The Dream of Theoden

by NorthStar

So this is where the fate of the world is to be decided
Before the walls of the White City
Where the West will fall or reclaim their destiny
And I am to lead them
I am afraid.

The dream woke him so suddenly that he gasped. The wind gusting down from the rocky ridges of Dunharrow was icy cold, and he shivered under his fur covers and huddled under them.

A mighty army rides with me
Six thousand Rohirrim, loyal men all
Led by an old king, and a too- young man
Soon he will be my successor.
Heir to a ruined world

He twisted and turned, the covers wrapping about him and binding him as if in a noose.

Black shapes pierce the sky, more fierce than the dragons of old
I have heard of these too…but hoped never to see them
He is there, his scream an evil in itself
He descends on me, laughing.
I have seen my end.

Caught between waking dreams and consciousness, he struggled to break free, but could not, thrashing, rivulets of sweat running down his back.

But who stands before him? One of my own
Though I do not recognize the emblem
Angmar strikes, his mace laced with magic
He falls, and I can now see
The fair face of my champion.

“Eowyn!!” His scream rent the air around him and he fell, scrambling for sword and blade, holding them up to the black sky.

I must save her. Save the one I have left.
Save her whom I love.

The guard at the tent flap was pushed aside by Gamling, who rushed in and cried out at the sight of his king prone and muttering on the floor, his hand firmly clasped around the haft of mighty Herugrim. He knelt beside Theoden and with effort, rolled him over on his back, the better to see into his eyes…eyes that were wild with fear and anger.

Eomer followed quickly on the heels of Gamling. “What treachery is this?” he hissed, his hand gripping his blade. “None, my lord,” answered Gamling. “He is alive, and unhurt.” Gamling rose to make way for Eomer, who bent over his uncle, who was breathing easier now, but still burning. “ He is ill. Send for my sister, quickly!”

She did not sleep, but lay wakeful in her cot, listening to the sounds of the camp around her. They rode in the morning, and dawn was not far off.

She would be alone. Aragorn had gone, and would not be coming back. Lost to her. And now she knew that his heart had always been held by the Evenstar, and her love nothing more than a dream. “A shadow and a thought is what you love,” he had said. Cold, so cold inside. What was there left for her?

“My lady!” Gamling’s voice was urgent. “You must come now; your uncle needs you.”

She pushed herself out of bed, pulling her heavy jumper over her head and jamming her feet into boots. Grabbing the thick coverlet off her cot, she wrapped it around herself and followed Gamling to the royal tent.

Eomer had managed to pull Theoden into his seat near the brazier, and was holding a goblet of hot wine to his lips. “Drink, Uncle.” In one glance, Eowyn took in the tangled and torn bedcovers, the unsheathed sword and Theoden’s pale face. She knelt beside his chair and stroked the fair hair off his forehead where the strands clung to damp skin. She looked at her brother questioningly; his face was grim. She clasped the king’s cold hands in her own, warming them with her young blood. With a start, Theoden muttered and tried to stand, but was prevented by Eomer. “Eowyn,” he said again. “I am here, Uncle. I’m right here.” He shook his head and his shoulders dropped.

When he looked to Eomer, his eyes had cleared. “ I will be all right, my sister-son. Go now and take such rest as you can. I am sorry to have troubled you.” Eomer looked unconvinced. Theoden reached up and laid his hand on Eomer’s arm. ”Truly, my son. It was just a dream.” Then he smiled. “ It was well nigh a heart-stopping one, but only a dream, nonetheless.”

Despite himself, Eomer found himself returning his uncle’s smile. He placed his other hand over Theoden’s and gripped it tightly, as warriors do, then let go. He nodded to Gamling, who quietly slipped out of the tent, letting the flap close behind him.

As Eomer turned to leave, Theoden rose from his chair behind him, gently shaking off Eowyn’s anxious assistance. He held onto his chair and took a deep breath-then in a swift motion, he gathered brother and sister to him, holding them in a tight embrace, feeling the strength and honor within them. His heart swelled with pride in these children, his heirs now and the leaders of his people.

His voice was low, but once again the voice of the king of Rohan. “ I love you both, very much. You have brought me both joy and reknown, and I am proud of you.”

Releasing them, he stepped back. “This day we ride to war, and perhaps to defeat. But this will not be the end of Rohan. Nor the end of our people. You will live to see this darkness lifted and hope restored. This I know in my heart.”

When the first pale rays of sun fell over the ridge of Dunharrow, the dream of Theoden was but a memory, but one that would stay with him. And when the camp was emptied, he knew that the Rohirrim would be graced with one more soldier, one with skill and a desire to fight for those that she loved.

And that she would save him.