Shards of Time
4. Chapter Four
“I’m afraid you were not doing that well,” he said. “After all, you still have a reflection.”
The one called Mazikeen stepped up to him, unruffled and silent like a cat. Barahir could not help but feel that there was a certain lack of congruence between her head-scarf of the Wind Treaders of Harad and Gondorian dress, but he certainly found the effect aesthetically pleasing.
“I should have tried harder,” she replied. There was the tinge of an accent to her words. “Maybe I will never surprise you.” She sounded almost disappointed. “And you are late.”
He sighed. “Well, my apologies. I did not come here to exchange amusing banter in any case. I have a problem.”
She raised a single eyebrow. It was an ability he greatly envied.
“Oh? A shipment of grain fetched half a crown below your prediction?”
He folded his hands together. That was indeed more pressing. More relevant. Grain and ships and ledgers. Not shifting legends, blood or no blood.
“No,” he said calmly. “It concerns my book.”
Mazikeen knew of his book. She was the only person who did. What had led him to tell her, what wordless impulse, he did not know, but perhaps it was that he saw something of himself in her.
“What is the matter?” she asked genially. She made her asking sound like a tremendous act of generosity.
“I wish – or rather, I have to – write the tale of my grandmother Éowyn, who was called the White Lady of Rohan.”
He eyed her coolly. “Sometimes I forget you know the stories of my country as well as your own.”
“You forget nothing, Barahir. What did she do you cannot write about? She rode to war in disguise, killed the Rider of Shadow—“
“The Lord of the Nazgûl…”
“Yes, yes,” she waved dismissively, “many names. It’s a perfect story. Even the Halfling makes it perfect. Those who were not wanted were those who did the most. And she was a woman, which makes it even better. A story that comes with an edifying lesson, and you cannot write it?”
“It is not quite that straightforward, Mazikeen.”
She had an expression of annoyance. The row of small medallions bordering her head-scarf shook silently upon her hair. “Don’t tell me you cannot write about her simply because she was your grandmother.”
He made a dry little sneer. “The bonds of family bind both ways. You should know that.”
She lowered her eyes, as though a pair of black wings had just passed over her. “Yes. I know.”
“You also know that is not the reason.”
“What is it, then? Legend? You wrote about legend before. You care naught for legend. You care for the truth, or at least a truth you can write down.”
He turned away from her slightly, gazing back at the relics of shield and sword, the tapestry, the shrine to the idol. He had the face of one who is watching a footrace he does not much care about, but who will stay to the end out of an incurable, genteel boredom.
“If I were to do what she did,” he said presently, “what would you call me?”
“Ah! You would not. But supposing so, you would be a hero. That is the answer?” She was playing very calmly with a golden bracelet, making it spin leisurely around her wrist.
“And what if I were trothplight to wed you but then ran away, what would I be?”
The bracelet halted on its journey. “Then you would be a liar,” she answered calmly, her face as still and unreadable as a mask.
“There is your answer, then.”
“I am quite certain it is not a broken trothplight you refer to. If it were, it would just make everything more… romantic. Running from a wedding to fight the Rider, how story-like.”
“No story there. It is much too confusing, and therefore does not make for good reading. And it comes with an unpleasant sort of lesson, if any at all.”
Mazikeen’s swaggering, erratic curiosity was piqued.
“Explain yourself,” she said.
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.