Daughter of Kings
Chapter Thirty Eight: Aenlic and Anduril
It was the ranger. Strider. "Thou hast some skill with a blade," he smiled, polite, condescending.
Angrily, Eowyn spun her blade away, struck back at him. Again, he met
her blade with his own, held it there for a moment, testing her
stregth. He struck back, and she parried the longer blade, twisting to
take the weight of his thrust. Then they were duelling in earnest,
silver blades flashing as they leapt and spun. The ranger's footwork
was light, more delicate and refined than she would have imagined
possible for a man of his height.
The larger sword darted back, aiming a thrust at her breast with
considerable force. Aenlic caught it easily, turned it, spun back to
the fight. The two swords danced seemingly with a will of their own,
each the twin of the other. Aenlic sang through the air, and the
resounding clash struck sparks from the ranger's blade. The weapon's
song, so long repressed took flight again within Eowyn's blood, every
fibre of her being thrilling to the clash of steel. The hall echoed
with it; with the strong, assured steps of the ranger's leather boots;
the light, springing footfalls of his partner. Neither took their eyes
from the other's face. Eowyn glared into his grey eyes. The expression
in them was unfathomable.
The ranger's sword flew from nowhere, and she sprang backwards with a
yell of defiance. Her reflexes, so long disused were awake again,
responding quicker than her thought could. The larger blade swept high
and she ducked beneath it, her hair flying loose in the speed of her
movement. She felt a wild rush of exhileration as the silver blade
swept close enough to shear away a single lock of gold. With the eyes
of a hunter, she found the opening she sought. Aenlic darted like a
hawk of steel, and Eowyn felt the terrible joy and power of the sword.
And then, suddenly, they were still. Eowyn felt the bite of metal
against the smooth skin of her throat, saw with a strange, double sense
her own sword resting upon his collarbone. They stood as if stricken to
stone, so close that the ranger could feel her breath, light and fast
upon his cheek. Their eyes met with a sudden new respect.
"I flatter myself that I have more than some
skill, my lord Strider." She smiled grimly, and there was a proud
challenge in her tone. "The women of this country learned long ago that
those without swords can still die upon them!"
Aragorn stared, shocked almost to silence. Suddenly, he knew who
this girl was. Had known all along. It was there, in the precise turn
of her head, in the cool stare of those queenly eyes. Not the daughter
of Theodwyn alone, but the granddaughter of Morwen Steelsheen. Morwen,
Thengel's Queen, who had been friend, and more than friend to him. This
girl's eyes were grey rather than green, the proud sweep of her hair
was pale gold to Morwen's copper, but their blood was one and the same.
The Morwen he remembered had been a bright flame, her daughter Theodwyn
a thing of ice. This girl was both, and more. Within her, the two
elements seemed to clash and strive for dominance, beautiful and
terrible to behold.
With true respect now, he withdrew Anduril and bowed to her.
"Forgive me, Lady. You are indeed skilled beyond any I have met.
Strider, you heard me called before, but my right name is Aragorn, son
"And I am Eowyn, Eommund's daughter." She answered. She withdrew
the blade from his throat and sheathed it. "You bear a beautiful
The ranger smiled. The shieldmaiden was a kindred spirit. "This is Anduril," he told her. "The Flame of the West."
Eowyn nodded slowly, as if he had answered some question that he had not known was asked.
"And are you so?" she asked lightly. Seeing his look of enquiry,
she half-smiled. "The old women have a saying, here in Rohan. That you
may know who a man is by the name of the sword that he bears."
The tall ranger considered her with a strange, almost appraising
look. "And what name does thy sword bear, Eowyn of Rohan?" he asked
"Aenlic." The girl answered. "But she is not named for me. This blade once belonged to Morwen Steelsheen, my grandmother."
Aragorn smiled. "Even so, the name is fitting," he whispered. "Aenlic. Beautiful."