The Company spends several days sailing swiftly down the river, letting the water’s current do most of the work. On the third day, the landscapes on their left grow barren as the group looks east towards Mordor. The western banks of the river shift between forests of reeds and great grassy plains. Despite barely seeing any living creatures, the Company feels exposed between these flat landscapes.
The change in landscape from the lush forests of Lothlórien to the bare landscapes either side of the River Anduin reflect the Fellowship’s movement from safety into danger. There are no more havens of comfort and beauty ahead of them now.
On the fourth evening, Sam is startled awake from dozing in the boat he shares with Aragorn and Frodo. He thinks he has seen a log that is moving unnaturally quickly in the river, approaching the boats—for a moment it even seemed to have eyes and limbs. However, by the time Sam rubs his tired eyes, the strange apparition has disappeared. Upon sharing this story with Frodo, the Ring-bearer is disturbed by its similarity to the earlier times he has suspected the Company is being followed. The two hobbits guess that it is the cunning Gollum who is tracking them, waiting for an opportunity to steal back the Ring. Aragorn reveals that he is aware of their tail, but has failed to catch the slippery creature.
Aragorn, Frodo, and Sam keep the knowledge of Gollum’s presence to themselves, as they do not want to alarm their companions any more than needed. This is another example of the selfless burdens that individuals take on to protect others.
The Fellowship paddles faster the next day, their eighth day on the river, worried that Gollum may be feeding information to Sauron’s troops about their location. They run into some difficulties that night as they approach rapids, and with great effort they paddle back upstream to avoid the increasingly strong current and great rocks that protrude from the river. At the same time they are attacked by orcs who fire arrows at them from the eastern bank. It is perhaps the grey cloaks of Lórien that prevent any of the Company from being hit.
After some days of safe passage down the Anduin, the Fellowship are suddenly confronted by dangers on the river alongside the threat of attacking orcs. Already, the gifts from the Lord and Lady of Lothlórien prove their value.
Through the strength of the party’s paddling, the three boats are maneuvered out of the orcs’ bow range and onto the river’s western bank. Legolas has just strung his great bow when a dreadful shadow falls upon the Fellowship as a great winged beast flies toward them. The orcs on the opposite bank shout with excitement while Frodo feels a chilling echo of his old shoulder wound. But suddenly Legolas fires a Lothlórien arrow, hitting the creature and sending it crashing down to the opposite shore.
Frodo’s increased vulnerability to evil is signaled by the pain in his old wound, and he is terrified of what the winged shadow might be. Because of its connection to Frodo’s wound, readers can guess that it is a Black Rider on a new and more formidable steed.
The next morning, Boromir encourages the Company to leave the boats and travel west to Gondor. However, Aragorn desires to travel a little further down the river to behold the ancient site of Amon Hen and the great pillars of kings that stand over the River Anduin. These are carved in the likeness of his ancestors—the brothers Isildur and Anarion, who jointly ruled Gondor. Frodo agrees with Aragorn’s plan, and Boromir decides to accompany them a little further.
Frodo’s loyalty and trust of Aragorn results in his decision to follow the Ranger’s path rather than Boromir’s suggestion to move immediately toward Gondor. Aragorn has proven himself a wise and capable leader, and resistant to the temptation of the Ring.
To avoid the upcoming set of rapids, the Company makes use of an old portage road. Settled in boats on the river once more, Aragorn is deeply affected when they pass under the grand pillars of the kings. That same day, they reach the lake before the Falls of Rauros, disembarking near the hill of Amon Hen. After ten days on the river, they have now reached the point where they must decide whether to strike out east or west, in one or two groups.
Aragorn is struck by emotion when he views the great pillars of his ancestors for the first time. It is a timely first viewing, as he is on a journey toward Gondor to claim his royal lineage, thereby fulfilling the destiny that has been foretold since his birth.