Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Sixteen: Theodred's Tale

And so Eomer and Theodred were gone again, and Eowyn's heart grew ever heavier with the passing of the days. By Theodred's counsel, she now stood silent behind Theoden's throne, not contradicting Wormtounge save in matters of grave urgency. It was imperative that Grima should believe her fully subject to his will, for who knew how long the Kingdom would stand if Eowyn too were banished from the King's side. And so Eowyn stood silent, her head inclined deferentially to the worm and her secret loathing of him veiled. Her only confidant was Hama, and he too had been ordered by Theodred to keep his silence. In any case, Eowyn and Hama on their own could have done little to assail the worm, now that Eomer and Theodred were gone.

Eomer and Theodred were not idle. Theodred now took upon himself the leadership of all the Eorreds of the Mark, in deed if not in word, and thus gained the loyalties of the Marshalls ere Wormtounge could seek to control them.

At last when her brother and cousin had been absent from Edoras for almost two years, Eowyn, standing before the doors of Meduseld saw a solitary rider approaching. He came slowly as a weary or wounded man. The bay horse he rode had no saddle, and the rider slumped across it's back. The wind buffeted the rider and his golden hair blowing in the wind seemed to be stained with blood. he wore no helm and no shield was slung at his back. At last, the rider looked up and Eowyn recognised the face of Theodred.

The horse halted at the foot of the stairs and Eowyn hastened down to meet them. Wearily, Theodred slid from the horses's back, leaning on Eowyn for support. Eowyn's exclaimation died on her lips as she noticed his armour rent and twisted and the black blood caked below his ribcage.

"Theodred..." Eowyn whispered, horrorstruck. "Eomer..? Snowflake..?"

"Thy brother is safe, Lily." Theodred assured her "And I am not badly harmed." he paused for breath, swaying slightly on her shoulder. Swiftly, Hama hastened down the steps and took Theodred's other arm casting a worried glance at Eowyn as he did so.

"We were ambushed." Theodred continued. "Walda, the third Marshall was slain in a skirmish with the orcs but a few weeks past, and I bade Eomer take up his command while I returned with three others to Meduseld." He paused again, clasping the gash in his ribs. "As we approached the Fords of Isen, my company was surprised by a strong company of orcs. My companions were slain. Craeftig, Bearn, Deor and Ceorl. Four of the loyalest riders I have known." he bent his head.

"Snowflake...?" Eowyn whispered again

Theodred looked up, his eyes pained and desolate.

"He took an arrow that was meant for me." The prince whispered. "I fell beneath him and was left for dead." Eowyn looked at him in silence. Theodred had loved Snowflake above the earth. Never had she seen any greater bond between horse and rider than those two had.

"Then whence came this horse?" Hama asked, reaching out a hand to stroke the bay stallion's sweating neck.

"His name is Brego." Theodred told them. "He was Walda's horse. When Walda was slain, I bade them turn him loose, and it was well for me that I did! He it was who found me, and when I awoke I was able to mount him, and he has bourne me home."

For a moment all three gazed at the great horse, and Eowyn touched the white star on his forehead in silent thanks. Then Hama spoke

"Come, my lord" he said "we must get thee to a healer." and lifting the prince lightly, he bore him towards the Golden hall and his father. Eowyn watched a moment, then, turning she took Brego by the mane and led him towards the stables.