Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Eight: Failure

Eowyn sat with her hands clasped about her knees at the edge of her bed. Angrily, she surveyed the familiar room. The same white coverlets on the bed, the same wooden chest standing beneath the same window, the same furs stretched upon the floor. Nothing had changed. Yet everything had changed.

There was no hope that she could have ridden the chief of the Mearas without being seen by somebody, Eowyn supposed, but her uncle's punishment had seemed unusually harsh. Eowyn was confined to her chamber until further notice, and was not allowed to have guests.  It was not really that which bothered the child though. Still, she was haunted by her best friend, still haunted by the knowledge that she had failed him. An angry frown crossed the child's face. Grima was also confined to his chamber, but more than that, she knew. He was imprisoned within his own mind, and his recovery now seemed gone beyond recall. Eowyn kicked her heels impetuously against the coverlets, and scowled again. She glanced up at the portraits that hung over her dresser. The first was of Eorl first King of the Mark and of Felarof his horse , but the second showed a woman, Morwen of Lossanarch who had been Eowyn's foremother. Morwen was mounted upon a great grey charger, and held a spear in her hand. Her bright hair flew long in some imagined wind, and the angry expression on her proud face was the exact replica of her descendent's.  Steelsheen, the Rohirrim had called her, for she was graceful and proud, and could fight better than any man in th Mark. Many there were who said that Eowyn walked in her likeness, and this did not displease the child.

'What wouldst thou have done, Morwen?" Eowyn wondered.

She heard a stealthy knocking upon the windowsill, and quickly, she slid from her bed. Her bother stood outside, and with an easy grin,  hoisted himself and scrambled through the window.

"Well, Lily!" Eomer laughed "Thou hast made a mess of things!"

Eowyn scowled at her brother, her bad mood not diminished by his presence.

"Peace, sister!" He laughed again. "Thou hast no cause to quarrel with me! But what possessed thee to do it?" he shot a glance at her face.

Eowyn collapsed silently onto her bed.

"Grima." she answered him slowly. "He is not right, Eomer. He asked me to. He thought if he could ride Shadowfax,  then he could be all right again. I don't really understand it, Eomer, but there is something wrong with him."

Eomer's laughter faded.

"I know." he replied quietly. Eomer sank onto the bed beside her, his face sombre now. "I don't what ails him." he said quietly. " But somehow, I find that I am afraid of him. Grima scares me, Lily."

Eowyn was silent, but she took her brother's hand in her own, glancing as she did so at the twin bracelets of intertwined horsehair  that encircled both slender wrists.

"There is nothing we can do, Eomer." she whispered at last. "It is up to Grima now."

Grima lay in a chamber across the hall from Eowyn's. The shutters were closed, allowing no light to invade the darkness of his dream. The boy lay almost in a swoon, stretched across the white coverlets. His eyes were closed, and his breathing shallow. It seemed that the boy dreamed. The look on the child's face was troubled, as if hearing some imagined voice. Beads of sweat stood out upon his pale brow. The dark hair hung in lank tangles about his drawn cheeks, and he writhed and twisted in his sleep as though tormented. Suddenly, Grima gave a great cry. His pale eyes flew open. The boy convulsed once, and then was still.

It was a long time after that Grima arose; his movements mechanical and eyes shrouded and unseeing. Slowly the boy left his chamber, and set about achieving the task that the master had set him.