Aragorn parts company with Théoden at the Hornburg
Event Type: General
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: March 6, 3019
An event in the aftermath of the Parley with Saruman in Isengard; see that entry for an overview:
Presently Éomer came out from the gate, and with him was Aragorn, and Halbarad bearing the great staff close-furled in black, and two tall men, neither young nor old. So much alike were they, the sons of Elrond, that few could tell them apart.... Behind them walked Legolas and Gimli. But Merry had eyes only for Aragorn, so startling was the change that he saw in him, as if in one night many years had fallen on his head. Grim was his face, grey-hued and weary.
'I am troubled in mind, lord,' he said, standing by the king's horse. 'I have heard strange words, and I see new perils far off. I have laboured long in thought, and now I fear that I must change my purpose. Tell me, Théoden, you ride now to Dunharrow, how long will it be ere you come there?'
'It is now a full hour past noon,' said Éomer. 'Before the night of the third day from now we should come to the Hold. The... muster that the king commanded will be held the day after. More speed we cannot make, if the strength of Rohan is to be gathered.'
Aragorn was silent for a moment. 'Three days,' he murmured, 'and the muster of Rohan will only be begun. But I see that it cannot now be hastened.' He looked up, and it seemed that he had made some decision; his face was less troubled. 'Then, by your leave, lord, I must take new counsel for myself and my kindred. We must ride our own road, and no longer in secret. For me the time of stealth has passed. I will ride east by the swiftest way, and I will take the Paths of the Dead.'
'The Paths of the Dead!' said Théoden, and trembled. 'Why do you speak of them?' Éomer turned and gazed at Aragorn, and it seemed to Merry that the faces of the Riders that sat within hearing turned pale at the words. 'If there be in truth such paths,' said Théoden, 'their gate is in Dunharrow; but no living man may pass it.'
'Alas! Aragorn my friend!' said Éomer. 'I had hoped that we should ride to war together; but if you seek the Paths of the Dead, then our parting is come, and it is little likely that we shall ever meet again under the Sun.'
'That road I will take, nonetheless,' said Aragorn. 'But I say to you, Éomer, that in battle we may yet meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor should stand between.'
'You will do as you will, my lord Aragorn,' said Théoden. 'It is your doom, maybe, to tread strange paths that others dare not. This parting grieves me, and my strength is lessened by it; but now I must take the mountain-roads and delay no longer. Farewell!'
'Farewell, lord!' said Aragorn. 'Ride unto great renown! Farewell, Merry! I leave you in good hands, better than we hoped when we hunted the Orcs to Fangorn. Legolas and Gimli will still hunt with me, I hope; but we shall not forget you.'
'Good-bye!' said Merry.... He felt very small, and he was puzzled and depressed by all these gloomy words. More than ever he missed the unquenchable cheerfulness of Pippin. The Riders were ready, and their horses were fidgeting; he wished they would start and get it over.
The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company
Elena Tiriel 3Sep06