“Your friends are with you, Aragorn.”
For the Elves the world moves, and it moves both very swift and very slow. Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by: it is a grief to them. Slow, because they do not count the running years, not for themselves. The passing seasons are but ripples ever repeated in the long long stream. Yet beneath the Sun all things must wear to an end at last.’
`But the wearing is slow in Lórien,’ said Frodo. `The power of the Lady is on it. Rich are the hours, though short they seem, in Caras Galadhon, where Galadriel wields the Elven-ring.‘
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING (2003) — dir. Peter Jackson
And what would a ranger know of this matter?
Helm’s Deep was a narrow valley in the White Mountains. Within this there was a fortress known as the Hornburg. The Hornburg was built by the old Gondorians (Numenoreans) along with Isengard to defend the Fords of Isen. Along with the keep was the Deeping Wall to defend the valley and Helm’s Dike to defend the hills outside. Inside the mountain behind the keep was the Glittering Caves, a complex escape route of tunnels. When Rohan became independent Helm’s Deep became a garrison for the Rohirrim, and served them well during a succession war with the Dunlendings. During the War the people of Rohan under Helm Hammerhand withstood a long siege against the men of Dunland, but were ultimately victorious when Gondor came to aid them. Helm Hammerhand died after blowing the great horn in the keep and leading a sortie against the Dunlendings. During the War of the Ring it was used as a last refuge for Rohan’s people as the forces of Saruman attacked. The garrison of Edoras, The Three Hunters, Rohan’s royal family, and refugees from the countryside all went to the fort, Gandalf went to seek the disbanded Rohirrim roaming the countryside and promised to return with reinforcements. Saruman attacked with an army of Uruk-Hai, Orcs, Dunlendings, and siege weaponry including rams, ladders, and “blasting fire” (possibly or similar to gunpowder). The Battle of Helm’s Deep consisted of a skirmish at Helm’s Dike, the prolonged fighting at the Deeping Wall ending with a large breach in an open culvert (courtesy of Saruman’s “devilry”), and the final battle for the keep. With the remaining Rohirrim and the Three Hunters trapped in the keep defending the women and children in the Glittering Caves, they sallied forth once more under the horn of the Hornburg to meet the enemy. They rode out into the horde as Gandalf returned with an army of Rohirrim. Saruman’s forces were routed, and the retreating orcs and Dunlendings were destroyed by the Huorns (Ents) of Fangorn. The uruk-hai and orcs were piled into a large mound while the dead Rohirrim were buried. The fortress was rebuilt with dwarven stonework, a new gate, and the Glittering Caves became a dwarf colony under Gimli.
“’This is more to my liking,’ said the dwarf, stamping on the stones. ‘Ever my heart rises as we draw near the mountains. There is good rock here. This country has tough bones. I felt them in my feet as we came up from the dike. Give me a year and a hundred of my kin and I would make this a place that armies would break upon like water.’” – Gimli upon inspecting the fortress before the battle. The Two Towers, Helm’s Deep.
‘Look!’ he cried, and they lifted their tired eyes. Before them stood the mountains of the South: white-tipped and streaked with black. The grass-lands rolled against the hills that clustered at their feet, and flowed up into many valleys still dim and dark, untouched by the light of dawn, winding their way into the heart of the great mountains. Immediately before the travellers the widest of these glens opened like a long gulf among the hills. Far inward they glimpsed a tumbled mountain-mass with one tall peak; at the mouth of the vale there stood like sentinel a lonely height. About its feet there flowed, as a thread of silver, the stream that issued from the dale; upon its brow they caught, still far away, a glint in the rising sun, a glimmer of gold. ‘Speak, Legolas!’ said Gandalf. ‘Tell us what you see there before us!’
Legolas gazed ahead, shading his eyes from the level shafts of the new-risen sun. ‘I see a white stream that comes down from the snows,’ he said. ‘Where it issues from the shadow of the vale a green hill rises upon the east. A dike and mighty wall and thorny fence encircle it. Within there rise the roofs of houses; and in the midst, set upon a green terrace, there stands aloft a great hall of Men. And it seems to my eyes that it is thatched with gold. The light of it shines far over the land. Golden, too, are the posts of its doors. There men in bright mail stand; but all else within the courts are yet asleep.’
‘Edoras those courts are called,’ said Gandalf, ‘and Meduseld is that golden hall. There dwells Théoden son of Thengel, King of the Mark of Rohan. We are come with the rising of the day. Now the road lies plain to see before us. But we must ride more warily; for war is abroad, and the Rohirrim, the Horse-lords, do not sleep, even if it seem so from afar. Draw no weapon, speak no haughty word, I counsel you all, until we are come before Théoden’s seat.’
Mirkwood was a large forest of Rhovanion, flanked by two great rivers, the north was bordering the Grey Mountains and the south by plains and wasteland. It is intersected by numerous rivers, notably the Forest River which flowed through the Elvenking’s land. This river had a smaller river branching off of it, which was enchanted and caused drowsiness and hallucinations. The forest was split by the Old Forest Road, a major trade route that connected the East and the West. Built by the dwarves to connect Erebor and the Iron Hills to the Misty Mountains in the 2nd Age but fell into disuse when the dwarf kingdoms fell. South of the Old Forest Road was much darker as the Elves had less control of the region. By the Third Age there were large spiders throughout the area drawn by the evil of Dol Guldur. Dol Guldur was a base used by Sauron as he regained his power, under the moniker of the Necromancer. The Silvan elves settled in Mirkwood (Greenwood The Great) on their journey to go West. They were less wise and reserved then other elves, and often celebrated with wine and feasts. The first king was Oropher, a grey elf who ruled until he died during the Battle of Dagorlad, slain disobeying orders. His son, Thranduil, became the king. By the Third Age the kingdom was in decline and it became Mirkwood. Thorin’s Company passed through Mirkwood on their quest to Erebor. They suffered passing the Enchanted River and attempted to hunt, but failed. They engaged with many of the Great Spiders and were almost defeated. Tired, hungry, and feeling the effects of the Enchanted River they were gladly captured by the Elves. They were detained by the Elvenking but thanks to Bilbo’s ring and cunning they escaped using wine barrels down the Forest River. During the War Of The Ring Mirkwood was attacked by Mordor, and in the Battle Under The Trees Thranduil repelled the attacks and Galadriel destroyed Dol Guldur. The forest was cleansed and Galadriel renamed it Eryn Lasgalen, “Wood of Greenleaves”. Notable people who dwelt in Mirkwood include Legolas, Radagast, and groups of Northmen.
“There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go. Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description. Before you could get round it in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer, and even you, Bilbo, won’t need me to tell you tales of that black sorcerer.” – Gandalf’s warning to the Company of Thorin, The Hobbit, Queer Lodgings.