Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Four: The Two Wizards

"Well then! art thou not the silly one!", Freda declared. Freda was an old woman, the best healer in the Mark, and from what Eowyn gathered of her bustling talk, Her services had been much in use this day.

"Silly, silly!" chided Freda again, as she wrapped a dressing tightly about Eowyn's bare chest. "Didst thou not think to use blunted swords for thy play?"

Eowyn shifted guiltily. It wasn't a bad cut really, at least, it wasn't very deep, though it stung. She shouldn't have worried them all like this.

"Still thy fretting" Freda commanded. "thou art not the only one. I've already had to patch that Erkenbrand. Thought he could beat thy cousin, he did, and got a marvelous fine gash for his trouble! And them two boys, Grimbold and Hama, They came to me all dizzied from fighting. They hadn't touched each other with them swords, they was just outta breath! but thy uncle! If he don't be the biggest knave of the lot of them! Brought me his horse, he did! said the beast had cut his leg somehow in the games! Well, I ask thee! Do I look like a horse doctor?" Eowyn smiled, amused.

"What didst thou do?" she asked, intrigued

"Well, what dost thou think?" Freda chuckled suddenly " I patched his horse for the lad, and gave his ears a right royal boxing!" Eowyn laughed. Somehow, she couldn't think of anyone boxing the King's ears.

"There now." the healer continued, tying off the bandage and surveying her work with satisfaction. "Nothing that won't hurt ye none, if ye don't go tearing them stitches out."

 Eowyn smiled, and thanked the old lady as she pulled her torn dress back over her head. She was suddenly anxious to find Grima, remembering the frightened, guilty look in his eyes. She said a hurried farewell, and hastened from the house.

She found Grima still sitting in the mud beside the ring. Theodred's men were now trying their hands at archery, but Grima was not watching them. He was staring at the grass in front of him, almost transfixed, with tears staining his cheeks, and eyes brimming with remorse. he still had not wiped the blood from his sword. Eowyn went quickly to him, and put her white arms about his neck. Gently, she kissed his cheek, looking solemnly up at him.

"It's all right, Grima." she told him. "I'm not hurt. I know you didn't mean for it to happen." Grima's eyes did not lose their hunted look.

"You are hurt." He whispered. "You were bleeding."

"But I'm not now" Eowyn insisted. "Come, Grima, I forgive you. Many others have been hurt today as well, thou knowest."

"None of them were stabbed by their best friends though." Grima whispered "I'm sorry, Lily."

"It was an accident" Eowyn assured him "Come, now, I owe thee one of the aed faeder's stories!" Grima smiled tremulously, and allowed Eowyn to pull him to his feet.

"I'm sorry, Lily," he said again. "I love thee, Lily, truly I dost."

"And I love thee too." Eowyn replied. "Come. What tale wilt thou ask for?" Grima smiled again, and, hand in hand, the two made their quiet way back towards Meduseld.

Saruman watched them go. He watched especially the slim, dark haired boy with the blood-stained sword. Then, slowly, the wizard left his place and followed the children up the steep hillside.

Gandalf sat in a carven chair by the fire in the midst of the great hall. The day had quickly turned to rain, and because of this, much of the population of Rohan had gathered in the golden hall to feast and listen to the old man's tales. Only a few of the younger folk, among them Erkenbrand, and most of Theodred's riders still battled it out upon the sodden field. Eowyn sat at the wizard's feet, between Grima and Grimbold, her wound still ached, but she was not going to admit that to Grima. Eomer sat on Grima's other side, and the younger boy's dark head rested upon Eomer's shoulder.

"Come, aed faeder!" Grimbold acted as spokesperson for the group. "Now is a good time for tales."

"Why must I always tell thee tales, master Grimbold?" the wizard laughed. "Galmod here knows as many tales as I." Grima's father sat at the edge of the circle, as keen as any of the children to hear a tale.

He laughed swiftly. "But we have all heard my tales a thousand times o'er!" he demurred. "And my skill at such matters is at any rate, sadly inferior to thy own." The wizard's beard twitched, and young Grimbold smiled at Galmod. There was nothing like a little flattery to get a tale out of the wizard.

"I must needs accept thy offer!" Gandalf smiled, "Tell me, whose turn is it to choose the tale?"

"If you please, aed faeder" Eowyn said, "It is Grima's turn. I wagered him one of thy tales that he could not best me with a sword."
"I didn't best thee." Grima muttered, but still he brightened visibly.

"Well, young master," said Gandalf, turning to him "And what tale wert thou wanting today?" Grima thought for a moment, before he spoke, his eyes fixed on the wizard's face.

"A story about friends." he said finally, fingering the horsehair bracelet about his wrist.The wizard proceeded to tell them a tale of long ago. He told the story of two of the old elves, whose names were Maedhros and Fingon, and how, because of their great friendship, even though Maedhros had betrayed him, Fingon was able to rescue him from the torture of Morgoth.

The second wizard watched from the shadows of the hall as Gandalf span his tale. There was a chilling look in Saruman's dark eyes. A calculating, frightening look of evil. An idea was beginning to form. An idea that centered around the slender, dark haired boy who sat between the King's two wards.