Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Fourteen: Wormtongue

And so Eowyn took up her place with the women's side, and went now seldom abroad. She was the lady of Meduseld now, and it was her task to oversee all that happened within the courts. Eowyn saw her brother and cousin seldom, for war was growing apace beyond the Fords of Isen and few of Eowyn's old comrades were left now to make her imprisonment more endurable. Idis, Eowyn's handmaiden still remained, as well as Hama who had recently entered the royal guard, but the remainder of Eowyn's childhood friends had scattered. Elfhelm, Grimbold, Horn, Fastred, all rode now upon the border marches. Erkenbrand, who had been named captain of the Westfold seldom came within a day's ride of Edoras. Morwen and Ceorl had wedded, and now had, as far as Eowyn knew, two children. Grima remained as ever at Theoden's side, but Eowyn disdained to look upon him, though he yet followed her whenever he could, seeking she did not like to guess what.

For three years Eowyn tended to the needs of the household in growing misery. No way could she see out of her plight, and she refused to leave Theoden to the tender ministrations of Grima. The King in truth leaned ever more heavily on his counselor with each passing day, and looked upon his niece with anger when she spoke to him.

There came a time in the winter of Eowyn's nineteenth year when the King sickened and could not be healed. Freda, the old healer clucked over him and was at a loss to say what had caused his illness. Some sort of poison it seemed to be, yet how the King had come by it, Freda could not guess. Eowyn had no need to guess. She had seen the look of satisfied cunning in Grima's eye, and had been waiting for him to make some stroke. without proof though, she could do nothing to accuse him. Theoden in his ailment looked to Grima for everything, and would hear no word against him. The King's illness worsened as the winter drew on and he scarce could walk the distance up the hall to his throne but that Grima should be there for him to lean on. And he was there. Always there, supporting his master with one hand upon the arm of the King' s great chair, and a smile playing about his lips as he whispered lies into the heart of the realm. Eowyn, trusting Grima worse than ever now prepared all of the King's food personally, and would let no other serve him at board.

A time came when Eomer and Theodred returned weary to Edoras from long riding, and the King refused them entry into his halls.

"If thou hadst been true sons to me, thou would have stayed beside me in my sickness, not left my counsellor to tend me alone!" Theoden had said when they came to speak with him, and Grima, sitting at the King's feet had blinked at them with his pale eyes, and smiled

"Thou speakest justly, my Lord." he whispered

Eomer and Eowyn made no answer, but their eyes blazed. It was Theodred who spoke first, and when he did so, his voice was thick with wrath.

"Thou hast spoken as skillfully as ever, serpent!" he cried, fire flashing in his eyes. "But once too often hast thou betrayed us who once called thee friend!" he stepped forward, drawing his sword swiftly from it's sheath, and Eomer and Eowyn stepped quickly up to support him. Theodred swung his sword in a great arc, but before he could slay Grima, Theoden leapt at once to his feet.

The King's sudden strength was startling. His eyes flashed as full of fire as his son's, and his voice was terrible as thunder.

"So thou wouldst slay my counsellor? The one who loves me more truly than thou canst do? Get thee hence! As thou art my son I will be merciful, but thou art banished from my hall upon pain of death for a year and a day if thou dost not beg Grima now for forgiveness!"

For a moment, the King and his son stood eye to eye, the battle fury of their fathers running through them like fire. Then Theoden swayed and crumpled. Eowyn caught him as he fell, setting the King back upon his throne.

"Get thee gone." Grima whispered. "My lord is wearied by thy malcontent! Go!"

For a moment, he met Eomer's gaze.

"Thou thinkst thyself wise, Grima." Eomer spoke steadily "And at least thou hast cunning, if not wisdom. I will give thee a new name. Wormtongue I name thee now, for all that ever left thy lips was false."

Without waiting for an answer, the three cousins turned and walked swiftly from the hall.