Flight to the Ford

From Tolkien Gateway
Flight to the Ford
Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
EventGlorfindel helps Frodo escape the Black Riders.
Date6-20 October 3018
LocationFord of Bruinen
Preceded byA Knife in the Dark
Followed byMany Meetings

Flight to the Ford is the twelfth and last chapter in the first book of The Fellowship of the Ring.

In this chapter, Frodo turns out to have been seriously wounded in the fight on Weathertop. He is treated by Strider, and the party urgently makes for Rivendell in the hopes of curing him. They pass through the Trollshaws and meet Glorfindel, who had been searching for them. They attempt to reach the Ford of Bruinen, and the Black Riders drown trying to pursue Frodo across the river.


Frodo regains consciousness, still clutching The One Ring. Sam, Merry and Pippin are there.

What has happened? Where is the pale king?

Sam tells Frodo that all they saw were shadows rushing past them, and then Frodo was suddenly gone; after which they heard him shout something as though he was far away. Once the shadows passed, the Hobbits stumbled across his body lying unconscious in the grass, and feared he was dead.

Strider returns, saying that the Black Riders have disappeared. He expects them to regroup and attack again. After hearing Frodo's account, he immediately orders the Hobbits to prepare boiling water and keep Frodo warm. He explains that Frodo may have suffered a deadly wound that would subdue him to the Riders' will.

At dawn, Strider discovers a thin knife on the ground, with its tip broken off. He says that this was the knife that pierced Frodo, and that it is evil. The blade melts and vanishes like smoke in the sunlight. He sings a song over the dagger's hilt. He then produces a few leaves from his pouch, saying that he had found an Athelas plant not far away. Though it has healing powers, Strider fears it will barely help. He boils the leaves and applies them to Frodo's wounds. Frodo feels some relief, but discovers that he cannot move his arm at all, and is unable to walk.

Strider and the Hobbits decide to leave Weathertop as soon as possible. Once the sun is up, they load the immobilized Frodo onto their pony, distributing the remaining supplies between them. The pony seems stronger than ever. They strike eastwards through the wilderness in silence. Though they encounter no Black Riders, they can hear distant wails, calling and answering.

After six days of marching, they reach the Last Bridge over the Hoarwell. Scouting ahead, Strider finds a shiny green beryl - an Elven jewel - though he cannot ascertain its meaning. Seeing no sign of a Black Rider ambush, he hurries the Hobbits across the bridge. As they climb into the hills, they begin to see ruins of walls and towers. Frodo is reminded of Bilbo's accounts of this region, remembering his story about the Stone-trolls. Strider says that these are the ruins of ancient Mannish settlements which once belonged to the evil kingdom of Angmar; its shadow still lies here. Pippin asks how Strider knows so much lore.

The heirs of Elendil do not forget all things past, and many more things than I can tell are remembered in Rivendell.

Frodo asks whether Strider has ever been to Rivendell. Strider answers that he once lived there, and still returns occasionally. He says his heart dwells there, but that it is not his fate to sit in peace.

On the tenth night of their journey from Weathertop, Frodo dreams that he is back in his garden at Bag End, but everything is faint and dim. The only thing he sees clearly are tall shadows peering at him over the hedge.

The next morning, Strider discovers that they had strayed too far north, close to the Ettenmoors. As they veer southwards, the ground becomes difficult to climb, and eventually Frodo collapses in pain. Merry wonders whether Frodo could be cured in Rivendell. Sam doesn't understand why Frodo is still in danger, seeing as his wounds have practically closed already. Strider explains that the weapon of the enemy contains a sinister poison that he cannot drive out.

The party stops to rest near a small quarry. In his sleep, Frodo dreams of great, dark, winged shapes sweeping above him, ridden by all-seeing pursuers. In the morning, as they set out downhill, their pony displays remarkable skill in finding easy routes down steep slopes. Frodo seems a little better, though his eyesight begins to fade intermittently.

Pippin spots a path leading straight through the woods below. It appears to have been made by large creatures, as both trees and rocks had been broken to let it through. They follow the path into the woods. It soon passes in front of a door in a rocky hillside, hanging ajar off a single hinge. Strider, Merry and Sam force the door open, and discover a cave full of bones and broken earthenware. Strider concludes that this is a Troll cave.

As they continue, Pippin goes scouting ahead with Merry. They soon come running back, reporting that they'd seen trolls. Strider picks up a stick and they slowly advance. In a clearing, they find three huge Trolls, standing completely still. Strider walks up and commands them to wake, then breaks his stick against one of them. The Trolls do not react. The Hobbits are astonished. Frodo begins to laugh, realizing that these are the Stone-trolls from Bilbo's story, which he had never really believed until that point.

You are forgetting not only your family history, but all you ever knew about trolls. It is broad daylight with a bright sun, and yet you come back trying to scare me with a tale of live trolls waiting for us in this glade! In any case you might have noticed that one of them has an old bird's nest behind his ear.

They eat a meal near the foot of one of the troll statues, and Merry suggests that someone sing. Eventually, Sam relents and sings them a song about a troll who stole a shinbone from a grave. After the song is done, Frodo reveals that Sam had made it up on the spot.

The party follows a road that they speculate had been used by Bilbo, Gandalf and the thirteen dwarves. Indeed, they soon find a stone covered in Dwarven runes, marking the spot where they buried the Trolls' treasure. When Merry asks Frodo wheher anything was left of Bilbo's share of that treasure, Frodo secretly wishes that Bilbo had brought home no treasure at all, alluding to The One Ring. He tells Merry that Bilbo had given all of the treasure away, since it came from robber Trolls.

At sundown, the party suddenly hears hoof-beats coming from behind, and takes cover. A figure with flowing golden hair, riding a white horse, appears on the road behind them. Strider leaps out with joy, and the rider dismounts.

Ai na vedui Dúnadan! Mae govannen!

Strider introduces the figure as Glorfindel, an Elf who lives at Rivendell. Glorfindel greets Frodo, saying he was sent out to look for him. He had set out from Rivendell nine days earlier, after receiving news that "the Nine" (the Black Riders) were in the area and that Frodo was without Gandalf's protection. Gandalf had still not arrived in Rivendell by the time Glorfindel left. Seven days ago he crossed the Last Bridge, where he left the green beryl. He encountered three Black Riders and chased them away from the bridge. Two days ago he found the Hobbits' trail and followed it here. He warns that five Black Riders are behind them, and has no idea where the other four are.

Frodo collapses. Strider tells Glorfindel of his wounds, showing him the hilt of the evil dagger. Glorfindel lays his hands on Frodo's wound; Frodo feels little better, though Glorfindel does not seem hopeful. Glorfindel lifts Frodo up on his horse, saying that in case of emergency it will bear him forward with greater speed than any Black Rider could match. Frodo objects, not wanting to leave his friends behind to face the peril alone. Glorfindel reassures him that the Black Riders are only after him, not his friends.

The party redistributes the weight of their supplies, and makes haste onward through the night. They finally collapse of exhaustion. Glorfindel gives each of them a sip of a clear liquid he was carrying, which reinvigorates them. Later, they finally get a view of the Bruinen far ahead. They see no sign of the Black Riders. Glorfindel speaks to Strider in Elvish.

The next morning, the party continues on with ever-greater exhaustion. Passing through a short tunnel, they begin hearing footsteps echoing all around them, following them. On the other side, still some distance from the Ford, the footfalls intensify and a strong wind suddenly blows around them.

Fly! Fly! The enemy is upon us!

Glorfindel's horse leaps forward, with the others doing the same. Four Black Riders appear behind them on the path, though they do not charge. Glorfindel orders Frodo to ride forward, but Frodo stops and looks back towards the motionless Black Riders, realizing they are commanding him to wait. Feeling a sudden rush of intense fear and hatred, he draws his sword, which glows red.

Glorfindel calls to his horse in Elvish.

Noro lim, noro lim, Asfaloth!

The horse breaks immediately into a full gallop, speeding onwards faster than the Black Riders can follow. A horrifying cry pierces the air, and the party is dismayed to see more Black Riders emerging from ambush, galloping ahead to cut Frodo off. Though he leaves the pursuers far behind, the two flankers stop ahead of him, and he sees their true forms, robed in white and grey. The horse Asfaloth does not show fear, breezing right past the Black Riders at full gallop. Frodo fades in and out of consciousness, but soon enough feels the horse wading across the Bruinen.

Asfaloth stops on the far side of the Ford as nine Riders appear at the edge of the water. Frodo raises his sword, commanding them to stop their pursuit and go back to Mordor. The Riders laugh at his command and call him to come back to Mordor with them.

In a last act of defiance, Frodo calls to Elbereth and Lúthien. The lead Rider, now halfway across the Ford, raises his hand. Frodo becomes unable to speak, and his sword shatters. Asfaloth rears up.

Just before the Black Riders finish crossing the ford, the river begins to swell and roar. A great deluge of water comes down from the mountainside, and Frodo can almost see white riders upon white horses with flowing manes in the great waves. The three Black Riders that were in the river are washed away.

Behind the remaining Black Riders on the other side of the ford, Frodo sees a shining white figure, followed by small forms waving red flames. The black horses suddenly go mad, running into the river and drowning themselves and their riders in it. At this, Frodo finally passes out.