1. No More Despair
- No More Despair -
I am standing at a crossroad; and wherever I look, I see death. It is behind me, its icy breath on my neck, its cold touch on the bodies of the men fallen in Helm's Deep. It is in every whisper of war carried by the wind. And as I look forward, I see it in my future, preceding me and calling out: "Follow, sister!"
I am standing at a crossroad; and where will I go? Shall I listen to duty, and my uncle's voice as he commands me to stay and lead our people through the war should he fail? Shall I remain behind once again? The banners will disappear behind the horizon, the sound of horns die in the distance, and once again I will be left to myself and to the shadows that haunt me.
…Take up my seat in the Golden Hall... Long may you defend Edoras if the battle goes ill.
He does not know, he does not understand what it feels like to watch those I have known all my life ride into the greatest battle of our time; great is their glory, and short will be their lives. I see them talk. I see them laugh in the evenings around the campfires, their voices loud with hope and eyes full of unspoken fear; and I watch as death creeps upon them, choosing the next to be robbed of his life. Who will return? Which woman, from all those embracing their living, smiling husbands, will break down in sobs at the dreaded news?
I am lucky, truly; never will I know such torment. I will not grieve the loss of a lover, for the man I long for does not love me. I will not console a fatherless child, for I have none. I am the Shieldmaiden of Rohan, cold and pure. I do my duty and protect my lands. Such is my purpose.
…To stay behind bars until all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire…
And deep inside, behind the polished, refined façade of a lady, I can feel myself snarling in powerless rage at those orders, like a wild horse chewing restlessly on an uncomfortable bit. I long to break away, just this once; to step out of the light that my uncle's crown casts upon me - to become unknown, common… and free. I do not understand them, the people who envy me my title; and they do not know and will never hear it from my lips: it is no life, this better life.
And so I find myself dreaming of the impossible: to pick up a sword and to ride into battle despite my uncle's orders. I ask not for glory or privilege; let me ride amongst the simple soldiers, those who, like me, only follow orders. And let me ride first, let me die before those whom I hold so dear, so that I do not live long enough to see their blood spilled and their lives taken. Let my heart remain as it is, broken just enough by the losses I have already endured.
No more despair…
I promise I will not complain. My decision is selfish and satisfies me just enough to erase what guilt I could feel from letting my people down. Only one regret will be mine: Éomer will never hear those goodbyes I would say to him, those spoken from one warrior to another, as both understand their fate to come and are at peace with it. Hot-tempered and strong-willed brother of mine, he reads me better than I would like at times. It is in his power to stop me, and stop me he will for he thinks therein lies my salvation.
I can imagine all too well the disappointment in my uncle's eyes. What willpower will it take not to scream this time? To save some of my dignity and not break down, begging them both not to abandon me like a frightened little girl?
So I remain silent, and bid them farewell and pretend that I believe they may return.
And as I ride towards certain death, my heart singing in anticipation as I pull out my sword, I feel that I have won. A victorious scream tears from my lips as I charge the enemy.
I am not afraid.
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.