Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan
Note to Readers: this is an Unfinished Tale, as the author
departed these shores before she was able to finish it.
Please enjoy the journey, realizing at its end there may be
questions that remain unanswered.
“Eowyn Eomund’s daughter, awake! For
your enemy has passed away!”
She did not stir, but now she began again to
breathe deeply, so that her breast rose and fell beneath
linen of the sheet…….. The Lord of the Rings,
book V, Chapter 8, The Houses of Healing.
After her brother Eomer King of Rohan left her, the Lady Eowyn lay
unmoving for many hours in the quiet room. Beyond, in the hallway,
the bustle of many folk coming and going, the moans of the wounded,
weeping of the bereaved. Though she slept for a time, she woke
wondering that she felt so little in herself, for what she felt was
kind of numb emptiness, no joy to find herself still among the
nor did she feel any grief.
It seemed she could not fasten her thoughts on any one thing,
the death of her uncle King Theoden, nor the scenes on the field of
battle. She knew that she had slain the Nazgul, knew that the
Meriadoc had fallen beside her…..but these images and sounds would
stick in the forefront of her mind. Instead she saw the white
lift gently in the breeze coming through the open window, felt the
rough texture of the coverlet beneath her hands. Now and again
came in, she would be asked if she was athirst, or if she hungered.
did not speak, only shook her head. Words did not want to form.
No, words did not want to form, but she felt that a shriek of agony
coiled in her throat, choking her. Not from the pain of her body,
from the pain of shame and defeat and longing. That long road from
Dunharrow, and to come to this! To come to lying helpless in bed,
and bandaged and pitied. Why could not it have fallen out that she
been killed in honourable battle, her life’s blood spilled on this
foreign soil, another Rider of Rohan, nameless and unseen, free at
from her cage?
It grew dark and through the partly open door she saw lamplight and
shadows. Still there was a bustle of coming and going. The sounds of
footsteps and voices and the clattering of trays and noises from the
other rooms all blended into a kind of murmurous rumble, vaguely
soothing. Her arm ached, but fitfully, and was warming with little
tingling shocks as if she had stayed out too long in snow.
She slept. Very late in the night she awoke with a gasp, and felt
cold sweat of fear all over her body. Her eyes were open, but she
see nothing, nothing! Turning her head she saw the white blur of the
curtains, and the panicked pounding of her heart slowed. What had
wakened her? A dream? The voice of the Nazgul, and the way it
along her bones and turned them to water. Her uncle, his dead face
ghastly, his dead eyes unseeing but looking at her nonetheless, they
were dragging him away, they were taking him to the City of the
That creature caught her uncle’s body in its claws and lifted itself
from the ground with foul airs stirring as it spread its leathery
“My lady! My lady!” a gentle voice said. A soft hand touched her
“My lady, do not be afraid! Thou hast been dreaming only, and art
here. Come. Sit up here and lean on my arm, and take some wine.
there, my lamb, ‘twill do thee good.”
She stared up at the woman’s broad face, a face lined with age and
weariness. She sipped the wine like a child, then let herself be
lowered to the pillow again. The woman wiped her forehead and bathed
her hands with a cloth dipped in a basin. “Kingsfoil,” the woman
murmured, “it ever smells so sweet. I shall leave the basin here, my
lady, that the perfume may drive the bad dreams away.”
Eowyn closed her eyes. She drifted into restful sleep, her warm
unhurt hand cradling her cold one.
The next day she kept to her bed, although it fretted her. She could
not yet fasten her thoughts on any thing. She was given a fresh
and a shy young girl took a brush to her hair, then braided it back
it did not trouble her. Eowyn was patient under these ministrations,
but when the Warden came in at sundown she questioned him eagerly,
desiring to know what news there was of the War. He could not, or
not, tell her anything, saying there was no news.
She was puzzled that she could be so weary, having done naught all
but lie in bed. But weary she was, bone weary, scarce able to lift
hand to carry the spoon to her mouth. Once again it was the
old woman who waited upon her, and this woman took the spoon from
and fed her like a child. “My lady, do not wonder at thy weariness.
body hast suffered much, and thee only a lass!”
Eowyn allowed herself to be fed and washed and moved about, it was
easier to give in than to protest. At last they left her be and
fell upon her.
Then again came the awful dreams, and she woke sobbing, sitting up
the dark with one hand at her mouth to stifle a scream. It was there
again, the thing that was to carry her away, she could hear it, she
could smell it…..not death, no, it wasn’t death waiting for her, but
torment, torment in the dark……
The door opened and the nurse was there again, bearing a candle on a
tray, and a basin of steaming water. “Dreams again, my lady?” the
said. She looked at Eowyn’s pale face, blotched with tears. “Mayhap
would ease thee, my child, if thou spoke of thy dream.”
“No, no,” Eowyn said, drawing a long, shuddering breath. “It is
now.” She took a few sips of the sweet red wine, and allowed the
to smooth her pillow.
“Shall I leave the candle?” the woman asked.
“No, I thank thee” Eowyn replied. “But leave that basin, if thou
For the scent of that herb is soothing, and seems to lighten the
Alone again, she lay back with her eyes closed. Now it was no
perched before her, waiting to bear her away. Now her jumbled
had come together, and one above all. Shame scalded her heart,
in her hot cheeks and causing her uninjured hand to clutch at the
coverlet. Everyone knew! Everyone knew now. So much for her pride,
Shieldmaiden of Rohan that she was, daughter of kings. Brought low
something so common that every serving wench shared her fate: