Eowyn, Shieldmaiden of Rohan

by Vison

Part Sixteen

“Alone Eowyn stood before the doors of the house at the stair’s head; the sword was set upright before her, and her hands were laid upon the hilt. She was clad now in mail and shone like silver in the sun……………Far over the plain Eowyn saw the glitter of their spears, as she stood still ,alone before the doors of the silent house.”
The Two Towers, Chapter 6, The King of the Golden Hall….

Part 16:

Long she stood there. The wind coming brisk from the North lifted her hair and stirred the white skirts of her gown. She could no longer see the departing riders, none of them.

She went into the hall and walked along the walls, gazing upon the banners that hung there. All her life she had known these banners, she knew the name of each king and the horse upon which he rode, knew too of their mighty deeds. Before the banner of Eorl the Young she paused, and her blood quickened as she recalled all that she knew of him. In her veins ran the same fierce courage! She lifted her sword in salute, then moved on.

Now the last rays of the setting sun shone in the window of her chamber that looked westward, the light gilded all it touched, even Eowyn herself where she stood and looked to the horizon. She put off the mail shirt and laid it carefully on the chair, smiling. Though this was a fine shirt, in her cupboard was her own, made for her, and now she drew it forth again, unwrapping it and shaking it out. She ran her hands over it, it was smooth as velvet, so beautifully had Master Walda made it, cool as water to the touch.

Her maid came in, full of talk and surmise. Eowyn never gossiped with the girl, but this day she listened in amusement as Mercia babbled on, retailing all the tales that already flew about the town. Elves and Dwarves and the Wizard that Theoden named Mithrandir, and then, as an aside, some Ranger of the North. Some dark haired man roughly dressed, with a stern face. And best of all, that Worm, sent crawling in disgrace!

“All of us girls are glad he is gone, lady! And ever was he sneaking around, watching thee. Remember thy scarf?” The girl brushed out Eowyn’s hair and bound it up with ribbon, fastened a necklace around her neck. “Wilt thou dine in thine own room, lady? Or in Hall?”

She had to ask twice before Eowyn answered. “Oh, in Hall, I think. Yes. There will be some yet to dine with me, though most of the Riders are gone.” Eowyn looked at her reflection in the glass and saw her own eyes wide and dark, her mouth softened in a smile. Seeing the smile, she smiled again.

“My lady,” Mercia said, “I think that thou art glad to have the Hall to thyself! How long has it been since my lord the King rode out, and so many with him?” Then her voice lowered. “They ride to war, lady? How long will it be before we see them ride home?”

“I do not know,” Eowyn answered. She wanted to say, “Though they ride to war, it is not a dark day, not to me! For my lord the King is healed, and my brother is free! Though they ride to war, they ride as befits men of the Mark.”

She took her evening meal in the Hall, sitting in her usual chair. Though there were few to dine with her, and no talk of moment, nor jests, nor songs, it was the merriest meal she had taken there in many months.

“So that Grima is gone, my lady,” old Lord Aldor said to her. “We hear all manner of tales of his going!” He looked at her and went on, “He was sent off with his tail between his legs, eh? Well, well, I see that thou art not about to tell any more so I will ask instead that the wine be sent my way.”

It was hard for Eowyn to sit in her chair in the usual way. She wished somehow to mark this day, what Theoden would call a Red Letter Day, and so when she was back in her own chamber she took her ring and scratched a star into the glass of her window. Just a little star, down in one corner. She ran her fingers over the tiny scratches. Only she would know what it meant, and then she smiled again to think that she had done it, for there was no manner of way she would ever forget!

Some Ranger of the North, dark haired and rough dressed with grey eyes in a stern beautiful face. She recalled the Lord Boromir as he had been---that was sad news among much news from Eomer, the news of Boromir’s death. This Ranger had somewhat of Boromir’s looks, but was more pleasing to Eowyn, had more of manliness in the way of the kind of manliness Eowyn liked. What was this! Since when had Eowyn any notion of manliness and liking, what had come over her?

She recalled her feeling of the night before, of having been tumbled in white water, bruised and broken…..but bruised and broken no longer. Healed now, as sure as Theoden. Free now, as free as Eomer. So much in so few hours, war and life and death, all one upon the other, blows from some mighty hammer knocking down the house of her life, some storm blowing, tearing away the old days.

On the morrow she would ride out into the town. Heralds had already gone out among the folk, bidding them prepare to trek to Dunharrow. It would be Eowyn’s task to order the going, to be “as Lord to the Eorlingas”, while Theoden and the Riders were gone. This was a task she was more than willing to undertake, for was this not what she had been born for?

Though she ought to have been bone weary, she was not. She felt invigorated and strong, her body alive and aware in a new way. She stretched and yawned, and yawned and stretched in the darkness, then turned her face and closed her eyes. The soft linen of her pillowcase seemed softer, and the feather quilt seemed to wrap itself about her.

The frogs were awake now, singing in the early darkness. That lovely old sound, she thought, the frogs singing for their mates…..ever had it meant spring.