1. At Sunset
They raced through the forests of Ithilien, Éowyn watched the green trees pass, becoming a blur in the wind. She had often raced Faramir, but today was different. Today she was not winning out right. In fact she could see that, for once, he was trying to win. Every time she urged her steed on, he would do the same. Now she thought all those other times had been practice, so he could see how well she rode.
They were riding hard, and for longer than they had before. Éowyn had yet to be in this part of Ithilien, even though she was now Princess of it. She had vowed to see all of this place, so that way she would know it and the people would know her as well. Éowyn was drawn out of her thoughts when she realized they had been racing for awhile. The horses seemed to like the long run, after all they had been gifts from her brother. And Éomer chose only the best horses to send to his sister.
Éowyn called ahead to Faramir. “Where are we going? When are we going to stop? It is getting close to sunset. Are you listening to me?” Faramir made no reply, only looked back for a second.
Sunset, Faramir thought. He made sure to look ahead of him for branches, then looked west. The sun was getting close to making its daily journey to the horizon. Yet, Faramir had planned tonight well, he knew how long it would take to get to their destination. He made sure to get done with his duties in time as well. He also knew that Éowyn’s horse was gaining on his. That if she got ahead, this whole thing would be over before he wanted it to be. He knew where they were going, she did not.
Faramir urged his horse on. The trees passed on either side. Each horse in turn jumped over a log. Then came a stream. The horses hooves kicked up water that came down in a shimmer as the sun caught it.
Éowyn saw that Faramir was not giving in, not this time. Usually what happened was that Faramir would slow down, a little, once she gained enough on him. Then when she won, as she usually did, he would congratulate her and say she would lose the next time. She knew that she would have won everyone of the races, even if Faramir would not slow down. It was a playful little game they played from time to time. That was why she was not surprised by the race today.
The terrain seemed to get clearer as if they were coming to a path. At this point Faramir pulled ahead enough to be able to get off his horse before Éowyn would try to claim victory and turn back. Once Éowyn saw that he was dismounting, she slowed her horse to be able to dismount next to Faramir.
“Why are we stopping here?” Éowyn’s voice rang through the silence in the trees.
“You will see, I want to show you something special, but I am afraid that you will have to close your eyes after awhile down the path.” Faramir said, grabbing her hand.
Éowyn did not like the idea of closing her eyes and not know where she was being lead. She trusted Faramir with her life though. He had saved her from the darkness, and she had saved him as well. So she followed. They passed through the forest, the horses having been tied to a tree, near some grass so that they started to eating as soon as their riders had gone.
Faramir stopped and looked back at Éowyn. “Now is the time you have to close your eyes, and promise not to open them until I say. Will you do that?”
“Yes, but can you tell me where we are going?” Éowyn asked as she closed her eyes, and her grip on Faramir’s hand become noticeably harder.
“Not until we are there.” Came his reply as they set forth again.
Éowyn could feel the ground under her feet, the sound of the wind in her ears, the feel of Faramir’s hand on hers, all this was exaggerated because her eyes were closed. She could feel the ground begin to get stepper as they climbed, she began to hear the sound of rushing water as well. The ground became hard and a little slick. Éowyn wanted to open her eyes, she even began to open one but as her eye flittered open Faramir said “We are almost there, keep your eyes closed, I know you are trying to peek.” Éowyn quickly closed her eye and felt a slight blush creep to her checks.
The water became louder and, even though her eyes were closed, she could tell it was getting darker. She could feel a faint spray of water on her face. She wanted to see, to know where she was going, what she was suppose to be seeing.
Then Faramir stopped her. The water now roared in her ears and was spraining her harder than before.
“Open you eyes.” Faramir said as he stepped behind her.
Éowyn did and the sight that greeted her eyes was breath taking. The waterfall before her was like falling gold, glittering in the fading sun. The water sparkled and filled the cavern where they were with a golden light. Then, as if the waters were changing to another substance, the gold changed to a rose color. Then the waters became a fiery red, the gold back mixing with the fire that was pouring before her eyes. It was not like anything Éowyn had seen before.
“This is beautiful, Faramir. How did you know it was here?” Éowyn asked awestruck.
“It is a post that my rangers use at times, that is why you could not have your eyes open. It is suppose to be secret, so you may see inside, but not know where it is.” He said moving closer to her.
“But why can I not see it?” Éowyn asked moving closer to Faramir, her voice half pleading, half a whisper.
“Because not even friends are allowed to see the path here.”
“What is this place called.” Éowyn whispered, the light form the sunset illuminating her, giving her a glow.
“Henneth Annûn, fairest of all the falls in Ithilien, yet their beauty is nothing compared to yours.” He said and then their lips met as the sun gave its last rays and the cavern dimmed.