The Wolf-Prince of Rohan
Disclaimer: Tolkien owns all, except for the original characters, who wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for his work. Hail Tolkien, King!
Author’s Note: Written for the “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” challenge, and partly inspired by “Ronnie” by Metallica.
I will never, ever write ‘The Wolf-Prince of Rohan’.
" It was Béohelm who led the wolves, Father."
Théoden closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of pain. His collarbone and shoulder were hurting him in spite of the tree bark his physician had given him to chew. " Do not say such things, Théodred," he groaned. " No-one could survive for so long in the wilderness. Béohelm is long dead."
" I know what I saw," Théodred replied in angry determination. " He wore a goatskin on his head and his beard had grown wild, but it was Béohelm. I swear upon my sword."
Théoden pushed the pain away long enough to muster a glare at his son.
" I will hear no more of this foolish talk," he snapped, though there was a quiver in his voice.
Théodred looked away.
" As you wish."
Thengel's third-born child was a girl named Morhilde, after her mother. When she grew up, she married a soldier named Béothain and went to live with him in a small village in the Westfold. Their happiness was short-lived, however, for although Morhilde became with child, their first two sons were born dead. A third child, a daughter, lived only a few hours. Their fourth child, a boy with raven hair, survived, and they named him Béohelm.
Béohelm was a large baby, and the hairs on his arms and legs were quite dark and visible. He was slow to talk, and when he did learn to communicate, he rarely spoke. The other children made fun of him because he was bigger and clumsier than they, and because his arms and legs were so hairy. He preferred to spend time with his father's dogs, Sharptooth and Lockjaw, and was often seen whispering in their ears.
All through Béohelm's childhood, the only one who ever treated him as just another boy was his older cousin - his mother's brother-son, Théodred. The young prince would visit about once a year with his father, Théoden, King.
“ This is my pony, Whitestar,” Théodred declared, stroking his mount’s nose. He beckoned to his cousin. “ Come closer, he will not harm you.”
Béohelm approached the pony warily. Whitestar stretched out his neck and sniffed at the newcomer.
“ You may ride him, if you wish,” Théodred said.
A wide smile spread across Béohelm’s face.
“ No, but thank you for offering,” he answered. “ Come, I will show you my dogs. Well, they are Father’s dogs really. He says Lockjaw is in pup and I may keep some of the litter.”
“ I have begged my father to let me have a dog,” Théodred replied, pouting. “ But he says that Whitestar is enough for me to look after.”
“ I love my dogs,” Béohelm said. His face fell. “ They do not make fun of me. They play with me when no-one else will.”
The strange boy was soon blamed by the villagers for anything unusual that happened in the village. Rumours went around that Béohelm was not Béothain's son at all; that Morhilde was a witch and that was why her first three children had died; that Béohelm was begotten by a wolf and that was why he could talk to dogs. Morhilde found herself shunned by the villagers, and Béothain often came to blows with farmhands and tradesmen in his attempts to defend his only son. For his parents saw what the villagers did not: Béohelm loved them both dearly, tended to his mother when the despair and loneliness threatened to overwhelm her, and, though he grew taller, ganglier and hairier with each passing year, was very gentle towards them both. He cared not a jot about the insults and occasional stones the villagers cast his way, nor the nickname Wer-wulf that they fastened on him; however, if anyone dared say a word against his mother or father he would fly into a terrible rage and turn on the one who had spoken.
When Béohelm was fourteen years old he attacked a mower who suggested that his mother had played false with an Orc and that Béohelm was the result. He leaped on the labourer, biting his nose and cheek before breaking the young man's scythe across his head. In the resulting uproar, a mob of villagers called for Béohelm to be hung. The shock was too much for Morhilde. Her health and strength deserted her, and she died soon after.
A year and a half after Morhilde died, Béothain suffered a devastating wound in battle, and his lower left leg was amputated. He was unable to ride or fight. Béohelm resolved to care for his father, and did odd jobs around the village, biting his tongue whenever he heard whispers that he had cursed his family, or that his mother was still casting evil spells from her grave. Béothain worried about what would become of Béohelm when he was gone, for in spite of the surgeons' best efforts, he could feel his own strength fading. When next Théoden and Théodred visited, he begged the king, if he did indeed love him as a brother, to look after Béohelm should he, Béothain, die before the boy was fully grown. Théoden replied that he would.
Despite the king's promise, Béothain was still ill at ease. Béohelm would disappear for hours at night, after he had eaten his evening meal, and would not say where he went. Béohelm was, in secret, tending to Lockjaw's pups, for his father's old dog had had many litters by Sharptooth over the years. They were the only brothers and sisters Béohelm had, and they obeyed him as their leader.
Béohelm was barely eighteen when Béothain's wound became infected. The poison spread to his blood and he died in terrible pain. When, at the funeral, Théoden tried to fulfil his promise to Béothain, Béohelm spoke to his uncle for the first and final time. He informed the king that he was now a man and needed no-one's care or protection, and paid no heed even to Théodred's entreaties.
Three nights after his father was laid to rest, Béohelm wrought his vengeance upon the villagers who had made his family's life a misery for eighteen years. With Sharptooth's and Lockjaw's pups, now grown large and savage as wolves, he attacked their farms, setting fire to the buildings and killing a third of their animals before disappearing with his pack of dogs. News of the incident reached Edoras, prompting Théodred to ride in search of his cousin. But Béohelm and his new family were not to be found. In time Théoden became convinced that Béohelm was dead or slain. He blamed himself for not keeping his promise to Béothain, and for not convincing Morhilde to return to Edoras with her family when all the trouble first started. Théodred did not abandon hope, and believed Béohelm to be alive somewhere; though he could not persuade his father of this.
Now during these years Orcs often gave trouble to the people of Rohan, as they had since the time of Thengel, and so it came to pass that Théoden led his men against a large band of Orcs who had grown bold enough to invade the kingdom. During the battle, the king was thrown from his horse and was rendered insensible by the fall, so that many of the men thought him slain and began to lose heart. The Orcs sensed victory and redoubled their efforts, and at first the men of Rohan fell back. But then from out of the gathering dusk came several wolves that ran among the enemy, causing confusion and fear in their ranks. As the men of Rohan looked on in wonder, a great shout went up from some of their number. For Théoden had recovered his senses after being borne from the battlefield, and had returned, against his physician’s wishes, so that his men might know he was alive. At the sight of their king upon his horse once more, the men of Rohan regained their courage and drove back the Orc army, destroying all but a remnant of their number.
As the men returned home, many of them spoke of the wolves, and of the beast that led them – a creature seven feet in height, with the horns of a goat, and a long, shining fang. Théodred was sure of the creature’s identity; he was certain it was none other than Béohelm, and told his father of his belief. But Théoden, weary and in pain after the battle, would not listen, and forbade him to speak further on the matter. Théodred obeyed him in this for a time, but when Éomer and Éowyn came to live at Meduseld he went against Théoden’s wishes, and often spoke to them of their lost cousin, though they placed no more value on these tales than they did on their uncle’s tales of faraway lands filled with striped horses and giant cats.
Years passed, and the shadow fell over Théoden, and Théodred had little time to wonder about Béohelm or his whereabouts. Now and then, however, Théodred and his men would see a wolf or two following them as they patrolled the kingdom. Yet they were not true wolves, for some had coats of gold or black, and some had ears that drooped; and Théodred recalled that his uncle’s dogs had had such coats and ears, and he knew then that Béohelm was near.
Few escaped the massacre that claimed Théodred’s life; but those who did spoke of wolves who attacked the Orcs and Uruk-Hai, and of great anguished howls that rent the air in the aftermath of battle. Was this Béohelm’s lament for his beloved cousin? No one knows, for he was seen no more by any who would recognise him. Yet for many years among the people of the Westfold there persisted myths and tales of a Wolf Prince, a creature with horns like a goat and a great, shining fang.
And few there were who knew the true tale – the tale of a boy who was made a scapegoat by suspicious villagers who distrusted ‘outsiders’, who waited patiently until the day he and his friends could take revenge on his tormenters, and who then left the world of men to dwell amongst the beasts, who do not judge or spread lies about their fellows.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.