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Merry lies on the ground resting, surrounded by Rohirrim. They are camped in the pine-woods of the Drúadan Forest in East Anórien.
Merry is completely tuckered out, but he can't sleep, because he feels lonely and useless.
They are less than a day away from Minas Tirith, and scouts have told the Riders that there is a huge camp of enemy troops holding the road ahead of them.
Elfhelm comes tripping over Merry back to their company of Riders.
He has news: the Wild Men of the Woods, the Woses who live in Drúadan Forest, have come to offer their service to Théoden.
Unable to stand being left out anymore, Merry walks towards a lantern lighting Théoden and Éomer.
There, he sees a squat, stumpy fellow wearing only grass around his waist talking to the King.
He reminds Merry of the Púkel-men of Dunharrow.
This man is Ghân-buri-Ghân, the headman of the Wild Men of the Woods.
Bearing the news that Minas Tirith is burning, inside and out, he also tells them that the road to the City is already covered in orcs.
He wants to show Théoden secret, long-forgotten paths to Minas Tirith, and he also offers to fight alongside the Riders of Rohan.
In exchange, Théoden must swear to leave the Wild Men alone in their forests after the war, to which Théoden readily agrees.
Eavesdropping Merry slips away, feeling dread for Pippin, who he knows is somewhere in the wreck of the city.
Each company of Riders gets a wild woodman to guide them. Théoden's guide? Ghân-buri-Ghân, of course.
After a time, Ghân calls a halt to speak to his hunters, who have arrived to tell them that the orcs have knocked down the walls of Rammas.
Éomer, for one, thinks this is actually good news. It means one less obstacle to the Riders of Rohan.
Because of their strength, the orcs are not watching the roads properly, and they all think someone else is keeping guard.
Éomer exclaims that the darkness itself is providing cover for their men. Lucky break.
Ghân-buri-Ghân notices that the wind is changing and he and his hunters rush off.
Enter Elfhelm, who has come to tell Théoden that they have found the bodies of the messengers from Denethor (Hirgon and one other).
So Hirgon never reached Gondor, and Denethor has no idea that the Rohirrim are coming to help him. All the more reason to get their butts into gear.
Luckily, the Riders are fast approaching the Pelennor Felds.
The king's company is in the lead, with Elfhelm's éored (cavalry company) right behind him.
Merry notices that Dernhelm has ridden up until he has caught up with the king's company.
The scouts tell Théoden that the City has been set on fire and the field is full of enemies. The Rohirrim has its work cut out for itself.
But another man, Widfara, tells Théoden that he has noticed, like Ghân-buri-Ghân, that the wind has changed. He believes "The morning will bring new things" (5.5.52). Hey, that sounds promising.
Théoden gives his people a rousing speech to fulfill their oaths "to lord and land and league of friendship!" (5.5.54).
Then he sends Grimbold's company to the left, Elfhelm to the right, and Théoden rides straight forward.
Off they ride into the darkness. Here goes nothin'.
Merry is still clinging to Dernhelm on the back of his horse, while trying to draw his sword.
The warriors of Rohan move silently in the fields of Pelennor.
The Lord of the Nazgûl is so focused on the gates of Gondor that he hasn't even noticed they are there.
At last, it comes: the wind is in Merry's face and, far to the South, there are glimmerings of light as the cloud starts to break. Hey, what happened to there being no dawn?
There is a crack of lightning that illuminates the city with a boom.
Théoden stands and shouts, "Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!/ Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!/ spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,/ a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!/ Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!" (5.5.64).
He blasts on his horn, and all of his men pick up their horns and do the same. Let's do this.
Théoden rides into battle so fast that no one can overtake him. He seems possessed with "the battle-fury of his fathers" (5.5.66).
The soldiers of Mordor wail in terror as the Riders of Rohan burst into song, because they are so filled with the joy of battle.