When Mordor's army is marching out of Minas Morgul and Frodo, Sam and Gollum are nearby, The Witch-king stops all of the sudden and starts looking around.

I remember reading somewhere that he indeed felt the presence of Frodo and was disturbed (I think that was the word used), but then he's just like "meh, I haz war to makez". Wouldn't Sauron give priority to the presence of the ring-bearer rather than going to war? and I mean, the Witch-king could have ordered 2 or 3 Nazgul to look around, at least, why did he completely ignore it?


I think he might have, if he had been even reasonably sure that what he was sensing was indeed the Ring. It's not clear he did: "... for a moment he was troubled, sensing some other power within his valley." But that could have been anything, I suppose. He appears to have tried to check whether it was the Ring:

[Frodo] felt, more urgent than ever before, the command that he should put on the ring.

Presumably this command comes from the Witch-king. But he is frustrated, partly by Frodo's choice to grasp the Phial of Galadriel, partly perhaps by the cloaks of Galadriel. In addition, he's rushing to fulfill Sauron's command, and he doesn't have enough proof of what the problem is to justify overriding that.

(Both quotes from The Two Towers, Chapter VIII, "The Stairs Of Cirith Ungol".)

As far as "the Witchking could have ordered 2 or 3 nazguls to look around" - I don't have my book with me at the moment, but weren't the other Nazgul engaged in Gondor (at Osgiliath and Minas Tirith) at the time? It would have taken them a while to fly over; the Witch-king might have found it more efficient and quicker (as @PaulGriffiths points out) to alert an Orc patrol, who had more manpower and could search or guard the area better.

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    Shagrat also says "A message came: Nazgûl uneasy. Spies feared on Stairs. Double vigilance. Patrol to head of Stairs. I came at once", so some kind of message appears to have been sent. – Crowman Jun 9 '14 at 3:23
  • @PaulGriffiths the message presumably was the discovery of the broken webbing at the exit of Shelob's layer, followed by the discovery of Shelob's dead body. At least that's how I always interpreted it on reading the book multiple times. – jwenting Jun 23 '17 at 11:33
  • @jwenting do we really know that Shelob is dead? – byk7 Jan 26 '19 at 15:52
  • @byk7 unless the orcs that discovered her body were mistaken, yes. Of course like Morgoth in the first age, she could have shed her mortal body and gone in search of another one. – jwenting Jan 28 '19 at 6:33
  • @jwenting Who says the orcs discovered her body? The book allows for the possibility that she didn't in fact die but recovered and kept on doing her business. I always thought the message came from Minas Morgul, especially because it said "Nazgûl uneasy." Remember how the Witch-king reacted when he sensed Frodo. – Matt Gutting Jan 28 '19 at 11:07

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