PART III – The Return of the King
Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith and they tell the Steward of
Gondor, Denethor, the events leading up to the death of his son, Boromir.
Pippin offers himself in service to the Steward as compensation for the loss
of Boromir. Denethor quizzes Pippin concerning the exact mission of the company, but Pippin is cautious. He is eventually dismissed and is looked after by Beregond who tells Pippin about the expected siege.
Meanwhile, Aragorn meets up with thirty of his Rangers, or D'nedain, who
have come from Rivendell together with Elrond’s sons, Elladan and Elrohir. They have a message from their father reminding Aragorn about the Paths of the Dead. They also have a gift from their sister, Arwen.
Merry becomes the Squire of King Th'oden whose army must now make haste to
Gondor in order to help fight Sauron’s vast army.
Aragorn tells the King that he must go a different way to Minas Tirith using
the Paths of the Dead.
He explains that he has used the palantir and revealed himself to Sauron. He showed Sauron his sword, which was the same sword that defeated Sauron centuries earlier. His aim was to put doubt into Sauron’s mind for a second time.
Legolas and Gimli volunteer to go with Aragorn.
It is Aragorn’s intention to call upon the spirits in the Paths of the Dead
to fulfill their oath, which they had failed to do in Isildur’s time, and who cursed them that they would never find rest until his heir called on them again.
'owyn begs Aragorn to let her go as well, but he refuses. Unknown to
anyone, she disguises herself as a man and takes on the name of Dernhelm. Merry, too, is to be left behind, but Dernhelm takes the young Hobbit on her horse.
A great cloud of darkness originating from Mordon now quickly spreads
Back at Gondor, Pippin looks out from the city walls, Faramir is returning
and is being pursued by five of the winged Ringwraiths.
Gandalf and Denethor are intrigued with Faramir’s story and how he helped
Frodo and Sam. It gives Gandalf some hope that the quest is still possible. Denethor is angered that Faramir did not bring the Ring back to the city to aid its defense.
He orders Faramir out again to man the front line.
A vast army is approaching the city driven on by the Lord of the
Nazgũl, Chief of the Ringwraiths who, Gandalf warns, cannot be killed by the hand of Man.
Denethor scoffs at Gandalf’s warning stating he has much knowledge concerning the plans of Sauron (he possesses a palantir).
Faramir is forced back into the city severely wounded.
Hope is fading and there now seems no way through for the Rohirrim to the city.
Denethor is unable to marshal his troops and he stays by his son’s body.
Gandalf takes control of the situation. While Gandalf is busy, Denethor has a funeral pyre prepared for Faramir, although he is not dead.
Pippin desperately searches for Gandalf to try and prevent this tragedy, but
the Chief of the Ringwraiths has approached the outer gates and shattered them, and Gandalf confronts him, ordering him back to the abyss.
The Dark Rider throws back his hood revealing a crown set on an invisible head. Just then, the horns of the Rohirrim are heard. They have arrived thanks to the Wild Men of Druadan Forest, who showed them a secret way to the battlefield through the Stonewain Valley. Their arrival diverts the Chief of the Ringwraiths and he comes to meet this new challenge.
King Th'oden leads the attack against the Ringwraiths, but his horse is
struck with a dart from the Dark Rider. The King falls beneath his horse, but the Lord of the Nazgũl receives a fresh challenge from the young warrior Dernhelm, and Merry is prepared to do battle as
well. The Dark Rider sneers that no living Man can harm him, but Dernhelm removes her disguise and the winged creature leaps at her, but she decapitates the steed, which crumples into a black heap.
Emerging from this, the Dark Rider moves to kill the stunned 'owyn, not even noticing the Hobbit. Just as he stands over her, Merry thrusts his sword into the Dark Rider’s back just as 'owyn with her last effort stabs him in the front. The Rider vanishes with a wailing cry, and Merry stands paralyzed.
The dying King names 'omer his heir, and the Rohirrim move forward into the
host of Mordor.
The battle is at a critical stage, but Aragorn comes to the rescue. He
was successful in bringing the spirits out of the Paths of the Dead and they defeated Sauron’s southern army, which comprised Men from Harad to the south. Taking their boats they sailed up the River falling
upon Sauron’s main army from the south. Aragorn unfolds the gift received from Elrond’s daughter, which is the insignia of Gondor with the emblems of the house of Elendil. This signifies the return of the King.
Sauron’s control over his army is waning. With the loss of his Captain
and now the return of the King, defeat comes within hours.
Meanwhile, back in the city, Pippin tells Gandalf concerning the madness of
Denethor. He refuses to give up his Stewardship, and he sets a torch to the pyre, leaping onto it carrying his palantir.
Foolishly, the Steward had tried to probe Sauron’s mind, which only brought
about Denethor’s madness.
In the Houses of Healing, 'owyn and Merry join Faramir. Aragorn comes
and greatly aids their recovery using forgotten herbs and fulfilling their proverb that the Kings of Gondor were great healers.
The Company catches up on the events that they have faced.
Gandalf advises them that victory is not won. Sauron still has another
army inside Mordor, and they must now face this foe and march to the Black Gate. In this way, they hope to avert Sauron’s eye away from Frodo and his quest.
Little over 6,000 Men arrive at the Black Gate, and Sauron’s lieutenant rides out and mocks them.
He produces Frodo’s cloak and Elvin brooch, much to the dismay of Pippin. Gandalf drives the lieutenant back with a blaze of white light and snatches the objects from him. The Black Gate opens wide and
out streams the armies of Mordor.
The combined armies of Gondor are outnumbered, and Pippin prepares to meet his death fighting beside his new friend Beregond. He is killed by a Troll and Pippin tries to save him, but loses consciousness, being crushed by the monster’s body, which contains Pippin’s sword.