HASA Resources

Timeline Event

Aragorn looks into the Palantír of Orthanc

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 6, 3019

Description:

An event in the aftermath of the Parley with Saruman in Isengard; see that entry for an overview:
'Where is Aragorn?' [Merry] asked.

'In a high chamber of the Burg,' said Legolas. 'He has neither rested nor slept, I think. He went thither some hours ago, saying that he must take thought, and only his kinsman, Halbarad, went with him; but some dark doubt or care sits on him.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

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.... 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?'....

[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.'....

'Three days,' [Aragorn] 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.... '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.'....

'But I say to you, Éomer, that in battle we may yet meet again, though all the hosts of Mordor should stand between.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

Together they went back into the Burg; yet for some time Aragorn sat silent at the table in the hall, and the others waited for him to speak. 'Come!' said Legolas at last.... 'What has happened since we came back to this grim place in the grey morning?'

'A struggle somewhat grimmer for my part than the battle of the Hornburg,' answered Aragorn. 'I have looked in the Stone of Orthanc, my friends.'

'You have looked in that accursed stone of wizardry!' exclaimed Gimli with fear and astonishment in his face. 'Did you say aught to — him? Even Gandalf feared that encounter.'

'You forget to whom you speak,' said Aragorn sternly.... 'Did I not openly proclaim my title before the doors of Edoras? What do you fear that I should say to him? Nay, Gimli,' he said.... [He] looked like one who has laboured in sleepless pain for many nights. 'Nay, my friends, I am the lawful master1 of the Stone, and I had both the right and the strength to use it, or so I judged. The right cannot be doubted. The strength was enough — barely.'....

'It was a bitter struggle, and the weariness is slow to pass. I spoke no word to him, and in the end I wrenched the Stone to my own will. That alone he will find hard to endure. And he beheld me..., but in other guise than you see me here. If that will aid him, then I have done ill. But I do not think so. To know that I lived and walked the earth was a blow to his heart, I deem; for he knew it not till now.... Sauron has not forgotten Isildur and the sword of Elendil. Now in the very hour of his great designs the heir of Isildur and the Sword are revealed; for I showed the blade re-forged to him. He is not so mighty yet that he is above fear; nay, doubt ever gnaws him.'

'But he wields great dominion, nonetheless,' said Gimli; 'and now he will strike more swiftly.'

'The hasty stroke goes oft astray,' said Aragorn. 'We must press our Enemy, and no longer wait upon him for the move.... [When] I had mastered the Stone, I learned many things. A grave peril I saw coming unlooked-for upon Gondor from the South that will draw off great strength from the defence of Minas Tirith. If it is not countered swiftly, I deem that the City will be lost ere ten days be gone.'

'Then lost it must be,' said Gimli. 'For what help is there to send thither, and how could it come there in time?'

'I have no help to send, therefore I must go myself,' said Aragorn. 'But there is only one way through the mountains that will bring me to the coastlands before all is lost. That is the Paths of the Dead.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

The Dark Power was deep in thought, and the Eye turned inward, pondering tidings of doubt and danger: a bright sword, and a stern and kingly face it saw, and for a while it gave little thought to other things; and all its great stronghold, gate on gate, and tower on tower, was wrapped in a brooding gloom.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 2, The Land of Shadow

'[It] seems clear that our Enemy has opened his war at last and made the first move while Frodo was still free. So now for many days he will have his eye turned... away from his own land. And yet, Pippin, I feel from afar his haste and fear. He has begun sooner than he would. Something has happened to stir him.'

Gandalf stood for a moment in thought. 'Maybe,' he muttered. 'Maybe even your foolishness helped.... Let me see: some five days ago now he would discover that we had thrown down Saruman and had taken the Stone. Still what of that? We could not use it to much purpose, or without his knowing. Ah! I wonder. Aragorn? His time draws near. And he is strong and stern underneath, Pippin..., able to... dare great risks at need.... He may have used the Stone and shown himself to the Enemy, challenging him, for this very purpose.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 4, The Siege of Gondor

'Now Sauron knows... that this precious thing which he lost has been found again; but he does not yet know where it is, or so we hope. And therefore he is now in great doubt. For if we have found this thing, there are some among us with strength enough to wield it. That too he knows. For do I not guess rightly, Aragorn, that you have shown yourself to him in the Stone of Orthanc?'

'I did so ere I rode from the Hornburg,' answered Aragorn. 'I deemed that the time was ripe, and that the Stone had come to me for just such a purpose. It was then ten days since the Ring-bearer went east from Rauros, and the Eye of Sauron, I thought, should be drawn out from his own land. Too seldom has he been challenged since he returned to his Tower. Though if I had foreseen how swift would be his onset in answer, maybe I should not have dared to show myself. Bare time was given me to come to your aid.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 9, The Last Debate


Notes
1    These Stones were an inalienable gift to Elendil and his heirs, to whom alone they belonged by right; but this does not mean that they could only be used rightfully by one of these "heirs." They could be used lawfully by anyone authorized by either the "Heir of Anárion" or the "Heir of Isildur," that is, a lawful King of Gondor or Arnor.... In Gondor latterly..., the command and use of the Stones seems mainly to have been in the hands of the Stewards.... Since the Stewardship had become hereditary from 1998 onwards, so the authority to use, or again to depute the use, of the Stones, was lawfully transmitted in their line, and belonged therefore fully to Denethor.

It must however be noted with regard to the narrative of The Lord of the Rings that over and above such deputed authority, even hereditary, any "heir of Elendil" (that is, a recognized descendant occupying a throne or lordship in the Númenórean realms by virtue of this descent) had the right to use any of the palantíri. Aragorn thus claimed the right to take the Orthanc-stone into his possession, since it was now, for the time being, without owner or warden; and also because he was de jure the rightful King of both Gondor and Arnor, and could, if he willed, for just cause withdraw all previous grants to himself.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 19Sep05, 6Aug06

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