1. I Am Of The House Of Eorl
March, 3019, Third Age
I am of the House of Eorl, that is to say my distant kin was born under his roof and we have lived here ever since, serving as is our lot and joy in life. I have always endeavored to serve my mistress well for she is descended from Eorl himself, and I from his greatest servants.
I was there the day 'they' arrived. I watched quietly from the back of the room as this strange foursome entered the king's hall. When others moved forward to stop them, I remained motionless as I had been ordered. With huge eyes, I watched the old one in white free our king, and I watched the tears of joy run down the face of my mistress. Then she smiled for the first time in such a long time, for 'he' who was in prison was released and named the king's heir. It was a joyful day in the hall… but it had been some time since we had seen such happiness.
In days long past, when I was still quite young, time had been wonderful for those who dwelt in our king's halls. Ale flowed freely, there was food aplenty, and I was able to play with the children who were carefree and happy. But then HE changed things. No, not the same man who had been imprisoned and who was so dear to my mistress, but he whom they called 'Wormtongue'. From the moment I first encountered HIM, I hated him. He just smelled wrong…I know not how else to describe it.
From the time Wormtongue began to talk to our king, my mistress changed. Before he began poisoning our king - oh yes, I saw him do it! - my mistress had been happy and full of life, not the cold person that had replaced the loving mistress I once had. For long years I was my mistress' only comfort in the night, and one of the few able to get in to see the one my mistress cared for so much - Eomer he is called - after he was arrested for disobeying our king and allowing strangers in our land and lending them our horses.
During those dark years, I watched faithfully over my mistress. She held me as she cried over the death of our king's son. I soothed her as best I could when they arrested her brother. I ran beside her when she escaped the halls to ride her horse. I took special care to make sure she was never alone with HIM. I did not like the way Wormtongue watched her, like a wolf stalking prey. So I guarded her from the shadows as she tended to our king. I listened as HE placed despair in her heart, caused her to believe she and her people had lost their honour. I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck whenever he moved near to her, causing me to stand from my place by the door. His eyes would stray in my direction and we would lock our gazes. A battle would be fought…a battle with no words, only vehement looks. Every time, he backed away from her, for he would have faced my wrath if he had so much as touched my mistress!
For several years I watched my mistress suffer. Then 'they' had come. The old one who freed the king, he had been here before and was more than welcome by me. I cannot explain why I liked the old man any more than I can explain why I hated Wormtongue. But I can tell you that I liked the other three very much, including the short hairy one, though I fear he did not like me at all! The other two were tall, one dark haired and dirty, and one with hair like sunlight and who seemed to shine with an inner light.
The 'golden one' was the first to meet my gaze. He had sensed me as soon as he entered the hall and our gazes had locked. I knew immediately that he understood me and my love for my mistress without us ever speaking. He stood faithfully beside his companions, ever watching the happenings with curious eyes, but I noticed his fingers twitch and I knew he ached for the weapons he no longer carried. Still, death could come from those hands, armed or not, and I welcomed him in my own way.
The 'dark scruffy one' also found my gaze as his eyes took in the room. He was just as watchful as the elf - that is what the short, hairy one calls the 'golden one' - but less curious. His eyes traveled over the hall with a feel of familiarity. He had been here before! I could just tell. That is a gift my kind has…to know these things without being told. And as I watched him, I knew he was a great man, destined for great things. Here was a king in peasant's clothing! Strong and powerful he was, and I felt my heart leap with joy when my mistress first laid eyes on him, for she saw in him what I had seen! But I was quickly saddened for in one look I knew…he was not for her.
That one day set such things in motion that many would later call history. I watched it all unfold from my place at the back of the hall. I leapt to my feet when the one called Eomer threatened Wormtongue for what he had done, and I did not understand why the old one dressed in white stayed Eomer's hand or why the king let HIM go after hearing of the evil he had done.
My eyes swept the room looking for one who would understand. They fell on the 'golden one' and he met my gaze sadly. Somehow he knew, he knew my thoughts and as the others passed to go outside the hall, he stopped and laid a hand on my shoulder in understanding.
He spoke quietly, his voice musical and pleasing to my sensitive ears, "You have done well, my friend. She no longer has anything to fear from HIM, he is gone. But your job is not yet over, I think."
My eyes strayed to her tall form, clad in a long white dress covered with a corslet and holding a sword before her. Yes, she was now free of HIM, but the seeds he had planted had not yet been uprooted. My mistress was still in danger. She would lead her people to safety as our king led the men to fight. I met the elf's bright grey eyes and let him know I understood my duty was not yet done. I would not leave her face what was to come alone. He smiled and patted my shoulder before heading out the door to join his companions. I missed the 'golden one' after he left with our king and his friends.
My mistress was not happy to be left behind, but she held her head high and filled her role ably. I was proud of my mistress when she rode into this new place. She looked so noble, and she led the people admirably. She had convinced many who did not wish to leave our home to come with her to this place she called 'Dunharrow'. Here in the mountains, it was cooler and I felt much younger than my years. But I stayed by her side as she moved among the people, overseeing the ordering of the camp and the provisions distributed, for I sensed something amiss in the mountain nearby, something evil pervaded the air. I watched the people avoid 'that' road leading into the mountain at all costs.
My mistress showed herself as a true lady and a shield maiden of Rohan in those days. She walked amongst our people, helping out wherever an extra hand was needed. She poured herself into her work, but I could sense her unhappiness, the coldness had not left her. I tried my best to get her to smile, but the small turn of her lips could not be truly counted as such. It was not until the 'dark scruffy one' came with a 'Grey Company' of riders that she allowed a real smile to light her face. I watched the hope spring into her eyes when he brought her the news of the victory at a place called 'Helm's Deep', a place I had never seen but have heard mentioned in the king's halls. She had thought he had come for her…but he had come for other purposes.
With him was the dwarf - the short hairy being that shared tidbits of delicious food from his plate - and the 'golden one'. I was much relieved to see him again and we spent some time together 'talking'. It was during our walk that evening that we overheard my mistress and the 'scruffy one' speaking. She was imploring him not to take 'that' road - the 'Paths of the Dead' - but he insisted that was his course. She begged to be allowed to travel with him, but I could see in the 'scruffy one's' steely eyes - this one they called 'Aragorn' - he would not allow it.
In my heart I was thankful for I knew I would not be able to go with her on such a journey. This king in disguise reminded her of her duty to stay with our people, and my mistress was embittered for once again being left behind. I will never forget their words that day.
*"… I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death."
"What do you fear, lady?" he asked.
"A cage," she said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire." *
I understood. She needed to regain the honour she felt she had lost. The 'kingly man' did not know how she had been downtrodden by HIM. She was desperate to prove herself and see the glory of her people restored and none would be able to stop her in the end. The 'golden one' understood, as well as I, the darkness against which she had fought, but he felt it was not his place to interfere. He encouraged me to look after her as long as I was able. He and I spent the rest of the evening together. I will never forget him - the elf. Never have I met anyone like him. Even the two other elves that now traveled with the 'scruffy kingly man' were not like my golden friend. He understood me in a way no other ever has. And he understood my mistress.
They left the following morning. My mistress had dressed as a Rider of Rohan and had pleaded to be allowed to join them, but she was left behind and a coldness more bitter than ever before consumed her heart at being denied her chance for honour...and love. When our king and her brother arrived, I knew it was too late. She would go looking for death for she had nothing left for which to hope.
I sat in her tent and watched her prepare herself. I watched her transform from my beloved mistress, into a rider named Dernhelm. My heart ached as I knew she would ride to her death and I could not be there with her. I watched a single tear fall down her face and I moved to her side, putting my cold nose in her hand. She stroked my head and held me close.
"You cannot come this time, Docga. You must stay. I love you dear one…stay."
And so I stayed. As I lay in her tent, I heard her speak to the little one and offer to let him ride with her. I listened to the thunder of hooves as the company rode off, headed for war. I almost stayed there when the women returned to Edoras, but I did not wish to die here. I would return to my home and die where I had been born. My years were soon to be over and my mistress was gone… I headed home, head low and my tail between my legs.
Eowyn dismounted from her horse in front of the Golden Hall of Meduseld. Her eyes scanned the building and the surrounding area. Much had been damaged, much had been lost. She whistled softly and waited. Minutes passed and nothing stirred.
Tears filled her eyes, for though she had set out to regain her honour and in the process had found her heart warmed and filled with a love greater than she had ever known, there was one she had left behind, and he could never be replaced in her heart. Eowyn searched the area one last time before dropping her eyes and letting the tears fall. It had been too much to hope that he would have survived. Turning, she led her horse towards the stable.
A soft sound behind her stopped her in her tracks.
Slowly, she turned back towards the hall and at the top of the steps he stood. His tail wagged fiercely and with great leaps the wolfhound bounded down the stairs and into her arms.
Docga - old English for dog.
*The quote by Eowyn and Aragorn comes from The Return of the King: "The Passing of the Grey Company," p. 58*
This story was inspired by two things: In the movie The Two Towers, there is one scene in the Golden Hall of Meduseld where a wolfhound is led through the background; and a quote by Saruman concerning Rohan…"What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek, and their brats roll around on the floor with their dogs!" Meant as an insult, as a dog lover I found instead a charming culture and thus this story was born...
Wolfhounds usually live shorter lives than smaller dogs, but they can live as long as 12 years or more. Grima Wormtongue began influencing Theoden King on behalf of Saruman around the year 3014. Therefore it is feasible that the dog was born a few years before Grima aligned with Saruman and lived several years past the War of the Ring.
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.