1. Lost Treasure
It was the spring festival for the horse fair and new foals and yearlings in Edoras were being displayed. The city was bedecked as usual, with fine banners depicting the House of Eorl, a much loved and revered blood- line of the rulers of the Riddermark. Craftsmen and purveyors of all were camped along and outside the city, for at the moment there had not been any orc attacks lately, but the Eoreds were not lulled by this. The Marshals and warriors knew this only too keenly. Too much blood had been spilt over the years for them to fall into a sense of false security, and they were ready to ride out at any time to protect the people and borders of Rohan.
Indeed the Third Marshal, Eomund would not have travelled from the Eastenmet with his wife Lady Theodwyn, younger beloved sister of the king, and also in the party their young son Eomer but two summers old, and who had not been to Edoras since his birth there. It was a good time to visit friends and family, and also for the Marshals to convene and discuss tactics that may be needed for the future, should the orc attacks reoccur again.
It was a cool day, the sun shining through the clouds giving only a ray or two of warmth, but the rain clouds were held at bay by the light breeze. Amid the throng of people the warmth from many bodies radiated forth.
Lady Theodwyn was enjoying the morning, she was escorted by a small entourage of Rohirric nobles’ wives and she walked too and fro acknowledging bows and curtsies from the populous, holding onto the hand of her young son Eomer.
Suddenly a commotion lower down near the gates carried up into the city. A stallion had got loose, and being much agitated, threatened to run into the crowd causing much panic and confusion, especially as there were young and old in the throng who could easily get injured from the chaos thus ensued. As the stallion bucked and frisked about, a great mass of people hastened to get out of the way as the grooms tried in vain to calm the great beast and place him safely back into his stall.
Around Theodwyn the crowd surged, and as she let go of Eomer’s hand to pick him up for safety the crowd pushed and she got separated from her son. She tried to push her way through the crowd but was herself pushed even further from him by the people trying to avoid flying hooves. Little Eomer himself was borne far away from his mother by the crowd and ‘twas sheer luck that he did not get trampled underfoot. He suddenly found himself in a cleared area and started to look around for his Mama.
There were a couple of stalls selling produce in front of a low wall, but the people were more interested in checking that the stallion was secure than looking down at a small boy in their midst. Fear crept into his heart and his dark eyes started to tear at his predicament. He sat on the low wall and started sobbing for his Mama but the noise of the crowd prevented anyone hearing his outburst. A further surge in the masses only made matters worse, as in the rush he was knocked off the wall and landed three feet down on the other side. It was not a long drop to be sure and on grass, but to a mite his size and age it was like falling off the end of the world. He landed heavily and bumped his forehead, which stunned him for a minute or two.
Lady Theodwyn was by now beginning to panic, something she had never done in her life before, her small son had been swept out of her sight and was nowhere to be seen among the crowds, indeed because of all the confusion no one had been paying attention to anything other than finding safety for themselves. Eomund had remained in Meduseld, holding council with the King, fellow marshal’s and councillors. They were to join their wives and families after the noon meal. Prince Theodred, being fifteen years of age was with his own age group watching proceedings from the stables, totally oblivious to his young cousins plight.
Theodwyn found herself at the exact same spot that Eomer had sat on the wall, her eyes scanning wildly round, not knowing that her beloved son was lying stunned just on the other side. She dashed further along, looking everywhere and calling his name, her ladies following.
“Where can he be?” she sobbed, her ladies tried to console her, each one of them searching also for the young boy.
Lord Gadrolem, recognized and approached the anxious mother and asked if she needed any assistance. Theodwyn was by now too distraught to speak and her maids explained the problem. He at once sent a messenger to Meduseld to inform the King and Eomund of the situation, and also another to alert the riders to search for the boy.
“Worry not, my lady,” he tried to console her, “Your son will be in no danger within Edoras. Once the tumult has calmed down, someone will spot him safe and sound.” He tried to allay her fears, in vain, as the poor mother was shaking with her loss.
Minutes later, Eomund and the King appeared, anxiety clouding their faces, they were being apprised of the situation by Lord Gadrolem and Theodwyn collapsed sobbing into the strong arms of her husband. He held her tightly, whispering endearments that their child would be found, though Eomund himself was fearful because of his sons’ age and there were a few strangers within the city who were not Rohirric. The king escorted his sister back to Meduseld with much persuasion, explaining that when he was found, they could be reunited immediately. She let herself be led away while the marshal and his riders organized an intense search for the young lord of the house of Eorl.
Eomer had picked himself up off the grass verge he had landed on, it was much too high for him to climb back up, so he walked round the other side, trying to get back to where he had fallen from. He rubbed his head, where a small red mark had left itself there since his fall. His head hurt, he was cold and frightened and knew not where he was and his beloved Mama was nowhere in sight. He walked further away from the main throng of people and further away from the main city area, tears falling again as he trudged along, not knowing where he was, but trying desperately to get back into his Mama’s arms again, not knowing that his little footsteps were taking him to the very outskirts of Edoras.
Thormund, a young rider, was brushing his horse outside one of the smaller stables at the far end of the city, inside were about twenty of his companions. They had been on patrol and were just back and getting ready to join the celebrations within the city.
A sudden noise behind made him spin around, but he was totally unprepared for what he saw. A small boy, only a babe really, walked into the stable yard, sobbing fit to wrench your heart out. He was definitely a Rohirric child, his blonde mane, almost reaching his shoulders was proof enough. He was dressed in a richly embroidered green tunic and leggings and was obviously lost and extremely fretful.
“Hailsa, youngling,” he addressed the lost mite. Eomer jumped slightly when he heard Thormund’s voice, as he had not noticed anyone through his tears. He looked up at big rider with wide frightened eyes, terror and exhaustion showing on his sorrowful little face.
‘Bema’,Thormund thought to himself, ‘What a fine looking boy.’ He walked over to Eomer and smiled down at him. He knelt down slowly so as not to terrify the child more, and picked him up, gently wrapping his arms around him for comfort. It was gut instinct to protect this child of Rohan. He could feel Eomer trembling with fear as he looked into Thormunds face and eyes.
“Fear not, little one, I shall not harm thee,” he spoke in a soft voice to quell any more fears Eomer might have, and caressed his little back with a gentle touch, whispering soothing nonsense in his ear. He strode into the stables and approached the rest of his company who were readying themselves to enjoy the rest of the day.
“I seem to have found someones ‘lost treasure’, he stated to his companions. They all came over to where Thormund was standing with the still trembling Eomer within his arms, tears streaming down his face. They all smiled at the lost little one.
“Some Mama will be going frantic at loosing this ‘treasure’, no doubt,” said Relpeff.
“Aye, and some Papa also, I’ll be bound.” Replied Sardeck, he had but lately become a father himself, and knew what he would be feeling if his own young one went missing.
“We must reunite this ‘treasure’ back to his family,” stated Thormund, looking down on his little charge with a tender expression.
“I will go up to the city and ask for tidings, as they are sure to be searching for him.” Rawtern declared, hastily leaving the stable on his mission.
Thormund held Eomer securely and safely, he seemed to have stopped trembling a bit, but he was loath to put him down lest the child run off in terror.
“Now, my little one,” he spoke softly to Eomer, “Have you a name? I am called Thormund. What are you called?”
“Nay,” said Relpeff, “He is only a babe, he will not know his name yet, I deem. He is dressed very regally though, he must be a child of the nobility, methinks.”
“Possibly,” replied Thormund, “But still well beloved I have no doubt, nobility or no. He is, as you say, only a babe who had lost his Mama.”
“ I want Mama,” sobbed Eomer, from within Thormunds’ arms, his tears and cries went to the hearts of the riders, and he still trembled slightly from fear.
“We will find her, little one,” Thormund whispered to him, rubbing his large hand gently over his back to reassure him.
“Eomer,” Eomer whispered his name to Thormund.
Thormund looked at the company and they all grinned, “Your name is Eomer is it little one?” he asked gently. Eomer nodded in agreement.
“Now then Eomer,” Thormund carried on, “Do you know the name of your Mama?” It would be easier for them to find the family if they knew his parents names, but they were not prepared for his answer.
“Theodwyn,” Eomer said softly, followed by another bout of sobs and tears as he thought of his Mama and wanted to be back with her again.
“Impossible,” said Relpeff, “The Kings’ sister is the only Lady with that name, but then we think he is a child of the nobility, do we not?”
“What is your Papa’s name?” Thormund asked, dreading the answer, as if his suspicions were true he was holding in his arms, the nephew of the king and also a full blood son of the house of Eorl.
“Eomund.” The child whispered back to them. Thormund held his breath, and looked into the eyes of his companions as they pondered their next move.
They looked at the child anew, he was a young lord who would one day be one of their leaders and Marshals. They all felt an immense sense of protection towards the boy and loyalty to the house he had been born into.
Rawteyn had gone into the city and his quick ears had picked up the information he was looking for. A child had been separated from his mother during a fracas with a stallion, and not an ordinary child at that. This one was the son of the Lady Theodwyn and her husband Eomund, chief marshal of the mark and he was also nephew to the King himself.
Rawteyn turned and saw Eomund searching the area and rushed over to divulge his possible good tidings.
“Forgive me for interrupting your quest, my lord, but I might have good tidings for you.” He stated, deferentially, with a small bow to the Marshal.
“You have news of my son?” the marshal asked harshly, his handsome face a mask of worry.
“Yes, my lord,” Rawteyn replied, “Not half an hour ago, a small boy answering your sons description, walked into the lower stable yard, in some distress.”
“All the way down there?” exclaimed Eomund in a shocked voice, “It is a long way for such a young age. Was he hurt?” he inquired.
“Nay, my lord, I think not, my company are tending him as we speak, can I lead the way?” He replied.
“Aye, as fast as we can go.” Answered Eomund.
The riders were still trying to comfort Eomer, who was still vocal and trembling. He had never been separated from his Mama before and was in much distress. Eomer kept rubbing his forehead and Thormund noticed the red mark there.
“Does it hurt there, little one?” he asked gently.
Eomer nodded his answer. They then heard voices approaching from outside the stables and soon Rawteyn entered and behind him walked Eomund, Chief marshal of the Mark.
“We seem to have something you may have lost, my lord,” Thormund said, bowing slightly to the marshal, with a small smile on his face. He turned so that Eomer could see who had entered the stable.
“Papa,” Eomer sobbed and held out his little arms towards his father, and Eomund covered the distance between them in a few long strides and gathered his small son from the arms of Thormund and held him close. He stood a long while rocking his son gently, whispering love words to him and kissing his tear streaked face lightly.
The riders departed to give father and son a moment to themselves in their greetings. Soon Eomer’s tears and trembling had stopped and he was held protectively within strong arms.
“Are you well, my son,” Eomund asked him gently.
Eomer lifted the hair from his forehead and showed his Papa the red bruise forming there, Eomund smiled and kissed the area, much as he had seen his wife do.
Eomund then turned to greet the company who had looked after his child and thanked them profusely. He then sent a messenger up to Meduseld to inform his wife that their son was found safe and well and that he would return with him shortly.
“Thank you for tending my son, he has given his Mama and I quite the scare today. I am not usually so panic stricken as I was this last hour, and his Mama quite hysterical in her loss,” Eomund stated.
The company bowed back to Eomund in reply. Eomer safe within Eomunds arms watched the company now and smiled shyly at Thormund as he snuggled closer to his Papa.
“He is indeed a son to be proud of, my lord,” Thormund answered, “I have ne’er seen such a fine one.”
Eomund smiled back, “Yes, he is indeed a ‘treasure’ never to be mislaid again.” He kissed his small son gently.
Thormund bowed his allegiance to the House of Eorl.
“And now I must return this lost one to his Mama, in haste, whence I deem there will be more tears from both of them.” Eomund stated, and prepared to leave the lower stable. Eomer held high, wrapped his arms around his Papas’ neck and laid his head on his shoulder and yawned, he had had quite the day. The company smiled to see his sleepy eyes trying to stay awake.
Eomund walked back up through the city to Meduseld, nodding at the citizens who were happy to see the youngster had been reunited with his father and that he was safe and well. He passed through the gates to the palace and entered the halls. A flash of white flew to greet him and his precious burden. Eomund smiled at his beloved wife and handed a sleepy Eomer into his Mamas’ arms, where as he predicted, they both began to weep with joy at being together again.
She held her son close in her arms and crooned love words to him and covered his unprotesting little face with kisses. She could feel he was cold and rushed him to sit by the fire and called for food and a drink for her hungry son. Her brother patted her on the shoulder and Theodwyn looked up at him and smiled back. Eomer slept soundly that might, exhausted by his days events, but his parents felt sleep long evade them as they kept checking his sleeping form in the small bed next to their own in the guest chambers.
The next day further festivities recommenced throughout Edoras, but before Theodwyn started out to attend the ceremonies she paid a call at the lower stable Eomer held tightly within her arms, and personally thanked the company for the care they had shown in looking after her son. The men, honoured by the White Lady’s visit, bowed as she left. Eomer had not acknowledged any of them, but as Lady Theodwyn walked from the stables, he smiled and waved at his rescuers from the proceeding day.