Erkenbrand stared out into the starless night, troubled by the looming defeat at the Ford. Lazily he glanced over at his sleeping kinsmen, the only men he had managed to track down since they had been scattered. The darkness was ubiquitous, yet Erkenbrand's keen hearing caught the steady sound of hoof beats, and he perked up, wondering if they were under siege. He waited with baited breath for what the darkness would bring. At once a flash of silver shot out in front of him, and he gasped. The horse whinnied, and a rider dressed in pure white that shone jumped from the horse 's back. Squinting against the new light, Erkenbrand gasped with sudden
"Gandalf!" he cried, "Out of all hope you have come, but surely not without need. What brings you here, white rider?"
"Erkenbrand," the wizard acknowledged, "I bid you heed my word ere the night grows old. I have ridden far at great speed, but not needlessly. The enemy is fast approaching, and preparing to battle at the Hornburg. Saruman has massed an army great enough to use for his evil. Rohan lacks the strength to defend against an army of such size and strength. Unless gifted with outer aid, Theoden will fall. Haste is our only hope."
He paused to look the man slowly in the eye, and saw mingled determination and fear mirrored there.
"I have need of you, Erkenbrand. Gather as many men as you can that were scattered from the Battle of the Ford ere the hour of morning approaches. Meet me here with the men you have mustered. I will command you further then."
He sprang on the silver horse's back and spoke a soft word. In a flash, the steed sprang away and left Erkenbrand in the darkness. Submerged once again in thought, the man sat there a moment, and then slowly rose to awaken his men.
When the first rays of sunlight shone brilliantly through the thick boughs of the trees, the horse and rider appeared once again in the clearing. Erkenbrand stood before them, as the men he had gathered began to rise to their feet behind him. Gandalf, still perched upon his mount, spoke
hurriedly, "The Battle has long since commenced, and the power of evil has prevailed. We must go now to the Hornburg and give final aid to Rohan. Time slips from our grasp and we must harness it. Let us go to Helm's Deep!"
He rode swiftly from the clearly, leaving Erkenbrand to gather his men. They then followed after the path of the white rider, preparing for war.