1. Between Shadow and Sun
I shall never forget what happened on that day of days. Our armies had departed to the East, some said on a fool's errand, to follow the Lord Elfstone into Mordor. We had no word of them. The pale sky was darkening, and a fell wind had sprung up, bringing more than the chill of weather to rattle my old bones.
Well, rain might fall and the wind might blow, but the sick still had to be looked after, so up I went towards the walls with the messenger-boy Bergil, bearing possets for Lord Faramir and the Lady of Rohan. Why they would brave that cold wind and evil sky to stand there and risk sickening, I did not know, but if the Lady were a quiet, sensible lass she never would have taken up arms and slain the captain of the wraiths and then where would we all be, eh? And our dear Lord Faramir, what was he doing out of his bed? Ah, young folks. Sometimes they don't care about making more work for the old. I suppose I could understand. It was good to step out of the Houses when one could, and take fresh air. I loved to sit on the bench in the herb-garden myself at times, but not when such a wild wind flew out of the dark East.
What is that you say, dearie? Why was I was sent to bring them the possets? The Warden wanted the Lord Faramir and the Lady Eowyn to return to the fireside, lest they catch cold. If he had sent a young messenger lad alone, the boy would not have had the natural authority of my venerable years to command them to return. I am not just your loving granny, my girl; I have worked at the Houses for more than two score years and my eyes are still sharp and my hands still strong.
Now where was I? Yes, well, young Bergil and I wended our way to the walls, when suddenly the sky turned grey. The wind blew even colder. All looked drear and dark, even the white stones of our fair city. And every sound, the little chirps of the birds, the noise of people moving about in the Houses, the very rustle of the leaves on trees stopped right then, at that moment. Even the wind froze up and went quiet.
I think my heart began to jump in my breast, lass; but I couldn't feel it beat. Bergil and I stopped in our tracks then; we both took such fright together. Bergil leaned against me. I think he missed his mother then. Time seemed to stop, as strange as it might sound to you. All of Middle-earth seemed to be waiting.
Lord Faramir and the Lady Éowyn saw it first, and raised their heads, so we looked up too, towards the mountains to the east. A dark Shadow rose up, dearie; higher and higher, so high that the very mountains looked like a row of fallen helmets at the feet of some tall, dreadful warrior. Lightning flashed round the darkness. For an instant, I thought that I saw an eye within that great Shadow, looking down at us, wishing evil towards the entire world.
I felt dizzied! Mind you, I wouldn't have fallen, even if Bergil had not been there with me. I thought of your mother and your brother, sent away weeks before to Lamedon for safety, and you just a wee thing in your mother's belly; and tried to say farewell in my thoughts.
"Do not fear, Dame Ioreth," Bergil squeaked as he put the posset set on the ground. He took up his little dagger and cried: "I will defend you!" Such a brave lad, that one. I put an arm around him while we watched that Shadow rise, as high as the Sun it seemed. Then there was a deep rumbling sound, rushing in to fill the silence. The very walls of the City trembled.
I cannot remember just when I heard the sigh. It seemed to come from everywhere, from skies and earth and waters too. At last I felt my heart beat, fast as can be, like a mouse skittering for shelter. That was when the wind roared up again, but not so chill, just strong. The towering Shadow began to fall, and the wind swept it all away, and we never saw such a thing again. The Sun returned, and the day was fair and filled with light once more.
I looked up to the walls and saw the Lord Faramir and Lady Éowyn standing close together, raven and gold hair flying in the wind.
What do you mean, is that all? Why, you silly lass, what more could there be? The Shadow had departed! I had never thought to see such a day!
Oh yes, the possets. I thought that the lord and lady might find some a few more minutes of the fresh, warming air to be as healing as the possets, which had gone cold anyway. So I took up the possets and went back down to the Houses to freshen them. Bergil would have stayed with me to carry them; but then the Perian, Meriadoc, came out, crying and laughing in joy and embraced Bergil. They were dancing a jig together as I opened the door and entered the Houses.
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.