The Two Towers Book 3, Chapter 2
They run as the dusk sets and continue through the rise and fall of the moon. The orc-trail vanishes in a valley and they must guess the direction. Aragorn decides to go north and before long, Legolas points out orc bodies. It seems that there was a quarrel among the orcs and they killed each other. Aragorn discovers the path of the remaining orcs, still a great number, and they travel quickly into the new day. The green fields of Rohan and the mountains of Gondor unfold in front of them. Aragorn wishes that he had come upon this sight in a happier hour and recites a poem about the glory days of Gondor. A great eagle flies over them. From their vantagepoint, there is a large company on foot about twelve leagues away. The articles discarded by the fleeing band of orcs tell the pursuers that they are in great haste. Once they step onto the green fields, they break into a run in single file. Aragorn stops when he finds hobbit tracks straying away from the rest of the trail. He finds Pippin's cloak and brooch. They run into the night and debate whether or not they should rest. Legolas fears that the orcs, who primarily travel at night, will gain too much of a lead. Aragorn thinks that they can reach the orcs before they reach Isengard where the orcs will meet their master Saruman. Gimli thinks they should rest to conserve their strength. Aragorn immediately falls to sleep.
Before dawn, Legolas rouses him and they depart again. Most of the day is spent running. Often the trail fades but it always appears again. There is no sign of man or beast in the fields. By dusk, their pace has become slower. They ascend a hill to sleep and look at the mist over the mountains in the distance. In the morning they resume the trail. "Out of the forest the Entwash flowed to meet them, its stream now swift and narrow, and its banks deep-cloven. The orc-trail turned from the downs to towards it." Book 3, Chapter 2, pg. 38. They hear riders coming from a great distance. Aragorn thinks it would do no good to run and feels that they should wait the approach of the Riders of Rohan. Gimli reminds him that Gandalf had heard a rumor that they paid tribute to Sauron. Aragorn refuses to believe this because the Riders are descended from noble blood.
Before long, the horsemen are almost upon them and they take shelter in the shadows. When they are about to pass, Aragorn yells out to them and introduces himself as Strider. Eomer rides up to him and introduces himself. He asks what they are doing and is surprised when Aragorn says he is hunting orcs with so few men. Aragorn tells him of their journey from Lothlorein and Eomer expresses fear of the forest. Gimli warns him not to speak ill of it. Aragorn steps between them and asks if the men of Rohan support Sauron or defy him. Eomer says he does neither and is neutral, but plans to never support him. Aragorn says that they are searching for friends and then gives his full name and title. Eomer is in awe. Aragorn emphasizes that evil things are afoot and King Theoden should ally himself with Sauron or against him. Eomer tells him that they have already found the large band of orcs and killed them, losing many men of their own. When asked about hobbits, Eomer says that he thought such things only live in legends.
Eomer wants to hear more of their tale even though his men are anxious to be leaving. Aragorn tells him that he traveled with Boromir and Gandalf. Eomer warns him that Gandalf upset their King by taking his prize horse Shadowfax and returning him so wild that no one else can ride him. Aragorn informs Eomer that he saw Gandalf fall into a pit and perish. Eomer interrupts and says that he must go to Theoden and tell him to ally with Gondor. He reiterates that Rohan has never paid tribute of any kind to Sauron. He has spare horses because of the lost men and offers them to Aragorn with the understanding that he will return them to Edoras, the seat of Theoden. Once they accept this, he says that it is illegal for strangers to travel in Rohan so they should follow him first to Edoras and then continue on their journey. Aragorn refuses and Eomer is torn. He settles for them returning when their errand is done. Gimli does not want to ride a horse, but Legolas convinces him to ride on one with him:
" A smaller and lighter horse, but restive and fiery, was brought to Legolas. Arod was his name. but Legolas asked them to take off the saddle and rein. 'I need them not,' he said and lightly leaped up, and to their wonder, Arod was tame and willing beneath him, moving here and there with but a spoken word: such was the elvish way with all good beasts." Book 3, Chapter 3, pg. 51
Eomer bids them farewell and begs them to return the horses. They find the main trail again within moments. For the rest of the day they follow this until they find the burnt mounds of orc bodies. They search for any sign of the hobbits, but it is futile. Gimli thinks that they must have been burned with the orcs. Aragorn says that they should wait for the light and return in the morning. Gimli wants to build a fire, but Aragorn warns him to touch only wood that has fallen. Gimli builds a high fire and a tree near it seems to reach its limbs out as if warming itself. They are on the outer edge of the forest Fangorn. They were warned not to enter it. Aragorn thinks that they should set watches and be extra careful not to harm any living trees. He wakes and sees an old man in a gray cloak near the fire. He disappears and they realize that their horses are gone. It will be hard for them to return to Edoras with no transportation besides their feet. Gimli goes to sleep and Aragorn takes the next watch.