2008 Birthday Drabbles
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Elena Tiriel's 2008 Birthday Gifts!: 5. Star-songs of the Eorlingas — Tanaqui
Éowyn shares the star myths of her own people with her husband.
Fearless against the foes who threaten our herds and homes,
The high-hearted hunter strides across the star-strewn sky.
In dark desperation, they run like rats, reckless before his wrath:
Grim goblins gibbering fearfully, wicked wolves whimpering,
trolls trembling in chill caves, and evil-eyed men of the East cowering before him.
The hills halloo with his holy horn, heralding hope for honest men,
and Nahar’s neighing shakes the sleeping slopes as he sets forth.
From far-flung lands he brought the fathers of the foals grazing our grass.
Bountiful are his benisons, bright Béma the Horse-Lord.
In his watchful wisdom we rejoice!
The Great Boar
Faramir sighed in satisfaction. "My heart quickens to hear the songs of your land!"
Éowyn gave him an apologetic smile. "Alas, ‘tis the only song of the stars I know in elven-tongue or common speech. When spring comes, I will send to my brother for a scop to teach you. Yet I may tell you the tales, if not in rhyme. See," she gestured, "here the Great Boar. Much pleasure the Hunter has in the chase, but he has foresworn it while our enemies trouble us. And so the Great Boar roams the sky until the Last Battle is won."
"And here at the Hunter’s side is Féle, his faithful hound." Éowyn took a step right, holding out her hand to her husband to follow. "Tirelessly he follows at his master’s heels through forest and fen, over plain and pasture. Fierce is his bite, and his baying is like thunder in the hills. Yet tender is his heart." She smiled. "On a time, when the Hunter was sore wounded in battle, Féle caught coneys for him to eat, and warmed him at night until he was healed. And even among the stars he will not be parted from his master."
"Here is Hnaega, Father of Horses, ready to answer the Hunter’s call. By day his coat gleams like the everlasting snows of Starkhorn; by night it glimmers as the play of starlight on swift-falling Snowbourn; and his hooves are shod with gold.
"Ever he watches over his children grazing in the green fields of the Mark. Where the mare drops her foal, Hnaega waits to welcome a new lord of the plains. And when, swift in battle or slow in age, the race is run, Hnaega will guide his people to the sweet pastures where the white evermind blooms always."
Reaching the next pattern of silver thread against black velvet, Éowyn laughed. "Never far indeed from Hnaega is the wicked trickster Fleóge, whose sting is like a goblin’s blade. In noisome pools he makes his home, revelling in all that is vile.
"Some say the Black Foe sent him and his dark spawn to torment Hnaega and drive him into madness. But the Hunter knew of sweet oils whose scent Fleóge cannot abide. To the fathers of men he taught such wisdom, so that with tricks of our own we may keep our herds safe from the Lord of Flies."
The Great Worm
"When the world was young, there dwelt in the North an accursed breed that laid to waste to the green fields and carried off the proud sons of Hnaega.
"And on a time, Men were much troubled by one of that monstrous spawn, hight Scatha. Cunning he was, and his flame was hot, and his heart was black. South he flew, intent on mischief and malice.
"But Fram went forth to meet him, and they did battle, and Scatha fell to a true-flung spear.
"Then the Hunter set a sign in the sky, that Men in the South forget not...."
Éowyn stepped onwards and gestured at the next pattern. "We too have tales of the Great Eagles of the Western Mountains. Though they raid the herds of Men, we know they take only to satisfy needful hunger, and we grudge the unwilling tithes we pay only a little. For they do the bidding of the Hunter. He flies them as Men fly falcons, setting them to stoop upon the servants of the Dark. They need no lure to call them, for they understand tongues of Men and ’tis said they spoke in ages past with the Fathers of the Mark."
The Blood Brothers
"Some bards say an Eagle of the West guided Eorl the Young on his great ride South. And when battle was done, and Ciron and Eorl – thy forefather and mine! – swore oaths of friendship, the Eagle bore witness and carried news to the Hunter. And the Hunter took stars from north and south and made a new sign between: the Blood Brothers, who are sworn each to aid to the other." Éowyn smiled at Faramir. "I mind that as we rode south to battle before Mundburg, I saw the Blood Brothers bestriding the sky and thought they bowed to us...."
"Ever in the North had the crown of the High King glittered, though none had worn it along the Great River for many a year. For though Eorl the Young was leader of a proud people, he was but one lord amongst many in a narrow land, and the Éothéod were close pressed by other folk.
"Therefore when he led the Eorlingas south to the wide plains of the Riddermark, where the grass is sweet and rich, with room enough for great herds and many children, his people said the crown was Eorl’s Crown, and so it still is known."
The Hero's Tomb
“When the tale of the long years of Fram Worm-slayer were told at last, his people howe-laid him, with spear and sword and shield at his side, and on his breast the necklace of Scatha's teeth, hard-won.
“Then the stars clustered together above the mound to hold a star-arval in his honour. And some amongst them saw the stars of Evermind that flickered and danced below, and were enamoured of their earthly counterparts. Wherefore, then, when the other stars returned each to their homes, these seven stayed, partnering their mortal kin until Fram wakes and walks the world once more.”
“On a time, a new monster arose in the East whose breath brought pestilence. Seeing the people hard-pressed, a high-hearted warrior rode West over the wide plains to fetch Fram from the Halls of the Dead. Enchantments were set about his steed's feet, and he came but hardly to the Doors of the Dead, and was admitted.
“Then Béma, hearing of his people's plight, brought forth the Wild Hunt, driving the beast away. But the Traveller, having trod where living men may not, was charged to ride the borders of the night, to carry news of evil should it come.”
Faramir, laughing, slid his arms around his wife to draw her close. “But this is the tale of Eärendil, save he has four feet under him rather than a keel!”
Éowyn, resisting his embrace, gave him a doubtful look. “Are all our tales from the North, then, only pale shadows of yours?”
“Nay,” Faramir gentled her cheek with his thumb. “But once, I think, the fathers of your kin and mine were brothers.” Letting herself be soothed, she leaned against him. “You and I unite long-sundered peoples, and I would have our children carry forward what is good from both.”
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