1. Lothíriel and her Father
“None of the others are to your liking?” her father had asked her.
“They’re very well, but not good enough,” she had said stubbornly.
“But you don’t have enough coins left of what I have given you to spend,” he argued. “She is the most expensive; you can’t afford her anymore.”
“I don’t care. The others aren’t good enough,” she said again. “I’ll have her or I won’t have any at all.”
Imrahil had been in a quandary then, for he had sworn her mother that he would not overindulge her, and that he would do his best to teach her modesty and moderation through his example, and this had seemed like wisdom at the time. He had laid it out quite clearly that morning: she would have a bag of coins to spend as she wished, wisely or foolishly, and he would not come to her aid when she ran out. Yet there was no arguing with the child when she had set her heart on something.
It wasn’t that she was overly fond of dolls and finery, or even that she liked being spoiled. Indeed, it seemed impossible to spoil her – it was almost as if she were born knowing what was worth having, and what wasn’t, and no amount of effusive gift-giving would ever ruin her. She was simply a girl who always knew exactly what she wanted, with a decisiveness so firm that it belonged, he thought, more in the mind of a military leader than the daughter of one. And once she had her eye on it, there was no gainsaying her. It was always all or nothing.
Luckily that day he was saved by fortune – the owner of the stall recognized him as the Prince of Dol Amroth, and obligingly altered the price to suit little Lothíriel’s wallet. But Imrahil had a distinct and uncomfortable feeling that day. He knew that she would always be setting her aim at something, and that there might come a time when the object did not meet with his approval, and no words of his would be able to dissuade her.
It was trusting too much in fortune to hope that such a situation never came to pass.
The pattern had not let up. It caused some strife as she underwent her schooling, which was only the normal and proper education of a member of the nobility of Gondor, but she would always find something to insist on. She would read this book and not that one or that one, regardless of what her tutors instructed her; she would go out today and not sit inside being lectured at while the sun was still bright. She also caused her mother more than a little discomfiture with her restlessness. She would not sit still and speak politely when company came, if it were a fine day and she would rather be running around the fair hills of Dol Amroth or watching the horses graze and prance in their field.
From her early years Lothíriel had had quite a fascination for horses. For her thirteenth birthday Imrahil and his wife had decided to give her one of her own, but they knew well that she would have to do the choosing. Imrahil had the stablemaster bring out ten suitable horses into the yard for her selection, and she very carefully inspected them all, even asking the stablemaster, to his great amusement, about the individual histories and traits of each one. She had gone through nine of the able steeds and come to the last one, a rather frisky young stallion that looked as though he didn’t quite belong with the others. “This one,” she said.
“Ah… are you sure, young lady?” the stablemaster had asked. “The other ones are older, really much more suitable. I only brought this one along because your father asked for ten. He is not the most trustworthy of the lot.”
“But he’s the fastest,” she stated.
“That settles it, then,” she said, and her tone of voice would brook no argument. And so the stallion was hers, and she would take him out to ride on the green hills however often she chose to do so, and no complaining from her mother about the fact that she “smelled like horse all the time” would stop her.
As a daughter of the Prince, she even grew a good eye for the able warrior, and whenever she had the opportunity to do so, she would offer him her critique. That one was short, but his swordsmanship was unmatched; that one was untrustworthy; that one was jumpy, too eager to prove himself in battle to be dependable. Imrahil had to admit that her instincts were often accurate.
Often, but not always, for what could a girl who only saw them off of it really know about strengths and weaknesses on the battlefield? And what could such a young girl ever really know about men, and how their minds worked? And now that she had become a young woman, and men were beginning to look at her with a discerning eye, Imrahil grew uneasy. Suppose she chose one among them, and pointed all of her efforts at him, and yet he was not worthy of her? Suppose she chose someone with deficiencies that she was somehow blind to? Or what if she was approached first, and her judgement was clouded by flattery? She would choose a man sooner or later – this at least was inevitable – and once she had chosen, would never stand for an argument against him.
The idea distressed him greatly – she was his only child, and beside her mother his only object of affection, and although he knew he would have to give her up to some man eventually, he couldn’t stomach the thought of giving her to anyone unworthy. But was anyone really good enough for her?
The problem pressed on his mind, but in the years of growing darkness he was forced to turn his attention elsewhere. The War of the Ring came, the greatest siege Minas Tirith had ever undergone, and the greatest battles Imrahil had ever fought in. The courage and endurance of every fighting man was driven to the brink, and only the very greatest warriors survived – and in the end, when the fires of the Pelennor had cooled and the free peoples of Middle Earth had seen victory even before the Black Gates of Mordor, Imrahil turned to his peers and saw, he thought, the greatest men that the land had ever produced.
It was only when they had returned to Minas Tirith, when all were gathering for the celebration of the King’s return, and Imrahil embraced his wife and daughter again amid the festivity, that the solution to his old problem was obvious. He need only choose for her. The Lord Aragorn, King Elessar, was of course completely out of the question, as word from the wise told that he had already been spoken for. Besides him, in Imrahil’s eyes the greatest man in battle had been Eomer, now King of Rohan. He was of a good age, strong, respectful to the lords of Gondor and loyal to the King Elessar, courageous, and had shown devoted care for his sister, the Shield-maiden who had ridden into battle without his knowing. His manners were not like those of Gondorian men, it was true, but then Lothíriel herself was not known for her gentility. Of all the other men Imrahil had encountered, this one seemed to him the best choice, and the fact that he was a king was certainly in his favor.
Imrahil knew his daughter well, and knew her natural reaction to any new acquaintance was immediate evaluation. Therefore, the method of introduction would be the key. It was almost certainly not a good idea to let her encounter him within Minas Tirith, where the horse-lords seemed out of place in the crowded stone surroundings, and their appearance was against them when they stood next to the tall dark-haired soldiers of Gondor that she was accustomed to seeing: they always seemed a little gruff and uncouth, and even though Imrahil knew there was gold beneath the grit, this would not be obvious to his daughter at once.
He learned from Eomer himself that it was a habit of the horse-lords to take their steeds out riding every day – this was important to the care of the animals, something the Rohirrim were accustomed to doing, and something that necessarily had to take place outside the city walls. So Imrahil went to his daughter one morning, soon after the crowning of the king, and said, “Come Lothíriel, do you not wish to see the great horses of Rohan that you have heard so much about?”
“Indeed I do, father,” she said.
“Then let us go down to them this morning, and not put it off, for the Rohirrim will soon depart the city.”
She happily assented. Father and daughter went out of Minas Tirith together, down to the Pelennor where the cavalry had quartered their horses, and she was guided about the makeshift stables by one of the Riders of Rohan, who informed her that unfortunately the only real examples of great war-horses of the Mark were not there, but being ridden over the fields that very moment. Lothíriel was disappointed, but her father said to her, “No worries! We will go to this hilltop and see if we can spot them coming back, for they must return here soon enough; they have no business far afield.”
So they watched from afar, and Lothíriel asked her father what kind of men the horse-lords were. “They are certainly valiant in battle, if not as fair-seeming in looks and speech as the lords of Gondor,” he answered. “Their strength in battle equals our own, but as horsemen they can have no rival. But after having fought along side them, I can truly say that there is no more able warrior than their King Eomer, and he is both wise and a great lord of his men, who love him and follow him loyally. You see him there at the head of the Riders, a pace in front of the rest – on the fastest horse.” Eomer was now close enough for her to see herself, and the trained eye must have recognized the skill of his horsemanship.
Eomer recognized Imrahil immediately, and hailed him gladly before he saw Lothíriel, and when he approached with his men she had the first good sight of him: in the group of able Riders and warriors in their element, full of confidence and with blood still pounding from their ride, he went before the rest as their king, and next to them he certainly seemed tall and fair, yet still full of the energy of youth. Imrahil looked sidelong at his daughter while they stood and the Rohirrim approached, and she was staring intently at the King of Rohan, and he knew the look on her face very well, and smiled with supreme satisfaction. Her expression was the one that clearly said: Father, I want that one.
It was with some measure of fulfillment that he introduced them; Eomer’s tongue, if somewhat tied by the unexpected attention of the beautiful maid of Gondor, loosened up a bit when she sidestepped some courtesies and started interrogating him straightforward about his horse: on this topic, he could easily speak for hours. By the end of the interview they were comfortable in each other’s company, and Lothíriel’s affections were beyond question, and Eomer, full-grown warrior and King though he was, seemed like a young lad who couldn’t believe his luck.
Imrahil was content that his work was done. As far as he could tell, Lothíriel didn’t have the faintest suspicion that the odds had been skewed in Eomer’s favor, so she had no doubt that she was the only one in control of the decision, which was the very thing to satisfy her. The Prince of Dol Amroth didn’t worry for his daughter any more, for he had seen to it that she had made the best choice, and now that she had passed her judgement and picked an object for admiration, there was no danger of her second-guessing herself.
Eomer might not have known it, but his feelings, favorable or not, would have little bearing on the matter: nothing, after all, came between her and her goal, once Lothíriel’s mind was made up.
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.