Elína - ~Chapter 4~

It took three weeks to reach Édoras. Three of the strangest weeks of my life. The soldiers made sure I traveled as well as I could, still I found that I was deeply unhappy; saddened over the death of my mother. Many times I thought that, possibly, I had made the wrong choice. Perhaps Bláilith and I should live with our family, even if they didn't want us? Was it wrong for me to take her so very far away from the life she knew? Not that I could ask her, Bláilith no longer talked to me, it was as if she blamed me for our mother's death. Bláilith was content living with the soldiers. I could often see her playing games with them or eating her meals with them. The soldiers liked her; to the older one's she was the daughters they left at home, and to the younger ones she was like their younger sisters. So, I let her run wild. She was happier and I had found that I had no energy left to put up with her tantrums. These weeks would have been unbearable if it wasn't for Éomer, Theodred and Amérgin.
They refused to let me sulk on my own. Although they all spent a considerable amount of time with me, it was Amérgin who was my constant companion. He rode along side of me and we ate our meals together. He told me many stories of what life would be like in Édoras and reassured me about my decision. Out of pure frustration I was often short tempered with him, however; he took all my verbal abuse calmly, waiting it out like one waits out a storm. I often felt guilty about yelling at him but he told me not to worry about it. I often wondered why he took no offence, but, perhaps it was just his disposition.
I had been sitting by the campfire after a particularly violent storm of tears when Amérgin came up and sat beside me silently. I wondered why he was sitting with me when he could be with the other men, getting drunk and celebrating. The soldiers had raided an especially large bandit cache and had discovered three of the largest barrels of mead I had ever seen. Theodred was in some sort of drinking contest with one of the other men and Éomer was laughing at his cousin's antics, so I had expected Amérgin to be with his best friends. But there he was sitting beside me and making me feel even more guilty for yelling at him, if that was possible.
"Why are you here?" I asked miserably.
"Because I wanted to sit with you." He answered simply as he stared down at the mug of ale he was holding. "I wanted you to know that it's not your fault."
"What's not my fault? Yelling at you or be ignored by my little sister?" The tears came again, unbidden and unwanted. I stared determinedly at the ground, hoping he didn't see me cry.
He sighed, "None of it is. I know how you feel."
I was intrigued despite myself and I turned around to stare at him. "What do you mean, `you know how I feel'?" The words came out a little harsher than I had intended, but Amérgin didn't seem to take any offence.
"I lived in a village much like yours, about ten years ago." He began. "My parents were merchants and would quite often travel. I was about ten years old at the time when they went off to see a `rich customer' who would have possibly bought some of their merchandise. They never came back"
"What did you do?" I whispered, "You were only ten years old."
Amérgin took a sip of his drink. "I put all that I needed in a sack and sold the rest. I used the money I got from selling everything, including the house, towards buying a horse and soldier's gear. An old man in the village had already taught me about fighting with all sorts of weapons, so I rode to Édoras and signed up to be a guardsman. They let me be a guardsman despite my age, after all it was a peaceful time. Eventually I rose in ranks, and now look where I am. Here. And let me tell you Elína, there is nothing better than riding all day and sleeping out underneath the stars."
In spite of myself I smiled. "It does sound like a nice life. What is life at Édoras like?" I asked, nervous of what his answer might be, considering that that place was where I was going to live.
"Édoras is a beautiful place, and it is always full of life. You will have plenty of friends there, and don't worry, we visit quite often. Actually, most of the year we live there." He said in a reassuring voice. And I was relieved, I had been greatly afraid of just being abandoned in Édoras.
"And what about Lady Éowyn. Is she kind?" I inquired.
"Yes, from what I have heard. I don't know her that well, however; Éomer will be able to answer your questions. Now, are you thirsty?" He asked and, after I nodded, dragged me over to the circle around the firelight.
I was greeted with cheers and a mug of mead. Theodred moved over to make room me saying, "And who says that soldiering isn't a rewarding job?!" Several of the men laughed at that comment and started singing a bawdy song.
"Hush up!" Éomer said, "I don't you all to embarrass the lady." He shook his head. "I'm sorry lady, they are barely civilized." Éomer looked so serious that I couldn't help but laugh.
"Don't worry Éomer, I take no offence. We had people like this in our village, and I am no lady, just Elína." Éomer frowned at Theodred when he joined in the singing but didn't tell the men to be quiet. Éomer was like just like that, he was very sweet but serious and mature beyond his years. Theodred was the opposite. He laughed at everything and took almost nothing seriously, but his crazy behaviour endeared him to me. Amérgin was a little like the two of them. He was very stoic and very kind. He had protected and cared for me like a sister, or at least a good friend, throughout the past two weeks.
I awoke the next morning feeling much more peaceful than I had since my mother's death . The soldiers and I lay in a ring around the dying embers of the fire. Bláilith was also awake, and to my great surprise she spoke to me,
"Elína, why did we leave our village?" She asked calmly. "How are we going to live in this place we're going to?"
I was taken aback for a few seconds, she hadn't spoken to me in weeks, however; I answered her questions. "We left our village because there is no village left, but don't worry. We are going to go to Édoras because I can work for Éomer's sister there." Bláilith looked at me solemnly and nodded. Then, in an instant, she ran off to where the horses were picketed. She had always loved horses.
After we had started riding, I questioned Éomer about his sister. He was rather sketchy with his description.
"She's kind," he said, trying to think about what else he could say, "and she's very good with a sword. She can ride very well and enjoys it very much. She will like you, so don't worry." He finished frowning, "I'm sorry, I can't really think of much else, I lived with her for so long that I can't describe her. But you will meet her soon enough, Elína." He pointed off in the distance. I could make out an clump of small houses and buildings, one that was much larger than the others.
"Is that Édoras?" I asked shading my eyes from the sun.
"Yes," Éomer replied, "my home."
The remaining distance to Édoras went by quickly. We reached the city by the time the sun had reached it's zenith. A crowd had gathered at the gates of the great city to meet with the soldiers. As many of the men dismounted and greeted loved ones, I shrank back to the back of the group, next to Amérgin.
"Nervous?" He whispered.
"Yes," I whispered back, "you needed to ask that question to know the answer?"
He laughed quietly. "Don't worry," he said and squeezed my shoulder reassuringly, "now, let's go find Theodred or Éomer. They will introduce you to lady Éowyn." Both Theodred and Éomer had disappeared in the crowd. We finally found Theodred, and he was not alone. A girl, clothed in a long white gown, was standing next to him. She was tall and lean with long blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. She whispered something to Theodred and embraced him like a brother.
"Éowyn!" A voice shouted. Éomer pushed through the crowd to the girl. The girl, Éowyn, also embraced Éomer.
"Welcome back, brother." She said warmly, smiling at him. I stood awkwardly at the side of this family scene, not wanting to intrude, however; Éomer saw me next to Amérgin and motioned for me to come forward.
"Elína, come here." He said, "Elína this is Éowyn; Éowyn, Elína." I curtsied to the lady Éowyn. She looked towards Éomer confused. "I knew you needed a servant, so I brought her to you. She has no home and needed somewhere to work and live." The lady Éowyn looked at me for a few moments than said,
"Then I welcome you as well, mistress Elína."
"Thank you, my lady." I replied, still down in my curtsy. I stood as the lady said,
"Come. We must find another bed to place in my room.", then pulled me through the crowd. I was confused. Éowyn looked much younger than I had expected. She seemed more like a girl my age instead of a great lady. However; Éomer must also be an important lord, and Theodred had told me on the road that his father was Théoden, king of Rohan. Both Éomer and Theodred didn't seem like great lords, but they were, so I shouldn't have been surprised by the lady. I turned as a hand tugged on my skirt. My sister stood there, tapping her foot on the ground.
"My lady, I forgot to introduce my sister, Bláilith." I said and whispered quickly to Bláilith, "Curtsy." Bláilith, not very surprisingly, didn't curtsy and stared up at Éowyn defiantly.
"Is my sister going to work for you?" Bláilith asked Éowyn seriously.
"Yes I believe so." Éowyn answered, laughing at Bláilith's severity. Bláilith nodded cheerfully and took Éowyn by the hand. "Come," Éowyn said again, "I guess I'll have to find two beds." I turned around and smiled at Amérgin. He was right, I thought, I am going to like it here.
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