3. Lothiriel's Journal 2
Just as she had thought, the birds had come back down and some were already lining up to take a turn in the bathing area. Lothíriel decided she liked the little sparrows best. They were not so colorful as some of the others but they made up for it by being cheeky and bossy, pushing bigger birds out of the way to regain a favored spot on the edge of the pond. Wings flapped furiously and water droplets sprinkled the surrounding pebbles, only to dry almost immediately as they hit the hot stone.
Entranced, she watched the frenzied activity for a moment longer before turning back to her journal.
Entry for 3rd April 3019
‘More messages came from my father today; he has commanded us to attend the coronation. The new king is to be called Elessar, the Elfstone, Envinyatar the Renewer of the house of Telcontar. We are to send harpers and players to honour the king, for there are none that play more sweetly than those of Dol Amroth. My father has suggested that we take Wild Swan and join him in Cormallen where the armies are resting after the battles. However, we have decided against this. As much as I long to see my father and brothers the time is not right to forsake our people. Elphir has decided that he will stay home for a while longer, as amidst the victory celebrations the people of Dol Amroth are grieving. In spite of my eagerness to meet the heroes of the battles and visit the White City I support him in this. We aim to leave towards the end of the month, arriving just in time to witness the coronation on the first day of May.’
Lothíriel sighed. Perhaps she should have been less high-minded and just ignored the plight of her people. But when they heard that Antron, the brother of one of her childhood friends, had been hewn down in the last hours of the fighting whilst dealing with the remnants of the Easterlings, she knew she could not go. She sighed again. If she had left when her father wanted then it would not have happened. Even now, over a year later, she could still remember the bitter disappointment and envy when she had waved her brother and his family on their way. But who could have foretold that she would have broken her leg a week before they were due to take the ship to Minas Tirith…
They had watched the ship until it rounded the point; the last sight of it bringing a hollow feeing to her stomach. Just imagining all the wonderful celebrations, the dancing and the banquets had made her grip her crutch in frustration. She wouldn’t be meeting Éowyn now, or her brother. And she had so much wanted to.
“Crying won’t do any good, Lothíriel. You should have considered the danger before you went clambering over those slippery rocks.” Anniel’s voice was a little sharp but all the same she slid her arm around her charge’s waist.
Lothíriel sniffed. “I am not crying, but I am naturally disappointed. And on top of that my leg is uncomfortable. Besides,” she said, head defiantly in the air, “if the situation arose again I would still do the same. I cannot bear to see a creature struggling for life, and the gull would have drowned when the tide came in. It was so tangled in the line it had no chance.”
“If the guard hadn’t spotted you, you would have had no chance. Either of rescuing the gull without a knife or of making it back above the tide line with a broken leg.”
“Well, he did see me and that is what he is there for, so there’s no point in going on about it,” Lothíriel snapped. “Oh, I am sorry, Anniel,” she said immediately, seeing her cousin’s lips press together. “I should not take out my frustration on you. It’s just that nothing ever happens here. I have not left Dol Amroth since my mother died and it would have been so exciting to have gone to Minas Tirith. Everybody will be there except me.”
Anniel looked at her with a shrewd expression for a moment; as though she could divine Lothíriel’s every thought. “By everybody, I presume you mean Éomer of Rohan.” Anniel shook her head, “I don’t know what’s got into you. You have never even met the man but I find you reading books about that barbaric county at every opportunity.”
Lothíriel blushed. But she couldn’t really explain it either, only knowing she wanted to meet a real hero. And if he happened to be of marriageable age and considered by those who had met him, to be a good looking sort of man, then so much the better. Spending her early years reading tales of the first battles for Middle-earth and the champions of those times had left her with a vivid imagination and she admitted freely, a romantic disposition. As a noblewoman of Gondor, reading about adventure was the closest she was likely to get to it. Anyway, in spite of what Anniel said, it was not only Éomer she wanted to meet.
“I want to meet Éowyn, Anniel, and the others who helped to save us. I have never met a Halfling, an Elf or a Dwarf.”
Anniel smiled, a sceptical look on her face, before turning around to signal for the men to bring the adapted cart that would get Lothíriel back to the palace, “Well, your leg is not broken badly, and who’s too say how long they will all be staying in Minas Tirith, but…”
“But what, Anniel?”
“Just don’t you go setting your heart on any man in particular. You know it won’t work like that for you. Your marriage will be an affair of state and I am afraid you will have little say in it.”
“You don’t think my father will arrange something straight away, do you?” She didn’t quite know whether to be delighted or worried. Could she trust her father to make a choice that would please her?
“Maybe not quite yet, but soon, Lothíriel. Your dowry is bound to attract a lot of interest. No doubt new alliances will need to be forged after the war and there will be favours and debts to repay. The hand of the Princess of Dol Amroth is likely to seen as a valuable commodity.”
“Is that all I am, Anniel, a commodity?” Lothíriel swallowed, the slight euphoria she had felt when she realised things would change in the not too distant future, totally evaporated.
“Now, now, don’t pull that face,” said Anniel, putting her arm around her again. “You know your father will consider you when he makes the decision. He will be very fussy and want the best for his daughter.”
Reassured for a moment Lothíriel nodded. Her father might be a stickler for tradition and honour, but she knew he loved her. It was only after conversation ceased as the cart trundled its way back to the palace that a stray though flitted through her mind. To whom did Gondor owe the biggest debt, if not Rohan?”
Coming back to the present Lothíriel looked down at her journal, she had to remind herself what she had written that night…
‘I know it is silly of me to think so much of a person I have never met, but somehow it is as if I am heading toward a fate that was destined for me. I have heard so much from our men about the Rohirrim and the young lord who now leads them that I feel our paths will cross whether I go to Minas Tirith at this time or not. Ever since I can remember I have had these premonitions and they rarely let me down. Therefore I will not be saddened at my forced incarceration but use the time to learn more about the lands to the north of us and the people who dwell in them.’
Lothíriel grinned, hugging her journal against her breast before letting out a long sigh of satisfaction. Their paths had crossed all right, but she still remembered the stab of pure mortification she had felt when her father wrote of her cousin Faramir’s involvement with Éowyn of Rohan…
Entry for 12th May 3019
‘Another letter came from my father today in which he tells me that the Rohirrim have left Minas Tirith to begin their journey home. Evidently they were feted all the way from the city to the walls of the Rammas Echor. One person is sorrier than most to see them go: my cousin Faramir. It will not be announced until Théoden, the previous King of Rohan has been buried, but Faramir is to wed the Lady Éowyn. I am trying to be pleased for my cousin, for surely he deserves such happiness, but mixed amongst my pleasure at the news is the dreadful disillusionment I feel. Of course I will meet Éowyn and her brother, and doubtless many other of the Rohirrim; I will meet them at Faramir’s wedding in the spring. My premonitions were correct: our families will be drawn closer together, but not in the way I envisaged. Éowyn will be a cousin to me, not a sister. It was but a dream, no doubt the consequence of a fervid imagination and a liking for stories of bravery, romance and adventure. It is possible that I will spend the rest of my life in Gondor, wedded to some noble lord whose loyalty will strengthen the rule of the new king. My life will be regulated and subject to the traditions and restrictions imposed on the women of our land. But how I wish for something more!’
Lothíriel shook her head. Rarely in her life had she felt so despondent as she had during the summer months of 3019. She could not ride until her leg fully mended; Meren, her brothers and her father were all in Minas Tirith and the City of Dol Amroth still reeled from the aftermath of a bloody war. Even when the strapping came off her leg it took a while to return to full strength. Walks on the beach with Anniel and gentle ambles on her horse, her only relief from the monotony of long hot days and endless talks with her father’s councillors. The news of the king’s marriage to an elf caused some interest – and relief – that was one old man she was not destined to marry. But then came further disappointment…
Entry for 20th July 3019
‘In a few days Meren and Alphros will be home, but my brothers and my father are travelling to Rohan for King Théoden’s funeral. They honour the dead and the living, for no race of people is held in higher esteem in Gondor than the Rohirrim. But it will mean that six months will have passed since I set eyes on my father, Erchirion and Amrothos. I miss them dreadfully. I try to keep interested in my embroidery but I am making slow progress with the new seat covers needed for the solar. Even the books Anniel found buried in the vaults do not keep my attention and often my mind wanders up the river valleys of Lamedon and over the Ered Nimrais. Those snow-capped peaks I once saw in my childhood are in my thoughts a great deal. Somewhere beyond is a country I long to see.’
Well, she had seen Rohan now and it had not disappointed her, neither had the Lord of that land, but when she had written the passage she had told herself to think no more of him. Anniel was right: to set one’s heart on something one was unlikely to obtain only led to sorrow. Then Meren came home and everything changed…
Entry for 24th July 3019
‘Tonight the Great Hall rebounded with the clatter of crockery and the buzz of lively conversation. The last of the musicians, relatives, and the soldiers who are not accompanying my father to Rohan, returned on the ship with Meren. Those who had stayed in Dol Amroth listened eagerly to the tales of the glory and splendour that attended the first crowning of a King of Gondor for a thousand years and of the joyful celebrations of his marriage to Arwen, the beautiful daughter of Elrond Halfelven. All around me I heard descriptions of the fierce Rohirrim, the magnificent horses and the bravery of their White Lady. How I envy my cousin Faramir who has found true love in the midst of sorrow. I think my face must have portrayed my sadness at missing such an exciting time but Meren, took my hand, leant toward me and whispered that she had some news to tell…’
Lothíriel chuckled to herself, recalling how impatient she had felt that night, waiting to hear Meren’s news.
Meren had left her and Anniel in the solar while she went to kiss Alphros goodnight. A quiet tap at the door brought only a servant with a tray of camomile tea; Lothíriel’s sigh of annoyance instigated a sharp admonishment from Anniel.
“I don’t know what you are expecting, Lothíriel, but I imagine the news may be that you are to have another nephew or niece.”
“Oh…,” the disappointment dripped gloomily from the short syllable, and she sat down heavily in the nearest chair. But just what had she expected? Finding no real answer, and chastising herself for her ill humour she overcame her discontent. “That will be nice and of course I will be very pleased if it is the news,” she said, smiling to show her mood had improved.
“I am sorry to be so long,” Meren chirped as she entered the solar, all chestnut curls, glowing honey complexion and with her petite figure shown off to perfection in a blue silk gown, “but Alphros is grizzling. He is overtired from the journey.” She grinned. “Goodness knows what he will be like when he has to share my attention.”
Lothíriel jumped up and hugged her sister-in-law. She loved her dearly, and all the ire and frustration that she had been feeling from missing the wondrous events in Minas Tirith vanished in the genuine joy for her brother and his wife.
“Careful, careful! You will squash it! Meren pushed her away and only then did Lothíriel realise she held a rolled up piece of parchment. “I brought you this,” Meren said, handing the roll to Lothíriel.
Her sister-in-law did not elucidate but just waved her hand toward the light. Intrigued, Lothíriel took the offering over to the desk in front the window and laid it out on the leather surface, using a paperweight, an inkstand, a candlestick and a jug to keep it flat. In the half-light the image seemed to leap from the page. Hador Goldenhead, her first thought. Immediately to be dismissed, for this fair-haired warrior rode a huge snorting war-horse. The drawing had been done in ink, but the artist had brushed what looked like a mixture of yellow ochre and saffron on the man’s long flowing locks. The sword, held high above his head, bore streaks of vermillion running down the blade but the only other colour had been given to the horse’s overlarge saddlecloth which had been painted with some green pigment.
Lothíriel started, a shiver passing down the complete length of her body. Now she knew whose likeness she had been given – Éomer of Rohan. No wonder she thought it was Hador, for this man looked very like the ancient illuminations that she had seen depicting the Lord of Dor-lómin and involuntary the words she had read so often came to her mind… ‘The Men of the Three Houses throve and multiplied, but greatest among them was the house of Hador Goldenhead, peer of Elven-lords. His people were of great strength and stature, ready in mind, bold and steadfast, quick to anger and to laughter, mighty among the Children of Ilúvatar in the youth of Mankind.’* The stories of Hador’s grandson, Húrin, and his great grandson, Túrin, had long fascinated her. Then for moment she became lost in the tales she had read in her childhood: At the end of the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, Húrin and his brother Huor had defied Morgoth, vowing to fight to the end. She paused in her thoughts. At the Battle of the Pelennor Fields there had been one who had thought to stand until all fell around him. A lump of emotion caught in her throat and she refocused on the parchment — here was no legend from the past – this warrior dwelt over the mountains to the north and even now her father rode with him, along the Great West Road that would take them to Edoras and the plains of Rohan.
Feeling Anniel moving closer to peer over her shoulder, Lothíriel studied the representation intently. Rather unlikely in the middle of a battle, Éomer had removed his helm. It rested on his saddle before him but no doubt the artist thought it more important to show the expression on his subject’s face rather than adhere to accuracy. He had caught the moment brilliantly. Instinctively, Lothíriel knew that this was the very instant despair and defiance had changed to jubilation as Éomer had witnessed the King’s standard unfurling on the lead ship. The artist had managed to portray all three differing emotions in the warrior’s eyes. A masterpiece. She looked up, her gaze questioning Meren.
“Is it a good likeness?”
“Oh yes,” Meren replied. “Éomer spent some time in the White City and no doubt the artist was able to observe him reasonably closely.”
Lothíriel said nothing but Anniel let out a long sigh. “Well, he looks like a man one would be happy to stay awake for.”
Meren’s pretty face broke into a mischievous grin, “Many of the young ladies of Minas Tirith thought the same.” She looked straight at Lothíriel, “Your brothers bet on who would walk away with the prize.”
“And who did?” Lothíriel tried to keep her voice and her face from showing any emotion.
“No one. At least not permanently. I am not saying he did not have any liaisons; there were many willing widows around. But he did not strike me as the sort of man who would take advantage of innocent young women unless he had serious intentions.”
“Thank goodness for widows,” Anniel said, “they give a man a chance to practice.”
Meren dissolved into giggles but Lothíriel looked at her cousin in slight shock. “Are you saying that a man should have numerous liaisons before marriage, Anniel?”
“Of course. Believe me it’s much better than having him fumbling around on the wedding night, not knowing exactly where the pieces fit together.”
Lothíriel gasped, before she too started to giggle. Anniel was always so completely down to earth and pragmatic about the whole thing, it was impossible to be offended. Anyway, her brothers saw to it that she was not a complete prude.
“Is that what happened to you?” Meren asked when she had stopped laughing.
Anniel made a humph… sort of sound. “I think I knew more than him. He was so nervous I worried we would never get there. But it was all right once he realised what he had to do.”
Lothíriel doubled up in mirth, “No more, Anniel. I am sure you should not be telling me things like that.”
“As I have said before, the more you know the better. It saves a lot of anguish.”
“She’s right, Lothíriel,” Meren agreed. “With my mother dead I knew nothing,” a dreamy smile crossed her face, “but your brother…”
“No!” Lothíriel held up her hand. “Please, I do not want to know about any intimacies that involve my brothers.”
“It’s probably a good job you did not go to Minas Tirith then,” Anniel said with a smirk, “for I imagine they took full advantage of what was on offer…. Not Elphir, I mean.” she said hurriedly, glancing at Meren.
“I should think not,” Lothíriel uttered. But Meren only laughed, seemingly sure of her husband’s loyalty.
Still amused, Lothíriel turned back to the drawing; “It is a very skilful drawing,” she said, for she could almost hear the snorting of horse and the shout of joy from Éomer’s mouth.
“Yes, it is certainly one of the better ones. Many were taking benefit of the wish for keepsakes, and not all were by any means as good as this one. You could buy sketches of just about everyone – the hobbits, Gandalf on his horse – he and Shadowfax were mostly depicted defying the Witch King when he smote down the gates. Éowyn’s portrait was popular, of course and the silver-haired elf. But I thought you would like one of the Lord of the Mark.”
Lothíriel looked her sister-in-law straight in the eye. “Why would you think that, Meren?”
“Because your father intends to try and negotiate a marriage contract with him.”
Silence. But surely they could hear her heart thumping. Lothíriel searched around for something to say that would not reveal the thrill that rushed through her. How would she be able to explain the sense of rightness she had been aware of ever since she’d heard about the man?
“I knew it!” Anniel cried. Thankfully giving Lothíriel time to collect her thoughts. “They will send you of to that savage country and you will have to learn to fight like the Lady Éowyn.” The dumpy little woman plopped into the nearest chair and took out a handkerchief to wipe her perspiring face.
Lothíriel put a hand on her shoulder; she knew it was not really Rohan that bothered her companion. Her cousin wished her to make a good match but when she married, Anniel would lose her position, and although her father would honour his obligations to a kinswoman, life could be bleak for a widowed lady of unsubstantial means. “Nothing is certain, Anniel. My father may wish for our houses to be joined but that does not mean that the new King of Rohan and his advisors will agree to it. They may…”
“I have to tell you, Lothíriel,” Meren butted in, “that your father and Éomer have become close friends, your brothers also. Besides that, I understand that King Elessar is very keen on the idea. He and Prince Imrahil will put the suggestion to Éomer while they are in Rohan. Nothing can be mentioned until King Théoden is buried and the new king crowned.”
“So he has no idea what’s intended for him yet, and might not agree, or indeed may have plans of his own.” Lothíriel said, wondering if there was any point in speculating at all on something that might not be.
“No, he doesn’t know,” Meren agreed, “and I only am aware of it because your father has been discussing it with Elphir. But he seems determined to bring it off.”
“And if the Lord of Dol Amroth wants something, he usually gets it,” Anniel said quietly from her chair, putting an end to the conversation….
Shifting her position on the seat slightly to avoid a shaft of sunlight that now peeked through a gap in the foliage; Lothíriel fingered the edge of the page pensively. She remembered it had been a long time before she could write the entry in her journal that night, so confused were her thoughts. In the end she had locked the drawing of Éomer away and just put down the facts, finishing off with…
‘What happens to me now is in the hands of my father and King Elessar. They may convince our friends in Rohan that it will be good to strengthen our alliance, or they may not. I am unable to make any contribution to the decision that will decide the course of my life. May the Valar help me to accept my fate with good grace.’
To be continued – When Lothíriel finds out if her dreams will come true
A/N * Quotation taken from The Silmarillion, Chapter 17 – Of the coming of men into the West.