5. Debates and Plans
They arrived in the afternoon. Éomer had set as quick a pace as he dared and they had made good time. The skins and pelts they brought to trade with had been divided among them, giving them a cover as hunters trading skins. To reinforce this impression, all but Éomer dismounted and led their horses before they came in sight of the village. The day was grey and a steady drizzle of rain gave the Eorlings an excuse to keep their hoods on and hide their blond hair.
Calembel was a small town. A wooden fence ran around it, hardly sufficient to keep an enemy out, but it would hinder any wild animals from straying inside. The houses lay close together, forming narrow streets; only the short way from the gate to the town square was broad enough for a wagon to pass. Close to the gate were barns and pens, buildings that housed the animals that were let out to graze every day. The people of Calembel did not risk them falling prey to the wolves that had grown more numerous every year.
The town itself looked quiet. Most of the people were still out in the fields; working to prepare for the ploughing and sowing of spring for the winter had been long even this far south. The gates themselves were open, but two men stood guard. They, too, had drawn up their hoods against the rain and it was not until they had come to a halt before them, and the guards looked up to address Éomer, that they could see their faces. One was known to them, Borondir who was one of the Faithful, but the other was not. Éomer greeted them cautiously, careful not to let the stranger see his face too clearly. Neither bore arms, except for a wooden staff. Once Calembel had been big enough to have a small force of Haradhrim soldiers but that was many years ago. Now none remained that where allowed to bear arms.
"You are too late, master hunter," Borondir said. "Corsair collectors left this morning; you will find little trade for your skins here."
"We met no one," Éomer answered.
"You would not," Borondir answered. "The corsairs went south, same way as they came, and did not seem to want to venture further inland. We heard that Erech was visited by Orcs a month ago and it is likely that the Corsairs knew as well."
Éomer nodded. "We found no trade there either," he said. If Erech had been plundered it would be harder to get supplies, but that worry would have to wait. First they needed to hear what the innkeeper could tell them. "We had hoped we could find some here, but I was forewarned," he gestured to Bergil who stood at the back. "The boy here told me."
The other guard peered at Bergil. "I thought you were looking for work, boy," he said. "You did not say you were a hunter."
"He is not," Éomer said. "We met him on the road. I lost a man this winter, and the boy looked as though he might be able to learn, so I took him in. I hope I am right; sometimes I am too soft-hearted for my own good."
"Huh," the man said, but he did not question the explanation further.
"Well," Éomer said. "Perhaps we should ride on, if, as you say, there is none left to trade with. It is getting late, though. Tell me; are there any inns or public houses close? A roof and dry clothes would be welcome."
"Aye," Borondir said. "The Thirsty Traveller was once the best inn between Erech and Linhir. Perhaps Ingold, the innkeeper, will trade you some food and rooms for your pelts."
Éomer thanked him, but when he made to pass into the town, the other guard stopped him. "Your name, master hunter," he said.
"Rodhaer," Éomer said.
"An unusual name," the man said.
"I did not choose it myself," Éomer answered. "My father loved horses." He waited, but the guard did not move out of his way.
"If you have no further objections, I would rather not have to stay outside any longer than necessary," he said. "We have endured many days of rain, and would welcome a roof and a dry place to stay."
"Not at the moment," the guard said. "Be sure to see the Mayor before you leave, though. He likes to know who passes through his town, and who knows," he added, "Perhaps you can offer him something he would buy?" Éomer just nodded. The sentries let them pass.
The inn was easily the biggest house in the town. Years before the war the road from Erech had been more travelled than it was now, and the inn at Calembel had seen much trade in those days. It had stables and rooms enough for the sixty corsairs that had been there the night before, but in these days most of the rooms were empty and only the common room was in regular use.
Ingold was one of the men that had stayed in Minas Tirith when it fell. He marched with the men the Lord Elessar had sent to strengthen Minas Tirith after the capture of the Black Fleet and when it was clear that the Enemy could not be held back, he did not want to turn back without striking a single blow. He had not been wounded during that last fight and after the surrender he had been allowed to go back to Calembel since he came from there. His father had died only two years after the war, and Ingold had kept the inn open as best as he could after that. Éomer had come to rely on him for tidings from Gondor.
Whether it was because he had been expecting them or by chance, Ingold stood in the door of the inn when the travellers came.
"Welcome," he greeted them. "It seems my luck is getting better these days. Yesterday the inn was full and as soon as my guests did leave, new guests arrive! Come in, come in; you must be cold and wet from the road."
"We are," Éomer answered. "And so are our horses."
"Of course," said Ingold. "Sadly I have no servants to care for the stables these days– too few travel, and most of them on foot– but your men will find clean stalls, fresh straw and hay for the horses, and there is warm fires and food for yourselves inside."
"That is better news than I have heard in a long time," Éomer said. "A room, if you have, where we can dry both our clothes and our hides." He dismounted and handed Fastred the reins. "You and the boy take care of the horses and unload them. Show him how; Húrin will help me with our gear." Turning as if Fastred could have had nothing to say against this, he took what little gear he had and went into the inn.
Ingold showed Éomer and Húrin to their rooms. They lay at the end of the hallway on the second floor, too far away from the common rooms that to be bothered by the noise. There were three rooms there that connected to a larger room with chairs and a table and a fireplace for warmth on cold days. Whoever used these rooms could eat there in private, and no speech would be overheard unless by eavesdropping outside the door; the room had no windows to the streets below.
Ingold did not drop his mask as the eager and helpful innkeeper until he had shown them into the rooms and closed the door.
"It is good that you are here, lord," he said. "Though I had hoped that you would be here sooner; we do not have much time left."
"True," said Éomer. "Even so, your tidings shall have to wait a little longer; it could wake suspicion if you stayed too long with us now. Besides, Fastred will never forgive me if I do not wait for him."
"I will be a good innkeeper and find food and refreshments for you," Ingold said. "There is little chance that anyone should interrupt us though, for there is no other guest here and most of the village is working in the fields, but you are right. The girl will come shortly with warm water for you to wash. Alas, my manservant is away in the fields with the others and will be needed there; I will have to serve you myself."
"I am sure you will manage," Éomer remarked.
"I am sure I will," Ingold bowed, "even with such demanding customers as yourself. I will inform the girl that you will demand my attention for some time, should anyone ask." He paused, and when he spoke again the mirth had fled from his voice. "Copies of the papers reached me in the beginning of March, but I have had little other news until the corsairs' announcement today."
"I was told that the Faithful in Minas Tirith had sent a runner directly to you; the tidings were considered worth the risk. Golwen copied them out in the Steward's own office. I would have thought it an unlikely stroke of luck, but with the Steward…"
"Faramir most likely arranged for that luck," Éomer said. "But we have had no news since the first snowfall. I have not seen any letter."
"Then you do not know! Lord Elessar…"
"Will be taken to Minas Tirith," Éomer interrupted. "I know what is at stake; Bergil heard the announcement, or we would have sought trade elsewhere. I see that there is more to learn here than I had thought. Fetch the food and have Fastred hurry; we can speak better then."
"You are right, lord Rodhaer." Ingold bowed again. "But I will bring you the letter first so that you can read it."
He opened the door to leave, and outside the servant-girl stood as if she just arrived. Both her arms were full with the water and towels she had brought. Ingold let her enter before he left.
The girl was a small, thin thing that looked far too young to be in service, but she did not have any trouble carrying the water. She worked quickly, filling warm water in the washbasin, laying out soap and towels for them to use and lighting the fire in the fireplace, but she did not look up or speak to them, and she kept as far away from them as she could. She was about to leave when Ingold came back.
"Ah, well done," he said. "Have you asked the guests if there is anything they need?"
"No, Master Ingold." Her voice was barely a whisper. It startled Éomer; he had almost thought her a mute. Looking at her more closely, he saw that she was shaking.
Húrin had seen it too. "We are fine, innkeeper," he said. "Something to wet our throat and food when it is ready is all we require."
"I will see to it," said Ingold. "Run along, girl, and see to the cooking." The girl curtsied and made her escape. Éomer got a glimpse of her face when she left; it was the face of one much older than he first had thought.
"She feared us," Húrin said.
"She came from Ethring last fall," Ingold said. "She has not told me much, but she was forced into service at far too young an age. She was a maid in the Mayor's house there from she was ten."
"She hardly looks more than twelve now."
"She is eighteen. I do not know why she is so small, but she was starving when she came. Usually she is less shy, but with the corsairs last night…" Ingold trailed off. "I needed her help serving so many, else I would have had her hidden away in the kitchen until they were gone. I tried to keep my eyes on her, but the corsairs are not the most well-mannered patrons. I smuggled her out before they got too drunk."
There was little else to say. He handed Éomer the letter and left.
Éomer had just read and passed the letter on to Húrin when someone kicked at the door. It was Fastred and the two youths. Wet skins and hides filled their arms and their eyes could barely be seen above the burdens. The king held open the door for them; despite the spectacle they made the words of the letter had quelled all mirth and he did not answer Fastred's mumbled words of giving a hand. The men dumped the hides on the floor and looked up.
One look told them that whatever tidings he had received, Éomer king was not pleased.
"Lay the skins out to dry in one room; we can share the rest. Ingold has gone to fetch food and when he returns, we have much to discuss."
They did as ordered, draping the hides over the chairs and beds and laying them out on the floor to dry away from the fire that they would not become brittle and stiff. Fastred helped the two youths, torn between the wish to question his king and learn more, and to stay away from him until his mood had improved. If it could. The king was walking back and forth. He would stop at the door and stand there, then turn abruptly and walk around the room. Then the pattern would repeat.
Húrin was reading the letter. Again and again, as if by the mere act of reading the words would change, their meaning would change: the world would change and he would wake, and see that the last ten years had never been. Fastred watched them through the doorway of the room they had chosen.
"Finish here," he ordered and returned to their common room. Neither of the two men acknowledged him, but Éomer stopped to stare at the flames instead of the door. Fastred came to stand beside him.
"You promised that I would hear the news with you, my lord."
Éomer worked the muscles of his jaw, loosening them before he spoke. "Ingold will return soon. He left us a copy of some papers we should have received; Minas Tirith had sent a messenger directly to us and unless he was intercepted, it should have reached us before we left. If it had, I would not have come here with so few men."
"What is it?" Fastred asked. "What does it say?"
"Húrin," Éomer said. The ranger looked up from his reading. "Tell him." Húrin nodded.
"It is a copy of a letter sent to the Steward," he said. "It says that the Enemy will 'finally honour the people of Gondor with a most gracious visit during the celebration in memory of Gondor's inclusion under the protection of Mordor. The King of the East and Protector of the Western Lands looks forward to what He is certain, indeed expects, to be a celebration of exceptional magnificence, proportionate to the people of Gondor's gratitude for these ten years of peace and protection. As a token of His great mercy and good will, He will bring with Him His guest, the king Elessar of Gondor, in whom the blessings of the great Lord's protection can be seen and witnessed.
'The Lord will arrive with his following on the seventh day of April, at which time all should be ready for the festivities that will begin on that day and continue for the next three days. The merciful Lord," he spat the word, "will stay for the duration of the celebration and leave with his company after a demonstration of his power on the last day.' It continues, but there is not much more of it that is useful to us. The plans of the celebrations are not specified here; it seems like there were one or more persons sent to deliver the letter, and that they were to inform the Steward of the plans in person and see to the preparations."
Fastred nodded, but when he spoke, it was to his king. "We can do nothing. If the Enemy is coming too, we can do nothing. We are too few to attempt a rescue as it is, but even if all the Faithful were gathered, we would not be able to do anything as long as the Enemy is in Minas Tirith."
"You would just give him up?" Húrin said. He was still staring at the letter. The flames from the fireplace cast a flickering of shadow and light on his face, distorting his features. Fastred could not read his expression or his tone of voice, but he could see the tension in his body.
"We could as well attempt a rescue from the Dark Tower itself." Fastred shook his head. "Unless we learn some other news that could leave us some hope of success, we will achieve nothing but the death of many. We may as well cut our own throats now for all the good it will do both us and the lord Elessar."
"Read it yourself," Éomer said, cutting off any argument that Húrin might have given, "and see if you can learn anything from it that might give us that glimmer. When Ingold returns, we will discuss it further. He may have learned more, by rumours or from the corsairs last night, than what is in these papers. The corsairs like to brag; perhaps they have heard something they would boast about, something that could be useful to us."
"My lord," Fastred said. "Do not hope for too much. If the Enemy himself is coming…" he broke off.
Éomer went back to his pacing. Húrin handed Fastred the papers without any words. He did not look at him, but stood and went to check on how the hides were spread out. Bergil and Cearl had finished, but neither had dared to leave to room; they had heard the conversation. Húrin told them to put their things in the empty room facing the square. They went without a word. He was avoiding their eyes, checking the street below through the window.
They were all grateful when Ingold came back. The girl was with him. She carried plates and cups and laid the table while Ingold bustled and busied himself with the arranging of the food. Ingold told her to keep an eye on the inn and to fetch him herself if any more guests arrived, and steered her out of the room. She glanced at Bergil once, but left without speaking a word.
"Do you know her?" Húrin had seen the glance.
"No, captain," Bergil answered. "She might have seen me last night when I tried to get a room– I know I saw her– but I did not speak with her. I do not even know her name."
"It must be your good looks she likes, then."
Bergil blushed at that, and Húrin smiled. He was about to say something more, but Ingold called them to the table and Húrin was grave once more. They gathered for the Standing Silence, now only practiced by the Faithful behind closed doors, and sat to eat.
There was bread, only a day old, and butter and cheese. Ingold had warmed wine for them against the chill of the rain; it was mixed with water, but even so, it was more tasty than any they had had all winter long. And by the fire he set a pot of warm stew, a stew of grain and beans and meat and what vegetables that still could be had after the winter all mixed together – the leftovers of the corsairs' meal the night before. It was hot and they were hungry, and the unfamiliar taste of the spices the corsairs had demanded did not keep them from eating. Éomer had not tasted such spices before; faintly sweet and hot with a taste that lingered after the meal, not quite the same as when the food rolled over his tongue.
They ate in silence for a while. Éomer did not want to begin to talk, not yet. Ingold waited for him to speak first, but in the end it was Bergil that could not wait any longer.
"When will we leave, then?" he asked. Neither Éomer nor Húrin gave any answer, and Fastred seemed to wait for the king to speak. "Well? Have you heard enough news to make plans? We will have to leave soon if we are to reach Minas Tirith in time."
"Bergil, hold your tongue," said Fastred. "I know you two heard us, you know that this can not be done."
"Excuse me, Master Rider," Ingold said, deciding that the time for food was over and the time to talk began, "but if you believe that, why did you come?"
"Fastred was doubtful of the undertaking before we saw your letter," said Éomer. "We came for food; the winter has been hard and we have little left to eat apart from game and the Ents' water. Too little to feed men or beasts until the grass begins to grow again. I brought only enough men to bring back what we need to survive."
"We came here for tidings," he continued. "To see, when we heard the news of the lord Aragorn, if there could be some small hope for us to free him. But I must also consider our men and horses; we will do Aragorn little good if we freed him to starve with us, and so our plans must also include some way to bring the provisions we need to Fangorn."
"He would rather starve in freedom than be the thrall of the Enemy," Húrin said.
"I know," Éomer said, "but would he want many to starve with him? Would he allow it? I cannot; most of them are my people and I must think of them. But Ingold," he turned to the inn-keeper, "you have seen this letter; how is it that you think we could have a chance of snatching him from underneath the Enemy's nose? We could not hope to free him even if all the Faithful were gathered, not when the Enemy will be there."
"Did not two Halflings enter the Black Land itself alone to battle the Enemy?" Ingold asked. "Or are the rumours wrong?"
"They did," Éomer sighed. "The Enemy won."
"Still, with so many pitted against us, a few men might get in where an army will crush upon the defences in vain."
"Ingold is right," Húrin said. "We can not retake Minas Tirith, but a few men might be able to get in to rescue him. The City will be full of people; it is larger than Edoras ever was and there will be many travelling there for the celebrations. Even if the people of Gondor do not celebrate their defeat willingly, many will come this year. The Enemy wants it, or he would not have had it heralded throughout Gondor. If the corsairs announced it here, there will be similar declarations made in all towns and villages."
"You forget, or choose to forget, that the Enemy himself is coming," Fastred interrupted before Húrin could continue. "How do you propose we can do anything under his nose?"
"The Enemy sees much," Húrin answered, "but not all. Even now he cannot see everything or be everywhere. Gandalf managed to escape his dungeons once, unaided if I have heard the story right, and Minas Tirith is less secure now than Dol Guldur was then."
"And we have no Wizard with us."
"If I may," said Ingold. Éomer nodded, silencing Fastred. "I do not think the Enemy will come himself, even thought it says so in the letter. The corsairs made no mentioning of him, and the last tidings I received from the Faithful in Minas Tirith were that he would not come. Faramir was ordered to build him a temple, but it will not be finished in time for the celebration. The Enemy was not happy with that, the rumours say, and will not come until it is ready."
"Are you certain?" Éomer asked.
"I believe it is true. From what little I could overhear of the corsairs' speech last night, the Master of Orthanc will preside at the celebrations. They did not seem to know that the Enemy ever had any plans to come himself."
"You said that he did not come because of this temple that Faramir was to build." Fastred interrupted again.
"Yes," Ingold answered. "But that rumour comes from the Faithful in Minas Tirith; I have not heard even a whisper of a rumour that the Enemy planed to come himself from any other traveller. If the news in the letter has spread beyond the Steward, it has only been shared with those of higher rank."
"Why would that be?" Éomer mused.
"Most would be too frightened to travel to Minas Tirith for the celebration unless ordered to if they knew that the Enemy would come," Húrin offered. "And he would want as many as possible to come. Those of rank would not risk his wrath by staying away."
"Then, is it possible," Éomer asked before Fastred could speak up again, "that the Enemy will indeed come, but keeps his plan a secret?"
"Perhaps," Ingold said. "But I doubt it. It does not sound like something the Enemy would do. It is more likely that he would have everyone pronounce it, with an order for people to show up. They have given that already; every village is required to send at least two men to the City to witness the celebration. The towns must send more, according to their number."
"Your words ring true," Éomer said. "But I would fail at my duty to my people if I were to risk a rescue with the Enemy so close, however much I would wish to."
Húrin rose from the table. With the fire at his back, only the flicker of the candlelight lightened his face, too frail to drive the shadows from his face.
"I have not heard enough to abandon him yet, King of the Mark."
"Neither have I," Éomer said. "Sit down, Westman, and do not judge me until I have spoken to the end.
"I can not risk a rescue on the tidings we have now; we must seek to learn the truth about the Enemy's plans before I can commit. However," Éomer halted another outburst from Húrin, "I know that time is short. We will therefore see if there might be a way, and plan until we can confirm whether the Enemy will be there or not. Will that satisfy you?"
"Good," said Éomer. "I would like some maps, if you have, Ingold. We will mostly need some of Minas Tirith, but I am afraid none of us know the roads ahead very well."
"Maps are forbidden," Ingold said. "I have not dared keep any. But I know the road well enough to tell you how much time you will need, and you know the country around the Pelennor, I think. Minas Tirith might pose a greater problem."
"We will have to rely on the memory of young Bergil, then." Éomer paused for a moment to gather his thoughts, and Fastred seized that moment to speak again.
"My lord, may I ask how we are going to find out the Enemy's plan if Ingold has no other tidings?"
"That you can leave to me," said Éomer. "For the time being, let us plan as if the rumours have been proven true. First, we need to know how many men we have and how many we will need. We must find food and bring it home; how many men and horses do we need for that?"
"If we load the horses and lead them, four should be able to carry the supplies we need. It will be less than we hoped to bring, but enough to survive another two months or so." Húrin spoke as if he had given it a lot of thought. He probably had. "We should send three men with them. Two would be enough to lead them, but they will be more vulnerable if they are detected. One more man would help even the odds."
"Good," said Éomer. "We can be as many as six then; I will want to send one as a messenger to Wellinghall as soon as we know what we will do. Though we might have a better chance with fewer numbers, we might need help before we reach Fangorn. Will that be enough? I have little experience of freeing anyone; my own imprisonment was short and not because anyone broke me out."
"I once had to free my brother," said Húrin, "and though neither prison nor guard posed much of a challenge then, I think that it is doable. I would have liked some more men, and, more importantly, more than one that knows the City well; still I would attempt it even alone. Not all should risk the rescue itself anyway; it will be easier to sneak one or two people into whatever place they will hold him."
"You are not going alone," said Éomer. "How many more men?"
"Two at the least. We do not know what shape he will be in and we may have to carry him, thought I doubt they would parade him if he is not able to stand or walk."
"The Faithful in the City will help," said Ingold. "They might even have made plans of their own by now, but there will be no safe place to hide him anywhere in Gondor, let alone in Minas Tirith."
"Do you know how many there are now?" Éomer asked. "Have any been taken, or new ones joined?"
"Five score, I believe, that might be willing to help. We will need to find Damrod, he would know if any plans have been made."
"So we will have enough men, then."
Fastred spoke up again. "If they are that many, and you think they will attempt a rescue, why are we doing the same? Would it not be more prudent to leave it to them and not risk the lives of all? Three men leading fully-loaded horses will raise suspicion even in the Emnet; we could easily loose all if they are spotted."
"The Faithful in Minas Tirith will do nothing on their own." Ingold sighed. "Most have no means to escape the City themselves; they have no horses and few or no weapons. Of them many would not leave even if they could, though a few would probably do so. There will be no safe places to hide him, and no means to hold off any guards should it come to a fight.
"We are losing heart." The statement hung in the air, heavy as lead. It pressed on their own hearts and minds and it made Éomer want to throw himself heedlessly on any enemy in his path, only to leave him frozen, nailed in place; helpless to act. He waited for Ingold to continue.
"The first years after the war, we were all bound up in the struggle to survive. As things settled, we became used to the taxing and the threats, the new laws and the arrogance of the corsair raiders. We could live a little again, not fight for survival every day, and we began to resist. Small and insignificant enough that our enemies seemed not to care, yet whenever we tried something more than exchange tidings or the odd disappearance, our rebellion bore no fruit, only devastation. And now we have accepted our lot. Here in Calembel alone has any hope survived and even that is meagre. We know that we only have some freedom because we are deemed to be of little worth and little influence; we can safely be ignored because was can do nothing that will harm the Enemy. And so we have grown impotent and unable to act, should we even want to.
"The Faithful in Minas Tirith will not act unless you come and relight their will to fight, horsemaster. Among them only Mablung would still act, but he is too well known; he would never get near enough for a rescue. He will likely be placed under guard while the lord Elessar is there. Damrod has been more cautious, but he will not convince any of the others to act on his own. They might lay plans, but they will not act alone. We are too soundly beaten, and as the years pass with no succour, we are losing heart." Ingold paused. He was tall like most Men of Gondor and Éomer remembered that he had been broad as well, but he had shrunk since last he saw him, as if his body mirrored the dwindling of his spirit. He remembered the servant girl, her small frame hardly rivalling the height of the Hobylta, and he wondered if the blood of Númenór would cause the body to change with the spirit.
"When I first read this letter," Ingold spoke on, lost in his own memory. "I did not even think of the horror of the Enemy coming. I could only think of him, and my heart woke for the first time in years. I marched to the White City on his word when I saw him command the Dead and grant them rest. My heart sang with joy, even marching to a war he never promised us to survive because I had seen him. Strong as the kings of old, and our hopes had come to pass. The king had returned; how could we lose? How could my heart not sing, even on the way to the battlefield?"
"So I followed with the rest, marching, marching, ever marching up to the Tower of Guard. Our feet were swift, our spirits strong, and the rhythm we measured with the soles of our feet beat in time with the rhythm of my heart. It was joy and glory and the music of the sea. I was young, despite my years, and foolishly thought that we would win if only we believed so.
"I wept to learn I could not fight with him at the Gate, and though a shadow fell on all when the Enemy regained his power, I still could not believe we could ever truly lose. Not when the rumours came, not even when you, lord Rodhaer, bore certain word of our defeat. I could not leave the City then and turn back without one stroke offered against the Enemy, and my heart hoped, even as I saw the Black Host and we fought against them, that he would come, bringing dead warriors.
"He came, and death came with him; but it was the death of my hopes, the death of my heart. I stood on the walls of the last circle and I saw him brought to his knees; a coin to buy Faramir's surrender."
Ingold was silent for a long time. He did not meet their eyes and despite their urgency, none could bring themselves to break that silence until Ingold would speak again.
"I did not want to stay in the City after, and would have left sooner if we had been allowed. But the servant of the Enemy, his foul Mouth, would not let any leave until midsummer had passed. I stood in the streets, like the whole city forced out to witness the display: the mockery of our reawakened dream. I had thought to close my eyes, a small and pointless gesture, but I had to somehow resist their rule, or, I felt, I could not go on living. But, when the murmurs and the whispering started, I could not hold onto my resolve. I had to look at him, and despite it all I saw that he was still the same. It was the Man that I had seen command the Dead, strong even in defeat. I saw then what I had not seen in the dark of our final fight: that beaten he would stand, even on his knees.
"We did not know what the Enemy had planed to do, and I do not know if he knew, but my heart dared to remember its song when we were told who it was that was crowned that day. It was the image of him standing in the cart, tall and strong despite their efforts, that made the news a joy and not the mockery they planed.
"The song has nearly faded; ten years is long when all is dark and growing slowly worse each passing year, but now… now I try to still my heart, so that it will not break. I dare not act, and I dare not to not act, lest we fail.
"In this I am not alone."
Ingold shook his head and looked down. "We need your help, if only to stir our hearts to action; they have been dormant too long. We no longer know how to act."
It was Húrin that answered him: "We will, if we can."
Rodhaer – Sindarin for Éomer (OE 'horse famous', from Eoh – warhorse, and mér – famous, great. Sindarin: roch – horse, and daer – great. Combination courtesy of Darth Fingorn's Sindarin name generator, and much back and forth on e-mail with Ainu Laire. I do not know any Sindarin myself.)
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.