4. Perfect Was The Honor
From long swordblades his suppression.
From a wound upon my ruler is my distress,
From hearing of the fatigue of the lord of the Mark.
Perfect the lad who was killed by the enemy's hand.
Perfect was the honor of his ancestors upon him.
Candle of Kings, strong lion of Eorl,
Throne of Honour; there was need of him.
The light when the door opened again was blinding, and Éomer thought the pain in his head would split him in two. He grimaced, squinting against the light, but refused to turn his face away. He stood up slowly, determined not to shrink from his fate.
"Éomer." It was Háma. The light still blinded him, but he recognized the doorwarden's voice.
"Háma," he said, squinting. Keys jingled as Háma opened the cell door. Éomer steeled himself, blinking as his eyes adjusted painfully. They'd surely put shackles on him now. He'd never been shackled in his life, and the prospect of it sickened him. But he was determined that he would not cringe or stumble. He would meet his death as a Marshal, even if it were far from the death in battle he'd expected.
Háma stood a moment, gazing at him, and as Éomer's eyes grew accustomed to the bright light he could make out the doorwarden's broad grin. Éomer stared, unsettled. He had accounted Háma a friend.
"I've been sent to bring you to King Théoden," Háma said, and the joy in his voice was unmistakeable as he led Éomer by the elbow out into the dazzling light of the passageway.
"I had expected as much," Éomer said warily, regarding him. "You seem excited to see me condemned."
"Gandalf is here," Háma said. "Gandalf, and Aragorn, and the elf and dwarf as you said."
"Gandalf," Éomer said with some surprise. "They told me he was dead."
Háma shrugged. "I guess it is not so easy to kill a wizard. He's white now, not grey."
"What news does he bring?" Éomer asked, wondering whether Wormtongue would be so brazen before Gandalf.
"More than news," Háma said. "Much more. Théoden is freed from Wormtongue. And so you are freed from your imprisonment."
"Freed," Éomer said, his voice flat with doubt. This was more than he had expected, even from Gandalf. He squinted at Háma again as they moved into the guardhouse's main entryway, flooded with bright sunlight. "Freed, as in they're not going to kill me now?"
"Yes," Háma said. "You're a free man, Marshal. They're waiting for you, to take counsel about the defense of Rohan."
Éomer laughed, incredulous. "Free? The defense of Rohan? Háma, if you were anyone else I would think you the cruelest of liars. Even you I don't believe entirely."
Háma grinned at him, happier and more excited than Éomer had ever seen. Even his eyes sparkled with delight. "Free," he repeated. "You know I don't lie."
"It sounds like a tall tale," he said, shaking his head. "You know Wormtongue would have had me killed."
"I do know," Háma said, but his grin didn't dim. "But you were good enough to help a powerful person in his time of need, and he has more than returned the favor. Come! There are battles to plan."
Éomer looked around the room. "In that case," he said, "I'll need my sword." He felt a little light-headed, though whether that were giddiness at his unexpected reprieve, or the fact that he hadn't eaten in two days, he wasn't sure. "Where is it?"
"I gave it into the keeping of the guards," Háma said, moving across the guard house and retrieving Guthwine from a trunk where it had been dropped, scabbardless. "Here it is, Marshal."
Éomer grinned as Háma presented it to him. "Gúthwinë," he said. "I hadn't thought to see you again." He took the sword and held it, wiping fingerprints from it with the hem of his tunic. The guards had been playing with it. He'd heard them discussing its merits.
"Come, lord," Háma said. "They are waiting."
Éomer squared his shoulders with a breath. If only all kindnesses to strangers were so richly repaid.
According to Unfinished Tales, Théodred was killed on the evening of the 25th at the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. Messages sent by Erkenbrand with the news of his death and begging for Éomer to come with reinforcements arrived at Edoras around noon on the 27th. Éomer rode out from Aldburg around midnight on the 27th. I can find no indication anywhere as to whether the news of Théodred's fall and the need for reinforcements at the Fords of Isen reached Éomer before he left. I have chosen to believe his actions indicate that he did not know.
All verses are taken from the Marwnad Llywelyn (Lament for Llywelyn), by Gruffydd ab yr Ynad Coch, ca. 1280, written in mourning for the last prince of Aberffraw, slain by the Saxons. I felt it appropriate because his death symbolized the end of a way of life, as did Théodred's.
Translation copyright 1988 by Sarah Lynn Higley. I altered the poem in places, for length or for references to events or people that would have jarred in juxtaposition with this piece. Please forgive me for screwing it up; it's beautiful and not mine.
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.