6. The World Has Changed
It has been three days since the dream and she has not set foot in the chamber again, though as she passes the open doorway she sees that someone has closed the book and laid it on the window seat.
She does what she can to keep herself occupied, to keep her mind from straying down paths better left untrod, but with autumn ever deepening there is less and less work to be done in the garden. She takes long walks through the fields and forests both by day and by night. Wishing to be alone, she avoids the Elves; some of them have begun to sing again, and this angers her even though she once missed the sound of their voices in the night.
One evening, just as she is setting out, the starry mantle over her shoulders, she sees Éomer ride up to the gates. She tries to slip unnoticed around the corner, but he catches sight of her nonetheless. 'Éowyn!' he calls sharply, throwing the reins into the servant's waiting hands.
Resignedly she stops and faces him, beckoning him into the garden. She sees that his face is dark and grim, but she feels no curiosity; she desires only to be alone.
'We have received word that the Haradrim have begun their march again,' Éomer says, placing a hand on her arm. 'I ride with Aragorn at dawn.'
Éowyn says nothing. Éomer's frown deepens. 'I do not know how long I will be gone; they are not so numerous as they once were and Aragorn is hopeful that it shall not last long. Faramir -' He breaks off but when she does not react he continues, though his eyes are watching her warily. 'Faramir thought that if we were able to take to leader, the rest would scatter; he said they warred much amongst themselves.'
She nods slightly to show she has heard, but she is not looking at him; her eyes are on the fields, gazing unseeingly. Still, she says nothing.
His touch surprisingly gentle, he turns her face towards him so he can see her clearly. 'Take care of yourself while I am away,' he says quietly. 'I will return as soon as I am able.'
Again the silent nod.
Éomer simply stares at her, not knowing what to do. Then, with a sigh, he kisses her forehead and leaves the garden.
The moment he is out of sight, she turns and slips away, the blue of her mantle blending with the ever-deepening shadows.~*~
The sun blazed down and the air was filled with the clash of steel, the cries of man and beast, and the stench of blood.
She stood alone before the Witch King, her bright hair shining pale gold, seeking death. The Nazgûl screamed, a sound high and terrible, and with his mace he struck her shield; it shattered and her arm was broken.
From behind the Black Rider a Halfling - one Meriadoc - stabbed his small sword into the wraith's knee. The Rider shrieked, and with a might effort Éowyn drove her sword through the empty space between the crown and mantle. Her sword splintered into many glittering pieces and there came a cry, thin and wailing, as the empty mantle fell to the ground.
A darkness came rushing for her and she sank to her knees, fighting it; there was something she must yet do. Slowly, she dragged her battered body across to the fallen horse and rider, easing around the animal's lifeless form. With difficulty she drew the helm from the man's head -
- and suddenly found herself staring into Faramir's face: his eyes were open and blank, and a thin trail of blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.
A scream of anguish and despair burst from her lips and this time she did not fight the darkness when it came for her.~*~
She awakes, weeping, crying all the tears she has been holding back since he died; she cannot stop and for a long while she trembles uncontrollably.
At last she pushes herself up so she is sitting and presses her colds hands to her aching eyes. Moments pass and then she raises her head, gazing about the dark room; one of the windows is open but there is nothing to be seen, for the dawn has not yet come.
There is still time.
Throwing aside the covers, she reaches for the robe draped over the chair and slips it over her shoulders. She then lights a candle and steals silently from the room, walking a little way down the hall until she passes through another door, closing it behind her.
She sets the candle on the floor and kneels before a wooden trunk. For a moment she only runs her hands lightly over the surface then, full of a cold and steady resolve, she grasps the handle and lifts the lid.
Inside, lying folded and untouched for a few years, is a small suit of Rohirric armour. This she sets beside her then reaches for the final item: a sword. It is not her own - hers shattered when she met the Witch King - but one that belonged to her grandmother, Steelsheen.
Rising, she slips it from the worn leather sheath and grasps the hilt firmly in her hands. Experimentally she swings, cutting the air, and nods grimly; the feel and movement are familiar. She has not forgotten.
She slides the blade back into its sheath and leans it against the trunk. Straightening, she slips the robe from her shoulders and draws the nightgown up over her head; time is pressing.~
It is not yet dawn, though a thin silver line has appeared on the horizon, when a figure on horseback leaves the manor stables and begins to ride towards Minas Tirith. By the time the soldier arrives at the Rohirric encampment outside the walls, dawn is just breaking and the men are up and preparing to march. No one notices the new arrival, and when Aragorn leads his own men out of the city gates, the Rohirrim fall in behind Éomer.
High up on the city walls the people see them off, watching the two kings lead their men on a southward march.
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.