Fellowship attacked by Wargs in Hollin
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: January 13, 3019
An event in the Quest of the Ring; see that entry for an overview:
Attack by Wolves in the early hours.
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
'How the wind howls!'
At [Frodo's] words all fell into silent thought. They heard the wind hissing among the rocks and trees, and there was a howling and wailing round them in the empty spaces of the night.
Suddenly Aragorn leapt to his feet. 'How the wind howls!' he cried. 'It is howling with wolf-voices. The Wargs have come west of the Mountains!'
'Need we wait until morning then?' said Gandalf. 'It is as I said. The hunt is up! Even if we live to see the dawn, who now will wish to journey south by night with the wild wolves on his trail?'
'How far is Moria?' asked Boromir.
'There was a door south-west of Caradhras, some fifteen miles as the crow flies, and maybe twenty as the wolf runs,' answered Gandalf grimly.
'Then let us start as soon as it is light tomorrow, if we can,' said Boromir. 'The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears.'
'True!' said Aragorn, loosening his sword in its sheath. 'But where the warg howls, there also the orc prowls.'
'I wish I had taken Elrond's advice,' muttered Pippin to Sam. 'I am no good after all. There is not enough of the breed of Bandobras the Bullroarer in me: these howls freeze my blood. I don't ever remember feeling so wretched.'
'My heart's right down in my toes, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam. 'But we aren't etten yet, and there are some stout folk here with us. Whatever may be in store for old Gandalf, I'll wager it isn't a wolf's belly.'
For their defence in the night the Company climbed to the top of the small hill under which they had been sheltering. It was crowned with a knot of old and twisted trees, about which lay a broken circle of boulder stones. In the midst of this they lit a fire, for there was no hope that darkness and silence would keep their trail from discovery by the hunting packs.
Round the fire they sat, and those that were not on guard dozed uneasily. Poor Bill the pony trembled and sweated where he stood. The howling of the wolves was now all round them, sometimes nearer and sometimes further off. In the dead of the night many shining eyes were seen peering over the brow of the hill. Some advanced almost to the ring of stones. At a gap in the circle a great dark wolf-shape could be seen halted, gazing at them. A shuddering howl broke from him, as if he were a captain summoning his pack to the assault.
Gandalf stood up and strode forward, holding his staff aloft. 'Listen, Hound of Sauron!' he cried. 'Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring.'
The wolf snarled and sprang towards them with a great leap. At that moment there was a sharp twang. Legolas had loosed his bow. There was a hideous yell, and the leaping shape thudded to the ground; the Elvish arrow had pierced its throat. The watching eyes were suddenly extinguished. Gandalf and Aragorn strode forward, but the hill was deserted; the hunting packs had fled. All about them the darkness grew silent, and no cry came on the sighing wind.
The night was old, and westward the waning moon was setting, gleaming fitfully through the breaking clouds. Suddenly Frodo started from sleep. Without warning a storm of howls broke out fierce and wild all about the camp. A great host of Wargs had gathered silently and was now attacking them from every side at once.
'Fling fuel on the fire!' cried Gandalf to the hobbits. 'Draw your blades, and stand back to back!'
In the leaping light, as the fresh wood blazed up, Frodo saw many grey shapes spring over the ring of stones. More and more followed. Through the throat of one huge leader Aragorn passed his sword with a thrust; with a great sweep Boromir hewed the head off another. Beside them Gimli stood with his stout legs apart, wielding his dwarf-axe. The bow of Legolas was singing.
In the wavering firelight Gandalf seemed suddenly to grow: he rose up, a great menacing shape like the monument of some ancient king of stone set upon a hill. Stooping like a cloud, he lifted a burning branch and strode to meet the wolves. They gave back before him. High in the air he tossed the blazing brand. It flared with a sudden white radiance like lightning; and his voice rolled like thunder.
'Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth!' he cried. 1
There was a roar and a crackle, and the tree above him burst into a leaf and bloom of blinding flame. The fire leapt from tree-top to tree-top. The whole hill was crowned with dazzling light. The swords and knives of the defenders shone and flickered. The last arrow of Legolas kindled in the air as it flew, and plunged burning into the heart of a great wolf-chieftain. All the others fled.
Slowly the fire died till nothing was left but falling ash and sparks; a bitter smoke curled above the burned tree-stumps, and blew darkly from the hill, as the first light of dawn came dimly in the sky. Their enemies were routed and did not return.
'What did I tell you, Mr. Pippin?' said Sam, sheathing his sword. 'Wolves won't get him. That was an eye-opener, and no mistake! Nearly singed the hair off my head!'
When the full light of the morning came no signs of the wolves were to be found, and they looked in vain for the bodies of the dead. No trace of the fight remained but the charred trees and the arrows of Legolas lying on the hill-top. All were undamaged save one of which only the point was left.
'It is as I feared,' said Gandalf. 'These were no ordinary wolves hunting for food in the wilderness. Let us eat quickly and go!'
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South
1 Naur an edraith ammen! Naur dan i ngaurhoth! — 'Fire save us! Fire drive back the werewolves!' For an analysis of these words in Sindarin, see Carl F. Hostetter, 'Settled Spells', Amon Hen 122 (July 1993).
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, Book 2, Ch 4, A Journey in the Dark
Elena Tiriel 9Jan12