The White Rider
"Look!" said Legolas, "an old man is coming through the trees."
A bent figure was approaching them. Gimli exclaimed, "It is Saruman! Do not let him speak, or put a spell on us!"
"Well met indeed," said the old man. "An Elf, a Man, and a Dwarf, all clad in elvish fashion. Such things are not often seen here."
At first they did not know who it was, but then Legolas cried out, "Mithrandir!"
Gimli laughed. "Gandalf!" he said. "But you are all in white!"
"Yes, I am white now," said Gandalf. "Indeed, I am Saruman, as he should have been. I have passed through fire and deep water, since we parted. Come now, tell me of yourselves."
They told him of the breaking of the Company, of the death of Boromir, and of their journey across Rohan seeking Merry and Pippin. "The Hobbits are safe with Treebeard and the Ents. We, though, must travel to Edoras and seek out Theoden."
"First," said Legolas, "you must tell us how you were delivered in Moria."
"Long I fell, and my enemy fell with me. At last we reached the bottom of the abyss. We fought far under the living earth, where time is not counted. Ever he clutched me, and ever I hewed him, till at last he fled into dark tunnels."
"I pursued him. Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair. From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak it climbed, until it issued at last on the pinnacle of the Silvertine.
"Out he sprang, and even as I came behind, he burst into new flame. There we did battle. A viewer from afar would have seen it as storm and fire upon the mountaintop."
"At last I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountain-side where he smote it in his ruin. Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time."
"Naked was I sent back--for a brief time, until my task is done. I lay naked upon the mountain-top until I was found by Gwaihir the Eagle, who bore me to Lorien."
"In Lorien I was healed and clothed, and found tidings of your journey. Come now, the time for tales is done. We must ride to Edoras!"
When they returned to the forest edge, their missing horses returned, led by a great horse, whose like they had not seen before.
"That is Shadowfax, lord of horses, greatest of all the steeds of Rohan," said Gandalf. "He has come for me: the horse of the White Rider. We are going to battle together."
On they rode. Looking back, Legolas saw smoke in the direction of Isengard. "What may that be?" he asked.
"Battle and war!" said Gandalf. "Ride on!"
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