1. Unworkable A/U
Did Eomer know Theodred was dead when he set out after Ugluk's band? I don't know.
Theodred was killed on the 25th of March at the Fords of Isen.
Eomer set out from the Eastfold at midnight on the 27th.
Over 100 miles separate the two locations, and initially I wasn't sure if a messenger could have made the journey in time. I was, of course, bitterly sarcastic that anyone could criticize my work and call it an A/U because of this (actually I was enjoying most of the criticism, if you must know, but I felt that my critic in this case had done even less research than I had, and also I had drunk far more beer that was strictly advisable in the situation, and... You know how these things are sometimes.) and I found myself wondering how news really traveled across the Mark, if two days is such an unreasonably long span of time for news to travel.
Anyhow, my research came back ambiguous-- the news of Theodred's death had certainly reached Edoras before Eomer departed, but there is simply no detail as to where in Eastfold Eomer actually was, much less whether the news had made it to him from Edoras. No canon citation I can find makes it clear.
The result of the debate is immaterial to this story. What follows is my amused and slightly hung-over imaginings of the spread of news across the Mark.
(Inspired, largely, by this thread.)
If you have trouble reading this formatting, see the version of this story on my site, with font formatting etc.
Eomer son of Eomund, Third Marshal of the Riddermark, sat wearily in his chair with his feet on the desk, nursing a tankard of ale and absently petting the cat that had settled into his lap. It had been a long day. He had been to Edoras and back, with a bitter and fruitless argument in between. He sighed. The Wormtongue had to be stopped. If he had his way, Rohan would be overrun.
A familiar chime sounded and he sighed. He gingerly shifted the cat and the tankard so he could put his feet on the floor. He set the tankard down on the desk, and hit the shift key to wake up the display.
Steel95: U there?
He sighed. Eowyn. She was going to scold him for losing his temper at Wormtongue again. He could pretend not to have seen her, but she'd probably persist, and he couldn't put up an away message now and still pretend he didn't see the window. He pulled the keyboard into a better position and answered her.
Marshal03: what up, Wyn?
Steel95: ru ok?
Marshal03: fine. was gonna go sleep
Steel95: im worried about theo
Steel95: hes not answering his cell
Steel95: i called n got voicemail
Steel95: n then i sent a txt
Marshal03: he's busy, wyn
Steel95: i kno but he always picks up when i call
Steel95: or calls me back
Marshal03: chill, wyn. he probably forgot the charger again
He checked his email. "Spam, spam, spam," he muttered, deleting the various offers for hoof-strengtheners and hangover pills. He accidentally deleted the email from Theoden and had to retrieve it from the deleted items box with a grimace at the brightly-colored subject lines of all the deleted spams.
Subject: not amused
Date: March 25, 3019 8:41:34 PM CDT
Eomer, your attitude today with Grima was unacceptable. You will apologize to him. You may not
Eomer stopped reading and dragged the message to his "bullshit" folder. Theoden hadn't typed that. Grima had written it himself. Little fucker. Eomer wanted to wring his little pencil-neck. One of these days he was going to do so.
Steel95: eomer im worried
Marshal03: Wyn, we can't do anything but wait.
Marshal03: did you try Grimbold?
Steel95: dont have his #
Marshal03: he uses a pager. hang on, i'll try him.
He sighed, and dug in his pocket to find his phone. The batteries were dead. He sighed again, and went to shift the cat so he could stand up, and remembered that he'd left the charger in his saddlebag. Out in the stable.
Marshal03: i don't have the # on me. look in king's rolodex
Steel95: im not going in there
Steel95: worms always in there
Steel95: he looks at me
Steel95: its gross
Marshal03: then chill out. it's your choice.
Eomer rubbed at his beard and looked in his email program's addressbook to see if he could find Grimbold's pager number. No, he hadn't written it anywhere but in his phone. So much for Grima's plan to keep everyone's contact info updated. With a curse he stood up and dumped the cat carefully onto the floor. Miffed, the cat stalked away. He went to check the trunk by the door to see if he'd chanced to bring his saddlebags in, but no luck.
He cursed again. He'd only just changed out of his work clothes. He didn't want to go out to the stables in his slippers. And Theodred was indubitably fine. Being incommunicado for a day was hardly cause for panic.
He sat down.
Marshal03: wyn, look, just chill out.
Autoresponse from Steel95: guess ill go eat worms
Marshal03: wyn, don't be like this or I'll kick your ass.
Marshal03: Don't think I won't.
Steel95: u kno what its like here
Steel95: ill kick UR ass
He picked up his tankard and finished the rest of the beer. Sisters were a sore trial, he decided. Then it struck him: Erkenbrand. He was pretty sure he had Erkenbrand's number. He opened up his addressbook. Sure enough, there it was.
Marshal03: Erkenbrand. Call Erkenbrand if you're that upset. He'll know what's up in Westfold and probably where Theo is.
Marshal03: (555) 214-0863
Eowyn didn't answer, and he closed the window and looked at his buddy list. Marshal02 was on, but had been idle for two days. He had the same incoherent away message up as he'd had for most of the week, which seemed largely obscene and was most likely directed at Saruman, though the typos were rather meaning-obscuring. Eomer sent him a message anyway.
Marshal03: Theo, the girl's getting difficult. You should return her txts.
Autoresponse from Marshal02: Fcknung son ofa mthotherfuckngag ofrcfckuker wzard
Marshal03: spellcheck, dude.
He pushed away from the desk and rubbed his eyes for a minute. It was late. He had been up since sunrise. He had ridden many, many miles. He was deeply weary and he needed a bath. And if he sat here he was going to throw his keyboard across the room. Speaking of which he had forgotten the laptop and charger in the saddlebag as well. And he had to go and get them because he'd need them charged for tomorrow.
He stood up, cursing at length and with great creativity, and then moving on to curse the ancestors of the curses he had just used. A little ping interrupted him and he glared at the monitor.
Incoming message from: RKNBRND Accept / Deny / Block
He clicked Accept. Erkenbrand? What was wrong with the old screen name? He'd been rather amused by the implications behind the screen name DWormD.
RKNBRND: E-- pick up ur phone
Marshal03: battery's dead. new sn?
RKNBRND: E it's all gone to shit here
Marshal03: hold up, man. You OK?
Marshal03: did Elfhelm get there in time?
Marshal03: Where are you?
RKNBRND: we lost him
Marshal03: the Fords?
RKNBRND: im sor sorry
RKNBRND: Theorded fell
RKNBRND: hes dead
RKNBRND: eomer im' sorry
RKNBRND: I dont kno if we can hold the Fords
RKNBRND: Grimbold and Elfhelm are there
Marshal03: no fucking way
RKNBRND: Grimbold was there when it happened. hes ben trying ot call you all nitgh
Eomer pushed away from the computer and sat numbly staring at the screen. The landline phone began to ring and he turned slowly to look at it. Theodred dead? Theodred dead. Theodred...
RKNBRND: worm wont send reinforcements
RKNBRND: understand me theyr coming to Edoras next
RKNBRND: defend the capital by defending the wes
RKNBRND: eomer u there?
RKNBRND: wel' be overrun
RKNBRND: we cant hold
Eomer picked up the phone slowly. "Aldburg," he said numbly.
"Eomer." It was Hama, the king's network security expert. "Eomer, Theodred's dead."
"Yeah," he said. "Yeah."
"You weren't answering your cell."
"Yeah," he said. "Battery died. Erkenbrand just IM'd me."
"Oh." Hama was silent a moment. "Eomer, it's bad. Erkenbrand called and first Grima wouldn't let him talk to Theoden. Finally he did and Theoden just cursed him out. Erkenbrand needs reinforcements. He can't be left to hold the West alone. Edoras could be overrun in three days. If Saruman--"
"I know," Eomer said. "But Worm said no, right? He said we should sit here with our thumbs in our asses and just fuck around, right?"
"Calm down," Hama said. "Eomer, please, calm down."
"I'm fucking calm," Eomer said, standing up with an explosive motion. "I'm fucking calm. My fucking cousin is fucking dead and I'm sitting on my fat fucking ass and waiting for the Uruks to show up. Shit, Hama, what am I supposed to do?"
"I don't know," Hama said. "I don't know. Grima is here. He wants to talk to you. Please, Eomer, please, it's all right."
"No," Eomer said. He could hear Hama handing the phone to Wormtongue.
"Eomer," Grima purred. "My condolences on the tragic loss of your cousin."
Eomer was silent for a moment. "Grima," he said, but choked on his overwhelming desire to scream curses.
"I must remind you that it is your duty to have either your cellphone or your pager on 24 hours a day," Grima went on. "Grimbold has been trying to reach you since late evening with no success."
A sharp pain went through Eomer's head as he gritted his teeth too tightly. "Battery died, Grima," he said. "Where's Eowyn? Let me talk to Eowyn." He sat down slowly, shaking with anger and grief.
RKNBRND: Eomer where did u go
RKNBRND: Eomer i'm so sorry
Marshal03: on phone w grima
Marshal03: i will help u
Marshal03: if i have to kill worm frst
Marshal03: i might have to
"Are you typing something, Marshal?" Grima asked.
"Erkenbrand got in contact with me via an instant messaging program," he said wearily. "I have been informed of the fate of the Second Marshal. Erkenbrand indicates that his situation is dire."
"We must defend the capital," Grima said.
"At the expense of the rest of the country?" Eomer asked.
"If we cannot defend the capital the rest of the country is moot," Grima said. "Report here tomorrow morning, Eomer. We must arrange for the defense of the capital."
"Are you abandoning the Westfold?" Eomer asked, incredulous.
"I am merely advising caution," Grima said. "I believe they can hold."
"The Second Marshal is dead, Grima," Eomer said. "Dead. Erkenbrand is not a man for panic."
"And it is tragic to have lost Theodred, but I do not think he is the Westfold's only defender," Grima went on.
Eomer's rage suddenly got the better of him. "You motherfucker," he said. "You fucking cocksucker. Get off my fucking line." He threw the telephone across the room and shouted a stream of obscenities after it.
He sat with his face in his hands for a long time. The computer chimed and bipped periodically, and the phone began to make the stuttering beep it made when it hadn't been hung up properly. Theodred was dead.
Finally he raised his face from his hands and looked at the screen. A new mail had sung into his inbox, and he clicked it curiously. It was a txt from one of his scouts.
Urks 150 wb frm emn ml. mxd-- wht hnd, rd I. pls advise.
150 Uruks westbound from the Emyn Muil, bearing mixed tokens-- the white hand and the red eye.
He tapped out a response.
Observe them and determine their destination.
He wasn't going to sit in Aldburg forever.
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.