Fellowship ambushed by Orcs at Sarn Gebir
Event Type: Military/Strategic
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: February 23, 3019
The boats are attacked at night near Sarn Gebir.
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age
It was close on midnight, and they had been drifting for some while... when suddenly Sam cried out. Only a few yards ahead dark shapes loomed up in the stream and he heard the swirl of racing water. There was a swift current which swung left, towards the eastern shore where the channel was clear. As they were swept aside the travellers could see, now very close, the pale foam of the River lashing against sharp rocks that were thrust out far into the stream like a ridge of teeth....
'Back, back!' cried Aragorn. 'Turn! Turn if you can!'....
[Aragorn] said to Frodo. 'I did not know that we had come so far: Anduin flows faster than I thought. Sarn Gebir must be close at hand already.'
With great efforts they checked the boats and slowly brought them about; but at first they could make only small headway against the current, and all the time they were carried nearer and nearer to the eastern bank....
'All together, paddle!' shouted Boromir. 'Paddle! Or we shall be driven on the shoals.' Even as he spoke Frodo felt the keel beneath him grate upon stone.
At that moment there was a twang of bowstrings: several arrows whistled over them, and some fell among them. One smote Frodo between the shoulders and he lurched forward with a cry, letting go his paddle: but the arrow fell back, foiled by his hidden coat of mail. Another passed through Aragorn's hood; and a third stood fast in the gunwale of the second boat, close by Merry's hand. Sam thought he could glimpse black figures running to and fro upon the long shingle-banks that lay under the eastern shore. They seemed very near.
'Yrch!' said Legolas, falling into his own tongue....
'Gollum's doing, I'll be bound.' said Sam to Frodo. 'And a nice place to choose, too. The River seems set on taking us right into their arms!'
They all leaned forward straining at the paddles: even Sam took a hand. Every moment they expected to feel the bite of black-feathered arrows. Many whined overhead or struck the water nearby; but there were no more hits. It was dark, but not too dark for the night-eyes of Orcs, and in the star-glimmer they must have offered their cunning foes some mark, unless it was that the grey cloaks of Lórien and the grey timber of the elf-wrought boats defeated the malice of the archers of Mordor.
Stroke by stroke they laboured on. In the darkness it was hard to be sure... but slowly... the shadow of the eastern bank faded back into the night.
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 9, The Great River
Elena Tiriel 22Dec04