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The Passing of the Grey Company
The story turns now to the remaining members of the company who are at Isengard. With them are Theoden and his men. They are joined some time later by Halbarad Dinadan, a Ranger like Aragorn. He has been asked to join them by Lady Galadriel. Thirty men and Elrondís sons, Elladan and Elrohir accompany him. Elrondís daughter, Arwen, sends a staff for Aragorn.
Merry, meanwhile, lays his sword at Theodenís service, just as Pippin did in Denethorís. He is accepted as Theodenís esquire and given a pony of his own. They are ready to return to Rohan and fight to defend Gondor, then travel to Minas Tirith to fight Sauron. Aragorn tells them that he must part with them, taking his group of men across the Paths of the Dead as quickly as possible in order to reach Minas Tirith and defeat Sauron with haste. Aragorn tells them that he has revealed his position to Sauron in the hopes of frightening him into a hasty misstep. Legolas and Gimli opt to go with him, as do Halbarad and his men.
The Grey Company, as they are called, travel swiftly through the plains. Theoden and his riders go over the mountains. On the way Aragornís company meets Lady Eowyn, who asks to come along. Aragorn says that without the King her brotherís permission, she cannot go. Eowyn laments her fate, saying that being a women she has to remain behind only to hear news of death and destruction. She must govern them especially well, since all may be lost and only she will remain. The next day they part, painfully bound by duty.
The next day the Grey Company comes to the Haunted Mountains and to the Path of the Dead, where no mortal has ever lived to travel through. Aragorn summons the dead to fulfill an oath sworn to his ancestor, Isildur. It seems that long ago the dead promised to aid Isildur in fighting Sauron, but betrayed him. As a result, they have been cursed to remain in the Paths of the Dead. Aragorn tells them that they will be free only if they follow Isildurís heir to battle when called upon. This is that time. The king of the Dead summons his men to follow Aragorn in battle against Sauron and so be free forever.
Two Themes of interest are restated here. First, Eowyn must act in the interest of a greater good. Selflessness is the most heroic code by which Tolkien's characters live. Second, true leadership qualities are destined in man. Aragorn slowly proves his birthright and works his way toward reclaiming a throne that is rightfully and legally his. Thou he will no doubt meet with some resistance by the seated leaders of Gondor, his claim to the throne is unquestionably obvious, especially in this chapter.