Miranda Otto sings Lament for Théodred in LOTR: The Two Towers
An evil death has set forth the noble warrior
A song shall sing the sorrowing minstrels of Meduseld
That noble cousin, who always held me dear
Now is held in darkness, enclosed.
"Now dear Théodred lies in darkness,
most loyal of fighters.
The sound of the harp shall not wake the warrior;
nor shall the man hold a golden wine cup,
nor good hawk swing through the hall,
nor the swift horse stamp in the courtyard.
An evil death has set forth the noble warrior
A song shall sing the sorrowing minstrels of Meduseld
That noble cousin, who always held me dear
Now is held in darkness, enclosed."
- Lament for Théodred, sung by Éowyn
(The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)
A screencap redraw of one of my favorite (and saddest) scenes.
men of middle-earth ❅ northmen ❅ headcanon disclaimer
The Riders of Rohan were the horse-mounted warriors of the Rohirrim, divided into several éoryd led by the Marshals of the Riddermark. At the time of the War of the Ring, many riders did noble deeds and many others perished in battle.
Among the éored of Éomer who overran the Uruk-hai of Uglúk were his squire Éothain, who doubted the tale of holbytlan captured by orcs, and the warriors Gárulf, Adwig, and Ethelred, who lost their lives in the fight. The Three Hunters were given horses by Éomer, Aragorn riding Hasufel, once the steed of Gárulf, while Legolas and Gimli together rode Arod, once the steed of Adwig. Ethelred’s horse, Brego, fled the battle and ran wild, until eventually he was recovered and returned to Edoras, where Aragorn soothed him into a steed worthy of riding into battle once more.
Two valiant captains of the Riders were Grimbold of Grimslade, descendant of Grim, and Gamling the Old. Grimbold served under Théodred, Second Marshal of the Mark, and took command of the Fords of Isen after his prince fell, holding it until reinforcements arrived. Gamling, known in his youth as Baldwig, was an old man at the Battle of the Hornburg, but he was still a commanding presence and was the first to realize that orcs had penetrated the Deep through its culvert, and led the counter-attack himself.
Dúnhere, Lord of Harrowdale and nephew of Erkenbrand, served under Grimbold in the Battle of the Fords of Isen, and later rode the muster of the Rohirrim at his homeland of Harrowdale, answering the call of the King for soldiers to fight in the War. Many riders answered and all were welcomed, including Wídfara of the Wold, Herubrand and his son Herefara, the ceorl Fastwine who had served as a messenger and won the King’s favor, and many others. Wídfara joined the éored of Elfhelm, while Herubrand, Herefara, and Fastwine were invited to Théoden’s personal éored, the King’s Riders, to replace three soldiers who had fallen at Helm’s Deep.
The only warrior whose service was refused was the Lady Éowyn, the King’s sister-son, who was commanded to remain in Rohan to lead in his stead. But Éowyn would not be denied, and she disguised herself as the warrior Dernhelm and rode with the Riders to Gondor against her uncle’s orders. On the journey, she befriended Meriadoc Brandybuck, who was likewise defying Théoden’s word, and together they rode the horse Windfola into battle. In the end, the combined attack of Dernhelm and Merry were enough to slay the unkillable Witch-king of Angmar, though not in time to save the life of Théoden King.
Many men fell in the Battle of Pelennor Fields, including six of the King’s Riders: Harding and Horn, valiant men both; Herefara and his father Herubrand; the ceorl Fastred, akin to Fastwine, and Guthláf the banner-bearer. So also fell Dúnhere and Déorwine and Grimbold, mighty commanders. All were remembered in the Song of the Mounds of Mundburg, a grand poem honoring those who gave their lives fighting against the Shadow, their names going down in history alongside those of Gondor’s Captains of the Outlands who also perished on that fateful day.
Promises You Made to Me
Chapter 2 out 3
Aragorn falls for Boromir on their journey. When they realize they share their affection, they also know that the time is not now to act upon them. Both promise to share love once they see the quest done, a promise that long seems a broken oath. Still, the horn was heard in more lands and the Elves have not yet forsaken this world
A Boromir lives AU where they fall in love before Boromir falls at Amon Hen, but Aragorn only learns of his survival after the defeat of Sauron.
Ships: Aragorn x Boromir
Warnings: mourning and Aragorn's bad coping
Chapter 2: Can’t Promise You Kind Road Below
Aragorn did not want to think about the dying face of Boromir, how he had clutched to his clothes in desperate regret, nor how he had looked as if their doom was impending and there was no stopping it.
He hated how when he recalled the image of Boromir, he could only see that Boromir, chocking on his own blood, confessing his sins. He wanted to see Boromir in the flickering light of the fire, his eyes when he talked, but he could not.
Through Rohan, he ran himself ragged trying to find the little ones Boromir had died to protect and when even that task was his no longer, he worked to ensure that the world of men would not fail.
As they rode to Helm’s Deep, he was aware of Éowyn’s eyes on him, but he knew it was not love, for he knew what love looked like. She loved him for the things he could bring her, not for his tales of mischief or his tracking in the wild, just war and valor.
He would not engage with her meaningful looks hoping that they would go away, before he had to deal with them. His soul was smarting still and the affection in her eyes instead of his, hurt more than he could have thought.
When he went over the cliff edge, a small part of him hoped that he would see Boromir again, but instead he saw but an image of him, kissing his forehead as Aragorn had done on Amon Hen, before pulling him up, urging him to fulfill the oath he had made.
Brego trotted slow enough to not jostle him, but it would not have mattered for his mind was consumed by his empty arm and the shadow a smile long gone.
Arriving he heard Gimli through the crowd: “Where is he? Where is he? Get out of the way! I’m gonna kill him!” Then he saw him and hugged him close. “You are the luckiest, the canniest and the most reckless man I ever knew!”
Aragorn hugged back, but he did not have the time for this. His mind had been made up, he needed to save Rohan and then Gondor, for Boromir. It was a truth he had already known, but seeing Boromir in his mind’s eye, pleading with him again, made it a reality once more. He could not give up now. “Gimli, where is the King?”
Legolas also stopped him before he could reach Théoden King, however. “Le ab-dollen,” he frowned and scanned him over. “You look terrible.”
It was a relief, somehow, to have Legolas there, insulting him as of old. The Elf with his long life had more familiarity with grief than most and he tried his best to keep Aragorn on his two legs. A smile broke out on his face.
Then something leathery was pushed into his hands. Boromir’s bracer. It had been torn off during the fight with the Orc and he had felt its absence ever since, holding it in his hands once more made swallowing harder than it needed to be.
“Hannon le.” It was not enough to express all the thanks he had to his friend for saving and protecting this object while he could, even if he did not know whether Aragorn had made it and even if there was no one to return it to. Yet, he hoped his face showed all the gratitude his soul held.
After that he walked on to the King and so he stood and fought for Helm’s Deep, for mankind.
It was a pity that the Elves send to their aid were from the Western border of Lothlórien, instead of the Eastern, which had collected Boromir, since now neither knew that Boromir lived still.
Gandalf prevented him from marching directly through to the White City once the battle was over and the warning had to be brought, while Aragorn’s heartwas eager to march on.
Waiting was more agonizing than Aragorn had expected. When there were no longer marches that lasted days on which the silence was oppressively present or battles that went through the night, the emotions he had tried to hide from crept into his mind once more.
There was no description in any of the tongues he knew for the way his heart hurt. No words for the way it was hollow yet so heavy, nor for the way his mind replayed that day and all the things he could have done differently, if he had only seen.
He spend days sitting alone with his pipe.
Legolas understood. The Elf would sit next to him in silence, watching over the plains for someone, who would not appear on the horizon. Gimli, as well, would hold him company, on the long nights wherein sleep seemed the enemy more so than the darkness.
This night he was alone, however, gracing the halls of Edoras with his drunken mumbling filled with grief. His mind had called upon him to write a song for the loss and glory of Boromir, something he had been turning in his mind for many days.
There were reproaches to himself also for not giving him some sort of ritual send off that he had deemed as too time-consuming, if he was to fulfill his promises, and had regretted ever since. He should have bore Boromir to one of their boats and let the Anduin take him home, yet he had not.
Softly he swished the ale in his mug, looking into his reflection that looked more pitiful than a King should look. But he was no King here, just a broken man and quietly he murmured:
“Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes
"What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?"
"I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey
I saw him walk in empty lands until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North, I saw him then no more
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor"
"O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are"
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans
"What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve"
"Ask not of me where he doth dwell – so many bones there lie
On the white shores, on the dark shores under the stormy sky
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me"
"O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth"
From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls
"What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away"
"'Neath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast"
"O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days"”
“That was beautiful, my Lord. I knew not that a lament had been written for the grievous loss of Lord Boromir.” His private sorrow was interrupted by Éowyn, who could not know how deep the grief ran in Aragorn’s heart.
“It is not,” said he. “I wrote it.”
“Did he go down the Anduin, my Lord?” she asked. “We heard fairly little of the demise of our trusted ally of many years, only that it had happened.”
Aragorn’s teeth clenched, a steady breath leaving his nose at her innocent question. “He did not. We had not the time and I have regretted it ever since I turned my back to the place where he fell. He deserved more honor.”
Éowyn fell silent, then gently sat beside him. He knew not whether to be grateful for her company or upset at the intrusion, which it could hardly be called inside the public halls of her home.
She laid her hand on his arm. “You cared for him,” she observed. “He was not just your brother in arms, I can feel the grief in your voice and I see the bracers of Gondor upon your arms. Though it might not be a comparison, Théodred is a soul dearly missed by me. He rode into battle with Éomer, but it was me he comforted in the night when the nightmares got too strong. He was my brother more than my cousin.”
He heard the pain in her voice and while it was not a lover she had lost, it had been a loved one. She had not looked at him before with the compassion born of something other than love and in that moment, he appreciated the understanding she brought him.
“I promised I’d protect him, that we both might live to see the end of our quest.” His gaze wandered to a far off place that was unseen to other eyes. “I found him too late and save him, I could not. For all the Elven healing I have learned, I was not enough. I failed him.”
“You have not failed him, for if Boromir was to be failed, he would be failed by no one but his own,” Éowyn spoke fiercely. “I knew Boromir for many winters passed and he was proud and bold. He knew his sword better than his body, leading the charge and ending every fight he fought. He was a great warrior and I will not have his name tarried by your claim that he needed your protection. If he fell, he fell with the honor of a Soldier and a noble man, fighting until he could do so no more to protect what he held dear.”
Aragorn fell silent.
While Legolas and Gimli had many times told him to not carry the weight of Boromir’s death on his shoulders, it was Éowyn that defended Boromir in removing his guilt.
Boromir valued his honor and he had told him that he had kept it. It would not do to take those words back in his mind, to carry the guilt of Boromir’s death that was more Saruman’s fault than his own. Still it was easier to speak the words than to take the message to heart, yet it eased his mind, for he had felt he could not grieve that which he had caused, allowing himself to only feel the pain when colored by blame.
“You are not responsible for Théodred either, my Lady. Saruman’s magic lies in his voice and his arm reached far, do not blame yourself for there is not blame to be laid,” he said, not knowing how else to respond to the kindness she had shown him.
There was the same shock of the confirmation that it was okay to rest that had been upon his face moments before. She swallowed, then stared ahead: “I still have to atone for not doing more, for taking one of our greatest Captains in times of war when he could have been saved.”
“You do not have to replace him, my Lady. Dying in honor is not worth it to repay a debt that isn’t owed. Why should you atone for Gríma’s and Saruman’s crimes? Who will be here to protect the home that Théodred died for? If we fail, who else will hold steady here?” He knew her urge to fight, but he hoped she would see that times of peace were more valuable and that everyone had their own part to play in getting there.
She did not take kindly to his comfort, nor his advice. For all her wisdom to Aragorn, she had little for her own heart, little to soften the blows she dealt herself. Her lips pulled into a thin line and her hands clenched, before she swept out of the room, leaving Aragorn once more with a mug of ale as his only company.
Aragorn was still churning their words in his head the morning after. Both trying to find the right words for the ones that had been misplaced by her mind the day before as well as trying to come to terms with hers.
On the horizon a light flickered.
He rushed up many stairs and through the town he flew into the great hall of Edoras, where he panted:“The beacons of Minas Tirith! The beacons are lit! Gondor calls for aid!”
The hall fell silent in awaiting Théoden’s answer and while Aragorn had already decided that no matter the word of the King, he would ride, taking whoever was willing with him, he still longed to know the King’s answer.
“And Rohan shall answer,” the King decided. “Gather to Rohirrim.” The words loosened the weight inside Aragorn’s chest. An army would do more for Gondor than a lone man.
He would come to Gondor’s aid, he would not abandon Boromir nor his home. There was a little hope for Gondor now and Aragorn found himself eagerly awaiting the return to his Kingdom, even if there was a chance he would find it in ruins.
In the end his return alongside Rohan would not come to pass. Seeing Elrond was a respite he did not know he needed, but when the older man shed his hood, Aragorn’s knees nearly buckled as a sense of safety and home consumed him.
“Estel?” he questioned when he saw Aragorn. “You are not the man that left Rivendell. You have lost something, a part of yourself. Where is the Evenstar brooch?”
“I- I gave it away,” Aragorn confessed, voice less steady than a hut during an earth quake.
“To whom?” Elrond wore the face that he often did when the human character of Aragorn managed to baffle him, even after all the millennia he had walked this earth.
Aragorn knew not whether he wanted to confess to the man, who had been like his father, to whom he had given the star of his daughter, but it felt unfair to keep it from him and yet it was hard to speak the name. “Boromir.”
“The brooch was not all you gave to Boromir.” The statement was an inquiry, but it might as well have been a knife. There was no judgment in Elrond’s voice, just a quiet understanding that came with all the losses he’d had.
He nodded in reply, for there was no more he could say to Elrond, save: “I swore to him that I would not see Gondor fail, Ada. Yet, my heart tells me Rohan will not be enough.”
“Your heart speaks truth, you ride to war not victory. Sauron’s armies ride on Minas Tirith, this you know, but in secret he sends another force, which will attack from the river. A fleet of Corsair ships sails from the South. They will be in the city in two days. You’re outnumbered, Estel. You need more men.”
At Elrond’s words, Aragorn’s heart sank. He had known this was a futile attempt to stem the tide of the darkness, thatthey would need even more men, men that did not exist or could not be spared. The promise he made to Boromir, was an oath he could not keep. “There are none,” it was a desolate fate to realize there in the night.
“There are those, who dwell in the mountain,” Elrond’s suggestion was one they could not count on and he wondered when the counsel of the Elves had turned to hopeless last efforts that would not be fruitful.
“Murderers, traitors. You would call upon them to fight? They believe in nothing, they answer to no one.” Did Elrond not see that it would be his end?
“They will answer to the King of Gondor. I am here on behalf of someone that I love, Arwen begged me to bring this to you healed before she left to the Grey Havens,” said Elrond, revealing a sword that had been concealed in his coat. “Andúril, the Flame of the West, forged from the shards of Narsil.”
With near reverence Aragorn took the sword, by whose shards he had first seen Boromir so many nights ago. The rhyme that foretold his duty came to fruition as a tale from old.
It seemed poetic that it came to his hands now that he marched on the City he had sworn to protect in name of the man, he had met next to that very same sword. How it came to him healed, only after Boromir had named him King and he had proven himself in battle.
“The blade that was broken shall return to Minas Tirith.”
While he knew his duty, he could not easily do so without the entire encampment knowing. He made his goal clear, but all thought it a foolish quest that would rob them of a leader in the battle that was to come. “Why are you doing this? The war lies to the East. You cannot leave on the eve of battle, you cannot abandon the men.”
“Éowyn,” for that was who had spoken and Aragorn hoped that his tone would convey all that he tried to say to her, knowing that she was not susceptible to listening.
“We need you here.” Everyone seemed to need him, but he knew where he was needed and it was not here, it was with a deadly army marching on Minas Tirith from the South.
“Why have you come?” he asked instead of all he wanted to say to her. He knew her reasons, but he needed her to understand that what she wished could not come to pass, for he did not think he could ever fully heal from the grief of Boromir. He was not right for her.
“Do you not know?”
“It is but a shadow and a thought that you love. I cannot give you what you seek.” The glance she send to his bracers told him she understood, yet she did not want to believe and the blunt rejection still hurt her as she backed away.
Aragorn knew that he should have felt more guilt about hurting the maiden, but he could not find it in him, for he was hurting too, yet there was no one right for him either, except the dead. He would find company there.
He also found company in Legolas and Gimli, glad for his friends that had been a steadfast presence by his side.
There were no finer companions to march with, for they had been there through it all, not once leaving his side and trusting him with their life, even when his judgment had cost them one of the Fellowship’s. They had not blamed him and stood by his side with more understanding of his conviction than he could have hoped for.
A dark path later, he finally gazed upon the White City. It stood high and mighty still, yet the magic with which Boromir had described it fell flat as the lower levels burned and the streets were overrun by Orcs and Trolls.
Boromir’s words in Lothlórien echoed through his mind: ‘Still, my heart tells me that I will not see my home as it is now ever again and my fears would have me believe that the next time I see it, it will be in ruin.’
Had he known then the omen of which those words spoke, he would not have thought so lightly of them.
Yet those were demons for after the war was won, for the end was only staved off and the Houses of Healing were filled with people, who did have a chance to see their home restored, should they live through this.
Aragorn worked tirelessly, remembering Boromir telling him off the time he had ended up here with a broken arm after he had fallen of a horse as a youngster. Boromir had recalled how the nurses had more resembled a beehive and how the busy hands had distracted him from the pain.
It was strange how his memories came alive amidst the dying soldiers of his City. He tried to work through it and many citizens saw him there, working so tirelessly as to be the hive Boromir had told him off by himself.
His people spoke, rumors of his deeds in the Houses of Healing spread through the City. Yet, no one spoke of the King that had wept at the sick bed of Faramir, Son of Gondor, now herCaptain and Steward, who resembled his so brother closely.
For days he found himself beside Faramir, looking at the man with an aching guilt. He wondered if he knew his brother was dead, if Pippin had told him, if he knew that Boromir would never again hear the silver trumpets call him home.
He knew not how Boromir had carried so much upon his shoulders for the many years he dwelt here and he felt deeply how the burdens he had seen in the eyes of Boromir, were the burdens meant for him. So, he set to work again, trying not to think of it more.
And it was in the Houses of Healing that Legolas found him, gently washing Faramir’s wounds with athelas water. He laid a hand on Aragorn’s shoulder. “You need to stop, Aragorn. You will not save Boromir by saving his brother. He is in safe hands here, you can do no more but rest.”
Aragorn tried to ignore him and went back to what he was doing, but his hands were shaking and his eyes were drooping. He knew Legolas to be right, yet it was hard to tear himself away from caring for the family of the man that held his heart.
“We have a counsel about our next move come morning. You cannot protect Minas Tirith if you’re exhausted. Please, sleep.”
The fact that Legolas spoke truth made it all the more frustrating. Faramir looked so much like his brother that it was sometimes easy to pretend that he had been on time to save him. But he had not. Every time he glimpsed features that were not Boromir’s that revelation came to him again.
Still, he knew that Boromir had cared for his brother, with many tales of their adventures both as young lads and soldiers proved that. Aragorn would never forgive himself if Faramir died under his care. He would do anything to protect Minas Tirith.
Slowly he stood up, vision going black for a moment as Legolas steadied him. Gratefully, he leaned on the Elf and let himself be led to a bed. He could not remember falling asleep, but it was the first full sleep he had in weeks, through virtue of pure exhaustion.
The debate for their next move had gathered in the Citadel and Aragorn walked the halls where he was meant to rule and where Boromir had grown up. He should have been there as well, to decide the fate of his City and people, but he was not and Aragorn would try his best in his stead.
He deeply understood Gandalf’s fear and blame of himself, when he talked about Frodo and the heavy shadow in the East, as he stated: “I have send him to his death.”
“No.” Aragorn would not let Gandalf fall into his own mistakes, he would not let the Wizard give up when he had just hardened his resolve to do what he must. “There is still hope for Frodo. He needs time and safe passage across the plains of Gorgoroth. We can give him that.”
“How?” asked Gimli and Aragorn explained the plan that had been growing in his mind: “Draw out Sauron’s armies. Empty his lands. Then we gather our full strength and march on the Black Gate.”
“We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms,” Éomer rightfully critiqued, but he did not yet see the full picture. The real goal.
“Not for ourselves,” Aragorn agreed, “but we can give Frodo a chance if we keep Sauron’s eyes fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves.”
“A diversion.” It clicked for Legolas and he saw in the Elf’s eyes that he thought him mad and genius at once. He knew then that he would have Legolas by his side.
“Certainty of death, small chance of success,” Gimli summarized and Aragorn hoped the Dwarf would be on his side as well. The three of them had journeyed so far and it would hurt to see his friend abandon ship at the end. Yet, his heart knew that Gimli was more stouthearted and loyal than that, which was confirmed by the Dwarf himself: “What are we waiting for?”
“Sauron will suspect a trap. He will not take the bait,” Gandalf voiced what Arargorn had also realized, but he had an idea. He grinned and said: “Oh, I think he will,” before explaining what he meant to do.
Before he could do so however, Pippin stopped him. He looked at the Hobbit curiously, it was not the same Hobbit whom he had left Rivendell with. There was a weight on his shoulders and a wisdom in his eyes.
“Promise me I can come with you to the Black Gate,” he asked. “Boromir gave his life for me and Faramir has shown me great compassion despite my involvement in his brother’s death. I would be ashamed to not protect their home.”
“It is not up to me to decide who goes,” he said and he saw Pippin’s face fall, so he added, “It is up to the heart of every man. I will not force anyone to come with me, but every man is welcome. Still, you should not feel like a debt is owed, because you were the bringer of the news of Boromir’s death to his kin.”
He knew how Boromir cared for the Hobbits – Merry and Pippin especially, since they reminded him of the youth untouched by war and he had hoped to save them of the harsh, dark hands of violence. Another place where Aragorn had failed him. Boromir would not want them to unnecessarily endanger themselves.
“That is not why I want to fight, Aragorn. I want to help Frodo and Sam, I hope to see my friends again and I wish to fight for their good fortune,” Pippin said. “And it was not me, who brought the news.”
“It was not?” Aragorn frowned. He did not know how else the news could have come to the White City.
“No, it was his cloven horn that was found in the river, which told the people that Boromir would not return, I merely confirmed the loss already felt,” Pippin explained.
A cold hand gripped Aragorn’s heart. How had the horn ended up in the river when last he had seen, it had been next to it’s bearer far from the water of the Anduin, lying on the forest ground? Who had moved the horn from it’s resting place?
“Aragorn?” He had been quiet fortoo long and Pippin’s brows formed a concerned look. He failed to smile reassuringly as he said: “I’m sorry, Pippin. I was distracted. It is a noble cause to fight for your friends and your blade will be welcome.” Then he quickly left.
The fear and guilt in his heart was a familiar mix and he had not the time to examine the revelation too closely, for there was something he had to do. Though his mind kept straying.
Looking into the Palantír, he saw the dreadful eye that had haunted them through their journey across Middle Earth. It writhed and hissed in Black speech, things he could not understand. He unsheathed his sword and told Him: “Long have you hunted me. Long have I eluded you. No more! Behold, the Sword of Elendil!”
Immediate was the reaction of the Dark Lord, who showed him the body of Boromir, defiled and dismembered by a pack of Orcs. His fair face was no more, his horn tossed into the river with all that was left of him. The Evenstar trampled and left in the dirt.
Aragorn felt sick as he dropped the Palantír.
He knew not whether the stone spoke truth or if the Dark Lord had looked into his heart to confirm his deepest fears. Yet a part of his mind could not help but think that it had come to pass and that his actions had led to Boromir being desecrated like that after death.
When he had decided to leave Boromir there, it had been purely selfish. He wanted Boromir to be given the chance to be buried as the Kings of old as he had deserved. He had not wanted to dishonor Boromir as well as giving himselfthe chance to be buried alongside him. But the had not been the time to dig a grave with the trail of Merry and Pippin growing cold every second, he could not fail what Boromir had started.
So the body had been left and now he had a broken horn that should not have been in the river and an all seeing eye that confirmed what he had feared.
The bile rising in his throat felt almost as bitter as the taste of regret that coated his tongue. It seemed like he was only failing Boromir. His city lay in ruin, he would march her last soldiers to their death by the Black Gates and now the decisions about the death of Boromir felt foolish and was causing an anguish and doubt in his heart when Gondor needed it least.
He could not let this stop him, however. Boromir had turned his back on helping Frodo for a moment and it had led him onto a road of ruin and Aragorn had swore to do better by him. He could not abandon Frodo, not now. No matter if his heart wanted him to hide and cry.
Thus it came to pass that he marched steadily on the Black Gate with too small an army and a sun rising in the sky that he might never see setting again.
Aragorn spoke to his troops, to the brave men that had followed him in spite of knowing the foolish quest that it was. “Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers. I see it in your eyes, the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and all bonds of Fellowship.”
Even as he spoke the image of Boromir haunted his words. His attempt to take the Ring colored his mind, yet Boromir had the courage to turn back, to not forsake his friends and neither would the men in front of him. “But it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!”
He saw encouragement in the eyes that looked up at him as he heard the voice of Boromir: ‘I have not yet seen you in a proper battle, nor with men under your command,’ and he hoped that if Boromir could see him, he would be proud. That he would have provenhimself worthy of the throne that lay waiting for him, should he return.
“By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand! Men of the West!” Around him weapons were unsheathed as men readied themselves to fight with Aragorn joining them on his horse.
No one could stop him, he had to fight. Fight for Frodo, for Gondor, for Boromir and the promises he had made to him. He would fight for the memory of the Elves and the legacy of men in the new age. He might perish on the field of battle, but he would do so with honor. For if he fell, he wanted to join there were Boromir dwelt.
Shout out to me for using a bazillion (9k) words for FOTR only to breeze past the rest of the franchise in record speed (5k). Well, maybe not record speed, but pretty fast if u compare.
Also I adore the Lament for Boromir (and I cry every time, very hard and long, lets not talk about it, anyways), but that does not just come to you and I wanted to explore writing it for Aragorn, so it had to be included and is straight from the books. I am quite sad that Legolas didn’t get to sing his part though :/
In the movies more so than the books, I feel (which is up for interpretation), Aragorn’s journey is shadowed by the death of Boromir. It is Boromir that convinced him of the courage of men and how Gondor needs him, who accepts him as King first and shows Aragorn what his absence has caused. So, I really wanted to explore all the places where Aragorn would meet Boromir’s shadow when he thought him dead and was mourning.
i woke up this morning like “i want to write a story justifying why éowyn would have dropped her virginity like a hot potato” and anyways 4,000 words later i am Not At That yet but i am getting a better sense for what i think her life would’ve been like. it’s below the cut in its unproofread state lol also a brief reference to what faramir was up to circa TA3011 because i can’t help myself
Until her twelfth birthday, Éowyn had never thought of herself as particularly more of a girl than a boy. She was addressed as a (young) lady when she wasn’t being addressed by her kin, and had certainly been forced into dresses and skirts — though this came perhaps a little later than it should have, if the judgemental looks from the various women of the court were anything to go by; but outside of those instances, there really hadn’t been much to differentiate her from her elder brother. She had learned to use a sword just as he had, she had been taught (with limited success) to speak several politically-important languages, and had been given as free a rein on Meduseld and Edoras as he had at her age. Those years, she would later realise, had been some of the easiest and most contented of her life, even if the dark cloud of their parents’ passings ever hung over her.
On her twelfth birthday, in a firestorm of misfortune, everything had changed. First, and entirely by coincidence, Éomer had received his first posting, in Captain Grimbold’s éored stationed in the Wold. For Éomer, it was nothing but excitement — at long last he would be able to take off out into the world just like Théodred and would finally get to define himself as a warrior and as a man. That he would be going quite far away from home only heightened the excitement. For Éowyn, who had always been closesr to her brother than anyone else, it was the end of an era, though in exactly how many ways she had not, in the moment, fully known.
Second, she had her first blood. It was not something anybody had warned her about and, in that manner which precocious children are wont to take up, she attempted to solve the problem without knowing quite what the problem was. Hiding in her chambers, hands and knees shaking somewhat at the sight of unexpected blood, she had changed into something thicker (and darker in colour), and bundled the soiled garments up in a spare bedsheet. What little she knew of such matters told her that to be caught bleeding must be a sign of some personal failing, and so must be handled in the utmost secrecy.
There was, she knew, a small fire burning in the western gardens that morning to clear fallen foliage from the previous week’s thunderstorms. With luck and a little careful manoeuvring, she imagined she would be able to sneak her secret bundle into the flames without arousing any suspicions.
Creeping through the halls of Meduseld (mercifully quiet owing to the ceremonial changing of the guard happening later that day), Éowyn had accidentally stumbled upon the third thing that would change her life forever.
Even to her young mind, he immediately seemed a man of contradiction. Undeniably young, but somehow carrying himself with the comportment of a man several decades older; the dark hair and shorter stature of a Dunlander, but the presence and language of a man of the Mark. At first, he had not noticed her — he was so diligently listening to the King that it seemed to her he might not have noticed if an entire éored had passed him by. But when, failing to mask herself fully behind a passing attendant, Éowyn had been spotted by her uncle, the man’s attention had fallen to her entirely.
He was impeccably behaved, granting her the courtesy of a deep bow — despite few ever humbling themselves before such a young girl — and spoke to her levelly (not, to her ears, taking notice of her youth). In the practice yard and on horseback, Éowyn was accustomed to being spoken to with little regard for her age, but rarely was such deference extended into the stricter social edifices of Meduseld.
By any stretch of the imagination, it should have tickled her pride to be spoken to as an equal, it had, of course, been something she had longed for ever since she had first mastered stringing words together into sentences. Something, however, unsettled her about the entire interaction, raising hairs on the back of her neck and forcing her shoulders back into a defensive posture. She told herself that it was a natural consequence of having been effectively caught attempting to bury evidence of a misdeed, and that had she not first met him while she was clutching a bedsheet hiding a bloodied shift, she might have had an entirely different opinion of him.
After she was dismissed and scampered out into the gardens, she was immediately caught by Ceolwenne, the daughter of one of the Lords of the Eastfold who had recently arrived at Edoras to be presented at court. Ceolwenne, who Éowyn had, until that moment, had very little time for, had taken one look at the bundled sheets and Éowyn’s ghost-white face and immediately pulled her into a hug. Together, they had thrown the bundle into the garden fire, and Ceolwenne had, in perhaps flightier language than Éowyn might have preferred, explained what that blood had meant and exactly what she should do to prepare herself in the future.
It should have been a tremendous relief to her to discover that it was not a sign of moral failure and to find that it was something that women could speak to other women about in relatively frank terms. Instead, and for reasons then entirely unexplainable to her, it filled her with a deep, abiding sense of dread.
Thereafter, the changes in her life came on gradually, some of them so slowly that she hardly noticed they had happened at all. The years passed and she grew up. At least two or three times a year, she bled, but now she knew what to expect (though that did not mean she found it any less unsettling). Éomer and Théodred were away for greater and greater stretches of time, and the man, who she now knew as Gríma, took on a greater and greater role in the Golden Hall.
At first, Éowyn had imagined that the duties bestowed upon her were duties given to account for Théodred’s absence — welcoming local and foreign dignitaries, maintaining the daily running of the household, and seeing to the needs of the King. But with these duties came certain infringements on the life she had come to enjoy. Gone were the comfortable linen dresses and loose hair of her childhood, replaced by elegant velvet gowns and coiled, braided updos; no longer could she practice for hours on end in the practice and tilt yards, not when, as Gríma took care to remind her, the household could not cope without a strong commander at its helm.
With the finer gowns and the increased hours spent indoors came a change in how people spoke to and looked at her. After years of hoping to be treated as an adult, she began to learn that what she had hoped for was to be treated as an adult man, not an adult woman. Adult men could sit in counsel with her King-uncle, and could drink until late at night and argue about the mechanics of war and glory. Adult women could not.
It was as much a sign of her becoming aware of herself as it was a sign that she was physically changing. Slowly, so slowly that she hardly noticed it if she didn’t think about it, her hips swelled and her breasts became heavier and more pronounced. Her face slimmed, her lashes lengthened and darkened, and hair grew on parts of her body that she had not expected it to grow. All of these things seemed to her to be things of little note — except, perhaps, as an occasional nuisance when gowns that had previously fitted her no longer did — but seemed of great consequence to the people around her.
The whispers of the women and men at court wriggled their way into her subconscious. Lascivious tales of noble women undone by pregnancies out of wedlock, peasant women trapped by Dunlenders and subjected to unimaginable acts of violence, and women who took so happily to the chore of sex that they freely took multiple partners — to the chagrin of the court. Without expecting it or inviting it, Éowyn soon learned that the mantle of womanhood that she was now inheriting was a heavy and burdensome load.
She was fourteen the first time she had recognised a man staring at her chest. He was a minor sergeant from just outside Aldburg, twenty-two years old, fairly handsome for so short a man, and loud-spoken with a riotous laugh. They had been standing opposite one another in conversation at the outlying perimeters of a celebratory dance when she had followed the line of his sight. When he realised she was aware of where his attention was turned to, he had smirked at her, then disappeared off to find the hand of another young girl for the next dance. Beside her, one of the fluttering twits who hovered around the court in search of a high-born husband leaned in to her and giggled, telling her in no uncertain terms that she should be honoured by the man’s interest in her body. She did try her best to be honoured, but the only emotion she could conjure within her was a vague sense of fury.
After that, she had taken to finishing her domestic duties as hastily as she could so she could slip out of her gowns and exhaust herself in the practice yard. The first few times she had done so, she had moved so speedily through her duties she began to trip up and make careless mistakes, which had resulted in Gríma keeping an ever-closer eye on her work. When mistakes were inevitably discovered, she found herself forced back into gowns for longer and longer periods of time, and being forced back into gowns meant being forced back under the sometimes-lewd gaze of men. These failures, she was told, were an abdication of her womanly duty to maintain a neat household. Thus, womanhood became inextricably bound up with restrictions on her liberty and the unsettling and unwelcomed notice of men.
Ceolwenne married Elfhelm on a cool spring day, a humble but pretty affair. They went away for a few short weeks, and when they returned, she had a wealth of stories to whisper to Éowyn. Ceolwenne, who had been far better prepared for a woman’s life than had Éowyn, seemed to have entered her marriage with a plethora of insecurities and expectations — most of which had turned out to be wrong. Even still, it was the first time Éowyn had heard that sex could be anything other than a wearisome duty to be endured.
When she was sixteen, Théodred’s èored briefly returned to Edoras for some ceremonial formalities. A young rider, at most three or four years her senior, watched her in the practice ring as she proved to her cousin all that she had learned in his absence. Théodred, with a small smirk, departed after just two rounds, leaving her alone with the man. He introduced himself as Alaric, a local boy under Théodred’s command. He was quick-witted and praised her combat skills, and she had been happy to have someone who wasn’t her kin speak admiringly of her ability to fight. He’d told her he had little experience with cleaning up in the royal stables, and that he needed advice on how to properly stack the saddles so as to avoid her cousin’s ire.
Because she was sixteen, and because she had so rarely been around men who didn’t see her desire to fight as a threat to their manhood, she convinced herself she believed that he needed help, and followed. Inside the stables, she made a valiant attempt at showing him the ropes, until he’d pinned her to the wall and kissed her breathless.
It was sloppy, bordering on bad (though then she had no basis on which to judge the quality of a kiss), and it surprised her. But he didn’t seem to mind that he was kissing somebody in breeches who reeked of horse, so she kissed him back until a stable boy interrupted them. When Théodred’s men left at the end of the week, she didn’t watch them leave, and she never again asked after him, though for many years afterwards she often thought of that day in the stables.
A few months later, her marriageability was first spoken of. Lord Boromir of Gondor, a steadfast and favourite friend of Théodred’s had momentarily passed through Edoras on an unofficial diplomatic errand. (After he had left, her uncle had made it clear that he thought Boromir had been sent by his supercilious father to sniff out weaknesses in the Mark.) Lord Boromir had very proudly admitted that he expected that his younger brother, a captain fighting at the far eastern reaches of Gondor, would soon announce his betrothal to the eldest daughter of some lord from the south of the kingdom. It was, he said, a remarkably politically-savvy match, certain to bring the more capricious southern fiefdoms back into line.
Gríma, invited but not desired at that dinner, had, as was his way in those days, managed to redirect the conversation towards the theory of marriage as a political tool, and how a more stringent application of that theory in Rohan (as was seen in Gondor) might come to the kingdom’s benefit. He had implied, though had stared her down while he spoke, that unwed women kin of the King ought to make themselves more available to men of good sense.
Éowyn, who had never before given much thought to marriage, except in passing recognition to the fact that she would likely one day have to marry, blanched at the notion that any future marriages of hers would be discussed so openly. But then it occurred to her, with the swiftness of a winter gale blustering through an open door, that she was, in fact, of a perfectly reasonable age to be thinking of marriage.
In a move that had endeared him to her immensely, Lord Boromir had pointed out that while he referred to his brother as “younger,” he was in fact eight and twenty years old, and his apparent intended was only a few years younger than that, and both had come about the arrangement after many years of unattached life in adulthood.
The door, however, had been kicked open, and the monster that dwelt within could not be so easily returned to its enclosure.
It seemed to her the most frustrating conversation in her life in the subsequent two years, and it seemed to her to occur at two levels. The more overt level was that of the occasional discussion of marriage candidates’ suitability. Men would come, from time to time, to seek out the hand of Lady Éowyn, and Lady Éowyn would, with ruthless efficiency, dismiss them. In this, she had an entirely unexpected ally in Gríma, who seemed to find fault in all of her suitors as quickly as she did, and was far less reserved in his dismissals.
The more subtle level was that of discussions of what would be expected of her after marriage. At first, the language had been amorphous: Théodred had been slow to marry, Éomer was far too pleased with his status as the effective “spare”, what would become of the line of Eorl? Who, asked those who dared ask aloud, would ensure the birth of an heir? In those years, Gríma became a master manipulator of conversations. Where compliments paid to Éowyn had once concerned her ability to uphold her duties, or her voice, or her ability to dance, soon they focussed on her youth, her femininity, and, for the bolder flatterers, the curve of her hips.
She reached an age where she took to working with the elder women of the court on the various tapestries and blankets and carpets that they wrought on their looms. Then, she learned that sex, despite for so many of them being a frustrating burden at worst and a bore at best, was a regular topic of conversation. In their conversations, she came to learn much she hadn’t before had a way to learn. There was a moment, she learned, in the midst of sex where people reached what the women referred to as a “crisis.” For men, this crisis was not only common, but nigh on mandatory, the ultimate and only goal of sex. For women, this crisis was uncommon, but certainly not unheard of, though often stumbled upon quite by accident. Despite their language, all of the women seemed to speak fondly of this crisis, as if it was something to be actively sought after. Having no experience of her own against which to measure her opinions, Éowyn merely accepted that this was the way things were, and that, even if it was a happy one, a crisis sounded like a level of instability she would rather not invite into her life.
Meanwhile, her uncle seemed to age ten years for every one that passed. Her duties became more numerous and more laborious. Stubbornly committed to her precious few minutes of freedom a day, she fought hard to preserve her few hours of swordplay a week, even if it came at the cost of sleep or eating. It was to her benefit and detriment that she placed such a high premium on that time; benefit, in that she never felt as if she couldn’t defend herself from physical harm if needs must, detriment in that it became Gríma’s easiest way to wrest control over her. She had to guard it jealously, had to take to keeping a dulled blade beneath her bed for the days in which she found all the practice blades mysteriously locked away, and had to implicitly enlist the help of the servants to cover her tracks.
More men came seeking her affection, and she sent them all away. Some men, the younger ones, the maverick officers, didn’t come looking for her hand in marriage, but to take their chances at cracking the Lady of Rohan’s stony exterior. It became a game of sorts amongst men in the know, winning her attention was a warrior’s challenge in its own right, akin to slaying a first — or tenth — orc. Whether she was oblivious to it or intensely obstinate the men never figured out, but either way, none ever had any success.
What to them was a game became a struggle for life and death for her. For each man that flirted with her or sent tokens of affection, Gríma tightened his grip further and further. Her uncle had been almost entirely unmanned, his thoughts so consumed by the looming conflict that the social troubles of his youngest ward bled into the background noise.
Gríma touched her for the first time a little while after her seventeenth birthday. It was a brisk spring morning, and she was scheduled to meet a minor lordling from the Gondorian province of Anórien. She had gone out to the veranda without a mantle and, after a single shiver, Gríma had disappeared back into the hall, only to return with a thin, dark cloak. Though she was loath to accept any gestures from him, she was already surrounded by far too many dignitaries of the Mark who could not be trusted with any sign of defiance from the representatives of the House of Eorl. So, she had tipped her head in assent when Gríma presented her with the mantle, and held her hair back as he stood before her and secured it around her through. To onlookers, it would have seemed as if the fastener on the cloak was particularly fussy, because it took him several long seconds to finally catch it through. To Éowyn, the seconds stretched like hours as Gríma brushed long, moist fingers across the hollow of her throat, over and over and over until finally she’d stiffened, and he seemed to be broken from his trance.
A month passed before he touched her again, and then it was only a hand against the small of her back as he passed her in the council room.
A few weeks after that, it was his fingers wrapping around her arm to escort her away from her exhausted King.
Orcs pushed further into Rohan, a worrying puzzle that panicked all those in Edoras who had any business of knowing. Her cousin spent more and more time riding between his detachment and Meduseld, and each time she saw him he seemed tauter, more bereft of good humour, and, unsurprisingly if frustratingly, less able to listen to her worries. Through no fault of his own, he could hardly notice that it was not just his father whose constitution was bowing under the burden of conflict, and failed entirely to notice that Éowyn had grown distant and jumped every time someone entered the room without fair warning.
Her change in mood did not go unnoticed by Gríma, who quickly used it to drive a wedge between her and her uncle. Théoden, who had also become increasingly paranoid, seemed convinced that his line would die out. It took some careful manoeuvring from Gríma, but in time her uncle believed that it was Éowyn’s reserved personality that most threatened the House of Eorl. She was instructed, in no uncertain terms, to have a more open temperament and to show more warmth to their guests and allies.
It went against every defence she had learned. If she were to be more open and inviting towards their guests (who were all, invariably, men) then she would be indirectly inviting Gríma’s jealousy. She had always tried to deny that that is what it came down to — he was twenty-one years her senior, had known her since she was barely into girlhood, it all seemed incomprehensible to her — but at this earliest of breaking points, it was almost impossible to deny.
For three years, there was a stalemate of sorts. It was not a receding of hostilities, so to speak, but there were no escalations either. She found that if she didn’t put up any resistance when his fingers slipped under the hem of her sleeves or he stopped so close to her side she could feel his breath on her face, then she wouldn’t lose time in the practice ring, and wouldn’t be cornered into emotionally devastating arguments with her uncle and liege-lord.
Men continued to call, though there were fewer as the conflict worsened at the borders of the Riddermark. A daughter of a lord of the Westfold came to Edoras, Edith was her name. She was beautiful and self-possessed, she laughed loudly and drank heartily, and charmed the entire court within hours of her arrival. She took many bewitched men to her bed without a hint of shame, and in so doing left no room for anyone to criticise her. Better to die of good sex out of wedlock, she told Éowyn, than of bad sex in wedlock.
Théoden’s condition worsened, and Gríma cast a wider and wider shadow across Meduseld. Éomer was made third Marshal of the Mark, and Théodred began to spend more time in Edoras. The condition in the Westfold became bleaker with each passing week, the Dunlendings now threatened harm greater than they had ever been empowered to do before.
&c. &c. &c.
The lyrics, written in English by Philippa Boyens and then translated by David Salo, are found in the Annotated Score of the film.
Nú on théostrum licgeth Théodred se léofa
ne sceal hearpan sweg wigend weccean;
ne winfæ´t gylden guma sceal healdan,
ne god hafoc geond sæ´l swingan,
ne se swifta mearh burhstede beatan.
Bealocwealm hafað fréone frecan forth onsended
giedd sculon singan gléomenn sorgiende
on Meduselde thæt he ma no wære
his dryhtne dyrest and maga deorost.
Éowyn is only heard singing the last four lines of the song, ending with the word Bealo, which in Old English meant "evil" or "harm" The first of those lines ("Bealocwealm hafað...") originates from the epic poem Beowulf, line 2265.
Now dear Théodred lies in darkness,
most loyal of fighters.
The sound of the harp shall not wake the warrior;
nor shall the man hold a golden wine-cup,
nor good hawk swing through the hall,
nor the swift horse stamp in the courtyard.
An evil death has set forth the noble warrior
A song shall sing the sorrowing minstrels of Meduseld
That noble cousin, who always held me dear
Now is held in darkness, enclosed.
Art by me
Middle earth Tolkien fantasy art by
Tag Drop; Éowyn of Rohan
Pale Fire, Chpt 4
PALE FIRE, a Lord of the Rings fanfiction
Pairing: Éomer and Lothíriel
Summary: Lothíriel wasn’t unacquainted with infatuation; after all, she was nearly twenty-one years old and (by Gondorian standards, at least) well past her prime. But while she was acquainted with infatuation and the whispers of attraction, this was entirely different. And it infuriated her. And when his line of sight but glanced over her, she felt heated from top of her hair to the base of her foot. No, not heated. Burning. Set aflame. She felt as if she were the swine roasted on the spit for tonight’s dinner.
Click here for Chapter 1
Click here for Chapter 2
Click here for Chapter 3
Chapter 4: The Party
A handful of large, blond men hollered out a hearty welcome to their new King as he and his newly appointed Marshal of the East-mark, Elfhelm, joined them. Though the evening was young and the new King of Gondor had yet to arrive to partake in merry-making, the Rohirrim had wasted no time in establishing themselves at one of the long wooden benches situated near the main table in the great hall. It did not take them long, however, to see the foul mood on their King, nor the weary look on the Marshal's.
The Riders of Rohan shuffled a bit and, with minimal jostled ale, cleared a space in the center of a bench for the two to sit. Éomer King sat down with his arms crossed against his chest and glared at one of the decorative flowers on the table. Léofa and Audra were arguing about which type of dagger was best kept in the boot. Ethelred passed the pitcher of ale to Elfhelm and Aldor while reprimanding Éothain and the twins, Gram and Fram, for shamelessly gawking at some of the Gondorian ladies. When the silence had gone on for several minutes, Ethelred quirked a brow at Elfhelm, who sighed.
"He had another letter from Erkenbrand," Elfhelm offered.
"Is all well?" queried Aldor. The rest of the men looked worried.
"Yea and nay," Elfhelm responded. He looked over at Éomer to see if he would take over the explanation; he rolled his eyes when Éomer did not stir. "First and foremost, Erkenbrand is aggrieved by the news of his sister-son's death. Dúnhere's passing was hard for his sister, who lost her husband at the Battle of the Hornburg."
The men hummed in agreement. A reverent silence fell over the group. They, too, felt the absence of their comrades: Grimbold, who was a valiant captain under the late Prince Théodred, had been crucial in the defense of the Fords of Isen and had taken over the command of the muster of the Westfold; Guthláf, whose grip had been so tight on his banner that it had to be pried from his hands even after death. These were just a few men who would never return to Rohan, who would never see wild horses frolicking in the pastures or hear the wind whipping through the seas of grass. These men would never feel the touch of their mother's embrace or smell the fragrant hair of their lover.
Elfhelm cleared his throat uncomfortably and continued. "Erkenbrand's counsel is greatly valued. Due to his experience, he was meant to guide the Lady Éowyn in guarding Rohan while we've been gone."
"Except she's here," Audra interrupted. Éomer shifted his weight.
"Aye, we did not know then the man we knew as Dernhelm was the White Lady. Thus Erkenbrand has been ruling in her stead by himself. He said that many of the Dunlendings have fled our lands after Sauron's fall. Erkenbrand is troubled that Saruman still lives, even if he is imprisoned in Isengard."
"But surely the old fool can do no harm locked up in the tower and under constant surveillance," Gram argued.
"You would do well to not underestimate him, Gram." Éomer said as he sat up sharply, finally spurred into action. "Gandalf believes so, as well." He heaved a sigh, slouching again. "Erkenbrand is worried of whispered rumors that the Dunlendings are amassing again, lured by the promises made by the wizard. Erkenbrand expects that they will either attempt to rescue Saruman or attack Rohan while we are rebuilding." With that declaration, the scowl on his face reappeared.
"Aye, I understand that the news received was not the most upliftin', but…" Audra said, slowly.
"Béma's balls, what ails ye?" quipped Éothain, jabbing his elbow into Éomer's side and receiving a deathly glare.
"Not. A. Word." Éomer hissed toward Elfhelm. He swiftly shoved the flowers away using his forearm and reached over Erkenbrand to grab the pitcher.
"Ahh," the corner of Elfhelm's mouth twitched, "Erkenbrand's letter may also have contained counsel on acquiring a queen."
Éomer visibly bristled and muttered something about "disobeying direct orders" and "treason." Éothain's guffaws were drowned out by Gram and Fram laughing and Léofa cracked a smile. The tension now abated, the men continued their teasing and conversations. Ethelred and Elfhelm whispered about the future of Isengard. Now on the subject of women, Gram and Fram argued over whether or not the bosom or the buttocks was more alluring in a partner, pointing out passing ladies who fit their fancy.
Gram made a low wolf-whistle and caught the attention of the other soldiers. "She's a real beaut," he said.
"A lady is not a horse, young man," Aldor said dryly.
"Aye, but that's his only comparison, seeing as he's only stuck his cock in one," Fram retorted, laughing while he earned a punch in the shoulder from his brother and a slap on the head from Aldor.
"Mind your manners, boy," he warned.
"Her coloring reminds me of a Dunlending," Audra commented, his eyes hard.
"If ye mean that her skin's darker than yours, then aye. But that's where the comparison ends," interjected Léofa.
"Look at those curves," Gram remarked, throwing a biscuit at Éomer who remained focused on his drink. "I'd love to feel her pressed up against me, moaning my name."
Aldor now slapped the back of Gram's head. "Remember where we are. She's clearly highborn, and your lecherous words can get us into trouble."
"She's definitely a lady," Ethelred agreed, breaking his conversation with Elfhelm, "though she seems not to adhere to the rest of the court's practices. Her style of garment and choice of color clearly indicate that."
Fram hummed in agreement, "As for the style, I certainly don't mind."
"What do you mean 'color?'" asked Gram, oblivious of all fashions unless it was to comment on which dresses were easiest to unlace.
"Take a look around," responded Léofa. His singular lifted eyebrow implied his lack of confidence in Gram's observational skills. "All the other ladies are in lively colors."
The men looked around at the people in the hall. All of the servants were clad in various shades of blue to represent Gondor. Most of the female partygoers wore in softer colors of spring, like periwinkle or chartreuse, light lavenders, sunny yellows, or pale purples. Some of the nobles who could afford the cost of the rarer dyes wore vivid vermilion, flashing fuchsias, and other attention seeking shades.
Éomer, who had been tuning everything out, twitched violently as Éothain threw an elbow into his side. "What was that for?"
"What do you think of her?"
"The lass that Gram pointed out."
"Béma, Éomer. You used to jump at a chance to look at a pretty skirt."
"That was before."
"Before what?" Éothain asked exasperatedly.
"Before, when I wouldn't be immediately expected to give her a crown and entrust my people to her."
Éothain snorted. "A quick glance won't tie ye down to the lass, and I think she's worth the look."
"How so?" Éomer sighed, looking in the direction that Éothain pointed in. All he saw were a few tall men in Dol Amroth apparel next to a woman in a rosy pink dress holding a child.
"Ach, they're blocking her from view!" Éothain grumbled.
Éomer rolled his eyes and stood suddenly, startling Éothain. Éothain looked up and saw the Lady Éowyn approaching, her pale gold hair elaborately pinned to her head according to Gondorian custom. Slender and tall she was, as ever, in her white robe and a circlet of gold and silver with green jewels upon her brow. Her strength was no longer stern as steel and unyielding, but she was still undeniably a daughter of kings. Once fair and cold like a morning of pale spring, she had transformed into a sunny afternoon of mid-season, fully blossomed and yielding of its bounty. Her grey eyes nearly glowed with peace and joy, and the transformation was apparent to any and all who had known her prior.
Éomer offered his seat to her and she smiled gratefully. She swept her skirts into one hand to allow for the ability to climb over the bench, before situating herself between Elfhelm and Éothain. The men cheered at her presence, and drinks were once more passed around.
Éomer felt a presence behind him to his right before a firm but warm hand fell on his shoulder. Éomer instinctively reached for his sword on his hip before realizing it wasn't there.
"Peace, Éomer King," The Prince of Dol Amroth, Imrahil, smiled kindly at him. His long dark hair, greying at the temples, was intricately braided to twist around a silver coronet featuring a swan at the center. His tunic was dove grey, with blue and silver thread stitched into the velvet fabric in the shapes of swans over the sea. A mantle of steel blue clasped on his shoulders matched the thread in his tunic and flowed to the ground. Whirls and flourishes in shimmery silver thread edged the mantle. Though shorter than Éomer, the prince's posture was straight as a sword and gave him the air of regality that was his birthright. The corner of his eyes crinkled with his warm smile.
"Forgive me, Prince Imrahil," Éomer apologized, reaching his empty hand to clasp the forearm of the prince's in a warrior's greeting.
"There is nothing to forgive," he replied. "I know that peace can make one feel anxious."
Éomer grunted in agreement, letting his arm fall back to his side, his hand flexing awkwardly at the lack of his sword. He shifted his weight uneasily as he stood there. "I have no memory of peace."
"Then it is time to make memories," Imrahil responded. "My wife, too, knew the apprehension I felt when the Corsairs of Umbar were too quiet, or the thoughts that haunted me after battle. The best way to forget is to embrace the ones you love. At least, that is what my wife always said, before she passed."
Éomer was silent for a moment as he pondered what Imrahil said, looking fondly at the table accommodating his sister and brothers-in-arms. "If only it were that easy," he sighed, taking a few steps away from the table so that they could speak more privately. "I cannot forget the ones who are lost to me, nor the responsibility they have left to me."
"Nay, to do so would be dishonorable. But," he paused, "the responsibility need not be so great."
Éomer frowned. "Imrahil, you and I share a bond forged in war and bloodshed. You are a brother-in-arms to me, and I greatly respect your opinion. I also owe you a debt that can never be repaid, for saving my sister on the battlefield. But I implore you to speak plainly, for I perceive you have something you wish to say, and I do not have the willpower to discern it."
Imrahil looked at Éomer, weighing something in his mind before deciding to speak. "As you wish, Éomer. The responsibility you face is great, but can be easily lessened with someone by your side. The running of Dol Amroth was a great undertaking, and my burden was halved when I married my wife."
Éomer's jaw clenched, but Imrahil continued. "You say you respect my opinion, and I urge you to heed it. Do not allow your grief to prevent you from considering this, for that it what it is: grief. You are grieving not only those you have lost, but the future and freedom you may have once had, as well as the difficult course in front of you."
Éomer's nostrils flared and his eyes flashed, "And who would you choose for me?"
A few people looked up from their table, alarmed at the tone and volume from his statement. A particularly worried glance from Éowyn caused him to lower his voice and whisper furiously: "Would you have me wed a widow from my own country, to further acknowledge the cost of war and declare my commitment to my people?" He scoffed. "Nay, I'm sure you would have me forge an alliance with Gondor. Shall I take my pick of one of the ladies here? One whose station, until recently, has been superior to my own? A station that has been only one of comfort and frippery? Perhaps now they will deign to lower themselves to wed a warrior-turned-king, because the lure of a crown will cause them to forget they consider my country to be one of barbarians? Shall I choose a woman who has no knowledge of what this war has cost my people, nor of what it will take to rebuild?" He breathed heavily as his rant finished, looking at Imrahil who stood stoic and silent next to him. Éomer felt better now that the feelings he had been ruminating over had been released into the world, but felt more ashamed as the silence stretched on longer than comfortable. He opened his mouth to apologize, but Imrahil spoke before he could. Éomer had to strain to hear what he said, for his voice was so quiet.
"I know the responsibility you bear, but I know little of the weight it must cause to have it placed there so suddenly. I had hoped you would listen to my counsel, for I give it from my own experience."
"Nay, please hear me out. I did not intend to offend you, for I would wish for nothing to break the bond we have forged. I, too, respect you, Éomer King, and wish for you to succeed."
"Forgive me. I know you had no ill intent, nor were you aware of the pressure I have been given in this matter from others."
Imrahil smiled, graciously. "If you would allow it, I'd like to clarify one thing."
"Please," Éomer nodded, hopeful to push past this incident.
"Not all the women of Gondor are as you describe, though I may be biased," Imrahil said, smiling affectionately. At Éomer's look of confusion, he continued, "My own daughter is among those here."
"My lord, I never meant to imply-"
"No, no!" Imrahil laughed, waving him off. "I know you were only aware of my three sons. But my daughter is also a force to be reckoned with, and she would not take kindly to being described as one who is unaware of the cost of war, or one obsessed with frippery. She was charged with the care of Dol Amroth and its kingdom while her kin were away at war. Of course, that is not to say that she has been living a life of comfort while we were gone. In her charge, she has fought the Corsairs and contended with the Haradrim and, if what some of the servants say to be true, battled a few units of Men of Khand. She stretched out the food stores and risked her safety to provide for the entire village. She also didn't reveal to me some of the things she has forfeited to provide for others , resulting in her less than ideal wardrobe selection for the next few weeks. All of which, while I'm proud, I still need to seriously reprimand her for. But my point is that there are women in Gondor capable of being your equal and up to the task of being a queen of Rohan."
Imrahil paused, and then pointed across the room. "That's my Lothíriel over there."
A young woman stood next to a lord offering his hand to her. She was tall, like the rest of her family, towering over most of the other women and standing equally to some of the men. Her dark hair was not pinned up like the rest of the women in the court, but rather fell down her back in soft curls, similar to the style worn in Rohan. The color of her gown reminded Éomer of being on a compaign, camping under the night sky full of glittering stars. The deep, midnight blue was interrupted by small stones catching the light in constellations. Her shoulders were bare, revealing her tanned naked flesh; and, while the neckline wasn't dangerously low, the pull of the gown across her bosom revealed enough cleavage that Éomer could see it from across the room. In fact, the gown fit her so snugly it revealed curves that made it seem indecent. For a split second, her lashes lifted and her eyes met his.
Éomer felt lightning in his blood, his loins tightening at the image. He let out a string of curses at the reaction, which was fortunately misconstrued as concern by her father because at the very moment the lord next to Lothíriel grabbed her wrist and wrenched her towards him.
Éomer was already half the distance from them before he realized he had even moved.
Dunlendings (or Gwathuirim) - ferocious, tall and vicious men that lived in Dunland, close to Rohan. Also called the Wild Men of Dunland, these dark-haired reclusive folk had long been enemies of the Rohirrim, because they were jealous that the rich lands of the old Númenórean province of Calenardhon were granted by the Gondorians to the Rohirrim instead of them.
The Corsairs of Umbar - sea-raiders and pirates of the Haven of Umbar. The corsairs were recognizable by their red sails, adorned with a black star or eye. Umbar, who would welcome exiles from Gondor suspected for treason or conspiring against the King, attacked Gondorian ships and raided its coast at every opportunity, threatening the coastlands and all traffic on the sea and contested the possession of Harondor. For most of the Third Age, Umbar was reclaimed, rebuilt, and occupied by the Haradrim. It became a home for a new generation of 'Corsairs of Umbar', cruel slavers who often raided the coasts of Belfalas and Anfalas in Gondor. During the War of the Ring, Umbar could still send 50 "great ships" and a number of smaller vessels "beyond count" to raid the coastlands of Gondor, and draw off major forces from the defense of Minas Tirith.
The Haradrim (or Southrons) - a proud and warlike people of the Harad. Ancient enemies of Gondor, they allied with Sauron during the War of the Ring. They were tall and dark-skinned with black hair and dark eyes. Many warriors were seen in bright clothing, such as scarlet robes, and were decorated with golden ornaments, such as collars, earrings, corsets of overlapping brazen plates; they braided their hair with gold. Some tribes painted their bodies. Scarlet and red was also the color of their banners, tips of their spears, and body paint. Their shields were yellow and black with spikes. They tamed the massive Mûmakil (Oliphaunts) and used them in warfare, strapping towers to their backs to be used by archers and spearmen.
Khand was the name of a land which lay to the south-east of Mordor and to the east of Near Harad. Little is known about Khand or its people, other than that they were allied to Mordor, making a coordinated attack against Gondor as early as T.A.1944. It is unknown if Khand was ever conquered by the reunited kingdom or if they remained independent. It is also unknown if they ever warred with the folk of the West after Sauron's demise.
“Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing? Where is the helm and the hauberk, And the bright hair flowing? Where is the hand on the harpstring, And the red fire glowing? Where is the spring and the harvest And the tall corn growing? They have passed like rain on the mountain, Like a wind in the meadow; The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow. Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning, Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?”