Daughter of Kings
Chapter Thirty Three: The King's Command
"Open!" Cried Gandalf, "Open! The Lord of the Mark comes forth!" With a
single thrust, the great doors rolled back. Sunlight spilled through
the breach bourne upon a keen wind, welcome as spring after winter. The
guards before the doors stared in amaze.
"Send thy guards down to the stairs' foot, and you lady, leave him a
while with me." Gandalf instructed softly. "I will care for him."
Eowyn met the aed faeder's eyes coolly. There was pity in his glance for her, and apology, but also, perhaps, respect.
"Go Eowyn, sister-daughter," Theoden smiled, and his eyes were those of a man once more. "The time for fear is past."
Only once, before the doors to the hall Eowyn paused and looked back.
Her uncle leant upon his staff, tired eyes sweeping the horizon as if
searching for something that was no longer there. Pity for him welled
up in Eowyn's breast like a physical pain, and she knew that he was
thinking, beyond hope of Theodred his son, who would never now return
to that high seat to which he was heir.
Glancing upwards, Eowyn once again met the gaze of the tall,
dark-cloaked ranger. There was a strange look in the grey eyes, a fair,
noble look, like that of a warrior who turns his weary eyes at last
upon some captivating and unattainable vison. And suddenly Eowyn was
aware of him, felt the same violent strength behind his gaze that at
once drew and terrified her. She could feel the power that radiated
from beneath the grey shroud of his cloak as the glance between them
kindled to flame, twin fire springing up within each breast. One moment
Eowyn stood, helpless against that power, then turning swiftly, she was
Eowyn pushed the door quickly shut behind her and leant against it for
a moment, her heart pounding in her breast, breathing as hard and fast
as if she had been running. Then with a sudden grim resolve, she
snatched the nearest weapon, a short-bladed knife, from the mead table
where it had been discarded after the morning meal, and strode
purposefully towards the dungeons.
At the end of the stone-flagged corridor, two men stood to attention
before the heavy door behind which her brother lay captive. Swinging
the purloined blade to head height, Eowyn bore down upon them.
"Open this door, now."
"You know that we may not do that, my Lady," the closest guard said
softly. He was young, with blue eyes the colour of a rain-washed sky,
and he looked upon the Lady Eowyn with a well-merited wariness, but
also with pity.
"You may, and you will." Eowyn said grimly, her eyes boring into his
own. The guard exchanged an exasperated glance with his companion, who
half-shrugged, his hand hovering about the hilt of his sword.
"Do not be a fool, Thrymma, if thou canst help it" she shot coolly at
the taller man. "Brave warrior though you be, thou knowest thou cannot
match me in a fight."
The guard of Rohan did not falter.
"I have no wish to fight thee, my Lady." He answered softly,
courteous as he had been throughout the long years of their childhood
together. "The traitor within may have no conference with any. My King
"You truly believe that my brother is a traitor, Thrymma?" She
asked quietly, and she thought that she saw something flicker for a
moment behind his eyes.
"I know not." He answered levelly. "But I believe the word of my
captain, and of my King. You, my Lady have been too long sheltered
behing these walls. It is long since thou knew what it is to ride and
fight, to live and die at the will of one man. Whether my King commands
me fight or stay, if he commands me slay myself, or even to keep guard
upon a man I once loved as a brother, then I will obey him. You are
free from all command save thy own, and for this I envy thee, but pity
thee as well."
His eyes were grey-green, serious and noble, and in them, Eowyn saw
mirrored the same unknowing fear which makes a child cling steadfastly
to some loved toy, refusing to let go his only comfort while his home
burns all around him. 'Nay,' her thought whispered inside of her, 'Nay. It is I who should pity thee.'
With a sudden noise of rushing footsteps, the spell was broken. Hama
burst through into the corridor, his golden hair flying about his face,
and a glad shout in his throat.
"Release my Lord Eomer!" Hama exclaimed, his face alight with relief and wonder. "Release him! King Theoden commands it!"