Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Nine: The Shieldmaiden

After that time, Grima gradually faded out of the doings of the Mark. He spent long hours closeted with the King, sitting curled upon the step beneath Theoden's throne. Theoden, perhaps feeling some pity for the crippled child gave to him the title of chief counsellor; in jest, at first, but later as the King's trouble's grew, he came to depend on Grima truly as his closest ally. Grima's knowledge was deep for one of his years, especially considering how infrequently he rode abroad.

Eowyn and Eomer mourned the loss of their friend, but they had grown apart from each other in the years since Grima had returned, and they saw him less and less often. Eowyn began to avoid Grima. His glance unsettled her, and he had a way of looking at Eowyn which frightened her not a little.

As before, Eowyn took comfort in the horses. She rode ever further across the Mark, and could at times even be found in the company of the Eored's which patrolled the Mark. Theodred did not often remain at Edoras for long periods now, for the fighting and border war with the orcs and Dunlendings had been growing steadily worse. Eowyn and her brother now rode for long periods with their cousin, and Theoden did not call them back to Edoras. It seemed to Theodred that his young cousins had been falling steadily from the King's favour, and though he could see no reason for this, it seemed to him that perhaps it was best if the young ones left the courts for a time.

So it came to pass that in Eowyn's fourteenth year, she achieved the slaying of her first orc. She had been riding with Theodred, on one of his infrequent visits home when their small company was surprised by a warg scout. Swiftly, Theodred engaged the warg rider, throwing himself upon the great beast, but several others emerged from the eaves of the entwood, and would have taken Theodred's riders at unawares, had Windfola not scented the wargs. Windfola reared up, wheeling upon her hind feet, her ears flat back, and nostrils flaring as she caught the hated scent. The wargs did not wait for their rider's command, but charged headlong into the onset. One of the great, wolf-like beats rose against Windfola, and almost before she was aware of it, Eowyn thrust her sword instinctively down it's throat. For a moment, the warg glared at her, it's body still writhing on her sword point, before she slid her blade from it's mouth, and the huge wolf collapsed upon the ground. Eowyn had no time to savour her victory. Before Eomer could come to her aid, the wolf rider was on his feet, a wicked red blade in his claws. With reflexes born from hours of practice, Eowyn threw herself down close to Windfola's neck. The jagged red blade came rushing to meet her, and swiftly, Eowyn parried it with her own. The blade flew from the orc's grasp, and Eowyn brought her own sword crashing down upon his helm. There was a flash like flame, and the orc fell with cloven head.

When Eowyn looked up from Windfola's mane, the remaining orcs lay slain by Theodred's men. Eomer, too, had felled his orc. The blood still glistened upon his blade. Theodred smiled, relieved to see that his cousins had fared well.

"Thou art a fine shieldmaiden, sister!" Theodred said, a smile playing about his lips.

Eowyn smiled back at him, the exhilaration of victory filling all her mind.

"Come!" Eomer laughed swiftly. "Our uncle will be proud to hear this tale!"