Daughter of Kings
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
"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.