PART 2 – The Two Towers
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli follow the trail that the Orcs have left, which
isn’t difficult. They are in great haste, and they have to cross open ground from the River to their sanctuary at Saruman’s stronghold at Isengard.
After several days of chase, the three are intercepted by 'omer and a band
of horsemen from Rohan.
They are fresh from the slaughter of a band of Orcs near the Forest of Fangorn, but they have seen no Hobbits. The three plead with 'omer for the loan of horses to assist them in what appears a vain search for the Hobbits. He agrees, although it is contrary to the laws that his uncle Th'oden, the King, imposes in his land.
The three travel on to the scene of the battle, but can find no trace of the
Hobbits, so they camp for the night at the edge of the forest. They observe an old man near their camp and he scares their horses, which flee.
The story returns to Merry and Pippin and describes their ordeal at the
hands of the Orcs.
They can run at a terrifying pace, and soon the Hobbits, despite being dragged and cajoled, are unable to keep up. In the end, they are carried unceremoniously by the Orcs. Orcs seldom travel in the open during the day, but their need is great, so they take the gamble. However, they are spotted by the Riders of Rohan, who hunt them down and cause them to split into various groups. The band that hold Merry and Pippin have two leaders, one who is loyal to Saruman, and the other who serves Sauron. The Hobbits play the two leaders off against one another and they squabble. When the Rohirrim attack, the Hobbits take the opportunity to escape into Fangorn Forest.
It should be explained that Hobbits can easily blend in with their
surroundings, and the fact that they wear Elvin cloaks, and that the light is fading, means the Riders did not spot them.
In the forest, the two Hobbits meat Treebeard, who says he is the oldest
living thing in Middle Earth and is guardian of the forest. (It is not clear whether Treebeard or Tom Bombadil is the oldest – both have claims to this distinction).
Treebeard gives them hospitality including Ent drafts, which will have an
effect on their height, as explained in the prologue.
The Ents are concerned about their neighbor, Saruman, and they have a
meeting called an Entmoot and decide to march on Isengard.
The story returns to Aragorn and his two companions who are unable to locate
the Hobbits. They meet the old man again, who reveals that he is now Gandalf the White, and he has new powers acquired after passing through death.
He explains that he fought long and hard with the Balrog, and he eventually cast the Balrog off a high place to its destruction. He has acquired the legendary horse, Shadowfax, from Th'oden, King of the Rohirrim, rather reluctantly. It was his presence earlier that had frightened the other horses. With their mounts returned, Gandalf leads them to Edoras, the stronghold of the Rohirrim.
In the King’s court is an agent of Saruman, Grima, also called Wormtongue,
and he has an adverse effect over the King. Gandalf breaks this bond, and Wormtongue flees back to his master, and the King is restored to his former vigor and judgment.
Th'oden and Gandalf lead an assault on the nearby stronghold of Isengard,
while leaving 'owyn, 'omer’s sister in charge of Edoras.
When they arrive at Isengard, the fortress lies in ruins, destroyed by the Ents, and there in the midst of the chaos are the two Hobbits who have brought together some vitals out of the mayhem, and offer hospitality to the King.
Saruman is still untouched in his Tower, Orthanc, with his new servant
Wormtongue. Gandalf makes one last attempt to turn him back from the evil road that he has taken, but Saruman hurls abuse back at those below.
Wormtongue throws a stone at Gandalf, much to Saruman’s dismay, as the stone is a special seeing stone, or palantiri. These stones enable their possessors to communicate with one another over vast distances. Sauron has one, and there is also one in Gondor.
Gandalf deposes Saruman as Head of the Wizard Order, and Saruman’s wand is
The Ents will watch over him in his self-imposed imprisonment.
That night, Pippin cannot resist looking into the palantiri, and of course,
he contacts Sauron himself, who assumes that this Hobbit has been captured by Saruman.
Pippin is shocked by the experience, and Gandalf breaks off the encounter before any further damage is done. However, it will put doubt into Sauron’s mind as to the location of the Ring, and he must suspect that Saruman possesses it, and he poses a much bigger threat with the Ring of Power than any army of Men and Elves.
Gandalf hands over the stone to Aragorn who is the rightful owner, being the
last of the line of Kings of Gondor.
They notice a Nazgũl (Ringwraith), high overhead and Gandalf urges the
King and Aragorn to return to Helm’s Deep, the stronghold in Edoras. Gandalf and Pippin will ride directly to Gondor and the city of Minas Tirith.