The King of the Golden Hall
"It is not my will," said Aragorn, "to put aside my sword or to deliver Anduril to the hand of any other man."
"This is the house of Theoden," said Hama. "You will set aside your sword, no matter what its name, or fight against all the men in Edoras.
"Come, come!" intervened Gandalf. "The laughter of Mordor is our only reward if we quarrel. Here is my sword. Come Aragorn."
Reluctantly Aragorn set his sword against the wall. "Let no one touch it. Death shall come to any man who draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir."
"It shall be as you command," said Hama. Then he turned to Gandalf, "Your staff, too, must be left at the door."
"Foolishness!" said Gandalf. "You would deny an old man his stick to lean on?"
"In doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom," said Hama. "I believe you are friends and have no evil purpose. You may go in."
Inside the hall, a man bent with age sat on a gilded chairon a raised dias. He slowly rose to his feet, leaning heavily on a short black staff. "I greet you, but your welcome is doubful here, Gandalf Stormcrow."
"You speak justly, lord," said the pale man sitting before the king. "These are bitter days. Your son Theodred is slain, Eomer is unfaithful, and the forces of the Dark Lord are stirring in the East. And this is the time that Gandalf Ill-news returns, with three ragged wanderers at his tail."
"You are held wise, my friend Wormtounge," said Gandalf, "Yet in two ways may a man come with evil tidings. He may be a worker of evil; or he may come only to bring aid in time of need."
"There is a third kind," returned Wormtounge, "pickers of bones, carrion fowl that grow fat on war. What aid have you ever brought, Stormcrow?"
"Be silent, Grima son of Galmod. I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving man till the lightning falls." With these words, Gandalf raised his staff. There was a roll of thunder, and sunlight was blotted from the windows. Then with a flash all was silent, and Wormtounge lay sprawled on his face.
"Now Theoden son of Thengel, will you hearken to me?" asked Gandalf. "Not all is dark. Take courage. Will you hear my counsel?"
Slowly Theoden left his chair and followed Gandalf to the doors. "The Lord of the Mark comes forth!" cried Gandalf.
As they stepped outside Theoden turned to the woman beside him. "Go, Eowyn sister-daughter. The time for fear is past."
"Now, lord," said Gandalf, "look out upon your land! Breathe the free air again!"
Theoden cast aside his cane, and he stood tall and straight, and his age no longer weighed upon him. He had the guards bring Eomer before him.
"It is a joy to see you return into your own, my king. Never again shall it be said, Gandalf, that you come only with grief!" With these words Eomer laid his sword at Theoden's feet.
Next Wormtoungue was brought before the king. "Dear lord!" he cried. "This wizard has bewitched you!"
"If this is bewitchment," said Theoden, "it seems to me more wholesome than your whisperings. I ride to war, Grima. It is your choice to ride with me and prove your faithfulness, or to go now whither you will."
Wormtounge spat before the king's feet, turned, and sped down the stair. "Let him go," said Theoden, "but see that he does no harm. Now it is time to prepare for battle. We ride as soon as we can gather our forces."
Preparations were quickly made. Before they could leave, Eowyn came bearing wine. "Theoden, receive now this cup and drink in happy hour. Health be with thee at thy going and coming!" After Theoden drank she offered the cup to each guest in turn. She paused before Aragorn, trembling. "Hail Aragorn son of Arathorn!"
When all had drunk, they mounted their horses to ride out to meet the forces of Saruman. "Our King and the White Rider!" shouted the forces of Rohan. "Forth Eorlings!"
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