New lands require new customs and traditions. Eowyn could hear Faramir saying that after they married and moved to Ithilien. Now, twenty years later she was doing just that again. Three years ago, her daughter, Firiel, and her year mates had begun a new tradition. Now it was her daughter, Morwen, and her year mates. It had been strange to take girls on the brink of womanhood into the woods of Ithilien bringing them together to forge a bond that would last all their lives.
Each year, Eowyn and her companion, Gleowyn, took the girls that turned fourteen that year on a camping trip. All the girls who lived in Emyn Arnen went on the trip. It did not matter who the girls were or their rank. It had been Gleowyn's idea drawn from Rohan customs that forged a bond among women. Together, they had modified the idea since these were not girls who spent their days working in the fields or riding daily.
Eowyn looked at the girls in the courtyard. Morwen was surrounded by five girls. Eowyn smiled as she thought A fine crop of girls and ready for adventure. There was Celebiel, the daughter of Faramir's Captain of the guard, Brewel, whose mother was in charge of laundry, Cynwise, whose parents had come from Rohan and was a scullery maid, Ethelhild, the stable master's daughter, and Leofwyn, Gleowyn's youngest daughter.
Ethelhild was in charge of the pack horses with each girl responsible for her own rucksack. There had been lessons on woodcraft taught by Faramir and cooking taught by Mistresses Penda and Norethiel in addition to the sewing and mending classes taught by Gleowyn. It had been a busy year as the girls learned to work together despite their different backgrounds.
Eowyn smiled as they headed out. Celebiel and Leofwyn were right behind her followed by Morwen and Cynwise .Ethelhild and Brewel led two pack horses carrying tents and cooking gear with Gleowyn bringing up the rear.
They passed out of sight of Emyn Arnen and under the trees of Ithilien. Eowyn led them to a campsite built by Faramir and his Rangers during the War of the Ring. Each group of girls added a stone to the campfire carved with a rune that they had picked during their lessons. Eowyn pointed out the stones from previous years.
Morning was spent in cleaning the campsite and setting up tents. Lunch was trail rations, bread and jerky washed down by water.
They spent the afternoon catching fish, picking berries and harvesting wood for the campfire. Soon it was time to start dinner. Eowyn drew names. Brewel and Morwen would build the fire, Ethelhild and Celebiel were the cooks while cleanup fell to Leofwyn and Cynwise. Eowyn and Gleowyn watched and only helped when asked. After dinner were a campfire with each girl telling a story from her family history. Gleowyn finished up with stories about Ithilien's early days. Eowyn taught the girls about the stars overhead with stories from Rohan and Gondor. The girls headed for their tents while Eowyn banked the fire. "And the final traditions before we head home."
Gleowyn nodded. "Picking a stone and carving a rune before the final ceremony."
"And continuing the tradition until the women of Ithilien are grown with daughters of their own."
"And they take over the tradition."
They curled up in their bed rolls and were soon asleep.
The sun came up with light falling through the trees. In their camp site, Eowyn and Gleowyn stirred. Rune writing before break fast and then the final ceremony before heading home. Eowyn started water boiling for porridge. Gleowyn walked among the tents waking the girls. "Get dressed. You need to find a stone to carve your rune."
Soon the girls were looking for the perfect stone. Eowyn and Gleowyn smiled as they worked together and finally compromised on a stone. Sitting by the campfire, the girls asked Cynwise to carve the rune. She did so carefully.
Gleowyn placed the stone by the fire. "Break fast and pack up before the ceremony."
The girls sat as Eowyn passed out bowls filled with porridge and berries. There was a flurry of activity as the girls clean up and loaded the pack horses. Eowyn and Gleowyn watched as the girls worked as a team helping each other.
Soon Morwen approached her. "We are ready, mother."
Eowyn took the stone away from the fire, "Where do you want it?"
Leofwyn looked at the other girls before she spoke, "On the east side of the fire ring. . ."
The rest chorused, "Where it will catch the rising sun."
After setting the stone, it was time for the final ceremony. They sat in a circle facing their rune stone. Gleowyn cleared her throat, "Eowyn and I have modified the Rohan coming of age ceremony since this is a new land." She took a stick and lit it as Eowyn handed each girl her own stick. Gleowyn touched her fire to Eowyn who passed the fire onward. Each girl lit the stick of the girl next to her with the last one relighting Gleowyn's stick.
Eowyn began, "Daughters of Ithilien bound to the land, remember this day and the friendship among you. No longer daughters but sisters bound by love."
Gleowyn added, "Now you are sisters and there for each other throughout your lives." She tossed her stick into the fire pit and Eowyn did the same followed by the girls. After making sure that the fire was dead and the campground cleaned up completely, Gleowyn led the sisters home with Eowyn bringing up the rear.
They passed through Ithilien's trees in silence. Each daughter was thinking about what had happened. Once they arrived at Emyn Arnen, Eowyn whispered, "Dinner in my chambers after you take care of the horses and spend some time with your families."
Gleowyn nodded. "No talking about this except with your older sisters."
Back in her suite, Eowyn and Gleowyn looked at each other. "A bath and fresh clothing before dinner?"
"A fine idea.," as Eowyn led the way. She had insisted on a bathing chamber when the house was built. A custom of Rohan where the women of the household could spend time together and teach their daughters.
Eowyn changed into a Gondorian dress of black and silver while Gleowyn worn a Rohirric dress in green and white. The table was set for eight with dishes from Rohan: duck with dried cherries, apple pancakes, good cheese and cider. Silverware gleamed on the tablecloth and napkins gifted to Eowyn by Gleowyn as a wedding present.
There were voices and a knock, "May we come in?"
Eowyn opened the door, "Enter daughters of Ithilien."
It was a lively evening. Afterwards, Eowyn and Gleowyn handed each girl a cloth bag. Inside was a bracelet carved with the rune they had selected. Turning it over, they discovered that their names had been carved inside. "A reminder of your sisterhood," from Eowyn. She slid her sleeve back to show her own bracelet while Gleowyn did the same. "We are sisters as well as lady and companion."
Brewel raised her glass, "To mothers and sisters." The glasses clinked and the toast drunk. A smile danced in Eowyn's eyes. Sisters indeed since Brewel was outranked but was the oldest of the six sisters.
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.