Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Eleven: The First Betrayal

So it came to pass that the brethren Eomer and Eowyn rode again abroad with their cousin, and they came ever more seldom to the high hall of Meduseld, for the orcs encroached now daily further over the lands of the Mark. Of a different sort were these orcs, stronger and larger in build than those the Rohirrim had seen before, great beasts like half trolls who bore on helm and shield the token of a white hand. Whence came these orcs, the Rohirrim were in doubt, for it was far to Mordor and the servants of Sauron, in any case had been wont to bear the token of the red eye. It was long, however ere the truth began to be guessed at.

In this time, Eowyn's skill as a warrior was honed, and daily the girl increased in strength and in skill of arms until she was easily the equal of any man in the Mark, and the silver maiden with the shinning sword came to be greatly feared by the servants of the white hand. In the brief whiles when the Eored returned to Edoras, Grima looked upon Eowyn in a strange new way. He watched her from beneath his eyelids, haunting her footsteps and seeking ever to waylay her behind closed doors. Eowyn had not forgiven him, and though she would meet his gaze steadily, yet she ignored her friend, and pretended not to hear if he spoke. For two years more Eowyn rode with the warriors, until the time approached of her sixteenth birthday and the Eored returned in haste to Edoras.

Theoden's health had declined in the cousin's absence, and he greeted them peevishly.

"It is not fitting for a King of the Mark to be without kinsmen beside him when he ails." the King whined pettishly in a quite unaccustomed manner. Grima sat upon the lowest step of the dais, and at these words, his pale eyes unhooded for a moment, and he blinked at his three friends as though at strangers.

"Thy words are just, my Lord." he spoke softly "Nor is it fitting for a maiden of the house of Eorl to ride abroad to war. Only the wanton ruffians of the wild do thus, sending their women to war in their stead. Are we brought so low as this!"

Eomer strode a pace forward, and would have spoken angrily in the defense of his sister, but for this time, Theodred restrained him.

"If it is thy will," Theodred spoke softly with a sidelong glance at his cousin "Perhaps it is better if the lady remains for this time at Edoras." He lifted a hand to still her mutinous reply. "Nay, Lily" he told her. "In truth I grow afeared for thy safety, and it is true that thou art come now almost to womanhood. It is time for thee to take thy place amongst the women's side."

Eowyn turned angrily towards her brother, seeking an ally, but to her dismay, Eomer nodded as one full answered.

"Theodred is right, Lily." Eomer said looking somewhat surprised at his sister's angry frown. "It is past the time that thou should learn the woman's art."

Shooting a glance full of venom at the group of them, Eowyn strode from the hall. Her brows were knit angrily, and tears of rage stung the girl's eyes. 'How dare they treat her like this? She was no mere woman, she was a shieldmaiden. How could they thus deny her her birthright?' as soon as Eowyn was clear of the courts, she began to run. She was still dressed in her riding clothes, but barefooted and she made her way swiftly to the stables. Without waiting to saddle Windfola, she leaped upon the mare's back and galloped from the court, making swift passage towards the foot of the white mountains. It was a long way, but Windfola's stride was long, and Eowyn rode now with the speed of anger. She had been coming this way ever since she was a child. If ever a thing vexed her, she would come here, to the place that was hers alone. As Eowyn crested the rise, the mountains reared in front of her, and leaving Windfola to stray in search of grass, Eowyn began to climb swiftly, making for a pinnacle of rock that jutted sharply from the main slope and stood alone many feet above the courts of Meduseld.

When Eowyn reached the summit of the pinnacle at last, she threw herself down upon a ledge of rock and wept with rage and frustration.