Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Twenty: The Lord Of All Horses

Eowyn it was who offered to escort Gandalf Greyhame to the stales. She had her own reasons for doing so, as she wished to speak with the aed faeder away from Grima's prying ears. The stables of Edoras were as magnificent as the golden hall itself. A long aisle ran down the centre, edged on either side by wooden stalls. The high rafters were carved with golden forms of horses, and above each stall was a woden plaque bearing the horse's name. The stables smelt sweet, of horses and mountain hay, and wisps of straw danced across the dirt floor.

The wizard and the shieldmaiden slowly paced the long aisle surveying the proud horses who stood on either side with their heads high and ears pricked sharply forwards. Long rows of the great animals, golden, bay, chestnut, silver, grey, black as night. Tall and strong of limb, sleek coats, soft muzzles, long flowing manes, all bold and courageous with proud arched necks and wild, beautiful amber coloured eyes.

But ever and anon the wizard shook his head, unsatisfied. Too many of the stalls now were empty, their occupants long away at war, the faithfull servants of the house of Eorl whose loyalties waned not even in death. All too many now were the empty spaces where the great beasts should have stood proudly beside their kin. Few enough of these indeed now remained. The broodmares with colts at foot, the wild untamed young things removed now from the plains for their own safety. Old war weary geldings and the few chargers whose riders would never again be in need of any mount.

Windfola whinnied from one of the furthest stalls, recognising the scent of her beloved mistress. Eowyn went to her and pressed her face against the mare's soft cheek in anxious thought, the silver muzzle cradled in her hands.

The wizard ended his inspection quickly, and Eowyn watched him shaking his head as he approached.

"None of these will serve my needs." he said sharply. "Where are the great horses for which this land is famed? For I must ride now swifter than the wind in the grass. Is there no horse left here who will bear me? I am in haste."

Eowyn shook her head slowly, stroking Windfola's neck as she did so.

"Only the mearas can run as you wish, like the wind in the grasses. And none of these would my uncle lend thee for they are dearer to the Eorlingas than our own kin."

"This I know." the wizard replied "Yet it is their speed I must have, else fail utterly. This is a thing of far greater import than thou knowest, Eowyn."

"I guessed as much." she whispered "You ride now on some swift errand. There is but one horse I know of who will serve thee, but I warn thee, he will suffer no man to ride him save the Lord of the Mark. Shadowfax we call him, the Lord of all Horses"

"He will suffer me." Gandalf said with quiet assurance, and Eowyn nodded again. That was what they said of him, the chief of the mearas, but had not she herself once ridden him?

'Nay' said her thought inside of her. 'I didst not ride him. But he bore me. He is not as the other horses of this world, but he bore me because I asked his leave, and he will bear a rider again if he knows their reasons to be just, and their heart to be true.'

"I will lead thee to him." Eowyn said quietly. "What may chance I cannot tell. But if I do this for thee, then thou canst do me some good in return. Thou art a wizard, aed faeder. Thou of all people can cure my uncle of his malady."

Gandalf Greyhame paused for a moment, and then nodded once. "Take me to him." He said, and he followed Eowyn swiftly from the stable.