The Two Towers Book 3, Chapter 5
It is day as Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn eat breakfast. They cannot find any footprints from the figure they saw the night before who released their horses. Aragorn wishes they could find the animals, but looks around for any sign of the hobbits. After a while, they find leaves that wrapped the Lembas and the remains of the cords that bound the hobbits. Legolas is amazed that the hobbits escaped both the orcs and the horsemen of Rohan. Aragorn realizes that an orc must have carried them away and fallen apart from the rest. He was puzzled that the orcs attacked and killed Boromir but left the hobbits alone. He realizes that the orcs were commanded to retrieve the hobbits and return them unharmed. Reluctantly, the trio decide that they must enter Fangorn and search for the hobbits.
It is not long before Aragorn finds their footprints. They push on into the forest and Legolas is amazed at its age. Gimli is worried about the old man from the night before. They plunge further into the woodland, but see very few prints because of the leaf floor. Near a pool of water, they find two-day old markings. Worrying about their supplies running out, they push on. They find the same rock that Merry and Pippin ascended when they met Treebeard. They are confused that the tracks just end and debate it until Legolas tells them to hush. He sees an old man moving about in the trees. Gimli tells him to shoot the figure with his bow, but Legolas will not shoot unprovoked. The old figure quickens his step and approaches them.
He has a gray beard and is dressed in the same colored cloak and hat. He demands that Legolas drop his bow. When he looks over them, he is amazed that a man elf and dwarf are traveling companions. Aragorn asks his name and tells him that they are on too important a journey to stop and talk to him. The old man tells them that he knows they are looking for hobbits. He tells them to sit and when he takes off his cloak they see that he is robed in white. Gimli yells that he is Saruman and hefts his ax. The old man rises and with one movement Aragorn's sword, Legolas' bow, and Gimli's ax fall to the ground. Legolas finally recognizes him. It is Gandalf.
When Legolas speaks this name, Gandalf repeats it as if it is foreign and then says that they may still call him that. He explains that he has changed; he passed through fire and water. In this time, he has forgotten much and learned more. He is what Saruman should have been. He does not know where Merry and Pippin are, but he is sure that Frodo is on his way to Mordor with the Ring. He asks them to tell him what has happened since he fell and when they are done he tells them that they have not told the whole tale of Boromir. He tells them that the two hobbits have started an uprising in Fangorn. Sauron does not know that Frodo is planning on destroying the ring.
"'He supposes that we are all going to Minas Tirith; for that is what he would himself have done in our place. And according to his wisdom it would have been a heavy stroke against his power. Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him done and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind.'" Book 3, Chapter 5, pg. 127
Sauron has begun war with the hope that he will defeat Minas Tirith before the Ring is used. The enemy has failed to get any of the hobbits because of Saruman. The white wizard has gotten strong and is trying to get the Ring for himself. Saruman will not fight Mordor and win. Foolishly, the wizard worries more about Rohan and plans to attack Theoden at Edoras. In these plans, he has forgotten all about Treebeard. Aragorn is amazed that ents really exist. Legolas knows of ents but not of Treebeard. Gandalf explains that Treebeard is the oldest being on the earth. All the wrath of Fangorn is flowing against Isengard. Gandalf goes silent, contemplating the outcome of such a battle. He changes subjects and says that they must go to Theoden because evil has befallen the good King. He announces that he is Gandalf the White and Grey no longer. He tells them that he wants to say very little about his fall. He fell with the Balrog for a great time, and pursued him through the deepest tunnels of the earth. He found his way back to the surface and followed the beast up to the highest peak above Moria. There, he killed it and fell into darkness. An eagle carried him to Galadriel in Lothlorien and she helped him. Galadriel has sent advice to each of the travelers. Aragorn should gather his people. Legolas is to be wary of the sea and Gimli is to avoid cutting down trees. They walk out of the forest, and when Gandalf whistles three times, Shadowfax arrives with the two horses that the companions lost the night before. He speaks to them and they begin to ride swiftly toward Edoras. Gandalf had beckoned Shadowfax with his thoughts a few days before.