March 28, 3019 – Dol Guldur Attacked by Lórien

Welcome back! We’re still tying up loose ends following the destruction of the Ring. Yesterday we saw the Siege of Erebor broken, and today we’ll take a quick look at the fighting between Lórien and Dol Guldur.

Though we know even less about this battle than we do about the Erebor’s siege, let’s review.

Sauron was based out of Mordor, but he also had a strong presence in Dol Guldur, just across the Anduin from Lothlórien. On March 11, the second day of darkness, when Frodo and Sam were climbing the stairs to Cirith Ungol, Lórien was attacked by the Enemy’s forces.

They were driven back, but attacked again on the 15th, and once more on the 22nd. This attack was also beaten back. However, the forces of Dol Guldur must have been strong enough to make Celebor think twice about continuing a pursuit.

On this day, three days after the destruction of the Ring, he crossed the Anduin and fell upon Dol Guldur. Tolkien tells us basically nothing about this, saying only “destruction of Dol Guldur begins.”

It would take a few days for the destruction to take place, and in the end, it would be Galadriel who would see to it sometime in the next week (we don’t know for certain when).

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March 27, 3019 – Happy Spring? (Oh, and the war isn’t over)

As our main heroes recover and recoup, the war isn’t over. I mean, it’s basically over, but like in other wars, the fighting lasted longer than we’d think.

Take the Civil War, for example. After Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomatox, there was still a month of hard fighting in the Carolinas. Even more out west. The same was true during the War of the Ring.

The Siege of Erebor is lifted

By any reckoning, the baddies had lost when Sauron was sent packing with the destruction of the Ring. And while we’re told that the Enemy fighting the Battle of the Morannon were demoralized when that happened, the same couldn’t be said for Sauron’s forces elsewhere.

The Easterlings had attacked Dale on March 17th. The Dwarves and Men of Dale fought hard, but were ultimately pushed back into Erebor, the Lonely Mountain, and a siege ensued.

Whether word reached the Easterlings of Sauron’s defeat or they just felt it, they too were disheartened. They were not, however, defeated.

On this day, Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm launched an assault to break the siege.

This is really all we know about the battle. Tolkien never really dug into it more.

Also at this time, Celebor was marching his army to Dol Guldur.

Spring?

Yes, spring! Today is the first day of spring. While many of the dates in Shire Reckoning sound like our dates (and generally can be applied), some, like equinoxes and solstices, are different. Or rather, they are the same, but the dates around them are differently named.

I went into a little more detail about this here.

March 25, 3019 – The Ring is Destroyed!

Well dear readers, today’s the day. The day. Of course, it’s not the end of our story, and thus not the end of this blog. We’ll keep going in real time until the very end – whatever that means.

For now, let’s talk about today. I’ll be brief. Let’s start with Aragorn and Gandalf.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, and the warriors of Gondor

(“It grew cold. As morning came the wind began to stir again, but now it came from the North, and soon it freshened to a rising breeze.” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

Aragorn’s company, fully 6,000 warriors strong, woke to the sight of the Black Gate. But nobody was around. He arranged his forces upon two large hills of blasted and piled up stone. With that done, the Captains (and all the available members of the Fellowship) rode towards the Gate, with Gandalf at the lead.

When they were within earshot, the called for someone to come out. After a bit, out came the Mouth of Sauron, a man twisted to the ways of Mordor. He mocked Aragorn for proclaiming himself King of Gondor, and then insulted Gandalf with the ol’ greybeard jab, imply he was a coward.

It’s here, without a reply from Gandalf, that he shows the Captains the items from Sam and Frodo. They have not heard anything directly from them in a month. The last they heard word of them was from Faramir, and that news was now two and a half weeks old.

The Mouth of Sauron (Mouth, for short) made a mistake. It was because Sauron made a mistake, of course. Gandalf and pals knew that the items belonged to both Sam and Frodo. Yet, Mouth referred to only a single hobbit. He also referred to him as a spy.

This made it clear to old greybeard that something was up. Mouth said that the hobbit’s mission had failed and that he had been captured an would be tormented for basically ever.

At this point, to Gandalf, worse case scenario was that they had Sam, but Frodo had escaped. The mission had not failed, despite the possibility of this tragic setback (for Sam, anyway).

This all could be avoided if they accepted Sauron’s terms. The terms were that Mordor proper would be everything east of the Anduin. Everything west of that to the Misty Mountains would be the lower occupied territories and pay tribute to Mordor. Isengard would be rebuilt and would house someone more trusty than Saruman.

Gandalf called bullshit, and asked to see the prisoner. The Mouth feigned offense and told Gandalf to “take them or leave them!” Gandalf took… Sam and Frodo’s items and told Mouth to bring it. With that, the Mouth went back into the Black Gate and was replaced by a metric shit ton of Orcs.

If Tolkien’s count is to be trusted, there were over 60,000 of the Enemy swarming towards Aragorn’s army. Easterlings streamed in from the north, and “the Nazgûl came with their cold voices crying words of death…”

There was no way they were going to win this one. Hill-trolls took the lead and hit the hills first. Beregond was wounded, and Pippin stabbed and killed the troll, which crumpled down upon him.

Then the Eagles showed up. It was Gwaihir and Landroval, his brother. And a lot more. They went first for the Nazgûl.

But there was a cry from Barad-dûr, and they flew toward it. All the of trolls, men and Orcs in Sauron’s army trembled and were stopped in their tracks, now full of doubt.

The Army of the West saw this and pounced, counter-attacking. But now came an earthquake, which took out the Black Gate. They heard far off “a long echoing roll of ruinous noise.” A gigantic shadow grew over Mordor. It reached out to them, but could do nothing. It then blew away with the wind and was gone. This threw the entire enemy army into a bit of chaos.

Some of the Enemy fled, some cried for mercy, some killed themselves. This was victory, but still a bit of a mess. Gandalf left that to Aragorn and called Gwaihir over to him. Now mounted upon him, they flew for Mount Doom to rescue Frodo (and maybe Sam, who knows at this point?)

Sam and Frodo (and Gollum)

(“Then sleep took him, and the dim light of the last day of their quest found them side by side.” Book Six, Chapter 3 – Mount Doom)

As for Sam and Frodo, their day was pretty busy as well. Sam was up, and Frodo was having trouble even standing. Seeing that Frodo was in no shape to walk, Sam carried him – literally gave him a piggyback ride (or “pig-a-back” as Tolkien called it).

When they got to the base of Mount Doom, Sam began to climb, but had no idea where he was going. He must have been moving with some speed because before he knew it, he was halfway up when he found a path. This was Sauron’s Road from Barad-dûr to Sammath Naur, the Chambers of Fire, a distance of around thirty miles.

Sam saw the road, but had no idea how to get to it with Frodo on his back. Frodo, who was still with us, saw this too and offered to crawl. And together they did so. They felt the Eye looking, but not at them. At this point, it was looking towards the Black Gate. It was probably around the time that Sauron’s armies attacked Gandalf and Aragorn.

Frodo was fighting with everything to not put on the Ring. He was fortunate enough to have Sam with him, who held his hands, kissed them, and then carried him again. Through a series of switchbacks. Near the top Gollum was waiting. He chucked a rock at Sam, laying him out.

Gollum fell upon Frodo, trying to get the Ring. Frodo had the better of him, as Gandalf spoke through him. It’s curious that we don’t see this happen from Gandalf’s point of view.

But it was enough for Frodo to get away. Sam was left to deal with Gollum. He was about to kill him, but in the end felt pity on Gollum, empathy, compassion. Rather than kill him, he just told Gollum to just go away. Gollum left, and Sam took off after Frodo. Gollum saw his chance.

Sam found Frodo down a tunnel, standing over the Crack of Doom. Frodo refused to destroy the Ring. He slipped in on his finger and disappeared.

This caused Sauron to take notice. On the battlefield the Eagles had just arrived and the Nazgûl raced into Mordor at Sauron’s cry.

Gollum had sneaked into Sammath Naur and clocked Sam, then jumped on the invisible Frodo. “Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen foe.” (Which would look pretty ridiculous if they’d try to portray that in a film.) Feeling around, Gollum was able to find Frodo’s hand, and be bit off his Ring finger.

The Ring was Gollum’s again and he lept about in glee, accidentally stumbling into the Crack of Doom. Together they fell. The Ring was destroyed.

This kicked off one hell of an earthquake (that was felt at the battlefield). Both Sam and Frodo, together again, figured they were about to die. Still, Sam suggested that maybe they should try to put a little distance between themselves and the Crack of Doom.

Somehow, they were able to scramble down the side of Mount Doom to the base, but couldn’t go any farther. The mountain itself, as well as the land around it, were erupting. The lava was rising around them.

Gwaihir, carrying Gandalf, then arrived with his brother and another Eagle. They rescued the Hobbits and took them back to Minas Tirith.

They would sleep four two whole weeks.

Merry, Éowyn, and Faramir

(“And so the fifth day came since the Lady Éowyn went first to Faramir…” Book Six, Chapter 5 – The Steward and the King)

That day, Éowyn and Faramir stood together looking through the clouds and Shadow towards Mordor. Together they waited “for some stroke of doom.” As they stood time seemed to stop. They held hands. They felt Mount Doom erupting, and it reminded Faramir of Númenor. He felt that the world was ending, but his heart told him it was quite the opposite. He kissed her forehead.

“And the Shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, and light leaped forth; and the waters of the Anduin shone like silver, and in all the houses of the City men sang for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what source they could not tell.”

A single Eagle came out from the East, telling them that “the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever.”

And the people sang in all the ways of the City.

What Now?

Well, our story is over, but there’s still quite a bit of story to go. If you look at the Schedule, you’ll be able to see what’s to come.

Some will come soon (though they’ll be short entries, I’m sure), and others will come in time.

For those taking off now, thank you for reading along. For those staying, I’ll try to keep it interesting.

March 24, 3019 – Before Mount Doom; Before the Black Gate

This is it. It’s the day before the last day.

Sam and Frodo

(“The last stage of their journey to Orodruin came…” Book Six, Chapter 3 – Mount Doom)

For well over a week now, Frodo has been utterly exhausted. It was so bad the previous day that he couldn’t even remember the Shire. Today, that same exhaustion (and really, “exhaustion” just isn’t a strong enough term) came over Sam. Good ol’ Sam.

He had been giving Frodo water, forsaking his own thirst and today it was catching up to him. Because of his thirst, he couldn’t even swallow the lembis bread.

Because of the volcanic activity of Mount Doom, the air was difficult to breathe. They were dizzy and near passing out as they walked through the morning.

By the afternoon, the mountain was before them. All they could see was Mount Doom to their front. They weren’t even walking anymore. They were crawling.

Frodo was basically a machine at this point – a dying, almost broken machine. Most of this was written through Sam’s point of view. “His will was set, and only death would break it.”

When night fell, he couldn’t sleep. Frodo had passed out. Sam held his shivering hand and tried to warm his friend’s cold body. With that, he finally slept through the night – their last on the journey to Mount Doom.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, and the warriors of Gondor

(“…at nightfall of the fifth day of the march form Morgul Vale…” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

Following the loss of more men the previous day, Aragorn’s column continued their march north toward the Black Gate. Where as before they sent out scouts and flankers, they were now traveling tightly together.

By the night of this date they encamped mere miles away from the Gate, practically on what would soon become the battlefield. The men hardly slept, if they did at all.

They set a multitude of fires which served two purposes. First it hid their numbers, and second, it burned the underbrush all around them. While this exposed themselves to the Enemy, it also exposed the Enemy to them.

But that would come. Now it was night, and just beyond their camp, on the other side of the fires, things prowled around them. Wolves howled and the air was still.

March 23, 3019 – Sam & Frodo Draw Closer; Aragorn’s Numbers Dwindle

Welcome to March 23rd. We’re so close now.

Sam and Frodo

(“Such daylight as followed was dim…” Book Six, Chapter 3 – Mount Doom)
Sam and Frodo had left the road to Barad-dûr the previous day, and now walked and crawled and picked their way across a blacked, scorched lava field.

Frodo was beyond exhausted. Sam offered to carry the Ring for him, but Frodo reacted in the very Gollumy way one might expect. He quickly simmered and was his old self again. He explained that it was too late for that. “I am almost in its power now. I could not give it up, and if you tried to take it I should go mad.”

Sam then turned to the strictly practical, suggesting that they lighten their load as much as possible. They through off the Orc armor, tossed away the shields, the cloak, the heavy belts, the cooking gear. Almost everything was gone. Sam tossed it all into a fissure so that Gollum might not get it.

Sam, however, kept Sting, some rope, a bit of lembis, and what was left of their water, as well as the phial of Galadriel and the box she gave him.

Sam tried to reminisce about days not too long ago, but Frodo couldn’t really remember any of it.

And so they continued their walk. Frodo seemed to have regained some energy. But as the sun drew lower, so did he. At the end of the day, Sam gave Frodo the second to last mouthful of water, going without for himself.

As Frodo dozed or zoned out, Sam took up a conversation with himself. He thought of the Shire, of his friends. Of Rosie Cotton again. He wanted to go home. But the way home was through Mount Doom.

He argued with himself, in a way that Sméagol and Gollum might. One side told him it was useless, that death was all that awaited them no matter what they did. And the task? Sam didn’t even know what it was. Somehow get the Ring into the Cracks of Doom, wherever they are. Frodo was nearly useless.

But of course, our Sam won out.

‘I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind,’ said Sam. ‘And I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart. So stop arguing!’

There was a small tremor, and the volcano began to stir.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, and the warriors of Gondor

(“Upon the fourth day from the Cross-roads and the sixth from Minas Tirith…” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

The march north for Aragorn and his army was about to change. For four days they had passed through the more or less lush lands known as Ithilien. With the Ephel Dúath mountain range on the right, and the forests on their left, they strove towards the Black Gate.

On this day, however, “they came at last to the end of the living lands.” All the ground for miles from the Pass of Cirith Gorgor was a vast desert. It was a terrifying sight for those used to Rohan.

Some in Aragorn’s column couldn’t handle this. He understood. For the most part, these were young men, and this was probably their first long journey away from home.

Instead of continuing with the main column, Aragorn allowed them to go home, but wished them to do one thing on the way there. Cair Andros, the island in the Anduin used by the Enemy as a crossing to take Minas Tirith from the north, was still held by their foes. The Enemy had been defeated at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, but likely left a contingent back at Cair Andros to guard the crossing. These men sent back were to retake it and rout the Enemy.

This dwindled Aragorn’s forces to 6,000. They were 7,000 strong when they departed Minas Tirith, but with the men left behind at the Cross-roads, and the men leaving now, his numbers were greatly reduced.

Still, they would continue forward.

March 22, 3019 – The Dreadful Nightfall; Lorien Attacked AGAIN

This is absolutely a filler day where Tolkien was getting everyone into position. Everyone is walking. Gandalf and crew are walking north to the Black Gate. Éowyn and Faramir are walking in the gardens near the Houses of Healing. Oh, and Loren was attacked for a third time, though that’s pretty much all we know about it.

Sam and Frodo

(“There came at last a dreadful nightfall…” Book Six, Chapter 3 – Mount Doom)

Sam and Frodo had been walking along it for four days now, and had seen not a single living thing since parting with the Orcs.

Frodo had not spoken all day. He was bowed over and stumbling – a real mess. The Ring was weighing him down in all ways imaginable.

Mount Doom was on their right, and all these days of walking had brought them closer to it. While the road went to Barad-dûr, on this night, they had to leave it. They would cut across the “fuming, barren, ash-ridden land.” making straight for the mountain itself.

They had almost no water left, and only a very little bit of lembas, which fed the will more than the stomach. It moved them onward, but they craved food like never before.

Sam slept along their pathless way. Frodo, it seems, did not.

March 21, 3019 – Ambush Averted and a Growing Love

Welcome to March 21st. Our Sam and Frodo are still walking along the road leading to Barad-dûr, and Tolkien is still in montage mode as far as they’re concerned (this was also the last water they’d have until…). But that’s not quite the case for everyone else. Let’s check in.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, and the warriors of Gondor

(“It was near the end of the second day of their march from the Cross-roads…” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

The armies of the West had been marching for two days now. They had been making roughly 20 to 25 miles each day, which is pretty typical for infantry on the move.

They had seen no enemy at all until the afternoon of this date. As stated before, the column had sent out skirmishers and flankers, as well as scouts, to feel out any potential danger. It was the scouts who saw that a fairly strong company of Orcs and men of Harad were waiting in ambush along a deep cut.

Without letting on, Aragorn ordered his cavalry to circle around the cut on both sides to entrap the Enemy. Surprised, the foes fell back to the east or were killed.

This small skirmish was a feint, thought Aragorn. It was a way for Sauron to draw his enemies closer, to hopefully bolster their confidence before overpowering and crushing them with his numbers.

And this was the real problem. In order for this march against Mordor to pay off, Frodo had to destroy the Ring. If he didn’t, they’d likely all be slaughtered. It seems that everyone knew this – at least the captains were well aware of it. It was, we are told, a “hopeless journey.”

That night, the Nazgûl flew overhead and kept a watch on their movements. This was incredibly unsettling to the men in the ranks.

Éowyn, and Faramir (and Merry, I suppose)

(“But in the morning, as Faramir came from the Houses, he saw her…” Book Six, Chapter 5 – The Steward and the King)

Tolkien didn’t give his characters much time for lovin’, but Faramir and Éowyn are thrown a paragraph on this date.

Both, along with Merry, were still recovering in the Houses of Healing at Minas Tirith. Faramir and Merry had hung out in the garden the night previous waiting to see if Éowyn would show up (she didn’t).

On the morning of this date, however, when Faramir came down to the garden, there she was… standing upon the walls (like you do). He called up to her and she came down.

They seem to have spent most of today (and the next few days) walking and chatting shit all over the garden. There’s no mention of Merry, but you know how it is. When your friend meets someone they’re digging on, they’re gone. And, lo Faramir did dig upon the fair Éowyn, leaving poor Merry to his solitude. But our dear Éowyn loved another.

March 20, 3019 – Still Marching; A Love for Faramir

Today isn’t exactly the most exciting day in Middle-earth history. That is, unless you’re Faramir – then it’s a pretty big day. We’ll get to that before you know it.

Sam and Frodo

(“So the desperate journey went on…” Book Six, Chapter 3 – Mount Doom)

Tolkien has entered montage-mode with Sam and Frodo. This will last until March 23rd. They were growing weaker, while the land was growing more evil. They saw nothing along the way, and nothing saw them.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, and the warriors of Gondor

(“The day after, being the third day since they set out from Minas Tirith…” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

By the dawn, the army was up and now all marching north on the road that led to the Black Gate. They threw out scouts and flankers as horns blasted, heralding their march. Three times a day, they announced that “King Elessar,” Aragorn, had some. “Let all leave this land or yield them up!” There was no reply on this day.

Merry, Éowyn, and Faramir

(“Over the city of Gondor doubt and great dread had hung…” Book Six, Chapter 5 – The Steward and the King)

Meanwhile, back in Minas Tirith, Merry, Éowyn and Faramir were still recovering in the Houses of Healing. Things were tense there, as no word had yet come from Aragorn’s army.

On this day, Éowyn got up for the first time since the battle. She asked the Warden of the House a few questions about what was going on and who was in command – he didn’t know. She then asked to be brought to Faramir.

Faramir was doing much better. He was up and walking, and when Éowyn found him, he was in the garden. They both took quite a shine to each other.

Éowyn didn’t want to be here anymore. She wanted to ride into battle. Faramir, who doubted she was strong enough to make the journey, was against it. “You and I, we must endure with patience the hours of waiting.”

At the very least, she wanted a window that faced to the East. Faramir could manage that, and had her moved.

Then, Faramir stole a moment, praising Éowyn’s beauty, and wishing to see her again. But Éowyn wasn’t exactly into it. “I am a shieldmaiden and my hand is ungentle.” Still, it was nice to be thought of. They walked together back to the House.

Later, all Faramir could think of was Éowyn, and needed to know more about her. Merry was sent to him to tell all he could. Through their talk, Faramir understood her better – her sorrow, her disposition. Towards evening, Merry and Faramir walked in the garden. Éowyn remained in her room.

March 19, 3019 – Marching East (Deeper) Into Mordor

Well, folks, we’re drawling closer to the end, but still, we’re in a sort of lull. Things are in motion. Let’s see.

Sam and Frodo

(“In the morning a grey light came again, for in the high regions the West Wind still blew…” Book Six, Chapter 3 – Mount Doom)

The dim morning didn’t exactly bring hope to Sam and Frodo, but they were fortunate enough to have successfully escaped the Orcs. In all they could view, nobody could be seen. But who was watching them? Mount Doom was, as far as Sam could tell, fifty miles off.

Sam was beginning to realize that while they might have enough food to get them to the mountain, they didn’t have enough to return. There was nothing anywhere in this land that they could eat, and very little they could drink. He thought of home, of Rosie Cotton, and wished that Gandalf were alive. (Incidentally, the mention of Rosie Cotton in this chapter was the first mention of her in the entire book.)

Sam looked over the plain of Gorgoroth and noticed that they could crawl from hole to hole, fissure to fissure and hardly been seen. And that’s just what they did. After a few miles, they took to the road that led to Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, where Sauron dwelt.

When night came on, they continued on through it, probably stopping here and there for rest.

At this point, Tolkien quickly passed over the next three days, giving almost no details at all. We’ll check back in, of course.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, and the warriors of Gondor

(“So the next day when the main host came up…” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

The previous evening, Aragorn had established his camp near the Cross-roads with the main body of the army some miles behind. When the army was up, he left a rear guard at the Cross-roads to check any Enemy attacks coming from Morgul Pass to their front. At the intersection, they turned left, and marched north along the same road Sam and Frodo paralleled south some ten days before.

As the army marched on, Aragorn and Gandalf road closer to the Morgul Vale and checked out the city of Minas Morgul. The streets and buildings were empty – all of the Orcs who had lived there had been killed during the Battle of Pelennore Fields.

They then destroyed the bridge and set afire the fields around it. This is mentioned in Sam and Frodo’s passage: ‘the Captains of the West had passed the Cross-roads and set flames in the deadly fields of Imlad Morgul.’

Aragorn and Gandalf rejoined the army and would continue their march north the following day.

March 18, 3019 – Where There’s a Whip There’s a Will

Welcome to March 18! Things are picking up again after a lull. Armies are on the move, as are our two Hobbits. Let’s check in with them first.

Sam and Frodo (and Gollum)

(“At the first hint of grey light…” Book Six, Chapter 2 – The Land of Shadow)

Sam and Frodo had walked through the night, and by dawn they were resting under an overhanging stone. They had been walking north for three days. And now the ridge which they were paralleling on their right, the Morgai, was coming to an end. As they peered east from around its northern ridge, below them they saw Gorgoroth, a broad plain surrounding Mount Doom. To their left was the cliffaces of the Ephel Dúath range, and to their front was the Ered Lithui range. The pass where these two ranges met was known as Cirith Gorgor. The Black Gate, the Morannon, guarded the pass.

An old Gondorian castle, Durthan, loomed over the road they must take leading to Gorgoroth. It was now and Orc stronghold. Frodo feared that this was a dead end. There was no way to bypass this. Sam, however, urged him on. “Our food won’t last. We’ve got to make a dash for it!”

Frodo slept while Sam went to find water. They could do without food well enough, but water was essential. He was able to find some not too far away, but while he was filling the canteens, he saw a shadow near Frodo. It was Gollum, who had not been seen since they entered Shelob’s lair.

When he returned, he told Frodo, who didn’t seem to care all that much. Sam slept, while Frodo kept watch. When night fell, they continued on.

After a dozen or so miles, they heard marching and saw torches coming behind them. As they were dressed more or less as Orcs (from the armor they got from the dead Orcs in Cirith Ungol), and hoped the Orcs passing them by would just mistake them for soldiers and leave them be. But that did not happen.

The Orcs did mistake them for soldiers, but ordered them to fall into the line of march. Both Hobbits were exhausted, but marched on with the Orcs who unknowingly captured them. “Where there’s a whip there’s a will, my slugs!”

It was some bit of fortune (I suppose) that the Orcs were going in the same direction Sam and Frodo were going – onto the plain of Gorgoroth. At the intersection leading to the Morannon, other companies of Orcs were joining the same road Sam and Frodo’s Orcs were using. This caused quite a bit of confusion, which allowed the Hobbits to crawl away to the edge of the roadway.

For the rest of the night, they hid and rested near the road, sleeping here and there till morning.

Everyone Else

(“Two days later the army of the West was all assembled on the Pelennor.” Book Five, Chapter 10 – The Black Gate Opens)

For the past two days the armies of Rohan and Gondor collected themselves, with some from Rohan clearing out the last of the Enemy. With the way now open before them, they marched, 7,000 strong.

The Dúnedain took the lead, with Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli riding in their front. While Pippin marched along, Merry had to remain in the Houses of Healing at Minas Tirith.

By noon, they marched through Osgiliath, crossing the Anduin on pontoon bridges and ferries. The foot soldiers halted and encamped five miles farther.

The Rohirrim, however, advanced a bit farther on horseback. They rode to the Crossroads and found no enemy. The road continued straight into Minas Morgul and Cirith Ungol, and finally to Mount Doom. Turning left and moving northward, the road lead to the Black Gate. Near the Crossroads, Aragorn established his camp.

The next morning, they planned to march north, hoping to draw Sauron’s Eye away from Frodo, who they believed to have gone through Cirith Ungol.