1. Hope Understanding
“This is folly,” I said, shaking my head in a combination of disbelief and outrage. “Madness. Not only was the law of the King broken, but two of our horses, once ridden by two of our number, are in the hands of wild folk whom we do not even know!”
“Silence,” said Eomer, putting on his helmet and climbing into the saddle of his horse. “Do not speak of that which you know none of. Aragorn and I have an… understanding.”
“Oh, an understanding, eh?” I murmured. “An understanding with a foreign stranger is not going to help us much.”
“It may prove useful in days to come,” said Eomer simply. “Wait and see.”
This just outraged me even more. “Wait and see? Wait for what? Wait for more wanderers to come along, so we can break the law of the King and give them the horses of our slain brothers? Nay, Eomer, I do not think so. I knew that the Lord Eomer was angry because of Wormtongue’s hold on his uncle, but I did not know that his anger would drive him to madness.”
“I am not mad,” said Eomer. “I know what I am doing. I trust Aragorn.”
“Oh trust,” I said. “In this time of peril, how are we to trust anyone? How do we judge from just one glance that three strangers wandering our lands are friends or foes of Rohan?”
“We judge, Eothain, as we have ever judged,” said Eomer calmly. “Do you think I would be so ridiculous as to give two horses and lay possibly my life in the hands of three who I thought were our foes? Nay, Eothain, I am not dull, and I suggest you try not to be either. We ride North!”
Nobody moved, except Eomer, for a few feet. Then he stopped, and turned his horse around to face us.
“With all due respect, Lord Eomer,” said a man in the company timidly, “I would have to agree with Eothain: we know nothing about these strangers whom you have just given our horses too. I, and the rest of the Riders, would feel better if, perhaps, you told us of your conversation with these strangers?”
Eomer sighed. “Very well. I can not blame you, for if I was in your position I would be quick to doubt, too.” He paused for a moment. “The companions were named Gimli, the son of Gloin, Legolas, the son of Thranduil of the Woodland Realm of Mirkwood, and Aragorn, the son of Arathorn, who claimed to be Isildur’s heir. The three set out with several others from Imladris on some sort of quest, and amoung them were Boromir, Denethor’s son and Gandalf Greyhame.”
“Gandalf?” I scoffed. Gandalf the Grey was well known in Rohan, he was the mysterious wanderer who showed up only in the darkest hours. The King's consellor especially despised the Grey Wanderer, and the King was not exactly fond of him either. “The well-known bearer of ill tidings?”
“Do not scoff at Gandalf Greyhame,” said Eomer. “He had done much for us, and would undoubtedly do much more before your days on this earth have ended, but alas! He was lost in to the darkness in the Mines of Moria, and his great many deeds shall be no more.”
There was a murmur among the men. Most of them were fond of the old grey man who journeyed in and out of Rohan whenever he pleased, even if there King wasn’t so fond of him at the moment. In fact, the King of Rohan was just about furious with Gandalf the Grey right now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, when told the about Gandalf’s death, the King merely laughed and shrugged it off.
“That is not the only tiding of woe that these three wanderers bring,” said Eomer sadly.
“What can be worse than the death of the only one who would be able to help our people?” cried out someone in the crowd.
“The death of the one who would die trying,” said Eomer. “Boromir, son of Denethor, heir to the Stewardship of Gondor, is dead.”
A silence fell over the men of the Riders of Rohan. A few of us bowed our heads and some of us took off our helmets in a moment of remembrance for the young Captain of Gondor. He was a admirable man. Not all of us in the company of Riders had met him. I, for one, had not, but every last one of us had heard tales of his great deeds at the battles on the Eastern-borders.
“How did he die?” asked someone quietly, so quietly only a few turned their heads.
“He was slain four days ago, by the very Orcs we killed last night,” answered Eomer solemnly. There was a pause. No one in the company seemed to know how to respond to this shocking news. Finally, Eomer himself broke the silence.
“I then told Aragorn about the problems in Rohan,” he said, “and warned them of Saruman and his evil deeds. I invited him to come to Meduseld with us, so that the battle that I fear is so rapidly approaching might not go as ill as it may for us. When he refused, saying he must go look for his lost friends, I told him about our law: that we do not allow strangers wander freely in our lands. He said he would not go to Edoras with me, that his duty lay with his friends. So I made a choice. Who was I to punish a man who was only looking for his two poor friends, in hopes that they might still be alive? So I gave him horses.”
“We will never see those horses again, Lord Eomer,” I said, somewhat angrily.
“Do not doubt so quickly, Eothain. We may yet. Aragorn promised me he would go to Edoras when his task was finished, and he would prove to Theoden I did not misjudge.”
“If he does not show up at Edoras, you may very well lose you life,” said a man in the Company.
“I know,” said Eomer, and the thought did not appear to bother him in the least. “Now that you have all had a share of my private conversation, do we trust Aragorn enough to ride north?”
“Wait!” I cried. “What was the understanding you made with Aragorn? I just don’t see it.”
Eomer paused for a moment, as if pondering a heavy matter. “Aragorn and I…” he paused, then continued. “Aragorn and I are both looking for something. He is looking for his friends, and I… I am looking for many things, the main one right now is the solution to the problem with Theoden and Saruman. Right now, what we are searching for seems out of reach. It seems like there is no hope, and there will never be any hope. Our path is dark. It leads into a tunnel of night that has no daybreak. Right now, the only outcome that we can see can only be dreadful and dark!”
He practically screamed those last words, making all of us jump and the horses shake uneasily beneath us.
“Yet, we both still have hope,” he said softly. “For without our hope, we have nothing. Aragorn may not find his friends. Theoden may forever be under the power of the poison that is always spilling from Grima’s mouth. But without hope, there is no chance that Aragorn will find his friends, or that Theoden will overcome Saruman’s spells. Without hope, there is no dawn. We might as well surrender to Sauron now if we had no hope.”
There was silence. Eomer was nearly in tears. No one knew what to say to console him. What could we say? Any hopeful and encouraging words that we had would probably turn out to be lies. Everyone was looking at each other nervously, while Eomer bit his lip to keep from crying in front of his men.
“Eomer,” I finally said, “we are with you.”
It was such a simple statement, but it caused a smile to appear on Eomer’s face and it caused Eomer’s hands to loosen their tight grip on his horse’s reins. It was true, we were with Eomer and would always be with Eomer. And Rohan. And the strangers that wander her rolling hills with nothing but hope to keep them going. We are there.
“We ride north!” yelled Eomer, and this time, his only response was the thudding of hundreds of hooves on the dusty brown grass.
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.