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The White Rider
The story now returns to the three travelers hunting for their lost companions. They find a leaf from Lorien and crumbs of food in the grass, as well as pieces of cut cord. They also find an Orc knife. They follow the Hobbit prints up to Treebeard's rock wall and when they climb up to the top they once more see the old man who had appeared earlier.
The old man comes to them and reveals himself to be Gandalf. He tells them that the old man they had seen earlier was not him but Saruman. He also tells them that their missing Hobbit friends have gone with the ents to Isengard, to fight Saruman. He tells Aragorn that he must go to their aid.
He tells them what happened when he fell into the abyss with Balrog. Gandalf held on to the enemyís heel and the Balrog took him up to the highest peak from where Gandalf flung the Balrog to its death. Gwaihir, who had been sent by Lady Galadriel, found Gandalf there. He was taken to Lothlorien, where he was clad in white and healed. Lady Galadrielís messages of caution are given to the three and they set off.
The White Rider (Gandalf) then summons Shadowfax, his horse, which he took from Theoden along with two others. Gandalf sets Gimli on his own horse and they ride off toward the halls of Theoden, Eomerís king.
Saruman becomes a more important villain than Sauron in this part of the novel. He has managed to pervert society by controlling the Orcs and waging war on all his neighbors. It now becomes the mission of the others to stop him.