumpy chin like dry moss. He was short-legged and fat-armed, thick and stumpy, and clad only with the grass about his waist. Merry felt that he had seen him before somewhere, and suddenly he remembered the Pukel-men of Dunharrow. Here was one of those old images brought to life, or maybe a creature descended in true line through endless years from the models used by the forgotten craftsmen long ago."

The name of the Wild Man was Ghan-buri-Ghan and he was their chieftain. He spoke using primitive words in a strange dialect of the Common Speech. His own scouts had climbed along the side of Mount Mindolluin and witnessed Minas Tirith burning inside and out. And they noted that the Orcs that guarded the road numbered greater than Theoden's men. Ghan offers to lead the horsemen through a narrow valley between the forest and the mountains. It would be slower going through the Stonewain Valley but they would be able to pass the Orcs undetected to the Rammas Echor. Theoden estimates that the journey would take them ten hours. There was no time to lose.

The company was strung out in a long line, having to dismount and lead their horses through the narrow opening to the valley. Eventually, they reached the end and once again fell into a narrow line until the entire army was assembled at the base of Mount Mindolluin. Ghan's scouts reported that a good portion of the Rammas had been knocked down by the Orcs. This was a stroke of luck because it would allow them to sweep through this once formidable barrier to the City. The King thanked Ghan-buri-Ghan for his help. The Wild Man tells him that nothing would please him and his people more than for the Men of Rohan to kill Orcs and "drive away bad air and darkness with bright iron." He also tells Theoden that he can smell the wind changing.

As they begin to set out for the last leg of their ride, they receive word that the bodies of Hirgon and another man of Gondor have been found. It appeared that the messenger who had brought the Red Arrow of Gondor to Theoden had never made it back to Minas Tirith. They had most likely run into the army of Orcs, who caught and killed them. They had been found with the bodies of their horses facing back towards the west in flight. Theoden understands that this means that Denethor has not received word that he and his army are coming. Without the hope of Rohan, the Gondorians would have trouble holding out against the attack. The King knows they must make haste.

Through the night they rode as swiftly as they could, into the early hours of March 15th. At last, they reached the outer wall and the Orcs stationed there are taken by surprise. They ride through the ruins of what had been the North Gate.

"Now silently the host of Rohan moved forward into the field of the Gondor, pouring in slowly but steadily, like the rising tide through breaches in a dike that men have thought secure. But the mind and will of the Black Captain were bent wholly on the failing city, and as yet no tidings came to him warning that his designs held any flaw."

When the Rohirrim reached the outer fields, they halted to a sight of Minas Tirith burning and they feared they were too late. The wind was indeed blowing up from the south and the darkness was beginning to yield to the dawn. Despite the shadow of death that hung above the city, they were determined to ride on. The King seized the horn of his banner-bearer and blew a loud blast across the Pelennor Fields. The call was followed by the other horns among the Riders. This was the sound heard by Gandalf as he challenged the Lord of the Nazgul at the Gates of Minas Tirith. Theoden lifted his sword and called out to his men: "Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!"

[Chronology: March 14th - March 15th 3019 T.A.]

Next: The Battle Of The Pelennor Fields

(revised 10/20/06)


Post a Comment

<< Home