After the drinking, the celebrating and the singing, the company retire to their rooms for a night of sleep. However, not everyone is as exhausted and tired, some have troubled thoughts about others who are still fighting their own battles. There isn`t a drink or a song in the world that can ease their troubles, for they know what is to come.
Even though an evening of frivolousness might do them a world of good, to find an equilibrium in their worried state, it does not. There is no escaping the oncoming war, and the responsibility growing in Aragorn has him anxious and restless, unable to find any rest in sleep. He steals away while the rest of the company sleep.
I recommend enjoying this scene by watching your own copy of The Return of the King extended edition.
A hand in stillness
The Golden Hall is now a solitary place with an almost extinguished fireplace ornating the room. By it lies Éowyn. A peaceful sleep it isn`t. Her expression shows a certain kind of worry passing in her mind. Seeing her cover in a disarray, and with a slight passing smile on his face, Aragorn covers her feet and shoulder as she becomes conscious of his presence without opening her eyes.
Éowyn: “What time is it?”
Aragorn: “Not yet dawn.”
Éowyn grabs Aragorn`s hand as he turns to leave. Although he may not return the same feelings Éowyn feels for him, she still trusts him with her uttermost personal and even unconscious thoughts. She is assured in his ability to listen, understand and comfort her in her time of need.
I dreamed I saw a great wave climbing over green lands and above the hills. I stood upon the brink. It was utterly dark in the abyss before my feet. A light shone behind me but I could not turn. I could only stand there, waiting.Éowyn
A dream is in most instances untraceable when consciousness arises. More often than not, we forget our dreams. The ones that continue to plague us as we awaken almost always have a message for us. There is something in them that does not leave our memory in an instant, as all others do.
Whatever the setting of a dream or the action, or the people in them, mostly points to something metaphorical. And if we try to decipher them, we are able to decode the message that our minds were saving for us.
Éowyn`s dream does not lack in metaphor, but it is easily decipherable. Similar to the cage she feared, the image of her standing, waiting for the wave to cover her mirrors the same fear. The light shining behind her maybe the hope that has been rekindled with the victory in Helm`s Deep.
For all the courage she is so desperately trying to convey and show to the world, her fear of facing death leaves her paralyzed. No one can ever prepare to face their own death, therefore, her fear is justifiable.
As Éowyn tells her dream, the flashbacks of its reality and the reality of the fear she felt brings tears to her eyes. They stream down her face as her eyes focus on a blank spot, playing the images of her mind in front of her eyes.
Night changes many thoughts. Sleep, Éowyn while you can.Aragorn
The unconscious mind focuses all its attention on the underlying emotions that normally might go ignored or suppressed while conscious. Fear appears in images vivid enough to stir the emotion while sleeping and to remember the dream when awake. So, the night does change thoughts, it refocuses the mind from all its triviality to the core troubles that permeate daily actions.
Worry and sadness cross over Aragorn`s face as Éowyn describes her dream. He understands her fears and placates her. It is the only thing he can do or her at this moment, and the only thing he can do for himself, for he too suffers from the same troubles, hence his inability to sleep.
Far away, so close
The stars are veiled. Something stirs in the east. A sleepless malice. The Eye of the enemy is moving.Legolas
Legolas can feel that which stirs not only in the east but in their sleeping accommodation as well. He might not be able to pinpoint its origin, but as the curiosity of Pippin grows, so does Sauron`s need for information about the whereabouts of the Ring. Sauron might be preparing for an epic battle, but his fear grows exponentially to his army`s numbers. He only needs one set of eyes to gaze into the Palantír for his fear to subside.
Curiosity killed the cat
Pippin is restless, with eyes wide open with curiosity and unsettling need. He tries to fight it off by closing his eyes and demanding his brain to sleep but fails. He succumbs to his eagerness and takes the Palantír out of Gandalf`s sleeping grip. Although Merry tries to stop him, Pippin finds it an innocent act of looking at a glass ball.
As Pippin finally quenches his interest by looking at the Palantír, his initial thrill turns rapidly into excruciating pain. Merry urges someone to help him. Aragorn tries but fails, as the force of the Palantír weakens his mind and body in an instant and he drops to the floor. Gandalf awakes, throwing a blanket over the runaway Palantír, thereby extinguishing its power.
Pippin remains lying on the floor, unblinking and unmoving, his body contorted in the shape the Palantír left him in. He seems petrified. Gandalf moves his hands across his face thereby bringing him back from whatever abyss Pippin slipped into.
Gandalf: “Fool of a Took! Look at me!”
Pippin: “Gandalf, forgive me.”
Gandalf: “Look at me. What did you see?”
Pippin: “A tree. There was a white tree in a courtyard of stone. It was dead. The city was burning.”
Gandalf: “Minas Tirith. Is that what you saw?”
Pippin: “I saw… I saw him. I could hear his voice in my head.”
Gandalf: “And what did you tell him? Speak.”
Pippin: “He asked me my name. I didn`t answer. He hurt me.”
Gandalf: “What did you tell him about Frodo and the Ring?”
For all his foolish doing, Pippin did not divulge any vital information about Frodo or the whereabouts of the Ring. What he did obtain, is the location of Sauron`s next move. Unsurprisingly, the fate of Mankind will be decided in their last free kingdom. Osgiliath is vulnerable as it is. It will only take another attack to overtake it completely.
A moving threat
There was no lie in Pippin`s eyes. A fool, but an honest fool he remains. He told Sauron nothing of Frodo and the Ring. We`ve been strangely fortunate. Pippin saw in the Palantír a glimpse of the enemy`s plan. Sauron moves to strike the city of Minas Tirith. His defeat at Helm`s Deep showed our enemy one thing. He knows the heir of Elendil has come forth. Men are not as weak as he supposed. There is courage still, strength enough perhaps to challenge him. Sauron fears this. He will not risk the peoples of Middle-Earth uniting under one banner. He will raze Minas Tirith to the ground before he sees a king return to the throne of Men. If the beacons of Gondor are lit, Rohan must be ready for war.Gandalf
As always, Gandalf summarizes the situation they all need to face and provides a solution to their problem. Théoden`s reaction, however, leaves him unpleasantly surprised.
Tell me, why should we ride to the aid of those who did not come to ours? What do we owe Gondor?Théoden
King Théoden remains stubborn and unrelenting when it comes to aiding Gondor. As they have not helped Rohan in time of need so does Théoden feel he should not offer his aid in return. One might have thought that after the battle of Helm`s Deep and the support Rohan received from the Elves, King Théoden might be inclined to pass it on in good graces, however, that is not the case.
Now that they know where the war is going to strike, he remains motionless in aiding his fellow Men. Although he hadn`t asked for aid as the battle of Helm`s Deep was underway or when the Westfold fell, he is angered at Lord Denethor for not getting involved in their fate nevertheless. It is an unexpressed expectation that could have only resulted in Théoden`s disappointment and subsequent resentment.
Aragorn: “I will go.”
Aragorn: “They must be warned.”
Gandalf: “They will be. You must come to Minas Tirith by another road. Follow the river. Look to the black ships. Understand this: Things are now in motion that cannot be undone. I ride for Minas Tirith and I won`t be going alone.”
Since Gandalf cannot rely on Théoden`s help, there is only Aragorn, and his two Hunters, who can aid Gandalf in his plan. Sending Aragorn to meet him in Minas Tirith by taking another route, leaves him free to delegate with Denethor. He is taking his “honest fool” with him.
Pippin will prove to be not only an irreplaceable addition to his company but a crucial component in uniting Middle-Earth.