Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Seventeen: Greyhame

Theodred was almost healed ere Eomer returned to Edoras in the Spring of 3017. Eowyn was glad to see her brother return safe, for with Theodred's injury her anxiety had grown. Even the King seemed relieved to see his sister-son again and seemed to throw off his illness of the past winter. Eomer brought joyful news with him. Under the joint command of Eomer and Erkenbrand, the Third Eorred had beaten the invading orcs back from the Westfold with great slaughter. Theoden, gladdened by this news confirmed Theodred's decision, appointing Eomer officially as the Third Marshall of the Riddermark, and bestowing upon Erkenbrand the Captainacy of the Westfold.

But a few days after Eomer's return a guest arrived at Meduseld. An old man in a grey cloak riding a slender chestnut mare. Eowyn welcomed the aed faeder with joy, and things became for awhile brighter in the King's court. Wormtounge withdrew somewhat from the King's prescence when Greyhame was there, and the King, by contrast regained somewhat of his old spirit and liveliness.

Gandalf Greyhame sat with the King's household at board that night and there were tales, songs and merrymaking as had not been for many a year.

"How long wilt thou remain my guest?" Theoden asked the aed faeder "For I cannot deny that I would be pleased of thy company."

The old wizard laughed heartily "I thank thee." he said "But I have pressing business with the steward of Gondor, and must needs be gone ere sunrise."

"What is thy pressing buisiness aed faeder?" Theodred enquired "Mayhap the Rohirrim can aid thee."

"Nay!" the wizard laughed again "I desire but to glance at some of the Lord Denethor's scrolls of lore."

He spoke lightly, but Eowyn waiting upon the men at board noticed something strangely wary about the wizard's manner, an over heartiness that seemed out of place. More was afoot than the aed faeder would tell. Wormtounge seemed to have noticed it too. Eowyn frowned slightly, thinking, but then her expression cleared. After all, the aed faeder was ever secretive. Eowyn shook her head slightly, dissmissing the thought. She bent and offered a cup to the wizard and there was no hint in his eyes that anything was amiss.

The next morning, Gandalf sat mounted upon his horse ready to depart. He smiled as Eowyn bore the stirrup cup to him.

"Westu Greyhame Hal." she smiled. "Health be with thee, aed faeder."

The wizard took the cup from the girl and drank. His glance swept over the little group that had gathered upon the steps to see him off. The King stood in the centre of the group, tired now and leaning upon his sister-son. Gandalf noted that Theoden's hair had grown white since he had last been in the Mark. So brief were the years of mortal men. The prince Theodred stood at his father's side dressed in a tunic of dark green. His hair was golden about his shoulders and his eyes smiled at the wizard. Gandalf sighed. This boy might be King himself ere the wizard returned. Eomer stood at the King's other side. He was shorter in stature than his cousin, but strong and fair as were all the house of Eorl. Looking on the cousins, Gandalf wondered if their friendship would survive the time that was to come, or wether treachery and kinstrife would once more tear apart the Kingdom of Rohan.

With a sad smile, the wizard placed the cup back in Eowyn's hands. She stood before him tall and straight. Her face was pale and her eyes no longer shone with the innocence of youth, but were hard and fell, worn by the unpitying passage of the years. Grima stood a little to the side of the group, his head bowed and a black hood shadowing his face. It seemed but a little while to the wizard since these two had slept curled before the great fire, or sat with their heads touching as they laughed together at his tales of the holbyltan.

Holbyltan. Frodo. It was time to go. He had to know. If his suspicions of Frodo's ring were correct, then there would be trials far greater instore for the Rohirrim.

Raising his hand in farewell, Gandalf wheeled his horse about and cantered swiftly down the long road which led south towards Gondor. Soon now he would know.