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Timeline Event

Ghân-buri-Ghân of the Drúedain offers his services to Théoden

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 14, 3019


An event in the prelude to the Battle of the Pelennor; see that entry for an overview:
'Is the enemy coming then?' asked Merry anxiously. 'Are those their drums?'....

'Nay, nay,' said Elfhelm, 'the enemy is on the road not in the hills. You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods: thus they talk together from afar. They still haunt Drúadan Forest.... Remnants of an older time they be, living few and secretly, wild and wary as the beasts. They go not to war with Gondor or the Mark; but now they are troubled by the darkness and the coming of the orcs: they fear lest the Dark Years be returning.... Let us be thankful that they are not hunting us: for they use poisoned arrows... and they are woodcrafty beyond compare.... [They] have offered their services to Théoden. Even now one of their headmen is being taken to the king.'....

There sat Théoden and Éomer, and before them on the ground sat a strange squat shape of a man.... He was short-legged and fat-armed, thick and stumpy, and clad only with grass about his waist.... [Suddenly Merry] remembered the Púkel-men of Dunharrow. Here was one of those old images brought to life....

[The] Wild Man began to speak.... His voice was deep and guttural, yet to Merry's surprise he spoke the Common Speech, though in a halting fashion....

'No, father of Horse-men,' he said, 'we fight not. Hunt only. Kill gorgûn in woods, hate orc-folk.... We help as we can. Wild Men have long ears and long eyes; know all paths. Wild Men live here before Stone-houses; before Tall Men come up out of Water.'

'But our need is for aid in battle,' said Éomer. 'How will you and your folk help us?'

'Bring news,' said the Wild Man. 'We look out from hills. We climb big mountain and look down. Stone-city is shut. Fire burns there outside; now inside too. You wish to come there? Then you must be quick. But gorgûn and men out of far-away,' he waved a short gnarled arm eastward, 'sit on horse-road. Very many, more than Horse-men.'

'How do you know that?' said Éomer....

'I am great headman, Ghân-buri-Ghân. I count many things: stars in sky, leaves on trees, men in the dark. You have a score of scores counted ten times and five.1 They have more. Big fight, and who will win? And many more walk round walls of Stone-houses.'

'Alas! he speaks all too shrewdly,' said Théoden. 'And our scouts say that they have cast trenches and stakes across the road. We cannot sweep them away in sudden onset.'

'And yet we need great haste,' said Éomer. 'Mundburg is on fire!'

'Let Ghân-buri-Ghân finish!' said the Wild Man. 'More than one road he knows. He will lead you by road where no pits are, no gorgûn walk, only Wild Men and beasts. Many paths were made when Stonehouse-folk were stronger. They carved hills as hunters carve beast-flesh. Wild Men think they ate stone for food. They went through Drúadan to Rimmon with great wains. They go no longer. Road is forgotten, but not by Wild Men. Over hill and behind hill it lies still under grass and tree, there behind Rimmon and down to Dîn, and back at the end to Horse-men's road. Wild Men will show you that road. Then you will kill gorgûn and drive away bad dark with bright iron, and Wild Men can go back to sleep in the wild woods.'

Éomer and the king spoke together in their own tongue. At length Théoden turned to the Wild Man. 'We will receive your offer,' he said.... 'If you are faithful, Ghân-buri-Ghân, then we will give you rich reward, and you shall have the friendship of the Mark for ever.'

'Dead men are not friends to living men, and give them no gifts,' said the Wild Man. 'But if you live after the Darkness, then leave Wild Men alone in the woods and do not hunt them like beasts any more. Ghân-buri-Ghân will not lead you into trap. He will go himself with father of Horse-men, and if he leads you wrong, you will kill him.'

'So be it!' said Théoden.

'How long will it take to pass by the enemy and come back to the road?' asked Éomer. 'We must go at foot-pace, if you guide us; and I doubt not the way is narrow.'

'Wild Men go quick on feet,' said Ghân. 'Way is wide for four horses in Stonewain Valley yonder,' he waved his hand southwards; 'but narrow at beginning and at end. Wild Man could walk from here to Dîn between sunrise and noon.'

'Then we must allow at least seven hours for the leaders,' said Éomer; 'but we must reckon rather on some ten hours for all. Things unforeseen may hinder us, and if our host is all strung out, it will be long ere it can be set in order when we issue from the hills. What is the hour now?'....

'It is all dark, but it is not all night.' said Ghân. 'When Sun comes we feel her, even when she is hidden. Already she climbs over East-mountains. It is the opening of day in the sky-fields.'

'Then we must set out as soon as may be,' said Éomer. 'Even so we cannot hope to come to Gondor's aid today.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 5, The Ride of the Rohirrim

1 Ghân-buri-Ghân's count of the Riders agrees with Théoden's earlier estimate:

'[Six] thousands at the least shall ride behind me.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan

Elena Tiriel 12Mar07

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