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The Riders of Rohan
On their journey, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli come across a pile of slain Orcs and come to the conclusion that the Orcs have quarreled among themselves. Still there is no sign of Merry and Pippin. Later, they find Hobbit footprints and a broach--clues that their captured friends have passed this way.
After many days of pursuit without sign of trail or hope, Aragorn sees riders coming their way. The riders are men of Rohan and their leader is Eomer. Eomer and his riders tell the men that they have already slain the Orcs but that there were no Hobbits with them. When Aragorn tells Eomer that both Gandalf and Boromir are dead, Eomer is sorry. He tells the hunters that the men of Rohan are no friends of either Sauron or Saruman, the wizard who was aiding in the attack on Boromirís people. He offers the hunters horses, asking only that once their deed is accomplished, they return. It seems Eomerís king, King Theoden, did not want him to aid the travelers.
After bidding farewell to the men of Rohan, the three hunters again pursue their Hobbit friends. At night they rest under some trees in the forest of Fangorn. Gimli, who is on guard, sees an old man but before they can discover who he is, he disappears. The horses are gone as well. Gimli tells the others that he thinks the old man was Saruman, who has taken or scared away their horses. Their dim hope of catching their friends grows even fainter.
The narrative remains with Aragorn, rather than Frodo. For the time being, he and his companions are focused on finding Merry and Pippin. The search, like much of the plot, proves more difficult than it had seemed.