Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Fifteen: Friends and Foes

Theodred's face was pained but resolute.

"We must needs go." he spoke to Eomer. "It will be better for all if we are not here."

"Better for Wormtounge thou meanst!" Eomer replied scornfully "It would be better for all if he was dead."

"That I do not deny." Theodred replied steadily "But I am concerned as to what effect his death would have on my father. Canst thou not see, Eomer, my father now relies so heavily upon his counsellor that in slaying the worm we might slay my father also." Theodred bowed his head.

"Thou speakst aright." Eowyn spoke suddenly. "Thou must go."

Theodred cast a sidelong glance at Eomer

"Mayhap this time thou shoulst come with us." he suggested.

Eowyn shook her head. "Nay, cousin." she whispered "It was thee who said that I should stay, and besides, I will not leave my King with only Wormtounge to tend him. I fear what the snake may do if he is given half the chance." Slowly, Theodred nodded his assent.

"Be carefull, Lily." he said gently "Wormtounge is dangerous. Do not think that those who were once friends can never become foes. I too fear. I fear what the serpent may do to thee."

Eowyn lifted her head proudly. "Who would know that better than I?" she asked "Which of us here has felt betrayal deeper than any other? Dost thou think that I would ever listen to him again?" For a moment there was silence, then Eomer spoke.

"Thou art right sister. " he said "Thou must bide, but we must go. The orcs grow ever bolder, and we are at a loss to know from whence they come. It cannot possibly be from Mordor, the distance is too great, and the tokens they bear are other than His. A great deal would I give to know who our enemy is."

"Whoever it is," Theodred said slowly, "I'll wager that Wormtounge is working for them." Looking up, Theodred saw their eyes looking back at him and knew that his cousins had reached the same conclusion. Their eyes were hard and fell, and no tears now were left to them. Theodred felt suddenly an overwhelming saddness consume him. They were too young for this. Eowyn was barely nineteen. How could they be expected to carry the burden alone?

"If Wormtoungue is with our enemy," Eowyn said slowly "Then who within these courts is yet faithfull? Wormtounge is a mighty persuader."

"Hama is still faithfull." Eomer said swiftly "And Baldor. Perhaps Idis." He stopped "I cannot think of many others." The three looked at each other. So few.

"What of the Marshalls?" Eowyn asked, her eyes unflickering.

"Most of my command I will swear are still true." Theodred said "Erkenbrand, Gamling. Some of the younger riders, Grimbold perhaps, and Elfhelm."

"One thing only is certain." Eowyn whispered "We must trust nobody."