Gandalf and the Three Hunters admitted to Meduseld
Event Type: General
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: March 2, 3019
An event in the prelude to the Battle of the Hornburg; see that entry for an overview:
'Théoden gives you leave to enter; but any weapon that you bear; be it only a staff, you must leave on the threshold....'
The dark gates were swung open. The travellers entered.... They found a broad path... winding upward.... Up the green terrace went a stair of stone..., and on either side of the topmost step were stone-hewn seats. There sat other guards, with drawn swords laid upon their knees....
[The guide] turned and went swiftly back down the road. The others climbed the long stair under the eyes of the tall watchmen. Silent they stood now above..., until Gandalf stepped out upon the paved terrace at the stair's head....
'Hail, comers from afar!' they said, and they turned the hilts of their swords towards the travellers in token of peace.... Then one of the guards stepped forward and spoke in the Common Speech.
'I am the Doorward of Théoden,' he said. 'Háma is my name. Here I must bid you lay aside your weapons before you enter.'
Then Legolas gave into his hand his silver-hafted knife, his quiver and his bow. 'Keep these well,' he said, 'for they come from the Golden Wood and the Lady of Lothlórien gave them to me.'
Wonder came into the man's eyes.... 'No man will touch them I promise you,' he said.
Aragorn stood a while hesitating. 'It is not my will,' he said, 'to put aside my sword or to deliver Andúril to the hand of any other man.'
'It is the will of Théoden,' said Háma.
'It is not clear to me that the will of Théoden son of Thengel even though he be lord of the Mark, should prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil's heir of Gondor.'
'This is the house of Théoden, not of Aragorn, even were he King of Gondor in the seat of Denethor,' said Háma, stepping swiftly before the doors and barring the way. His sword was now in his hand and the point towards the strangers.
'This is idle talk,' said Gandalf. '... [It] is useless to refuse. A king will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.'
'Truly,' said Aragorn. 'And I would do as the master of the house bade me, were this only a woodman's cot, if I bore now any sword but Andúril.'
'Whatever its name may be,' said Háma, 'here you shall lay it, if you would not fight alone against all the men in Edoras.'
'Not alone!' said Gimli, fingering the blade of his axe....
'Come, come!' said Gandalf. 'We are all friends here. Or should be; for the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward, if we quarrel. My errand is pressing. Here at least is my sword, goodman Háma. Keep it well.... Now let me pass. Come, Aragorn!'
Slowly Aragorn... set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it.... In this Elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again.... Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'
The guard... looked with amazement on Aragorn.... 'It shall be, lord, as you command.'
'Well,' said Gimli, 'if it has Andúril to keep it company, my axe may stay here, too, without shame.... Now then..., let us go and speak with your master.'
The guard still hesitated. 'Your staff,' he said to Gandalf. 'Forgive me, but that too must be left at the doors.'
'Foolishness!' said Gandalf. 'Prudence is one thing, but discourtesy is another.... If I may not lean on my stick as I go, then I will sit out here, until it pleases Théoden to hobble out himself to speak with me.'
Aragorn laughed. 'Every man has something too dear to trust to another. But would you part an old man from his support?....'
'The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age,' said Háma.... 'Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom. I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honour, who have no evil purpose. You may go in.'
The guards now lifted the heavy bars of the doors and swung them slowly inwards grumbling on their great hinges. The travellers entered.... The hall was long and wide and filled with shadows....
At the far end of the house..., was a dais with three steps; and in the middle of the dais was a great gilded chair. Upon it sat a man... bent with age...; but his white hair was long and thick and fell in great braids from beneath a thin golden circle set upon his brow.... At his feet upon the steps sat a wizened figure of a man, with a pale wise face and heavy-lidded eyes....
At length Gandalf spoke. 'Hail, Théoden son of Thengel! I have returned. For behold! the storm comes, and now all friends should gather together, lest each singly be destroyed.'
Slowly the old man rose to his feet, leaning heavily upon a short black staff with a handle of white bone....
'I greet you,' he said, 'and maybe you look for welcome. But truth to tell your welcome is doubtful here, Master Gandalf. You have ever been a herald of woe.... I will not deceive you: when I heard that Shadowfax had come back riderless, I rejoiced at the return of the horse, but still more at the lack of the rider; and when Éomer brought the tidings that you had gone at last to your long home, I did not mourn. But news from afar is seldom sooth. Here you come again! And with you come evils worse than before, as might be expected. Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow? Tell me that.' Slowly he sat down again in his chair.
'You speak justly, lord,' said the pale man sitting upon the steps of the dais. 'It is not yet five days since the bitter tidings came that Théodred your son was slain upon the West Marches.... In Éomer there is little trust. Few men would be left to guard your walls, if he had been allowed to rule. And even now we learn from Gondor that the Dark Lord is stirring in the East. Such is the hour in which this wanderer chooses to return. Why indeed should we welcome you, Master Stormcrow?'...
'You are held wise, my friend Wormtongue...,' answered Gandalf in a soft voice. 'Yet in two ways may a man come with evil tidings. He may be a worker of evil; or he may be such as leaves well alone, and comes only to bring aid in time of need.'
'That is so,' said Wormtongue; 'but there is a third kind: pickers of bones..., carrion-fowl that grow fat on war. What aid have you ever brought, Stormcrow? And what aid do you bring now? It was aid from us that you sought last time that you were here. Then my lord bade you choose any horse that you would and be gone; and to the wonder of all you took Shadowfax in your insolence. My lord was sorely grieved; yet to some it seemed that to speed you from the land the price was not too great. I guess that it is likely to turn out the same once more: you will seek aid rather than render it. Do you bring men? Do you bring horses, swords, spears? That I would call aid; that is our present need. But who are these that follow at your tail? Three ragged wanderers in grey, and you yourself the most beggar-like of the four!'
'The courtesy of your hall is somewhat lessened of late, Théoden son of Thengel,' said Gandalf. 'Has not the messenger from your gate reported the names of my companions? Seldom has any lord of Rohan received three such guests. Weapons they have laid at your doors that are worth many a mortal man, even the mightiest.'
The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep
Elena Tiriel 1Mar08