Daughter of Kings
Chapter Two: The King, and a Best Friend.
After Theodwyn's death, Eowyn and her brother were fostered with their
mother's elder brother, King Theoden, lord of the Eorlingas. Eowyn had
been close to Theoden since she was born. He it was who had set her on
her first horse, almost before she could walk, he who had first placed
a sword in her small hand. And it was Theoden who had first given her
the name Lily, for he said that she was more beautiful than the fairest
of flowers. Eowyn's cousin Theodred was a good friend as well. He was
thirteen years Eomer's elder, but cared for his young cousins, and
taught them how to deal with their confusion and grief. Theodred was
acquainted with grief. His mother, The Queen Elfhild had died in
bearing him. Eowyn did not forget her grief easily. The child took
comfort in the horses, riding often and late across the Mark. Quickly,
her skill increased, and as she rode through the fields and homesteads,
she came to be greatly loved by all the people. It comforted them, that
even in the shadow of approaching war, the children of the house of
Eorl still bore themselves proudly. Often, Theodred or Eomer would ride
with her, or one of the village children, for Eowyn had many friends.
Morwen the daughter of Freawine, and Idis her sister, as well as many
of the elder boys, Eomer's comrades; Grimbold, Elfhelm, Gram and Hama.
And Theodred was, as ever her teacher in all things.
Eowyn had one best friend. A slender boy, but two years her elder. He
had light, sparkling eyes, and a halo of ragged dark hair, inherited
from his dead mother, one of the Gondorians. His name was Grima son of
Galmod, and he quickly became Eowyn's greatest friend. Grima was an
athletic boy, Eowyn's equal in feats of swordsmanship and riding. Grima
had a black colt named Ellen, whom he rode everywhere, and often, Eowyn
and Grima would race each other while folk smiled to see the two
together, dark child and golden, with an almost elven light in their
faces and their hair tangled upon their shoulders.
When Eowyn had turned six, Theoden had taken her riding far out over
the plains, looking for the herds of yearlings and two year old colts,
which grazed as they would across the Riddermark.
They had found the colts resting beside the Snowbourne river, and
Theoden had given to Eowyn the greatest gift he could give. Looking at
the colts, he gave to her Windfola, the grey filly that Eowyn had
chosen. The little mare was perfect in every part of her making, whose
sire had been Shadowfax the great, and whose dam, Lightfoot had
mothered Theoden's own battle charger.
"Well, Lily," Theoden had asked her with a smile, "will she serve?"
Eowyn could not speak, but the King understood.
Eowyn's task then, was to break the filly, to master her and to teach
her, as Eomer had broken Firefoot. It was slow going. Eowyn's small
body had not the strength to constrain the filly by force, but this was
how the Rohirrim had always taught their children. To befriend their
horses, and to work with them, learning by skill and courage to master
their great steeds.
Eowyn and Grima broke the filly together, and finally, in the year that
Eowyn was eight years old, Windfola was old enough for her first ride.
Eowyn, Eomer, Theodred and Grima together rode right to the feet of the
white mountains, and there dismounted for a while to break their fast.
After they had eaten, Grima solemnly took a small knife, and with it
cut hair from each of the horses' manes. He divided the hair into four
portions, and taking his own, began to weave the strands together,
braiding a slender line, white and brown and chestnut and grey. Eowyn
took up her own strands, her small, deft fingers braiding swiftly.
White for Snowflake and Theodred, Black for Grima and Ellen, Chestnut
for Eomer and Firefoot and a slender strand of grey horsehair for Eowyn
and Windfola. When they had finished, each of the children held a
slender bracelet of horsehair, knotted together at the ends. Quietly,
each slipped the bracelet onto their wrist.
"We must never, ever take these off." Grima spoke solemnly into the
silence. "This means that we will always be friends. And we will always
help each other. Forever and always."
"Always." Eomer echoed his words, and silently, Theodred nodded his assent.
The children smiled at each other, knowing the power of the pledge that
they had taken. In Eowyn's head, she heard again Grima's words. Forever
and always. Silently, the children mounted and together rode back
across the plain to the Golden Hall.