Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Eighteen: Seek For The Sword That Was Broken...

After Gandalf's departure, things worsened more than ever. The wizard's coming had been like a new dawn to a sky that has been dark overlong, which shines briefly golden before it is obscured again by dark stormclouds.

Another year passed. The war became ever fiercer upon the borders, no more petty skirmishes with scattered bands of roving orcs, but vicious battles, strategically planned by an enemy who seemed to have a great knowledge of everything that passed in the realm.

Theoden had sickened again at Gandalf's departure, and now his malady seemed worse. He seemed not to recognise Eowyn or the other women who served him, but must ever have Wormtongue at his side. Theodred and Wormtongue had come near to blows again over who should be promoted to captain of the King's guard after old Gamling had retired to his fastness in the Eastfold. Theodred for this time had overruled the worm, and Hama had been promoted to captain against Grima's wishes.

One night in early July Eowyn had woken, troubled by a strange dream. it had seemed to her that she saw a young man, pale with dark hair and deep, penetrating blue eyes. He wore the tree of Gondor blazoned upon his surcoat, and he stood high upon white walls that Eowyn guessed to be those of Minas Tirith. The young man looked up at the moon curved like a silver bow, and his face was troubled. His hand played about the hilt of a great sword, and he whispered words that Eowyn could not hear. Then the dream had changed, and she had seen the man again looking up at one upon a bay horse. This other was so like to the first man that Eowyn guessed that they must be near kindred, although the rider was broader across the shoulders, and looked to be the elder of the two. The man on the horse smiled sadly, and it seemed to Eowyn that she heard his voice. 'Remember today, little brother.' Then he had turned and ridden away, and his brother watched him go, his eyes dark and unfathomable. Then there had been a noise of wind and a great rain storming from the east. The sound of hooves galloping, and Eowyn had woken in the quiet darkness of her own chamber breathless and terrified by some unmistakable knowledge of doom.

It was but three days later that Eomer returned, riding as escort to a tall dark man upon a bay horse: Boromir, eldest son of Denethor the steward of Gondor.

As Boromir sat at the King's board that night, he told the tale of his journey. Eowyn was fascinated by the tall man, swift and sure as the sons of Eorl, and quite unlike to any man of Gondor she had met before. He was darkly handsome, and Eowyn could tell merely from the way he moved that he was an expert soldier. His eyes were grey-blue and a ready smile played about his mouth. Noble he was, courageous and proud, and Eowyn found herself drawn to him, sensing in him a brother in arms, a kindred spirit.

"...A dream came to my brother in a troubled sleep..." Boromir was saying, and Eowyn shivered, remembering her own dream.

"...ever and anon that dream would come to him, and once, it came even unto me. In that dream, it seemed to me that the eastern sky grew dark, but a pale light lingered in the west. It seemed that I heard a voice, though whence it came I could not tell. A riddle the voice told me and nothing more, yet I awoke to a great dread and unquiet." Boromir fell silent, and his face was troubled.

"What was the riddle?" Eomer asked, his eyes curious and lit with a strange light.

When Boromir spoke it was in a voice quite unlike his own, and he chanted the lines softly to the darkened hall:

"Seek for the sword that was broken, In Imladris it dwells.
There shall be counsels taken, stronger than Morgul spells.
There shall be shown a token that doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's bane shall waken, the halfling forth shall stand."

A hush had fallen over the table. The red light of the fire flickered on the tapestried walls and shone upon Boromir's face with a strange fateful light. There was silence.

"Seek for the sword that was broken..." Eowyn whispered. She did not understand the words, but they stirred in her some strange half-memory of one whom she had never met, yet seemed to know as intimately as she knew herself. She could not have worded it this way, even to herself, but the words spoke to her of courage and great deeds of a long forgotten hope.

"And where is Imladris?" she wondered

Boromir turned as if seeing her for the first time. "My father would tell me only this," he replied, his eyes matching her own. "Imladris was of old the name of the valley that is called Rivendell, the home of Elrond half-elven, a master in lore. What the sword that was broken may be, I do not know, nor the meaning of the words Isildur's bane.But it is the answer to this that I seek."

The company was silent again, pondering the words of the Steward's heir. Eowyn's eyes rested upon Grima the Wormtongue, and the look on his face was that of one who has finally found a key that they have long sought.